+ Francis A. Lynch, C.M. +  Funeral Details

Please remember in your prayers + Francis A. Lynch, C.M.

Viewing

Monday, April 2, 2018

3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018
9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.

St. Vincent’s Seminary
500 East Chelten Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19144

Funeral Mass

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

10:30 a.m.

Vincentian Community Chapel
500 East Chelten Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19144

Interment

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

2:00 p.m.

Vincentian Community Cemetery Princeton, NJ

Princeton Abbey & Cemetery
Section: Congregation of the Mission

Holy Week – the greatest change in human consciousness

Notice what is missing in this tree of life!

Did you ever think that each Holy Week we celebrate the greatest change in human consciousness ever?

We speak all too glibly of the scandal of the cross… which began as the scandal of the crib. But what happened then was a systemic change in the way we think about God and ourselves.

 Do you understand?

Jesus’ question at the Last Supper rings as true today as when he first raised the question.

“Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Know that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. John 13: 11-17

Our image of God vs. God’s actions

The operative image of God for most Christians (except for the mystics) is a powerful monarch, usually an old white man sitting on a throne. It’s no accident that the Latin word for God, Deus, came from the same root as Zeus. Some would say that Christianity hasn’t moved much beyond the mythological image of Zeus. Sometimes God is referred to as “the man upstairs.”

In fact, many are not too far from an unreflective image God as the Divine vending machine who will reward us if we do and say the right things.

Yet this is not the image of God revealed to us by Jesus—a vulnerable baby born in an occupied and oppressed land; a refugee; a humble carpenter whose friends were fishermen, prostitutes, and tax-collectors; a political criminal executed on a cross. In other words, Jesus shows a vulnerable God much more than the almighty one Christians often assume.

The point?

God comes through powerlessness and humility! Talk about a paradigm shift! God is present in loving service more than power and might.

“I know where I came from and where I am going,” Jesus says, “but you do not” (John 8:14). So he came to tell us! And show us!

I come from a loving God and I go back to a loving God.

It puts new meaning on the words, “Do this in memory of me.”” Love one another as I have loved you.”

It also gives new meaning to reading used in the liturgy for St. Vincent.

“God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are” ( 1 Cor1 :27-28).

Reflections

  • Can I accept the scandal of the cross and the crib – a God without the trappings of power?
  • Am I an unwitting devotee of the gospel of prosperity where a good life is a reward for doing the right thing?
  • Am I willing to wash the feet of others even as God Incarnate has washed my feet?

PS For a fascinating overview of the human development in consciousness as found in Hebrew scripture visit this summary of the work of Walter Brueggeman.

Living in a Time of Extremes – Wisdom from St. Paul to Oscar Romero

To us who live in a time when extremes on the left and right of the spectrum seem glaring, St. Paul comes with this counsel for keeping on course. “Do not conform yourselves to this age. But be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” To paraphrase him, “There are many currents swirling around in today’s culture. Some are God-inspired which in one way or other match up with the message of Jesus Christ Our Lord and flow along the lines of the life He holds out to us. But then there are others that not only spin away from this current, but even run directly against it. So how do you keep moving in the right direction? Let yourself be changed by continually letting new life (the life of Christ in the Spirit) come into your minds and hearts.”

A few comments on this deceptively simple advice, beginning with the example of someone who took it to heart and indeed at cost.

This past August the country of El Salvador celebrated the 100th birthday of Oscar Romero, the Archbishop assassinated while saying Mass in 1980 for his stance against a small power elite in the country who in different ways had been excluding the poor and underprivileged. He has recently been declared Blessed Oscar Romero, and under Pope Francis will likely be canonized a saint in the coming year.

His is a story of someone who allowed his heart to be renewed, and when responding to that new heart ran afoul of certain embedded beliefs in his society. In Paul’s words, Romero’s attitudes and behaviors did not conform itself to its age.

He started out on a conventional path, polite and self-effacing, making no waves. In his early years as bishop he moved comfortably among the prosperous and powerful. But then because of happenings in the wider Church community, along with the deepening of his own prayer life, he began to look out at his world with refocused eyes. Some of his priests had taken up the cause of the farm laborers and the indigenous peoples. At first wary because they stirred the waters, Romero gradually moved closer to their vantage points. And as he did, certain passages in the Scriptures began to sound more loudly inside him: “Whatever you do to the least of these brothers and sisters, you do to me.”(Mt. 25); “Is this not the kind of fasting I want: to set the oppressed free, to share your food with the hungry.”(Is. 58) “He has sent me to bring good news to the poor.” (Lk. 4)

A dissonance rose up in his heart and mind. The conventional wisdoms, the arguments of “Well, that’s just the way things are,” no longer squared up with what he was hearing and seeing not only around him but most importantly inside him. Paul’s words struck, “Do not conform your view of the world to the viewpoint of some in this society around you. Open up your eyes of faith and let your mind be changed.”

More and more did Romero expose himself to these influences, the Scriptures, the witness of others, the stirrings of The Spirit within. As Paul predicted, they worked to transform his point of view. And it was that changed heart which brought him into conflict with the powers that be, so much so that they conspired to execute him.

With his example and many like him, how can we hear Paul’s summons today to recalibrate our own socio-cultural outlook?

An underlying ingredient in any response would be openness.

Certainly openness to the meaning of the Scriptures, especially to the message of Jesus:

  • Hearing these readings with fresh ears and pliable minds, willing to let them lead us in whatever directions they would.
  • Trying to step out of our own shoes and into The Lord’s so as to see the world more as He sees it.
  • Making the effort to see everyone as a child of Jesus’ Father, possessing that inner worthiness that comes with being loved and valued.

And then from this stance, assessing the various movements in the culture. We might then be able to:

  • Look at the news at night and grasp it more with the eyes of a prophet like Jeremiah who didn’t want to notice what was happening in his world because it was so personally threatening. But because God moved in him he knew he had to look again, then to cry out and at cost to do something.
  • Pick up the paper and read it more with the heart of the Lord Jesus who felt others’ pain and experienced the outsider’s isolation, and then stepped in, indeed at cost, to change things.
  • Spot the witness given by others around us, those in whom this same disharmony has sounded and begun to transform.

This is to walk behind prophets like Jeremiah and Oscar Romero, and surely behind a Vincent de Paul who through that same mixture of prayer and experience came to discern the blindness to the marginalized in his age.

When Paul advises us to “let ourselves be transformed by the renewal of our minds,” he’s also asking us to bare ourselves to that wider range of influences streaming in from God’s Spirit. Things like: the Word of God in the Scriptures, the Sunday gathering at Eucharist, the gospel example of those around us, the promptings rising in our hearts — and indeed the witness of all those who did not go with every tide of their age but who let themselves be taken along in the current that runs down from that font of living water flowing from the crucified side of Our Lord Jesus Christ

“Do not conform yourselves to this age. But be transformed by the renewal of your mind.”

This post first appeared on FamVin.

Catching up on Vincentian Values Week Five

St. Vincent de Paul encouraged five particular traits in his comrades: simplicity, meekness, mortification, humility and zeal. Come discover the stories of these Vincentian Values and how they are alive in the daily experiences of those around us.

Through the 40 days of Lent, a new story will be shared daily. Make it your Lenten challenge to dive into the five Vincentian virtues of simplicity, meekness, mortification, humility and zeal. See how the everyday practices of being honest, approachable, self-disciplined, realistic and hardworking, in the spirit of St. Vincent, can transform your own life and the lives of others.

The Journey Begins

Day 1 – First Step on the Vincentian Way – Thomas McKenna

Day 2 – In the Vincentian Way – Mary Gilbart

Day 3 – With a Good Heart – Ivette Detres

Day 4 – Waking Up – John Freund

Week One – Stories of Simplicity

Day 5 – Just Listen – Frank Sacks

Day 6 – Lifting up Spirit – Larry Huber

Day 7 – Open and Honest – Jack Timlin

Day 8 – Simple Providence  – Frank Sacks

Day 9 – Truthful – Mary Gilbart

Day 10 – Transparency – Thomas McKenna

 

Week Two – Stories of Meekness

Day 11 – Reflect – Katherine Cartegena

Day12 – SIlent Storm  – Al Smith

Day 13 – Open Door – Al Pehrsson

Day 14 – Available – Liz Wilson

Day 15 – Gentle Help – Robert Stone

Day 16 – Approachable – Thomas McKenna

Week Three – Stories of Mortification, Self-discipline

Day 17 – Joyful Sacrifice – Darcy O’Hara

Day 18 – Convinced – Robert Maloney

Day 19 – Sometimes – Lou Trotta

Day 20 – Like Christ – Robert Maloney

Day 21 – The Dirty Work – Darcy O’Hara

Day 22 – Focus – Tom McKenna

Week Four – Stories of Humility, Realism

Day 23 – Beautiful Music – Tim Lyons

Day 24 – Time and Attention – Joe Lesenko

Day 25 –  Gifts and Talents – Beth Racine

Day 26 – Others First – Ivette Detres

Day 27 – Gateway of Service – Stephen Carp

Day 28 – All is Gift – Tom McKenna

Week Five – Stories of Zeal

Day 29 – Respect and Dignity – Bill O’Brien

Day 30 – Work Hard – Laura Ford

Day 31 – Commitment  – Marge Clifford

Day 32 – Zeal for God – Mary Jo Timlin-Hoag

Day 33 – Devotion – Paulette Mican

Day 34 – Embers – Tom McKenna

Coming Week Six

 

Bishop – Parish is a “community of communities”

The Bishop asked our confrere, Father Norberto Ábrego, CM, to make of the new parish entrusted to him a “community of communities”!

 

In his homily before the people of the parish, he specifically said: “be especially attentive to the integral formation and the organization of Ecclesial Base Communities.”

It is no secret that In the United States most of our parishes seem to have lost a sense of intimacy with others who are also responding to the call to celebrate and deepen their faith and “go out” to the peripheries as evangelizing disciples called for by Pope Francis.

Ecclesial Base Communities? What are they?

For the average North American Catholic, the words have a strange sound. Yet, Ecclesial Base Communities are part of the vocabulary of the church in other continents. Indeed the Bishops of Latin America, Asia and Africa have been very vocal in calling for such developments.

The parish is conceived of as a community of communities. People gather in smaller and more intimate communities but still come together with a larger eucharistic community.

The Bishops of the Philippines describe the reality well.

“They are small communities of Christians, usually of families who gather together around the Word of God and the Eucharist. These communities are united to their pastors but are ministered to regularly by lay leaders. The members know each other by name, and share not only the Word of God and the Eucharist but also their concerns both material and spiritual. They have a strong sense of belongingness and responsibility for one another.” (PCP II 138)

St. John Paul II describes BECs as part of the effort to decentralize the parish community and regard them as expressions and means for a deeper communion:

“These are groups of Christians who, at the level of the family or in a similarly restricted setting, come together for prayer, Scripture reading, catechesis, and discussion of human and ecclesial problems with a view to a common commitment.

Father Norberto himself writes,

“The Congregation of the Mission is challenged to create an environment in which the parishioners are able to live as missionary-disciples of Jesus Christ and able to become a living cell of the Church, ever more alive as a parish … as the Aparecida Document states, the parish is the privileged place where the majority of faithful have a concrete experience of Christ and of ecclesial communion.” [Ed. Many describe the Aparaecida document as the blueprint for Pope Francis. That is material for another post.]

Is this happening in the United States?

The vocabulary may be strange. But that does not mean it does not happen.

In so many ways our parish of Our Lady of Guadalupe in North Carolina is living this new way of being church. With some 4,000 engaged each Sunday, Our Lady of Guadalupe is the largest Hispanic parish and, indeed, one of the largest parishes in Charlotte. While not formally modeled on the Base Ecclesial Community model it embodies many of the practices.

Perhaps it is not a coincidence that what may be the largest Catholic parish in the United States is also in Charlotte. America Magazine recently presented insights on “Lessons on evangelization from the largest parish in the United States”. The article explains in greater detail this paradox of being so large yet offering a sense of closness among the people.

“Thirty years ago, St. Matthew had only 237 registered families, but the church has mirrored the explosive growth of Charlotte and now serves over 10,000 registered households, putting it in contention for being the largest parish in the United States.

Of course, there is also St. Vincent’s Parish in Germantown.For years they have been living many of these elements.

Historical and Geographical Perspectives

After a time of reflection and discernment, the Region of Panama, with the approval of the Visitor and his council, has made a commitment to administer the parish of Santa Maria de Belén. Fr. Norberto offers the following

This decision is in accord with the Five-Year Plan of the Region which recommended involvement in a new work. In light of that recommendation, a process of evaluating various proposals was initiated … at the end of this process, the parish of Santa María de Belén in the Diocese of Colón Kuna Yala was chosen as the new work for the confreres.

Before accepting responsibility for the parish, the Regional Council (chaired by Father Teodoro Justavino, CM), the confreres at the Colón House, Father Stephen Grozio, CM (Visitor of the Eastern Province USA) engaged in a lengthy dialogue Bishop Manuel Ochogavía Barahona, OSA.

The parish is located in the Costa Abajo area of Colón and is composed of communities in two districts: Colón and Chagres. Many of the communities are only accessible by boat and others are located in the mountain area and only accessible by horseback. The geographical area of the parish is very diverse as are the people (the majority of the people are from the interior of the country and dedicate their time to the cultivation of the land). The people closer to the city of Colón work in the Free Trade Zone of Colón.

The people in this area have a history engaging in the struggle for justice. Years ago many members of these communities organized themselves to fight against a project that would have submerged their lands and their houses underwater … water that would be used for the Canal and thus allowing larger ships to transit the Canal. As a result of their organization and mobilization, the project was halted.

Even though that battle was won, the communities remain alert to projects that would expose their land and/or their community to danger.

For example, the current expansion of the Panama Canal and the bridge that connects the city of Colón with the coastal region … this expansion provides easy access to this area. This is intended to provide people with a better quality of life and yet this progress and development also threatens these communities (presently people are experiencing problems with drugs and juvenile delinquency, problems that previously did not exist in this area).

The ways in which the people of this area organized themselves enriches the parish life Santa María de Belén.

The parish has youth groups, catechists, individuals who lead the community in Sunday celebrations of the Word, etc … each chapel has a Catholic Committee that is involved in social, ecological matters as well as ecclesial matters.

Previously, the Claretians, together with a missionary team composed of laymen and women and religious men and women, ministered in this area that was known as the Missionary Zone of Costa Abajo.

Bishop Manuel viewes the presence of the Congregation of the Mission in the parish of Santa María de Belén as an opportunity to continue to strengthen the Vincentian charism in the Diocese.

The Congregation is challenged to create an environment in which the parishioners are able to live as missionary-disciples of Jesus Christ and able to become a living cell of the Church, ever more alive as a parish

Catching Up on Vincentian Values – Week Five

St. Vincent de Paul encouraged five particular traits in his comrades: simplicity, meekness, mortification, humility and zeal. Come discover the stories of these Vincentian Values and how they are alive in the daily experiences of those around us.

Through the 40 days of Lent, a new story will be shared daily. Make it your Lenten challenge to dive into the five Vincentian virtues of simplicity, meekness, mortification, humility and zeal. See how the everyday practices of being honest, approachable, self-disciplined, realistic and hardworking, in the spirit of St. Vincent, can transform your own life and the lives of others.

The Journey Begins

Day 1 – First Step on the Vincentian Way – Thomas McKenna

Day 2 – In the Vincentian Way – Mary Gilbart

Day 3 – With a Good Heart – Ivette Detres

Day 4 – Waking Up – John Freund

Week One – Stories of Simplicity

Day 5 – Just Listen – Frank Sacks

Day 6 – Lifting up Spirit – Larry Huber

Day 7 – Open and Honest – Jack Timlin

Day 8 – Simple Providence  – Frank Sacks

Day 9 – Truthful – Mary Gilbart

Day 10 – Transparency – Thomas McKenna

 

Week Two – Stories of Meekness

Day 11 – Reflect – Katherine Cartegena

Day12 – SIlent Storm  – Al Smith

Day 13 – Open Door – Al Pehrsson

Day 14 – Available – Liz Wilson

Day 15 – Gentle Help – Robert Stone

Day 16 – Approachable – Thomas McKenna

Week Three – Stories of Mortification, Self-discipline

Day 17 – Joyful Sacrifice – Darcy O’Hara

Day 18 – Convinced – Robert Maloney

Day 19 – Sometimes – Lou Trotta

Day 20 – Like Christ – Robert Maloney

Day 21 – The Dirty Work – Darcy O’Hara

Day 22 – Focus – Tom McKenna

Week Four – Stories of Humility, Realism

Day 23 – Beautiful Music – Tim Lyons

Day 24 – Time and Attention – Joe Lesenko

Day 25 –  Gifts and Talents – Beth Racine

Day 26 – Others First – Ivette Detres

Day 27 – Gateway of Service – Stephen Carp

Day 28 – All is Gift – McKenna

Coming Week Five – Stories of Zeal

 

The Humility of Not Taking Gifts for Granted

Vincent de Paul at table with poor, Graz

When I saw Fr. Tom McKenna’s prayer concluding a week of stories about humility as experienced in the Vincentian tradition, I remembered an earlier reflection of his. “What Was Poured Into Me” It unpacks beautifully his prayer.

He begins by sharing people’s experiences of waking up to gifts from their parents that they had taken for granted. (I personally am amazed at the German wisdom sayings I absorbed in my childhood that pop into my head as apt summaries of experiences today.) Here I share you with the section where he lifts up the heritage and treasures from Louise and Vincent we might have taken for granted.

Perhaps we have not recognized their gifts in

The way you read the papers, hear the news, interpret the culture. That is, over the years, more and more looking at it all through the lens of what will serve the least of the brothers and sisters, what will give them a voice and a place at the table. Did you come to that on your own?

What you tend to notice in the Gospels. The way some passages and stories have a leg up on other parts, shine out more brightly on the page, catch your eye; e.g., the Good Samaritan, the poor man at the gate of the rich man, Jesus in the Synagogue picking out the Isaiah passage about “being sent to bring the good news to the poor,” Mt. 25, Jesus gathering the little children, etc. Did you yourself create this sensitivity?

Whom do you admire? Aren’t they in part the Louise’s and Vincent’s of the world. Dorothy Day, Oscar Romero, Caesar Chavez, Pope Francis, and closer to home the heroines and heroes of your own Vincentian circle (fill in the names). The question is not so much how admirable they were, but rather where did you pick up this particular taste in admiring?

Your deep stories. The subterranean ones that have come to resonate such that they act as your guides and beacons and north stars; i.e., the Family stories (the lives of our saints and blessed, incidents in Louise and Vincent’s lives, seeing the “other side of coin,” the living legends still among us.)

May I add as an example that includes so much of the above – the ability to be moved by the Austrian painting of Vincent Seated at the Table with the Poor. We have learned to see the face of Christ in the midst of the table of the poor.

Let us take a few moments to acknowledge these gifts. He suggests we use the call-and-response in our Prefaces to the Eucharistic prayer: “Lift up your hearts” (to all that’s being given). “It is right and just” (to give thanks to The Lord who is our God.)

Catching Up on Vincentian Values During Lent – Week Three

St. Vincent de Paul encouraged five particular traits in his comrades: simplicity, meekness, mortification, humility and zeal. Come discover the stories of these Vincentian Values and how they are alive in the daily experiences of those around us.

Through the 40 days of Lent, a new story will be shared daily. Make it your Lenten challenge to dive into the five Vincentian virtues of simplicity, meekness, mortification, humility and zeal. See how the everyday practices of being honest, approachable, self-disciplined, realistic and hardworking, in the spirit of St. Vincent, can transform your own life and the lives of others.

The Journey Begins

Day 1 – First Step on the Vincentian Way – Thomas McKenna

Day 2 – In the Vincentian Way – Mary Gilbart

Day 3 – With a Good Heart – Ivette Detres

Day 4 – Waking Up – John Freund

Week One – Stories of Simplicity

Day 5 – Just Listen – Frank Sacks

Day 6 – Lifting up Spirit – Larry Huber

Day 7 – Open and Honest – Jack Timlin

Day 8 – Simple Providence  – Frank Sacks

Day 9 – Truthful – Mary Gilbart

Day 10 – Transparency – Thomas McKenna

 

Week Two – Stories of Meekness

Day 11 – Reflect – Katherine Cartegena

Day12 – SIlent Storm  – Al Smith

Day 13 – Open Door – Al Pehrsson

Day 14 – Available – Liz Wilson

Day 15 – Gentle Help – Robert Stone

Day 16 – Approachable – Thomas McKenna

Week Three – Stories of Mortification, Self-discipline

Day 17 – Joyful Sacrifice – Darcy O’Hara

Day 18 – Convinced – Robert Maloney

Day 19 – Sometimes – Lou Trotta

Day 20 – Like Christ – Robert Maloney

Day 21 – The Dirty Work – Darcy O’Hara

Day 22 – Focus – Tom McKenna

Coming Week Four – Humility, Realism