Archive for the 'News' Category

An Army of Spiritual Mentors

Monday, January 5th, 2015

samaritan womenOne of the biggest requirements for men and women discerning religious life is a good spiritual director. But often, the parish priest is too busy, the diocese is focused on priestly vocations and others potentially available are not a good fit or equipped to provide good spiritual mentoring.

Therefore, it is with great joy and interest, that we promote this wonderful program called “Catholic Spiritual Mentorship: Forming You to Form Others in the Interior Life.”

Offered by the Apostles of the Interior Life in collaboration with the Holy Family School of Faith, Catholic Spiritual Mentorship is a two-year course of study combining eight distance learning courses with four one-week intensive sessions offered in-residence at Savior Pastoral Center in Kansas City, Kansas.

According to their brochure:

  • The program is designed to form Spiritual Mentors to serve as guide and companion to others on their journey to holiness. We are looking for Catholics who have a desire to develop a deep prayer and sacramental life, a desire to increase their knowledge of the Catholic faith, a desire to grow in the virtues and a desire to help others do the same.
  • While many people in the program are from the greater Kansas City area, we have had participants from 15 different states and dioceses across the United States. This diverse group includes many lay people, permanent deacons,and religious sisters.

They are currently accepting applications for their next session. If you would like more information, please call (913) 310-0014 or email:

The Apostles of the Interior Life were founded in 1990 by Fr. Salvatore Scorza who, as a young seminarian, envisioned a community of young consecrated people with philosophical and theological backgrounds that would seek out their brothers and sisters and guide them to meet God.

Their four pillars are: Prayer (four hours daily including the Mass, Adoration and the Divine Office); Community life; Intellectual formation (at least 5 years of study); and Apostolate (missionary, especially on college campuses, formation of spiritual mentors, retreats, etc).

They are present on the following US college campuses: the University of Illinois in Champaign, IL; the University of Kansas in Lawrence, KS; the University of Wisconsin in Madison, WI; and Texas A&M University in College Station, TX.  In 2009 a Provincial House was established in the Archdiocese of Kansas City, KS. In 2012, the first five brothers were ordained to the Priesthood.

Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, KS, says: “My dream … is to be able to awaken in the hearts of many a yearning for holiness. If we are able to succeed in this area, we will need an army of spiritual mentors who will be trained to help guide and assist others in developing a rich life of prayer.”

The icon for the Apostles of the Interior Life is of Jesus greeting the Samaritan women at the well. May these spiritual mentors draw many to the well of living water, to Jesus Christ.

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Apostolic Visitation Report – Some Highlights

Friday, January 2nd, 2015
Mother Agnes Mary(r) and Sister Sharon Holland (l)

Mother Agnes Mary(r) and Sister Sharon Holland (l)

On December 16, 2014, the final report of the apostolic visitation of U.S. women religious was released by the Vatican. The apostolic visitation’s purpose was “to look into the quality of the life of religious women in the United States” amid concerns about the rising median age of religious, lack of vocations and the rise of secularism in some communities.

Addressing the media were the current prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (CICLSAL), Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, and the congregation’s secretary, Archbishop Jose Rodriguez Carballo, OFM. Also present were Mother Mary Clare Millea, ASCJ (Apostolic Visitator); Sr. Sharon Holland, IHM, of the LCWR; and Mother Agnes Mary Donovan, SV, of the CMSWR (who will receive the IRL’s 2015 Pro Fidelitate et Virtute award at this year’s National Meeting in April. Mother Mary Clare was the recipient of the 2013 award).

Despite some communities’ initial concerns regarding the purpose of the apostolic visitation, the general reaction from those involved was overwhelmingly positive.

Some highlights:

  • 341 religious institutes of both diocesan and pontifical right, encompassing approximately 50,000 women religious, were visited.
  • The median age of apostolic women religious is in the mid-to-late 70s. The number of religious has declined from 125,000 in the mid 1960’s to 50,000 today.
  • The majority of women religious have a strong sense of the history of their institute and the charism of their foundress/founder
  • The majority of the religious institutes work with lay collaborators. However, the essential difference between the vowed religious and these lay persons should be respected and celebrated.
  • Aspirants to religious life tend to be older, more educated, and more culturally diverse than in the past. They often have extensive professional backgrounds but less prior theological and spiritual formation. Many wish to be externally recognizable as consecrated women (ie. habits).
  • Caution is to be taken not to displace Christ from the center of creation and of our faith. Institutes should ensure that their spiritual practices and ministry are in harmony with Catholic teaching about God, creation, the Incarnation and the Redemption.

Our times need the credible and attractive witness of consecrated religious who demonstrate the redemptive and transformative power of the Gospel. Convinced of the sublime dignity and beauty of consecrated life, may we all pray for and support our women religious and actively promote vocations to the religious life.

Click here to read Ann Carey’s (Sisters in Crisis) assessment of the document.



King David’s Wine

Thursday, January 1st, 2015
"Noah, a man of the soil, was the first to plant a vineyard." Genesis 9:20

“Noah, a man of the soil, was the first to plant a vineyard.” Genesis 9:20

On New Year’s Day 2015, many are probably remembering the toast they made the night before for a happy and prosperous New Year.

Therefore, it is interesting to learn that a scientist and winemaker in Israel named Elyashiv Drori is on the quest to produce wines that were served in King David’s time 3000 years ago. This isn’t as farfetched as it seems, for 4 years ago, he discovered an old, abandoned cultivated grapevine in Israel that had managed to survive the vicissitudes of heat and drought for centuries on its own.

Archaeologists have unearthed ancient wine presses and certainly the Bible talks about wine in the Old and New Testaments. The Blessed Mother mentions it at the Wedding Feast of Cana (John 2) and Jesus was offered wine vinegar while on the Cross.

Often, in countries where the water is not safe to drink, wine or beer is a safer substitute (taken in moderation of course). Elyashiv and others have scoured the countryside looking for indigenous grapes and so far have found 100 that are unique to Israel. He hopes that DNA samples taken from plant remains found at archaeological sites will match one of the vines that he has identified. In fact, near Jerusalem’s Old City, archaeologists have uncovered the remains of grapes stored nearly 3,000 years ago, preserved under layers of dirt. Elyashiv Drori seems to be coming nearer to his goal of growing vines and harvesting grapes that he can turn into real ancient Israeli wine, a glimpse into the past that King David might have tasted and recognized.





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The Faces of Mary

Monday, December 29th, 2014

Here is a beautiful image of Mary constructed from 100 images of the Blessed Mother by various artists. This picture, called “Faces of Mary” by Michael O’Neill, is itself is a work of art!


This image is available on greeting cards at a very reasonable price from from the 365 Days With Mary store ( You can also order the 2015 edition of “365 Days with Mary,” a calendar that features a daily title of Our Lady that is derived from a solemnity, feast day, patronage, apparition or miraculous icon related to that particular date. Each date highlights a particular image of Mary. There is also sufficient writing space to keep a journal or make notes. A beautiful way to walk through the year with the Mother of Jesus!


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Fr. Hardon Memorial Mass 12/30/14

Saturday, December 27th, 2014





Catholic Nuns Top Billboard Charts Again!

Saturday, December 20th, 2014

ephesusFor the second year in a row, the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, topped Billboard’s list of best-selling traditional classical albums of 2014. Actucally, their two albums, Lent at Ephesus and Angels and Saints at Ephesus were the first- and second-best selling traditional classical albums of 2014.

Mater Eucharistiae by the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, in Ann Arbor, came in 11th. This album features 15 selections of Sacred Music, all dedicated to Jesus through Mary.

This certainly shows that true beauty never goes out of style. Click below to listen to a sample of the song Duo Seraphim from Angels and Saints at Ephesus.

“He who sings, prays twice” is a quote sometimes attributed to St. Augustine (whether of Hippo or Canterbury is not clear to me) but in any case, the sisters singing here are certainly raising their heavenly voices to God!


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Vocations in Catholic Ireland

Friday, December 19th, 2014

The news from Catholic Ireland has not been all that positive lately. Therefore, it is wonderful to see a vocations video, celebrating the Year of Consecrated Life, that highlights the men and women who have said yes to God in that country. A country that sent so many missionaries to the United States and elsewhere.

According tothe website, in the early 1960’s, there were around 30,000 men and women religious living in 2,000 communities. By 2013, the number was 8,500 men and women religious living in 800 communities. The communities attracting vocations in recent years have been the Dominicans, the Redemptoristines (sisters), the Benedictines at Glenstal, the Little Sisters of the Poor, the Cistercians, the Franciscans, the Mercy Sisters, the Pallotines, the Passionists, the Carmelites, the Poor Clares, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, the Sisters of St Clare, the Jesuits the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary and the Dominican Sisters.

If you are interested in any of the above communities, there is a clickable list of all the congregations in Ireland here.

One of the featured communities are the Redemptoristines featured below. God bless them all!

redemp srs


Cardinal Burke & the Knights of Malta

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014
Fra. Matthew with Pope Francis

Fra. Matthew with Pope Francis

Raymond Cardinal Burke was recently appointed as Patron of the Sovereign Order of the Knights of Malta. Cardinal Burke is a member of the IRL’s Episcopal Advisory Board and will be the keynote speaker at the IRL’s National Meeting on Friday, April 10, 2015.

The Knights of Malta sounds like something medieval and not at all pertinent for today. This, I found is absolutely not true! They perform admiral and wide-ranging charitable activities and have a world-wide membership of 13,000 as well as 80,000 volunteers, among them 20,000 medical personnel. They are unique in being a religious order comprised of lay people.

Cardinal Burke will be assisting Fra. Matthew Festing, Prince and Grand Master of the “Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta.” Fra. Matthew was elected for life in 2008. He is a descendent of Blessed Adrian Fortescue, a Knight of Malta who was martyred in the 16th century.

According to the Knights of Malta website: The Order of Malta has been a religious Order since 1113, the year it was recognized by Pope Paschal II. As a religious Order, it is linked to the Holy See, but at the same time it is independent as a sovereign subject of international law. (They issue their own passports for example. Fascinating!) In this respect the religious character of the Order coexists with its full sovereignty. The Grand Master is at the same time head of a sovereign State and head of a religious Order. In this second capacity the Holy Roman Church gives him the rank of Cardinal.

The order has two missions: defensio fidei (the defense of the Faith) and obsequium pauperum (care for the poor). Wherever they settled, they built hospitals, hence they are also known as the Knights Hospitallers. Today, they strive to ease the suffering of the sick in hospitals, nursing homes, shantytowns, etc. and try to bring Christian charity to the isolated, victims of persecution and refugees regardless of race or religious faith.

maltese crossFor example, they “operate” a maternity hospital in Bethlehem and a hospital in Haiti. In France the Order of Malta maintains nine medical centers for the disabled. They supply humanitarian disaster relief, for example, in 2008 after the cyclone in Myanmar. I am most familiar with their annual pilgrimage to Lourdes where they accompany thousands of Malades (French for “the sick”) and their caregivers to the shrine. These activities are just the tip of the iceberg of what the Knights do around the world.

The eight points of the Maltese cross symbolize the eight obligations of the knights: truth, faith, repentance, humility, justice, mercy, sincerity and endurance of persecution.

This is all so interesting that we will have to delve into this subject further!

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St. Nicholas & Santa Claus: The Real Story

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

santa52aFr. Joseph Marquis, a Byzantine Cat6holic priest, is a frequent visitor to our IRL offices who loves to give us updates on his St. Nicholas ministry. The goal is to make people realize that Santa Claus is not a mythical figure who brings us presents, but rather a real man named St. Nicholas who shows us the real meaning of Christmas.

Father is the founder and executive director of the St. Nicholas Institute. He has over 40 years of professional Santa Claus and St. Nicholas experience, is an Emmy Award winning Santa, and member of the Santa Claus Hall of Fame – Class of 2011, Santa Claus, Indiana. All this is true!!

As their website says: The St. Nicholas Institute is open to all Santas (whether traditionally bearded or real bearded) of all Christian faiths (Catholic, Eastern Orthodox or Protestant). Their program is uniquely designed for cross-training of individuals to effectively portray Santa Claus and St. Nicholas for a wide variety of venues (both secular and religious). Formation also encourages a prayerful openness to the santavery same Spirit that animated the life and actions of the original “jolly old St. Nicholas”, whose heart was made glad by the Babe born in Bethlehem.

Looking for a good Christmas gift for grandchildren, children or people confused about the origins of Santa Claus? Father has a new DVD out called Saint to Santa: How Saint Nicholas Became Santa Claus. It is available from Pauline Books and Media.

O blessed Nicholas,
show compassion to me who fall down praying to thee;
and enlighten the eyes of my soul, O wise one,
that I may clearly behold the Light-Giver and Compassionate One. Amen.

Mercedarian FREE Seven Day Course

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

merc logoThe Mercedarian Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament are offering a free 7-day course in Mercedarian Spirituality. Participants in this email course will learn how to discern their vocation and discover more about the Eucharistic-Marian charism of the Mercedarian Sisters.

What are the spiritual values of the Mercedarian sisters?

  • The constant giving of our lives as Jesus does in the Eucharist.
  • Example and model of Christ the Redeemer
  • A life centered on the Eucharist and our Blessed Mother
  • Daily Mass, Liturgy of the Hours, Meditation, and Rosary
  • Eucharistic Exposition and Benediction
  • Faithful to the Magisterium of the Church

The course which is open to everyone consists of an email delivered to your inbox each day for seven days. Catholic women open to religious life may find this course particularly helpful, as it offers valuable insights into religious discernment. The emails will focus on both the specific charisms of the Mercedarian Sisters as well as religious life in general. The purpose of this free course is to promote the beautiful calling to religious life, to foster vocations, and to provide a glimpse into the Mercedarian Spirituality.

Sign up today!!