Thursday, November 30, 2017


Amazing how working on the life of one saint leads us to another. Sometimes I think they gather in Heaven discussing who needs to be noticed next!  Another woman who devoted her life to the sanctification of priests was BLESSED MARIA TERESA CASINI, foundress of the Oblate Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

She was born in Frascati  (Italy) among the area's aristocracyin 1864. A contemplative and apostolic soul who was favored by profound mystical experiences, she understood the plea of the Heart of Jesus to offer her life as an oblation of prayer and reparation to support priests.

On the day Teresa had made her First Communion, she was in the family chapel of her home when she looked at the crucified Jesus on the cross and was moved to tears thinking about the suffering and abandonment He had suffered. The wounded Heart of Jesus pierced by a thorn flooded her mind. That memory defined the thrust of her life from that day on, and she was driven by her devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. 

She traveled to Rome for her studies at the Santa Rufina boarding school that the nuns of the Madams of the Sacred Heart conducted.  Due to a period of ill health, she had to leave school and return home for recuperation.

Shortly after she turned eighteen, she responded to her vocation and met Father Arsenio Pellegrini who became her guide and her spiritual director and who served as the Abbot of the Basilian Monks of Grottaferrata. Despite entering the convent, ill health forced her to leave, though she attempted to enter once again yet failed due to the death of the foundress after which the institute she joined ceased to exist.

In due time, she became a nun after entering the monastery of Sepolte Vive in Rome on 2 February 1885. She only started to live in Grottaferrata with fellow entrants in 1892. In 1894, she founded the Oblate Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus for the purpose of praying for holiness for priests, assisting them in their ministry and promoting new vocations.

It was not until 1925 that she started the special work of the "Little Friends of Jesus" in order to promote and to cultivate the vocations of prospective priests  As time went on, the Oblates responded to requests from pastors in parishes to help them in their rectories and schools of religion. This led to filling the urgent need for homes for priests recuperating from serious illnesses, for retired priests and for those working outside the parish.

Throughout her life, she offered "the oblation of herself, in faithful response to the Love that overflows from the open Heart of the Savior, and which she imparted to so many daughters and priests". This even earned the praise of Pope (St.) Pius X in 1904 who wrote: "In order to bring about the reign of Jesus Christ, nothing is more necessary than the sanctity of the clergy. God bless these sisters for their selfless love for these men of God, for through them, through the sacraments, we are fortified and purified for the journey".

Bl. Maria Teresa suffered a stroke in 1925, and a more severe one two years later. She remained bedridden for the rest of her life, while directing the Oblate Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus from her bedside. She went to her eternal reward in the early morning of April 3, 1937, in Grottaferrata. 

Her final words were: "I am peaceful. I feel God is near me".She was beatified in 2015.

Monday, November 27, 2017


Another holy woman, who lived long ago,  and gave her life for the sanctification of priests was  BLESSED AGNES of JESUS (Agnes de Langeac). She was the daughter of Pierre Galand, a knife-maker, and his wife Guillemette Massiote a lace-maker. She was the third of seven children, born in 1602  in Puy-en-Velay, France . 

At the age of 7, Agnes gave herself entirely to the Blessed Virgin praying: " Holy Virgin, since you deign to want me to be yours, from this moment I offer you all that I am and I promise to serve you all my life as a slave . "

Shortly afterwards she made her First Communion, taking a vow of virginity.  Agnes used to give alms to all the poor she met in the streets of Le Puy. In her teens she taught catechism and took special care of pregnant women. 

She is known as a helper for difficult pregnancies and for couples who want a child. It was in 1952 in Langeac, through her intercession that a mother gave birth, while her life and that of the baby were in danger. The miracle was recognized and made way for the beatification of Agnes in Rome in 1994.

In 1623  she left the Le Puy to go to the Dominican monastery of St. Catherine of Siena in Langeac . She made profession there on 2 February 1625 and in 1627
was named prioress. She was noted for her  kindness and love of her sisters.

Through her prayers and counsels she led Jean-Jacques Olier towards the foundation of the first Seminaries of Saint Sulpice.
Agnes of Jesus bore the stigmata without being visible externally.

She died on 19 October 1634 , leaving her daughters as a spiritual charge to pray for priests and priestly vocations.

Agnes of Jesus was beatified on 20 November 1994 by  (St.) Pope John Paul II . This beatification may seem surprising because of the sometimes confusing mystical language of Mother Agnes; however, the great simplicity of her faith, her vocation to pray for priestly vocations and her devotion to the Holy Spirit were seen as models by Pope John Paul II.

Saturday, November 25, 2017


The Conference of Catholic Bishops has announced Sunday, Nov. 26 as a Day of Prayer for Persecuted Christians.

“On the solemnity of CHRIST THE KING, I ask that the entire church in the United States come together in a special way for a day of prayer for persecuted Christians to express our solidarity with those who are suffering,” says Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference.

“To focus attention on the plight of Christians and other minorities is not to ignore the suffering of others,” he said. “Rather by focusing on the most vulnerable members of society, we strengthen the entire fabric of society to protect the rights of all.”

The bishops’ conference made the announcement in collaboration with Aid to the Church in Need, Catholic Relief Services, the Knights of Columbus, and the Catholic Near East Welfare Association .

(Church of Holy Martyrs of Japan- Missouri)

The “Solemnity of Christ the King is a fitting time to reflect on religious freedom and Christians around the world who are being persecuted in unheard of numbers.

The day of prayer also begins a week (  Nov. 26-Dec. 3.) of awareness and education, entitled “Solidarity in Suffering.” 

Friday, November 24, 2017


In history many holy people  had visions of Jesus, who encouraged them to pray for priests and renewal of  the clergy. They are spiritual mothers, who  take special spiritual care of priests. 

One such saint who gave her life for priests was BL. MARIE de JEAUS DELUIL-MARTINY born in 1841 in Marseilles, France. She was the oldest child in family of five.  Among her mother’s family members there were  nuns, who through their devoutness and perseverance impressive the family. Marie’s father was a lawyer and in this profession he earned money to maintain his family.

Marie was educated in a school conducted by sisters. After graduating, she wanted to visit Ars to listen to  (St.) Jean Marie Vianney’s homilies. Many pilgrims came to Ars to meet this priest. While she eventually got to Ars, she didn’t meet the saintly man.

When Marie returned home, she found that her younger sister, age 10, had died following her First Communion. It was a huge shock for Marie (she wrote in her diary that she felt like a part of her soul was dying then). 

She was invited in 1865 to make a spiritual retreat on the occasion of Pope Pius IX celebrating the beatification of Marguerite-Marie Alacoque. In December 1866 she heard the Jesuit priest Jean Calage  preach on the topic of the Sacred Heart and so revealed to him her desire to enter the religious life - he became her spiritual director.

In 1873 she decided to found the Congregation of the Daughters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. From childhood she was very devoted to Sacred Heart of Jesus, so naturally it became a Center of spiritual life in founded Congregation. Sisters tried to execute their charism not only by acts – the main aim was to unite spiritually with Jesus Heart. Marie understood Jesus’ calling to find “lost sheep”. She wrote:

“One more heart, which loves Jesus, one more soul, which adores Him and devote oneself Him, one more mouth, which profess and worship Him; one more spirit to contemplate Him and to be filled with His presence. And after that – one more seraph to be feverish with His love. For all these things it’s worth to spill your blood for it. Others may say it is an act of folly – the first example is Jesus: this is the same folly, for which a Word came to world as a man, the same folly that humbled Him in Nazareth and covered Him with blood in Gethsemane. It was the same folly that made Him an offer on Calvary and after His death – hurt His heart to let His Holly Blood flow and to spread His Love.”

Bl. Marie was aware how important was having saint shepherds in Church. She knew that priests were of great importance in leading people to God – by sacraments and preaching the Gospel. Because of it, she felt big responsibility of them and decided to pray and suffer in their intention. She said: “Offering for souls is really valuable thing! But offering for priests’ souls… it is so beautiful and responsible challenge that thousand lives and hearts wouldn’t be enough… I would willingly sacrifice my life for priests – just to make them be up to Jesus’ expectations. I would offer my life in the intention of any priest – hoping that he would perfectly realize God’s plan in his priestly service.”

In February 1884,  she was shot  by the crazed gardener, who was also an anarchist. He waited in ambush as she and the religious passed during their recreation. He sprang out as she spoke kind words to him. He grabbed her and shot her twice at point-blank range with a revolver. Before she died, she murmured "I forgive him ... for the Institute".

After death her body was moved from place to place and eventually – it was placed in Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Antwerp. On 22nd October 1989 she was beatified by pope John Paul II. Her remains were later moved to Rome on 28 September 2013.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017


I paint saints because they embody the great desire to be one, united with the great source of life and love - our true purpose for being... BROTHER ARTURO OLIVAS, OFS

Self Portrait
My dear friend, renowned santero ARTURO OLIVAS passed to the Father, on Saturday, November 18 after an almost  7 year battle with cancer.  Everyone who came into contact with him, from his students to fellow artists, were better for knowing him.

Arturo painted Catholic images after the style of New Mexican religious folk artists of the 18th and 19th centuries. These images are commonly known as retablos. Early Santeros, who painted Retablos, used wooden panels and water-soluble paints colored with natural pigments and sealed their paintings with pinesap varnish. Arturo painted his original Retablos using these same materials.

The iconography of the Retablos is based on a centuries old canon governing the depiction of Catholic saints. The Church relied heavily upon the standard use of symbols and motifs to help illiterate faithful in Europe and the Americas identify and learn the stories of the saints. Hence one could travel from the churches and chapels in New Mexico to those of Peru and identify the same saints rendered in distinct regional styles.

The Christmas Card
St Martin de Porres

New Mexican Retablos are distinctive in the bold use of simple lines and colors. The primitive materials dictated the style and training available to artists who were generally self-taught, a distinction Arturo shares with his forebears. The tradition of New Mexican Retablo painting reached its peak during the mid-nineteenth century. Arturo's work incorporates elements of his Spanish and Native American ancestry in order to preserve and teach the faith and customs of his forebears.

Arturo’s family originated in Spain from whence it migrated to Mexico, Texas, New Mexico and California. The Olivas family entered New Mexico in 1695 as part of the so-called reconquest of the region after the 1680 Pueblo Indian revolt which expelled the Spanish-Mexicans to El Paso. About ninety years later another branch of the Olivas family guarded the founding settlers of Los Angeles, California and was later granted the Rancho San Miguel in Ventura which still stands as a public museum.

"My family heritage strongly influences my work. In my youth my father danced the Matachines, an ancient folk dance introduced by the Spanish conquistadors, on the major feast days of the saints. My mother is descended in part from the Tarahumara people of northern Mexico and valued the folk traditions of her people. In my work I incorporate elements of my Spanish and Native American ancestry in order to preserve and teach the faith and customs of my forebears."  (Br. Arturo Olivas, OFS)

OL of Guadalupe
Arturo  became a Secular Franciscan Order in 2007, making his  final profession in 2010. He served as servant minster from 2012 to 2015. His Franciscan vocation meant a lot to him and he was in the process of petitioning for permission for lay religious to wear the habit of the Order ( a custom in later times).

Several years ago Arturo gave us permission to use one of his pieces for our Christmas card. We chose  "The Soul of Mary". Arturo had told me he wanted to present us with one of his works, and knowing my birthday was the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, he would give us  that work. Later however knowing of my love of the Sacred Heart, he made for me that piece, giving it to us last year. I am sure it was one of his last pieces, and one which we treasure. 

Arturo's faith, in his  work and health and in his illness are an example to all of us and while he will be greatly missed, his life lives on through his art and his example.

OLRs Sacred Heart of Jesus

Monday, November 20, 2017


It has been a big month for the Holy Father as he furthers the steps for more holy people to  canonization.

The Vatican  last week announced that Albino Luciani – better know as POPE JOHN PAUL I  – has moved forward on the path to sainthood, and can now officially be called “Venerable” by faithful around the world.
The first Pope to born in the 20th century, he is also the most recent Italian-born Pontiff and is often referred to as “the Smiling Pope” by those who knew him or remember his election.

He sent shock waves around the world when he died unexpectedly just 33 days later, making his one of the shortest pontificates in the history of the Church.  He had hardly given four general audiences when he died. The late Pope suffered a brief, unknown cardiac episode the night before he died, which was likely linked to a previous heart problem he thought had been resolved, but was most likely the cause of his death.

Born Oct. 17, 1912, in Italy’s northern Veneto region, Albino Luciani made history when he was elected Pope Aug. 26, 1978, and took a double name after his two immediate predecessors, St. John XXIII and Bl. Paul VI.

Despite living in relative poverty, he entered the minor seminary in Feltre in 1923, when he was just 11 years old, and entered the Gregorian Seminary at Belluno five years later, in 1928. He was ordained a priest July 7, 1935, and after serving in a parish for a few months, in December of that year he was named instructor of religion at the Technical Institute for Miners in Agordo. He became vice-rector of the Belluno seminary just two years later, in 1937 – a position he would hold for the next 10 years.

Literature also played a key role in the future Pope's formation. He had a library full of books in different languages and a special fondness for Anglo-American literature. Though he knew English, French, German and Russian, his favorite authors were from the Anglo world, and included authors such as G.K. Chesterton, Willa Cather, and Mark Twain. (no wonder he smiled a lot!)   Later as cardinal, he even  wrote his own book called “Illustrissimi,” which is a series of letters penned to a variety of historical and fictional persons, including Jesus, King David, Figaro the Barber, Austrian Empress Maria Theresa Habsburg, Pinocchio, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, and Christopher Marlowe.
At the same time, he also became an instructor at the seminary and continued to pursue his own studies in theology. When his time as vice-rector was complete in 1947, he obtained a docorate degree in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

At just 36 years of age, he was named chancellor of the diocese of Belluno and given the title “Monsignor.” That year he was also nominated secretary for the diocesan synod of bishops. A year later, in 1948, he was named Pro Vicar General of the Belluno diocese and director of their office for catechesis and was named Vicar General of Belluno six years later, in 1954.

In 1958, he was named Bishop of the Vittorio Veneto diocese by St. John XXIII, and was consecrated by the Pope himself in St. Peter's Basilica. 

Bishop Luciani was among the bishops present from around the world for the opening of the Second Vatican Council in 1962, and he attended each of the four sessions before the Council's close in 1965.

In 1969 he was named Patriarch of Venice by Bl. Pope Paul VI, one of the few patriarchates in the Latin Church. The Archbishop of Venice is typically made a cardinal, and Luciani received his red hat from Paul VI in 1973.

He participated in the 1971 Synod of Bishops on “The Ministerial Priesthood and Justice in the World” in 1971, and in 1972 was elected Vice President of the Italian Bishops' Conference, a position he held until 1975.

The last year of his life was a whirlwind in which he participated in the Sept. 30-Oct. 29 1977, Synod of Bishops on “Catechesis in Our Time” and voted in the August 1978 conclave that elected him as Pope after the death of Paul VI.

John Paul I has been hailed as a man of heroic humility and extraordinary simplicity, with a firm commitment to carrying forward the reforms of the Second Vatican Council and a knack for explaining complicated Church concepts in a way everyone can understand. Pope Paul VI  considered him to be “one of the most advanced theologians” of the time.

So far hundreds of graces and favors have been recorded for those who pray to Pope JohnPaul I, and there are already two miracles being studied and considered for his beatification and eventual canonization. Currently the Vatican is trying to decide which to present first.

Now the dilemma, if and when, he is canonized, what do we call him?  Since we have a St. Pope John Paul? 

Friday, November 17, 2017


On Nov. 8, 2017, Pope Francis declared the martyrdom of SERVANT of GOD JANOS BRENNER, thus clearing the way for his beatification. Janos was born in 1931 in Szombathely, Hungary. Full of life and joy, he attended Catholic schools run by the Cistercian order, until the nationalization of schools by the communist government which came to power after World War II as part of the Eastern Bloc.

He felt called to the Cistercian order and after applying to enter, and was accepted as a novice in Zirc in 1950, and took the name Br. Anastasius. However, only a few months after he began formation, the communist government began suppressing religious houses. To protect the men in formation, the novice master moved the young brothers from the abbey to private apartments, where they hoped to continue formation in secret.

It was around this time that Janos, along with a few other novices, moved to the local seminary to begin studying to become a priest, while continuing with his Cistercian formation through correspondence.

Despite the dangers and religious oppression going on around him, journal entries at the time display a deep trust in God and a strong desire to do his will.
He took his vows with the Cistercian order and then was ordained a priest in 1955.
Throughout his ministry, he was known for his willingness and readiness to serve and to sacrifice. Father Janos was especially talented at working with youth, which all the more made him a target of the communist government.

Even when he was made aware of personal threats against his life, and his bishop offered to transfer him elsewhere for his own safety, Father Janos responded: "I'm not afraid, I'm happy to stay."

On the night of Dec. 14, 1957, he was falsely called to give last rites to a sick person in a neighboring town, amid the reprisals for the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.

He left his home, carrying his anointing oils and the Eucharist, but was ambushed in the woods outside Rabakethely and stabbed 32 times. He was found dead the next day, still clutching the Eucharist in his hands, which has earned him the title of the “Hungarian Tarcisius.” (St. Tarcisius was a young third century martyr who was also killed while carrying and protecting the Eucharist.)

While the communists had hoped that Father Janos’s death would intimidate the faithful in the area, they could not stop devotion to the young priest’s memory. The Chapel of the Good Pastor was built in 1989 on the spot where he died, and is a popular place of pilgrimage for people throughout the country. The dirty and bloodied surplice he wore when he was killed has been preserved as a relic.

Like Bl. Jerzy Popieluszko  (see Blog 11/2/16) of Poland, who the communists also tried to silence, the death of these young priests only heightened the people’s awareness of their own Faith!  Where are the communists today?  and where are these young saints?

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


Venerable SOLANUS CASEY  (See Blog May 21, 2017) an American-born Capuchin priest who died in 1957, will be beatified at a Nov. 18 Mass in Detroit at Ford Field, which can accommodate as many as 60,000.

Known for his great faith, attention to the sick, and ability as a spiritual counselor, he will be the second American-born male to be beatified.
Born Bernard Casey on Nov. 25, 1870, he was the sixth child of 16 born to Irish immigrants in Wisconsin. At age 17 he left home to work at various jobs, including as a lumberjack, a hospital orderly, and a prison guard.

Re-evaluating his life after witnessing a drunken sailor brutally stab a woman to death, he decided to act on a call he felt to enter the priesthood. Because of his lack of formal education, however, he struggled in the minor seminary, and was eventually encouraged to become a priest through a religious order rather than through the diocese.

In 1898, he joined the Capuchin Franciscans in Detroit and after struggling through his studies, in 1904 was ordained a “sacerdos simplex” – a priest who can say Mass, but not publicly preach or hear confessions.

He was very close to the sick and was highly sought-after throughout his life, in part because of the many physical healings attributed to his blessings and intercession. He was also a co-founder of Detroit's Capuchin Soup Kitchen in 1929. For 21 years he was porter at St. Bonaventure Monastery in Detroit.

He is also known for his fondness for playing the violin and singing, although he had a bad singing voice because of a childhood illness which damaged his vocal chords.

Even in his 70s, Fr. Solanus Casey remained very active, and would even join the younger religious men in a game of tennis or volleyball. He died from erysipelas, a skin disease, on July 31, 1957, at the age of 87.

 The beatification of Father Solanus  is a great blessing for all Catholics in his example of the love of Jesus Christ. We have a friend in Seattle who believes he was cured by Bl. Solanus after an accident, when another  friend placed a second class relic on his head.  

Sunday, November 12, 2017


It seems every time I  research the life of one holy person, I find the life of another.  We live in a world where most of the news focuses on the negative and yet there are  so many holy people who live among us- many will never be known in our lifetime.

One such woman, who died not 35 years ago was  VENERABLE MOTHER MARY ANGELINE TERESA, who pioneered a different approach to the care of the elderly and infirm.  In addition to fulfilling physical and spiritual needs, she stressed the importance of a home-like atmosphere that encouraged residents to maintain their personal sense of dignity and independence.  To that end Mother Angeline founded a new religious community - the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm.  With six other Sisters she set about making her vision a reality.

Venerable Angeline Teresa  McCrory  was born in 1893 in Mountjoy, County Tyrone, Ireland. When she was seven years of age her family migrated to Scotland and at the age of nineteen she left home to become a Little Sister of the Poor, a Congregation engaged in the care of the destitute aged. She made her Novitiate in La Tour, France and after Profession she was sent to the United States.

In 1926, Mother Angeline was appointed Superior of a Home of the Little Sisters of the Poor in the Bronx, New York. During an annual retreat in 1927, she felt an urge to reach out to do more for the aged for whom she cared. She felt that the European way and many of the customs in France did not meet the needs or customs of America. She also felt that old age strikes all classes of people, leaving them alone and frightened.

Being unable to effect any necessary changes in her present situation, Mother Angeline sought advice and counsel from Patrick Cardinal Hayes of New York. Not only did he encourage her, but he likewise felt more could be done for the aged people in the New York area. 

Eventually, this need was recognized in the United States. In order to accomplish what she felt called to do, and with the blessing of the Cardinal, Mother Angeline and six other Sisters withdrew from the Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Poor and were granted permission from Rome to begin a new Community for the care of the aged incorporating Mother Angeline's ideals. On September 3, 1929, the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm was founded.

In 1931 the new Community became affiliated with the great Order of Carmel and became known as "Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm."

Mother Angeline Teresa’s philosophy of care was to  serve each guest as if serving Christ Himself.  From this relatively new beginning the work of the Congregation flourished and the Community was invited to work in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and as far west as Iowa.  Currently there are 20 Homes in the United States and Ireland.

In 1984, Mother Angeline Teresa died, having the consolation of seeing the Congregation beyond her expectations. She once said: If you have to fail, let it be on the side of kindness. Be kinder than kindness itself to the old people.

Saturday, November 11, 2017


Another recently named as Venerable is SISTER LEONELLA SGORBATI,  an Italian sister  who was murdered in Somalia.

Sister Leonella was born in 1940 in Gazzola, Italy.  As a teenager she wished to become a missionary sister, but her mother did not approve the choice and asked her to wait until she was twenty. She then joined the Consolata Missionary Sisters in San Fre, Cuneo in 1963, making her perpetual vows in 1972.

During this time she took  nursing studies in England (1966–1968), and in 1970 was appointed to Kenya where she was until 1983.

In mid-1983, Venerable Leonella started advanced studies in nursing and in 1985 became the principal tutor at the school of nursing attached to Nkubu HospitalMeru, Kenya.

In November 1993 she was elected regional superior of the Sisters in Kenya, a duty she performed for six years. After a sabbatical year, in 2001 she spent several months in Mogadishu, looking at the possibility of setting up a nursing school in the hospital run by the SOS Children's Village organization.  Hermann Gmeiner School of Registered Community Nursing opened in 2002, with Sister Leonella in charge. The first 34 nurses graduated from the school that year, awarded certificates and diplomas by the World Health Organization because Somalia  had no government since 1991.

Venerable Leonella was keen to train tutors for the nursing school. She returned to Kenya with three of her newly graduated nurses, to register them for further training at a medical training college. She faced difficulties in obtaining her own re-entry visa to Mogadishu, due to the new rules of the Islamic courts that now controlled the city and its environs. She managed to return to Mogadishu on 13 September 2006.

Four days later she was gunned down outside her children's hospital. Her bodyguard, Mohamed Osman Mahamud, was also killed. Two gunmen emerged from behind nearby taxis and kiosks and shot her in the back after about 30 years of aid work in Africa. She was rushed to the SOS Hospital but died shortly after. Her last words apparently were Italian: "Perdono; perdono." (“I forgive; I forgive.”)

This is the most authentic Christian testimony, a peaceful sign of contradiction which shows the victory of love over hatred..

Tuesday, November 7, 2017


Now that we have two young men from India as Chaplains, we are interested in news of the Church in their homeland. And the new Blessed comes from the state of our last Indian chaplain, Father Mathew.

While India is a land of diversity of religions, languages, and cultures, it is important to note that  the vast majority are Hindus (82%), while only  2% are Christians.

Martyred Indian BLESSED RANI MARIA VATTALIL, who was slain by an assassin 22 years ago in central India was proclaimed a Blessed at a beatification  ceremony in Indore, Madhya Pradesh state on  Nov. 4, 2017.  

She was born in Kerala  in 1954 as the second of seven children to Paily and Eliswa Vattalil. 

The nun belonging to the Franciscan Clarist Congregation was 41 when Samandar Singh, hired by some landlords, stabbed her inside a bus on February 25, 1995.  She was traveling to Indore, the commercial capital of Madhya Pradesh state, on her way to her native state, Kerala, southern India.

The attacker followed her when she ran out of the crowded bus and continued stabbing her. The passengers were too wrought with fear to intervene with some fleeing the scene in panic. The police at 10:45am contacted the nuns to inform them of what had happened and to tell them that their slain sister's remains were still on the side of the road. The distraught nuns contacted the Bishop of Indore, George Anathil, to inform him of what had happened. The Bishop and some priests reached the spot at 2:00pm to find her bloodied corpse still lying on the side of the road. She was taken to the episcopal residence to be cleaned and laid in state. Her body bore 45 stab wounds.

Bl. Rani Maria was targeted for empowering the poor and downtrodden from being exploited by money lenders and unscrupulous businessmen. Bl. Rani Maria dedicated herself to the catechetical formation and educational instruction during her time as a religious as she moved place to place teaching in different areas. She was vocal in matters of social justice and in social activism which led to her death at the hands of those who were opposed to her efforts in aiding the poor and downtrodden.

Eight days before her death, during her last visit to the Provincial House, on the occasion of the Canonical Visit of Mother General Henry Suso, Bl. Rani said, “We should not seek safety and comfort in our mission work. With courage and trust in God more and more sisters should get ready to risk themselves in serving the poor and needy in the undeveloped villages of the missions. I would desire to die a martyr for the love of Jesus and for my poor downtrodden brethren.”

Her Parents

Samandar Singh was convicted of  Bl. Rani Maria’s murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment. One of the nuns  visited Singh in  2002 in prison where she expressed her forgiveness. Singh was overcome after witnessing such a gesture and begged for forgiveness for what he had done while expressing repentance. The Blessed’s own mother visited Singh in  2003 and kissed his hands as a sign of forgiveness.

Singh was released from prison in 2006 after the Blessed’s family pleaded for him to be released and he is considered one of their own. He was moved to tears when he learned of her impending beatification in March 2017 and expressed his enthusiasm for being able to attend the beatification.

He said:  “I accept full responsibility for my heinous murder of Sr. Rani Maria. I cannot say that I was instigated, because my own hands stabbed her repeatedly and for this, I will regret my actions till the day I die. In my own small way, I try to follow her example, helping those who are less fortunate than me, like Tribal Christians and all those who are marginalized.”

A documentary was made regarding this amazing act of forgiveness, titled The Heart of a Murderer, which won an award at the World Interfaith Harmony Film Festival in 2013

The conversion of Singh happened in part due to the efforts of Father Michael Purattukara a confrere of our past Chaplain, Father Mathew Thelly.

As well as the movie, there are several good stories on Youtube.

Bl. Rani Maria's Mother with Singh
Bl. Rani Maria is a model of sacrifice and selfless witness. As the Bishop of Indore, Bishop Chacko Thottumarickal expressed it so beautifully: “Blessed Rani Maria is a model for us as she was ready to shed her blood for the sake of the poor and downtrodden”.

Monday, November 6, 2017


Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller of San Antonio said Nov. 5 after the massacre in
(Ivanka Krypyakcvych-Ukraine)
in Sutherland Springs, Texas

“Disbelief and shock are the overwhelming feelings; there are no adequate words. There can be no explanation or motive for such a scene of horror at a small country church for families gathered to praise Jesus Christ.”

 “These Baptist brethren are our family, friends and neighbors who live among us in the archdiocese … We are committed to work in unity with all our brothers and sisters to build peace in our communities; to connect in a more direct and substantial way. The Catholic Church in Texas and across the United States is with you.”

“Let’s help these brothers and sisters with prayers; they need us. Also, pray fervently for peace amidst all of the violence which seems to be overwhelming our society. We must be lights in the darkness. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May God have mercy!”

Friday, November 3, 2017


In this month before Advent, I thought it a good idea to focus on saints  who dedicated their lives to the salvation of priests.  Knowing of my prayers for our priests, I was recently given THE SACRED HEART AND THE PRIESTHOOD, written by VENERABLE LOUISE MARGARET CLARET de la TOUCHE a Visitation nun  who was commissioned first by Our Lord, then by her religious superiors to write  of her conversations with the Lord. 

She  had to overcome many and great obstacles all through her life to do God's will. She suffered to a heroic degree in many ways and was truly a victim soul. Our Lord revealed to her His plan of infinite love for the world for which He needs the help of His chosen souls, the priests of the world.

The  purpose of this work is to strengthen the souls of priests in the love of their sublime vocation and unite them more than ever to Jesus Christ, the eternal Priest.  The Holy See has declared her writings to be in conformity with the teachings of the Church and has sanctioned the organization of priests, which she had drawn up under the name of The Priests Universal Union of the Friends of the Sacred Heart.  

Margaret Claret de la Touche was born in 1868, at Saint Germain-en-Laye, where  he father was Customs' Officer. Her parents wanted a son, especially her mother, who had prayed so fervently to the Blessed Virgin and lit so many candles at her altar that she believed she would certainly obtain her petition. Her disappointment was so great that it was feared that she would die.

Margaret at 4
Careless treatment by an incompetent nursery-maid ruined her health for life and nearly killed her. Her mother made a spontaneous vow to Our Lady and Our Lady saved her. This illness subsided but was to return again. Margaret's childhood was full of love from both parents but in 1875 her doting father died at the young age of 47 from inflammation of the lungs. Her mother hired a governess to look after Margaret at home while she traveled bringing her older sister with her. A year later her mother declared her intention of getting married again.  

The family was wealthy having a winter home in Valence and a summer home in the country, often spending spring and autumn in Paris or travelling abroad. Her home was a social meeting point for family friends who would take turns to put on some musical entertainment or hold a dancing party or some little comedy.

Margaret though living in the world kept herself from the world to a large degree because deep down she had not given up an idea of religious life. Around the age of 15 she experienced a hunger in her heart that nothing seemed to satisfy until  she was to later enter religious life. During the summer when they stayed in the Castle of Arbods the family would read, take long walks, have discussions but always attended Sunday Mass. Over the next few years Margaret struggled to pray and hold on to her hopes of a vocation. Meeting the author of a scandalous novel gave her a new conversion and in 1886 a severe illness required the help of a nursing Sister who encouraged Margaret to persevere in her desire for religious life and taught her how to pray better. 
Margaret at 17

Margaret knew that she had a vocation but realized that her mother would not consent and that she would have to wait until she reached her 21st birthday. The thought of continuing on in the worldly life she was living was daunting. She asked her mother to let her attend college to get a diploma in the hope of escaping from the life she was living but her mother refused. Disheartened she returned again to the same old lifestyle but did not give up her hopes.

She entered the Visitation convent in 1890 at Romans. Her motto would now be “Let nothing of me remain, but a humble servant of Jesus Christ always ready to obey His divine will”. Many felt she would not last, due to her upbringing and to her health. 

In 1902 she asked: My Jesus, tell me what are the desires of Thy Heart? He replied to her:  ‘The world is becoming frozen; egoism is contracting men’s hearts; they have turned away from the source of Love, and they think they are very far from God; nevertheless, I, Infinite Love, am quite near, and the bosom of divine Charity, all swollen with love, must needs open. Allow Me to love you and, through you, to descend to the world.’”

Sr. Louise Margaret replied: “My Jesus, what can I do for the world, since I am separated from it?” And Jesus said: “I will explain to you this mystery which is beyond your power to comprehend. I became incarnate in order to unite Myself to men; I died to save men; My sacrifice was of sufficient efficacy to redeem the whole human race, and infinitely more; but because man is endowed with free will, he must co-operate in the work of his own salvation. The superabundance of My merits obtains for him sufficient grace for that; however, there are many who reject My graces. Then, I take souls, I invest them with myself; I continue My passion in them, I separate them from others for My work I unveil to them the mysteries of My Love and Mercy, and making them like purified channels, I pour out on the world a new abundance of grace and pardons.”

Sr. Margaret 2nd from righ

Sr. Louise Margaret replied her consent: “My Savior, I belong to Thee, do with me according to Thy will.”
In 1902 of the Feast of the Sacred Heart Jesus made His presence felt to Margaret and she asked Him to send some new novices that she could train for Him but Jesus said to her:

“I will give you souls of men.” She was astonished at these words which she could not understand and Jesus said: “I will give you souls of priests.”

Still not understanding Jesus said to her: “No, It is for My clergy that you will immolate yourself.”

She wrote her Autobiography from 1904-1905 as ordered by Father Alfred Charrier, her spiritual director. She was named superior of her convent two years later and retained the position until 1913. In July 1914 Mother Louise wrote to Fr Charrier to tell him about the attack of the very painful illness known as Bright's disease and which proved to be fatal. She endured this illness from July 1914 until her death in May 1915. For several months before she died she was unable to either stand up or to lie down and spent all her time confined to an armchair.  Only her confidante and successor had knowledge of some of the agony she was going through every day and night and also understood something of her heroic virtue in continuing her daily duties of Reverend Mother, Novice Mistress and Spiritual guide to the community right up to three hours before she died.

From her appearance during the nights her superior recognized that there was a supernatural aspect to her illness and that she had the appearance of one crucified. After a life full of suffering she passed away peacefully after pronouncing the Sacred Name of Jesus at three o'clock in the afternoon on Friday the 14th of May which was the day after Ascension Thursday in 1915.

The message of Venerable Louise Margaret is the infinite love of God for us  and His desire to renew a world full of hate with His outpouring of love and specifically to entrust this mission to His priests by inviting them to enter His Heart and to draw love from there (same message as in In SInu Jesu). Only after having had the experience of being loved by Christ can priests change the world by sowing His love.  Entrusting themselves to this love, priests can fulfill a mission of love in the world.