A Prophecy Fulfilled – The Franciscan Friars Minor in Costa Rica

osf ft wayne march
In DC, for the annual March For Life

In January, Fr. David Mary and eight Franciscan Brothers Minor from Fort Wayne as well as the Catholics on a Mission team traveled to Costa Rica to minister to the local Costa Rican and indigenous Cabecar people. This is a remote jungle area were homes have dirt floors and the indigenous people share shelter with their animals.

While there, they hosted a Vacation Bible School for the children and shared personal faith testimonies. Most people in the region are able to receive the sacraments only once a month, so it was a blessing that Mass was celebrated at least once a day with people

living in remote villages. As a result of past trips, 60-70 Cabecar now attend Mass regularly and the first, First Communion class in hundreds of years is now a reality!

Franciscans came to Costa Rica in the 16th century with Christopher Columbus and evangelized the indigenous people who began to embrace the Faith. When a tribe from a different area killed a friar and some of the converts, the Franciscans left to prevent further bloodshed. Over the years, a prophecy arose, a promise from St. Joseph, that one day radical barefoot Franciscans would return and bring them the Gospel. In 2013, this became a reality when the Franciscans from Fort Wayne arrived.

San Jose de Orosi anniversary Mass
San Jose de Orosi anniversary Mass

A bishop told them that they were the first Franciscans to set foot in the Cabecar territory in 250 years. Since that time, the Friars have established a partnership with Catholics on a Mission and the St. Bryce Foundation to continue these evangelization efforts. The 2016 mission trip coincided with the 250th anniversary of the completion of Iglesia de San Jose de Orosi, the chapel built in 1766 from the vision of St. Joseph.

Who are Catholics on a Mission? It was started in 2012 when several high school students who were actively involved in the Franciscan Brothers Minor youth group approached Fr. David Mary Engo with the idea to “put their service where their faith is,” and share the ofm guitargospel with people in a foreign country. Catholics on a Mission has become a student-driven service organization evangelizing parishes, cities and the world through the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy.

Following the exhortation of Pope John Paul in Redemptoris Missio, they believe that “the moment has come to commit all of the Church’s energies to a new evangelization and to the mission ad gentes. No believer in Christ, no institution of the Church can avoid this supreme duty: to proclaim Christ to all peoples.”

Foundress of the Oblate Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Beatified

oshj picLast October, a group of forty-one pilgrims consisting of sisters, their relatives, priests and lay people from the Diocese of Youngstown made a pilgrimage to Italy for the beatification of Mother Maria Teresa Casini, foundress of the Oblate Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which took place on October 31, 2015.

Mother Casini founded the Oblate Sisters in 1894 in Grottaferrata. Their charism is to pray for the sanctification of priests and the holiness of the Church. Mother was beatified in the Frascati cathedral where she was baptized in 1864, two days after her birth.

oshjFor the Oblate Sisters from Hubbard, Ohio, this was an extra-special event because the miracle required for Mother’s beatification occurred in their own diocese. In 2003, five-year-old Jacob Sebest of Campbell, Ohio, was diagnosed with irreversible brain damage after a swimming pool incident. Two days later, on the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, after intense prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus through the intercession of Mother Teresa Casini, young Jacob miraculously awoke from a medically induced coma without any signs of brain trauma. Today he is a healthy, vibrant 17-year-old and a senior in High School.

The day before the beatification, the pilgrims visited Grottoferrata where Mother first established the congregation and where she later died in 1937. They prayed before the historical tabernacle that depicts her vision of the Pierced Heart of Jesus. They also venerated a relic, a braid of Mother’s hair that was cut off when she made her first profession of vows. Unbeknownst to her, said Sr. Joyce Candidi, O.S.H.J., it was preserved “by those who sensed that one day she would be recognized for her great love and heroic virtues.”

Jacob and Bishop Murray
Jacob and Bishop Murray

Jacob and his family were able to make the trip to Italy and greet the Holy Father in Rome after the beatification along with the General Superior and General Counselor of the Oblate Sisters. On the Feast of All Saints, Pope Francis said: “(Mother Teresa Casini) was a contemplative woman and missionary; she made her life an offering of prayer and concrete charity in support of priests. Let us thank the Lord for her witness!”

On November 2nd, Bishop George Murry, S.J., celebrated Mass for the pilgrims in the crypt of St. Peter’s Basilica at the site of St. Peter’s tomb where they gathered to pray in thanksgiving once again for the life and holiness of Blessed Mother Teresa Casini. After the return home, one pilgrims observed, “As each day goes by, it continues to sink in that we experienced life-changing, as well as once-in-a-lifetime events.”

The Diocese of Youngstown is planning to celebrate Mother Casini’s beatification on Sunday, May 22, 2016, at St. Columba Cathedral.

See additional photos from the trip on Facebook.

St. Thomas Aquinas: Academic, Dominican, Saint

madonna-and-child-with-st-dominic-and-st-thomas-aquinas-fra-beato-1430Today the Church celebrates the feast of the Angelic Doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas. This great saint struggled against the wishes of his family to fulfill his vocation as a member of the Order of Preachers and went on to be an esteemed academic, saint and Doctor of the Church.

St. Thomas Aquinas has had a profound impact on the Church, particularly with regards to his studies in Philosophy and Theology. As a student, Thomas studied under St. Albert the Great and eventually went on to receive his doctorate in Theology from the University of Paris. His academic work has proven to be immensely influential and has received great praise and admiration. Pope Leo XIII even spoke of St. Thomas Aquinas in Aeterni Patris stating, “like the sun he heated the world with the warmth of his virtues and filled it with the splendor of his teaching.”

His academic work as a Dominican, however, almost did not occur due to his family’s opposition. At the age of nineteen, St. Thomas entered the fledgling community of the Order of Preachers in Naples. His family was distressed because they did not believe that a noble like Thomas should join a mendicant order and desired that he enter thomas-2-sizedthe renowned Abbey of Monte Cassino where a kinsman was Abbot. His brothers, imperial soldiers, captured St. Thomas on his way to Cologne and confined him to the castle of San Giovanni at Rocca Secca where they sought to tempt him away from his vocation. After two years, his family relented and he was released allowing him to profess vows in Rome.

After professing vows, St. Thomas went on to have an exceptional academic career though, after experiencing a time of ecstasy at Mass, he ceased to write  saying, “I can do no more. Such secrets have been revealed to me that all I have written now appears to be of little value” St. Thomas’ academic work has proven to be tremendously significant, however, and he is now considered the patron of students and universities. His persistence to fulfill his vocation and search for Truth, makes him an extraordinary figure for students.

The IRL is committed to promoting universities that provide strong formation in Catholic spirituality as students discern their vocation and obtain a college degree. Several colleges in the United States are affiliated with the IRL and provide a Catholic setting where students can seek Truth.

Franciscan Sisters’ “Discernment of Spirits” Silent Vocation Retreat

osf manitowocAre you a 20-something young woman discerning if God is calling you to religious life or to married life? Or seeking to follow His will more closely? A Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity, Sr. Jacqueline Spaniola, is offering a silent retreat, March 11-13, 2016, based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.

The Spiritual Exercises are a timeless and always useful “exercise” to guide you in the spiritual life as you seek to do God’s will. Most free time will be spent in blissful silence in order to pray and to ponder how God is working in your life. The retreat begins Friday, March 11th, at 6 p.m., and ends after a noon meal on Sunday, March 13th. The retreat is being held at the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity’s beautiful Motherhouse in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. For more information call or text 920-323-9632. Register for the retreat here.

The Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity foundation dates back to 1866 when 5 young women, inspired by St. Francis of Assisi’s simple way of living, banded together to form a small community dedicated to teaching religious education amongst the scattered parishes in the area. By  1872, there was such a growth in the number of sisters that  property was purchased on the shores of Silver Lake, the current site of the Holy Family Motherhouse. Today, they serve in education, healthcare and outreach to the poor.

If the retreat dates do not work for you, please let them know, and they will try to schedule alternate dates and invite other young women to join you.

For more information, please contact Sr. Julie Ann Sheahan, OSF, at sjulieann@fscc-calledtobe.org or address: 2409 S. Alverno Road, Manitowoc, WI  54220.

Discernment of Spirits retreat_8.5x11_2015outline

“My vocation was a surprise when I first became aware. Over the years of saying yes to the call to religious life, my life has been one of purpose, meaning and satisfaction.”

 

Support the Institute on Religious Life by Shopping!

Amazon Smile edited adjusted2You can now support the gift of religious life by simply shopping online! The Institute on Religious Life recently registered with the AmazonSmile Foundation which will allow friends of the IRL to aid our mission when purchasing items through smile.amazon.com.

Supporting the Institute on Religious Life through AmazonSmile is easy. When visiting the site, customers are prompted to select an eligible charitable organization. Simply select the Institute on Religious Life from this list and start shopping. The AmazonSmile Foundation will then donate a portion of the purchase price to the Institute on Religious Life.

It is important to note that this offer is only valid through smile.amazon.com and not amazon.com. Though the AmazonSmile Foundation was founded by Amazon, the Institute on Religious Life only receives donations from eligible purchases through AmazonSmile. Amazon does, however, pay all expenses of the AmazonSmile Foundation; which means that 100% of donation amounts generated by purchases on AmazonSmile go to the Institute on Religious Life. In other words, all donations generated from your purchases go directly towards promoting and supporting the gift of religious life, not the AmazonSmile Foundation.

As we conclude the Year of Consecrated Life and continue with the Jubilee Year of Mercy, please consider supporting the Institute on Religious Life as we strive to support and promote the gift of consecrated life. Thanks to the AmazonSmile Foundation, donating to the IRL has never been easier!

Apostleship of Prayer: January Intentions

ApostleshipofPrayerThe Holy Father’s prayer intentions for the month of January as well as reflections by Fr. James Kubicki, S.J., National Director of the Apostleship of Prayer.

UNIVERSAL INTENTION

Interreligious Dialogue: That sincere dialogue among men and women of different faiths may produce the fruits of peace and justice. 

Since Pope Paul VI instituted it in 1967, every new year begins with the World Day of Peace. In a conversation with Japanese teachers and students, Pope Francis said: “It is impossible for peace to exist without dialogue. All the wars, all the strife, all the unsolved problems over which we clash are due to a lack of dialogue. When there is a problem, talk: this makes peace.”

But dialogue means more than talking at each other. It means listening. “And what is the deepest approach we should have in order to dialogue and not quarrel? Meekness, the ability to encounter people, to encounter cultures peacefully; the ability to ask intelligent questions. Listening to others and then speaking. All this is meekness.”

Jesus described his heart as meek and humble. As we ask him to make our hearts like his, we are asking to have the meekness that is the basis for encounter and dialogue—the way to peace.

When he visited Turkey, Pope Francis spoke of the “sacred character” of “human life, a gift of God the Creator.” He said: “Fanaticism and fundamentalism need to be countered by the solidarity of all believers. This solidarity must rest on the following pillars: respect for human life and for religious freedom.”

And he gave us the challenge that is behind our prayer this month: “The world expects those who claim to adore God to be men and women of peace who are capable of living as brothers and sisters, regardless of ethnic, religious, cultural or ideological differences.”

EVANGELIZATIstatic1.squarespace.comON INTENTION

Christian Unity: That by means of dialogue and fraternal charity and with the grace of the Holy Spirit, Christians may overcome divisions.

The world wonders if peace is possible when the followers of the Prince of Peace are divided and have for centuries and into the present killed one another over their differences. Unbelievers will have a hard time accepting Christianity as long as its adherents are divided.

Every year from January 18-25 we celebrate a time of intense prayer for Christian unity. At the conclusion of the 2014 week of prayer, Pope Francis said that “we may not regard divisions in the Church as something natural, inevitable in any form of human association. Our divisions wound Christ’s body, they impair the witness which we are called to give to him before the world.”

He quoted also the words of Vatican II’s decree on ecumenism: “…division openly contradicts the will of Christ, scandalizes the world, and damages the sacred cause of preaching the Gospel to every creature.” And he added this comment: “We have all been damaged by these divisions. None of us wishes to become a cause of scandal.”

“And so we are all journeying together,” the pope continued, “fraternally, on the road towards unity, bringing about unity even as we walk; that unity comes from the Holy Spirit and brings us something unique which only the Holy Spirit can do, that is, reconciling our differences. The Lord waits for us all, accompanies us all, and is with us all on this path of unity.”

It has been fifty years since the Second Vatican Council ended. Are we any closer to unity? Or are we further apart? The world urgently needs Christian witness which demonstrates that conflicts can be overcome through dialogue and charity. As we pray, we open ourselves to the Holy Spirit’s power that alone can bring about unity.

Need Custom Liturgical Habits & Vestments?!?

norbert sequoiaAre you looking for someone who can design (or repair) high-quality liturgical vestments, linens or religious habits? Someone who understands the Catholic faith and prayerfully goes about her work of making beautiful designs for God?

A good resource is the The Liturgical Co., founded and run by Sequoia Sierra, a Lay (Third Order) Norbertine. Sequoia designed the postulants’ habits for the newly established Norbertine Sisters in Wilmington, CA. You can see the beautiful result in the picture!

The Norbertine sisters were originally founded in the Czech Republic in 1902, though this community was founded in 2011 by the General House of the Congregation of Norbertine Sisters in Slovakia. In the US, they minister to the poor, teach religious education and work in a book store.

In an article in Regina Magazine, Sequoia described the design process and how special the work was to her. “This was an incredible and profoundly moving experience… Having the honor of being a part of their history, at the very beginning of them establishing themselves here in the U.S. is an experience that will always be very special and dear to my heart.  It was the experience of a lifetime.”

I love that the new postulant uniform has 5 buttons on them, to remind everyone of the five marks of the Norbertine Order;

  • Solemn and Reverential Celebration of the Sacred Liturgy in Choir
  • Devotion to the Holy Eucharist
  • Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • A Spirit of Penance
  • Zeal for Souls

opraem vestMay they be blessed with many young women in postulant habits!

To read the Regina article, visit their website. To learn more about The Liturgical Co., visit www.theliturgicalco.com. To read about the new Norbertine family of sisters, visit the Sts. Peter and Paul parish website!

 

Capuchin Poor Clares in Delaware – Thirty Years in America!

PCC DEThe Capuchin Poor Clare nuns of St. Veronica Giuliani Monastery in Wilmington, DE, are celebrating their 30th anniversary this year. On December, 12, 1986, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, ten sisters left their beloved Mexico and came to a foreign land to be prayerful support to the Capuchin friars in their service to the poor. When they arrived in Philadelphia, a group of Capuchin Franciscans were awaiting them at the airport holding a large image of the Blessed Virgin of Tepeyac Hill, a heartwarming sign that Our Lady of Guadalupe was still with them in this new mission.

pcc de2The sisters make the habits for the Capuchin Brothers as well as liturgical vestments and altar linens. They assist the Brothers by  preparing meals for an emergency shelter for women with children.

The Capuchin Poor Clares were founded in by Ven. Maria Laurentia Longo in the 16thC. St. Veronica Giuliani, mystic and Capuchin Poor Clare, is their famous saint.

The sisters are blessed to have three young vocations, raising the number of nuns to twelve. They pray every day that the Lord will bring many more vocations “so they can join us in giving God adoration and glory through a life of prayer!”

 

 

 

St. John Neumann: The Glory of All Emigrants

_5442459Surprisingly, the saint whose feast we celebrate today was not accepted for ordination by his bishop and had to travel around the world in order to fulfill his priestly vocation. St. John Neumann is one of the most famous religious to have been a citizen of the United States and is known for organizing the first diocesan schedule of the Forty Hours’ Devotion in America, as well as, establishing the first system of parochial schools in the United States.

Born in Boehemia in 1811, St. John Neumann sought to serve the Lord by becoming a priest. Unfortunately, the local bishop turned him away citing an excess of priests in the diocese. Undeterred, St. John wrote to bishops throughout Europe who also did not accept him because of the similar circumstances. Finally, the Bishop of New York agreed to ordain him to the priesthood. This meant, however, that he would have to leave his homeland and face many hardships by traveling to live in United States.

After arriving in New York and ordination, St. John Neumann was placed in a parish in western New York. The parish covered a vast area near Niagara Falls forcing the saint to travel throughout the land in order to minister  to his people. His isolated life led him to seek community which he found by joining the Redemptorists. In the Redemptorists, he discovered a community which corresponded to his missionary vocation.

in 1852, St. John Neumann was named bishop of Philadelphia where he quickly became known for his pastoral care. He deeply cared for those within his diocese and learned six languages in order to communicate with them and hear their confessions. As bishop, he organized the first diocesan schedule of the Forty Hours’ Devotion in America and established the first system of parochial schools in the United States. These initiatives proved to be hugely successful and were emulated throughout the country.

St. John Neumann has had a great impact on religious life in the United States. He founded the Third Order of St. Francis of Glen Riddle and is one of the first American citizens who belonged to a religious community to be canonized. Pope Paul VI summarized the activity of the new saint by saying, “He was close to the sick, he loved to be with the poor, he was a friend of sinners, and now he is the glory of all emigrants.”

New Dominican Foundation in Ireland

opIn 2016, the Dominicans are celebrating the 800th anniversary of their founding. Their Order was officially confirmed by Pope Honorius III on December 22, 1216, as a body of Canons Regular. The year-long plus celebration takes place between November 7, 2015, and January 21, 2017.

The history of the Dominican family in Ireland is almost as ancient. The Order of Preachers came to the Emerald Isle in 1227, 789 years ago. Rounding up, that’s 800 years too!

In this jubilee year, the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia, based in Nashville, Tennessee, gave Catholics in the city of Limerick some happy news. It had been announced that the Dominican fathers were leaving the city because of falling numbers. But beginning in August, four sisters from Nashville will be moving into the priory associated with St. Saviour’s Church.

It was Bishop Brendan Leahy who issued the invitation and much to his surprise, received an interested reply. Two sisters came last summer and “were very taken with Limerick.”

saviourThe church is dedicated to the Most Holy Saviour Transfigured. Paintings and stained glass windows honor the Dominican saints, namely, Sts. Vincent, Catherine of Ricci, Pius V, Albert the Great, Catherine of Siena, Rose of Lima, Peter the Martyr, Margaret of Hungary, John Macias, Thomas Aquinas and Dominic. Sounds like a worthy Dominican pilgrimage site for the Jubilee Year!

The Nashville Dominicans were founded in 1860 and came to the city at the invitation of the second Bishop of Nashville, the Right Reverend James Whelan (born in Ireland). The Bishop, also a Dominican, wanted sisters to “conduct an academy for higher education of girls and young ladies” with an emphasis.”

The sisters will continue the Dominican tradition of contemplative prayer and evangelization, namely teaching and religious formation, in their new home city.

“In this year dedicated to Consecrated Life, it is like a gift from God to us that we can now look forward to the arrival of new young Dominican Sisters who will surely also be an inspiration to young people,” said Bishop Leahy.

To read more, visit The Limerick Reader website.

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