sisters 100th applauseThis month, the Servants of Mary, Ministers to the Sick, celebrated 100 years in America. Their arrival in New Orleans in 1914 was not planned. The Mexican Revolution, persecution of Catholics, the arrival of the US Navy and a soldier asking for water, are all part of the circumstances that brought these beautiful sisters to our shores.

In 1914, anti-religious forces in Mexico were conducting a violent campaign against Catholics, where the Servants of Mary had 22 convents. American military personnel were dispatched by President Woodrow Wilson (for reasons too complex to go into here) and occupied Vera Cruz. One day, an American soldier presented himself at the Servants of Mary convent in Vera Cruz, asking for drinkable water. This was the beginning of a beautiful relationship between the sisters and the soldiers. Seeing how tenderly the sisters cared for those with tuberculosis and other contagious diseases, they asked the sisters to come back with them to the United States, because there were no sisters there who cared for the sick in their own homes.

100th ArchbishopMother Provincial recognized the hand of God in this request and readily agreed. Six sisters left their homeland on August 20, 1914, debarking in Texas and arriving in New Orleans one month later. The same bishop who originally welcomed the sisters to their arrival point in Texas, would be nursed by the sisters as the Archbishop of New Orleans on his deathbed. If you want to know the good communities, see where the priests go in their twilight years!

Currently, the Servants of Mary have six convents in the United States: in New Orleans (1914), Kansas City (1917), the Bronx (1931), Los Angeles (1928), Oxnard, CA (1961), and Newbury Park, CA (1964).

In New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan was the guest of honor at a luncheon commemorating the anniversary. In New Orleans, St. Anthony of Padua Church was filled to capacity for a Mass of Thanksgiving celebrated by Archbishop Gregory Aymond. The Archbishop likened the sisters to the Good Samaritan who was the only one to care for the sick stranger when others passed by.

One gentleman in attendance, who cared for his dying son in 1986, said, “You’re at a state in your life where you get to the point where you almost can’t go any more. The first thing you know, they come in and take over, and they actually encourage you more than the patient. These are God’s chosen people. They are wonderful people.”

 “The Servants of Mary without choice of person or place must be ready and willing to fly at once on the wings of obedience and love of God, to offer the service of charity without limits, gratuitous, and with no hope of a reward other than that promised by Heaven.”  – St. María Soledad, Foundress

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Here I Am Lord National Vocations Conference

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

Revised HereIAmLordbanner

St. Patrick Parish in St. Charles, IL. is once again the host of the HERE I AM LORD National Vocations Conference.  The 2015 THEME IS “BE NOT AFRAID.” The conference was founded in 2003 to address the need of vocation awareness. The vocations of marriage, single life, religious life and the priesthood are all vocations in the eyes of God and the Church!  HERE I AM LORD provides an opportunity for young people and adults of all ages to recognize that fact.  The largest parish-based vocations conference in the United States brings together Religious from across the country to share the JOY of their vocation. The best Catholic speakers and musicians join to share the JOY of their vocation and faith.

HERE I AM LORD 2015

MARCH 3 – 8, 2015

HERE WE GROW

HERE WE GROW AGAIN…2 DAYS ADDED IN THE JOLIET DIOCESE!!!

RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES ~ REGISTER NOW

Register for both the Main Conference and recently added opportunities in the Joliet Diocese. Religious Communities should be interested in particular because this event attracts young people like no other event of its kind. Religious Communities will have the opportunity to meet and talk to 5000 young people. WOW~!

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ven margaret sinclairA Poor Clare Colettine nun whose cause is open for canonization is the subject of a new feature film in production by White Lyon Films under the direction of screenwriter Dianne Thomas. Margaret Sinclair, known in religion as Sr. Mary Francis of the Five Wounds, was a Scottish-born working girl who joined the Poor Clare Colettines of Notting Hill in London. She died at the young age of 25 and her memory and impact have grown with the passing decades. Described as “a striking contemporary example of evangelical heroism,” many miracles have been attributed to her intercession.

Margaret was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1900 to a poor, working class family. She left school in 1914 and worked in factories to support her family. After helping a young man recover his lost Faith, he proposed marriage but she said, “I have done what God inspired me to do, to help you the little I could, to regain the light. From that point God and his Blessed Mother must have showered down blessings on you, because you have remained steadfast, and I trust God that you will continue doing so, because you know He is the only real happiness.”

Her sister joined the Little Sisters of the Poor while Margaret left home and country to become a Poor Clare Colettine in Notting Hill, London, as an extern sister. She desired enclosure but the sisters thought that her lack of education would make the chanting of the Liturgy of the Hours in Latin too difficult for her. She was clothed in her habit in 1924 in the presence of her family and her sister, now a novice.

sinclair pccIn 1925, she contracted tuberculosis of the throat and was moved to a nursing facility where she was lonely for the monastery and her mother abbess. However, her bed was a magnet for visitors, for her joy was radiantly evident. In her suffering, she said, “If I can gain one soul for Jesus it will be worth it all.” She died on this day in 1925, in her habit, with a copy of her vows at her side.

 Sister Mary Francis was declared Venerable by Pope Paul IV in 1978. During Pope John Paul II’s visit to Britain in 1982, he said, “Margaret could well be described as one of God’s little ones who, through her very simplicity, was touched by God with the strength of real holiness of’ life… I fully appreciate the aspirations of the Catholics of Scotland, and elsewhere, for that singular event to be realized, and I know you are praying that it may come about.”

You can read a short biography of her life by a Poor Clare nun and watch a documentary. Travelers to Scotland can visit The National Shrine of the Venerable Margaret Sinclair in the Redemptorist church of St Patrick’s Cowgate, Edinburgh.

 

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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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