Category Archives: News

Benedictine Nuns and Ranchers?

walburga 2Featured in NBCNEWS.com is a short featurette on the Benedictine nuns of the Abbey of St. Walburga in Colorado. Between praying the full Divine Office every day, they also find time to raise highly sought-after cattle. The story behind these cattle ranching nuns is told in this short video.

Their pioneering Sisters started the cattle farm, which supplies the sisters with sustenance and also is sold locally. Llamas are used as watch”dogs” because apparently they really intimidate mountain lions! Their menagerie also includes chickens, pigs, dogs, and numerous barn cats. The nuns do most of the farm work, with occasional help from neighbors and friends.

walburgaIn 1986, the abbey was granted its independence from the motherhouse in Eichstätt, Bavaria, Germany. As an autonomous house, they are a member community of the Federation of Bavarian Monasteries of Nuns. They profess three vows: obedience, stability, and fidelity to the monastic way of life.

Guests are welcome to stay and make a retreat. They also have a gift shop and a popular Way of the Cross.

Visit their website for more information!

 

 

Brother Paul O’Donnell, fbp – RIP

fbpBr. Paul Joseph O’Donnell

December 15th 1959 – February 20th 2015

Beloved long time superior of the Franciscan Brothers of Peace of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Br. Paul Joseph O’Donnell, fbp, age 55, of St. Paul, formerly of Omaha, died February 20, 2015.

Br. Paul was a dedicated, nationally recognized leader within the right-to-life movement, advocating for the human rights and dignity of the unborn, handicapped, elderly, and a heart for serving the spiritually and bodily poor. He was a co-founder and president of Pro-Life Action Ministries, founding board member of Human Life Alliance and chairman of the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network. Deeply loved and survived by his religious community: Brothers, Joseph Katzmarek, Pio King, John Mary Kaspari, Conrad Richardson, James Voeller, Seraphim Wirth, Maximilian Connelly, Juniper Barlett, Benedict Gerard Kelley, Dominic Michael Hart, and Postulants Nicholas Listi and Ricardo Pagba, all of St. Paul.

Brother Paul and his fellow Franciscans were and are a familiar presence at our annual National Meetings, uplifting all by their gentle good humor and  kindliness. Brother Paul’s whole life was an offering of self for those on the fringes of society and suffering from profound neglect or in peril of death . He will be greatly missed. May his Franciscan brothers be inspired by his example to carry on this work of the Lord with the same courage and dedication.

Timeless Lenten Meditations From Mother Mary Francis, PCC

pccJust in time for Lent, Ignatius Press has released a book of profound and timeless Lenten mediations from Mother Mary Francis, PCC, the abbess of the Poor Clare Monastery of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Roswell, New Mexico.

Mother Mary Francis (1921–2006) was abbess for over 40 years and is most famous for her classic book on Poor Clare life, A Right to be Merry. This new work, entitled A Time of Renewal: Daily Reflections for the Lenten Season, presents beautiful meditations on the liturgical season of Lent, revealing the treasures of the liturgy to Christians in all walks of life. Her insight into Holy Scripture and her poetic way of writing make her reflections on the daily Mass readings fresh and attractive.

As the Ignatius Press press release says:

Mother Mary Francis excels in the art of persuasion, aware that the human heart cannot be forced but only gently led to holiness. She makes this goal attractive and desirable by tirelessly explaining why striving for holiness is the happiest and wisest way to live. This book provides a wealth of material for plundering the riches of the Lenten season and for deepening one’s spiritual life. Her meditations are profound and timeless, not changing from year to year, thus providing a lifetime of Lenten meditations in this one volume.

To order, visit the Ignatius Press website (www.ignatius.com) or call: 1-800-651-1531.

Parish Visitors Celebrate New Milestone

The process towards the future canonization of Mother Mary Teresa Tallon, foundress of the Parish Visitors of Mary Immaculate, took another big step last month when the diocesan phase was closed on January 13, 2015. The closing took place in the chancery of the Archdiocese of New York, and the following day Mother Mary Teresa’s writings and related papers were taken to Rome. The official Roman phase began January 22.

Rebecca
Rebecca

The Parish Visitors had another reason to celebrate as their new postulant, Rebecca Lasota, from Arizona, began her postulancy on January 25. Rebecca had a desire from a young age to become a sister and only knew a little about the Parish Visitors when she ran into Sr. Mary Beata in the parking lot of a Home Depot. Talk about going to the by-ways and highways to find your vocation!

The Parish Visitors main mission is to seek out and reconcile to the Church fallen-away Catholics through door-to-door evangelization.

“She loves our charism,” said Sr. Mary Beata. “We go out as the Good Shepherd. We carry Jesus, the Good News, to our people.”

Mother Mary Teresa told the sisters to “make the truth lovable.” May her increased visibility draw many to Jesus Christ, perhaps as a Parish Visitor of Mary Immaculate.

 

 

 

St.Teresa’s Walking Stick

st teresa of avila tourThe original walking stick used by St Teresa of Avila during her many journeys across 16th century Spain is on the move in honor of the 500th anniversary of her birth. St. Teresa was born on March 28, 1515, and died on October 4, 1582.

The walking stick, which began its journey on October 15, 2014, St. Teresa’s feast day, is on pilgrimage around the world to commemorate this great event. By the time the journey has ended, it will have traveled to 5 continents, 30 countries and traversed 117,000 miles. The places selected are some of sites most important to the Discalced Carmelites as well as the missions in Africa. Already it has been to the United States, Mexico, South America and the Far East. Now it is in Kenya and will travel to many more African countries before it heads back to Europe and the countries of Croatia, Italy, France (Lisieux of course!), the Czech Republic, Portugal and back to Spain.

The worldwide pilgrimage is called the Way of Light (Camino de Luz). The generosity of the Carmelite Fathers in Spain  allowed this eventful pilgrimage to take place. The walking stick is in a special container and is symbolic of St. Teresa’s own spiritual journey. Pilgrims are invited during this special year to imitate her longing for God which took her to many heights and places.

The Superior General of the Carmelites, Fr. Saverio Cansitra, says that her mission is “to remind the Church and human beings of all times that the center of man is God and the center of God is man…. Teresa shares with everyone, with anyone in any place in the world whose journey is lost on an aimless path, what she found: a dwelling and a way.

 stickSt. Teresa herself said, “If they lose their Guide, our good Jesus, they cannot find the way… Our Lord Himself tells us that He is ‘the Way'; He also says that He is ‘the Light’ (John 14,6); that no man cometh to the Father but by Him; and that ‘He that seeth Me, seeth the Father also.’ Such persons tell us that these words have some other meaning; I know of no other meaning but this, which my soul has ever recognized as the true one and which has always suited me right well.”

Bl. Junipero Serra to be Canonized

serraToday came the exciting news that Pope Francis will canonize Bl. Junípero Serra during his visit to the US this Fall. Father Serra (1713-1784) is the founder of the California missions and the great evangelizer. He was born on the island of Majorca, Spain, where he became a Franciscan friar. He came to the New World in 1749. In 1769, he arrived in San Diego where he established his first mission.

Father Serra established nine missions himself, and twenty-one others were eventually established on the El Camino Real. It is always a thrill to be traveling in California and stumble across the roadway today. Here are the missions he founded:

serra21769 – San Diego de Alcalá; 1770 – San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo; 1771 – San Antonio de Padua; 1771 – San Gabriel Arcángel; 1772 – San Luís Obispo de Tolosa; 1776 – San Francisco de Asís; 1776 – San Juan Capistrano; 1777 – Santa Clara de Asís; 1782 – San Buenaventura

Father Serra died and is interred today at the mission in Carmel (San Carlos Borromeo). You can see the cell where he died and his tomb and an impressive cenotaph (monument). The cenotaph depicts a life-side bronze statue of Father Serra lying in death, with his bare feet resting on a grizzly bear, the symbol of California. Three other life-size bronze sculptures are nearby: Fr. Juan Crespí, who predeceased him; Fr. Fermin Lasuen, who succeeded him as the president of the missions of Baja and Alta California; and Fr. Julian Lopez, a friar at the Carmel Mission.

Pope John Paul II visited Carmel in 1987 and called Father Serra the Apostle of California. He went on to say: “’In Him who is the source of my strength I have strength for everything’ (Phil. 4, 13). These words of the great missionary, Saint Paul, remind us that our strength is not our own. Even in the martyrs and saints, as the liturgy reminds us, it is ‘(God’s) power shining through our human weakness.’ It is the strength that inspired Father Serra’s motto: ‘Always forward, never back.'”

 

Year of Consecrated Life Pilgrimage to Rome

rome-at-dusk-itineraryThe Year of Consecrated Life began on the first Sunday of Advent, November 30, 2014, and ends on the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, February 2, 2016.

At the end of this special year, the Vatican is holding an International Symposium (gathering/workshops/events) for Religious, Secular Institutes, and Consecrated Virgins in Rome. The dates specified by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (CICLSAL) for the gathering of Consecrated Persons are as follows:

  • Symposium for Secular Institutes, and Ordo Virginum January 29-31, 2016
  • Symposium for Religious January 28-30, 2016
  • Vigil at St Peter’s Basilica January 30, 2016 at 8:00 p.m.
  • Audience with Holy Father February 1, 2016
  • Mass to conclude the Year of Consecrated Life with the Holy Father Feb 2, 2016

The ORP/Kairos (Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi ) which acts as the pilgrimage organizer for the Diocese of Rome has arranged for a pilgrimage package for Consecrated Virgins, Religious, and Secular Institute members interested in participating in this Symposium with an optional extension to the Holy Land. For those interested in seeing where hermits, religious, and the Ordo Virginum began, this is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

This pilgrimage package is available so that consecrated persons can attend the International Symposium, with lodgings, meals, transportation and other major details being arranged by the Vatican’s office of pilgrimage. Consecrated persons can relax, attend the Symposium, enjoy each other’s company, and prayerfully visit some of the sights in Rome and Italy that are of special significance to consecrated life.

A religious priest-chaplain is being provided who is familiar with the different forms of consecrated life. Guides to the sacred sites will be available in English, Spanish, French, and Italian, and the pilgrimage is open to religious, secular institute members, and consecrated virgins of all nationalities. If enough people from any country want a guide of their own, they will receive a guide speaking their own language.

They will be lodging as much as possible in places run by religious orders, not 5-star luxury accommodations. They are working towards getting donations and sponsors for people who cannot otherwise afford to attend. For more information, see the ORP/Kairos website.

 

Patriarch of Constantinople Meets With Conventual Franciscans

istanbul2On Sunday, January 4, 2015, the Conventual Franciscans at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Istanbul, Turkey, received a surprise visitor – His Holiness Bartholomew I, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. It’s rather like having Pope Francis suddenly pop over for an afternoon!

Patriarch Bartholomew is regarded as the spiritual leader of the world’s 300 million Eastern Orthodox Christians. He is the 270th Patriarch of the see of Byzantium (Constantinople), a see that traces its roots back to St. Andrew the Apostle.

The Patriarch came to St. Anthony Church to view the exhibit: “ENCOUNTERS OF LASTING LOVE”, which was set up in the courtyard of the church on the occasion of the visit of Pope Francis. The exhibition was curated by Friar Martin Kmetec, a Conventual Franciscan from Slovenia, who made the news in 2006 when he was threatened with death by some Turkish Islamic youth but managed to thwart the attack.

When Pope John XXIII was Vatican Ambassador to Turkey, he preached at St. Anthony’s, the largest Church in Istanbul, for ten years. Amazingly, the Holy Father was fluent in Turkish and for this reason, he was known as the Turkish Pope!

ofm istanbul patriarchFriar Iulina Pişta and a few guests welcomed the Patriarch despite the short notice. The exhibit highlighted three ecumenical moments: the Jerusalem meetings between Pope Paul VI and Athenagoras I, and later Pope Francis and Bartholomew I, as well as the recent meeting that Pope Francis and Bartholomew I had in Constantinople (Istanbul) in November of 2014.

Later, Patriarch Bartholomew visited the Basilica of St. Anthony where a group of Filipinos welcomed him at the church door with Christmas carols. Inside the church, the Patriarch lit candles while Romanian clerics sang. As he visited the manger scene, he met and blessed Friar Giuseppe Robu’s sister and her family who were there for the baptism of their child. Patriarch Bartholomew then blessed an icon depicting Peter and Andrew and affixed his signature on the back. He then went down to the crypt to see the Byzantine style paintings.

The meeting symbolizes the importance that the Churches of the East and the West place on ecumenical dialogue. It also highlights the courage of the Christian community in an Islamic country where they are a very tiny minority.

During his visit to Turkey in November 2014, Pope Francis said, “We are already on the way, on the path towards full communion and already we can experience eloquent signs of an authentic, albeit incomplete union. This offers us reassurance and encourages us to continue on this journey. We are certain that along this journey we are helped by the intercession of the Apostle Andrew and his brother Peter, held by tradition to be the founders of the Churches of Constantinople and of Rome. We ask God for the great gift of full unity, and the ability to accept it in our lives. Let us never forget to pray for one another.”

New Book on Venerable Fulton J. Sheen

sheenA new book about Venerable Fulton J. Sheen came out in 2014, written by Monsignor Hilary C. Franco who for many years was the Archbishop’s closest friend and collaborator. Entitled Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, Mentor and Friend, many of the stories in it are familiar for those of us who have read the Archbishop’s autobiography Treasure in Clay. However, this book has some additional gems in it, particularly in the second half of the book. In an interview format, Msgr. Franco reflects on the Bishop’s crucial contributions during the Second Vatican Council, the Archbishop’s prophetic view of the woes besieging the Church and the solutions, so strongly articulated in the same vein by Pope Francis today. Msgr Franco said, “Much like Pope Francis does, he chose to come to the people.”

The way to restore all things in Christ was simple: bring Christ back into catechetics! Current books, the Archbishop said, began with community, not with Christ. He said that people are following Marx not Mark. The Church in the U.S. needed not a renewal but a re-Christification. To do this, we must preach Jesus Christ, crucified.

The Church was looking more corporate than personal, locked up in itself, “not sufficiently concerned with the problems of the world and especially the evangelization of those outside the Church.” He said, “Only a Church wounded by poverty can convert a doubting world.”

While traveling on a bus in Rome with over 70 bishops on their way to a session during the second Vatican Council,  he said, “My dear Bishops, don’t you think it odd with so many bishops here on an historic  and profound mission, we don’t have a place in the hotel where we can reserve the Blessed Sacrament?” He then got Msgr. Franco to arrange it. The Archbishop himself made a Holy Hour every day of his priesthood. It was a major well-spring from which he drew his strength for the mission.

The Archbishop died early into the Pontificate of Pope John Paul II to whom he wrote: “Every night when silence gives vision scope, I pray to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament for the Chief Shepherd of our souls, and the only moral authority left in the world.”

To order this inspirational book, please visit newhopepublications.org or call 270-325-3061.