Pro Orantibus: Order of the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts of Jesus and Mary


The IRL is beginning a new series on featuring cloistered and monastic communities to raise awareness of the special gift to the Church which these religious men and women are and also to promote World Day of Cloistered Life. To find out more about the World Day of Cloistered Life which is now less than one month away click here. The first community featured in this series is the Order of the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts of Jesus and Mary. This young community strives to spread devotion to God and mercy for all through prayer, adoration and works of mercy.

The Order of the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts of Jesus and Mary are a contemplative community of religious priests, sisters, brothers and lay members, that serve the Hearts of Jesus and Mary through contemplation, Eucharistic adoration, as well as, works of mercy and compassion. Founded in 1997 their charism is composed of three pillars: contemplation, Eucharistic Adoration and works of mercy.

With contemplation as a pillar of the community, the order is particularly dedicated to prayer. The majority of their day is dedicated to prayer, specifically contemplative prayer. Their life or prayer centers around the Eucharist by celebrating daily Mass and spending hours in front of the Blessed Sacrament which is the second pillar of their charism.

As they spend time before the Blessed Sacrament, the brothers and sisters are transformed by His Presence becoming carriers of His love and in turn pouring out this love on others. They accomplish this through the third pillar of the charism, works of mercy. Members of the Order of the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts of Jesus and Mary offer themselves joyfully and without reserve in order to envelop the whole world in God’s merciful love.

The Relics of St. Maria Goretti on Tour

Awaiting the body of St. Maria Goretti
Awaiting the body of St. Maria Goretti

Last Monday, October 12, the IRL sponsored a pilgrimage to St. John Cantius Church  in Chicago to see and venerate the relics of St. Maria Goretti (1890-1902), the well-beloved saint of purity and forgiveness. The relics are contained in a beautiful glass casket that all are encouraged to approach and kneel before, asking for Maria’s intercession. Along with the relics is a very interesting set of panels describing Maria’s short life and death. The crowds were large but it was so well-organized that it was a very prayerful experience.

This is the first time that Maria’s body has traveled to the United States and only the second time that she has left Italy. The tour began fittingly enough at Sing Sing Prison in New York. It will end on November 11, 2015, in Oklahoma. Click here for the schedule.

On December 8th, the Church will inaugurate the Jubilee Year of Mercy. There is no better embodiment of the spirit of mercy than St. Maria Goretti who on her deathbed forgave her attacker and murderer, Alessandro Serenelli. Not only forgave, she hoped to see him in heaven. While in prison, he experienced a conversion of heart after Maria appeared to him and handed him 14 white lilies, one for each of her stab wounds, and a sign of her forgiveness.

The glass Casket. Her skeletal remains are enclosed in the wax statue
The glass Casket. Her skeletal remains are enclosed in the wax statue

The crowds for Maria’s canonization in 1950 were so large that the Mass was held, for the first time ever, in St. Peter’s Square. Her mother, though frail, was able to attend. After Alessandro’s death, his spiritual testament was found in which he said: “Now I look serenely to the time in which I will be admitted to the vision of God, to embrace my dear ones once again, and to be close to my guardian angel, Maria Goretti, and her dear mother, Assunta.”

Alessandro became a model prisoner and after his early release, became a Capuchin Franciscan lay brother. He also visited Maria’s mother, who told him in essence: “Maria forgives you, God forgives you. How could I not forgive you?”

Forgiveness, as so powerfully witnessed by St. Maria in her final hours, does not mean that we fail to acknowledge the seriousness and all too often devastating effects of harm done to others.  Rather, forgiveness recognizes that, in our hearts, when we are unable to forgive, we make ourselves a victim of the darkness that encompasses hatred and revenge.  Through the intercession of St. Maria, may this pilgrimage open the hearts and minds of many people to Jesus’ life changing gifts of mercy and forgiveness.

–Cardinal Sean O’Malley
Archbishop of Boston


Celebrating the Feast and 500th Anniversary of St. Theresa of Avila

Todayecstasy-of-st-teresa-of-avila-by-bernini the Church celebrates the feast of St. Theresa of Avila, a Spanish mystic and the first female declared a doctor of the Church. The Church is also celebrating the 500th anniversary of her life as St. Theresa of Avila has left a great legacy through her witness, reform and writings.

The 500th anniversary is important because it commemorates the great gift that St. Theresa of Avila has been to the Church. Mother Mary John of the Cross, prioress of Monastery of Mary, Mother of Grace in Lafayette, Louisiana, said, “It is proof of the popularity of St. Teresa of Avila and her namesake, St. Theresa of Lisieux. Both have been named doctors of the church, recognition of their extraordinary influence through their doctrine which embraces all times and places.”

12The legacy of St. Theresa of Avila lives on through her reform of the Carmelites. Mother Mary John of the Cross is a member of the reformed Discalced Carmelites and said, “Her obedience to God’s inspiration, the depth of her love for the Church and all in the service of the Church, have convinced all who love her that she is close to the heart of God,” The nuns at the Monastery of Mary, Mother of Grace dedicate their life and mission to prayer leading contemplative lives that combine both silence and solitude with the familial spirit of Community life.

500 years after her life, St. Theresa of Avila is still admired by the faithful as a shinning example of responding courageously to the Lord. She faced great trials but was never discouraged because she knew, “those who walk closest to Christ were those who had to bear the greatest trials.”


IRL Welcomes New Affiliate: The Sons of Our Mother of Peace

Sons of Our Mother of Peace

The Sons of Our Mother of Peace are the newest affiliate to join the IRL after being approved at the September board meeting. The latest member to join the IRL family is from Missouri and strives to combine an eremitical and contemplative structure of life with a direct spiritual apostolate lived in the context of material simplicity and evangelical poverty.

The Sons of Our Mother of Peace is the religious priest and brother branch of the Society of Our Mother of Peace which was founded in 1966 by Fr. Placid Guste, SMP. Originally established in Oklahoma, the Society moved to Missouri and have since expanded to the Philippines and Nigeria.

CaptureEach member of the community occupies a simple and austere hermitage on their heavily-wooded grounds in Missouri. Their daily schedule includes six hours of solitary prayer divided into three segments. Each day they also come together to celebrate the Eucharist and chant the Divine Office of Morning, Midday and Evening Prayer with the Office of Readings and Night Prayer prayed privately.

Six hours are likewise dedicated to the work of their apostolate which includes making available the Truths of the Catholic Faith primarily to the poor and to all who have not had the Catholic Faith presented to them. Their apostolate finds expression in a two-fold manner. First, by helping persons deepen their spiritual life through individual direction, private retreats, conferences on the spiritual life and associate membership. Secondly, through the full evangelization of non-Catholics and fallen-away Catholics through door-to-door presentation of the Catholic Faith.

Spiritual apostolates and material simplicity are essential elements of the life of the Sons of Our Mother of Peace. Their primary purpose in life, however, is to seek union with God through prayer and penance and the total gift of self.

From Cowboy to Contemplative

joachimJohn Green Hanning (d. 1908) was a headstrong, hot-tempered son of a farmer who became the humble and gentle son of the Mother of God as a Trappist brother at the Abbey of Gethsemane in Kentucky. His story was recounted in the best selling book The Man Who Got Even With God, which is available online from for 99 cents.

John Green Hanning was born in Kentucky in 1849. He wasn’t a bad boy but he had a temper and was stubborn as a mule. After a dispute with his father, he burned the family barn down with all the stored crops inside and ran away from home and headed southwest to be a cowboy. His parents were heartbroken. For nine years, they had no word from their son.

During this time he was far from God and the Church. When he finally came home, he was received with open arms. As the author, Fr. M. Raymond, O.C.S.O, said, “Love is so forgiving and so forgetful.” He eventually came back to the Church, got engaged but determined, much to everyone’s surprise, including himself, that he was called to religious life.

The story of the taming of this wild stallion into the gentle Br. Mary Joachim, O.C.S.O., will astonish and amaze you and finally bring you to tears. Find a used copy or download the kindle version. It’s a timeless story of love, forgiveness and transformation of a man into a gentle giant of faith.

The God of love is never beaten! Somehow, sometime, someplace or through some person He finds a way of stretching out His hand to the boldest, brazenest, blindest, most defiant.

He made a “saint” of John Green Hanning.




Bl. Klara Ludwika Szczesna Beatified

S._Klara_Ludwika_SzczęsnaBack in Rome from his trip to Cuba and the United States, Pope Francis addressed Sister Servants of the Sacred Heart of Jesus from Poland Tuesday. The sisters were in Rome to give thanks for the  recent beatification of the co-foundress, Bl. Klara Ludwika Szczesna.

The Holy Father addressed the Sister Servants of the Sacred Heart of Jesus following catechesis and explained how Bl. Klara is a great witness for all to emulate. He said, “By her life, the new Blessed taught us about giving oneself to God, humble service to neighbors, life according to the spirit of the Gospel, and sensitivity to the poor, to those in need and those who have lost their way in life. May her motto, ‘All for the Heart of Jesus,’ be a challenge for all of us, so that we may live according to God’s will.”

Bl. Klara Ludwika Szczesna was born on July 18, 1863 in Cieszki, Poland. She decided at a young age to dedicate herself to the Lord and entered with the Servants of Jesus, an underground religious congregation as religious orders were forbidden under Russian rule. Her superiors in the Servants of Jesus sent her to Krakow to aid servants there. She shared similar concerns for them that St. Joseph Sebastian Pelczar had and became the co-foundress, first member and superior of the Sister Servants of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

While Bl. Klara Ludwika Szczesna died nearly one hundred years ago in 1916, her memory and extraordinary witness live on as a testament to her faith and great love for the Lord and His children.



Heralds of Holiness and the Traverse City Carmelites

Traverse girls savengerIn the midst of our National Meeting preparations last spring, a kind couple from Michigan came to the office to pick up our Heralds of Holiness exhibit, an 80-panel display showing the ancient roots of the consecrated life, as well as how it is still expressed in our many Affiliate communities today. They brought it to the Carmelite Monastery of the Infant of Prague in Traverse City, Michigan, where it was on display for an open house as part of the celebration for the Year of Consecrated Life.

traverse rearMore than 300 people visited the monastery to tour the nuns’ renovated chapel and to view the exhibit. About 30 young people squeezed into the monastery “speakroom” for a Question and Answer session with the nuns about their cloistered life.

Heralds of Holiness then went on the march, thanks to the efforts of the Carmelites who promoted it around the diocese. It began with a tour of Catholic schools in the diocese of Gaylord, and was viewed by 600 students at St. Francis High School, Traverse City; 55 students at St. Mary’s K-8 school in Kingsley; and by over 230 students and parents at St. Francis Xavier School and St. Michael the Archangel Regional Catholic Academy in Petoskey before the school year ended.

After this, the display traveled to St. Mary of Mt. Carmel Cathedral in Gaylord for viewing by the faithful gathered for the ordination of three transitional deacons and one priest on June 25th. In July, the exhibit went to the National Shrine of the Cross in the Woods.

cross in the woodsI have to admit that I was not familiar with this incredible place of pilgrimage until Heralds of Holiness arrived there. The crucifix on the cross on the hill, at a weight of 7 tons and 28 feet in length, is the largest in the world! The sculptor gave the face of Jesus an expression of great peace and strength to offer everyone who comes to pray there encouragement in the face of their own struggles, a perfect place of pilgrimage for the upcoming Year of Mercy.

If you would like to visit the Carmelite monastery in Traverse City, the chapel is open for prayer and daily mass. Join them for the Triduum of Masses in honor of St. Therese, September 29, 30 and October 1. We pray that Heralds of Holiness awakens in young people a desire to learn more about religious life and result in holy and persevering vocations for the Carmelites as well!

Joyfully Embracing the Garment of Mourning

Sr. Frances Marie of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus receives the Passionist Habit

On the feast of the Assumption, Nora Wenke completed her year of postulancy and began her two years of novitiate which are an intense time of preparation for final vows with the Passionists Nuns of Whitesville, Kentucky. As she embarked on this new time of formation, Nora joyfully received a new name, Sr. Frances Marie of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, the veil of a bride and the Passionist habit.

Sr. Frances Marie of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus has been overwhelmed with gratitude to God for the grace to be clothed in the Holy Passionist habit as it is an outward sign of the gift of her vocation as a Passionist nun. She desires to faithfully, “answer His call-to love and follow Jesus Christ whole-heartedly in religious life.”

074By accepting a new name and the Passionist habit, Sr. Frances Marie is responding to the Lord’s call and Our Lady’s invitation to join her at the foot of the cross. The long black Passionist habit which she now wears is a ‘garment of mourning’ and testimony to her union with the Sorrowful Mother. It is also a symbol of Christ and a reminder of her call to follow Christ crucified.

The Passionists were founded by St. Paul of the Cross who, while returning from Mass one day, saw, “himself clothed in a rough woolen tunic; it was black, and over the heart he saw a white cross beneath which was the Holy Name of Jesus. At the same moment, an interior voice said: ‘This signifies how pure and spotless that heart should be which bears the Holy Name of Jesus engraved upon it'” Passionists like Sr. Frances Marie of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus continue to embrace their habit remembering the passion of Jesus and His great love.

Evangelizing the Peripheries: Pope Francis Canonizes St. Junipero Serra

pope-3-092315As part of his visit to the United States, Pope Francis has canonized the missionary of California, St. Junipero Serra. The canonization marks a new springtime for the new evangelization and an increased effort to proclaim the Gospel to the peripheries.

St. Junipero Serra was born in 1713 on the island of Mallorca off the coast of Spain and joined a Franciscan community at a young age. He quickly garnered notoriety for his intelligence and rich spiritual life. He received the Duns Scotus Chair of philosophy at the prestigious Lullian University, however, he felt called to leave the comfort of his country and desired to go to the New World in order to spread the Gospel there. St. Junipero first worked in Mexico until he was fifty when he accepted an invitation to evangelize what is present-day California. He worked tirelessly to spread the Good News and established missions along the coast from San Diego to San Francisco.

The missions themselves have caused St. Junipero Serra to be a controversial figure with some critics saying that he was an advocate to the oppression of thousands of Native Americans by colonials. Bishop Robert Barron, himself a great evangelist and current auxiliary bishop in California, addressed the controversy in a recent video saying, “What fired his (St. Junipero’s) heart above all was the prospect of announcing the Good News of Jesus Christ to those who had never before heard it, and there is no question that his missions provided the institutional framework for that proclamation.” Bishop Barron emphasized that while St. Junipero was not blameless throughout his life, he was nevertheless a saint who desired to spread the Gospel to people living on the periphery.

During his homily at the Pontifical North American College in May, Pope Francis laid out three key aspects to the life of St. Junipero Serra: his missionary zeal, his Marian devotion and his witness to holiness. The Holy Father said that what motivated St. Junipero Serra to leave everything and journey to the New World was, “his desire to proclaim the gospel ad gentes, that heartfelt impulse which seeks to share with those farthest away the gift of encountering Christ.”

By canonizing St. Junipero Serra during his visit to the United States, Pope Francis is challenging all Catholics to get out of their comfort zone and spread the Good News of Jesus Christ to all, even and especially to those on the peripheries. The Holy Father is also highlighting the vital role which religious men and women played and continue to play in proclaiming the Gospel in the Americas.

New Energy and Direction in Springfield

Rev. James Isaacson, SJC, Rev. Scott Thelander, SJC, and Rev. Kevin Mann, SJC outside Sacred Heart Church.

Three Canons Regular of St. John Cantius, Rev. James Isaacson, SJC, Rev. Scott Thelander, SJC, and Rev. Kevin Mann, SJC, will serve in Springfield, Illinois at the invitation of Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki and blessing of Fr. C. Frank Phillips, CR. The three priests will serve in St. Katharine Drexel Parish which is comprised of two churches, St. Patrick Church and Sacred Heart Church.

Bishop Paprocki knows the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius from his days as chancellor and auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Chicago. He personally witnessed their work at St. John Cantius Church in Chicago as he regularly offered 11 am Latin Mass there. He invited them to serve in Springfield because of the spiritual renaissance and physical restoration he saw occur within the parish. Bishop Paprocki is hopeful that the priests can bring about similar results within St. Katharine Drexel Parish saying that hey have the potential to inject, “new energy and new direction.”

Fr. Isaacson, Fr. Thelander and Fr. Mann will be able to share the charism of their young community within a culturally diverse parish. They will engage in parochial ministry and celebrate the Mass in both forms and in three languages: English, Latin and Spanish. They are prepared to aid the parish which has already seen progress with both churches having undergone recent restoration projects.

St. John Cantius Church in Chicago
St. John Cantius Church in Chicago

By moving to Springfield, Fr. Isaacson, Fr. Thelander and Fr. Mann hope to carry out the mission of the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius within the context of parish ministry, which is, “to help Catholics rediscover a profound sense of the sacred through solemn liturgies, devotions, sacred art, sacred music, as well as instruction in Church heritage, catechetics, and Catholic culture.”

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