St. Catherine of Siena: Messenger of Mercy

Siena Today the Church celebrates the feast of St. Catherine of Siena which is particularly significant during this Year of Mercy and 800th Jubilee of the Foundation of the Dominican Order. St. Catherine led an extraordinary life as an advisor to the Holy See, Dominican tertiary, and witness to God’s merciful love.

Catherine Benincasa was born on the feast of the Annunciation in 1347 and quickly grew to have a deep spiritual life first having an apparition of Christ at the young age of 6. After some hesitation from her family, St. Catherine obtained permission to become a Dominican tertiary and experienced a “mystical marriage” with Christ at the age of 21. Following the momentous occasion, she performed works of mercy including visiting the imprisoned whom she hoped would turn to God and nursing the sick even volunteering to care for those afflicted with the most terrible diseases.

St. Catherine soon became renowned throughout Italy for her sanctity and wisdom. During her life, she strove to maintain peace throughout Italy by negotiating peace terms between cities and preaching a crusade in hopes of unifying the Christendom to retake the Holy Land. St. Catherine’s wisdom caused popes to take her counsel as she was influential in convincing Pope Gregory XI to return to Rome and even moved to Rome herself at the request of Pope Urban VI during the Great Schism that occurred in 1378. Her wisdom and profound spiritual insights are also apparent in her writings which led her to be proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI.

8900060944_b1782bb7c7_oThe feast of the renowned Dominican saint corresponds this year with the 8th Triennial General Assembly of the Dominican Sisters International who are currently meeting in Rome to pray, reflect and discuss the future of their preaching mission. The IRL has many Dominican affiliates including the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne who were founded by the youngest child of author Nathaniel Hawthorne, Rose. For more information on affiliate Dominican communities please visit the IRL website.

The Extraordinary Life of St. Maximilian Kolbe’s Spiritual Son

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Father Krolikowski with St. Maxymillian Kolbe in 1939.

Many have been inspired to imitate the life of St. Maximilian Kolbe, however, Father Lucjan Krolikowski OFM Conv. is unique because he lived in community with the saint for several years as a Conventual Franciscan. The 96 year old priest has led an extraordinary life having lived in community with St. Maximilian, struggled to survive a Soviet gulag in Siberia during World War II, saved and became the foster father to 150 Polish orphans and broadcasted a Catholic radio program for 32 years in the United States.

Fr. Krolikowski entered the Conventual Franciscan friary of Niepokalanow in 1934 at the age of 15 due to his desire to become a priest like St. Maximilian Kolbe. At the time, Niepokalanow was the largest monastery in the world and St. Maximilian was the heart and soul of the community’s apostolate according to Fr. Krolikowski. In an interview with the National Catholic Register, he said, “I’ve met a few saintly people in my life, but Father Maximilian Kolbe was the most saintly, in my estimation. He had an impact on you; you wanted to imitate him.” The friars deeply loved St. Maximilian and many even volunteered their own lives for his release following his arrest.

Soviet troops arrested Fr. Krolikowski in 1940 and sent him from Niepokalanow to a labor camp in Siberia. At the camp, he cut down trees for 13 or 14 hours each day only occasionally receiving a piece of bread for sustenance. With the war incurring many causalities, soldiers were needed. As a result, Fr. Krolikowski entered training and went to the Middle East eventually becoming a priest in Beirut and spending time in East Africa.

5913110  In East Africa, Fr. Krolikowski met Polish children who had become orphaned after their parents had died in Soviet gulags. When the Communist government of Poland demanded their repatriation, Fr. Krolikowski heroically sought to aid them by emigrating with them to Canada. He recounted this trial in Stolen Children: A Saga of Polish War Children which he wrote with the hope that the book would, “draw attention to the parallel fate of the children of other races and nationalities who are ravaged by the uncontrolled passion for power, wealth, success and ill-understood independence.”

Once in the United States, Fr. Krolikowski continued to lead a life fashioned in imitation of St. Maximilian. He did this by broadcasting a Catholic radio program for 32 years and writing several books including his memoir, A Franciscan Odyssey. When reflecting on his life, Fr. Krolikowski says he would do it all over again because he chose the life of his spiritual father, St. Maximilian Kolbe.

Founder of the SOLTs Passes Away – Fr. Jim Flanagan

Fr FlanOn Holy Thursday, March 24, 2016, Fr. James Flanagan, SOLT, founder of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, peacefully died, surrounded by members of his family, both immediate and spiritual. The SOLTs were established in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe in 1958, the perfect springboard, Father Jim thought, to eventually reach out to people across the globe. Today they are in 13 countries around the world.

Father attended the University of Notre Dame, with studies interrupted by World War II, and was also a player on the football team. When he told his coach, the famous Frank Leahy, that he was leaving the team to study for the priesthood, Coach Leahy said, “That is the best possible life, Jim. You go.”

SOLT fr__jim_and_sistersAnd go he did. After an unmistakable call from God, Jim established the SOLTs, a Society within the Church that would emphasize relationships as flowing from the Holy Trinity with Mary as the Mother and Mediatrix of this communion.

Their defining characteristics are:

Trinitarian: They exist to give honor and glory to the Most Holy Trinity, to exalt His majesty, and to manifest His greatness.

Marian: They strive to imitate our Blessed Mother Mary in her relationships with the persons of the Trinity, as beloved daughter of the Father, Mother of the Son, and spouse of the Holy Spirit.

Catholic: As loyal and loving members of Christ and His Vicar on earth, the Pope, they are faithful to the Magisterium and devoted to the Holy Eucharist.

Missionary: They serve in areas of deepest apostolic need, as defined by the local bishops where they serve.

Family: They are a family composed of priests, deacons, religious brothers and sisters, single laity and families serving together in the missions and bound together in their spirituality.

soltIn his funeral homily, Fr. Peter Marsalek, General Priest of SOLT, said:

Six years after the founding of SOLT, the Vatican II document on the Church, Lumen Gentium, spoke of Mary in a Trinitarian perspective as the beloved daughter of the Father, temple of the Holy Spirit and Mother of the Son.  In my humble opinion, it was a significant and beautiful Providential confirmation of sorts of the inspiration Fr. Jim received to found a community dedicated to Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity.  In our call to be the beloved children of the Father, the power of the Holy Spirit working interiorly within us leads us to be conformed to the Image of the Son in order to live as the family of God.  And this expression of our spirituality is manifested most beautifully when we are able to serve meaningfully with one another as a family of priests, sisters and lay people, united to Holy Mother Church through the authority of the bishops under whom we serve! 

Father Jim, may you rest in peace.

 

 

Franciscan Handmaids of the Most Pure Heart of Mary Celebrate 100 Years

On March 29, 2016, the Franciscan Handmaids of the Most Pure Heart of Mary celebrated 100 years since their foundation with a Centennial Gala.  In attendance, was Timothy Cardinal Dolan as well as many other dignitaries and well-known entertainers.

osf nyThe sisters were founded in 1916 in Savannah, Georgia, by Fr. Ignatius Lissner, SMA, a Frenchman, and Miss Elizabeth Williams, who became Mother Mary Theodore, FHM, the first Superior General.

Some years prior, Father Lissner had received the blessing of the Holy Father to establish missions to serve the black population in the main cities of Georgia. Father Lissner and other SMAs, in six years, established six churches and seven parochial schools in Georgia.

But in 1915, the state legislature proposed a bill that would outlaw the teaching of black children by white teachers. Alarmed, Father Lissner, a member of the Society of African Missions,  and Miss Elizabeth Williams, an African American woman, founded a new congregation, the Handmaids of the Most Pure Heart of Mary in Savannah, Georgia to minister to and evangelize the African American community. This title was chosen to inspire the members of the congregation to serve their neighbors and each other “with the same zeal and love with which Mary served her son Jesus Christ”.

osf ny2Their life is centered on the Holy Eucharist, the Sacrament of Unity and Transformation. They pray as Jesus taught His disciples for each other, for the grace of self-transformation, renewal of neighbor, the Church, our society, for victims of injustice and for peace and justice in our broken world (Luke: 11:1-13).  They focus mainly on the promotion of Catholic social justice teaching, youth evangelization and healing missions, education of the young and feeding the needy.

We have a firm belief with experience that Prayer works miracles and ardent adoration of the Blessed Sacrament has power to heal wounds.

Mother Angelica, PCPA – R.I.P.

A photo from our 1995 National Meeting when Mother Angelica received the Pro Fidelitate et Virtute Award. Mother was a strong early supporter of the IRL  and we were blessed to have her as a speaker on several occasions.

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EWTN issued this statement yesterday:

We ask for your prayers for the soul of EWTN’s beloved foundress, Mother Angelica, who passed away today on Easter Sunday, March 27, 2016 at about 5:00p.m. Central time. Please remain with us as we remember her joyful words, extraordinary works, and incredible life throughout this week.

 

Desert Nuns New Abbess – Mother Marie Andre, PCPA

The Desert Nuns Celebrate the Installation of their First Abbess

(photo http://johnberingphotography.com/)

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The sisters celebrated St. Joseph’s Day, March 19th, with a visit from their bishop, Thomas Olmsted, and the installation of their first abbess – Mother Marie Andre, PCPA!

The banner behind the sisters reads : Ego Semper Vos Protegam -I Will Always Protect You – words from Our Lord to Saint Clare of Assisi.

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Three sisters, including then-Sister Marie Andre who professed Solemn Vows in 2005, came to Arizona in 2005 from Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Alabama. On December  29th, 2015, by decree of the Holy See, Our Lady of Solitude Monastery officially became an autonomous Monastery of Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration.  Sr. Marie Andre was appointed the first abbess.

Some might look upon Jesus’ call as a hiccup in a young woman’s plans for the future for having a family and a career, and this decision is often incomprehensible and viewed as a contradiction because she is denying herself the chance to have children and a career.

But it’s not puzzling or bewildering to the one being called and hearing the Voice of the Lord!

This freedom is the total dedication to God in our daily life, and so we pray always every day of our lives for the grace to understand better how Jesus calls us.  Mother Marie Andre – June 2015

FREE Youth Session at IRL National Meeting

The theme for the National Meeting is “Merciful Like the Father! Celebrating the Year of Mercy.” This special time of grace is intended to challenge all of us to seek out God’s merciful love in our own lives so that we can become instruments of Divine Mercy to others.

 As an added bonus this year, an informative and inspiring Shroud of Turin Exhibit will be on display! After extensive medical, historical and scientific research, the Center for the Study of the Passion of the Christ and the Holy Shroud developed this instructive exhibit explaining the history and the scientific evidence. The exhibit features a full-length image of the Shroud and a life-size corpus of Our Lord reflecting the Gospel narratives and scientific findings. It is truly a fascinating and life-changing experience!

Join the IRL April 2nd in celebrating the Jubilee Year of Mercy at the 2016 National Meeting! For more information and to sign up please visit our website.

Apostleship of Prayer: March 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

Families in Difficulty.That families in need may receive the necessary support and that children may grow up in healthy and peaceful environments.

Last fall the Synod of Bishops met to discuss some difficult issues surrounding family life and marriage.

In his opening remarks to the Synod, Pope Francis said: “The Church is called to carry out her mission in truth, which is not changed by passing fads or popular opinions.” Then, quoting Pope Benedict XVI, he said: “Without truth, charity degenerates into sentimentality. Love becomes an empty shell, to be filled in an arbitrary way. In a culture without truth, this is the fatal risk facing love”.

At the same time, he said, the Church is a loving “mother–conscious of her duty to seek out and care for hurting couples with the balm of acceptance and mercy; to be a ‘field hospital’ with doors wide open to whoever knocks in search of help and support; even more, to reach out to others with true love, to walk with our fellow men and women who suffer, to include them and guide them to the wellspring of salvation.”

The Church, he said, “teaches and defends fundamental values, while not forgetting that Jesus said: ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners’ (Mark 2:17).”

Lent and Holy Week during this Jubilee Year of Mercy present a good opportunity for us to practice mercy toward families and children. Let us begin to do so with our prayerful support for all families experiencing difficulties.

EVANGELIZATION INTENTION

Persecuted Christians. That those Christians who, on account of their faith, are discriminated against or are being persecuted, may remain strong and faithful to the Gospel, thanks to the incessant prayer of the Church.

Jesus predicted that his followers would be persecuted. Thus it should come as no surprise that Christians are being discriminated against, threatened, forced to flee, and killed in various parts of the world today.

The reasons behind this persecution are many. In some cases it is not a matter of religious differences but tribal, economic, and class differences. Sometimes persecution arises out of the fear of something new and different from the traditional religion of one’s ancestors. Sometimes being a Christian is seen as being unpatriotic.

Whatever the reasons, the fact is in the past year more Christians have been killed for their faith than followers of any other religion. According to Aid to the Church in Need, “Christianity is on course for extinction in many of its biblical heartlands within a generation, if not before.”

Last Easter, Pope Francis called for “intense prayer and tangible help in the defense and protection of our brothers and sisters, who are being persecuted, exiled, killed, decapitated for the sole reason that they are Christian. They are our martyrs of today, and they are so many, we could say that they are more numerous than in the early centuries.”

Our prayers have power to strengthen our persecuted brothers and sisters, that they may remain faithful to Christ. Let us pray with Easter faith, the faith that the suffering and death of Good Friday leads to the new life of Easter. May our faith unite with the faith of the persecuted and testify to the glory of God before the whole world.

 

IRL Affiliates and the 2016 March for Life

Cantius MarchJanuary 22nd marked the forty-third anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision which legalized abortion in the United States. To commemorate the anniversary, pro-lifers from around the country faced great obstacles such as the weather to fill the streets of Chicago, San Francisco and Washington D.C. as a witness to the dignity of all human life.

Over 5,000 people braved frigid temperatures and packed the streets of downtown Chicago on January 17th. Before marching, however, the event began with Masses for Life.  Several Masses for Life around the Chicago area were sponsored by religious orders and were influenced by their spiritualties such as the Franciscan Litany recited at St. Peter’s in the Loop. During the events, over 2,000 of the IRL’s Merciful Like the Father holy cards were distributed by Fr. Jim Heyd and his team.

Winter Storm Jonas wreaked havoc on the east coast during the weekend of the March for Life in Washington D.C. The weather forced many to stay home and participate in local pro-life events, however, many still converged on our nation’s capital to defend life. One group of 165 were led by Fr. Nathan Caswell, SJC  of the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius. After attending the March, they unfortunately shared the fate of many and were stranded in Pennsylvania. They made the best of their situation, however,  and were able to celebrate Mass in the hotel’s bar. They were even joined at Mass by sisters from another IRL affiliate, the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist.

walk-for-life16-17Pouring rain could not stop tens of thousands of people from attending the 12th annual Walk for Life in San Francisco. Among those in attendance were students from Thomas Aquinas College. The group led the Walk for Life last year and brought the largest group ever from the school this year with 220 students. The Sisters of Life also attended the Walk for Life and appropriately performed the corporal work of mercy of clothing the naked in this Year of Mercy by  giving their cloaks to protesting women so that they would not become ill before being arrested.

These and other tremendous stories emerged from the events surrounding the forty-third anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. Pro-lifers will not soon forget them as they witnessed to the dignity of all human life.

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