The Pope has named four women, three religious sisters and one laywomen, to serve as consultors to the secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, an important Vatican department. According to Sister Nathalie Becquardt, xav., one of the women named, the move reflects Pope Francis' desire to be more inclusive and provide greater leadership roles for women in the church. The other women named are Sister Alessandra Smerilli, F.M.A,. Sister Maria Luisa Berzosa, F.I. and Professor Cecilia Costa.
Seeing the Spirit at work in the world
The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth featured Sr. Pat Haley, S.C.N. in a recent newsletter. This line caught our attention: "I will not work in a segregated dining room, obedience or no obedience . . ."
Sr. Pat explains, "When we got to Nazareth as postulants we were assigned duties. I was assigned to the white men’s dining room. I thought, ‘There’s no way I’m gonna do that.' Mother Lucille was coming down the hall, and although I knew I wasn’t supposed to, I stopped her. I asked for a meeting with her and her Council ‘because I am assigned a duty I simply will not do.’ The next day Sister Constance said that the meeting would take place that afternoon. I told the Council, ‘It is not right to be segregated in a place like this. I just spent my years in high school and earlier fighting segregation. I know I was coming into a white world, but there is no excuse for this.’ Sister Mary Ransom Burke, bless her heart, said, ‘What would you suggest we do?’ I looked at her and said, ‘It’s just a partition between two dining rooms. If you have a ladder and screwdriver, I’ll take it down….Mother Lucille said, ‘We will have to have a conversation with the workers.’ I said ‘You didn’t have a conversation with them before. It was decided by the Council. I will not work in a segregated dining room, obedience or no obedience.’ Nothing else was said but in a week the partition was down and I took the duty. Many of the workers did not like it but it was down. In the hallway there was a white water fountain and a colored fountain. I said you also need to do something about those two fountains. So they did. Sister Mary Ransom later said ‘Thank you’ to me and so did Mother Lucille.”
“Universal Judgment: Michelangelo and the Secrets of the Sistine Chapel," a new multimedia production celebrating the Sistine Chapel opens March 15, 2018 in Rome, according to Elisabetta Povoledo writing iin the New York Times. Notwithstanding a renowned artistic director, Marco Balich, and the theme song written by Sting, the shows choregrapher Fotis Nikolaou admits that "we can’t do anything bigger than Michelangelo, it’s like committing a sin to suggest that. We’re dialoguing with this masterpiece in the new forms of art, video, dance, theater. It’s like saying thank you to a masterpiece like the Sistine Chapel.”
According to the Times report, "As most sightseers to the real Sistine Chapel know, the visit isn’t always edifying. The hall, though large, is almost always packed, and even though silence is mandatory it can be noisy experience. Ensuring that visitors have a positive experience there 'is constantly on my mind,' said Barbara Jatta, director of the Vatican Museums, and a problem that still has to be resolved.
Ms. Jatta saw a rehearsal of the 'Universal Judgment' by artistic director Marco Balich and gave it a thumbs up. "It’s a delicate way to tell a beautiful story of faith, art and history," she says. And it communicates the Sistine Chapel "in a way that many generations can understand."
Asked whether she thought it could replace going to see the real thing, "No, sorry," she said.
The Benedictine Monks of St. John's Abbey in Collegeville, MN, led by Fr. Columba Steward, O.S.B. and the staff at the Hill Museum and Manuscript Libray, are helping to preserve precious Islamic literary works that were threatened with destruction by militants in Mali, reports The Economist.
The secret evacuations began at night. Ancient books were packed in small metal shoe-lockers and loaded three or four to a car to reduce the danger to the driver and minimise possible losses. The manuscript-traffickers passed through the checkpoints of their Islamist occupiers on the journey south across the desert from Timbuktu to Bamako. Later, when that road was blocked, they transported their cargo down the Niger river by canoe.
The man behind the project was Abdel Kader Haidara. In 2013 he put out a request for help to digitize the more than 370,000 manuscripts, including Korans, Hadiths, and studies on grammar and rhetoric, that were brought to safe houses. He received an answer from a monastery on the other side of the world.
Father Columba sees digitizing these sacred texts as part of the Benedictine tradition of literary preservation dating from the sixth century when St. Benedict of Nursia set down his Rule. “We had scriptoria for very practical reasons,” referring to the “writing places” of medieval European monasteries. “You can’t do theology without philosophy,” he says, standing in his own 21st-century equivalent. “You can’t try to be a self-sustaining monastery if you can’t take science seriously.” So, as a policy, any relevant text was copied. Over one and a half millennia, knowledge has been a matter of survival for the Benedictines, allowing one collective to pick up where another left off, in low times and in high. Today, thanks to machines, the library is copying more efficiently.
“Benedictines are fundamentally optimistic about the human project, says Fr. Columba. "That’s why we’re not frightened by science or novelty. When people look at what we’re doing with Muslim communities, they say, why do you do this? I say, this is the time God has given us. We can’t pretend we live in the sixth century when Benedict wrote his rule, or the 13th, or the 1950s. We live now. And part of the reality is cultures which are threatened trying to figure out how to work together on this fragile planet.”
And so, "guided by a Christian teacher from the sixth century, monks of the 21st century archive texts about an Arabian prophet from the seventh."
Saint John's Abbey and University in Collegeville, Minnesota commissioned the Saint John's Bible, the first completely handwritten and illuminated Bible since the invention of the printing press more than 500 years ago. Twelve were produced.
One copy of this rare Bible was gifted and presented to the Library of Congress in honor of Pope Francis' address to the joint meeting of Congress in September 2015.
Since 1998 theologians at Saint John's Abbey and University and a team of artists and calligraphers have been working on the Bibles entirely by hand, writing with quills and illuminating it with precious metals and paints ground manually from minerals.
The Bible is on display at Saint John's Abbey and will go on tour as an exhibit around the world, including as part of a 2016 summer seminar: The Resurrection in the Gospel of John Illuminated through the Saint John's Bible at Saint Mary's College in Notre Dame, Indiana.
“The shepherd cannot run at the first sign of danger,” wrote American priest Father Stanley Rother in 1980 in his last Christmas letter to Catholics in his native Oklahoma. He remained true to his word and was martyred the following year in Guatemala.
The first biography of the late priest, The Shepherd Who Didn’t Run: Fr. Stanley Rother, Martyr from Oklahoma, by Maria Ruiz Scaperlanda, was released in November. The cause for beatification of Father Rother is now being considered by the Vatican.
Five years after his ordination, in 1968, Father Rother arrived in Guatemala and served as a parish priest to Tz’utujil Mayan Indians in the farming community of Santiago Atitlan. He learned their languages, cared for their needs, and prepared them for the sacraments. Even after the violence of the Guatemalan civil war reached their village and kidnappings and killings became routine, Father Rother continued his work of building a farmers’ co-op, a school, a hospital, and a Catholic radio station.
When his name was put on a death list, he returned to Oklahoma in 1981 for three months, but decided not to abandon his people in Guatemala. The 46-year-old priest was shot to death shortly upon his return. He was among 10 priests killed in the country that year.
Scaperlanda is an award-winning author and journalist, published in both the Catholic and secular press. The Oklahoma-based writer blogs at DaybyDaywithMaria.blogspot.com.
“God keeps his promises,” Franciscan Father Fergus Clarke assured a group of Catholic reporters gathered for Mass in October at the friar’s small chapel atop Mount Nebo in Jordan—the very place a testament to his statement.
It was on Mount Nebo that Moses finally gazed upon the Promised Land. He died and was buried in the vicinity, according to Deuteronomy, but the exact place of his tomb is unknown.
Centuries later, according to 2 Maccabees, just before the Babylonian invasion of Israel, Jeremiah hid the Ark of the Covenant (the chest containing the stone tablets on which the Ten Commandments were written) at Mount Nebo in a cave and sealed the entrance. The location of the lost Ark is, of course, a matter of great conjecture.
As part of the Franciscans' traditional ministry of caring for Christian sites in the Holy Land, the Franciscans maintain the Memorial of Moses on Mount Nebo. “By our very presence here, we proclaim that Jesus lives,” Father Clarke said.
The Ireland-born priest, formerly the guardian of Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulcher (the site of Jesus’ crucifixion, burial, and resurrection), and two other friars reside on Mount Nebo and are overseeing the renovation of the remains of a Byzantine church at the summit.
The building has been closed to the public since 2007, although reporters were given a preview, as workers restore its stunning, sprawling mosaic floor, including one piece, in what was a shrine to the Blessed Virgin, that is an image of the Tabernacle in the Temple in Jerusalem.
The 4th-century church was discovered in 1933; it had been abandoned for more than 1,000 years. Several tombs have been found beneath the church, including one in the center of the cruciform.
Father Clarke said he hopes the building will reopen by early next year.
The Order of Preachers (Dominicans) began their year-long Jubilee marking the 800th anniversary of the order (1216-2016) this past Sunday. Vatican Today reports that Pope Francis "has granted the possibility of receiving a plenary indulgence for all the faithful" taking part in the celebrations. The specific terms and conditions to receive the indulgence are outlined in a document sent by the Apostolic Penitentiary.
Pope Francis encourages all Dominican priests to make themselves available to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation in all Jubilee places to which the faithful may pilgrimage as well as administer Holy Communion to the infirm frequently throughout the Jubilee year.
Here is a short list of the many Dominican communities:
- Dominican Sisters (O.P.)
- Dominican Sisters (O.P.)--Adrian, MI
- Dominican Sisters (O.P.)--Grand Rapids
- Dominican Sisters (O.P.)--Mission San Jose
- Dominican Sisters (O.P.)--Racine, WI
- Dominican Sisters (O.P.)--San Rafael, CA
- Dominican Sisters (O.P.)--Sinsinawa, WI
- Dominican Sisters (O.P.)--Springfield, IL
- Dominican Sisters of Divine Providence
- The Dominicans (O.P.) [Order of Preachers]
- Dominican Sisters (O.P.)--Amityville, NY
- Dominican Sisters (O.P.)--Blauvelt, NY
- Dominican Sisters (O.P.)--Caldwell, NJ
- Dominican Sisters of Hope
- Dominican Sisters (O.P.)--Sparkill, NY
- Dominican Sisters (O.P.)--Houston, TX
- Dominican Sisters of Peace (O.P.)
- Dominican Sisters of Our Lady of the Springs of Bridgeport (O.P.)
- Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena, Newcastle, Natal
- Dominican Friars of England and Scotland
- Dominican Sisters of St. Joseph, UK
"A Dominican’s day—timeless and timely," a recent VISION article about the daily life inside the church, office, and home of a Dominican priest.
|A page from Father Francis Gleeson's diary during World War I.|
The diary of Father Francis A. Gleeson, an Irish priest who became a World War I chaplain, is now available to read online. Father Gleeson traveled with the Second Battalio Royal Munster Fusiliers and kept a detailed diary while he was ministering to the soldiers. The diary came into the possession of the Dublin Diocesan Archives, which put it online for the public to read.
Noelle Dowling and Peter Sobolewski of the Dublin Diocesan Archives worked for about nine months transcribing Gleeson's items, including his diary, letters he wrote to families of men missing or killed in action, and letters he received in return. The diary includes accounts of several incredible days on the front line, with Gleeson describing everything from coming under fire and thinking death was imminent to the excitement of having bacon to eat.
Dowling said it is the soldiers’ faith during this difficult time that he finds most interesting in Gleeson’s accounts of daily life in the trenches. “They all would have had rosary beads, or holy pictures. There were stories of a bullet hitting a holy medal,” he said.
Read more here.
The public exposition of the Shroud of Turin officially opened in April at the Italian city's cathedral of St. John the Baptist.
According to Catholic News Service, Pope Francis authorized the public display of the shroud to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Saint John Bosco, a 19th-century priest from the Turin region who was a pioneer in vocational education, worked with poor and abandoned children, and founded the Salesian order. The pope is scheduled to visit Turin June 21-22 to venerate the shroud.
The famous relic is believed to have been the cloth to have wrapped the crucified body of Christ. On the shroud is the image of a man that bears "all signs of the wounds corresponding to the Gospel accounts of the torture Jesus endured in his passion and death."
The church invites the faithful to reflect on the shroud's image as a way to grasp the suffering Jesus endured and the love for humanity that sacrifice entailed.
Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia of Turin said, "The shroud invites us to never let ourselves be beaten down by evil, but to overcome it with good."
|Catholic sisters marched with clergy and non-violent protesters in Selma, Ala. in 1965.|
A recent Global Sisters Report article, “The Selma effect: Catholic nuns and social justice 50 years on,” documents the vital role Catholic Sisters played during the civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala. in 1965. Pictures of Catholic sisters who marched were splashed on the front pages of newspapers all over the country. Those images of solidarity for the marginalized were a catalyst for the future of social justice ministries in religious communities.
GSR shares, “Although the six Catholic sisters who marched in Selma were among hundreds of marchers, their presence was a landmark occurrence, an event that would reverberate around the country. Never before had Catholic sisters been involved in a national public protest, let alone one that was covered by all the national media. Initially the six nuns did not anticipate the impact of their public witness, but the violent racism and poverty they observed in Selma—and the reactions from the American Catholics, both positive and negative—provided a wake-up call to action for U.S. Catholic sisters from a wide range of communities in all parts of the country.”
Read about the full legacy of the sisters’ stories of working toward "gender equality and women’s empowerment, education, health, poverty eradication, environmental sustainability, and global partnerships," especially during this National Catholic Sisters Week.
|Czechoslovakian priest Father Josef Toufar was tortured and beaten to
death for refusing to deny a miracle witnessed by his parishioners.
During Communist rule of Czechoslovakia, Father Josef Toufar was tortured and beaten to death for refusing to deny a miracle that many of his parishioners witnessed. Now, Catholics in the region are calling for him to be recognized as a martyr.
In 1949, parishioners told Father Toufar that they saw a cross on the altar of their church moving from side to side on its own, and it became known as the Cihost Miracle.
When police heard about it, they demanded that Father Toufar testify that he moved the cross himself. When he refused, the police brutally beat him, and he died two months later.
After his death, the government attempted to eliminate all religion from the country, but the story of the Cihost Miracle has survived.
This February marked the 65th anniversary of Toufar’s death; more than 500 people attended mass in his honor. The possible canonization of Toufar is under preliminary review.
Read more here.
|One of the many Christian Syriac manuscripts being preserved by Father Najeeb Michaeel, O.P.|
The lifework of Iraqi Dominican Father Najeeb Michaeel is preserving Christian manuscripts in Northern Iraq. After studying in the United States, he founded the Center for Digitization of Oriental Manuscripts in 1990 to make manuscripts more accessible for study, according to Catholic News Agency.
There has been a Christian presence in Iraq for nearly 2,000 years in the cities of Mosul and Bakhdida. Mosul's Dominican (Order of Preachers) friary was established in the 1750s, and it had a library of thousands of ancient manuscripts and more than 50,000 modern volumes. When these cities fell under the control of the Islamic State, Michaeel and other Christians fled.
But first he collected about 1,300 manuscripts from the 14th to the 19th centuries, put them in two large trucks, and transferred them to a secret location in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, where they are safe. They include not only Christian works, but manuscripts on the Quran, music, and grammar.
"We passed three checkpoints without any problem, and I think the Virgin Mary [had] a hand to protect us," he said in an interview with National Public Radio.
|People march with signs in San Salvador on the anniversary of Oscar Romero's assassination.|
Oscar Romero, a former archbishop who was assassinated in El Salvador in 1980 while saying mass, is one step closer to sainthood. He has been named a martyr by a panel of theologins at the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. The ruling was unanimous.
Romero was shot after delivering a homily calling for soldiers to lay down their guns and end government repression during the country’s bloody civil war.
After being named a Servant of God by Pope John Paul II in 1997, Romero’s case lingered because of concerns about his ties to controversial liberation theology. Pope Francis reopened the case, and it is reported that he is supportive of Romero’s sainthood.
While sainthood usually requires two miracles, one for beatification and one for canonization, only one is required for martyrs, as they can be beatified without a miracle.
|Medieval manuscripts from the Sacred Convent of St. Francis in Assisi.|
Rev. Pierangelo Massetti, responsible for the restoration laboratory at the Praglia Abbey, near Padua, said, “Saint Francis wrote this poem. And this text may be the foundation of the Italian language, the first text ever known in vernacular.”
According to the New York Times, the documents will be at the United Nations headquarters in New York City Nov. 17-28 and then open to the public in Brooklyn Borough Hall until mid-January in an exhibition, "Friar Francis: Traces, Words and Images."
According to news reports, "historians agree that he most likely dictated his writings, but certainly his hand touched the papal bulls that in the 1220s registered the pope’s messages to the order."
Ken Hackett, U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, said at a news conference in Rome last week: "This exhibition’s arrival in New York will give Americans the chance to know the history and the spirituality of St. Francis, and the chance to be inspired.”
Sister Blandina Segale, S.C, once called the "Fastest Nun in the West” for her quick response to injustice in the frontier towns of the Southwest, is now up for sainthood. The Santa Fe Archdiocese has taken up her cause after receiving approval from the Vatican, according to a statement issued by the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, Segale’s religious community.
As a young sister, Italian-born Segale was sent by her superior to Trinidad, Colorado, a frontier mining town (pictured above), to teach poor children. One of her first battles, says a profile of Segale at ItalyHeritge.com, was against lynching, a rough form of justice practiced in remote areas at the time. Segale was later transferred to Santa Fe, where with little resources she was able to found public and Catholic schools and construct a hospital. She was an untiring champion of the poor and marginalized of the community, particularly Native Americans.
This is the first time that New Mexico can lay claim to a person being considered for sainthood, making locals very excited. In an interview in the New York Daily News New York Daily News., Allen Sanchez, president and CEO for CHI St. Joseph's Children in Albuquerque, a social service agency Segale founded, explains, "There are other holy people who have worked here, but this would be a saint (who) started institutions in New Mexico that are still in operation.”
While her work with the poor made her well known throughout the local community, it was her interaction with outlaw Billy the Kid and his gang that gave her national attention. She has been the subject of books and an episode of the T.V. Western series “Death Valley Days.”
Even after all that, it may take a while to have her become officially recognized as a saint. The church needs to research, investigate, and validate claims of her miracles.
“Miracles could come in the form of healings," says Sanchez, "assistance to recent Central American immigrant children detained at the U.S. border or some other unexplained occurrences after devotees pray to her.”
Learn more about the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati here.
“She was a bit of a flirt, entertaining and witty, and a woman who didn't easily take no—even from the men who were technically her superiors.” Does this sound like a cloistered nun, mystic, and Doctor of the Church? asks VISION Content Editor Carol Schuck Scheiber.
|SAINT TERESA OF AVILA by Peter Paul Rubens.|
Yes, if you’re talking about Saint Teresa of Avila, whose 500th birthday will be in about a year from now, March 28, 2015. Patricia Morrison, editorial director of ICS Publications, is a life-time student of all things Carmelite, and those are her words about the Teresa the saint. “She was a flesh-and-blood woman dealing with the same kinds of challenges and issues people do today,” said Morrison.
Originally sent to the convent by a strict father who wanted his daughter reined in, she eventually became a tireless reformer of the Carmelite religious order, mystic, and author of books on prayer still being published today.
Teresa’s biting humor shows in an often-cited story. Teresa lamented to God about a setback and heard God reply, “That’s how I treat my friends.” To which she said: “No wonder you have so few of them.”
Remembering women who dedicated their lives to bring about God's reign:
Elizabeth Ann Seton, Catherine of Siena, Hildegard of Bingen, and more to come this month on the VISION Vocation Network Facebook page.
|THE LINDSIFARNE GOSPELS exhibit in Durham
has far exceeded the 80,000 visitors
Over the summer months the Lindisfarne Gospels returned home to Durham in north-east England as the centerpiece of an exhibition held in Durham University’s Palace Green Library. This 1,300-year old manuscript, a copy of the four gospels of the New Testament produced around 715 A.D.in honor of Saint Cuthbert is, “commonly regarded as one of the greatest achievements of British medieval art.”
According to the BBC Religion and Ehtics article "Lindisfarne Gospels: Why is this book so special?" Bishop Eadfrith is said to have copied and decorated the Gospels on his own. The manuscript “contains the oldest surviving English version of the Gospels and escaped Viking raids and turmoil - required time, dedication, and the invention of new tools and materials." Read the full article above and view the exhibit link here.
Did any of our followers see this exhibit in Durham? Tell us about your experience in the comments section below.
#middleagesgift #lindisfarnegospels #sacredtexts
|CREDIT: CAGLE CARTOONS.|
Interested in how the cardinals vote? How about the conclave schedule?
WHEN Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, six Catholic communities of religious women lost not only convents, chapels, cars, and motherhouses but also buildings housing ministries that served the people of the city—high schools, daycare sites, community centers, senior nursing home facilities, and others. The story of the dilemma the sisters faced between remaining and rebuilding or ministering elsewhere is told in a new documentary, We Shall Not Be Moved: The Catholic Sisters of New Orleans.
The communities the film profiled (some of whom can be found in VISION)—the Ursuline Sisters, the Congregation of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the Sisters of the Holy Family of New Orleans, the Marianites of Holy Cross, the Congregation of St. Joseph, and the Society of St. Teresa of Jesus (Teresian Sisters)—have served in the New Orleans area for an average of 175 years, the oldest for 285 years.
“This analysis elevates the program . . . to a complex and fascinating journey with religious women who faced an uncertain personal and public future,” said Sister of St. Francis of Sylvania, Ohio Judith Ann Zielinski, O.S.F., the film’s writer and producer for NewGroup Media in South Bend, Indiana. “Their choices were not uniform, simple, or immediate; ultimately, however, all six congregations . . . reconfirmed their commitment to the city and its people,” she said.
The SC Ministry Foundation in Cincinnati coordinated the film project and received funding from the Assembly of Catholic Foundations and other Catholic foundations and congregations of women religious.
“I have had the privilege of witnessing the faith, hope, and love of these women religious in New Orleans since 2005,” said Sister of Charity of Cincinnati Sally Duffy, S.C., president and executive director of the SC Ministry Foundation and an executive producer of the film. “These prophetic sisters transformed the destruction and devastation through the power of the Spirit and through the abiding presence of Christ. They rebuilt high schools, child-care development centers, community centers, and motherhouses, in some cases starting from nothing. In other cases they began programs that responded to the needs they saw around them after Hurricane Katrina.”
The ABC network has been offering the film to its affiliates. To see if a broadcast is scheduled in your area, go online.
Here’s the trailer:
“Trailblazers in Habits,” a 90-minute film documenting the work of the Maryknoll Sisters, the first U.S.-based congregation of Catholic women religious dedicated to foreign missions, will have its New York premiere on Sunday, October 28, 2012, at 2 p.m. at the SVA Theatre, 333 West 23rd St., New York, NY.
A portrait of the Maryknoll Sisters’ endeavors in Hong Kong and elsewhere throughout the world, the documentary tells the story in the sisters’ own words, a chronicle that spans 100 years and several continents. The premiere coincides with the Maryknoll Sisters' Centennial year. Here's the 7-minute trailer: