Category Archives: News

Jesuits Elect First Non-European Superior General

sj-sant-spirituOn October 14, 2016, the Society of Jesus elected their first Latin American Superior General, Fr. Arturo Sosa Abascal of Venezuela, at the Jesuit’s 36th General Congregation held in Rome. He is also the first non-European to be elected. As the 31st Superior General, he will be leading the largest religious order of priests and brothers in the Church, succeeding Fr. Adolfo Nicolas, SJ., who had served since 2008. There are 16,740 Jesuits worldwide, including approximately 12,000 priests; 1,300 brothers; 2,700 scholastics; and 753 novices. The country with the largest number of Jesuits is India, with over 3000!

fr-sosaFr. Arturo was born in Caracus, Venezuela, in 1948, entering the Jesuits in 1966. He speaks several languages and knows Pope Francis, having met him in 1983 during a previous General Congregation and at other times. The Holy Father was the first person notified after the election.

When asked what initially attracted him to the Jesuits, Father Arturo responded: “Everything….They are an apostolic power in many areas.” The areas of priority for him in the mission fields are poverty, helping migrants and refugees, and inter-religious dialogue. The Jesuits profess four vows: poverty, chastity, obedience, and “obedience specifically in regard to worldwide mission,” or as it said in the previous decrees of the 35th General Congregation: “Total availability to serve the Church wherever the Pope sends us.”

The day of the election began at the beautiful church of Santo Spiritu in Sassia in Rome where in his homily Fr. James Grummer, SJ, Vicar General, said: “Our mission this morning is to elect a General. We will be locked into an upper room, not for fear but for concentrated listening to the Spirit’s whisper. We are not afraid because we believe so strongly that the Spirit guides the balloting that according to Formula 84 ‘The man elected cannot refuse the election.’”

May the Holy Spirit guide grace Fr. Arturo Sosa with the wisdom to guide the Society of Jesus with clarity of vision, compassionate service and dedication to the mission.

Do you want to learn more about vocations to the Society of Jesus? Visit for more information.


Passionist Nuns Celebrate St. Paul of the Cross Feast Day

St. Paul of the Cross founded the Congregation of the Passion in 1720. While walking home after attending Mass, he saw himself “clothed in long black garment with a white cross on my breast, and below the cross the Holy Name of Jesus was written in white letters. At that instant, I heard these words spoken to me: ‘This signifies how pure and spotless that heart should be which must bear the Holy Name of Jesus graven upon it.’ On seeing and hearing this, I began to weep.”

His desire was to gather around him companions who saw the Passion of Jesus as God’s love-message to them and the world. Along with the men’s community, the contemplative community of women, the “Doves of Calvary,” were to stand at the foot of the Cross with our Sorrowful Mother and, with her, keep alive the memory of the self-sacrificing love of Jesus Crucified.

Three Passionists communities, Affiliates of the IRL, faithfully keep this remembrance of the Lord’s Passion before them always. In a special way, today! the feast day of St. Paul of the Cross.

They are:

  • The Passionists nuns of Erlanger, Kentucky. They make altar breads for the faithful on-site.  Watch this YouTube video to see how their prayerful dedication to this holy ministry brings the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ to the faithful!


  • The Passionist nuns of Whitesville, Kentucky.   Their guest house, monastery and chapel are located on a peaceful 170-acre site of beautiful woodlands. Through their hidden life of prayer, penance, work, and joy they seek to be little co-redeemers with the great Co-Redemptrix.  Please keep Ruth and Olivia (their two new aspirants) in your prayers as they  discern if it is truly God’s plan for them to be future Passionist Nuns.








  • The Passionist Nuns of Ellisville, Missouri.  Please pray for Meg, their newest postulant, who plans to enter the Passionists on November 11th. “We are dedicated to the greatest act of love on earth—the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ!”

May the Passion of Christ be ever in our hearts!

Sisters of the Holy Family Celebrate 175th Jubilee

thThe sisters of the Holy Family will opening the celebration of their 175th Jubilee with a Mass on November 19, 2016, honoring the their foundress Ven. Henriette Delille.

The mass will be at their Motherhouse on Chef Menteur Boulevard in New Orleans, LA. The celebrant will be Archbishop Gregory Aymond.

For more information, visit the sisters’ website.


Institute of Catholic Culture Welcomed as New IRL Affiliate!


The institute of Catholic Culture, through its’ apostolate the Magdala Institute, has for several years now been providing top-quality, free formation classes for sisters and nuns. We were pleased at the IRL’s September Board Meeting to approve them as a new IRL Affiliate.

The ICC was founded in 2006 by Rev. Franklyn McAfee, S.T.D., and Rev. Hezekias Carnazzo, M.A., as an educational outreach project within the Office of Evangelization at St. John the Beloved Catholic Church in McLean, Virginia, in response to the Church’s call for a new evangelization.

From the beginning, the ICC has offered weekly seminars in Catholic history, philosophy and theology, with a strong emphasis on the study of Sacred Scripture. Soon, it was bursting at the seams, as attendees from all over the Northern Virginia / Washington D.C. metropolitan area began to visit, knowing they could receive quality, orthodox education with the Institute’s programs.

Today, the ICC averages over 200 eager participants at its regular education programs and offers Catholic adult faith formation opportunities in local parishes. In addition, it has expanded beyond its initial geographical region by offering live and on-demand video streaming of its programs, CD production of past seminars, and over 600 hours of catechetical programs in its free, on-line media library.

magdalaOf interest to IRL communities is their Magdala Apostolate, dedicated to providing sound doctrinal formation—both initial and ongoing—for women religious and novices, in accord with the Church’s call for a new evangelization. Each term, they offer semester-long courses in the faith to any religious sister or community who applies. All that is needed to participate is a:

  1. A computer
  2. An internet connection with a download speed of about 4.00 Mbps and an upload speed of about 1.0 Mbps.
  3. A webcam

They have also begun building an online resources library, so that those who visit their web site can access not only the archived and live programs, but also the written resources discussed and referenced.

Topics covered include:

  • Scripture
  • Theology
  • Church History
  • Philosophy
  • Catechetics
  • Spirituality
  • Continuing formation classes like Greek, Biblical Apologetics, Ante-Nicaean Fathers

fr-hezFather Carnazzo has been to many IRL National Meetings, both as a speaker and participant. Ordained to the priesthood on May 1, 2016, he also serves as the Director of the Office of Catechesis and Evangelization for the Melkite Greek Catholic Eparchy of Newton. We highly recommend his courses. Feel free to call the ICC for more information at 540-635-7155.


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.”

Bishop Thomas Doran, Past IRL President, RIP

doranMost Rev. Thomas G. Doran, IRL President from 1997-2010, died on September 9, 2016, after a long illness. He was 80 years old.

Bishop Doran is remembered fondly by IRL National Meeting banquet attendees for his humor, incisive comments and conciseness in moving along a banquet program. He was so supportive of the IRL as President and always accessible when something needed to be taken care of.

Bishop Doran was born on February 20, 1936, in Rockford, Illinois, in the very diocese he would later shepherd. After completing his classical and philosophical studies at St. Pius X Seminary at Loras College, he  pursued his theological studies in Rome at the Pontifical Gregorian University and received his priestly formation at The Pontifical North American College, Vatican City.

doran-coaA friend said of him: “He would do anything he could to further the Catholic Church. He was very reverent and proud of his priesthood…He always had his collar on.”

Bishop Doran was ordained in 1961 and as an expert in Canon Law, served as a judge at the Tribunal of Roman Rota until 1994, when he became bishop. At his funeral Mass, Archbishop Blase Cupich said: “I’ve known Bishop Doran for almost 30 years as an individual who had a keen mind, a quick wit, but also the ability to do really hard work. He was a man who really not only preached the Gospel, but lived it.”

His successor, Bishop David Malloy, 9th bishop of Rockford, said that Bishop Doran “believed to his core that Jesus was the Son of God who died for us and that the human race is saved in the name of no other.” May we all have that firm belief.

Thank you, Bishop Doran.


Conception Abbey Abbot Elected Abbot Primate

abbot-gregpryOn September 10, 2016, Abbot Gregory Polan, O.S.B., of Conception Abbey, Conception, MO, was elected 10th Abbot Primate of Benedictine Confederation.  The election took place in Rome, Italy, at the Congress of Abbots, held every four years. He is the fourth American and the second abbot from Conception Abbey to be elected to the Office of Abbot Primate.

Abbot Gregory Polan was born on January 2, 1950 in Berwyn, IL, to Martha and Edward Polan. During his high school years, he was deeply involved in studies, sports, and extracurricular activities—all dedicated toward building a community. Attending college seminary is where he was drawn to the common life, where his love for the liturgy and music would be central. He visited Conception Seminary College and said it was “love at first sight.” He knew he would spend the rest of his life there. Abbot Gregory was professed in 1971 and ordained in 1977. While at Conception Abbey for some time, his faith and commitment to the Benedictine community grew and the monks of Conception elected him as their 9th abbot in November of 1996.

Abbot Gregory has led Conception Abbey for the past 20 years as its abbot, and as president-rector of Conception Seminary College for ten years. He is a scholar in Scripture and Theology and has contributed to the translations for the New American Bible and a complete translation of the Psalms which will be used in the liturgy. He will resign as abbot of Conception Abbey and accept this new position with great solicitude and honor from the Conception community.

The ministry of the Primas, according to the Proper Law which governs the Confederation of Congregations of Monasteries of the Order of Saint Benedict, is defined as “the office of the Abbot Primate whose function it is to represent the Confederation and to do all he can to foster co-operation between the confederated monasteries.”  As the head of the world’s 7,000 Benedictine monks, he will become the abbot of the monastery Sant’ Anselmo in Rome, where he will reside and serve as abbot primate of the Benedictine community as its liaison to the Vatican and civil authorities. He will also become head of Benedictine University in Rome.

“Abbot Gregory brings many years of leadership experience and spiritual wisdom to the role of Abbot Primate. We are happy that his gifts, which he has given so freely at Conception Abbey for many years, will now be shared with the entire order and Church,” Fr. Daniel Petsche, O.S.B., Prior of Conception Abbey said on Abbot Gregory’s election. “I believe his gifts will reach fulfillment in this new role.”

Apostleship of Prayer September Prayer Intentions


Centrality of the Human Person: That each may contribute to the common good and to the building of a society that places the human person at the center.


ignorance-of-Scripture-JeromeMission to Evangelize: That by participating in the Sacraments and meditating on Scripture, Christians may become more aware of their mission to evangelize.

Reflections on the Religious Habit and the Year of Consecrated Life

Mother Therese M. of Jesus Crucified, OCD, of the  Carmelite Monastery of Rochester in Pittsford, NY, sent us an article way back in April about her trip to Rome for the closing Mass of the Year of Consecrated Life. She came back with new insights into Founders of other contemplative orders, for as she says, ” I felt that I met each Founder of these contemplative Orders by being with their daughters who were present.” In addition, she received an understanding of the importance of the religious habit, as coming from the charismatic inspiration of the founder as well. Here is the article, long overdue!  (My fault, Mother!)

Roman Momentos by Mother M. Therese if Jesus Crucified, OCD

OCD Rochester Mother Therese M.It is a simple teaching of good manners that eavesdropping is impolite.  One should do everything possible to ignore what is unintentionally overheard, and should never repeat it.  When one is in a dense crowd of people on every side, it is not always easy to “ignore” what is being said by those right behind you and practically in your ear!  During my recent stay in Rome with thousands of other consecrated persons for the closing of the Year of Consecrated Life, I often found myself in a dense (almost suffocating) crowd of mostly nuns.  One occasion particularly stands out in my memory because it was accompanied by a profound insight – a kind of word from the Lord.  To me, sharing this occasion with other religious merits breaking the rules of good manners.  After reading this account you can be the judge of good or bad manners!

One of the most beautiful and unforgettable experiences that I had in Rome was to see hundreds of contemplative nuns – there were over 400 of us—brought together by the invitation of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.  Of course, it was impossible to meet each one personally.  Yet, I felt that I met each Founder of these contemplative Orders by being with their daughters who were present.  Each nun and her religious family were identifiable by their distinctive religious habit.  For me, it was breathtaking to spot Benedictines, Dominicans, Cistercians, Poor Clares, Brigittines, Visitandines, Servites, Adorers of the Precious Blood, as well as over 100 of our beloved Carmelites!  A history of holiness was encountered by just seeing the beautiful sign of the religious habit.

Of course, the religious habit needs to be kept in proper perspective remembering the old adage: “The habit does not make the monk” (or the nun)!  St. Teresa of Jesus wisely makes the same point: “We seem to think that everything is done when we willingly take and wear the religious habit…” (Int. Cast. III, 1, n. 8)  By no means!  The habit is not an end in itself, but it is a powerful witness!  It is an outward sign of an inward grace.  Just as in baptism we “put on Christ”, we are clothed “as new men”, to use the expressions of St. Paul, and this is beautifully signified by the white garment worn by the newly baptized, so consecrated religious are clothed in the garb of their religious family as a sign of their share in the grace of the Founder’s charism and of their identity as members of the family.  The Lord made this sign hit home even more wonderfully by another unexpected encounter.

My Carmelite companion, Sr. Gabriela, and I arrived around 3:00pm at the area of the Colonnade of St. Peter’s in what we thought was plenty of time for the 5:30pm Mass of the Holy Father on Feb. 2nd the Feast of the Presentation.  We got on the end of the line to go through security.  After a few minutes we realized that the beginning of the line was clear across the other side of the Colonnade!  We had a long wait and a long line of people, mainly religious, moved very slowly.  By about 4:30 we were three-quarters of the way closer to the security booths.  It was then I noticed a rather tall Sister, in a white and blue habit, not in line with the rest of us but standing several feet away and chatting with a seminarian.  It was Mother Agnes Mary Donovan of the Sisters of Life from New York.  I never personally met Mother Agnes, but I heard much about her.  Our Community met several of the Sisters of Life last year when they visited our Carmel in Rochester.

When Mother finished her conversation with the seminarian, I called her and she happily came over to Sr. Gabriela and I.  We introduced ourselves to her and warmly met each other as if we were old friends.  With a very Irish twinkle in her eyes she asked, “Can I slip into the line with you?”  We were delighted that she joined us.  As the line inched forward, we enjoyed such a pleasant conversation with her about our days in Rome.  She was very interested in the meetings among the contemplative nuns.  For herself, she was in Rome with the other members of the Board of the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious.  Mother Agnes chairs the Council and they decided to hold their annual Board meeting in Rome to celebrate together the closing of the Year of Consecrated Life.  After a lively 15 or 20 minute exchange with Mother, she noticed other nuns in the line whom she knew and began chatting with them as well.  As the line moved under the Colonnade it became narrower and soon Mother Agnes was behind us speaking with two Colletine Poor Clares also from the US.  My eavesdropping began shortly thereafter!

At the outset I did not hear anything of Mother Agnes’ conversation with the two Poor Clares, though at one point I heard this American sisterly trio praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.  A few moments later, it was as if someone put a speaker at my ear.  One of the Poor Clares said to Mother Agnes: “That really is a lovely habit you have.”  “Yes, it is” she answered and then began to recount the story of how the habit of the Sisters of Life originated.  In the early days of the foundation, the first Sisters of Life wore a habit that did not at all satisfy their founding Father, Cardinal John O’Connor of New York.  He told them: “We need to think about this” but the Sisters assured him that the habit they had was good enough.  He did not want to press the matter, so he let it go.  A while later, he again said to the Sisters that he thought the habit should be something else and needed rethinking.  Again, the Sisters expressed that they were satisfied with what they were already wearing.  Again, he let it go.  Another time the Cardinal approached the Sisters again about the habit and he said: “We really need to rethink this.”  Then it occurred to Mother Agnes that this is the Founder and if he is saying such a thing he must have an inspiration about what the habit should look like.  So the habit was redone according to that inspired idea.  At that moment, it was as if the speaker at my ear was turned off, and I heard no more of the conversation.

was left in total wonderment and wanted to stop everything and relish what I just heard.  I thought to myself: “This is amazing!  This isn’t an anecdote from some yellow parchment of the Middle Ages, this is contemporary, from our own time and in our own American homeland!”  I was impressed in a new way with the realization that even the religious habit comes from the charismatic inspiration of the Founder.  Our Holy Mother St. Teresa came to mind.  Certainly, the habit of Carmel was refashioned by her charismatic inspiration.  It was simplified according to her inspired idea for the renewed way of life of the Discalced and this was spelled out in her Constitutions.  Then along with our Holy Mother a whole procession of Founders came before my mind all with their distinctive religious habits which are so expressive of the particular way of life they established in the Church under God’s inspiration: St. Benedict, St. Robert of Solesmes, St. Bruno, St. Francis, St. Dominic, St. Bridget, the first Hermits of Mount Carmel, St. Francis de Sales with St. Jeanne Frances de Chantal, St. Paul of the Cross, soon-to-be St. Teresa of Calcutta and Cardinal John O’Connor with his Sisters of Life.

With renewed love, reverence and gratitude for our own Discalced Carmelite habit, I headed for the security booth.

Carmelite Monastery of Rochester /  /