Carmelite friars conducted a “ministry of presence” at Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 29, the day that protests erupted around the country over President Trump’s travel ban targeting seven majority-Muslim countries. The friars’ action segued into a spontaneous interfaith prayer service with a Muslim imam.
Brothers Matthew Gummess, Mikhail Woodruff, and Kevin Keller "wandered through the crowd to hear stories, share hope, and offer a friendly prayerful presence,” reports the Order of Carmelites blog. “Brother Mikhail was a voice of kindness and impartiality in conversation with reporters. Brother Matthew offered moral support and chocolates to travelers, airport staff, security, lawyers, and anybody who might need a little boost.”
After they met Imam Yahya Hendi, the Muslim chaplain at Georgetown University, who was also at the airport, the four agreed to hold an immediate joint prayer service.
“Together with the Imam, those present were called to prayer by Brother Matthew with some verses of 'Amazing Grace.' Brother Mikhail invoked the presence of God in a warm and hospitable prayer. Then Imam Hendi passionately prayed on behalf of the gathering—roughly 50 people from diverse faiths—offering words of peace, justice, and integrity,” the Carmelites report.
Seeing the Spirit at work in the world
Carmelite friars conducted a “ministry of presence” at Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 29, the day that protests erupted around the country over President Trump’s travel ban targeting seven majority-Muslim countries. The friars’ action segued into a spontaneous interfaith prayer service with a Muslim imam.
Photographer Toni Greaves spent seven years documenting the transformation of "Lauren" into "Sister Maria Teresa of the Sacred Heart," and her sensitive, beautifully rendered images reveal much about the usually hidden world of cloistered religious life.
Three weeks after Lauren joined the Dominican Nuns of Summit, New Jersey, Greaves began taking photos. They show her entry into a world very distinct from her full life as a college student who played sports, had a boyfriend, and once dreamed of marriage and children.
"This story is a window into her early love of God," writes Greaves in the resulting photobook Radical Love. "The story also reveals her daily life over the years and her interactions living within a small community of nuns who are themselves in various stages of their own spiritual paths."
A Nun’s Life Ministry—an online initiative to help people discover and grow in their vocations—is celebrating its 10-year anniversary with a cross-country trip Oct. 15-22.
The trip begins at A Nun’s Life headquarters in Toledo, Ohio and will end in Silicon Valley, a nod to the ministry’s use of technology, including anunslife.org and social media outlets ranging from Facebook to Snapchat.
During the trip, the staff of A Nun’s Life will interact with its global online community and will sponsor two live-streamed public podcasts:
● “Praying with the Sisters” will be broadcast from New Mexico on Monday, Oct. 17, at 5 pm ET. Viewers can join the sisters online for prayer and for conversation in the chat room.
● An “Ask Sister - Motherhouse Road Trip” podcast will be broadcast from California on Friday, Oct. 21, at 5 pm ET. The podcast will feature guests Sisters Cynthia Canning and Sally Gunn of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary.
The trip’s major stops will be in Chicago, Albuquerque, and three California cities: Cupertino, Campbell, and San Rafael.
Sister Maxine Kollasch, I.H.M., who co-founded A Nun’s Life with Sister Julie Vieira, I.H.M. in 2006, explained why they are undertaking the trip: “We want to celebrate the 10th anniversary by sharing the joy, adventure, and innovative spirit that’s at the heart of A Nun’s Life.”
The October journey continues a tradition of outreach through travel for A Nun’s Life Ministry, which sponsored a series of “Motherhouse Roadtrips” starting in 2013 that involved broadcasts from convents around the country.
VISION Vocation Guide featured the ministry’s founders in 2015: "Online door never closes on discerners".
The Letters, a film about the life of Mother Teresa of Calcutta (1910-1997), portrays an intimate struggle with hope and despair by one of the most famous religious humanitarians of the 20th century. The story follows Mother Teresa's life as told through her revealing letters to her spiritual director Father Celeste van Exem. The reviews of the film were mixed, but the movie interestingly delves into many aspects of religious life and different types of religious communities.
The film begins with Mother Teresa's first congregation, Loreto Sisters of Dublin, who served in Darjeeling, India, as cloistered teachers of girls. After 15 years of service teaching geography and history, Mother Teresa experienced "a call within a call." She desired to work with the poor, sick, and dying on the streets of Calcutta.
The movie highlights the challenges she faced to establish a new religious community, the Missionaries of Charity, that was fully recognized by the Vatican. Despite her desire to give dignity to those most vulnerable, Mother Teresa experienced deep spiritual darkness at times, which is well-depicted.
The Letters is available on DVD and Netflix. Mother Teresa's canonization ceremony will be Sept. 4, 2016.
A dictionary for discerners is a great reference resource to help understand parts of the film.
Holy Face cloistered nun Sister Benedicta was recently awarded a doctoral degree in aerospace engineering from India’s Defence Institute of Advanced Technology.
She previously earned an undergraduate degree at St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai and a master’s degree in aerospace engineering from Pune University. It was during her doctoral studies that she heard her calling to religious life, according to Crux.
Sister Benedicta joined the cloistered Carmelite convent in Pune in 2015. Sister Benedicta's graduation was the very first time she had stepped outside the convent since entering.
The Carmelite provincial, based in Bangalore, emailed Sister Benedicta and the entire Carmelite community, saying: “You have made the order proud,” and “God bless you!”
Read more here.
In May, 61 cloistered nuns from six monasteries in Santiago, Chile, spent time with inmates at a local women's prison and attended Mass with them, as part of this Year of Mercy. Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati, who celebrated the Mass, shared with Catholic News Agency that the nuns requested the joint visit, “so the sisters who contemplate the face of God every day in prayer could contemplate him in the face of people who are suffering, going through a hard time in their lives.”
The nuns, who lead a traditional enclosed monastic life, sang a Chilean song and four even danced after they all celebrated Mass. "[It was] a grace to share with them, to really feel like a sister with them, to feel their sorrow, their joy and to become one with them,” said Sister Maria Rosa of the Discalced Carmelites from the San José monastery.
Read more here.
The Year of Mercy runs through November 2016.
A delegation from the School Sisters of Notre Dame attended the 66th annual United Nations Conference for Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) from May 30 to June 1 in Korea. The theme of the conference was “Education for Global Citizenship: Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals Together".
Sister Eileen Reilly, director of the SSND UN-NGO office, said, “We are hoping that our participation in this conference with more than 1,800 delegates from around the world will give us a deeper understanding of what it means to educate for global citizenship in our divided world.”
Along with Sister Reilly, Sister Gloria Hirai, of Japan, and Sister Lourdes Pangelinan, of Guam, also attended the conference and worked with diplomats, United Nations officials, policy experts, scientists, educators, businesses, trade unions, parliamentarians, and local authorities.
Throughout the conference, the sisters and their colleagues sought to promote change that empowers women, the young, and the poor and marginalized and addresses systems of poverty and injustice.
Read more here.
Father Sabino Maffeo, S.J., assistant to the director of the Vatican Observatory, recently discovered the names of four Sisters of the Holy Child who helped map a section of the night sky that was assigned, as part of an international project, to the Vatican Observatory in 1887. Italian Sisters Emilia Ponzoni, Regina Colombo, Concetta Finardi, and Luigia Panceri helped catalog nearly half a million stars. Using photographic plates, the Vatican Observatory, along with 19 other countries, mapped the entire sky.
In 1920 Pope Benedict XV received the sisters in a private audience and gave them a gold chalice. Pope Pius XI also received the "measuring nuns" eight years later, awarding them a silver medal.
Over the centuries, there have been many monasteries that have made and sold wine and beer. In recent years, with craft breweries becoming all the rage in the United States, some beer-brewing monks are tapping into the trend, according to the Los Angeles Times, namely the American monks who produce a beer line called Birra Nursia at the Monastero di San Benedetto in central Italy.
“I knew the difference between craft beer and run-of-the-mill factory beer,” says Father Benedict Nivakoff, originally from Connecticut, who is proud of Birra Nursia’s two beers, a blond ale and a Belgian strong ale that hit the U.S. market in April. “Our life is mostly centered around prayer,” he says, “so we get up at 3:30 in the morning, we pray seven times a day, we’re in and out of the church every hour—there isn’t a lot else we can do, besides the brewery.”
Another popular beer brewed by monks is Ovila Abbey Saison—this one in the United States. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. brews the Ovila Abbey Ales series in collaboration with the Trappist monks of Abbey of New Clairvaux. These Cistercian brothers harvest fruit for the beer from their orchards in Vina, California, where they also tend vineyards for wine-making.
Read more: "Raise a glass to the brewing monks!".
Portrait photos of Hawthorne Dominican Sisters were recently featured in the New York Times, profiling those who serve the dying at Rosary Hill Home in Hawthorne, New York. Founder Mother Mary Alphonsa, born Rose Hawthorne Lathrop, daughter of American author Nathaniel Hawthorne, said, "We cannot cure our patients, but we can assure the dignity and value of their final days and keep them comfortable and free of pain."
The photographer Gillian Laub learned of the sisters when her mother-in-law was suffering from terminal cancer and spent her final days with the sisters. Laub wanted to capture the tenderness and care in the eyes and faces of these Hawthorne Dominican Sisters in the 15 portraits of each woman.
View the slideshow of the portraits and original article here.
Discover more about Dominican Sisters (O.P.) here.
The Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena have had a long, tumultuous history in Iraq, and now as many Iraqi Christians are fleeing the region, their role there has become even more important. Along with continuing their service work in the community, they are seen as a symbol of hope and resistance in an area full of violence. The mission of the sisters is to serve all Iraqis equally, no matter their religion.
According to the Order of Preachers, the first Dominican priest visited Iraq in 1235, and in 1873, six French Dominican sisters set up a convent there. They've remained ever since--during World War I, when Christians were persecuted under Turks and their Kurdish allies, and after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, when killing and looting became commonplace. Through it all, the sisters have not stopped serving the people
They have set up schools, hospitals, urgent care centers, and maternity wards, and even trained nurses to work in the government health sector. While some of these buildings have been forced to close, others remain open despite constant bombing and ransacking.
Sister Maryanne Pierre, the manager of St. Raphael Hospital in Baghdad, said in an interview with CBS News, "This is my job to stay here to help people. ... It's our duty to stay here for all the people."
The Benedictine Monks of St. John's Abbey in Collegeville, MN, led by Fr. Columba Steward, O.S.B. and the staff at the Hill Museum and Manuscript Libray, are helping to preserve precious Islamic literary works that were threatened with destruction by militants in Mali, reports The Economist.
The secret evacuations began at night. Ancient books were packed in small metal shoe-lockers and loaded three or four to a car to reduce the danger to the driver and minimise possible losses. The manuscript-traffickers passed through the checkpoints of their Islamist occupiers on the journey south across the desert from Timbuktu to Bamako. Later, when that road was blocked, they transported their cargo down the Niger river by canoe.
The man behind the project was Abdel Kader Haidara. In 2013 he put out a request for help to digitize the more than 370,000 manuscripts, including Korans, Hadiths, and studies on grammar and rhetoric, that were brought to safe houses. He received an answer from a monastery on the other side of the world.
Father Columba sees digitizing these sacred texts as part of the Benedictine tradition of literary preservation dating from the sixth century when St. Benedict of Nursia set down his Rule. “We had scriptoria for very practical reasons,” referring to the “writing places” of medieval European monasteries. “You can’t do theology without philosophy,” he says, standing in his own 21st-century equivalent. “You can’t try to be a self-sustaining monastery if you can’t take science seriously.” So, as a policy, any relevant text was copied. Over one and a half millennia, knowledge has been a matter of survival for the Benedictines, allowing one collective to pick up where another left off, in low times and in high. Today, thanks to machines, the library is copying more efficiently.
“Benedictines are fundamentally optimistic about the human project, says Fr. Columba. "That’s why we’re not frightened by science or novelty. When people look at what we’re doing with Muslim communities, they say, why do you do this? I say, this is the time God has given us. We can’t pretend we live in the sixth century when Benedict wrote his rule, or the 13th, or the 1950s. We live now. And part of the reality is cultures which are threatened trying to figure out how to work together on this fragile planet.”
And so, "guided by a Christian teacher from the sixth century, monks of the 21st century archive texts about an Arabian prophet from the seventh."
Founded in 1991 by the late Cardinal John J. O’Connor, the Sisters of Life are an emotional and spiritual outreach to pregnant women in crisis in New York City. As a contemplative and active religious community, the sisters' charism is to “protect and enhance the sacredness of human life.” Pregnant women are welcome at the congregation's Visitation Mission and its Holy Respite residence at Sacred Heart Convent, and some are permitted to stay in the residence until their babies are one year old.
“One of the reasons for the joy in the community is we believe each person has some beautiful, unique goodness and we have the joy of discovering that in them and reflecting it back so she has the experience of her own dignity, goodness and strength,” Sister Mary Elizabeth said. “That person becomes a gift to us in our recognizing her for who she is. She reveals to us the splendor and beauty of God.”
The sisters do not advertise and rely on word-of-mouth from friends and former clients to share the mission of their community.
Read more from Catholic News Service here.
The 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Ecuador on April 17 has taken the lives of more than 400 people, including Servant Sisters of the Home of the Mother Sister Clare Theresa Crockett, age 33, and six others of the order.
According to Catholic News Agency, Sister Crockett, originally from Derry, Northern Ireland, once said she felt there was "no room for God" in the Catholic-Protestant tension and violence of her youth. At 18 she was an aspiring actress, but a free trip to Spain that turned out to be a 10-day pilgrimage, which she tried to get out of, changed her life. "It was Our Lady’s way of bringing me back home, back to her and her Son,” she said. “I was not a very happy camper. Nevertheless, it was on that pilgrimage that Our Lord gave me the grace to see how He had died for me on the Cross. After I had received that grace, I knew that I had to change." Sister Crockett entered the Servant Sisters in August 2001 and made her perpetual vows in 2011.
Spiritual director Father Roland Calhoun told BBC Radio Foyle (Belfast Telegraph) that Sister Crockett was "a young girl who gave her life to God and died for the gospel. She was a joyful girl, I've known her since she was a teenager. A beautiful person. I'll remember the joy that she brought to her youth group and the enthusiasm she showed for her vocation to religious life."
Philly.com recently profiled Villanova University's Father Rob Hagan, an Augustinian who works as associate athletic director and chaplain for the men's basketball and football teams. Villanova basketball players, who clinched the national championship this year with a buzzer-beating shot, attribute much of their success to Father Hagan and his counseling on and off the court.
"He's our rock," said senior guard Ryan Arcidiacono. "He's unbelievable. He keeps us humble. And you can turn to him in any situation. It's not about him being a priest. It's about the person. He never turns you down."
Hagan is a graduate of Villanova himself. After a career as a successful criminal defense attorney, he decided he would become an Augustinian priest. He says he has no big conversion story, it was just a natural evolution. The message of the Augustinians resonated with him, specifically because of Saint Augustine's life journey.
He says, "I was 10 years removed from my time at Villanova. I'd met some interesting dudes in my work. What was appealing to me about the Augustinians is, they were just like regular guys. They weren't just on their knees in prayer all the time. They were teachers, they were out with the people. It was more down to earth. That planted a seed in my mind. [Saint Augustine] was a sinner before he was a saint. He went around the block a few times before figuring it out, if you know anything about him. He wasn't perfect."
"He has an impact, on all of us," Coach Jay Wright said. "I usually use my pregame talk to reference what he talked about in his homily. The humility of this team, the spirit of this team, really comes from him. When we're out there shooting, he's shooting. He gets what athletes are about, what college students are about, about what we're trying to do. He has an incredible ability to mix his faith and religion into what we do. So it resonates with the guys."
The Sisters of Bon Secours have launched an amazing, eye-catching, heartstring-pulling app, Imagine a Sister's Life, to explore what religious life is all about and what it would be like to be a sister. The free app includes daily reflections, blogs, news and views, faith sharing, virtual retreats, upcoming events, and stories about how sisters were called and their passion for their vocation.
The sisters developed the app to create a place "where a busy young seeker of truth can pause to reflect on the meaning of life, pray in silence, and read articles and thought-provoking commentary on world conditions and social justice efforts."
What's more, "Young adults can share their thoughts online and share opportunities to get involved in helping those unable to help themselves. The application gives them a gentle reminder of the presence of God in their life and provides many areas of support and knowledge as they continue to grow through their life experiences. For those interested in learning more about religious life there are a variety of professional videos that give them a sense of what an active life in community and ministry looks like as a sister."
Check out this app with these download links:
ImagineASistersLife APP on iPhone:
ImagineASistersLife APP on android phone:
The sisters said, "Based on current world conditions, the millennials will be called upon over the course of their lifetime to make many serious moral and ethical decisions both in their own lives and in protecting the health and well-being of others globally. It is hoped that this application proves to be a strong support for young adults, creating an online community that enriches their journey of faith."
According to the Amsterdam News, the Franciscan Handmaids of the Most Pure Heart of Mary are celebrating a century of service in Harlem, New York, with a gala at the New York Academy of Medicine in Manhattan. One of only three orders of black nuns in the United States, they established one of the first preschool educational programs in New York in 1923 and feed more than 20,000 families annually at the St. Edward Food Pantry on Staten Island.
With six new sisters in formation and the opening of a new convent in Nigeria, the sisters believe, as shared by congregation minister Sister Gertrude Lilly Ihenacho, that “the mission of the order has not yet ended, and the spirit informed us to wake up and revive what is left before we die.”
Essence magazine editor-in-chief emerita and founder and CEO of the National CARES Mentoring Movement Susan L. Taylor will present the Centennial Award to the Franciscan Handmaids of the Most Pure Heart of Mary at the gala, which Sister Ihenacho hopes will have a wonderful turnout as the proceeds benefit scholarships for children to attend St. Benedict Day Nursery with the next generation of FHM sisters.
The Press of Atlantic City reports that Father Krzysztof Wtorek brings together God and music with his rock-gospel choir at Epiphany Church in Longport, New Jersey. With six women singers, he transforms traditional hymns into rockin’ beats with programmed bass and drum sounds. He also uses a keyboard and a Fender Stratocaster to move parishioners and touch their hearts with music.
Father Wtorek was a musician as a teen, but when he came to the United States in 1988 and entered the seminary, he thought his life as a musician was over. Instead, he has found himself creating updated arrangements of hymns, using a variety of instruments and computer software.
He will lead an international rock-gospel group of singers and musicians from the United States, Germany, and Poland this summer. The group will perform for Pope Francis at World Youth Day, which will be held July 25-31, 2016.
"This is really evangelization," he said of his music. "You can be happy. You can be peaceful. You can be meditative. I believe in that. I put my life into that."
Vatican Radio reports that Father Edwin Gariguez of the Philippines received an award for environmental heroism from the Jesuit-run Xavier University in Cincinnati. He has battled against a nickel mine in order to protect Mindoro Island’s biodiversity and the indigenous people in the area.
Father Roberto Yap, university president, said that Father Gariguez's ministry is an inspiring response to Pope Francis challenge "to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor."
Father Gariguez was also awarded a doctorate in humanities for his efforts. He received the award during the university’s graduation ceremony, where he also delivered the keynote address.
This is not the first time he has been recognized for his environmental efforts. He won the Goldman Environmental Prize, the world’s largest award for grassroots environmental activists, and he is the executive secretary of CBCP-NASSA, the social development, humanitarian, and advocacy arm of the Catholic Church in the Philippines.
During the third annual National Catholic Sisters Week (March 8-14), women religious are being celebrated in a series of events at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota, and beyond. NCSW is a week-long chance to recognize, focus on, and honor the lives of women religious and the incredible example and difference they have made in the world in a variety of online and local events; check out the entire list here.
According to the Global Sisters Report, co-executive directors of NCSW Molly Hazelton and Dominican Sister Mary Soher said NCSW is an opportunity for the larger community to get to know about the sisters all around them.
"We have found again and again . . . young women—whether they consider themselves religious or not—they're just in awe of these sisters," said Christina Capecchi, a spokesperson for NCSW. "They're blogging about their relationships with them, they just admire the sisters so much. . . . Of course, their work with social justice, that really excites the young women we work with. To these girls, they're heroes."
Brother Joseph Maria, of the South Bend, Indiana, Franciscan Brothers Minor, jogs around town in his brown woolen robe and sandals, sporting a beard and shaved head, according to the South Bend Tribune.
This friar, along with five others, are among the subgroup within the Franciscan order established by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades (Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend) six years ago. The brother friars are fully recognized by the church but are going through the steps to gain more jurisdiction over themselves. Like Saint Francis of Assisi, living simply to focus on service to the gospel, these brothers focus on prayer, work with a Mishawaka youth group, and religious education at a nearby parish.
Brother Joseph struggled with whether to continue jogging as a friar, but decided that running in his robe is an outward sign that the brothers continue the "walk" of Saint Francis. As they have no income, the brothers walk for transportation and beg for what goods and foods they need.
Learn more about the Franciscans Friars here.
WUSA9 News profiled Father Joseph Jensen, a 91-year-old monk at St. Anselm's Abby in Washington, D.C.. He is an author and teacher who has given his all to his faith. Father Jensen says, "God expects us to be doing something good in the world. All of us are given gifts and the gifts are not for ourselves; they're for other people, and we should be using them for that."
Learn about his way of life in the full video segment above.
According to The Global Sisters Report, when Pope Francis visits San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico, he will read from scripture and pray in the languages of the Tzotzil and Tzeltal, two ethnic Mayan groups, and he will address issues of inequality, indigenous rights, and migration, in what is Mexico’s poorest state.
Sister Manuela Hernández Núñez, a nun with Misioneros Crecares Diocesanas, says the pope's outreach to indigenous people is important since many have left the Catholic Church in recent years.
Sister Nora Gonzalez, a Tzotzil and a member of the order Hermanas de la Caridad de la Presenacion de la Santisima Virgen, adds, "If the people listen to him, maybe they will change and return to church because he has made it clear he is open to anyone. If they hear his call, their faith will get stronger. Right now there are many divisions and differences of opinion. Right now, I think everybody fights over everything. I believe the main message of the pope will be compassion and peace and coming together of both men and women of all faiths."
Sister Núñez is inspired by the pope’s inclusiveness and hopes that his visit will help inspire others to come back to the church. "His visit will be a confirmation of faith," she says. "In that way, we will get stronger."
The Global Post profiled Sister Mary Dillon, a a 70-year-old nun from Ireland, who has been caring for HIV/AIDS patients in Kachin, Myanmar for more than a decade. Since the country held democratic elections, there have been promises of peace and justice, but for the Kachin people, these promises seem empty.
As an ethic minority in the north, many from Kachin turn to one of 40 camps for internally displaced people (IDPs). Among these is The Hope Center, a shelter for impoverished people with AIDS and HIV. It currently provides care and medicine to nearly 80 people, ranging in age from 1 to 54. The center serves about 520 people a year.
“Life is very hard; very cruel here,” says Sister Dillon, who opened the center in 2005 after two years of making house calls. “[Myanmar's government] is not a government for the people—it's a government for themselves.”
Along with little government support, the lack of medicine and health education as well as high rates of drug addiction in the area are worsening the problem. With stigmas surrounding HIV and AIDS, Sister Dillon has created her own "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy at The Hope Center. She seeks to help anyone and everyone who comes through her door.
“We don't ask questions here. This is not a hospital. This is a home where people who are discriminated [against] are welcome,” she says. “Whether you are KIA [Kachin Independence Army] or Burmese army or Christian or Buddhist, we are all one here.”
On Jan. 20, six novices of the Sisters of Our Lady of Sion pronounced their first vows in Jerusalem as the Year of Consecrated Life concluded (officially on Feb. 2). Novices Alejandra, Clara, Joey, Victoria, Rozeni, and Arlyne are originally from Costa Rica, Brazil, the Philippines, and Egypt.
In taking these three-year vows, the novices embrace the Sisters of our Lady of Sion charism: "to work against all forms of racism, oppression, and marginalization." In each of its ministries, particularly Jewish-Christian and other interfaith relations, the sisters seek to respond to the biblical call to freedom and the imperative to “hear the cries of the poor."
View the celebration and commitment to consecrated life in the Christian Media Center's video below:
A new play, "The Glory of the World," by Charles Mee, being staged at New York's Brooklyn Academy of Music, explores the life of Trappist monk, mystic, and philosopher Thomas Merton. The New York Times reports that the play is set at a 100th birthday party for Merton, where the guests take turns arguing about how to describe the life and works of "a prolific writer, a champion of nonviolence, and a friend to Eastern religions before dying at 53 of an accidental electrocution in Thailand."
A former Episcopal monk and lottery winner, Roy Cockrum, of Knoxville, Tennessee, is financing the production. During his time as a monk, Cockrum lived a vow of poverty and always said if he were to come into money, he would donate to theater.
Read more here about this production celebrating Thomas Merton, who, along with Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., and Dorothy Day, was the subject of Pope Francis' recent address to Congress.
Discover more about Trappists monks and nuns here.
According to the New York Times, Sister Elisabeth Anne has visited the Hunts Point Produce Market in the Bronx every Wednesday for the past 35 years. The 76-year-old squeezes fruit and greets the workers as she shops for food to prepare at the Queen of Peace Residence in Queens Village, where she lives and works. There is one difference to this shopping though: Sister Elisabeth Anne does not pay for the food. Instead, she solicits donations from the businesses that sell their goods at the market.
She remembers the first time, in 1979, she was told to ask for the generosity of others. “To go out and be a beggar was the worst thing you could ever ask me to do,” she said. “I cried my heart out for two weeks.”
She is now a regular and rarely misses a trip to the market, where she has become a favorite. “It’s got a bad rap, it’s tough down here, it’s the Bronx,” said one of the marketing directors for D’Arrigo Brother’s Company of New York, “but she makes people rethink what kind of community it is. Everybody loves dealing with her.”
Donations from businesses, parishes, and foundations help to keep the Queen of Peace Residence going. The home shelters and feeds 85 low-income older adults and 19 nuns, who also live in the building serving the residents. It is one of 197 homes around the world run by the Little Sisters of the Poor, an order whose mission is to support the elderly poor.
Resident Winnie Valcancick, 78, moved in recently and is very grateful to have a safe and friendly environment to live in. “It’s very scary as you get older and you’re not financially equipped to pay the rents that New Yorkers have to pay,” she said.
As Sister Elisabeth Anne walks around the dining room, she smiles and says she has learned to love her role. “I’m the last on the ladder; I’m the lowest,” she said. “I’m the director of nothing except my life. Beggar. That’s my title.”
Don't miss your chance to learn about the newest generation of Catholic sisters and why we need them now more than ever at one more upcoming gathering. Hear remarkable stories from these modern women who have answered the call, and learn how they perceive their mission.
The fourth and final "Today Catholic Sisters" symposium will be held on Jan. 23, 2016 from 9 am to noon at the Rose Hills Auditorium, on the Doheny Campus, Mount Saint Mary’s University, in Los Angeles, California.
The National Religious Vocation Conference organized the "Today's Catholic Sisters" events taking place across the country over the past several months. Featured speakers include various young sisters as well as the authors of New Generations of Catholic Sisters: Sister Mary Johnson, S.N.D.deN.; Sister Patricia Wittberg, S.C.; and Dr. Mary Gautier. A Q&A session and raffle follows the main presentation, and refreshments are served.
All are invited to attend. RSVP here.
According to ABC News, Sister Mary Mark of St. Paul, Minnesota, just celebrated her 105th birthday and has no intention of slowing down her ministry of sending letters to inmates in correctional facilities, which she has been doing for more than 20 years.
She said she enjoys writing the letters and explains, "They're in prison, but they're working. They hope to make it.”
Kathleen Conrad, the pastoral care coordinator of Carondelet Village in St. Paul, said, "I think at one point she was writing to about 50 prisoners. When she was 89 years old, she was called down to Oklahoma to testify on behalf of a prisoner on death row because she had been writing to him for such a long time."
Sister Mark offers love and encouragement to the inmates, letting them know that someone is thinking about them. Each of them sends her photos, which she hangs on her bulletin board. She has no plans to stop writing, saying, “As long as I can write, I’ll do it.”
The Sisters of the Good Shepherd Maria Droste Contemplative Community is one of six contemplative communities invited by the Archdiocese of St. Louis to open their doors as a pilgrimage site during the Year of Mercy.
Sister Elizabeth Garciano, the local leader for the Maria Droste Contemplative Community in St. Louis recently blogged about the official blessing by Bishop Edward M. Rice and the great opportunity and privilege it is for them to serve the community at large during this Jubilee Year.
Being a pilgrimage site near Ferguson, Missouri, "in the midst of racial tension" allows the sisters to continue to be an affirmation of missionary life as well as a witness to God's mercy and reconciliation, Garciano says. Additionally, she shares, being a pilgrimage site allows people to get closer to God through Mass, morning and evening prayer, Stations of the Cross, praying the Rosary, and eucharistic adoration.
The Sisters of the Good Shepherd Year of Mercy pilgrimage site event is listed on the VISION Events Calendar. Join the sisters at the Maria Droste Contemplative Community for prayer and Mass during the following times throughout the Year of Mercy:
Weekly Sunday morning prayer 9 a.m.
Sunday Mass 9:30 a.m.
Daily Monday to Friday Mass 7 a.m.
Daily Monday to Friday morning prayer 7:30 a.m.
Bart Zavaletta teaches "Theology 12: Responding to the Call of Jesus Christ" at Skutt Catholic High School in Omaha, Nebraska, and he learned about VISION Vocation Match, a tool that connects vocation discerners with religious communities that match their interests, through a simple Google search. He was looking for resources for a career connection project he assigned to his class of seniors. Vocation Match turned out to be a great tool for them to learn about religious life and discerning vocation.
Zavaletta had his students go through the VISION Vocation Match process in class so he could answer their questions about types of communities. Zavaletta had the students chose one of their matches and create a marketing poster for that community, which focused on its charism.
Check out some of VISION's other resources for teachers, youth ministers, and DREs here.
The cloistered Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters of Philadelphia have worked in shifts to ensure nonstop prayer for more than 100 years, according to The Huffington Post, but now, with the numbers entering their order declining, the sisters have been reaching out to the community at large to recruit members for the next 100 years.
From banners outside the convent to interviews with news reporters to invitations to schools, the order is working to see growth in new, younger members. "We rarely reached out for vocation promotion before the centennial. But now we want young ladies to see how beautiful the life is and how truer the joy when it is without the trappings of material things," said Holy Spirit Adoration Sister Maria Clarissa.
The order began in Holland in 1896. In 1915, nine of the original sisters in Holland left the motherhouse to come to Philadelphia. Currently there are about 420 Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters living in 22 convents in 12 countries, including three convents in the United States: St. Louis, Missouri; Corpus Christi, Texas; and Lincoln, Nebraska. The sisters wear rose-colored habits, which are meant to call attention to the joy they feel honoring the Holy Spirit and the Blessed Sacrament, the focus of their perpetual adoration.
While they live a life of private prayer, the sisters also manage a hotline where people can call in for advice. It helps many on the other end to know that there are people praying for them and people who care, "no matter what their need may be."
Although they live a simple life, they do indulge a bit sometimes. "We try to be as simple as possible so we can focus on the Lord," explained Sister Mary Angelica. "We are simple in everything, even meals—though on special occasions, we have ice cream."
In December, former gang member Brother Cesar John Paul Galan made his perpetual profession of vows as a member of the Friars of the Sick Poor of Los Angeles at St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood, California, surrounded by his proud family and friends, according to the Tidings. St. Francis Medical Center is also where, in 2001, his brother Hector died from gun violence and Galan himself was left a paraplegic.
Because of this tragedy, Galan experienced an 'aha' moment of realizing what God intended for him: consecrated life. A few months later during a journey to Lourdes, France, he asked people there, “Am I ever going to get out of this wheelchair? Am I going to go back home walking?” He started praying for that miracle to happen but received an unexpected blessing instead: forgiveness of the person who killed his brother and hurt him, and he left the gang life of his adolescence behind.
Brother Galan will continue studying to become a priest at St. John's Seminary and preparing to serve in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
On Monday the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life released a 54-page document, “Identity and Mission of the Religious Brother in the Church,” that "addresses the identity of the religious brother in three ways: First, as a mystery of a gift received; second, as a communion of a gift shared; and, third, as a mission of a gift to be given away," according to the National Catholic Reporter.
Although not ordained as priests, brothers serve priestly roles in their ministries to the sick, the youth in schools, and the poor in body and spirit. It is important to note that these sentiments about brothers apply to religious women, too, as their consecrated lives are similar.
Crux reports that worldwide there are about 55,000 brothers in the Catholic Church today, a much smaller total than either priests (415,000) or nuns (705,000), though roughly comparable to the number of permanent deacons (42,000).
In this way of consecrated life of service, religious brothers become part of various communities of different orders, societies, or congregations, fulfilling the title of "brother" Jesus preached for himself and his apostles.
Read another report on the Vatican document from Vatican Radio here.
For further information and reflection, read VISION's current and archived articles on Brothers.
The Telegraph reports that Sister Rita Lee is set to star in her own five-part BBC One series, "Sister Rita to the Rescue." To locals in Manchester, England, Sister Rita is known as “Attila the Nun” because of her strength in advocating for those often forgotten in society, especially in her inner-city neighborhood, Collyhurst.
Originally from Cork, Ireland, Sister Rita, 70, characterizes her adopted community as “real life at the raw edge” but see strength in it, too, saying, “People here are the salt of the earth.” When asked if she is ever fearful in her neighborhood, she explained, “If anyone said boo to me, they’d all be at the door, reassuring me. I know the Collyhurst people inside out. They’re wonderful.”
Her leadership style is fair but firm, and based in her Catholic faith. She says, “We must help one another in this life. It’s the commandment. We can’t just go on our own. 'Take the shirt off your back and give it to somebody.' That’s where I come from.”
At the age of 13, she began to hear her call when two nuns from Manchester came to her school in Cork to discuss vocation. They talked about Manchester, the poverty there, and a nursery in which they cared for children. At the age of 18, Rita joined a convent in Manchester and went on to work in the convent school. When the school closed, she worked in various other charitable organizations and eventually ended up in her current home of Collyhurst.
She is excited about the show airing but hopes viewers understand the message. "There’s a bit of a hype about all this, and there’s nothing hype about here," she said. "There’s nobody here above anyone else. We are all on the same level. And that’s it."
Sister Mary Killeen, R.S.M., an Irish Sister of Mercy, who has been working in the slums of Kenya for the past 30 years, was chosen to address Pope Francis during his visit there this past week. Sister Mary told the Pontiff of the adversity the people of the slums face to achieve an education and self-sufficiency, not the least of which is rampant corruption and landgrabbing. Sister Mary thanked Francis for visiting their poor community, "Your visit gives us courage. By coming here, you shine a light on the challenges. Your meeting with us gives us dignity."
Follow Sister Mary's blog of her life in Kenya. Or better yet, join her in her work among the poor!
The Wall Street Journal recently profiled Sister Jannette Marie Pruitt, who is now a nun, but also the mother of three, grandmother of seven, great-grandmother of two, and one of two black Catholic nuns in the order of the Sisters of St. Francis.
She was educated by nuns and always active in her parish, even as she got older. Pruitt knew she wanted to become a nun when she was younger, but growing up in Mississippi in the 1950s her race was a factor and she was discouraged from joining an order.
When she was 47, she reconsidered this calling. At first, she thought it was a crazy dream, but when she saw an announcement in her parish bulletin calling for members of the black community who were interested in religious life to attend a weekend retreat and meet different orders. She went and spoke with Sister Marge Wissman who is a member of the Sisters of St. Francis in Oldenburg, Indiana.
She explored other orders as well, but eventually she knew she had found the right fit with them, explaining, “The Sisters of St. Francis were very fun-loving and outgoing,”
The process of becoming a nun took years, which was good, says Sister Jannette, because she needed time to adjust to the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. She explained she needed to adjust her lifestyle a bit because she loved shoes, clothes, and spoiling her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, but she gained much more than she gave up.
She is now a coordinator of the Black Catholic Ministry for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, which helps organize programs for black Catholics. She also sits on the board of the National Black Sisters’ Conference and was twice nominated for the Harriet Tubman award, honoring a sister who is “Moses of Her People.”
The balance between religious life and family life may seem daunting to some, but Sister Jannette finds joy in both, saying, “I have two vocations. My life is full.”
The Catholic News Service reports that Pope Francis urged priests and their superiors to remember their roots and acknowledge the families and communities that support them throughout their spiritual journeys. Addressing a group of priests and bishops, he said, “You cannot be a priest believing that you were created in a laboratory. No, it begins in the family with the tradition of the faith and all the experiences of the family."
The pope also reminded them of their central mission of ministering to the faithful, saying, "I tell you sincerely: I am afraid of rigid [priests]. I am afraid. Rigid priests, keep them far away, they bite! The words of St. Ambrose come to mind: 'Where there is mercy, there is the spirit of God. Where there is rigidity, there are only his ministers.’ And a minister without the Lord becomes rigid. This is a danger for the people of God. Be pastors, not officials.”
The priests and bishops were gathered for a conference sponsored by the Congregation for Clergy to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Vatican II decrees on priestly formation and on priestly ministry and life.
The Order of Preachers (Dominicans) began their year-long Jubilee marking the 800th anniversary of the order (1216-2016) this past Sunday. Vatican Today reports that Pope Francis "has granted the possibility of receiving a plenary indulgence for all the faithful" taking part in the celebrations. The specific terms and conditions to receive the indulgence are outlined in a document sent by the Apostolic Penitentiary.
Pope Francis encourages all Dominican priests to make themselves available to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation in all Jubilee places to which the faithful may pilgrimage as well as administer Holy Communion to the infirm frequently throughout the Jubilee year.
Here is a short list of the many Dominican communities:
- Dominican Sisters (O.P.)
- Dominican Sisters (O.P.)--Adrian, MI
- Dominican Sisters (O.P.)--Grand Rapids
- Dominican Sisters (O.P.)--Mission San Jose
- Dominican Sisters (O.P.)--Racine, WI
- Dominican Sisters (O.P.)--San Rafael, CA
- Dominican Sisters (O.P.)--Sinsinawa, WI
- Dominican Sisters (O.P.)--Springfield, IL
- Dominican Sisters of Divine Providence
- The Dominicans (O.P.) [Order of Preachers]
- Dominican Sisters (O.P.)--Amityville, NY
- Dominican Sisters (O.P.)--Blauvelt, NY
- Dominican Sisters (O.P.)--Caldwell, NJ
- Dominican Sisters of Hope
- Dominican Sisters (O.P.)--Sparkill, NY
- Dominican Sisters (O.P.)--Houston, TX
- Dominican Sisters of Peace (O.P.)
- Dominican Sisters of Our Lady of the Springs of Bridgeport (O.P.)
- Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena, Newcastle, Natal
- Dominican Friars of England and Scotland
- Dominican Sisters of St. Joseph, UK
"A Dominican’s day—timeless and timely," a recent VISION article about the daily life inside the church, office, and home of a Dominican priest.
There are many Catholics who have not been called to vowed consecrated life but rather as formal associates of religious communities. These lay men and women, often called associates, consociates, oblates, or companions, share a commitment to living a particular religious order’s charism, or spirit. These communities invite associates into their ministry and way of thinking.
Most associates choose religious communities because they have been exposed to the community before, such as in school, or they have a strong will to share in the ministry of a particular community.
In a recent article in The Catholic Spirit, Bruce Labno, a 66-year-old Ignatian associate, said, “Ignatian spirituality helps [people] focus on finding God in all things, at any moment, in so many different ways, all of which is called awareness. I have become aware of God around me, of my humanness, my brokenness and the many gifts given that are to be passed on to others. Ignatian spirituality is my way to actively live Christ in the world as it is today.”
Many orders invite associates from all walks of life to join them in ministry and prayer. Men, women, singles, couples, Catholic and non-Catholic, working and retired, may share in the religious community.
For many, such as Mary Ann Pearson, the communities offer a way to connect with God on a different level. “The important thing is this has deepened my relationship with God,” she said. “I think communities like this provide a far richer, deeper way to enhance our relationship with God than just going to church or meeting with a group regularly.”
Jesus, his mother, and his disciples once passed through the ancient town of Anjara, located in Jordan in the hills east of the Jordan River Valley, and rested there in a cave, where now stands the Church of Our Lady of the Mount, a site of Christian pilgrimage and an example of community between Christians and Muslims in the area.
The pastor, Father Hugo Fabian, 46, is Argentinian but has lived in the Middle East for 18 years, including in Egypt and Syria. He is fluent in Arabic and has studied Islam. A priest of the Religious Family of the Incarnate Word (IVE), he has worked in Anjara for the past decade.
“Thank God we are able to help many families in Anjara because so many of them need help,” Father Fabian said.
Anjara, population 20,000, is a particularly poor town, even for the poor country of Jordan. The parish’s weekly collection is about $50. The church and its school and mission are largely supported by Arab Christians in the United States and by donations from pilgrims who visit the shrine. And the parish has much to support.
There are about 220 students at the school, about half are Christian and half are Muslim. As part of the comprehensive curriculum, classes in Islam are taught to the Muslim students and catechism is taught to the Christian students. All are taught religious tolerance.
Of the king of Jordan, Abdullah II, Father Fabian said, “Thank God we have this open-minded man,” who promotes religious acceptance of the minority Christian population in this predominantly Muslim country.
The parish also runs a mission that takes in children of all ages and religions, who are in need of refuge for a variety of reasons including poverty and problems at home, providing them with food, clothing, shelter, and education. The mission regularly has about 30 kids in its care. Additionally, the church ministers to prisoners and prostitutes. And it wants to do more, including housing and other support for Syrian refugees.
In this place that is a sign that love and unity is possible among all people, a miracle occurred. On May 6, 2010, the statue of Our Lady of the Mount wept tears of human blood. Many believe the tears showed her sorrowful solidarity with the poor of Anjara. "The Virgin Mary cries with us and for us,” Father Fabian said.
There are 250 families in the parish, served by three priests and seven sisters, who belong to the Religious Family of the Incarnate Word, founded in Argentina in 1984. The order has missionaries all over the world and began working in Jordan in 2004.
In a recent article in the Angelus, Sister Cecilia Canales, O.P., Vicar for Women Religious of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, gave a breakdown, with her personal perspective, of the many forms of consecrated life and the great cultural diversity now present in religious life in the Los Angeles area.
Canales shared that the sisters who serve the Archdiocese of Los Angeles come from Africa, Armenia, India, China, the Philippines, Haiti, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, the Middle East countries, Poland, Slovakia, Vietnam, and almost every nation in Latin America. In addition to the cultural diversity, the religious women are part of a variety of consecrated communities including cloistered Carmelites, Dominicans, and Poor Clares as well as apostolic communities that have been in Los Angeles for a few hundred years. Some of the earliest groups in foundation who minister there, Canales said, were the Sisters of the Company of Mary (1607), Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul (1633), and the Sisters of the Good Shepherd (1641). The first of the sisters to come to Southern California were the Daughters of Charity in 1856, to open hospitals, and the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, both in 1889 to open schools. Additionally, Canales explained that secular institutes, as well as newer communities, are establishing themselves and ministering to those in need in the archdiocese.
Discover more about religious communities becoming more culturally diverse in this recent VISION 2016 article: ¡Viva la diferencia! The colorful future of religious life.
In honor of National Vocation Awareness Week (Nov. 1-7), the annual celebration that promotes and encourages prayer for religious vocations, the Brothers of Christian Schools have produced a short documentary-style video that follows a group of brothers and young men discerning religious life who walked the pilgrimage route Camino de Santiago, or the Way of St. James, in Spain this past summer. Together on a Journey explores the discernment and reflection opportunities they shared on their pilgrimage.
Discover more about vocations by exploring our many Year of Consecrated Life resources here.
The third of four events in the "Today's Catholic Sisters" series will be held in Alumnae Hall at Immaculata University in Immaculata, Pennsylvania, on Saturday, Oct. 10 from 1-4 pm, with Mass to follow.
The National Religious Vocation Conference is organizing the "Today's Catholic Sisters" events taking place across the country over the course of several months. Featured speakers include various young sisters as well as the authors of New Generations of Catholic Sisters: Sister Mary Johnson, S.N.D.deN.; Sister Patricia Wittberg, S.C.; and Dr. Mary Gautier. A Q&A session and raffle will follow the main presentation, and refreshments will be served.
The fourth and final event in the series will be held on Jan. 23, 2016 at 9 am-noon at Mount Saint Mary’s University in Los Angeles, California.
All are invited to attend. RSVP here.
Questions? Call the NRVC offices at 773-363-5454 or email Julie Montague at email@example.com.
The increasing interest in religious life among millennial women in America may be surprising to the New York Times, and due in part to social media and reality television shows, but in the article, Sister Colleen Gibson, S.S.J., VISION Vocation Guide and Take Five for Faith author, corrects those notions. “I’ve never met anybody, who was like, ‘Oh yeah, I saw Christina on the Italian Voice and that really made me want to be a sister!’” Gibson said. Instead, she says, it is usually face-to-face interaction that helps young women realize their vocations.
However, this does come from someone who found her congregation on VISION Vocation Match, an online tool to help people in discernment find a religious community that fits with them. “It’s basically Match.com for nuns,” Gibson said.
There are many steps to becoming a Catholic sister and VISION Vocation Match and other online outlets are a great place to start the learning process and begin to connect with other discerners and sisters—a virtual introduction to religious life that jibes with the young. According to the article, the National Religious Vocation Conference reported that of the more than 2,500 women who completed online VISION Vocation Match profiles in 2013, the majority were under 30.
Read Sister Colleen Gibson's 2016 VISION article, "Why being single and living as a sister aren't the same," and check out Take Five for Faith, daily renewal for busy Catholics.
The Boston Pilot reports that Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley has issued a decree to allow Catholics to receive a plenary indulgence during the Year of Consecrated Live through Feb. 2, 2016.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a plenary indulgence is: "a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints."
Effective Sept. 10, Catholics in the Archdiocese of Boston can receive the plenary indulgence in the following ways:
1. make a pilgrimage to Boston's Cathedral of the Holy Cross and St. Clement Shrine during the Year of Consecrated Life; or
2. attend Year of Consecrated Life celebrations such as the one held at the Cathedral on Nov. 29 or any open church in the archdiocese that day after 2 p.m.; or
3. worship with Franciscan women and men at their places of worship and/or, where invited, at their residences on Oct. 3, the Transitus of Saint Francis, or Oct. 4, the Feast of Saint Francis.
While making pilgrimage or attending a special Year of Consecrated Life celebration, those seeking indulgence must:
1. recite publicly the Liturgy of the Hours or for an appropriate amount of time dedicate themselves to pious thoughts;
2. pray the Our Father, recite the Profession of Faith or Creed and make "pious invocations" to the Blessed Virgin Mary;
3. pray for the intentions of the pope and make a sacramental confession and receive Communion as soon as possible.
Read more about The Gift of the Indulgence from the Vatican website today.
Mexico News Daily recently profiled Sister Florinda Ruiz, who is competing on the Mexican version of the television program "MasterChef."
"MasterChef" is a cooking competition in which contestants vie for 1 million pesos. The sister's simple convent recipe for a dessert made from chayote, a Mexican staple, got Sister Ruiz into the competition. Now she is one of six finalists. Her signature dish is a three-meat course with dried chile sauce.
Sister Ruiz, who thanks Saint Joseph every time she advances to another round, is hoping to win the prize for her order, the Passionist Sisters, so they can pay off some bills at the school they run, Our Lady of Sorrows, in Puebla, Mexico.
She knows the perfect recipe for success: “To me, the love I have for God is comparable to the love I have for cooking. I think that if I can win, it is because I have faith in my dishes.”
The second of four events in the "Today's Catholic Sisters" series will be held in the Lund Auditorium at Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois, on Sunday, Sept. 20 from 1-4 pm. This symposium can be watched online live here.
The National Religious Vocation Conference is organizing the "Today's Catholic Sisters" events taking place across the country over the next few months. Featured speakers include various young sisters as well as the authors of New Generations of Catholic Sisters: Sister Mary Johnson, S.N.D.deN.; Sister Patricia Wittberg, S.C.; and Dr. Mary Gautier. A Q&A session and raffle will follow the main presentation, and refreshments will be served.
All are invited to attend. RSVP here.
Questions? Call the NRVC offices at 773-363-5454 or email Julie Montague at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The New York Times recently profiled a contemplative order of nuns that are attracting a fair number of millennials. The Nuns of the Order of Preachers at the Dominican Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary in Summit, New Jersey, are eliciting noteworthy interest in their cloistered life of prayer.
In the last decade, 15 aspirants entered the order and nine are on track to take their final vows or have already done so, and two more women will join the community this year.
The community credits the web and social media with helping the order get exposure to grow, but ironically, the appeal to the young lies partly in unplugging from a hyperconnected world.
Sister Mary Catharine, a mentor there to six women under 30, welcomed four aspirants to the order this summer. When asked why she thinks these young women are interested in religious life, she explained, “With all the technology, I think they’re just saturated. And they see this life as really radical and they have a desire for it. Maybe their families are fractured and they see our life as really stable."
After photographer Toni Greaves accompanied a writer to the monastery to do a story about how the nuns were using the Internet to market their community, she was inspired to spend the next seven years capturing their daily lives. Her book, Radical Love, out this month from Chronicle Books, is a collection of images that document one young nun’s journey from her first weeks in the monastery to her solemn profession seven years later.
“There was an exuberance and vibrancy to all the young women,” Greaves said. “It’s the energy that we embody when we’re in love, and it was amazing to me.”
The monks at Holy Cross Abbey, a Trappist monastery in Berryville, Virginia, decided in 2007 to work harder at being better stewards of the earth, which is part of their Cistercian tradition. Pope Francis’ recent encyclical on protecting the environment has bolstered their resolve.
The monks, who follow the Rule of St. Benedict, have always worked closely with their local community and the land on which they live. The monastery's Father James Orthman said, “We live a way of life that’s literally rooted in the land. The liturgical life reflects the succession of the seasons, and the more you become sensitized to that, the symbolism of the liturgy becomes so much more compelling.”
According to Catholic News Agency, the monks turned to the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment to author a study on how the abbey could become more sustainable. The resulting 400-page study, “Reinhabitating Place,” provided many suggestions, and since, the Trappists have taken steps to prevent cattle from polluting the river that runs through their property and planted native hardwoods and bushes in order to attract migrant animals, insects, and pollinators to restore proper biodiversity to the area. They also switched their heating and fueling sources to propane gas, and even started offering “green” burials, which eliminate the embalming fluids and lead in coffins that can be detrimental to soil.
The monks hope that their initiative may serve as a model for low-tech, low-cost solutions to environmental problems, especially in developing countries.
Of the pope's encyclical on the environment, Father Orthman said, “At the end of the day, I can ... say to myself ‘Ah, this is worth it. We should keep doing this. I’m going to keep putting up with the nonsense to get this done.’”
The first of four special gatherings featuring the newest generation of Catholic sisters will be take place on Sept. 12 from 9 am to noon (Central time), at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas. Watch the event online live via this link.
The National Religious Vocation Conference is hosting four "Today's Catholic Sisters" events over the next few months. Featured speakers include various young sisters as well as the authors of New Generations of Catholic Sisters: Sister Mary Johnson, S.N.D.deN.; Sister Patricia Wittberg, S.C.; and Dr. Mary Gautier. A Q&A session and raffle will follow the main presentation, and refreshments will be served.
These events celebrate the Year of Consecrated Life by encouraging the support of Catholic sisters now and in the future. Family, friends, discerners, and parishioners are all invited to attend.
Questions? Call the NRVC offices at 773-363-5454 or email Julie Montague at email@example.com.
You may also RSVP for this event here.
Among the worldwide celebrations in August of the 200-year anniversary of the founding of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, the Cincinnati Province held an outdoor Mass, mission presentation, and reception for 1,500 guests at the St. Charles Center in Carthagena, Ohio. The community also co-sponsored a youth and family event called "Jubilation!" with the Northern Network of Youth Ministers at the nearby Spiritual Center of Maria Stein Shrine of the Holy Relics.
Meanwhile, in Peru, to commemorate the bicentennial, priests, brothers, parishioners, and friends celebrated Mass at the parish of San Francisco de Borja and held a large reception where several groups entertained guests with Peruvian dances and school children joined in a procession around the neighborhood. According to the congregation's website, the Missionaries of the Precious Blood have ministered in Peru since 1962.
The Missionaries of the Precious Blood is a worldwide congregation of priests, brothers, and lay associates (called companions) that was founded by Saint Gaspar del Buffalo in Italy on August 15, 1815. The congregation began preaching in towns throughout central Italy, igniting the "fire of faith in God's people."
A new film, The Dream Continues, available in English, Spanish, and Italian explores the spirituality, mission, and ministry around the world of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood.
As part of the Year of Consecrated Life celebrations, a unique vocation was recently honored in Indiana's Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend: canonical hermit.
According to Today's Catholic News, Sister Mary Ann Burkhart professed first vows at a Mass celebrated by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades at St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Fort Wayne in July. Sisters Jane Brackebush and Nancy Frentz, who have been hermits for one and two years respectively, were part of the celebration.
All three women were married earlier in life (two of them have children and grandchildren) and later discerned a call to the eremitical life.
Bishops are allowed to accept hermits in their dioceses who were not affiliated with religious orders. Each hermit has a rule of life approved by the bishop, who serves as their superior. Their lives are marked by solitary prayer.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sister Angelique Namaika has helped thousands of women and girls who have been the victims of sexual violence and slavery. News.com reports that between 2009 and 2015, Sister Namaika has helped more than 5,000 women overcome the horrors of the past. Her most important resources? A smile and a bike.
She works to inspire victims to take control of their lives and develop skills to gain some independence. Sewing groups, farm work, and bakery businesses help them earn money and overcome community stigma, she explained. She encourages them to seek educational assistance, take literacy classes, and eventually train to be teachers, nurses, and midwives.
Sister Namaika, who won the United Nations refugee agency’s top humanitarian award, plans to continue to fight against gender violence. "Very often as a human I am overwhelmed [by the women's stories] but I pray to God to help me to continue,” she said.
The Sisters of Mary Morning Star, a new contemplative, non-cloistered community, opened a second convent in the United States in August. The community announced that three sisters from its convent in Ghent, Minnesota—Sisters Mary Thomas, Eva Nelly, and Benjamin Elisabeth—moved to Madison, Wisconsin, to start the new convent there. Two more sisters from Spain—Sisters Mary Alix and Sarah Rose—are also relocating to the Madison convent.
The Sisters of Mary Morning Star was established in Spain in 2014. There are about 250 members in 10 countries.
According to Global Sisters Report, “Even though a new foundation, this community belongs to an ancient cenobitic form of religious practice, where members live a combination of solitary and communal life. Their uniqueness is the combining of Carmelite, Carthusian and Dominican spiritualities, but without enclosure to isolate the sisters from people of the community. … They attend parish and diocesan functions and also invite the local community into the convent to share prayer.”
Jessica Hayes, 38, of Fort Wayne, Indiana, recently became one of about 230 consecrated virgins in the United States. Hundreds attended the ceremony at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne out of curiousity and interest in Hayes' unusual vocation, according to the Daily Mail.
Unlike a religious sister, a consecrated virgin doesn’t join a religious community. A consecrated virgin provides her own home and livelihood and is expected to commit to prayer and volunteer service. In 1970, Pope Paul VI reinstituted the rite, which had fallen into disuse.
Hayes, a theology teacher at Bishop Dwenger High School in Fort Wayne, said she decided to become a consecrated virgin after years of prayer and consideration.
The Diocese of Pittsburgh celebrated its first Rite of Consecration of a Virgin in July for Sheila Ryan, a retired school teacher.
Discover more about consecrated life with the many Year of Consecrated Life resources on our website.
For her work defending human rights and the environment, Philippines-based Sister Stella Matutina, O.S.B. was named the winner of the 2015 Weimar Award for Human Rights, according to Minda News and the Sisters' Association in Mindanao.
The award is bestowed by the city council of Weimar, Germany, which decided the 47-year-old Benedictine nun deserved to be honored after learning about her fight against international gold mining companies for polluting and abusing workers in her homeland.
“This highlights the situation of Mindanao and the Philippines in general where the poor, the farmers, the indigenous peoples, the human rights activists and defenders of the environment endure harassment and face risks and death,” Sister Matutina said.
Sister Matutina heads the Sisters’ Association in Mindanao (SAMIN) and has herself faced threats and false accusations that she's a communist rebel.
Sister Matutina will receive the award on Dec. 10, which is International Human Rights Day.
Pope Francis is certainly giving Catholics much to celebrate by declaring an extraordinary jubilee, a Holy Year of Mercy, while the Year of Consecrated Life is still underway.
The Year of Mercy, which runs from Dec. 8, 2015 to Nov. 20, 2016, will highlight the Catholic Church's "mission to be a witness of mercy." The Year of Consecrated Life doesn't conclude until Feb. 2, 2016.
The Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, which is organizing events for the Year of Mercy, published a calendar online at www.im.va.
According to the Catholic Herald, here are some major events planned in Rome for the Year of Mercy:
Dec. 8 - Opening of the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica.
Jan. 19-21 - Jubilee for those involved with guiding or organizing pilgrimages and religious tourism.
Feb. 2 - Jubilee for Consecrated Life and the closing of the Year for Consecrated Life.
Feb. 10 (Ash Wednesday) - Sending forth the Missionaries of Mercy, St. Peter’s Basilica.
April 3 (Divine Mercy Sunday) - Jubilee for those who are devoted to the spirituality of Divine Mercy.
May 27-29 - Jubilee for deacons.
June 3 - Jubilee for priests.
July 26-31 - Jubilee for youth, World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland.
Sept. 4 - Jubilee for workers and volunteers of mercy.
Sept. 25 - Jubilee for catechists.
Nov. 20 - Closing of the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica and the conclusion of the Year of Mercy.
A statue of Mother Catherine Spalding (1793-1858) was installed outside the Cathedral of the Assumption in Louisville, Kentucky, among statues of presidents, civic leaders, explorers, and athletes. It is the first public statue of a woman in Louisville, which honors her work as co-founder of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth and her many contributions to Louisville, according to Louisville's NPR news station WFPL.
Spalding, an orphan herself, and the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth took in many children who were abandoned during the settlement of the Kentucky frontier or orphaned by the cholera outbreak of the 1830s. Spalding's statue depicts her carrying a child in her arms and holding the hand of another child next to her.
Discover more about the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth who work for justice in solidarity with oppressed people, especially women and the poor, and for care of the earth. They minister in the United States as well as India, Nepal, Belize, and Botswana.
The Daughters of Charity released a video on YouTube, called Making an impact, about Brother Roberto Martinez, F.S.C., and the role of his grade-school teacher, Sister Marianne Olives, D.C., in helping him discern his vocation.
Sister Olives taught Martinez how to read English, his second language. After grade school, Martinez attended a Catholic high school run by Christian Brothers. Martinez said that his faith and the prayers of the Daughters of Charity helped him get through a battle with cancer.
Throughout his discernment process, Daughters of Charity prayed for and supported him, and Sister Olives was present when he made his first vows. “It is always a joy to know that my consecrated life is an inspiration to somebody else who also wants to do the same with their life," she said.
Again following in the steps of Sister Olives, Brother Martinez is now a teacher. About the future of his students, he says, “You never know, one day [they may turn out to be] brothers and daughters.”
Women tend to be underrepresented in the sciences, because they often aren't encouraged to explore those fields, but Sister Patricia McCarron, headmistress at Notre Dame Preparatory School for girls in Towson, Maryland, is working to change that.
According to the Catholic Review, Sister McCarron recently spearheaded an initiative at the school she calls “connecting the dots,” which promotes summer science internships for students, as part of the school’s Women in Science program. McCarron explains, “We’re all about opening doors; we don’t want any obstacles in place. If you want a summer internship in dentistry, engineering or veterinary science, we have a network of alums and business partners that help make that happen.”
She tells of her own experience as a young woman navigating her calling, remembering, “I was really blessed, because I had opportunities and people who saw potential in me. I never felt there wasn’t an opportunity to do whatever I wanted to do. I see that today with our girls. We believe and know they can do whatever it is they want to do.”
She hopes her students will change the world in positive ways, saying, "Mothers, business leaders, engineers, scientists; who will be the peacemaker? Are we going to be the school that educates the girl who’s going to bring clear water to everyone in Africa? The girls know the mission. You are your sister’s keeper.”
New Evangelization Television (NET TV), a Catholic cable network in Brooklyn and Queens, New York, has produced and posted six episodes so far of a "Wake up the World" video series for the Year of Consecrated Life. Each episode focuses on the unique charisms, faith, and lifestyles of religious congregations in the Diocese of Brooklyn and beyond including:
Sisters of St. Dominic
Sister Servants of the Lord & the Virgin of Matara
If you haven't yet watched VISION's Year of Consecrated Life video series on YouTube, add our YCL playlist next!
|One of the many tasks of Sister Dorothy Fabritze's circus ministry is sacrament preparation
for the performers, crew, and their families who travel around the United States.
Sister Fabritze's faith-sharing ministry often occurs while she and the next act stand by the curtain she's responsible for opening between acts. She sometimes gets five minutes with that act as they wait in the wings for their cue. Mass is squeezed in between shows.
Since her home is on the road with the rest of the circus, Sister Fabritze made the master bedroom in her RV a small chapel and sanctuary for prayer. She teaches catechism, prepares liturgy, and often occupies the center ring with a visiting priest.
Sister Fabritze has support in her circus ministry from Rev. Jerry Hogan, head chaplain of the circus ministry overseen by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Circus ministry is considered by the church to be pastoral care of migrants, refugees, and travelers.
In honor of the Year of Consecrated life, VISION Vocation Guide recently featured Sister Dorothy on our YouTube channel. Check out the exclusive video of Sister Dorothy's #surprisingministry with the circus here or on the homepage of VISION Vocation Network.
|Viatorians celebrated the Year of Consecrated Life with an outdoor Mass and open house.|
In celebration of the Year of Consecrated Life, Viatorians hosted an open house in July at their provincial center in Arlington Heights, Illinois. More than 200 people, including neighbors, school alumni, and benefactors, attended.
The day began with outdoor Mass. Then, visitors explored the center and viewed historical displays and a screening of a movie, The Search, about discernment and the Viatorian Novitiate. Viatorian associates, brothers, and priests were on hand to answer questions and describe some of their current ministries to visitors.
Father Thomas von Behren, C.S.V., provincial, said in his homily, “In this Year of Consecrated Life, we are asked by Pope Francis to ‘Wake up the World.’ During this special year, Pope Francis asks us to listen to those who have given their lives to a life of service — and to being a religious."
|Sister Benedict told sixth-graders about the life of the Benedictine nuns at the Monastery of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Westfield, Vermont, and their focus on prayer and work.|
Every spring, sixth-graders at St. Francis Xavier School in Winooski, Vermont, take a 60-mile field trip to visit the Benedictine nuns of the Monastery of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Westfield.
On this year's trip, the students attended Mass, listened to a presentation about the nuns’ lives, performed a brief musical program, and donated $550 in proceeds they earned from making and selling colorful rosaries.
“The fact that they work on those rosaries … and give the proceeds to us makes us feel part of their work,” said prioress Mother Laurence Couture.
Jesse Gaudette, principal of St. Francis Xavier School, accompanied the students on their visit. “You can teach about vocations in the classroom or show [students] in real life,” he said. “They can read a book or we can tell them in the classroom [about monastic life] or we can take them here and they can see it, they can touch it, they can live it.”
“Their life inspires people to be part of the church,” said student Brady Spencer. “It’s quite inspiring to see these people living here and worshipping God every day.”
Read the full article here.
|In celebration of the Year of Consecrated Life, Father Ray Olusesan Aina spoke
on the importance of religious life at the Gaudium Et Spes Institute in Nigeria.
A priest of the Missionary Society of St. Paul, Father Aina echoed the challenge of Pope Francis on the Year of Consecrated Life, saying that religious life "should continuously radiate joy and beauty if it is to bring people closer to God."
“The power of our consecrated life does not depend on the methods of reaching out to the world or our technical competence or intellectual pedigree,” Father Aina said. “On the contrary, what draws people is the eloquence of your lives, lives which radiate the joy and beauty of living the Gospel and following Christ to the full.”
|At the age of 81, Sister Maria Concetta Esu continues her lifelong work as a midwife in the Congo.|
Pope Francis recently blessed the hands of Sister Maria Concetta Esu, 81, who has delivered more than 34,000 babies while working as a midwife in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
"The task of a midwife brings me great joy because God gives life but he doesn't give birth," says Sister Esu in an article by Agence France Presse.
Sister Esu works in the clinic run by her order, the Daughters of Saint Joseph of Genoni. About 40 babies are born in the clinic each month, and several parents have named their newborns Maria, after Sister Esu.
She was originally trained as a nurse in Italy and then studied tropical medicine in Belgium. She moved to the Congo in 1959, a year before the country’s independence.
Throughout the violence of wars and the rule of a dictator hostile to the Catholic Church, her mission became a haven of peace and assistance for many.
Currently, tension remains high in the country amid suspicions of political corruption, but Sister Esu says she has no plans to flee, explaining, "I want to stay here. I don't want to be a deserter. I've given my whole life here and I shall also give my bones."
|Pope Paul VI re-instituted the Rite of Consecration of Virgins Living in the World
on May 31, 1970, exactly 45 years to the date of Sheila Ryan’s consecration.
Sheila Ryan, a retired school teacher and administrator, became the first woman in the Diocese of Pittsburgh to receive the Rite of Consecration of a Virgin Living in the World, according to a report by Peter Smith in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
This past May, Ryan received a veil and ring during the celebration to symbolize her marriage to Christ alone. She also received an edition of the Liturgy of the Hours, a set of daily prayers she has committed to offering.
Judith Stegman of Michigan, president of the U.S. Association of Consecrated Virgins, estimates that there are about 230 consecrated virgins in the United States and about 3,500 worldwide. Unlike a nun or religious sister, a consecrated virgin doesn’t join a religious community or take vows, Stegman says A consecrated virgin must provide her own home and livelihood and is expected to commit to prayer and volunteer in her parish.
“I knew as a teenager that I was not called to the married state,” Ryan said. “It’s listening to God and being open to his workings of grace within us. Nobody would seek this life, which is countercultural, unless it were a gift from God. And I consider it a gift.”
|Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe, of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, has dedicated her life to helping more
than 2,000 girls, who were previously abducted by soldiers, by teaching them valuable trade skills.
It takes more than courage to defy a warlord and work to undo the damage of his 20-year reign of terror with nothing but a sewing machine. It takes an inspiring capacity for love and forgiveness—and good old-fashioned practical problem solving.
Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe, of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, has dedicated her life to helping more than 2,000 girls, who were abducted, raped, tortured, and forced to kill their own family members by Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army, which waged bloody civil wars that decimated northern Uganda and southern Sudan.
As the keynote speaker at the 2015 Catholic Media Conference in Buffalo, New York, in June, she related to the Catholic press how she answered the call to serve these girls—who have been shunned and persecuted by their own communities for bearing their captors’ children—as the director of St. Monica Girls’ Tailoring Centre in Gulu, Uganda, since 2002. The school provides the girls with safe sanctuary and job training in tailoring and catering so they can become self-reliant.
A native of Uganda, she began serving the people of her country after joining her order in 1976. Currently, about 250 girls and 250 children live at St. Monica. Sister Rosemary also oversees a second school in Atiak, Uganda. In 2014, she was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people.
Sister Rosemary's work is the subject of Sewing Hope, a documentary narrated by Oscar-winner Forest Whitaker and a book of the same name (Dust Jacket Press, 2013). All proceeds from book sales go to help the girls at St. Monica. For more information, visit sewinghope.com.
|The Diocese of Scranton celebrated the Year of Consecrated
Life with a Mass honoring its priests, brothers, and sisters.
The Diocese of Scranton, Pennsylvania celebrated the Year of Consecrated Life with the annual Pontifical Mass for Consecrated Life, which took place at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Scranton.
Bishop Joseph C. Bambera was the celebrant for the Mass that honored priests, brothers, and sisters who celebrated their anniversaries of ordination or profession of vows.
All religious women and men and members of various forms of consecrated life were invited to the Mass and reception that followed. This year, 42 men and women jubilarians serving in the diocese were honored.
Read more here.
|"I am counting on you to 'wake up the world,'" Pope Francis wrote to all consecrated
people in an apostolic letter announcing this special Year of Consecrated Life.
In the June issue of Columbia, a publication of the Knights of Columbus, writer Brian Fraga reminds readers of the mission of consecrated life and points to signs of renewal for this vocation.
Although the number of those in religious life has dwindled, the statistics do not tell the entirety of the story, as there is a "quiet renaissance" in religious life underway.
Worldwide, more than 200 new religious communities have been founded since the Second Vatican Council, according to Holy Cross Brother Paul Bednarczyk, executive director of the National Religious Vocations Conference.
“The Holy Spirit continues to call and raise up gifts within the Church,” said Brother Bednarczyk.
Fraga reveals that "among the more than 500 men being ordained to the priesthood in the United States this year, approximately 100 are members of religious orders."
Another sign of renewal is a form of consecrated life on the rise: secular institutes.
“Religious life and secular institutes, in their way of leavening in society, continue to give a witness in the Church to the Gospel and the absoluteness of God, which are things we need to remember,” said Sister Sharon Holland, of the Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, who serves as president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). "In addition to religious and secular institutes, the Church also recognizes forms of individual consecrated life, such as consecrated virgins and hermits."
Read more about the various forms of consecrated life and its renewal as we continue to celebrate this Year of Consecrated Life in the full article here.
Here are some great resources from VISION to help parishes celebrate and promote religious life and religious vocations.
|We need Catholic sisters now more than ever.|
They said yes. Come learn why.
The remarkable stories of the newest generation of Catholic sisters will be shared at the symposium "Today’s Catholic Sisters: Who They Are, Why We Need Them" at four universities this fall and winter.
In partnership with the National Religious Vocation Conference and the GHR foundation, these events will feature several young sisters, along with the authors of New Generations of Catholic Sisters: The Challenge of Diversity. There will be a Q&A session and raffle following the main presentation. Refreshments will be served.
The event dates and locations are:
Sept. 12, 2015 9 am-12 pm
University of the Incarnate Word
San Antonio, Texas
Sept. 20, 2015 1-4 pm
River Forest, Illinois
Oct. 10, 2015 1-4 pm
(Mass to follow)
Jan. 23, 2016 9 am-12 pm
Mount Saint Mary's University
Los Angeles, California
New Generations of Catholic Sisters authors -
Sister Mary Johnson, S.N.D.deN.
Sister Patricia Wittberg, S.C.
Dr. Mary Gautier
Questions? Call 773-363-5454, or visit NRVC.net.
|Sister Cecilia Schlaefer, a member of the Sisters of St. Agnes in Phoenix, was featured
this month in The Catholic Sun as part of a Year of Consecrated Life series.
The Catholic Sun is featuring religious in the Diocese of Phoenix each month in honor of the Year of Consecrated Life. The newspaper is highlighting their roads to discernment and current contributions to the church and the community.
This month, it is highlighting the work of Sister Cecilia Schlaefer, who has been a Sister of St. Agnes for 75 years. She has a doctorate in musical arts and has taught music, Latin, and English to grammar school and high school students.
Sister Schlaefer knew from an early age she was called to religious life, saying, “I was three years old. I got to church and then we all went to the front pew. And we sat down and I heard the voice say, 'Cecilia, I want you to be My spouse.' I touched [my sister] Mary and I said, ‘Mary, what’s a spouse?’ She said, 'Quiet. We don’t talk in church.' She shut me up for the next 18 years.”
Read more about Schlaefer and other religious here.
|The Sisters of St. Joseph of Baden will host a tour of the congregation's Beaver County,
Pennsylvania campus on June 18 in celebration of the Year of Consecrated Life.
In celebration of the Year of Consecrated Life, a public walking tour exploring the history of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Baden in Pennsylvania will be held on June 18.
Archivist Kathleen Washy will lead the free tour while several sisters will be there to answer questions. The tour will include historical highlights and anecdotes about the buildings, grotto, and statues.
Congregation leadership team member Sister Mary Pellegrino is very excited to show off the campus to the public. “The grounds are beautiful [and include] a labyrinth, community gardens, and an orchard,” she said.
The sisters will certainly have a lot of history to share as their roles in the community changed from being mostly teachers and nurses to being chaplains, social workers, spiritual directors, counselors, foster parents, pastoral ministers, and social justice advocates.
Barbara Hecht, a spokeswoman for the sisters, said, “Sisters of St. Joseph always have responded to the needs of the times. They were called to Baden ... because of the growing need to staff the many schools in the Beaver Valley.”
Learn more here.
| Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres climbed Mount Talamitam in the
Philippines to raise funds for their congregation's hospital.
Four Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres recently climbed Mount Talamitam in the Philippines to raise awareness and funds for the sick and poor.
Sister Arcelita Sarnillo, 61; Sister Rachelle Rapio, 34; Sister Anna Maria Reyes, 49; and Sister Aurelie Cortez, 77, scaled the 630-meter mountain wearing gym shoes and hiking pants under their habits.
Along the way, fellow hikers asked to take “selfies” with the nuns, amazed by how the four women were putting their faith in action.
This was the nuns' first charity hike to help benefit St. Paul Hospital, which is run by the congregation, in Dasmariñas City. The hospital offers free medical consultations and operations for the poor. The funds raised by the hike will help patients with cleft palates and cleft lips that cannot afford surgery.
Sister Sarnillo found the experience challenging, but kept her eye on the finish line. “I just kept on meditating and looking up,” she said.
Once on the summit, the nuns led a short prayer at the Marian grotto. They sang “Hail Mary” before starting their two-hour descent. For their next climb, they plan to invite a priest to celebrate Mass at the summit to make the experience even more special.
Read more here.
| Sister Larraine Lauter, O.S.U., executive director of Water with Blessings, gets water filters, the
size of an empty toilet paper roll, to those who need them, but she needs help to deliver more.
"That's where the Water with Blessings model is different. The organization targets 'mothers and others,' those who play the role of mom. No matter where the organization sends filters, mother culture is always the same," Sister Lauter said. "Mothers share, and they don't say no to other people's kids."
"I always say God has put smart women everywhere," she said. "This is not gringo to the rescue. This is not that model. I am troubled by that model. And even if these women are barely literate they can still be amazing trainers."
Read the full story here.
|The Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati will host days of service for volunteers in their community on June 13 and 19.|
In celebration of the Year of Consecrated Life, the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati have invited their neighbors to join them in a multitude of service activities in their local community on June 13 and 19.
Volunteers can share their talents on those days by helping with things such as yard work, weeding, demolition work, painting, gardening, and arts and crafts.
The Sisters of Charity will host all of the volunteers for lunch at the Sisters of Charity Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse, offering the opportunity for people of all ages to learn more about religious life today and develop new and lasting relationships.
Learn more here.
|The Institute of the Little Sisters Disciples of the Lamb is a unique
religious community of women with and without Down syndrome.
The Institute of the Little Sisters Disciples of the Lamb is a 30-year-old contemplative order in France that accepts young women with Down syndrome called to religious life.
According to Regina magazine, "At the priory, the Little Sisters receive young women touched by the spirit of poverty and dedication... Every day they receive the Eucharist, living in the spirit of silence and prayer, while meditating on the Gospel."
The order was founded with the encouragement of geneticist Jérôme Lejeune, who discovered the cause of Down syndrome.
Read more about this small contemplative community here.
|Religious women participated in a "Discernment Morning" in Phoenix
to encourage young women to listen for a call to consecrated life.
Young women learned about religious life and were encouraged to hear its potential call at a "Discernment Morning" on May 2 at the Diocesan Pastoral Center in Phoenix.
“The culture today is more about relationships, not even marriage but just being in relationships, and so the idea of consecrating yourself to Christ is very, very foreign to the culture,” said Sister Mary Eileen Jewell, of Parish Visitors of Mary Immaculate. “All the vocations are beautiful and we need to present all the vocations, but consecrated life especially tends to be the softest voice that people have a hard time hearing.”
Five religious communities participated in the event, including the Religious Sisters of Mercy; the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul; the Missionaries of Charity of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta; the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist; and the Parish Visitors of Mary Immaculate.
All of the women who attended were given the chance to ask questions about consecrated life and hear the discernment journeys of many religious sisters.
One woman in attendence said, “We’re all called to something and some of us are questioning that. ... We just need that guidance. I think there are some people that just automatically assume they’re called to marriage and they don’t ever question another vocation. The possibility of a religious vocation shouldn’t be something scary because it’s what God wills for you and He’ll let you know.”
Read more here.
|Familia Católica is a Spanish blog providing resources to celebrate the Year of Consecrated Life.|
|This year's theme for the World Encounter for Associations of Consecrated
Life is “Opening Pathways: Structures of Communion and Government.”
The members will attend workshops, conferences, and roundtable discussions to share the charisms of the new forms of consecrated life. The gathering will help foster understanding of the differences between the associations.
When Pope Francis declared this year the Year of Consecrated Life, he told religious: “I am counting on you to wake up the world!”
Read the full article here.
A guide of some of the terms used in the article and in discerning a vocation with a religious community: A dictionary for discerners.
So in honor of the Year of Consecrated Life, Kloster der Dominikanerinnen (Dominicans of Germany) planned and recorded a flash mob outside the main train station in Berlin, singing the VISION-commissioned song for YCL, "Wake the World with Dawning Joy."
Help the sisters' work go viral!
|Pope Francis speaks to newly ordained priests about connecting with the faithful.|
During the ordination of 19 priests, Pope Francis told them to make their homilies interesting and to speak from the heart in order to reach the hearts of the faithful.
Pope Francis said that priests are called to help members of the church through their homilies. He urged them to ensure “that your homilies are not boring, that your homilies arrive directly in people’s hearts because they flow from your heart, because what you tell them is what you have in your heart.”
During Mass on the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, the pope used the prepared homily in the ritual book for ordinations, but added his own reflections as well, giving the newly ordained priests advice on celebrating the sacraments and reaching out to the church community.
The pope emphasized the depth of God’s love and the true role of priests: “We must follow the Good Shepherd. In particular, those who have the mission of guiding in the church—priests, bishops, popes—are called to not assume the mentality of a manager, but that of a servant in imitation of Jesus.”
Read more here.
When Sister Mary Anne Francalanza considered religious life, writes Janet Tansley in an aricle for the Liverpool Echo, she did what most of us do when we’re looking for a book or new outfit: She went on the internet.
Sister Mary Anne took her final vows with the Sisters, Faithful Companions of Jesus (FCJ) in Wavertree, Liverpool (U.K.) three years ago.
“I was the first person to have contacted the sisters through the internet," she says. But things are different now. “Today if people want to look for us we are on Facebook, Twitter, [VISION!], the lot..."
“It’s about finding God in all things and all places!”
Click here to learn more about the Faithful Companions of Jesus.
|Precious Blood Father Denny Kinderman (right) ministers to Chicago's youth within a "peace-making circle."|
Catholic New World, the newspaper for the Archdiocese of Chicago, is featuring a new column in celebration of the Year of Consecrated Life: "Conversations with the Consecrated."
The most recent column profiles Missionary of the Precious Blood (C.PP.S.) Father David Kelly, who is the director of the Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation. This jail ministry works with those who have experienced conflict or violence and tries to create a space where they can come together, both offenders and victims, and work toward reconciliation.
"We try to form an environment of hospitality where they can talk, and hear one another, and rebuild relationships severed due to any kind of violence," Kelly says.
In the column, Kelly explains his attraction to the strong reconciliation charism of the consecrated missionary community, as well as the successes and struggles of his everyday work with his ministry with juveniles in the detention center.
Despite all the frustrations and injustices he encounters, Kelly says, "The biggest thing is not what I do for others but what others do for me. The work I do with the young people, their families or the community is mutual. By their loyalty, and willingness to be vulnerable, their willingness to be in relationship with us, is very powerful and makes me a better priest, and a better human being. People think, don’t you do wonderful work? Yeah, we do, but we also receive so many blessings in this work.”
Read the full article.
| Theodora Hawksley left academia to join the Congregation of Jesus.
Last week the Guardian reported that the increasing number of women joining religious orders in the United Kingdom is perhaps, according to postulant Theodora Hawksley, because of a "snowball effect." Hawksley believes, "God always calls people to religious life, but various things can make it harder to hear that, and one of the things that makes it easier is lots of people openly talking and thinking about it, and giving it a go."
According to the article, the number of women entering U.K. religious communities has reached a 25-year high. The article debunks myths surrounding religious life and highlights the joy of living in community. The religious interviewed encourage people to spend time with religious communities, including on hosted retreats. One sister quoted said, “Things like that raise the profile of different ways of living out vocations and help normalise what it is to be a nun or religious sister in the Catholic church."
Read the full article here.
Explore your vocation through weekend encounters, retreats, volunteering, and more on the VISION Vocation Network Events page!
Discover more about the Congregation of Jesus today.
|This year, 595 priests will be ordained in the United States, up 25 percent from the 477 who were ordained in 2014.|
Nearly 600 men will be ordained Catholic priests in the United States in 2015, more than 100 men more than last year.
Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, head of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, said the increase is “encouraging” and he noted that those who will be ordained spoke about “very high” support from their families, parish priests, and Catholic schools.
A survey from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University received responses from 411 of the men and of these, 317 are prospective ordinands in 120 different dioceses and 94 are vowed religious. The median age of the priests-to-be is 31, which is a slight decrease from past years.
Father W. Shawn McKnight, executive director of the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, did express one concern about the increase in young priests: student loan debt. “Considering the high percentage of the men ordained already having earned an undergraduate degree, it will be important to find ways to assist in debt reduction in the future,” McKnight said.
Read more here.
|Pictured with her parents, Sister Mary Joseph, born Barbara Evans, is now a Handmaid of the Heart of Jesus.|
Mother of six from Mendota Heights, Minn., Joan Evans recently shared with the New York Times her struggle with and acceptance of her daughter entering religious life.
Evans said that she and their family miss their daughter and sibling but feel joy "that this is the vocation God designed for her and that it fulfills the deepest longings of her heart."
Evans shared how she and her daughter, born Barbara Evans and now Sister Mary Joseph, said goodbye upon becoming a Handmaid of the Heart of Jesus: "I told her how much I would miss her and that giving her to the Lord had been one of the most difficult things I had ever had to do. Then I felt a surge of strength, looked her in the eye and added that I wouldn’t trade it for anything because I know she is exactly where the Lord wants her to be. In that moment, I experienced such grace. My daughter already offered her yes to this vocation. I’m doing my best to offer mine."
Father Andrew Hofer, O.P. offers some great conversation starters in the article "How to talk to your family about your vocation". "Why I encourage my kids to consider religious life" is another article from a parent's perspective.
|Pope Francis was happily overwhelmed by his enthusiastic reception in Naples.|
Pope Francis recently met with priests, religious leaders, and seminarians at the cathedral in Naples, Italy, and The Telegraph reports, "once Pope Francis' presence was announced, the starstuck sisters broke into applause and waved excitedly... and then a half dozen of them scurried up close surrounding the pontiff in their long black religious habits. One carried a large wrapped present."
Over a microphone, Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe urged restraint and made lighthearted commentary. “Sisters... Later... Well, would you look at that? And these are the cloistered ones. Just imagine the non-cloistered ones,” he said, provoking laughter from the crowd in the cathedral.
Pope Francis said the sisters' great enthusiasm was a reminder to religious leaders to "live their convocation with joy and enthusiasm."
National Catholic Sisters Week, an annual celebration to honor women religious, begins March 8. Events during the week, sponsored by groups all over the country, are meant to instruct, enlighten, and highlight the lives and witness of women religious and encourage a new generation of young women to follow their example.
• Visit www.nationalcatholicsistersweek.org, to find resources and ideas for
celebrating both the Year of Consecrated Life and National Catholic Sisters Week.
histories at www.sisterstory.org, and read first-person accounts of religious life.
|Historic joint canonization of Blessed Louis and Zelie Martin, parents
of Saint Therese of Lisieux, is expected to take place in October.
According to Zenit, Salesian Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, made the announcement at a recent meeting organized by the Libreria Editrice Vaticana to discuss the topic “Of What Use Are Saints?”
“Saints are not only priests and nuns, but also lay people,” Cardinal Amato said, referring to this exemplary French married couple.
The couple were married in 1858 and had nine children, with all five of their surviving daughters Marie, Pauline, Leonie, Celine, and Therese entering into religious life. The daily life of the Martins included Mass at 5:30 am, Angelus and Vespers, rest on Sundays, fasting during Lent and Advent— and also jokes and games, as Louis liked to fish and play billiards. They invited poor people to dine in their home and they visited the elderly. They also taught their daughters to treat the underprivileged as equals.
Pope Benedict XVI beatified both parents in 2008.
Learn more about the Carmelites (O.Carm) - Congregation of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm (O.Carm).
|Religious celebrate their jubilees on the World Day for Consecrated
Life at Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles diocesan priest Father Sam Ward recently wrote an eloquent tribute to those in consecrated life in the Angelus: The Tidings Online, attributing "the gift of my priestly vocation in a large measure to the daily prayers, intercession, and sacrifices of many holy and faithful religious sisters.
"They were praying for me before I even knew that God was calling me to be a priest," he wrote. "They prayed for me through the seminary. And they have sustained me by their sisterly love and support for my 11 years as a priest."
The first Catholic school Ward attended was the seminary. "When I entered the seminary in 1997 I knew instinctively that developing a close relationship with the sisters would be essential to my vocation. Why? Because I knew from afar the beauty and powerful witness that religious life has had on the life of the Church—past, present, and with God’s grace, far into the future. And I knew that I would need their support and friendship."
Read more about Father Ward's appreciation of religious sisters, brothers, and priests as a celebratory thank you during this Year of Consecrated Life.
|"Sister Dorothy Stang did not set out to be a martyr, but she was deeply committed to doing God’s
work of defending human rights and promoting justice." - from VISION tribute to Stang
A decade ago, Ohio-born Sister Dorothy Stang, of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, was slain because of her tireless work for the poor and landless in Brazil. She advocated for the small-scale farmer who is still, 10 years later, the frequent victim of harassment, forced evictions, threats, physical violence, and even killings.
However, according to the Huffington Post, "In recent years, independent civil society truth commissions have begun investigating the history of violence in the Brazilian countryside, grappling with the roles of unequal land distribution, poor documentation of land rights, and expulsion and killings of indigenous peoples. These investigations were inspired by Brazil’s National Truth Commission, which reported human rights abuses under the 1964-1985 military dictatorship."
For Girolamo Treccani, a law professor at the Federal University of Para and a member of Para State’s Rural Truth Commission, the question of prison time was less important than ensuring that all cases are acknowledged and investigated.
“The right of justice demands denouncement and recognition,” he said, “even if individuals can’t go to prison." This denouncement is key as "in Brazil defendants are sometimes granted liberty while the lawyers exhaust all of their options of appeal, which often takes years."
Stang’s case was, in many ways, exceptional, because her killers were identified and brought to trial. Of the 1,270 cases of homicide of rural workers documented by the Pastoral Land Commission between 1985 and 2013, less then 10 percent were ever prosecuted. Stang’s case was one of the first times a mandante (someone who orders a killing) was convicted in Para.
From a tribute to Sister Dorothy Stang in the VISION article, Sister Dorothy Stang: Her dying shows us how to live: "Stang’s faithfulness to the gospel and commitment to her community’s mission to educate and stand with the poor is a profile in courage and true Christian discipleship. Stang is her community’s first martyr. They have pledged to continue the struggle for a world of justice and peace."
|Sister Maria Cimperman, director of the new Center for the Study of Consecrated
Life, speaks at the center's opening at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.
The Center for the Study of Consecrated Life at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago opened in February with activities including a symposium on hope and discussions on the changing nature of religious life. Under director Sister Maria Cimperman, the center plans to have both on-campus and online courses, as well as host symposia and workshops for participants to explore and study consecrated life in all its forms.
Father Robert Schreiter, professor of theology at the Catholic Theological Union, said the timing of the center’s opening is perfect. He believes the center is exactly what Pope Francis meant when he called for religious institutions to be “closer to people and their struggles in general and closer to the poor in particular.”
While there are a few centers dedicated to the study of religious life around the world, the center at the Catholic Theological Union is the first in the United States. Here, many will be able to gather information from all over the country as well as work with other international centers in order to use resources like never before.
Father Mark Francis, CTU president, said, “I believe the center is going to be a clearinghouse for a lot of what’s going on in the study of religious life. We hope to link up with the other international centers, and examine how religious life is transforming itself. We want to make sure we’re looking not just here, but at the developing world and from all these various perspectives.”
Sister Barbara Reid, vice president and academic dean at CTU, expressed her excitement for both the future of religious life and the new center for studying it. At the opening, she explained some of the goals for the recent addition to CTU, saying, “Part of the vision for this is that we are at a turning point – the way religious life was lived in the past, that form of religious life is dying. Something new is coming about, and we’re right at the cusp of that.”
Read more here.
|Carmelites in India celebrated the 500th anniversary of the birth of Saint Teresa of Avila
as well as the addition of six new members during this Year of Consecrated Life.
The Discalced Carmelites in India are celebrating with "joyful gratitude to the Lord" the six new religious who will make their final vows soon. This year, the Year of Consecrated Life, is also the 500th anniversary of the birth of Saint Teresa of Avila, reformer of the Carmelite order.
Speaking to AsiaNews, the Prioress of the Baroda Monastery explained that the opening of the Year of Consecrated Life last November "was the first time that we contemplative celebrated a liturgy with the active congregations." For the occasion, the cloistered nuns invited the Missionaries of Charity and the Auxilium Sisters.
Discover more about the Carmelites here.
|A CARA study finds about 68 percent of religious entered their institute with at least a bachelor’s degree.|
The latest study from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) was released just before the World Day for Consecrated Life (Feb. 2) and the national Day of Open House with Religious (Feb. 8).
Study highlights on religious men and women who professed perpetual vows to the nearly 800 communities in 2014 include:
* They were more likely to have attended Catholic high schools and colleges than the average American Catholic.
* Two in three (68 percent) entered their religious institute with at least a bachelor’s degree (61 percent for women and 80 percent for men). 18 percent of religious earned a graduate degree before entering their religious institute.
* Most religious did not report that educational debt delayed their application for entrance to their institute. Among those who did report educational debt, however, they averaged one year of delay while they paid down an average of $15,750 in educational debt.
* The average age of responding religious of the Profession Class of 2014 was 37. Half of the responding religious were age 34 or younger. The youngest was 24 and the oldest was 64.
* Nearly all of the religious of the Profession Class of 2014 (89 percent) participated in some type of vocation program or experience prior to entering their religious institute. Most common was a “Come and See” experience (59 percent) or a vocation retreat (50 percent).
* Nearly half said that a parish priest or a religious sister or brother encouraged their vocation (49 and 47 percent). Men were more likely than women to have been encouraged by a parish priest, religious sister, or brother.
“Given the fact that 89 percent of those responding to the recent CARA survey of new religious had participated in some form of a ‘Come and See’ experience prior to entering their religious institute, we know it is important for our youth and young adults to have greater exposure and familiarity with the community life of religious,” said Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Raleigh, N.C., chairman of the USCCB Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations. “I encourage everyone to take advantage of the opportunity to visit local religious communities in their own area during the Day of Religious Open Houses, Sunday, Feb. 8.”
Read the full CARA study here.
For a full list of upcoming Open House and "Come and See" events, click here.
"The invitations that I have received because of my religious life, because of the consecrated life... it's just been an adventure, with the community, and with ministry, and with prayer, I get the graces I need at the time to respond to the challenges," says VISION author Sister Susan Kidd, CND.
The "Wake up the World" series from NETTVCATHOLIC features the Marist Brothers community in Brooklyn, N.Y., also in honor of the Year of Consecrated Life. The brothers talk about their personal vocations as well as their community's charism in the video below.
|The Daughters of Mary of Nazareth in Chestnut Hill, Mass., started in December 2011.|
With the Year of Consecrated Life underway, there is more cause for celebration as new religious orders are working toward "pontifical status" as official religious communities. According to the National Catholic Register: "None of these orders are pontifically approved, but they have diocesan approval, which is one of the first steps for a new community.
"Virtually no community jumps to pontifical status immediately; they move through various stages in their original diocese and then get received into other dioceses, building toward the day when they can apply for universal recognition by the Holy See."
The three communities striving for pontifical status include:
Sisters of Our Mother of Divine Grace, with their apostolate being parish work and ecumenism.
The Daughters of Mary of Nazareth order is entrusted to the Blessed Mother and Saint Joseph.
Brigittine Servitores charism is with Marian spirituality as well as the Latin liturgy.
Read more about the formation of these religious communities here.
|Vatican report concludes: “Women religious have courageously been in the forefront, selflessly tending to the spiritual, moral, educational, physical, and social needs of countless individuals."|
In mid-December, the Vatican released its final report on a multi-year investigation into how American sisters live, work, and pray. The report was largely postive and expressed gratitude for the sisters' ministry and witness.
“Women religious have courageously been in the forefront, selflessly tending to the spiritual, moral, educational, physical, and social needs of countless individuals,” the report said.
The Final Report on the Apostolic Visitation of Institutes of Women Religious in the United States of America resulted from a visitation beginning in 2008 "to look into the quality of the life of religious women in the United States." It was initiated because "apostolic religious life in the United States is experiencing challenging times."
Brother Paul Bednarczyk, C.S.C., executive director of the National Religious Vocation Conference (VISION's parent organization), shared his thoughts on the report with America: "Religious sisters are an essential and formidable force in the life of the church. They have managed hospitals, schools, and universities and have forged innovative, effective ministries to meet the needs of the poor with little money, but with great vision and determination. I applaud the Congregation’s acknowledgement of the structural, cultural, and financial challenges women’s religious institutes face in attracting and retaining new members. I am especially heartened by the Congregation’s very clearly stated commitment to work with Pope Francis to find expression for 'feminine genius' and a role for women in 'decision making in the different areas of Church life.' During this Year of Consecrated Life, Pope Francis invites all religious to look to our future with hope."
The Global Sisters Report said of the report: "Using some form of the word 'gratitude' eight times over its 12 pages, the report also acknowledges the suspicion many sisters had over the launching of the investigation and says the Vatican is seeking 'respectful and fruitful dialogue' with those who refused to collaborate in the process."
Although the number of those in religious life is diminishing, support for these challenges is present in the report. The Year of Consecrated Life will offer even more opportunities for the laity and religious to experience the charisms, community, and grace of consecrated life.
|Contemplative Carmelite communities from Spain (left) and Southwest England (right) doing "everyday" things.|
Two different blogs recently captured the lives of Carmelite sisters with stunning photographs. Carmelites are monastic, contemplative, and apostolic in character. One of the Carmelite communities featured is the Convento de Santa Teresa in Spain. Photographer/writer Lori Needlman shares of her experience: "The monjas (nuns), about ten or so, flashed smiles and passed their hands through the bars to be held by us. In utter chaos, each monja asked questions, laughed, and smiled. They were excited to have us visit on the day of my nephew's communion! This informal dance kept on for some time. I stood back observing and feeling lucky to be able to meet the monjas. This hidden part of Spanish culture is not something you can see as a tourist."
The Everyday Lives of Nuns, a photo blog by David Rosenburg, features a series called “Sisters of Sclerder” by Ibolya Feher. Rosenburg writes, "It’s one thing to decide to create a photographic series about an enclosed contemplative monastery; it’s another to make it happen. Determined to create a series about a world that seems almost otherworldly, Ibolya Feher went the modern route and did a Google search to find the monastery closest to her home in Southwest England. That turned out to be the Sisters of the Carmelite order, who live in Sclerder Abbey, about a three-hour train ride away. The Carmelite order is one of the oldest contemplative orders in which the sisters live and work primarily in silence and rarely allow outsider visitors."
A short list of Carmelite communities to peruse:
Carmelites (O.Carm)-Congregation of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel
Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm (O.Carm)
Carmelite Friars (O.Carm.) [St. Elias Province]
Association of British Carmels
Carmelite Monastery, Notting Hill Carmel, UK
Ware Carmel, UK
Discalced Carmelite Friars (O.C.D.) Washington Province
|“This is a special time for celebrating, with all the Church, the gift of your vocation and for reviving your prophetic mission,” Pope Francis said of the Year of Consecrated Life. (photo credit: CNA)|
Msgr. Jose Rodriguez Carballo, secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Society of Apostolic Life, told Vatican Radio that the first Sunday of Advent was selected as the launch date because Advent represents "the time of hope par excellence." He said the congregation would like the entire year "to be lived with the hope that must always characterize consecrated life."
Pope Francis issued a letter for the YCL that states the focus of the year: "look to the past with gratitude," "live the present with passion," and "embrace the future with hope."
In an exclusive interview with Vatican Radio, Zambia’s Bishop Patrick Chisanga of the Mansa Diocese of the Order of Friars Minor Conventuals, said the declaration of a Year of Consecrated Life should be used by religious to revisit their call to religious life. "It is an important moment of introspection. Every religious institution in Africa needs to re-examine and ask itself where they are as an institution, where they are coming from, and where they are going. In other words, in this moment in time, what is their place and role in the Church?" Bishop Chisanga asks.
He emphasized that the year is not exclusively for religious. “It is a year in which the Church as a whole reflects on the charisms of the religious in the context of new evangelization and in the context of the importance of the family in Africa and in the Church. We must never forget that the men and women in religious life come from families,” he said.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, celebrated Mass for the first Sunday of Advent at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. In his homily, Cardinal Wuerl quoted Pope Francis on the role of religious men and women: “I want to say one word to you and this word is joy. Wherever consecrated people are there is always joy!” Cardinal Wuerl said, “The background against which we recognize the joy of religious life is of course the value or worth of consecrated commitment and its unique witness in the world. This vision is found in the Gospels and particularly in the longstanding appreciation of the extraordinary witness to the reality of God’s kingdom that is religious life.”
Upcoming events for the Year of Consecrated Life include:
Jan. 22-24, 2015 - Meeting of Catholic consecrated men and women and consecrated religious from other Christian traditions (to be held during the week of Christian unity).
Feb. 8, 2015 - Day of Open House with Religious.
|Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and
Societies of Apostolic Life, will preside over the opening mass for the Year of Consecrated Life.
Because Pope Francis will be on his apostolic trip to Turkey from Nov. 28-30, News.VA reports that the mass to open the Year of Consecrated Life will be celebrated by Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.
Cardinal Braz de Aviz said in a January 2014 interview from VIS, "This year dedicated to consecrated life has been prepared in the context of the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council and, more specifically, on the 50th anniversary of the publication of the conciliar decree on the renewal of consecrated life 'Perfectae caritatis.' … Because we recognize these 50 years that separate us from the Council as a moment of grace for consecrated life, as marked by the presence of the Spirit that leads us to live even our weaknesses and infidelities as an experience of God's mercy and love, we want this year to be an occasion for 'gratefully remembering' this recent past. This is the first objective of the Year for Consecrated Life.”
Important dates to remember for this worldwide event include:
Nov. 30, 2014: The Year of Consecrated Life begins (First Sunday of Advent).
Feb. 8, 2015: Religious Open House. Events will be coordinated to also celebrate the World Meeting of Families to take place in Philadelphia and will include tours, open houses, receptions, family activities, and presentations on the history of religious communities at convents, abbeys, monasteries, and religious houses.
Summer 2015: Day of Mission and Service with Religious. Events will include joining religious in their apostolates or special service projects, such as assisting the elderly, ministering to the poor and homeless, and caring for the less fortunate.
Sept. 13, 2015: Day of Prayer with Religious. Events will include vespers, rosary, or holy hours in convents, monasteries, religious houses, parishes, and churches.
Feb. 2, 2016: The Year of Consecrated Life closes on the World Day of Consecrated Life.
View resources on the Year of Consecrated Life from the USCCB and VISION.
#ycl2015 #yearofconsecratedlife #wakeuptheworld
The best of VISION Vocation Guide has been published as an ebook, ‘Discover Your Path,’ available on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PKHUP08.
“Discovering our vocation in life is absolutely impossible without coming to some awareness of our own life stories and a deep appreciation of the advice and support of friends,” writes Friar Douglas Adam Greer, O.P., in VISION 2002, “Getting to know what makes us tick, what energizes us, what vision of life gives us hope, pounded-out and pulled-together in the mortar and pestle of friendship, is the process through which we come to make an informed vocation choice.”To that end, the articles collected in 'Discover Your Path' will help discerners pound out and pull together information and insights into where God might be calling them—a process often referred to as “vocation discernment.” May the readers of 'Discover Your Path' find it useful as they seek the vocations within themselves.
|Br. Timothy Danaher, O.P., with his parents William and Theresa.|
In a recent interview with the National Catholic Register, Bishop Michael Burbidge of the Diocese of Raleigh, N.C., and chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, discusses the important role family plays in the conversation about consecrated life.
“The family has to be the foundation from which good vocations are received or planted and the seeds are nurtured. That can be related to vocations with the diocesan priesthood. So much of our work has to be with parents and families to help them understand what this life is and their role in encouraging their sons or daughters, when it comes to consecrated life, and to have their hearts open to it. That was presumed before. There was a time in history when, even when I was a seminarian … that was a given," Burbidge said. “So that’s where we have to do much better work: to be nurturing and helping the parents. That has to be the essential part of vocation work, so we’re not just going to say we need our young people to learn about consecrated life, but their families need to be involved, too."
According to a CARA survey on the discernment process, “The number three seems to be critical in making a difference in the life of someone contemplating a vocation. When three or more people encourage someone to consider a religious vocation, he or she is far more likely to take serious steps toward answering that call.”
For more on this topic, read Fr. Andrew Hofer’s article "How to talk to your family about your vocation."
|Little Sisters of the Poor from the Baltimore, Brooklyn, and Chicago provinces with the president of Franciscan University and the Minister Provincial of the Sacred Heart Province receive the 2014 Poverello Medal.|
The Little Sisters of the Poor, who “through their vocation wish to give quiet witness to the dignity of every human life, until the very end,” were recently awarded the Franciscan University of Steubenville's highest non-academic award, the Poverello Medal.
Named after Franciscan University's patron, Saint Francis of Assisi, who was known as “Il Poverello,” (the little poor man), Sr. Loraine Maguire, provincial superior of the Baltimore province, said, "I see in this medal the symbol of all the things that matter: to be poor, little, humble, and merciful to all those we serve; to treat others as Christ himself, and to live in a manner that reflects his very life."
The main address of the evening was given by Sr. Constance Veit, LSP, national communications director for the congregation. She recounted how Saint Francis of Assisi was horrified by lepers at first and that this same journey "from self to other" was taken by their French foundress, Jeanne Jugan.
Veit reminded the crowd that the elderly, who will represent 19 percent of the U.S. population by 2030, "have become the contemporary outcasts" of society. "I urge you to fight against the tendency to marginalize and abandon the elderly, to commit what the pope refers to as 'hidden euthanasia,'" she said.
Congregation of Holy Cross released a special feature, 'Final Vows,' a video highlighting the men who recently took their final vows with Holy Cross in Notre Dame, Ind.
"When a religious professes his vows, he consecrates himself to God through the Church, but he also solidifies his bond with his community. From that moment on, he is no longer discerning; he is now and forever our brother in Christ," one of the men in the video says.
The purpose of the video is to raise awareness about the importance of final vows in the life of consecrated religious.
View the video:
For more information on Holy Cross vocations, visit:
|2015 Year of Consecrated Life|
Important dates to remember for this worldwide event include:
Nov. 30, 2014: The Year of Consecrated Life begins (First Sunday of Advent).
Feb. 8, 2015: Religious Open House. Events will be coordinated to also celebrate the World Meeting of Families to take place in Philadelphia and will include tours, open houses, receptions, family activities, and presentations on the history of religious communities at convents, abbeys, monasteries, and religious houses.
Summer 2015: Day of Mission and Service with Religious. Events will include joining religious in their apostolates or special service projects, such as assisting the elderly, ministering to the poor and homeless, and caring for the less fortunate.
Sept. 13, 2015: Day of Prayer with Religious. Events will include vespers, rosary, or holy hours in convents, monasteries, religious houses, parishes, and churches.
Feb. 2, 2016: The Year of Consecrated Life closes on the World Day of Consecrated Life.
View more resources from the USCCB and VISION.
#ycl #yearofconsecratedlife #wakeuptheworld
|(Catholic Sun file photo)|
With the Year of Consecrated Life approaching soon, The Catholic Sun, the newspaper of the Diocese of Phoenix in Arizona, highlighted accomplishments of religious orders in its area. Some of them include:
• Sr. Mara Rutten began her canonical year with Maryknoll Sisters last month. The Minnesota native earned a Doctorate of Philosophy in history at Arizona State University and just completed a year of theological studies with Maryknoll at an intercongregational novitiate program in Chicago.
• A San Diego newspaper profiled two Sisters of St. Joseph last month on the occasion of their 50th and 60th jubilees. One of them, Sr. Suzanne Ensminger, now works with refugees through Catholic Charities and first experienced religious life growing up with the women religious at Sacred Heart Parish in Prescott, Ariz . “I grew up with the sisters in Prescott,” Ensminger says. “They were joyful, happy women. I went to college for a year before I entered, but I knew that was what I wanted to do.”
• Nadin William Ospino recently entered the postulancy program of the Crosier Fathers and Brothers. The ceremony was in Phoenix, which serves as headquarters for one of the order’s three provinces.
• The Society of Jesus, which has a Jesuit parish and elementary, junior, and high school in the Diocese of Phoenix, welcomed 33 men into this year’s novice class. Their average age is 28, with nearly 40 percent having attended a Jesuit high school or university.
View more Year of Consecrated Life resources.
|"I return from Honduras evangelized by the poor, strengthened to live out my own gift of self with love, joy, simplicity, humility, and generosity," Friar Marius-Petrus Bilha O.F.M. says of his mission trip.|
From March to August, Friar Marius-Petrus Bilha had a "profound and intense 'formation' experience" at the Friars Minor Conventual mission in Tegucigalpa, Honoduras. On the outskirts of the capital, Friar Marius-Petrus did pastoral ministry at the parish of St. Maximillian Kolbe in a poor and highly dangerous area. For him "this experience was like a letter written to me by God, through the people, events, and encounters I experienced. Four special words spring up in my heart: affection, joy, simplicity, and generosity.
"I received so much more than I was able to give back. It’s really true—the best evangelizers are the poor!"
Read Friar Marius-Petrus Bilha OFM's full mission experience here.
If you want to know more about the Franciscan communities, here are a few links:
Franciscan Friars, Conventual
Franciscan Friars (OFM) Province of Saint Barbara
Franciscan Friars (O.F.M.) Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus
Order of Friars Minor, UK
Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn
Franciscan Friars of St. John the Baptist Province
Franciscan Friars, Assumption of the BVM Province
Franciscan Friars, Sacred Heart Province
Franciscan Friars (T.O.R.), Immaculate Conception Province
Franciscan Friars (O.F.M.) Province of the Immaculate Conception
Franciscan Friars (O.F.M.)
Capuchin Francican Friars of Great Britian
Franciscan Friars of the Atonement
|Virtual choir of cloistered Carmelite nuns sing: “Nada Te Turbe” (“Let Nothing Disturb You”) in an original composition by Sr. Claire Sokol.|
As first seen from the Global Sisters Report-"Ninety-three Discalced Carmelite nuns in 24 countries have reached out of their cloistered monasteries to sing together in a virtual choir honoring St. Teresa of Avila on the 500th anniversary of her birth."
View and listen to “Nada Te Turbe” (“Let Nothing Disturb You”) in an original composition by Sr. Claire Sokol here:
The Carmelite friars and Secular Carmelites join them in the 11th century “Salve Regina” chant with an added descant written by Sokol here:
Discover more about the Carmelites here:
Carmelites (O.Carm)-Congregation of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel
Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm
Association of British Carmels
Carmelites, Notting Hill, UK
Discalced Carmelite Friars (O.C.D.) Washington Province
Carmelite Friars (O.Carm.) [St. Elias Province]
|“There are two kinds of people — battery chargers and battery drainers,” says Amy Manion of Sugar Grove, Ill. “Sister Kathleen (Ryan) is a battery charger. She inspires the students and tutors.”|
Sister Kathleen Ryan, O.P., a Springfield Domincan, saw a need for literacy among immigrant women and took matters into her own hands, reports the Chicago Tribune’s Leslie Mann. Sr. Kathleen is founder of the Dominican Literacy Center in Aurora, Illinois, where she teaches female immigrants to speak, read, and write in English. Ryan started the program in 1993 using her experience as a former school teacher and principal.” When asked why the program caters only to women, Ryan said, “the men learn English at work and the children learn it at school.”
With support from the Springfield Dominican sisters, Sr. Kathleen and other tutors began to teach in a church basement.
Now, the program is housed in an old convent. Ryan and her staff have taught more than 2,500 students and about 500 have graduated, according to the Tribune report. She and her staff teach women from all over the world, and students in the program can also attend sessions where tutors “read the paper and talk about getting mortgages, good credit scores, car loans, child care, transportation, jobs, kids’ vaccinations.” These are questions that many would not have answered if they did not have Sr. Kathleen or the Dominican Literacy Center.
Sr. Kathleen works hard and has helped so many in the community, but says she tries to find the joy in work. When asked about her life motto she exclaimed, “Life doesn’t have to be dreary. Work can be hard and painful, but if you try to be playful, it can be fun.”
Click here to learn more about the Dominican Sisters of Springfield.
|Francisan Saint Marianne Cope's remains return to Hawaii and will be held in the reliquary in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace, Honolulu.|
Saint Marianne Cope, a Franciscan sister, was working with the leprosy patients in the Hawaiian island of Molokai when she died in 1918. At the time, her remains were returned to Syrause, New York, to the motherhouse of the Franciscan Sisters of the Neuman Communities.
Now the building which housed her remains is no longer structurally sound, according to an Associated Press report, and her community made the decision to return the saint's remains to Hawaii where she served most of her life.
Her fellow sisters carried her remains out of the building in a box shaped like a canoe made of Hawaiian koa wood. When the remains arrived in Honolulu, “hundreds packed into the cathedral," according to the AP report, "where people lined up for a chance to kiss the box. The remains will be kept in Honolulu where they will be entombed in a special chapel.
Bishop Larry Silva of the Honolulu diocese gave the homily during the the welcoming Mass, saying, “The mortal remains of this frail creature of God...have an incredible spirit of their own, an aura that makes us want to be near them. . . . We want to touch the relics of this woman who dedicated herself to healing, so that we may be healed and may be healers.”
Learn more about the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities.
|This 19th-Century gold dalmatic worn by deacons during special occasions such as Christmas and Easter is one of many items on display at "Crossings and Dwellings."|
According to Catholic New World, curator Jesuit Father Stephen Schloesser, a professor of French history: "Hopes the exhibit helps people realize that the Jesuits and the other religious who came to the United States were immigrants, some serving immigrant populations and others going out to evangelize among the Native Americans.
“In a way, it make totals sense for a European historian to do this,” Schloesser said. “It gets at the idea that this is the American story, a story of immigration.”"
"The exhibit, mounted in honor of the 200th anniversary of the second Jesuit restoration, starts by telling the story of the Jesuit presence in the American Midwest and their travels across North America. It also looks at the contributions of religious women to the development of Chicago and other parts of the United States, particularly the Religious of the Sacred Heart and the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary."
|A 1930 photo of Sister Mary Justitia Coffey, BVM, the first president of Mundelein College, and her desk also on display at the LUMA exhibit.|
Learn more about the project at www.chiesanuova.org. Learn more about the Franciscan Friars here.
Sister Blandina Segale, S.C, once called the "Fastest Nun in the West” for her quick response to injustice in the frontier towns of the Southwest, is now up for sainthood. The Santa Fe Archdiocese has taken up her cause after receiving approval from the Vatican, according to a statement issued by the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, Segale’s religious community.
As a young sister, Italian-born Segale was sent by her superior to Trinidad, Colorado, a frontier mining town (pictured above), to teach poor children. One of her first battles, says a profile of Segale at ItalyHeritge.com, was against lynching, a rough form of justice practiced in remote areas at the time. Segale was later transferred to Santa Fe, where with little resources she was able to found public and Catholic schools and construct a hospital. She was an untiring champion of the poor and marginalized of the community, particularly Native Americans.
This is the first time that New Mexico can lay claim to a person being considered for sainthood, making locals very excited. In an interview in the New York Daily News New York Daily News., Allen Sanchez, president and CEO for CHI St. Joseph's Children in Albuquerque, a social service agency Segale founded, explains, "There are other holy people who have worked here, but this would be a saint (who) started institutions in New Mexico that are still in operation.”
While her work with the poor made her well known throughout the local community, it was her interaction with outlaw Billy the Kid and his gang that gave her national attention. She has been the subject of books and an episode of the T.V. Western series “Death Valley Days.”
Even after all that, it may take a while to have her become officially recognized as a saint. The church needs to research, investigate, and validate claims of her miracles.
“Miracles could come in the form of healings," says Sanchez, "assistance to recent Central American immigrant children detained at the U.S. border or some other unexplained occurrences after devotees pray to her.”
Learn more about the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati here.
Sacred Heart Sister Philomene Tiernan, R.S.C.J., on a return flight to Sydney, Australia after a trip to Europe, was aboard Malaysian Flight MH17 that was shot down over Ukrainian airspace July 17, 2014.
According to a statement from the school where Tiernan worked, the 77-year-old sister had been making an annual retreat that included a trip to Europe and a visit to St. Francis Xavier Church in Paris, where the founder of the Society of the Sacred Heart, Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat, is buried.
"She was a leading light and will be an incredible loss to the Society of the Sacred Heart, and a huge loss to our school community." said Ms. Johnston-Croke, principal Kincoppal-Rose Bay School of the Sacred Heart, where Tiernan served as a teacher and administrator for more than 30 years.
The Society of the Sacred Heart has schools in 44 countries and all have conveyed their tributes and condolences to the school, Johnston-Croke told The Australian."I've been getting email and texts from all over the world," she said.
Below is a short video made earlier in which Sr.Tiernan and past students talk about the Sisters of the Society of the Sacred Heart and Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat, its foundress.
You may have seen the news story about the group of Franciscan friars-in-training who along with two older
|Friars at their journey's end.|
friars walked from Roanoke, Virginia to Washington, D.C. The idea was, in the words of the Washington Post, "to emulate the wanderings of their founder, Saint Francis of Assisi . . . to journey together as a fraternity, ministering to one another and to strangers, while depending on God for every meal and place to sleep," and by so doing help form themselves in the Franciscan spirit.
They took no money-what people pressed on them they spent on food and gave the rest away-and made no plans to have a roof over their heads. Their destination was the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land near Catholic University in Washington, which for them had a symbolic meaning as the close of their trip.They have a website about their journey. Their journey echoed Jesus' command to the disciples he sent out ahead of him to "take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money-not even an extra tunic" (Luke 9:3). "Anything can happen when you live in the moment, one step at a time," said one of the older friars. "But to find that out, you have to be willing to take that one step."
Needless to say they attracted a lot of attention. "Dressed like we are in our habits," another said, "it's like a walking sign that says, 'Tell us your life's problems.' " And of problems they did hear: relationship-difficulty-afflicted commuters poured out their hearts; a woman who had recently kicked out her husband and daughter told them her troubles. They chatted with a group of intoxicated bikers. Others who had no idea who they were thought them to be on their way to a Star Wars convention. Some kids took them for Shaolin monks. At the Lincoln Memorial folks wanted their picture taken with them. On one occasion the local police wanted to know what they were up to.
Along the Lee Highway in Fairfax, Va. a woman and her three children picked them up in her minivan and took them out to eat at Chik-fil-A. "It was the oddest experience sitting there at Chik-fil-A with everyone staring at us," the woman said. "The high point was when the guy dressed up like a cow came out and gave us all high fives. He was in costume. They were in robes. A lot of people were wondering what was going on."
Their outdoor sleep locations included a trampoline next to a firehouse (one moved, they all moved); picnic tables behind a church; and five nights on the Appalachian Trail. Indoor locales were the home of a tattooed and toothless Native American healer (where they spent the night exchanging gospel/Native stories and double flute playing/Latin hymn chanting); a Trappistine abbey; Catholic churches; a Baptist church; a church deacon's basement; a police academy barracks; and several nights in the "homes of strangers."
Read the full story with photo gallery.
Father Jeremy Tobin, O. Praem. writes of the involvement of his community, the Norbertine Fathers and Brothers, with Catholic social justice.
I was at a national convention of human rights activists. Many were young people fired up about doing something to improve the quality of human life on the planet. They represented numerous causes, issues, and every group imaginable. People spoke from firsthand experience with candor and fervor. Every religion as well as no religion was represented. To see 500-plus young people animated about doing something to alleviate the immense gap between rich and poor, workers and managers, made me come alive with our own Catholic tradition of social justice. I see hope for the future. This goes way back beyond Vatican II, but the Council brought it together and gave it new life. So many other groups, religious and secular, freely acknowledge the influence Catholic social teaching has on their particular issues.
This is partly why I get up in the morning. Another piece is Mississippi. We chose Mississippi precisely because it is the poorest state in the union. It has a hoary history of oppression. It has a sparse population of Catholics (2 percent). At the same time it has a Christian culture. The Catholic population has been here from the beginning. The people are friendly and very appreciative of whatever talents we bring. The needs are huge. The enthusiasm is strong.
Katrina brought young volunteers from all over the country, and they still come. Many groups share our hospitality and encouragement at our priory-in-the-woods. I dream of some of them staying longer to do more to help us raise the quality of life and the spiritual energy of all our people.
For those who want to work with immigrants, there are plenty of opportunities: Spanish, Filipino, Vietnamese—all with long Catholic histories. African Americans, Catholic and Protestant, offer a wide range of opportunities to serve from our religious tradition. Catholicism among people of African descent goes back to the very beginning of this region. For those interested in Native Americans, the Choctaw Nation, now with its resorts and enterprises, has been here before anybody else. Many are Catholic, but we can serve all. Everybody is called to be God’s child.
All these groups offer a wide range of social justice, human rights, and religious formation areas to energize those dedicated people who pass through here. There is a strong social justice community, Catholic, Protestant, and other, working in harmony to make this new century one of rebirth and hope.
Norbertines are social workers and teachers, parish priests and chaplains in hospitals and prisons. Opportunities are limitless and the support is strong.
It all comes from Jesus, “When I was hungry, you fed me, thirsty you gave me a drink, naked you clothed me, homeless you gave me shelter, in prison you visited me, sick you healed me.” This is the core of Catholic social justice. Join us!
7100 Midway Rd., Raymond, MS 39154, 601-857-0157
This article reprinted from www.stmosestheblackpriory.org.
by Sister Karen Zielinski, O.S.F.
It was a typical Saturday in Sylvania, Ohio, home of my community, the Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania, Ohio. I had two major community events going on at the same time: a meeting and a weekend retreat. I attended the meeting and when we broke for lunch, I rushed to the retreat. Then I went back to my meeting. When the meeting ended early, I attended one of the retreat conferences. A friar there shared some words that hit me right in the heart:
“If a visitor came to your 89-acre campus and asked directions to a building, a Franciscan way of responding to the question is for the person to just accompany the visitor to the spot. That is a relational, Franciscan way of living.”
Just like the gospel message, simple but hard to live out, our presence to others is fundamental but often difficult to do. So many times a sister might present a lecture or a recital or have a fundraiser she is involved in, and we are asked for our support. Usually that means attendance at an event. We are often tired after a day of ministry or not feeling too well. The weather might be cold or rainy, and we just want to put our feet up and stay home. But we go to the talk or lecture. And once we get there, we are glad we did.
Of course all beauty is God’s, and when we rest in prayer, we rest in the presence and beauty of God. Prayer is the ultimate gift of God’s presence. We have to be there to receive that presence as well.
Saint Francis of Assisi’s presence to people guides me. “Francis once took a certain sick brother, whom he knew had a longing for grapes, into a vineyard, and sitting down under the vine, he first ate to give the other courage to eat.” He did not only send the brother the grapes, or send a representative.
Presence is a gift of attention and an opening of the mind to be receptive to the other person. In society today people often feel relieved simply to write a check, make a donation, or find a reason not to attend. Presence is a gift of time, that precious part of our daily lives that we guard for things which are important. There is nothing like being at an event, present in all our humanity to the other person. Being there is important.
The gift of our presence is very simple. We all can remember the times when we accompanied a family member or friend to a medical test. I remember having to go through an MRI test—something I dislike but need for my overall health care. A friend simply accompanied me to the test and sat there with me. It meant the world to me. She was just there beside me, being my friend.
Although a telephone call is not the same as being there, it can be a much warmer presence than email. So often my mother asks me if I have talked to my sister Judy. I tell her I have, because I email my sister often. When my mother asks, “How does she sound? How is her cold?” I realize that I have not been very present to my sister. But email is so convenient! Maybe I can try to make even my email message more “present” to my sister, too—more open to everyone.
Being there is not restricted to Franciscans but to anyone who has a Franciscan heart. A friend of mine who works for the Detroit Tigers baseball team gave me four tickets to a recent game. I went to the stadium with three other sisters. We got to our seats and because I had pulled my back out the week before I simply stayed in the handicapped section and advised my three sisters to go down to the better seats. While I watched the game in the top row, someone called to me. “You all alone? Where are your girlfriends?”
The African American man had one leg and wore a green jogging suit with the words “Turkey Man” on the back of his jacket. I had seen him 20 minutes earlier in the clubhouse—he was the team’s caterer for that game and had just unloaded pounds of freshly roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, and rolls.
“I told them to go down to watch the game. My back is on the mend,” I said to Turkey Man. Turkey Man came over to me and asked where I was from. I told him we were Franciscan Sisters from Ohio and had come to see the game.
“You should not be alone! I will bring you a Coke.” So Turkey Man got me a Coke and shared “Franciscan presence” with me. Oh, one of the sisters came up later and sat with me, but I was most touched by Turkey Man.
Much is said today about the art of being present. Saints Francis and Clare were highly skilled at that. Clare had a profound sense of God’s abiding presence. She never felt abandoned by God; she felt his presence at all times. Being there is actually quite simple: presence to our brothers and sisters flows from our presence to God. You gotta be there!
"Our numbers fell and we were forced to cut back, and in 1996 we stopped making it completely when the last brother who knew the recipe died," explained Zvonko Topic, one of two surviving Trappist monks at the Marija Zvijezda, or “Star of Mary,” monastery near Banja Luka. "But we've now decided to bring it back to consumers here, and we'll be opening a small shop soon for tourists and visitors."
The recipe, traditionally known only to a single monk, had been rediscovered by another Bosnian Trappist in the 1970s while a novice at a monastery in Normandy, where the order was founded in 1664.
The cheese will be made at a farm belonging to the Catholic charity Caritas at Aleksandrovac, 12 miles from Banja Luka. Topic said the monastery currently has only three postulants and has been maintained by funding from the local Catholic bishop. Marija Zvijezda Monastery played a key role in Catholic life in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Topic said he hoped the community would slowly rebuild.
Cistercians of the Strict Observance, who follow the Sixth Century Rule of St Benedict, the Bosnian monks began making the Trappist cheese when the order returned to Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1872 after fleeing Turkish rule. The monastery's 200 monks produced it on a mass scale, while also running a brewery, sawmill, craft school, brick and cloth factories, until their property was seized by Yugoslavia's communist regime after the Second World War.
Hmm . . . How about some Trappist ale to go along with that gourmet cheese. Yum.
|Twins, Todd (left) and Gary Koenigsknecht, are among the Class of 2014 newly ordained priests.|
But that is not all...
"The elevation of religious life here has also had an effect on young women: Westphalia has produced 37 Catholic nuns over the decades, according to diocesan data, while Fowler claims 43. Marita Wohlfert, who is 20, is in the running to make it 44, having professed her first vows last year with the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará and taking the name Sister Mary of the Holy Family."
Is grass-fed beef the culprit? What's in the water of Westphalia and Fowler, Michigan? Please share it with the rest of us!
| “I RESISTED it at first but then realized that it would be good for me and the community to get some answers.” —Father Greg on his diagnois.
Schill says that his provincial administration "was proactive with me throughout the process as I learned what I needed to do to modify certain behaviors to compensate for the Asperger’s. The advantage of having the diagnosis is that now I know why I have been ‘different,’ and knowing that, I can be a better minister and a better community member.”
Read more about Father Greg's journey of acceptance and advocacy as well as brief profiles of other Priests of the Sacred Heart community.
Brothers Ignatius and Edward with their B&B awards
“All guests who present themselves,” Saint Benedict of Nursia wrote in his Rule for monks, “are to be welcomed as Christ, for he himself will say: ‘I was a stranger and you welcomed me’ (Matthew 25:25).” Fifteen hundred years later, a group of monks on Chicago’s South Side are continuing the Benedictine tradition of hospitality: a Benedictine Bed and Breakfast.
The Monastery of the Holy Cross’s Benedictine Bed and Breakfast has won national awards from the hospitality industry and is listed on several travel and food websites. Most nights from spring through early winter the bed and breakfast, which is housed in a former parish complex the monastery occupies, operates at full capacity. It is also available year-round. Drawing on an international as well as national and local clientele, the B&B has welcomed guests from countries on almost every continent, including New Zealand, Brazil, Singapore, Australia, Denmark, Russia, Finland, Wales, Croatia, Switzerland, the Philippines, Japan, the Middle East, South Africa, Italy, Germany, France, Spain, Ireland, England, Canada, and Austria.
For more information on the monastery, visit www.chicagomonk.org
Universal Music was looking to get on the Gregorian chant bandwagon, but where to find monks to record some? Then company execs ran across a YouTube video (see below) featuring the Cistercian monks of Austria's Heiligenkreuz Monastery, and it was a deal. The monks join a Universal artist roster that includes Amy Winehouse and Eminem.
Elias Mallon, S.A.
For more than 20 years Father Elias Mallon, a Franciscan Friar of the Atonement, has worked in Christian dialogue with non-Christians, Muslims in particular. His most recent efforts have been with Franciscans International, a nongovernmental (nonprofit) organization and the United Nations, where he is involved in issues of interreligious conflict transformation and peace building, including those in the Middle East. He also speaks and teaches widely.
Previously Mallon was on the faculty of the Ecumenical Institute of the World Council of Churches in Bossey, Switzerland, where he also represented what is now the Catholic Church’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. He worked as well at the Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute, a ministry of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement, and was even interim dean for a year of Auburn Seminary, a Presbyterian seminary in New York City.
In addition to his ecumenical work, Mallon has taught Old Testament and Near Eastern Languages.
“How one asks a question greatly determines how one seeks the answer,” Mallon says. “For centuries Christians have been asking if non-Christians could be saved. Early on in my work with non-Christians the question which arose for me and continues to motivate me is: What is our good and loving Creator trying to tell us by the existence of different religions in our world? It is a question which fascinates me, humbles me, and drives me on.”
What do you think people can learn from dialoging with those from other religions?
Lasallian Teacher Immersion
“This is my 35th year in education,” says Christian Brother Patrick Conway. “One thing I’ve noticed is the shrinking pool of male teachers, particularly as related to theology and religion teachers. In the United States today, 19 percent of all Catholic school teachers are men. In the public schools it’s 21 percent . . . .”
To address this shortage, the Midwest province of the Christian Brothers has initiated the Lasallian Teacher Immersion Program to guide more young men into teaching. The program draws on students from Christian Brothers universities and colleges and gives them supervised classroom teaching experience and chances to serve those in need, all while earning college credit.
The first group of Lasallians volunteered at an inner city middle school for at-risk young people and worked in shelters, soup kitchens, and day-care facilities. In addition, they took classes themselves at nearby Christian Brothers schools. A future semester will involve students in a five-week program in Guatemala. Other activities include community living and working at a Catholic Worker house.
The Lasallian program returns the Christian Brothers to their roots of working in inner cities among immigrants, Brother Patrick tells Catholic News Service. “We are now returning to our mission. We have been trying to become more attuned to the plight of the poor.”
Have ever thought being a teacher? What do you think would be the rewards and challenges of teaching?
For 900 years the Augustinian monastery of Klosterneuburg has risen above the banks of the Danube just north of Vienna. Though it is one of oldest monasteries in Austria, it has, since 2003, become a leader as well in a quite modern enterprise: the environmentally friendly heating of its immense facilities.
Two state-of-the-art biomass furnaces have replaced a number of obsolete heating systems or systems fired with fossil fuels in the monastery, a leisure centre, the hospital, and two municipal buildings in the city of Klosterneuburg. This new equipment has reduced CO2 emissions by 97 percent.
Installed underground to preserve the monastery’s façade, the construction of the biomass boilers also allowed the monastery to build a new a wine storage hall (the region is famous for its winemaking) and new underground visitor parking.
Father Larry Janowski, O.F.M.
A vocation to religious life can be large enough to leave room for other vocations—being a poet, for example.
Just ask Father Larry Janowski. A member of the Franciscans since 1968, Janowski recently published his first book of poetry, BrotherKeeper (Puddin’head Press), named for the book’s poem about the death of a 5-year-old thrown from the 14th floor of a Chicago housing project for refusing to steal candy.
Janowski’s work has earned him prizes, grants, fellowships, and residencies, and his poems have appeared in a number of literary magazines. He gives poetry readings and workshops on a regular basis and is also a contributor to a new literary journal, Fifth Wednesday. With master’s degrees in both fiction writing and theology, Janowski is also an adjunct professor of English at Dominican University and Wilbur Wright College in the Chicago area.
On his way to becoming a poet, he says in an interview with the suburban Chicago Arlington Heights Post, “I had written poetry in high school and college and I remembered all the things I loved about poetry: the economy of language, the compression and the images. The fact that every word, every punctuation mark, every choice about a line break, all of those things are incredibly important. And yet your whole piece could be on a single page.” After a while, he says, “I began to realize my religious background and training also contributed to the kind of poet I am.”
Janowski does not so much consider himself a religious poet as a religious person who is a poet. “As with all people,” he says, “I’m in a constant quest for spiritual meaning, for some heartbeat everyone shares. A poem, a good one, can allow you to see you are not alone—and that goes for the poet as well as the reader of the poem.”
Speaking of his vocations as priest and poet, Janowski recently told Chicago Public Radio, “I think that a great deal of being a member of a religious order is to pay attention to people, to listen to them, to try to hear what they’re saying, and also what they’re not saying. And it seems to me that that is what poetry is all about. It’s all about blessing people with a little bit of your own experience. In poetry we say, ‘This is something that I have learned, or maybe something I haven’t learned yet. Or this is something that has touched me, or something that I have lost.’ ”
“Visit the prisoner” is one of the corporal acts of mercy. Holy Cross Brother James Van Dyke not only visits prisoners, he counsels, trains, and helps them find services as well.
Brother Van Dyke works for the Correctional Services Department of the Salvation Army in northern Illinois, primarily at Cook County Jail in Chicago and the maximum security Stateville prison in suburban Joliet. Besides the traditional chaplain tasks of facilitating prayer and Bible study groups and offering counseling to inmates on spiritual and family matters, Van Dyke serves on a Life Learning Program team that provides inmates with spiritual, educational, and life skills classes along with self-help and substance abuse recovery groups.
Van Dyke also works with nonviolent offenders to explore alternatives to incarceration. For those released from prison and trying to reintegrate into mainstream society, he identifies services such as job placement, housing, and support groups. He was a pioneer in establishing the county’s drug treatment courts, which combine legal sanctions with treatment and a preventive approach to future drug-related crimes.
Saint Paul of the Cross
About me: The future founder of the Passionist Congregation of priests, brothers, and nuns was born in Ovada, northern Italy, in 1694. Paul Danei was the eldest of six children and as a young man the main support of his father’s dry goods business. In his early childhood, his mother used to gather the children at her knee each day, telling them gospel stories, especially the details of Jesus’ Passion and death, as well as the lives of the saints, including the desert fathers.
Anna Maria probably had no inkling how her Paul remembered and pondered these stories, as they resonated with the grace of God in his young soul. Gradually, Paul and his brother, John Baptist, found their own desert in the family attic, where they prayed and imitated those ancient desert ascetics, even as the presence of God was becoming the center of their young lives.
Since the family fortunes varied, Paul’s teenage years passed as a “working student,” learning some Latin and Christian doctrine as he could. Whether at this time or in later life, Paul fed his soul on the writings of Saint Francis de Sales, Saint Teresa of Avila, and Saint John of the Cross, books that gave him the language and understanding of mysticism.
One milestone marked his first conversion: the impact of a priest’s sermon. Those words preached at Mass pierced his young heart, setting him on fire with love for God. Paul always called that sermon his “conversion.” Subsequently, he renounced the bequest of his uncle’s estate and declined a prearranged marriage.
As time passed, Paul's spirituality matured, but still he discerned no clear call. He became afflicted by a trial of relentless scruples, with severe temptations against faith. Paul prayed, did penance, but relief was long in coming.
Then, world events shook all of Italy: The Turks declared war on Venice, the pope summoned a crusade, and Paul signed up—a chance to suffer martyrdom for the faith. Even before embarking, as he was praying in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, the Lord let Paul know that being a soldier was not exactly what he had in mind for him. So, armed with discharge papers, Paul returned home to pick up where he had left off, and to wait, wait, wait, for a clear indication of God’s holy will.
I belong to: The Passionist Congregation.
My vision: In 1718, when Paul was 24, the Blessed Virgin Mary took his life into her own hands, appeared to him clothed in black, with the sign of the Passion sign over her heart, and told him to gather companions and preach God’s love to the people. Every uncertainty in Paul’s heart melted, his soul glowed with love, and he broke into a flood of tears—at last: blessed assurance. Other visions followed, as did intense interior trials, but Paul claimed the grace Mary gave him, was clothed as a hermit by his bishop, and made a solitary retreat of 40 days during which he wrote a rule for the community Mary had asked him to found.
Paul lived to be 82, after he had founded many monasteries of Passionist men and one for the Passionist nuns in 1771. And in every one of his monasteries, he loved to pray in the attic!
Details of Saint Paul's life drawn from Rev. Gabriele Cingolini, C.P. and compiled by the The Passionist Nuns of Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania.
Feast day: October 19
About me: Saint Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787) was an intellectual prodigy, earning his law degree while still a teenager. But a brilliant eight-year legal career came to a sudden end when he failed to read a few words of an important piece of evidence. His lapse meant the collapse of his case—the only case he ever lost. He admitted his mistake, apologized to his client, and left the courtroom for good.
In the aftermath of this professional disaster, Alphonsus turned in quite another direction: visiting the sick in a hospital for terminally ill people. Here he experienced a call to priesthood and began doing missionary work in and around Naples, Italy. This call would lead him to founding a religious order of women and later men, the Redemptorists.
Not long after bringing together his first followers, however, conflicts began between members of the community and the local nobility that would plague the young order for decades. On top of that, as he aged he suffered from asthma and migraines, his sight and hearing began to fail, he limped, and, later, severe rheumatism caused his head to become permanently bowed. All these ailments, however, did not stop Pope Clement XIII from appointing Alphonsus a bishop.
Liguori also managed to write more than 100 books, practically invent modern moral theology, preach, hear confessions, compose music and poetry, and paint. Early in his life he had promised himself never to waste a moment, and he lived up to that vow.
In his retirement Liguori returned to lead the Redemptorists. He gave the task of updating the community’s rule to another priest. This the latter did—in a way that made the order unrecognizable. When this would-be reformer brought the new rule to the nearly blind Alphonsus, he told him all was in order; all he had to do was sign. In the conflict which followed the new rule, Alphonsus found himself on the losing side of a divided order—at odds with half the community he had founded.
If that were not bad enough, in Alphonsus’ final years he experienced a dark night of the soul, a period of profound doubt and spiritual struggle. Only in the last days of his life did he regain a sense of consolation and peace.
After his death things changed again. The Redemptorists were reunited and put on a solid footing; today they number 7,000. Pope Pius VI, the man who had forced Liguori out of his own community, opened the cause for his canonization. Alphonsus was beatified in 1816 and canonized in 1839. In 1871 he received the rare honor of being named a doctor of the church, an eminent teacher of the faith.
I belong to: The Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer.
My vision: The path to Liguori's achievements was not an easy one. He was willing to give up his ambition and a prestigious career to serve others. He faced things we like to push away—mistakes, illness, conflict, setbacks—and he was unable to reap many of the benefits of his hard work. Yet he flourished anyway and developed many sides of his talents. In not letting struggle derail him, he shows us that responding to our life vocation is a lifelong process that requires patience, resilience, honesty, hard work, and faith even amid our doubts.
Feast day: August 1
Father Cyprian Davis, O.S.B.
“Ever since I was a kid, I devoured books on history,” says historian Father Cyprian Davis, O.S.B. of his journey to the Catholic Church. “I would never describe my odyssey as being an intellectual journey,” he said. “It was more or less a falling in love with history. It made me fall in love with one of the things history talks about and that would be the Catholic Church.”
Davis received the University of Dayton’s Marianist Award in recognition of his contributions to intellectual life, including his groundbreaking book, The History of Black Catholics in the United States. A Benedictine monk for more than 50 years, Davis is professor of church history at Saint Meinrad School of Theology in Indiana and also the archivist for the Benedictine abbey there and other organizations.
In addition he has advised the U.S. Catholic bishops on the pastoral letters having to do with the African American Catholic experience, Brothers and Sisters to Us (1979) and What We Have Seen and Heard (1984). Davis himself, said Father Paul Marshall, S.M., rector of the University of Dayton, has a “presence. He carries the sacred with him. You can see God within him.”
Father James DiLuzio, C.S.P.
uses his performance experience as a priest
Art, music, athletics, writing, web design —whatever your talents, there’s a good chance you can make them part of a religious vocation, not leave them behind. Take the case of Paulist Father James DiLuzio. In the days before he became a priest you may have seen him on TV in a soap opera supporting role or as an extra, putting his UCLA masters of arts degree in drama to work. After becoming a lector and a member of the evangelization team at New York ’s St. Paul the Apostle parish in New York , DiLuzio encountered the stories of scripture in a new way and asked himself, “What stories are we telling? How do these stories impact human life?”
His priesthood—he was ordained in 1993—and his interest in storytelling have led him to become part of a unique parish mission experience: Luke Live. Over three days he proclaims the first 15 chapters of Luke’s gospel by heart. Between his proclamations there is preaching, meditations, and music. Recently he introduced Luke Live 2, which includes proclamation of the last 9 chapters of the gospel, stories of saints, meditations, and music.
With Luke, DiLuzio says, “I find myself happily integrating my pre-ordination work as an actor, singer, English and drama teacher with my priesthood and Paulist ministry, engaging the faithful in encounter with the gospel in ways that are culturally relevant and illuminating.”
—Source: Paulist Today
How do you think you could use your talents if you were in religious life?
The San Damiano Foundation produces films highlighting the spirituality of Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi and the Franciscan concerns for social justice, peace, and nonviolence. Under the guidance of author, photographer, and filmmaker Gerard T. Straub, who is a Secular Franciscan, and his staff, the foundation produces fundraising films for Christian charities which aid the world’s poor. It also screens films at churches, high schools, and universities across the United States.
The foundation gets its name from the church outside Assisi, Italy where in the year 1205 Saint Francis, not long after his decision to commit himself to God, went to pray and seek guidance about whether he should lead a life of solitude and contemplation or service to the poor and spreading the gospel. While praying in San Damiano, which was deteriorating, he heard the voice of Christ say, “Francis, go repair my house which, as you see, is falling completely to ruin."
He understood this command literally, and so he begged supplies and rebuilt the church a brick at a time. After completing the restoration a year later, it then dawned on Francis that Jesus also meant the whole church, and so Francis set upon the tasking of rebuilding and renewing the universal church, as well as himself.
San Damiano Foundation's productions include films on poverty—both material and spiritual—soup kitchens, migrants, contemplation, and people heroically making a difference by working among the poor and the sick.
Chapel Basilica, Conception Abbey, Missouri
Forgiveness was central to Jesus’ ministry and mission. And the Benedictine monks of Conception Abbey in Conception, Missouri have made it central to their own mission in the five years since gun violence tore their peaceful world apart.
Lloyd Robert Jeffress, a 71-year-old retiree, walked into the abbey 90 miles north of Kansas City on the morning of June 10, 2002 and opened fire with an AK-47 assault rife, killing two monks and leaving two others seriously injured. Jeffress later killed himself.
The doors at Conception Abbey are still unlocked and open and forgiveness continues to be the reigning theme as the members of the rural monastery quietly marked the fifth anniversary of the tragedy this week. Since the shootings, little has changed in terms of how the monks go about their daily routines and interact with visitors. Father Gregory Polan, the monastery's abbot, said ending the monastery's practice of openly welcoming strangers would defeat their purpose of living Christ's teachings.
If anything, said Polan, the shootings helped reinforce the teachings of Saint Benedict, the founder of the abbey's religious order, who instructed monks to keep death always before their eyes as a way to gain perspective on how to live their lives.
Local law enforcement has also kept a close relationship with the monastery, a bond that began on the day of the shooting. “The unbelievable strength and faith . . . have overwhelmed us,” said Nodaway County Sheriff Ben Espey. “We're always welcome. . . . It brought a lot of people closer together.”
* Source: An article for the Associated Press
Character Sister Ingalls and Sister Ardeth lived in their "camp," serving their time as well as serving as chapel clerk and ministering to women of many faiths. And post-camp life, the real-life-Domincan Sisters Carol, Ardeth, and Jackie continue to advocate for peace and justice.
#oitnb #domincansisters #peaceandjustice
|Sr. Rosemary Nyirumbe holding a pop tab purse made by her St. Monica's Girls' Tailoring School students in Gulu, Uganda.|
Last week the Global Sisters Report highlighted an extraordinary Sacred Heart of Jesus Sister from Uganda-Sr. Rosemary Nyirumbe. Perhaps you remember her as one of 2007 CNN’s Heroes or as the recent keynote speaker for the 2014 TIME Magazine -The 100 Most Influential People in the World.
In fact Sr. Rosemary’s vocation and survival during the horrific time of Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army is the subject of a new book and movie narrated by Forest Whitaker, Sewing Hope. Her life’s story is “the story of one woman's fight to restore hope to her nation. Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe resides over Saint Monica's Vocational School in Gulu, Uganda. Rosemary learned that [many girls] had been abducted and spent years with the rebels, losing a chance at any education. Rosemary introduced a practical tailoring course, where students who could not complete school were able to learn skills to provide for themselves and their families.”
View the Official Website for the Documentary Film and Book Sewing Hope here.
#bringbackourgirls #sewinghope #sisterrosemarynyirumbe
|REBECCA GUTHERMAN, a senior at Immaculata University, blogs about her plan to join the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary or the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth.|
The Philadelphia Inquirer recently interviewed millennial Becca Gutherman about her blog, “Road Less Traveled” (the title a nod to Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken”) and her journey to becoming a nun.
“The blog gives a face to religious life,” says Gutherman, who is majoring in English and secondary education, with a minor in theology. When she graduates in May, she would like to teach in the inner city and someday write a young-adult fiction book. “People see that this is still a real life choice.”
What other online ways have you witnessed millennials discern?
#discernmenttrends #millennialnuns #bloggingmillennials
|The Sisters of Bon Secours' new website connects women on their journey to religious life.|
In an age where advances in technology can sometimes disconnect us, I must say that the "Imagine a Sister's Life" website welcomes the visitor in very real way. This site offers a conversation starter for women both struggling to find their purpose or need confirmation that they're on the right path.
With a wide array of multimedia tools, "Imagine a Sister's Life" invites visitors to explore religious life by exploring three steps that are outlined on the home page: 1. Meet a Sister, 2. Picture Yourself as a Sister, and 3. Becoming a Sister.
Don't forget to click the "Talk to a Sister" tab to view their blog, join the chat room, and even send a comment or suggestion.
Click Sisters of Bon Secours to discover more about this innovative community.
#imagineasisterslife #pictureyourselfasasister #becomingasister
|NCR columnist Sr. Camille D'Arienzo|
Mercy Sr. Camille D'Arienzo, whose column Conversations with Sr.Camille is regularly featured in the National Catholic Reporter (NCR), recently posted two great interviews with members of religous communities: Providence Sr. Susanne Gallagher, S.P. on her work with children with special needs, and Marist Br. Sean Sammon, F.M.S. on the future of religious life.
|Providence Sr. Susanne Gallagher, right, with her sister Rita who inspired her work with Special Religious Development, better known as SPRED.|
Read the full interview here.
Learn more about the Sisters of Providence--Saint Mary-of-the--Woods, IN
|Br. Sean Sammon, F.M.S., says that religious life is meant to be a leaven within the church and society.|
Br. Sammon told Sr. Camille that there has never been a "golden age" of religious life. "Each era has had its challenges. We need to use our energies to address today's, including the changes that very few welcome. ...Young people coming to religious life today are reminding us that community and a vibrant life of prayer are as important a part of religious life as the ministry of our congregation."
Read the full interview here.
Learn more about the Marist Brothers.
“She was a bit of a flirt, entertaining and witty, and a woman who didn't easily take no—even from the men who were technically her superiors.” Does this sound like a cloistered nun, mystic, and Doctor of the Church? asks VISION Content Editor Carol Schuck Scheiber.
|SAINT TERESA OF AVILA by Peter Paul Rubens.|
Yes, if you’re talking about Saint Teresa of Avila, whose 500th birthday will be in about a year from now, March 28, 2015. Patricia Morrison, editorial director of ICS Publications, is a life-time student of all things Carmelite, and those are her words about the Teresa the saint. “She was a flesh-and-blood woman dealing with the same kinds of challenges and issues people do today,” said Morrison.
Originally sent to the convent by a strict father who wanted his daughter reined in, she eventually became a tireless reformer of the Carmelite religious order, mystic, and author of books on prayer still being published today.
Teresa’s biting humor shows in an often-cited story. Teresa lamented to God about a setback and heard God reply, “That’s how I treat my friends.” To which she said: “No wonder you have so few of them.”
|#suorcristina hopes to get a call from #popefrancis next after her show stopping performance on The Voice of Italy.|
As Catholic News Agency reports: “A native of Sicily, Sr. Cristina arrived at the show accompanied by four sisters from her community, as well as her parents.
The four judges of the popular TV program are the Italian singers Raffaella Carra, J-Ax, Noemi, and Piero Pelu. After her performance, Carra asked Sr. Cristina if she is really a nun, and why she chose to compete on the show.
“Yes, I am truly, truly a sister,” she replied.
“I came here because I have a gift and I want to share that gift. I am here to evangelize.”
The final remarks of the article include Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture’s stamp of approval using the trending hashtag #suorcristina he tweeted: “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others (1 Peter 4:10)”.
Read the full Catholic News Agency’s article here, The UK Daily Mail’s coverage here, and what the Huffington Post said here.
Discover more about the Ursuline sisters communities with these links:
Ursuline Sisters - Roman Union
Ursuline Sisters of Mount St. Joseph
Ursulines of Jesus
Ursline Sisters, Roman Union, UK
#suorcristina #singingnun #thenewsisteract
|SISTER STORY website launched during the first National Catholic Sister Week.|
The National Catholic Sister week has successfully concluded and created a lot of buzz for women religious.
Attendee Sister Paule Pierre Barbeau writes on her blog: "This new tradition [NCSW] is sparked by the funding obtained by St. Kate’s [St. Catherine’s University in St. Paul, MN] from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation for a 3-year project called “Sister Story.” One of the goals of this project is to demystify religious life by collecting the personal stories of Sisters from various communities/congregations from all over the nation. To accomplish this, college women are being paired with Sisters with the goal of forming close relationships that will culminate in a videotaped interview which will be made accessible on a public website."
The sisterstory site Sister Paule is referring to, provides an opportunity for viewers to participate in the "Tell Us Your Story" tab which includes thanking a nun. Particularly noteworthy is the SisterStories tab itself. It is quite incredible to read the "In their own words" stories as the Huffington Post acknowledged their blog a wrap up of the NCSW: "Let's Hear It For The Nuns! 7 Stories To Kick Off Inaugural National Catholic Sisters Week."
Enjoy being demystified by these remarkable stories as I am.
#ncsw #sisterstory #womenreligious
|Michael Walli, Sister Megan Rice a,nd Greg Boertje-Obed arriving for their trial in May 2013. Photo: Michael Patrick/AP|
Last week many news outlets including The Guardian reproted that: "An 84-year-old nun was handed a 35-month jail term on Tuesday for breaking into a US nuclear weapons plant and daubing it with biblical references and human blood. Sister Megan Rice was sentenced alongside two co-defendants, Greg Boertje-Obed, 58, and Michael Walli, 64, who both received 62-month terms."
"In a recent interview with the Guardian from prison, Rice said she hoped U.S. district judge Amul Thapar would seize the opportunity to "take his place in history" and sentence them in a way that would reflect their symbolic, non-violent actions–actions she said were intended to highlight the US stockpile of nuclear weapons they believe is immoral and illegal."
Read the full article here.
|SISTER MARIA LAURA, a seamstress before entering
the monastery, assists a bride with her dress.
Photo: Nadia Shira Cohen for The New York Times.
“But as Italy continues to suffer from the fallout of a prolonged recession, what was begun as an act of charity for a few young women in need has become a trendy choice for growing numbers of brides who want to keep their wedding costs down.
“In the process, the atelier has become a full-time job for Sister Maria Laura, who oversees an expanding collection of donated wedding gowns—now numbering in the hundreds—in various sizes, train lengths, and styles.
“But choosing her dress at the St. Rita monastery was not merely an economic transaction,” one bride said. “I’ve felt at home here from the very first minute,” she said. “After all, nuns have a calling. Love is a calling, too.”
The full story in the New York Times.
One of the greatest gifts from the Olympics for me is that the world in solidarity and peace admires and cheers on the incredible talent and skill of athleticism executed in a variety of events. But before we get caught up in the medal count, here are a couple articles with great inspirational advice to remember during these games.
Catholic News Agency’s article on the author of “The Catechism of Hockey,” Alyssa Bormes, praises and advises us about the games in Sochi saying: “It’s very Catholic to give everything to what you’re doing,” she said. “Olympic athletes, just by qualifying for the games, in many cases have already given everything they have…We organize our schedules around sports. I’m asking parents not to give that up, but to do the same for the faith, and teach their children the faith as if it were football or basketball.”
Back in October, CNA reported how Britain’s Olympic gold medalist runner Jason Gardener “credited Catholic nuns for encouraging him to succeed.” Gardner said: “I’m not outspoken, particularly, about my faith, but I’m a believer and I’m very pleased to have had a good life which I’ve had to this day. I’m very thankful–I’ve worked very hard, and having good morals instilled in me, behaving well as a citizen–I believe has helped me on the journey to where I am.”
But let’s be honest, it is fun to cheer on our native countries by yelling at the TV or taking to social media to congratulate and support. Even ‘Media Nun’ Sister Helena Burns F.S.P. of the Daughters of St. Paul) tookto her twitter account to support or stab with a competitive edge her devotion to hockey. Catholic News Service reports that despite being born in Boston, Sister Helena will be pulling for Canada. “So come Feb. 13 when Canada faces off against Norway in its first game of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Sister Burns -- who will be in Chicago where she lived for eight years before moving to Toronto -- will be wearing her blue habit and Boston accent. Luckily for her, the nuns in Chicago, who lived with her during the Blackhawks' past two Stanley Cups, are used to the yelling. Some of them might even watch the game with her.”
Who and how will you cheer now during these Olympic games?
#sochi2014 #olympicspirit #catholicspirit
Their previous albums, Angels and Saints at Ephesus and Advent at Ephesus, spent a total of 19 consecutive weeks at No. 1 on Billboard magazine’s Classical Traditional Music chart. In addition, the community of contemplative sisters was named Billboard’s Classical Traditional Artist 2012 and 2013; they're the first order of nuns ever to win an award in the history of the magazine. Last year Angels and Saints also reached No. 8 on the Overall Classical Music Chart, fending off competition from Fifty Shades of Grey: The Classical Album and Downton Abbey: The Essential Collection.
Lent at Ephesus is a seasonal compilation of chants and hymns of glory and redemption, including three original pieces. The album was produced by Grammy Award-winning classical producer Blanton Alspaugh, who said of his experience recording the sisters: “Their singing has a very pure and yet sophisticated style. It certainly earns its place in the international arena of classical music. Their talent is as remarkable as their sense of charity. To record them at their priory was one of the highlights of my career.”
In a press conference on Friday, the Vatican prefect for consecrated life, Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, outlined the three objectives for the Year of Consecrated Life, which will commence in the fall of 2014 and conclude in November of 2015:
The Year of Consecrated Life is expected to begin in October of 2014, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Lumen gentium, the Second Vatican Council’s constitution on the Church, which has a specific chapter dealing with consecrated life. The anniversary of the publication of Perfectae caritatis, the Council’s decree on the renewal of consecrated life, will be the occasion of the close of the Year in November 2015.
Learn more here. Be sure to look to the VISION Vocation Network for resources and information on consecrated throughout the year.
|SISTER JANE Frances Reus, C.S.C.,
and Saint Mary’s College student participants
in the faith sharing oral history project of the Sisters of the Holy Cross.
Austin's assignment was simple: One or two students would be paired with a Sister of the Holy Cross (the congregation's motherhouse is on campus) and meet five times over a five-week period to get to know one another, collect oral histories of the sisters’ faith experiences, and create a video archive for the College and the congregation.
Read the full journey here of how this "class project evolved into eye-opening, intergenerational experiences of faith sharing and friendship for both the undergraduate students and the sisters, most of whom are age 70 or older."
I have a feeling this getting-back-to-basics oral history project will effect these students as well as the Sisters of the Holy Cross community of Indiana for the rest of their lives.
Are you challenged to do your own oral history project now, like I am?
Final thought: recently the Pope on his Twitter account @pontifex reminds us: “No elderly person should be like an “exile” in our families. The elderly are a treasure for our society.”
#challenged #oralhistory #eldelyaretreasures
|SISTER Joan Sawyer in Lima.
Photo: The Guardian.
|FIRST Religious and third pope named TIME's Person of the Year.|
Pope Francis, TIME's 2013 Person of the Year, is the first member of the Jesuits and the first member of a religious community to receive this award. TIME previously gave the honor to Blessed Pope John Paul II in 1994 and to Blessed Pope John XXIII in 1963.
"What makes this Pope so important is the speed with which he has captured the imaginations of millions who had given up on hoping for the church at all," TIME said in its cover story.
"In a matter of months, Francis has elevated the healing mission of the church—the church as servant and comforter of hurting people in an often harsh world — above the doctrinal police work so important to his recent predecessors" (Reuters reports).
Searching the TIME Person of the Year list and cover archives, I stumbled upon a few other Catholic priests and sisters who have made the cover but not the prestigious Person of the Year issue.
|Left top: Maryknoll's Mother Mary Columba,
Mother General at a critical time of growth and expansion; Below: 1975 Mother Teresa of Calcutta, bringer of an "extraordinary message of love and hope."
|Right top: 1971 Antiwar protestor priests Father Philip Berrigan, a Josephite, and his Jesuit brother Daniel; Right bottom: Sister Ada, 91, of the convent on Good Counsel Hill in Minnesota participates in medical study for Alzheimers in 2001 issue.|
If you had say or sway with TIME, which Catholic sister, brother, or priest in your lifetime would you have advocated for Person of the Year?
You've heard about Pope Francis' prior work sweeping floors and as a bouncer right? If not, you can read the Catholic News Service report here.
Surely, you've seen the Huff Post article of the Pope joining his Almoner at night giving alms to the poor of Rome no doubt, correct? Read more on this rumor that is "probably true" from "a knowledgeable source in Rome [that] told The Huffington Post that "Swiss guards confirmed that the pope has ventured out at night, dressed as a regular priest, to meet with homeless men and women,"" here.
Perhaps you haven't heard of Mother Dolores Hart, OSB who before becoming a cloistered nun, played opposite to Elvis Presley in "Loving You." Relish in Mother Dolores Hart's journey toward her true vocation as she reflects that "The extravagance of my Hollywood career only mirrored the extravagance of God’s creative love expressed through His Son." Read the full USCCB blog here.
Discover more about the Benedictine communities here.
|AUGUSTINIAN Father Charlie Orobia blesses bodies
waiting to be buried after a storm surge from Super
Typhoon Haiyan. Photo: NCR
Ten days after the devastating Typhoon Haiyan killed thousands of people, the relief efforts continue to pour in to care for those displaced near Tacloban City, eastern Leyte, and Samar Island. National Catholic Reporter details the stories of endurance and aid provided by religious communities, including the Carmelites of Cebu and Ormoc, a Claretian novitiate compound, and the Religious of the Sacred Heart. Read the full article here.
Remembering women who dedicated their lives to bring about God's reign:
Elizabeth Ann Seton, Catherine of Siena, Hildegard of Bingen, and more to come this month on the VISION Vocation Network Facebook page.
| CORITA KENT
Speaking of creative ways to engage students' interest, Kent's work reminds me on a smaller scale of the stories my grandmother would tell me of her and her sisters' time as students of Immaculate Heart College in the 1920s—now Immaculate Heart High School—especially the memories of my great aunt, Sister Margaret Irene, also a former Immaculate Heart nun, teaching with castanets borrowed from her flamenco lessons as a young girl.
What other "hats" have you seen religious women wear besides the obvious "religious service to others and God" hat?
#srcoritakent #religiouswomenartists #manyhats
| CORITA KENT on the cover of NEWSWEEK in 1967
and her 1985 USPS Love stamp design.
The plot for "Damascus" may seem a bit unconventional for primetime, but it actually sparked a bidding war between networks.
Woo-hoo! Let's hope it is not too cliche-ridden and actually captures the great work Catholic sisters do on behalf of the poor, including representing them in court.
|Sister Camille D’Arienzo celebrates 20 years of Cherish Life Circle at an anniversary event Sunday October 6th.|
Read Jim Dwyer's of New York Times feature, "Ministering on Death Row, and Feeling a New Confidence in Rome" and Sister D'Arienzo's award-winning essay for VISION magazine and the VISION Vocation Network, Called, and called again as well as about the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas.
|THE CHERISH LIFE CIRCLE sells Christmas cards desgined by a death-row inmate to help raise funds for institutions which help children in a number of foreign countries as well as the U.S.|
|NOVICES! SHARE YOUR STORY with HGTV's new show new house, new life.|
Casting applications are being accepted now and production will continue through the fall. Ideal candidates will be outgoing people who would love to share their life-changing vocational and discerning experience with HGTV’s audience, inspiring others to pursue their dreams of religious life or spiritual fulfillment and service.
For more information please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, 720-259-1546.
#callingallnovices #shareyourjourney #inspireothers
Have you ever wondered who is considering a vocation to consecrated life? Who is answering THE CALL? Well, you are in luck!
In the past year nearly 5,000 people completed a Vocation Match profile. How old are they? What kind of community interests them? Where do they live? Check out our cool new infographic below (click here for a larger version of the graphic).
| Results compiled from completed
Vocation Match profiles.
|PARTICIPANTS at the Picnic
with Mary, hosted by the
Sisters of Bon Secours.
Bon Secours Sister Pat says on her blog, “Well, Mary inspired us to do the simplest of things – to break bread together and to share what was closest to her heart 2000 years ago (and today) and that is to simply to say “YES” to God. So, the idea of having a picnic in her honor and inviting young adults to come and share how God is acting in their lives was born.” Not to worr: The sisters will continue this tradition by hosting another opportunity in the spring as a hike and picnic to nearby waterfalls in Marriottsville.
The sisters asked those who attended to reflect on: “where God seems to be in our lives.” Not a bad question to ask ourselves today as well.
#picnicwithmary #whereisgodinourlives #sayyes
Discover more about The Sisters of Bon Secours in Marriottsville, Maryland and read more of Sister Pat’s blog about the picnic with Mary.
|PRIORESS ANNE Wambach, O.S.B.|
|SISTER JOAN Chittister, O.S.B.|
In answer to interviewer Judy Valente's question, “Why do you stay in the Catholic Church?” Sister Chittister said: “Roman Catholicism is the storehouse, the treasure house of the Christian tradition. It’s this whole notion of the blend of wisdom, of commitment, of knowledge, of holiness. That’s the church for me. That’s the church I’m waiting for.”
Read the full interview transcript or watch the PBS interview here.
#benedictines #makingadifference #insipiringsisters
The Abbey of Gethsemani in Nelson County, KY
At the 2013 Giving Voice National Gathering in Belmont, Cal., Roman Catholic sisters aged 25 to 49 assembled to pray and reflect on the future of mission and ministry in church and society in the 21st century. Some of their comments from the gathering:
• Sister Jessi Beck, a 32-year-old member of the Presentation Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Dubuque, Iowa: “Throughout our history, sisters have been called to work with people living on the margins of society. Today the needs are growing as the gap between the rich and the poor expands. Having the wisdom of my sisters in community and a support group of peer age sisters in Giving Voice helps me to respond to the needs of our day.”
• Sister Sarah Heger, 31, a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondolet in St. Louis, Missouri: “Mission and ministry is both one of the most challenging and most rewarding parts of religious life. The opportunity to come together as young, excited, professional sisters, to share our stories, to buoy each other's dreams, to pray together about the ministries God would invite us to pursue into the future is a conversation aching to be lived.”
• Sister Jessica Taylor, a 41-year-old Sister of Providence from Seattle, Washington: “It is our mission to be the voice of the voiceless and to help those in need. In today’s society, the needs of the marginalized are being left out and services are being cut.”
• Sister Chero Chuma, 31, a Sister of St. Joseph of Peace: “As a caregiver, I am called to promote holistic care to individuals and families, relieving pain and suffering, and treating each person in a loving and caring way.”
• Sister Julia Walsh, a 31-year-old Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration living in La Crosse, Wisconsin: “I sense that the paradigms of religious life are shifting right around us and we have a unique and sacred role to play in building the reign of God. The world needs us to be prophetic mystics and spiritual social justice centered midwives and mentors to all of God's children as they give birth to many new forms of gospel living.”
Giving Voice is a peer-led grassroots national organization of Catholic sisters under the age of 50 which creates spaces for younger women religious to give voice to their hopes, dreams, and challenges in religious life. The July conference is the seventh national gathering of younger women religious organized since 1997 and the first to take place on the West Coast. Previous gatherings have taken place in Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, and Milwaukee. Contact Sister Susan Francois at 425-233-7280 to arrange a phone interview with sisters in their 20s, 30s, and 40s.
Anti-nuclear peace protesters, Holy Child of Jesus Sister Megan Rice SHCJ, Greg Boertje-Obed, and Michael Walli, were originally charged with trespassing on federal property when they cut the fence at a nuclear plant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee and painted peace slogans on the nuclear silos. But after the government faced embarrassing questions about the lack of the security at the plant, the charges were changed dramatically. The three non-violent offenders, including the 83-year-old Sister Rice, have now been convicted of acts of terrorism and face a minimum of 10 years in prison. They are currently imprisoned in a federal jail in Knoxville awaiting sentencing on September 23, 2013.Sr. Mary Ann Buckley, head of the American Province of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus said in a statement after Sr. Rice's trial: Sr. Rice believes, “with the Catholic Church,” that “nuclear weapons are incompatible with the peace so desperately needed throughout the world and therefore cannot be justified. . . . We intend to stand by Sister Megan and our Church’s clear teaching against nuclear proliferation as the current situation is resolved. In similar fashion, we will continue to provide the opportunities, skills and commitment that allow those in need to overcome obstacles and lead productive lives.”
“Principal Peggy Wertz and I worked alongside a great illustrator and saw Becoming Sister Mary Grace come alive,” said Father Kirby, vicar of vocations for the Diocese of Charleston, S.C. Wertz is principal of St. Mary Help of Christians School in Aiken, S.C., where illustrator Alice Judd is an art teacher.
The book is dedicated to the girls who were part of the St. Cecilia Vocation Club at Mary Help of Christians School when the book was begun. Those girls are now juniors and seniors in high school.
Natalie Gorensek, a junior, was really excited at the launch of the book and stated that, “Everyone knows about marriage and priests, but not everyone knows about nuns. So it’s important we have vocation clubs to get the word out that being a sister is interesting and cool. … Knowing other options (of vocations) is really helpful in spiritual development."
To read more about the book Becoming Sister Mary Grace, check out the artilce published in the National Catholic Register and let us continue to pray and encourage vocations throughout the world.
|Mother Mary Joseph in her office at the Sisters’ Motherhouse, Maryknoll, NY, 1941|
The founder of the Maryknoll Sisters, Mother Mary Joseph Rogers, MM, has been named one of nine American women to be inducted in 2013 into the National Women’s Hall of Fame (NWHF).
Mother Mary Joseph, whose “extraordinary achievements were recognized and applauded” by all the judges, according to NWHF deputy director Amanda Bishop, will join the 247 eminent women who have been inducted into the Hall since its founding in 1969. Among others included in this year’s list were Betty Ford and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.
“We are thrilled and honored by Mother Mary Joseph’s selection,” said Sister Janice McLaughlin, MM, president of Maryknoll Sisters, and happy for the recognition it gives to our founder who achieved so much, not only for women religious, but for all American women, at a time when possibilities for them were far more limited than they are today.
“Mary Josephine Rogers, as she was called prior to joining religious life, broke through the negative stereotypes about the role of American Catholic women in church and society at the beginning of the 20th century,” Sister Janice said. “As founder of the first American mission congregation of Catholic women, she proved that women were equal to the demands of life and ministry abroad, particularly in places where poverty, physical hardship and sometimes, even safety during wartime, were commonplace.”
Mother Mary Joseph drew from a lifetime of spiritual depth when she stressed the need for the sisters to be compassionate women, adaptable and willing to try new ways without fear of failure or censure, according to a release put out by Maryknoll. Above all, she emphasized the primacy of a holy life.
Today, Maryknoll Sisters serve in 26 nations around the world, ministering to all people in need. Their numbers include doctors and nurses; authors, artists and dancers; social workers, ecologists and peace activists; theologians and spokespersons to the United Nations.Learn more about the Maryknoll Sisters here.
A Nun's Life Ministry has been working hard to create a website that is accesible and functional for all its users. Today, the sisters will be hosting a LIVE website tour to show off their wonderful new site. The streaming audio and video tour will begin at 6 p.m. Central Time. The chat room will be open too, so you can interact with the sisters and with other folks during the tour.
Some of the new features include:
- New designs by Ann Betts
- New Podcasts by the Sisters called "Random Nun Clips!"
- New videos that highlight the sisters and all they do
- Easier navigation features to help you find exactly what you are looking for
Make sure to check out the website and join the sisters tonight for their special podcast. Way to go sisters!!
Click here to learn more about the Sisters of Mercy.
|A short film inspires Mary to become a nun.|
Have you ever been asked to consider religious life? Was there a period of time in your life where you thought about becoming a sister, nun, brother, or priest? Writer and director Teresa McGee recounts this period of time in her own life as the inspiration for a short film, The Mary Contest.
An 11-year-old, Mary Kelly, struggles to fit in and finds comfort in Sister Adelia, who invites her to join The Legion of Mary prayer group. It is in the prayer group where the contest to find the most names for the Virgin Mary ensues.
How many names can you think of for the Virgin Mary off the top of your head? What about Marian religious communities? With help from the VISION search tab, here's my "short" list of communities with Mary--or some form of Mary--in their name:
Let me know what communities I've missed!
This week is National Vocation Awareness week and a lot of parishes are doing their part to encourage parishioners to pray for young men and women to consider becoming a priest, deacon and religious brother and sister.
|SISTERS of the Visitation, Tyringham, Mass.|
Actually, the USCCB are having guest blog posts by young priests and religious on their pursuit to the vocation and how they were prayed for and encouraged by God and others to live the consecrated life.
Additionally, the newest members of the Sisters of the Visitation of Holy Mary in Tyringham, Massachusetts come from very different life experiences and are a variety of ages but have all been drawn to the life of a cloistered nun. Peggy Weber of Catholic News Service shares the thoughts of each of the four new members as well as the director of novices’ Sister Mary Emmanuel’s goal for the community. Sister Mary Emmanuel says, "We're looking for someone with enthusiasm, someone's who's very interested in the religious life, someone who is a deep, faithful Catholic. She said that anyone considering religious life has to be open, willing to take a risk, and be someone who dares to be different.”
Thankfully, in the spirit of vocations, the Congregation of Holy Cross in the United States is thriving! Deacon Greg Kandra shares on his blog The Deacon’s Bench, “with more than 50 men in formation,” their congregation, “is among the healthiest for Catholic religious orders in the United States.” The key to their success is shared by Vocations Director Holy Cross Father James T. Gallagher is simple: “We use social media as a way to make ourselves known to those young men discerning a call to religious life. But the personal interaction still comes first. Our social media outlets are just tools we use to help make Holy Cross known, share discernment tips and help deepen a man’s prayer life.”
Let the beautiful words of Archbishop José H. Gomez be our prayer during this National Vocation Awareness week; "Every priest is a sacrament — a sign and instrument that brings men and women to the encounter with the living God. So in this Year of Faith, we need to refocus ourselves, especially in our families, on helping men to hear this beautiful and noble calling from Jesus.” (Shared from his November 2012 Tidings article).
For her services creating the state-of-the-art St. George’s Park Retirement Village in Sussex, U.K., Augustinian Sister Mary Thomas was awarded an MBE (Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) by Queen Elizabeth in her New Year’s Honor’s List, Zenit reports. Sister Thomas, a native of Ireland, accepted the award on behalf of her religious community, the Augustinian Sisters of the Mercy of Jesus, and those who provide care in the Augustinian homes: “I recognize that the award is given not just to myself but in recognition, too, of my own religious community and many other professionals who have worked with us over these years to assist the elderly and most vulnerable in our society.”
The Augustinian Sisters of the Mercy of Jesus order was founded by Canon Peter John Maes in 1842. The sisters were to offer assistance to him in his ministry to the mentally ill. Today the sisters run four care facilities throughout the U.K. Their most ambitious project was the St. George’s Park Retirement Village. The award-winning development includes senior apartments, community building, restaurant, bar, shop, hairdresser, library, gym, game rooms, treatment facility, and lush grounds with a lake and park.
Sr Mary Thomas trained as a general and psychiatric nurse and has spent all of her religious life caring for the sick and elderly. When she was appointed Superior of the Order in the 1990s, she began to realize the sisters’ dream of an innovative new assisted living and care community.
For more on the Augustinian Sisters, read their online listing in the VISION community directory.
|SOME OF Kendall Ketterlin's fudge.
I've tried it and it's darned good.
He's not the only person connected to religious life who's making and selling fudge these days. While the Hermits of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel in Christoval, Texas don't make carmels, they do make fudge. So do the Brigittine Monks of the Priory of Our Lady of Consolation in Amity, Oregon. Also doing fudge are a number of Trappist men's and women's communities: the sisters of Mount Saint Mary’s Abbey in Wrentham, Mass. as well as the men of the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky and of Holy Spirit Monastery in Conyers, GA. Note: Lots of communities make sweets and many other good things to eat, and if I've left out any other fudge-makers, my apologies, and please let me know (like in a comment to this post)!
On Oct.21, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI canonized seven saints, including the first Native American to be so honored, Kateri Tekakwitha, known as the "Lily of the Mohawks." Many grateful attendees witnessed the long-awaited canonization ceremony in St. Peter's Square.
According to a report in Southern California weekly newspaper The Tidings, St. Francis Xavier Church in Burbank honored the new saint with a Mass and post-liturgy mini powwow. The City of the Angels Kateri Circle organized the event and continues (since 1980) to promote Native American evangelization and the mission of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha.
Members of the Daughters of St. Paul were present at the celebration in Burbank with a copy of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha: Courageous Faith, their new book dedicated to the life of the first Native American saint--a gift they gave to Pope Benedict XVI at the canonization ceremony.
The current issue of VISION Magazine has an article on "What does it mean to be a Carmelite?", available here and here. Author Pat Morrison has provided some addtional Carmelite resources.
Individual monasteries of Discalced Carmelite nuns listed under their respective associations:
• Carmelite Communities Associated
• Mary Queen of Carmel Association
• St. Teresa Association
Communities of friars located under their province listings:
• Washington Province
• Oklahoma Province
• Western Province
• Order of Carmelites (Friars)
WHEN Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, six Catholic communities of religious women lost not only convents, chapels, cars, and motherhouses but also buildings housing ministries that served the people of the city—high schools, daycare sites, community centers, senior nursing home facilities, and others. The story of the dilemma the sisters faced between remaining and rebuilding or ministering elsewhere is told in a new documentary, We Shall Not Be Moved: The Catholic Sisters of New Orleans.
The communities the film profiled (some of whom can be found in VISION)—the Ursuline Sisters, the Congregation of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the Sisters of the Holy Family of New Orleans, the Marianites of Holy Cross, the Congregation of St. Joseph, and the Society of St. Teresa of Jesus (Teresian Sisters)—have served in the New Orleans area for an average of 175 years, the oldest for 285 years.
“This analysis elevates the program . . . to a complex and fascinating journey with religious women who faced an uncertain personal and public future,” said Sister of St. Francis of Sylvania, Ohio Judith Ann Zielinski, O.S.F., the film’s writer and producer for NewGroup Media in South Bend, Indiana. “Their choices were not uniform, simple, or immediate; ultimately, however, all six congregations . . . reconfirmed their commitment to the city and its people,” she said.
The SC Ministry Foundation in Cincinnati coordinated the film project and received funding from the Assembly of Catholic Foundations and other Catholic foundations and congregations of women religious.
“I have had the privilege of witnessing the faith, hope, and love of these women religious in New Orleans since 2005,” said Sister of Charity of Cincinnati Sally Duffy, S.C., president and executive director of the SC Ministry Foundation and an executive producer of the film. “These prophetic sisters transformed the destruction and devastation through the power of the Spirit and through the abiding presence of Christ. They rebuilt high schools, child-care development centers, community centers, and motherhouses, in some cases starting from nothing. In other cases they began programs that responded to the needs they saw around them after Hurricane Katrina.”
The ABC network has been offering the film to its affiliates. To see if a broadcast is scheduled in your area, go online.
Here’s the trailer:
October is Mission Month in the Roman Catholic Church, and on October 1 the Maryknoll Sisters will go live with their first website for teens.
Teen4Mission features stories for, about, and by teens who are making mission part of their everyday lives. In October it will have an interactive daily calendar with articles, links to videos, and mission-focused games as well as places where teens themselves can upload their own articles, pictures, and videos about mission and share their thoughts about mission in daily life with other teens.
See a preview of the site.
"While we were in Toledo," Sr. Campbell said, "I met 10-year-old twins Matt and Mark, who had gotten into trouble at school for fighting. Sister Virginia and the staff at the Padua Center took them in when they were suspended and discovered on a home visit that these 10-year-olds were trying to care for their bedridden mother who has MS and diabetes.
"They were her only caregivers. The sisters got her medical help and are giving the boys some stability. Now the boys are free to claim much of the childhood they were losing. Clearly, we all share responsibility for the Matts and Marks in our nation."Here's Sr. Campbell's full address:
|ARCHBISHOP Aymond blesses the new
discernment house for women in New Orleans.
The current issue of the VISION Catholic Religious Vocation Discernment Guide has an item on Manresa House at Boston College, where students who are considering life as a sister, brother, or priest in a religious order can gather for talks, prayer, meetings, retreats, and other activities connected to the process of vocational discernment, regardless of which religious communities they may be interested in.
Now the Archdiocese of New Orleans has opened a similar facility for women in addition to the region’s men’s house of discernment that already exists. The idea of Archbishop Gregory Aymond and Sister Sylvia Thibodeaux, S.S.F., director of the archdiocesean office for religious, Magnificat House of Discernment for Women is a full-time home for post-college-age women to live in community while discerning a possible call to religious life. The project is a collaboration between the archdiocese and women’s religious communities in the New Orleans area. For more information about Magnificat House, “like” NOLA Vocations on Facebook.
“Trailblazers in Habits,” a 90-minute film documenting the work of the Maryknoll Sisters, the first U.S.-based congregation of Catholic women religious dedicated to foreign missions, will have its New York premiere on Sunday, October 28, 2012, at 2 p.m. at the SVA Theatre, 333 West 23rd St., New York, NY.
A portrait of the Maryknoll Sisters’ endeavors in Hong Kong and elsewhere throughout the world, the documentary tells the story in the sisters’ own words, a chronicle that spans 100 years and several continents. The premiere coincides with the Maryknoll Sisters' Centennial year. Here's the 7-minute trailer:
|SISTER Jennifer Gordon, S.C.L.|
- It looks like safe houses for mothers and their children who are fleeing abusive relationships.
- It looks like campus ministers chaperoning college students on overnight bus rides to participate in the annual national pro-life march in Washington, D.C.
- It looks like teachers who open their students' minds and hearts to the wisdom and the mystery of the universe.
- It looks like Catholic hospitals and health systems learning to partner with other-than-Catholic care providers to better meet the needs of the communities they serve.
- It looks like planting school gardens to teach elementary school children how to care for the earth.
- It looks like retired Sisters spending hours each day in front of the Blessed Sacrament, praying for our communities, for our church and for our world.
- It looks like nuns on a bus, pointing out flaws in our federal budget and offering a more just alternative.
- And it looks like the hospital chaplain who works nights, who journeys with women who have been trafficked, accompanying them as they have tattoos removed, tattoos displaying their pimps' names that the pimps had had etched into the women's inner thighs.
|CORITA KENT in front of some of her work
(Photo courtesy LCWR).
Last month the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) in Washington, D.C. wrapped up an exhibit of prints by Corita Kent, who is mentioned in this year’s VISION magazine article on the “Women of Spirit” exhibit about the history of religious sisters in the United States.
To read more about Corita Kent and the “R(ad)ical Love: Sister Mary Corita” show and see some images from it as well as watch a video, go the NMWA website.
Billboards are usually seen along expressways trying to grab our attention and get us to stop along the way. Often, we glance at these signs and continue driving to get to our destination. But what if a billboard was calling you towards religious life? Would you simply just read the sign and continue driving or would you answer the call?
Seeking to repopulate its thinning religious ranks, the Roman Catholic diocese of Austria's largest province launched a province-wide billboard campaign to recruit priests, nuns, and other laypeople. The requirements are simple: a sense of religious mission and a commitment to celibacy. Benefits: a possible inside track to Heaven. With over 80 large billboards and 300 small electric placards being placed around the provinces, the message is simple, “The Mission. Those who give all receive more.”
While unemployment is growing in Vienna, these billboards are a way to encourage men and women to consider entering into religious life. The billboard campaign has created some serious stir because mass advertisement for religious life is rare. Austria, which is overwhelmingly Catholic, is finding that is mostly in name rather than practice.
Like elsewhere in many parts of Europe, Masses are poorly populated in Vienna and other bigger cities and the number of declared Catholics is shrinking – in Austria by 13 percent since 1960 – as former believers fed up with church scandals and a perceived sense of the Vatican's disconnect with the world.
At the same time, however, the number of priests has declined rapidly – in Austria by 26 percent. In St. Poelten, Lower Austria's provincial capital, 244 priests are administering to the needs of 423 parishes. Country-wide, the overwhelming majority of priests are over 60, and young replacements are scarce.
The hope is that this billboard campaign will get people interested in religious life and service and to show people the importance of working with the Church. To read more about the billboard campaign check out the piece in the Huffington Post.
This past week the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) expressed their commitment to continued prayerful and open diaglogue with the Vatican delegation charged with oversight of their organization.
According to a statement issued from LCWR, the assembly of 900 women religious leaders who had gathered in St. Louis articulated their "belief that religious life, as it is lived by the women religious who comprise LCWR [nearly 80 percent of all women religious], is an authentic expression of this life that must not be compromised. The theology, ecclesiology, and spirituality of the Second Vatican Council serve as the foundation of this form of religious life – and while those who live it must always be open to conversion – this life form should not be discounted.
"The members reiterated the importance and value of LCWR’s mission to its members and its role as a voice for justice in the world."
Tools for navigating change in the church and the world were suggested by outgoing LCWR president Sister Pat Farrell, OSF: "Contemplation, use of the prophetic voice, solidarity with the marginalized, community, nonviolent responses, and the capacity to live in joyful hope."
Those are certianly tools we can all use as we make our way in the world and find our place in the church.
In response to the Leadership Conference of Women Religious statement regarding their commitment to dialogue, Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain, who is one of three bishops recently commissioned to oversee the LCWR, responded with the following statement:
Hmm… The sisters’ and bishops’ commitment to respectful dialogue coincides perfectly with today’s second reading from St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians:
May the peace of Christ be with you all.
Habits of Change is a collection of oral histories that brings together the stories of women religious from more than 40 different communities, most of whom entered religious life before Vatican II. Sr. Julie has a podcast interview with Garibaldi Rogers on her site.
The message was so powerful and so thoughtful that I would like to share it with you today:
Hi Sister, what motivation did you have to become a nun? Why did you choose that type of career/life??
You asked what my motivation was for becoming a nun. Well, I didn’t really plan on becoming a nun. My motivation was to live my life the best way I could as a young, single, Catholic woman. I knew my options were single life, married life, and religious life. I figured that I was destined for married life. I always wanted to be married and to be a mom. But, I decided I’d check out the religious thing just to say “been there, done that” … so I wouldn’t have any doubts about that NOT being my call. Well, that didn’t happen.
more I am able to say “not my will, but yours be done.”
Being a nun is more of a way of life than it is a career. I think of a career as something that at the end of the day or week, I can come home and do my ordinary stuff. I’m “off duty” so to speak. Just like being married is not a career, being a nun is not really a career because being a nun is part of who I am. It’s like I’ve got this IHM “DNA” now that is as much a part of me as my family is. As with married life, our vows are for life — in good times and in bad.
In a way, I wasn’t the one who first chose this life of being a nun. It’s like it chose me. I know that sounds kinda weird, but it’s true. It’s not something I ever would have thought would “fit” me. Yet, by golly, it does. Once I realized that this is what God was calling me to, I had to take the time and space to choose it for myself, to make God’s call my own, to embrace it freely. After some major resisting, running, and denial, I was able to freely choose this life, knowing that it is the best way I can be me and serve God and the world.
Please pray for all those who are discerning a vocation and take some time today to really listen to where God is calling you.
Congratulations to the National Religious Vocation Conference (NRVC) - on whose behalf VISION is published - for being awarded a $650,000 grant by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. The purpose of this “capacity building” grant is to strengthen and enhance the organizational systems, structures, management, publications, communications, and governance of the NRVC. It is the largest grant ever received by the NRVC.
The Hilton Foundation has identified the NRVC as a key organization with whom they would like to
|ANDREW Domini wasn’t the only one at St. Mary-of-the-Woods
who wore out his shoes. Mother Guerin and her sister-companions
wore wooden shoes, or sabots, when working outside.
Last April Wabash College student Andrew Domini came across a CNN Presents documentary on Mother Theodore Guerin, the French nun and now canonized saint who founded the Sisters of Providence of St. Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana in 1840. The program talked about a miraculous healing that had been part of Mother Guerin’s canonization process, Domini was reminded of an aging friend who had been diagnosed with stage IV cancer six months earlier. “He wasn’t doing well, and he’s the kind of guy who gives so much and doesn’t expect anything in return,” Domini told CNN’s Jen Christensen. “I wanted to do something for him.”
So Domini decided to make a pilgrimage to the shrine of Mother Guerin to pray for his friend, who didn't know abvout the trip beforehand. He could have driven but said he “wanted to walk. . . . I wanted it to be a sacrifice.” With a handful of supplies in a backpack, he left his fraternity house around 5 a.m. The first night “I asked for sanctuary at a couple of churches, but they told me they couldn’t do that,” Domini said. He slept on couch at a student union building, on a park bench, and inside an abandoned building. Twelve miles into the next day's walk his feet were blistered and bleeding, and a couple gave him a ride for about 10 miles. He walked the remaining two miles to St. Mary-of-the-Woods and crawled the last 90 feet to Mother Guerin’s shrine in the chapel.
After praying at the shrine for his friend, he visited the Sisters of Providence’s welcome center. At the museum there, Sister of Providence Jan Craven, who manages the shrine, approached him. “I swooped him under my wing to find out what brought him here,” Craven said. Since CNN’s program on Mother Guerin had run last month, Craven said her workload had tripled as she’d received hundreds of calls, emails, and letters.
After having something to eat with the sisters in the dining hall, Domini was offered a room in the men’s wing of the facility. He spent two days with the sisters, who talked with him about what Mother Saint Theodore meant to them and about their work. “We’ve been told by a lot of people that when they come onto the grounds, they feel a real sense of peace that we are this oasis in this modern jungle,” Sister Craven said. “We feel this, but because we live here sometimes we need a reminder. Andrew did just that.”
“I’ve been inspired,” Domini said. “I trusted in Providence to get me through this just like [Mother Guerin] did with her journey. We are here to make the world a better place, just like the sisters do every day.”
Read the complete CNN story.
Read more about the Sisters of Providence, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, IN.
Today marks the 21st anniversary of the death ofJosephite Sr. Irene McCormack, RSJ, at the hands of Shining Path terrorists in Peru. Born in Western Australia in 1938, Irene grew up on a sheep farm and was educated by the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart.
In 1957, Irene entered into the community of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart and began teaching. At an early age Irene knew she wanted to serve God and educate young people. After 30 years of teaching, she was asked to do missionary work in Peru.
She arrived in Peru in 1987 for missionary work. McCormack's first assignment was in El Pacifico, a low income suburb in San Juan de Miraflores.
On June 26 1989, McCormack left to serve in Huasahuasi. McCormack, with her companion, Sister Dorothy Stevenson, were asked to supervise the distribution of emergency goods by Caritas, a charitable food organization in Peru.
McCormack continued her ministry of providing library facilities to poor children, who had no chance of obtaining books to aide in their school homework. She wanted the village children to know how to read and write. She also focused on training the village people how to be extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, so they could serve other parishioners in outlying districts.
On December 17, 1989, the priests of Huasahuasi were warned that they were in danger from Sendero Luminoso, so they and the two sisters left the village for Lima. McCormack and Stevenson, however, felt that the church could not abandon the villagers at this time and returned on January 14, 1990. For 12 months Huasahuasi was without a resident priest. During this time McCormack and Stevenson served the people, led the communion services, and provided leadership.
On the evening of May 21, 1991, McCormack was captured by the terrorist group named Shining Path. Following a mock trial, she was found guilty of being an imperialist and working for the Peruvian government by distributing food for the poor. She was then killed by the terrorist group.
McCormack was buried in Peru on May 23. McCormack believed the Holy Spirit motivated her to work in Peru once stating: "This overwhelming experience of the unconditional gratuitous love of God became a reality in my life—not just a conviction.
Below is the morning offering of Sister Irene. As you reflect on this prayer, pray for Sr. Irene McCormack and all those who are involved in missionary work.
God, my Father, you love and forgive me so TODAY I accept all as gift - and ask to find you Lord the Giver in the gift. I choose to face life without fear and to live wholeheartedly in each present moment. May my heart sing today a song of grateful thanks and praise. I am God's work of art! I am precious in His sight.
Read more about the life of Sr. Irene McCormack and other modern-day martyrs and saints here.
In his World Day of Prayer for Vocations message, Pope Benedict XVI asks us to meditate on the theme: Vocations, the gift of the love of God: "It is my hope that the local Churches and all the various groups within them, will become places where vocations are carefully discerned and their authenticity tested, places where young men and women are offered wise and strong spiritual direction. In this way, the Christian community itself becomes a manifestation of the Love of God in which every calling is contained."
Please ensure that your parishes and ministry offices have vocation resources handy, most especially VISION Vocation Guide!
Here are some additional downloadable vocation resources to use or share with others:
And check out this new VISION Vocation Network video on vocation discernment:
Can you think of three words that describe the Season of Lent and what it means to you?
Well, if you are struggling to find three words or ideas, the Sisters of St. Francis might be able to help you out. Seven sisters from the Sisters of St. Francis, Sylvania OH, filmed a short video about the season of Lent, sharing in three words what this holy season means to them.
This short yet powerful film describes all the attitudes and feelings we have as we journey through Lent toward Holy Week and Easter. Lent is considered a time of soul-searching and preparation, but it is also a time of gratitude for the great sacrifice Jesus made for us.
So in three words: Thank you, Lord.
The Catholic Diocese of Covington, Kentucky has named 2012 the Year of Women Religious. See the link for videos of messages from religious women's leaders in the diocese.
Three years ago, the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration in Arizona put their minds to raising funds to build a chapel and monastery in the Southwestern desert. They came up with a fun idea - have young and old alike run in an annual fundraiser named the Nun Run.
This year, their 3rd Annual Nun Run on March 10 attracted 1,135 participants at Kiwanis Park in Tempe, Ariz., to compete in a 10K run, 5K run/walk, or opt for a slower-paced 1-mile walk.
"I started off the day full of energy and left with more than I arrived with," said Jill Sciarappo a volunteer and photographer.
The runners wore shirts designed by Sister Fidelis based on the year's motto from Isaiah 40:31 "You shall run and not get weary".
Many people came out for this amazing event from grandparents to young children. The "Nun Run" is trying to raise funds to continue work on building Our Lady of Solitude Monastery. The previous runs all help to fund the chapel and chapel appointments. After the final cosmetic work is completed on the chapel, the main focus will be completion of the Monastery to make rooms for 28 sisters.
Our Lady of Solitude is rising like a vision of medieval beauty on land donated to the sisters in Tonopah, just west of Phoenix. The sisters arrived here in 2005 from Hanceville, Ala., to establish the first Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration monastery in the West and to become the first contemplative community of nuns in the Phoenix Diocese.
The Nun Runs are helping to bring the diocesan community together for this project. "The Lord has inspired a lot of good people to come out and help us," said Sister John-Mark Maria. "A lot of people come together for Our Lord, and I experience that through the Nun Run. I'm very humbled, and I marvel in the Lord's goodness."
So if you see a nun run, go join in and think of the Lord. A young woman was running and wearing a shirt that had a picture of a sister with the words: "Not all habits are bad."
Let's remember to pray for those who are discerning a religious vocation or any vocation and let's continue to pray for the men and women who are priests or sisters, as they continue to inspire and work towards bringing about the Kingdom of God.
Check out more photos of the Nun Run or to get involved.
With moves from soccer greats like Pelé or Ronaldo, sisters and priests from the Diocese of Biloxi and southern Mississippi participated in a benefit soccer game for St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School. In a girls vs. boys soccer showdown with a bit of religious flare, the sisters proved superior.
Dressed in habits, the sisters from the Community of Charity and Social Services (CCSS), along with help from parishioners and students in disguise, pulled a convincing 6-4 victory over the priests.
"We thought this would be a fun way to bring awareness of holy life," said Ginny Macken, who coordinated the game. "We had about 100 people out for a great afternoon, with proceeds benefiting the Long Beach St. Vincent de Paul Society. It was a fun competition with lots of laughs. Both the kids and adults had a great time."
Check out these great photos from St. Thomas Catholic Church, the parish that supports St. Vincent de Paul School. Including this one of Sr. Martha Troung, CCSS:
Well, it seems like forever since I last blogged about something going on in the news but I am happy to report that I am back from my week working with the Sisters of St. Joseph and their volunteer program.
I cannot go into too much detail about what I did (I am saving that for our magazine-so check it out in July), but it was a great week. I got involved in so many unique ministries that the sisters provide out in Rochester.
The overarching theme is Social Justice and Peace which stems from Catholic Social Teaching. All the ministries of the SSJ focus on these core components to provide the necessary resources people need in their daily lives. I was involved in education, health care, community and environmental ministries throughout the week and I had the opportunity to meet some really amazing people. It was truly an eye-opening experience to see how many lives we were able to touch just by being present and lending a helping hand.
Some words about Rochester, New York:
- the city's population was 43.7% White, 41.7% Black or African American, 0.5% American Indian and Alaska Native, 3.1% Asian, 0.0% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, 6.6% from some other race and 4.4% from two or more races. 16.4% of the total population are Hispanic or Latino of any race, mostly made up of Puerto Ricans
- There were 88,999 households of which 30.0% had children under 18 living with them, 25.1% were married couples living together, 23.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 47.0% were non-families. 37.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.2% had someone living alone 65 or older. The average household size was 2.36 and the average family size was 3.19.
- The median income for a city household is $27,123, and the median family income is $31,257. Males had a median income of $30,521, versus $25,139 for females. The per capita income for the city is $15,588. About 23.4% of families and 25.9% of the population are below the poverty line, including 37.5% of those under age 18 and 15.4% of those ages 65 or over.
- The graduation rate for the public schools is about 39%. Based on this statistic, most families have enrolled their children into the Catholic school systems. It is hard because of the cost associated with Catholic education.
- Rochester has one of the highest rates of refugees per capita. About 1000+ refugee families have settled just outside the downtown area of Rochester. The come from Eastern Europe, Vietnam, the Middle East, and other places.
Rochester does have its areas of poverty and hardship like many cities but there was a feeling of welcome when I arrived. It was a great place to live and work for a week and I hope that others get inspired to participate in this amazing program and get a glimpse into the lives of the Sisters of St. Joseph.
sources: City of Rochester
Click here for more information about the Sisters of St. Joseph, Rochester, NY.
We've talk about actress-turned-contemplative sister Mother Dolores Hart, O.S.B., prioress of the of the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, Connecticut, in this blog before. A documentary about her journey to religious life was nominated - but alas did not win - an Academy Award. I for one was hoping Tim Gunn was going to interview her on the red carpet and ask her about her dress, but in a way he did.
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This week the Benedictine Sisters of Erie got a much deserved mention in the Huffington Post being a group that inspires Faith. Each week the post writes about a well deserving person or group that works in bettering communities by faith and love.
The Benedictine Sisters of Erie are doing just that and more. These women offer services to teens, children, families, the elderly, physically challenged, homeless, and broken. While they may not always have the physical room, they always have their hearts open and welcoming to those in need.
The program that is being highlighted is their Neighborhood Inner City Art House. Since its inception this home provides classes in the arts-visual, performing and literary--- for at risk youth in a safe clean environment. There is no cost associated with attending any of these classes. They thrive mainly on donations and volunteers. The home has had over 2000 volunteers and roughly 500 children use this facility each year. The goal of the art house is to enable children to experience beauty, grow in a positive way, and develop into a fully productive human being.
What motivates this ministry? According to their website: Inspired by the Gospel and the Rule of Benedict we respond to the needs of all God's people. We steward the gifts, talents and skills that have been given to us and extend them through service. Community and non-community ministries alike provide the opportunity for meaningful work that is consistent with our monastic commitment to glorify God in all things.
So if you ever stop by Erie, PA check out this amazing home and see what you can do to help.
This past Sunday's Times Picayune ran an indepth profile on Alison McCrary, a young lawyer who is on her way to becoming a sister. Here are some highlights from reporter Sheila Stroup's story:
“People have such a misconception of what nuns are,” says McCrary. “We’re supposed to run into the world, not out of it. Our eyes are wide open, and our sleeves are rolled up.”
“My mother is Cherokee,” she says. “She wasn’t welcome at the white school or the black school when she was a girl. She just recently learned to read and write.”
Where McCrary lived, Confederate flags flew on many buildings, and the Ku Klux Klan marched in the square on weekends. “You grow up with something, you think it’s normal,” she says. “But that isn’t normal. . . . There are so many struggles of the poor and oppressed,” she says. “If I’m not engaged in some kind of social change, then something is wrong.”
She entered the Loyola University New Orleans College of Law in August 2007. During her work as a paralegal and volunteer activities as a law student, she met several Sisters of St. Joseph and saw the important work they were doing, and she felt called to become a nun.
“I met Sister Helen Prejean and Sister Lory Schaff and all these incredible women who were living the gospel values, and I thought, ‘I want that,’” she says. She started meeting with a spiritual advisor, and after finishing law school and passing the bar in May, 2010, she took the first step to becoming a Sister of St. Joseph on Aug. 15, 2010.
“I knew I had to find the beauty in the middle of all the struggle,” she says. “My decision is something I feel at peace with. . . . I feel like I’m called to that commitment.”
When her fellowship is over in April, McCrary will begin the second step in becoming a nun. She will go from her busy ministry in criminal justice reform and cultural rights advocacy to a two-year novitiate. “You can’t work or volunteer,” she says. “It’s a time of contemplation, a time to explore your relationship with God.” She will live in Chicago with the other Sister of St. Joseph novices in a house owned by the congregation. “I think it will be really rewarding,” she says. She looks forward to finishing her novitiate and making her first vows in April 2014.
Posted in the Journal Sentinel, a creative and catchy way to approach religious vocations: Religious Trading Cards. These trading cards are unlike the traditional baseball or basketball cards. Rather they feautre highly respected and admired religious leaders in and around the Milwaukee area. Among them is Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki along with a handful of other local Catholic religious leaders featured on a new deck of trading cards circulating near and around Milwaukee.
The initiative, launched last week by two Catholic parishes — St. Monica’s in Whitefish Bay and St. Eugene’s in Fox Point — is meant to draw interest towards religious vocations.
“The biggest challenge today is indifferent families,” parish pastoral associate Monica Cardenas told the Catholic Herald. “We need families to embrace the idea for their children.” Among the others featured: Bishop Donald Hying; former Cardinal Stritch University President Sister Camille Kleibhan; and Father Paul Fliss, interim pastor at St. Eugene’s.
Cards include mini-bios, nicknames, favorite saints and individuals who influenced their interest in religious life. No word yet on the tradability of the cards but a unique way to get people interested in religious life.
Picking up from the previous efforts after the World Cup in 2010, 11 religious orders from Indiana and Michigan are picking up where they left off and are fighting to stop sex-trafficking this year down in Indianapolis at Super Bowl XLVI. According to these congregations, there is an increase in sex-trafficking that is associated with sporting events. Their goal this year is to reduce, if not eliminate, this potential threat at the Super Bowl.
These orders are members of the Coalition for Corporate Responsibility for Indiana and Michigan which was established in the 1990s. This Coalition is a part of the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility which remains as the pioneer coalition of active shareowners who view the management of their investments as a catalyst to promote justice and sustainability in the world.
When the ICCR held its meeting last June and heard that the Super Bowl was in Indianapolis, "we picked up the ball and started running," said Sr. Ann Oestreich, an IHM sister who is also the justice coordinator for the Sisters of the Holy Cross in South Bend, Indiana.
"In CCRIM, we had done a process in terms of picking one issue that was important to all of our members. Prior to the Super Bowl, the issue of human trafficking came up," Sister Ann told Catholic News Service.
"It's such a broad issue. How do we get at it as investors, as socially responsible investors? So we decided to take a look at the hospitality industry and purchasing stock in their companies so we could get into a conversation with the hotels."
Coalition representatives contacted the federal Department of Health and Human Services for assistance. "We asked for printed copies of brochures on their website, and HHS was kind enough, when they heard what we were doing, to provide 2,000 printed copies of those brochures."
They prepared a fact sheet and their goal was to reach 220 hotels in a 50 mile radius. So far according to Sr. Ann, "the response has been good."
Based on a Jan. 12 conference call with coalition members, "we've got about 50 responses so far for the hotels," she added. About half of the hotels have asked for further info that we're offering them in terms of training, in terms of signing the ECPAT code." ECPAT is an acronym for Ending Child Prostitution and Trafficking, which has developed a code of conduct to deter child sexual exploitation.
Once the hotels get the materials they need, the sisters will leave the hotels be and let them do their work. The hope of the coalition is that these hotels will continue to respond and ask for further information even once the Super Bowl is over.
|PAINTING BY Sister Marjorie Raphael, S.S.M.|
It was also in Haiti, in a convent on the grounds of the Holy Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in downtown Port-au-Prince, where Sister Marjorie was living when the 2010 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck the country, killing an estimated 300,000 people and destroying or damaging tens of thousands of buildings, including Sister Marjorie’s convent. The sisters have been continuing their work with only one building remaining; the other had to be demolished.
Sister Marjorie has now returned to her community’s motherhouse in Roxbury, Massachusetts. There she will not only resume a longtime personal activity, painting, but will actually have a show at a local gallery. Through February 2012 her exhibit “Under the Skies, Four Seasons," which depicts many of the places where she’s lived or visited, will be at the Helen Bumpus Gallery in Duxbury, south of Boston (where her community is relocating after selling their Roxbury location).
There will be a reception at the gallery this Saturday, January 21, 2012 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Sources: Boston.com and the Sisters of St. Margaret
As we close out Vocation Awareness Week, we reflect on the recent message of Pope Benedict XVI who has emphasized the need for good spiritual counsel for those who are discerning a vocation to the priesthood or religious life. The Catholic News Agency along with ETWN, reported the Pope's very important message on vocations.
"I would like to emphasize the critical role of spiritual guidance in the journey of faith and, in particular, in response to the vocation of special consecration for the service of God and his people," the Pope commented this Sunday at his Angelus address.
Also instrumental in the process, he said, are parents "who by their genuine faith and joyful married love, show children that it is beautiful and possible to build all your life on the love of God."
Speaking from the Papal apartments to several thousand pilgrims, the Pope explained his point with references to the Scripture readings at Mass on Sunday.
The Pope concluded his comments by entrusting all educators, "especially religious including priests, sisters, and parents," to the Virgin Mary as they help young people discern their vocation in life.
After speaking on religious vocations the Pope also mentioned the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity will run Jan 18-25. He invited everyone "to join spiritually and, where possible, practically, to ask God for the gift of full unity among the Disciples of Christ."
I am sure many of us had heard of the movie/show "Band of Brothers" which follows a group of paratroopers in WWII featured on HBO, but have you ever heard of Band of Sisters?
Band of Sisters, is a documentary film that tells the "unforgettable story of Catholic nuns in the United States: how they responded wholeheartedly to the call of Vatican II, risked everything in their unwavering commitment to social justice, and made a remarkable transformation from 'daughters of the church' into citizens of the world."
After Vatican II, these congregations searched and re-engaged with their pasts and learned that their true mission was to serve those of the greatest need: the poor. Now on the verge of losing what these sisters fought so hard for, they are fighting to preserve their freedom and to be able to continue to help the world.
Scheduled to be released this March, travel alongside these sisters Nancy Sylvester IHM (Immaculate Heart of Mary), Miriam Therese MacGills OP (Caldwell Dominican), Pat Murphy and JoAnn Persch RSM (Sisters of Mercy) and their congregations as they take you through their journey and struggle to survive to maintain their mission.
For more information check out their website bandofsistersmovie.com.
Jesuit Fr. James Martin, S.J. recently published a brilliant piece about the hidden life of St. Joseph and his thoughtful ministry of raising Jesus and being a humble servent of the Lord.
In this short film, Martin highlights and examines the life of Joseph and how important he was in Jesus's life as well as ours. St. Joseph is someone we should try to emulate. He was a great example of someone who lived a truly devotional life to his family and to the Lord. Take a couple minutes and check out this wonderful short film. In this season of Christmas, Martin urges us to remember St. Joseph.
|FRANCISCAN SISTER Maureen Dorr and Chef
Alfred Astl with patrons at the Trinity Café
The long hours of the restaurant world, however, began to burn him out, and ten years ago he saw an opening for a weekday lunch-chef position in Tampa, Florida and applied.
His new employer was Trinity Café, which serves 230 free hot lunches out of a Salvation Army facility every weekday, holidays included. “Anyone who comes to our door is welcome—without question or qualification,” the Café’s website says. “We serve free meals to homeless, poor, and anyone wishing to receive a meal.”
Besides a five-star chef in the kitchen, the restaurant has other amenities you might not expect in a place that offers free meals, like the cloth-covered tables set with china dishes and silverware Astl insists on. Volunteer waiters serve the patrons in courses, and every meal includes salad or soup, a healthy portion of protein, a starch, a vegetable, a dessert, and a piece of fruit, all for about $2 a serving. The café's $455,000 annual budget depends on donations and grants.
Astl and two part-time kitchen staff members cook 1,000 meals a week. Since it began, Trinity Café has served more than 717,000 meals.
”It could be very easy to say, OK, we’re feeding homeless people. Who cares?” Astl told Alexandra Zayas of the St. Petersburg Times. “If I ever say that, I’ll quit. . . . Some of these people have problems out there they can’t do anything about. By the time they leave, they’re in a whole different frame of mind.”
At the about the same Chef Astl started at the Café, Franciscan Sister of Allegany Maureen Dorr stopped in to volunteer. She has never left.
For 40 years Sister Maureen worked in education as a teacher and administrator. At the Café she walks the food line and dining room, giving out hugs, advice, and prayers. She can be persuaded to take a turn dancing in the middle of the room. Once a week she visits the jail.
“Saint Francis [of Assisi] taught us about living out the gospel and serving the poor," she told The Tampa Tribune’s Michelle Bearden. "But truth is, I don't minister to them. I minister with them. I firmly believe there are such good people who have had bad opportunities. They show me the way to God as much as I try to show them."
Now 81, Dorr has no plans to stop. "Nuns don't retire," she said. "We just get recycled. As long as God gives you the health, you keep on moving."
Read more about the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany.
|STUDENTS from Creighton University
in service with the Visitation Sisters.
The VIP program, which was successfully launched this fall, is a year-long internship program where participants provide service alongside the Visitation Sisters in North Minneapolis. The sisters have welcomed two young women as the inaugural participants to the VIP Program: Kelly Schumacher, a Minnesota native and graduate of Augustana College in Illinois, and Beth Anne Cooper, a native of New York and graduate of Hope College in Michigan. Both young women are teaching English as Second Language classes to immigrants and refugees, doing advocacy work, working with grade-schoolers on both schoolwork and relationship-building, coaching youth sports, learning more about restorative justice, and planning service-learning for small groups which includes urban immersion experiences.
The sisters are also in the process of launching the new Monastic Immersion Program, offered by the sisters to women desiring an in-depth immersion into the monastic life. Through the Monastic Immersion Program, women have an opportunity to " ‘try on’ monastic customs and values,” said Sister Mary Frances Reis, contact for Visitation’s Monastic Immersion Program. They are invited to live the monastic life with the sisters for a period of six months to a year. Each participant is expected to enter fully into the sisters’ life of prayer, presence, and ministry during her stay. Prospective participants may come from any Christian faith tradition.
For more information about the VIP Program: http://www.visitationmonasteryminneapolis.org/visitation-companions/visitation-internship-program-vip/
For more information about the Monastic Immersion Experience: http://www.visitationmonasteryminneapolis.org/tag/monastic-immersion-experience/
|GIRL SCOUT Troop 2272 outside the Carmel
of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Monastery.
Photo: Celeste Diller; Intermountain Catholic.
|BLESSED Mother Marianne Cope.|
The resentment between Occupy Wall Street protestors and corporate America has certainly grown in the past couple of weeks. Each day we learn new information about what the protestors want and what Wall Street has no intention of doing.
It turns out Wall Street is also getting an earful from its investors, including the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia. Sister Nora Nash, OSF, head of the community's Corporate Social Responsibility mission, recently featured in an article in the business section of the New York Times, actively weighs in on corporate America's practices. A soft-spoken woman, Nash has been quite vocal in offering suggestions to some of the world's largest corporations.
”We want social returns, as well as financial ones,” says Nash. “When you look at the major financial institutions, you have to realize there is greed involved.”
Nash and her community formed a corporate responsibility committee beck in the 1980s after they had lost some of their retirement in the market. They wanted to vocalize the importance of wise investments and fiscal responsibility not only within their own community but also within some of Wall Street's major corporations. Their goal as a committee was to buy the minimum number of shares that would allow them to submit resolutions at a company's annual shareholder meeting.
The group advises executives to protect consumers, rein in executive pay, increase transparency within corporations, and remember the poor.
The Sisters of St. Francis are not going it alone. They have teamed up with the Sisters of Charity Saint Elizabeth and Sisters of St. Dominic (Caldwell Dominicans), both in New Jersey, and many other Christian denominations and religious faiths. They are active in the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility.
“Companies have learned over time that the issues we’re bringing are not frivolous,” says Fr. Seamus P. Finn, a Washington-based priest with the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate and a board member of the Interfaith Center. “At the end of every transaction, there are people that are either positively or negatively impacted, and we try to explain that to them.”
The goal of the group is not to bring corporations down, but to get these companies to become more responsible for their actions and be held accountable for their practices. Although success has been sporadic, the sisters believe in their mission.
Click here to read more about the Sisters of Philadelphia's corporate engagement.
Born in Northern Italy in 1850, Mother Cabrini worked as a teacher in her early life and later ran an orphanage. In 1877 she took religious vows and formed the religious congregation the Missionary of the Sacred Heart.
Her role was to help and work with Italian immigrants and in 1881 she did just that right here in Chicago. She opened up Assumption Church, the first Italian parish in Chicago. Throughout her life, she devoted her ministry to education and health care. She built hospitals and schools and created opportunities for immigrants that may have never had the chance to go to school or receive health care. In 1909 Mother Cabrini officially became a US citizen. After returning to Chicago in 1917, she fell ill and died on December 22, 1917.
In 1946 she was canonized by the Catholic Church. This was a significant honor as she was the first American citizen to be canonized a Saint. Mother Cabrini lived her life by devoting it to helping others. She never gave up and always believed in her mission. What a great role model to have in our lives today. Mother Cabrini is someone we still can look to for help each and every day.
To read more about Mother Cabrini and all her amazing works check out this article published by WBEZ.
|Penn State students held a vigil Friday, Nov. 11, 2011 in
memory of the victims of the child sex-abuse abuse scandal
that hasshaken the university to its core
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon).
In the wake of the Penn State sex-abuse scandal and the ensuing crisis of community the university faces, I received my fall issue of the St. Mary's College Courier, the alumnae journal. I was struck by the eerily prescient comments made by the vice president for mission Holy Cross Sr. Veronique Wiedower, CSC in a letter about the college's core principle of community established by founder Blessed Basil Moreau:
Moreau believed that unity, one of the hoped-for graces of community, was a "powerful lever with which we could move, direct, and sanctify the world." Achieving unity requires all of us to strive for right relationships with self, God, the cosmos, and our neighbors. . . . Especially today, Moreau's vision of community through unity is one that our larger community, which radiates throughout the world and beyond to God, longs to see. This is the time in which we are all invited to model and live in right relationship.
Indeed it is. May we all have the courage and strength to set relationships aright in our educational communities, families, church, and beyond.
Read more about the Sisters of the Holy Cross.
In one the NRVC will develop a conversational tool to enable religious institutes to engage in a deeper exchange about the findings of the landmark 2009 NRVC/CARA study on recent vocations to religious life and their implications for apostolic life with respect to community, visibility, communal prayer, and celebration of Eucharist.
The second project will convene three gatherings for women religious in the eastern, middle, and western regions of the U.S. The purpose of these unprecedented gatherings will be for women religious to study the research regarding recent vocations and discuss and reflect on the combined implications of this information for religious sisters as they work together to increase their membership both individually and collaboratively.
To this day I love going to see movies.Being able to curl up in comfy seats (movie theatres have updated their styles), eat an endless tub of buttered popcorn, and sit without interruption, watching and imagining a life similar to that on the screen is magical. The essence of movie making is truly a great one. The ability for movies to be “brought to life” gives us all a glimpse of new perspectives or simply a good quality laugh.
Recently, a new movie has made some buzz about a college women’s basketball team that won 3 national championships in the 1970s. “The Mighty Macs” as it is called, is a film about the Immaculata Women’s basketball team and their coach Cathy Rush who paved the way for women’s athletics in the 1970s. Set outside Philadelphia, this film is about inspiring women to seek out their dreams but also teaches valuable life lessons about hard-work, determination, faith and morals, and friendship.
According to the film’s director, Tim Chambers, he did not intend to make a “faith-based” film, rather he wanted something all ages would enjoy and appreciate.
Cathleen Falsani wrote a great piece in the Huffington Post, which explains in more detail about the movie about a team that changed history. She writes so thoughtfully about the perspective this movie has on faith and on the importance on what is essential in life. She writes, “"Be not afraid." Three simple words that, if heeded, can change everything. They can make a dream into a reality. An impossibility into a victory. Scarcity into abundance. Underdogs into champions. What is surprising about this little-film-that-could is its artistry, heart and universal appeal. Whether you are a sports fan or not, Catholic or agnostic, a girl or a boy, old or young -- "The Mighty Macs" will grab your heart, inspire your soul and send you away feeling like anything is possible if with faith, hard work and a community of sacred friends”.
So if you are looking for something to do this weekend, go root on the “Mighty Macs” at a local theatre. Click to watch the trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_VXhJCetwc
The Baltimore Sun reports that a panel of Roman Catholic priests, brothers, sisters, and deacons faced an audience of lively fifth graders Thursday (Oct 27), offering snippets of their personal history histories and the motivation for their career choices. But many children were so unfamiliar with a nun's habit and veil that several directed remarks to "the lady in the blue dress."
"We have regular teachers, not nuns," said Craig Kelly, a student at St. Ursula School in Parkville who attended a conference Thursday at Notre Dame of Maryland University. Classmate Cathyrose Odoh added, "They are not the ordinary people we see every day."
In Maryland and across the country, the Roman Catholic Church is looking to inspire younger students with a zeal for religious life and help stem decades of decline in the ranks of nuns and priests. National research suggests that students start to consider the priesthood or sisterhood at as young as 11. But overcoming students' unfamiliarity — even at Catholic schools — can be a challenge.
Sister Patricia Dowling, CBS vocation director for the Sisters of Bon Secours and co-chair of the event, helped organize the first Focus 11 in Maryland and is planning several others. It drew students from Catholic elementary schools throughout the area. Focus 11 includes activities like a quiz game between the children and panelists, who included a priest, a brother, a deacon and two nuns. The back and forth showed the children that vocations come from people leading ordinary lives.
"Nobody is born a priest or nun," said Sister Fran Gorsuch, CBS, who played emcee for the game. "God called them to that life. And, that life is anything but boring."
When she asked which panelist was a Phillies baseball fan and a motorcyclist who worked in the Dominican Republic, the children chose one of the men — not the correct answer (it was Sister Mary Beth Antonelli, OSF). They erred about who had mastered fencing. It was the "lady in blue," Sister Mary Grace Dateno, FSP. Emma Crowhurst, a student at Our Lady of Grace School in Parkton, said, "It is interesting how these ordinary people became priests and sisters."
More coverage on Baltimore TV:
|SISTER FRANCES Evans (left)
and her longtime friend
Sister Maggie Hession
with Nolan Ryan when
he pitched for the Rangers.
Talking about her background, she had a few observations about her vocation. “I was a convert. I worked six years in Santa Rosa Hospital in San Antonio in the lab. There was something different about the sisters. The only thing I can think is, God just shook me by the neck and said, ‘This is what you’re going to do.’ In 1950 I entered convent in San Antonio, the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word.”
Did they wear habits back then? “We sure did! We wore habits for a long time.” Could they go to baseball games? “Not back then, you didn’t go much of anywhere. I worked in the hospital most of the time. I don’t think we even had television when I entered.
“I was stationed here in Fort Worth in 1967,” she said. “It was beginning to lighten up a bit here and there. I remember well when they went to the shorter skirts and I walked out of chapel and felt the breeze on my knees. I never knew how good that would feel.”
See another profile of the sisters in the Wall Street Journal.
|MOTHER THERESE Couderc.|
The mission of the Cenacle Sisters is to awaken and deepen faith primarily through retreats, religious education, and other activities. Mother Therese Couderc started it all in 1805 when she turned a hostel for women pilgrims visiting the tomb of Saint John Francis Regis, the great Jesuit missionary, into a "cenacle"—a place of prayer and retreat, said Cenacle Sister Rosemary Duncan, r.c. in a recent newsletter article. The Cenacle Sisters have centers throughout the United States and the world.
By the way, the Chicago Cenacle is having a women's weekend retreat November 4-6 on "The Three Teresas—of Avila, of Lisieux, of Calcutta." For more information contact Sister Rosemary.
|KATHLEEN TURNER and Evan Jonigkeit in "High."|
Kathleen Turner will reprise her Broadway role as a tough-talking sister (and we do mean tough—the play has its share of nudity, profanity, and violence) who counsels a young drug addict in a planned national tour of the three-character drama High, by Matthew Lombardo.
High bills itself: “When Sister Jamison Connelly (Turner) agrees to sponsor a 19-year-old drug user in an effort to help him combat his addiction, her own faith is ultimately tested. Struggling between the knowledge she possesses as a rehabilitation counselor and a woman of religious conviction, she begins to question her belief in miracles and whether people can find the courage to change. High explores the universal themes of truth, forgiveness, redemption, and human fallibility.”
When a wildfire threatened the Monastery of St. John the Forerunner in south central Washington State, the Greek Orthodox nuns who live there went out and did what most property owners would: They helped fight the fire.
Sr. Helena Burns, F.S.P. reports that the air conditioning in the motherhouse chapel in Boston was cranked down to 50 F and “even the audience faked it with us” but the taping of the Daughters of St. Paul Christmas concert video went came off fine, even though “the swinging jib camera arm thingy knocked over the decorative burning candle on the altar rail and clocked the same lady in the head twice. Otherwise,” Sr. Helena says, “no casualties.”
The video that will be created from the filming will air on the Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn's NET TV channel this Christmas, and a DVD will be available. Daughters of St. Paul Christmas Concert Tour locations will also be announced and will include Boston, N.Y.C., Virginia, and Cleveland, and other cities.
The Daughters of St. Paul are on VISION.
|DEFORESTATION of farmland in Cameroon.|
The Sisters of St. Francis of Rochester, Minnesota have been involved in such efforts. They are part of the Carbon Covenant, which itself is a project of Interfaith Power and Light (IPL), founded by Episcopal priest Rev. Canon Sally Bingham. IPL is an organization of 10,000 congregations in 30 states who pledge to cut their energy consumption through energy-efficiency and alternative energy sources. Through the Carbon Covenant, the Rochester Franciscans helped the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon purchase 35,000 tree seedlings to combat deforestation.
The Sisters of St. Francis of Rochester are on VISION.
World Youth Day, Aug. 19: The Pope assured 1,600 sisters, representing nearly 300 religious communities and institutes, that the church and society continue to need the “Gospel Radicalism” of their religious consecration.
Benedict XVI gathered with the women religious at the Monastery of San Lorenzo in El Escorial
|SISTERS AWAIT the pope's arrival at
the Monastery of San Lorenzo outside Madrid.
Photograph: Andrea Comas, Reuters
After a few words of introduction from Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco, the Pope listened to Belén González, a member of the Siervas de Maria congregation, who spoke on behalf of all the nuns present.
“Your Holiness, we know that the Cross placed on your shoulders by God is heavy. We want you to know that you are not carrying it alone, you can count on us who, in the silence of the cloister or in serving the Church in our work, help you in our simplicity and poverty, and with the strength that we receive from Jesus Christ”.
The Pope thanked the women religious for their “generous, total, and perpetual yes” and expressed his wish that this “yes” might “speak to young people, inspire them and illuminate them”. The Pope explained that consecrated life means “getting to the root of love for Jesus Christ with an undivided heart, and not putting anything before this love.” The Pope asked that, in the face of relativism and mediocrity, they live their “Gospel radicalism” in communion with the pastors of the Church, their own religious institution, and other members of the ecclesial community, such as the laity who give witness to the same Gospel in their own vocation.
“We can’t cure our patients, but we can assure the dignity and value of their final days, and keep them comfortable and free of pain.” Those were the words of Rose Hawthorne, later Sister Mary Alfonsa, O.P., a daughter of the great American author Nathaniel Hawthorne, who in 1896 went to the slums of New York to care for poverty-stricken cancer sufferers, where she was soon joined by the young Alice Huber.
|DOMINICAN SISTERS of Hawthorne pray
at a new Rose Hill Home facility dedication.
"If you have to be terminal, this is the place to come," one resident told Catholic News Service. "It's the most unusual place I've ever been. You're not conscious of people being ill here. We all have cancer and we're all terminal, but it's serene and there are lots of moments of fun and laughter," she said. "The care is done with love and . . . . the women who care for you gave up their lives for this work and it's their vocation."
A while back I posted an item about Mother Dolores Hart, prioress of the Abbey of Regina Laudis, a Benedictine monastery in Bethlehem, Connecticut, who before becoming a sister had an acting career which included giving Elvis Presley his first on-screen kiss (she's still a voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences). She's making an appearance this evening in Chicago to kick off the St. Michael Church (outdoor) Film Festival. After screening clips from her films, she will speak on “A Culture of Life: Healing the Heart, Fragmented & Disintegrated.”
Here's a short video with some publicity shots from her acting career, followed by a home movie of a birthday party she attended with Elvis:
There are monasteries of Trappistines—the women’s branch of the Trappist Cistercian order of monastics—all over the world, but in Ireland there is only one: St. Mary’s Abbey in Glencairn, which is home to 37 sisters.
The community is diverse, with sisters from India, Nigeria, and the Philippines as well as Ireland. And more sisters are on the way: Six women are in formation, and the abbey’s vocation director Sister Sarah Branigan says she is “occupied . . . with inquiries from people of all different ages, people from 20 to late 60s, so there are a steady flow of inquiries about this kind of life.”
|SISTERS at prayer,
St. Mary's Abbey
The monastic life, Mother Fahy adds, is “the opportunity to live close to God and close to one’s self and have time for prayer and have time for leisurely walks and good reading and reflection on God’s word, and I think living at a deeper level.”
Sister Fiachra Nutty, who joined the community five years ago and expects to make her solemn profession of vows next year, describes the fit between herself and the community’s life. “I felt I needed space to be with God,” she says, “and that’s not very easy, I’ve found, for me in the outside world, because I am quite an extrovert, and I get involved in an awful lot of things, so enclosure was important to me, but at the same time I have a horror of restriction, as in claustrophobia. So here we are absolutely truly blessed. We have 200 acres within which to wander, you know, so that was a huge factor for me. Also the enormous welcome and warmth I felt from the community on my very first visit. That was just so wonderful.”
Religious life is in the midst of a paradigm shift. The large novitiate classes of the 1950s and 1960s are aging and fewer women are entering religious life today. Many of the younger sisters recognize they will be called to leadership in their communities and the church within the next 10 to 15 years.
Sister Sandra Schneiders, I.H.M.—a theologian and leading authority on Catholic women's religious life—shared her insights throughout the conference. “We are in a kairos moment that, if we seize it, could really galvanize into a whole new era of American religious life,” she said on the opening night of the conference.
While the main purpose of the gathering was to create a space for the voices of younger women religious, sisters of all ages were invited to participate. The youngest sister in attendance was 25 while the oldest was 88.
“The most meaningful part was the excitement and energy I felt after seeing other great women who are living this life just like we are, with the struggles and joys,” said 40-year-old Ursuline Sister Jeannie Humphries. “Religious life is a viable option and opportunity in our world today—it’s about being open to being with others and growing and learning.”
Giving Voice is an organization of vowed women religious in the Roman Catholic Church who have experienced religious life only since the Second Vatican Council. The July conference was the sixth national gathering of younger women religious women organized since 1997.
For highlights from the gathering, visit the conference blog.
|RETREAT GROUP with planning team in
back row: Sisters Amalia Camacho,
C.S.J.P., Jo-Anne Miller, C.S.J.P.,
Patricia Novak, O.S.F., Joan Gallagher, S.P., Monika Ellis, O.S.B., Francine
as a young sister
AS PUBLICIZED in the regularly updated Events Calendar of the VISION Vocation Network, the Archdiocese of Seattle Religious Vocation Team, comprised of vocation directors in the Seattle Archdiocese, held their first Intercommunity VIVA! Vocation Retreat weekend retreat earlier this month.
Eight young Catholic women who are exploring a call to religious life attended. Sisters from several local communities presented their vocation stories.
The Western Washington Serra Clubs sponsored the retreat.
BRAZILIAN Archbishop João Bráz de Aviz, 64, was appointed in January as the new prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, the Vatican body responsible for overseeing Roman Catholic religious life.
Bráz de Aviz
Commenting on the Vatican visitation of of women’s religious congregations in the United States, the archibishop said: "That, too, has not been an easy matter. There was mistrust and opposition. We’ve spoken with them, and their representatives have come here to Rome. We’ve started to listen again. That’s not to say there aren’t problems, but we have to deal with them in a different way, without preemptive condemnations and by listening to people’s concerns. By now, we’ve received many reports which we have to work through. There’s also the relationship with Mother Clare Millea [the Vatican-appointed head of the visitation], which will be important."
From John L. Allen, Jr.'s report on the NCROnline blog.
FOUNDED IN 2002, UNANIMA International is a nongovernmental organization (NGO—the international term for a nonprofit organization) made up of 17 congregations of Roman Catholic sisters--whose 17,500 constituents work in 72 countries.
UNANIMA's work is to advocate on behalf of women and children—particularly those living in poverty—immigrants and refugees, and the environment and takes place primarily at the United Nations headquarters in New York, where they aim to educate and influence policymakers at the global level.
In December 2005 UNANIMA International was officially accepted as an affiliated NGO of the United Nations Department of Public Information. Primary campaign areas: women and children; human trafficking; migration and refugees; eco-justice; water; social development; financing for development; indigenous issues; and HIV/AIDS.
FYI, the four central purposes of the United Nations, which was founded in 1945 after the Second World War are:
|One UNANIMA's several campaign|
• To keep peace throughout the world
• To develop friendly relations among nations
• To help nations work together to improve the lives of poor people to conquer hunger, disease, and illiteracy and to encourage respect for each other’s rights and freedoms
• To be a center for harmonizing the actions of nations to achieve these goals.
"Then, says Sister Cynthia on the Connect with Mercy blog, "go looking for some Roman Catholic sisters in your neighborhood, at your school, or in your church. Take some time to talk with them. You might be surprised by what you learn about their lives.
"You might know a sister who teaches all day every day, and perhaps after school or on weekends as well. But do you know that she may also be deeply involved in advocacy on any number of social justice issues? Ask her about the death penalty, about immigration, or about what’s happening in Darfur. See how her responses turn inside out what you might have thought about nuns.
|Sister Cynthia, R.S.M.|
"We devote our energies to serving others in whatever way God chooses. We pray to hear God’s voice, and to be obedient. We are so serious about this that we take a vow of obedience to God, a vow to listen really hard and then to act on what we hear. We recognize that the resources of Earth are limited, and that we need to share and take care of each other, especially the least among us. So we take a vow of poverty: we put all our money together to see what we can do to make a difference. Our work lives often balance each others. While some of us work as hospital administrators, others are on out the streets befriending immigrants. While some run colleges, others are doing volunteer literacy training.
"Our commitment to those on the edge is grounded in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, who turned everything upside down, from ideas about who God is, to oppressive religious laws, to debilitating diseases, to tables in the temple., Catherine McAuley, the foundress of the Sisters of Mercy, turned her part of the world upside down by putting her house in a neighborhood of wealth, taking her sisters to the streets, demonstrating and teaching that women have a place and a voice in the world. She turned herself inside out to make a difference in her world.
"We try as hard as we can to be Mercy every day, visibly, right out loud, wherever we can, whenever it matters. We wear our faith in God’s loving providence with pride and joy. And we happily join with others who are on the same path, lifting little by little, block by block that part of the world which just might be the crucial corner edge to turn the whole thing over and allow a new world to emerge – a world where everyone has what they need and people work together in mutual respect.
"The Sisters of Mercy have been turning the world upside down for more than 175 years. We invite you to come with us to the streets, to turn yourselves inside out for the sake of God’s reign, for the health of God’s people, for the love of mercy."
Sisters of Mercy on VISION.
This Saturday, May 7, the 8th annual “Stepping Up the Call: Pilgrimage for Vocations” will step off at 8:30 a.m. from the Maria Stein Center of the Sisters of the Precious Blood, 2291 St. John's Rd., Maria Stein, OH. The event is a fun and healthy spiritually-based day that has drawn hundreds of participants of all ages from a multistate area who walk (or ride) to area churches and shrines, prayer, talks, benediction, snacks and lunch, and closing Mass, finishing at 4 p.m.
|Missionaries and Sisters of the Precious Blood
and the Archdiocese of Cincinnati organize
an annual eight-mile vocation pilgrimage.
The Bon Secours RIchmond Health system is among 12 companies that top the list of Working Mother magazine’s “2011 Best Companies for Hourly Workers.” The companies are recognized for innovative, family-friendly policies that provide training, educational assistance and promotional opportunities for hourly workers, who make up nearly half of the nation’s work force, the magazine says. Such policies include tuition reimbursement, mentoring and career counseling, flexible child-care spending accounts, and flex work and telecommuting.
The Bon Secours Richmond Health System is also a two-time Gallup Great Workplace Award recipient. Founded by the Bon Secours Sisters, who arrived in the U.S. in 1861, the Bon Secours Health System was the result of the sisters' mission to bring compassion to healthcare and be good help to those in need, especially those who are poor and dying. Over time, the Bon Secours sisters built a multi-state network of hospitals, long-term care facilities, and healthcare services. True to the sisters’ original mission of a comprehensive healing ministry. Bon Secours Richmond is active in community outreach health programs and services. As a system of caregivers, their stated mission is to commit themselves "to help bring people and communities to health and wholeness as part of the healing ministry of Jesus Christ and th