Benedictine Nuns and Ranchers?

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

walburga 2Featured in NBCNEWS.com is a short featurette on the Benedictine nuns of the Abbey of St. Walburga in Colorado. Between praying the full Divine Office every day, they also find time to raise highly sought-after cattle. The story behind these cattle ranching nuns is told in this short video.

Their pioneering Sisters started the cattle farm, which supplies the sisters with sustenance and also is sold locally. Llamas are used as watch”dogs” because apparently they really intimidate mountain lions! Their menagerie also includes chickens, pigs, dogs, and numerous barn cats. The nuns do most of the farm work, with occasional help from neighbors and friends.

walburgaIn 1986, the abbey was granted its independence from the motherhouse in Eichstätt, Bavaria, Germany. As an autonomous house, they are a member community of the Federation of Bavarian Monasteries of Nuns. They profess three vows: obedience, stability, and fidelity to the monastic way of life.

Guests are welcome to stay and make a retreat. They also have a gift shop and a popular Way of the Cross.

Visit their website for more information!

 

 

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Brother Paul O’Donnell, fbp – RIP

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

fbpBr. Paul Joseph O’Donnell

December 15th 1959 – February 20th 2015

Beloved long time superior of the Franciscan Brothers of Peace of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Br. Paul Joseph O’Donnell, fbp, age 55, of St. Paul, formerly of Omaha, died February 20, 2015.

Br. Paul was a dedicated, nationally recognized leader within the right-to-life movement, advocating for the human rights and dignity of the unborn, handicapped, elderly, and a heart for serving the spiritually and bodily poor. He was a co-founder and president of Pro-Life Action Ministries, founding board member of Human Life Alliance and chairman of the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network. Deeply loved and survived by his religious community: Brothers, Joseph Katzmarek, Pio King, John Mary Kaspari, Conrad Richardson, James Voeller, Seraphim Wirth, Maximilian Connelly, Juniper Barlett, Benedict Gerard Kelley, Dominic Michael Hart, and Postulants Nicholas Listi and Ricardo Pagba, all of St. Paul.

Brother Paul and his fellow Franciscans were and are a familiar presence at our annual National Meetings, uplifting all by their gentle good humor and  kindliness. Brother Paul’s whole life was an offering of self for those on the fringes of society and suffering from profound neglect or in peril of death . He will be greatly missed. May his Franciscan brothers be inspired by his example to carry on this work of the Lord with the same courage and dedication.

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pccJust in time for Lent, Ignatius Press has released a book of profound and timeless Lenten mediations from Mother Mary Francis, PCC, the abbess of the Poor Clare Monastery of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Roswell, New Mexico.

Mother Mary Francis (1921–2006) was abbess for over 40 years and is most famous for her classic book on Poor Clare life, A Right to be Merry. This new work, entitled A Time of Renewal: Daily Reflections for the Lenten Season, presents beautiful meditations on the liturgical season of Lent, revealing the treasures of the liturgy to Christians in all walks of life. Her insight into Holy Scripture and her poetic way of writing make her reflections on the daily Mass readings fresh and attractive.

As the Ignatius Press press release says:

Mother Mary Francis excels in the art of persuasion, aware that the human heart cannot be forced but only gently led to holiness. She makes this goal attractive and desirable by tirelessly explaining why striving for holiness is the happiest and wisest way to live. This book provides a wealth of material for plundering the riches of the Lenten season and for deepening one’s spiritual life. Her meditations are profound and timeless, not changing from year to year, thus providing a lifetime of Lenten meditations in this one volume.

To order, visit the Ignatius Press website (www.ignatius.com) or call: 1-800-651-1531.

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The process towards the future canonization of Mother Mary Teresa Tallon, foundress of the Parish Visitors of Mary Immaculate, took another big step last month when the diocesan phase was closed on January 13, 2015. The closing took place in the chancery of the Archdiocese of New York, and the following day Mother Mary Teresa’s writings and related papers were taken to Rome. The official Roman phase began January 22.

Rebecca

Rebecca

The Parish Visitors had another reason to celebrate as their new postulant, Rebecca Lasota, from Arizona, began her postulancy on January 25. Rebecca had a desire from a young age to become a sister and only knew a little about the Parish Visitors when she ran into Sr. Mary Beata in the parking lot of a Home Depot. Talk about going to the by-ways and highways to find your vocation!

The Parish Visitors main mission is to seek out and reconcile to the Church fallen-away Catholics through door-to-door evangelization.

“She loves our charism,” said Sr. Mary Beata. “We go out as the Good Shepherd. We carry Jesus, the Good News, to our people.”

Mother Mary Teresa told the sisters to “make the truth lovable.” May her increased visibility draw many to Jesus Christ, perhaps as a Parish Visitor of Mary Immaculate.

 

 

 

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Mercedarians Welcome New Postulant

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By Anne Tschanz | Filed in Women's Communities | No comments yet.
odemparentsOn February 2, 2015, the Mercedarian Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament officially welcomed Yvelyne Bernard as the newest member of their community. Originally from in New York, Yvelyne moved to Florida when she was teenager. After college, she moved to Louisiana and worked in campus ministry. On a Come & See weekend, she met the Mercedarian sisters in Baton Rouge and the rest is history.

The sisters say that right from the get-go, Yvelyne fit in like she had been there for years. So many times, religious have said upon visiting their future community for the first time—I knew I was home the minute I entered the building.

During the ceremony, held on the Feast of the Presentation (February 2), Yvelyne’s parents were able to be in attendance. The sisters said, “Normally, the ceremony is closed, but her parents had never visited odembefore, so this was a perfect opportunity for them to have peace of mind and heart, to know that she is safe and happy. It was a beautiful day. We are grateful to God for blessing us with vocations to our community. We humbly pray that vocations continue to come. We have a couple of women who are visiting and others who are interested or planning on visiting. Keep these women in your prayers. May they be docile to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in their lives.”

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Daisy’s Thank You

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

In this Year of Consecrated Life, I think it is time to post this thank you letter that we received from a young girl several years ago. I saved it because I loved it. I think you will feel the same…

Daisy - Dear Sisters

 

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A Brother to All: Br. Thomas Frey, CSC

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

thomas freyIn the next issue of Religious Life, Br. Thomas Frey, CSC, will tell his vocation story about his life as a brother in the Congregation of Holy Cross. Earlier this year, an article appeared about him in the Hilltop Views, a student newspaper from St. Edward’s University in Austin, TX.

After many years as a teacher, Brother Thomas retired to Brother Vincent Pieau Residence which is on the campus of St. Edward’s. But that does not mean that he really is retired. Brother Thomas is a sacristan and brings Communion to brothers who are in rehabilitation and to a 104-year-old woman in a nursing home. He also leads a rosary at the Grotto.

Brother Thomas often accompanies a brother at the moment of death. He guesses that he has been with 30 brothers as they have journeyed from this life. He said that when they come to this moment, “they’re looking forward to heaven, I mean that’s it. It’s not like, oh my gosh – I’m going to die it’s all over. No, no, it’s just beginning.”

When Brother Thomas was in formation, there were 90 other men studying to be brothers. In the past twenty years, only five men have entered religious life as a Holy Cross brother. It is a shame because the vocation of a brother is unique. A brother is a brother to all, a friend to all. The brothers who are saints have demonstrated a love for humanity that makes them approachable and close to us. Look at St. (Brother) Andre Bessette, C.S.C, a humble doorkeeper who had a million people process by his casket in 1937. And St. Francis of Assisi, the little poor one, who was and is a great friend of the poor.

Brother Thomas says: “A case can be made for the truth that Saint Joseph by his very vocation to live poverty, chastity and obedience in the presence of Jesus and Mary all his life is the origin of the first brother.” Brother Thomas is that Joseph-like man by his dedication to his students and in his twilight years, still a beacon of light and encouragement to his fellow brothers of the Holy Cross.

“Living the religious life as a Brother of the Holy Cross from February 2, 1950, until the present day, January 2, 2015,” said Brother Thomas, “my experience has been truly wonderful.”

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peru martyrsMichal Tomaszek and Zbigniew Strzalkowski, two Conventual Franciscan Friars from Poland, had been in Peru for several years ministering to the poor and needy in the parish of Pariacoto, in the Diocese of Chimbote.  There, they were faithful to the difficult task of fulfilling the needs of the parish while at the same time making the rounds to several needy villages in the area.  Despite the difficulties of the conditions, the Friars never failed to leave behind their Franciscan brand of humility, poverty, and kindness; and their ability to see the good in every situation.

Unfortunately, their work was targeted by the terrorist group “the Shining Path,” who had vowed to escalate their violence against the Catholic Church.  In August of 1991, the group publicly announced that they would kill one priest every week in the Diocese of Chimbote.

While the first priest the guerrillas targeted escaped execution, Michal and Zbigniew were not so lucky.  On August 9th after the evening Eucharist celebration, they were taken from the church, led out of the village to the local cemetery, and killed.

Sixteen days later, the group targeted a third victim. Alessandro Dordiwas a diocesan priest from Italy, who was sent to Peru in 1980.  He was assigned to the northern boundary of the Diocese of Chimbote and had focused his ministry on the poor peasant farmers in the very rural areas of the Diocese.  It was because of his affiliation with these disadvantaged groups that Alessandro became the next target of the guerrillas.  As he drove from one town to another to celebrate the last Mass of the day, the guerrillas blocked the road with stones.  When he stepped out of his car, they executed him.

A nun who knew the Franciscans said, “They stayed there until the end. This is not something you improvise; it’s a gift. I saw Fr. Zbigniew a few days before his martyrdom, and I asked him if they were being threatened. He smiled and said, ‘We cannot abandon the people. One never knows, but if they kill us, bury us here.'”

The deaths of these three men have been a reminder to Christians everywhere of our call to be faithful to the Gospel “even unto death.”  Their funerals were a testament to the love the people had for them, and their devotion to the native communities they served. While Peru has had saints and blessed before, this beloved priest and these two devoted Conventual Franciscan Friars have become the first Martyrs of Peru.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Norbertine Vocation Story

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By Anne Tschanz | Filed in Men's communities | No comments yet.
Fr. Claude (l) and a confrere at prayer

Fr. Claude (l) and a confrere at prayer

Our Sunday Visitor has a wonderful article about a young Norbertine priest who is part of the community of Norbertines at St. Michael’s Abbey in Silverado, California. Fr. Claude Williams, O.Praem., articulates the beauty of Norbertine life extremely.

Father Claude grew up in New Orleans where he was talk by religious sisters. While attending Franciscan University of Steubenville, a Carmelite sister from Alhambra, California, suggested that he become acquainted with the Norbertines. He was very impressed with the liturgical life of the Norbertines and found that he “could not imagine spending my life anywhere else but the abbey.”

After entering the order, Claude found that he liked the regular monastic routine. For Norbertines, this begins with 5:30 a.m. morning prayer, 6:30 a.m. Mass, followed by prayers of thanksgiving. A 4:00 p.m. Holy Hour is followed by vespers. After dinner comes night prayer and lights out at 10:00 p.m. The Norbertine motto is: “Prepared for Every Good Work.” The first and foremost good work is the reverent celebration of the Holy Eucharist.

Father Claude is assigned to a Norbertine parish in Costa Mesa, CA. Though Norbertines staff parishes, they are not diocesan priests. They are Canons Regular meaning that they live in community and share a common life. It is the life of the Apostles where everything was held in common and they prayed together several times a day.

Father professed solemn vows in 2009. In addition to poverty, chastity and obedience, Norbertines profess a fourth vow of Conversion of Ways. “The limits placed on us by the holy vows are formative,” he said. “They help you to be what you are supposed to be.” A fellow religious told him, “Today, you will make your vows. One day, the vows will make you.”

For more information on the Norbertines, visit their website.

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Handmaids Sell New Mexico Monastery

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By Anne Tschanz | Filed in Cloistered life | No comments yet.

opbOn October 17, 2015, the Handmaids of the Precious Blood agreed to the sale of their former Motherhouse in Jemez Springs, New Mexico, to the sovereign nation of the Jemez Pueblo. Rev. Mother Marietta, H.P.B., and the Pueblo’s governor, Joshua Madalena, were the signers of the agreement, which had a closing date of December 31, 2014.

The New Mexico monastery of Cor Jesu, located in a rural area in the mountains between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, was home to the Handmaids of the Precious Blood for sixty-seven years. It was in 1947 that Father Gerald Fitzgerald founded the Handmaids to support the priesthood by their hidden lives of prayer and sacrifice, and daily Eucharistic Adoration. Father Gerald knew that “in strengthening the priest you strengthen the whole Church.” The sisters visibly display this charism by the wearing of a wine-red habit, symbolic of the Precious Blood of Christ, and the white veil, symbolizing the white Host of the Eucharist.

With the closure, the sisters have completed the move to their new home on the grounds of Christ Prince of Peace Retreat Center in the diocese of Knoxville under the paternal care of Bishop Richard F. Stika. With the arrival of the five sisters from New Mexico and the presence of their newest member and first native Tennessean, Sr. Christiana, the sisters had a very joyous family reunion.

Bishop Sticka said, “Their prayers and many sacrifices as a silent proclamation of the Gospel are the very ‘soul and leaven’ of the Church’s evangelization efforts and works of mercy. Indeed, cloistered religious are truly indispensable co-workers in the mystery of redemption.”

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