Pro Orantibus Day

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

ProOrantibusLogo2014Today is Pro Orantibus Day, the Memorial of the Presentation of Mary in the Temple, when Catholics throughout the world are encouraged to honor the cloistered and monastic life.

In 1953 Pope Pius XII instituted Pro Orantibus Day, also known as World Day of Cloistered life, to recognize those men and women who so generously give of themselves to this unique vocation and who each day, from the various convents and monasteries spread throughout the world, offer their prayers unceasingly to build up the Kingdom. Pope John Paul II later expanded its celebration and encouraged the faithful to support this special vocation in any way possible.

“The primary purpose of Pro Orantibus Day (“For Those Who Pray”) is to support—both spiritually and materially— the gift of the cloistered and monastic life,” said Rev. Thomas Nelson, O. Praem., National Director of the Institute on Religious Life. And as Pope Francis reminds us, “it is a good opportunity to thank the Lord for the gift of so many people who, in monasteries and hermitages, dedicate themselves to God in prayer and silent work.”

Please pray this day for our cloistered brothers and sisters, especially for the gift of holy and persevering vocations. Visit our website cloisteredlife.com for regular updates on our commuitities throughout the year!

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noraThe following is an excerpt of a reflection written by Matt Wenke on the occasion of his daughter Nora entering the Passionist Monastery in Whitesville, Kentucky. To read the full version, click here!

When other men’s daughters might have expressed an interest in the convent or the cloister, I wouldn’t have questioned it at all. “What a noble and beautiful vocation!” or “What a meaningful life with a holy purpose!”

When I heard of my own daughter’s interest in the cloister, my immediate thought was, “How often can you come home to visit?!!!” Isn’t this sad… that my first thought wasn’t just about Nora’s vocational fulfillment and spiritual well being? My initial thought was about the fact that I might be missing my daughter’s presence in my home and her gentle, delightful company.

I looked at my daughter. A pure soul. A deeply spiritual young woman, wanting to discern God’s call for her, freely. She has the desire to conform herself to God’s Will that I have prayed for, for all of my children, whether God’s call be to the single life, marriage, lay ministry or consecrated religious life. To be authentic followers, we have to be open to all choices, not just for ourselves, but for all of those we love and for all of God’s children.

When Nora came home from her three month aspirancy visit, she never fully returned. Her body was home, but her spirit belonged to a cloistered convent in Kentucky. She reminded me, “I need to be going about God’s work for me, and it isn’t here, anymore.” She didn’t say this, meanly. It was just a statement of fact. Nora’s words to me reminded me of Jesus’ words to His Mom and Dad (Mary and Joseph) at the Finding in the Temple… “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”

I prayed to have the courage and love to give back to God, she whom He’d only loaned to us for nearly nineteen years, my only daughter. God gave His Son for me. Could I place back in His loving arms the beautiful daughter He had created?!

I won’t lie to you or pretend to be a strong, courageous man. I cried and cried countless times as I looked at my beloved daughter, praying the rosary beside me each night, and tears came to me as I looked at her, across the room at Morning prayer or during our recitation of the Angelus, many days at Noon. Not one day of her two month visit did I take her presence for granted.

Well, the time came. The Gospel reading was perfect … about finding a precious pearl and buying the field, in order to hide and later possess that valuable pearl or “treasure.” This “pearl” will be joined to the string of precious pearls, which is the Sisters. She will be balanced and placed in just the right place to further enhance the beauty of Jesus’ chain of pearls who are already there, in the cloister.

I observed with joy and wonder and awe Nora’s radiant joy upon returning to the cloister. Nothing bad for her could bring her this visible joy and peace and ecstasy she seemed to be experiencing! I was shocked on the morning of Nora’s entrance, that her joy and love were infectious. I could only think about my daughter’s joyful, unselfish, pure and FREE decision to enter cloistered religious life… and to give ALL to God! What is sad about that? Nothing! My daughter entered the cloister with my smiles and my blessing and my glorifying God…. For calling my dear daughter. She belongs to Him! So do you and me!

Is your daughter/granddaughter or other loved one thinking of joining the sisters or embracing a religious vocation?

Pray for courage and love and generosity. Don’t deprive yourself of a chance to sacrifice. Don’t deprive God of His Beloved Bride… your loved one!

MattWenke2Be assured of my prayers for you, whether you are the aspiring nun or her family and/or loved ones.

 Prayerfully,

 Matthew R. Wenke

August 3, 2014, (One week after our daughter’s entrance).

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Pope JP II VestOn May 13, 1981, Anna Stanghellini, was privileged to be a nurse in attendance at the “Agostino Gemelli” Hospital where Pope John Paul II was taken for emergency surgery after the assassination attempt on his life. To save time, his blood-soaked undershirt was cut away and dropped to the floor. Anna picked it up, carefully wrapped it and kept it in her home for the next 19 years.

In 2000, she gave this relic to the Provincial House of the Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent of Paul with whom she had once been in the novitiate. The Vatican had doubts about the authenticity, so Sister Beatrice, the former Provincial, reluctantly loaned it to them for examination. Happily, it was soon returned and today is in a side chapel of the Provincial House on via Francesco Albergotti.

Blood stains are visible on the shirt, as are three bullet holes and the initials “JP” on the collar. Documents attesting to its authenticity are also on view.

Sister Amelia, the Superior of the “Regina Mundi” House (a home for the elderly and sick religious), says: “It’s a gift and a responsibility. It’s a gift because we feel honored to be the custodians of such a precious and significant relic of the Holy Father; a responsibility because we have made ourselves available to receive all the people who come here to pray.”

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The Tattooed Monk

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By Anne Tschanz | Filed in Men's communities | No comments yet.

andreBrother Andre does not look like your typical Benedictine. But religious brothers have always swum against the cultural tide so it should come as no surprise to see such uniqueness in the halls of Mount Angel Abbey in Oregon.

The Statesman Journal tells his fascinating story from hippie biker to monk. Born with the name Bobby Love, he quit school in the 11th grade and joined the military. An artist at heart, like his mother, he got his hands and neck tattooed because in those days it was a “job stopper,’ ie, no one would hire you. He wanted to be an artist not a businessman like his father. He made a living as a tattoo artist and by exhibiting his pictures.

br andre iconDivorced and remarried three times, he says: “I had no clue what love was. I had no clue how to love or how to let other people love me and that’s why I was miserable.” His addictions to “drugs and booze” masked a spiritual bankruptcy. He decided to learn about his childhood Catholic faith, joined RCIA, wrote 25 pages in preparation for his confession and apologized to those he had hurt.

Six years ago he came to Mount Angel Abbey on a retreat. Now he has the name of Brother Andre, taken from the humble sainted doorkeeper who worked miracles in Quebec. On September 12, 2014, Br. Gregory, Br. Jesus Maria and Br. Andre Love professed solemn vows, permanently binding themselves to Mount Angel Abbey in their commitments to conversion, stability and obedience.

God draws straight with crooked lines.

For a look at Brother’s icons and religious art, click here!

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A New Franciscan Community Begins!

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By Anne Tschanz | Filed in Vocations, Women's Communities | 4 comments
Catherine, Nicolette, Alycia & Kristen

Catherine, Nicolette, Alycia & Kristen

A new community of Franciscan women is forming in the Diocese of Buffalo with the support of their bishop, Most Rev. Richard Malone. Called the Marian Franciscans, they are in the process of being established as either a public or private association of the faithful.

It is exciting for us, for in the Buffalo area, the IRL has only one Affiliate Community, the Dominican Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary. The Marian Franciscans are an active community whose mission is to serve the Church as agents of the New Evangelization. They have a three tiered approach: to serve existing entities in the Church, to minister to those who have had a crisis of the faith and to offer ongoing formation to those solid or lukewarm in their faith.

One of their hopes is to serve “as a ministry of presence to the middle class.” This is so needed! One of their potential apostolates is to have a coffee shop run by the sisters in their habits to meet and reach out to busy Americans where they are at in order to facilitate and rekindle an encounter with Christ and His Church.

Three of the foundresses came together when they discovered that individually they were discerning the same things and took it as a sign of the Holy Spirit. From 2010-2013, they lived and worked with the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm as they continued their discernment. The fourth foundress discerned through prayer that she too felt called to join them in this apostolate.

In August of 2013, they were Consecrated to Our Lady. In additional to the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, they will be professing a fourth vow of Total Consecration to Our Lady. Members pray the rosary and Divine Mercy chaplet daily in addition to regular spiritual readings and Franciscan devotions.

In Assisi on Pilgrimage

In Assisi on Pilgrimage

They are now living in the Diocesan Retreat Center doing retreat work and other ministries. They also hold weekly open house for those discerning a vocation to the priesthood or religious life. This month, they have a fifth young woman joining them to further discern her call.

If you want additional information, please contact them directly at (603)205-6533 or write to: Nicolette Langlois, c/o Marian Franciscans, PO Box 834, Derby, NY  14047.

Please pray that they may become agents for the New Evangelization in Buffalo and beyond!

 

 

 

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The discerners

The discerners

“The Sisterhood,” a new Lifetime series premiering on Tuesday, November 25, at 10pm ET/PT, follows the discernment journey of five young women. The series features three IRL Affiliate communities: the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence, the Sisters of St. Joseph the Worker, and the Carmelites for the Aged & Infirm.

From what we have heard, the filming of the series had a profound impact, not only on the young women on their vocation journey, but also on the crew who were involved in the production. This is a real live example of religious communities casting out into the deep to reach a whole new audience via cable TV.

The five discerners are Christie from California who performs in a country music band, Claire a homeschooler from Joliet, Eseni a former beauty queen from the Bronx, Francesca a recent college graduate from New Jersey, and Stacey from New York who performs in musical theater.

Lifetime told us, “We have sent out special sneak peeks to select members of the Catholic community and our network has already received wonderful feedback from sisters from around the country, religious reporters, and Catholic supporters. We would love your help spreading the word about this series in hopes of bringing much needed attention to the gracious nuns, sisters and church leaders that are so actively involved in changing the lives of young women who are on the sacred path of pursuing a consecrated life.”

So spread the word and please watch! It would be wonderful if a young woman watching the series could be moved to pursue a religious vocation. And the higher the audience ratings, the more that the cable networks will be inclined to pursue inspiring Catholic topics with the cooperation and assistance of religious communities. All should hopefully come away blessed by the encounter.

Check out the promo here!!

 

 

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Fr. Augustus Tolton: Help Bring His Story to Life!

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By Anne Tschanz | Filed in News | No comments yet.
Fr. Augustus Tolton

Fr. Augustus Tolton

Several weeks ago, I wrote about Stephen Cox, the Benedictine postulant who died just 3 days before he would have been officially received into the novitiate. What I didn’t know about at the time was the impact that the movie Therese had upon his vocation.

Stephen was fourteen years ago when he saw the movie and it sparked his desire to offer his life to God as the Little Flower did. He applied to several religious communities that had some connection to St. Therese but they did not accept his application because he had epilepsy. Finally, the Benedictine monks at Mount Angel Abbey in Oregon accepted his application to enter religious life. He was so happy to know that part of the Therese movie was filmed at the abbey. It was confirmation that this was where he was meant to be.

A short time before he died, Stephen joked: “When we’re novices, they have to bury us in the Abbey cemetery.” He was indeed buried in the cemetery, clad forever in the habit of a Benedictine novice.

All of this interesting information came from the latest newsletter from Saint Luke Productions, the producers of Therese. They are trying to raise the funds for a new live production on the life of Fr. Augustus Tolton, one that they hope will also impact souls ala Therese.

Fr. Tolton (1854-1897) was the first diocesan African-American priest and one who suffered unbelievably as an African-American Catholic. He studied for the priesthood in Rome because no American seminary would accept him. He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Quincy, in southern Illinois, and later came to Chicago to start a parish for black Catholics.

His cause for canonization is underway. The Archdiocese of Chicago brought the final diocesan phase of the investigation into the life and virtues of Father Tolton to a close just over a month ago. (See ToltonCanonization.org for up-to-date information.)

Bishop Joseph Perry said, ““Father Tolton’s story is one of suffering service. Through his experiences of racial negation by a society that would separate black and white by force of the law and lawless custom, (Father) Tolton found the love of God, found his own vocation and ultimately has received his reward from God as a pioneer figure of Christian faith in action, indiscriminate love of neighbor and pastoral charity despite the bigotry that was thrown at him. The record of his life is absent (of) any show of retaliation toward anyone or anything.”

If you would like to help Saint Luke Productions bring this extraordinary drama to the world, please consider giving them a gift. It may help one soul, like Br. Stephen Fox, find his or her vocation, one that will carry them into eternity.

 

 

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Mother Angelica Update

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

m angelicaThe Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration in Alabama recently gave an update on Mother Angelica’s health. As they relate in their newsletter, Mother is living a “life of silence in union with Jesus in His Sacred Childhood, with all His helplessness and dependence on others.”

 “Although she is bedridden, Mother Angelica is strong and doing well. Our good Friars celebrate Mass in her room on Sundays, and each morning she receives our Lord in Holy Communion, the Divine Life that sustains her and gives her strength.
“Thirteen years ago on Christmas Eve, Mother said, ‘Jesus is coming today and I am going to the Chapel to wait for Him.’ It was there before Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament that Jesus visited her with a stroke. Since then she has lived a life of silence in union with Jesus in His Sacred Childhood, waiting till He comes again.
“In her later years, before the stroke, Mother Angelica developed a great devotion and love for the Divine Child and it seems that Jesus wants her to experience His own Childhood with all His helplessness, totally dependent on others.
“So as she waits, Jesus continues to come to her in His hidden Presence in the Eucharist. It is Jesus who lives His life in her. With St. Paul she can say, ‘It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.'” (Gal. 2:20)

The PCPA nuns were invited to the Diocese of Mobile in 1962. The Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) was founded on August 15, 1981. In 1999, the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament at Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Hanceville, north of Birmingham, was consecrated. Mother suffered a severe stroke on Christmas Eve in 2001.

Bringing new life to their beginnings, sisters were sent to their original monastery in Ohio in 2002. They also sent sisters to help restart their “cradle” monastery in France. Two new foundations were begun in Tonopah, Arizona and San Antonio, Texas. And to think that Mother Angelica started EWTN with $200 in a garage. That’s all it takes for the Lord to begin His work.

We pray for blessings on Mother and her sisters, EWTN listeners and viewers, in grateful thanks for all Mother has done for the IRL, religious life and the Church.

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An Abandoned Monastery Rises

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By Anne Tschanz | Filed in Men's communities | No comments yet.

vinaTraveling around Europe, especially in England, there is no sadder sight than an abandoned monastery. That is why is heartening to read about some old stones that have been restored to their original purpose.

It is an amazing and miraculous story….

The Cistercian (Trappist) monks of the Abbey of New Clairvaux in Vina, California, recently celebrated the reconstruction of an ancient Cistercian Chapter House on their grounds. Originally part of the Santa Maria de Óvila monastery in Spain, it was built between 1190 and 1220 AD.  The monastery was founded by King Alfonso VIII of Castile who had it built after recapturing the area from the Moors. It became a home for Cistercian monks who, following the Rule of St. Benedict, flourished for many centuries. By 1835, however, four monks remained and the monastery was closed.

In 1931, the newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst bought and brought part of the dismantled monastery stones to San Francisco with the intention of building a magnificent home to replace his mother’s burned down house. However, with the onset of the Depression and his financial woes, the stones were given to the city of San Francisco with the hope that it would become a museum in Golden Gate Park. But this too never came to pass and the stones were left abandoned and decaying in the park.

In 1984, the monks convinced the city to give the stones to them so they could be used on their property for their true purpose—a place where God could be glorified and served. The Chapter House, when completed, will include a reception room, display area and archival library.

New Clairvaux Abbey was a daughter house of Gethsemani in Kentucky. They in turn became the motherhouse for Our Lady of Joy, a Cistercian monastery of exiled Chinese monks in Hong Kong.  Subsequently, in 1984, a new foundation, Holy Mother of God, was opened in Taiwan.  In 2001 New Clairvaux accepted “paternity” of Our Lady of Peace, a house of nuns located in Nicaragua. The CIstercian abbey is the only one in California.

The monks support themselves by growing prunes and walnuts and since 2005 growing grapes and producing their own wine. They also, with a brewing company, produce a Trappist-style beer called Oliva

New Clairvaux Abbey is named after Clairvaux in France, St. Bernard’s founding abbey, the place where he was made abbot when only 25 years of age. When Bernard died in 1153, seven hundred monks lived at Clairvaux.  The abbey in Vina currently has 22 monks. May the New Clairvaux be blessed with holy and persevering vocations ala St.Bernard!

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Snellville Choir

Snellville Choir

One of our Affiliates is the Monastery of the Visitation in Snellville, Georgia. In some recent correspondence to us, they indicated that their choir stalls came from Mary Ward’s chapel in Elizabethan England. That makes them 400 years old!! How they got to Snellville is a mystery I shall have to solve down the road!

It is funny/strange that Mary Ward’s choir stalls should end up in a cloistered monastery because she was infamous in her day for founding religious communities that worked outside of the convent in nursing the sick, visiting prisoners and teaching, etc. All the kinds of work that active sisters do today and that we take for granted. Like St. Angela Merici, she suffered for her revolutionary initiatives. However, the Church always recognizes God’s workings in the end, and Mary Ward was declared Venerable by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009.

The Snellville monastery is the only cloistered contemplative monastery in the Archdiocese of Atlanta. They were founded in 1954 when Mother Francis de Sales came with her nine sisters from the Visitation monastery in Toledo to begin this new foundation. Their original monastery was purchased from the owners of the Coca Cola Company and in 1971, they purchased the land outside of Snellville. The current monastery is surrounded by 27 acres.

The nuns have no foundation and live month to month. Their maxim, taken from their Father St. Francis de Sales, is : “Ask for nothing, refuse nothing!” When their benefactors ask what they need, they say, “Whatever you give us, we need!”

The sisters were kind enough to thank the IRL for our work in directing potential vocations to them via our website. They have helped several women discern an active vocation, and they have had novices and final professed sisters who “discovered” the Visitation monastery through our website. A bishop and several priests have also corresponded with them requesting prayers through the IRL website. We are so happy to have others “discover” these beautiful sisters.

The Snellville visitation monastery does not have a website. The community is of note because they do consider belated vocations. They can be reached at:

Monastery of the Visitation

2055 Ridgedale Drive

Snellville, GA  30078

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