Category Archives: News

Carmelites in San Rafael Celebrate 50th Jubilee

ocd rafaelThis year, the Carmelites in San Rafael, California, are celebrating the 50th year of their foundation. The Carmel of the Mother of God was founded on November 24, 1965, from the Carmelite Monastery at Carmel-by-the-Sea (a great place to visit for the scenery alone!).

It was Mother Miriam of the Trinity, OCD, the foundress, who received an interior call to found a Carmelite monastery specifically in response to Our Lady of Fatima’s request to pray for the conversion of sinners and for the Russian people. As part of this endeavor, the sisters studied the Russian language, liturgy, spirituality and history with help from priests from a Catholic Russian church. They still however observe the Latin rite and the regular Carmelite horarium.

Espoo Karmel
Espoo Carmelites

While the sisters were unable to establish a foundation behind the Iron Curtain, two of their sisters were able to start a new foundation in neighboring Finland in November of 1988. Today, this monastery in Espoo, Finland,  has ten cells and a chapel, with six sisters praying especially for the people of Finland. It is the only cloistered Catholic monastery in the entire country!

After the breakup of the Soviet Union, the sisters purchased a small apartment in downtown Moscow for a tiny Carmel. The difficulties involved and the limited number of sisters for a new monastery caused the sale of this apartment to the Divine Word Missionaries who have established St. Olga’s Parish with the purchase of a nearby building. In that first apartment is still an Icon of the Infant Jesus painted by Mother Miriam which is now seen by the Russian faithful.

The community in San Rafael numbers seven with four American sisters, one sister from England, one sister from Africa, and one sister from the Philippines. To celebrate their jubilee, they have three masses scheduled during the month of November to be celebrated by Most Rev. John Wester, Archbishop of Santa Fe (Nov. 1); Very Rev. Stephen Watson, O.C.D., Carmelite Provincial of the California/Arizona Province (Nov. 14); and Most Rev. Patrick McGrath, Bishop of San Jose (Nov. 24).

“… You will see that the majority of these houses have been founded not so much by man as by the mighty hand of God, and that, if we do not stand in His way, His Majesty loves to further the work He is doing.”        St. Teresa of Avila


Remembering Our Nation’s Martyrs

Mass is celebrated at the future shrine for the Florida Martyrs.

Many know of the famous North American Martyrs, however, not many know of other martyrs in our nation’s history. This will hopefully no longer be the case as the cause for canonization of 82 martyrs from Florida will be opened on October 12, 2015. The martyrs, who will be known as Antonio Cuipa and 81 companions, were a diverse group of missionaries and Native Americans killed between 1549 and 1706 in Florida.

Antonio Cuipa was an Apalachee Indian from San Luis Mission (Tallahassee) converted by Franciscan missionaries. His studies suggest that he may have been preparing for the priesthood. His studies were cut short, however, when Creek Indians hired by an English governor from the Carolinas nailed him to a cross and set him on fire. Witnesses to the event claim that Antonio saw the Blessed Virgin Mary while dying on the cross.

There are many religious among the martyrs including Dominican, Franciscan and Jesuit missionaries. The first Dominican martyr in the country, Fr. Luis Cancer, was killed near Tampa Bay. Fr. Pedro Martinez was the first Jesuit killed in the country and had been sent by St. Francis Borgia to Florida where he was killed by Native Americans when he refused to abandon his companions.

Attempts for the canonization of the martyrs has occurred in the past, however, they have been stalled by events such as World War II. The current campaign began ten years ago when three friends visited the site where several martyrs were killed and agreed to establish a shrine. After organizing a team to aid them, the cause to canonize the martyrs took on new life, though money is needed to proceed in both the construction of the shrine and canonization process.

Antonio Cuipa and 81 companions give insight into the history of the Church in America and displays how many suffered to spread the faith. With many people facing persecution around the world today, the heroic martyrs of Florida serve as inspiration and takes on special significance as the Church continues to  spread the Good News.

Fort Wayne Diocese Welcomes Consecrated Virgin

cv fort wayneOn the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, August 15, 2015, Jessica Hayes was consecrated to a life of virginity at a rite celebrated by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Many friends, priests and well-wishers joined the 38-year old high school teacher as she declared her resolution to persevere in holy virginity as a bride of Christ.

Dressed in a wedding gown, Jessica was accompanied by two attendants. As part of the ceremony, she said to the bishop: “Father, receive my resolution to follow Christ in a life of perfect chastity which, with God’s help, I here profess before you and God’s holy people.” To signify the spousal relationship between Jessica and the Lord, the Bishop gave the newly consecrated virgin a veil (“Receive this veil, by which you are to show that you have been chosen from other women to be dedicated to the service of Christ and of His Body, which is the Church.”) and a ring (“Receive the ring that marks you as a bride of Christ. Keep unstained your fidelity to your Bridegroom, that you may one day be admitted to the wedding feast of everlasting joy.”) She also received a Liturgy of the Hours, showing that she is praying the Church’s official prayers along with other consecrated individuals.

Jessica told the diocese’s Catholic newspaper that she felt a “deep gratitude for the Church and for being Catholic, knowing whatever desire is placed upon our hearts by God, the Church has a place for us. And this is my place.”

The model and mirror for a life of virginity is the Blessed Mother of Jesus. As the bishop said in his homily, “It is God who gives the grace of virginity. He gave this grace to the young woman of Nazareth, to Mary, who was inspired by the Holy Spirit to choose the life of virginity. Mary made a personal decision in faith to remain a virgin, to offer her heart to the Lord. She wanted to be His faithful bride.”

“Thus, Mary became the model for all those who have chosen to serve the Lord with an undivided heart in virginity.It seems most appropriate that Jessica gives herself totally to Jesus, is consecrated to a life of virginity, on a feast of Our Lady, who gave herself totally to God as the virgin handmaid of the Lord.”

Jessica is the only consecrated virgin in the diocese and will continue her work as a high school theology teacher at a local high school.

To read a reflection by Jessica and the bishop’s homily and to see all the beautiful pictures, click here!

Fr. James McCurry, OFM Conv., Receives Kolbe Award

Fr. McCurry, fourth from right
Fr. McCurry, fourth from right, and his fellow Conventual Franciscans at Marytown

On August 14th, the Feast Day of St. Maximilian Kolbe, Fr. James McCurry, OFM Conv., received the annual Kolbe Award at Marytown in Libertyville, IL. The annual award is given to those who mirror St. Maximilian’s charisms of heroic charity and self-sacrifice. Father McCurry is the past president Militia Immaculata, Kolbean scholar and  Mariologist.

The first four awards were given to Fr. Patrick Peyton, CSC, the family rosary priest; Fr. John Hardon, SJ, founder of the IRL; Mother Teresa, who needs no introduction; and Bishop Austin Vaughn who was imprisoned many times for his pro-life activities. Illustrious company!

Fr. McCurry did not set out to be the long-time promoter of the Militia Immaculata (MI), the organization founded by St. Maximilian in 1917 to encourage total consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary as a means of spiritual renewal for individuals and society. This is how it happened at least in part…..

Fr. McCurry and Fr. John Grigus, Rector, Marytown Shrine

Father McCurry, during his funny yet profound remarks upon receiving the award, told of his encounter with Pope John Paul II at the canonization of St. Maximilian in 1982. He asked the Holy Father if he would pray that we might all be as consecrated to Mary as St. Maximilian was. The Pope did not hear him at first and said, “huh?” Speaking more loudly, the question then prompted a smile on the Holy Father’s face. He pointed to Father McCurry and said, “You do that!”

Taking this as a papal command, Father McCurry did do it as the long-time president of the Militia Immaculata. The MI’s mission is “To Lead Every Individual With Mary to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.” Following in the footsteps of Father McCurry would be a good place to start. If you would like information about consecrating yourself to Mary in the Militia Immaculata, please visit Marytown’s website.

Prince of Peace Abbey Elects New Abbot


After serving for nearly 21 years as abbot of the Prince of Peace Abbey in Oceanside California, Fr. Abbot Charles Wright has resigned from his office. Abbot Charles made his monastic profession over fifty years ago, serving twenty of those years as abbot of Prince of Peace Abbey during times of great change.

Abbot Sharbel Ewen, O.S.B.

He will be succeeded by Abbot Sharbel Ewen, O.S.B. who was elected abbot of Prince of Peace Abbey on August 11th. Abbot Ewen professed vows as a monk in 1981 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1988.

Abbot Charles says that his “life as abbot has been a growing experience of what it means to be a father (abba) to a wide variety of personalities in these uncertain and changing times.”

Abbot Charles was born into a devout Catholic family that provided a nurturing environment for him to discern God’s call. He served in the army and while in Europe traveled to Lourdes on the one hundredth anniversary of Our Lady’s apparition, realizing that his life would never be his own. Abbot Charles also met with the newly elected Pope St. John XXIII in 1958 that was the highlight of his time in Europe and a nudge towards his vocation. Following his release from the army, Fr. Charles attended San Diego State University where he was directed to visit a small Benedictine monastery in Oceanside, CA, and where he has remained ever since.

Fr. Abbot Charles had no desire to become a priest upon his entrance, however, he was directed that way and was ordained in 1970. He was assigned various duties after ordination which supplied him with experiences that prepared him for the future. Abbot Charles was appointed prior in 1983 and then elected abbot in 1994. Throughout his time as a religious, Abbot Charles has seen great change and had to learn how to adapt while leading a religious community in the late twentieth century. He has seen the central part of his life, the celebration of the Eucharist, change following Vatican II as well as the Divine Office. He witnessed his monastery grow immensely which changed the dynamic of community life.

Please keep Fr. Abbot Charles, Abbot Ewen and all the monks at Prince of Peace Abbey in your prayers as they continue to lead lives of work and prayer in this time of transition.

Mercedarians Adopt Iraqi Archdiocese

Most Rev. Mashar Warda, second from right, speaks to the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy members in Rome.
Most Rev. Mashar Warda, speaks to Mercidarian members in Rome.

With the very existence of Christianity in the Middle East in peril, one religious order is responding to the cries of the persecuted as they have since the eleventh century. The Mercedarians, known formally as the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy, have adopted the Archdiocese of Erbil, Iraq, an act in keeping with their charism of rescuing Christians whose faith is in danger.

The number of Christians in Iraq has drastically diminished the past ten years from 1.2 million to 300,000 due to persecutions which Pope Francis in a recent letter called, “unspeakable, inhuman and inexplicable.” Most Rev. Mashar Warda, Chaldean Archbishop of Erbil, shed light on the appalling situation stating, “There is a real sale of Christian slaves, especially women and children, that they take to sell in markets.” He explained that Christians in Erbil face dire circumstances if they do not flee the region confronting forced conversion to Islam, a heavy tax or, in many cases, death.

The Mercedarians are seeking to relieve the pain and suffering of Christians in the land of Abraham. The Roman Province of the Mercedarians has officially adopted the Archdiocese of Erbil, quickly donating several thousand euros and offering prayers for the Archdiocese. The Mercedarians will also be sending a friar from each country that the Order is in to embark on a fact-finding mission to find other ways in which the Order may aid the persecuted. Archbishop Warda has specifically asked for assistance in establishing a Catholic university in an attempt to save what culture can still be salvaged.

san_piedro_nolasco1The recent adoption of the Archdiocese of Erbil is in keeping with the charism of the Mercedarians who were founded by St. Peter Nolasco in 1218 to redeem Christian captives from their Muslim captors. Members of the Order take a unique fourth vow to give up their own selves for others whose faith is in danger. The need for this vow is as necessary today as it was eight hundred years ago with forces such as ISIS seeking to forcefully repress Christianity. By adopting the Archdiocese of Erbil and seeking to ease the pain of the persecuted, the Mercedarians are once again heroically fulfilling their motto: “my life for your freedom.”

IRL Hires New Office Coordinator

rawlsThe IRL is pleased to announce the hiring of Michael Rawls as its full-time Office Coordinator. Today, July 13th is his first day of work.

 Michael grew up in the western suburbs of Chicago and is the youngest of four children. He attended Aurora Central Catholic High School where he participated in several sports including baseball and basketball. Beginning in seventh grade, he worked as a caddy at a local golf course and eventually served as a manager of the junior golf course affiliate during high school and college. Michael attended the College of DuPage before transferring to the University of Notre Dame the spring of his sophomore year.

While at Notre Dame, Michael majored in theology and history with a concentration in Medieval Christian History. His capstone project examined the diplomacy of the Vatican during World War II. The University offered many opportunities that Michael took advantage of allowing him to grow both spiritually. He served as Pastoral Commissioner in his dorm, Morrissey Manor, and helped to found the Notre Dame Catholic Identity Council which seeks to preserve and promote the Catholic identity of the university by providing a collaborative space for clubs and other organizations at the University with a faith based mission. The Militia of the Immaculata (MI) movement has played an integral role in his life particularly in college. Consecrated to Our Lady at the age of 9, Michael has been a member of the MI for most of his life attending and leading youth camps, young adult groups, as well as, leading the Notre Dame MI group as its president. Michael sought an opportunity where he could continue to grow following his graduation and build upon the formation he received throughout his college years.
The position of IRL Office Coordinator is a tremendous fit for Michael. Having attended several National Meetings, including this past year’s in which he brought 20 other students from the University of Notre Dame, Michael understands the importance of the IRL’s mission. He is edified by the founder, Servant of God Fr. John Hardon S.J., and is committed to carrying on his legacy by working to promote and support the consecrated life. He also believes that the position of Office Coordinator will benefit him by providing an environment to discern God’s will.
We welcome Michael as our new Office Coordinator and ask prayers that God will bless him and our efforts to build up the Kingdom through the gift of the consecrated life.


500th Anniversary of the Birth of St. Philip Neri

Toronto Oratory
Toronto Oratory

Oratorians around the world are celebrating the 500th anniversary of the birth of St. Philip Neri. He was born in 1515 in Italy and founded the Congregation of the Oratory in 1575. The most famous Oratorian is Henry Cardinal Newman, convert and blessed. Our Sunday Visitor (July 12, 2015) has a nice article on St. Philip in the latest issue.

Oratorians live in community and under a Rule but are not religious, in that they do not profess vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. They live freely in a community but are free to leave at any time. This prompts the old saying that “true sons of St Philip are known at their burial.”

Tomb of St.Philip Neri - Chiesa Nuova, Rome
Tomb of St.Philip Neri – Chiesa Nuova, Rome

Each Oratory is independent,  observing the way of life outlined by St. Philip .  It was shortly before Pentecost, 1544, that Philip received the grace of his vocation as the founder of the Oratorians. The Holy Spirit filled his heart in so dramatic a fashion, while he was praying in the catacombs, that his rib cage was split around his heart. This was verified after his death.

St. Philip’s biography is a wonderful read because he did such unexpected things to bring people to God, using humor and the ridiculous to make his points.  One man asked is he could wear a hair shirt and Philip said, yes, but wear it on the outside! Philip once shaved half of his beard off before an important event. Laughter is good medicine for the soul!

The work of the apostolate is prayer, preaching and the sacraments. For a wonderful and thorough overview of an oratory including historical references, visit the Toronto Oratory website. It lists the ten characteristics of the classical Oratorian vocation:

  • Instituting a school of prayer
  • Promoting spiritual direction and sacramental confession
  • Extending the liturgical movement
  • Cultivating Eucharistic devotion
  • Fostering saving knowledge of the Holy Scriptures
  • Keeping alive the lore of the saints
  • Inculcating moral literacy
  • Elaborating an “historical orthodoxy”
  • Supporting cultural and intellectual endeavors
  • Encouraging a graced encounter between clerics and the laity
  • Assisting the revival of community and family life
  • Carrying out the New Evangelization

Sounds like a plan for life for all!

“The great thing is to become saints.” St. Philip Neri





“For Love Alone” – New Film on Religious Life

Bishop Senior WebsiteOn August 15, 2015, the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious will release a new film on religious life called For Love Alone. The 18-minute video was produced by Grassroots Films.

Mother Mary Clare Roufs, ACJ, and Sr. Clare Matthiass, CFR, went on a two week blitz around the country previewing the film in locations ranging from College Station and the Aggies in Texas to seminaries and finally, appropriately enough, to Hollywood.

Here are some comments:

At the Wake Up the World rally in Toronto, Canada: “Many of us have not grown up or ever met nuns.  This film gave us the perfect exposure to what the consecrated life is like. What a beautiful insight!”

In West Palm Beach: “The comments from the Sisters and all those in the film are so honest.  You can tell they are speaking from a place of truth, and it just pierces through your heart.  It is a film that is not just for Catholics, anyone can watch this film and be captivated by the beauty of Religious Life.”

Texas 1From a seminarian in Denver: “Though this movie is about Religious Life, ultimately it is about ones encounter with the one we love -Christ Himself. For me, as I watched the film, it was as if my heart was being pierced with a longing for this intimacy with Christ. The film moved me deeply and made me want to go straight to the chapel and pray. He (Christ) is the reason I want to be a priest. Thank you for this beautiful, beautiful film!”

From an aspirant in Vancouver: “The film was exciting! I feel it was a good representation of the excitement I feel about my call to religious life. I would love for my parents to see this film!”

Click here to be notified when the film is released!

And thank you to the Hilton Foundation for making this project possible.


The Benedictine Monks of Norcia Issue Marian Chant Album

Norcia_Benedicta_Cover_v18_1500px-1024x1024The Benedictine Monks of San Benedetto Monastery in Norcia, Italy, founded by Father Cassian Folsom, OSB, on the site of Sts. Benedict and Scholastica’s birthplace, are issuing their first international recording—a CD album of Marian chant. Called BENEDICTA: Marian Chant from Norcia, the selections focus on the seven mysteries or defining moments of Our Lady’s life.

When you purchase BENEDICTA: Marian Chant from Norcia directly from their web site, a significant amount of the proceeds will go directly to them. The funds will assist with the many needs of their growing community.

EWTN will be airing a special called “Behind the Scenes”, a behind the scenes look (as is evident by the title) at the recording process. Those air times are: June 2, 2015, 6:30pm ET & June 4, 2015, at 10:30pm ET. You can also watch the shows streaming live online at