Tag Archives: Oratorian

New Oratorian Saint –Joseph Vaz

Joseph VazThis morning during a meeting with the Prefect of the Congregation for Saints Cardinal Amato, the Holy Father announced his intention to convene a consistory for the canonization of Blessed Joseph Vaz of the Oratory.

Blessed Joseph Vaz, CO, (Konkani: Bhoktivont Zuze Vaz, Sinhala: Bhagyawantha Jose Vaz Piyathuma) (21 April 1651, Benaulim – 16 January 1711, Kandy) was a Oratorian priest and missionary from Goa. The Oratorians are the spiritual heirs of Saint Philip Neri.

Joseph Vaz entered Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) during the Dutch occupation at a time when Calvinism was the official religion. Vaz travelled throughout the island bringing the Holy Eucharist and the sacraments to clandestine groups of Catholics. His missionary heart led him to find shelter in the Kingdom of Kandy where he was able to work freely because of political difficulties. By the time of his death, Vaz had managed to rebuild the Catholic Church on the island. As a result of his labors, Vaz is known as the Apostle of Ceylon.

On 21 January 1995, Father Joseph Vaz was beatified by Saint John Paul II in Colombo.

Saint Luigi Scrosoppi

The life and works of the members of the Oratory of Saint Philip Neri –the Oratorians– is not well known in the USA. There are 8 established Oratories in the USA (and several in formation) but they are generally small communities of priests and brothers with a group of laity who follow in the spirituality of the Oratory. The famous Oratorian at this time, beside Saint Philip, is Blessed John Henry Newman.

Though in Italian (an I hope this changes soon because the world is more than Italian speakers) the website of the Congregation of the Oratory is worth visiting.St Luigi Scrosoppi.jpg

Today, on the Oratorian liturgical ordo, we would recall Saint Luigi Scrosoppi (1804-84). Saint Luigi was an apostle for the good of the poor. By his life and clear witness he taught that we as Christians need to follow closely the mandate of sacred Scripture that care of the poor, the orphan, the widow, and sick are not optional parts of of Christian living; the Eucharist and attentive social concern go hand-in-hand. Clericalism has not place in the Church.
A brief biography of Saint Luigi Scrosoppi may be read here.
Two particular intentions we ought to ask Saint Luigi to beg God for:
  1. the grace of being a Good Shepherd for the newly ordained bishop of the Diocese of Iverea (Italy), the Most Reverend Edoardo Aldo Cerrato; until recently he was the Procurtaor General of the Oratorians;
  2. the grace of being the Good Shepherd for the newly elected Procurator General of the Oratorians, Father Mario Avilés, CO; until recently, Father Mario has been the director of the Oratorian Schools in Pharr, Texas.
On both men may God bestow rich blessings.

Oratorian Father Edoardo Aldo Cerrato nominated bishop

Father Cerrato CO.jpgOratorian Father Edoardo Aldo Cerrato, 62, until now Procurator General of the Confederation of the Oratory, has been nominated bishop of Ivrea, Italy. This is a diocese founded sometime in the 5th century and is the Province of Turin. The new bishop will be ordained on September 8 and will be installed on October 7.

As a member of the Biella Oratory (northern Italy), he was ordained on June 28, 1975. He was elected the Provost (religious superior) of the Biella Oratory from 1984-2005. And since 1994 he’s been Procurator General. In his time as the Procurator General, the Oratorian life has seen growth of 20 new houses around the world.
Father Cerrato was due to step down from his work as the Procurator General in September at the General Congress.
Many may not know of the Oratory of Saint Philip Neri but that’s because there are few them in the USA. The most known are the Oratories in Rock Hill, SC, Brooklyn, NY and Pittsburgh, PA. An Oratory-in-formation was established recently in Cincinnati. 
You may read more about this gem of the Church here.
I have met Father Cerrato a few times and always found him a fine man and priest, one who cares for the souls in front of him. The Diocese of Ivrea is blessed to have him. Cerrato is one of three Oratorian bishops in the world (2 of whom live in Mexico).
May Saint Philip Neri and Blessed John Henry Newman, intercede for Bishop-Elect Cerrato, CO.

Saint Philip Neri

St Philip Neri Brooklyn Oratory.jpgFather, you continually raise up your faithful to the glory of holiness. In your love kindle in us the fire of the Holy Spirit who so filled the heart of Philip Neri.

In so many ways Saint Philip Neri is a saint, a witness to the work of the Holy Spirit in this world. This fact is borne in the activity of his life for the salvation of souls. He was a close friend of the Benedictines, Dominicans, and the Jesuits. A well-sought after confessor and preacher, he drew the keen attention of Popes, bishops and saints. Who can’t relate to a man who had a keen sense of humor, a love for all people, especially the youth, and a miracle-worker. The Church has named Saint Philip one of the patrons of Rome.

My love for Philip Neri leads me to hope that Connecticut, preferably New Haven, will see an Oratory in the future.

Among other things today, I watched the 2010 film “Saint Philip Neri: I Prefer Heaven,” with Gigi Proietti, Adriano Braidotti, Francesco Salvi, and Roberto Citran. The director is the wonderful Giacomo Campiotti whom I met last fall in NYC while he was stateside promoting another film of his.

A brief biography of Saint Philip Neri.

Saint Philip Neri, one of the glories of Florence, was born of an illustrious Christian family in that city of Tuscany, in 1515. His parents lived in the fear of God and the observance of His commandments, and raised their son to be obedient and respectful. Already when he was five years old, he was called good little Philip. He lost his mother while still very young, and it seemed he should have died himself when he was about eight or nine years old. He fell, along with a horse, onto a pavement from a certain height. Though the horse landed on top of him, he was entirely uninjured. He attributed his preservation to a special intervention of God, destined to permit him to dedicate his life to the service of God.

He fled from a prospective inheritance to Rome, where he desired to study, and there undertook to tutor the two sons of a nobleman who offered him refuge. He led so edifying a life that word of it reached Florence, and his sister commented that she had never doubted he would become a great Saint. He studied philosophy and theology, and after a short time seemed to need to study no longer, so clear were the truths of God in his mind. He always kept the Summa Theologica of Saint Thomas Aquinas near him for consultation; this and the Holy Bible were his only books.

Saint Philip seemed surrounded by a celestial splendor, the effect of his angelic purity, which he never lost in spite of the many dangers that surrounded him; he came victorious from every combat, through prayer, tears and confidence in God. He often visited the hospitals to serve the sick and assist the poor. At night he would go to the cemetery of Saint Callixtus, where he prayed near the tombs of the martyrs.

He attracted a number of companions who desired to perform these devotions with him. He loved young boys most of all; he wanted to warn them against the world’s seductions and conserve their virtue in all its freshness. He would wait for them and talk to them after their classes; and many whom his examples impressed consecrated themselves to God. Assisted by his excellent confessor, he founded a Confraternity of the Most Holy Trinity for the relief of the poor, convalescents, and pilgrims who had no place of refuge. He gave lodging to many in the great jubilee year of 1550, even receiving several complete families in the houses he had obtained.

At the age of 36 he was not yet a priest, and his confessor commanded him under obedience to receive Holy Orders, which he did in the same year of 1551. He joined a society of priests and heard many confessions. Saint Ignatius of Loyola called him Philip the Bell, saying he was like a parish church bell, calling everyone to church, but remaining in his tower — this because he determined so many souls to enter into religion, without doing so himself. He himself was about to follow Saint Francis Xavier’s renowned examples, by going to India with twenty young companions, but was advised by an interior voice to consult a saintly priest. He was then told that the will of God was that he live in the city of Rome as in a desert.

The famous Society of Saint Philip, called The Oratory, began when a group of good priests joined him in giving instructions and conferences and presiding prayers; for them he drew up some rules which were soon approved. He became renowned all over Italy for the instances of bilocation which were duly verified during his lifetime. Many holy servants of God were formed in the Oratory, a society of studious priests, made ready by ten years of preparation in the common life for a service founded on sacerdotal perfection. Saint Philip died peacefully in 1595 on the Feast of Corpus Christi at the age of 80, having been ill for only one day. He bears the noble titles of Patron of Works of Youth, and Apostle of Rome.

[Source: Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 5.]

***The image is from the Oratorians of the St Boniface Oratory, Brooklyn, NY.

Vespers for All Saints and a lecture “Art, Beauty and the Sacred” in NYC

The Catholic Artists Society is hosting a lecture on October 31st at 6:30pm titled “Art, Beauty and the Sacred” given by Oratorian Father Uwe Michael Lang. The evening will include the celebration of First Vespers of All Saints in the Church of Saint Vincent Ferrer (NYC). The flyer can be viewed here: Catholic Artists Society All Saints and lecture.pdf


We will celebrate the ancient and beautiful liturgy of Solemn First Vespers for All Saints, officiated by our special guest, Father Uwe Michael Lang, C.O. Father Bruno Shah, O.P. from Saint Vincent Ferrer, and Father Michael Barone from the archdiocese of Newark, will assist in the liturgical celebration. Gregorian chant and polyphonic settings will be provided by a professional choir led by David J. Hughes, Organist & Choirmaster at Saint Mary’s Church, Norwalk, CT.
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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]yahoo.com.
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