" A man must be ready, for death comes when and where God wills it. "
Saint John Neumann C.Ss.R
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News and Events

News and Events... Updated regularly

Br Malachy's Requiem...

 

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Brother Malachy

 

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Homily Preached by Fr. Provincial, Ronald McAinsh C.Ss.R.

I feel enormously privileged to be preaching today at the Mass to celebrate the life and death of Bro. Malachy – but also at somewhat of a loss as to what I should say about so great a man.

 

That Brother Malachy was a saint is not in doubt in my mind. I recall the evening before his death Fr. Richard and I coming away from a visit and saying, 'Well why would anyone want to go to Padua or Assisi or our own Materdomini where St Gerard is buried – to venerate the body of a dead saint - when we have just spent half an hour with saint we both know’.  Certainly by the huge turn out here today, this view is shared by so many of you.

 

Brother Malachy lived a comparatively hidden life. But in fact, he was probably the best known and most loved Redemptorist by the people, in any of the communities in which he lived

 

I mention the hidden life of Malachy – mostly spent in the garden or in the sacristy. But this was a man who had seen the world. Although he was born in Leitrim, Ireland, he joined the British Army at a young age and his first foreign posting (after England) was in Austria. After this he was sent to Hong Kong in 1947 where his Unit was involved in the battle against the communists.

 

From there he moved almost right round the world to Jamaica. However, with the outbreak of the Korean War he was sent back to Germany, and then posted to Korea. I asked him only a week or so ago if it was very hot in Korea. And with perfect clarity he said that in fact he was in the North, and in winter is was colder than Perth.  So already he was hardened for the rigours of cold Kinnoull...

 

On his return to UK, he prayed about his future and decided that he was called to be a Cistercian Brother. However, when he went to the Redemptoristine Convent to tell this to Sr. Patrick – his sister who is here with us today – the Reverend Mother of that time – and remember, Reverend Mothers had power in those days – told him that he should be aRedemptorist Brother. And so he came here to Kinnoull in 1955 to begin his journey in Redemptorist Religious life...... a life he lived faithfully for these past 56 years.

 

We could say today that this is where the journey ends.... ...where it all began. But of course our faith tells us something very different. Because we believe that the journey carries on... it carries on in God, in eternal life... it carries on it the hearts of the many people Malachy touched during his life, it carries on in all the works and kindnesses he preformed over the years in the various communities in which he lived and worked.

 

Because we all know that Brother Malachy had a very rich and full interior life. I remember two years ago he was admitted to PRI after he had a slight blood clot on his leg. And he asked to me go to his room and there I would find a small (and I must say battered) little case in which he kept the few necessities of life which he might need in such an eventuality - His pyjamas, his toiletries and two books. Both books were by the medieval mystic saint, Maister Eckhart – about whom Malachy seems to have been something of an expert. Malachy had a deep knowledge of the interior life – and indeed when he went into hospital a few weeks ago – and little did we know that he would not return home – we took him a new life of Mother Celeste, the mystic and foundress of the Redemptoristines, and he read it within two days – and loved it.

 

Malachy had extraordinary physical energy. He never pushed a wheelbarrow. He ran with it. He washed dishes and dug gardens at an amazing rate. However, I would suggest that the energy came from within. It came from a deep inner freedom and a deep union with God that we cannot even begin to fathom.

 

I had glimpse of it from time to time when we spoke about his impending death and what lay beyond. When he was first diagnosed with motor neuron disease at the end of February I was in Zimbabwe, and Fr. Mulligan contacted me. My first reaction was one of anger.....’How could you do this God, to aman who has served you so vigorously with so much faithfulness’?

 

And when I returned the following week, I shared this with Malachy. He just smiled and said “Well perhaps God wants absolutely everything”; - and indeed God did.  I then said, I suppose you are a bit like St. Peter to whom Jesus said, “When you were young you would put on your clothes and go where you wished”....And Malachy finished the phrase for me by saying, “But when you are old, another will take you and lead you in a way you would rather not go”...... And again he gave his quiet smile. And no other words were necessary.

 

His trust in God was complete and utter. And likewise his gratitude for all he received from God’s hands – which appears even to have included his illness. He was truly a man with a grateful heart.

 

And it was this serenity, this gratitude, this graciousness - (Full of grace) that touched the hearts of so many people. I recall when he was in Ninewells hospital Dundee, a nurse telling me that she had asked to be moved from another ward for the weekend to his ward, because when she was nursing Malachy, she felt she was in the presence of something blessed and special that she could not describe.

 

When he was in Cornhill, the Nurses told him that he did not have to keep on saying ‘thank you’ for every little service they rendered. They said, “That’s why we are here”. But Malachy could not change his nature of being a gracious man who always expressed his thankfulness.

 

I remember many year ago when I was Novice Master asking Fr. Bernard Haring, a famous and holy Redemptorist in Rome, what I should look out for in men who were joining us.

 

And he said, ‘First of all try and see if they have Eucharistic hearts. Eucharist means gratitude, and so I mean hearts that are positive and grateful – and that they are people who are ready and willing to break the bread of their lives for others.’ Surely our Malachy fulfilled this description to perfection.

 

Those of us who have lived with Brother Malachy knew that he was an intensely private person. He worked alone in the garden. He prayed for hours alone in the Church. He worked alone in the sacristy, and he sat in his room for hours reading his spiritual books in solitude.

 

I often wondered how he would accept illness and the loss of privacy. The reality is that he accepted them with totally equanimity and peace. When he first began to feel feeble, we got him a Zimmer so that he could be moderately mobile. You would have thought we had brought him a Ferrari – the gratitude and joy on his face was so intense.

 

And when he totally lost his privacy and had to be fed and bathed, his disposition remained utterly positive and docile. His adaptability from a hidden and independent life in the Monastery, to a public and dependent life in hospital was truly amazing.

 

So what do we learn from this life? We are not here to canonise Malachy. That is the last thing he would have wanted.

 

But there are a few lessons that his life can teach us.

 

The first, I think is to be grateful – to be people who can see the half full glass rather than the half empty glass. To be people who remember the blessings we have in life – our health, our families, our friends, and God’s love for us.

 

To be wholehearted in what we do. Malachy it seems to me, was single-minded. It did not matter if it was digging a field, welcoming a visitor or lighting the candles. He put his heart in to whatever was needed at that moment.

 

To be cheerful in adversity. Malachy was the same when things worked out well for him, as when things were collapsing around him. He accepted the various moves from community to community without a grumble, although I have no doubt it cost him something within.

 

To pray and to trust in God. This I think was Malachy’s greatest legacy to us. He was a man of deep prayer. Often he would sit in this church in silence and pray for the world – for us. And in times of difficulty, he had particular devotion to and trust in our Mother of Perpetual Help, under whose title this church is dedicated. And he often told me he was praying to her for me, and for all our needs.

 

And finally to be there for others. Malachy did so much for others – quietly and humbly, whether it was putting out the dustbins each week or leaving a note to change the host in the tabernacle or to collect the eggs from the hens.  He generously prayed for so many intentions. You only had to ask him and he would assure you of his prayers.

 

Above all, he challenges us to put God before everything else.

 

I would like to conclude by thanking the members of the Community here at the Monastery, for their love and care for Brother Malachy. It was utterly outstanding. The Redemptorist community and the extended community, not only of Srs. Maureen and Monica, but all of these who work here and loved him so much. I cannot mention each one by name. But I know that each one loved him – and was loved by Brother Malachy.

 

I would like to thank our regular Masses attenders, and all of those who visited Malachy when he was in hospital or Cornhill.

 

A special word of thank to the doctors, nurses and staff of PRI and Ninewells – and in a very special and focused way to those in Cornhill who made life for him – and for us – so blessed during his final few weeks.

 

I express our condolences to Srs. Patrick and Colette his blood sisters, and to Brother Malachy’s family and friends.

 

We will shortly lay Malachy to rest in our Monastery cemetery. We will say farewell to his body. But his spirit will remain with us in the years that lie ahead - whenever we come into this Church, or walk in the gardens, or look at the hens, or watch the grass grow, Malachy’s spirit will be with us.

 

We were privileged to have Brother Malachy with us for so long a time. May his soul rest in peace.  Amen

 

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Palm Sunday...

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Kinnoull Monastery in the news...

The Rector and community of the monastery were last week in the news; TV, Radio and Newspapers.

Will planning permission be given to our field, next door to the monastery, to allow building? As yet we don't know for certain.

Your prayers are asked for this special intention.

See below a selection of headlines, articles, letters and pictures from the Perthshire Advertiser.

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The Province moves and community lists 2011...

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Click here to read the province's moves...

Brother Malachy C.Ss.R. RIP

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St. Mary's monastery in Perth

is sad to announce the death of

Br Malachy (Patrick PJ) Kelly C.Ss.R.

85 years of age.

 

A saintly brother has gone home to God!

Sunday of Lent - 5th...

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The beatification of John Paul II is now less than one month away and the Vatican has released the final details for the event.

The Nun miraculously cured of Parkinson's will speak at the beatification of John Paul II

 

“Totus Tuus” the official anthem of the beatification for John Paul II

Sunday of Lent - 4th.

Laetare - Rejoice Sunday!

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Gospel of the man born blind...

 

The man said, 

"Lord I believe", 

and worshipped him.

Santo Subito...

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John Paul the Great

2nd April 

 

 

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April's Virtue...

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To find out April's Virtue and Patron,

click on the Preaching and Prayer button

on the main banner on top,

the options will appear...

click on the  Virtue button...

and all will be made clear!

ATHEISM...

 

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Pope Benedict XVI dedicates his audience to

St. Alphonsus...

The words of Pope Benedict can be found below...

 

"Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today I would like to present to you the figure of a holy doctor of the Church to whom we are very indebted, since he was an outstanding moral theologian and a teacher of the spiritual life for everyone, above all for simple people. He is the author of the words and music of one of the most popular Christmas songs in Italy, "Tu scendi dalle stelle" [You come down from the stars], and of many other things.

Alphonsus Maria Liguori was born in 1696 of a noble and rich Neapolitan family. Gifted with remarkable intellectual qualities, at just 16 he received a degree in civil and canon law. He was the most brilliant lawyer of the bar in Naples: For eight years he won every cause he defended. However, his soul thirsted for God and desired perfection and the Lord led him to understand that he was calling him to another vocation. In fact, in 1723, indignant about the corruption and injustice that plagued his environment, he left his profession -- and with it wealth and success -- and decided to become a priest, despite his father's opposition.

He had excellent teachers, who introduced him to the study of sacred Scripture, history of the Church and mysticism. He acquired a vast theological culture that he brought to fruition when, after a few years, he began his work as a writer. He was ordained a priest in 1726 and for his ministry, joined the diocesan Congregation of the Apostolic Missions.

Alphonsus began evangelization and catechesis among the most humble strata of Neapolitan society, to whom he loved to preach and whom he instructed on the basic truths of the faith. Not a few of these persons whom he addressed, poor and modest, very often were dedicated to vices and carried out criminal activity. With patience he taught them to pray, encouraging them to improve their way of living. Alphonsus obtained great results: In the poorest quarters of the city, there were increasing groups of persons who gathered in the evening in private homes and shops, to pray and meditate on the Word of God, under the guidance of some catechists formed by Alphonsus and other priests, who regularly visited these groups of faithful. When, by desire of the archbishop of Naples, these meetings were held in the chapels of the city, they took the name "evening chapels." They were a real and proper source of moral education, of social healing, of reciprocal help among the poor: thefts, duels and prostitution virtually disappeared.

Even though the social and religious context of St. Alphonsus' time was very different from ours, these "evening chapels" are a model of missionary action in which we can be inspired today as well, for a "new evangelization," particularly among the poorest, and to build a more just, fraternal and solidary human coexistence. Entrusted to priests is a task of spiritual ministry, while well-formed laymen can be effective Christian leaders, genuine evangelical leaven in the heart of society.

After having thought of leaving to evangelize the pagan peoples, Alphonsus, at the age of 35, came into contact with peasants and shepherds of the interior regions of the Kingdom of Naples and, stricken by their religious ignorance and their state of abandonment, he decided to leave the capital and dedicate himself to these people, who were poor spiritually and materially. In 1732 he founded the religious Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, which he placed under the protection of Bishop Thomas Falcoia, and of which he himself became superior. These religious, guided by Alphonsus, were genuine itinerant missionaries who reached the most remote villages, exhorting to conversion and to perseverance in the Christian life, above all through prayer. Still today, the Redemptorists spread over so many countries of the world with new forms of apostolate, continue this mission of evangelization. I think of them with gratitude, exhorting them to always be faithful following the example of their holy founder.

Esteemed for his goodness and pastoral zeal, in 1762 Alphonsus was appointed bishop of Sant'Agata dei Goti, a ministry that he left in 1775 by the concession of Pope Pius VI because of the illnesses afflicting him. In 1787 that same Pontiff, hearing the news of his death that came after many sufferings, exclaimed: "He was a saint!" And he was not mistaken: Alphonsus was canonized in 1839, and in 1871 he was declared a doctor of the Church.

This title was bestowed on him for many reasons. First of all, because he proposed a rich teaching of moral theology, which adequately expresses Catholic doctrine, to the point that Pope Pius XII proclaimed him "patron of all confessors and moral theologians." Widespread at his time was a very rigorous interpretation of moral life, also because of the Jansenist mentality that, instead of nourishing trust and hope in God's mercy, fomented fear and presented God's face as frowning and severe, very far from that revealed to us by Jesus.

Above all in his principal work, titled "Moral Theology," St. Alphonsus proposes a balanced and convincing synthesis between the demands of God's law, sculpted in our hearts, revealed fully by Christ and interpreted authoritatively by the Church, and the dynamics of man's conscience and his liberty, which precisely by adherence to truth and goodness allow for the maturation and fulfillment of the person. To pastors of souls and to confessors, Alphonsus recommended faithfulness to Catholic moral doctrine, accompanied by a comprehensive and gentle attitude so that penitents could feel accompanied, supported and encouraged in their journey of faith and Christian life.
St. Alphonsus never tired of repeating that priests are a visible sign of the infinite mercy of God, who forgives and illumines the mind and heart of the sinner so that he will convert and change his life. In our time, in which there are clear signs of the loss of the moral conscience and -- it must be acknowledged -- of a certain lack of appreciation of the sacrament of confession, the teaching of St. Alphonsus is again of great timeliness.
Together with the works of theology, St. Alphonsus composed many other writings, designed for the religious formation of the people. The style is simple and pleasing. Read and translated into numerous languages, the works of St. Alphonsus have contributed to mold popular spirituality of the last two centuries. Some of them are texts to be read with great profit again today, such as "The Eternal Maxims," "The Glories of Mary," "The Practice of Loving Jesus Christ" -- this last one a work that represents the synthesis of his thought and his masterpiece.

He insisted a lot on the need for prayer, which enables one to open to Divine Grace to carry out daily the will of God and to obtain one's sanctification. In regard to prayer, he wrote: "God does not deny to anyone the grace of prayer, with which one obtains the help to overcome every concupiscence and every temptation. And I say, and repeat and will always repeat, for my entire life, that the whole of our salvation rests on prayer." From which stems his famous axiom: "He who prays is saved" (From the great means of prayer and related booklets. Opere ascetiche II, Rome 1962, p. 171).

There comes to mind, in this connection, the exhortation of my predecessor, the Venerable Servant of God John Paul II: "Christian communities must become genuine 'schools' of prayer. Therefore, education in prayer should become in some way a key-point of all pastoral planning" (Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, 33, 34).
Outstanding among the forms of prayer fervently recommended by St. Alphonsus is the visit to the Most Blessed Sacrament or, as we would say today, adoration -- brief or prolonged, personal or in community -- of the Eucharist. "Certainly," wrote Alphonsus, "among all the devotions this one of adoration of the sacramental Jesus is the first after the sacraments, the dearest to God and the most useful to us. O, what a beautiful delight to be before an altar with faith and to present to him our needs, as a friend does to another friend with whom one has full confidence!" (Visits to the Most Blessed Sacrament and to Mary Most Holy for each day of the month. Introduction).

Alphonsus' spirituality is in fact eminently Christological, centered on Christ and his Gospel. Meditation on the mystery of the incarnation and the passion of the Lord were often the object of his preaching: In these events, in fact, redemption is offered "copiously" to all men. And precisely because it is Christological, Alphonsus' piety is also exquisitely Marian. Most devoted to Mary, he illustrated her role in the history of salvation: partner of the Redemption and Mediatrix of grace, Mother, Advocate and Queen. Moreover, St. Alphonsus affirmed that devotion to Mary will be of great comfort at the moment of our death. He was convinced that meditation on our eternal destiny, on our call to participate for ever in God's blessedness, as well as on the tragic possibility of damnation, contributes to live with serenity and commitment, and to face the reality of death always preserving full trust in God's goodness.

St. Alphonsus Maria Liguori is an example of a zealous pastor who won souls preaching the Gospel and administering the sacraments, combined with a way of acting marked by gentle and meek goodness, which was born from his intense relationship with God, who is infinite Goodness. He had a realistically optimistic vision of the resources of goods that the Lord gives to every man and gave importance to the affections and sentiments of the heart, in addition to the mind, to be able to love God and one's neighbor.

In conclusion, I would like to remind that our saint, similar to St. Francis de Sales -- of whom I spoke a few weeks ago -- insists on saying that holiness is accessible to every Christian: "The religious as religious, the lay person as lay person, the priest as priest, the married as married, the merchant as merchant, the soldier as soldier, and so on speaking of every other state" (Practice of Loving Jesus Christ, Opere ascetiche I, Rome 1933, p. 79). I thank the Lord who, with his Providence, raises saints and doctors in different times and places who, speaking the same language, invite us to grow in faith and to live with love and joy our being Christians in the simple actions of every day, to walk on the path of holiness, on the path to God and to true joy. Thank you."

 

Father General's Letter...

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Dear Confreres, Sisters and Lay Associates,

Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ who calls us to preach the Gospel ever anew and sends us with joy to the most abandoned and the poor!

I write this letter to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of John Nepomucene Neumann. He was born on March 28, 1811 in Prachatitz, Bohemia. In his homily on the day of John Neumann’s beatification, Paul VI summarized his life in a few significant words:

He was close to the sick, he was at home with the poor, he was a friend to sinners, and today he is the glory of all immigrants, and from the viewpoint of the Beatitudes, the symbol of Christian success.

I invite each of you to remember and celebrate during this year the gift God has given to the Church and to the Congregation in the life of this remarkable Redemptorist, the glory of all immigrants, in the context of the call from our last General Chapter.

The XXIV General Chapter challenged us to respond to the contemporary reality of the mass movement of peoples and to revise our apostolic priorities. As the XXIV General Chapter reflected on this in plenary session, our then Superior General, Fr. Joseph Tobin, commented that Redemptorists have an excellent and inspiring patron and model for pastoral ministry to migrants in St. John Neumann, who was himself an immigrant. He went to the United States precisely to work with and among immigrants.

John Neumann was keenly aware of his missionary vocation. He signed his first letters home “John Nep. Franz Neumann, Missionary”. He inquired about and thought about a proposed Society of Missionaries, which never came to birth.

Once in the United States, he was fully at home with the abandoned and poor immigrants he encountered and gave himself totally to accompanying and serving them in love. He was aware of their needs and of their spiritual hunger. He knew from personal experience what it was like to be an immigrant in the United States: to arrive in New York harbour with no one to greet him on the docks, with no place to stay for the night and almost no money in his pocket. He did not even have the assurance that he would be welcomed by the Bishop and accepted for ordination! His experience mirrored the experience of countless other immigrants setting out toward the unknown, arriving unannounced and often unwelcome on foreign shores.

He had left his home country in February, 1836, and would only return nineteen years later. He missed his family and his home. Some of his letters show a great longing for news from Bohemia since communication was very difficult. After fifteen years in the United States, he wrote to his father in 1851 that “no day passes that I do not imagine myself with some longing to be in my father’s home and in the midst of my dear relations and friends, still I have never regretted that I devoted myself to the Mission in America”.

The reality of emigration and immigration today is certainly different from that of the time of John Neumann. But the missionary challenge is fundamentally the same. We learn several very important lessons from John Neumann that will throw light on our present situation.

A life of missionary dedication is a call from God received through the abandoned and the poor. This call will be best understood and our response will be most authentic if we are close to those who call us. The seeds of this vocation may be sown while we are still at a distance. But the vocation itself will grow and mature as we live close to those to whom we are sent. Our vocation is both to evangelize and be evangelized by the poor. We continue to grow and learn as we walk with the poor. A life of missionary dedication calls us beyond our areas of comfort and opens new horizons, compelling us to face sacrifices and complex challenges.

A life of missionary dedication will not necessarily put us in the spotlight. It calls us to explore new avenues and ways of proclaiming the Gospel, often on the margins and fringes of society. The Redemptorist missionary is not only the effective and dynamic preacher in the pulpit! Redemptorist missionaries also work in alleys and slums, in rural settings and cities, wherever the abandoned and the poor are found.

Although John Neumann grew up in a German-speaking home and learned Czech during his studies, he knew that these languages would not be enough to prepare him for a missionary vocation. Even if he worked primarily with German-speaking immigrants, he knew he would need English and he believed French would be very helpful. He also learned Italian, impressed by the beauty of the language, and aware that it might prove useful for his missionary work.

John Neumann was aware that it would be helpful to have a broader cultural experience than the one his own country could provide him. This would prepare him for the cultural complexity of the United States, a nation of immigrants from many cultures. He felt the need for a larger world to expand his own perspectives and open him to a broader experience, a sharper outlook on life, in other words, a broader contemplative outlook. As the Congregation prepares for greater collaboration and restructuring that crosses the boundaries within a Conference and between Conferences, we ourselves will experience the challenges of language and communication as well as inter-cultural dynamics.

The last two General Chapters have stressed the importance of learning languages. Particular stress has been placed on Spanish, English and Italian for communication within the Congregation. The mission calls us to become fluent in the languages of the people among whom we serve. The goal is not simply to learn a language but to be able to “inculturate” our missionary dedication, to help us empty ourselves and “restructure” our lives prophetically for mission.

Formation – both initial and permanent – must take seriously the challenge of inter-cultural living and ministry. Pastoral experience outside our own culture, especially at some point during initial formation, is an important element of this process. Experience of languages and cultures requires a spirit of openness and freedom. This openness demands personal initiative and commitment as well as structured opportunities within the ongoing or continuing formation program.

On arrival in United States, John Neumann embraced the ministry entrusted to him by the Bishop of New York with apostolic zeal and generosity. Shortly after ordination, he was sent to the fringes of the Diocese and entrusted with the care of several parishes. The needs were great, and so were the pastoral demands and the distances to be traveled each week. John Neumann began to consider the benefits of belonging to a missionary community. He believed a missionary community could provide greater missionary effectiveness and also personal support. By 1839 John Neumann had met the Redemptorist, Fr. Prost, and had begun to consider a vocation to the Congregation. In 1840, he left for the Redemptorist novitiate.

johnneumannJohn Neumann had a keen sense of the intimate and mutual relationship between mission and community. His experience led him to a deep appreciation of the value of community commitments in mission, rather than individual projects – especially for the stability of the ministries. As Superior of the North American mission, he stressed this community dimension, and tried to establish good foundations on which the confreres could build together.

His experience of apostolic community was not without its struggles. Each Redemptorist community was “international” and “intercultural” in nature. The confreres came from a variety of European nations, languages and cultures. The first vocations in the United States came from diverse backgrounds. At times, there were personal difficulties, which on occasion led to confreres returning to Europe or leaving the Congregation.

He also experienced some of the struggles of growth, and changes in administrations in Europe. Responsibility for the Mission in the United States passed from Belgium to Austria before a North American Province was created in 1850. At times this led to conflicts of approach and mentality with the “Mother Province”.

John Neumann realized that structures and communities need to be renewed to ensure continuity and effective ministry. The confreres need conversion and renewal for the same reason. On January 30, 1850 he wrote in a letter to Francis Xavier Seelos:

Our great mistake is that we allow ourselves to be deceived by the spirit of worldly shrewdness, the desire for fame, and the love of comfort. We ought to fight the temptation to make spiritual things a means of temporal advancement. The principles of faith fade out of our hearts in proportion as we allow the principles of the world to come in. We place our confidence not in God but in our own intelligence and experience. This, my dear Father, in my opinion is the cause of all unhappiness.

As the Message from the XXIV General Chapter reminds us: “The more radical our conversion, the more radical and prophetic our Vita apostolica”. This conversion will move us from seeking personal or community comfort to accompanying the abandoned and the poor. Radical conversion broadens our perspective so that we can begin to see as God sees. To see as God sees mirrors the biblical role of the prophet, who then proclaims the vision. This contemplative outlook will move us to witness and action for the sake of the Reign of God, not only as individuals, but above all as a missionary community. In this way, we will incarnate more fully the theme for this sexennium: to preach the Gospel ever anew: renewed hope, renewed hearts, renewed structures for mission.

As one studies the life of St. John Neumann, it is impossible not to be impressed by his availability for mission. Even during his novitiate, he preached missions and was sent to different communities in response to pressing pastoral needs. As a confrere, Neumann made himself available to others for the sake of the mission. He was always ready to learn and to use whatever means were necessary so that he could preach the gospel anew.

In his availability for mission, Redemptorists find a model for living the principles of restructuring adopted by the XXIV General Chapter:

Principle 2: “Restructuring for Mission should stimulate a reawakening of our Vita apostolica. It should prompt a new availability for mission.” This availability for mission, so evident in the life of John Neumann, needs to be cultivated and promoted in our contemporary Apostolic Life as essential to our prophetic and missionary vocation.

Principle 3: “Restructuring for Mission should seek out and accompany the most abandoned, especially the poor.” Missionary availability will call us to re-examine our apostolic priorities, always with pastoral concern for those who suffer because of the mass movement of peoples and human trafficking.

Like Neumann, we are called to learn to preach the gospel ever anew. The theme for this sexennium is inspired by a saying of St. Clement Hofbauer. It is important to remember that St. John Neumann’s mission and ministry is in continuity with the spirit and example of St. Clement, even though they never met. Like both of them, we need to be open to new methods of evangelization, new experiences and new languages if we are going to interiorize the sexennial theme both personally and as apostolic communities. Above all, we need to make their spirit of missionary availability our own.

It is no surprise that only a year after his arrival in the United States, Neumann felt the need to evangelize the “Indians”, the native population who often lived, not only in poverty, but also alienated from a North American society now dominated by European immigrants. The mass movement of peoples affected not only those who emigrated and the family and friends who remained behind. It also had a significant impact on native or aboriginal populations in the United States, much too often oppressing them and excluding them from the new society that was taking shape, encroaching on their territory, and impoverishing them. Neumann’s pastoral ministry to immigrants opened his eyes to the native populations who had been displaced and were often living in poverty. His desire to serve peoples of many cultures extended beyond the different European cultures of the immigrants who were his first parishioners. It included all who experienced abandonment, marginalization and poverty. However, by 1840 Neumann came to believe that there was more urgent pastoral need among the immigrant population and thus opted for that mission.

John Neumann admired many of the principles on which the young democracy of the United States was founded. He also appreciated the opportunities open to poor immigrants, many of whom were fleeing oppression and poverty in their homelands. However, he realized that there were other elements at work in this society and he could not condone them. He had a number of battles with wealthy lay people regarding parishes, schools and properties. He also encountered the prejudice of citizens who had been part of earlier colonization and who now wanted to deny to new immigrants – especially Catholics – the rights and freedoms their ancestors had appreciated when they first arrived in North America.

The XXIV General Chapter reminded us that missionary conversion will call us to deepen our reflection on culture. “We are missionaries who come together from various cultures to form communities based on faith in Jesus Christ. This faith calls today’s Redemptorist to esteem and embrace the cultures of others while at the same time recognizing cultural limitations and giving countercultural witness, where appropriate” (Decisions, 1.4).

Regardless of age or origin, in today’s world we need to enter into dialogue with peoples, cultures and traditions very different from our own. This challenges us, as it challenged John Neumann, to move out of our provincialism and parochialism, even when we are not sure where it will lead.

I would like to suggest some practical conclusions to honour the memory of St. John Neumann by incorporating dimensions of his spirit into practical decisions for the Congregation today.

In the spirit of missionary dedication of St. John Neumann, I urge every Conference and Unit to consider at least one concrete pastoral project to respond to the needs of those affected by the mass movement of peoples. Such a pastoral project could well be an ideal situation for an international community. Information about any such decisions and plans in the Conferences and in the Units should be sent to the General Government.

Provincial and Conference Secretariats of Formation should examine their programs of initial and ongoing formation to ensure that they include experience of different cultures, as well as formation in issues of culture and inter-culturality; language training, especially in Spanish, English and Italian, but also in other languages helpful and necessary for the mission; the study and integration of obedience and missionary dedication as key elements of our Redemptorist identity as proposed by Fr. Tobin in A Letter to the Confreres (September 8, 2009 – in Analecta C.Ss.R. 2008-2009, pp. 170-200 in English and pp. 201-233 in Spanish).

Some have said that John Neumann was a very ordinary man who did ordinary ministry very well. That may well be true. He did not draw attention to himself and he often he served in the background. His very ordinariness means that he is a confrere with whom most of us can easily relate. However, John Neumann did ordinary things with extraordinary love and extraordinary dedication. I think that this is what makes all the difference. Then and now.

In conclusion I would like to recall words from a letter by Fr. Joseph Tobin, written for the twenty-fifth anniversary of John Neumann’s canonization (April 11, 2002):

In an age when spirituality is sometimes proposed as a strictly introspective journey into the self, Saint John reminds us that service of the poor and forgotten is a clear way to God. And, in the face of an ethos that urges us to consume and possess, the Saint advises us to travel light, suggesting that simplicity makes the pilgrimage of life more joyful.

As we celebrate the 200th anniversary of his birth in 2011, may the example of his life inspire and encourage us all. Above all, may his spirit continue to find an echo in our spirit and renew our hope, our hearts and our structures so that we may continue to preach the Gospel ever anew!

Your brother in the Redeemer,

 

Michael Brehl, C.Ss.R.

Superior General

Rome – March 28, 2011

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200 years since the birth of...

 

St. John Neumann: A Biography

 

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March 28 is the 200th anniversary of the birth of St. John Neumann C.Ss.R.,

the founder of the diocesan school system in the United States.

 

John Nepomucene Neumann was born in Prachatice, Bohemia (modern-day Czech Republic) on March 28, 1811. He was an exceptional

student, and a quick study with languages — he was fluent in Spanish, French, Italian, English, German, and his native Bohemian.

Due to a surplus of priests in his native country, Neumann could not be ordained to the priesthood after he completed his studies in 1835.

 

He had always dreamed of being a missionary in the United States, so he sailed for America hoping to find a warm welcome.

Neumann was ordained for the Diocese of New York and began his ministry among the isolated communities of German Catholics

around Buffalo, NY.

 

Redemptorist

 

He found the life of a diocesan priest lonely, especially as a missionary in the hinterlands of his diocese. To satisfy his need

for community, Neumann joined the Redemptorists in 1842. He spent time in Pittsburgh learning more about their way of life,

and took his vows in Baltimore, becoming the first Redemptorist to profess vows in the New World. In 1848, he was appointed

the leader of all the Redemptorists in the United States. In 1852, after serving as pastor of several Redemptorist parishes in

Pittsburgh and Baltimore, Neumann was named the fourth bishop of Philadelphia.

 

Bishop

 

As bishop, Neumann established close to 90 parishes and founded the nation’s parochial school system. He also welcomed

several new orders of religious women into his diocese to serve in the schools, including the School Sisters of Notre Dame.

Neumann was also a spiritual father to the Sisters of St. Francis of Glen Riddle and the Oblate Sisters of Providence.

He is also known for spreading the Forty Hours Eucharistic devotion.

 

Saint

 

On January 5, 1860, Neumann collapsed and died on a street in Philadelphia at the age of 48.

At his request, he was buried in the basement crypt in St. Peter’s Church in Philadelphia.

Pope Paul VI beatified Neumann in 1963 during the Second Vatican Council, and he was declared a saint in 1977.

Neumann is considered a patron saint of immigrants and sick children.

His relics are located under the altar of the Shrine of St. John Neumann at St. Peter’s Church in Philadelphia.

 

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http://www.redemptorists.net/neumann/

 

Sunday of Lent - 3

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The Woman at the Well...

 

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The Annunciation...

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El Greco's Annunciation

 

"St Luke, narrating the dialogue of the Annunciation, refers to the sublime words pronounced by the angel, ‘The Lord is with you’ (Lk 1:28). This phrase becomes the specific reason from which the Blessed Virgin Mary is invited to joy. It represents the start of the new Presence of God and is the reason why Gabriel greeted Mary saying to her: ‘Rejoice Mary’ (Lk 1:28). With this greeting and with this happy annunciation, in its truest sense, the Gospel is initiated. The angel’s first word is ‘joy’: the new joy that comes from God, from his irrecoverable gift for us and through us and amongst us. Or better yet, this joy comes from ‘Emanuel – God is with us’ and He invites us to participate in divine communion with Him.

 

In Mary and with Mary, God tells every one of us today, one more time and for ever: ‘It is good that you exist. I will fill you with every Grace’. This is the certain sign, His Son is amongst us." Congregatio Pro Clericis

 

We wish our parish, the parishioners and the community, in Liverpool a very Happy Feast!

The Parish in Bishop Eton has the Annunciation as its Patronal Feast.

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