I am doing some house cleaning … but first it involves creating and taking inventory.
This project has been necessitated by the fact that it was not the best practice to link to what I have published on other sites. Recently cmeast has been revised and migrated to another platform. All the links went to a hidden sector of the great cloud in sky.
However, with the help of Beth Nicol who has been the tech support person for literally 20 years, I was able to get a copy of everything I posted on that site. Since I was virtually the lone poster that meant literally thousands of post.
The bad news is that it means everything. That includes lots of material that I now would describe as news that is no longer news. In the coming week and months, I hope to weed out such material and possibly reinsert graphics that would mee with today’s standards.
Since I continue to write for a variety of sites this will not be a priority.
But as the About page indicated this site will try to accommodate those who repeatedly asked for some kind of an ardchive.
Novena-attendees at the Shrine of the Miraculous Medal got a glimpse of the Eastern Province’s Alabama Mission through the eyes of a native son of Alabama, Fr. Bruce Krause, CM. He shared the history of our ministry there as well as his personal ministry of more than 30 years.
Fr. Thomas Judge, C.M. observed in 1915 how necessary it was to enlist the help of lay persons to carry the message of the gospel to the poor. There is a similar situation, today, as we see a dwindling number of priests…
The missionary thrust of the parish follows the example of Mary’s impulse to bring the Good News to Elizabeth and by extension to the poor. I must admit, though, that always finding people’s homes can be quite difficult at night and in the country side. I have been lost many a time, and did not possess the guidance of a star. Not even my GPS helped me at times to find folks. I wonder at times how Mary was able to find Elizabeth in the hill country of Judea.
I come to you from Alabama not with a banjo on my knee, but as a minister of the gospel wishing to bring to you the Good News much as Mary did to her kinswoman Elizabeth in the hill country of Judah. Or should I say her kinfolk? I am a native son of Alabama, and one of only two Vincentians originally from Alabama. The other confrere was Fr. Warner Kennon Walker, C.M., who came from nearby Salem. I never knew him, but his confreres would refer to him as “Dixie” Walker. I pray that we will see more vocations coming from Alabama!
At the time when the Vincentians established the Alabama Missions in East Central Alabama in 1910, there were two parishioners in Opelika and very few Catholics in the region. The area was every bit as rural as the country Mary had to traverse to see Elizabeth, and was comparable in size to the state of Connecticut. Opelika was chosen because of the trains, and while there are no longer passenger trains passing through town now, I can hear many a train whistle at all hours of the day and night. Like the transportation hub for trains, Opelika became the hub for the missionary work that took confreres to nearby towns of Auburn, Tallassee, Alexander City, Phenix City, Ashland, and Lanett. It was in Lanett and Auburn where I became acquainted with the Vincentians.
Last Friday, we as Vincentians celebrated the foundation of the Community in Folleville, France in 1617. I find some interesting and striking parallels between the foundations in Folleville and Alabama. Both were rural. There were few clergy. Those who were Catholic were quite ignorant of their faith, or had abandoned it for Protestant mainline denominations or Evangelical traditions. If you look in the phone book, today, you would think there would be many more Catholics judging from the last names that appear in the directory. Like Elizabeth from Luke’s Gospel, many persons were and still are eager to experience the Word of God and the hope it conveys to them. Yet who would bring this message to them? Fr. Thomas Judge, C.M. observed in 1915 how necessary it was to enlist the help of lay persons to carry the message of the gospel to the poor. There is a similar situation, today, as we see a dwindling number of priests. With the exception of Auburn and Phenix City most recently, the priests who now serve in the towns I mentioned earlier come from India and Poland. Unfortunately, many of the same priests in these respective towns and elsewhere have difficulty reaching out to an ever-growing Hispanic presence. In my parish alone over two-thirds of the parishioners are Latinos. There are 434 families registered and many more who are not.
It would have been inconceivable that St. Mary’s would ever outgrow the church’s seating capacity of 108 persons in 1910. Times have changed! Mary spoke prophetically of the needs of God’s people in her Magnificat. She possessed a keen awareness of the signs of the times in her response to the joy Elizabeth felt in Mary’s visit. The first confreres who served in Alabama must have done the same here at this Shrine and elsewhere. For example, the faithful who came to Mary’s Shrine here in Germantown heard of the needs in Alabama, and provided supported the construction of the existing church. Now, with attendance sometimes reaching as many as 180 persons for just one Sunday Mass, I can only imagine someone deciding to come through the roof much as we read in chapter 2 of Mark’s gospel. People then and now want to experience Jesus’ gift of life, especially through the Eucharist. I am doing what I can to make St. Mary’s the spiritual home for so many who come to her doors.
St. Mary’s is the only parish in the area that offers what I call full service ministry to and with Hispanics. Religious instruction is offered in English and Spanish. The bulletin is available in both languages. The secretary is bilingual. There is a diverse membership on the parish council. The parish is not without its challenges, though, as we strive to build bridges between those who speak English and those whose first language is Spanish. Sadly, like the prejudice of old toward Catholics and African Americans, this animosity has expanded to include Hispanics, and it exists both within and without the parish. Overcoming this bigotry requires considerable patience, a willingness to learn from each other, and a mutual respect for the distinct contributions the different cultures can bring to parish life. As I look about this country, St. Mary’s is not unique in this respect. The mandate of the gospel urges us to address all that separates us. In truth, it is sin, and we need to repent for the racism that exists in this country and around the world.
As I mentioned the parishioners are making efforts to bring peoples together. We worked side by side in the renovation of the church several years ago. This would not have been possible without the cooperation of so many. But ministry is not solely concerned with the structural needs of the parish. There is an outreach into people’s homes, including trailer parks some 25 or more miles away from the parish. Rosaries are said in people’s homes, and I am struck by the devotional life of the people who have erected simple shrines in their trailers. A statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe is often quite prominent. There are the Posadas which reenact the search of Mary and Joseph for a place to stay during the month of December. The missionary thrust of the parish follows the example of Mary’s impulse to bring the Good News to Elizabeth and by extension to the poor. I must admit, though, that always finding people’s homes can be quite difficult at night and in the country side. I have been lost many a time, and did not possess the guidance of a star. Not even my GPS helped me at times to find folks. I wonder at times how Mary was able to find Elizabeth in the hill country of Judea.
One of the joys of being a missionary is the experience of what theologians describe as “reverse” mission. That is, the missionary learns and receives so much from the people he or she is called to serve. I would have to say that this has been my experience as a missionary working among the Latinos in Alabama. Mary experienced much the same when she visited her kinswoman Elizabeth, and her Magnificat gives ample testimony to her immeasurable joy in what God has done in her life and in the lives of her people. Pope Francis captures well her sentiment when he writes in his exhortation, “Joy of the Gospel” these words:
“Life grows by being given away, and it weakens in isolation and comfort. Indeed, those who enjoy life most are those who leave security on the shore and become excited by the mission of communicating life to others.”
My prayer is that we can learn from the example of Mary and continue her missionary spirit to God’s people in Philadelphia, Alabama and beyond. May God bless you always, and ya’ll come and see us in Alabama! Ya hear!
Creating a culture of mission has to be more than an ideal. It actually has to change people’s lives. Here is a proven success story!
In a post on FamVIn, Fr. Aidan Rooney shares proof that it is possible to create a culture of mission.
A Lilly study of 5000 alumni of WorX, a program whose early supporter was the Eastern Province of the Congregation of the Mission, confirmed its effectiveness. Sean Sanford, program creator, said the Vincentians are “the ones that gave them access to a spirituality” that shaped their calling: the charism of St. Vincent de Paul and the witness of his sons.”
Here just some of the results…
93% of their respondents still identify as Catholic;
84% still belong to a parish or faith-based community;
8 out of 10 respondents said that their participation influenced this.
This graphic presents perspectives of both alumni and parents.
No wonder they write…
Today we’re proud to announce the release of our new study on youth engagement in faith, service, and social justice, “What WorX: Measuring the Impact of Faith-Based Service and Social Justice Programs on Catholic Youth,” which you can find http://www.faithjustice.org/resources/
The study found “youth engagement in faith continues long after WorX programs end.” In fact, 84% still belong to a parish or faith-based community – 8 out of 10 respondents said that their participation influenced this in some way; 94% of respondents indicated that participation in a WorX program influenced them to continue volunteering. You can check out the full report to learn more!
This study was researched and written in collaboration with the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI.
Do you know of other such studies of the long-term results of your youth and young adult program?
Fr. Rooney explains further.
In the mid-2000s, the Eastern Province if the Congregation of the Mission created space for some insightful young people to take a parish-based Catholic service learning program based in Catholic Social teaching and turn it into a program that reaches youth, adolescents and young adults, and now counts over 5000 alumni. I was happy to work along side and sometimes mentor these young people in leadership.
Their “worX” suite of programs along with other formation and prayer offerings are now called the Center for FaithJustice. They wanted to find out, in the shadow of the synod on youth, if they have had an impact in the last ten years. Here’s what they say.
Their connection with the Congregation officially ended in 2008, but at their recent 10th anniversary celebration of the incorpration of the Center as an independent non-profit organization, they named the Vincentians as the ones that gave them access to a spirituality that shaped their calling: the charism of St. Vincent de Paul and the witness of his sons. CFJ is doing something right! You can find out more by browsing their entire site.
Read the impressive full report through the link on their website. In a related news item see how another ministry of the Easter Province, Niagara University, is moving toward a “culture of mission.”
It’s here! The first day of the Vincentian Film Festival in Rome. You can view highlights as well as a gallery of photos. An introductory 6-minute video presents who we are as a Vincentian Family and what we do. (The video begins at the 5 minute mark.)
Some 300 people, from all over the world, have gathered at the Mariapolis Center in Castel Gandolfo, Italy, to attend the “Finding Vince 400” film festival and contest. The meeting began on Thursday, October 18, whose morning was devoted to registration and to know each other.
About 50 artists are the finalists of the contest, which received more than 4 thousand applications. At 3:00 pm local time, the event was officially inaugurated, with the participation of the Superior General of the Congregation of the Mission and international coordinator of the Vincentian Family, Father Thomaz Mavric CM, the technical organizer of the festival, Alma Perez, and the director of the Vincentian Family International Office, Father Joseph Agostino CM. They spoke about the importance of promoting Vincentian values in today’s world, full of challenges for people who are in need. Art and cinema are ways of touching the conscience of people. The audience present at the opening also had the opportunity to ask questions to the three participants. After the debate, the exhibitions of the selected films began.
Ninty five years earlier, in 1923 Thomas Judge, CM, a member of the Eastern Province of the Congregation of the Mission asked: “What can be done to inspire, to provoke, to lead the every-day Catholic into missionary work in the providence of his everyday life?”
Already in 1909, he gathered a small group in Perboyre Chapel of what would become the home of St. John’s University. This group became the nucleus of a lay organization that would call itself the “Missionary Cenacle.” He encouraged them to: “Be good, do good, and be a power for good.”
Ten years later in 1919, he said: “This is the layman’s hour”. By 1923 he was even more convinced. He clarified his thought and prodded the nascent organization we know as Catholic Charities with the following thoughts which were well in advance of this times.(1)
Think about how relevant these quotes from that brief landmark address are to today.
“There is no school, no class so powerful to work good for the neighbor as the general body of the faithful or as we state it, the laity.”
“The Bishops are on the eve of their annual meeting. Much of their conferring and resolving can be reduced to one word, the “laity.”
“The hope of our generation lies with the faithful. All great movements come out of the laity, to them we look for our priests, for our consecrated and holy ones in every department of Catholic charity.”
“The supreme question then is how to get from every workaday Catholic a sense of responsibility for his neighbor. It is necessary to make each of them realize that indeed he is his brother’s keeper.”
“I then would like to leave this question before the assembly. “What can be done to inspire, to provoke, to lead the every-day Catholic into missionary work in the providence of his everyday life?”
Thomas Judge CM was a forerunner of the Lay Apostolate. His recent authoritative biography sums up his life with the title “Every Catholic an Apostle”
Is there any doubt the Pope Francis and Thomas Augustine Judge would be kindred spirits if they met?
Although he was somewhat controversial in his day, today the Eastern Province of the Congregation of the Mission is proud of its son and seeks to continue his call to empower men and women to recognize their mission. (For a recent example of this see Niagara University Empowering Men and Women for Mission.) We invite you to join with the many women and men who collaborate with Eastern Province today by sharing their time, talent or treasure.
(1) The original document resides in the Archives of the Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity, Philadelpia, PA.
Did you know that prior to WYD in Panama there will be a special event focused on the 25,000 indigenous people our confrere Joe Fitzgerald ministers with? Did you know that Joe Fitzgerald has emerged as a spokesperson for the indigenous people of Panama and has a major role in preparing for the major pre-WYD event?
John Carney, CM sends this brief piece from Panamanian TV to help us understand the Ngäbe people with whom confreres of the Eastern Province minister. What are their hopes for a special gathering of indigenous people in January? This gathering will take place prior to the Vincentian Youth Gathering and World Youth Day. Pope Francis is said to be aware of and interested in this gathering. (See the video clip in Spanish)
Soloy is about 45 minutes off the main road and in that community is the Ngäbe Buglé reservation. The people there have preserved ancient practices and young men and women, motivated by their faith, are prepared to give witness to their faith and to engage in an exchange of experiences with other indigenous groups. This meeting will be held in Soloy (January 17-21, 2019).
Rafael Mitre is one of the young men preparing for this gathering. Since last year (2017) various activities have been organized in order to create a fund that will help pay for the registration fee of young people from this community. According to him, the most important dimension is the spiritual growth that this gathering will provide.
Like Rafael, Emilda Santos, 20, believes that this world gathering of indigenous groups will open new doors and will enable people from this area to make themselves known to the rest of the world.
At the conclusion of this gathering of indigenous youth, the young men and women, accompanied by other international pilgrims, will travel to Panama City where they will participate in the Vincentian Youth Gathering and then in World Youth Day.
Many of these young men and women have participated in similar experiences in Brazil and Poland.
Recently our Provincial Fr. Steve Grozio visited there for the first time. He wrote
This was my first visit ever to the Comarca of Soloy where Joe Fitzgerald ministers to the Ngäbe people, a large indigenous community. From a high mountain road, Joe showed me a view of a vast expanse of tree covered hills. Although I could only see a few houses, he explained that about 25,000 people lived there and pointed out the more distant areas which he could only reach by horseback. The Ngäbe people have a deep appreciation for the balance of nature and the cyclic rhythm of life. Joe’s understanding of the culture and values of the people is a great asset to his ministry.
Fr. Pat Griffin of the Eastern Province of the Congregation of the Mission offers his reflection “Does God Listen to the Cries of the Poor?”. His thoughts here serve as a compliment to an earlier FamVin article reflecting on our ability to listen.
Vincentian View: “The Listening of God”
Last time that I had the opportunity to write something, I took the opportunity to reflect on our need to listen. In this past week, I have had my mind turned to thinking about God’s listening to us. I do not mean the way in which he hears and answers prayers (though that would also be a worthwhile consideration). No, I mean the ways in which he listens to the cries of the poor. The Letter of James has prompted that reflection, but let me begin in a different place.
We know the story of “the burning bush” and how it is the beginning of the revelation of the Lord to an enslaved people in Egypt. The Lord speaks to Moses:
I have witnessed the affliction of my people in Egypt and have heard their cry against their taskmasters, so I know well what they are suffering.Therefore I have come down* to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians (Exod 3:7-8)
The Lord attends to the lament of this people and acts.
Later in the Book of Exodus, in the giving of the commandments, the Lord speaks to Moses and the people:
You shall not oppress or afflict a resident alien, for you were once aliens residing in the land of Egypt. You shall not wrong any widow or orphan.If ever you wrong them and they cry out to me, I will surely listen to their cry. (Exod 22:20-22)
And this idea is found in other places. John Foley picks up a verse from Psalm 34 and we sing the refrain: “The Lord hears the cry of the poor. Blessed be the Lord.” (vv. 7, 18). Clearly, the OT teaches that the Lord does not abandon or turn a deaf ear to those who seek him. That message finds emphasis in a variety of ways.
And that brings us to the Letter of James. His Jewish roots are universally recognized. When he writes to his congregation, he “calls out” the greedy rich:
Behold, the wages you withheld from the workers
who harvested your fields are crying aloud;
and the cries of the harvesters
have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. (James 5:4)
Again we learn how the Lord focuses the divine attention on the pleas of the most vulnerable children! It is a reality to which we must give some consideration.
Do you doubt that the cries of the poor reach the ears of the Lord? These are the cries of the children who will not be allowed to come to birth. These are the cries of refugees and immigrants. They are the cries of those who cannot get adequate health care. They are the cries of those who are taken into human slavery and trafficked, the cries of those who are abused because of their race or language or religion. When these cries reach the ears of the Lord, where will he look for restitution? Where will he pour out his wrath? Are we just innocent bystanders? Is there any such thing as being “innocent” or a “bystander” in the modern era? What will the Lord ask of us? What will we say?
Does this line of thinking make you uneasy? It should. It certainly makes me afraid. As a Vincentian, I feel the need to respond to the calls of those who are poor, but the effort can be so limited. Our scripture encourages us—warns us—to be better in our response. Our God has good hearin
Niagara University seeks to embody the vision of St. Vincent de Paul in Scholarship, Teaching & Service. In particular, the Levesque Insititute for Civic Engagement sponsors the South End Housing Initiative.
The homes of two veteran families in Niagara Falls’ (New York, USA) South End received a makeover Sept. 4-5 thanks to a grant obtained by Niagara University through Home Depot.
“This type of partnership is an excellent example of how Home Depot gives back to veterans who selflessly served our country” said Patti Wrobel, executive director of the Levesque Institute. “Home Depot has been an excellent partner in promoting revitalization efforts in the South End of Niagara Falls.”
Announced last November, the South End Housing Initiative is a collaboration of 25 local entities committed to assisting the neighborhood’s revitalization through blight removal, minor repairs to homes, and landscaping and energy upgrades. Its goal is to encourage new homeowners to invest in the area by improving curb appeal.
Home Depot works with local schools, churches and nonprofit entities to help build better communities. Its foundation offers grant awards to 501c-designated organizations and tax-exempt public service agencies in the U.S. that are using the power of volunteers to improve the community.
The goal of the South End Housing Initiative is to revitalize and expand housing from Fourth Street to Portage Road with the surrounding perimeter from Niagara Street to Pine Avenue. The revitalization of this corridor of homes will encourage economic development on the outlying areas of the neighborhoods. By refurbishing the existing homes and looking at new housing units, the neighborhoods gain “curb appeal” to possible investors and expand mixed use development throughout the South End of the city. Return on this investment in this gateway corridor – that will spur economic development and change perceptions
To mark this 400th Anniversary of the Charism, the Vincentian Family decided to launch this major global project aimed at reducing and, where possible, ending homelessness in the countries in which it works. It will involve both immediate holistic care for those suffering homelessness and a campaign for systemic change in the way that homelessness is tackled at a local, regional and global level.
To make a real and sustainable difference to the lives of thousands of homeless people;
To connect Vincentians working across the broad spectrum of homelessness;
To support and develop existing and emerging leaders;
To share best practices and research;
To encourage and support the growth of new and innovative services;
To support lobbying at a local, regional and global level in support of homeless persons;
To develop and make available formation materials in support of this initiative with respect to spirituality.
The two-bedroom house lies in the city of Little Rock, Arkansas, and is run by the Vincentian homelessness charity, Depaul USA. It will become home to an individual or family who have experienced or are at risk of homelessness.
The 13 Houses Campaign is a Famvin Homeless Alliance initiative supporting Vincentians to create housing for street homeless people, refugees and those displaced from their home, and slum dwellers in inadequate housing.