Vocations: August 2008 Archives

I updated my survey of religious communities who are getting vocations today. The survey, "Serving the Body of Christ" gives a sketch of the vitality of religious life today. If there are communities not listed, and you know of communities of men and women who are faithful to the Church, then please send me an email and I'll update the list.

Recently, Bishop Gregory Mansour and Sister Marla Marie took up Pope Benedict's idea Thumbnail image for Habit_blessing.jpg of spiritual motherhood with an application to the Maronite Eparchy of Saint Maron. The Maronite Servants of Christ the Light will be working in the parishes of the eparchies by assisting the laity and clergy with programs oriented toward religious education, family life, youth and the elderly. Pretty all-encompassing!

The sisters in the new order will live the communal life of the convent, through contemplative prayer, meals, fellowship, silence and solitude, and exercise and rest, even as they do pastoral work in parishes. Daily prayer will involve communal recitation of the Divine Office, daily Divine Liturgy (Mass), Eucharistic adoration, spiritual reading, and recitation of the Rosary. A prayer life centered on the Eucharist and devoted to Mary will be "our whole-hearted response to God and the source to nourish us to live in community and serve in the apostolate of parish life."

Bishop Gregory said of the new group:

"The contribution made by consecrated women in the Church is beyond measure. The Maronite Church is no exception. The time has come for the Eparchy of Saint Maron to foster and sponsor a community to assist the priests in the pastoral care of the Eparchy. Sister Marla Marie Lucas has approval to do just that. She and the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light will begin officially (ad experimentum) this June 2008. Please find below an article on this new beginning. Pray for her and please support this effort so that women who feel called to make a complete gift of self in consecrated service to Christ and His Church may find a home in the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light."

More info is found here and here, and the blog.



Filippini.jpgThis morning, August 28th, began with the Sacrifice of the Mass offered by Father Jeremiah, a monk of Saint Mary's Abbey, at Villa Walsh, The Institute of the Religious Teachers Filippini. The monks of Saint Mary's Abbey have offered Mass for the sisters for many decades. We had a modest and delightful breakfast with Sister Betty Jean, the Provincial of the Filippini sisters and some other sisters. The sisters' patience with me was grand because I had so many questions about the Congregation; I had never met a Filippini sister before and I was intrigued by their charism.


The vocation of a Filippini sister, based on what Saint Lucy Filippini and Cardinal Mark Anthony Barbarigo gave to the Church is your fundamental living of the Gospel being a contemplative in action, that is, A Filippini sister has a life of prayer with her life of ministry. Sounds like the Jesuits and other orders founded since the 16th century; and you can see these sisters are serious about their vocation when you meet them. Saint Lucy and the Cardinal founded schools of Christian Doctrine for girls in Italy, ministered to the poor and the sick, conducted retreats and guided the women preparing for marriage. What more does the Church need?


Later in the morning, Father Jeremiah and I ventured to Newark Abbey and Saint Benedict Prep

StMarys.jpgto visit with the Benedictine monks, particularly Brothers Maximilian and Patrick. We prayed Mid-day prayer in a beautiful abbey church, toured the school, Saint Mary's Parish and the abbey. Newark Abbey is the original site of the Benedictine monks of the American-Cassinese Congregation sent by Archabbot Boniface Wimmer in 1857 to Newark. It is from this abbey that Saint Anselm's Abbey and later college where founded in Manchester, NH, and Saint Mary's Abbey in Morristown, NJ. Brothers Maximilian and Patrick were very gracious hosts and great fun. We lunched at The Tops Diner (East Newark) and visited Newark's Basilica of the Sacred Heart. You would not believe the beauty of this cathedral church! Even Pope John Paul II made a visit here and former President William Clinton remarked how surprised he was to see such a magnificent in Newark, New Jersey. A brief video was produced in 2007 by the NJ Star Ledger on the Newark Abbey monks, have a look.


Chapel_1.jpgThe last treat of the day was the afternoon visit to the Community of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal based at the Friary of the Blessed Sacrament (Newark, NJ). This is the group founded by Father Benedict Groeschel and seven other Capuchin friars in 1987. The friary was the former the Monastery of Saint Dominic (nuns of the 2nd order of the Order of Preachers). It was indeed a privilege to visit the friary: it was peaceful, prayer-filled and beautiful (much work has been in the 4 years since the coming of the friars). When the nuns moved to other monasteries, their dead were exhumed and reburied in a local cemetery, including the incorrupt body of an extern sister known for holiness, Sister Mary of the Blessed Sacrament who died in 1899. Our host at the friary was Father Richard who graciously illustrated for us the life of the friars: their simple life, their prayer and their clear witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. What I experienced was genuine and one which I have confidence is made by God for service in the Church.

 What a day! Say a prayer for the Filippini sisters, the monks of Newark and the Friars of the Renewal: they need our moral and spiritual solidarity, indeed they need we ought to be in friendship with them. Perhaps more accurately, we need their witness!


Today, Father Basil and I went for a drive to Saint Paul's Abbey in Newton, New Jersey. A DSC00297-1.jpgvery splendid day away visiting some of his former confreres (Fr. Basil was a monk of St. Paul's before transferring his stability to St. Mary's Abbey, Morristown).

The Prior of Saint Paul's, Father Samuel, received us most graciously; we joined the monks for Mid-Day prayer and lunch. Father Basil and I spent time visiting the abbey's cemetery.

It was a delight to visit a venerable abbey such as Saint Paul's because of its monastic witness and because of its missionary work. This abbey belongs to the Saint Ottilien Congregation of monks which is a missionary congregation.

Updated August 30th


I was curious as to how many people responded to the Lord's call to serve Him as a Nuns.jpgconsecrated religious (being a sister, a nun or a priest) this summer. The Anchoress made a similar report on August 18; visit her blog for more info. Here is a sampling of those who took vows, promises or were invested with the habit in last calendar year.


St. Benedict's Abbey1 professed simple vows; 1 professed solemn vows; 1 clothed in the habit.

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St. Mary's Abbey: 1 ordained to the priesthood; 1 postulant


St. Louis Abbey: 1 solemn profession; 3 clothed in the habit; 1 claustral oblate


Mary, Help of Christians Abbey (Belmont Abbey): 1 first profession; 2 clothed in the habit


St. Meinrad Archabbey: 1 solemn vows; 3 postulants


St. Vincent Archabbey: 2 solemn professions; 4 first professions; 5 clothed in the habit; 2 ordained to the diaconate


Monastero San Benedetto1 solemn vows; 2 novices; 3 postulants; 1 ordination to the priesthood


Franciscan Friars of the Renewal: 7 novices; 10 first professions; 7 perpetual professions; 2 priests and 2 deacons ordained  


Province of St. Joseph (the Dominicans): 11 clothed in the habit


A NEW congregation: Maronite Servants of Christ the Light: 1 sister and many more to come!


Sisters of Christian Charity 1 first profession; 3 novices; 3 postulants


Congregation of St. Cecilia18 entered postulancy; 12 first vows; 8  renewed their vows; 11 made final vows; 6 clothed in the habit


Mary, Mother of the Eucharist: 14 first professions; 8 received the habit; 8 made final profession


Novitiate07-08.jpgApostles of the Sacred Heart: 2 first professions; 2 vow renewals; 1 clothed in the habit


Queen of Peace Monastery: 1 first profession; 1 postulant


Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George : 3 postulants; 4 clothed in the habit; 6  professions; 22 Junior sisters; and an undetermined number making final vows in 2009


Valley of Our Lady Monastery (Cistercian nuns): 5 novices, 3 postulants


sisters_6_08.jpgBenedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles: 4 postulants, 2 novices  


Dear friends, life is not governed by chance; it is not random. Your very existence has been willed by God, blessed and given a purpose (cf. Gen 1:28)! Life is not just a succession of events or experiences, helpful though many of them are. It is a search for the true, the good and the beautiful. It is to this end that we make our choices; it is for this that we exercise our freedom; it is in this - in truth, in goodness, and in beauty - that we find happiness and joy. Do not be fooled by those who see you as just another consumer in a market of undifferentiated possibilities, where choice itself becomes the good, novelty usurps beauty, and subjective experience displaces truth.

Pope Benedict XVI, WYD Australia, 2008

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A long tradition of some Benedictine monasteries is the profession of solemn vows on August 15, the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Benedictines take vows of obedience, stability, and conversion, that is, fidelity to the monastic way of life. At the Archabbey of Saint Meinrad the tradition continues to be observed.


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Today at the Archabbey of Saint Meinrad, Brother Martin professed his solemn vows before God, Archabbot Justin, the monks of the archabbey and friends. Notice the corona worn by Brother Martin. 

Familiarity with the Word, which the Benedictine Rule guarantees by reserving much time for it in the daily schedule, will not fail to instill serene trust, to cast aside false security and to root in the soul a vivid sense of the total lordship of God. The monk is thus protected from convenient or utilitarian interpretations of Scripture and brought to an ever deeper awareness of human weakness, in which God's power shines brightly. ~Pope John Paul II

May God grant Brother Martin many years!

Dominican sisters based in Nashville start new mission in Australia

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (CNS) -- The 12 months spent by three U.S. Dominican sisters

Thumbnail image for Nashville Community.jpgin   Sydney, Australia, to help plan and organize World Youth Day has led to a new mission in Australia for the congregation. The three -- Sisters Mary Madeline Todd, Mary Rachel Capets and Anna Wray -- are members of the St. Cecilia Congregation in Nashville. They have returned home but two of them will go back to Sydney to help establish their community's first permanent mission outside the United States. Cardinal George Pell and Auxiliary Bishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney, a fellow Dominican, "we're eager to have our sisters working in Sydney," said Sister Mary Madeline. "What we could offer and what they needed were complementary." What the Dominicans offer and what is needed in southern Australia, Sister Mary Madeline said, is a "witness of religious life." Although Australian society has become increasingly secular, "there is a great interest in religious life in Australia," Sister Mary Madeline told the Tennessee Register, newspaper of the Nashville Diocese.


On another note, the Nashville Dominicans finally professed 11 sisters on July 25th. May God grant many years!


If you are interested in knowing more about the Nashville Dominicans, send an email to Sister Mary Emily at: vocation@op-tn.org

Saint Dominic's Monastery is where a group of Dominican nuns --not to be confused with the

OP arms.gifthird order sisters like Nashville Dominicans or Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist-- are beginning a new life in Linden, Virginia, and they ought to be on your radar screen. The monastery is 12 miles from Christendom College and a short distance from Washington, DC.

The nuns need our prayerful solidarity, vocations and material support. What's more beautiful than a life dedicated to following the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the charism of Saint Dominic by faithfulness to a life of sacrifice, worship, study and community life? The nuns live what is considered a traditional Dominican nuns' life with the night office, the traditional habit, community life and abstinence. Their life is not easy but they it is beautiful, happy and rewarding. The monastery will be blessed (dedicated) and the nuns formally enclosed by the bishop of the Dicoese of Arlington, The Most Reverend Paul Stephen Loverdi on October 7, 2008, the feast of the Holy Rosary.

A great story of monastic adventure may be found at Roman Catholic Vocations blog.


Retreat for Priests in 2009

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Each year, just after Easter, Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete and Communion and Liberation Thumbnail image for l_albacete.jpgleads a retreat for priests. This year's theme is "Priests of the New Evangelization." In 2009, the retreat for priests is being held at The Malvern Retreat House (Malvern, PA) from 13-17 April 2009.

Yes, it is very early to think about events in 2009. But sit too long on making plans for your retreat in 2009 and you'll miss a great opportunity to meet the Lord and to be guided by Msgr. Albacete. Act now!!!!

The notes from the 2008 retreat are now available. Visit the CL webpage.

What is Communion and Liberation? In short, CL is a group of friends seeking the face of Jesus and working out their salvation, as St. Paul says, together. It is an ecclesial movement founded by Monsignor Luigi Giussani in 1954 and officially approved by Pope John Paul II in 1982; it is made up of laity, priests and sisters.


img_vita21.jpgThe essence of the charism given to Communion and Liberation can be signaled by three factors.


·         first of all, the announcement that God became man (the wonder, the reasonableness, the enthusiasm for this): "The Word was made flesh and dwells among us."


·         secondly, the affirmation that this man - Jesus of Nazareth dead and risen - is a present event in a "sign" of "communion," i.e., of unity of a people guided, as a guarantee, by a living person, ultimately the Bishop of Rome;


·         thirdly: only in God made man, man, therefore only in His presence and, thus only through - in some way - the experienceable form of His presence (therefore, ultimately only within the life of the Church) can man be truer and mankind be truly more human. St Gregory Nazianzen writes, "If I were not Yours, my Christ, I would feel like a finished creature". It is thus from His presence that both morality and the passion for the salvation of man (which is mission) spring up.


Sometimes you can get inspired by reading the blogs. Today, Fr. Mark posted on his blog the Apostolic Exhortation Haerent Animo by Saint Pius X. papa pio x.jpgGiven that today is the 100th anniversary of the exhortation's publication and the feast of Saint John Baptist Mary Vianney, reading Haerent Animo was excellent spiritual reading. It took me the better of the morning to ponder what the saintly pontiff was saying, not because the prose was difficult, or the concepts too mysterious but because I kept stopping to reflect on my concrete experience of priestly formation and thinking of the lives of priests I know. I was sadly dwelling on the problems the priesthood has had in recent years.


In writing this exhortation on the occasion of his 50th anniversary of priesthood, the Pope is taking seriously his "responsibility of forming Christ in others." So, what's revolutionary about Haerent Animo? Nothing! AND that's the point. We already know what we have to do to be men of God, holy priests, men of "high dignity" called to be priests, i.e., servants of the Lord and the Church. A good reminder is helpful. Therefore, objectivity the pope presents in Haerent Animo relates to the following work one has to do if a holy priesthood is to exist. The Pope re-proposes:


Thumbnail image for St Pius X.jpg-daily meditation

-daily examination of conscience

-daily celebration of the august rites of the Church with beauty by proper preparation spiritually and intellectually

-daily prayer, particularly the Divine Office

-frequent confession of mortal and venial sins

-self denial

-seeking the Lord's clemency

-yearly retreat with others

-Lectio Divina (attentive reading of sacred Scripture)

-develop good friendships


The point is that the priest's conduct must be stellar for fear of causing scandal in others. But fear of causing scandal ought not be the criterion for doing what the Pope re-proposes: the encounter with honesty, faithfulness, love and Christ ought to be included. Say it another way, an overgrown plant will bear no fruit. So our responsibility is to be watchful, be vigilant, and pray. This work will lead us closer to Christ in His words and in His actions; this work will lead to a deeper friendship with the Lord; doing this work will lead to holiness of life.


One thing the pope mentions is forming priestly associations to create a closer union among priests, to help one another in difficult times, to develop a taste of sacred learning, to have a solicitude for each other's vocation, and to identify the skills needed to effectively preach the Gospel.  It is a fact if one wants to be "good priest" then it being a part of such associations from the first day of one's ordination. Either join a group or found one: But do something. Seminarians in the Archdioceses of Denver Saint Paul-Minneapolis recently founded priestly associations of type such as Saint Pius recommends.


I recommend that you read Haerent Animo soon. It will be good for you!

Listen to Mother

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Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta taught: "God needs our poverty, not our abundance. These are means of being humble:


  • Bxvi and MC.jpgSpeak as little as possible about oneself;
  • Take care of one's personal matters
  • Avoid curiosity;
  • Do not meddle in the affairs of others;
  • Accept contradictions with good humor;
  • Do not focus on the faults of others;
  • Accept reproach, even if undeserved;
  • Yield to the will of others;
  • Accept insults and abuse;
  • Accept feeling uncared for, forgotten, despised;
  • Be courteous and sensitive, even if someone provokes you;
  • Do not try to be admired and loved;
  • Do not hide behind one's own dignity;
  • Yield in arguments, even if one is right;
  • Always choose what is most difficult."
Source: Mother Teresa, Heart of Joy: The Transforming Power of Self-Giving, Servant Books, 1987.

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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This page is a archive of entries in the Vocations category from August 2008.

Vocations: July 2008 is the previous archive.

Vocations: September 2008 is the next archive.

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