Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy

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Please read the latest information about the great moments of our religious life.

Strengthening Marriage and Family Life in Our Country

Mercedarian Friar - Friday, May 29, 2015

On Tuesday, May 5th the Archdiocese of Philadelphia sponsored a workshop entitled Marriage-Centered Communities: How to Build a Marriage Ministry in Your Parish. This addressed the current state of marriage in the world and the Church and offered practical ways that a parish can most effectively serve married couples. The first part of the workshop was led by Dr. Hilary Towers, a Catholic author and developmental psychologist from the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia.

 

Dr. Towers’ presentation posed the question: “What heritage are we leaving to the next generation?” Much of her talk provided statistical data on the state of Marriage in our country. Today the divorce rate is 51% which is an all-time high. Surprisingly, new data shows that more Americans are getting divorced after many years of marriage. The percentage of divorces filed by those 50 to 60 years old is skyrocketing.

 

There are various reasons given for divorce today, but some are more common than others. The most prevalent is that the couple has “grown apart”. A high percentage also claim that they separated because of an inability to “talk together”. Other common reasons given for divorce are “money problems” and “infidelity”.


It is clear from the data that marriage as an institution in the United States is fading. At one time marriage was a part of the fabric of American society. It was expected that most young people would enter into this bond of matrimony in their 20’s and it would continue for a lifetime. Fidelity was taken for granted. Divorce and/or separation would occasionally happen, but it was a rare occurrence in society as a whole.

 

To be sure, there have and always will be legitimate reasons for separation, but in general the goods of a stable bond far out way the contrary. Studies continually show that a stable home with a mother and father provides that best environment for raising children. Married couples can model so many virtues for their children. The couples teach by their example the good habits of charity, forgiveness, accountability, and commitment. Even in less than ideal situations, children are often given models of how to cope with weakness and sin in an imperfect world.


America and other developed nations are entering into a new reality of a society without marriage. In Judeo-Christian thought, the family has always been understood as the basic unit of civilization.As St John Paul II states, “Human fatherhood and motherhood ... contain in an essential and unique way a' likeness' to God which is the basis of the family as a community of human life, as a community of persons united in love (Letter to Families, 6)". Husband, wife, and children show forth the Trinity in a totally unique way. This family is the ideal place for raising children to be responsible citizens

 

What if our next generation does not have the stability of the traditional family? We are beginning to see that millennials have a much less confidence in the possibility of commitments. Today about 20% of adults 18-29 years old have decided to cohabitate and/or not even consider marriage. There is in general a lack of trust in others and in the institution of marriage. On a purely economic level, the increase of divorce places more children in danger of poverty. It also puts a greater strain on government and state agencies to provide for many single parent homes.

 

Although things do not look so good for marriage today, there is much that can be done to help couples. As Dr. Towers says, “It is the Church working through the clergy and laity that will rehabilitate marriage.” Much can be done at the local level. The parish can and must build supportive communities of strong marriages. These married couples will become mentors of commitment for those who have none. The parish family also must pray for marriages at Mass and through various prayer groups. The laity need to encourage their pastors to preach about the Church’s treasury of wisdom on the Sacrament of Marriage. Parishes need to make accessible the practical components of a strong healthy marriage.

 

Things are not looking great today for the institution of marriage. The statistics show that fidelity and commitments to marriage are at all time lows. Yet, this basic unit of civilization is of inestimable value to society as a whole. For the sake of future generations, the each member of the Church must do their part support this Sacrament. Our gift to the next generation must be this: a renewed commitment to the Sacrament of Marriage.

 

More from Dr Hilary Towers:

 

It is time for the Church to face up to the crisis of spousal abandonment

 

A Guide to Saving Marriages

 

Time to Challenge No-Fault Divorce

Sharing of Faith and Culture

Mercedarian Friar - Monday, May 18, 2015

On May 10th, Fr Ken and I began a journey from LeRoy, NY to Georgia with a van packed with religious goods. These items (statues, stations of the cross etc.) were from the former Mercygrove property which was recently sold. The proceeds from the sale are allocated in large part for the development of a new redemptive mission to families in the United States.


The first stop on our journey was to drop off several items at Life Teen camp in northern Georgia. It felt good to be able to give these religious articles new life at a camp which each summer is packed with teens and young adults.

 

After a two hour stop, we were back on the road bringing a special gift to our 3rd Order in Atlanta. Through these dedicated lay people, Order of Mercy has been present in Atlanta for 17 years. It all began in 1998 when a little woman left Rome and arrived in Atlanta, GA. Maria Virginia's story is key to this movement which Christ would bless.

 

The spirit of merced or ransom was placed in Maria at an early age as she was educated by the Mercedarian Friars in Puerto Rico. This spirituality would continue to grow in her throughout her life. When her husband passed away in his 60’s, Maria felt the Lord was calling her to enter the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. After a few years of formation, it became clear to her that Christ the Redeemer desired her to go out to those in need” with the message of mercy.

 

Many extraordinary circumstances led, Maria Virginia to her mission field in Atlanta, GA. Seventeen years ago she set up her home in Georgia and quickly got to work. Maria got permission of the Order of BVM of Mercy to establish a 3rd Order in a place where no friars or sisters had been. With her deep faith, love for Our Lady of Mercy, and boundless energy this women was able to inspire many to follow the redemptive spirit of the Order.

 

Soon enough, it became clear that God was calling the new 3rd Order to assist the many immigrants who were coming from Mexico and settling in the Atlanta metropolitan area. These immigrants left behind all they knew seeking a better life. Yet their faith, which is the most precious treasure, was in danger in a new land. Who will teach them about Christ? Who will baptize their children? They hide in the shadows with no one to shepherd them.

 

Fr Ken and I got to experience first hand the redemptive work of our 3rd Order in Atlanta. The week of May 11th was spent blessing houses and practicing our Spanish as we enjoyed authentic Mexican food with the the people. The highlight of the week was a outdoor Mass with many immigrant families. As we struggled to speak their language, they just appreciated the opportunity to come close to Jesus and teach their children how to worship.


On this long journey into the Deep South an exchange took place. We brought statues and religious items which are plentiful in the Northeast. These are aspects of our culture which have preserved the faith of generations. We experienced tangibly the faith and devotion of the Mexican people. Hopefully our ministry among them has strengthen and enriched the faith of all.

 

May Our Lady of Mercy place her mantle around the mission of the Atlanta Chapter of the 3rd Order! She who is the refuge of the captive and persecuted Christians, will surely watch over this mission to those in the are marginalized today.

 

Life Teen website

St John the Evangelist Church Hapeville, GA

Third Order of Mercy

 


A Prayer for the Protection of Family Life

Mercedarian Friar - Thursday, April 30, 2015

The following talk took place at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, Philadelphia, PA. This parish is staffed by the Order of BVM of Mercy or the Mercedarian Friars. Each Wednesday during the Lenten Season the parish sponsors “Soup and Salvation”. Parishioners prepare a particular soup and a reflection is given on a particular topic. In preparation for the World Meeting of Families, this year’s theme is marriage and family. Fr Matthew Phelan, O. de M. gives the following talk based on the St Raymond Nonnatus Prayer for Family Life:

Audio of talk Part 2


Mercedarians in the United States are in process of developing new family apostolate. It is just in its beginning stages. This apostolate is in many ways based on the St Raymond Nonnatus Prayer for the protection of marriage and family.

 

In this talk we will use the Prayer to St. Raymond Nonnatus as a source of reflection. The prayer to St Raymond Nonnatus for Christian Families goes back at least 60 years. It first received the imprimatur in 1955. Who could have known how much more relevant this prayer would be today? We will attempt to reflection on it at line by line:


1st line: Lord, Father Almighty! The family is the most ancient institution of humanity, for it is as old as man himself.

 

The beginning of the prayer brings us back to creation. The word man is used, but it is meant to represent the fullness of man in creation of man & women. Man is told to “Increase and multiply and subdue the earth”. The creation of the family is found in the beginning. Man and woman are united in marriage together and with their children they form the family. This institution is prior to any recognition by public authorities. Marriage and family (rightly composed), therefore, should be considered the normal reference point by which the different forms of relationships should be evaluated.

 

The point of all this is that Marriage and family is a natural right or God given right. It is absolutely unchangeable and is the foundation of all positive rights. Natural law is the basis of positive rights (those granted by the state). Natural rights are inherent to our human nature. All civil law, therefore, is only valid when based on the Natural Law. In the tradition of our nation, the Declaration of Independence recognizes the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

 

Looking at this more deeply from a Catholic perspective: St Pope John XXIII wrote the encyclical Pacem in Terris (April 11, 1963). Paragraph 11 of this document tells us:

“But first We must speak of man's rights. Man has the right to live. He has the right to bodily integrity and to the means necessary for the proper development of life, particularly food, clothing, shelter, medical care, rest, and, finally, the necessary social services.”


We hear in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “A man and a woman united in marriage, together with their children, form a family. This institution is prior to any recognition by public authority, which has an obligation to recognize it. It should be considered the normal reference point by which the different forms of family relationship are to be evaluated (CCC 2202).” So the necessary social services are actually rooted in the family.

 

The social teaching of the Church is also based in the family. In regard to these social services, St Pope John XXIII states,

In consequence, he has the right tobe looked after in the event of ill health; disability stemming from his work;widowhood; old age; enforced unemployment; or whenever through no fault of hisown he is deprived of the means of livelihood.Peace on Earth (Pacem in Terris. . . ), #11”

First, this is the responsibility of each family. Secondarily, it is the responsibility of the community or State. However, problems arise when the State seeks to take the place of the family. To supplant the family or take over what is first the rightfully role of family. It is legitimate for the State to facilitate the role of the family, but never to supplant.

 

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops state,

“The Catholic tradition teaches that human dignity can be protected and a healthy community can be achieved only if human rights are protected and responsibilities are met. Therefore, every person has a fundamental right to life and a right to those things required for human decency. Corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities--to one another, to our families, and to the larger society (7 themes of Catholic Social teaching USCCB).”

 

The term “fundamental rights” here is the same as natural rights. And the natural rights belong to us by the fact that we exist as human persons. But once one rejects any concept of natural law or objective truth (relativism) then it becomes a very Darwinist or “survival of the fittest” and tyrannical approach to rights. Without the natural law the only “rights” that one would have are those determined by the State (whoever is in charge). These rights are established by the majority opinion as Pope Benedict XVI spoke of in his Theory of Relativism. Or they are determined by the mandate of those in charge as in the tyranny of totalitarianism (dictatorship).


As the Prayer to St Raymond Nonnatus states and the Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms: the institution of the family predates the institution of the State. Therefore, the family is to be the model or reference point for the state and not vise versa. When there is a dysfunction in the family then it very well may “take a village”, but only when that “village” is modeled on a functional family. If that “village” has another model than in reality it ends up destroying the natural rights.


Line 2 But because it is Thine own institution and the only means by which man can come into this world and develop to the greatest perfection, therefore the forces of evil are assaulting it, causing men to despise this basic unit of Christian civilization .

 

The basic idea of this sentence is that “the forces of evil are assaulting” the family. Then it identifies two reasons for this assault. The first reason that evil assaults the family is because it is God’s own institution. Thus this attack resembles the original assault on human communion as represented in the account of the fall in Genesis. God creates human beings as male and female. He creates them to be in communion. Satan attacks that communion and seeks to break it down.

 

The second reason for this assault is because it is the means by which new life is brought into the world and can develop to the greatest perfection. This developing “to the greatest perfection” is a part of creation and redemption. We are made in the Image and Likeness of God and so we seek through Grace to become like the Creator. This does not occur through our own power, but through the Lord’s pure gift.

 

Returning to the earlier quote from Paragraph 11 of Pacem in Terris “Man has the right to live…”. New life is brought into the world through the family. No matter how dysfunctional the family might be. We still need a father and a mother. We still need a sperm and an egg. No matter what science is able to manipulate it will never be able to create life without those basic building blocks of life which man did not create himself. Also in Pacem in Terris #11 St John XXIII states, man has the right “to bodily integrity and to the means necessary for the proper development of life” This is expressed in the St Raymond prayer as “developed to the greatest perfection.”

 

This attack has become more obvious in recent times. Listen to these Chilling words from Supreme Court Justice RuthBader Ginsburg in a New York Times interview in 2009 “Yes, the ruling about that surprised me. [Harris v. McRae -- in 1980 the court upheld the Hyde Amendment, which forbids the use of Medicaid for abortions.] Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don't want to have too many of. So that Roe was going to be then set up for Medicaid funding for abortion." Again…populations that we don’t want to many of…this is frightening!

 

This despising of this basic unit of Christian civilization has even infiltrated Catholic institutions. Professor John McAdams of Marquette University described on his blog a classroom situation where a junior faculty member shut down a student who wanted to discuss his opposition to same-sex marriage, because she considered it an unacceptable topic in her ethics class. She stated that this would be on par with a discussion which favored racism or sexism. Such a discussion would offend any gay students in the class. This women felt that speaking in opposition to same-sex marriage and adoption were homophobic. So to give support in a Catholic university for the most ancient institution created by God is on par with racism, sexism, or homophobia. Professor McAdams supported the student’s right to expressing the Church’s teaching in the classroom which is a free speech zone. The University responded by suspending McAdams and attempting to revoke his tenure. These is just a few accounts, but there are many other examples of how many segments of society are despising the Natural law and Divine Revelations concept of marriage.


Line 3: In suicidal fury they seek to deal it a mortal blow. Let them not succeed, Lord, in their destructive designs on the Christian family.

 

The end goal is not just to have many different types of families, but to eliminate it altogether. Just like we have a variety of lentil soup here present (many parishioners brought lentil soup). If we were to keep changing the recipe. Say eventually we leave out the lentils entirely. In time, it would cease to be the same soup. We would not be able to rightly call it Lentil Soup. Just so if we keep changing what constitutes family, marriage, and/or sexuality we will eventually no longer have anything which resembles these things.

 

I was looking to find out how many genders are recognized today. I had heard that some groups recognized as many as 14 or 15 different genders. I came across the Gender Equality Resource a Cal Community Center (http://geneq.berkeley.edu/lgbt_resources_definiton_of_terms.) Almost 85 different definitions relating to the different genders and their lifestyles. It has gotten so complex that we need a “definition of terms”.


The prayer says “in suicidal fury”. This is a strong word. The family as it exists by Natural Law as we have discussed is the building block of civilization. So to destroy the family actually ends up being the suicide of the civilization. I brought a book with me: Civilizing Sex: On Chastity and the Common Good by Patrick Riley. Riley offers wonderful historical and philosophical presentation that marriage and marital fidelity are necessary preservatives for every society. And they are indispensable means of rescuing our own society.

 

In addition, Riley demonstrates that marriage actually built society.In creating a family and giving stability, marriage provides civil society with its primary cell. Riley demonstrations this through history. The great civilizations such as the Israelites, Canaanites, Greeks, Roman Empire, and Middle Ages all eventually fell. Their fall was proceeded by a breakdown in chastity. And it was only in a return to martial chastity, first through the Israelites and later with Christianity, that the civilization began to flourish or grow once again. Greater self-indulgence leads to the rejection of children leading to a society that does not reproduce itself.

 

It is not an exaggeration to say that the fight for marriage and the defense of the family is really a fight for the life of our very civilization. Our current society in attacking the family and redefining the family/sexuality…our society is committing suicide. While western civilization destroys itself, Islamic Jihadists (ISIS) are “licking the chops” because we are making their job much easier.


Mercedarian Redemptive mission in the United States:

 

The Mercedarian Order was founded to ransom Christians who were in danger of losing their faith These Christians were taken captive by Muslims in the 13th Century and being pressured or even forced to convert to Islam. This was the original form of “captivity” that the Order was founded to free Christians from.

 

Throughout its history, the Order always looks for new forms of captivity as the object of its redemptive mission. In looking for new forms of captivity, the Order in her modern Constitutions had developed four criteria for the new forms of captivity which endangers people’s faith. These forms of captivity constitute the proper field to exercise our 4th Vow (being willing to offer our lives for those endanger of losing their faith). They “occur where there is a social situation which contains the following conditions: i. It is oppressive and degrading to the human being, ii. It springs from principles and systems opposed to the Gospel, iii. It puts the faith of Christians in danger, iv. It offers the possibility of helping, visiting, and redeeming people who are in such situations (CO 16).”

 

With this prayer to St Raymond Nonnatus which the Mercedarians have been praying for over 60 years and looking at our cultural situation today, the friars over the last decade have recognized this “attack on the family” as fitting all four of these criteria for what constitutes the proper object of the redemptive mission. The attack on the family is oppressive and degrading to the human person. In fact, it is a denial of who we even are as human persons. And it is born from principles and systems opposed to the Gospel. It has put the faith of Christians in danger through persecution: labeling of Christian belief as “hate speech”. We certainly have that possibility of helping, visiting, and redeeming families since we deal with them every day in our apostolates. The Mercedarians in the United States are working on making this redeeming and freeing families as the centerpiece of our apostolate or work in this country.

 

We haven’t been able to complete the whole prayer, but just from the first few lines we see how profound and prophetic it is. Maybe in the future we can conclude this detailed analyses of this prophetic prayer for marriage and family life.

 

The Life of St Raymond Nonnatus Video

Wiki St Raymond Nonnatus

A Prophetic Prayer for Marriage and Family

Mercedarian Friar - Monday, April 27, 2015

 

On March 4th, 2015 at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, Philadelphia, PA. Fr Matthew Phelan, O. de M. gave a reflection on Marriage and Family based on the St Raymond Nonnatus Prayer (composed circa 1941). Our Lady of Lourdes parish is staffed by the Order of BVM of Mercy or the Mercedarian Friars. Each Wednesday during the Lenten Season the parish sponsors "Soup and Salvation". Parishioners prepare a particular soup and a reflection is given on a specific topic. In preparation for the World Meeting of Families, this year’s theme is marriage and family. Fr Matthew entire reflection can be seen on the Order's youtube account: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0GBtVQLQkc and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xT9cdVlPgr4



 St Raymond Nonnatus

Patron of expectant mothers, pre-born babies, Christian families, and those falsely accused

 

Prayer for Christian Families
Lord, Father Almighty! The family is the most ancient institution of humanity, for it is as old as man himself. But because it is Thine own institution and the only means by which man can come into this world and develop to the greatest perfection, therefore the forces of evil are assaulting it, causing men to despise this basic unit of Christian civilization. In suicidal fury they seek to deal it a mortal blow. Let them not succeed, Lord, in their destructive designs on the Christian family.
Through the intercession of the glorious St. Raymond Nonnatus, pleader in heaven for the happiness, welfare, and peace of Christian families, we beg Thee to hear our prayers. By the merit of this great saint, our patron, grant that our homes may ever be modeled after the Holy Family of Nazareth. Let not the enemies of Christian family life triumph in their sacrilegious attacks, but rather convert them to the truth for the glory of Thy holy name. Amen. 

http://orderofmercy.businesscatalyst.com/thelatestfromtheorder/patron-of-expectant-mothers-and-families-st-raymond-nonnatus

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AgBzOcFePyE

Practicing on the Works of Mercy

Mercedarian Friar - Wednesday, April 01, 2015

 

Most college students look forward to their “spring break”. They just can’t wait to get a few days off from studies to relax and enjoy themselves before those demanding last weeks of the semester. Unfortunately, over the years Spring Break Week has gotten a very bad reputation. It seems that many seek to relax by indulging in excessive alcohol, drugs, and promiscuity. In many places, this has gone to such excesses that it would make some even in Ancient Rome blush! Yet, we must not fall into the trap of assuming that all college students are behaving in this way. In fact, many use this time to make Service Trips to impoverished areas to learn from and help the less fortunate. These young adults are certainly are examples to their peer and each one of us of true Christian Charity.

 

One such group, the Ferris State Newman Center, chose to use their spring break week to attend the Cleveland Service Retreat sponsored by the Order of Mercy. This retreat, which took place March 8th-14th, emphasized the two fold commandment of loving God and neighbor (Luke 10:27). Scripture and the Tradition of the Church has always stressed that the two most important commandments are interconnected. God is the source of charity. Out of Love the Father created life and continues to sustain it. In Jesus Christ the law is fulfilled. Christ teaches us the highest form of love in his Passion, Death, and Resurrection. We are commanded to love one another as He has loved us (John 13:34). God teaches us how to love. In prayer and meditation, we learn how to imitate Jesus generosity in becoming a self-gift to others.

 

During this week of prayer and service, the college students were feed by the Eucharist and reflected on the words of Pope Francis. Our Holy Father has given us a vision of a Church that is in a permanent state of mission. No longer is it okay just to stay within our comfortable Christian communities. Our country is truly a mission field where people are hungering for the Gospel. The New Evangelization demands that we constantly go out of our comfort zone.

Pope Francis’ method begins with an emphasis on the Person. We are to simply encounter people where they are at. Treating them with dignity and showing them the Gospel by our actions. The gift that we bring to each person is mercy. As our Holy Father says, “This is the Lord’s most power message, Mercy.” When people encounter true love and compassion they have had a taste of Redemption. And lastly, Pope Francis tells us that this encounter takes place on the periphery. The periphery or margins means going out to the fridge of society; the outskirts there we find the poor, the elderly, and the immigrant.

 

In Cleveland, one of the poorest cities in the United States, there was no problem finding people on the margins. The students from Ferris State spent much of the day ministering to those in and around the Order’s parishes. One of these places was St Herman’s House of Hospitality. This Orthodox charitable organization is a non-profit center committed to serving the homeless and needy poor of Ohio City and Inner City Cleveland in a spirit of love and hospitality. Many hours were spent by the students serving food to the needy and sorting the donations which come in daily. Working directly with the poor in ministries like this and St Augustine’s Hunger Center provided an opportunity to put our prayer into action.

 

Along with these apostolates, the students assisted at Our Lady of Mt Carmel and St Rocco’s parishes. Time was spent moving items, cleaning desks, and a variety of other activities. While residing at on the grounds of the Order’s parish, the young adults got a rare inside view into the day to day lives of the friars and sisters. These interactions included long talks with Fr Jerome and an intense game of scrapple with Br Martin. The highlight of the week may just have been going Cleveland’s famous Malley’s Candy Shop with the friars and sisters!

 

Overall the week was an opportunity to refocus on the essentials of Christianity: Love of God and Love of Neighbor. While they could have been resting or partying, these college students instead choose to give of themselves. May the Lord continue to bless each of them as they go back to the great Mission Field which is University life in the United States! We know that they will bring many souls to the realization that Jesus Christ is the only place for the restless human heart.

 


Video Raises Awareness and Encourages Prayer the for Persecuted Church

Mercedarian Friar - Tuesday, March 17, 2015

 

PHILADELPHIA, March 13, 2015 /Christian Newswire/ -- With news of the martyrdom of 21 Christians by fundamentalist Muslims in Egypt still fresh in their minds, those in the English-speaking world might be relieved to see a new video that asks for prayers for the persecuted Church.

The five-minute "Litany of the B.V.M. for the Persecuted Church," https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wlUwevwWREY

  which has received more than five hundred views in its first week, publicizes the shameful persecution of Christians throughout the world and asks its viewers to pray a special litany along with it.

"As Christians, we cannot stand idly by while our fellow Christians are being persecuted for their faith around the world," said Fr. Joseph Eddy, O. de M., vocation director for the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy in the United States.

"The courage of these martyrs is nothing less than heroic," he added. "Even children have refused to give up their faith in the face of death. Since we don't often hear about these atrocities through the media, we must make known what is happening."

Fr. Joseph added that making the video is part of the Order's ministry to free captives who are in danger of losing their faith, which has been the core of their charism, or purpose, since it's founding in 1218 in Spain.

The video does not contain graphic violence, but features photos of children and families in refugee camps as well as people in the Middle East praying in churches. The video notes the severe persecution of Christians in Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, and other parts of the world, calling it a grave injustice.

The video recalls the words of Christ, "If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you..." and ties the modern persecutions with the ancient martyrdom of Christians in the Coliseum.

An area that was home to Abraham and other patriarchs of the faith, Iraq, for example, has become a battleground for competing forces. Since 2003, about one million Assyrian Christians, for example, have been forced to become refugees inside and outside of Iraq.

The prayer featured in the video is the Litany of the B.V.M. for the Persecuted Church, authored by the Order of Mercy.

The Order of Mercy, also known as the Mercedarians, has its U.S. motherhouse in Philadelphia, and has friars in four states.

 


 

 

http://orderofmercy.org/thelatestfromtheorder/litany-of-blessed-virgin-mary-for-the-persecuted-church

http://www.helpiraq.org/

 

http://www.persecution.com/public/prayermap.aspx

 

 


Living the Spirit of Redemption in Florida

Mercedarian Friar - Sunday, February 15, 2015

 

Fr Tony tell us again about your local community. Which friars live there? What is their apostolates?

Fr. James works full time at St. Jude Cathedral which is with-in walking distance from our Casa Nolasco. The rector of St Jude’s is Fr Joseph Waters. Together they take care of all the Sacramental life of the Parish and School with 350 students of so Fr James visits the kids from time to time. He also teaches Bible classes twice a week for adults. He is chaplain of the Knights of Columbus. Fr James does hospital and nursing homes visitation from time to time. All of it is done very much with a great Mercedarian spirit of much dedication and love for the least ones.... Fr. Scott works full time at another Parish, the Church of Sacred Heart in Pinellas Park. This parish is about 15 minutes from our Community. Likewise with the Pastor Fr. Anthony Coppola (another diocesan priest), Fr Scott takes great care of the people of God. Sacred Heart has about 2,000 families with many Latinos in the same vicinity. The sacramental life is very alive at this parish. Once a week, Fr Scott has a well-attended Bible class with about 60 people or so. By the same token being Canon Lawyer he helps out 3 Dioceses in some of their Canonical Cases: St.Pete, Orlando and Venice!Fr. Mike Perry is part time chaplain at Maria Manor which is a Roman Catholic nursing home and assistant living. He celebrates Mass and the Anointing of the Sick from time to time. Fr Mike is also part time chaplain at Bay Front Hospital and All Children Hospital (Friday to Sunday). He is also chaplain of the Ancient Order of Hibernian Brothers and Sisters. Fr. Oscar has a full-time job with the Latinos in St. Peter and the vicinity. He celebrates masses on the weekends at Holy Cross, St. Michael, Sacred Heart and St. Cecilia in Clearwater. Fr. Anthony helps out from time to time at St. Jude, Transfiguration, and Blessed Trinity.He celebrates the Italian Mass once a month at St. Jude.Fr Tony is also chaplain of the 4th degree of Knights of Columbus (a once a month prayer meeting at St. Jude). He also is involved in Marriage Encounter with 2 meetings every month. Lastly, Fr Tony is the Mercedarian Third Order moderator with one monthly meeting with Sue Tambasco (president).


What is the average day like at St Peter Nolasco Residence?

We do pray together twice a day at 7:00 am for 30 minutes, at 4:00 for another hour. The only meal we do share together is at 5:00 pm. During this time we talk about our day nicely with much sharing of information about our ministries. Once a month, we have a house meeting for about 90 minutes or so. Likewise once a month, we do have a short Day of

Recollection with Revision of Live from 2:30am to 5:00 PM. The rest of the day it is up to each friar use to use our free time accordingly: ministries, visitations, physical exercises, and rest, if so our body requires from time to time. We try to live as good brothers with “one mind and one heart (Rule of St Augustine)”, according to the spirit and charism of St. Peter Nolasco, our Founder and Model.


Fr Tony, tell us, what are some of the special events that have occurred for your local community this past year?

The great events every year are the ones dedicated to Our Lady of Mercy and St. Peter Nolasco...On these occasions, all of us Mercedarians have a Celebration of the Holy Eucharist at St. Jude cathedral with due permission of the Rector. Our third Order members, about 17 of them are there to support us during these days. We all attend Mass in Church and then we come together in our Community for a little get together with them and friends of the Community. We, of course, live to have pizza, from Govanni pizza place (pizza della nonna is very much liked) and wines and of course nice dessert! The get-together will last for a good of couple of hours with much love and friendship, according to the spirit of the Order, based upon fraternal love and much charity for one another.During these occasions other people will ask us to be members of our Third Order, which is becoming very active socially and otherwise. They are doing great things like visitations of some nearby Nursing Homes and alike....


As the local superior, how would you say your community lives out our Redemptive Spirit in St. Petersburg, FL?

I am just reading now the message of Papa Francesco to us Religious people: to wake up the world and go the outskirts of the cities (periphery) like here at St. Pete. I am personally trying to figure that out for us Mercedarians living here and now in central Florida what this means. That means that we are going to have to get busy in the near future and do more for the least ones of our society! Some how we have to figure that out in our Community. For instances, trying to get into the prison ministry once again, since we did it for years in the past at Maximum SecurityPrison System. Another way to do so according to the spirit of the Mercedarian spirit, visit for Masses on Sundays and bringing the Gospel message to the poor people at Pinellas Hope who have nothing for themselves, not even a place where they can rest at night time...The least ones should be on our list, in a very special way...Our working together with our Third Order, might be a great idea for more presence of us Mercedarians in the local community of St. Pete and vicinity...We hope and pray that will be our special way to free our brothers and sisters who happen to be in some kind ofpresent captivity...May St. Peter Nolasco be our guide and model in this work of Redemption of ours....Amen to that..........ciao,to you all

*____________________________________________________________________Sincerely

yours in Jesus and Our Lady of Mercy,Fr. Anthony M. Fortunato, O. de

M.*

 

http://cathedralalive.org/

http://pinellashope.org/

http://www.sacredheartpinellaspark.com/


SEEKing Something More

Mercedarian Friar - Monday, January 26, 2015

January 1st- 5th over 9 thousand college students from around the United States attended SEEK 2015 Conference in Nashville, TN. This event is sponsored by one of the fastest growing Catholic organization in America, Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS). The conference was a truly powerful and life changing experience for all those present.

 

It is impossible to do justice to a conference with over 50 talks given by some of the biggest names in the Catholic Church. Yet as one man journeys through the weekend he can recognize some themes.

 

Coming into the miniature city which is the Gaylord Opryland Resort, these college students were leaving a university life commonly seen as the center of secular thought. That which is taught at most colleges is based on a fundamentally different world view than our Catholic tradition. These principles have to do with the definition of "the good" and the nature of the human person. With the denial of objective truth the emphasis in many Universities is put on placed solely on the individual. This is why our culture seeks fulfillment in pleasure, materialism, and obsession with appearances.

 

As Dr. Jonathan Reyes said in his Impact talk "unexamined assumptions shape our worldview". Many of us, especially young adults, are so overly occupied with work, studies, and technology that we do not examine those concepts learned from a non-Christian culture. These thoughts become beliefs which determine how we live. In our society we are taught, even subconsciously, to live by our emotions or desires rather than reason.

 

It can be scary to examine our behaviors and recognize that we may be living in a very self-centered way. This is the typical experience of so many of the young adults when they attend a conference or retreat. Coming out of the "fog" of the technology saturated culture, they are brought face to face with themselves. One can be quite overwhelmed by the whole experience. How can I ever overcome these habits? I am not strong enough to overcome these things and "swim against the tide" of the college culture.

 

This legitimate fear which must be faced. Many of the conferences speakers gave these courageous young men and women a road map based on 2 thousand years of faith and tradition.

 

The first thing is to grow in self-knowledge through prayer and study. We can learn so much from the long tradition of the Church. Saints such as John Paul II have given us a deep understanding of the dignity of the human person created in the Image of God.


This is particularly important in the area of sexuality. In opposition to common thought, our recognition of beauty and desire for intimacy is a profound call to holiness. As Jason Evert says, "what we experience as lust is meant to lead us to seek true beauty." We must know our desires which lead to sin, but see them as a call to something greater.

 

Once we come to understand ourselves we are called to respond to God's grace which leads us to freedom. Bad habits or vices are only overcome by growing in and supporting good habits or virtues. Any of the 7 traditional virtues can help a person, but some specific ones were emphasized at the conference. Dr. Reyes encouraged the young men to foster perseverance in even the small things. As the habit grows, they will find it easier to make commitments and be men of their word. Secondly, the college man can pray for and work toward magnanimity or greatness of heart. Dr Reyes encouraged them to "do great things...do hard things". Men should face their fears particularly as they strive for authentic masculinity.

 

All of these efforts are based on Judeo-Christian world-view which presumes the existence of objective truth. God is Truth and has placed the desire for this within our hearts. We need not be governed by our emotions; tossed from one thing to another with no hope. The human person is called to holiness by using their mind, heart and soul to become all that they were created to be or holy.


Time and again during the conference, we were reminded of our call to greatness. This is best summed up by Curtis Martin who quoted St Catharine of Siena. This courageous 14th century Saint may be best known for her quote, "Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire". With these words over 9 thousand college students were sent out to live the abundant life (Jn. 10:10); the freedom promised by the Savior. To be no longer be ruled by their emotions, but instead to order these toward what is true, beautiful, and good.

 

May God be with them as they go forth set free and aflame with God's love! Let us pray for each of these students that they may persevere in the commitments they have made to life for Christ.

 

http://www.seek2015.com/

 

http://www.focus.org/

 

http://www.jasonevert.com/

 

 

 

 

 


From One Deacon to Another

Mercedarian Friar - Tuesday, January 13, 2015

 


Once again I headed off to the bustling metropolis of LeRoy, NY, home of Jello and the Jello Museum. On November 6, Brother Dan became Deacon Dan. Now we are members of the Diaconate Clergy, but soon he will proclaim the final vows of priesthood.


After my traveling companions, Bev Battista and Paul O’Neill joined me in buying out the bread store at the Trappist Monastery at the Abbey of the Genesee, we arrived in time to be guest at a wonderful banquet planned for Deacon Dan by the parishioners of Our Lady of Mercy Parish. The turn-out showed the great admiration the parish has for Deacon Dan. Love and joy were present as many people hugged him and displayed a sense that they were in the presence of a happy and holy man.


Just think, in the late 90’s he was one of my students in Honors World History at Mayfield High School. Later he became a convert and subsequently applied to the Mercedarians to become a priest.


The Mass and Ordination were very special as the Associate Bishop from Buffalo presided over a spiritual celebration of brotherhood with the clergy present and a large number of parishioners, some from our parish, and many from Philadelphia


I was honored to serve as the Deacon at the Mass, and I was given the very special honor of helping the then Brother Dan into his stole and Dalmatic. I was the first to congratulate him as a fellow Deacon. What an inspiration he has been to me in my spiritual journey.



Being present at the altar and watching him take his vows reassured me of the presence of the Holy Spirit at that moment. The beauty of the Litany of Saints sung by the choir and the powerful words expressed by the Bishop moved Deacon Dan and me emotionally.

I am so proud of him. We all should be for it is within our parish that he stepped forward, gave all of his possessions away, and followed the voice of Our Lord. In our own small way, we, through our prayers, helped him to discern his vocation and follow through on it. We all should be proud. As we left the Church, I turned to Deacon Dan and asked for his first blessing. This caught him off guard at first, but after I explained to him one of his new gifts, he formally blessed me, and we laughed and we hugged. And thought: Isn’t this what life is all about?


http://www.sacredheartofjesusparish.org/bulletins/14-0885-52br-14.pdf

 


Ordained to the Service of Christ

Mercedarian Friar - Wednesday, November 19, 2014

It was a cold rainy day in Western New York. Certainly, not a day to delight in, much less to travel. Despite these unfavorable conditions Mercedarian friars, sisters, and third order traveled for miles to witness one of our own ordained to the Transitional Diaconate. Br. Daniel Bowen, O. de M. had been preparing himself for many years to receive this most precious Sacrament.

 

That evening in the church of Our Lady of Mercy, our brother was called by the Church to be conformed to the service of Christ. After the Gospel, Deacon David stated "Let Br. Daniel Andrew Bowen, O. de M. who is to be ordained deacon please come forward." These simple words were the culmination of many years of formation. The Church was indeed calling Br. Daniel.

 

In a beautiful homily, Bishop Edward Grosz summed up to honor to be bestowed saying, "He will make himself a servant to all. As a minister of the altar he will proclaim the Gospel, prepare the sacrifice, and give the Lord's body and blood to the community of believers. It will also be his duty...to bring God's word to believer and unbeliever alike, to preside over public prayer, to baptize, to assist at marriages and bless them, to give viaticum to the dying, and to lead the rites of burial."

 

As the Mass continued, Br Daniel affirmed his own free decision to commit his life to the service of Christ. Then, in a profoundly symbolic gesture, the future deacon lay prostrate in front of  the bishop and the community of believers. Together as one, we united our voices in a litany evoking the intercession of all the Angels and Saints for our chosen brother. 

 

Invigorated with the approval of the Church and the intercession of the Heavenly Host, the candidate was called forth to receive the "indelible mark" upon his soul. Kneeling before at the foot of the sanctuary, the bishop laid his hands upon Br. Daniel's head. This simple gesture constituted the "matter" of the Sacrament. Then, standing, the bishop stretched out his hands over candidate using the ritual prayer of ordination. This prayer constituted the "form" of the Sacrament.

 

And just like that..the Church had a new deacon. Deacon Daniel was invested in the stole and dalmatic by Deacon David. Immediately, the newly ordained began his service by preparing the altar for the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

 

On a rainy cold day up north, the Holy Spirit warmed the hearts of us all. We have a new Deacon. Jesus tells us in Mt 20:28 that he, "...did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Every deacon is ordained to follow in Christ service.

 

Congratulations Deacon Daniel Bowen, O. de M. ! May the Lord be your strength and you serve his flock!

 

Diaconate USCCB

Wikipedia Deacon

Br Daniel's Solemn Vows



 

 

 


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