Category Archives: News

Heralds of Holiness and the Traverse City Carmelites

Traverse girls savengerIn the midst of our National Meeting preparations last spring, a kind couple from Michigan came to the office to pick up our Heralds of Holiness exhibit, an 80-panel display showing the ancient roots of the consecrated life, as well as how it is still expressed in our many Affiliate communities today. They brought it to the Carmelite Monastery of the Infant of Prague in Traverse City, Michigan, where it was on display for an open house as part of the celebration for the Year of Consecrated Life.

traverse rearMore than 300 people visited the monastery to tour the nuns’ renovated chapel and to view the exhibit. About 30 young people squeezed into the monastery “speakroom” for a Question and Answer session with the nuns about their cloistered life.

Heralds of Holiness then went on the march, thanks to the efforts of the Carmelites who promoted it around the diocese. It began with a tour of Catholic schools in the diocese of Gaylord, and was viewed by 600 students at St. Francis High School, Traverse City; 55 students at St. Mary’s K-8 school in Kingsley; and by over 230 students and parents at St. Francis Xavier School and St. Michael the Archangel Regional Catholic Academy in Petoskey before the school year ended.

After this, the display traveled to St. Mary of Mt. Carmel Cathedral in Gaylord for viewing by the faithful gathered for the ordination of three transitional deacons and one priest on June 25th. In July, the exhibit went to the National Shrine of the Cross in the Woods.

cross in the woodsI have to admit that I was not familiar with this incredible place of pilgrimage until Heralds of Holiness arrived there. The crucifix on the cross on the hill, at a weight of 7 tons and 28 feet in length, is the largest in the world! The sculptor gave the face of Jesus an expression of great peace and strength to offer everyone who comes to pray there encouragement in the face of their own struggles, a perfect place of pilgrimage for the upcoming Year of Mercy.

If you would like to visit the Carmelite monastery in Traverse City, the chapel is open for prayer and daily mass. Join them for the Triduum of Masses in honor of St. Therese, September 29, 30 and October 1. We pray that Heralds of Holiness awakens in young people a desire to learn more about religious life and result in holy and persevering vocations for the Carmelites as well!

Evangelizing the Peripheries: Pope Francis Canonizes St. Junipero Serra

pope-3-092315As part of his visit to the United States, Pope Francis has canonized the missionary of California, St. Junipero Serra. The canonization marks a new springtime for the new evangelization and an increased effort to proclaim the Gospel to the peripheries.

St. Junipero Serra was born in 1713 on the island of Mallorca off the coast of Spain and joined a Franciscan community at a young age. He quickly garnered notoriety for his intelligence and rich spiritual life. He received the Duns Scotus Chair of philosophy at the prestigious Lullian University, however, he felt called to leave the comfort of his country and desired to go to the New World in order to spread the Gospel there. St. Junipero first worked in Mexico until he was fifty when he accepted an invitation to evangelize what is present-day California. He worked tirelessly to spread the Good News and established missions along the coast from San Diego to San Francisco.

The missions themselves have caused St. Junipero Serra to be a controversial figure with some critics saying that he was an advocate to the oppression of thousands of Native Americans by colonials. Bishop Robert Barron, himself a great evangelist and current auxiliary bishop in California, addressed the controversy in a recent video saying, “What fired his (St. Junipero’s) heart above all was the prospect of announcing the Good News of Jesus Christ to those who had never before heard it, and there is no question that his missions provided the institutional framework for that proclamation.” Bishop Barron emphasized that while St. Junipero was not blameless throughout his life, he was nevertheless a saint who desired to spread the Gospel to people living on the periphery.

During his homily at the Pontifical North American College in May, Pope Francis laid out three key aspects to the life of St. Junipero Serra: his missionary zeal, his Marian devotion and his witness to holiness. The Holy Father said that what motivated St. Junipero Serra to leave everything and journey to the New World was, “his desire to proclaim the gospel ad gentes, that heartfelt impulse which seeks to share with those farthest away the gift of encountering Christ.”

By canonizing St. Junipero Serra during his visit to the United States, Pope Francis is challenging all Catholics to get out of their comfort zone and spread the Good News of Jesus Christ to all, even and especially to those on the peripheries. The Holy Father is also highlighting the vital role which religious men and women played and continue to play in proclaiming the Gospel in the Americas.

Pope Francis Celebrates Year of Consecrated Life with Young Religious

pope-francis-general-audience-610x343Pope Francis held a special audience Thursday morning when he welcomed young people in consecrated life who were in Rome for the International Congress for Young People in Consecrated Life which met within the context of the Year of Consecrated Life.
The Pope answered several questions posed by young consecrated men and women from throughout the world during the audience. While speaking particularly to religious women, the Holy Father said, “You have this desire to be on the front line: why? Because you are mothers – you have this maternal quality of the Church herself, which unites you.” Pope Francis emphasized the integral role which consecrated men and women play in spreading the Gospel saying, “The Church is the Bride of Christ, and religious sisters are brides of Christ – they draw their whole strength from there: before the sanctuary, before the Lord, in prayer with their Bridegroom, in order to carry His message.”
The Holy Father warned those in attendance of the dangers of “comfort” in religious life and how it can affect one’s ability to live out their vocation. He emphasized that the key is to have a, ” heart always open to that, which the Lord tells us, and to bring that, which the Lord tells us, to dialogue with our [religious] superior, with one’s spiritual maestro or maestro, with the Church, with the bishop.” He also caution about the dangers of gossip in religious life calling it the, “plague of community life.”
The questions also asked the Holy Father to reflect on his calling to religious life. When asked about his first memory of a vocation to religious life he said, “You asked me to share my memory – how it was – that first call on September 21st, 1953 – but I don’t know how it was: I know that, by chance, I walked into church, I saw a confessional, and I came out different.”

Habemus Generalis! Little Sisters of the Poor Elect New Superior General

latourWhile visiting France in the Fall of 1995, I had the good fortune to stay for a few days at the Little Sisters of the Poor Motherhouse in Brittany, France. What a blessing to be able to pray in the crypt of the church next to the tomb of their foundress, St. Jeanne Jugan. Most wonderful of all, was the warm welcome received by me from all of the sisters, particularly Sr. Marie-Pierre who looked after me like a mother. I should have expected this because the Little Sister’s fourth vow is hospitality.

The Little Sisters receive their formation at the motherhouse called La Tour Saint Joseph. What a joy to see sisters from all over the world gather together to form one family of faith dedicated to caring for God’s little ones on earth, the elderly poor.

I had the pleasure of meeting the Mother General, and also Mother Celine de la Visitation, who was kind enough to issue me the invitation to stay. I mention all of this because Mother Celine was elected Mother General the following year and served in that capacity for the next 19 years. On September 8th, it was announced that the Little Sisters had elected a new Superior General, Sister María del Monte Auxiliadora as their first Spanish superior general! It was accompanied by the singing of the Te Deum and a flurry of calls and emails back home.

Mother Celine with Sean Cardinal O'Malley
Mother Celine with Sean Cardinal O’Malley

Mother María was elected to the General Council in 2009 and is originally from Seville, Spain, where she was provincial superior and mistress of novices in the Spanish novitiate. Five other sisters were also elected to the General Council reflecting the international flavor of their Congregation: Sisters Nicole Emmanuel and Benoît de Ste. Bernadette from France; Sister Joseph Christine, from Scotland; Sister Patricia Ivonne del Espíritu Santo, from Chile and Sister Maria Clarette, from Sri Lanka. Mother Celine, originally from San Francisco, California, will remain in the General Council, assuming the role of Vicar General.

Please pray for the Little Sisters in this time of transition and as they continue their religious freedom legal battle, one that will greatly influence our own ability to uphold our Catholic faith in the public arena.

Pro Orantibus: Mother Mary Teresita of Jesus

Mother Mary Teresita and the Poor Clares in Palos Park with the late Francis Cardinal George
Mother Mary Teresita and the Poor Clares in Palos Park with the late Francis Cardinal George

Aspiring to attend college, get married and have many children, Mother Mary Teresita of Jesus’ plans changed dramatically when she chose to follow God’s call to become a Poor Clare.

Mother Abbess Mary Teresita of Jesus heard God calling her to impact the world by pursing a religious vocation. After reading Mother Mary Francis’ book A Right to be Merry, she knew that God was asking her to serve Him in a cloistered community. In 1963, Mother Mary Teresita entered the Poor Clare monastery in Roswell New Mexico, the same monastery which Mother Mary Francis belonged to. She has since relocated to Chicago re-establishing the Order there at the invitation of Cardinal George.

Mother Mary Teresita’s life as a Poor Clare is one primarily of prayer with day punctuated with prayer every three hours beginning at midnight. She says that rising to pray at night is like keeping her lamp ready as you do not know the hour when Christ will return. In between prayer Mother Teresita works, mainly in silence. All of the Poor Clares in community tend a garden, bake, mend clothes and make items to sell at their gift shop. They also keep a perpetual fast abstaining from meat and partaking in simple meals. Their breakfast is coffee and bread followed by lunch which is a vegetable, potato and a “third portion,” typically a cheese or eggs for protein, lastly, the sisters eat dinner which is comprised of bread and milk with cheese or nuts.

Mother Mary Teresita of Jesus and all the Poor Clares in Palos Park pray for the Church and the world. All benefit spiritually from the hidden lives of these dedicated religious women. For a better glimpse into their lives, read , the book which inspired Mother Mary Teresita to pursue a her vocation with a cloistered community, A Right to Be Merry by Mother Mary Francis.

Carmelites in San Rafael Celebrate 50th Jubilee

ocd rafaelThis year, the Carmelites in San Rafael, California, are celebrating the 50th year of their foundation. The Carmel of the Mother of God was founded on November 24, 1965, from the Carmelite Monastery at Carmel-by-the-Sea (a great place to visit for the scenery alone!).

It was Mother Miriam of the Trinity, OCD, the foundress, who received an interior call to found a Carmelite monastery specifically in response to Our Lady of Fatima’s request to pray for the conversion of sinners and for the Russian people. As part of this endeavor, the sisters studied the Russian language, liturgy, spirituality and history with help from priests from a Catholic Russian church. They still however observe the Latin rite and the regular Carmelite horarium.

Espoo Karmel
Espoo Carmelites

While the sisters were unable to establish a foundation behind the Iron Curtain, two of their sisters were able to start a new foundation in neighboring Finland in November of 1988. Today, this monastery in Espoo, Finland,  has ten cells and a chapel, with six sisters praying especially for the people of Finland. It is the only cloistered Catholic monastery in the entire country!

After the breakup of the Soviet Union, the sisters purchased a small apartment in downtown Moscow for a tiny Carmel. The difficulties involved and the limited number of sisters for a new monastery caused the sale of this apartment to the Divine Word Missionaries who have established St. Olga’s Parish with the purchase of a nearby building. In that first apartment is still an Icon of the Infant Jesus painted by Mother Miriam which is now seen by the Russian faithful.

The community in San Rafael numbers seven with four American sisters, one sister from England, one sister from Africa, and one sister from the Philippines. To celebrate their jubilee, they have three masses scheduled during the month of November to be celebrated by Most Rev. John Wester, Archbishop of Santa Fe (Nov. 1); Very Rev. Stephen Watson, O.C.D., Carmelite Provincial of the California/Arizona Province (Nov. 14); and Most Rev. Patrick McGrath, Bishop of San Jose (Nov. 24).

“… You will see that the majority of these houses have been founded not so much by man as by the mighty hand of God, and that, if we do not stand in His way, His Majesty loves to further the work He is doing.”        St. Teresa of Avila


Remembering Our Nation’s Martyrs

Mass is celebrated at the future shrine for the Florida Martyrs.

Many know of the famous North American Martyrs, however, not many know of other martyrs in our nation’s history. This will hopefully no longer be the case as the cause for canonization of 82 martyrs from Florida will be opened on October 12, 2015. The martyrs, who will be known as Antonio Cuipa and 81 companions, were a diverse group of missionaries and Native Americans killed between 1549 and 1706 in Florida.

Antonio Cuipa was an Apalachee Indian from San Luis Mission (Tallahassee) converted by Franciscan missionaries. His studies suggest that he may have been preparing for the priesthood. His studies were cut short, however, when Creek Indians hired by an English governor from the Carolinas nailed him to a cross and set him on fire. Witnesses to the event claim that Antonio saw the Blessed Virgin Mary while dying on the cross.

There are many religious among the martyrs including Dominican, Franciscan and Jesuit missionaries. The first Dominican martyr in the country, Fr. Luis Cancer, was killed near Tampa Bay. Fr. Pedro Martinez was the first Jesuit killed in the country and had been sent by St. Francis Borgia to Florida where he was killed by Native Americans when he refused to abandon his companions.

Attempts for the canonization of the martyrs has occurred in the past, however, they have been stalled by events such as World War II. The current campaign began ten years ago when three friends visited the site where several martyrs were killed and agreed to establish a shrine. After organizing a team to aid them, the cause to canonize the martyrs took on new life, though money is needed to proceed in both the construction of the shrine and canonization process.

Antonio Cuipa and 81 companions give insight into the history of the Church in America and displays how many suffered to spread the faith. With many people facing persecution around the world today, the heroic martyrs of Florida serve as inspiration and takes on special significance as the Church continues to  spread the Good News.

Fort Wayne Diocese Welcomes Consecrated Virgin

cv fort wayneOn the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, August 15, 2015, Jessica Hayes was consecrated to a life of virginity at a rite celebrated by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Many friends, priests and well-wishers joined the 38-year old high school teacher as she declared her resolution to persevere in holy virginity as a bride of Christ.

Dressed in a wedding gown, Jessica was accompanied by two attendants. As part of the ceremony, she said to the bishop: “Father, receive my resolution to follow Christ in a life of perfect chastity which, with God’s help, I here profess before you and God’s holy people.” To signify the spousal relationship between Jessica and the Lord, the Bishop gave the newly consecrated virgin a veil (“Receive this veil, by which you are to show that you have been chosen from other women to be dedicated to the service of Christ and of His Body, which is the Church.”) and a ring (“Receive the ring that marks you as a bride of Christ. Keep unstained your fidelity to your Bridegroom, that you may one day be admitted to the wedding feast of everlasting joy.”) She also received a Liturgy of the Hours, showing that she is praying the Church’s official prayers along with other consecrated individuals.

Jessica told the diocese’s Catholic newspaper that she felt a “deep gratitude for the Church and for being Catholic, knowing whatever desire is placed upon our hearts by God, the Church has a place for us. And this is my place.”

The model and mirror for a life of virginity is the Blessed Mother of Jesus. As the bishop said in his homily, “It is God who gives the grace of virginity. He gave this grace to the young woman of Nazareth, to Mary, who was inspired by the Holy Spirit to choose the life of virginity. Mary made a personal decision in faith to remain a virgin, to offer her heart to the Lord. She wanted to be His faithful bride.”

“Thus, Mary became the model for all those who have chosen to serve the Lord with an undivided heart in virginity.It seems most appropriate that Jessica gives herself totally to Jesus, is consecrated to a life of virginity, on a feast of Our Lady, who gave herself totally to God as the virgin handmaid of the Lord.”

Jessica is the only consecrated virgin in the diocese and will continue her work as a high school theology teacher at a local high school.

To read a reflection by Jessica and the bishop’s homily and to see all the beautiful pictures, click here!

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.