Archive for the 'Men’s communities' Category

The Most Holy Mother of God in Vladivostok

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Priests with Patrick and Anulfo2010With the crisis in Crimea in the news, it is happy to see that there is happier news from across the vast continent that is Asia. On March 12, 2014, Brother Patrick Milan Napal, CJD, made his perpetual profession with the Canons Regular of Jesus the Lord in Vladivostok, Russia.

The Canons Regular of Jesus the Lord is a new congregation being founded in Russia at the Cathedral of the Most Holy Mother of God in Vladivostok. The canons are helping to replant Christianity in a land where it was almost completely destroyed.

The story behind the re-establishment of this Catholic church is amazing. Over twenty years ago, Andre Popok, a young Soviet naval officer, converted to Roman Catholicism after reading restricted religious literature as part of a Communist indoctrination course. In 1991, he put ads in the local Vladivostok papers, looking for other Catholics. After a community formed, Popok wrote to the bishop responsible for the area asking for a priest. On November 15, 1991, the bishop accepted the application of Fr. Myron and (then) Br. Daniel Maurer to be the first resident Roman Catholic clergy in Vladivostok in 50 years. They found ten Catholics and a state-owned wreck of a church.


Our Lady of Vladivostok

After receiving help from Catholics in the US and elsewhere, the building was restored and returned to the Catholic Church. Eleven other parishes have grown up as well, some huge distances away. Fr. Myron and Fr. Dan are doing heroic work.You can help. They welcome donations, would love to come and speak in your parish and welcome visitors on mission trips. You can sponsor one of their seminarians. Come for a visit and bring some tenderness to a lonely person in an orphange or nursing home. Russia has the dubious distinction of being the first country in the world to legalize abortion. The average woman in Russia has between 6 to 8 abortions in her lifetime. Your donations can help save a life by supporting the CJD’s women support center.

The address for inquiries in English and Russian:
For inquiries in English, Spanish, Russian and French:

Mrs. Vicky Trevillyan is the National US Coordinator in Modesto, CA. Her phone number: 209-408-0728 and Email:

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Patron Saint of Infertility

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

nonnatusOne of the most difficult things that some married couples have to face is the cross of infertility. Those not able to conceive and or carry a child to term suffer anguish and disappointment. Today, many couples make use of NFP medical advances, surgery or adoption to start a family. Or, unfortunately, some turn to in vitro fertilization (IVF). Here is another option—prayer to St. Raymond Nonnatus.

“St. Raymond is the most popular Saint of our Order,” says Fr. Joseph Eddy, O. de M., vocations director of the Order of Mercy (Mercedarians) in Philadelphia. “St. Raymond’s mother died while in labor with him, and he survived only when his uncle made an incision in his mother’s body and pulled him out. Because of his extraordinary birth, he is considered the special patron of childbirth, midwives, and pregnant women.”

The name of St. Raymond Nonnatus, a 13th century Spanish Mercedarian friar, originates from the Latin “nonnatus,” which means “not born.” The prayers to this revered saint have led to countless happy conceptions.  For over seven hundred years women have turned to him for help in conceiving and childbirth. Here in the United States, the friars of the Order of Mercy have promoted devotion to St. Raymond since they came to the country in the 1920’s.

Since the 1950’s the popularity of the St. Raymond’s Guild has grown in America. The Order has shipped thousands of St. Raymond Nonnatus Kits throughout the United States. These kits consist of the Magnificat book (prayer book for expectant mothers and Christian families), St. Raymond holy card, blessed candle, and blessed St. Raymond water. The blessed candle, water, and prayer book are to be used by those desiring to have a child as well as expectant mothers throughout their pregnancy.

Through the intercession of the saints, we can make a special appeal to God to bring more children into the world, who can then glorify Him forever.

St. Raymond Kits are available for an offering, at  For information on Mercedarian sacramentals, call 585-768-7426.

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Institute on Religious Life Launches New Website

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

Revised screenThe Institute on Religious Life today launched a completely redesigned The new site is more dynamic and user friendly, houses a great resource of information, and provides expanded audio and video features.

“All of the changes are intended to convey a better sense of our mission and who we are as an organization,” said Michael D. Wick, executive director of the IRL. “We are so happy to launch our new website during the IRL’s 40th anniversary and as the Church prepares to celebrate the Year of Consecrated Life which Pope Francis declared to begin this October.”

The new site was made possible by a grant from Our Sunday Visitor Institute. It was designed by Solutio Software of Cheney, Kansas.

“The site will be a great help to young Catholics who wish to know more or are considering the priestly or religious life, something very much needed in our times. And it will connect them to faithful institutes of consecrated life. The VocationSearch database is terrific for learning about the IRL’s 160-plus affiliate communities,” said M. Kathleen O’Brien, IRL director of operations. “We believe it is the premier Catholic vocations information portal—a ‘one-stop shopping’ experience for those who are sincerely discerning their vocation or seeking resources to promote and pray for vocations. From its 8-day ‘virtual’ discernment retreats, to the new Religious Life e-magazine, to vocation prayer leaflets for distribution among family, friends or parishioners, the new site offers all kinds of resources for building up the consecrated life.”

The site has in-depth reflections on the consecrated life, print and audio, including meditations by the IRL’s founder, Servant of God Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J., and talks given by IRL national director Fr. Thomas Nelson, O.Praem. The home page photo rotation features IRL affiliates, as well as real-time entries from the IRL’s “Vocation Blog” and a listing of scheduled events.

Young people who are serious about discernment can sign up for the free “Speak Lord” audio download of the month club or find out about upcoming “Come & See” vocation retreats. “Young people need catechesis and direction to be able to discern the Lord’s calling for their lives and the IRL wishes to provide helpful resources that will allow them to discern God’s will,” notes Father Nelson.

The Institute on Religious Life was founded in 1974 by Servant of God Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J. Early supporters included Bl. Mother of Calcutta and Ven. Fulton J. Sheen. Its mission is to promote and support the consecrated life as a gift to the Church and an evangelical witness to the world.


Gregorian Chant – Reaching out to the Next Generation

Friday, March 14th, 2014

sample efOn March 1, 2014, Archbishop Alexander Sample of the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon celebrated a Pontifical High Mass in the Extraordinary Form at the Brigittine Monastery of “Our Lady of Consolation” in Amity, Oregon. Archbishop Sample is an IRL Advisory Board member and the Brigittines are an IRL Affiliate community.

The Mass was the culmination of a three-day conference on Gregorian Chant and the role of sacred music in the liturgy sponsored by the Brigittine monks and Schola Cantus Angelorum. The conference drew priests, deacons, musicians, and others interested in learning about rich tradition of the Sung Gregorian Mass.

Pope Benedict XVI wrote: “In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture. What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place.”

Click here to listen to the Archbishop’s homily. Some high points for me were his comments on why the the Extraordinary Form of the Mass is important. First, it extends pastoral care to those Catholics who remain attached to this beautiful liturgy. Second, we must remain in close communion to our past. We need a “reform of the reform,” that is reconnected to the Church’s rich tradition. Third, Gregorian chant is not meant to be listened to in the car; it’s proper place is in the Sacred Liturgy, it should be given a pride of place in the Sacred Liturgy.

Especially touching, was Archbishop Sample’s own testimony:

“When Summorum Pontificum came out, and the Holy Father said this is one of the forms of the Latin Rite, the Extraordinary Form, I said ‘I’m a bishop of the Church, I must know this rite!’  And I encourage my priests and my seminarians to learn and to know this rite.  Even if you never have a chance to celebrate it, knowing it, experiencing it – I guarantee you – it will affect the way you celebrate the Ordinary Form. It will do so.”






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Benedictines Brew

Monday, March 10th, 2014

osb beerIt seems that the Benedictine monks in Norcia, Italy, aren’t the only ones to rediscover the ancient Benedictine practice of brewing beer. The Benedictines at Mount Angel Abbey in Oregon will be introducing their own beer this summer with the slogan- Taste and Believe.”

Located in western Oregon in the beautiful Willamette Valley, Mount Angel Abbey was founded in 1882 from the 12th C. Swiss Abbey of Engelberg. The community keeps alive the ancient tradition of the choral office, the love of learning and Christian hospitality. Following the Rule of St. Benedict of Nursia, the monks follow the traditional monastic observances, including those of enclosure, silence and the monastic habit. There are 53 priests and brothers living at the monastery.

taste beleiveThe idea to brew beer came about because the recession caused a drop in revenue from their sustainable tree farm. With available farmland where hops are grown and pristine abbey well water, the beer enterprise seems to be a natural way to provide the community with a new revenue source.

Benedictines have always welcomed strangers and the beer, which will only be sold at the abbey, will be an opportunity to introduce beer afficionados to abbey life. Most no doubt will be seeing their first ever Benedictine in the flesh!

Fr. Martin Grassel, OSB,  said, “Our society is badly in need of Christ. This started as a revenue project, but it has become equally important as an evangelization project.”



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Get Your Fruitcakes Here!

Monday, December 16th, 2013

fruitcake2There is a charming article in the Kansas City Star about the Trappist (Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance) monks at Assumption Abbey in Ava, Missouri, who make a popular fruitcake. One could expect that these men, who live in silence most of the time, to be somber and introspective with one foot in heaven. One foot in heaven they may have and if so, heaven will be a lively place once they get there, God willing!

The monks are getting up there in years yet they still produce the fruitcakes and run the abbey as they have been doing for the last 60 plus years. It’s getting more difficult as the monks age. Boniface is 87, Robert is 88, Thomas is 85. These are three of the monks who are the backbone of the abbey. Many of them were in the military in World War II when monastic life was viewed as a spiritual Marine Corps. Then Vatican II came, says Cyprian, and “it was no longer a favorable environment for fruitcake3spiritual life.” Cyprian says, “I’ve accomplished everything I’ve wanted except to join my brothers in the cemetery.”

Thankfully, help is on the way. Monks from Vietnam are coming in stages to fill out the ranks. They will carry on with the fruitcake tradition, and may even mail some back to Vietnam, though Father Peter from Vietnam says, “Americans like very heavy food.” The monks, in fact, used to make concrete blocks but now make fruitcakes. “We had to change the recipe slightly,” Cyprian said. “And fruitcakes are easier to stack.”

Boniface sometimes bakes over 40 loaves of bread a day. The difference between a cook and a chef, he says,  is that a cook has to do his own dishes. He also has a soup called MustGo soup. “I go through the refrigerator and say, ‘This must go.’”

Assumption Abbey is a daughter house of New Melleray in Iowa and was founded in 1950. The Abbey produces an astounding 30,000 cakes annually, their main source of income. To place an order, click here!


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Setting Captives Free

Saturday, December 7th, 2013

o de m capturedI seem to overdo posts on the Mercedarians but I love their fourth vow: to offer themselves as “ransom” in place of someone who is in danger of losing the faith. The picture to the right depicts The Martyrdom of Saint Serapion by Francisco de Zurbarán. Hung by ropes, he is obviously at the end of his life. A beautiful picture of self-sacrifice resembling Christ’s image on the Cross.

Serapion was born in Ireland and entered the army of King Richard the Lion-Hearted. While fighting with the Christians as they were battling the Moslem army in Spain, he met St. Peter Nolasco and the Mercedarians. He joined their “army” and received the habit in 1222.

spencer o de m

Fr. Spencer (center)

Serapion was captured in Algeria during his fourth redemption of a Christian held captive by the Moors. In this month when many of us are saying the Novena to St. Andrew, Serapion is a fitting martyr for he was nailed to an X-shaped cross, like Saint Andrew’s cross, and savagely dismembered. The barbarian and cruel King of Algiers, Selín Benimarin, was the one who gave the Church and the Mercedarian Order this martyr on November 14, 1240.

The Mercedarians carry on their work today focusing their priestly ministry specifically at the service of those in danger of losing their faith from modern forms of captivity. They are celebrating the ordination to the priesthood of Fr. David Michael Spencer, O de M, who was ordained in November 17th. (Click here to see ordination video). Father Spencer is parochial vicar of Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Philadelphia.




The Dedication of “Tina Mae”

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

tina maeI first went into St. John Cantius Church almost 20 years ago when the church was in dire need of renovation. Seeing these old, beautiful churches in decay is heartbreaking but in the case of St. John Cantius, the story has a happy ending.

Founded by Polish immigrants and dedicated in 1898, St. John Cantius had at its peak about 23,000 parishioners, but as is so common with many inner city parishes, it went into decline. After Father Frank Phillips C.R. became pastor, he went about the task of renovating and preserving its architectural splendor. Equally important, he introduced reverent liturgies and sacred music as part of parish life. As young men became interested in this revival of traditional Catholic culture, he received approval in 1998 to found the Society of St. John Cantius, a community of religious brothers and priests who strive to restore the sacred in parochial life.

The interior restoration work in the Church was completed in 2012 but an important piece was yet to come – a top quality organ. It so happened that a Church on the south side of Chicago was closing and their organ needed a home. This wasn’t just any organ. It was built by the Casavant Freres Organ Company of Quebec, Canada, for St. James Methodist-Episcopal in 1926 under the guidance of Miss Tina Mae Haines, a concert organist. Dedicated to the memory of Gustavus F. Swift, founder of the Swift Meat-Processing Company, it was used not only for Church music but also became a premier concert organ for recitals in the city.

cantius picIn 2011, St. James was closing and the organ, perilously housed under a leaky roof, needed a home in a hurry. Stephen Schnurr of the Organ Historical Society and Jeff Weiler, of J.L. Weiler, Inc., a Chicago based Organ Restorer and Conservator, asked Saint John Cantius Church if they were interested in acquiring it. Thanks to the Patrons of Sacred Music who raised the funds and relying on the assistance of the Blessed Virgin Mary to see to the details, the organ restoration project was completed.

The organ, now named “Tina Mae” (Christina Mary), will be blessed and dedicated on October 20, 2013, the Solemn Feast of St. John Cantius (1962 Missale Romanum) by Cardinal Francis George, OMI. A Pontifical High Mass (Extraordinary Form) will be celebrated by Bishop Joseph Perry (All are welcome). There will also be a dinner at 6:00 p.m. and an organ recital at 7:00 p.m. in the Church (Tickets required).

To see some fascinating videos about the organ project and the history of the organ, click here. To order tickets for the dinner or recital, visit the St. John Cantius website.


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A Great Monastic Custom

Friday, October 11th, 2013

As the Benedictine Monks of Norcia, Italy, have successful demonstrated, beer brewing is a way to provide a foundation with revenues as well as evangelical outreach to the curious who love beer.

fbseWell, beer brewing is not limited to Benedictines! The Franciscan Brothers of St. Elizabeth of Hungary have successfully launched their own beer with names such as Whoopie Pie Porter and St. Francis Brown Ale.

The beer endeavor is the natural outgrowth of a business that the brothers have well underway: the Friar’s Bakehouse. This lunch and bakery spot in downtown Bangor, Maine, is a well established eatery which is the perfect venue for the brother’s baking skills. Brother Don is a trained chef and says: “I’ve been brewing beer for about five years, but of course I’ve been working with grain and yeast and water for a very, very long time!”

The beer itself is sold at Bangor Wine & Cheese Co. in Bangor. The Porter is described as having “a silky, sweet body, with notes of chocolate and cream.” The Brown is “aggressively hoppy.” The Monastery Ale is “floral, spicy notes of coriander and orange.” (See complete descriptions in the Bangor Daily News)

Monks brewing beer, says Brother Don, is a “great monastic custom. There’s centuries of brewing behind us. And if you drink two liters of nine percent beer, you will have conversations with the saints as well. They’ll show right up in your living room and sit down and chat with you.”

The friars monastery is located in Bucksport, Maine. They were founded in 1987 and suffered through many difficult trials and financial troubles before their monastery was built on the remote and secluded land. They are an Association of the Faithful in the Diocese of Maine. If you are interested in knowing more about their life, please visit their website.

“The rule and life of the Friars is this: to observe the holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by living in obedience, without anything of their own, and in chastity.” (The Rule – St. Francis of Assisi)

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St. Benedict Online!

Saturday, October 5th, 2013

BenedictinesFor those of you who wish to know more about the spirituality of St. Benedict and for those in particular who may be called to a monastic vocation, here is something exciting!

The Benedictine monks at St. Procopius Abbey in Lisle, Illinois, are offering a FREE, five-part online course in Benedictine Spirituality. Anyone can register on the St. Procopius Facebook page. Five emails, one sent each day, will cover the life of St. Benedict, Benedictine life and vocation stories. There will also be emails asking the students to reflect on each class. You can sign up for two sessions: the first one will run October 14-18, 2013, and the second, October 28 – November 1.

“We feel that St. Benedict’s way of life, which includes living in community, common prayer, work, and private prayer, is just as important today as when St. Benedict was alive,” said Fr. James Flint, OSB, vocation director of the abbey. St. Procopius Abbey was founded in 1885 and has 26 monks today. Prayer and conversion are at the heart of their life. At the same time, they serve in outside apostolates, especially in the schools that they founded: Benet Academy and Benedictine University.

For more information, contact Fr. James Flint, OSB, at 630-969-6410, or

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