Archive for the 'News' Category

Pray for Peace in Iraq – August 17th

Saturday, August 16th, 2014

cross iraqTomorrow, August 17th, the US bishops are asking that all Catholics pray for peace in Iraq.

Don’t make the mistake I did and accidentally look at the pictures on the internet if you want to sleep tonight. What is happening in Iraq is diabolical and evil. Please pray for the men, women, children, mother, fathers, nuns, brothers, priests, aunts, uncles, grandparents, orphans, elderly in Iraq who are spared no mercy.

The following is a prayer by the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Iraq, His Beatitude Louis Rafael Sako:

The plight of our country
is deep and the suffering of Christians
is severe and frightening.
Therefore, we ask you Lord
to spare our lives, and to grant us patience,
and courage to continue our witness of Christian values
with trust and hope.
Lord, peace is the foundation of life;
Grant us the peace and stability that will enable us
to live with each other without fear and anxiety,
and with dignity and joy.

iraqGlory be to you forever.




Four-In-One Discernment Retreat

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

retrewat logoFor those of you who feel that you may have a vocation to the consecrated life as a religious sister, here is an opportunity to be with 4 communities during one retreat weekend!

The St. Therese Discernment Retreat will be held from Friday, September 5th to Saturday, September 6th at Nazareth House Retreat Center, Henry, Illinois. Communities represented include:

The theme for this year’s retreat is Mary, Mother of Evangelization, taken from Evangelii Gaudium. Who better to be a model for total self-giving!

For more information call (309) 655-2645 or check out the website for a registration form.

Help a Young Woman Enter Religious Life!

Monday, August 11th, 2014
Christina (2nd row, 2nd from left) with Sr. Joseph Andrew, OP, and other candidates.

Christina (2nd row, 2nd from left) with Sr. Joseph Andrew, OP, and other candidates.

For the past few months, we have been blessed to have a summer intern, Christina Pezzella, working with us in the office. She is eagerly counting down the days until her entrance into the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist. The date of entrance is August 28th but she has one huge stumbling block to overcome—her student loan debt.

Christina graduated from Hillsdale College early in December 2010. At the time, she said, “I did not have any idea that the Lord would one day call me to the religious life. For this reason, I am faced with loans that I will not be able to pay off in time without assistance.”

Her debt, which was initially over $60,000, has been reduced to approximately $20,000 thanks to the generosity of many people and a lot of hard work on Christina’s part. She has given her vocation talk to numerous groups, held bowl-a-thons, and given her testimony on the radio. What is the price of a vocation? For her and for the Church, it is priceless!

Acceptance letter from Mother Assumpta, OP

Acceptance letter from Mother Assumpta, OP

On the Feast of St. Dominic, Christina received the most joyous news. A benefactor has agreed to match all donations up to $10,000. This generous gift will enable her to enter on August 28th IF she is able to raise the remaining $10,000.

She humbly asks you, and anyone you may know, to prayerfully consider making a contribution to her vocation fund, which will be matched 100%! This will double any gifts. To make a contribution, or to find out more information about her vocation story, please visit her blog:

Christina says: May God bless you abundantly… you are in my prayers!!!


Who’s Who in the Catholic Church

Friday, August 1st, 2014
St. Dominic and the Dominican Saints

St. Dominic and the Dominican Saints

This year the Church will begin the Year of Consecrated Life highlighting the lives of service to God’s people of monks, nuns, sisters, friars, and orders of priests as well as the men and women in secular institutes and societies of apostolic life. The Year for Consecrated Life officially begins on November 30, 2014, the first Sunday of Advent. Pope Francis has called for a special yearlong focus on consecrated life, asking the Church’s religious sisters, brothers and priests to “wake up the world” with their testimony of faith, holiness and hope. It will end on February 2, 2016, the World Day of Consecrated Life.

The secular press freely tosses about terms like nun, sister, priest, monk without really knowing what they are specifically referring to. So, for the upcoming Year of Consecrated Life, here are some definitions which may serve as a helpful guide to distinguish the different forms of consecrated life:

Monk: a member of a community of men, usually contemplative, under the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, living according to the Order’s Rule. Examples: Benedictines (including Cistercians, Trappists), Carthusians, and Camaldolese.

Nun: a woman under solemn vows (eg. poverty, chastity, obedience) living in a cloistered, contemplative religious community. Examples: Poor Clares, Carmelites, Benedictines, Passionists. See

Sister: a generic term for a religious woman whether cloistered or a member of  a congregation under simple vows. Sisters are part of a spiritual family, share possessions in common and live together in Christ-like charity. Examples: Franciscans, Little Sisters of the Poor, Olivetan Benedictines

Friar: from the Latin word frater (brother). Friars are members of the mendicant orders. Unlike monks, friars engage in work outside of the monastery. Examples: Dominicans (Friars Preachers), Franciscans (Friars Minor), Carmelites (White Friars).

Diocesan Priests: men ordained by a Catholic bishop to preach the Gospel and administer the Sacraments of the Church in a particular diocese. They make three promises at ordination: to pray the Liturgy of the Hours daily, to obey their bishop and to live a celibate lives.

Canons Regular: priests who have vowed themselves to the service of a particular parish or oratory along with other clergy, with whom they live a common, religious life of poverty, chastity, and obedience in a residence (eg. rectory, abbey) attached to a church under the authority of a superior. Distinct from monks, canons publicly pray the Liturgy of the Hours in common and administer the Sacraments in a particular church. Examples: Norbertines, Canons Regular of the Immaculate Conception, Canons Regular of St. John Cantius

Clerics Regular: religious institutes or orders whose members profess vows, live in community according to a rule approved by the Church, and engage in a variety of apostolic work. Unlike canons, they do not pray the Liturgy of the Hours in common to devote themselves more fully to apostolate work. Example: Jesuits, Camillians

Secular Institute: a society of consecrated life, clerical or lay, whose members profess the evangelical counsels. Its members are not bound to live a common life but strive for the perfection of charity and work for the sanctification of the world especially from within. Examples: Father Kolbe Missionaries of the Immaculata, Schoenstatt Fathers & Sisters. See

Societies of Apostolic Life: its members, without religious vows, are dedicated to pursuit of an apostolic purpose, such as educational or missionary work, and lead a life as brothers or sisters in common according to a particular manner of life and strive for the perfection of charity through the observance of the constitutions. Examples: Oratorians of St. Philip Neri, Daughters of Charity.

Consecrated Virgins & Widows: one of the ancient forms of consecrated life whose roots are found in the New Testament. These are women who, with the Church’s approval, live in the respective states of virginity or perpetual chastity “for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven.” Consecrated virgins are consecrated to God by the diocesan bishop according to the approved liturgical rite (Consecratio Virginum), are betrothed mystically to Christ and “are dedicated to the service of the Church” ( Consecrated Widows are experiencing a resurgence and groups are forming to assist in the resurrection of this form of consecrated life.

Hermits/Anchorites/Eremites: those dedicated to God in a consecrated life, professing the three evangelical counsels, confirmed by a vow or other sacred bond, in the hands of the diocesan bishop, and observing his or her own plan of life under the bishop’s direction and approval.

Comments and corrections and clarifications welcome!!

(The image is from the monastery of the Dominican Nuns at Estavayer le Lac, Switzerland, founded in 1280. The Dominican nuns have continually praised God in that location for almost 750 years.)




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The Fastest Nun in the West

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

Blandina SegaleThe Archdiocese of Santa Fe recently announced that it had opened the sainthood cause for Sister Blandina Segale, SC, the first Catholic in the history of New Mexico to receive such an honor. Sr. Blandina was born in Cicagna, Liguria, Italy, in 1850 and died in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1941. Her family immigrated to Ohio when she was 4 years old.

A member of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati since 1866, Sister came to Colorado in 1870′s where she taught poor children and later transferred to Santa Fe where she co-founded schools and helped the disadvantaged, sick, immigrants and and Native Americans.

Her life is also the stuff of legend (see Crisis magazine article). She personally knew Billy the Kid and her efforts to save a man from a lynch mob became an episode on the old Western show, Death Valley Days (“The Fastest Nun in the West”). Letters she wrote to her sister resulted in a book called:  At the End of the Santa Fe Trail.

It is believed that she talked Billy the Kid out of scalping four doctors who refused to treat one of his companions. She was also in a covered wagon that Billy intended to rob. When he saw that Sister Blandina was inside, “He just tipped his hat and left,” said Archbishop Michael Sheehan.

“There are other holy people who have worked here,” said Allen Sanchez, president and CEO for CHI St. Joseph’s Children in Albuquerque, a social service agency Segale founded. “But this would be a saint (who) started institutions in New Mexico that are still in operation.”


Friar and Filmmaker – Friar John Clote

Monday, July 28th, 2014

cloteLooking for a good DVD to while away the summer evenings? Check out Friar John Clote’s documentaries on a wide array of fascinating Catholic topics.

I first met John when I went to a preview of his film, “Ocean of Mercy,” the story of Pope John Paul II, St. Faustina, St. Maximilian Kolbe, OFM Conv., and Divine Mercy. Amazingly, as John points out in the documentary, the three lived in Poland at the same time yet did not know each other.

Friar John is a Conventual Franciscan friar who is studying to become a priest. He has taken a circuitous route to the priesthood having been in the mainstream television news world and Catholic radio. His latest work is called: “Purgatory: The Forgotten Church” (released in 2013 by Lightbridge, a ministry of the Conventual Franciscans of Saint Bonaventure). Others subjects he has beautifully illuminated include such notables as Pope St. John Paul II, Ven. Solanus Casey, Bl. Francis X. Seelos and St. Maria Goretti.

He began his media career at NBC news and laments the negative perception that the media has of Catholicism. “They have a kind of a rabid hatred of the church, and it’s rather disturbing, to be honest,” he said. “You have to wonder where all that comes from. I think it comes from (the fact that) the church is the only public institution that consistently has said that there is such thing as sexual morality, there is such thing as abortion and pro-life, their stance on assisted suicide, on accountability – all of those things.”

As a child, John chose the confirmation name “Francis,” and here he is many years later preparing to be a Franciscan priest! He is currently assigned to the Basilica of St. Josaphat in Milwaukee. God willing, John will be ordained to the priesthood in May 2016.

a solemnly professed friar assigned to the Basilica of St. Josaphat in Milwaukee – See more at:

Check out the complete story in the Milwaukee Catholic Herald.

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An Observer From the Vatican

Sunday, July 27th, 2014

Guy-Consolmagno-Vatican-ObservatoryJesuit brother Guy Consolmagno, SJ, was recently awarded the Carl Sagan Medal for “outstanding communication by an active planetary scientist” by the American Astronomical Society’s (AAS) Division for Planetary Sciences. According to the Vatican Observatory website, he is the curator of the Vatican meteorite collection in Castel Gandolfo. “His research explores the connections between meteorites and asteroids, and the origin and evolution of small bodies in the solar system.”

Brother Guy received his undergraduate and Master’s degrees in Earth and Planetary Sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and his PhD in Planetary Science from the University of Arizona in 1978. After leaving MIT, he joined the Peace Corps for two years. In 1993, he joined the Vatican Observatory.

“I once caused a stir in a church in Hawaii by announcing that I was ‘an observer from the Vatican,’” Said Brother Guy. “Indeed, I am. As it happens, I was in Hawaii to use the telescopes there, just as I also observe with the Vatican’s own telescope in Arizona. That is my job with the Vatican Observatory.”

Brother Guy, says the AAS, “occupies a unique position within our profession as a credible spokesperson for scientific honesty within the context of religious belief.”

Brother Guy himself says, “The God I believe in is not of the universe, but existed before the universe began; not a part of nature, but super-natural. If you believe in that kind of God, then there is room to ask how the rest of the world works, and room to wonder if it works by regular laws. We know from scripture that God is responsible for the universe, in a step-by- step manner. Genesis outlines a creation story that is fundamentally different from the Babylonian story in that rather than the physical universe being an accident, Genesis tells us that God deliberately willed it to exist.”

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God;
all things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made.
In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.



The Life and Death of a Communist

Monday, July 21st, 2014

jarulzewskiThose of us who lived through the Cold War, taking place for all the world to see in particular in suffering Poland, cannot forget the name Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski. He held various positions of power in the Communist government during the 1980′s including chief of state and president. He combated the pro-democracy movement Solidarity and declared martial law. Many people view him as a Polish traitor.

As a story in the National Catholic Register shows, even this man, who died in May and was reviled by his fellow countrymen, was not out of the reach of his Heavenly Father.

A little background….

In 1966, the General was such an ardent Communist that he refused to enter a Catholic Church to attend his own Mother’s funeral. Certainly, his great nemesis through these turbulent times was Pope St. John Paul II who believed that the Marist-educated General was deep down at least a nominal Catholic Pole not a atheistic puppet of Moscow.

Here is the ending. Just 13 days before the General’s death, he confessed his sins, received communion, and received the Last Rites of the Church. His funeral took place much to the surprise of the country in a Catholic Church.

Archbishop Jozef Michalik, past president of the Polish bishops’ conference, said, “It’s exceptionally difficult to evaluate this man. When a person crosses the threshold of eternity, we should remember only God knows the true state of his conscience.”

General Jarulzelski once said in a 1994 interview, “I am absolutely sure that the best opinion is expressed about anyone after his death. Because I am past 70, probably in the near future they will talk about me even better, when I will be in the cemetery.”

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Looking For Spiritual Renewal?

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

dscjpodiumRight now, the IRL is hosting the Vita Consecrata Institute, a summer program of  spiritual renewal and graduate-level studies on the theology of the consecrated life. One group of attendees who attended the first session came from the Disciples of Our Lord Jesus Christ in Christoval, Texas.

Sr. Magdalena, Sr. Mary Thomas and Sr. Elizabeth Ann took classes on the Theology and Spirituality of the New Evangelization and the Vows according to St. Thomas Aquinas. Sr. Elizabeth Ann was able to pray in front of the tomb of her patron, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, and the sisters had fun going kayaking in the Shenendoah river!

dscj kAYAKAs you can see from the pictures, it is not all classroom study! There are outings, a daily schedule of prayer and lifelong friendships developed with different communities from around the country and sometimes the world. The course of studies is designed for priests, religious and other consecrated persons who seek spiritual renewal and enrichment. You can take the courses for credit towards a Masters Degree or simply audit them.

The classes are held at Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia. For more information, visit our website.



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A Widow’s Walk

Friday, July 11th, 2014
chervin pic

Dr. Rhonda Chervin, PhD, MA

Here is something greatly needed and timely for our times. “A Widow’s Walk” conference specifically for women who seek encouragement, comfort and wisdom from the widow saints after the loss of a husband.

The presenters for the three-day event are Dr. Rhonda Chervin and Marti Armstrong. Dr. Chervin, along with Anne Lassiter, has a 4-Disk DVD out entitled “A Widow’s Walk With Christ” which you may have seen on EWTN.

During the Widow’s Walk Conference, there will be two 1-hour talks a day followed by group sharing and prayer. It will be held at the Home of the Family of Jacopa Association in Steubenville, Ohio, from August 12th-14th, 2014. The Family of Jacopa was founded by Kathleen Marshall, FJ, (Community Servant), and it is a Franciscan Community specially for widows and women over the age of 40.

The topics look wonderful: saints who were widows, Jesus as the Second Bridegroom, Mary as the exalted widow, Stations of the Cross for widows, witness stories of the presenters, and much more.

Some saints who come to mind who were widows are Sts. Jane de Chantal, Elizabeth Seton, Bridget of Sweden, Frances of Rome, Rita of Cascia, and, of course, the Blessed Vrigin Mary. Like Consecrated Virgins, Consecrated Widowhood is making a comeback around the world.

On her website, Dr. Chervin has a list of options for widows desiring to give themselves more fully to the Lord including the names of communities that are specifically for widows or accept widows as an older vocation, the status of a Rite for Consecrated Widows, etc.

Right now, there is no official, canonically recognized Rite for widows to be consecrated in the Latin Church. However, the Canons for the Eastern Catholic Churches do allow for the consecration of widows and widowers.

For reservations for “A Widow’s Walk,” please call (740)314-8455. Please advise them if you need overnight accommodations.

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