Category Archives: Men’s communities

Little Friars and Little Nuns of Jesus and Mary

“Preach the Gospel as you go for the streets!” ―Poor Friars Motto

There is a new community in the diocese of Houma/Thibodaux in Louisiana whose members can be seen hitchhiking around the highways and byways of the diocese.

The Little Friars and Little Nuns of Jesus and Mary, also known as the Poor Friars, were founded in Italy and recognized as a Public Association in 2014. They have the Franciscan spirit of poverty and evangelization, and the Carmelite spirit of contemplation and prayer in their cloisters, but have their own unique Rule of Life.

There are many in the world today who do not give serious thought to the Church because of a perceived worldliness in its members and clergy. Where is the poverty of Christ? There are many shining examples among bishops, priests, religious and the laity. But in our day, when people do not notice simple signs of sanctity and heroism, a sometimes more dramatic image must be revealed. This is what the Poor Friars are: a sign of contradiction in our self-absorbed and self-centered culture; the embodiment of true dependence on God for the basic needs in life, as given freely through strangers and neighbors in encounters that change lives forever.

Father Antonio Maria

They personally cannot accept money at all. They also do not own cars so they hitchhike everywhere. “This is where our Apostolate shines,” says Fr. Antonio Maria Speedy, American Provincial, “as while in the vehicle with the people, we invite them to the Sacraments of Confession and Holy Communion.”

Women and men make up the community though they live separately. They minister in four Italian dioceses. In 2010, they were invited by the local ordinary to begin the process of establishing a community in Louisiana. Father Antonio Maria is the chaplain to the Diocesan Office of Evangelization and the Administrator of two parishes.

Here is a description from their website for their reason for being (raison d’être), all the more penetrating because of the charm of the language translated from the Italian!

Today all the world or many, many people in effect have the need to see real poor of the Lord in the Church, because they no longer understand the Benign Mystery of its Glorious Richness; instead of esteeming it they accuse it!, and not only, they also accuse unjustly its Ministers that represent it.. , . instead of becoming nearer they go further ! For this was immediately born the urgency to make ourselves truly poor, so the confused people, in regards to the so called wealth of the Church, no longer having the possibility to point the finger at us, given that they see us extremely poor, they stop, and finally listen to the demonstrated Truth and the simple answer as to why Jesus was poor while now the Church is (rightly ) Rich, and  etc.. etc.. ; and like this in fact many, begin to take up again the esteem for their Mother Church and for her Ministers, returning like this to the Holy Confession and to the Holy Communion, and therefore concretely: be on the way towards  the Blessed Eternal Life. Amen !   

Tuesday, November 21, 2017 – World Day of Cloistered Life

On November 21 (the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple), the Church will celebrate World Day of Cloistered Life, also known as “Pro Orantibus” Day, which is a Latin phrase meaning “for those who pray.” This is an important ecclesial event for all Catholics worldwide to commemorate the hidden lives of consecrated religious in cloisters and monasteries.

We celebrate this day because the contemplative life is a gift from Almighty God to us all — all the world benefits spiritually from the prayer and sacrifice of these dedicated and faithful souls, even when we may not know it. On this day, the faithful are encouraged to reach out to the cloistered and contemplative communities in their diocese, through prayer, encouragement, and material support.

Please click at the link for more info and for resources: http://www.cloisteredlife.com/news/pro-orantibus-day/

“The one who has Hope lives differently” says Pope Benedict XVI

Saint Paul in his epistle to the Hebrews writes that the Christian virtue of “Hope” is set before us as “an anchor of the soul, sure and firm.” (cf. Heb 6:19) The anchor of a ship is that substantial piece of equipment that when thrown down, grabs hold of the solid sea bed below.  The winds may blow and the waves crash about, but the anchor provides security and stability until the skies clear and the waves calm.

The community of religious brothers called the Brotherhood of Hope was founded in 1980 by Father Philip Merdinger.  With their motto as “Primum Deus, Deus Solum”, Latin for “God First, God alone”, this community  based in Boston, MA wears on their habit the Anchor.

With 18 young men in Brotherhood formation as of this writing, these serious, yet joyful men prepare to labor in the harvest of the Lord with a zeal for the “lost sheep”, particularly college students and young adults who are especially vulnerable to being lost in the storms of the increasingly secularized and hostile culture with its many allurements and distractions.

From the earliest days of the Church, the Anchor has served as a powerful symbol of Hope in Christ our Resurrected Savior and His promise of eternal salvation, with countless examples found on the epitaphs of the faithful departed within the catacombs in Rome.

The important work of the Brothers is that in their apostolate, in their fidelity to Christ and to the Church and their works of mercy, they inspire Hope and demonstrate the “freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Rom 8:21)

http://brotherhoodofhope.org/

Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter Take on New Apostolate

The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, a clerical society of apostolic life of pontifical right (a community of Roman Catholic priests who do not take religious vows, but who work together for a common mission in the world) has been invited to take on a new apostolate in Archdiocese of Baltimore.

St. Alphonsus Church

They have been entrusted with St. Alphonsus Church, their first entree in the Baltimore/Washington, DC, area. And what an historic church it is! St. John Neumann served as pastor from 1848-1849, and Bl. Francis Seelos, C.Ss.R., was pastor from 1854-1857. It is also the National Shrine of St. Alphonsus Ligouri.

The particular charism and mission of the Fraternity is to offer the Sacred Liturgy, including the Holy Mass and the Divine Office, as well as the sacraments, in all of their traditional solemnity, according to the Latin liturgical books of 1962.

The Fraternity is excited to be in this new mission field “for the promotion of our liturgical heritage for the glory of God and the sanctification of souls.”

 

 

5 Common Fears As You Discern Your Vocation

This post, helpful for everyone in the process of discernment, comes from Conception Abbey, a Benedictine Monastery  in Conception, MO . For the complete blog post, visit:  https://www.conceptionabbey.org/discernment-fears/

5 Common Fears with Discerning your Vocation

Many men and women who are discerning a religious vocation hesitate in taking the next step because they are restrained by any number of fears. Listed below are five fears common to men and women discerning religious life and some helpful advice to banish the fear and draw near to the Risen Christ who offers you peace.

  1. What if I am making the wrong (or a bad) decision?

If you are praying daily, striving to live a virtuous life, and remaining close to the Sacraments, you will know if you are making the wrong decision. Religious formation is a process where you continue to discover and realize God’s call in your life. When you enter a religious community, there is a period of one to two years (or longer) that you experience before you profess vows or make any further commitment. Additionally, religious communities are wise in the discernment process and only want candidates who have an authentic call to commit themselves to the way of life, and this call is most fully realized when it is tested over a period of time.

  1. The fear of what others will think, especially parents or friends

Sometimes friends and family members may not understand or completely accept your decision to enter religious life. It is important for friends or family to visit the religious community to meet and interact with its members. If you decide to enter a community and find peace and fulfillment, it often alleviates the pressure that comes from friends or family members, because their opposition diminishes when they see your joy.

  1. Focusing too much on the sacrifices

Jesus assured St. Peter, “Everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life” (Mt 19:29). Do not be afraid to live no longer for yourselves, but for Christ. There are many joys and blessings in following Christ in religious life, and many times you find yourself surprised by how good and generous God truly is!

  1. I’m afraid that I’m following my own voice and not Jesus’ voice

If you truly desire to hear God, the call will not remain hidden, nor will it be presented as a puzzle that you have to ‘figure out.’ Gather all the information necessary to make a well-informed and prudent decision, pray as if it all depends on God, but when it is time to act, place your trust entirely in God. If your decision was made peacefully and with a desire to please God, then you can move forward with confidence. Since it is a real challenge not to be guided by self-will, it is most important to find a priest or spiritual director to listen and guide you throughout the process.

  1. I’m not worthy or holy enough

Religious life is not for the perfect, but for those who desire holiness and strive to call themselves to conversion each and every day. Jesus said, “I did not come to call the righteous but sinners“ (Mark 2:17). Most religious men and women seek community life because they are aware of and readily admit their need for the support and encouragement of others to persevere on the path that leads to God. The call to holiness requires that you embrace your humanity, with both your strengths and weaknesses, to become the man or the woman that God desires you to be.

I encourage you to visit the Conception Abbey website/blog posts for more information on discernment.

Getting Started With Discernment

 

 

Son of Poland’s Prime Prime Minister Ordained FSSP Priest!

On May 29th, the Prime Minister of Poland, Beata Szydlo, and her husband, Edward, had the unique privilege of attending the first Mass of her newly ordained son, Fr. Tymoteusz Szydlo, at their home parish of Our Lady of Częstochowa in Przecieszyn in southern Poland. Father Szydlo is a member of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, an order founded in 1988 and known for celebrating Mass in the Extraordinary Form. “Human words are unable to express the gratitude I owe You, my God,” Father said. “Therefore, I humbly ask You to keep me in Your holy service.”

The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter was founded at the Abbey of Hauterive in Switzerland by a dozen priests and a score of seminarians. Their mission is the formation and sanctification of their priests, using the traditional liturgy of the Roman Rite to worship Our Lord and to serve the Church across the world. Shortly after their foundation, they moved to Germany, which is now the location of their European seminary. They also have a house of formation in Denton, Nebraska. Currently, there are 270 priests and 132 seminarians in the Fraternity serving in 124 dioceses including 34 in the United States.

“This is not an easy road,” the Prime Minister said. “especially these days I think young people like them have an extremely important mission to fulfill. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for … all of my son’s fellow seminarians and for my son. I hope they will persevere and do a lot of good for everyone, for all of us. They are wonderful young people.”

Visit the FSSP website for more information.

Using the ancient liturgy as our well-spring, we form our priests in the traditions of the Church to serve at the altar and in the parish so that the fullness of Christ might enter the emptiness of the world.

The Church Celebrates Religious Brotherhood

On May 1, the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, the Church in the U.S. celebrated the first ever Religious Brothers Day. The day is the brainchild of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men and the Religious Brothers Conference, and highlights this often-hidden and under-appreciated vocation in the Church.

When I was thinking of orders that have brothers as members, I did not think of the Dominicans, but lo and behold, an article in the Catholic World Report talks about Dominican Cooperator Brothers, who have been a constant presence in the Order since the beginning! The Dominican Province of St. Joseph (Eastern Province) has produced a short video highlighting the work of the Cooperator Brothers.

I would guess that a common question asked of brothers is—why did you not become a priest? The call to brotherhood is  call from God, just as the vocation to the priesthood is a call from God, freely chosen.

A Franciscan brother once said to me that in a priest there is barrier of sorts in his role “in persona Christi.” A brother is a man who is standing shoulder to shoulder with you in the trenches. He is accompanying you as a brother would a brother. Yet, at the same time, there is a great paternity about brothers. The holy ones I have known offer wisdom, course corrections, and fatherly concern. Maybe they are more approachable than a priest, because they seem to be the confidants of so many and are “one of us.”

The IRL has a newly revamped website dedicated to religious brotherhood called fittingly ReligiousBrotherhood.com.  In it are links to religious communities and organizations that support and embrace the vocation to religious brotherhood. Some are communities exclusively composed of brother members and others are mixed communities comprised of both priests and brothers. Here are the ones listed who are Affiliates of the IRL but go to our website to see the entire list and links direct to the communities.

Alexian Brothers – a lay, apostolic religious community of brothers, bound together by religious vows, who dedicate themselves primarily to live in community and to participate in the ministry of healing in the tradition of the Roman Catholic Church.

The Brigittine Monks – a monastic community, given to prayer and contemplation, according to the Rule of St. Augustine. This is an ancient way of life in its concept of the withdrawal from the mainsteam of activities of society; however, the monks seek to place its ancient traditions into this era, conveying its attraction and needfulness to the culture of our times.

The Brotherhood of Hope – a canonically recognized religious community of brothers who serve the new evangelization of Pope John Paul II, particularly by reaching out to lapsed and uncommitted Catholics, and are involved in college campus ministry and men’s retreats and conferences.

Canons Regular of the Immaculate Conception – a congregation of priests and brothers, living in common according to the Rule of Saint Augustine, dedicating themselves to all the duties and offices of the pastoral ministry in the parishes where they serve.

Canons Regular of St. John Cantius – a Roman Catholic community of priests and brothers dedicated to a restoration of the sacred in the context of parish ministry, by helping others to rediscover a profound sense of the sacred through solemn liturgies, devotions, sacred art and music, as well as instruction in the heritage of the Church, catechetics and Catholic culture.

Conventual Franciscan Friars of St. Bonaventure Province – part of the worldwide Franciscan Order founded in 1209, they emphasize the “conventual” tradition and minister primarily in urban settings. The St. Bonaventure Province was founded in 1939 and its friars serve in Midwest parishes and foreign missions, in education and evangelization, shrine ministry and work with the poor.

Discalced Carmelite Friars, St. Joseph Province – followers of St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross, they live as brothers in community. With Mary as their patroness, they serve Christ and His Church through ministries of prayer, presence, evangelization and pastoral care.

Franciscan Brothers of Peace – a religious institute of brothers founded in 1982 by Brother Michael Gaworski to live and proclaim “The Gospel of Life” by devoting themselves to serving and defending the most vulnerable of our society.

The Friars of the Sick Poor of Los Angeles – a community whose mission and vision is to give themselves to God in the service of the sick poor and marginalized, whom they receive in God’s name as they follow Christ more closely while “living in the midst of the world.” Hope is the friars’ charism in which they assist the sick poor and marginalized to find meaning in their suffering and sickness as being redemptive, inviting them to a fuller life within the Church. The friars remain “Ever ready to tell them the reason for our hope.”

Institute of Charity – a religious congregation of priests and brothers, also known as the Rosminians, founded by Bl. Antonio Rosmini, whose ideal of “universal charity” underlies their way of life and emphasizes a desire to live closer to Christ and His teaching by trusting completely in divine providence and love of God.

Missionaries of Mariannhill – a pontifical mission congregation in the United States and sixteen other countries, comprised of priests, brothers, sisters, and lay missionaries, founded by Abbot Francis Pfanner. Their apostolate is to bring the Faith to those places where the Church is not yet established or has disappeared.

Missionaries of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary – a religious congregation of priests and brothers, dedicated to serving the needs of God’s family while witnessing the great love present in the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

Order of Our Lady of Mercy – also known as the Mercedarians, this is an international community of priests and brothers, founded in 1218, who live a life of prayer and communal fraternity based on the Rule of Saint Augustine and serve in schools, prisons, hospitals and foreign missions.

Salesians of St. John Bosco – a society of apostolic life made up of seminarians, clerics and laymen who complement each other to carry out St. Don Bosco’s apostolic plan in a specific form of religious life: to be in the Church signs and bearers of the love of God for young people, especially those who are poor.

Servants of Charity – a community of religious priests and brothers, also known as the Guanellians, they work with developmentally disabled children and adults.

Vocations Boom at Holy Resurrection Monastery

Holy Resurrection Monastery is sui juris (self-governing) monastic community of monks located in Saint Nazianz, Wisconsin. Founded in 1995, they are under the Romanian Catholic Eparchy of St George’s in Canton, Ohio. They are committed to the revival of traditional Eastern Christian monastic life, following the liturgical and fasting regulations of the Byzantine tradition.

There are four monks in solemn vows, four novice monks, and one postulant. They also have serious discerners in contact with them. “With the rampant secularism in our society, it is a difficult time for monastic life,” says Abbot Nicholas Zachariadis. “However, given the small size of the Eastern Catholic Churches and the newness of more traditional monastic foundations, I believe, by God’s mercy, Holy Resurrection Monastery is doing quite well!”

People in the Roman Catholic Church, numbering about 1 billion members, often do not realize that about 20 million Catholics belong to the 21 Eastern Catholic Churches. The monks believe that the Eastern Churches have a lot to contribute to the New Evangelization. “The New Evangelization must offer many things – including sound catechesis, moral guidance, social action, and reverent worship. All of these things, however, must be put into their proper context. They are ultimately not ends in themselves, but aspects of the path to union with God.”

The monks in Saint Nazianz:

  • Pray, for their own holiness, the Church and all the world. They receive hundreds of prayer intention requests a month, writing each name entrusted to them in their remembrance books known as “Dyptichs.
  • Offer hospitality through their retreat house. Spiritual direction is available.
  • Evangelize by going out to parishes, prayer groups, Bible Studies and other organizations. They also give parish missions, write online articles, and work ecumenically.
  • On most days they have the custom of sitting together silently as part of the morning and afternoon services to pray the Jesus Prayer. “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” It was the highlight of my retreat with these wonderful monks!

“The closeness of the transcendent God is not a theoretical abstraction. It is a fact – the most important fact there is. The divine presence must become the basis of the believer’s whole life, through that harmony of liturgical and contemplative prayer which is the foundation of Christian mysticism.” (Click here to read the whole article)

During this Lent, a generous benefactor has offered the monastery a matching fund grant of up to $50,000. Which means that every $1 donation will be matched up to $50,000. If you would like to support this growing monastery, please visit their website.

St. Procopius Abbey Welcomed as New Affiliate

We welcome St. Procopius Abbey as a new IRL affiliate!
st-proc-commSt. Procopius Abbey is a Benedictine monastery of monks comprised of priests and brothers who live in community, seeking God by a life of prayer, obedience, and conversatio morum (conversion of life), according to the Rule of St. Benedict. 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 and continue to sponsor—Benet Academy and Benedictine University in Lisle, Illinois, where they serve on the faculty and staff. They also assist nearby parishes, especially with Sunday Masses.

St. Procopius Abbey was founded by monks from St. Vincent Archabbey (Latrobe, PA) in 1885 in order to pray and work among the Czech and Slovak immigrants. Benedictine Monks from St. Michael’s Archabbey in Bavaria, who arrived in America in 1846, were the founders of St. Vincent’s.

Over the next decades, the monks founded a high school, college, and seminary, and operated a press. They were also engaged in parish work. After 1901, the schools began operating in Lisle. In 1914, the Abbey too was transferred to Lisle.

Blessed by many vocations in the past, St. Procopius Abbey was able to found two new monastic communities: St. Andrew’s Abbey in Cleveland, OH, and Holy Trinity Priory in Butler, PA. The growth of the schools eventually led the monks to decide to build a new
monastic complex, that would give them a stronger Benedictine identity, enhance the contemplative character of their lives, and help
abbot-austinthem better serve the students and public. Planning began in 1959 and they moved into their new home in 1970.

Abbot Austin G. Murphy, O.S.B., was elected in 2010 as the 10th abbot. The motto on his coat of arms is beautiful: pariter ad vitam eternam (“all together to eternal life”).

 

Conyers Cistercians – New IRL Affiliate & New Abbot!

abbot-aug-ocsoAt the September Board of Director’s meeting of the IRL, we were pleased to approve the application of the Monastery of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia, as our newest Affiliate community. This past summer has been a momentous time for the Trappist monks who on May 29, 2016, elected Father Augustine Myslinski, OCSO, as their eighth Abbot. On August 15, the feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, The Most Reverend Wilton D. Gregory, Archbishop of Atlanta, conferred the abbatial blessing on Abbot Augustine in the Abbey church. “Today we bless and dedicate Abbot Augustine as he fully accepts his election as the abbot of the monastery of Conyers,” said Archbishop Gregory, “and places all of his trust in God’s fidelity which never forsakes.”

On the abbey website it states: The abbatial blessing of an abbot is a sacrament, having been established in the Western church since the eighth century. During the liturgy, Archbishop Gregory bestowed the church’s blessing upon Abbot Augustine to confirm him in his ministry. In the rite of blessing, the abbot promises to persevere in determination to observe the Rule of St. Benedict and to encourage the brothers in the love of God, the life of the Gospel and in fraternal charity.

Abbot Augustine is a Chicago native but moved with his family to Georgia when he was 11 years old. He initially entered a diocesan seminary but before his ordination as a deacon, discerned that God was calling him elsewhere. That elsewhere was the abbey in Conyers where he professed vows as a brother in 2005. Further discernment led to his ordination as a priest in 2011. “I resisted this call for many years.” He said. “When I first heard God calling me to monastic life, my response was, ‘Go pick on somebody else!’”

ocso-abbeyThe Monastery was founded in 1944, when twenty-one Trappist monks left Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky for the wilderness of rural Georgia. Together they built the magnificent Abbey Church, a massive concrete structure that took 15 years to complete. The last surviving member of original 21 Conyers monks died in 2014 at age 102.

Today, the community of 34 monks spanning several generations meets seven times a day for communal prayer of the Divine Office beginning with Vigils at 4:00 a.m. and ending with Compline at 7:30 p.m. As Cistercian monks, they profess the Benedictine vows of obedience, stability and conversatio morum (“Conversion of Life” as referenced in chapter 58 of the Rule of St. Benedict.)

abbey-church-aerialRetreat guests are invited to fully participate in the monastic schedule of the Divine Office. The Abbey Store provides visitors with the opportunity to purchase food products, such as fudge and biscotti, that are made at The Monastery Bakery by the Monks. The stained glass studios of the Monastery of the Holy Spirit have been in operation since 1957, first used for in the Abbey Church.

We pray for Abbot Augustine, his brother monks and all who come to their door seeking to deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ, that the Lord may bless them for their commitment to Christ, His Church and His people.

“God doesn’t need our prayers because He takes care of everything,” Abbot Augustine said. “Instead He wants our prayers. One reason He wants our prayers is because it draws us closer together in unity and love—united together in Christ Jesus.”