Saturday, October 25, 2014


Station III- Jesus Falls

In 2010 St. James Cathedral (Seattle) was given a new set of Stations of the Cross, which hang in the Cathedral each year during the season of Lent.  The stations are the work of  JOAN BRAND-LANDKRAMER who began work on these stations many years ago, completing them in the fall of 2009.  She used “found objects” from the beach near her home in Ocean Shores  (WA) which includes wood, rope and wire, to create a contemporary interpretation of the centuries-old devotion of the Stations of the Cross.

Her stations were inspired by the work of Georges Rouault, the 20th-century French artist, and in particular his series of engravings entitled "Miserere". In Joan’s words, “I stood on the shoulders of Rouault, the master.”

Jesus Falls 2nd Time
Rouault originally created the drawings that make up "Miserere" during World War I, but for various reasons their publication was delayed until 1947.  The series speaks powerfully of human suffering and betrayal, and includes a number of images of the suffering Christ, juxtaposed with images of suffering humanity:  corrupt judges and politicians, fools, prostitutes and prisoners.

 “Form, color, harmony… oasis or mirage for the eyes, the heart, or the spirit,” wrote Rouault in his preface to the volume; “Jesus on the cross will tell you better than I....My only ambition is to be able someday to paint a Christ so moving that those who see him will be converted.”

While the Stations of Joan Brand-Landkramer  may not be to everyone's liking, they certainly convey the suffering Christ in a way that we can relate to in our own human suffering.

Station XI- Jesus Nailed to the Cross
Station XII- Jesus Dies

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


Maroochy- Tricia Reust
When I stayed with Tricia Reust (last Blog) she spoke many times of an Aboriginal woman, named MAROOCHY BARAMBAH, who was very active in bettering life for her people. Unfortunately, when I was there she was traveling elsewhere. I later found that she is  a mezzo-soprano singer who is of the Turrbal-Gubbi Gubbi people and is a member of the Stolen Generations. She considers herself a beneficiary of her removal. As a tribute to her Aboriginality she took the names Maroochy (meaning "black swan") and Barambah (meaning "source of the western wind". She was born Yvette Isaacs in the 1950s in Cherbourg, Queensland.

At the age of 12 she was taken from her family and fostered out to a family in Melbourne. This movement was an effort by the government to separate children from their heritage. She later attended the Melba Conservatorium of Music in Melbourne and Victorian College of the Arts where she graduated in Dramatic Arts in 1979.

Maroochy  rose to fame for her part in the 1989 Sydney Metropolitan Opera production of “Black River, by Julianne and Andrew Schultz, an opera about black deaths in custody. She also appeared in the indigenous musical “Bran Nue Dae, the 1981 television series “Women of the Sun”, and in the opera “Beach Dreaming, written for and about her by Mark Isaacs.

Maroochy has also had extensive community involvement over many years working with the younger generation of Indigenous Australians in the arts industry.  She has delivered several lectures on Aboriginal culture in various institutions and was a keynote speaker at the Australian Reconciliation Convention in Melbourne in May 1997.

When Maroochy made her operatic debut in Black River , she became the first Aborigine to perform on the Australian operatic stage. She was the first Australian to perform at the United Nations in New York in honor of the International Year for the World’s Indigenous Peoples in 1993.  In November 1995, Maroochy starred in the American opera "Porgy & Bess" and became the first Indigenous Australian to perform in an opera at the Sydney Opera House.  She hopes to continue to work in this area of the performing arts, while at the same time engender better understanding of Aboriginal culture.

(Tricia Reust)
She has received many awards, both in Australia and overseas. In April 2000, Maroochy was awarded an Honorary Senior Fellowship of the University of the Sunshine Coast in Qld. for her outstanding and sustained contributions to the community. Her career spans the genres of jazz, rock, musical theater, as well as classical opera

Tricia has painted her several times.  She certainly captures “the soul” of this remarkable woman who has a strong sense of who she is, her heritage and her role. 

She comes from a songline, so she never doubted that she would end up singing. But Aboriginal music was not always as accepted as it is today. “If you come from your roots, you don’t have to impress people. We as a nation are coming to a point where we feel more comfortable with ourselves and with our culture."

Friday, October 17, 2014


Kookaburra King
Regal Perch

At this time of year, my mind traces some recent past travels as I pine for a warmer clime.  Seven years ago one of our Oblates gave me a trip to Australia (a top number on my "bucket list") It was a wonderful six weeks, where I met old friends and made new ones.  My first stay was with renowned artist TRICIA REUST whom I have known for 30+ years, when she and her husband and young family (then 3 girls) lived in the USA. 

While Tricia was born in Sydney, she has spent the past 25 years living north of Brisbane.  She attended the Newcastle Art School for over two years, holds a Basic Art Certificate from the Art Instruction School in Minnesota, and is a graduate with Distinction from the Open College of the Arts, Queensland.

Royal Stance
Tricia at work

Tricia exhibits regularly in regional shows and competitions and is very active in the art community, especially since having coordinated the Redcliffe Regional Youth Art Awards with artist and friend John Robinson. Tricia teaches and presents workshops at various art societies throughout Australia. She works in oil and watercolor as well as collage.

She has won many awards for her art and two years ago took Best in Show at the Mortimore National Art Show.

Gaggle Line

When I visited Tricia and her husband, I was fortunate to stay in her art studio, which sits high off the ground, surrounded by windows. I would wake each morning to brightly colored birds singing in the trees which surround the studio rooms. It was like being in a tree house.

Trish, like many Australians, knows her birds and took me to many wonderful places, but vivid in my memory is the first morning, bright and early, to an area near her home along the water.  There in front of us was a royal kingfisher in all his glory.

Trish is also a Catholic, very active in her Church Community.  My first Sunday there gave me one of my favorite Australian birds, the galah. The lawn in front of the Church was covered with this bright pink and gray bird, a member of the cockatoo family. 


Trish has an amazing sense of color, certainly inspired by her native land. In many cases I am reminded of our Southwest, but then there are the many jungles and woods and of course the seas of many colors.

Creek Flight

While Trish paints and draws many varied subjects, my favorites are her birds.  She is an amazing woman- mother, wife, bird watcher, and artist!
Lotus Place- Mixed media
Becoming- Pastel

Halted Morning Walk

Friday, October 10, 2014


At the end of last year the father of our land program woman came for a visit.  He left us a movie, a documentary about  a singer who never made it in the USA. It sat on my desk for months- I did not like the cover- thinking: egads! One day I thought why not?  It turned out to be one of the best movies I have seen. I showed it to the Community and then Oblates and our Land Program young people. I also sent a copy to Father Scott, who is also from Detroit. All agreed - very special!

tells the incredible true story of RODRIGUEZ, the greatest '70s rock icon who never was. Discovered in a Detroit bar  (The Sewer) in the late '60s by two celebrated producers struck by his soulful melodies and prophetic lyrics, they recorded an album which they believed would secure his reputation as the greatest recording artist of his generation. But the album bombed and the singer disappeared into obscurity amid rumors of a gruesome on-stage suicide. Amazingly enough a bootleg recording found its way into apartheid South Africa and, over the next two decades, he became a phenomenon. The film follows the story of two South African fans who set out to find out what really happened to their hero. Their investigation leads them to a story more extraordinary than any of the existing myths about the artist known as Rodriguez.

"Searching for Sugar Man" is a 2012 Swedish–British documentary film, which details the efforts of two Cape Town fans in the late 1990s, Stephen 'Sugar' Segerman and Craig Bartholomew Strydom, to find out whether the rumored death of American musician Sixto Rodriguez was true, and, if not, to discover what had become of him. Rodriguez's music, which never took off in the United States, had become wildly popular in South Africa, but little was known about him there.

On 10 February 2013, the film won the BAFTA Award for Best Documentary at the 66th British Academy Film Awards in London, and two weeks later it won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 85th Academy Awards in Hollywood. It won 14 other International awards.

Rodriguez declined to attend the award ceremony as he didn't want to overshadow the filmmakers' achievement if he came up on stage with them. Upon accepting his award, Chinn remarked on such generosity, "That just about says everything about that man and his story that you want to know."

His career initially proved short lived, with two little-sold albums in the early 1970s and two Australian concert tours. Unknown to him, however, his work became extremely successful and influential in South Africa, and continued to retain a loyal following in Australia. According to the film-makers of the documentary about him, Searching for Sugar Man, at one time he was arguably more famous than Elvis Presley in South Africa, though he was mistakenly rumored there to have committed suicide. Many thought he was greater than Bob Dylan.

In the 1990s, determined South African fans managed to find and contact him, which led to an unexpected revival of his musical career. This is told in the 2012 Academy Award–winning documentary film Searching for Sugar Man, which helped give Rodriguez a measure of fame in his home country.

Despite his success abroad, his fame in South Africa had remained completely unknown to Rodriguez until 1997, when his eldest daughter came across a website dedicated to him. After contacting the website and learning of his fame in the country, Rodriguez went on his first South African tour, playing six concerts before thousands of fans.

Rodriguez was born in 1942 in Detroit, Michigan. He was the sixth child of working-class parents. He was named Sixto (pronounced "Seez-too") because he was their sixth child. His father had immigrated to the United States from Mexico in the 1920s; his mother was also from Mexico joining many who came to the Midwest to work in Detroit's industries. Mexican immigrants at that time faced both intense alienation and marginalization. In most of his songs, Rodriguez takes a political stance on the difficulties that faced the inner city poor.

Despite his poor background, Rodriguez earned a Bachelor of Philosophy from Wayne State University's Monteith College in 1981 and May 9, 2013, he received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from his Alma Mater.

Since the cinematic release of  "Searching for Sugar Man" in 2012, Rodríguez has experienced a flush of media exposure and fan interest in the United States, as well as Europe.

While he has certainly made a lot of money in the past 15 years, he has given most of it away to family and friends and after 40 years still lives in Detroit's historic Woodbridge neighborhood, which he is seen walking through in "Searching for Sugar Man".

It is a movie to see, inspiring all, especially the young, to not loose hope, and do do one's best in life. In spite of his "poverty" and hard labor it is quite obvious the way Rodriguez and his three daughters speak in the film, that they had a rich life.

Sunday, October 5, 2014


St. John Paul II is sometimes remembered as a “saint maker” who canonized 482 men and women during his 27-year pontificate. Pope Francis, however, is an even more prodigious “saint maker” who has canonized more saints than have all the popes of the past three centuries combined.

During the eighteenth century, 29 saints were canonized; between 1800 and 1903, 80 saints were canonized; and between 1903 and 1978, when Bl. John Paul II assumed the papacy, another 168 saints were canonized. Pope Benedict XVI canonized 45 saints during his eight-year pontificate. Thus 804 saints were canonized between 1700, when Clement IX assumed the papacy, and the election of Pope Francis in March 2013.

If Bl. John Paul was a “saint maker,” it was largely because of his canonizations of large groups of martyrs: 402 of the 482 saints he canonized were martyrs. And so it is with Pope Francis, who has canonized 817 saints, 813 of them martyrs.

One new saint close to home is BL. MARIE ROSE DUROCHER ( Eulalie)  who was born October 6, 1811 in the village of Saint-Antoine-sur-Richelieu, Canada. The family was pious and five of the eight children dedicated their lives to service in the Church, three as priests and two as religious. At her  brother’s parish, she worked for twelve years organizing the Legion of Mary, teaching the catechism to children, even ironing altar linens!  All of which would be great preparation for her own life’s work.

Bishop Ignace Bourget  invited Eulalie to found a new religious community, the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, based on an order of the same name in Marseilles, France. She faced much opposition but eventually founded the first house at Longueuil along with her new sisters, Melodie Dufresne and Henriette Cere. It wasn’t long before new recruits were begging to join the community. In 1844, after a year of preparation, the three foundresses received their “holy habit” and made their vows. They also received their religious names, and Eulalie Durocher became Mother Marie Rose.

New houses quickly followed while the number of sisters grew. A biography describes Mother Marie Rose as “a methodical, orderly woman… a capable administrator, dynamic and creative.” “She was the artisan of a light-hearted feeling in the house.” A sister described her as “a cultured lady.” She was a gifted teacher and (not surprisingly) had a genius for communicating the mysteries of faith to young people. She explained things “in a clear, precise way, that was lively and practical, and with such fervor that the smallest girls one day asked their teacher: ‘Are the angels holier than the Mother Foundress?’”

Thirty-two at the time of her call to religious life, Mother Marie Rose died on her thirty-eighth birthday, after only five years as a nun. “God will take care of you,” she told the community gathered around her deathbed. And she was right. Today there are more than 1,500 religious working in Canada and the US and many parts of the world. Mother Marie Rose was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1982.  Her feast is celebrated Oct. 6.

Our Cathedral of  St. James in Seattle has a lovely icon of this new Blessed which hangs in the Mother Mary Rose Conference Room at the new Pastoral Outreach Center. The icon was commissioned as part of the Centennial Campaign as a tribute to the Sisters of the Holy Names who have ministered in the Cathedral parish for nearly 100 years.

 The icon, created by Cathedral iconographer Joan Brand-Landkamer, tells the story of the life of this young French Canadian nun through scenes of her life and places she lived.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


Egino Weinert- Germany
We all know that Oct. 1 is the feast of St. Therese of  Lisieux , the Little Flower, and our Prioress' feast day.  Oct. 15 is the feast of the great St. Teresa of Avila, and on Oct. 4 we will have another  Teresa being beatified- another American to boot. And who would believe she comes out of that Mafia ("The Godfather" and "The Soporanos") ridden state of New Jersey.

The beatification of SISTER MIRIAM TERESA DEMJANOVICH, a Bayonne-born nun  who died in 1927 at the age of 26, puts her one step away from formal canonization. We did a Blog about her Oct. 12 of 2012, but will give a synopsis of her life.

A dozen saints are classified as Americans, though most of them were European-born missionaries from the colonial era. In addition, St. Kateri Tekakwitha was a Native American born in the 17th century in what became New York state, and St. Elizabeth Anne Seton was born two years before the Declaration of Independence.

Only St. Katherine Drexel, heiress to a Philadelphia fortune who became a nun, was born in the modern U.S. She died in 1955 and was canonized in 2000.

The beatification Mass will take place  in the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark and will be led by Cardinal Angelo Amato, who heads the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints, which oversees all canonizations. About ten years ago I was there for the Ordination of a young man I had known since he was 5. Father Peter's family lived near our Abbey in Ct. and became my family since mine lived so far away in California.

The daughter of Slovakian immigrants,  Bl. Miriam Teresa was born in 1901 and earned a bachelor’s degree in literature from the College of St. Elizabeth in New Jersey in 1923,  an unusual accomplishment for American women in that era.

She was raised in the Byzantine Catholic rite, an Eastern rite church in communion with the Latin-rite Roman Catholic Church. In 1925 she entered the contemplative religious order of the Sisters of Charity, founded by St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. 

Bl. Miriam Teresa died just two years later of complications following an appendectomy, even before she took final vows. But during those two years she anonymously penned a series of 26 letters on prayer and the spiritual life that were later published as a book that became popular in the 1930s.

In 1963, a third-grade boy at a New Jersey school run by the order went blind due to macular degeneration but regained his sight without treatment, after the sisters led the school in prayers for Sister Miriam’s intercession.

Although Sister Miriam Teresa Demjanovich was personally unassuming, the spiritual impact she had on other Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth was so unmistakable that they began the effort to have her canonized soon after her May 8, 1927, death in Paterson. Only after her death did confidantes reveal she had described having a vision Mary in her sophomore year and of walking with St. Therese, which she occurred during her novitiate.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


I recently came across an interesting story- not well known in our country - of a very courageous young Japanese woman. Her story deserves to be told and maybe one day we will see her numbered among the saints- tho knowing her story we can say she has already achieved that status.

grew up with ancient Japanese religious and cultural traditions. She could trace her ancestry back one thousand years to Bushido Warrior and Shinto Priesthood.

Like most Japanese at outbreak of WWII, Satoko believed that her Nation’s military forces were honorable and acted with integrity, and understandably she wanted to fight for her country.
However, in the immediate aftermath of the War, the Japanese people learned the extent of their nation's War crimes. The ideals of their cultured society had been betrayed and many thought life was pointless.

Satoko was looking for a greater meaning in life. During the War she was employed in the Nakajima plane factory. In that unhealthy atmosphere where many had contracted tuberculosis, Satoko also became ill, but after recovery went to the university to study as a Pharmacist.

After a mysterious experience at a church in Yokohama City, Satoko contemplated more deeply the meaning of life. She had encountered an irresistible force drawing her to something she could not understand. In her search for answers, she visited some Spanish nuns and there came to understand the soul. Not long after this she converted to Christianity.

She then met the poorly educated Franciscan Missionary Brother Zeno, who took her to a community of ragpickers living on the banks of the Sumida River. Conditions in the township were deplorable. Having lost everything during the war, the residents were not even considered part of the Japanese community and had even fallen beneath society. Tokyo officials were determined to destroy the township and remove it from Sumida Park.

Ant Town,” located in the damp, dirty harbor front area of Tokyo, where the poorest of Japan’s poor, mainly women and children, struggled to eke out an existence. The more comfortable of Japanese society dubbed it “Ant Town” because they said its inhabitants were even less significant than insects.

Shaken to the core by this challenge Satoko wrote in her Diary, “I had thought I was a great Christian because I condescended to dole out some free time, helping Ant children with their homework! … “To save us, God sent His only Son to be one of us... He really became one of us! It hit me now. There was only one way to help those ragpicker children: become a ragpicker like them!" So Satoko gave up her life of wealth and privilege to really live the Gospel of Jesus with the wretchedly poor. Instead of visiting the township, she went to live in Ants' Town.

By now her health was in serious decline. She forced herself to work for the benefit of others, assisting in administration and generating income. Because her influence on town leaders was great, a Center with a classroom, bathroom and meeting hall was built. There, on special occasions, she would also attend Mass with the children and teach them the value of prayer.

Since visiting the ragpickers, Satoko wrote, "I lay down in bed but could not get to sleep. Br. Zeno, a man without formal education, unable to read Japanese, had bridged a chasm separating two nations and two cultures. He had discovered a part of Japan I did not know existed, where thousands lived in unbelievable destitution. Many of them lived less than a kilometre from my home! I had lived in the pampered, educated ignorance of an over-sophisticated world while this unlettered foreigner worked without thought of self in the world of painful reality... I lived surrounded by carpets and gas stoves while he went without even an umbrella into the terrible twilight world of destitution."

During the many challenges, difficulties and hardships the community faced, Satoko never lost faith in the power of the Rosary. She inspired town leaders to pray it with her; she encouraged despairing parents to have faith in it and demonstrated her sincere devotion to it along with her love for the people.

Finally, her spirituality became so widely known throughout Japan that she received countless letters appealing for her prayers. With her Rosary in hand, she was able to claim victory over all official attempts to evict the townsfolk before securing a dignified outcome.

On 22 January 1958 that final equitable outcome was realized when her friend Tooru Matsui announced, “We’ve done it, Satoko, we’ve done it, and it’s thanks to your prayers! Now all you have to do is ask God to get you well so we can plan the new Ants Town and move into it. We’ll get someone to drive you to see the new place as soon as you’re a little better”. With her Rosary in hand, Satoko replied: “No, that will not be necessary. God has granted us everything we’ve asked of Him. That is enough”.

The next day Satoko slipped into eternal life. She had fulfilled her stated vocation, “I want to move to Ant Town and live as the people do. I want to share the life of the Ant people, to work and suffer with them, to rejoice with them as one of them… and to die for them.”

Almighty God, we come before you with our heart-felt
request for the well-being of another person.
Through the intercession of Satoko Kitahara who led a life
of loving sacrifice for others, we pray for (intention)
We simply ask his out of love and having confidence in the
support of Satoko, we await your reply, through Jesus Christ
Our Lord, Amen.