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The Second Coming of the Lord

11/17/2018 - 6:21pm

On this episode of Word to Life, Fr. John Maria Devaney, O.P., invites Fr. Jerome Zeiler, O.P., to the show. In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus speaks about the end times—our hosts unpack this Gospel and reflect on why it’s important for Catholics to be prepared for the coming of the Lord.

Image: Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P. — Saint Vincent Ferrer

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Reflections from a Soup Kitchen

11/15/2018 - 10:05pm

Bro. Paul Martin Kennedy, O.P. is a member of the Dominican Community at St. Patrick’s in Columbus, Ohio and a member of the Catholic Social Teaching Advisory Council for the Province of St. Joseph.

I have been working at Holy Family Soup Kitchen and Outreach for five years now. This Soup Kitchen could be in any city. It just so happens that we are located on the West side of Columbus Ohio.

Here is something to think about. Have you ever opened an empty refrigerator or opened the cupboard doors exposing only the vast bare darkness of emptiness, only to ask yourself where the food was going to come from to fill them. Have you ever had to worry about where you’re going to lay your head after a long day? Have you ever had to worry about how you’re going to pay your rent, or utility bills if you came up short on your monthly budget? Have you ever asked yourself…? Or worried about…? The list of questions and worries could go on and on with no end in sight. The simple fact of the matter is that for far too many of our brothers and sisters these questions and worries are a big part of their daily lives.

Thankfully there are places that can, and want to help. I would like to suggest that you find such a place. Your local soup kitchen is a good place to start. Soup kitchens should be in fact a work of mercy to: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, help to keep people in their homes, help shelter the homeless, visit and pray for the sick and imprisoned and yes we have even helped bury the dead.

I have meet a lot of wonderful people during my time here. This has given me the opportunity to see a side of life that I always knew existed but never gave much thought to, mainly because I had never really seen it first-hand. Even though we keep hearing that our economy is improving and that unemployment is lower than when I started at the soup kitchen, day-to-day life there goes on. People in need still come and will always come.

We will always have people who are poor and need help. There has been throughout the years a tendency to refer to “these people” that are served as “clients,” “consumers,” or whatever the term of the day is. We must always remember we do not serve mere “clients,” and “consumers,” we serve human beings. When we identify them as “clients” and “consumers” we run the risk of not seeing the full person but only a problem that can be solved by giving them something. Removing the human element from the people that we serve is contrary to the Gospel message. This of course should be avoided at all cost. In truth it will only make us bitter and we will come to resent the very people that we claim to be trying to help.

Sometimes I am troubled by the thought that we can unintentionally create dependency.  Are we helping people, or are we keeping from reach their potential, from trying to find a solution to their problem on their own? That’s a hard question to answer. Even after five years or working at a Soup Kitchen I am not sure I have an answer.

I think the first thing we have to go is to try the best we can to give our brothers and sisters what they need at that moment. Unfortunately for far too many of them, the “at that moment” many never end. For others it will come and go. We have must always do the best we can to help people stand on their own. In doing so we are them with human dignity. At times, this may mean saying “No.” Saying no is okay if it is done justly and charitably. Just because someone has a need does not mean that they don’t have to follow the rules or that they can lie and use manipulation to get what they want. When we do say no it must never be out of anger or spite. Most of all, we offer a yes to the dignity of each person who comes through the door.

God Bless You.

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Generous In All Things

11/10/2018 - 4:11pm

Fr. John Maria Devaney, O.P., sits down with Fr. Benedict Croell, O.P., Director of Development & Mission Advancement for the Angelicum, on this episode of Word to Life. In light of Sunday’s readings, our hosts discuss the importance of being generous with God in all that we do.

To learn more about the Angelicum, click here.

Image: Benozzo Gozzoli – Triumph of St. Thomas Aquinas

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New Vicar Provincial for Eastern African Vicariate

11/08/2018 - 11:04pm

Fr. Gideon Muchira, O.P. was recently elected vicar provinicial for the Dominican Vicariate of Eastern Africa.  He is the first native-born East African friar to be elected to this important position.  He recently sat down for an interview:

Fr. Gideon, congratulations on being elected the first East African vicar provincial for the Vicariate of Eastern Africa for the Province of St. Joseph. Can you tell us about yourself? Where are you from in Kenya and what have your assignments been?

I am from Central Kenya and I am 46 years old. I grew up along the slopes of Mount Kenya in Kirinyaga County, which is approximately a two hour drive from Nairobi. Before I joined the Order I was a highschool teacher. I graduated from Egerton University in Nakuru, Kenya with a BA in Education Science and then taught Biology and Chemistry for 6 years. After hearing the call to join the Dominicans, I left my job and entered postulancy/novitiate in 2004. I studied at Tangaza College while living at our Dominican House of Studies (St. Dominic Priory) in Nairobi and was ordained to the priesthood of Jesus Christ on February 18, 2012. My first assignment was to our parish, St. Catherine of Siena as assistant pastor. Two years later in 2014, I was named the pastor of the parish and superior of our Dominican community. I have been a member of our vicariate council for four years. After serving four years as pastor and superior, on August 1, 2018 I was elected the first African vicar provincial for the Vicariate of Eastern Africa for the Province of St. Joseph.

2. Can you tell us more about the parish of St. Catherine of Siena in Nairobi and the good work that you and our friars have been doing there? How large is it? What are the future plans?

I actually was the 5th pastor of St. Catherine of Siena following: Fr. Ed Gorman OP, Fr. Kielen Healy OP, Fr. Martin Ndegwa OP and Fr. John Lenkaak OP. The parish started seventeen years ago with only five families. In our registry we have about 350 registered families – though many more people come for Mass. In recent past, we had a grass thatched “makuti” church that has served its purpose well. Finally, in 2012 we started constructing a permanent church with a capacity for 1,000 people. In East Africa, there is great wisdom in building for the future as we frequently run out of space by the time something is built. Construction projects also take place over a period of years – constructing small parts of the church as funds are available. Our parishioners and friars have struggled to build our church because financing such a huge project is a great challenge. We still need to raise more funds to finish it – but we are almost there! We actually started celebrating Mass in the new church on April 29, 2018 – the feast of St. Catherine of Siena. More work still needs to be done on the windows and doors. We still want to do more with the altar and the sanctuary to make it more beautiful. We also have an adoration chapel that needs to be finished. Finally we still need most of the church furnishings such as pews and permanent sanctuary furnishings. We currently have 2 Masses each Sunday, but since we have started using the new church, more people have been coming each week. We expect to be adding more Masses very soon.

3. Does the Vicariate have vocations? How many priests and friars are there in formation?

Yes, the vicariate has many vocations like our province in the US. Many qualified young men come knocking to join us, but unfortunately we turn a number away due to limited space in our postulancy and novitiate in Kisumu, Kenya. We have four novices, ten student brothers and twenty priests (15 Africans and 5 Americans).

4. Do you have any future hopes and plans for the vicariate? It is quite a task you have ahead of you. Are you excited to take on this new role for the Church of East Africa, for the Order, our province and the vicariate?

Yes, all our friars have many hopes and dreams for the vicariate and the work of evangelization in East Africa. We have drawn up plans to become a “vice-province” by 2033. In order to achieve that, we need to expand, grow in personnel and establish financial stability. This will happen slowly as our friars live authentic Dominican lives in our vicariate. As a kind of pioneer, being our first East African vicar provincial, the transition and change will certainly be difficult, both for me and our friars. I understand expectations from everyone are high. I will do my best with everyone’s support and prayers. The challenge ahead is enormous. I was humbled by the choice of our friars and I humbly ask your prayers for the work which lies ahead for all of us.

My initial plans are to visit all of our communities to better familiarise myself with the friars, nuns, sisters, Dominican youth and Dominican laity of our vicariate. In fact, I write this letter to you from our priory of St. Martin de Porres in Kisumu, Kenya where we have our postulants, novices and a vibrant senior community of friars. Soon I will be heading to Kampala, Uganda to visit our Dominican sisters near the Shrine of the Ugandan Martyrs and then attend the 10 year anniversary of the ordination to the priesthood of Fr. Charles Kato OP, our first Ugandan Dominican priest. In January I will start canonical visitation for each community and then begin the implementation of our vicariate’s five year plan which was recently presented at our provincial chapter at Providence College.

Finally, I am grateful to our friars for their support and prayers. I believe the Lord will see me through this challenging task with many blessings for the salvation of souls!

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St. Charles de Foucauld’s monastic vision of social concern

11/03/2018 - 8:28pm

Fr. Francis Belanger, O.P., is the Pastor of SS. Philip and James University Parish in Baltimore, MD and the Promoter of Catholic Social Teaching for the Province of St. Joseph. The essay below is the latest in his series of essays on Catholic Social Teaching.

A fissure can often be observed between those in the Church who are concerned with social action and those who are devoted more to matters of prayer and doctrine. Yet Christianity embraces both these tendencies in her teaching; they flow from the same rock, Jesus Christ. Sometimes the unity of social teaching and piety can be demonstrated in unlikely ways. The marvelous desert hermit, St. Charles de Foucauld was one such witness — thoroughly unworldly yet a passionate advocate against the social injustices of his day.

St. Charles, born and raisedin France, lived from 1858 to 1916. As St. Mark’s Gospel recounts of Jesus, so with him: “the Spirit drove him out into the desert.” (1:12) A religious skeptic and renowned geographer of the Sahara, he had a conversion experience in 1886 in Paris. His goal became to follow the Lord in humility to “the last place.” Unsettled in any conventional vocation, he returned to the Sahara in 1901 to live as a hermit. He would be a quiet witness to Christ among the Tuaregs and desert peoples, nearly all Moslems. Removed from society as he was, he left behind a searing testimony against slavery, a regional practice which was shamefully tolerated by French colonial officials.

St. Charles’ protest against slavery was grounded in personal charity and crowned with a call to political action. He personally redeemed five slaves, using funds from donors back in France. He truly left them free, even in matters of faith, never demanding a quid pro quo of conversion to Christianity for their freedom. “I shall apply no pressure at all-complete freedom!”[Jean-Jacques Antier, Charles de Foucauld, Ignatius Press: 1999, p. 190.] But Charles was disturbed that the French Government did not enforce its own anti-slavery laws. “It is a hypocrisy to put on stamps and everything else, ‘liberty, equality, fraternity, human rights’, you who fetter slaves…” [Ibid, p.191]

The desert hermit used what influence he had, through letters, to change the policies in French Africa. When counseled to remain silent, he responded, “We should not interfere in temporal affairs? But when the government commits a great injustice against those entrusted to us, it is necessary to tell it so, for we represent on earth justice and truth, and do not have the right to be sleeping sentinels, mute dogs, indifferent pastors.” [Ibid, p.191]. In other words, the Church has a duty to preach social justice, not just personal holiness. It seems the saintly Charles had already absorbed the doctrinal thrust of the first social encyclical, Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum (1891).

The clerical opposition to St. Charles was not merely from timidity. The French government of the time was fiercely anti-clerical and there was a real danger of missionary work in Africa being forbidden. De Foucauld understood this and persisted. He would not let the truth be stifled. And, although he cannot be given sole credit, the colonial authorities soon began to heed his warnings, gradually putting an end to slavery. His is a witness of “speaking truth to power” and bearing fruit despite fear. St. Charles united in himself the ascetic detachment of the desert fathers and the call for justice that speaks so eloquently to modern people.

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Praying for our Beloved Dead

11/03/2018 - 3:32pm

On this episode of Word to Life, Fr. John Maria Devaney, O.P., invites Fr. Augustine Dada of the Diocese of Ondo, to the show. Our hosts discuss the Catholic doctrine of purgatory and the importance of praying for our beloved dead.

Image: Dominican Friars praying for their deceased brethren

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All Saints & All Souls

11/03/2018 - 2:18pm

On this episode of Word to Life, Fr. John Maria Devaney, O.P., invites Fr. Jose Diaz, a newly ordained priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn, to the show. Our hosts discuss the Feasts of All Saints & All Souls and Fr. Jose reflects on the joy of the priesthood.

Image: Fra Angelico — The Forerunners Of Christ With Saints And Martyrs

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Update on Child Protection

10/27/2018 - 4:33pm

Dear Friends in Christ,

As Provincial of the Dominican Province of St. Joseph, I write to you to acknowledge the horror of the recent revelations of child sexual abuse in the Church and the betrayal of trust that they represent. Unfortunately, our Province has not been exempt from this scourge. In the past, friars from our Province have harmed innocent children. On behalf of the Province, I ask your forgiveness for the sins of those individual friars and for any time the Province failed to act effectively to protect innocent children.

I assure you that no friar of our Province with a credible allegation of child sexual abuse lodged against him is in public ministry anywhere. The most contemporary allegations against friars of the Province concern events in 1999 and 2001. The friars in those two cases were subject to criminal prosecution and permanently removed from public ministry. All other known allegations concern events before 1990. The Province has undertaken significant efforts to ensure the safety of children and is committed to offering help and counselling to assist the healing of those who have been hurt. These efforts are summarized in an attachment to this letter.

However, there is always the need for continued vigilance and improvement. In consultation with my Council and upon the recommendation of the Province’s Child Protection Review Board, I have determined that the Province of St. Joseph will release the names of all friars who have been permanently removed from public ministry because of a credible allegation of child sexual abuse as well as those friars for whom an allegation of child sexual abuse was established after their death or departure from the Province. Our hope is that the release of these names will offer consolation to those who have been harmed and encourage others to come forward to receive help. The names will be posted on our Provincial website on November 8th.

During November, I have asked all of our friars to pray in a special way for the healing of victims, for the continued protection of children, and for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the meeting of U.S. Bishops in Baltimore on November 12-14. I invite you to join us in these intentions.

Sincerely in Christ,

 

Very Rev. Kenneth R. Letoile, O.P.
Prior Provincial

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Rosary Meditations

10/20/2018 - 2:00pm

On this episode of Word to Life, Fr. John Maria Devaney, O.P., is joined by Fr. Luke Mary Fletcher, CFR. For centuries, the month of October has been dedicated to the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In light of this Marian month, our hosts decided to spend the episode discussing this beautiful form of prayer.

For more information about the Rosary, please visit our Rosary Confraternity site here: www.RosaryConfraternity.org

Image: From the sacristy at the Basilica of San Domineco in Bologna, Italy

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Fishers of Men

10/18/2018 - 3:31pm

On this episode of Word to Life, Fr. John Maria Devaney, O.P., invites filmmaker, Mr. Joe Campo to the show. Our hosts discuss the 10th Anniversary of the film “Fishers of Men,” a short documentary about the Catholic priesthood.

Image: A Baptism at St. Vincent Ferrer Church — Dominican Province of Saint Joseph

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Respect Life Sunday

10/06/2018 - 5:49pm

In light of tomorrow being Respect Life Sunday, Fr. John Maria Devaney, O.P., invites Mr. Edward Short, Director of Development for the National Gianna Center, to Word to Life. The mission of the National Gianna Center is to provide pro-life, authentically Catholic health and fertility care to women and families.

There will be a Gianna Center Gala in New York City on October 25, 2018. For more information about this event, please click here.

Image: Saint Gianna Beretta Molla

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Last Rites

10/02/2018 - 4:43pm

On this episode of Word to Life, Fr. John Maria Devaney, O.P., shares the moving story of a terminally ill young woman, who by the grace of God, requested & received the sacrament of baptism a few days before her death.

Image: Last Rites

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Stand

09/22/2018 - 6:49pm

This week on Word to Life, Fr. John Maria Devaney, O.P. welcomes back guests Jim Reyland, playwright and founder of the Writer’s Stage, as well as actors Barry Scott and Henry “Chip” Arnold. Writer’s Stage is celebrating an upcoming national tour of the play “Stand,” which is based on Jim’s real life encounter that began on the way to daily mass and the subsequent friendship with Mr. Johnny Allen, a homeless man in Nashville. In “Stand,” Barry plays the role of Johnny (named JJ) and Henry plays the role of Jim (named Mark.)

Image: Barry Scott & Jim Reyland

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Exaltation of the Holy Cross

09/18/2018 - 2:18pm

Fr. John Maria Devaney, O.P., invites Fr. Luke Mary Fletcher, CFR, to this episode of Word to Life. Our hosts discuss the Holy Cross of Jesus Christ, and share insights on how we can carry our own crosses each day.

Image: Fra Angelico — The Crucifixion

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Hospital Chaplaincy

09/08/2018 - 4:19pm

On this episode of Word to Life, Fr. John Maria Devaney, O.P., invites Mr. John Schultz, Director of Hospital Chaplaincy at ArchCare & Fr. Thomas Chellen, chaplain at White Plains Hospital to the show. Our hosts discuss their work as hospital chaplains and the importance of this unique ministry.

Image: Hospital Chaplains

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That I May See

09/03/2018 - 2:23pm

On this episode of Word to Life, Fr. John Maria Devaney, O.P., invites Fr. Barry Braum, MSE to the show. Our hosts discuss Fr. Barry’s recent book, “That I May See: Journeying from Spiritual Confusion and Blindness To the Radiance of the Eucharist.”

Image: Illuminated for Ste. Chapelle, Macheco Master 1536-37

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The Mayor, the Pope, and the Angelic Doctor

08/30/2018 - 9:33am

Fr. Francis Belanger, O.P., is the Pastor of SS. Philip and James University Parish in Baltimore, MD and the Promoter of Catholic Social Teaching for the Province of St. Joseph. The essay below is the latest in his series of essays on Catholic Social Teaching.

On July 5th, the remarkable mayor of Florence, Giorgio La Pira, was declared Venerable by Pope Francis. La Pira (1904-1977) was a Dominican tertiary who lived at the Priory of San Marco for some of his time as mayor. An apostle of peace and integral human development, his life is a testimony to the vigor of the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas. La Pira’s public engagement was guided by two great Thomistic principles: the dignity of the human person, as made in the image of God; and the power of the Resurrection to act within the history of the world, drawing all things to their final end in heaven. (Cf. Agnes Brot, Giorgio La Pira: Un Mystique en Politique. Desclée de Brouwer, 2017.)

His sense of the dignity of the human person guided both his personal and political life. His interactions with the needy are indeed the stuff of hagiography: he often returned from a walk missing shoes or a coat which he had given to the poor; miracles were attributed to his presence and prayerful aid. His political philosophy was entirely consistent with his personal charity. He desired and competently achieved development for Florence – jobs and basic city services in the wake of World War II, more than willing to afflict the rich for the sake of the homeless.

It was La Pira’s faith in the Resurrection that undoubtedly led him to dive into the immense tensions of global politics. He led an organization for peace in the Middle East. He gave an address at the U.N. in Geneva in 1954 poignantly titled, “Do nations have the right to destroy cities?” In 1959, after visiting Fatima, he went to the Soviet Union offering friendship, while chiding the Kremlin for forcing atheism on a baptized people: “From the weeping on the banks of the rivers of Babylon they will remember Jerusalem, far off and destroyed, and they will weep and they will take the road of return with joy in their hearts!” By faith, Venerable Giorgio knew that the power of the Paschal mystery could overcome the darkest and most terrible forces.

La Pira was the living embodiment of Catholic Social Teaching. He is a great tonic for our age, when partisan politics often split the message of the Gospel in half – one side favoring social justice, the other human life and family. Giorgio lived this tension but maintained integrity – called a “sacristy communist” by detractors for his preferential option for the poor, he became a tireless crusader for the family and the unborn as laws contravening these values were proposed in the 1960’s and 70’s. His political philosophy was deeply consonant with the integral humanism of his Thomist friend and fellow lay Dominican, Jacques Maritain. La Pira was likewise associated with the tragic figure of the assassinated politician Aldo Moro, who also had a reputation for holiness.

Like Maritain and Moro, La Pira was a friend and collaborator of Blessed Paul VI, soon to be canonized. While a Vatican official during World War II, then Msgr. Montini allowed La Pira to hide out in the Holy Office when the Fascists were seeking to arrest him. The legacies of these two men are intertwined and La Pira’s advance in the sainthood process is perhaps a fruit of the grace of Pope Paul’s upcoming canonization in October. One of the great documents of Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes, is subtitled “The Church in the Modern World. May Venerable Giorgio La Pira, along with this saintly and enlightened Pope, be guides for living the faith in our modern world and to live our faith fully in the realm of politics.

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Cleansing the Church

08/26/2018 - 1:54pm

On this somber episode of the Word to Life podcast, Fr. John Maria Devaney, O.P., and Officer Charlie Carroll of the NYPD, discuss the current sex abuse crisis in the Roman Catholic Church.

Image: Filippo Tarchiani — “Saint Dominic in Penitence” ca. 1607

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The Life of Grace

08/18/2018 - 1:23pm

On this episode of Word to Life, Fr. John Maria Devaney, O.P. & Fr. Sebastian White, O.P., discuss the life of grace working in the soul and our transformation through the sacraments in the Church.

Image: Uta Barth — nowhere near (Untitled 99.12)

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Sixteen Men Begin Novitiate Year

08/11/2018 - 10:28am

On the Feast of St. Dominic, the Priory of St. Gertrude joyfully received sixteen new novices. The reception ceremony, called vestition, is the formal beginning of the novitiate year. The novices will spend the next year living in community, as they learn the Dominican way of life and remain open to God’s will.

During the vestition ceremony, the men were clothed in the Dominican habit and received their religious names. They are: (Seated) Br. Bertrand Marie, Br. Benedict, Br. Basil Mary, Br. Linus Mary, Br. Titus Mary, Br. Lucius, Br. Matthias Mary, Br. Simeon Mary, (Standing) Br. Nicodemus Maria, Br. Dismas Maria, Br. Polycarp Mary, Br. Gregory Marie, Br. Samuel Mary, Br. Jude Mary, Br. Louis Mary, and Br. Alypius Mary.

We thank Almighty God that He has sent these men to try their vocations in the Order. In your kindness, please continue to pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

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