Carmel DCJ Sisters Celebrate 100th Anniversary

DSCJ OCD CardinalOn May 14, 2014, Cardinal Francis George, O.M.I., came to St. Joseph’s Carmelite Home in East Chicago, Indiana, to celebrate the 100 years since its foundation. Receiving an enthusiastic welcome from the nine Carmelite sisters, he attended a fundraiser that raised over $200,000 for the sisters who annually provide an emergency shelter and home to 200 children and their families.

Blessed Mary Teresa of St. Joseph, foundress of the Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus, personally founded this particular home in 1913.  The sisters’ mission is to see God in all, serve God in all, love God in all. A Lutheran convert in Germany, Mother was described as going through the world like a “hurling locomotive.” At the time of her death in 1938, Mother had begun 58 homes, formed 1000 sisters and cared for 10,000 children.

dscjOn of those children was Earl Mager, 88, who came to the East Chicago home when he was 5 years old. “My mother died in childbirth,” he said. “I was placed in all kinds of homes and then sent to the orphanage when I was 5 years old. I stayed there until 1939.”

Another girl named Michelle came to the sisters at age 13. The sisters sent her to school and paid for the transportation to get her to and from work. “They are my roots. They are my everything,” Michelle said. “I really wonder where I would be if I didn’t have them.”

The sisters also care for the aged. My grandfather and uncle, both doctors, used to care for the residents in their home in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

This facility is the oldest Carmelite Home in the United States. “Our founding mother stayed close to this mission of love throughout her life,” says Sister Marie Giuseppe, “even requesting soil from the home be used on her grave in the Netherlands. I think she’s here right now.


Pedaling for the Poor

tor bikesThis summer, Fr. Matt Russick, T.O.R., is going to cycle more than 250 miles of rail trails across 4 states to raise money for the Franciscans’ ministries to the poor in Steubenville, Ohio. Father’s goal is to reach $5,000 by August 1 when he will arrive, God willing, back in Steubenville.

At the Heart of Mary Mission House in downtown Steubenville,the sisters serve the poor, the sick and the oppressed, sharing the good news and instilling hope and healing. They also coordinate a ministry at Samaritan House Thrift Store, a clothing store and emergency food center. In addition to this, the sisters also run a catechetical soup kitchen.

Father’s trip will begin in Hancock, Maryland, and will probably follow the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, the Great Allegheny Passage and the Panhandle Trail. If you would like to donate to help this worthy cause, pledges can be made through PayPal on their Pedaling for the Poor fundraising website. Donations may also be made by check, payable to Franciscan Sisters, T.O.R. with “Pedaling for the Poor” in the memo line. Please send checks to Franciscan Sisters, T.O.R. 369 Little Church Road, Toronto, OH 43964.

Our ministry aims to restore the dignity of those who through poverty, various forms of oppression, or suffering, have lost the sense of their preciousness as being a son or daughter of God” (Constitutions 88).

East Meets West on EWTN

abbott nick

We at the IRL were privileged to spend 2 days at The Holy Resurrection Monastery in St. Nazianz, Wisconsin, a year or so ago. We were also blessed to have Abbot Nicholas Zachariadis celebrate the Divine Liturgy at the 2013 National Meeting. He has some beautiful and profound insights into the gifts that the Eastern Church can offer the West. For me, the Byzantine awareness of this passing life and our approaching final judgement needs to be reawakened our hearts. There is a mysticism, a profound encounter with heavenly realities that is present in the Eastern Catholic Divine Liturgy.

On April 9, Abbot Nicholas joined Fr. Mitch Pacwa, SJ, on EWTN to discuss the growth of his new community of Byzantine monks. And they are growing, thanks be to God.

Also, an article by Abbot Nicholas and Benjamin Mann recently appeared in The Catholic World Report. They have this to say about the New Evangelization: To re-evangelize the West, the Church must recover its mystical heritage – but this task requires contact with the living monastic tradition. Monasteries are thus essential to the New Evangelization.

And what is mysticism? Mysticism means relating to God on the deepest level of our being. It means knowing and loving him in a transcendent way, in keeping with His infinite and unfathomable nature. This profound communion with the Triune God is the reason for our existence, the true meaning of our lives.

By encountering our Eastern tradition, Western Christians can reconnect with their own mystical and monastic roots – as they must, in order to evangelize the spiritual seekers in their midst.

The monks welcome pilgrims and retreatants. One piece of advice: do not plug a hair dryer into the shaver outlet. You’ll blow the lights out of a good portion of the monastery!

To those who doubt the value of monasticism for the New Evangelization, we say: “Come and see!” (John 1:39). For the witness of our tradition cannot be conveyed by words alone.



Dominican Evangelization on the Streets of DC

op lean on meWhen you see a group of people singing “Lean on Me” on a busy city street, you might think it is a throwback to the 1970’s. However, this group of singers are Dominican friars and sisters who took to the streets of Washington, DC, on May 17th to do a little street evangelization.

The friars are from the Dominican House of Studies, while the sisters came from Ann Arbor, Michigan, and the Dominican Sisters of Rosary House.

For the Dominicans, this was their way of spreading Easter joy. While they handed out rosaries and pamphlets explaining this prayerful  way of meditating on Scripture, they drew people in by engaging them in song. It was a way for an encounter with Christ to take place.

“Music is such a beautiful expression of Gospel joy that it just ‘clicks’ for people,” said Dominican Brother Gregory Pine. Music is a way of “re-presenting the attractiveness of the Gospel in another medium.” Brother Norbert Keliher said that the music and the rosary are a “doorway for evangelization.”

To see this energetic group in action, go to YouTube to watch their rendition of “Lean on Me!”

You can support the young Dominicans friars of the  Province of St. Joseph by purchasing their first release from Dominicana Records, In Medio Ecclesiae. In Medio Ecclesiae offers chant and polyphonic treasures of the Church’s musical tradition as well as two new compositions by Dominican friars. Click here to listen to the Good Friday meditation: O vos omnes (“O all you who walk by on the road, pay attention and see if there be any sorrow like my sorrow.”)

Dominican Students of the Province of Saint Joseph
Dominican Students of the Province of Saint Joseph


Missionaries of the Word

green bayOn May 1, 2014, Bishop David Ricken of Green Bay established a new community of women religious in his diocese called the Missionaries of the Word. Their primary mission is to bring the Gospel to youth and young adults in the spirit of the New Evangelization.

Peggy Duemling, now known as Mother Catherine, received her habit and pronounced final vows, and two other women, Sister Maria Lucia Stella Maris, 23, and Sister Marie Bernadette of the Sacred Heart, 22, became novices. They are living together at St. Joseph Formation Center at Kangaroo Lake in Door County, Wisconsin.

This Public Association of the Faithful has its roots in the Missionaries of Charity where Mother Catherine was a sister for 10 years. She left because of her asthma but felt that God was still calling her to religious life. “I always felt there was something in my heart,” she said. “I needed more.”

Her spiritual director and the archbishop in Milwaukee urged her to go to Green Bay to work with Fr. Quinn Mann and his ministry for youth. And Bishop Ricken put her through various tests along the way. “For example, he said, ‘If three women come before Sept. 8, we’ll move ahead,’” she said. “That happened and they have been with me since 2012.”

She took the name Catherine after St. Catherine of Siena and St. Catherine Laboure. “We work with the youth because we lose them between the ages of 14 and 30. We build relationships with them to bring them to the Lord.” They will serve, however, where they are most needed. “We belong to the church,” Mother Catherine said. “We truly want to support the parishes. We will serve where we are needed or where we are invited.”

Bishop Ricken says that there are a couple of generations of Catholics who haven’t been really engaged in their faith. “Part of that is all the pressure from the culture, but part of it as well is that we haven’t done a very good job of really making disciples, you know real followers of Jesus, of our Catholic people,” the bishop said. “We can see that so many people that fall away from the church eventually wind up falling away from God. Some of them go to other churches, but often times they just quit and they get farther and farther away from God. So a person’s soul can wind up in trouble with all kinds of problems if they’ve excluded God or neglected God.”

May these missionaries of the New Evangelization bring the light of Christ to those they serve. For contact information, please see the press release.


Resources for Consecrated Virgins

One of the oldest sacramentals in the Church is Consecrated Virginity. This state in life was restored in the Church following Vatican II. It is still a relatively rare phenomenon in the Church for there are only 215 or so consecrated virgins in the United States.

Barb Swieciak is one of them. She became a consecrated virgin in 1984 in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, and as such has much wisdom to relay to those contemplating this step or those seeking to deepening their understanding of it. At the request of her bishop, Barb has prepared a new resource called Meditations on Mary for those discerning this vocation and for those who have embraced this relationship with the Lord. It is the first in a series of planned books.

Barb started with Mary because “that really is the essence of consecrated virgins living in the world, imitating the Mother of God in her life of holiness, in her purity of heart and intention, and in devoting herself totally to our Lord.” She opens the book with the Angelus, for the Incarnation, where the Word became flesh, is the beginning of the vocation of consecrated virginity.

The book is for anyone wishing to meditate on the mysteries of Jesus’ life, pondered in the heart of His Mother. It is written and designed, not to be read, but to be prayed over. If you want more information or wish to order the book, you can contact Barb at or fill out the PDF form. For more information on consecrated virginity, please visit www.

Consecrated virgins are like the unseen leaven in a bread, the activating agent that makes it rise. They were no distinctive garb, receive no pay from their diocese but through their works of mercy and penance, demonstrate to the world the fruitfulness that comes from their relationship with Jesus, their Spouse.


Transformed to Christ by Love

Sr Mary Paul 2-1In 2010, the Institute of Carmelite Studies (ICS) published a book by Sr. Mary Paul Cutri, OCD, called Sounding Solitude. In this 176-page book, Sister Mary Paul draws on the rich heritage of the great Discalced Carmelite founders, St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross, as well as her own experience in contemplative prayer, to show us how to be transformed to Christ by love.

Sister is a member of the Carmel of the Assumption in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, that was founded in 1961 as a foundation from the Carmel in Loretto, PA. The land for the monastery was purchased because of its proximity to the Benedictine Archabbey of St. Vincent. The monks have served as their chaplains, confessors and spiritual directors from the very beginning.

Sister entered religious life in 1955 as a graduate of Mercyhurst College with a BA degree in Biology and a Medical Technologist’s certificate. She was one of the original sisters who came to Latrobe in 1961. Of her long life as a spouse of Christ, Sister says, “God who called me to Carmel continues to fill my days with love, peace and appreciation for this precious contemplative vocation in the Church.”

p_SSThe twelve chapters of her book describe experiences along the way of solitude’s intimacy, solitude’s savorings, solitude’s sufferings, love as its meaning and the power of transformation that takes place through Christ in us.  She says, “To spend time with the Lord in long periods of solitude and prayer is to begin to learn the ways of God and how we are to respond in the likeness of Christ to the work God is doing in us. In our desire for union with God, ‘God will capture the hearts of people, leaving them so touched by love that they have no desire other than to belong to God by consent, as they belong to God by creation and grace.  We are destined to be transformed in Christ by love.’”

To order the book, click here to reach the ICS website..

“I have received comments, especially from our Secular Carmelites who have read the book, saying that it has helped them in their life of prayer,” said Sister Mary Paul. “All praise to God who both inspires and motivates us in sharing the gifts of grace God gives us.  It is all God’s work of love.”



The Hermits of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Br_Isaac_Post 108With great joy, the Hermits of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Christoval, Texas, welcomed Br. Isaac Sokolowski as an aspirant on October 1, 2013, the Feast Day of St. Therese of Lisieux. Fr. Fabian Maria said, “He has been a very dear gift of God to us and he has been progressing quickly in the monastic virtues of humility and constant prayer. In light of this, he became a Postulant on March 19, 2014, the Solemnity of St. Joseph.”

The community is growing and can use your help. Two ice storms and other issues prevented them from sending out their Christmas newsletter and product catalog. Visit their website to order jellies, honey, pecans, breads, glazes, biscotti, coffee, peanut brittle and fudge. Wow! They are self-supporting but donations are welcome too!

If you are a young man between the ages of 18 and 40 interested in this eremitical life of humility, solitude, obedience and love, you may come for a weekend visit to experience their life of prayer and work and community. An application is on their website. Men over 40 may be considered as oblates and priests on an individual basis. The next weekend on the schedule is June 6-8, 2014.

The vocation of the Carmelite hermit is the contemplative vocation and the foundations of his life are the Eucharist, Sacred Scripture and devotion to Our Blessed Lady under the title of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. For the hermit, the cell is the place of encounter with God.

Is Our Lady of Mercy Calling You?

odemThe Mercedarian Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament have released a new video about their life. As teachers in Catholic schools, their ministry includes teaching the faith to the children, and sharing the love of Jesus in the Eucharist.

The two pillars of their charism are Mary and the Eucharist. The Sisters have a strong devotion to Jesus present in the Eucharist. However, this work cannot be done without the help of Mary. She is the one who leads her children to Jesus, and she was the first tabernacle of the Lord.

If you feel compelled to learn more, the Mercedarian Sisters offer days where young women can come to visit and “shadow the Sisters” in their everyday life. You don’t have to don a habit to be welcomed into their home!

See the video, “Shadow the Sisters.” Visit their website. Be sure to follow them on Facebook for more news!

They also have a free newsletter focusing on vocational discernment. Many roadblocks present themselves to women discerning religious life. Often, a woman may recognize a religious calling, but feel stifled because of the lack of support – and understanding – from her family and friends. However, there is great joy and peace in recognizing and following God’s calling. As St.
Catherine of Siena rightly said, “Be who God meant you to be and you
will set the world on fire!


LCWR Update/Cardinal Müller

muellerCardinal Gerhard Müller, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, recently (April 30th) addressed the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) about their implementation of the mandate for reform following the Doctrinal Assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.

Here are a few of his remarks:

One of the  more contentious aspects of the Mandate—though one that has not yet been put into force—is the provision that speakers and presenters at major  programs will be subject to approval by the Delegate. (This year the LCWR is giving its “Outstanding Leadership Award” to Elizabeth A. Johnson whose 2011 book was criticized by the US Bishops for its “misrepresentations, ambiguities, and errors that bear upon the faith of the Catholic Church as found in Sacred Scripture, and as it is authentically taught by the Church’s universal magisterium…”)

“…the last thing in the world the Congregation  would want to do is call into question the eloquent, even prophetic  witness of so many faithful religious women. And yet, the issues raised  in the Assessment are so central and so foundational, there is no other  way of discussing them except as constituting a movement away from the  ecclesial center of faith in Christ Jesus the Lord.

The Cardinal then touched on “Conscious Evolution” which he said had been incorported into some religious institutes:

The  fundamental theses of Conscious Evolution are opposed to Christian  Revelation and, when taken unreflectively, lead almost necessarily to  fundamental errors regarding the omnipotence of God, the Incarnation of  Christ, the reality of Original Sin, the necessity of salvation and the  definitive nature of the salvific action of Christ in the Paschal  Mystery.

I am worried that the uncritical acceptance of things such as Conscious Evolution seemingly without any awareness that it offers a vision of God, the cosmos, and the human person divergent from or opposed to Revelation evidences that a de facto movement beyond the Church and sound Christian faith has already occurred.

Conscious Evolution does not offer  anything which will nourish religious life as a privileged and prophetic witness rooted in Christ revealing divine love to a wounded world. It  does not present the treasure beyond price for which new generations of  young women will leave all to follow Christ. The Gospel does! Selfless  service to the poor and marginalized in the name of Jesus Christ does!

Lord, we pray that all may be one in You. Founders and foundresses, please intercede for your religious communitites, that as vines they may always be part of the true Branch, who is Jesus Christ.

(Click here to go to The Catholic World Report website for Carl E. Olson’s analysis of His Emminence’s direct and pointed remarks. And to The National Catholic Register‘s article by Ann Carey, author of Sisters in Crisis: The Tragic Unraveling of Women’s Religious Institutes and  Sisters  in Crisis Revisited: From Unraveling to Reform and Renewal.