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The Election of a New Government and a Surprise Visit

Mercedarian Friar - Saturday, June 06, 2015

The following is a continuation of the highlights of the Provincial Chapter in Nemi, Italy. The Chapter began May 30 and concludes June 6th.

 

DAY 4:

 

COMMUNICATION OF 2 JUNE 2015

This day began with Mass in honor of our Holy Father Peter Nolasco, in this year especially dedicated to him on our journey towards the Jubilee of 2018.

 

The particular prayer intention was for the Mercedarian Superiors and the whole Mercedarian Family. At 9.15 am we began the session by continuing the reading of the reports. It was time for India, and the report was read by the community Edacochin. Then followed Elantikara and Cuddapah.

 

After the questions, there was a pause, and we returned at 11 am.

Information was presented regarding the communities of Munnar, Patlur, and Eraviputhenthurai. Then came some information about the vocational-formative work in the Mission of India.

 

Before lunch, there was an unplanned event: there was the singing of the National Anthem of Italy, given today, as it is the feast of the anniversary of the Republic of Italy.

 

In the afternoon we entered into the programming phase, for which, after the methodology of the work was given, we were divided into 4 groups formed by 8-9 Religious composed of those from Italy, USA, and India.

 

It was a good way to experience the diverse sensibilities and perceptions, and to understand the various languages, cultures, ages, etc. that can be gained from the lessons and examples that help to increase communion in the Roman Province.

 

At the end of the work by the work groups, we returned to the Assembly where the various secretaries of the groups gave a synthesis of what was said in their respective groups regarding the first area, the fraternal life of the community.

 

The path that was traced that will help us follow a journey which will bring us closer to the goal that we ourselves will travel for the next triennium: The first witness is that the Religious offer to the world is their own consecration, lived in fraternity in the local and provincial community.

 

DAY 5:

 

COMMUNICATION OF 3 JUNE 2015


At 7:30 am, the day began with the Liturgy of the Hours (the Office of Readings and Morning Prayer) and the communitarian prayers.

 

Afterwards, we returned to the Assembly for the reading of the Verbale and the vote on the group work in the area of Religious Life.

 

A very touching moment of this day was the visit of the Archbishop of Erbil (in Iraq), Mashar Warda, who was present in Rome for a few obligations and accepted the invitation to visit the Chapter Assembly.

 

In the presence of all the Capitulars, Archbishop Warda gave information that very clearly “provoked” us: the Christians of Iraq are fleeing because of the continual persecution. In 2003, there were nearly 1.2 million Christians in Iraq, now in 2014, it was reduced to 300,000: in ten years they were reduced by 25% of what they were before, and the persecution continues.

 

There is a real sale of Christian slaves, especially women and children, that they take to sell in markets.

We then returned in time to that which regards the Islamic violence confronting the Christians that do not have many possibilities to flee: either they convert to Islam, or they pay a tax, or they leave. Many times, however, they are killed.

 

For us Mercedarians the Archbishop asked of us:

- Prayer above all else

- To spread information to others about this theme

- Economic support

- To support the social-educative services, and bring them forward.

 

The Diocese of Erbil is, in fact, welcoming thousands of families fleeing persecution.

 

The Roman Province has “twinned” itself with the Diocese of Erbil, and now, has remembered it in prayer and in the donation of several thousand Euro.

 

We continued our group-work for programming the next three years, and the evening ended with Mass and the recitation of Vespers in honor of St. Charles Lwanga and Company, martyrs, while the intention of the prayer was for the dead, especially those of the last triennium.

 

DAY 6

 

COMMUNICATION OF 4 JUNE 2015

The day began with the Holy Mass and Morning Prayer celebrated according to the ordinary intention: for vocations and their formation.

 

The first gathering of the assembly was dedicated to the vote of the program, prepared by the Commission and then discussed in some cases, which was worked on in the four work groups.

 

As the vote was rather quick, we divided into geographic groups (one for India, one for the USA, and two for Italy) to integrate, if it was needed, the various areas of the program with initiatives and instruments of a more “local” flavor.

 

These initiatives were then presented in the Assembly and approved.

The election phase began in the afternoon with all of the Superiors giving their envelopes containing the verbale and the ballots with the votes for the new Provincial Government.

 

These ballots were opened by the scrutinizers, who counted the votes, and after the formal verification of the correct number, we proceeded to the scrutiny of the vote, at the end of which, Fr. General announced the candidates for Provincial and the Provincial Council.

After a break, we returned to the Chapel for a penitential service with the exposition of the Eucharist. Fr. Giovannino Tolu gave the Capitular Fathers a reflection on three biblical themes: the Transfiguration, the perfume of Mary that she used to anoint the feet of Jesus, and the raised hands of Moses.


The cry of joy of Peter in the Transfiguration is our cry: it is good that we are here! We want to tell the world that we do not know any other joy than to share the tent where Jesus dwells, brighter than the sun.


Mary at Bethany loves without calculating and evaluation. For many, the Consecrated Life is a waste and Religious are wasting this life. However, we choose to waste it only for Jesus, and for the captives. Only with charity to the captives, the oppressed, the imprisoned, and the least of society can we feel the fragrance of God’s love.


Moses on mountain was supported in a way that kept his hands raised.

It is a mystery, the strength of raised hands.

Who prays is like one who has hands on the wheel of history.

Without prayer you go off the road, you do not get to where you want to go.

 

DAY 7:

 

COMMUNICATION OF 5 JUNE 2015

With the Holy Mass of the Holy Spirit, presided over by the Master General Pablo Ordone, we opened the day dedicated to the election of the new Provincial Government.

 

The General, in his reflective homily, spoke of the Holy Spirit as a door to peace in the hearts of the community to help facilitate dialogue. A real dialogue, without closures and fictions that makes us consider ourselves all-important within this Mercedarian community that God has dreamed up for redemptive mission.

 

The Spirit helps us in our discernment to lead us into a profound and existential friendship with Him; a friendship crossed by the Love of loves, able to say it is not I who live, but Christ who lives in me.

 

The Holy Spirit opens us to the frontier mission, invited to go outside of ourselves, of our presence, of that which “was always this way.”

 

At 9:30 am, the Chapter Assembly, after fulfilling the rites, proceeded to elect our Fr. Provincial: the result was that Fr. Francesco Podda was reelected, and he accepted the grave obligation.

He then took the oath and gave the profession of faith.

 

After a break given by the President of the Assembly, we began the vote for the election of the Provincial Councilors.

 

These were elected:

- Eugenio Caramia - Samuele Salis - Stefano Defraia - Efisio Schirru

 

These, after the election, took the oath.

 

The Religious shared fraternal greetings of peace and well wishes with those elected.

XXXII Provincial Chapter of the Roman Province 

 

General Government Website

 

 

XXXII Provincial Chapter of the Roman Province

Mercedarian Friar - Tuesday, June 02, 2015

 

The Provincial Chapter occurs every 3 years. Superiors and those chosen as representatives “examine the state of the province and to foster its progress in all aspects…” It is also a time to “verify common work and seek together the signs of the will of God, with a great sense of responsibility in regard to the community that they represent (CO 242).” To keep all of our 3rd Order, friends and benefactors informed, we offer this short summary of the proceedings:


DAY 1

On 30 May 2015 at 9am, with the Holy Mass in honor of our Most Holy Mother, we began the 32nd Chapter of the Roman Province that includes 13 Italian communities, 6 from the USA, and 6 from India.

Present were all 38 Capitular Fathers; Fr. General spoke of Mary as a model of our Consecrated Life, and Inspirer of every Mercedarian work.

At 10:30 am, the Capitular Asslembly opened with the prayers prescribed by the Ritual, and the greeting of Fr. General which, making reference to the teachings of the Holy Father Francis, invited all to fall in love with the Mother of Mercy, keeping in our hearts attention to the peripheries of freedom.

Then, the Chapter passed to concrete aspects:

 

- Fr. General nominated Fr's. Nunzio Masiello and Matthew Phelan as moderators

 

- He then nominated Fr's. Aristotle Franco Wellesly and Sergio Girau as Scrutinizers

 

- The Assembly voted for the election of the Secretary of the Chapter: Fr. Stefano Defraia was elected, and Fr's. Eugenio Caramia and Francesco Podda will assist him in his work

 

- The Liturgical Commission - for the animation of the celebrations will be composed of Fr's. Pasquale Agostino, David Spencer, and Martin Naduvilezuthaikal

 

- The Commission in charge of Communications was formed with Fr's. Sundar Raj Madalaimuthu, Scottston Brentwood, and Efisio Schirru

 

- The responsibility of the "Convocator" at various points was given to Fr. Justin Freeman

 

In the afternoon, at 4 pm, Fr. Sandro Barlone proposed to the Assembly a reflection on the Chapter as a time of dicernment, leaving some points for personal prayer and meditation.

 

At 6 pm, the Assembly held a session of listening and dialogue.

At the conclusion of the day, all prayed Vespers together, and celebrated the Saturday Mercedarian Devotions.


DAY 2


Today, in the Universal Church we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, which overrides the Feast of the Visitation, the titular feast of the Roman Province, which, however, we still wanted to remember.

At 7:30 am, we all returned to the renovated chapel for the celebration of the Office of Readings and Morning Prayers.

 

Special booklets were prepared for the liturgy with the texts in both Italian and English, as our Province embraces brothers of the two languages. This is why the liturgy was today, as well in the coming days, will have this diversity of languages, in a communion that goes beyond words and finds unity in prayer.

 

After the prayers, and a moment for breakfast, we returned in the Capitular Hall for the second session which began the Informative Phase.

The first to speak was Fr. Francesco Podda who, as Provincial, presented the report on the state of the Province and of the triennium which just ended.

We were given some information: as of 30 May 2015, the provincial community was composed of 110 in Solemn Vows, of which 96 are priests, 4 are non-clerical brothers, and 10 are Solemnly Professed and on their way to becoming priests, 6 of which are already ordained Deacons. The Religious are distributed among 25 communities, of which 13 are in Italy, 6 in the USA, and 6 in India.

 

At the moment, there are 18 Simply Professed in the Province, of which 2 are in the USA, and 16 in India.

There are no Novices, however, there are 17 Postulants, of which 2 are in Italy, and 15 in India.

 

Next followed the reports of the Vicar of the USA, Fr. Kenneth Breen, and of the Delegate of India, Fr. Vincenzo Pennella, who gave information on the actual situation in the USA and in the Mission of the India.

 

In the afternoon, it was possible to ask the three speakers questions, and then, as time permitted, we began to hear the reports of the local communities. We began with Alghero, followed by Cagliari.

 

At 7 pm, the Holy Mass and Vespers were celebrated.


DAY 3

The intention of the prayer today is for the oppressed and persecuted, while the liturgy reminds us of St. Justin Martyr: a beautiful event since two of the Capitular Fathers celebrate their name day. They are the Fr’s. Justin Freeman of the USA and Justin Alex of India.

 

After the celebration of the Office of Readings, Morning Prayers, the community prayers and breakfast, at 9:15 am, we had the session of the Chapter which took up with the reading of the reports of individual houses for those related to Italy. We began with Carpignano, followed by Florence, Naples, Nemi, Orvieto, and Padova.

There were some relative questions to be answered and clarified, then there was a break.

 

At 11 am, we continued with the other reports: Palermo, S. Maria della Mercede - Rome, and the Studentato (St. Peter Nolasco).

In the afternoon we took up the reading of the reports of San Cataldo, San Vito dei Normanni, and with these, we concluded the part related to Italy.

Afterwards we followed with information from the Vicariate of the USA: beginning with Mt. Carmel in Cleveland, and followed by St. Rocco (also in Cleveland) and Our Lady of Lourdes in Philadelphia.

 

After a break, we continued with reports from the Monastery of Our Lady of Mercy in Philadelphia, Le Roy, the Nolasco House in St. Petersburg FL, and the report of the Formators in Italy. The one responsible for formation in the USA combined the data of this area to the report of the local community.

 

After dinner there was a time of celebration in honor of the Community and of the brothers who were celebrating their name day, and we spend some time in healthy leisure.

 


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

 


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/


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

 


The Gate of Heaven Icon of Our Lady of Mercy

Mercedarian Friar - Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Icon Also Known As:

The Portal of the Sky

The All-Holy Keeper of the Portal

[Greek: Panagia Portaitissa (pronounced “Pah-nah-YEE-ah Por-tai-TEE-sa”)]

The Iveron Mother of God

 

History and Symbolism

 

The Original “Gate of Heaven” Mother of God is a Byzantine Icon of the Virgin Mary which according to some is one of the paintings made by St. Luke the Evangelist. The full history of the famous miraculous image is not known. The Icon is referred to as "Wonderworking" meaning that numerous miracles have been attributed to the intercession of the Mother of God by persons praying before it. A Byzantine painting is like a door. Seeing a beautiful door is nice, but who wants to just stand there looking at the door? We want to open the door and go beyond it. The door might be attractive or unattractive, but it is only a door, there to lead us into a new world.

 

Before the separation of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches called “The Great Schism of the year 1054,” the Gate of Heaven Icon of the Mother of God was kept in the home of a certain pious widow, who lived near Nicea. During the reign of the Emperor Theophilus (829–842), the Iconoclasts came to the house of this Christian. One of the soldiers struck the Icon with his spear, and immediately blood began to flow from the gashed cheek of the Virgin. The mark is depicted in all copies that have since been painted of this icon. Apparently Our Lady wants man to remember her sorrows and to recall that she is a Mother who understands sorrow and suffering. Shaken by this miracle, the soldier instantly repented, renounced the iconoclast heresy, and entered a monastery.

 

The widow, fearing its destruction, promised the imperial soldiers money and implored them not to touch the icon until morning. The widow spent the whole night in vigil, praying before the Icon of the Mother of God. In the morning, according to God’s will, the woman and her son put the holy image into the Mediterranean Sea. To her immense surprise and joy the Icon did not sink but, remaining upright, began to sail westward.

Fleeing persecution, the widow's son left Nicea and went to Mount Athos, Greece where he led a saintly life as a monk to the end of his days. There he recounted the story of the miracle of the bleeding wound, of how his mother had set the holy icon upon the waves, and this story was handed down from one generation of monks to another.

 

Time passed, and one evening in the year 1004, the monks of the Iveron Monastery on Mount Athos beheld a pillar of fire, shining upon the sea like the sun and reached to the heavens. The miraculous view lasted several days, while the fathers of the Holy Mountain gathered together, marveling at the sight. Finally, they descended to the edge of the sea, where they beheld the Icon of the Mother of God in the pillar of fire. But when they approached it, the icon moved farther out to sea.

 

At that time, a Georgian monk named Gabriel was working at the Iveron Monastery. The Mother of God appeared to the fathers of the Holy Mountain and told them that Gabriel alone was worthy to retrieve the holy icon from the sea. At the same time, She appeared to Gabriel and told him, “Enter the sea, and walk out upon the waves with faith, and all will witness my love and mercy for your monastery.” The monks of Mt. Athos found Gabriel and led him down to the sea, chanting hymns, and censing with holy incense. Gabriel walked out upon the water as though upon dry land, took the icon in his arms, and obediently carried it back to shore.

 

While the monks were celebrating a service of thanksgiving, a cold, sweet spring miraculously gushed forth from the ground where the icon stood. Afterwards, they took the icon to a church and set it down in the sanctuary with great reverence.

 

However, one of the monks who came to light a lamp the next morning discovered that the icon was no longer where they had left it. In fact, it was hanging on a wall near the entrance gate. The disbelieving monks took it down and returned it to the sanctuary, but the next day the icon was again found at the monastery gate. This miracle recurred several times, until the Most Holy Virgin appeared to Gabriel, saying, “Announce to the brothers that from this day they should not carry me away. For what I desire is not to be protected by you; rather I will overshadow you, both in this life and in the age to come. As long as you see my icon in the monastery, the grace and mercy of my Son shall never be lacking!”

 

Filled with exceeding joy, the monks erected a small church near the monastery gate to glorify the Most Holy Mother of God and placed the wonderworking icon inside. The holy icon came to be known as the “Iveron Mother of God” and because of its location, in Greek, Portaitissa or “The Keeper of the Portal.” By the grace of the miraculous Iveron Icon of the Mother of God, many miracles have taken place and continue to take place throughout the world.

 

It is believed that the disappearance of the Iveron Icon from Mt. Athos would be a sign of the end of the world. Later, the Orthodox Church took over Mt. Athos including the Iveron Monastery where the original Icon resides up to the present time.

 

This modern copy of the Gate of Heaven Icon was made by a man named Chrysostomos in 1981. Myrrh is miraculously flowing from some copies of it. As also with the case of the Icon of “La Bruna” which became an Icon of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, the White Scapular of Our Lady of Mercy was later added on it.

The icon belongs to a family of images of Mary known as Hodegetria (“She who shows ‘The Way’”) after the prototype from Constantinople. In these icons, the Ever Virgin Mary is holding Christ and pointing toward Him, as a guide to God and salvation. Another famous icon based upon Hodegetria is Our Lady of Częstochowa.

 

Mary is shown with her head covered with a veil, which drops to her shoulders, according to the tradition of Jewish women of that time. This veil or head covering is red, the color worn by virgins during the time of Christ and to show also Mary’s suffering and acquired holiness. Under her veil her clothing is blue, the color worn by mothers in Palestine, symbolizing the humanity of the Mother of God. Above her head are the letters “MP OY,” an abbreviation of the Greek: “Mater Theos” – the Mother of God. The gold cuffs on her sleeves are fit for a Queen, and indicate her intercession for the people. There are three stars, one on the forehead and one on each shoulder. These stars symbolize her virginity. She was a virgin before, during, and after the Nativity of Christ. The three stars are also a symbol of the Holy Trinity.

 

The third star may or may not be covered by the figure of the child identified to us as Jesus Christ (abbreviated as IC XC), the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, Who even as a child is holding the scroll or book of the Gospels, embodying all the wisdom of the true God. His halo contains those three Greek letters meaning “I AM”, testifying to His divinity, and even as an infant His right hand is shown giving a blessing.

 

Sources:

1. Orthodox Wiki

2. http://oca.org/saints/lives/2014/09/26/205488-arrival-of-the-iveron-icon-of-the-mother-of-god-in-georgia

3. http://www.fatheralexander.org/booklets/english/icon_myrrh_ext.htm

4. http://www.antiochian.org/node/17508

5. http://iconreader.wordpress.com/2010/07/07/icons-of-the-mother-of-god/

6. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panagia_Portaitissa

7. http://www.baclaranchurch.org/icon.html

[Editor: Daniel James Cruz]

 

Ave Maris Stella

 

Hail, thou Star of ocean,

Portal of the sky!

Ever Virgin Mother

Of the Lord most high!

 

Oh! by Gabriel's Ave,

Uttered long ago,

Eva's name reversing,

Establish peace below.

 

Break the captives’ fetters;

Light on blindness pour;

All our ills expelling,

Every bliss implore.

 

Show thyself a Mother;

Offer Him our sighs,

Who for us Incarnate

Did not thee despise.

 

Virgin of all virgins!

To thy shelter take us:

Gentlest of the gentle!

Chaste and gentle make us.

 

Still, as on we journey,

Help our weak endeavor;

Till with thee and Jesus

We rejoice forever.

 

Through the highest heaven,

To the Almighty Three,

Father, Son, and Spirit,

One same glory be.

Sharing in the Spiritual Treasury of the Order

Mercedarian Friar - Saturday, August 16, 2014

An Order which has been around for 800 years is blessed with an treasury spiritual and temporal gifts. The call to lay down one's life for the captives has produced abundant fruit. From our Saints to martyrs to thousands of holy souls reigning in heaven. Naturally, Catholics from all states of life have a desire to be a part of the Mercedarian family. For centuries, lay people and diocesan priests become third Order members of the community.

 

The third Order is an association of faithful Catholics. The primary vocation of each member is the universal call to holiness which is manifested in their state in life: either diocesan priesthood, married, or single. Those who have joined the third order have a secondary call to live out a certain spirituality which gives meaning, direction, and purpose to their life.

 

Many members of the Third Order are living in the lay state. Their apostolic purpose is to evangelize and sanctify and to infuse a Christian spirit into the temporal order. Though works of mercy and charity they bear witness to Christ. Their called to serve “the Mission of the Church”, which is to “make disciples of all nations”. The laity are indispensable to the New Evangelization called for by each of our last three popes. This is a contemporary effort ensure that the saving message of the Gospel may be known in all its richness by all people through the earth.

 

From the very beginning, the Order of the BVM of Mercy has incorporated devote lay people wishing to participate in its redeeming work. These individuals share in the spirituality of the Order and collaborate in the work of redeeming captives in danger of losing the faith. In their daily lives, the members have the same intense love for the Virgin Mary under the title of Mercy, cultivate the same spirit, promotes fraternal bonds and form the “Mercedarian Family”. Inspired by the spiritual values of St. Peter Nolasco, they work to free the captives present in their communities through the exercise of the Corporal Works of Mercy. As a result of their promises they share in the spiritual treasury of an 800 year old family whose members include untold martyrs, holy virgins, and many devote souls reigning with Christ in heaven!

 

Spirit and Mission of the Order:

 

The following is essential to manifest the Mercedarian Charism:

1) Imitation of Christ the Redeemer

2) To model ourselves after Mary

3) To be imbued with the spirit of St. Peter Nolasco

4) To discover those who continue to suffer as captives

5) To grow in holiness and pray daily for the captives

6) To pray for vocations to the Mercedarian friars and sisters

7) To carry out the Mercedarian mission of redemption today

8) To practice Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy

9) To share in the graces and benefits of the spiritual treasury of the Order

10) To know and cherish the Mercedarian Saints and their lives of holiness.

 

Special thanks to Gary Privitera and the Third Order Newsletter of LeRoy, NY

 

For more information contact

Administration and Novitiate

Mercygrove / Saint Raymond Novitiate

7770 East Main Rd., LeRoy, NY 14482

Phone: 585-768-4703 Fax: 585-768-4702

 

Watch 3 people make their promises: Third Order Promises


Wikipedia Third Order

 

A Refection on the Solemn Vows of a Mercedarian Friar

Mercedarian Friar - Monday, July 14, 2014

On May 5th Br Daniel Bowen, O. de M. made Solemn Vows in the Order. His good friend and mentor Deacon Chordas was present. Afterward, in Br Daniel's home parish bulletin, the deacon gave this moving reflection:

 

What is happiness? A few parishioners and I experienced a new level of joy as we participated in Brother Daniel's final profession of vows to the Mercedarian Order. On a beautiful day in the quaint town of LeRoy, NY, we witnessed a man's total dedication to God. Brother Daniel's journey continues to ordination as a Transitional Deacon and then, in six months or so, to ordination to the priesthood; but on May 5, 2014, he became an accepted member of and a brother to his Order of the Mercedarians.

 

Amidst his fellow brothers and priests, Brother Daniel beamed the joy of Christ as he answered the questions of his intentions. As he lay prostrate before his Superior of the Order and the altar of sacrifice, the Litany of the Saints was chanted; and so many of us were spiritually transported to a higher level. When he stood up, his face was beaming and his eyes were moist with the tears of gladness.

 

I was so happy for this young man who, as a sophomore at Mayfield High School, was a student in my History class. Now, as a Deacon, I was asked to participate in this most magnificent of events and view a true transformation.

 

We say that faith is a gift from God that many do not embrace. Brother Daniel not only embraced it but also has become a model of its ability to bring peace to all who embrace it.

 

What a beautiful journey for Daniel, who as a convert not only accepted the Catholic faith but took up the call to abandon all the materialistic goods that tempt us and follow Christ. Henry David Thoreau wrote in On Walden Pond: "Most men lead lives of quiet desperation." Brother Daniel is not of that group. He has found his role in this short life we lead. Brother Daniel has become what so many of us have not: a true witness to Christ.

 

After the ceremony, the most powerful event happened ~ at least for me. On leaving the beautiful Church of Our Lady of Mercy in a procession of thirteen priests and many Mercedarian brothers, Brother Daniel came up to me and said that he loved me. In that moment, I felt as if Christ was speaking to me. Believe it or not, I was at a loss for words because I was too busy crying.

 

Brother Daniel is planning to be ordained sometime in the next year. The best part of this for us is that he is planning for it to be in his and our home parish of Sacred Heart of Jesus. This will be a great day of celebration!! Please pray for Br Daniel as he has been praying for us everyday.

 

Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish 

 

 More on Br Daniel

 

 Wikipedia on Solemn Vows


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