Monday, June 18, 2018


The second physician named venerable is  PEDRO HERRERO RUBIO, a Spanish layman and pediatrician who dedicated his life to the medical and spiritual needs of his young patients and their parents. He died in Spain in 1978.

He was born in 1904 in Alicante, where his father was an official . He began to study with the Marist Brothers but his father was assigned to Orihuela in 1917 so  he finished high school  with Jesuits.  In 1924 he moved to Madrid where he began studying at the College of Surgery of San Carlos of the Central University

He was a student of the Nobel Prize winner, Santiago Ramón y Cajal, and of the future President, Dr. Juan Negrín. Graduating in 1927 he specialized in Pediatrics and Obstetrics.
iWith a state scholarship he went to the University of Paris to study.

Back in Alicante he applied to the Medical Association and began working as a doctor of childhood diseases in the dispensary of the Spanish Red Cross

In 1931 he married Patrocinio Javaloy Lizón and while they had no children of their own, his reputation as "children's doctor", especially the disadvantaged,  began to be known. He gave them medicine and also helped them with his own money, baptizing them even. He was known among his colleagues to be of the highest moral authority.

The religious persecution during the thirties did not prevent him from continuing his Christian life from the underground. He was arrested in 1937 because of his Catholic status but was released at the request of a commission of women, workers and militiamen from Alicante, alluding to his generous dedication to the poorest.

From 1954-1960 he served as councilor of the city of Alicante, not because he was affiliated with a political party, but because he was elected by the provincial governor because of his personal worth. In 1970, he was awarded the honorary position of Medical Honorific Dean of the Body of Physicians of the Provincial Charity. In 1974, he was awarded the Province Gold Medal. In 1976, he was awarded the First Class Cross and White Badge of the Civil Order of Charity, and finally he was awarded the title of Illustrious Son of the city of Alicante.

Venerable Pedro died in 1978 in Barcelona undergoing emergency surgery due to an intestinal obstruction. At his funeral the bishop of Alicante spoke of him as "a saint of today".  With both of these modern holy doctors and their care of the sick, one is reminded of St. Giuseppe Moscati.

Thursday, June 14, 2018


Two months ago our family doctor of 30 years retired.  He was a rare specimen in our modern age of doctors who rely too much on technology and not enough on their instinct. His favorite saying was:  it’s your body, listen to it.  While I am not sure he was a saint, he was  compassionate and generous, never rushing with you and had the ability to make you feel you were his favorite patient.  This month I would like to focus on some very special doctors in our modern Church.

Jesus Healing

Amazingly, as I was preparing a Blog on two new Venerables,  both of whom were physicians, the Holy Father on May 28 , met with members of the International Federation of Associations of Catholic Physicians ahead of a congress on the theme of “Holiness of life and the medical profession, from Humanae vitae to Laudato si'” in Zagreb, Croatia May 30-June 2.
He noted the “hardships and difficulties” physicians may face when they are faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church, particularly when they promote and defend human life “from its conception to its natural end.”
Doctors “are called to affirm the centrality of the patient as a person and his dignity with his inalienable rights, primarily the right to life.  The tendency to debase the sick man as a machine to be repaired, without respect for moral principles, and to exploit the weakest by discarding what does not correspond to the ideology of efficiency and profit must be resisted.”
To be a Catholic doctor means to feel driven by “faith and from communion with the Church” to grow in Christian and professional formation and to know the laws of nature in order “to better serve life,” he said, stressing that the participation of Catholic physicians in the life and mission of the Church is “so necessary.”
“Be more and more aware that today it is necessary and urgent that the action of the Catholic physician presents itself with an unmistakable clarity on the level of personal and associative testimony,” he urged.
He also encouraged working together with professionals of other religious convictions who also recognize the dignity of the human person, and with priests and religious who work in the healthcare field.
Continue the journey “with joy and generosity,” he said, “in collaboration with all the people and institutions that share the love of life and endeavor to serve it in its dignity and sacredness.”
One doctor who certainly fulfilled in his professional life as well as his spiritual life the virtues our Holy Father calls for in the medical profession was VENERABLE VITTORIO TRANCANELLI, a married layman and surgeon, who was known as “the Saint of the Operating Room.” Born in Perugia, Italy in 1944, he wanted to go on mission as a doctor but the birth of his first child with special needs meant he stayed in his home city.

He studied medicine in Perugia at the college where he graduated. He also liked to learn about Sacred Scripture and Etruscology- study of the ancient civilization of the Etruscans in Italy, which was incorporated into an expanding Roman Empire during the period of Rome's Middle Republic.

He married Rosalia Sabatini in 1965 and became quite ill in 1976 prior to the birth of his son Diego. His illness returned in 1981 before the birth of his second child. He and his wife adopted seven others with some of them being disabled and formed an association of families who adopted disadvantaged children.

He gained a strong reputation for both his good work as a doctor and for his personal holiness which was evident in his interactions with people he worked with.  He was dubbed "The Saint of the Operating Room".

Venerable Vittorio was enthralled with Judaism, as Jesus Christ was a Jew, and contributed to Jewish festivals and attempted to learn the language. He was a frequent contributor to the Ecumenical Centre of St Martin where the elders there dubbed him as "our rabbi".

He had an operation for ulcerative colitis which had developed into peritonitis.He became ill in March 1998 and died three months later on 24 June 1998.

Archbishop Giuseppe Chiaretti celebrated the funeral mass in which his coffin was draped with a tallit  (prayer shawl) due to his love for the Jewish people. A great number of people and those of the Jewish faith attended. The archbishop referred to Vittorio as a "saint of our time" who espoused a "civilization of love". One can see from the photos that he radiated the joy of His beloved Lord.

Monday, June 11, 2018


Having grown  and studied the uses of medicinal (as well as culinary) herbs for many years at our Mother Abbey, this new venerable is dear to my heart.

VENERABLE SUZANNE AUBERT (Sister Mary Joseph or Mother Aubert), was a Catholic sister who started a home for orphans and the under-privileged in Jerusalem, New Zealand on the Whanganui River in 1885.

Mother Aubert first came to New Zealand in 1860 and formed the Congregation of the Holy Family to educate Māori children. She founded the Daughters of Our Lady of Compassion in 1892. She later started two hospitals in Wellington.

She cared for children and the sick, by skillfully combining Māori medicine and Pākehā (European) science, and wrote books in Māori, English and French adding significantly to a higher cultural understanding and literary heritage.

Mother Aubert was actively engaged with the local Māori population and spoke Māori well. She wrote a book New and complete manual of Maori conversation, containing phrases and dialogues on a variety of useful and interesting topics, together with a few general rules of grammar  and a comprehensive vocabulary.

When Mother Aubert died in 1926, her funeral was believed to be one of the largest in the small country’s history. Not only did she tend to the sick, but she also helped keep the her community afloat by selling medicines and other apothecary goods. She diverged from Western medicine traditions, seeking out ways to combine those doctrines with Māori medicine.

Marie Henriette Suzanne Aubert was born in 1835 near Lyon, France. She was educated by Benedictine nuns at La Rochette in Luxembourg.  Following the 19th century French custom among middle-class and upper-class families, Marie’s parents had arranged her marriage to the son of a family friend.  Marie however refused to comply. She then sought the support of the much-respected Jean-Marie-Baptiste Vianney, parish priest of Ars and later St Jean Vianney, who told her she had made the right decision that God had other designs for her.

In 1860 at age 25,  she sailed to New Zealand with Bishop Jean Baptiste François Pompallier and a number of other Catholic missionaries recruited during his year-long visit back to Europe. Here, in New Zealand Marie Aubert served the sick, orphaned, elderly and those ‘unnoticed’ by society.

She established New Zealand’s first soup kitchen that still serves almost 40,000 meals a year. She established orphanages for abandoned children and provided care for the handicapped, the sick and the dying. She was a pioneer of New Zealand’s health and welfare system and a friend to Māori throughout her life.

She founded the Daughters of Our Lady of Compassion in 1892.  It was the only Catholic congregation born and growing to maturity in New Zealand.

In addition to their religious life, the sisters taught and nursed, farmed newly cleared bush, tended an orchard, made and marketed medicines, sold fruit to tourists and raised homeless children,  and as a result the community grew and thrived. Much of their income came through the sales of Mother Aubert's medicinal formulations, including many cannabis-based medicines. She is the first person known to grow cannabis in New Zealand.  This interesting fact is not why she has been declared venerable!

Thursday, June 7, 2018


Paraguay soon  celebrates the honor delivered to the Carmelite nun “Chiquitunga”, marking her  the nation’s first woman to be beatified. The beatification ceremony will take place June 23 in the Cerro Porteño club stadium.

MARIA GUGGIARI ECHEVERRIA  (in religion María Felicia Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament) was a Paraguayan  Discalced Carmelite  who also served in her adolescence as a member of Catholic Action. She entered the order despite the opposition of her parents and was a close friend of Saua Angel, a friend from Catholic Action who became a priest.

María was born in 1925 in Villarica del Espiritu Santo, Guairá, Paraguay as the first of seven children to Ramón Guggiari and María Arminda Echeverría. Her father often called her "Chiquitunga".

In 1941 she became a member of the Catholic Action movement, despite her parents' opposition to it, dedicating herself to the movement. She daily received Communion and  gave herself with  joyful, and unconditional dedication to the work of children, young people and the sick, the elderly and needy. Her love for the poor and suffering was exceptional.

She met her spiritual director Father Julio Cesar Duarte Ortella in 1941. It was during her time with the movement that she met and fell in love with the medical student Saua Angel and she began to wonder if God wanted her to wed like the parents of St Thérèse of Lisieux who made vows to remain chaste in the married life. Maria waited for the Lord's will to manifest itself.  In 1951 Angel  told her in that he felt called to the priesthood. She decided to offer whatever assistance he needed and helped Angel hide it from his father, a Muslim. Angel left for Madrid for further studies and to continue to discern his vocation. Maria made a vow to remain chaste in 1942.

In 1947, due to civil unrest, her father and brother Federico were sent to Posadas in Argentina for a brief period of time.  In February 1950 she and her parents relocated to the capital of the nation. Despite strong opposition from her parents, she entered the Discalced Carmelite Order in 1955.  She lived the next three years with charity, sacrifice and joy, giving of herself in a special way for the lives of priests.

In 1959 she became ill with infectious hepatitis and was forced to move into a sanatorium to recover from her illness. She was with her siblings and parents when she died. Her last words were:  "Jesus I love You! What a sweet encounter! Virgin Mary

For the beatification Mass in Asuncion, Paraguay June 23, Paraguayan artist Koki Ruiz will make an altarpiece with more than 20,000 rosaries donated by parishioners. 60,000 are expected to attend the ceremony.

Monday, June 4, 2018


During Mass  for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, Pope Francis said:
Bro. Mickey McGrath, OSFS

“Only the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, the food of life, can satisfy the hunger of hearts for love, a universal experience.
In life, we constantly need to be fed: nourished not only with food, but also with plans and affection, hopes and desires. We hunger to be loved. But the most pleasing compliments, the finest gifts and the most advanced technologies are not enough; they never completely satisfy us.
The Eucharist is simple food, like bread, yet it is the only food that satisfies, for there is no greater love. There we encounter Jesus really; we share His life and we feel His love.
Let us choose this food of life! Let us make Mass our priority! Let us rediscover Eucharistic adoration in our communities! Let us implore the grace to hunger for God, with an insatiable desire to receive what He has prepared for us…
Jesus prepares a place for us here below, because the Eucharist is the beating heart of the Church. It gives her birth and rebirth; it gathers her together and gives her strength. But the Eucharist also prepares for us a place on high, in eternity, for it is the Bread of heaven.
The Eucharist is our reservation for the heavenly banquet.  It is Jesus Himself, as food for our journey towards eternal life and happiness…
Everyone knows people who are lonely, troubled, or in need: “they are abandoned tabernacles. Those who receive Jesus in the Eucharist are here to prepare a place and a meal for these, our brothers and sisters in need.
Jesus became bread broken for our sake; in turn, He asks us to give ourselves to others, to live no longer for ourselves but for one another. In this way, we live “eucharistically,” pouring out upon the world the love we draw from the Lord’s flesh.”

Sunday, June 3, 2018


Communion of Saints- Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral- John Nava

I know I have written of this call to holiness in the past, but I believe we cannot hear it too often in our lives. Popes  (St.) John Paul II,  Benedict XVI and  Francis have canonized a total of 1,375 saints, a number that  far exceeds the combined total of saints canonized since 1588, the year the Congregation for the Causes of Saints was established.  Pope Francis alone has canonized 848 saints, more than any of his predecessors (his first canonization involved around 800 Italian martyrs).

St John Paul II began the call during his pontificate for more saints based on the teachings of Vatican II. His inspiration came specifically from Lumen Gentium  in  the chapter entitled, “The Universal Call of Holiness in the Church”, which tells us that all people are called to lead a holy life. Not only priests and religious but the laity as well.

In order that the faithful may reach this perfection, they must use their strength accordingly as they have received it, as a gift from Christ. They must follow in His footsteps and conform themselves to His image seeking the will of the Father in all things. They must devote themselves with all their being to the glory of God and the service of their neighbor. In this way, the holiness of the People of God will grow into an abundant harvest of good, as is admirably shown by the life of so many saints in Church history” (LG, 40).

While to many this seems an impossible way to live out their lives, we have only to look at so many in recent years who have shown us the way to holiness… doctors, lawyers, people in business, mothers, fathers, children, etc.
Communion of Saints-  Elise Ritter

St. John Paul II firmly believed that all people, especially the laity, should aspire to holiness and not be afraid to become a saint. He wrote in Novo Millenio Ineunte, ”this ideal of perfection must not be misunderstood as if it involved some kind of extraordinary existence, possible only for a few ‘uncommon heroes’ of holiness. The ways of holiness are many, according to the vocation of each individual. I thank the Lord that in these years he has enabled me to beatify and canonize a large number of Christians, and among them many lay people who attained holiness in the most ordinary circumstances of life” (NM, 31).

Pope Francis has said: “Every state of life leads to holiness, always!  At home, on the streets, at work, at church, in the moment and with the state of life that you have, a door is opened on the road to sainthood. Do not be discouraged to travel this road. God gives you the grace to do so. And this is all that the Lord asks, is that we are in communion with Him and serve others.”

Friday, June 1, 2018


On May 19, Pope Francis issued a decree that recognized the heroic virtues of BR. NORBERT McAULIFFE, an American missionary in Africa.

Venerable Norbert McAuliffe was born in 1886 in Manhattan, New York, and eventually joined the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, a relatively new religious congregation at the time. The congregation was founded by in 1821 by Fr. André Coindre in France and by the time of his death was beginning to spread around the world. The community of brothers are trained to work with the poor through the establishment of schools.

According to their Rule of Life: “Our love for our brothers and the young people in our care radiates from the love Jesus has for us. Our dedication to others, marked by respect, kindness, and concern, will be a sign to them of the compassion of Christ.”

The congregation is primarily made up of religious brothers, with only a few members being ordained priests.

Initially Bro. McAuliffe served as a director of their house in Metuchen, New Jersey, for about six years before being sent as a missionary to Africa. He was sent to Gulu, Uganda, where he established the congregation’s first mission there. The country at the time was under British rule and the people were receptive to Brother
Norbert’s missionary activities. He remained there for 20 years until his death on July 3, 1959 at the age of 72.

His legacy lives on in Uganda and his life was an inspiration to the African people he ministered to in the region.