Category Archives: News

Apostleship of Prayer: February Intentions

ApostleshipofPrayerThe Holy Father’s prayer intentions for the month of January as well as reflections by Fr. James Kubicki, S.J., National Director of the Apostleship of Prayer.

Care for Creation. That we may take good care of creation–a gift freely given–cultivating and protecting it for future generations. 

Life is a gift. Our very existence is a gift. We did not create ourselves nor are we chance products of blind forces of nature. And we are not God.

That may seem obvious, but from the beginning of human history, people have tried to be God. We see that even today in the way human beings use creation in ways that are contrary to God’s will. According to Genesis 2: 15, humanity was created to work with God, “to cultivate and care for” the earth. Pope Francis wrote in his encyclical Laudato Si: “Once we lose our humility and become enthralled with the possibility of limitless mastery over everything, we inevitably end up harming society and the environment. It is not easy to promote this kind of healthy humility when we exclude God from our lives or replace him with our own ego and think that our subjective feelings can define what is right and what is wrong.”

This month we begin Lent, a time of conversion. Let’s consider how we can
be humble stewards and not exploiters of creation. As a start, Pope Francis proposes we simply “stop and give thanks to God before and after meals.” Doing so “reminds us of our dependence on God for life; it strengthens our feeling of gratitude for the gifts of creation; it acknowledges those who by their labors provide us with these goods; and it reaffirms our solidarity with those in greatest need.”


Asia. That opportunities may increase for dialogue and encounter between the Christian faith and the peoples of Asia.

Early last year Pope Francis visited the Asian country of Sri Lanka where four major religions coexist: Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity. Unfortunately ethnic and religious differences there have led to bloody conflicts. Meeting with representatives of these religions, the Pope said: “For the sake of peace, religious beliefs must never be allowed to be abused in the cause of violence and war. We must be clear and unequivocal in challenging our communities to live fully the tenets of peace and coexistence found in each religion, and to denounce acts of violence when they are committed.”

All people are made in the image and likeness of God. God created everyone for eternal life—to be with God in the heavenly communion of saints. God desires this so much that he sent Jesus to shed his precious blood for the salvation of all. Thus all people are to be shown respect.In his speech, Pope Francis spoke of the importance of “dialogue, which is essential if we are to know, understand, and respect one another.” True dialogue requires honesty: “for such dialogue and encounter to be effective, it must be grounded in a full and forthright presentation of our respective convictions. Certainly, such dialogue will accentuate how varied our beliefs, traditions and practices are. But if we are honest in presenting our convictions, we will be able to see more clearly what we hold in common. New avenues will be opened for mutual esteem, cooperation, and indeed friendship.”

In true dialogue with non-Christians, we Christians need to listen respectfully, find common ground, and then in our turn to share the Gospel, in hopes that the Holy Spirit will open hearts to Jesus. We pray this month that opportunities for such sharing may increase in Asia, where Christians are in the minority.

The Canticle of the Passion Sung by the Marbury Dominicans

catherine ricciThe Dominicans Nuns of Marbury, Alabama, have recently posted on their website The Canticle of the Passion, or the “Passion Verses.” It is a specifically Dominican devotion traditionally sung on the Fridays of Lent.  A compilation of texts from Sacred Scripture that pertain to the sufferings of Our Lord Jesus Christ, this devotion was revealed by the Blessed Virgin Mary to St. Catherine de Ricci (1522-1590), a cloistered Dominican Tertiary of the 16th century. Today is her Feast Day!

“Our Lady is said to have desired Catherine, when she revealed this Canticle to her, to spread it through the convent as a form of prayer and contemplation supremely pleasing to our Lord. The venerable confessor, Fra Timoteo, wrote it out in full at the saint’s dictation and submitted it for the approval of the Order. Padre Francesco di Castiglione had then become general, and he was not satisfied with allowing its use in San Vincenzio. By a circular letter to all monasteries of the Province he ordered it to be placed amongst the regular devotions and forms of prayer peculiar to the Dominicans; and it has remained celebrated amongst us, under the title Canticle of the Passion, as a monument to the tender love of our great Dominican saint, Catherine de Ricci, for her crucified Jesus”  (from St Catherine de’ Ricci : Her Life, Her Letters, Her Community by Florence Mary Capes, p. 76-77).

The Dominicans are celebrating their 800th anniversary this year!
The Dominicans are celebrating their 800th anniversary this year!

Like St. Francis, St. Catherine de Ricci experienced the stigmata and for 12 years, every Thursday Noon until Friday at 4:00 pm, accompanied Jesus in His Passion. The Canticle of the Passion was revealed to Catherine immediately after her first great ecstasy of the Passion. Our Lady desired Catherine to spread it as a form of prayer and contemplation pleasing to Our Lord.

The Canticle of the Passion is sung to the haunting tones of their Dominican chant, leading them to enter more deeply into the solemn mysteries of this season of Passiontide and Holy Week.

If you go to their website, you can hear a recording of the The Canticle of the Passion sung by the nuns. Pictorial meditations are included and the Latin verses are translated into English.

It is really beautiful!!


Discalced Carmelite Friars – New IRL Affiliate!

ocd holy hillThe Discalced Carmelite Friars of the Province of the Immaculate Heart of Mary were recently welcomed as a new IRL Affiliate Community. The Province was established by German Bavarian friars in 1906 and has responsibility for the well-known shrine of Our Lady  Help of Christians in Hubertus, Wisconsin, commonly known as Holy Hill. The province includes monasteries in Milwaukee, Brighton, MA, Washington, DC and Kenya.

The Carmelite Friars follow the Rule of St. Albert of 1206. Each day, two hours are set aside for silent prayer. The Holy Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours chart the rhythm of every day which also includes community meetings and recreation. The three linchpins of their life are: prayer, community and the apostolate.

The friars also staff the Institute of Carmelite Studies. If you are looking for a good book about or by Edith Stein, St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila, Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity, St Therese of Lisieux and other Carmelite greats, look no further.

holy hillCarmel has its roots in the desert for the first friars were found in Israel on Mount Carmel. Keeping up the eremitic tradition, in 1968, the Province established a community of hermits in Hinton, West Virginia.

They welcome men who seek to dedicate their lives to this life of contemplative prayer united to apostolic zeal. They need young, spirited, creative men, strong in faith who want to work in areas neglected by the world.

In our day, there is a great spiritual hunger, yet many are bewildered and lost, cut off from the sustaining food of eternal life. We who have received a precious heritage see our special mission in the world to be helping any who need help on their way to God.”

For more information, contact Fr. Elijah of the Eucharist, OCD, vocation director ( or 262-628-1838.


Dallas Carmel – New IRL Affiliate Community!

dallas monasThe Discalced Carmelite Nuns in Dallas, Texas, are one of the newest IRL Affiliate Communities. Their monastery, the Monastery of the Infant Jesus of Prague and of St. Joseph,  was founded in 1928 by ten refugee nuns who arrived from Mexico due to the revolution and religious persecution. They arrived from the Carmel in Tulancingo, Hidalgo, Mexico, which was founded in 1907.

The Dallas Carmelites are a cloistered contemplative community, totally dedicated to Christ in a community atmosphere of unity and constant prayer. Their daily ocd dallaslife is centered around the Eucharistic Sacrifice of Jesus—daily Mass, from which they receive the grace to live up to their calling. The hours pass in an alternating rhythm between prayer and manual labor. Simplicity of life, the silence and solitude of a hermit, the support of a loving community, all help to keep their goal in focus: “to be alone with Him alone.” They follow the 1990 Constitutions for Discalced Carmelite Nuns which requires that they celebrate the entire Divine Office every day in choir.

The Servant of God Rev. John A. Hardon, S.J., was the spiritual director of the current Prioress, Sr. Juanita Marie of Jesus Crucified. She spoke to him on the phone just thirty minutes before his death. She now seeks to lead the community with members that are a “living witness of a life consecrated to Christ that serves the Church through the hidden fruitfulness of Faith and self-sacrificing Love.”

Daily Mass at 7:00 am every day is open to the public. The Confraternity of the Holy Face meets every third Sunday at 3:30 pm and is also open to the public.


A Prophecy Fulfilled – The Franciscan Friars Minor in Costa Rica

osf ft wayne march
In DC, for the annual March For Life

In January, Fr. David Mary and eight Franciscan Brothers Minor from Fort Wayne as well as the Catholics on a Mission team traveled to Costa Rica to minister to the local Costa Rican and indigenous Cabecar people. This is a remote jungle area were homes have dirt floors and the indigenous people share shelter with their animals.

While there, they hosted a Vacation Bible School for the children and shared personal faith testimonies. Most people in the region are able to receive the sacraments only once a month, so it was a blessing that Mass was celebrated at least once a day with people

living in remote villages. As a result of past trips, 60-70 Cabecar now attend Mass regularly and the first, First Communion class in hundreds of years is now a reality!

Franciscans came to Costa Rica in the 16th century with Christopher Columbus and evangelized the indigenous people who began to embrace the Faith. When a tribe from a different area killed a friar and some of the converts, the Franciscans left to prevent further bloodshed. Over the years, a prophecy arose, a promise from St. Joseph, that one day radical barefoot Franciscans would return and bring them the Gospel. In 2013, this became a reality when the Franciscans from Fort Wayne arrived.

San Jose de Orosi anniversary Mass
San Jose de Orosi anniversary Mass

A bishop told them that they were the first Franciscans to set foot in the Cabecar territory in 250 years. Since that time, the Friars have established a partnership with Catholics on a Mission and the St. Bryce Foundation to continue these evangelization efforts. The 2016 mission trip coincided with the 250th anniversary of the completion of Iglesia de San Jose de Orosi, the chapel built in 1766 from the vision of St. Joseph.

Who are Catholics on a Mission? It was started in 2012 when several high school students who were actively involved in the Franciscan Brothers Minor youth group approached Fr. David Mary Engo with the idea to “put their service where their faith is,” and share the ofm guitargospel with people in a foreign country. Catholics on a Mission has become a student-driven service organization evangelizing parishes, cities and the world through the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy.

Following the exhortation of Pope John Paul in Redemptoris Missio, they believe that “the moment has come to commit all of the Church’s energies to a new evangelization and to the mission ad gentes. No believer in Christ, no institution of the Church can avoid this supreme duty: to proclaim Christ to all peoples.”

Foundress of the Oblate Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Beatified

oshj picLast October, a group of forty-one pilgrims consisting of sisters, their relatives, priests and lay people from the Diocese of Youngstown made a pilgrimage to Italy for the beatification of Mother Maria Teresa Casini, foundress of the Oblate Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which took place on October 31, 2015.

Mother Casini founded the Oblate Sisters in 1894 in Grottaferrata. Their charism is to pray for the sanctification of priests and the holiness of the Church. Mother was beatified in the Frascati cathedral where she was baptized in 1864, two days after her birth.

oshjFor the Oblate Sisters from Hubbard, Ohio, this was an extra-special event because the miracle required for Mother’s beatification occurred in their own diocese. In 2003, five-year-old Jacob Sebest of Campbell, Ohio, was diagnosed with irreversible brain damage after a swimming pool incident. Two days later, on the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, after intense prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus through the intercession of Mother Teresa Casini, young Jacob miraculously awoke from a medically induced coma without any signs of brain trauma. Today he is a healthy, vibrant 17-year-old and a senior in High School.

The day before the beatification, the pilgrims visited Grottoferrata where Mother first established the congregation and where she later died in 1937. They prayed before the historical tabernacle that depicts her vision of the Pierced Heart of Jesus. They also venerated a relic, a braid of Mother’s hair that was cut off when she made her first profession of vows. Unbeknownst to her, said Sr. Joyce Candidi, O.S.H.J., it was preserved “by those who sensed that one day she would be recognized for her great love and heroic virtues.”

Jacob and Bishop Murray
Jacob and Bishop Murray

Jacob and his family were able to make the trip to Italy and greet the Holy Father in Rome after the beatification along with the General Superior and General Counselor of the Oblate Sisters. On the Feast of All Saints, Pope Francis said: “(Mother Teresa Casini) was a contemplative woman and missionary; she made her life an offering of prayer and concrete charity in support of priests. Let us thank the Lord for her witness!”

On November 2nd, Bishop George Murry, S.J., celebrated Mass for the pilgrims in the crypt of St. Peter’s Basilica at the site of St. Peter’s tomb where they gathered to pray in thanksgiving once again for the life and holiness of Blessed Mother Teresa Casini. After the return home, one pilgrims observed, “As each day goes by, it continues to sink in that we experienced life-changing, as well as once-in-a-lifetime events.”

The Diocese of Youngstown is planning to celebrate Mother Casini’s beatification on Sunday, May 22, 2016, at St. Columba Cathedral.

See additional photos from the trip on Facebook.

Need Custom Liturgical Habits & Vestments?!?

norbert sequoiaAre you looking for someone who can design (or repair) high-quality liturgical vestments, linens or religious habits? Someone who understands the Catholic faith and prayerfully goes about her work of making beautiful designs for God?

A good resource is the The Liturgical Co., founded and run by Sequoia Sierra, a Lay (Third Order) Norbertine. Sequoia designed the postulants’ habits for the newly established Norbertine Sisters in Wilmington, CA. You can see the beautiful result in the picture!

The Norbertine sisters were originally founded in the Czech Republic in 1902, though this community was founded in 2011 by the General House of the Congregation of Norbertine Sisters in Slovakia. In the US, they minister to the poor, teach religious education and work in a book store.

In an article in Regina Magazine, Sequoia described the design process and how special the work was to her. “This was an incredible and profoundly moving experience… Having the honor of being a part of their history, at the very beginning of them establishing themselves here in the U.S. is an experience that will always be very special and dear to my heart.  It was the experience of a lifetime.”

I love that the new postulant uniform has 5 buttons on them, to remind everyone of the five marks of the Norbertine Order;

  • Solemn and Reverential Celebration of the Sacred Liturgy in Choir
  • Devotion to the Holy Eucharist
  • Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • A Spirit of Penance
  • Zeal for Souls

opraem vestMay they be blessed with many young women in postulant habits!

To read the Regina article, visit their website. To learn more about The Liturgical Co., visit To read about the new Norbertine family of sisters, visit the Sts. Peter and Paul parish website!


St. John Neumann: The Glory of All Emigrants

_5442459Surprisingly, the saint whose feast we celebrate today was not accepted for ordination by his bishop and had to travel around the world in order to fulfill his priestly vocation. St. John Neumann is one of the most famous religious to have been a citizen of the United States and is known for organizing the first diocesan schedule of the Forty Hours’ Devotion in America, as well as, establishing the first system of parochial schools in the United States.

Born in Boehemia in 1811, St. John Neumann sought to serve the Lord by becoming a priest. Unfortunately, the local bishop turned him away citing an excess of priests in the diocese. Undeterred, St. John wrote to bishops throughout Europe who also did not accept him because of the similar circumstances. Finally, the Bishop of New York agreed to ordain him to the priesthood. This meant, however, that he would have to leave his homeland and face many hardships by traveling to live in United States.

After arriving in New York and ordination, St. John Neumann was placed in a parish in western New York. The parish covered a vast area near Niagara Falls forcing the saint to travel throughout the land in order to minister  to his people. His isolated life led him to seek community which he found by joining the Redemptorists. In the Redemptorists, he discovered a community which corresponded to his missionary vocation.

in 1852, St. John Neumann was named bishop of Philadelphia where he quickly became known for his pastoral care. He deeply cared for those within his diocese and learned six languages in order to communicate with them and hear their confessions. As bishop, he organized the first diocesan schedule of the Forty Hours’ Devotion in America and established the first system of parochial schools in the United States. These initiatives proved to be hugely successful and were emulated throughout the country.

St. John Neumann has had a great impact on religious life in the United States. He founded the Third Order of St. Francis of Glen Riddle and is one of the first American citizens who belonged to a religious community to be canonized. Pope Paul VI summarized the activity of the new saint by saying, “He was close to the sick, he loved to be with the poor, he was a friend of sinners, and now he is the glory of all emigrants.”

The New Bethlehem at Greccio


This fresco was completed by Giotto and his assistants to commemorate St. Francis and his creation of the first manger scene. “I wish to do something that will recall to memory the little Child who was born in Bethlehem,” Francis said, “and set before our bodily eyes in some way the inconveniences of His infant needs, how He lay in a manager, how, with an ox and an ass standing by, He lay upon the hay where He had been placed.”

greccio2Why did St. Francis want to recall this moment in the life Our Lord to the mind of the people at Greccio? Thomas of Celano tells us that Francis “saw a little child lying in the manger lifeless, and he saw the holy man of God go up to it and rouse the Child as from a deep sleep. This vision was not unfitting, for the Child Jesus had been forgotten in the hearts of many; but, by the working of His grace, He was brought to life again through His servant St. Francis and stamped upon their fervent memory.”

The manger was prepared, the hay had been brought, the ox and ass were led in. There simplicity was honored, poverty was exalted, humility was commended, and Greccio was made, as it were, a new Bethlehem. The night was lighted up like the day, and it delighted men and beasts. The people came and were filled with new joy over the new mystery. The woods rang with the voices of the crowd and the rocks made answer to their jubilation. The brothers sang, paying their debt of praise to the Lord, and the whole night resounded with their rejoicing. The saint of God stood before the manger, uttering sighs, overcome with love, and filled with a wonderful happiness.

St. Thomas of Celano from his life of St. Francis

A blessed Christmas to all!