Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Advent Festival of Lessons and Carols

The service tonight was spectacular, presented by the University students, Franciscan Universtiy. I have attended this service, but I think this was one quite moving, flawless singing and organ accompaniment, and timely in this First Week of Advent. I was presented by the Schola Cantorum Franciscana & the Franciscan University Chorale.
The carols sung at the Advent Service of Lessons and Carols,and througout the subsequent liturgical seasons of Christmas and Epiphany, have deep roots in the tradition of Christian worship. By the beginning of the 15th Century, carol-singing had become an intregral element of seasonal worship, particulary in Britain.
Though carols, indeed the celebration of Christmas itself, were banned in England by the Puritan regime of Oliver Cromwell during the 17th century, they were preserved and augmented in the New World, and eventually restored as a beloved tradition in Britain.
While the terms "carol" and "hymn" may overlap, the two genres are, in fact, different. Hymn texts tend to didacaticism; while the purpose of the carol - one that stems from its medieval analogue, the mystery play - is a narrative. For unlettered folk of the Middle Ages, the carol, like a stained glass panel or a fresco tableau, depicted the momentous event of Christ's Incarnation. And, in the honor of the saint who may be called the father of the Christian ode to joy, St. Francis of Assisi, the nature of most carols in both "hilarious" (joyous) adn reverential.
Centuries ago, carol-singing celebrated several seasons of the Church year. The custom has come, however, to be associated with the seasons fo Advent and Christmas.

The Festival of Lessons and Carols was developed as a non-liturgical service for Christmas by the rector of England's Truro Cathedral in the 19th century.
The service became wide spread when it transferred to King's College, Cambridge, England, where its annual performance is broadcast around the world.
The service's popularity has also led to the an adaptation for Advent, which, given that Franciscan University students are away during Christmas, is what we celebrate each year at the University. It has come to be a tradition to present this Festival before the end of the semester and final exams. God Bless the directors and students for the great effort in their performance.
(text from the program )

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Nine Days That Changed the World

Last evening at 7:00pm,I attended a new film about Pope John Paul II and his nine-day pilgrimage to Poland in 1979 that led to the fall of Communism in Europe. The screening was free and open to the public at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Steubenville, Ohio. The film was produced by Newt Gingrich and his wife, Callista. They introduced the film and explained what led them to produce this 94-minute documentary that traces the historic visit of Pope John Paul II to Poland the year after his election to the pontificate.
The ramifications of the pope's visit to his homeland were enormous, and the film convincingly shows that those few days in Poland set in motion the series of events that played a pivotal role in overthrowing Communist rule in Europe. Newt Gingrich, who converted to Catholicism in 2009 due to his wife's witness and an encounter with Pope Benedict XVI, presents the story of an extraordinary example of "freedom through faith."
Callista Gringich has stated " We really do try to echo Pope John Paul's message that no state government can come between you and God. And that our only freedom, our true freedom, can only be achieved and sustained through our faith."
The film used never-before-seen film footage of the Pope's visit. The Communist authorities were fearful of the impact of the pope's visit to Poland, snd so they did everything to minimize its effect. The Gringriches discovered that the Polish bishops, not trusting the Communist authoriies, gave video cameras to people in the crowd. telling them to record the event. The footage was made part of the Polish National Radio.
The movie was inspired in part due to the recent media negative coverage of the Church.
Newt Gringrich, well aware of how scandal can obscure great achievements, decided to highlight one of the greatest lasting contributions of Pope John Paul II.
The movie is produced by Citizens United ( a group active in promoting the Traditional American values.)
To schedule a screening, for more information, or to order the DVD, see the web site:

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Discernment of Vocations - 3rd Day of Hermitage

Saturday is set aside by the Church for Our Lady, to honor her and Hail her as Mother of us all, in the New Covenant. The Mass at Our Lady of Sorrows Monastery(Toronto, Ohio) was celebrated by a young priest who spoke in his homily of his discernment to Priesthood and answer to that call.
His homily was timely, as the Franciscan Sisters of Our Sorrowful Mother of Penance, were holding a Discernment weekend for young women visiting the Order to help decide if Our Lord is calling them to religious life.
Mary's FIAT, Father's fiat, and my own fiat, a call from Jesus to live in deeper union is always present. To turn from our sins,to seek & follow the Lord, where He may call us to live & serve, to deeper and abiding prayer and penance. We have always the model of Our Lady to say YES, and when one says 'Yes', God will give us His Love, Peace, and Joy.
Included in the intercessions of today, I pray for a young man TA, who is discerning Priesthod. experienced a new Joy in my heart to hear this priest share, knowing that God is answering the collective Prayers of the Church for Vocations to the Priesthood.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

St. Camilla Battista

I recently visited Italy while on pilgrimage, and met the Poor Clare Sisters of Camerino, Italy which is about 30 minutes from Assisi, Italy. I rejoice with them today for their foundress, St. Camilla Battista Varano was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter's Square.
Saint Camilla Battista - her story from writings of Bret Thoman sfo, the Pilgrimage Tour manager of St.Francis Pilgrimages of Peachtree, Georgia and a good Franciscan brother to me.
Camilla was the name given to the girl born (illegitimately) on April 9, 1458 to Giulio Cesare of Varano, the powerful duke and lord of Camerino. Just the same, she was loved by the duke's wife who raised her together with her own children. As a child, she was vivacious and playful. She grew up immersed in the high culture typical of the splendid Renaissance court: she was exposed to poets, historians, philosophers, and painters; she learned Latin and read the classics; she learned how to dance, paint, and play musical instruments. Her future was destined to an arranged marriage to strengthen the family dynasty, but when Camilla was eight years old, her life took an unexpected turn.

A Franciscan friar preached a sermon during Lent exhorting his listeners to shed a little tear on Good Friday in memory of Christ's Passion. An enthusiastic little girl, Camilla vowed to shed a tear every Friday, a devotion she maintained for many years. By doing so, the Holy Spirit entered her soul and she began to perceive something in the Cross of Jesus much more valuable than the worldly pleasures and intrigues around her. She later discovered a booklet with a meditation on the Passion of Christ. She prayed and meditated, fasted frequently, mortified her body, confessed often, and met friars for spiritual direction.

The following is information about the Poor Clares in the U.S.A. (taken from a website of the Poor Clares in Ohio, USA

The Franciscan Family
Our origins date back to the 13th century, to the Franciscan movement initiated by St. Francis and St. Clare in Assisi, Italy. This movement which, in the beginning, was simply to live faithfully the gospel of Jesus Christ in brotherhood and sisterhood, eventually became the three Franciscan Orders: the Friars Minor, the Poor Sisters (Poor Clares), and the Secular Franciscans.
Our Holy Mother St. Clare
St. Clare was a noble woman of the Italian town of Assisi at the end of the 12th and the beginning of the 13th centuries. Known from her youth as a devout girl, Clare was touched to the heart by the preaching of her contemporary St. Francis of Assisi. On the night after Palm Sunday in 1212, Clare left her family home and followed Francis in giving herself to living a poor, simple, Gospel life at the little church of San Damiano on the outskirts of Assisi. Although her family was initially furious with her decision, many young women followed Clare's example within a short time, including a number of members of her own family.

Our Community
The Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration is one of the several branches of the Order of St. Clare. It was begun in France in 1854 by Marie Claire Bouillevaux in response to her call to contemplation and adoration of the Eucharist in a spirit of praise and thanksgiving.

This community, first known as the Franciscan Nuns of the Blessed Sacrament, adopted the contemplative way of life, and were given the privilege of solemn exposition of the Eucharist.

In 1921, the first American foundation was established in Cleveland, Ohio. Several other monasteries have since been established in this country and in India.

Devotion to Christ in the Eucharist is and always has been the central element in the Franciscan family. For the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration, this devotion is expressed in a particular way through adoration of the exposed Eucharist. This is a special aspect of our effort to live out our call to offer praise and thanksgiving to God with and through Jesus on behalf of all people throughout the world.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

September 1st - Arrival in Rome, Italy

Wednesday, after an overnight flight on Delta #168 from JFK airport New York city, and my point of origin - Pittsburgh, PA. We landed at Leonardo Da Vinci airport in Rome, Itay. The flight was smooth but late leaving by 1.5 hours from New York on a Tuesday evening.
I met a number of American-born women married to Italian/American men who were travelling to Rome, Italy and small villages & towns of their husband's ancestral homes. The women were trying to be somewhat fluent in Italian, while the men held little or no interest in learning their native language. Many had been to Italy before, while for others it was their first trip. The next step in entering a foreign country is always and especially Italy is the maneuvering through the Immigration agents. At this time, with the arrival 2-3 flights of people (400-500) were trying to get through all at the same time to three Italian Immigration agents at their booths. Lines formed on all sides of the room, there are no guideposts, there was nor order, it was a free for all. But some left quickly as they read the above lighted sign which said "Members of the Common European Union" glad I figured that out in Italian, so the frustrated Americans became somewhat cooler as myself as it appeared a large portion of the crowd was 'line-jumping.' oops! I made some incorrect judgements there. While standing in line, I met a young family from upstate New York who were travelling compliments of the "Make-a-Wish" Foundation, they were going to be in Rome Italy for a week. I did not inquire about who was experiencing some illness, that could be terminal. This was their first time to Italy,and had some questions that were difficult to answer and give instructions all within 20 minutes while sharing the long line. They were going to be met at the terminal by a guide to get to their hotel and be given some basic facts to survive the city,etc.I have stayed at a small Bed&Breakfast in Ostia-Antica,a family run business from my 1st trip to Italy. It is in the ancient of the Port city of early Roman times, there the ruins are as comparable to Pompeii.I was given instructions to take a COTRAL bus to Lido, and then take the Metro subway 2 stops to Ostia station, to arrive at the Bed&Breakfast. Attempting to carify instructions with the concierge & some waiting passengers (all in my minimal Italain), who gave me too much false information, including there are no buses to Lido, only taxis. I was carrying my printed E-mail instructions from the B&B and I proceeded to follow them to the letter and safely arrived after a fast bus &subway system through the town of Fiumicino. The next feat is to climb & drag your luggage over the blue-metal pedestrian overpass to the B&B which by the way is only 200 metres over the Autostada. At this point it is nearly 1:00pm, I am tired, hungry and very thirsty.
I paused at the Bar/Restaurant at the entrance of the station. I recalled the young owner was named David, with Italian/Australian parents. I now inquired in Italian about David the now former owner. I learned from Alex, a tall Romanian young man, that David is now an owner of a Pizzeria outside of Ostia-Antica.
So I settled at the food bar for a cold ice tea & a hot cheese,Salami Pannini,and to polish it off I bought a Gelato with whipped cream & pistachio nuts on top. I love Italian foods. I love being in Italy. With food for the journey,I made my way over the bridge, and got settled at my B&B. In the evening, I spent time with the owners' son who speaks English, while I am trying to make conversation in Italian, he is indulging me in English. (smiles). tb continued.

September 2010 - 2nd day in Italy
Thursday - awakened @ 6am by a rooster next door to the bed & breakfast, but I fell back to sleep until 8 am. After some breakfast (prima collazione)I walked over to the Post Office to mail some postcards.
I took some light lunch of a soft Italian bun with some cheese, followed by a nice pear.
Then visited the Castle there which was built to protect Pope Julius. This was a free tour, and I was able to converse with the Italian female curator. Met and chatted with a German couple, who knew 'little' Italian.
I visited the Ostia Ruins, and was impressed with remains of site. I met another couple from the USA at the ruins. I took a snack of biscotti and water at the Cafeteria and bought two small 2011 Calendars.
I attended the Messe(Mass) @1800 hrs.in the local parish,it was the 1st day of Our Lady of Good Counsel festival.The priest was Father Neil, a Phillipino, who spoke fluent Italian. He as been the priest there for 20yrs.
After a dinner at the Barco Restaurant, which was Veal Scallopini, salad and wine, I returned to the Bed & Breakfast to chat with Mauro & Anna. I was able to use the computer of the house too.

Friday September 4, 2010
I slept 12 hours. After breakfast, I left Ostia-Antica by Subway/Train for the Basilica of St. Paul outside of the Wall. While getting off the Escalator and managing my luggage, I fell at the bottom of this fast moving device and received a wound to my left Elbow. Thank goodness for packaging a small First-Aid kit, that I was carrying in the Tourist shoulder bag. OUCH. I recalled minor cuts on arrival to Rome last time and then having to search a Mercato (grocery store) near my hotel to find Band-Aids and the language barrier. Moral of the story: pack a small First_Aid kit.

Well, I finally got to the Basilica which is not far from the subway and little walking.I wanted to visit this Basilica as the last time I was in Rome I did not make to it. After a great tour of the Basilica and staying to pray for awhile, I arrived at the Termini about 4pm. I called Alexius, a gentleman from a the English-speaking Charismatic Prayer Group in Rome, to confirm the 4pm prayer meeting on Sunday.

I bought an Italian Phone card, which took some time to locate a vendor selling them in the Termini station,this was another small time consuming frustrating event. After settling into my Hotel Salus, near the Termini, i returned to eat Dinner in the Termini. After this, I bought a Train ticket for Assisi to depart Rome in the morning.
I called my Wife back in the USA on a credit card to let her know of my safe landing,only to learn back home in the USA, this can be costly. I was not given the 7am wake up call for the morning, thus I hurried to the station without any fluids or breakfast, and missed the morning Train to Assisi, due the fact I read the Platform instructions incorrectly. Well, at least I was not alone in this new venture, because I met a Muslim man, who spoke great English, but not a word of Italian, together we walked back from the long East side platform to the ticket office, to revamp our tickets and get information about the next train to Assisi. This man has studied Law at a university in the state of Washington, and was proceeding onto the University of Perugia the next city to Assisi, his plans are to study International law until the Spring of 2011, and then return to his native country to teach at a university. He was in is 40's,married and with 4 children, living in a family compound in his country of Afghanistan.
Over the next 2 hours, we spent time talking about Muslim tensions with the USA, his Muslim faith, and answering his many questions about Christianity. We finally got our train to Assisi, and sat together only to further our discussions. He pulled out a letter in English with instructions for him on his arrival to Perugia, with some assistance from an Italian teenager , who sat across from us on the train, I engaged him in Italian to be his "guida" (guide) at the stations in Perugia and assist him on arrival to Perugia. We parted at Foligno as I had to change trains for Assisi. My missed train was to be a fast train, having misse it, I was delayed for an earlier arrival to Assisi, to meet my Tour operator there and begin the 8-day Franciscan Contemplative Hermitage trip in and around Assisi. I did arrive about 3pm in Assisi.
On the next train I met a young couple from Oregon, Jessi and Sarah, and David and Janet from Dallas, Texas who were traveling Europe.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

8-Day Contemplative Pilgrimage to Franciscan Hermitages around Assisi, Italy

This pilgrimage was born in my heart last Sept. 2009, the orginal pilgrimage plan was to attend a meeting in Jerusalem sponsored by the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Office in Rome. The conferenece was changed to Assisi, Italy for unknown reasons. I wanted to visit the Holy Land.But I guess that is for another time in my life. But even though I had been to Assisi 4 years previously, I felt like I was being called and invited by St. Francis himself to make this Contemplative Pilgrimage to the Franciscan Hermitages around Assisi and environs plus the timing was right- September can be a month when Italy is winding down from hot summers and the weather becomes more moderate. It did prove to be just that. It was sunny and bright with temperatures in the upper 80's with nice soft breezes in the daytime. The whole trip of 22 days was marred by a couple of days of rain (including one large thunderstorm with lots of rain).

I should mention that this tour company was pointed out to me by a common friend. As I explored the StFrancisPilgrimages website and started a Google Chat with the owner. I discovered a nice fit, and also, that he is a Secular Franciscan and that our paths have the same curves/directions.

This pilgrimage to Francicsan hermitages in Italy came after a year of spending 3 consecutive days a month in prayer,silence and seeking solitude at some small Franciscan hermitages owned by the Franciscan Sisters in my area (actually a 7 mile drive). I have been answering a "call" to live 'Desert Spirituality' in Franciscan forms, listening and sharing with my Franciscan spiritual director.

I believe this contemplative side of me has been 'marinading' there for years, and now with retirement and consent of my spouse, I can experience this stage of my life and a deeper union with God.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Father of Mercy Chapel * Franciscan Sisters TOR

This day will be memorable for the friends, family, and the Sisters of the Penance of the Sorrowful Mother, Franciscan Sisters,Third Order Regular (religious). Our wonderful Father God, provided a great sunnyday, moderate temperatures, having been through some hot weather these past weeks.
The chapel at the motherhouse was started August 2009 and completed this year 2010.

A Solemn Blessing of the Father of Mercy Chapel and the Altar consecrated took place at 11:00 am. Three bishops con-celebrated this event and Mass. Our Bishop, Most Reverend R. Daniel Conlon, Bishop of Steubenville, Ohio, presided with Bishop Emeritus of Steubenville, Most Reverend Gilbert Sheldon and Bishop David A. Zubik, Bishop of Pittsburgh, PA.

Bishop Conlon blessed the chapel with the Sprinkling of Holy water,then followed the Prayer of Dedication and the Anointing of the Altar. Within the prayer of Dedication, we were reminded how Noah after the Flood built an altar in God's name and the Lord was appeased by his fragrant offering and God's rainbow bore witness to a Covenant refounded in love. Further Abraham, our father in faith, constructed and altar to slay Isaac, his only son. But God stayed his hand and provided a ram for the offering. Moses, mediator of the old law, built an altar on which was cast the blood of a lamb:so prefiguring the altar of the cross.

The dedication proceeded with the Mass, with a spectacular Luncheon after.

Videos of the Dedication of the new Father Mercy Chapel and First Profession - visit online www.torsisters.org/communitynews.shtml

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Psalm 69 "this touched me" today

Ps 69:15-16, 30-31, 33-34Responsorial PsalmR. (14c) Lord, in your great love, answer me.
Rescue me out of the mire; may I not sink!
may I be rescued from my foes,
and from the watery depths.
Let not the flood-waters overwhelm me,
nor the abyss swallow me up,
nor the pit close its mouth over me.
R. Lord, in your great love, answer me.
But I am afflicted and in pain;
let your saving help, O God, protect me.
I will praise the name of God in song,
and I will glorify him with thanksgiving.
R. Lord, in your great love, answer me.
"See, you lowly ones, and be glad;
you who seek God, may your hearts revive!
For the LORD hears the poor,
and his own who are in bonds he spurns not."
R. Lord, in your great love, answer me.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Beatitudes - "Poor in Spirit"

Blessed are the poor in spirit. (Matthew 5:3) (Word Among US magazine)

It’s not surprising that most self-help materials on the market are geared toward doing exactly that: helping ourselves. Many of them promise to unlock our hidden potential or show us the happiness and riches that could be ours if we would stop putting off our dreams and start doing what we’ve always wanted to do. If we would just focus all our energies on obtaining our goals—even if it means forgetting about the people around us—we would be happy.

How different is Jesus’ prescription for self-help! To gain perfect happiness—for this is what “beatitude” really means—we need to become “poor in spirit.” We have to see that we need something outside of ourselves. We were made to be in relationships, first with our God but also with other people. To be poor in spirit means that we need to be enriched, that we don’t have all the resources for happiness within ourselves. It means acknowledging our emptiness.

But the beatitudes aren’t just a general call to humility. Even more importantly, they are an invitation to participate in the life of God’s kingdom in practical, everyday ways. For instance, as we perform works of mercy, we begin to embody the very mercy of God. As we strive to live a righteous life, we come closer to touching the holiness of the Lord. And as we live in purity of thought, word, and deed, we set ourselves free from distractions so that we can see the Lord more clearly both in our hearts and in the lives of those around us.

There is no magic formula for living a balanced, peaceful life—not in pop psychology or in the teachings of the Scriptures. The beatitudes are not just a better self-help program. Rather, they embody the wisdom of God—a wisdom that Jesus lived and taught to everyone. And this wisdom carries a powerful promise: The more we see ourselves as poor without Jesus, the more we will become rich with him. It’s that simple—and that challenging.

“Lord, help me to know the joy that comes from getting out of myself and using my gifts and talents for your kingdom.”

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus Christ

June 2010

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ is also known as the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, which translates from Latin to "Body of Christ." This feast originated in France in the midthirteenth century and was extended to the whole Church by Pope Urban IV in 1264. This feast is celebrated on the Thursday following the Trinity Sunday or, as in the USA, on the Sunday following that

This feast calls us to focus on two manifestations of the Body of Christ, the Holy Eucharist and the Church. The primary purpose of this feast is to focus our attention on the Eucharist. The opening prayer at Mass calls our attention to Jesus' suffering and death and our worship of Him, especially in the Eucharist. At every Mass our
attention is called to the Eucharist and the Real Presence of Christ in it. The secondary focus of this feast upon the Body of Christ as it is present in the Church. The Church called the Body of Christ because of the intimate communion which Jesus shares with his disciples. He expresses this in the gospels by using the metaphor of a body where He is the head. This image helps keep in focus both the unity and the diversity of the Church.

The Feast of Corpus Christi is commonly used as an opportunity for public Eucharistic processions, which serve as a sign of common faith and adoration. Our worship of Jesus in His Body and Blood calls us to offer to God our Father a pledge of undivided love and an offering of ourselves to the service of others.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Remain Faithful to God

Psalm 119:157,160-161,165-166,168

Your every word is enduring; all your just edicts are forever. (Psalm
Today’s psalm offers the "bottom line" for all our thinking about God:
He never changes. There is no contradiction in God, as there is in human
beings. He is always good, always faithful, always fruitful.God’s "every
word is enduring" (Psalm 119:160). Think about it. Everything God has ever
said will remain true for all time. He never changes his mind. And because
God is always good as well, his word will always bear good fruit. Because
he is always faithful, your heavenly Father will never betray your trust.
He will never lie to you or give you a false impression. He is completely
and utterly reliable!We humans, on the other hand, can hold a lot of
mistaken beliefs. And we can advocate some of these false premises in loud,
convincing voices. St. Paul warned Timothy about this. He urged his young
disciple to "remain faithful" to what he had learned about the gospel and
to hold onto the word of God in Scripture (2 Timothy 3:14-15). This was the
only way Timothy could guard against the "charlatans" who were offering
false gospels (3:13).The same is true today. Let yourself be taught by the
word of God in Scripture. Root yourself in it. Ponder it. Learn it. Lean on
it as you go through life. On a practical level, this means reading it every
day. A good way to start is to take one of the daily readings from Mass and
think about it during the day. Write down one or two verses that strike you
and keep them close to you. Keep coming back to it during the day, looking
for ways it applies to you. Let the promises in the passage become more
important to you than the things that might discourage or confuse or
frighten you.Scripture itself promises: "Lovers of your teaching have much
peace" (Psalm 119:165). So do it. Learn to love the Scriptures, and you
will begin to see all that God, who is always good, has in store. "Father,
I believe you are good and faithful. Help me to think about your word more
than all the other words I hear." 2 Timothy 3:10-17; Mark 12:35-37

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Two Franciscans Saints

June 2 - Saint Felix of Nicosia

Born on November 5th 1715, Giacomo Amoroso followed the trade of his father, a shoemaker. As a lad he held the greatest horror of any sin at all. At his work he distinguished himself by great modesty, docility, industry and patience. When his parents died he applied at the Capuchin convent for admission. He was refused. He persevered and he prayed and waited and at opportune times renewed his plea again and again. Finally after eight years, at the age of twenty seven, he gained admission. On October 19th 1743 at Mistretta he was invested with the habit and the name Felix after the first saint of the Order.

Upon his profession, a year later, he was recalled to Nicosia to assist the questing brother in his mendicant rounds. Like his Seraphic Father, Saint Francis, Felix was very austere on himself in private but publicly his love of God was expressed itself in charity towards his neighbour. Like Francis, also he had a great love and devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.

He was endowed with the gift of healing temporal and spiritual diseases and he delighted in tending the sick. He could also bi-locate in the same way as Padre Pio. Called to aid the sick when a malignant epidemic was decimating Cerami in March 1777, he responded eagerly. Airlessly and indefatigably he went about ministering the sick, and his labours were crowned with abundant success. "So be it for the Love of God", were the words with which he accompanied his miracles of healing, and for the love of God he may be said to have lived his whole life. Second only to love came obedience. He never did anything without permission, and when he was overtaken by his last illness he asked the guardian to give him leave to die. He passed away on May 31st, 1787, at the age of seventy two.

For thirty three years he lived under a superior who considered it his role to sanctify Felix by subjecting him to relentless severity and fantastic humiliations, all of which he heroically endured.

Felix was beatified by Leo XIII, on February 12th 1888. Three years later his remains were transferred to the Cathedral of Nicosia. He was Canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 23rd, 2005.
Hospital Sisters of Charity of St. Francis of Assisi FOUNDER:

Father Christopher Bernsmeyer, OFM, who died on June 2, 1858 in Telgte, Germany. As we commemorate the 150th anniversary of his death, we pray for a deeper understanding of our Franciscan heritage and a recommitment to carry his vision into the future.

The story begins in 1777
Johann Christoph Bernsmeyer was born on May 15, 1777, in Verl, Germany, and was the second of four children. When he was not attending school, it is presumed that he worked with his father on a farm. He probably attended school in Gütersloh or Rietburg where there was a Franciscan school which offered preparation for study at a university leading to a professional career or to the priesthood.

Religious persecution by Government
At the age of 24, he entered the Novitiate of the Franciscan Province of the Holy Cross on September 13, 1801, at Koster, Hamm, and he remained there for one year. Just after his profession to the Order of Friars Minor (OFM), he was transferred to Warendorf to study philosophy. Soon after, on August 11, 1802, King Frederich III forbade all monasteries of men to accept novices and allow them to make profession. On August 26, 1802, this prohibition was attached to the doors of the churches.

After he had finished his philosophical studies in Warendorf Monastery, Father Christopher was transferred to Münster to study theology with the Observant Franciscans. He was ordained to the priesthood on January 24, 1805 - much earlier than was customary or prescribed by the Order. He then had to finish his Theological Studies and then was appointed to parish work. This transfer from Warendorf Monastery was made without the permission of the German government. On June 15, 1805, when the status of population was to be given from the Monastery and his name appeared on the list, difficulties arose with the government. The government ordered that Father Christopher had to leave Münster within six weeks. The Provincial wrote a 14-page excuse to the King on account of this political crime, and the Guardian sent a petition to keep Father Christopher because he needed his help. On July 26, 1805, the government allowed him to remain in Münster.

Fondness for Telgte, Germany
Beginning in March 1808, part of his ministry involved a weekend commute from Münster to Telgte where he heard confessions and preached to pilgrims visiting Our Lady of Grace Chapel. This Chapel was built in 1654 under the direction of Prince-Bishop Bernhard von Galen and displayed a wooden pieta (the artistic term describing “Mary holding the body of Jesus after his death”) that was carved in 1370.

Growing tension between the government and Church leads to vision for the future
Throughout these years, there was a growing tension between the government and the Church. Then one day in 1811, a notice was posted on the Franciscans’ Monastery in Münster that read: “…Now therefore I, Napoleon I, Emperor of the French, do decree that the aforementioned Franciscan Monastery at Muenster, Westphalia, be, and hereby is, dissolved; that all property of whatsoever kind appertaining thereto be forfeited to the state; and that all members thereof be expelled and dispersed.” (The Monastery became a barracks and their church became a stable and then a prison.) On January 1, 1812, Father Christopher and the other Friars were forced to leave the monastery. He returned to Telgte and served as assistant pastor at St. Clements Church (for more than 25 years) and tended to the pilgrims who visited Our Lady of Grace Chapel. Here he learned about the situation of the sick in rural areas.

What he needed was a religious nursing organization devoted to the sick poor of the rural districts with the same efficient, full-time care that other sisterhoods were giving the poor of the cities. It became his dream to care for the sick and poor of Telgte. He purchased a former leper house at Auf der Hille near Telgte - paying for it from his own savings - and worked with another former Franciscan Brother to build an orphanage. The cornerstone of the house was laid on May 4, 1844 and completed in 1845.

The foundation of the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis
On July 2, 1844, in Our Lady of Grace Chapel, he officially welcomed five young women as Sisters to the Third Order, which constituted the founding of the Community of the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis. This group based their religious life on the rules of the Third Order of St. Francis approved by Pope Leo X in 1521. To these, Father Christopher added statutes of a more local character, as the care of the sick – poor of that territory in their own homes, as well as in hospitals. Kneeling before the wooden pieta where thousands of pilgrims had also prayed, these young women devoted their lives to the service of God and His people. Political and Church complications made for the slow evolution of the small group of Sisters.

During his life, Father Christopher continued to practice his Franciscan spirit but under very difficult political circumstances. He dreamed of nurturing the Franciscan spirit in whatever way that would be possible and even build a convent for sisters who would care for orphans, the poor, and the sick. His dream came true in spite of his distancing from it. The Congregation grew, and before his death in Telgte on June 2, 1858, at the age of 81, Father Christopher lived to see much accomplished what filled his heart with joy.

His vision continues today
Today, Father Christopher’s vision of a nursing sister has grown into a 164-year-old Congregation of Hospital Sisters serving the poor, sick, and needy throughout the world. Presently, there are 1100 Sisters in four Provinces (Germany, Poland, USA, and Japan) and one Region (India) who strive to be Christ’s healing presence and to bring this healing presence to others.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

History and Growth of the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis

John Patrick Doyle 1874-1952
The history and growth of the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis in the United States is closely connected with the life and work of this zealous Franciscan priest.
Born near Thules, County Tipperary, Ireland, John Patrick Doyle migrated with his parents to the united States in 1881; they settled in Brooklyn, New York. After graduating n 1897 from St. Francis College(Brooklyn,John decided to become a diocesan priest. He received his doctorate in theology in Rome, Italy and was ordained in 1901.
After several years as and assistant pastor in the Brooklyn diocese, Father Doyle was appointed professor of philosophy at St. Francis College and chaplain to the Franciscan of Brooklyn who ran the college. Two years later he became an assistant pastor again. In 1910, with his bishop's permission, Father Doyle entered the Third Order Regular at Loretto, Pennsylvania.
He soon became president of St. Francis College in Loretto, Pennhsylvania, where he reorganized the curriculum. In 1912 Father Doyle began St. Francis Seminary there for the education of diocesan and Third Regular Order priests. All the students were inspired by the holiness of his life. He was fondly known by the clergy and members of the Order as "Doctor Doyle." The friars benefited from his service as minister provincial (1924-37) and 1947-48).
When Father Doyle died on June 02,1952, hundreds of priests - many coming from distant places - attended his funeral.
QUOTE: Father Doyle liked to quote the Italian proverb "Corragio, il diavolo e morte"
("Have courage, the devil is dead").
Resource: Franciscan Saint of the day - Patrick McCloskey, OFM

Monday, May 31, 2010

The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta
Mary in the mystery of her annunciation and visitation is the very model of the way you should live, because first she received Jesus in her life, then she went in haste to give her to her cousin Elizabeth; what she had received, she had to give.
You must be like her, giving in haste the word you have received in meditation.

The Visitation of Mary

Blessed are you who believed! (Luke 1:45)

Don’t you find it remarkable that God chose to bring about his work of redemption through two human babies and their mothers? Jesus was still in Mary’s womb, yet in his presence, Elizabeth and her own unborn son, John, were filled with the Holy Spirit the moment Mary arrived. This short but powerful scene gives us a glimpse of the forceful love of God, who simply can’t wait to pour out his life. What a foreshadowing this is of the glory of the risen Christ, who wants to pour out his Spirit on all people!

Elizabeth’s pure and humble response to the work of God in their lives must have brought great comfort to Mary. In Elizabeth, she finally found someone with whom she could share her joy and awe at what was happening in her. Who else at this time could understand the song welling up within Mary’s heart (Luke 1:46-56)? Rather than being jealous of her younger relative’s exalted position, Elizabeth rejoiced with Mary and embraced her own supportive role. For her part, Mary did not wait for Elizabeth to come to her but hastened to her side.

While this meeting between Mary and Elizabeth is unique, there is something here that we can all experience. As baptized believers, each of us is capable of bearing Christ to others. If our eyes were opened to the glory of this truth, we too would rejoice and be humbled in the presence of so holy a vessel as a sister or brother in Christ. Even nonbelievers would move us to great reverence because they too are created in God’s image and have just as much potential of being filled with the Holy Spirit. If God has so highly honored human beings this way, how can we fail to show them equal honor?

God used Jesus, even when he was just a fetus in the womb, to pour out divine life. Everyone, no matter how young or old, no matter how strong or weak, has been created as a dwelling place for God. So how can we long for God’s presence and yet disregard him in the people all around us?

“Lord Jesus, as you opened Elizabeth’s eyes in the presence of Mary, open our eyes to those who also bear Christ. Help us to honor the potential of each person to be filled with the Holy Spirit."

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Most Holy Trinity

Gospel of St. John 16:12-15

Jesus said to his disciples:

"I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.

But when he comes, the Spirit of truth,

he will guide you to all truth.

He will not speak on his own,

but he will speak what he hears,

and will declare to you the things that are coming.

He will glorify me,

because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.

Everything that the Father has is mine;

for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine

and declare it to you.

Meditation for today : Feast of the Most Holy Trinity May 30/2010.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Every time we make the Sign of the Cross, we acknowledge the central mystery of the Christian faith: that our God is not one but three—three divine Persons in one God. It is the one statement that separates us from all of the other religions in the world, and it is the foundation for everything else that we profess and believe as Catholics.

But the teaching of the Trinity really explains much more than mere metaphysical propositions. It tells us about the inner life of God—the intimate love and communion that is constantly flowing between the Father, Son, and Spirit. God is far from an isolated being or uninvolved deity. His very existence has to do with relationships.

If it is God’s nature to share himself, and if we are created in his image and likeness, it follows that we too are meant to share our lives with each other. As Paul reminds us, we are the body of Christ, and a body “is not a single part, but many.” (1 Corinthians 12:14). We were made to be in communion with one another, joining together to build the kingdom and to proclaim the gospel to all of creation. It’s a tall order, and anyone who has tried to do it alone knows that it just doesn’t work!

But the Trinity is more than just a model for togetherness: It also gives us the power to live it! We really can love one another as fully as Jesus loves us—if we draw from the love of God that has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). Jesus promises that as we deepen our relationship with one another, our lives will start to reflect the very life of the Trinity—and that’s how we can experience the joy we are meant to know as Christians!

“Holy Spirit, draw us all into the love that you share with the Father and the Son! Stir up your gifts within us, so that we may pour out that same love on one another!”


Questions for Individual Reflection or Group Discussion

Proverbs 8:22-31, Psalm 8:4-9, Romans 5:1-5, John 16:12-15

1. Reflect on the following verses in the First Reading: “the Lord possessed me, the beginning of his ways,” “from of old I was poured forth,” “then I was beside him as his craftsman, and I was his delight day by day, playing before him all the while, playing on the surface of the earth; and I found delight in the human race.” In what way do they give us a glimpse into the relationships and intimacy within the Trinity?

2. In the Responsorial Psalm, we see the primacy of man: “You have given him rule over the works of your hands, putting all things under his feet.” Why should this truth motivate us to be good stewards over God’s creation? How well would you rate your own stewardship? What steps can you take to improve it?

3. The Second Reading tells us that “the love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” Can you share a time in your life when you have “experienced” God’s love for you, not merely “known” about it?

4. In the Gospel, we also get another glimpse into the Trinity through these words of the Lord Jesus: “He (the Holy Spirit) will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.” What do these verses tell us about the relationships between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?

5. In the meditation, we hear these amazing words: “But the Trinity is more than just a model for togetherness: It also gives us the power to live it! We really can love one another as fully as Jesus loves us—if we draw from the love of God that has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). Jesus promises that as we deepen our relationship with one another, our lives will start to reflect the very life of the Trinity—and that’s how we can experience the joy we are meant to know as Christians!” What steps can you take to build or deepen your relationships with other men or women in your parish?

Let's Not Play Dumb!

We do not know. (Mark 11:33)

Have you ever felt cornered by someone’s interrogations? You know that no matter how you answer, you’ll get yourself in trouble. Usually, this happens either because you really are guilty of the thing your questioner is pressing you about or because your questioner has so twisted the truth that there is no way out. Either way, you can’t salvage the situation, and you have to resign yourself to having lost a battle of wits.

Now imagine how the Jewish elders must have felt when Jesus asked them whether they believed in John the Baptist’s preaching. There was no way they could answer without placing themselves in a negative light. If they said they did believe, he would press them on the way they abandoned John to Herod. If they said they didn’t believe, they would appear to be on the wrong side of the people, who considered John to be a hero. So, they chose the path of least resistance and played dumb.

Mind you, Jesus wasn’t trying to make these leaders look bad. He just wanted them to confess that they had been wrong about John the Baptist. He hoped that reminding them about a shadowy part of their past would spur them to repentance and to change their position about John—and about Jesus himself.

Jesus may take a similar approach with us at times. He may bring to mind a situation where we mistreated someone. Or he may remind us of a long-standing grudge we have been holding or a sin from our past that we have not acknowledged—all in the hope that we will face it and turn to him in repentance.

The chief priests and scribes could have replied, “You’re right. John’s baptism was from heaven, and we didn’t believe him. We should have tried to defend him when Herod had him arrested. Even more importantly, we should have accepted his message.” Instead, they hardened their hearts.

Let’s not play dumb! If and when the Holy Spirit brings some past unpleasantness to the surface of our minds, let’s acknowledge it and deal with it. How else will we ever find freedom and peace?

“Jesus, thank you for giving me so many chances to repent and turn back to you. Give me the courage to listen to your Holy Spirit’s questions so that I can know even deeper freedom and a greater friendship with you.”

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Job and Christ compared!

Second reading
From a sermon by Saint Zeno of Verona, bishop
Job was a type of Christ

Is Job a type of Christ? If I am right, he is, and the comparison will reveal the truth of my claim. But while Job was called a just man by God, God himself is the fountain of justice from whom all the saints drink. See what Scripture says: The sun of justice will arise for you. Job was called truthful, but the Lord is, as he says in the Gospel, the way, the truth and the life. And while Job was rich, the Lord is far richer, for the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it; the world and all who dwell in it. All rich men are his servants, and the whole world and all of nature as well.

But we may compare Job and Christ in many ways. As Job was tempted by the devil three times, so too Christ was tempted three times. The Lord set aside his riches out of love for us and chose poverty so that we might become rich, while Job lost all that he possessed. A violent wind killed Job’s sons, while the sons of God, the prophets, were killed by the Pharisees. Job became ulcerated and disfigured, while the Lord, by becoming man, took on the defilement of the sins committed by all mankind. The wife of Job tempted him to sin, much as the synagogue tried to force the Lord to yield to corrupt leadership. Thus he was insulted by the priests, the servants of his altar, as Job was insulted by his friends. And as Job sat on a dunghill of worms, so all the evil of the world is really a dunghill which became the Lord’s dwelling place, while men that abound in every sort of crime and base desire are really worms.

The restoration of health and riches to Job prefigures the resurrection, which gives health and eternal life to those who believe in Christ. Regaining lordship over all the world, Christ says: All things have been given to me by my Father. And just as Job fathered other sons, so too did Christ, for the apostles, the sons of the Lord, succeeded the prophets.

Job died happily and in peace, but there is no death for the Lord. He is praised for ever, just as he was before time began, and as he always will be as time continues and moves into eternity.

RESPONSORY Hebrews 12:1-2; 2 Corinthians 6:4-5

Let us throw off every encumbrance and steadily run the race we have started,
– keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the source of our faith and its goal.

Let us prove ourselves by patient endurance of trials, in times of difficulty and in distress, and when we are flogged or imprisoned.
– Keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the source of our faith and its goal

Friday, May 21, 2010

Perseverance with the Holy Spirit!

They had some issues with him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus who had died but who Paul claimed was alive. (Acts 25:19)

You’ve heard the adage: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” That’s because most of our successes involve failings along the way. Babe Ruth was known for his home-run hitting prowess, but he also struck out 1,330 times in his Major League career—twice as often as the average batter of his time. And Thomas Edison tried thousands of times before inventing a light bulb that worked. “I have not failed,” he once remarked. “I’ve just found ten thousand ways that won’t work.”

In Acts chapters 25-26, Paul must have been frustrated to find that his evangelistic efforts before king and court were fruitless. No one was convinced by his preaching, and Paul remained a prisoner bound for Rome. But he didn’t give up. And like Paul, we too should never give up. After all, we have been called to announce the same good news of Christ’s love and salvation that he proclaimed.

So how do we get the word out? We can start by not being afraid of temporary setbacks. If someone seems turned off, don’t worry. Just pray that God will continue to work in that person’s heart. Try your best to be honest, authentic, and transparent, just as Paul was in his effort to “become all things to all people” (1 Corinthians 9:22). If you persist humbly and gently, if you remain conversational rather than confrontational, if you let the Spirit work through you, then you can leave the rest up to God!

Not all of your efforts will meet with success, but that’s okay. Remember Mother Teresa’s remark: “God did not call me to be successful. He called me to be faithful.” Not everyone is going to get it, but don’t let that dissuade you from planting seeds whenever you can. You never know when someone will respond. And who knows? What you consider a failure may well bear fruit later. Or it may teach you something about God’s mysterious ways. Whatever happens, don’t give up!

“Holy Spirit, give me the courage and perseverance I need to share the good news of Christ. Take away my fears, and replace them with your love for the world!”

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Sing a New Song - Feast of St.Joseph the Worker

Sing to the Lord a new song. (Psalm 98:1)
Some days it’s hard to sing a new song, isn’t it? We wake up singing
the same old one: My spouse doesn’t understand me. I’m afraid.
So-and-so hurt me. That old song isn’t always wheezed out in gripes and
complaints, either. Sometimes it’s intoned in a dull plainsong lacking
any excitement, adventure, or joy—a monotone of routine: Go to work. Do
the laundry. Cook the meals. Change the diapers. Pay the bills. Nothing new
about any of it.
But every day, one thing is true: God has triumphed! His wondrous deeds and
his justice, his kindness and his faithfulness mean victory over every
threat to a joyful existence. His compassion and mercy are new every
morning as he continually offers us a new heart and a new spirit. All
because Jesus was raised from the dead, enabling us to live a new life. We
have plenty of reasons to sing a new song to the Lord, a song that declares
the wonderful, powerful deeds he has wrought in this world and in our lives.

So go ahead and sing! Sing of the many reasons you have to trust him. Sing
a song that proclaims God’s power in your life and his ability to heal
you, to relieve your worry, and to free you from the chains of sin and
fear. Declare his power—and his desire—to provide for your needs, to
forgive your sins, and to lead you in the way of forgiveness. Sing of his
generous gifts of wisdom, energy, patience, and whatever else you need to
live this Christian life. Sing of that life itself, a life of peace,
freedom, joy, trust, hope, confidence, and patient acceptance of things you
can’t change.
Sing, speak, or list such things on paper. Rehearse that list daily. Find
Scripture passages that state or reinforce your new song. Sing or speak
those words aloud during your prayer. Find some truth that has particular
meaning in the situations you face, and repeat it frequently, whether in
your thoughts or on your lips, throughout the day. Put away the old song,
and sing joyfully to the Lord. Break into song! Sing praise!!
"Lord, you are good! You have triumphed over everything that weighs me
down. Your faithfulness lifts me up, and your kindness carries me through
my day."

Acts 13:44-52; John 14:7-14


Friday, April 30, 2010

Memorial Mass for Sister Dorothy Sienko

Today at Trinity West Health System of Steubenville, Ohio. A well-attended Mass was celebrated in the chapel by Fr. Mark Moore, resident chaplain of the hospital. Some of her Franciscan sisters of her religious community were present, as well hospital workers, and many of her brothers and sisters of the "Community of God's Love", a Catholic Charismatic Covenant community in Steubenville, Ohio. She was very much loved and will be sadly missed.
After Communion, a gentleman sang the 'Ave Maria' solo, without any musical assistance.
The mass readings for the day were appropriate to this memorial Mass for Sister Dorothy. Printed obituaries with a picture of were available at the entrance of the chapel.
Goodbye dear heart !

Sister Dorothy Sienko OSF, pray for us.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Catholic Fertility Care Centers

Dr. Thomas Hilgers is the founder and director of the Pope Paul VI Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction, in Omaha, Nebraska. The Institute is dedicated to research, education and service in the areas of human reproduction within the context of the teachings of the Catholic Church. He currently serves there as a Senior Medical Consultant in Obstetrics, Gynecology, Reproductive Medicine and Surgery. He is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology and gynecologic laser surgery and is a member of the prestigious Society of Reproductive Surgeons.

He has served on the faculty of medicine at St. Louis University School of Medicine and Creighton University School of Medicine in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. While at Creighton, he founded and directed the Creighton University Natural Family Planning Education and Research Center. Along with his colleagues, he is the developer of the Creighton Model FertilityCareTM System, a thoroughly standardized modification of the Billings Ovulation Method. His ongoing medical research and application of this system has led to the development of the new gynecologic and reproductive science called NaProTECHNOLOGY. In July 2004, he published the first definitive medical textbook on this new science, The Medical and Surgical Practice of NaProTECHNOLOGY.

He is also the founder of the American Academy of Fertility Care Professionals, FertilityCareTM Centers of America and FertilityCareTM Centers International.

He is the author of over 200 professional books, book chapters, poster sessions and articles. He has also produced 11 videotapes and countless numbers of audiotapes. In addition, he is the recipient of 5 different research awards and has been awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Assumption College, Worcester, Massachusetts and an honorary doctorate of public health from Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio and an honorary doctorate from Ave Maria University in Naples, Florida. In 1994, Pope John Paul II appointed him to full membership in the Pontifical Academy for Life and with his wife, Susan, he served for five years on the Pontifical Council for the Family. In 1997, the Nebraska Family Council named Dr. Hilgers Physician of the Year. In 2001, he was presented with the John Cardinal Wright Award by the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars and in October, 2003, he received the Linacre Award, the highest award given by the Catholic Medical Association. And in January 2007, he received the Cardinal John J. O'Connor Pro-Life Award for 2006, presented by Legatus International at their Summit in Naples, Florida. In May 2009, he was invited to be the Commencement Speaker at Ave Maria University where they conferred on him an Honorary Degree, Doctor of Science, honoris causa.

The Hilgers are the parents of four sons and one daughter.


A Tribute to a Franciscsn Nun & Friend - Sister Dorothy Sienko, OSF

Sister M. Dorothy SIENKO, OSF, 1921 - 2010 Sister M. Dorothy Sienko died on March 6, 2010, at Rosary Care Center where she lived for the past four years. The former Mary Sienko was born to Joseph and Anna (Kozlak) Sienko on July 10, 1921, in Minneapolis, MN. Inspired by her four cousins who had previously entered the Sisters of St. Francis in Sylvania, OH, she entered the convent on July 31, 1937 from St. Louis Parish in Foreston, MN. Sister Dorothy made her first vows as a Sylvania Franciscan on August 18, 1941 and her final vows on August 18, 1944. Sister Dorothy's ministry was a lifelong endeavor in nursing at various levels. She received her RN diploma at St. Francis Hospital in Hamtramck, MI; a BSN from Mary Manse, Toledo, OH; and an MSN from The Catholic University, Washington, DC, and an honorary Degree of Humanities, from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, OH.
Sister Dorothy's lifelong career in nursing was spent mostly in a supervisory role. She worked at hospitals sponsored by her Order in Texas, Nebraska, Michigan and Ohio. Before she came to Rosary Care Center in 2006, Sister Dorothy had spent 30 years as Director of Psychiatric Nursing at Trinity Health System (formerly St. John Medical Center) in Steubenville, OH. She had many friends at Trinity and at the Franciscan University of Steubenville with whom she shared her faith and her love of God. In a brief autobiography written by Sister Dorothy a few years before her death she wrote, "I would like to be remembered as an integrated woman-gifted with faith, love and encouragement to many over all my years of life. I pray for complete abandonment each day and accept even what God permits to happen to me and to know and follow His Divine Will. I leave you with these words: 'Let go and let God'; live in His Presence; enjoy your gift of life and celebrate it. God loves you very much." Sister Dorothy will be missed by her loving family and her Sisters in community and many brothers and sisters of the Community of God's Love, a Catholic Charismatic Covenant Community, at Steubenville, OH. She will be welcomed home at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 10, 2010 at a Welcoming Ceremony in Our Lady Queen of Peace Chapel at the Motherhouse of the Sylvania Franciscans. A liturgy celebrating her life will be held at 4:30 p.m., Thursday, March 11, 2010 in the Chapel. Donations and memorials may be sent to the Sisters of St. Francis, Sylvania, OH. Arrangements made by Thomas I. Wisniewski Funeral Home, Toledo, OH.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Apostles of Kibeho, Rwanda

Today I had the honor and privilege of being at the Finnegan Fieldhouse at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Steubenville, Ohio, to hear - Imaculee Ilibagiza. She is a survivor of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, in which nearly her entire family were murdered. Through here strong faith, she overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Today Immaculee is regarded as one of the world's leading speakers on Peace, Faith, and Forgiveness.
How did she do this? She and 7 other women spent 91 days hidden silently in the bathroom of a local pastor's house.
She wrote a book after being released. "Left to tell." She has a web and blog site, too. www.immaculee.info and www.immaculee.com.
She learned English while in hiding and is now a sought after speaker, world-wide. I was infinitely touched by her story of faith, surrender, and trust in God.

Rwandan Happenings before the Genocide - a Visitation of Our Lady - the Blessed Virigin Mary.

The following is from "michael's journal" - these are not my personal writings.

To avoid a horrible war
Conversion, prayer, penance, fasting
Messages of Our Lady of Sorrows in Kibeho, Rwanda
These Apparitions have been officially recognized by the Church in 2001
In Kibeho, Our Lady had precited, in 1984, the horrible war of 1994
O Holy Mary, You alone have foundInfinite Wisdom in the Word Incarnate
by Thérèse Tardif
I am writing these lines on September 15, 2001, the feast of Our lady of Sorrows. I am deeply moved to write this article on the Apparitions of Kibeho today. Since last June, when these Apparitions were officially recognized by the Church, I had the intention of informing the readers of “Michael” about them. It is only today that I got together all of the documents that allow me to write about them in detail. Our Lady probably wanted to impregnate us with the spirit of the feast of Her Sorrows, so that Her Message would be better understood. She also wanted that the sad events that took place in the United States make us understand better the reason for Her tears, so that we may be more attentive and obedient to Her requests. May this article help to convert a multitude of souls, for the consolation of the “Mother of the Word”, our Holy Mother of Sorrows. This is our wish!
The “Michael” Journal first reported about the Apparitions of Our lady in Kibeho in Rwanda, Africa, in its January-February, 1988 issue. These Apparitions have just been officially recognized by the Church. The news was reported in the July 11, 2001 issue of the Vatican weekly L'Osservatore Romano. The Apparitions of the Mother of the Word began in November, 1981, and took place until 1989. These Messages of Our Lady in Kibeho concern the whole world.
Declaration of the Bishop of Gikongoro (excerpts)
On July 2, 2001, the Holy See released the declaration of Bishop Augustin Misago of Gikongoro, on the Apparitions that took place in 1982-83 in Kibeho. Here are some excerpts:
“Two study commissions, one of doctors and one of theologians, were immediately set up by the local Bishop; they have been at work since April 1982... The advanced state of the study commissions' work now offers sufficient elements to allow competent ecclesiastical authorities to pronounce definitively on this question.
“As a result, Bishop Augustin Misago of Gikongoro, who represents this authority, has published his declaration concerning the definitive judgement on the Apparitions of Kibeho, Rwanda. This important event in the history of the Diocese of Gikongoro, as in the life of the Church in Rwanda, took place on 29 June 2001, on the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, during a solemn Mass concelebrated in the cathedral of Gikongoro. All the Catholic bishops of Rwanda, with the Apostolic Nuncio of Kigali, were present...
“The Bishop declared: Yes, the Virgin Mary appeared at Kibeho on November 28, 1981, and in the months that followed. There are more reasons to believe in the Apparitions than to deny them... The Apparitions of Kibeho are now officially recognized... The name given to the Marian sanctuary at Kibeho is "Shrine of Our Lady of Sorrows".
“That Kibeho become a place of pilgrimage and of encounter for all who seek Christ and who come there to pray, a fundamental centre of conversion, of reparation for the sins of the world and of reconciliation, a point of meeting for all who were dispersed, as for those who aspire to the values of compassion and fraternity without borders, a fundamental centre that recalls the Gospel of the Cross.
“This Declaration makes it possible to respond to the expectations of the People of God and to bring new enthusiasm to the public devotion recognized already for 13 years”. (Taken from “L'Osservatore Romano”, weekly edition in English, July 11, 2001, page 8.)
In 1988, without officially approving of the Apparitions, Bishop Jean Baptiste Gahamanyi, of the Diocese of Butare, of which Kibeho was a part at that time, authorized public devotion at the site of the Apparitions. Today, Kinbeho is part of the Diocese of Gikongoro, led by Bishop Augustin Misago.
Rwanda in 1980
Vandalism was rampant all over the country from 1980 to 1981. Almost all of the statues of the Virgin Mary that were at the entrance of villages were mutilated, destroyed, or stolen. This was a sad time when Mary was almost forgotten, and barely prayed to. Even several priests did not pray the Rosary any more, influenced by the propaganda of false theologians who would like to make us believe that this devotion is out of date. Catholics are humiliated; the clergy begins to give up.
It is in this time of discouragement that Mary chose to visit Rwanda. From 1981 to 1989, this country heard of the Virgin Mary as never before. Kibeho is located in the south of the country, the poorest area of Rwanda. The presence, in this place, of two dynamic priests made the population fervent.
The school of the Apparitions
At the start of the new school year in 1981, there were 120 students, divided into three classes. Three nuns are directing the school. The other teachers – one woman and five men – are lay people. They are all Rwandans. Two are Protestant, the others are Catholic. The majority of the students are Catholic, but there are also 17 Protestant and 2 Moslem students. Morals are far from being exemplary.
The first Apparition
Alphonsine Mumureke, happy tosee the Mother of the Saviour
Alphonsine Mumreke, the first seer of Kibeho, is 17 years old, and is in her first year at the secondary school of Kibeho. She is very pious, and has always shown a great love for the Blessed Virgin. She also likes to attend Holy Mass. Here is how she relates the first Apparition:
“It took place on Saturday, November 28, 1981, at 12:35 p.m. I was in the dining room of the school, serving my classmates. All of a sudden, I heard a voice calling me.”
Mary: “My daughter.”
Alphonsine: “Here I am.”
“I went to the corridor, and saw a very beautiful woman. I knelt down, made the Sign of the Cross, and asked: ‘Who are you?’”
Mary: “Ndi Nyina Wa Jambo (in the local language, ‘I am the Mother of the Word’). In the religion, what do you prefer?”
Alphonsine: “I love God and His Mother, who gave us the Child who redeemed us.”
Mary: “If it is so, I have come to calm you, because I have heard your prayers. I would like your friends to have Faith, because they do not believe strongly enough.”
Alphonsine: “Mother of the Saviour, if it is really You who has come to tell us that here, in this school, we have little Faith, You do love us. I am really filled with joy that You appear to me.”
Alphonsine relates: “The Virgin was not white as She is usually seen in holy pictures. I could not determine the color of Her skin, but She was of incomparable beauty. She was barefoot and had a seamless white dress, and also a white veil on Her head. Her hands were clasped together on Her breast, and Her fingers pointed to the sky. Later, I was told that I was in the dining room. My classmates told me that I was speaking in several languages: French, English, Kinyarwanda, etc.
“When the Blessed Virgin was about to leave, I said three ‘Hail Marys’ and the prayer, ‘Come, Holy Spirit’. When She left, I saw Her rise to Heaven like Jesus.”
At the end of the Apparition, the seer remained motionless for a quarter of an hour, as if she was paralyzed, and all the efforts to get her out of ecstasy were in vain. Neither the teachers nor the nuns gave credence to what Alphonsine said. They rather spoke of illness instead of apparitions.
The phenomenon took place again the next day, on November 29. In December, the Apparitions took place almost every Saturday. Excited by their curiosity, the students and the teachers test the reality of the ecstasies. They burn Alphonsine with a match, or prick her with a pin, but the seer has no reactions.
Alphonsine suffered a lot during this period of subtle persecution. They mocked her: “Here comes the seer!” During the May 8, 1982 Apparition, Alphonsine complained to the Virgin Mary: “People say that we are crazy.” This day, her mother was present for the first time.
Many signs are given by Heaven to bring the students and the teachers to believe in the authenticity of the Apparitions.
The students who had rosaries brought them to have them blessed by the Blessed Virgin. They were all mixed up together, so it was impossible for Alphonsine to know their owners. Alphonsine took the rosaries and offered them to the Blessed Virgin. Some rosaries became too heavy, and the seer could not lift them and ask for the blessing. One then noticed that the heavy Rosary in question belonged to a student who did not believe in the authenticity of the Apparitions, and who criticized them.
There was also, in the dormitory, the Apparition of a star and of sparkling lights that all could see.
If the first Apparition took place in the dining room, during the day, the following Apparitions took place in the evening, in the dormitory, in the room of the seer. The Virgin Mary often told the seer about the date of Her next Apparition.
In Rwanda, news goes fast. People rush up to be present at the time of the Apparitions. Upon the request of the Bishop, the seer spoke about it to the Director of the school. The next meetings will take place outdoors, in the schoolyard. Some Apparitions will continue to take place in the dormitory – private Apparitions that concern only the seer and the students.
Anathalie presents rosariesto be blessed by Mary.
Mary will progressively make Herself known to the students, and win them over. She gives advice, encourages, makes remarks to bring them on the right path. She is really the Mother who, in Her motherly love, educates Her children. Our Lady really became the Queen of this school. She should be the Queen of all schools!
One knows that the present situation in schools worldwide is awful, because God has been chased out, because His law is no longer taught. It is even forbidden to pray to Him in schools! Every morning, when we go to Mass, our heart breaks when we see school buses arriving to school, loaded with children. Poor little ones, who are taught that God does not exist! Mary came to Kibeho in a school, to set the example to the whole world, and to show how students can be transformed when God's law is taught in schools.
Because of the strong opposition that the first Apparitions had caused, some teachers and students had said: “We will believe in the coming in our school of Mary, the Mother of God, only if She appears to others besides Alphonsine.” The seer replied to them: “Pray yourselves to obtain this favor.”
Two other seers
On January 12, 1982, Our Lady grants the prayers of the students, and also appears to a young girl, Anathalie Mukamazimpaka, and will appear to her until December 3, 1983.
Marie Claire Mukangango presents the Rosary of Seven Sorrows. She was killed during the war in 1994.
And on March 2, 1982, to the surprise of all, Our Lady appears to Marie Claire Mukangango. It is like a bomb in the school, for Marie Claire was one of those who had showed her unbelief the most. Her Christian life was nothing special, and was even far from being exemplary! She called Alphonsine “a fool”. And now, it is her turn to be seized by a mysterious power. The Virgin Mary chose her to spread Her message, and from now on, Marie Claire keeps saying: “One must meditate on the Passion of Jesus, and on the deep sorrows of His Mother. One must recite the Rosary every day, and also the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows of Mary, to obtain the favour of repentance.” Marie Claire will have Apparitions until September 15, 1982.
The blessing of water
In January and February, 1982, diabolical phenomena take place in the dormitory. To cast away these unknown forces, the nuns use Lourdes' water, which has a soothing effect, but soon there is no more water left. So Anathalie is asked to have some water blessed by the Virgin Mary during the Apparitions. This was on March 2, 1982. Thus started, at Kibeho, the habit of having water blessed by the Virgin Mary before the Apparition.
There are now three seers at Kibeho, all from the college. The three of them are now recognized by the Church: Alphonsine, Anathalie, and Marie Claire.
Other Apparition sites
The Apparitions of Mary, that followed the first one to Alphonsine, take place in the dormitory until January 16, 1982, and from that date, either in the schoolyard, for public Apparitions, or in the dormitory of the students, or in a place converted into a chapel. It is there that the students come to pray in the evening, and it will be the moment favored by the Blessed Virgin to visit one of the seers of the school. The students are present during the Apparition, and often the talks with the Virgin are about school life. These Apparitions are considered private, and the public is not allowed.
However, all can attend the Apparitions in the schoolyard. There is a conversation between the seer and the Apparition. All can hear and record the words of the seer, but they obviously cannot hear the words of the Virgin Mary. Very soon, the crowds become larger, especially in May, 1982, the month dedicated to Mary.
A podium and powerful speakers are installed to allow journalists and the members of the medical and theological commission to circulate freely, and above all, to allow the population to hear the dialogue of the seers. On August 15, 1982, there were 20,000 people.
Towards the end of an Apparition, the Blessed Virgin asks the seers to bless the crowd. The seers are in ecstasy; they do not see the crowd, but a garden of flowers, some fresh, and others faded. Our Lady asks the seers to water the flowers, and explains that the fresh flowers represent people whose hearts are turned to God, whereas the faded flowers represent those whose hearts are turned to earthly things, especially to money.
Mystical journeys
There are also the mystical journeys. Alphonsine experienced this phenomenon on March 20 and 21, 1982. She informs the Sister directress and her classmates in advance: “I will look dead, but don't be afraid; don't bury me!” The journey lasts eighteen hours. Priests, nurses, religious, the medical assistant of the Red Cross, all can see Alphonsine plunged into a deep sleep, her body straight and very heavy. They cannot lift her nor separate her hands that are joined. During this journey, the Blessed Virgin shows her Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell.
Another impressive phenomenon that took place in Kibeho was the fasts and the silences requested by Jesus or Mary. This was also checked by the commission of inquiry. These fasts could last up to fourteen days, without harming the health of the seers.
She prays and sings
During one Apparition, Alphonsine is cured of a severe quinsy and of a loss of voice, and also of an eye disease. During the Apparition on October 2, she fell seven times, but even when she lays on the ground, she continues to pray and to sing. She asks for the grace to detest sin, the strength not to be carried away by the desires of the flesh. She sings: “Queen of Heaven and earth.” Then, as an invocation, she repeats: “Let us help Him to save the world...” In her prayers, Alphonsine often asks for vocations to the priesthood and the religious life. She does not forget the youth. She prays for peace because, she says, “there are dissensions, troubles, hatred all over the world.” Finally, she prays for Bishops of Rwanda, the heads of States, and for the whole world.
Two sanctuaries
On August 5, 1982, the Virgin Mary said to Anathalie:
“I speak to you, but you do not hear Me. I want to lift you, but you remain down. I call you, but you turn a deaf ear. When will you do what I ask of you? You remain indifferent to all My appeals. When will you understand? When will you take interest in what I want to say to you? I give you signs, but you remain incredulous. How long will you turn a dead ear to My appeals?”
This long complaint of the Blessed Virgin follows Her request to build two sanctuaries on the place of the Apparitions. Anathalie had told the authorities, but nothing had been done yet. However, the local Bishop and the parish priest were already convinced about the reality of the Apparitions, but they had to go through the usual inquiries.
The crowd in the schoolyardduring the Apparitions
Here is the dialogue that took place between Marie Claire and Mary on April 2, 1982:
Mary: “Do repent! Do repent! Do repent!”
Marie Claire: “But I do!”
Mary: “When I tell you this, I do not speak to you alone, but I speak also to all the others. Men of our times have emptied each thing of its true meaning: he who commits a fault does not recognize that he did wrong.”
Marie Claire: “We are weak, without strength. Give us the strength to recognize our faults and to ask forgiveness for them.”
Our Lady recommends to us to say the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows, to obtain the contrition of our sins.
On May 31, 1982, Our Lady said to Marie Claire:
“What I ask of you is repentance. If you recite this chaplet, while meditating on it, you will then have the strength to repent. Today, many people do not know any more how to ask forgiveness. They nail again the Son of God on the Cross. So I wanted to come and recall it to you, especially here in Rwanda, for here I have still found humble people, who are not attached to wealth nor money”.
Our Lady asked us to recite this chaplet every day if we can, but especially on the following days: Friday, the day that recalls the crucifixion of Jesus; Tuesday, in memory of the first Apparition to Marie Claire on Tuesday, March 2, 1982; on September 14, the feast of the Holy Cross; and on September 15, the feast of Our Lady of Seven Sorrows.
A Message for statesmen
Here are excerpts from a Message of our Heavenly Mother to the seer Alphonsine during Her last Apparition on November 28, 1989. It was published in the May-June, 1990 issue of “Michael”:
“I speak to you who hold power, and who represent the nation: save the people, instead of being their torturers. Don't rob the people; share with others. Be careful not to persecute, to muzzle those who want to denounce your errors. I say it to you, I repeat it, whatever you do, even though you try everything to harm somebody because he loves his fellow men, defends human rights, fights for the respect of the life of others, and for the truth and all that is good, and even because he fights so that God may be loved and respected, whatever you do, you can do nothing against him.”
The Virgin also said to Alphonsine: “I love you very much. If I came, it is because you needed it.”
Extraordinary phenomena
The pilgrims in Kibeho witnessed several extraordinary phenomena: the dance of the sun from left to right and up and down, for tens of minutes; the disappearance of the sun, replaced by a greenish moon; a dance of the stars; luminous crosses in the sky.
But the greatest miracle in Kibeho was this wave of conversions and prayers that resulted from the Apparitions. The Virgin Mary especially called Her consecrated ones and the youth, these poor young people of our times who go to schools, that are not only without God, but against God!
Bishop Jean Baptiste Gahamanyi
Bishop Jean Baptiste Gahamanyi, who was in charge of the Diocese of Butare at the time of the Apparitions, was interviewed by the French Catholic periodical “Chretiens Magazine” (Jan. 15, 1998 issue). He said:
“At the beginning of January, 1982, I invited Alphonsine to:
– Ask the Virgin Her name, and for whom Her Message was intended – for Kibeho, for Rwanda, for Africa, for the whole world;
– Express clearly Her Message;
– Appear not too late, and in a place large enough to gather many people.
“For the next Apparition, Our Lady appeared in the schoolyard, but not far from the original place of the Apparitions, and this Apparition took place at 3 p.m.
“The Virgin Mary said that the purpose of Her coming was to communicate a message of conversion (through a life of prayer and confession, a life renewed by the Word of God, and by works of charity and justice).
“She had also stated Her name, `the Mother of the Word', so that one will not mistake Her for another mother: the child to whom She gave birth is God.
“She insisted on the same message of rejection of sin, and recommended the practice of unceasing prayer that keeps us in communion with the Holy Trinity. This is how the devotion to the Seven Sorrows of the Virgin Mary was discovered.
“I have absolutely no doubt that something supernatural took place in Kibeho. The message is true; people must feel concerned.”
A vision of the war later in 1994
During his 1990 visit to Rwanda, John Paul II exhorted the faithful to turn to the Virgin as a simple and sure guide, and to pray for greater commitment against local divisions, both political and ethnic.
One of the key reasons that brought the competent ecclesiastical authorities to recognize the Apparition of Kibeho as authentic was the anticipated vision of the Rwanda genocide that occurred 12 years later, in 1994. On August 19, 1982, the seers saw “a river of blood, people who were killing each other, abandoned corpses with no one to bury them, a tree all in flames, bodies without their heads.” This prophecy seemed at first incredible, but about a decade later, in the spring of 1994, a horrifying civil war erupted in Rwanda, and, in just three months, an estimated 500,000 to one million were killed, many beheaded by machetes and dumped into the Kagea River (“river of blood”).
The Blessed Virgin had warned us at Kibeho that sexual promiscuity would lead to disaster. That was before the world knew about AIDS, but by 1994, Africa has seventy percent of the world's AIDS cases – and entire villages were turned into ghost towns! So far, 25 million Africans have contracted AIDS.
But the warnings of the Blessed Virgin Mary were not just for Africa. "When I tell you this, I am not addressing myself strictly to you, child, but I am making this appeal to the world," the Virgin told the seer Marie-Clare Mukangango – who was later killed in the war. She said the Virgin described the world as in revolt against God, the world “is on the edge of catastrophe.”
To avoid war and chastisements, the Mother of the Word invited the young seers and the whole world to pray, to fast, and to make penance.
Following the terrible events that took place in the United States, and that are foreshadowing a bloodier and more devastative war, we ask our readers to put into practice the request of Pope John Paul: Pray to avoid war!
And, above all, let us heed the requests of Our Lady: let us convert by going to confession, by confessing our sins with deep sorrow; let us go to Mass every Sunday; let us pray the Rosary by meditating on the mysteries that recall the main events of the life of Our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, related in the Gospel; let us recite the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows that reminds us that Mary took a close part in our Redemption, that She suffered along with Her Son Jesus to save us.
Thérèse Tardif
This article was published in the Oct.-Nov.-December, 2001 issue of “Michael”.
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Saturday, February 6, 2010

Snow Blast!!!

hello ! i can't believe that i have not blogged since last August 2009. Oh my. Alot has happened since then, and i have met new people and friends, in my circles. Also, completed another course at University .But my sharing today is about this blast of snow to the Ohio Valley from the Mid-Atlantic. It started to roll in here about 1:30pm on Friday, Feb. 5. At that time is was sunny, about 32* F. and light flurries. This storm was much on people's minds since Wed. or Thurs. as many were shopping and stocking up.
The snow was coming down about 1 inch per hour, and yes at that rate in these past 24 hours, we now have 24 inches or about 70 cms. on the ground. It is wet and heavy. Being sunny today, has made it that more pleasant, to be outside and shovel, shovel and shovel some more.
Well my new friends from New Zealand are leaving for studies in Rome, Italy. They have been a sheer delight to meet, become a brother & sister in Our Lord, share meals with, plus good fun times too! I shall truly miss them, and i pray for a safe trip for them, also much success in their time in Italy! G'bye mates :(till we meet again.
They will be flying from Pittsburgh, PA to Toronto, Ontario, Canada on Sunday. I have checked with their airline and it looks like that flight for Sunday is going to happen.
Praise God for the next leg of their 'discernment.' Alleluia!!!!
To finish this blog, the family were out numerous times to clean our walks and cars. It is now stopped snowing, sunny. Pray God this is the last of this weekend's blast....