Monday, April 29, 2013

St. Catherine: Dominican Tertiary, born at Siena, 25 March, 1347; died at Rome, 29 April, 1380.

She was the youngest but one of a very large family. Her father, Giacomo di Benincasa, was a dyer; her mother, Lapa, the daughter of a local poet. They belonged to the lower middle-class faction of tradesmen and petty notaries, known as "the Party of the Twelve", which between one revolution and another ruled the Republic of Siena from 1355 to 1368.
 From her earliest childhood Catherine began to see visions and to practice extreme austerities. At the age of seven she consecrated her virginity to Christ; in her sixteenth year she took the habit of the Dominican Tertiaries, and renewed the life of the anchorites of the desert in a little room in her father's house. After three years of celestial visitations and familiar conversation with Christ, she underwent the mystical experience known as the "spiritual espousals", probably during the carnival of 1366. She now rejoined her family, began to tend the sick, especially those afflicted with the most repulsive diseases, to serve the poor, and to labour for the conversion of sinners.
 Though always suffering terrible physical pain, living for long intervals on practically no food save the Blessed Sacrament, she was ever radiantly happy and full of practical wisdom no less than the highest spiritual insight. All her contemporaries bear witness to her extraordinary personal charm, which prevailed over the continual persecution to which she was subjected even by the friars of her own order and by her sisters in religion. She began to gather disciples round her, both men and women, who formed a wonderful spiritual fellowship, united to her by the bonds of mystical love.
During the summer of 1370 she received a series of special manifestations of Divine mysteries, which culminated in a prolonged trance, a kind of mystical death, in which she had a vision of Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven, and heard a Divine command to leave her cell and enter the public life of the world. She began to dispatch letters to men and women in every condition of life, entered into correspondence with the princes and republics of Italy, was consulted by the papal legates about the affairs of the Church, and set herself to heal the wounds of her native land by staying the fury of civil war and the ravages of faction. She implored the pope, Gregory XI, to leave Avignon, to reform the clergy and the administration of the Papal States, and ardently threw herself into his design for a crusade, in the hopes of uniting the powers of Christendom against the infidels, and restoring peace to Italy by delivering her from the wandering companies of mercenary soldiers.
While at Pisa, on the fourth Sunday of Lent, 1375, she received the Stigmata, although, at her special prayer, the marks did not appear outwardly in her body while she lived.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Pope Francis First Ordination as Pope

Beloved brothers and sisters:
because these our sons, who are your relatives and friends, are now to be advanced to the Order of priests, consider carefully the nature of the rank in the Church to which they are about to be raised.
It is true that God has made his entire holy people a royal priesthood in Christ. Nevertheless, our great Priest himself, Jesus Christ, chose certain disciples to carry out publicly in his name, and on behalf of mankind, a priestly office in the Church. For Christ was sent by the Father and he in turn sent the Apostles into the world, so that through them and their successors, the Bishops, he might continue to exercise his office of Teacher, Priest, and Shepherd. Indeed, priests are established co-workers of the Order of Bishops, with whom they are joined in the priestly office and with whom they are called to the service of the people of God.
After mature deliberation and prayer, these, our brothers, are now to be ordained to the priesthood in the Order of the presbyterate so as to serve Christ the Teacher, Priest, and Shepherd, by whose ministry his body, that is, the Church, is built and grows into the people of God, a holy temple.
In being configured to Christ the eternal High Priest and joined to the priesthood of the Bishops, they will be consecrated as true priests of the New Testament, to preach the Gospel, to shepherd Gods people, and to celebrate the sacred Liturgy, especially the Lords sacrifice.
Now, my dear brothers and sons, you are to be raised to the Order of the Priesthood. For your part you will exercise the sacred duty of teaching in the name of Christ the Teacher. Impart to everyone the word of God which you have received with joy. Remember your mothers, your grandmothers, your catechists, who gave you the word of God, the faith ... the gift of faith! They transmitted to you this gift of faith. Meditating on the law of the Lord, see that you believe what you read, that you teach what you believe, and that you practise what you teach.
Remember too that the word of God is not your property: it is the word of God. And the Church is the custodian of the word of God.
In this way, let what you teach be nourishment for the people of God. Let the holiness of your lives be a delightful fragrance to Christs faithful, so that by word and example you may build up the house which is Gods Church.
Likewise you will exercise in Christ the office of sanctifying. For by your ministry the spiritual sacrifice of the faithful will be made perfect, being united to the sacrifice of Christ, which will be offered through your hands in an unbloody way on the altar, in union with the faithful, in the celebration of the sacraments. Understand, therefore, what you do and imitate what you celebrate. As celebrants of the mystery of the Lords death and resurrection, strive to put to death whatever in your members is sinful and to walk in newness of life.
You will gather others into the people of God through Baptism, and you will forgive sins in the name of Christ and the Church in the sacrament of Penance. Today I ask you in the name of Christ and the Church, never tire of being merciful. You will comfort the sick and the elderly with holy oil: do not hesitate to show tenderness towards the elderly. When you celebrate the sacred rites, when you offer prayers of praise and thanks to God throughout the hours of the day, not only for the people of God but for the worldremember then that you are taken from among men and appointed on their behalf for those things that pertain to God.
Therefore, carry out the ministry of Christ the Priest with constant joy and genuine love, attending not to your own concerns but to those of Jesus Christ. You are pastors, not functionaries. Be mediators, not intermediaries.
Finally, dear sons, exercising for your part the office of Christ, Head and Shepherd, while united with the Bishop and subject to him, strive to bring the faithful together into one family, so that you may lead them to God the Father through Christ in the Holy Spirit. Keep always before your eyes the example of the Good Shepherd who came not to be served but to serve, and who came to seek out and save what was lost.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Portraits of the Call

Why Pray for Vocations


Reason #1 We need more priests and religious!

The Church’s need for priests is growing. As priests die and retire, not enough men are being ordained to replace them. Meanwhile, the Catholic population is growing. This leads to painful parish closings, mergers, and over-worked priests. Likewise, the number of religious sisters has plummeted by nearly 70% in the past 50 years, which means fewer sisters in schools, hospitals, and other critical Catholic missions.

Reason #2 We need the Eucharist

“Considering that the Eucharist is the greatest gift our Lord gives to his Church, we must ask for priests since the priesthood is a gift for the Church. We must pray insistently for this gift. We must ask for it on our knees.” ~ Pope John Paul II

Reason #3 Prayer is the “one thing necessary”

“I often think that prayer–the unum necessarium–-is the one aspect of vocations work which we tend to forget or to undervalue.” – Pope Benedict XVI

Reason #4 Prayer works!

“If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have obtained the requests made of him.” ~ 1 John 5:14-15

I often think that prayer – the unum necessarium – is the one aspect of vocations work which we tend to forget or to undervalue! "

~ Pope Benedict XVI

The Unum Necessarium: is the Latin term for the One Thing Necessary which describes prayer as the most important thing a Christian can do with their time.

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” - Luke 10:42
Photo: Watch live at 9:30 to 11:00 am Rome time (starting 3:30 am EST)

Sr. Paul Clarke's Diamond Jubilee

Sr Paul Clarke was among the Religious Sisters honoured on the occasion of our 50th anniversary of Independence. CN file photoCongratulations and prayerful good wishes to Sr Paul Maria Clarke OP on the occasion of the Diamond Jubilee (60 years) of her Religious Profession – April 18, 2013.
For blessings in abundance, we join her in thanking God, her Religious Community, her family, friends and all those who have touched her life, during those years of blessings.
May God continue to bless her abundantly, as He alone can. Sr Paul Clarke was among the Religious Sisters honoured on the occasion of our 50th anniversary of Independence. CN file photo

A reflection by Fr Dwight Merrick on today’s observance of the 50th World Day of Prayer for Vocations

Many years ago I saw the film Mission and it remains one of the most inspirational movies I’ve ever seen. One scene toward the very end remains vividly etched in my memory since it relates so clearly to the need for more priests today. The ‘mission’ was being invaded and the priest decided to process with the Monstrance through the village followed by native Indians who had become Christians. As expected, he was fatally shot and as he falls a little boy takes up the monstrance and continues the Eucharistic procession, presumably until there was no one left to proclaim the Eucharistic Christ.
Vocations Day bannerAlmost two years ago, we lost Fr Compton and only recently Fr Neil, both members of Fraternity of Priests for some 25 years. Losing five priests within about two months, we are left to wonder who will take their places in the lives of the many people who came to depend on them for counselling, spiritual direction, mentoring and just friendship. Until these deaths, the only fathers I had lost from my Fraternity of Priests were Frs Ross and Ging, more fondly called Doctor Ging (coined by Fr Taylor, I believe, many years ago). Whether it was confession, counselling or during the often long drives to and from our Fraternity meetings around the Archdiocese, I always felt like an only son in the presence of a proud dad. Those deceased members, together with Fr John Theodore, gave me unwavering support, confidence and encouragement through challenging and the worst of times. They were always able to mix challenge and correction with their experience, discernment, wisdom and, yes, affection as well. About those who have died I can confidently say, they ran the race well, they fought the good fight. May they have their eternal reward.
The death of tremendous priests increases concern about the lack of interest in the priesthood among our Catholic young men, even among those who sense themselves being ‘called’ to Sacred Orders or the Religious Life. Society no longer prefers sacred over the profane and even Catholic parents are sometimes the greatest opposition rather than support for a young person discerning a vocation to the consecrated life. Some 50 years ago this year, Pope Paul VI said: “The problem of having a sufficient number of priests has an immediate impact on all of the faithful: not simply because they depend on it for the religious future of Christian society, but also because this problem is the precise and inescapable indicator of the vitality of faith and love of individual parish and diocesan communities and the evidence of the moral health of Christian families. “Wherever numerous vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life are to be found, that is where people are living the Gospel with generosity.” (Paul VI Radio Message April 11, 1964)
As we mark the 50th World Day of Prayer for Vocations today, a survey is being conducted at our Catholic boys’ and mixed secondary schools and in our parishes. Young men and teenage boys who are interested in a session on the priesthood and Religious Life are being asked to submit their names and contact numbers. When this information is collated, sessions will be organised by the various priestly groups in the Archdiocese to respond to those interested. Catholic teachers working with other groups of youth are encouraged to participate in this project, sending information to my contact below. The reality is that most of our Catholic young people do not attend Catholic secondary schools!
This weekend we pray that our young people, male and female, will have the courage to ask, “Is it I Lord?”

Obituary for Fr. Arthur LAI FOOK, C.S.Sp.

Fr Arthur Lai FookLAI FOOK, Fr. Arthur C.S.Sp. died on 19th April at Lourdes House, Arouca at the age of 93. Priest of over 65 years, he was ordained on 20th July, 1947.
Uncle, great uncle and great-great uncle of the Lai Fook, Jay Williams and Huggins-Chan families. An Evening Prayer vigil will take place at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday 24th April
at St. Mary’s College Chapel. His funeral liturgy will be celebrated on Thursday 25thApril at 9:30 a.m. at St. Theresa’s Church, Woodbrook, followed by interment at Lapeyrouse Cemetery.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Sr. Mary Magdalen of the Resurection (Renessa) in Habit

On Sunday 7th April, 2013 Sr. Mary Magdalen of the Resurection (Renessa) recived the habit of the Dominican Nuns of the Holy Rosary Monastery, St. Anns, Port of Spain, Trinidad. We congratulate you sister and welcome you to the Dominican Family. Here are some pictures form that event.

Dominican nuns of Holy Rosary Monastery and Friars of the Irish Dominican Province in Trinidad at Renessa's clothing ceremony.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Poui Tree

The Poui tree for us in Trinidad and Tobago is a natural sign of Easter.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Irish Dominicans on the New York Times

The New York Times has printed a feature on vocations to the Order of Preachers. Publishing on 3rd April, the American newspaper reports on vocations in the United States of America and in Ireland. The article focuses mostly on the revival and growth of vocations for the Irish Dominican friars in recent years, and in particular on the recovery of some of the basics of Dominican life: the habit, prayer in common, community life.
Picture above, printed with the article and courtesy of the New York Times, is of the vocations director Fr Gerard Dunne OP (in the centre) and novices Br Matthew Farrell, Br Adam Conroy and Jessse Maingot from Trinidad and Tobago with his back to the picture.

Papal election can renew diocese – Bishop Darius

Bishop Vincent Darius OP

“As we rejoice in the election of Pope Francis we must remember that leaders of Church and State at all levels need the support of our prayers. Pray especially for our new pope who has taken up this challenge at the age of 76, that God will strengthen him and guide him. We pray that this joyous event may be the beginning of a great renewal in the Church in Grenada, and throughout the world". So said Bishop Vincent Darius, chief celebrant and homilist at a special Mass March 17 to celebrate the election of Pope Francis at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, St George’s, Grenada. Recently elected Prime Minister Keith Mitchell and his mother Muriel were members of the congregation.

In his homily, Bishop Darius expressed his joy and excitement at the Church’s new pontiff. He said that reading the press reports it seemed as if the media wanted to elect the pope, expressing strong opinions for and against individual cardinals. Bishop Darius believed prior to the election, whoever became the pope would have to be someone for whom evangelisation was a priority.

"People have to know who Christ is,” he commented, adding that Pope Paul VI recognised this need and wrote the apostolic exhortation (On Evangelisation in the Modern World). “Pope John Paul II recognised the same need and talked about the New Evangelisation, making Christ known using new methods and new terms of expression with a new zeal, a new passion. Pope Benedict XVI established a new Dicastery, or department in the government of the Church especially for evangelisation. All three popes recognised what was happening especially in the developed countries of Europe and North America, that people are drifting away from God, a trend that is leading to chaos."

Bishop Darius spoke of the "Adopt a Cardinal" project which encouraged faithful worldwide to pray for a specific cardinal at the conclave, that the cardinal would be inspired by the Holy Spirit to vote for the man whom God wanted to lead His Church at this time.

He also explained why Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio chose the name Francis after being elected. One reason was to bring attention to living a life of simplicity, and the need to look after the poor.

As archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Pope Francis often called for training in evangelisation for Catholics. "Your coming here at such short notice," said Bishop Darius, "is a sign that you are ready to heed that call and accept the challenge to become confident evangelisers of our own people.”

Change opinions on priesthood, religious life: Archbishop Harris at Chrism Mass

The archbishop reiterated his call last year for clergy to be “agents of ministers of the merciful and forgiving love of God”, and said he has begun speaking with the relevant authorities about a new facility for first time offenders, so that they do not mix with hardened criminals.

Priests join Archbishop Joseph Harris in the blessing of the Oil of Chrism
Archbisop Harris and Priest Blessing the Oils

The Archdiocese intends to use its clergy more effectively, while working on changing opinions about the priesthood and religious life.

Archbishop Joseph Harris laid out this plan of action as he preached the homily at last Monday’s annual Chrism Mass, concelebrated for the first time at Our Lady of Fatima Church, Curepe. Last year it was held at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, before it was closed for repairs after the Easter liturgies.

Archbishop Harris said this year’s Mass – during which priests renew their vows and sacred oils are blessed – was taking place with “a certain reflectiveness of spirit” because five priests who concelebrated last year have “been called by the Lord to their eternal homeland.”
Archbishop Harris greets young parish representatives during the distribution of holy oils. Photos: Raymond Syms
Archbishop Harris Greeting Parishioners

He described their deaths as being “emotionally draining” as they occurred between Christmas and Easter. Each of the deceased “brought tremendous gifts to the enterprise of evangelisation: the intellectually stimulating and though provoking gifts of Fr Henry Charles; the search for harmony in families and communities of Fr Neil Rodriguez; the efficiency and effectiveness of Fr Andy Cockburn as a pastor; the desire for understanding among the various religions in our land of Dom Hildebrand Greene; and the humility and devotion to principle of Msgr Urban Peschier.”

He said in spite of their loss we are “filled with the great hope that they, now closer to God than we are, will in fact pray the Lord to send labourers into the vineyard to replace them and the Lord who never leaves the vineyard untended will surely hear their prayers.”

Archbishop Harris said because of their deaths, the subsequent problem of insufficient priests to cover all the parishes, the tiredness and loneliness of many priests, and “the need to lend a hand to other dioceses which are worse off than we are”, the Archdiocese “must find ways of using the many gifts and talents which are present in our presbyterate more effectively.” He said the entire archdiocese also needs to think about ways of increasing or making the vocation ministry more effective.

“How do we change the opinions of so many parents, young men and women, and not so young men and women, about the priesthood and religious life? …How do we become opinion makers so that men and women, the faithful in general, have opinions about the priesthood and religious life which will lead to a fostering of vocations?”

The Archbishop told the congregation that opinions would change when we all live authentic lives, citing the example of recently elected Pope Francis.

Focussing on the blessing of sacred oils for use in the Sacraments, he clarified a practice concerning the Holy Oil of the Sick. He said the oil used for the Sacrament of the Sick was distinct from blessed oil, and it is to be used to help those seriously ill and in danger of death “so that they are strengthened to repulse the attacks of the evil one…”

While using blessed oil on sick persons “is a laudable practice in the popular religiosity of our people and is done by the laity, it is not a sacrament and does not substitute for the sacrament” which can only be administered by an ordained priest or bishop, he explained. Saying a few words on society in general, Archbishop Harris said we live in “a moment of confusion” with the unacceptable rate of serious crime, “the national debate on the means which the government is pursuing to arrest the scourge of violence and murder,… the large number of young persons in our country who have no hope” and “the incidents of physical and sexual abuse of women and children.” These are all signs that “our announcement of the good news seems to be falling on deaf ears.”

After the homily, the choir sang Veni Sancte Spiritus, and Archbishop Harris led priests in the renewal of their priestly commitment. Among the local presbyterate were Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Nicola Girasoli and secretary at the Apostolic Nunciature, Msgr Pavel Obiedzinski.

The liturgy continued as usual until the blessing of the oils by Archbishop Harris, which took place towards the end of the Mass. Deacons then distributed bottled oils to parish representatives by vicariate.


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Happy Easter

The first rains are falling
No longer the dry season is here
Welcome the wet season
The burn and brown now gives way to the green
In the green is the newness of life.

Happy Easter!