" Jesus, thank you for everything, for my very beginning and my very end. "
Venerable Maria Celeste Crostarosa OSsR

News from Fr. Provincial

Fr Provincial writes...3rd March 2017...

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3rd March, 2017

Dear Confreres,

 

We are already well into the season of Lent and my prayer is that we will be open enough, through our self emptying, to receive the countless graces that the Lord wishes to offer us. I was in Clapham last week for a Finance Secretariat meeting and also an EPC meeting, and the spirit of this season was apparent in both our student group and the community at large. 

 

Fr. Richard and I had just returned from a rather gruelling canonical Visitation of the  Region of Zimbabwe. I am very happy to communicate to you that the Region is vibrant, faithful, hard-working, with a very good community spirit. We visited each community, as well as the mission in Chiweshe and a new Shrine Centre in the area we used to call 'Sally Mugabe’.

 

What was most striking is the complete collapse of the infrastructure in the country, and in particular the roads, many of which are just a mass of potholes. Each day we were stopped on many occasions by the police, and en route to Chiweshe had to pass 8 police road blocks. For the first four days there we were also without power in Tafara. We had intended to have a formal Novitiate Board meeting but some of the principals could not attend, and so we had an informal meeting with the Zimbabwean representatives, Fr. Sean Wales from South Africa and Fr. Raphael Kitheka from Kenya. I was also able to deliver the habits made by our Redemptoristine Sisters in Dublin and the rosaries made by our Polish students.

Provincial's Letter January 2017...

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26th January, 2017

Dear confreres and friends,

 

As we come to the conclusion of the first month of yet another year, I wish to share with you the fruits of the Visitation of the Province by the OPC. 

 

First of all I express the gratitude of Frs. Richard, Gerry and myself for the warm welcome we received in each community. We were very touched by the kindness, openness and generosity of all the confreres. Indeed I believe it was a moment of grace for us.

 

We were very struck not only by the hospitality, but by the immense amount of apostolic work being done, the genuine good will among the confreres, and above all the spirit of prayer in each house. We were able to celebrate the Eucharist and participate in the prayer life of the three larger communities, and also had moments of reflection and prayer with the others.

Fr Provincial's first letter of 2017...

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28th December, 2016

Dear Confreres and friends,

 

All good wishes for a very happy and blessed New Year. Once more, we have much to be grateful for during these past 12 months.

 

In particular I am grateful to God for the Professions and Ordinations which have taken place both in the Province and in the Region, and for the extraordinary amount of apostolic work undertaken by all of us. A special word of thanks must go to our elderly confreres who continue to be available to support our various ministries.

 

As we look ahead, many challenges are indeed present. Fr. Gabriel Maguire has been diagnosed with a serious illness and will have six months away from ministry in order to maximise the effect of the radiotherapy and chemotherapy he will receive. I know you will keep him in your prayers.

Fr Provincial's Letter December 2016...

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30th November, 2016

Dear Confreres and friends,

 

All good wishes for the season of Advent. In these days the liturgy, and I am sure our preaching, stress vigilance, watchfulness and waiting. We are also reminded that this is a season of hope and quiet joy. The reality for many is that in the lead-up to Christmas, with all the work in the parishes and all the other ministries we are involved in, very little space for this attitude is afforded us.

May I suggest a couple of books which might help? "The Coming of God" by Maria Boulding which I recommended a few years ago, and Denis McBride's book, "Journeying towards Jesus in Advent" are both timely - and of course in the more immediate days leading up to Christmas, the Novena of St. Alphonsus.

 

All good wishes for our patronal feast on 8th December. This year it has a special flavour to it, as Charles Randall will be ordained to the priesthood in St. Mary's Clapham and will celebrate his First Mass there the following day. I know quite a few confreres will be able to be present, and I am aware that others will also keep him in their prayers. For me it is a moment of encouragement for our Province in having our second young priest ordained in the last year or so.

The Provincial writes for November 2016...

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28th October, 2016

Dear Confreres and friends,

 

As you will be aware, our General Chapter begins at the end of this month and I know that the communities have been praying that the Holy Spirit will be with the capitulars as we review the past sexennium, plan and discern for the future and elect a new General Government. I will try and keep you updated with key moments from the Chapter.

 

As is my custom, I also remind you of the importance of observing the suffrages for our beloved dead. The four Masses that the communities should celebrate in November are: the deceased members of the Province and Region, all deceased Redemptorists, our deceased benefactors, our deceased parents and relatives. This is one way of expressing our deep gratitude for the amazing mission carried out by those on whose shoulders we continue to build and spread the gospel.

 

You will have seen from our web page that Br. Massimiliano Mura wrote an icon of Blessed Maria Celeste Crostorosa for the Clapham community. It was good to have Max with us, and I look forward to continuing our cooperation as he is translating at the General Chapter.

Fr Provincial writes Nov 2016...

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28th October, 2016

Dear Confreres and friends,

As you will be aware, our General Chapter begins at the end of this month and I know that the communities have been praying that the Holy Spirit will be with the capitulars as we review the past sexennium, plan and discern for the future and elect a new General Government. I will try and keep you updated with key moments from the Chapter.

As is my custom, I also remind you of the importance of observing the suffrages for our beloved dead. The four Masses that the communities should celebrate in November are: the deceased members of the Province and Region, all deceased Redemptorists, our deceased benefactors, our deceased parents and relatives. This is one way of expressing our deep gratitude for the amazing mission carried out by those on whose shoulders we continue to build and spread the gospel.

You will have seen from our web page that Br. Massimiliano Mura wrote an icon of Blessed Maria Celeste Crostorosa for the Clapham community. It was good to have Max with us, and I look forward to continuing our cooperation as he is translating at the General Chapter.

Fr Provincial writes October 2016...

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30th September 2016

Dear Confreres and friends,

 

Once again it has been an eventful month. For us north of the border, the reopening of Kinnoull took place at the beginning of September with a workshop on Mercy being given by Fr. Jim McManus and Ms. Marie Hogg to a full house of 33 people. This was followed by a weekend retreat given by Fr. Peter Morris to a similar number of ladies from the West of Scotland.

 

In the days before, two of our students, Brs Mike and Royston, had worked diligently with our house staff; and all of us were involved in sourcing furniture, arranging blinds for over 50 rooms including all the public rooms, and trying to settle in. 

 

Fr. Gerry Mulligan and I eventually managed to vacate the Dundee house on Friday, 15th September and be in Kinnoull to welcome the many confreres who came to the Province gathering. I reiterate my gratitude to Fr. Rui Santiago who came from Portugal and gave us input on new ways of working and ministering with the laity, and also offering a template for a new mindset in terms of mission and ministry. I am also grateful for the many positive comments that the confreres made about the refurbished Kinnoull.

Fr Provincial CSsR Letter for the month of August...

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26th August, 2016

Dear confreres and friends,

 

This month of September presents us with the opportunity to gather together in Kinnoull for a short seminar on preaching popular missions with lay apostles as co-workers. It will be led by Fr. Rui Santiago of the Province of Lisbon and who is the Vicar Provincial and also principal missioner. As indicated previously, this time together will also give members of the Province the opportunity to see the newly refurbished monastery at Kinnoull. We hope that it will be a relaxing time together. If you have not already responded to the invitation of the Rector, may you please contact Fr. Gerry Mulligan. We gather on the evening of 19th September and depart on the morning of 22nd.

 

These weeks have been quite trying in terms of the logistics of moving back to Kinnoull. Due to a serious lack of painters in Scotland and other professional skilled people the delay in taking possession of the building has continued. We will now take possession of Kinnoull today, 26th August. From 5th September Fr. Jim McManus will conduct our first workshop which is a full house! Father Peter Morris will also join the community on that day.

Fr Provincial CSsR writes July 2016...

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20th July, 2016

Dear confreres and friends,

 

I trust that you celebrated the feast of the Holy Redeemer well. This time last year we were fairly certain we would be renewing our vows in Kinnoull. However the four of us present in the community renewed them here in Dundee, as we still have not moved back to Kinnoull. Various reasons are cited for the delay, including inclement weather which prevented removing the roof for the new lift shaft which goes from the basement to the top floor, the discovery of dry rot in several places, and challenges in the complete rewiring and re-plumbing of the building. The top three floors are now complete with carpets and there remains some work on the ground floor and lower ground floor. I believe that the wait is worth it, as we do not wish to return until everything is totally finished. The OPC made a visit this week and we are delighted with the quality of the work.

 

At the OPC meeting various situations in the Province and the Region were discussed and it was decided that we will do a visitation of the communities of the communities of the Province and of the Region in early 2017.

The Provincial writes 30th June 2016...

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30th June, 2016

Dear Confreres and friends,

 

This month has just flown by and the celebrations for the conclusion of the Year of our Mother of Perpetual Help will take place in Clapham on Saturday in the presence of Cardinal Nichols, Bishop Ralph, our confreres, and friends and parishioners from many parts of the country.

 

I appreciate that in many communities and parishes a great effort has been made during this year to honour our Lady of Perpetual Help in a special way. I was in Clapham for a couple of days during the Nine Days Prayers where Fr. Raymond Mupandasekwa and Fr. Peter Morris preached to good numbers.

Fr Provincial CSsR writes...

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1st May, 2016

Dear confreres and friends,

 

Each year as we enter the month of May, I usually remind us all of the Marian flavour of our vocation. Last year I quoted Pope Francis and in previous years, Saint Alphonsus, Cardinal Newman and others. This year, being a very special year for us, Father General wrote a letter on the role of Mary in our lives and I trust that each community has a copy. He concludes his letter by quoting Constitution 32, and I would like to begin my letter by restating the Constitution:

 

"Let them take the Blessed Virgin Mary as their model and helper. For she went on her pilgrim way in faith, and embraced with her whole heart the saving will of God. She dedicated herself completely as a handmaid of the Lord to the person of her Son and to his work, and thus served the mystery of redemption. Indeed she still serves it, as the perpetual help of God's people in Christ. Therefore, let them relate to her as a mother with all the love and veneration they owe her as sons.”

 

When I am teaching a course on the Constitutions I like to highlight the fact that it was Father Bernard Haring who managed to get the words 'perpetual help' inserted into the text.

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Divine Mercy Sunday 3rd April 2016

Dear confreres and friends,

 

"The Church is not in this world to condemn, but to make possible an encounter with the visceral love that is God's mercy. For this to occur we must go out. Go out from the churches and the parishes, out to the people where they suffer, where they hope".

 

These words of Pope Francis sum up for me the vision and the ministry of Saint Alphonsus. Our founder used to say that there are several Congregations doing the same work we do, especially the work of preaching popular missions. However he said that what characterises us, is that we seek out above all, the most abandoned and sinners, and offer them in a personal way the mercy of God. In this Year of Mercy, we are attempting this in a special way. It is what our life is all about.

 

As I was reflecting on these words of Pope Francis, I recalled that just before Easter I was attending the Novitiate Board in Toronto and had the opportunity to meet with our two novices. One of them said to me, "Father what is your vision of the work of the Province?" My response was, "Perhaps you could tell me how you see the Province and its future". His reply was almost a complete summary - albeit unknown to him - of the Province Pastoral Plan.

Fr Provincial's Letter 27th Feb 2016...

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Zimbabwe. 27th February 2016

Dear confreres and friends,

 

Warm greeting from Zimbabwe. And I do mean warm greeting in every sense as the temperature is around 30 degrees.

 

I arrived here for a Board meeting of Holy Trinity College and also to visit each of the communities and to speak with each of the confreres and postulants. As you may be aware, we have 6 theologians from Kenya with us and one from South Africa; so I noticed at Mass yesterday there were 33 of us in the chapel. It is an encouraging sign.

 

On the debit side, the costs of involved in terms of education, transport, food and clothing are also very high; and there is a drought. As I flew into Harare I could clearly see the lack of green, and this was confirmed during the drive from the airport where I saw the maize badly wilting. The year ahead will be a great challenge for us as we try to sustain not only the communities, but the many poor people we support.

Provincial CSsR Letter January 2016...

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29th January, 2016

 

Dear Confreres and friends,

 

We are already at the end of the first month of 2016 which coincides with the closing of the Year of the Consecrated Life. In Rome there will be a symposium on Religious Life which our Students will attend, and the Holy Father will conclude it with a Mass of thanksgiving celebrated on 2 February.

 

We have celebrated our own Thanksgiving Masses in Hawkstone during this month. First of all we had the days with the confreres; and then we had a weekend with families, friends and benefactors. Both occasions were very special and I wish to express the deep gratitude of the Province to Fathers Maurice and Kevin, the Sisters and the staff who were so welcoming and facilitated the event so well.

 

Where are all aware that Hawkstone Hall has been our seminary since 1926, and also a major pastoral centre since the 1970s. It has played a significant part in all of our lives and in the lives of the many people who have come there seeking renewal, refreshment and a deeper relationship with God. It would be impossible to name all those who have made a very significant contribution both to the seminary and to the pastoral centre. Many have gone to God. However the Province deeply appreciates the work done over the past 40 years of ministry in that particular pastoral context.

Fr Provincial writes for the end of the year 2015...

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31st December, 2015

Dear confreres and friends,

 

Once again we come to the final day of the year and I give thanks to God for the many blessings we have experienced. We pray for peace and fidelity in 2016.

 

When I look back over the year there is much for which we should be grateful. The tremendous amount of apostolic work carried out, in and through our Province, continues to be amazing. The day-to-day work in the parishes and in Redemptorist Publications, the preaching of missions and retreats, the ministry in and from the John Paul Centre and at Hawkstone, the work of formation, and of course the administration of the Province, all go to make up the tapestry of our Redemptorist life and ministry here and in Zimbabwe. In the Region there have been many missions and retreats, as well as the parish work in Tafara, Bhobo, Mabvuku, Saint Gerard's, Nazareth House, Hatcliffe and Chiweshe. And on top of all this, there is the Aids outreach, the Mavambo project the Adult Literacy programme and several other ministries.

 

Both here in the Province and in Zimbabwe we also celebrated new life, welcoming men to join us and discern their vocation. We have also sent men to the novitiate, as well as admitting confreres to Vows and celebrated with those who received the Sacrament of Ordination.

Fr Provincial CSsR writes... 26th Nov 2015...

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26th November, 2015

Dear confreres and friends

 

This letter is being sent a little early as I hope to visit some of the communities in these final days of the month and the beginning of next month, and would not have facilities for sending this letter both in hard copy and email while on the road.

 

Our patronal feast on 8th December is also the day on which the Year of Mercy commences. I do not believe it is by chance that Pope Francis has chosen this day for the launching of this special year. As he says in Evangelii Gaudium, "She is the missionary who draws near to us and accompanies us throughout our life, .....she walks at our side and shares our struggles and constantly surrounds us with God's love. Mary offers to all maternal comfort and love and whispers in their ear, 'Let not your hearts be troubled .... Am I not here, who am your Mother"'.

 

I would really like to give some profound theological reflection on the concept of Mercy and its importance especially in our Redemptorist vocation. However seeing what the gospels show us with regard to Jesus and Mercy, and also the writings and preaching of St. Alphonsus, I think my words would be superfluous.