Archive for the 'News' Category

Out of the Desert, Into the Promised Land

Saturday, March 1st, 2014

reg mtg kc moFor those of you in the Kansas City who want to attend a dynamite Regional Meeting, please plan to attend the session to be held on March 15, 2014, in Independence, MO, at the Franciscan Prayer Center. If you are from out of the area, you can contact the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Eucharist for overnight accommodations. Having personally stayed there myself, I can attest to the comfort and beauty of surroundings and warm hospitality.

The speakers include: Fr. Thomas Nelson, O.Praem. who will speak on “Spiritual Warfare, Engaging in the Battle for Souls;” Dr. John-Mark Miravalle whose talk will be: “Our Lady’s Labor Pains: Mary at the Foot of the Cross”; and Ms. Cheri Bowe, a consecrated virgin, who will speak on the “The Tree of Life: Our Call to Holiness Rooted in Baptism.”

Most Rev. Robert Finn will be the main celebrant and homilist for the 11:30 am Mass.

Registration for the entire day is $15.00 if you are registered by 3/12/14. This cost includes lunch. It will be $20.00 on the day of the conference (lunch is not included). It pays to register in advance!

The over-riding theme for the day is gratitude for the 40th celebration of our founding in 1974.

Please join us!


Listening to the Voice of Christ

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

sr candidaSister Candida Bellotti spent her 107th birthday with Pope Francis last week. The Holy Father greeted her and other Italian religious after his usual daily mass at St. Martha’s in Vatican City. Sr. Candida is a Camillian Sister who has been 80 years a religious. The Camillians were founded by St. Camillus de Lellis (d. 1614) and pronounce a fourth vow in additional to the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience: “To serve the sick, even with danger to one’s own life.” You can always pick them out of a crowd by the distinctive red cross on their habit.

Sister was born in 1907 in Quinzano, Verona, Italy, the third of ten children born into the family. She professed vows in 1932 and worked until her retirement in 2000 at the age of 93! When she was 100, she traveled to Lourdes on a pilgrimage! You are never too old to enjoy life.

She has been over 80 years a religious and said, “I have never regretted having chosen this vocation.” What is the secret to her long life? She says, “To listen to the voice of Christ and to be docile to His will. During my whole life I have thought where the Lord takes me, that’s the right place for me.”



Teaching Eternal Values

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

The National Catholic Register has an article in its latest issue (2/9/14) about teaching Orders active in the Church today. I am happy to say that all of those cited are IRL Affiliate members and doing astonishingly well with vocations. Here are some highlights:


op edNashville Dominicans:

Their official name is the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia and they were founded in 1860, proving that you do not have to be an new order in order to be thriving. The Motherhouse is located in Tennessee, the state with the lowest percentage of Catholics in the U.S. There are 300 sisters teaching in 40 schools in the US, though there are also sisters in Australia, Canada and Scotland.The Dominicans’ motto is veritas (truth) with the mission to contemplate the truths of Christ and pass on the fruits of that contemplation to others.  The sisters equip students “to go out and transform the culture for Christ.”


ck2 edSchool Sisters of Christ the King

The School Sisters of Christ the King were founded in 1976 by Bishop Glennon Flavin, the 3rd president of the IRL. There are 32 sisters teaching 1500 students in the Diocese of Lincoln. Their goal is “to bring abut the reign of Christ through Catholic education.” Three former students have become sisters within the order! What a wonderful testimony to the holy example of the teaching sisters!


op2 edDominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist

These Dominican sisters were canonically established in 1997. Then there were 4 sisters—today there are 120 sisters whose average age is 29! The sisters teach in schools in 8 states across the country. Sr. Joseph Andrew said, “Ours is a holistic approach, touching mind, body and soul. We seek to put a Catholic culture in our schools.”


opraem edNorbertine Fathers of St. Michael’s Abbey

The Norbertines operate St. Michael’s Abbey Preparatory School, a boarding school for 67 students, in Silverado, California. It is consistently ranked among the top 50 Catholic high schools in the nation. There are also expansion plans to handle 100 students. Fr. Victor Szczurek, O.Praem., says that it was “monastic schools like our own that helped form Christendom in Europe and throughout the world.” Their daily program includes Mass and 40 minutes of Eucharistic adoration. By the end of their 4 years of studies, says Father, the students “are convinced of the vital importance of the Church’s sacraments.”






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The Religious Class of 2013 – A Glimpse

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

On January 23, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations issued the results of a survey of 107 men and women religious who professed perpetual vows in 2013. The annual survey was conducted by the Georgetown University-based Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA).

There were some interesting discoveries in the data.

Eight Vietnamese nuns in the Carmel in Mobile, AL

Eight Vietnamese nuns in the Carmel in Mobile, AL

First, the youngest respondent was 26, the oldest 73! Don’t give up hope if you have a call to a belated vocation! Most respondents were born in the USA but the next most common country of origin was Vietnam!

Almost half of the respondents had four or more siblings. Compared to the rest of the Catholic population, they were more likely to have gone to a Catholic high school and college.

Youth activities were important. World Youth Day, Newman Centers, Campus Ministry were common experiences. More than half were discouraged from considering a vocation, women more so than men.

mater ecc

Sr. Mary Benedicta of the Cistercian Nuns of the Valley of Our Lady, Mater Ecclesiae Grant Recipient

Almost all participated in a vocation program such as a “Come & See.” Some had college debt which delayed entrance, on the average two years. There are foundations and groups that can help. Please visit our Affiliates: The Labouré Society and the Mater Ecclesiae Fund for Vocations. The Serra Fund for Vocations and the Knights of Columbus Fund for Vocations are also wonderful organizations.

For more information on the study, please visit the USCCB website.

The Laboure Society summer aspirant class of 2014

The Laboure Society summer aspirant class of 2014

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An Irremovable Part of the Church

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

sts europe iiLast week, the Holy See issued its proposed plans for the upcoming Year for Consecrated Life as announced by Pope Francis last November during a gathering with superior generals of men’s institutes. “Make no little plans” as the saying goes and this certainly holds true for this year that is so important to the IRL and its member communities.

The Year will kick off in October to coincide with the anniversary date of the issuance of the conciliar constitution Lumen Gentium as well as the 50th anniversary of the publication of the conciliar decree on the renewal of consecrated life Perfectae Caritatis.

The Year for Consecrated Life will have three objectives.

  1. Gratefully remembering the past.
  2. Embracing the future with hope.
  3. Living the present passionately.

The 50 years since Vatican Council II is an opportunity to reflect on God’s love and mercy. Though the consecrated life has experienced severe strain in the ensuing decades, it is not an “antechamber of death.”

We have hope because the consecrated life will never disappear from the Church since “it was desired by Jesus Himself as an irremovable part of His Church,” said Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. This is a moment ”for bearing witness to the beauty of the sequela Christi (following Christ).”

A few of the Events planned for the year will include:

  • A kick off on November 21, 2013, World Pro Orantibus Day (“For those who pray”)
  • A plenary assembly of the Congregation with the theme: “The ‘Novu’’ in Consecrated Life beginning from Vatican II”
  • A meeting of young religious and novices
  • An international conference dedicated to “Renewal of the Consecrated Life in Light of the Council and Perspectives for the Future”
  • An international exhibit on “Consecrated Life: The Gospel in Human History”
  • A world Chain of Prayer among monasteries

Two important documents related to the consecrated life are also being rewritten:

  1. Mutuae relationes: On the relations between bishops and religious
  2. Verbi Sponsa: Instruction on the Contemplative Life and on the Enclosure of Nuns
  3. And possibly Sponsa Christi (Spouse of Christ)

Perhaps one of the most important aspects of the Year for Consecrated Life is a call to religious to fully embrace and discover anew the charism and witness of the founders of the institutes as a means to awaken the world. It is a prophetic witness meant to reach those at the existential margins of poverty and thought, as Pope Francis has asked.



A Picture of St. Dominic

Sunday, January 26th, 2014

St.-Dominic's-Face-786667What do the saints look like? We often have in our minds a specific image when we think of St. Peter, St. Francis, St. Ignatius, etc…

Well, thanks to Bl. Cecilia, one of the first Dominican nuns, we have a first-hand description of St. Dominic. Some Dominicans tended to discount her report but when St. Dominic’s remains were x-rayed in 1943, her observations were remarkably consistent with the report of modern science.

Here is what she said:

“This was St Dominic’s appearance. He was of middle height (the scientists said that he was 5’5 3.4″ tall) and slender figure, of handsome and somewhat ruddy countenance, his hair and beard of auburn, and with lustrous eyes. From out his forehead and between his eye brows a radiant light shone forth, which drew everyone to revere and love him. He was always joyous and cheerful, except when moved to compassion at anyone’s sorrows. His hands were beautiful and tapering; his voice was clear, noble, and musical; he was never bald, but kept his religious tonsure entire, mingled here and there with a few grey hairs.”

St. Dominic died at the Basilica of San Domenico in 1221 and was buried there. The bust shown in the picture (upper right) is said to closely resemble him. For more information about St. Dominic and Bl. Cecilia, visit the Summit Dominicans website!


Mutual Relations Between Bishops and Religious

Monday, January 20th, 2014

Pope Francis greets crowd as he arrives to celebrate Mass at Church of the Gesu in RomeOne of the most important documents affecting religious issued by Pope John Paul II was Mutuae Relationes (Directives for the Mutual Relations Between Bishops and Religious in the Church).

The document, published in 1978, said that bishops are ”entrusted with the duty of caring for religious charisms.” The specific charism requires from the religious institute “a continual examination regarding fidelity to the Lord; docility to His Spirit; intelligent attention to circumstances and an outlook cautiously directed to the signs of the times; the will to be part of the Church; the awareness of subordination to the sacred hierarchy; boldness of initiatives; constancy in the giving of self; humility in bearing with adversities.”

Pope Francis told Major Superiors in a meeting on November 29, 2013, that the document needs updating. As a Jesuit, Provincial, Archbishop and now Pope, the Holy Father knows “by experience the problems that can arise between a bishop and religious communities.” Religious communities may, without warning, abandon an apostolate in the diocese. Bishops “are not always acquainted with the charisms and works of religious.”

“Religious,” he said, “should be men and women who are able to wake the world up.”

At the conclusion of his lengthy remarks, he told the assembled that the year 2015 would be dedicated to the consecrated life.

“The involvement of religious communities in dioceses is important,” the Pope said. “Dialogue between the bishop and religious must be rescued so that, due to a lack of understanding of their charisms, bishops do not view religious simply as useful instruments.”



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All For Jesus Through Mary

Sunday, January 19th, 2014

All for the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

through the immaculate hands

of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary

st pelczar

St. Joseph Sebastian Pelczar (1842-1924)

Founder of the Sister Servants of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

Feast Day January 19th

sister servants

Sisters with Pope John Paul II who canonized St. Joseph Sebastian Pelczar in 2003.




An American Canonization Cause Advances

Friday, January 17th, 2014

langeLast year, an American cause for canonization took another step forward. In June of 2013, Mother Mary Elizabeth Lange (c. 1794-1882), the foundress of the Oblate Sisters of Providence, was exhumed from her resting place (read a fascinating eye-witness account by a well-know forensic anthropologist) in a Baltimore cemetery and moved to the sisters’ Motherhouse to be interred in the chapel of Our Lady of Mount Providence.

“We have prayed fervently for this day to become a reality, and now God has  answered our prayers,” said Sister Mary Alexis Fisher, OSP, Superior General of  the Oblate Sisters of Providence.

Mother Mary, along with Sulpician Father James Nicholas Joubert, founded the first religious congregation of women of African descent in the United States. Mother’s cause was opened in 1991 and officially approved in 2004.

Though not an-American born citizen, this Cuban emigre was moved to help African American refugee children in the slave state of Maryland. She opened a school for children, many years before the Emancipation Proclamation. As one can readily imagine, poverty and racial injustice were her companions on the heroic road of sanctity.

Currently, the Order has 80 members serving in the U.S. and Costa Rica, committed to education of children and service to the poor. To see a moving video of the reinternment ceremony, click here.

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Do You Honor the Mother of Jesus?

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014
26 Martyrs Monument

26 Martyrs Monument

In 1854, Japan opened its doors to the West and soon thereafter, Catholic priests entered the country. Among those who came was the French priest, Fr. Bernard Petitjean (later Bishop of Nagasaki) of the Sociéte des Missions Étrangères. For ten years he labored with a fellow priest yet seemed to make no headway with the native people.

But in 1865, when Fr. Bernard Petitjean was praying in a chapel he had built in Nagasaki, Japan, some women approached him and asked him three questions:

Do you honor Mary, the Mother of Jesus?

Do you obey the Great Father in Rome?

Do you have a wife?

Father answered “yes” to the first two questions and “no” to the second and the  women went away. Sometime later, some men approached him and told him they were Catholics. Three hundred years ago, their ancestors had known Christians who were not Catholic and they wanted to know: are you Catholic, part of the universal Church? For 300 years they had secretly kept the faith and as Father was to discover later, so did an estimated 15,000 others.

When Catholicism was first brought to Japan by St. Francis Xavier on Assumption Day in 1549, conversions were plentiful. By 1614, there were an estimated 400,000 Catholics in Japan. However, persecutions were severe, many were martyred and in the 1630′s all Christians went into hiding. By 1640 not a priest or religious was left alive. An edict was issued that read: Let no Christian dare venture into Japan…They shall pay for it with their heads.

Oura NagasakiThese remarkable Japanese Catholics passed the down the Faith from generation to generation for 200+ years. No Mass, no Confession, no Anointing of the Sick in all those years. Pope Pius IX called this “The miracle of the Orient.”

The Oura Church in Nagasaki commemorates Fr. Petitjean’s first encounter with the women. Also known as the Church of the Twenty-Six Martyrs, it faces Nishizaka Hill where 26 martyrs were crucified in 1597. As you can see by the picture, a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary greets visitors at the entrance of the church, a reminder of the first question posed by the Japanese women: Do you honor the Mother of Jesus?

(Most of the information in this article came from the October-December 2013 of Contact  magazine, published by the Confraternity of Christ the Priest in Australia, whose missionary priests seek to evangelize the 96% of the population who do not go to Mass.)

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