Archive for the 'News' Category

A Modern Pillar-Hermit

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.

pillar monk

This is a photo of a stylite’s hermitage atop a great stone pillar. A stylite is a person who lives atop a pillar, enduring the solitude and natural elements for love of God. The most famous of them was St. Simeon Stylites who lived in what is now Syria in the 5th C. He lived atop a pillar for over 35 years!

st simeon

This is an image of the pillar-hermit St. Simeon Stylite from a 10th C manuscript. Apparently, his pillar reached the height of 50 feet. He died in 459.


St. Simeon’s pillar became encased in the center of an octagonal courtyard and complex of buildings. St. Simeon’s pillar can still be seen in the center of the courtyard, although it is now less than 7 feet high. St. Simeon’s relics were mainly taken to Antioch. Pray that the current civil war does not destroy this ancient memorial.


maxime climbers

The hermitage in the above photos, located in the country of Georgia, is a 30-foot rock outcrop called Katskhi that was used by Christians until the 15th century. In the 1940′s climbers discovered the bones of the last  inhabitant and and the remains of a chapel.


Looking at the pillar too was Maxime Qavtaradze, a “bad boy” who sold drugs and ended up in jail. “I used to drink with friends in the hills around here and look up at this place, where land met sky. We knew the monks had lived up there before and I felt great respect for them.” In 1993 Maxime professed monastic vows and began his new life atop the pillar. A little community has formed around him, including priests and troubled people seeking guidance.

maxime base camp

You can order the documentary, Upon this Rock, about Maxim’s life and hermitage.  Proceeds will support the restoration. The Huffington Post also has a great story on Maxime and stunning photos.

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Honor the Priest

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

m angeline

Honor the priest who received your soul as it entered on its spiritual life at Baptism. The priest who nourished it and gave it strength on its pilgrimage. The priest always the priest. Who shall prepare it to go before God, the priest!

And, if my soul should die by sin, who will call it back to life and give it rest and peace? Again, the priest. Can you remember a single gift from God without seeing by its side a priest? Of what use would be a house of gold, if you had no one to open the door for you? The priest has the key to the treasures of God.

If you went to Confession to the Blessed Virgin, or to an Angel, they could not absolve you. They could not give you the Body and Blood of Jesus. The Blessed Virgin could not call her Divine Son down into the Host, and were a thousand angels to exert their power, they could not absolve you from one venial sin.

But a priest, no matter how humble he be, can do all these. He can say, “Go in peace, your sins are forgiven you.” Therefore, honor the priest; pray for the priest.

Ven. M. Angeline Teresa, O.Carm., Foundress of the Carmelites for the Aged and Infirm

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Here I Am Lord Conference Registration

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

Revised HereIAmLordbannerFor those of you not familiar with the annual “Here I Am Lord” Conference held at St. Patrick’s Church in Saint Charles, Illinois, it is an incredible phenomenon. A total of 3000 young people and 55 religious communities attended the annual four-day event which is meant to sow the seeds of vocational awareness.

The weekend features music, speakers, student skits, specialized programs for specific ages and family events. Religious communities staff booths, provide vocational brochures and share information about their ministry and the consecrated life. Sr. Joachima Celinska, OP, from the Dominican Sisters in Justice, Illinois, said, “This is a great event not only for youth but for the family.” She added that the youths waiting in line for confession were a great witness to one another.

The conference was founded in 2003 to promote vocation awareness. The vocations of marriage, single life, religious life and the priesthood are all vocations in the eyes of God and the Church.  HERE I AM LORD provides an opportunity for young people and adults of all ages to recognize that fact. The largest parish-based vocations conference in the United States brings together Religious from across the country to share the joy of their vocation. The best Catholic speakers and musicians join with them to share the joy of their own vocation and faith.

The theme for next year’s (March 5 – 8, 2015) meeting is: Be Not Afraid! And don’t be afraid to register now if you are a religious community. Space is limited!!



Pedaling for the Poor

Monday, May 26th, 2014

tor bikesThis summer, Fr. Matt Russick, T.O.R., is going to cycle more than 250 miles of rail trails across 4 states to raise money for the Franciscans’ ministries to the poor in Steubenville, Ohio. Father’s goal is to reach $5,000 by August 1 when he will arrive, God willing, back in Steubenville.

At the Heart of Mary Mission House in downtown Steubenville,the sisters serve the poor, the sick and the oppressed, sharing the good news and instilling hope and healing. They also coordinate a ministry at Samaritan House Thrift Store, a clothing store and emergency food center. In addition to this, the sisters also run a catechetical soup kitchen.

Father’s trip will begin in Hancock, Maryland, and will probably follow the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, the Great Allegheny Passage and the Panhandle Trail. If you would like to donate to help this worthy cause, pledges can be made through PayPal on their Pedaling for the Poor fundraising website. Donations may also be made by check, payable to Franciscan Sisters, T.O.R. with “Pedaling for the Poor” in the memo line. Please send checks to Franciscan Sisters, T.O.R. 369 Little Church Road, Toronto, OH 43964.

Our ministry aims to restore the dignity of those who through poverty, various forms of oppression, or suffering, have lost the sense of their preciousness as being a son or daughter of God” (Constitutions 88).

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Dominican Evangelization on the Streets of DC

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

op lean on meWhen you see a group of people singing “Lean on Me” on a busy city street, you might think it is a throwback to the 1970′s. However, this group of singers are Dominican friars and sisters who took to the streets of Washington, DC, on May 17th to do a little street evangelization.

The friars are from the Dominican House of Studies, while the sisters came from Ann Arbor, Michigan, and the Dominican Sisters of Rosary House.

For the Dominicans, this was their way of spreading Easter joy. While they handed out rosaries and pamphlets explaining this prayerful  way of meditating on Scripture, they drew people in by engaging them in song. It was a way for an encounter with Christ to take place.

“Music is such a beautiful expression of Gospel joy that it just ‘clicks’ for people,” said Dominican Brother Gregory Pine. Music is a way of “re-presenting the attractiveness of the Gospel in another medium.” Brother Norbert Keliher said that the music and the rosary are a “doorway for evangelization.”

To see this energetic group in action, go to YouTube to watch their rendition of “Lean on Me!”

You can support the young Dominicans friars of the  Province of St. Joseph by purchasing their first release from Dominicana Records, In Medio Ecclesiae. In Medio Ecclesiae offers chant and polyphonic treasures of the Church’s musical tradition as well as two new compositions by Dominican friars. Click here to listen to the Good Friday meditation: O vos omnes (“O all you who walk by on the road, pay attention and see if there be any sorrow like my sorrow.”)

Dominican Students of the Province of Saint Joseph

Dominican Students of the Province of Saint Joseph


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Resources for Consecrated Virgins

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

One of the oldest sacramentals in the Church is Consecrated Virginity. This state in life was restored in the Church following Vatican II. It is still a relatively rare phenomenon in the Church for there are only 215 or so consecrated virgins in the United States.

Barb Swieciak is one of them. She became a consecrated virgin in 1984 in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, and as such has much wisdom to relay to those contemplating this step or those seeking to deepening their understanding of it. At the request of her bishop, Barb has prepared a new resource called Meditations on Mary for those discerning this vocation and for those who have embraced this relationship with the Lord. It is the first in a series of planned books.

Barb started with Mary because “that really is the essence of consecrated virgins living in the world, imitating the Mother of God in her life of holiness, in her purity of heart and intention, and in devoting herself totally to our Lord.” She opens the book with the Angelus, for the Incarnation, where the Word became flesh, is the beginning of the vocation of consecrated virginity.

The book is for anyone wishing to meditate on the mysteries of Jesus’ life, pondered in the heart of His Mother. It is written and designed, not to be read, but to be prayed over. If you want more information or wish to order the book, you can contact Barb at or fill out the PDF form. For more information on consecrated virginity, please visit www.

Consecrated virgins are like the unseen leaven in a bread, the activating agent that makes it rise. They were no distinctive garb, receive no pay from their diocese but through their works of mercy and penance, demonstrate to the world the fruitfulness that comes from their relationship with Jesus, their Spouse.



LCWR Update/Cardinal Müller

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

muellerCardinal Gerhard Müller, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, recently (April 30th) addressed the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) about their implementation of the mandate for reform following the Doctrinal Assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.

Here are a few of his remarks:

One of the  more contentious aspects of the Mandate—though one that has not yet been put into force—is the provision that speakers and presenters at major  programs will be subject to approval by the Delegate. (This year the LCWR is giving its “Outstanding Leadership Award” to Elizabeth A. Johnson whose 2011 book was criticized by the US Bishops for its “misrepresentations, ambiguities, and errors that bear upon the faith of the Catholic Church as found in Sacred Scripture, and as it is authentically taught by the Church’s universal magisterium…”)

“…the last thing in the world the Congregation  would want to do is call into question the eloquent, even prophetic  witness of so many faithful religious women. And yet, the issues raised  in the Assessment are so central and so foundational, there is no other  way of discussing them except as constituting a movement away from the  ecclesial center of faith in Christ Jesus the Lord.

The Cardinal then touched on “Conscious Evolution” which he said had been incorported into some religious institutes:

The  fundamental theses of Conscious Evolution are opposed to Christian  Revelation and, when taken unreflectively, lead almost necessarily to  fundamental errors regarding the omnipotence of God, the Incarnation of  Christ, the reality of Original Sin, the necessity of salvation and the  definitive nature of the salvific action of Christ in the Paschal  Mystery.

I am worried that the uncritical acceptance of things such as Conscious Evolution seemingly without any awareness that it offers a vision of God, the cosmos, and the human person divergent from or opposed to Revelation evidences that a de facto movement beyond the Church and sound Christian faith has already occurred.

Conscious Evolution does not offer  anything which will nourish religious life as a privileged and prophetic witness rooted in Christ revealing divine love to a wounded world. It  does not present the treasure beyond price for which new generations of  young women will leave all to follow Christ. The Gospel does! Selfless  service to the poor and marginalized in the name of Jesus Christ does!

Lord, we pray that all may be one in You. Founders and foundresses, please intercede for your religious communitites, that as vines they may always be part of the true Branch, who is Jesus Christ.

(Click here to go to The Catholic World Report website for Carl E. Olson’s analysis of His Emminence’s direct and pointed remarks. And to The National Catholic Register‘s article by Ann Carey, author of Sisters in Crisis: The Tragic Unraveling of Women’s Religious Institutes and  Sisters  in Crisis Revisited: From Unraveling to Reform and Renewal.



IRL National Meeting 2014 – YouTube Video Links

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

exformAnother wonderful IRL National Meeting has come and gone with hundreds of attendees from many, many communities. Franciscans, Norbertines, Dominicans, Carmelites, Hermits, Consecrated Virgins, Consecrated Lay People, Diocesan Priests, Deacons, many other communities, lay people etc. were there in blue, brown, black, white, maroon or grey habits or in civilian clothes as the case may be. People came from California, Florida, Boston, Canada and points in between. Some of the friars were barefoot. One elderly priest made the trip as he always does by greyhound bus and the local train. Some came with no money and relied as they always do on the kindness of strangers to get them safely to their destination.

As one first-time attendee put it: It was God’s creative wisdom fully on display. It was also a foreshadowing of heaven when God will gather all the faithful together in His heavenly embrace.

For those of you who missed attending, all the the talks that took place in the Chapel at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary were recorded. You can click on the link below to watch any of these talks.

IRL 2014 National Meeting Talks and Masses

Friday April 25 Pontifical High Mass

Friday April 25 Rosary and Benediction

Friday April 25 Dr. Timothy O’Donnell “Building a Civilization of Love Through the Sacred Heart of Jesus”

Saturday April 26 Sheila Liaugminas “Having Our Answers Ready”

Saturday April 26 Bishops Panel with Most Rev. Robert Vasa and Most Rev. James C. Timlin

Saturday April 26 Divine Mercy Vigil Mass

Sunday April 27 Divine Mercy Mass

Sunday April 27 Divine Mercy Chaplet and Relic Veneration

Sunday April 27 Mother M. Julie Saegaert, SCMC, “True Holiness, True Joy”




Popes and Saints

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

Joining in prayer with hundreds of thousands people in Rome who are gathering to thank God for the incredible lives and witness of these two holy men.

Holy Popes

St. John XXIII, pray for us!

St. John Paul II, pray for us!


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Job Posting – Office of Consecrated Life – Phoenix

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

PhoenixIf you know of someone who can fulfill this position, please pass on the information!

Director, Office of Consecrated Life

 To support the Diocese of Phoenix in its mission of encountering the Living Christ, this position assists the Bishop by acting as his liaison to those women and men in consecrated life and assigned to the Diocese of Phoenix in all matters directly related to the local church. This position reports to the Chancellor for day to day activities including office management, diocesan communications and budgeting.

Essential Job Functions: Officially represents those living a consecrated life in the Diocese of Phoenix in all matters directly related to the local church by communicating the concerns and their needs to the appropriate diocesan administrative level; by meeting regularly with the Bishop; by representing those in consecrated life at official diocesan functions; and by visiting with individuals and communities of consecrated women and men; Collaborates with the vocation director of the Diocese of Phoenix to assist parishes, high schools and Newman Centers in their work of fostering vocations, Establishes an advisory board to receive input and recommendations from members appointed by the Bishop for policies and programs of the Office of Consecrated Life; Serves as a contact person as needed when positions open in various ministries in the Diocese; Disseminates information from the Diocese, USCCB, and Holy See to members of Consecrated Life; Assists those in consecrated life who seek counsel and/or spiritual direction by developing resources such as lists of therapists, counselors, and spiritual directors, as needed; by offering support as requested to those who are on leave of absence or exclaustration; Collaborates with the Vicar for Priests in matters related to counseling assistance through the Religious and Priest Assistance Program; Proposes educational, enrichment, and spiritual growth programs for those in Consecrated Life in collaboration with the Bishop; Coordinates activities and provides opportunities for education about consecrated life and community building with diocesan priests, deacons, and seminarians; Serves as initial contact person for those discerning consecrated life; Develops technology resources to promote vocations and discernment for consecrated life; Works in collaboration with the Vicar for Priests to foster opportunities for dialogue about consecrated life between priests and sisters/brothers in the Diocese; Develops outreach presentations to lay community about consecrated life; Coordinates the appeal for consecrated persons who are retired; Performs any other job-related duties the position requires or that are discerned by the Bishop and Director of Consecrated Life.

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities Required: Knowledge of and grateful commitment to the Church’s teaching on consecrated life; Ability to explain the vocation and mission of consecrated persons in the Church; Ability to take initiative in fulfilling tasks in a professional manner, keeping the Bishop advised of progress in relation to assigned duties; and the ability to keep abreast of trends affecting those in consecrated life; Ability to preserve confidentiality of sensitive personal and business information; Working knowledge of the Church at a diocesan level; familiarity with the Code of Canon Law as it pertains to those in consecrated life; Excellent communication and organization skills; Ability to be sensitive to cultural diversity and justice issues and to needs of the people; Ability to make decisions regarding individual and program needs and operate independently with little direct supervision; Ability to travel throughout the diocese if required for committees, special programs, meetings, celebrations and visits to individual and local communities of consecrated life; Technology skills, emphasis on social media and technology related resources to promote vocations.

Minimum Qualifications: Master’s Degree in theology, counseling, human resources or other appropriate discipline; Experience with formation work or a leadership position within an Institute of Consecrated Life; Excellent understanding of the Church’s teaching on Consecrated Life in the Church; Fluency in English and Spanish.

To apply, please send cover letter and resume to:

Diocese of Phoenix

Human Resources

400 East Monroe Street

Phoenix, AZ 85004