Category Archives: Women’s Communities

Little Friars and Little Nuns of Jesus and Mary

“Preach the Gospel as you go for the streets!” ―Poor Friars Motto

There is a new community in the diocese of Houma/Thibodaux in Louisiana whose members can be seen hitchhiking around the highways and byways of the diocese.

The Little Friars and Little Nuns of Jesus and Mary, also known as the Poor Friars, were founded in Italy and recognized as a Public Association in 2014. They have the Franciscan spirit of poverty and evangelization, and the Carmelite spirit of contemplation and prayer in their cloisters, but have their own unique Rule of Life.

There are many in the world today who do not give serious thought to the Church because of a perceived worldliness in its members and clergy. Where is the poverty of Christ? There are many shining examples among bishops, priests, religious and the laity. But in our day, when people do not notice simple signs of sanctity and heroism, a sometimes more dramatic image must be revealed. This is what the Poor Friars are: a sign of contradiction in our self-absorbed and self-centered culture; the embodiment of true dependence on God for the basic needs in life, as given freely through strangers and neighbors in encounters that change lives forever.

Father Antonio Maria

They personally cannot accept money at all. They also do not own cars so they hitchhike everywhere. “This is where our Apostolate shines,” says Fr. Antonio Maria Speedy, American Provincial, “as while in the vehicle with the people, we invite them to the Sacraments of Confession and Holy Communion.”

Women and men make up the community though they live separately. They minister in four Italian dioceses. In 2010, they were invited by the local ordinary to begin the process of establishing a community in Louisiana. Father Antonio Maria is the chaplain to the Diocesan Office of Evangelization and the Administrator of two parishes.

Here is a description from their website for their reason for being (raison d’être), all the more penetrating because of the charm of the language translated from the Italian!

Today all the world or many, many people in effect have the need to see real poor of the Lord in the Church, because they no longer understand the Benign Mystery of its Glorious Richness; instead of esteeming it they accuse it!, and not only, they also accuse unjustly its Ministers that represent it.. , . instead of becoming nearer they go further ! For this was immediately born the urgency to make ourselves truly poor, so the confused people, in regards to the so called wealth of the Church, no longer having the possibility to point the finger at us, given that they see us extremely poor, they stop, and finally listen to the demonstrated Truth and the simple answer as to why Jesus was poor while now the Church is (rightly ) Rich, and  etc.. etc.. ; and like this in fact many, begin to take up again the esteem for their Mother Church and for her Ministers, returning like this to the Holy Confession and to the Holy Communion, and therefore concretely: be on the way towards  the Blessed Eternal Life. Amen !   

God knows No Boundaries: Finding a Vocation With the Carmelites in California

Two Sisters from the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles came from opposite coasts for a recent Come & See weekend in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Sr. Elizabeth Therese, O.C.D., and Sr. Catherine Marie, O.C.D., live in Alhambra, CA, and Miami, FL, respectively, but have their roots in Minnesota. God’s call is not limited to state boundaries and each sister discerned that God was asking them to leave their home and kinfolk to find their fulfillment as spouses of Christ in the Carmelite community in Alhambra, California. (See article)

Sr. Elizabeth Therese is the vocation directress and slowly realized her vocation from interactions with a campus ministry, a third order Carmelite group, Adoration and monthly discernment dinners. She also was engaged to be married. Though, “it’s not until you have a personal relationship with the Lord, whether you’re called to religious life or marriage,” she said. “that you’re going to be able to know what your vocation is.”

Sr. Catherine Marie felt her call through the Eucharist and Adoration. A teacher, she immediate felt that she had come home once she visited the Carmelites in Alhambra. “It was as if Jesus was saying to me, ‘Welcome home, I have been waiting for you.’”, she said, “Inside my heart I felt myself responding, ‘Finally, I am home.’”

A stumbling block for Sr. Catherine Marie was her educational debt. But thanks to The Labouré Society, located in Eagan, MN, she was able to raise the money to pay off the balance. Sister advises: “Do not be afraid to say, ‘yes’ to Christ,” she said. “He takes nothing away and gives you everything your heart could desire.”

If you live in the California area, please consider becoming part of Handmaidens, a faith formation group for single women between the ages of 18 and 35, dedicated to cultivating a deeper relationship with the Lord, as well as a greater understanding and appreciation of the dignity of their vocation as women. Formation and living holiness in the world is supported and nurtured through adoration, prayer and conferences given by the Carmelite Sisters and chosen laity.

The next meeting date is November 18, 2017.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017 – World Day of Cloistered Life

On November 21 (the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple), the Church will celebrate World Day of Cloistered Life, also known as “Pro Orantibus” Day, which is a Latin phrase meaning “for those who pray.” This is an important ecclesial event for all Catholics worldwide to commemorate the hidden lives of consecrated religious in cloisters and monasteries.

We celebrate this day because the contemplative life is a gift from Almighty God to us all — all the world benefits spiritually from the prayer and sacrifice of these dedicated and faithful souls, even when we may not know it. On this day, the faithful are encouraged to reach out to the cloistered and contemplative communities in their diocese, through prayer, encouragement, and material support.

Please click at the link for more info and for resources: http://www.cloisteredlife.com/news/pro-orantibus-day/

The Right to Pursuit of Happiness or Holiness?

The Right to Pursuit of Holiness

by a Poor Clare Nun, Palos Park, IL

“Religious profession so orders our whole life to God and neighbor that it is a sign the unity of the Trinity reflected in our unity and our outpouring love for God, our sisters and all mankind. It is this loving kenosis which produces perfect human fulfillment.”

—Constitutions for Poor Clare nuns (Article 5, number 3)

 

Poor Clares, Palos Park

St. Thomas Aquinas asserted that happiness is union with the One who is Goodness itself, namely God. Our country’s forefathers saw the human desire for happiness as not just a goal but a fundamental right, the “right to the pursuit of happiness.” However, pleasure and happiness are not the same and the “right to the pursuit of happiness” presupposes the moral obligation to live according to the laws of God. Indeed, the Catholic Church proclaims that we were created to know, love and serve God in this life so as to be happy with Him forever in the next.

This happiness or blessedness is ultimately holiness. Therefore, we can say we have been endowed by our Creator with the “right to pursuit of holiness.” This pursuit of holiness, or striving for perfection, is the life’s work and obligation of those who make profession of the evangelical counsels. We do this by daily offering our lives at the service of God’s plan in the vows of obedience, poverty and chastity, emptying ourselves in order to be filled with Christ and bring him to others. “It is this loving kenosis which produces perfect human fulfillment.”

Obedience

Obedience is an act of the will, a free choice, not an act of fear or compulsion. “The love of Christ impels us,” St. Paul says, and it is through this love that any fear is transformed into the free surrender of our will and the great desire to do what God is asking of me at this moment. In his conferences on the evangelical counsels, Archbishop Charles Schleck, C.S.C. asserts that “obedience perfects the will instead of suppressing it. To love God is not merely to surrender or give up something of our own will. It is to adhere positively and firmly to the will of the one we love. And to love God means to do what He desires; it is obey. Obedience is universal in character and belongs to the very life of the Church. It brings to completion our baptismal faith … (it) perfects the consecration proper to baptism.”

Chastity

In her biography of Saint Colette, Mother Mary Francis, P.C.C., describes the young Colette, with the vow of perpetual virginity fresh upon her soul, as a woman no longer alone in the world. She is espoused to Christ now. Yet this reality is hidden from the eyes of men and is part of the great paradox of Christian life where the one who loses her life finds it and the grain of wheat that dies brings forth much fruit. It is our radical renunciation of all things, even the great good of earthly marriage, for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven which is the source of our union with Christ. And it is our union with Christ which allows us to enter into His love for all mankind.

Poverty

In a radical kenosis the second person of the Blessed Trinity became man to save us by His death and resurrection. In the words of St. Paul “… He did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at but emptied Himself.” Our form of life is to live the holy Gospel, and we do this by striving to imitate the self-emptying of Christ in every aspect of our life. “According to the thinking of St. Clare, evangelical poverty goes far beyond the renunciation of earthly possessions, extending to the whole of life. For in the Franciscan concept, the surrender of temporal goods is intimately bound up with the profession of obedience and chastity and also with enclosure and communion in the spirit” (Art. 11 #1).

“Enclosed nuns are called to give clear witness that man belongs entirely to God, and so to keep green among the human family the desire for a heavenly home” (Art. 20 #2). We strive for that union in this life and are a sign for the world of each soul’s destiny.

For those who are called and who respond to its totality of grace, ours is a life of profound joy in the pursuit of holiness through the total surrender of all we are and all that is, for God’s glory and the salvation of souls. “Amen, amen, without ever turning back” (Testament of our Holy Mother St. Colette)

West Springfield Dominican Nuns – Back to Basics

In West Springfield, Massachusetts, on a busy street, up on a hill, is the Dominican Monastery of the Mother of God. Their presence there silently proclaims to the passers-by their faith in God and their desire to belong wholly to Him. Their foundress, Mother Mary Hyacinth of Jesus, entered the Dominican Sisters of the Perpetual Rosary in Union City, NJ, on September 8, 1908.  She was chosen by Bishop Thomas Mary O’Leary to be the foundress of their community: “Come, come to Springfield in the name of God and Mary. This will be our gift to Our Lady on the feast of her birth.”

They eventually took on perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and went from Third Order sisters to Second Order nuns. Life in modern times is more complicated for everybody, cloistered nuns not excluded, but they have striven in recent times to strengthen the essentials of their enclosed life, striving for the one thing necessary – union with God.

In 2008, reflecting more deeply upon their contemplative vocation after the nuns’ Jubilee Year, they decided to take back their traditional veil, believing that each nun should strive to become a mini “house of prayer.”  This was followed by the restoration of a simple grille in their parlors in 2011, as another reminder of their call to silence and withdrawal from the world.

Following the Rule of St. Augustine, they make solemn vows and follow Papal enclosure. The solemn chanting of the Divine Liturgy is at the heart of their day.  Their Eucharistic adoration and Rosaries flow out of this wellspring of grace, while study and lectio divina are a fruitful preparation for it.  They strive to make the Liturgy as beautiful as they can, all for the glory of God.

May Our Lady, who helped them to begin this work of love for God, allow it flourish through her special Motherly intercession.  Amen!

Ven. Henriette Delille Exhibition Opens in New Orleans

The canonization cause for Ven. Henriette Delille (d. 1862), foundress of the Sisters of the Holy family in New Orleans, continues to move forward. Twenty-nine years ago, her cause was opened and in 2010, Pope Benedict declared her Venerable. As the Sisters celebrate their 175th anniversary this year, they are hoping that the details of a miracle, attributed to Henriette’s intercession, will be accepted and authenticated so that Henriette can be Beatified during this eventful year.

The Sisters of the Holy Family were founded in 1842.  The sick, the infirm and the poor were the Sisters’ first concern and the “dearest objects of solicitude,” but they also sought “to bring back the Glory of God and the salvation of the neighbor by a charitable and edifying behavior.” Henriette’s antidote to the dissolution and irreligion of the time was to “teach the mysteries of the religion and the most important points of Christian morality.” One of her priorities was to promote the Sacrament of Marriage. How we need Henriette’s powerful intercession today when families are so under attack!

An exhibit on her life at the Ursuline Convent Museum in New Orleans opened late last year and runs through September 2017. Created by the Archdiocese’s archivist, it highlights the life of Henriette, born to a French father (it is believed) and mother who was a “free woman of color” of French, Spanish and African ancestry. Her great, great grandmother, Marie Ann, was a slave who purchased her freedom. The women in Henriette’s family were free, independent and well-to-do. But Henriette broke with family tradition, choosing instead to devote her life to the Lord as a “humble servant of slaves.”

A documentary on her life is available and for more information on her community and her Cause, please visit the Sister’s website.

SOLI Sisters to be Featured on EWTN!

Congratulations to their new novices, Sister Marie Vianney, SOLI and Sister Maria Joseph, SOLI. And their new postulant Jessica!

Be sure to watch EWTN on February 28, 2017, when one of the IRL’s communities will be featured on EWTN.  A 30-minute video on the Sisters of Our Lady Immaculate, a (newish) religious community in Canada, will be broadcast at 6:30PM (EST).

The video is an inspiring, intimate look into the apostolate of the SOLI Sisters from Cambridge, Ontario. This community of sisters in Canada is bringing about a renewal of authentic Catholic catechesis in the schools they serve, and in their care for the elderly. This deep love for young and old, as the Sisters daily strive to answer the call of becoming a true Bride of Christ, gives witness to their unwavering faith.

Mother Dorothy (l) and two SOLI sisters

The sisters are also expanding into new mission fields! At the invitation of the Bishop, the sisters will be assisting in Catholic education in the Diocese of Peterborough, Ontario, where  Sr. Bernadette and Sr. Mary Catherine have been appointed Principal and Vice-Principal respectively of Our Lady of the Wayside Catholic School.

The sisters were founded in 1977 by Father Lloyd Ryan and Sr. Mary Josephine Mulligan, formerly a Grey Sister. They both saw the need for a new religious order of women who would be dedicated to living the religious life authentically and teaching our Holy Catholic Faith with courage. This fervor and zeal for promoting the Truth with religious solidly formed with the essential foundations of religious life sounds much like Father John Hardon, S.J., who founded the IRL to support communities such as these, striving to bring the light of Christ to our secular society.

You can order the video from EWTN, a great resource for anyone seeking to inspire a young woman to consider religious life!

Sisters of the Holy Family Celebrate 175th Jubilee

thThe sisters of the Holy Family will opening the celebration of their 175th Jubilee with a Mass on November 19, 2016, honoring the their foundress Ven. Henriette Delille.

The mass will be at their Motherhouse on Chef Menteur Boulevard in New Orleans, LA. The celebrant will be Archbishop Gregory Aymond.

For more information, visit the sisters’ website.

 

Institute of Catholic Culture Welcomed as New IRL Affiliate!

icc

The institute of Catholic Culture, through its’ apostolate the Magdala Institute, has for several years now been providing top-quality, free formation classes for sisters and nuns. We were pleased at the IRL’s September Board Meeting to approve them as a new IRL Affiliate.

The ICC was founded in 2006 by Rev. Franklyn McAfee, S.T.D., and Rev. Hezekias Carnazzo, M.A., as an educational outreach project within the Office of Evangelization at St. John the Beloved Catholic Church in McLean, Virginia, in response to the Church’s call for a new evangelization.

From the beginning, the ICC has offered weekly seminars in Catholic history, philosophy and theology, with a strong emphasis on the study of Sacred Scripture. Soon, it was bursting at the seams, as attendees from all over the Northern Virginia / Washington D.C. metropolitan area began to visit, knowing they could receive quality, orthodox education with the Institute’s programs.

Today, the ICC averages over 200 eager participants at its regular education programs and offers Catholic adult faith formation opportunities in local parishes. In addition, it has expanded beyond its initial geographical region by offering live and on-demand video streaming of its programs, CD production of past seminars, and over 600 hours of catechetical programs in its free, on-line media library.

magdalaOf interest to IRL communities is their Magdala Apostolate, dedicated to providing sound doctrinal formation—both initial and ongoing—for women religious and novices, in accord with the Church’s call for a new evangelization. Each term, they offer semester-long courses in the faith to any religious sister or community who applies. All that is needed to participate is a:

  1. A computer
  2. An internet connection with a download speed of about 4.00 Mbps and an upload speed of about 1.0 Mbps.
  3. A webcam

They have also begun building an online resources library, so that those who visit their web site can access not only the archived and live programs, but also the written resources discussed and referenced.

Topics covered include:

  • Scripture
  • Theology
  • Church History
  • Philosophy
  • Catechetics
  • Spirituality
  • Continuing formation classes like Greek, Biblical Apologetics, Ante-Nicaean Fathers

fr-hezFather Carnazzo has been to many IRL National Meetings, both as a speaker and participant. Ordained to the priesthood on May 1, 2016, he also serves as the Director of the Office of Catechesis and Evangelization for the Melkite Greek Catholic Eparchy of Newton. We highly recommend his courses. Feel free to call the ICC for more information at 540-635-7155.

 

Daughters of St. Francis of Assisi Celebrate 70 Years in U.S.

osf laconUnless we strive to offer and impart to them the basic and fundamental need to draw closer to God, we have given them very little.

With these beautiful hearts, the Daughters of St. Francis of Assisi in Lacon, Illinois, continue on with their mission to serve the poor, sick and aged in their apostolates. On August 13, 2016, they will celebrate their 70th anniversary in the United States. There were founded in 1894 in in Budapest, Hungary, by Anna Brunner to serve the poor and the terminally ill, in the compassionate spirit of St. Francis. They came to this country in 1946 from Slovakia and settled in Illinois.

laconThey remain an international congregation serving in Slovakia, Ukraine, Hungary, Romania and the United States in hospitals, nursing homes, hospice, and schools with the same spirit of compassion and the love of God that guided Mother Anna during the congregation’s early years. They seek to serve Christ in His poor, sick and aged brothers and sisters at their nursing home in Lacon, Illinois, and their hospital in Mountain View, Missouri. They are fortified by their union with Christ in the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Liturgy of the Hours, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Rosary, meditation and personal prayer.

We pray that during this celebration year, that God may grant them the grace to fully live out their charism of poverty, humility and a loving union with God.

We will, therefore, so live our religious vocation as to convince all that through our consecration to God we do not become estranged from our fellow men, but that our union with them grows deeper in Christ’s love.