Vocations in Catholic Ireland

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By Anne Tschanz | Filed in News, Vocations | No comments yet.

The news from Catholic Ireland has not been all that positive lately. Therefore, it is wonderful to see a vocations video, celebrating the Year of Consecrated Life, that highlights the men and women who have said yes to God in that country. A country that sent so many missionaries to the United States and elsewhere.

According tothe website VocationsIreland.net, in the early 1960’s, there were around 30,000 men and women religious living in 2,000 communities. By 2013, the number was 8,500 men and women religious living in 800 communities. The communities attracting vocations in recent years have been the Dominicans, the Redemptoristines (sisters), the Benedictines at Glenstal, the Little Sisters of the Poor, the Cistercians, the Franciscans, the Mercy Sisters, the Pallotines, the Passionists, the Carmelites, the Poor Clares, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, the Sisters of St Clare, the Jesuits the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary and the Dominican Sisters.

If you are interested in any of the above communities, there is a clickable list of all the congregations in Ireland here.

One of the featured communities are the Redemptoristines featured below. God bless them all!

redemp srs

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op tn 2A little boy once asked a religious sister, “Are you married?” When she said no, he said, “Good, ’cause then you belong to us.” Thus begins an article in the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia‘s latest newsletter. I think it sums up perfectly the Year of Consecrated. Let us celebrate consecrated men and women who, because they belong totally to God, belong totally to us.

There are so many news items  to relate relative to the Nashville Dominicans that one hardly knows where to start. Here we go:

  • Two sisters are now teaching at a high school in Auburndale, Tenessee.
  • Sister Anne Frances is full-time on the campus ministry staff at Providence College
  • They have a new foundation in the Sittard, Netherlands, where strangely enough the Peruvian Dominican St. Rose of Lima is patroness.
  • They acquired Villaggio Betania, 20 miles NW of Rome, Italy, to provide a home base for sisters studying in Rome, for facilities for the study abroad program of Aquinas College, and to support evangelization efforts. It was previously owned by the Dominican Sisters of Bethany so it stays in the Dominican family.
  • They are expanding Bethany Retreat House to accommodate the growing number of people seeking a place of quiet and prayer.

According to their last update to us, they are over 300 sisters, including 60 in formation!!

Mother Ann Marie, OP, says: “Each of us is called by God to ‘reach out to others  and seek their good’ (Pope Francis). At a time when  our world is experiencing so much anguish in its search for the peace that only God can give, let us ask Him to make us instruments of hope. Wherever He places us each day, let us allow Him to be at work in us to bring the peace of Christ and the joy of the Gospel.”

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Cardinal Burke & the Knights of Malta

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By Anne Tschanz | Filed in News | No comments yet.
Fra. Matthew with Pope Francis

Fra. Matthew with Pope Francis

Raymond Cardinal Burke was recently appointed as Patron of the Sovereign Order of the Knights of Malta. Cardinal Burke is a member of the IRL’s Episcopal Advisory Board and will be the keynote speaker at the IRL’s National Meeting on Friday, April 10, 2015.

The Knights of Malta sounds like something medieval and not at all pertinent for today. This, I found is absolutely not true! They perform admiral and wide-ranging charitable activities and have a world-wide membership of 13,000 as well as 80,000 volunteers, among them 20,000 medical personnel. They are unique in being a religious order comprised of lay people.

Cardinal Burke will be assisting Fra. Matthew Festing, Prince and Grand Master of the “Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta.” Fra. Matthew was elected for life in 2008. He is a descendent of Blessed Adrian Fortescue, a Knight of Malta who was martyred in the 16th century.

According to the Knights of Malta website: The Order of Malta has been a religious Order since 1113, the year it was recognized by Pope Paschal II. As a religious Order, it is linked to the Holy See, but at the same time it is independent as a sovereign subject of international law. (They issue their own passports for example. Fascinating!) In this respect the religious character of the Order coexists with its full sovereignty. The Grand Master is at the same time head of a sovereign State and head of a religious Order. In this second capacity the Holy Roman Church gives him the rank of Cardinal.

The order has two missions: defensio fidei (the defense of the Faith) and obsequium pauperum (care for the poor). Wherever they settled, they built hospitals, hence they are also known as the Knights Hospitallers. Today, they strive to ease the suffering of the sick in hospitals, nursing homes, shantytowns, etc. and try to bring Christian charity to the isolated, victims of persecution and refugees regardless of race or religious faith.

maltese crossFor example, they “operate” a maternity hospital in Bethlehem and a hospital in Haiti. In France the Order of Malta maintains nine medical centers for the disabled. They supply humanitarian disaster relief, for example, in 2008 after the cyclone in Myanmar. I am most familiar with their annual pilgrimage to Lourdes where they accompany thousands of Malades (French for “the sick”) and their caregivers to the shrine. These activities are just the tip of the iceberg of what the Knights do around the world.

The eight points of the Maltese cross symbolize the eight obligations of the knights: truth, faith, repentance, humility, justice, mercy, sincerity and endurance of persecution.

This is all so interesting that we will have to delve into this subject further!

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Rocky Mountain Carmelites

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By Anne Tschanz | Filed in Cloistered life, Women's Communities | One comment
Monastery with Mt. Olympus in the background

Monastery with Mt. Olympus in the background

There is a nice write-up in a local Catholic newspaper on the Carmel of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Salt Lake City, Utah. In the article, they talk to Mother Margaret Marie Miller who in October was named the new Mother Superior. Mother was one of the five founders who came from Alhambra, California, in 1952 to found a Carmelite monastery in the then-sparsely populated Catholic diocese.

“To be a Carmelite is a real vocation,” said Mother Margaret Marie. “The Lord gives it [the vocation] to you, but you have to be open and you have to be open to whatever he wants from you.”

Mother was inspired by St. Therese of Lisieux and like her wanted to save souls. She considered becoming a missionary but concluded, like St. Therese, that in the cloister she could reach everybody. “That was the thing that struck me. I didn’t even know what the life was going to be like, I just knew that I was going to pray for the whole world. You pray for the whole mystical body and that is what sounded really great.”

ocd utahI am reminded of a priest whose father wanted him to become a doctor. He said, “Dad, as a doctor, my patients are going to die. As a priest, I can lead them to eternal life.” Carmelites are praying people unto eternal life.

She has some practical advice on prayer. “Prayer is very simple; it’s not complicated. Prayer is a loving exchange with someone that loves you. God is all-powerful; His will is Him, so it’s pretty simple: Open your mind and He is with you all the time. It doesn’t have to be complicated; it’s simple.”

You can support the eleven Carmelites in Utah by purchasing their candy and holy cards and the like. You can also get a first-hand glimpse into their lives by watching their very appealing YouTube video.

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St. Nicholas & Santa Claus: The Real Story

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By Anne Tschanz | Filed in News | No comments yet.

santa52aFr. Joseph Marquis, a Byzantine Cat6holic priest, is a frequent visitor to our IRL offices who loves to give us updates on his St. Nicholas ministry. The goal is to make people realize that Santa Claus is not a mythical figure who brings us presents, but rather a real man named St. Nicholas who shows us the real meaning of Christmas.

Father is the founder and executive director of the St. Nicholas Institute. He has over 40 years of professional Santa Claus and St. Nicholas experience, is an Emmy Award winning Santa, and member of the Santa Claus Hall of Fame – Class of 2011, Santa Claus, Indiana. All this is true!!

As their website says: The St. Nicholas Institute is open to all Santas (whether traditionally bearded or real bearded) of all Christian faiths (Catholic, Eastern Orthodox or Protestant). Their program is uniquely designed for cross-training of individuals to effectively portray Santa Claus and St. Nicholas for a wide variety of venues (both secular and religious). Formation also encourages a prayerful openness to the santavery same Spirit that animated the life and actions of the original “jolly old St. Nicholas”, whose heart was made glad by the Babe born in Bethlehem.

Looking for a good Christmas gift for grandchildren, children or people confused about the origins of Santa Claus? Father has a new DVD out called Saint to Santa: How Saint Nicholas Became Santa Claus. It is available from Pauline Books and Media.

O blessed Nicholas,
show compassion to me who fall down praying to thee;
and enlighten the eyes of my soul, O wise one,
that I may clearly behold the Light-Giver and Compassionate One. Amen.

Mercedarian FREE Seven Day Course

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By Anne Tschanz | Filed in News, Women's Communities | No comments yet.

merc logoThe Mercedarian Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament are offering a free 7-day course in Mercedarian Spirituality. Participants in this email course will learn how to discern their vocation and discover more about the Eucharistic-Marian charism of the Mercedarian Sisters.

What are the spiritual values of the Mercedarian sisters?

  • The constant giving of our lives as Jesus does in the Eucharist.
  • Example and model of Christ the Redeemer
  • A life centered on the Eucharist and our Blessed Mother
  • Daily Mass, Liturgy of the Hours, Meditation, and Rosary
  • Eucharistic Exposition and Benediction
  • Faithful to the Magisterium of the Church

The course which is open to everyone consists of an email delivered to your inbox each day for seven days. Catholic women open to religious life may find this course particularly helpful, as it offers valuable insights into religious discernment. The emails will focus on both the specific charisms of the Mercedarian Sisters as well as religious life in general. The purpose of this free course is to promote the beautiful calling to religious life, to foster vocations, and to provide a glimpse into the Mercedarian Spirituality.

Sign up today!!

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Shakespeare and the Blessed Virgin Mary

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By Anne Tschanz | Filed in Liturgical Year, News | No comments yet.

shakespeareOne of the most interesting news items from last week was the announcement that a First Folio of William Shakespeare’s plays had been discovered in a library in Saint-Omer, in northern France. It was missing its frontispiece and a portrait of Shakespeare, hence it was thought to be an 18th century edition not one from 1623.

The First Folio was compiled by Shakespeare’s friends seven years after his death and is the only source of a number of his plays including Macbeth, Twelfth Night, Julius Caesar and As You Like It. Only 233 copies are known to exist.

Saint-Omer was a place of refuge for English Catholics escaping persecution in England. A Jesuit school, founded in 1593 after Catholic schools were outlawed in England, thrived there until it was expelled from France in 1762. In 1794, it moved to Stonyhurst in England, where it remains today. Stonyhurst has become a warehouse of precious Catholic artifacts including the rope that bound St. Edmund Campion at the time of his execution and a crucifix belonging to St. Thomas More. The First Folio was left behind when other books were sent to Stonyhurst because it was not recognized for what it was.

What does this have to do with the Immaculate Conception? During Mass this morning, the priest said that a First Folio is the most important edition of an author’s works. It is an authentic and true representation. The Blessed Mother is like a First Folio, a perfect example of what God wants us to be. We should all strive to be like First Folios, loving the Blessed Mother’s Son with our whole hearts and allowing that love to infuse all that we do and all that we are.

A blessed Feast of the Immaculate Conception to all.

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Norbertines Break Ground!

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By Anne Tschanz | Filed in Men's communities, Women's Communities | No comments yet.
Wilmington Sisters

Wilmington Sisters

Last July, earth moving equipment began to level the ground in Silverado Canyon in preparation for the construction of the new abbey for the Norbertines, replacing the old one which is really bursting at the seams with students and vocations.

This past August, the California abbey welcomed six young men who are studying to become Norbertine canons. Three young women as well became the first Americans to enter the Nobertine sisters from Slovakia (Sr. Adriana, Sr. Roberta & Sr. Benedicta)  who reside in a convent nearby Wilmington.

The new abbey will include a church, convent, welcome area/meeting rooms, monastery and cemetery chapel. These buildings will comprise only a small portion of the hundreds of acres of the original Holtz ranch thus preserving an important part of the rural California landscape.

The Norbertine also have a cloistered community of Norbertine Canonesses that is growing rapidly in Tehachapi. The Norbertine Sisters of Wilmington are one of the newest branches on the family tree of the Norbertine Order founded by St. Norbert (1080-1134). They were founded in 1902 in the Czech Republic by Fr. Vojtech Frejka, a Norbertine Father from the abbey of Strahov in Prague. The Slovakian Norbertines reside in SS. Peter and Paul Convent in Wilmington, CA, which was established in 2011.

“Our congregation of Norbertine sisters in Slovakia received an invitation from the Norbertine fathers in California to help them establish a new community of Norbertine sisters in the United States,” said Sr. Benedicta.

In Wilmington, they minister to needy families, teach religious education, and work in the Catholic book & gift store, and in the parish office. Like St. Norbert, they live a common life, “prepared for every good work,” centered daily on the Mass and chanting of the Divine Office.

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Wake Up the World!

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By Anne Tschanz | Filed in News, Vocations, Women's Communities | No comments yet.

wake up!Pope Francis has called upon consecrated women and men to “wake up the world!” And last weekend the 2015 Year of Consecrated Life officially began.

Religious cannot shake and wake up the world unless there are actually men and women religious. One religious can make a difference! Look at the lives of Sts. Francis, Dominic, Benedict, Mother Cabrini, Don Bosco, Mother Teresa, etc…

Another great foundress was St. Jeanne Jugan, the foundress of the Little Sisters of the Poor in 19th century France. The Little Sisters have issued a new vocation video called Love Serves in celebration of the Year of Consecrated Life. It is free and viewable online here. They want our help in reaching young women who might make a great Little Sister of the Poor in serving the elderly poor.

lspIn a recent poll, more than one in four young Catholics reported that they had never been encouraged to consider becoming a religious sister, brother or priest. Those who were invited to consider a religious vocation said it was a family member, a friend, a teacher or youth minister who broached the subject with them. It could be you!

Please share the vocation video, LOVE SERVES, with a young woman you might know. It may make an everlasting difference!

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Sister-Mary-Thomas-OP-and-twin-brother-Dominic-RankinWhat makes this picture unique? Well, it so happens that the two happy people pictured in it are Sr. Mary Thomas of the Holy Name of Jesus, OP, and her twin brother, a seminarian at the Pontifical North American College. I have featured twin vocation stories before but never a twin brother and sister!

Sr. Mary Thomas made her First Profession on November 22nd at the Dominican Monastery of St. Jude in Marbury, Alabama. Her brother was given permission to fly-in from Rome, Italy, for the occasion. Also in attendance were her Mother and Father and younger brother. What generosity on behalf of their parents to present two children to the Lord as a religious and priest.

The Feast Day on the 22nd celebrated the life of St. Cecilia. As Mother Mary Joseph said, the readings and chants for St. Cecilia could have been chosen just for a Profession ceremony.  “Audi filia, et vide, et inclina aurem tuam: quia concupivit rex speciem tuam: Hearken, O daughter, and see; turn thine ear: for the King desires thy beauty.”

It was also an extra-special occasion because the Mass was a Dominican Rite Missa Cantata (Sung High Mass) celebrated by Fr. Dominic Marie Langevin, O.P. Before Vatican II, the Dominicans celebrated almost exclusively their own ritual of Mass and the Divine Office. Sister’s brothers grew up serving in an FSSP parish, so they quickly picked up the slightly different rubrics for serving the Dominican Rite.

In this Year for Consecrated Life, may many blessings descend upon the Dominican nuns in Marbury. May all families be open to and welcome with joy their children’s call to religious life.

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