180 Years of Consecrated Life – in three sisters!

MotherMaryJohn
Mother Mary John, OCD

What some families give back to the Church in terms of children who enter religious life is often incredible and heroic. Witness the jubilee celebrations of Mother Mary John Billeauld, O.C.D., Sr. Theresa Anne Billeaud, C.D.P., and Sr. Anne Deelaus, O.C.D. Together they are celebrating 180 years of consecrated life!

On May 24, 2015, the three Sisters celebrated their triple jubilee during a Mass in front of a record breaking crowd of over 400 family members and friends. Concelebrating the Mass with Bishop Emeritus Sam Jacobs of Houma, Louisiana, was Msgr. Michael Jamail, V.G. of the Diocese of Beaumont, Texas, and several other priests.

Mother Mary John and Sister Theresa Anne are blood sisters.  They come from a family of nine girls, five of whom entered religious life. Three are Sisters of Divine Providence and two are Carmelites. Commenting on her vocation, Mother Mary John said, “I just knew that (Our Lord) wanted me to be a Carmelite nun and He filled me with a desire to respond to Him. When this conviction is so strong on one’s heart, there is no room for doubt.”

Sr. Anne, OCD
Sr. Anne, OCD

In this year celebrating the 500th anniversary of the birth of St. Teresa of Avila, Mother said that one of the best experiences of living the life of a Discalced Carmelite nun at the monastery in Lafayette, Louisiana, is knowing that the legacy left to them by St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross “can be fulfilled in our own lives today…”

Sr. Anne comes from a large family as well. Two of her sisters entered religious life as Carmelites in Rhode Island and New Orleans. After Vatican II, with all the changes sweeping through communities, Sr. Anne said that her superiors in Lafayette “strove to faithfully maintain the original Carmelite charism – prayer for the Church and world, and the necessary silence and solitude that would foster the growth of prayer and awareness of the needs of the time.”

What kept her going through the years? It was simple, she said. “I knew God wanted me here and I wanted to be here.” Difficulties experienced were lightened by her relationship with Jesus and His Mother and her sisters in Christ.

We gave thanks for these many years of fidelity to a call of the Spirit who has filled the hearts of our Sisters with His Living Flame of Love. With St. Teresa we can say: “The true love of God is as a fire!” This Fire has inflamed the hearts of our Sisters through these many years.

See the interview with two of the sisters in The Advertiser, Lafayette, LA and watch the video of the Mass on the Lafayette Carmel website.

The Trinitarians of Mary – New Religious Community

circleThe Trinitarians of Mary is the newest IRL Affiliate Community. Founded in just 1992, they have experienced wonderful growth. The name of the community was inspired by St. Louis de Montfort who described Mary as “the Sanctuary of the Divinity, the Throne, the City, and the World of God.” In other words, the first Trinitarian.

Their foundress is Mother Lillie who was born in San Diego and had a powerful spiritual experience in Fatima where she felt the calling to found a new order in the Catholic Church with the Eucharist at its center.  Through a life of prayer and penance the Trinitarians of Mary support the Catholic priesthood and the Church, opening their doors to all through monastic hospitality and retreats.

The community’s first monastery was a leaky old camper on a mountain in Tecate, Mexico. From this “Mount Tabor,” the sisters have helped thousands of needy families through the distribution of food, clothing, blankets, building supplies, medicine and religious education. They hope to build a conservatory for orphans and underprivileged girls in the near future. And many other plans are in the works.

Mother Lillie
Mother Lillie

One particular expression of their contemplative vocation is rooted in the practice of perpetual Eucharistic Adoration. The hours each sister spends at Our Lord’s feet in solitary adoration before the Blessed Sacrament gives meaning to her religious consecration. By their filial devotion to Mary, members desire to bring about the triumph of her Immaculate Heart by seeking to make her known and loved by all who come in contact with them.

They engage in monastic apostolates within the grounds of their monasteries that are compatible with and stem from their prayer. They welcome people from all walks of life whose spiritual and material needs brings them to their monasteries (two in Mexico and three in the U.S. – San Diego, Los Angeles, Grand Rapids). Their pray the Divine Office in Latin.

Our particular expression of the contemplative vocation is rooted in the practice of perpetual Eucharistic Adoration and is our way of continuing in the Church the presence and work of the Blessed Virgin Mary. 

We are called to love as she loved, by immersing our minds and hearts in God in a continual act of adoration, so that our entire lives  become “an expression of the love of the Son for the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit” (VC,21). 

Taking her as our model, we seek to be vessels of the indwelling Trinityas we fix our gaze on the Eucharistic face of Christ.

 

Ada Carmelites: Refugees and Foundresses of Many

adaIn 2016, the Carmelite Nuns in Ada, Michigan, will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of their founding. In 1916,  sixteen Carmelite nuns (12 professed and four postulants) fled the terror and raging persecution in Mexico and came to the United States.

After traveling to Cuba, New Orleans and Saint Louis, they finally found a home in the Diocese of Grand Rapids under the paternal care of Bishop Henry Joseph Richter. Their monastery was placed under the patronage of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  From this sacrifice of family and country came bountiful blessings. New foundations bloomed from Grand Rapids back to Mexico in 1919, then Buffalo, Detroit, Littleton, Traverse City, Iron Mountain and Denmark (WI).

Their original frame house in Grand Rapids was expanded and added on to many times to accommodate growth. Finally, in 1984, they were given ten rural acres outside of town in which to build a permanent, quieter home. They moved to Ada (Parnell), Michigan, in 1991.

This year, the are celebrating the 500th anniversary of their foundress’ birth. Commenting on St. Teresa of Avila, foundress of the Discalced Carmelites, Pope Francis said: “(Teresa) asked her sisters not to waste time discussing ‘matters of little importance’ with God while ‘the world is in flames.'”

Be rooted in prayer, in communion with Jesus. Pope Francis said: “The prayer of Teresa was not a prayer reserved solely to a space or time of day; it arose spontaneously on the most diverse occasions. … She was convinced of the value of continual, if not always perfect, prayer. … To renew consecrated life today, Teresa has left us a great heritage full of concrete suggestions, ways and methods of praying that, far from closing us in ourselves or leading us merely to inner balance, enable us always to start again from Jesus, and constitute a genuine school for growth in love for God and neighbor.”

Alexian Brothers – New IRL Affiliate Community

Alexian Brothers throughout the ages with St. Alexius
Alexian Brothers throughout the ages with St. Alexius

The Alexian Brothers are one of the newest IRL Affiliates, welcomed into the IRL family in March 2015.

You may think that the Alexian Brothers were founded by St. Alexius who lived in the 5th century. They did adopt this saint who was devoted to the poor and sick as the patron for their first chapel but this was not until around the year 1400. Over time, they became known as the Alexian Brothers. They do not have a founder, per se, rather their congregation evolved and formed because of celibate men who lived in community and tended the sick, fed the hungry and buried the dead. The first written account of their activities stems from the year 1259.

In a time when people were afraid of the sick and dying, their selfless acts of charity were very counter-cultural. With the advent of the Black Plague in the 14th century, they remained true to their calling and stayed by the side of the contagious sick. In 1472, the Alexian Brothers were recognized as a religious community under the rule of St. Augustine.

After the decimation suffered as a result of the French Revolution, only three Brothers were left in Aachen, Germany, site of one of their earliest foundations. In 1854, Brother Dominic Brock rebuilt the decimated community and their numbers grew once again. In 1866, Br. Bonaventure Thelen came to the United States and established the first Alexian Brothers Hospital in Chicago. Today, the Alexian Brothers are located in Germany, Belgium, England, Ireland, the Philippines, Hungary, and the United States.

Their charism is, in discipleship with Jesus, to reach out to the poor, sick and dying, especially the marginalized and the powerless — “Whatever you do to the least of these brothers of Mine, you do it to Me” (Mt 25:40).

Memorial Mass for Fr. John Anthony Hardon, S.J.

Hardon Publication June 2015.pub There will be a Memorial Mass for Servant of God, Fr. John Anthony Hardon, S.J., on Thursday, June 18, 2015 at 7:00 P.M.

It will be held at Assumption Grotto Church, 13770 Gratiot Avenue in Detroit, Michigan. After Mass, there will be a reception. If you plan to attend, please bring a snack to pass around with your fellow attendees!

Father Hardon was born on June 18th in 1914. He died on December 30, 2000, from bone cancer at the Jesuits’ Colombiere Center in Clarkston, Michigan.

Besides founding the Institute on Religious Life, Father Hardon also founded the Eternal Life Apostolate, the Marian Catechists, the Real Presence Association, and Inter Mirifica Social Communications.

Father Hardon’s Cause for Beatification and Canonization is now under auspices of the Eternal Life Apostolate of Bardstown, Kentucky. Father Hardon’s vast personal library and correspondence is housed at the Eternal Life Office and is now being organized and cataloged by Eternal Life volunteers. At the IRL, we just gave them a van full of Father Hardon original recordings from his many conferences for religious and the laity.

hardonRepresentatives of the Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J. Archive and Guild travel across the country to disseminate information about the life and works of Fr. Hardon. The Archive & Guild opened in St. Louis, Missouri in November of 2007, but is now located at the Eternal Life offices. Many of Fr. Hardon’s personal effects are temporarily housed at the archive, until the Fr. John A. Hardon Catechetical Center and Retreat House opens at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

For more information, visit the Guild website or write to:

Fr. John Hardon, S.J. Archive and Guild
902 West Stephen Foster Ave.
Bardstown, KY 40004

 

 

 

 

 

Sisters in Jesus the Lord in Russia

vlad-mission-communities-20For those of you who have read Fr. Walter Ciszek’s books, With God in Russia and He Leadeth Me, you will know of the struggles of Catholics in Far Eastern Russia. Father Ciszek endured many years of hard labor in prison camps in Siberia. Throughout his ordeal, beautifully and heart-renderingly portrayed in his books, he was always a priest. Nothing was dearer to him than the Russian people.

If you are interested in knowing about the revival of the Church in Eastern Russia, I suggest you receive the newsletter of the Mary Mother of God Mission Society. It documents the work of the Canons Regular of Jesus the Lord in Russia. In 1992, after the Soviet Union ceased to exist, two priests from the Midwest, Fr. Myron Effing, CJD and Fr. Daniel Maurer, CJD, arrived in Vladivostok to help re-establish the Church in eastern Russia. Since then—and with the mission society’s help—they have founded or re-founded 11 Catholic parishes, have developed numerous charitable initiatives, have created a variety of catechetical programs, and done much more.

They have programs for alcoholics, college students, boy scouts, orphans, the elderly. They conduct pro-life work, bring sacred music to this once atheistic nation, rebuild churches, assign guardian angels (“grandmas”) to orphans, and provide food and medical assistance to needy families.

Our Lady of Vladivostok
Our Lady of Vladivostok

They are assisted by the Sisters in Jesus the Lord (Canonissae in Jesu Domino) who work in Russia with women, children and the elderly. They have woman’s support centers in several Russian cities: Lesozavodsk, Vladivostok, Artyom, Arsenyev, Nakhodka and on Russian Island.

The Sisters in Jesus the Lord is a new Public Association of the Faithful in the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri. Their ministries, at home and in Russia, include: pro-life work, music and liturgy, catechesis and evangelization, ministry to the sick and homebound, AVE media, and stewardship of the land.  Each year, they bring a busload of young men and women to the IRL’s National Meeting.

I ordered a cookbook from the Society called Abundant Blessings, a compilation of recipes from the many cultures and countries of their priests, seminarians, sisters and families. Proceeds go towards the seminarians’ education and the women’s centers. God willing, they will also build a Catholic Church in Nakhodka called Our Lady of the Pacific.

 

A Brother to All: St. Andre Bessette and the Healing of Carl

ébl andreThe Catholic Sentinel of Western Oregon tells the story of a healing of a young boy by St. André Bessette, CSC. That man, Carl, is now 92 years old and still tells of his healing in gratitude to the saint.

An often forgotten vocation today is the vocation to religious brotherhood. Countless men have responded to this essential call to be a Brother to All but today it is sometimes looked upon as inferior to the priesthood. This is so far from the truth. A priest is a father; a brother is a brother walking beside us. Both are necessary on the road to eternal life.

Saint André is perhaps the most famous brother in our times. When St. André presented himself to the Congregation of the Holy Cross in 1870, he carried a note from his pastor that said: “I am sending you a saint.” None the less, the initially illiterate young man was assigned the seemingly lowly task of doorkeeper, where, said Pope Benedict XVI, he “did everything possible to soothe the despair of those who confided in him.”

st andreCarl Peters was born in 1923 to a very young teenage girl in Vermont. The father abandoned them at birth and Carl was given to a foster family to be raised. When he was 5 years old, he still hadn’t spoken a word, so the foster family took him to see Brother André who was then in his 80’s. Brother André has strong faith in the intercessory power of St. Joseph, building the great saint the largest shrine in the world dedicated in his honor. Brother André gave the family holy oil to be used on Carl every night. “I remember him to this day.” he said. The cure came quickly. “I could not talk and suddenly I could.”

Carl makes regular pilgrimages to St. Joseph Oratory and was able to watch the canonization of St. André there via satellite in 2010. His parishioners says he is a kind man who smiles a lot and does good works anonymously.

“I have been really fortunate in my life,” he said, “blessed by so many people I’ve come into contact with.”

 

Click here to watch the video and read the full story.

 

 

 

A Glimpse into the Santa Fe Carmel

santa feFor the year of Consecrated Life, the Carmel of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and St. Teresa in Santa Fe, New Mexico, has put together a charming little video to give people a glimpse into their life.

The Carmel is situated in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo (“Blood of Christ”) Mountains, on the high desert of northern New Mexico, reminiscent of the terrain of the Order’s first founders who lived in the 12th century on Mount Carmel in the Holy Land.

They are part of the Spanish Catholic legacy of Santa Fe that has been present for more than 400 years. Santa Fe means Holy Faith! Their monastery traces its heritage back to Avila, Spain by way of Mexico.

A history book on the Carmelite order states that St. Teresa actually arrived here before the Carmelite sisters! A picture of her is found on the reredos of San Miguel Mission (built in 1610), the oldest church in the United States. The oval picture, found on the top left of the reredos, dates from the early 18th century and originated in Colonial Mexico. It is considered one of the earliest portraits of the saint.

reredosThe Carmeles arrived in Santa Fe in 1945 from the Carmel in Dallas, Texas. They in turn founded houses in Albuquerque, NM; Jefferson City, MO; and Kenya.

We pray that we may be a second Bethany where Our Lord may rest among those who have chosen the better part.