Order of Mercy Pledges to Help Iraq’s Persecuted Christians

Amidst the glistening skyscrapers and plush resorts of the city of Erbil in northern Iraq lies a hidden tragedy. Tens of thousands of displaced Christian refugees stream into the area, seeking shelter from the brutal hands of ISIS militias.

Most Rev. Mashar Warda, second from right, speaks to the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy members in Nemi, Italy.

The sad story of homeless evacuees, almost completely ignored by Western media, is a replay of the same tragedy played out over the centuries, in which Christians and those of other religions were forced at the hands of Muslim extremists to either give up their faith or accept slavery or death itself.

In an attempt to offer help, a Catholic religious order, founded centuries ago to redeem such captives, has stepped in to ease the pain of the suffering Christians. The Order of Mercy, with members in the United States, has twinned with the Archdiocese of Erbil as an attempt to offer hope, healing and material support to those persecuted.

The 1.2 million Christians in Iraq have been reduced to 300,000 over about ten years because of the persecution, according to the official announcement of the Order of Mercy, known formally as the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy.

Against a backdrop of a land rich in history, including Abraham’s journey from his homeland in Ur, the Most Rev. Mashar Warda, Chaldean Archbishop of Erbil, accepted an invitation to meet with the Order of Mercy. The Order was meeting in Rome recently as part of its official chapter meeting.

“There is a real sale of Christian slaves, especially women and children, that they take to sell in markets,” Archbishop Warda said. “The Christians that do not flee must either convert to Islam, or pay a heavy tax. Many times, however, they are killed.”

Archbishop Warda spoke at the Order of Mercy’s recent chapter, or official meeting of the order. The announcement said that Archbishop Warda’s story “very clearly provoked” the group. “The Christians of Iraq are fleeing because of the continual persecution.”

Most Rev. Warda asked the Mercedarians for:

  •  Prayer above all else
  • The spread of information to others about these dire circumstances
  •  Economic support
  •  Support of the social and educational services of the archdiocese

The Diocese of Erbil is now welcoming thousands of families fleeing persecution. The Roman Province of the Mercedarians has officially adopted the Archdiocese of Erbil and has donated several thousand euro, and is now praying for the diocese.

A friar from each of the order’s countries – Italy, United States, and India – will be appointed to go on a fact-finding mission to Iraq to find ways the Order can help.

Most Rev. Warda asked that the Mercedarians:

  •  Let others know of this need and tragedy through the mass media
  •  Join with Christians in Iraq through their prayers, Masses and rosaries
  •  Sacrifice or fast from something important to share in the solidarity with those suffering

The Archbishop also asked for help in starting a Catholic university, which he called the Catholic University of Erbil. He asked first of all for teachers who could teach English.


He explained that as Christianity in the Middle East, and in Iraq in particular, is experiencing a critical stage in its history that threatens its very existence, the Catholic University of Erbil should serve as a contribution to save what culture can be saved. It would also preserve the identity of its civilization and its rich culture and heritage. This includes a people that founded ancient civilizations that once flourished in Mesopotamia and in the East in general, and offered the world its first alphabet, script, the wheel, school, literature and music.

The culture also served for centuries as a bridge to the East for transferring Greek philosophy as well as science and knowledge in general. Also, these people carried the Good News to Mesopotamia and to other lands and the heart of the East, as far as India and China.

The Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy, founded in 1215 by St. Peter Nolasco, is an international community of priests and brothers who live a life of prayer and communal fraternity. In addition to the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, their members take a special fourth vow to give up their own selves for others whose faith is in danger. Their motto is “my life for your freedom.”

In the United States they are present in Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and Florida. Read about their charism at OrderofMercy.org/charism.html. Visit their Facebook page at Facebook.com/pages/Mercedarian/.

Martyrdom and Charism — The Ransom of Christian Captives


Are we Christians headed toward persecution in the United States? This and many questions are raised and discussed in the following paraphrased transcription of the below video talk, given by Fr. Joseph Eddy, O. de M.  The first part is an introduction to the Mercedarians’ fourth vow, and afterwards Father takes a deeper look at white & red martyrdom.

Martyrdom is something that’s ever ancient and ever new. A charism is a spirit that the founder had when the community was started. The community starts under the bishop. It’s a slow process leading to pontifical approbation.

A charism is living Christ’s life. It is an aspect of Christ’s life that has been given to its founder. His/Her daughters or his sons carry the charism on for the length of the community’s existence.

Captive for Christ

The Order of Mercy was founded in the twelfth century. At that time the Muslims were creeping in. The purpose of the Crusades was to do something about this and prevent Europe from being taken over. Many people were taken captive… Imagine if your cousins or uncles were taken away – they just disappeared. The captives were probably taken to north Africa. Imagine the opening scene from Les Miserables, where the prisoners are working on a chain gang.

If the captives renounce their Christian faith, they can move up in society. Perhaps they would not have to work in a chain gang any more. There was great pressure to leave the faith.

Our founder Peter Nolasco was a merchant. As he went into the African areas – the Muslim-controlled territories – he would sell his goods. As he did this, he would see his fellow Christians who were suffering. He was cut to the heart by this suffering.

The real reason Peter mourned the captives was because of their loss of faith. He saw that they were losing their eternal salvation. He began collecting his money to buy them back. He gave all his property away. Although he was not a wealthy man, he was very shrewd. He was also a strong man, and a humble man, and these virtues helped him a lot.

It was not long before others came to follow him. Most people do not start out with the idea to start a religious community. Likewise, in Peter’s case it was, “I am going to help these people,” and others followed him.

“He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives” (Luke 4:18)

But he was soon criticized. Others thought he was creating a market for the Christian captives. Greatly hurt, St. Peter took the matter to prayer. In a vision, Mary appeared to him, telling him that Christ desired that he found a community dedicated to ransoming these Christian captives. With the support of the king and the bishop, St. Peter began the Mercedarian Order, sending his friars – two at a time – to ransom the Christians, who would return, still in their chains, to Spain.

Our charism is the fourth vow – if necessary, we would give up our own life to save someone in danger of losing their faith. On occasion, the friars would take the places of those in captivity, exchanging their freedom for the prisoners’ freedom.

In Saracen lands, opposition was everywhere for the first Mercedarians. They were slapped, stoned, beaten, wounded, and dragged through the streets. In their first century, their white habits bore witness to the blood of over one hundred martyrs.

St. Serapion was Irish by birth, born around 1179. He was enlisted as a soldier in the service of Richard the Lionhearted, and later Alfonso VIII who was fighting the Muslims in Spain. There he met Peter Nolasco, and joined the order. Eventually, he was one of the two friars chosen to take part in the ransom mission. There was not enough ransom money, so Serapion offered to stay behind if the remaining captives were freed. While the Mercedarians rushed to collect money for Serapion’s own ransom, the Muslims grew impatient, and crucified the saint. He was declared a martyr, and is the patron saint of the sick.

“To bear witness to the light” (John 1:7)

The term for martyr comes from the Greek word meaning “to bear witness.” A witness testifies to a fact that they have seen and experienced. The reality of the early Church was that witnesses to Christ could easily be imprisoned or killed.

Once again we are seeing this in Iraq, parts of Africa, and China. Every single day, Christians in the early Church faced death, and all the apostles, except John, suffered a martyr’s death. At the crucifixion of Christ, Mary’s heart was “pierced with a sword.” At her side was St. John, who suffered his “white martyrdom,” or spiritual martyrdom, as well.

Today’s martyrs are those who have never seen the risen Christ, but are so firmly convinced of the truth of Christianity that they gladly suffer death rather than deny these truths. In our Order, thirty-three Mercedarian friars were martyred during the Spanish Civil War – 18 of whom have already been canonized, and the rest are going through the process.

Lumen Gentium says,

Since Jesus, the Son of God, manifested His charity by laying down His life for us, so too no one has greater love than he who lays down his life for Christ and His brothers. From the earliest times, then, some Christians have been called upon — and some will always be called upon — to give the supreme testimony of this love to all men, but especially to persecutors. The Church, then, considers martyrdom as an exceptional gift and as the fullest proof of love. By martyrdom a disciple is transformed into an image of his Master by freely accepting death for the salvation of the world — as well as his conformity to Christ in the shedding of his blood. Though few are presented such an opportunity, nevertheless all must be prepared to confess Christ before men. They must be prepared to make this profession of faith even in the midst of persecutions, which will never be lacking to the Church, in following the way of the cross. (no. 42)

This time period is heading towards the possibility of persecution in the United States. We may believe we could never have ISIS here, yet we have on demand abortion clinics, same-sex marriage, and other open affronts to Catholicism, to the point that the culture tells us, “you can’t believe same-sex marriage is wrong,” and “you can’t tell a women abortion is wrong.”

Living the fourth vow would be impossible without the virtues. We are called to give Christ’s witness to the culture. Both white martyrdom (spiritual) and red martyrdom (by blood) are great gifts to God. White martyrdom prepares us to be open and ready for the possibility of martyrdom by blood – the ultimate sacrifice which unites us to Christ on the cross. The virtues of generosity, self-giving, and courage are necessary, and one must die to self daily.

An offering of self

By Baptism we share the role of priest, prophet, and king. As priests, we are called to offer sacrifice for the salvation of the world. (Romans 12 … “I appeal to you brethren… offer yourselves to God”) All our daily activities and hardships — if borne patiently — can be offered as a spiritual sacrifice, united to the sacrifice of the Mass. We offer ourselves as Mary did — she is the perfect example of white martyrdom. She gives her total Yes at the Annunciation and never takes it back, even when told by Simeon that a sword would pierce her heart. We give our “yes” at Baptism, Confirmation, and each time we receive the Eucharist. Like Mary standing at the foot of the cross, we stand at the foot of the altar, and give our “amen” at every Mass.

As prophets, we are called to be teachers — spreading the Gospel by our lives and words. Confirmation gives us a special strength to witness to the Gospel, as well as holding us to a higher standard to do so.

By sharing in Christ’s kingship, we realize that to be a king is to serve. In married life it is for your family, as a priest, your flock, in religious life for your community. Christ is the perfect king who laid down his life for his subjects. When we perform works of mercy, we are serving others as Christ did.

By sharing daily in the role of priest, prophet, and king, we build up virtue to prepare for the possible crown of martyrdom. The Mercedarians’ fourth vow to offer one’s life if necessary, reminds us that our lives are important and should not be thrown away. The early Church actually had the problem where people would go out of their way to look for martyrdom!

Definition of Martyr

U. of Florida Newman Center

A Marriage Saved – A Mission Given


When Julie and Greg met it seemed to be the perfect match. They fell madly in love. Their temperaments and interests seemed to be perfect for one another. They complemented each other even from a spiritual perspective. Julie was raised in a traditional Catholic family which emphasized Mass attendance and proper behavior. Greg, on the other hand, was from a family which had converted to the Church. His family was not as devote as Julie’s family, but they were people of faith.

The early years of marriage were happy for the Alexander’s as they welcomed two babies into the new family. Greg was in the military and Julie stayed at home to take care of the children. The young family attended Mass each Sunday, because this was “the thing to do.”


With the happiness of those early years, who would have expected that dark clouds were beginning to form. Trouble really started when Greg left the military and got the dream job in Texas. The position offered a significant pay increase.


The Alexander’s were beginning to get a taste of the good life. They bought a beautiful house in an upscale neighborhood. Greg put his heart and soul into work, while Julie made new friends in the neighborhood. Many of these women were successful career women bring in large salaries. While drinking wine they would all brag about their careers and positions of prominence. Julie felt left out. Compared to these other women her life as a homemaker seemed boring and insignificant.


Finally, Julie made the decision to go back to work. Her persuasiveness earned her a job at a local fitness club. It wasn’t long till Julie also began climbing up the economic ladder. Her dedication and talents earned her a promotion to a position many miles away from her family. Julie would only be spending a few days at home a week. In her mind, Julie rationalized the decision as the best for her career and the family’s income. However deep inside her, Julie felt empty and “spiritually divorced from her husband.” Work gave Julie the affirmation and meaning that she didn’t     experience at home.


Then one day, the house that the Alexander’s had built on sand collapsed.Everything came to a head when Greg finally gathered the courage to say, “I am miserable”. At first Julie was taken back, but after reflection she realized that she too was miserable. She had been finding ways to avoid Greg and the problems that existed between them. The couple had been so busy making money and accumulating things that they rarely talked.


After a time of discernment, they decided to get a divorce, but lived in the same house while making preparations. Even with all their marital problems, the Alexander’s still faithfully attended Mass out a feeling of obligation. A new priest had come to the parish who was a gifted preacher. There was something about this man’s words that caught their attention. They actually “enjoyed” this priest’s homilies!


One Sunday the couple had the idea that they had to speak to this priest about their pending divorce. For both of them it was the 911 last chance that they would give God before making things final.


The meeting with the priest was an actual grace for the couple. They came to discover that this priest was a Canon Lawyer who worked for the diocesan marriage tribunal. Because of his position, he was not able to counsel couples.Instead, the priest gave the Alexander’s some “homework” to do in order to come to know God’s plan for marriage.


This simple step began a long journey towards an appreciation of the gift of the Sacrament of Marriage. They studied the basis for the Sacrament found in Sacred Scripture. The couple began to read the wealth of wisdom found in the Church’s two thousand year teaching on marriage and family. After reading documents such as Familiaris Consortio (St. John Paul II). Humanae Vitae (Blessed Paul VI), and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, they were blown away by the beauty and richness of God’s plan for marriage.


Like St. Paul, Julie and Greg Alexander had wasted years of marriage serving themselves and dishonoring Christ’s Sacrament. Only as they began to study God’s plan for Matrimony, did they realize what a mess they had made of their marriage. Praying together they promised God that if He would somehow save their marriage they would give their lives helping other couples discover the beauty of the Sacrament.


The Lord answered this prayer which He had placed on the hearts of the Alexanders. Within a few years, they were both working full-time promoting the Covenant of Love marriage ministry in parishes. This ministry is based on empowering married couples in the parish to minister to others. It is a five year curriculum which assists couples in living God’s plan for marriage.


The mystery of the Cross is that God chose to take something evil and bring great good from it. When the Jesus knocked Julie and Greg off their horse (Acts 9:1-10),he did not condemn them for their many sins. Instead, Jesus used them and their broken marriage to bring light and healing to other couples. May married couples never despair of their woundedness, but rather allow the Divine Physician to heal and strengthen their love for each other! For with God there is always hope and all things are possible!


The Alexander House


Marriage 911

The Election of a New Government and a Surprise Visit

The following is a continuation of the highlights of the Provincial Chapter in Nemi, Italy. The Chapter began May 30 and concludes June 6th.


DAY 4:



This day began with Mass in honor of our Holy Father Peter Nolasco, in this year especially dedicated to him on our journey towards the Jubilee of 2018.


The particular prayer intention was for the Mercedarian Superiors and the whole Mercedarian Family. At 9.15 am we began the session by continuing the reading of the reports. It was time for India, and the report was read by the community Edacochin. Then followed Elantikara and Cuddapah.


After the questions, there was a pause, and we returned at 11 am.

Information was presented regarding the communities of Munnar, Patlur, and Eraviputhenthurai. Then came some information about the vocational-formative work in the Mission of India.


Before lunch, there was an unplanned event: there was the singing of the National Anthem of Italy, given today, as it is the feast of the anniversary of the Republic of Italy.


In the afternoon we entered into the programming phase, for which, after the methodology of the work was given, we were divided into 4 groups formed by 8-9 Religious composed of those from Italy, USA, and India.


It was a good way to experience the diverse sensibilities and perceptions, and to understand the various languages, cultures, ages, etc. that can be gained from the lessons and examples that help to increase communion in the Roman Province.


At the end of the work by the work groups, we returned to the Assembly where the various secretaries of the groups gave a synthesis of what was said in their respective groups regarding the first area, the fraternal life of the community.


The path that was traced that will help us follow a journey which will bring us closer to the goal that we ourselves will travel for the next triennium: The first witness is that the Religious offer to the world is their own consecration, lived in fraternity in the local and provincial community.


DAY 5:




At 7:30 am, the day began with the Liturgy of the Hours (the Office of Readings and Morning Prayer) and the communitarian prayers.


Afterwards, we returned to the Assembly for the reading of the Verbale and the vote on the group work in the area of Religious Life.


A very touching moment of this day was the visit of the Archbishop of Erbil (in Iraq), Mashar Warda, who was present in Rome for a few obligations and accepted the invitation to visit the Chapter Assembly.


In the presence of all the Capitulars, Archbishop Warda gave information that very clearly “provoked” us: the Christians of Iraq are fleeing because of the continual persecution. In 2003, there were nearly 1.2 million Christians in Iraq, now in 2014, it was reduced to 300,000: in ten years they were reduced by 25% of what they were before, and the persecution continues.


There is a real sale of Christian slaves, especially women and children, that they take to sell in markets.

We then returned in time to that which regards the Islamic violence confronting the Christians that do not have many possibilities to flee: either they convert to Islam, or they pay a tax, or they leave. Many times, however, they are killed.


For us Mercedarians the Archbishop asked of us:

– Prayer above all else

– To spread information to others about this theme

– Economic support

– To support the social-educative services, and bring them forward.


The Diocese of Erbil is, in fact, welcoming thousands of families fleeing persecution.


The Roman Province has “twinned” itself with the Diocese of Erbil, and now, has remembered it in prayer and in the donation of several thousand Euro.


We continued our group-work for programming the next three years, and the evening ended with Mass and the recitation of Vespers in honor of St. Charles Lwanga and Company, martyrs, while the intention of the prayer was for the dead, especially those of the last triennium.




The day began with the Holy Mass and Morning Prayer celebrated according to the ordinary intention: for vocations and their formation.


The first gathering of the assembly was dedicated to the vote of the program, prepared by the Commission and then discussed in some cases, which was worked on in the four work groups.


As the vote was rather quick, we divided into geographic groups (one for India, one for the USA, and two for Italy) to integrate, if it was needed, the various areas of the program with initiatives and instruments of a more “local” flavor.


These initiatives were then presented in the Assembly and approved.

The election phase began in the afternoon with all of the Superiors giving their envelopes containing the verbale and the ballots with the votes for the new Provincial Government.


These ballots were opened by the scrutinizers, who counted the votes, and after the formal verification of the correct number, we proceeded to the scrutiny of the vote, at the end of which, Fr. General announced the candidates for Provincial and the Provincial Council.

After a break, we returned to the Chapel for a penitential service with the exposition of the Eucharist. Fr. Giovannino Tolu gave the Capitular Fathers a reflection on three biblical themes: the Transfiguration, the perfume of Mary that she used to anoint the feet of Jesus, and the raised hands of Moses.


The cry of joy of Peter in the Transfiguration is our cry: it is good that we are here! We want to tell the world that we do not know any other joy than to share the tent where Jesus dwells, brighter than the sun. newgovernment

Mary at Bethany loves without calculating and evaluation. For many, the Consecrated Life is a waste and Religious are wasting this life. However, we choose to waste it only for Jesus, and for the captives. Only with charity to the captives, the oppressed, the imprisoned, and the least of society can we feel the fragrance of God’s love.

Moses on mountain was supported in a way that kept his hands raised.

It is a mystery, the strength of raised hands.

Who prays is like one who has hands on the wheel of history.

Without prayer you go off the road, you do not get to where you want to go.


DAY 7:



With the Holy Mass of the Holy Spirit, presided over by the Master General Pablo Ordone, we opened the day dedicated to the election of the new Provincial Government.


The General, in his reflective homily, spoke of the Holy Spirit as a door to peace in the hearts of the community to help facilitate dialogue. A real dialogue, without closures and fictions that makes us consider ourselves all-important within this Mercedarian community that God has dreamed up for redemptive mission.


The Spirit helps us in our discernment to lead us into a profound and existential friendship with Him; a friendship crossed by the Love of loves, able to say it is not I who live, but Christ who lives in me.


The Holy Spirit opens us to the frontier mission, invited to go outside of ourselves, of our presence, of that which “was always this way.”


At 9:30 am, the Chapter Assembly, after fulfilling the rites, proceeded to elect our Fr. Provincial: the result was that Fr. Francesco Podda was reelected, and he accepted the grave obligation.

He then took the oath and gave the profession of faith.


After a break given by the President of the Assembly, we began the vote for the election of the Provincial Councilors.


These were elected:

– Eugenio Caramia – Samuele Salis – Stefano Defraia – Efisio Schirru


These, after the election, took the oath.


The Religious shared fraternal greetings of peace and well wishes with those elected.

XXXII Provincial Chapter of the Roman Province 


General Government Website



XXXII Provincial Chapter of the Roman Province


The Provincial Chapter occurs every 3 years. Superiors and those chosen as representatives “examine the state of the province and to foster its progress in all aspects…” It is also a time to “verify common work and seek together the signs of the will of God, with a great sense of responsibility in regard to the community that they represent (CO 242).” To keep all of our 3rd Order, friends and benefactors informed, we offer this short summary of the proceedings:


30 maggio 01
On 30 May 2015 at 9am, with the Holy Mass in honor of our Most Holy Mother, we began the 32nd Chapter of the Roman Province that includes 13 Italian communities, 6 from the USA, and 6 from India.

Present were all 38 Capitular Fathers; Fr. General spoke of Mary as a model of our Consecrated Life, and Inspirer of every Mercedarian work.

At 10:30 am, the Capitular Asslembly opened with the prayers prescribed by the Ritual, and the greeting of Fr. General which, making reference to the teachings of the Holy Father Francis, invited all to fall in love with the Mother of Mercy, keeping in our hearts attention to the peripheries of freedom.

Then, the Chapter passed to concrete aspects:


– Fr. General nominated Fr’s. Nunzio Masiello and Matthew Phelan as moderators


– He then nominated Fr’s. Aristotle Franco Wellesly and Sergio Girau as Scrutinizers


– The Assembly voted for the election of the Secretary of the Chapter: Fr. Stefano Defraia was elected, and Fr’s. Eugenio Caramia and Francesco Podda will assist him in his work


– The Liturgical Commission – for the animation of the celebrations will be composed of Fr’s. Pasquale Agostino, David Spencer, and Martin Naduvilezuthaikal


– The Commission in charge of Communications was formed with Fr’s. Sundar Raj Madalaimuthu, Scottston Brentwood, and Efisio Schirru


– The responsibility of the “Convocator” at various points was given to Fr. Justin Freeman


In the afternoon, at 4 pm, Fr. Sandro Barlone proposed to the Assembly a reflection on the Chapter as a time of dicernment, leaving some points for personal prayer and meditation.


At 6 pm, the Assembly held a session of listening and dialogue.

At the conclusion of the day, all prayed Vespers together, and celebrated the Saturday Mercedarian Devotions.



Today, in the Universal Church we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, which overrides the Feast of the Visitation, the titular feast of the Roman Province, which, however, we still wanted to remember.

At 7:30 am, we all returned to the renovated chapel for the celebration of the Office of Readings and Morning Prayers.


Special booklets were prepared for the liturgy with the texts in both Italian and English, as our Province embraces brothers of the two languages. This is why the liturgy was today, as well in the coming days, will have this diversity of languages, in a communion that goes beyond words and finds unity in prayer.


After the prayers, and a moment for breakfast, we returned in the Capitular Hall for the second session which began the Informative Phase.

The first to speak was Fr. Francesco Podda who, as Provincial, presented the report on the state of the Province and of the triennium which just ended.

We were given some information: as of 30 May 2015, the provincial community was composed of 110 in Solemn Vows, of which 96 are priests, 4 are non-clerical brothers, and 10 are Solemnly Professed and on their way to becoming priests, 6 of which are already ordained Deacons. The Religious are distributed among 25 communities, of which 13 are in Italy, 6 in the USA, and 6 in India.


At the moment, there are 18 Simply Professed in the Province, of which 2 are in the USA, and 16 in India.

There are no Novices, however, there are 17 Postulants, of which 2 are in Italy, and 15 in India.


Next followed the reports of the Vicar of the USA, Fr. Kenneth Breen, and of the Delegate of India, Fr. Vincenzo Pennella, who gave information on the actual situation in the USA and in the Mission of the India.


In the afternoon, it was possible to ask the three speakers questions, and then, as time permitted, we began to hear the reports of the local communities. We began with Alghero, followed by Cagliari.


At 7 pm, the Holy Mass and Vespers were celebrated.


The intention of the prayer today is for the oppressed and persecuted, while the liturgy reminds us of St. Justin Martyr: a beautiful event since two of the Capitular Fathers celebrate their name day. They are the Fr’s. Justin Freeman of the USA and Justin Alex of India.


After the celebration of the Office of Readings, Morning Prayers, the community prayers and breakfast, at 9:15 am, we had the session of the Chapter which took up with the reading of the reports of individual houses for those related to Italy. We began with Carpignano, followed by Florence, Naples, Nemi, Orvieto, and Padova.

There were some relative questions to be answered and clarified, then there was a break.


At 11 am, we continued with the other reports: Palermo, S. Maria della Mercede – Rome, and the Studentato (St. Peter Nolasco).

In the afternoon we took up the reading of the reports of San Cataldo, San Vito dei Normanni, and with these, we concluded the part related to Italy.

Afterwards we followed with information from the Vicariate of the USA: beginning with Mt. Carmel in Cleveland, and followed by St. Rocco (also in Cleveland) and Our Lady of Lourdes in Philadelphia.


After a break, we continued with reports from the Monastery of Our Lady of Mercy in Philadelphia, Le Roy, the Nolasco House in St. Petersburg FL, and the report of the Formators in Italy. The one responsible for formation in the USA combined the data of this area to the report of the local community.


After dinner there was a time of celebration in honor of the Community and of the brothers who were celebrating their name day, and we spend some time in healthy leisure.


Strengthening Marriage and Family Life in Our Country

On Tuesday, May 5th the Archdiocese of Philadelphia sponsored a workshop entitled Marriage-Centered Communities: How to Build a Marriage Ministry in Your Parish. This addressed the current state of marriage in the world and the Church and offered drtowerspractical ways that a parish can most effectively serve married couples. The first part of the workshop was led by Dr. Hilary Towers, a Catholic author and developmental psychologist from the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia.


Dr. Towers’ presentation posed the question: “What heritage are we leaving to the next generation?” Much of her talk provided statistical data on the state of Marriage in our country. Today the divorce rate is 51% which is an all-time high. Surprisingly, new data shows that more Americans are getting divorced after many years of marriage. The percentage of divorces filed by those 50 to 60 years old is skyrocketing.


There are various reasons given for divorce today, but some are more common than others. The most prevalent is that the couple has “grown apart”. A high percentage also claim that they separated because of an inability to “talk together”. Other common reasons given for divorce are “money problems” and “infidelity”.


It is clear from the data that marriage as an institution in the United States is fading. At one time marriage was a part of the fabric of American society. It was expected that most young people would enter into this bond of matrimony in their 20’s and it would continue for a lifetime. Fidelity was taken for granted. Divorce and/or separation would occasionally happen, but it was a rare occurrence in society as a whole.


To be sure, there have and always will be legitimate reasons for separation, but in general the goods of a stable bond far out way the contrary. Studies continually show that a stable home with a mother and father provides that best environment for raising children. Married couples can model so many virtues for their children. The couples teach by their example the good habits of charity, forgiveness, accountability, and commitment. Even in less than ideal situations, children are often given models of how to cope with weakness and sin in an imperfect world.


America and other developed nations are entering into a new reality of a society without marriage. In Judeo-Christian thought, the family has always been understood as the basic unit of civilization.As St John Paul II states, “Human fatherhood and motherhood … contain in an essential and unique way a’ likeness’ to God which is the basis of the family as a community of human life, as a community of persons united in love (Letter to Families, 6)”. Husband, wife, and children show forth the Trinity in a totally unique way. This family is the ideal place for raising children to be responsible citizens


What if our next generation does not have the stability of the traditional family? We are beginning to see that millennials have a much less confidence in the possibility of commitments. Today about 20% of adults 18-29 years old have decided to cohabitate and/or not even consider marriage. There is in general a lack of trust in others and in the institution of marriage. On a purely economic level, the increase of divorce places more children in danger of poverty. It also puts a greater strain on government and state agencies to provide for many single parent homes.


Although things do not look so good for marriage today, there is much that can be done to help couples. As Dr. Towers says, “It is the Church working through the clergy and laity that will rehabilitate marriage.” Much can be done at the local level. The parish can and must build supportive communities of strong marriages. These married couples will become mentors of commitment for those who have none. The parish family also must pray for marriages at Mass and through various prayer groups. The laity need to encourage their pastors to preach about the Church’s treasury of wisdom on the Sacrament of Marriage. Parishes need to make accessible the practical components of a strong healthy marriage.


Things are not looking great today for the institution of marriage. The statistics show that fidelity and commitments to marriage are at all time lows. Yet, this basic unit of civilization is of inestimable value to society as a whole. For the sake of future generations, the each member of the Church must do their part support this Sacrament. Our gift to the next generation must be this: a renewed commitment to the Sacrament of Marriage.


More from Dr Hilary Towers:


It is time for the Church to face up to the crisis of spousal abandonment


A Guide to Saving Marriages


Time to Challenge No-Fault Divorce

Sharing of Faith and Culture

On May 10th, Fr Ken and I began a journey from LeRoy, NY to Georgia with a van packed with rCExBheZVIAEglUheligious goods. These items (statues, stations of the cross etc.) were from the former Mercygrove property which was recently sold. The proceeds from the sale are allocated in large part for the development of a new redemptive mission to families in the United States.


The first stop on our journey was to drop off several items at Life Teen camp in northern Georgia. It felt good to be able to give these religious articles new life at a camp which each summer is packed with teens and young adults.


After a two hour stop, we were back on the road bringing a special gift to our 3rd Order in Atlanta. Through these dedicated lay people, Order of Mercy has been present in Atlanta for 17 years. It all began in 1998 when a little woman left Rome and arrived in Atlanta, GA. Maria Virginia’s story is key to this movement which Christ would bless.


The spirit of merced or ransom was placed in Maria at an early age as she was educated by the Mercedarian Friars in Puerto Rico. This spirituality would continue to grow in her throughout her life. When her husband passed away in his 60’s, Maria felt the Lord was calling her to enter the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. After a few years of formation, it became clear to her that Christ the Redeemer desired her to houseblessing“go out to those in need” with the message of mercy.

Many extraordinary circumstances led, Maria Virginia to her mission field in Atlanta, GA. Seventeen years ago she set up her home in Georgia and quickly got to work. Maria got permission of the Order of BVM of Mercy to establish a 3rd Order in a place where no friars or sisters had been. With her deep faith, love for Our Lady of Mercy, and boundless energy this women was able to inspire many to follow the redemptive spirit of the Order.


Soon enough, it became clear that God was calling the new 3rd Order to assist the many immigrants who were coming from Mexico and settling in the Atlanta metropolitan area. These immigrants left behind all they knew seeking a better life. Yet their faith, which is the most precious treasure, was in danger in a new land. Who will teach them about Christ? Who will baptize their children? They hide in the shadows

with no one to shepherd them.


Fr Ken and I got to experience first hand the redemptive work of our 3rd Order in Atlanta. The week of May 11th was spent blessing houses and practicing our Spanish as we enjoyed authentic Mexican food with the the people. The highlight of the week was a outdoor Mass with many immigrant families. As we struggled to speak their language, they just appreciated the opportunity to come close to Jesus and teach their children how to worship.


On this long journey into the Deep South an exchange took place. We brought statues and religious items which are plentiful in the Northeast. These are aspects of our culture which have preserved the faith of generations. We experienced tangibly the faith and devotion of the Mexican people. Hopefully our ministry among them has strengthen and enriched the faith of all.


May Our Lady of Mercy place her mantle around the mission of the Atlanta Chapter of the 3rd Order! She who is the refuge of the captive and persecuted Christians, will surely watch over this mission to those in the are marginalized today.


Life Teen website

St John the Evangelist Church Hapeville, GA

Third Order of Mercy


A Permanent State of Mission

On January 1st 2014, 40 Catholic men and women departed on a  nine day mission to General Cepeda, Mexico.  Among those who attended were two Mercedarian Friars to assist with the Sacraments and promote the Order.

Danger of Losing the Faith

General Cepeda, Mexico
General Cepeda, Mexico

The region of General Cepeda, Mexico is located 221 mile from the Texas border. The area surrounding the city is mostly desert, however over time many tiny villages have sprung up. The “Ranchos” and “Ejidos” are composed of 10 or so adobe houses. Each “Rancho” has a small chapel, but the people only occasionally see a priest. At times, the residents can go up to 3 or 4 months without the Sacraments. Absence of catechesis and the Sacraments can have devastating effects on the people’s faith. Protestant and non-Christian sects take the opportunity to proselytize the people. Some Ranchos have gone from 100% Catholic to 94% Jehovah Witness. One wonders if this would occur if the Church was able to better tend to Her sheep.

Family Mission Company arrived in General Cepeda in the 1980’s with the intent of aiding the diocese in reaching out to the poor with a missionary spirit. They open their doors to many who wish to exercise their baptismal call to mission. It was to this place that Life Teen organized a mission experience and opened it up to young adults. Several of these Catholic youth, have already made a courageous commitment to be part-time or full-time missionaries to the youth in the United States.

The Shift

3 PopesOne might ask the question: What is the reason to go all the way to Mexico when there is such a need in the United States? This is certainly a legitimate question. In fact, Pope Francis expressed this need in his recent Apostolic Exhortation that all Catholics throughout the world are called to be in a “permanent state of mission” (EG #25). Many such as Dr. George Weigel would argue that there is a dramatic shift going on over the past 40 years in the Church’s relation to the world. In the 400 years prior to the Second Vatican Council, we lived what might be referred to as “Counter-Reformation Catholicism”. It was characterized by defense of the Church’s doctrine in response to criticism from Protestantism and Rationalism. This philosophy was effective in preserving the faith and evangelizing thousands in South America, Asia, and parts of Africa. However, it was not equipped for our contemporary culture which began to take shape in the 20th century.

The pontificate of Blessed John Paul II gave us the concept of the “New Evangelization”. This new method of Church life is vastly different from the old model since it seeks to “engage” the culture rather than “solidify and protect one’s own beliefs”. Pope Benedict continued this call by giving us the foundation to bring out into the world. He gave us much clearer understanding of the liturgical and catechetical aspects of our faith. Now, Pope Francis dreams of “a missionary option…so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation(EG #27).”

How to be Missionaries

The Whole Gang
The Whole Gang

All of this is sounds nice, but it must be practically put into action. We need to learn how to be missionaries. One way to do this is to step back and go on a classical missionary experience to gain a better understanding of the essential aspects of “mission”. The Family Mission Company’s mission at General Cepeda offers such an experience. The members of the mission had to collect funds for their trip from local parishes or sponsors. After meeting in Houston, we all traveled almost 12 hours in vans from Houston to General Cepeda.

From the beginning each member was asked to foster a missionary heart or attitude. Several virtues were to be embraced. First, we were to realize that a certain type of austerity is essential for mission. As our Holy Fathers says, “…I want a Church which is poor and for the poor (EG 198).” We must live as the people we serve. For North Americans this can be a great penance.

Several sacrifices are inherent in living this region of Mexico. The desert climate was warm during the day, but cold at night. The houses do not have any heat so an individual room can get as cold as 30 to 40 degrees at night. Secondly, water is a precious commodity which must be used with limits. So each missionary was only allowed to shower every other day. Toilet paper is scarce and cannot be flushed down the toilet, but must be put in the trash. The missionaries took turns each day cleaning the bathrooms and doing other service duties. The food was of a very good quality, but we were encouraged to use moderation and “eat what is placed before you”.

61470_10101109594305978_961339706_nPrayer was a central part of the mission experience. Each morning we began the day with prayer. Every activity was initiated with prayer and praise. The tendency to complain was offset by an emphasis on gratitude. Each day we were asked to give thanks for everything individually and communally. Thus, we attempt to escape what Pope Francis calls the “deadly habit of complaining (EG #82).”

Besides the Masses and home visits, each missionary was encouraged to engage in alms giving. In and around General Cepeda, there are many people living in poverty. This poverty is not like anything we would see in North America. On a daily basis many people come to the door seeking alms. Often times, it is for serious medical issues or even money to provide for the very necessities of life. The missionaries were told of these requests and invited, if they wished, to give assistance.

Due to the recent heavy rain in the area, many homes were significantly damaged. Each day a group of missionaries would go out to do Work Projects. This particular week we were able to build a roof for a family. Their roof had collapsed during the heavy rains and they did not have the means to get it fixed.

Missionary Disciples

In his recent Apostolic Exhortation, Pope Francis has called each one of us to move from an attitude of “self-preservation” to a “permanent state of mission”. Everyone is called to this by their Baptism, but as the Pope says, “…we no longer say that we are disciples and missionaries, but rather that we are always missionary disciples (EG 120).” Being missionary means perpetually going out to invite all to experience the love of Christ. We do this by speaking the truth with love to our relatives, neighbors, and in the workplace. However, we always recognize that the greatest witness is living a good and generous life. Living simply and sharing freely is the strongest Gospel proclamation that we can give.

Those of us who attended the General Cepeda Mission are grateful for the experiences that we had. We do not leave the mission behind, but it comes with us. As “missionary disciples” we now know better how to take part an active part of the New Evangelization which is to be lived in all places and at all times.

Some helpful links:










The messiness of family life is not an obstacle, but an invitation to holiness

Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, Dec. 29, 2013

What a joyous time we can have during the Christmas season! The family all gathered around the table with everyone so well dressed. All the food looks sumptuous… everyone is smiling…. Okay, now it is time to get real!! In all likelihood this is not the family life that we know. Even if we worked incessantly to create this perfect Norman Rockwell Christmas, it would likely just be a façade covering over the many problems that family life brings. “Life is messy” as my mother would always say. We shouldn’t glorify the messiness or encourage it, but we do our best to deal with it.

holyfamily This is what the Holy Family did. We can be tempted to look at Jesus’ family as perfect and unattainable. However, a closer look at the Gospel reveals a very complex and muddled situation for the Son of God to be born into. There were many obstacles and challenges for Joseph, Mary and Baby Jesus.

Storm of difficulties

Joseph, an ordinary man, is put at the center of a brewing storm of difficulties, trials, and down-right evil which is descending on this poor little family. It would be a mistake to minimize the troubles which the Holy Family had. Joseph’s search for a suitable birthplace for this special Child left him with no choice, but a smelly stable. The foster-father of Jesus had little time to dwell on his own failure, since he would be sent in haste from one place to another.

Shortly after the Divine Infant’s birth, the angel once again spoke to Joseph in a dream telling him to “Rise, take the child and flee to Egypt…” There in Egypt we can only image what troubles the migrant family must have experienced in a strange land. Joseph had to find some inexpensive lodging and likely do backbreaking work to support his family. Then, after a period of time the foster-father was once again summoned to immediate action: “Rise, take the child and go to Israel…”

Relying on dreams


On the road again, the less than ideal birth of Christ
On the road again, the less than idea birth of Christ

Loading up the family once again they must sneak out in the night trusting in the dreams of Joseph. While on their way, the Lord once again speaks to Joseph in a dream telling him to avoid the ruler Archelaus. This family, called blessed by the Shepherds and the Three Kings, is being tossed about from one place to another. Hardly the appropriate welcome to the birth of the King of Kings. But, God chose to come into our world of messiness and to live in a family afflicted with problems of all sorts. It all would have seemed like nonsense to those experiencing it, but God was in all of the chaos. His prophets had foretold it all. The Holy Family’s winding path leads them right to where God wants them, Nazareth.

One might ask, “Why is all this difficulty assaulting such a good family?” Well, this is the mystery of good and evil. The one who comes to concur death will certainly be opposed by the Prince of Darkness. Yet, evil has no answer to humble service. What is more humble than a simple carpenter and a young virgin walking through strange lands? Joseph and Mary do not seek to do great things. They simply do what they can trusting God’s grace and focusing on His voice.

Family reveals the Trinity


The journey is long.
The journey is long.

All families, to a lesser degree, must struggle with the reality of evil which opposes the domestic life. The family is the most ancient institution of humanity. Union of husband and wife which brings forth children reveals the mystery of the Trinity. This is a powerful sign of the Divine in our world. As Blessed John Paul II says, “As the family goes so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live.” Therefore, the family is the foundation of any healthy civilization. It is in the day-to-day aspects of the family that children first learn virtues or the good habits, which make them good citizens. They learn such essential virtues as “heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another…” These indispensable lessons are learned not in a perfect environment, but in the messiness of family life.

Family shines like light

As we look at Jesus’ family, we must not be discouraged by our troubles. Yes, we sin and fall, but the message of the Holy Family is something we all can follow: humility. By focusing on listening to God’s voice and responding to His grace we can do much good through family life. A good Christian family has problems, but they handle it with God’s grace. Individual failings can always be forgiven. No one is excluded. Yet, we must not glorify the messiness or enable sin. It is always a fine line which must be walked, with prudence and love. Walking together as a family we can each grow in holiness, becoming a light to those around us. The family becomes a producer of good and holy people to build up society. Fit citizens for our nation and, most importantly, for Eternal Life.





Christmas Miracles: St Raymond gives women with infertility hope

During the Christmas season our minds necessarily are turned to the birth of a poor child in a manger. There is something so human so compelling about the Nativity scene. It is unique to our frail human condition and while at the same time so beyond imagination. God comes to us in a way which both beckons us to Him and makes us feel safe approaching the Creator of all things. This way is through a baby. Each time we see an infant we want to smile. We want to approach this human being which is so helpless and beautiful. But not all feel this way when they see a baby.

Miraculous births are one of God's specialties
Miraculous births are one of God’s specialties

There are those women, increasing in number, who desperately want to have a child, but cannot because of infertility. Certainly this is not a new problem the Scriptures are filled with stories of women who were “barren”. Since for the ancients children were considered a blessing, they were seen as cursed by God. Left to feel as if they were less than a woman or a wife. However, for several of these women their “barrenness” was to be an opportunity for God’s powerful intervention in our world. What seemed to be a curse would become a great blessing! Take for example Abraham’s wife, Sarah, who was “childless because she was not able to conceive (Gen. 11:30)”. Yet, the Lord enabled her to bear a son at the age of 90 (Gen. 17:15-17). In the last week of Advent, we also remember the two other miraculous births. First, the birth of Samson to a woman who “was barren and had borne no children (Jg. 13:2).” Second is Zechariah and Elizabeth who “had no child, because Elizabeth was barren (Lk. 1:7).” To both of these couples God intervened through an angel to announce that they would give birth. Each one of these cases of miraculous births became for all times a prophecy or foreshadowing of the one event which took place in the Incarnation. The birth of Christ was the ultimate miraculous conception as God became man in the womb of a virgin.

However, all of this may be of no consolation to a woman who is childless. As one infertile woman explains, “Until very recently, I never noticed all the pregnant people constantly surrounding me. I noticed baby clothes, because they were cute, but not in the heart-wrenching, horrible way I notice them now. Everyone is pregnant, and there are babies everywhere, or so it seems to me.” Yes, for a woman, created to give life, it is a strange paradox to be childless. They and their husbands experience the loneliness of being unable to relate to so many friends who have children. These woman must live with stigma which goes with being childless. The questions about, “When are you going to have a child?” The assumptions about things they may or may not be doing or have done to prevent conception. But, possibly the worst is the recognition that having a child is a blessing from God one which they have not been given. They can’t help but see child baring as a “reward from God”.

16% of women have difficulty conceiving a child
16% of women have difficulty conceiving a child

The Christmas season may be especially painful for these woman. For they must attend parties and family gatherings answering the inevitable questions. Children running around the Christmas tree. Parents speaking about the enjoyable holiday traditions that they have with their families. Making cookies and wrapping gift, while noticing the immense joy in their child’s eye. Proudly exchanging professional pictures of their children in a Christmas scene. What a joyful season for those woman with a child, but what a painful experience for those who are unable to conceive.

Even the sight of the Christ Child in the manger can be a painful reminder. Yes, the Baby Jesus is an image of Hope for us all, but also a reminder of what may never be for those infertile. It may even make them avoid the Nativity scene or cringe at the sight.

However to remain focused only on the physical birth of a baby in Bethlehem is to miss the entire meaning of the Incarnation. Jesus says in Luke 4:18 that he was sent “proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free…” He is the Emmanuel or “God with us” and not just any normal child born in poverty. This is the source of hope that we must impress upon those women who are held captive to infertility. Jesus does care immensely for them and their painful situation. And, He did and still does perform miracles.

A saint that helps the infertile.
A saint that helps the infertile.

One of the ways Christ chooses to perform miracles is through His Saints. These are His intimate friends who are united with him in heaven. They intercede on our behalf all the time and have a special interest in those who invoke their assistance. There are many saints who are patrons of women who are unable to conceive, but one of the most powerful is St. Raymond Nonnatus. This Saint has perform numerous miracles on behalf of women seeking to conceive. St Raymond’s life story shows forth the immense power of God to work miracles. Raymond was born in the beginning of the 13th Century in Spain. He was given the surname of Nonnatus or not born because he came into the world through an inspired and urgent incision which his uncle made with a dagger in the abdomen of Raymond’s mother who had died. Raymond’s unusual birth would be a sign of the wonders God wished to do through his life. Raymond would grow up into a very pious man who gave his life to God as a priest in the Order of the BVM of Mercy.


The St Raymond kit
The St Raymond kit

Since St Raymond’s death in 1240, he has been invoked as the patron of expected mothers. For over 700 years women have turned to him for help in conceiving and childbirth. So many miracles have occurred that it would be difficult to count. Here in the United States, the friars of the Order of Mercy have promoted devotion to St Raymond since they came to the country in the 1920’s. Since the 1950’s the popularity of the St Raymond’s Guild has grown in America. The Order has shipped thousands of St Raymond kits throughout the United States. These kits are composed of the Magnificat book (prayer book for expectant mothers and Christian families), St Raymond holy card, blessed candle, and blessed St Raymond water. The blessed candle, water, and prayer book are to be used by those desiring to have a child and expectant mothers throughout their pregnancy.
For each one of us, the Advent season offers an opportunity to walk with Mary who is expecting the Messiah. What a beautiful spiritual analogy to lead us into prayer and works of charity in the days preceding Christmas. However, let us not forget that for infertile women, whose number has risen to 15%, this can be a painful image. Christ came to bring light to those in darkness. Women in need not remain in the darkness of the shame of infertility. God still performs miracles. He gave St. Raymond life through the intercession of his uncle. And for hundreds of years women have been given hope through St. Raymond’s powerful prayers.

Christmas is a time for miracles. The greatest of all miracles occurred when God became man in the womb of a humble virgin. Surely, the Christ Child knows the pain of those women who are childless. Jesus wishes them to come to Him believing that God still performs miracles! Through the intercession of St Raymond Nonnatus patron of childbirth and Christian families may the Lord continue to perform miracles this Christmas. May many women, who long to give life, continue to have their prayers answered in powerful ways!

For more information on the St Raymond Guild contact: (585) 768-7426




The “simple friar” from the small town

Every family has it’s patriarchs or those who paved the way for a new generation. The Order of Mercy, being a spiritual family, possesses many of these friars who are deceased and yet live on in our memories. Today we remember one such friar Fr Luigi DiTalia, O. de M. The following is an interview with Fr Eugene, the Order’s novice master, who lived and worked with Fr Luigi for many years.

Fr Luigi processing at Mass
Fr Luigi processing at Mass

When did you first meet Fr Luigi?

In about 1967, I first came to know Fr Luigi. In the beginning, I had difficulty understanding his Italian accent. But came to know him, little by little, as truly a father for our community. He never asked anything from us what he wouldn’t do himself. He was a great community builder. A great leader of our community and a very humble friar.

How many years did you get the pleasure of working with Fr Luigi? (As solemnly professed)

About 6 or 7 years. He was superior and I was novice master. Fr Luigi always had a great sense of wisdom. He would say “Prudence and common sense are essential for religious life and for living the vows”. He just had great wisdom and advice for people for problems and difficulties. One of the things I liked about him was he would meet you one on one. Fr Luigi always kept confidences and really appreciated those who were in the community.

What are some of the virtues or positive qualities that Fr Luigi exemplified especially for a Mercedarian Religious?

I think he exemplified poverty. Very much so. He was a person who would be more willing to give than to receive. Though he, also, had common sense in poverty. We never starved. We didn’t have a lot of things, but what we had we appreciated everything more. He was truly a good religious. A kind religious. A genuine religious. He was honest and very sincere.

Fr Luigi accepts the vows of one of the friars
Fr Luigi accepts the vows of one of the friars

I think that not only the Mercedarians loved him, but the people in LeRoy, NY loved him. For so many years he was stationed there. He was known as “the simple friar”.

I think also he was a real leader who lead by example. He was a father to us more than a superior. He could combined those two qualities. Truly a person concerned about vocations. Concerned about the Mercedarian way of life and the fraternal life. This is one thing that he insisted upon. He and Fr Marciano really lived the fraternal life which is a key to understanding the religious life.

Can you tell me any story that you remember about Fr Luigi? One of those stories about one of our founding fathers in the USA that we can pass down from generation to generation.

I heard that one time he said in LeRoy he had difficulty with the language. He said one of his first sermons was, “I am Fr Luigi and I love you all!” This was because he had so much difficulty with the English language at first. He did tell a story one time about how he suffered in the war. He said that he was one of the “Brown Shirts” because they had to be at that time. But I don’t remember the details.

Fr Luigi (center) with several of the friars
Fr Luigi (center) with several of the friars

Lastly, I know that in those last years there was a time when Fr Luigi had a stroke. How do you remember those last years? They were times when you were realizing that you were not going to have this great presence with you much longer since he was one of the real “rocks” here in the US for the Vicariate. Can you say anything about those last years and how he handled the suffering?

I think that those last few years were difficult for him, but he still had a true sense of being a real Mercedarian and a real model for us in a different way. Though he often couldn’t be at chapel because of his infirmities. I remember him saying the rosary and always at the third hour, the Hour of Mercy he would put on the television and pray the Divine Mercy chaplet.

But what I think really was significant is that he never gave up during these times and he was very serene and accepting of his suffering. These sufferings are for the Order, for the Vicarate. Even though he could not lead he led by his prayerfulness and his holiness. He never gave up. Human existence we can get upset about things, but most of the time he was very accepting of his sufferings.

And, he tried as best as he could to lead others by his example and his advice. At times he would turn to people and talk to people privately. He would give them advice which was very fruitful. He was a leader then by prayer rather than by being in charge. He lead by his example, by his prayerfulness, by his faithfulness and consistency in loving our Order.

Rest in Peace Fr Luigi! May your soul and all the souls of the faithfully departed rest in peace!


Priestly Ordination: Deacon David Spencer, O. de M. to become “alter Christus”

The Order of BVM of Mercy announces the Ordination of one of it’s own. On Saturday, November 16th Deacon David will be Ordained to the Sacred Priesthood in his home town of Norfolk, VA.

Br David with the youth of the parish.
Br David with the youth of the parish.

As Catholics, we believe that the ministerial priesthood was instituted by Christ at the Last Supper. There he commissioned those he had chosen to act in His person when administering the Sacraments. The Sacrament of Holy Orders places an indelible mark on the soul of the man ordained. He is able to act in persona Christi or in the place of Christ. Mercedarian priests focus their priestly ministry specifically at the service of those in danger of losing their faith from modern forms of captivity.

The soon to be Father David entered the Order in the fall of 2005 as a postulant. In 2007, he made his first vows. After completing his studies at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Br David received his Master of Divinity and MA in Theology. In September of 2012, he made his Solemn Profession in the Order. April 2013, Br. David became a transitional deacon.

506px-Holy_Orders_PictureSince 2012, Deacon David has been assigned to Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Philadelphia. He has been serving at the parish as director of religious education and youth director as well as a variety of other tasks. After Ordination, Fr David will begin his priestly ministry as parochial vicar of the Our Lady of Lourdes.

Please keep our brother in your prayers as he becomes “another Christ” to serve especially those in danger of losing their faith.