Category Archives: Sainthood causes

Matteo Ricci’s cause for sainthood moves to Rome

MRicci.jpgA while ago I mentioned the sainthood study of the 17th century Jesuit Father Matteo Ricci being opened by Diocese of Macerata. The diocesan phase officially closed on May 10th and the findings were sent to the Congregation for Saints at the Holy See.

Father Matteo Ricci was born in the Diocese of Macerata in 1552 and died in Bejing on May 11, 1610. Initially, the cause was opened in 1984 but closed shortly thereafter. But in 2010 fresh eyes and reasonable interested were opened.

This is a unique event given that a prominent Jesuit cause for sainthood is given to a Jesuit Pope. As Bishop Giuliodori related concerning his visit to the Pope, “I never imagined I’d be able to speak about the cause of Father Matteo Ricci with a Jesuit pope. After the great attention given by Benedict XVI, who never missed an occasion to encourage us to promote the cause, we now have the joy of placing it into the hands of a Jesuit.” It was Pope Benedict’s interest in this cause that is striking. He said, in part, that with Father Ricci we have a “fortunate synthesis of proclaiming the Gospel and of dialogue with the culture of the people who are receiving it, an example of balance between doctrinal clarity and prudent pastoral action. Besides Ricci’s reputed sanctity, he is known for an “innovative method of evangelization based on the inculturation of the faith.” His heroic virtues include humility and courage. Others have derided Ricci for being too cozy with Confucian practices that may be incompatible with Christianity. Ricci was a missionary to China to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ, nothing more. Hence, in Ricci we have a model of evangelization and faith formation that is based on reason: dialogue with the culture, balance, doctrinal clarity and prudent pastoral action.

The Time of the Holy Spirit is now

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In the days leading up to the great feast of Pentecost which we celebrate next week, it seems right that we look to what we know and believe about the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Advocate sent to us by the Trinity. 

We need to work in a concerted way to educate our religious sense on the gifts of the Holy Spirit that were given in the sacraments of Initiation. The Holy Spirit is not talked about too often in the teaching of the faith and you rarely hear of the Spirit in homilies. I would love to see a parish provide as part of their formation of adults an in-depth course on the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

It is noted by many that we lack a firm grasp of how the Holy Spirit leads and guides each one of us, and how the Spirit is the agent in the sacred Liturgy (Mass and the Divine Office). The Paulist Fathers’ evangelization work has mentioned recently that “Until we appropriate the Holy Spirit more fully in our Catholic consciousness, we will not have the spirituality to do the reaching out, welcoming, inviting, and sharing that are essential parts of our Catholic life and mission. Father Isaac Hecker, Servant of God, founded the Paulist Fathers will a strong spirituality of the Holy Spirit. Part of his cause for canonization might well include a greater awareness of the Spirit in our American/Canadian Catholic lives.”

Father Isaac Hecker is one of America’s priests who took evangelization and adult faith formation seriously. Let’s take inspiration from him.

John Paul could be canonized in 2013

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Having died in 2005, beatified on 1 May 2011, John Paul II may well be a saint later in 2013. Some are speculating that he may be canonized in October. A group medical professionals have recognized miracle of healing at Blessed John Paul’s intercession as inexplicable.

Now the presumed miracle needs the approval  of the theologians and then  approval of the cardinals and bishops of the Congregation of Saints before the dossier is presented to Pope Francis’ fiat. If all goes well, John Paul would be one of very few fast-tracked saints in the modern era: only eight years after death.

Blessed John Paul’s feast day is October 22.

Blessed John Paul served as the Roman Pontiff from 1978-2005.

Rose Hawthorne’s cause for sainthood advances

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            The process of becoming a saint, if you are not a John Paul II or a Mother Terese can take some time. When I heard the news of the completion of US side of Rose Hawthorne’s cause for canonization was made, the other day from a Dominican priest friend, a “praise God” rang out! The last significant ecclesial judgement made on the sanctity of Rose Hawthorne was in 2003 when she was declared to be a Servant of God.

Servant of God Rose Hawthorne (1851-1926), was founder of the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne, led unusual life as a wife, mother, and convert. Rose was born in Lenox, MA, and died in Hawthorne, NY. In religion she is known as Mother Mary Alphonsa, OP. Rose worked to comfort the poor dying of cancer. The diocesan phase for cause of canonization was opened by Cardinal Edward Michael Egan. Rose Hawthorne was declared Servant of God on February 4, 2003. Father Gabriel B. O’Donnell, OP, is the postulator. On 9 April, the necessary documentation signed by the archbishop of New York, Timothy Cardinal Dolan. On 20 April 2013 Father O’Donnell will be delivering this phase concerning Rose’ heroic virtue and the writing of the historical report to Rome’s Congregation of Saints.  For more info:

The Catholic New York reports the story.

Hawthorne is one 10 people with connections in the State of New York who are being considered for sainthood.

Father Edward Flanagan, Servant of God

The events of March we have missed yet another fruit of America’s holiness when the revered founder of Boys Town, Father Edward Flanagan’s cause for canonization was opened in Omaha, NE, and declared a Servant of God.

Fr Flanagan with kids.jpgServant of God Father Edward Flanagan (1886-1948) was a native of County Roscommon, Ireland, on July 13, 1886  he was born the 8th of 11 children of John and Nora Flanagan. In 1904, he came to the United States. Flanagan first studied for the priesthood at  Dunwoodie Seminary with the intention of being a priest of the Archdiocese of New York; illness prevented his further studies and he eventually moved with his family to Omaha. There he was accepted as a seminarian and sent to Rome’s Capranica College, with classes at the Gregorian University but finished his studies in Innsbruck’s Royal Imperial Leopold Francis University. Flanagan’s ordination to the priesthood happened on July 26, 1912 and he offered his first Mass in St. Ignatius Church, Innsbruck, Austria. He was a priest for the Diocese of Omaha. Father Flanagan was assigned Saint Patrick’s Church, O’Neill, NE. In March 1913, he was appointed Assistant Pastor to Saint Patrick Catholic Church in Omaha. His natural qualities of generosity to the poor and marginalized and prayer were made manifest.

With the permission of Bishop Jeremiah Harty, on December 12, 1917, Father Flanagan opened his first Boys’ Home in a run-down Victorian mansion in downtown Omaha. In his lifetime Father Flanagan helped more than 6,000 boys. During a tour of Europe, he fell ill and died of a heart attack in Berlin, Germany, on May 15, 1948. At the request of the Father Flanagan League Society of Devotion (FFLSD), Archbishop George Lucas, of the Archdiocese of Omaha has accepted responsibility for the beatification process. On March 17, 2012, Lucas formally opened the cause of canonization at a service of prayer at Immaculate Conception Church (Boys Town), bestowing the title of “Servant of God” upon Father Flanagan. Dr. Andrei Ambrosi is the Postulator for the cause. 

More information may be read here.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]
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