Category Archives: Men’s communities

Pro Orantibus: The Order of the Most Holy Savior

CaptureThe IRL has begun a new series on featuring cloistered and monastic communities to raise awareness of the special gift to the Church which these religious men and women are and also to promote World Day of Cloistered Life. To find out more about the World Day of Cloistered Life which is now only a few weeks away click here.

The second community featured in this series is the Order of the Most Holy Savior, commonly known as the Brigittines. The monks of the Brigittine Priory of Our Lady of Consolation are affiliate members of the IRL and have a deep love of Christ, devotion to the fullness of liturgical worship, respect for learning and authentic devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

St. Bridget of Sweden founded the Order of the Most Holy Savior in 1370 upon direct revelation from God. After wars ravaged Europe, the Brigittine monks dispersed in the middle of the nineteenth century.  Then in 1976, Brother Benedict Kirby founded a new male branch with their monastery now holding the canonical status of priory.

g3The Brigittine monks lead monastic lives following the Rule of St. Augustine. They sing the Liturgy of the Hours in choir and have specified times of prayer with the Eucharist being the apex of their day. They follow the ancient Brigittine tradition of continual prayer for the souls in purgatory and the conversion of sinners. As part of their work and in order to support themselves, the monks make gourmet confections.

The Brigittine Monks in Amity, Oregon are the continuation of a long tradition of contemplative men and women that dates back to the time of St. Bridget of Sweden. Through their extraordinary lives, they wish to create an atmosphere in which one can know and understand the joy of living this life in Christ.

IRL Welcomes New Affiliate: The Sons of Our Mother of Peace

Sons of Our Mother of Peace

The Sons of Our Mother of Peace are the newest affiliate to join the IRL after being approved at the September board meeting. The latest member to join the IRL family is from Missouri and strives to combine an eremitical and contemplative structure of life with a direct spiritual apostolate lived in the context of material simplicity and evangelical poverty.

The Sons of Our Mother of Peace is the religious priest and brother branch of the Society of Our Mother of Peace which was founded in 1966 by Fr. Placid Guste, SMP. Originally established in Oklahoma, the Society moved to Missouri and have since expanded to the Philippines and Nigeria.

CaptureEach member of the community occupies a simple and austere hermitage on their heavily-wooded grounds in Missouri. Their daily schedule includes six hours of solitary prayer divided into three segments. Each day they also come together to celebrate the Eucharist and chant the Divine Office of Morning, Midday and Evening Prayer with the Office of Readings and Night Prayer prayed privately.

Six hours are likewise dedicated to the work of their apostolate which includes making available the Truths of the Catholic Faith primarily to the poor and to all who have not had the Catholic Faith presented to them. Their apostolate finds expression in a two-fold manner. First, by helping persons deepen their spiritual life through individual direction, private retreats, conferences on the spiritual life and associate membership. Secondly, through the full evangelization of non-Catholics and fallen-away Catholics through door-to-door presentation of the Catholic Faith.

Spiritual apostolates and material simplicity are essential elements of the life of the Sons of Our Mother of Peace. Their primary purpose in life, however, is to seek union with God through prayer and penance and the total gift of self.

From Cowboy to Contemplative

joachimJohn Green Hanning (d. 1908) was a headstrong, hot-tempered son of a farmer who became the humble and gentle son of the Mother of God as a Trappist brother at the Abbey of Gethsemane in Kentucky. His story was recounted in the best selling book The Man Who Got Even With God, which is available online from for 99 cents.

John Green Hanning was born in Kentucky in 1849. He wasn’t a bad boy but he had a temper and was stubborn as a mule. After a dispute with his father, he burned the family barn down with all the stored crops inside and ran away from home and headed southwest to be a cowboy. His parents were heartbroken. For nine years, they had no word from their son.

During this time he was far from God and the Church. When he finally came home, he was received with open arms. As the author, Fr. M. Raymond, O.C.S.O, said, “Love is so forgiving and so forgetful.” He eventually came back to the Church, got engaged but determined, much to everyone’s surprise, including himself, that he was called to religious life.

The story of the taming of this wild stallion into the gentle Br. Mary Joachim, O.C.S.O., will astonish and amaze you and finally bring you to tears. Find a used copy or download the kindle version. It’s a timeless story of love, forgiveness and transformation of a man into a gentle giant of faith.

The God of love is never beaten! Somehow, sometime, someplace or through some person He finds a way of stretching out His hand to the boldest, brazenest, blindest, most defiant.

He made a “saint” of John Green Hanning.




New Energy and Direction in Springfield

Rev. James Isaacson, SJC, Rev. Scott Thelander, SJC, and Rev. Kevin Mann, SJC outside Sacred Heart Church.

Three Canons Regular of St. John Cantius, Rev. James Isaacson, SJC, Rev. Scott Thelander, SJC, and Rev. Kevin Mann, SJC, will serve in Springfield, Illinois at the invitation of Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki and blessing of Fr. C. Frank Phillips, CR. The three priests will serve in St. Katharine Drexel Parish which is comprised of two churches, St. Patrick Church and Sacred Heart Church.

Bishop Paprocki knows the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius from his days as chancellor and auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Chicago. He personally witnessed their work at St. John Cantius Church in Chicago as he regularly offered 11 am Latin Mass there. He invited them to serve in Springfield because of the spiritual renaissance and physical restoration he saw occur within the parish. Bishop Paprocki is hopeful that the priests can bring about similar results within St. Katharine Drexel Parish saying that hey have the potential to inject, “new energy and new direction.”

Fr. Isaacson, Fr. Thelander and Fr. Mann will be able to share the charism of their young community within a culturally diverse parish. They will engage in parochial ministry and celebrate the Mass in both forms and in three languages: English, Latin and Spanish. They are prepared to aid the parish which has already seen progress with both churches having undergone recent restoration projects.

St. John Cantius Church in Chicago
St. John Cantius Church in Chicago

By moving to Springfield, Fr. Isaacson, Fr. Thelander and Fr. Mann hope to carry out the mission of the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius within the context of parish ministry, which is, “to help Catholics rediscover a profound sense of the sacred through solemn liturgies, devotions, sacred art, sacred music, as well as instruction in Church heritage, catechetics, and Catholic culture.”

The Cistercians – Contemplation in Community

Genesse Community-Nov2012--1024x729In the eleventh century, three monks departed from Molesme Abbey in France to found the first Cistercian monastery, Citeaux Abbey. By founding the order as a community, St. Robert, St. Alberic and St. Stephen emphasized the importance of common life within the Cistercian Order.

The Cistercian Order quickly grew particularly when St. Bernard of Clairvaux, whose feast we celebrate today, entered the monastery in 1112. The saint’s entrance alone displayed the importance of community as he convinced thirty friends and relatives to enter with him! St. Bernard is known as the spiritual father of the Cistercian Order which continues to thrive throughout the world today.

The Abbey of Genesse is one monastery in the United States which belongs to the legacy of the founding community. Located in western New York, the Abbey of Genesse is a community of contemplative monks belonging to the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (O.C.S.O.) commonly known as Trappists. The monks strive to seek God in a stable community they refer to as a “school of brotherly love.” Those at the Abbey try to maintain an environment conducive to contemplation as they pray for the World and Church in their apostolate of prayer. The monks observe silence, speaking only when necessary in order to create an environment of prayer. In addition to prayer and contemplation, the monks engage in various labors in community throughout the day such as farming, cooking, maintenance, hospitality, formation, care of the infirm and bake their famous Monks’ Bread.

The Diocese of Syracuse recently included the Abbey as a part of their summer pilgrimage webpage. The 3 minute video done by the Diocese gives a glimpse of what life is like for the community of monks and allows for insight into the legacy of Cistercians like St. Bernard of Clairvaux.

Fr. James McCurry, OFM Conv., Receives Kolbe Award

Fr. McCurry, fourth from right
Fr. McCurry, fourth from right, and his fellow Conventual Franciscans at Marytown

On August 14th, the Feast Day of St. Maximilian Kolbe, Fr. James McCurry, OFM Conv., received the annual Kolbe Award at Marytown in Libertyville, IL. The annual award is given to those who mirror St. Maximilian’s charisms of heroic charity and self-sacrifice. Father McCurry is the past president Militia Immaculata, Kolbean scholar and  Mariologist.

The first four awards were given to Fr. Patrick Peyton, CSC, the family rosary priest; Fr. John Hardon, SJ, founder of the IRL; Mother Teresa, who needs no introduction; and Bishop Austin Vaughn who was imprisoned many times for his pro-life activities. Illustrious company!

Fr. McCurry did not set out to be the long-time promoter of the Militia Immaculata (MI), the organization founded by St. Maximilian in 1917 to encourage total consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary as a means of spiritual renewal for individuals and society. This is how it happened at least in part…..

Fr. McCurry and Fr. John Grigus, Rector, Marytown Shrine

Father McCurry, during his funny yet profound remarks upon receiving the award, told of his encounter with Pope John Paul II at the canonization of St. Maximilian in 1982. He asked the Holy Father if he would pray that we might all be as consecrated to Mary as St. Maximilian was. The Pope did not hear him at first and said, “huh?” Speaking more loudly, the question then prompted a smile on the Holy Father’s face. He pointed to Father McCurry and said, “You do that!”

Taking this as a papal command, Father McCurry did do it as the long-time president of the Militia Immaculata. The MI’s mission is “To Lead Every Individual With Mary to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.” Following in the footsteps of Father McCurry would be a good place to start. If you would like information about consecrating yourself to Mary in the Militia Immaculata, please visit Marytown’s website.

Prince of Peace Abbey Elects New Abbot


After serving for nearly 21 years as abbot of the Prince of Peace Abbey in Oceanside California, Fr. Abbot Charles Wright has resigned from his office. Abbot Charles made his monastic profession over fifty years ago, serving twenty of those years as abbot of Prince of Peace Abbey during times of great change.

Abbot Sharbel Ewen, O.S.B.

He will be succeeded by Abbot Sharbel Ewen, O.S.B. who was elected abbot of Prince of Peace Abbey on August 11th. Abbot Ewen professed vows as a monk in 1981 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1988.

Abbot Charles says that his “life as abbot has been a growing experience of what it means to be a father (abba) to a wide variety of personalities in these uncertain and changing times.”

Abbot Charles was born into a devout Catholic family that provided a nurturing environment for him to discern God’s call. He served in the army and while in Europe traveled to Lourdes on the one hundredth anniversary of Our Lady’s apparition, realizing that his life would never be his own. Abbot Charles also met with the newly elected Pope St. John XXIII in 1958 that was the highlight of his time in Europe and a nudge towards his vocation. Following his release from the army, Fr. Charles attended San Diego State University where he was directed to visit a small Benedictine monastery in Oceanside, CA, and where he has remained ever since.

Fr. Abbot Charles had no desire to become a priest upon his entrance, however, he was directed that way and was ordained in 1970. He was assigned various duties after ordination which supplied him with experiences that prepared him for the future. Abbot Charles was appointed prior in 1983 and then elected abbot in 1994. Throughout his time as a religious, Abbot Charles has seen great change and had to learn how to adapt while leading a religious community in the late twentieth century. He has seen the central part of his life, the celebration of the Eucharist, change following Vatican II as well as the Divine Office. He witnessed his monastery grow immensely which changed the dynamic of community life.

Please keep Fr. Abbot Charles, Abbot Ewen and all the monks at Prince of Peace Abbey in your prayers as they continue to lead lives of work and prayer in this time of transition.

Mercedarians Adopt Iraqi Archdiocese

Most Rev. Mashar Warda, second from right, speaks to the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy members in Rome.
Most Rev. Mashar Warda, speaks to Mercidarian members in Rome.

With the very existence of Christianity in the Middle East in peril, one religious order is responding to the cries of the persecuted as they have since the eleventh century. The Mercedarians, known formally as the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy, have adopted the Archdiocese of Erbil, Iraq, an act in keeping with their charism of rescuing Christians whose faith is in danger.

The number of Christians in Iraq has drastically diminished the past ten years from 1.2 million to 300,000 due to persecutions which Pope Francis in a recent letter called, “unspeakable, inhuman and inexplicable.” Most Rev. Mashar Warda, Chaldean Archbishop of Erbil, shed light on the appalling situation stating, “There is a real sale of Christian slaves, especially women and children, that they take to sell in markets.” He explained that Christians in Erbil face dire circumstances if they do not flee the region confronting forced conversion to Islam, a heavy tax or, in many cases, death.

The Mercedarians are seeking to relieve the pain and suffering of Christians in the land of Abraham. The Roman Province of the Mercedarians has officially adopted the Archdiocese of Erbil, quickly donating several thousand euros and offering prayers for the Archdiocese. The Mercedarians will also be sending a friar from each country that the Order is in to embark on a fact-finding mission to find other ways in which the Order may aid the persecuted. Archbishop Warda has specifically asked for assistance in establishing a Catholic university in an attempt to save what culture can still be salvaged.

san_piedro_nolasco1The recent adoption of the Archdiocese of Erbil is in keeping with the charism of the Mercedarians who were founded by St. Peter Nolasco in 1218 to redeem Christian captives from their Muslim captors. Members of the Order take a unique fourth vow to give up their own selves for others whose faith is in danger. The need for this vow is as necessary today as it was eight hundred years ago with forces such as ISIS seeking to forcefully repress Christianity. By adopting the Archdiocese of Erbil and seeking to ease the pain of the persecuted, the Mercedarians are once again heroically fulfilling their motto: “my life for your freedom.”

Setting the World Ablaze: Preaching in the 21st Century

Saint Dominic and a dog with a lighted torch
Saint Dominic depicted beside a dog with a lighted torch

Pregnant and on pilgrimage to the Abbey at Silos, Juanna of Aza dreamed of a dog springing forth from her womb with a torch in his mouth that seemed to set the world ablaze. The child whom Juanna carried at the time of her pilgrimage was St. Dominic, founder of the Order of Preachers. The dream came be understood as St. Dominic and his order setting the world ablaze with the love of Christ, as the Order of Preachers was “established, from the beginning, for preaching and the salvation of souls.”

Dominicans continue to preach but the means in which they do so has changed dramatically, allowing them to reach a global audience by utilizing the latest technology. Dominicans are responding to Inter Mirifica which says, “media, if properly utilized, can be of great service to mankind, since they greatly contribute to men’s entertainment and instruction as well as to the spread and support of the Kingdom of God.” They have taken this as a charge to utilize technology in a way that aids people on their journey to find the Lord.

One Dominican affiliate of the IRL which is leading the way in the utilization of modern media is the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist. Since appearing on Oprah, the Ann Arbor Dominicans have begun a new endeavor in an attempt to catechize through global network television by teaming up with EWTN. Their current show, Catechesis: Communion with Jesus Christ, aims to provide a basis for catechetical instruction. By appearing on television, the sisters are able to preach the truths of the Catholic Faith to an international audience.

The Dominican Friars of the Province of St. Joseph are also following in the footsteps of their founder and seek new ways to preach the Gospel. One ministry which the Eastern Province has undertaken seeks to evangelize the culture through first-class productions of film and media. Blackfriars Media explores the drama and mystery of God and man in productions such as Empire of the Cross, a documentary which examines the artistic and architectural features of the famed Basilica of Saint Clement in Rome. The friars have produced many works and recently released an app for better accessibility which allows their message to reach an even larger audience.

The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist and the Dominican Friars of the Province of St. Joseph are preaching the Gospel in ways that reach millions of people starving for Truth. By utilizing innovative technology, the Dominicans are proclaiming the joy of the Gospel and setting the world ablaze with love of Christ today.

Conventual Franciscans Celebrate Milestones

On July 22, five young men were welcomed into the Franciscan Friars Conventual. They received their San Damiano Crucifix and began their postulancy in Chicago.

On Thursday July 23, 2015, seven men expressed their desire to live for a year as Conventual Franciscan Novices and received the Franciscan habit. The investiture ceremony took place in the St. Francis of Assisi Novitiate Chapel in Mishawaka, Indiana.

pic2-invest-2015Two days later, six young men took their vows as Franciscan Friars Conventual in Mishawaka, Indiana.

The IRL and the Conventual Franciscans have a special relationship. Being lodged at Marytown, the National Shrine of St. Maximilian Kolbe and home to the Conventual Franciscan Friars, we regularly see the young friars. What a joy and blessing to witness these men embark on their journey in the footsteps of St. Francis. God bless them all.