Bl. Klara Ludwika Szczesna Beatified

S._Klara_Ludwika_SzczęsnaBack in Rome from his trip to Cuba and the United States, Pope Francis addressed Sister Servants of the Sacred Heart of Jesus from Poland Tuesday. The sisters were in Rome to give thanks for the  recent beatification of the co-foundress, Bl. Klara Ludwika Szczesna.

The Holy Father addressed the Sister Servants of the Sacred Heart of Jesus following catechesis and explained how Bl. Klara is a great witness for all to emulate. He said, “By her life, the new Blessed taught us about giving oneself to God, humble service to neighbors, life according to the spirit of the Gospel, and sensitivity to the poor, to those in need and those who have lost their way in life. May her motto, ‘All for the Heart of Jesus,’ be a challenge for all of us, so that we may live according to God’s will.”

Bl. Klara Ludwika Szczesna was born on July 18, 1863 in Cieszki, Poland. She decided at a young age to dedicate herself to the Lord and entered with the Servants of Jesus, an underground religious congregation as religious orders were forbidden under Russian rule. Her superiors in the Servants of Jesus sent her to Krakow to aid servants there. She shared similar concerns for them that St. Joseph Sebastian Pelczar had and became the co-foundress, first member and superior of the Sister Servants of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

While Bl. Klara Ludwika Szczesna died nearly one hundred years ago in 1916, her memory and extraordinary witness live on as a testament to her faith and great love for the Lord and His children.



Heralds of Holiness and the Traverse City Carmelites

Traverse girls savengerIn the midst of our National Meeting preparations last spring, a kind couple from Michigan came to the office to pick up our Heralds of Holiness exhibit, an 80-panel display showing the ancient roots of the consecrated life, as well as how it is still expressed in our many Affiliate communities today. They brought it to the Carmelite Monastery of the Infant of Prague in Traverse City, Michigan, where it was on display for an open house as part of the celebration for the Year of Consecrated Life.

traverse rearMore than 300 people visited the monastery to tour the nuns’ renovated chapel and to view the exhibit. About 30 young people squeezed into the monastery “speakroom” for a Question and Answer session with the nuns about their cloistered life.

Heralds of Holiness then went on the march, thanks to the efforts of the Carmelites who promoted it around the diocese. It began with a tour of Catholic schools in the diocese of Gaylord, and was viewed by 600 students at St. Francis High School, Traverse City; 55 students at St. Mary’s K-8 school in Kingsley; and by over 230 students and parents at St. Francis Xavier School and St. Michael the Archangel Regional Catholic Academy in Petoskey before the school year ended.

After this, the display traveled to St. Mary of Mt. Carmel Cathedral in Gaylord for viewing by the faithful gathered for the ordination of three transitional deacons and one priest on June 25th. In July, the exhibit went to the National Shrine of the Cross in the Woods.

cross in the woodsI have to admit that I was not familiar with this incredible place of pilgrimage until Heralds of Holiness arrived there. The crucifix on the cross on the hill, at a weight of 7 tons and 28 feet in length, is the largest in the world! The sculptor gave the face of Jesus an expression of great peace and strength to offer everyone who comes to pray there encouragement in the face of their own struggles, a perfect place of pilgrimage for the upcoming Year of Mercy.

If you would like to visit the Carmelite monastery in Traverse City, the chapel is open for prayer and daily mass. Join them for the Triduum of Masses in honor of St. Therese, September 29, 30 and October 1. We pray that Heralds of Holiness awakens in young people a desire to learn more about religious life and result in holy and persevering vocations for the Carmelites as well!

Joyfully Embracing the Garment of Mourning

Sr. Frances Marie of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus receives the Passionist Habit

On the feast of the Assumption, Nora Wenke completed her year of postulancy and began her two years of novitiate which are an intense time of preparation for final vows with the Passionists Nuns of Whitesville, Kentucky. As she embarked on this new time of formation, Nora joyfully received a new name, Sr. Frances Marie of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, the veil of a bride and the Passionist habit.

Sr. Frances Marie of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus has been overwhelmed with gratitude to God for the grace to be clothed in the Holy Passionist habit as it is an outward sign of the gift of her vocation as a Passionist nun. She desires to faithfully, “answer His call-to love and follow Jesus Christ whole-heartedly in religious life.”

074By accepting a new name and the Passionist habit, Sr. Frances Marie is responding to the Lord’s call and Our Lady’s invitation to join her at the foot of the cross. The long black Passionist habit which she now wears is a ‘garment of mourning’ and testimony to her union with the Sorrowful Mother. It is also a symbol of Christ and a reminder of her call to follow Christ crucified.

The Passionists were founded by St. Paul of the Cross who, while returning from Mass one day, saw, “himself clothed in a rough woolen tunic; it was black, and over the heart he saw a white cross beneath which was the Holy Name of Jesus. At the same moment, an interior voice said: ‘This signifies how pure and spotless that heart should be which bears the Holy Name of Jesus engraved upon it'” Passionists like Sr. Frances Marie of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus continue to embrace their habit remembering the passion of Jesus and His great love.

Evangelizing the Peripheries: Pope Francis Canonizes St. Junipero Serra

pope-3-092315As part of his visit to the United States, Pope Francis has canonized the missionary of California, St. Junipero Serra. The canonization marks a new springtime for the new evangelization and an increased effort to proclaim the Gospel to the peripheries.

St. Junipero Serra was born in 1713 on the island of Mallorca off the coast of Spain and joined a Franciscan community at a young age. He quickly garnered notoriety for his intelligence and rich spiritual life. He received the Duns Scotus Chair of philosophy at the prestigious Lullian University, however, he felt called to leave the comfort of his country and desired to go to the New World in order to spread the Gospel there. St. Junipero first worked in Mexico until he was fifty when he accepted an invitation to evangelize what is present-day California. He worked tirelessly to spread the Good News and established missions along the coast from San Diego to San Francisco.

The missions themselves have caused St. Junipero Serra to be a controversial figure with some critics saying that he was an advocate to the oppression of thousands of Native Americans by colonials. Bishop Robert Barron, himself a great evangelist and current auxiliary bishop in California, addressed the controversy in a recent video saying, “What fired his (St. Junipero’s) heart above all was the prospect of announcing the Good News of Jesus Christ to those who had never before heard it, and there is no question that his missions provided the institutional framework for that proclamation.” Bishop Barron emphasized that while St. Junipero was not blameless throughout his life, he was nevertheless a saint who desired to spread the Gospel to people living on the periphery.

During his homily at the Pontifical North American College in May, Pope Francis laid out three key aspects to the life of St. Junipero Serra: his missionary zeal, his Marian devotion and his witness to holiness. The Holy Father said that what motivated St. Junipero Serra to leave everything and journey to the New World was, “his desire to proclaim the gospel ad gentes, that heartfelt impulse which seeks to share with those farthest away the gift of encountering Christ.”

By canonizing St. Junipero Serra during his visit to the United States, Pope Francis is challenging all Catholics to get out of their comfort zone and spread the Good News of Jesus Christ to all, even and especially to those on the peripheries. The Holy Father is also highlighting the vital role which religious men and women played and continue to play in proclaiming the Gospel in the Americas.

New Energy and Direction in Springfield

Rev. James Isaacson, SJC, Rev. Scott Thelander, SJC, and Rev. Kevin Mann, SJC outside Sacred Heart Church.

Three Canons Regular of St. John Cantius, Rev. James Isaacson, SJC, Rev. Scott Thelander, SJC, and Rev. Kevin Mann, SJC, will serve in Springfield, Illinois at the invitation of Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki and blessing of Fr. C. Frank Phillips, CR. The three priests will serve in St. Katharine Drexel Parish which is comprised of two churches, St. Patrick Church and Sacred Heart Church.

Bishop Paprocki knows the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius from his days as chancellor and auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Chicago. He personally witnessed their work at St. John Cantius Church in Chicago as he regularly offered 11 am Latin Mass there. He invited them to serve in Springfield because of the spiritual renaissance and physical restoration he saw occur within the parish. Bishop Paprocki is hopeful that the priests can bring about similar results within St. Katharine Drexel Parish saying that hey have the potential to inject, “new energy and new direction.”

Fr. Isaacson, Fr. Thelander and Fr. Mann will be able to share the charism of their young community within a culturally diverse parish. They will engage in parochial ministry and celebrate the Mass in both forms and in three languages: English, Latin and Spanish. They are prepared to aid the parish which has already seen progress with both churches having undergone recent restoration projects.

St. John Cantius Church in Chicago
St. John Cantius Church in Chicago

By moving to Springfield, Fr. Isaacson, Fr. Thelander and Fr. Mann hope to carry out the mission of the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius within the context of parish ministry, which is, “to help Catholics rediscover a profound sense of the sacred through solemn liturgies, devotions, sacred art, sacred music, as well as instruction in Church heritage, catechetics, and Catholic culture.”

Northeast Catholic College – Record Enrollment!

ne collegeThe IRL has many Affiliate communities of the religious persuasion but only  few select colleges are listed on our web page!

One noteworthy establishment of higher education is Northeast Catholic College, formerly known as The College of Saint Mary Magdalen. This Fall they welcomed the largest student body in the college’s 42-year history. It is a small college but the Class of 2019 is twice the size of ne 2last year’s class. They also retained 100% of the freshman from last year and the overall retention rate is 95%. Students who go there obviously love it!

The college occupies 135 beautiful acres on Mt. Kearsarge in Warner, New Hampshire. It was established as a residential, Catholic liberal arts college and seeks—through the rigorous study and discussion of primary texts and through its vibrantly Catholic student life—to call their students to the life-long pursuit of intellectual and moral virtue, following Christ who is the source of all virtue.

Four documents form the core of their identity and self-understanding as a college:

  • Pope Saint John Paul II’s Encyclical Fides et ratio
  • Pope Saint John Paul II’s Apostolic Constitute Ex corde ecclesiae
  • Pope Benedict XVI’s “Address to Catholic Educators” (2008)
  • Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman’s Idea of a University

Their theologians seek the  Mandatum from the bishop so parents seeking to ensure that their children receive the fullness of the Faith at a Catholic university should consider Northeast Catholic college where the truth is presented in all its beautiful clarity.

In the spring of 2016, the college will welcome Cardinal Raymond Burke who will lead sung Morning Prayer, offer several conferences for the students and members of the community, and celebrate Mass at St. Joseph Cathedral in Manchester, New Hampshire.

They also have a program in Norcia, Italy, in association with the Benedictines who reside there at the birthplace of Sts. Benedict and Scholastica. The community in Norcia was founded by Fr. Cassian Folsom, O.S.B., and is an IRL Affiliate.

Dr. George Harne, President of the college said: “As our collegiate community continues to grow, we will advance our mission to renew the Church we love and the society we seek to serve.”

We invite you to visit us.  Join us in class.  Join us at Mass. Come see how God is blessing us as we seek to follow Him in fidelity.


Pope Francis Celebrates Year of Consecrated Life with Young Religious

pope-francis-general-audience-610x343Pope Francis held a special audience Thursday morning when he welcomed young people in consecrated life who were in Rome for the International Congress for Young People in Consecrated Life which met within the context of the Year of Consecrated Life.
The Pope answered several questions posed by young consecrated men and women from throughout the world during the audience. While speaking particularly to religious women, the Holy Father said, “You have this desire to be on the front line: why? Because you are mothers – you have this maternal quality of the Church herself, which unites you.” Pope Francis emphasized the integral role which consecrated men and women play in spreading the Gospel saying, “The Church is the Bride of Christ, and religious sisters are brides of Christ – they draw their whole strength from there: before the sanctuary, before the Lord, in prayer with their Bridegroom, in order to carry His message.”
The Holy Father warned those in attendance of the dangers of “comfort” in religious life and how it can affect one’s ability to live out their vocation. He emphasized that the key is to have a, ” heart always open to that, which the Lord tells us, and to bring that, which the Lord tells us, to dialogue with our [religious] superior, with one’s spiritual maestro or maestro, with the Church, with the bishop.” He also caution about the dangers of gossip in religious life calling it the, “plague of community life.”
The questions also asked the Holy Father to reflect on his calling to religious life. When asked about his first memory of a vocation to religious life he said, “You asked me to share my memory – how it was – that first call on September 21st, 1953 – but I don’t know how it was: I know that, by chance, I walked into church, I saw a confessional, and I came out different.”

Habemus Generalis! Little Sisters of the Poor Elect New Superior General

latourWhile visiting France in the Fall of 1995, I had the good fortune to stay for a few days at the Little Sisters of the Poor Motherhouse in Brittany, France. What a blessing to be able to pray in the crypt of the church next to the tomb of their foundress, St. Jeanne Jugan. Most wonderful of all, was the warm welcome received by me from all of the sisters, particularly Sr. Marie-Pierre who looked after me like a mother. I should have expected this because the Little Sister’s fourth vow is hospitality.

The Little Sisters receive their formation at the motherhouse called La Tour Saint Joseph. What a joy to see sisters from all over the world gather together to form one family of faith dedicated to caring for God’s little ones on earth, the elderly poor.

I had the pleasure of meeting the Mother General, and also Mother Celine de la Visitation, who was kind enough to issue me the invitation to stay. I mention all of this because Mother Celine was elected Mother General the following year and served in that capacity for the next 19 years. On September 8th, it was announced that the Little Sisters had elected a new Superior General, Sister María del Monte Auxiliadora as their first Spanish superior general! It was accompanied by the singing of the Te Deum and a flurry of calls and emails back home.

Mother Celine with Sean Cardinal O'Malley
Mother Celine with Sean Cardinal O’Malley

Mother María was elected to the General Council in 2009 and is originally from Seville, Spain, where she was provincial superior and mistress of novices in the Spanish novitiate. Five other sisters were also elected to the General Council reflecting the international flavor of their Congregation: Sisters Nicole Emmanuel and Benoît de Ste. Bernadette from France; Sister Joseph Christine, from Scotland; Sister Patricia Ivonne del Espíritu Santo, from Chile and Sister Maria Clarette, from Sri Lanka. Mother Celine, originally from San Francisco, California, will remain in the General Council, assuming the role of Vicar General.

Please pray for the Little Sisters in this time of transition and as they continue their religious freedom legal battle, one that will greatly influence our own ability to uphold our Catholic faith in the public arena.

(Religious) Life After Soccer

srtreresa1During high school, Sr. Teresa Pandl was the captain of the girls soccer team and led a typical life full of friends and soccer. However, she felt a longing in her heart that God was calling her to more than a typical life, He was calling her to a life as a religious sister with the Sisters of St Francis of the Martyr of St. George.

Sr. Teresa Pandl was the toughest player on the girls soccer team in high school and was the best slide tackler in the history of the school according to her former coach. It was at the beginning of her high school career that she first had the desire to serve God by serving his people after going on a mission trip. She did not, however, think this service would be as a religious sister. The trip was her first encounter with extreme poverty and had a profound impact. The experience Sr. Teresa had on her mission trip stayed with her throughout high school and as she attended the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee her freshman year of college. She felt unsatisfied during her freshman year transferred to Franciscan University in Stuebenville in order to be surrounded by “faith-filled people.”

By transferring she was able to study Theology and Catechetics while also playing on the soccer team. She originally thought she would pursue a career as a youth minister, however, the connections she made with religious on campus made her notice the deep joy they had. Sr. Teresa had a strong indication that God was calling her to be a religious sister at Franciscan University. She spoke with several orders and decided to enter with the Sisters of St Francis of the Martyr of St. George after visiting their motherhouse in Alton, Illinois.

As the director of religious education at Holy Spirit Parish in Overland, Kansas, Sr. Teresa still leads an active life. She aids in sacramental preparation and oversees religious education for students of public schools. She sees her vocation as an adventure and says, “I don’t know where he will take me or who he is going to bring into my life. There have been many surprises already and I am sure there are many more ahead.”

Co-Foundress of Sister Servants of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus to be Beatified

klaraOn September 27, 2015, the Sister Servants of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus will be celebrating the beatification of the co-foundress of their order – Mother  Klara Szczesna. The beatification will take place in Krakow, Poland, with a Mass to be celebrated by Cardinal Angelo Amata, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

Mother Klara (Ludwika) was born in Poland in 1863. Her mother died was she was a young girl and she was pressured by her father to enter into an arranged marriage. But she left home secretly in 1886 and joined an underground religious community, since entering religious life was forbidden during the time of the Russian occupation.

When Fr. Joseph Pelczar (later bishop and saint) was looking for women to work with him among the servants of Krakow, the sisters sent him Ludwika. From this collaboration emerged the Sister Servants of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, dedicated to the plight of servants, the poor and the sick. Mother died in 1916 at the Motherhouse in Krakow.

cressonThe sisters came to North America in 1959. Their provincial house is in Cresson, PA, and besides Pennsylvania, they also have sisters in Delaware and Jamaica. Their mission is to worship the Triune God in the Mystery of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and to spread the Kingdom of Love of the Divine Heart by serving Christ particularly among girls, the poor and the sick. Their scapular is embroidered with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, their Shield and Protector.

All for the Heart of Jesus!


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