Monday, November 12, 2018


SISTER THEA BOWMAN was  the first African American woman to address the U.S. bishops' conference.  Now, nearly 30 years after her death, Sr. Thea will once again feature at the U.S bishops' conference - but this time, they will be voting to approve the opening of her cause for canonization. (see Blog 10/4/2016)

As a novice-  Franciscans of Perpetual Adoration

When she spoke to the U.S. bishops in 1989 she told them:.

“We as Church walk together. Don’t let nobody separate you, that’s one thing black folks can teach you, don’t let folks divide you. The Church teaches us that the Church is a family, a family of families, and a family that can stay together. And we know that if we do stay together...if we walk and talk and work and play and stand together in Jesus’ name we’ll be who we say we are, truly Catholic. And we shall overcome - overcome the poverty, overcome the loneliness, overcome the alienation, and build together a holy city, a new Jerusalem, a city set apart where...we love one another.”

Her words are as true to day as they were in her lifetime!

Saturday, November 10, 2018


On Nov. 8 Pope Francis  approved the beatification (sometime in 2019)  of American Br. James Miller, who was martyred in 1982 in Guatemala.

 American born BROTHER JAMES (SANTIAGO) MILLER, FSC, was born in Stevens Point, Wisconsin in 1944. He first met the Christian Brothers when he attended Pacelli High School there, and he entered the juniorate in Glencoe, Missouri, in September 1959. He began his year of novitiate in 1962, and following his formation years he started teaching.

He coached football, and taught Spanish, English, and religion in a high school in St. Paul, Minn. There his construction and maintenance abilities gained him the nickname "Brother Fix-It."
After professing his perpetual vows in 1969, he was sent to Bluefields, Nicaragua until 1974 when he was sent to Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua.

In July 1979 his superiors directed him to leave the country because the Sandinista revolution was in progress, and they feared he might be at risk. 

In January 1981 he was allowed to return to Central America, this time to Guatemala. He taught at the secondary school in Huehuetenango and worked at the Indian Center where young indigenous Mayans from rural areas studied and trained in agriculture.

The relations between the Brothers at the Indian Center and the Guatemalan military were often strained. To meet its quota of army conscripts, the government often rounded up Indian boys from the streets. Although students were exempt from military service, the boys from the Center were often conscripted into the army. When that happened, a Brother would present proof to the authorities that the boy in questions was a student. The military would then reluctantly release him.

Two days before Brother James was killed, a Mayan pupil was forced into the army. A Brother tried to obtain his release from the authorities, but his petition was refused. By his adamant demands the Brother infuriated these authorities. In the afternoon of February 13, 1982, while he was repairing a wall at the Indian Center where his boarders lived, three hooded men shot Brother James point blank. He died instantly.

Some saw his death as a warning to the Brothers to cease interfering in government affairs. Attempts to identify his assassins were unsuccessful. Brother James’ cause of martyrdom was undertaken by the Diocese of Huehuetenango in 2009.

Brother James’s killing was one in a string of assassinations of priests and religious in the country, including that of Bl. Stanley Rother five months later.

Aware of the danger present to him in Guatemala, in one of his last letters before he died, Brother James wrote: “I am personally weary of violence, but I continue to feel a strong commitment to the suffering poor of Central America. …the Church is being persecuted because of its option for the poor.”

The  Brother James Miller icon  at the top was painted by Nicholas Markell. The gold circular surrounding the head of Brother James Miller is called a “nimbus.” As with most sacred art, the nimbus is symbolic. Unlike the halo in Western spirituality that represents a canonized saint, the nimbus in Eastern spirituality represents the indwelling of Christ in the person.  I love this image as he hold the lamb, representing Christ

Monday, November 5, 2018


News that the beatification of Bishop Pierre Claverie and his 18 companions, who were martyred in Algeria between 1994 and 1996, will be Dec. 8, at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Holy Cross in Oran.

The new blesseds “have been given to us as intercessors and models of the Christian life, of friendship and fraternity, of encounter and dialogue. May their example aid us in our life today,” the Algerian bishops wrote.
“From Algeria, their beatification will be for the Church and for the world, an impetus and a call to build together a world of peace and fraternity.”

Bishop Claverie was a French Algerian, and the Bishop of Oran from 1981 until his Aug. 1, 1996 martyrdom. He and his companions were killed during the Algerian Civil War by Islamists.

In addition to Claverie, those being beatified are: Brother Henri Vergès, Sister Paul-Hélène Saint-Raymond, Sister Esther Paniagua Alonso, Sister Caridad Álvarez Martín, Fr. Jean Chevillard, Fr. Alain Dieulangard, Fr. Charles Deckers, Fr. Christian Chessel, Sister Angèle-Marie Littlejohn, Sister Bibiane Leclercq, Sister Odette Prévost, Brother Luc Dochier, Brother Christian de Chergé, Brother Christophe Lebreton, Brother Michel Fleury, Brother Bruno Lemarchand, Brother Célestin Ringeard, and Brother Paul Favre-Miville.

The Monastery
The best known of Bishop Claverie's companions are the SEVEN MONKS of TIBHIRINE , who were kidnapped from their Trappist priory in March 1996. They were kept as a bartering chip to procure the release of several imprisoned members of the Armed Islamic Group of Algeria, and were killed in May. Their story was dramatized in the 2010 French film Of Gods and Men, which won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival. I encourage everyone to see this amazingly well done movie.  This beautiful film portrays the life of faith, the religious life, liturgical prayer and the Holy Mass which all contribute to the strength these men would need in the end.

The prior, Christian de Chergé, sought peaceful dialogue with the Muslim population of the area and provided employment, medical attention, and education to the locals. Dom Christian accepted that the current political tensions and violent militias were a threat to his life. According to the Trappist order, he wrote a letter to his community and family, citing the peace felt giving his life to God.  

“If it should happen one day – and it could be today – that I become a victim of the terrorism which now seems ready to engulf all the foreigners living in Algeria, I would like my community, my Church and my family to remember that my life was given to God and to this country,” he wrote.

The seven Cistercian monks of Tibhirine had been abducted in March 1996 in their monastery of Our Lady of the Atlas, 80 km south of Algiers. Their death was announced on May 23 by a statement from the Armed Islamic Group (GIA). The heads of the Trappist monks were found on May 30, 1996, without the mystery of their death being fully clarified.

After the death of the monks of Tibhirine, Bishop Claverie knew his life was in serious danger. A bomb exploded at the entrance of his chancery Aug. 1, 1996, killing him and an aide, Mohamed Bouchikhi.

Thursday, November 1, 2018


ST. MARIA BERTILLA BOSCARDIN  was born to a poor peasant family headed by Angelo Boscardin who, by his own account, was a violently abusive drunk. Anna had little education, was simple and innocent, and was considered mentally slow; referred to as the goose (as in, “silly as a….”).  She worked as a house servant in her youth, joining the Sisters of Saint Dorothy, Daughters of the Sacred Heart at VincenzaItaly in 1904, taking the name Bertilla. After working in the convent‘s kitchen and laundry, she trained as a nurse in 1907.

She began working in a hospital with children suffering from diphtheria. There the young nun seemed to find her true vocation: nursing very ill and disturbed children.  She was a great favorite for her simple, gentle way with the young patients.

Later, when the hospital was taken over by the military in World War I, Sister Maria Bertilla fearlessly cared for patients amidst the threat of constant air raids and bombings. A supervisor, angry at Bertilla’s growing reputation, reassigned her to the hospital laundry. Her congregation’s Mother-general heard of this vindictive treatment, and transferred Sister Bertilla back to nursing, making her the supervisor of the children‘s ward in 1919.

She died in October 1922 of cancer after suffering for many years from a painful tumor. She was canonized by Pope John XXIII in 1961.  Among the many gathered included family members and an unknown number of her patients.

There have been many healing miracles reported at her tomb. Her feast is celebrated  October 20.

BL. ESTHER PANIAGUA ALONSO, born in 1949 in Leon, Spain,  was the daughter of Dolores Alonso and Nicasio Paniagua. Esther joined the Augustinian Missionary Congregation at age 18, making her perpetual vows in August 1970. Trained as a nurse, she was assigned to a hospital in the Bab El Oued neighborhood of Algiers, Algeria where she was especially drawn to handicapped children, and where she came to love the Arab people and culture. Shot three times in the head, she was murdered by members of the Armed Islamic Group while walking to Mass. on Sunday 23 October 1994  with Sister Caridad Álvarez Martín . 

In 1994, faced with the country's civil war situation, when asked if she was afraid of the situation she replied, "No one can take our life because we have already given it. Nothing will happen to us since we are in the hands of God ... and if something happens to us, we are still in his hands. " 

 In spite of the requests of her hierarchy and the Spanish ambassador in Algeria, she refused to leave the country, saying, "At this moment, for me, the perfect model is Jesus: He suffered, He had to overcome difficulties and resulted in the failure of the cross, from which springs the source of life.”

She will be beatified with other Algerian martyrs, including the monks of Tibhirine,  December 8, 2018. (Next Blog)  Her feast day will be October 23.

Sunday, October 28, 2018


 VENERABLE  MARY JANE WILSON  (SISTER MARY of ST. FRANCIS) was born on October 3rd 1840 in Hurryhur, Mysore, Karnataka, India of English parents.

She was orphaned in childhood and handed over to her aunt who gave her a proper education. Raised an Anglican she converted to Catholicism, joining the Church in France in 1873.

In 1881 she arrived in Madeira, Portugal where she worked as a nurse taking care of an Englishwoman. At the same time, she taught catechism to the local children, looked after the sick and supported education to the young by teaching youngsters across the island.

In 1884, she founded the Franciscan Sisters of Our Lady of Victory who dedicated their lives to caring for children and the sick. During the destructive epidemic of 1907, the Franciscan Sisters worked by her side looking after the victims of smallpox. For this act of bravery she was awarded the"Torre e Espada" (Tower & Sword) by King D. Carlos.

In October 1910, with the republican revolution, the Congregation was extinguished and as a result, Sister Mary Jane Wilson  was expelled to England. After a year of exile she was able to return to Madeira where she gave new life to the congregation she had founded.

She died on October 18th 1916 in Câmara de Lobos due to natural causes at the age of 76.

She was also dubbed "Good Mother" due to her deep faith and caring of  the poor and the young. Enlightened by her example, the Congregation she founded now has sisters, not only in Madeira, but also in mainland Portugal and the Azores, Mozambique, England, Italy, Germany, Brazil, South Africa, Philippines, Angola, India, Congo, Timor and Tanzania.

She was venerated on 9 October 9th 2013 by Pope Francis.   There is a lovely sculpture of Venerable Mary Jane by Luís Paixão in the Santa Cruz Municipal Garden, in Madeira.

BL. MARIA EUTHYMIA UFFING, one of eleven children,  was born in Halverde Germany  in 1914. At 18 months, she developed a form of rickets that stunted her growth and left her in poor health the rest of her life. Emma worked on her parents‘ farm as a child, and by her early teens began to feel a call to religious life.

She worked as an apprentice in house keeping management at the hospital in HopstenGermany, completing her studies in May 1933.  In 1933 she entered the Sister of the Congregation of Compassion  taking the name Euthymia. At the time of her vows she wrote her mother: "I found Him who my heart loves; I want to hold Him and never let Him go" (cf. Song 3,4).

She was assigned to work at Saint Vincent’s Hospital in Dinslaken. She graduated with distinction from the nursing program in 1939 and worked as nurse through World War II.

In 1943 she was assigned to nurse prisoners of war and foreign workers with infectious diseases. She worked tirelessly for her charges, caring for them, praying for them, and insuring they received the sacraments. She knew that the sick prisoners did not have to contend with physical sufferings alone. Through her warm sympathy and nearness, she instilled in them a feeling of being safe and at home. 

After the war she was given supervision of the huge laundry rooms of the Dinslaken hospital, her order’s mother-house, and the Saint Raphael Clinic in Münster, Germany; what little spare time she had was spent in prayer before the Eucharist. Many who knew her, asked her to intercede for them in her prayers. A serious form of cancer brought Bl. Euthymia to an untimely death after long weeks of illness. She died on the morning of 9 September 1955.

Her feast is September 9.

Thursday, October 25, 2018


BL. GERTRUDE PROSPERI Born to a wealthy, pious family, in 1799 in Fogliano di CasciaPerugiaItaly.

In 1820   she joined the Benedictines at the monastery of Sante Lucia di Trevi, taking the name Sister Maria Luisa Angelica. She served as a nurse as well as a novice mistress. She was elected abbess in 1837, an office she held till her death.

She was well known among her peers for strict observance to the Rule of Saint Benedict (reviving many traditions), for her ardent devotion to both the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to Eucharistic adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.  In her duties she was always  joyful and full of the love and care of Jesus for her charges.

For a period of five years the spiritual director and Bishop of Spoleto (and future cardinal) Ignazio Giovanni Cadolini guided her in discerning the truth of her visions and the ability to differentiate between visions and the work of Satan

Bl. Gertrude died on 13 September 1847 after a painful illness. Her writings were left preserved and were copied when her Jesuit confessor Father Paterniani wrote the first chronicle of her life in 1870.

The process for her beatification began by the bishop of Spoleto, Pietra Pacificia, in 1914 but was interrupted during the First and Second World Wars, only to be resumed in December 1987.

She was beatified 12 November 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI. The miracle needed for her beatification was the curing of a woman from Umbria of a brain-related illness.  Her feast is  September 13.

VENERABLE NOEME CINQUE - White Angel of the Trans-Amazonian Highway-
(Sister Serafina) was born in 1913 in the Amazons in  Brazil. She was the second oldest of thirteen children. She felt called to be a nun early in her life, but she needed to work to help her family financially.

She decided to become a teacher and nurse. She would often visit the sick and elderly people in their homes. She also taught catechism locally and was a member of Catholic Action at her parish. Finally, in 1948 she joined an American  congregation of nuns – the Adorers of the Blood of Christ – who were working in Brazil missions. It was then she took the name Sister Serafina. 

She came to the United States for a few years to do her novitiate and studies and then was assigned to an area in the Amazons that had no doctors. She was the principal of a school there, but was also the medical professional for the entire region, teaching nutrition and hygiene as well as caring for the sick.  Her dedication and unselfish attitude was great.

In 1969 she fell ill with tuberculosis, but recovered. In 1971,  she was assigned to another area in  Brazil, which had a growing population due to the construction of the Trans-Amazonian Highway. With the growth of population, there was a lack of medical professionals and space in hospitals. 

Sister Serafina helped establish the Divine Providence Home for pregnant women and infants who could not be admitted to hospitals. The house could take in up to 40 women a day.  There she was able to offer special care for those who were homeless. In 1985 she built another home called the Refuge for the sick and abandoned.

She died of cancer in 1988 when she was 75 years old. She is remembered as the “Angel of the Amazons” by the local people. Pope Francis declared her venerable in 2014 because of her heroic virtues.

Monday, October 22, 2018


Beatified this past Saturday in Spain, was another holy Jesuit (and you know how I love the Jesuits).

BLESSED TIBURCIO ARNAIZ MUNOZ, SJ., one of Spain's most beloved religious figures of the 20th Century, was born in Calle de Panaderos, Valladolid, Spain. Padre Arnáiz was noted to be a tireless apostle for the Misión Popular and as a zealous worker among the poor.

Entering seminary at an early age, he was ordained to the priesthood on April 20, 1890. Appointed parish priest of Villanueva de Duero in 1893, he earned a doctorate in theology from the Primatial See of Toledo in 1896.

A parish priest of Poyales del Hoyo, following the death of his mother, he joined the Society of Jesus in 1902, doing the novitiate in Granada. His sister at this time  joined the Dominican nuns at the convent where he had once served as their sacristan.

He soon became concerned with those living in farms and in other rural locations, though he also spent some time in Loyola. He was in Cádiz from 1916 to 1917 before returning to Málaga to continue his work.  

Maria Isabel

In 1922 he co-founded the Missionaries of the Rural Parishes, alongside  Servant of God María Isabel González del Valle Sarandeses, whom he had come to know. This organization would be of use to the priest in his unwavering commitment to the moral and cultural well-being of the poor with an added emphasis on those who lived in remote and rural areas. 

Bl. Tiburcio also knew the Bishop of Málaga Saint Manuel González García who had praised him for his work and encouraged him to continue it on a grand scale.

Contracting a bronchial pneumonia, he passed away in Málaga on July 18, 1926, aged 60. After obtaining a special permission, his Jesuit brethren buried him inside the church of the Corazón de Jesús of Málaga.

Monument in Malaga
The miracle required for his beatification was investigated in Málaga, concerning the mid-1990s cure of a man who had been in a coma for a week and was on the verge of death; he likewise suffered from a cardiorespiratory arrest