Archive for the 'News' Category

Pro Orantibus Day

Friday, November 21st, 2014

ProOrantibusLogo2014Today is Pro Orantibus Day, the Memorial of the Presentation of Mary in the Temple, when Catholics throughout the world are encouraged to honor the cloistered and monastic life.

In 1953 Pope Pius XII instituted Pro Orantibus Day, also known as World Day of Cloistered life, to recognize those men and women who so generously give of themselves to this unique vocation and who each day, from the various convents and monasteries spread throughout the world, offer their prayers unceasingly to build up the Kingdom. Pope John Paul II later expanded its celebration and encouraged the faithful to support this special vocation in any way possible.

“The primary purpose of Pro Orantibus Day (“For Those Who Pray”) is to support—both spiritually and materially— the gift of the cloistered and monastic life,” said Rev. Thomas Nelson, O. Praem., National Director of the Institute on Religious Life. And as Pope Francis reminds us, “it is a good opportunity to thank the Lord for the gift of so many people who, in monasteries and hermitages, dedicate themselves to God in prayer and silent work.”

Please pray this day for our cloistered brothers and sisters, especially for the gift of holy and persevering vocations. Visit our website cloisteredlife.com for regular updates on our commuitities throughout the year!

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Relic of the Assassination Attempt on Pope St. John Paul II

Saturday, November 15th, 2014

Pope JP II VestOn May 13, 1981, Anna Stanghellini, was privileged to be a nurse in attendance at the “Agostino Gemelli” Hospital where Pope John Paul II was taken for emergency surgery after the assassination attempt on his life. To save time, his blood-soaked undershirt was cut away and dropped to the floor. Anna picked it up, carefully wrapped it and kept it in her home for the next 19 years.

In 2000, she gave this relic to the Provincial House of the Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent of Paul with whom she had once been in the novitiate. The Vatican had doubts about the authenticity, so Sister Beatrice, the former Provincial, reluctantly loaned it to them for examination. Happily, it was soon returned and today is in a side chapel of the Provincial House on via Francesco Albergotti.

Blood stains are visible on the shirt, as are three bullet holes and the initials “JP” on the collar. Documents attesting to its authenticity are also on view.

Sister Amelia, the Superior of the “Regina Mundi” House (a home for the elderly and sick religious), says: “It’s a gift and a responsibility. It’s a gift because we feel honored to be the custodians of such a precious and significant relic of the Holy Father; a responsibility because we have made ourselves available to receive all the people who come here to pray.”

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Fr. Augustus Tolton: Help Bring His Story to Life!

Thursday, November 6th, 2014
Fr. Augustus Tolton

Fr. Augustus Tolton

Several weeks ago, I wrote about Stephen Cox, the Benedictine postulant who died just 3 days before he would have been officially received into the novitiate. What I didn’t know about at the time was the impact that the movie Therese had upon his vocation.

Stephen was fourteen years ago when he saw the movie and it sparked his desire to offer his life to God as the Little Flower did. He applied to several religious communities that had some connection to St. Therese but they did not accept his application because he had epilepsy. Finally, the Benedictine monks at Mount Angel Abbey in Oregon accepted his application to enter religious life. He was so happy to know that part of the Therese movie was filmed at the abbey. It was confirmation that this was where he was meant to be.

A short time before he died, Stephen joked: “When we’re novices, they have to bury us in the Abbey cemetery.” He was indeed buried in the cemetery, clad forever in the habit of a Benedictine novice.

All of this interesting information came from the latest newsletter from Saint Luke Productions, the producers of Therese. They are trying to raise the funds for a new live production on the life of Fr. Augustus Tolton, one that they hope will also impact souls ala Therese.

Fr. Tolton (1854-1897) was the first diocesan African-American priest and one who suffered unbelievably as an African-American Catholic. He studied for the priesthood in Rome because no American seminary would accept him. He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Quincy, in southern Illinois, and later came to Chicago to start a parish for black Catholics.

His cause for canonization is underway. The Archdiocese of Chicago brought the final diocesan phase of the investigation into the life and virtues of Father Tolton to a close just over a month ago. (See ToltonCanonization.org for up-to-date information.)

Bishop Joseph Perry said, ““Father Tolton’s story is one of suffering service. Through his experiences of racial negation by a society that would separate black and white by force of the law and lawless custom, (Father) Tolton found the love of God, found his own vocation and ultimately has received his reward from God as a pioneer figure of Christian faith in action, indiscriminate love of neighbor and pastoral charity despite the bigotry that was thrown at him. The record of his life is absent (of) any show of retaliation toward anyone or anything.”

If you would like to help Saint Luke Productions bring this extraordinary drama to the world, please consider giving them a gift. It may help one soul, like Br. Stephen Fox, find his or her vocation, one that will carry them into eternity.

 

 

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Women’s Discernment Retreat with 6 Communities!

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014
Sisters in Jesus the Lord

Sisters in Jesus the Lord

There is an excellent opportunity for young women (ages 18-30) who are discerning a call to become a bride of Christ to get help with vocational discernment and first-hand experience with religious communities during an upcoming Women’s Discernment Retreat.

The retreat will take place on November 14-15, 2014, at Prairie Star Ranch, in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas. You don’t have to be a local Kansan to participate!

Servants of Mary

Servants of Mary

The main goal of the retreat is to help women learn tools for discernment of the Lord’s will for their life.  The young women will have the opportunity to grow in community with one another, develop their understanding of discernment, and meet some of the consecrated women serving in the Archdiocese. The sisters will share their lives and discuss such topics as Poverty, Chastity, Obedience, Prayer, and Communal Life.

Marian Sisters

Marian Sisters

The communities represented include three IRL Affiliate communities: the Marian Sisters of the Diocese of Lincoln, the Sisters in Jesus the Lord, and the Sisters, Servants of Mary. Three other communities will also be present: the Apostles of the Interior Life, the Fraternity of Missionaries of the Poor of Jesus Christ, the Little Sisters of the Lamb. The retreat will be directed by Karen Lombardi, a consecrated virgin of the Archdiocese.

For more information and registration, visit the retreat house website (www.archkck.org/ranch) or contact them via email at psrministry@archkck.org or call 785-746-5693.

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The Passionists of England

Sunday, October 12th, 2014
Fr. Ignatius

Fr. Ignatius

In the news recently, was an item stating that while Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, was in Malta, he attended his first official Catholic Mass. It was noted that one of his distant forebears, Fr. Ignatius of St. Paul (1799-1864), born Hon. George Spencer, is potentially on the road to canonization.

Fr. Ignatius is the great-great-great-uncle of his mother, Princess Diana (nee Spencer), may she rest in peace. An Anglican vicar before he became a Catholic and a Passionist, he spent his life working for the conversion of England back to the Catholic faith. Because of his tireless efforts for this cause, he is known as the Apostle of Prayer for England.

Instrumental in his life was Bl. Dominic Barberi, CP, the priest who brought the Passionists to England in 1841. Fr. Ignatius first met Bl. Dominic while studying in Rome and received the Passionsist habit from him in 1847. Bl. Dominic was also the one who received Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman into the Catholic Church.

Cardinal Newman had said: “If they (Catholics) want to convert England, let them go barefooted into our manufacturing towns—let them preach to the people like St. Francis Xavier—let them be pelted and trampled on, and I will own they can do what we cannot.”

Bl. Dominic, CP

Bl. Dominic, CP

Well, Father Barberi came barefoot; he was pelted with rocks and showered with obscenities. But he persevered. Cardinal Newman’s conversion in 1845 was a crowning achievement. Bl. Dominic had a heart attack while on a train in 1845 and the passengers, fearing he had cholera, had him removed and he died later that day. Strangely enough, Fr. Ignatius also died after leaving a train. He had a heart attack and collapsed into a roadside ditch in 1864. The two bodies now reside in a new shrine in Lancashire which also includes the remains of Elizabeth Prout, Mother Mary Joseph of Jesus, the Foundress of the Sisters of the Cross and Passion.

Cardinal Newman called Fr. Barberi a zealous missioner and preacher. “When his form came within sight, I was moved to the depths in the strangest way. The gaiety and affability of his manner in the midst of all his sanctity was in itself a sermon. No wonder then that I became his convert and his penitent. He was Bl. Dominic of the Mother of God, C.P., great lover of England.”

 

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The Suffering Albanian Church

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014
Fr. Ernest and Pope Francis

Fr. Ernest and Pope Francis

In late September, Pope Francis made a one-day visit to Albania, a country that in 1967 boldly proclaimed itself to be the world’s first atheistic state.

One of the most moving moments for Pope Francis, one that moved him to tears, were the testimonies of a priest and a sister who were able to persevere in the Faith when the practice of any kind of religion often resulted in torture and death.

Fr. Ernest Troshani told the Holy Father how he had studied with the Franciscans for ten years, continuing even after his superiors had been shot and killed. In 1965, he was ordained and celebrated his first Mass on Divine Mercy Sunday. He was arrested, tortured and told he would be hanged. When a spy was placed in his room to get him to peak against the Party, Fr. Troshani responded that Christ had taught us “to love our enemies and to forgive them and that we should strive to seek the good of the people.” When these words of his reached the ears of the dictator, he was freed.

He was given 28 years of forced labor where he was able to use his priestly faculties. “The Lord has helped me to serve so many peoples and to reconcile many, driving out hatred and the devil from the hearts of men.”

Sr. Maria

Sr. Maria

Sr. Maria Kaleta, now 85 years old, was in the Franciscan Stigmatine convent for seven years before she was forced to return home by the Communists. During this dark time, she was given permission to keep the Blessed Sacrament at home so she could bring it to the sick and dying. Her uncle, a priest and martyr, is now being considered for sainthood.

“When I think of it,” she said, “I wonder how we were able to endure such terrible sufferings, but I know the Lord gave us strength, patience and hope.”

Pope Francis said that he was shocked, when preparing for this visit, to learn how much the people of Albania had suffered.

“And we may ask them: ‘But how were you able to survive so much tribulation?’ And they will say this passage that we have heard in the Second Letter to the Corinthians: God is the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. It was He who consoled us!, with this simplicity.”

“Woe to us if we look for consolation elsewhere! Woe to the priests, the religious, the nuns, the novices, the consecrated when they look for consolation far from the Lord! I do not want to ‘hit you over the head’ (it.bastonarvi), eh? I do not want to become the executioner here, but know this well, eh? If you look for consolation somewhere else, you will not be happy!”

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Fr. Benedict Joseph Groeschel (1933-2014)

Monday, October 6th, 2014

fr groweschelOn Friday, October 3, on the eve of the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi, the world lost a Franciscan giant when Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR, passed away at the home of the Little Sisters of the Poor in Totowa, in NJ. Father was a man who touched an incredible number of people throughout his 81 years of life. Not just because he was a popular EWTN host, but also because he was a man of the poor, a man of the suffering, a man who loved religious, a man of the wounded, a man who understood the daily challenges of living and a sometime comedian who made everyone laugh with his Jersey accent and anecdotes.

I had the privilege of being his driver and general factotum during one Marian Conference weekend and was happily surprised to find out that the man whom I saw on TV was the man as he was in real life. Father was Father. He greeted me and my friend Anne every morning by saying, “Hello Annes.” And we laughed.

Father was a great friend of the IRL because he loved religious life and knew of its value to the Church. He came to meeting after meeting because he wanted to encourage everyone on the road to renewal. In 1995, he said that religious life often comes back first with contemplatives and those who deal with the desperately poor. He cited Mother Teresa as an example, and certainly his own community is living witness of this truism.

He was not afraid to be innovative but the way to be innovative he said was with devout young people. He didn’t like any music composed after the 16th century but in his own community Father Stan Fortuna reached kids through holy rap music. “I don’t belong to YOUTH 2000—I belong to YOUTH 1960,” he said. Yet, he cautioned religious to be wary of going back to “the oppressiveness of the old religious life.” He was all for authentic religious life that had a breath of fresh air coming into it from the Holy Spirit.

Father spoke to IRL friends and religious at meetings in 1995, 1998, 2001, 2003, 2008, and 2010. From his hospital bed, recovering from grievous wounds suffered after he was hit by a car, he recorded a speech upon his reception of the 2004 Pro Fidelitate et Virtute Award that was played at the National Meeting banquet.

He was also a good friend of Father John Hardon, SJ, who lived at Fr. Groeschel’s Capuchin friary in the 1960’s. Fr. Groeschel was a witness for Father Hardon’s cause for canonization. He said: “As a friar, I say that I every day pray to my good friend Father Hardon.”

After his accident, he said, “When things are going badly or when the darkness of it all settles in on me, I turn to the Rosary…it is a great blessing and a great school of spirituality.” Blessed Mother, a great son of the Church has returned home. May the angels and the Franciscan saints welcome him to Paradise.

For a wonderful review on his life, click here to see a video commemorating his 50th anniversary as a priest.

 

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Living On Purpose – Debut!

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

Check out this new show debuting on Friday, October 3, at 5:00 pm (CST).

Hosted by our Executive Director, Mike Wick, and Rick Sarkesian, IRL Advisory Board Member and founder of Lifework Press.

 

radio maria

 

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The St. Therese of America: Teresa Demjanovich

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

Sister Miriam Teresa Demjanovich,An American woman will soon be beatified yet I would venture to say that most people have not heard of her. Sister Miriam Teresa Demjanovich, a Sister of Charity who died in 1927 at the age of 26, will be beatified on Saturday, October 4th at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, NJ. It is the first beatification to take place in the U.S.

In another first, Sr. Miriam Teresa is considered a contemplative ala St. Therese of Lisieux. Like the Little Flower, she will not be known by what she accomplished in a measurable, worldly sense but in the shining example of her life. A glimpse of this can be seen in the words she left behind and which were compiled after her death by her brother, Msgr. Charles Demjanovich. The National Catholic Register has a beautiful article on her life and legacy.

Teresa was born in 1901 in Bayonne, N.J., to Slovakian parents and raised in the Ruthenian Catholic (Byzantine) Church. She earned a bachelor’s degree (summa cum laude) in literature from the College of St. Elizabeth in New Jersey, in 1923 and then taught Latin and English. She entered the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth founded by St. Elizabeth Ann Seton but she never professed final vows.

In 1926, her spiritual director asked her to write conferences on religious life for the novitiate, quite something for such a young sister. These 26 conferences were published in a book after her death called Greater Perfection. The book can be purchased from the Sister of Charity’s website.

In fact, Fr. Bradley, who gave the conferences, posted a note on the Motherhouse bulletin board after her death stating that the conference he had been giving the sisters were actually written by Sister Miriam Teresa. Father Bradley was inspired to make this unusual request of so young a sister because  “I believed that she enjoyed extraordinary lights, and I knew that she was living an exemplary life. I thought that, one day, she would be ranked among the saints of God, and I felt it was incumbent upon me to utilize whatever might contribute to an appreciation of her merits after her death.”

She professed vows of poverty, chastity and obedience in articulo mortis (at the point of death) while in the hospital. She died of peritonitis resulting from appendicitis surgery though she was also very weak from other ailments as well.

Union with God, then, is the spiritual height God calls everyone to achieve – any one, not only religious but any one, who chooses, who wills to seek this pearl of great price, who specializes in the traffic of eternal good, who says ‘yes’ constantly to God…The imitation of Christ in the lives of saints is always possible and compatible with every state of life. The saints did but one thing – the will of God. But they did it with all their might. We have only to do the same thing; and according to the degree of intensity with which we labor shall our sanctification progress. (Greater Perfection, pp. 264-266)

 

 

 

 

 

Radio Maria

Friday, September 19th, 2014

madonnaCheck out Radio Maria, a Catholic station committed to calling for conversion through radio programming. Tomorrow, Saturday, at 11:00am, Fr. James Kubicki, SJ, will be speaking with Sr. Beth Ann Dillon, DSMP, about her vocation, ministry and community (who care the for the mentally disabled). Both Father and Sister are on the Board of Directors of the IRL.

Begun in Italy in 1987, since 1991 Radio Maria has spread to the five continents, accomplishing the staggering number of 70 radio stations joined together in the World Family of Radio Maria. There are 18 channels in Africa alone. They are focusing their greatest effort in the African continent where another six projects are ready to start as soon as the resources are available. They do not accept advertising, preferring to rely on Divine Providence alone.

There are stations for English, Italian, German, Spanish and French-speaking people. In the US, the English stations are located in Louisiana, New York, Ohio, Mississippi, Texas, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, as well as streaming online. Italian and Spanish stations are in NY and Chicago (I didn’t know that there were many Italian-speaking people in Chicago).

I was unfamiliar with Radio Maria until today when Fr. Kubicki mentioned that he had a regular hour-long show on the air every week (Saturdays at 11:00 A.M.), where he brings in guests and often speaks with sisters from different congregations.

How do they measure success? Not on audience share but on the number of souls who return to God.

Radio Maria must be an effective instrument of Mary and must try to be a living image of Mary. Our Lady must have a silent presence on the radio, in all broadcasts, even in those which are not specifically religious, including music. Her beauty, light, peace, joy, tenderness, faith, hope and love must be present. Every Radio Maria program must emanate the presence of Mary.

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