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.

The Martyrs Forgave their Persecutors, and So Do We

Homily of His Excellency,

Jaume Pujol Balcells

Archbishop of Tarragona, Spain

We celebrate the first Vespers of Sunday. Sunday, says St. Jerome, is “the day of the Resurrection, the day of the Christians, our day.” [1] In the late afternoon of Good Friday, our Lord died with the Psalms of his people on the lips and introduced “into this earthly exile that hymn which is sung throughout all ages in the halls of heaven. He joins the entire community of mankind to Himself, associating it with His own singing of this canticle of divine praise” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 83). We offer with joy this evening sacrifice, united to the Lord Jesus.

Pope Francis on screen, canonization
Pope Francis delivers his welcome message on the giant screen during the canonization.

Sunday shines more than the other days, but on [this] Sunday, the glory of the Lord shines in a special way in his martyrs. They ennoble the holy Churches of the Lord. The martyrs demonstrate the power of God’s grace and presence of the Holy Spirit, because no one can say Jesus is Lord except by the gift of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12.3). They are the witnesses of the Lord. And his martyrdom is “praise and glory of grace” (Eph 1.6). So they glorify the King of martyrs as he [the Lord] is the cause and foundation of Christian martyrdom. He is “the faithful witness” (Rev 1:5). His life and death are an Easter proclamation that “the birthday of the saints, the Church proclaims the paschal mystery in the saints who suffered with Christ and have been glorified with him” (Vatican II, Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 104).

This Church of Tarragona, ecclesia Pauli, sedes Fructuosi, receives you all with affection and joy and gives to you all the kiss of peace and of communion.

In the first place, greetings to Cardinal Angelo Amato, who tomorrow morning, in the name of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, will proclaim the blessedness of this great multitude of brothers.  Greetings to the Cardinals, to my brother Bishops. Also, to you, dear priests and deacons. To you dear Religious Brothers and Sisters, joyful because of the glorification of your brothers and sisters.  To all the holy people of God, who with praise and joy, venerate and celebrate the glory of the martyrs.  Peace to all.  Let us all be joyful in the Lord and may the gesture of the venerable and ancient Lucenaria be eloquently put: Lumen Christi cum pace!  We radiate, brothers and sisters, this light bearer of  peace.  The joyous peace of the disciples of Christ, that he has given us and that nothing or no one can take from us.

The glorification of our brothers and sisters, as I wrote in my pastoral letter, is not made against anyone nor even in the favor of anyone.  The martyrs are of the Lord, belong to the victory of the Lord, and not of that of men.  They are an annunciation of peace and of reconciliation.  It is simply the Church that, returning to the tradition of the first centuries, cannot forget those who died for the Lord and for the Gospel.  They were written in the book of Truth by their blood.  They are those that followed the Lord intimately.  As we have heard in the Canticle of this Vespers service: “Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his footsteps” (1 P 2:21).

Martyrs of Spanish Civil War posterWhen our martyrs are beatified tomorrow in the Sunday liturgy, none of us will experience one iota of resentment for those who persecuted them.  Neither shall we have the satisfaction of having an act of historic justice done in a worldly way.  How can we not forgive if all of them died, in imitation of the Lord, with words of forgiveness on their lips?  The first fruit, one could say, the first grace of these new martyrs, would be the grace of forgiveness and reconciliation. The Lord redeems the whole of history always, and these, the martyrs, redeemed with their silent immolation, that story of death, shameful. The Lord looks with compassion on one side and the other, the Lord looks with compassion on both the executioners as on those who died.  The ultimate gaze of the martyrs was this: a gaze that forgave.  May this gaze also be our gaze.

Martyrdom is the most perfect expression of faith, of hope, and of charity.  The martyr, in his total commitment to God loves the Lord in the most intense and possible form, with whole heart and as the only thing needed. He humbly experiences and accepts his total nothingness and the absolute necessity to be sustained by grace, he deeply obeys the will of God and freely allows himself to be stripped of all he possesses in the world, including his own life, so participating in the poverty of Christ on the Cross.

We evoke, then, with an immense and tender love, the biographies of our martyrs.  All were men and women of God, who, in sanquine, “washed their garments in the blood of the Lamb.” First to our brother bishops of Lleida, Salvi Huix, the bishop of Jaén, Manuel Basulto, and are beloved Manue Borràs, auxiliary bishop of this archdiocese, and many brother priests who lived their martyrdom as the last Eucharist, offered not in the sacrament, but in their own person.  Of some manner, one can say that they received the martyrdom in persona Christi for the grace they had received in their priestly ordination.

Next, to our Religious Brothers and Sisters who brought to fulfillment the proper charisms and initialed their act of profession with their own blood.  They proclaim how each charism can be lived to the point of giving one’s own life.

Then, to the seven lay martyrs, worthy representatives of the holy people of the Lord.  As it is said in the preface of the saints: for in crowning their merits, You crown the gifts You have given them.

It is characteristic of Christians to leave the past, they have been glorified and my predecessor in this headquarters, the venerable Cardinal Vidal i Barraquer Fransec D’Assis, from exile, with sadness and deep conviction, writes: “I console them did not miss God’s mercy. “they live in Christ and in the communion of saints intercede for us,” his death was a gain. “For us to live in the present, a present that is always time for Christians of grace.

Martyrs of Spanish Civil War cover Let us put ourselves in tune and in obedience to our Holy Father Francis.  He so insistently tells us that the Church is not self-referential from the Church of the Lord.  Certainly, it is not the Church that glorifies her saints. It is the Lord who does it! There must not be even a hint of self-glorification present among us this Sunday. We should be the Church that participates in the mission and in obedience to the Son, who with the strength of the Holy Spirit goes out of herself and wants to be radiant with the light of the Lord of glory, that destroys and unmasks all the darkness of the world.  And that comes humbly to meet a society where men need a greater love, where the poor are to be loved and the Church should have in her a celebration of life, since Christianity is an affirmation of life. An announcement of the saving love, from the conviction that there is no human existence is not loved by God.

And for another part, our martyrs were not ashamed of their baptism, their priestly condition, their religious consecration or their being Christians, Catholics.  In a limited moment they did not hide or renege their condition.  I ask the Lord, through the intercession of our martyrs, that our Christians may leave all anonymity, they don’t hid the treasure of the faith, that they may be a light in the bushel to illuminate all.  Never shameful of the faith!  The world needs these Christians!  “The world needs evangelists, who are not sad or discouraged, impatient or anxious, but servants of the Gospel, whose life radiated the fervor of who they have received, before all in themselves, the joy of Christ.”2

Whoever expressed our feelings better than anyone else is the Blessed Virgin Mary. She is the soloist of the people of God. She gives soul and song to the Church and is it now we will sing in the Magnificat: “The Lord has remembered Abraham and his descendants forever.” Yes, the Lord’s mercy to our martyrs accompanied in the dark hour of the day of his martyrdom, and gave them a glimpse of the dawn of the Day of Resurrection. The Lord accompanies us. He always ” leads to his Church to perfection through love”. The Lord be with those who will come after us and believe in Christ. It is the mystery of the Church, earthly and heavenly, glorious and pilgrim. The Saints are the first fruits of the heavenly Jerusalem. It ecclesial communion, is the mystery of Pentecost: ” One Lord, one faith, one God and Father.” The martyrs help us live this ecclesial communion. Let us rejoice in the Lord, as said the Bishop of Tarragona, holy Fructuoso moments before his cruel martyrdom of 259 January 21: ” I’ll never go without mercy and the promise of the Lord in this world and the other.” Amen.

+Jaume Pujol Balcells

Metropolitan Archbishop and Primate of Tarragona 

Tarragona, October 12, 2013

 1.) In die dominica paschae, CCL 78 (1958) 550

2.) Pablo VI, Exhort, ap. Sinodal, Evangelii nuntiandi, 80

Great Signs of Holiness in the Face of Martyrdom

Homily of His Excellency,

Angelo Cardinal Amato,

Prefect of the Congregation of the Causes of the Saints,

Mass of Beatification 

1.         The Spanish Church celebrates today the beatification of 522 martyr sons, disarmed prophets of the charity of Christ.  It is an extraordinary event of grace that removes all sadness and fills the Christian community with joy.  Today we remember their sacrifice with gratitude, that it is a concrete manifestation of the civilization of love preached by Jesus: “Now,” as it says in the Book of Revelation by St. John, “have salvation and power come, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Anointed” (Rev. 12:10). The martyrs have not been ashamed of the Gospel, but have remained faithful to Christ, who says: “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24) They were buried with Christ in death, with Him they live through the faith in the power of God (cf. Col. 2:12).

Priest touching box, M. martyrs

Spain is a land blessed by the blood of the martyrs.  If we simply [count] the heroic witnesses of the faith, victims of the religious persecution of the 1930’s, the Church in 14 different ceremonies has beatified more than a thousand.  The first, in 1987, was the beatification of three Discalced Carmelites of Guadalajara.  Between the more numerous ceremonies, we remember those of March 11, 2001, with 233 martyrs; that of October 28, 2007, with 498 martyrs, among whom were the bishops of Ciudad Real and of Cuenca; and that celebrated in the cathedral of the Almudena in Madrid, December 17, 2011, with 23 witnesses of the faith.

Today, here in Tarragona, Pope Francis beatifies 522 martyrs, who “dealt their blood to bear witness to the Lord Jesus” (Apostolic Letter).  It is the greatest ceremony of beatification that has been on Spanish land. this last group includes three bishops Manuel Basulto Jiménez, Bishop of Jaén; Salvio Huix Mirapeix, Bishop of Lleida and Manuel Borrás Ferré, Auxiliary Bishop of Tarragona–and, furthermore, numerous priests, seminarians, consecrated men and women, young and old, fathers and mothers of families.  They are all innocent victims who endured prisons, tortures, unjust processes, humiliations, and indescribable ordeals.  It is an immense army of baptized that, with the white robes of charity, followed Christ to Calvary in order to be resurrected with him in the glory of the heavenly Jerusalem.

2.         In the obscure period of the anti-Catholic hostility of the 1930’s, your noble nation was enveloped in the diabolic fog of an ideology, that overturned thousands and thousands of peaceful citizens, burning churchs and religious symbols, closed convents and Catholic schools, destroying part of your precious artistic patrimony.  Pope Pius XI with the encyclical Dilectissima nobis on June 3, 1933, energetically denounced this libertine anti-religious policy.

We remember beforehand that the martyrs were not casualties of the civil war, but victims of a radical religious persecution, that proposed the programmed extermination of the Church.  These brothers and sisters were not combatants, did not have arms, were not encountered on the front, did not support either side, were not provocateurs. They were peaceful men and women. They were killed out of hatred for the faith, only because they were Catholics, because they were priests, because they were seminarians, because they were religious brothers, because they were religious sisters, because they believed in God, because they had Jesus as their only treasure, and loved him more than their own life.  They did not hate anyone, [but] loved everyone, doing good to all.  Their apostolate was catechesis in the parishes, teaching in the schools, caring for the sick, charity for the poor, the assistance of the elderly and marginalized.  To the atrocity of the persecutors, they did not respond with rebellion or with arms, but with the gentleness of the strong.

In this period, while they were found in exile, Don Luigi Sruazo, a Catholic, Italian diplomat and priest, in an article from 1933, published in the newspaper, El Mati of Barcelona, wrote with prophetic intuition, that the modern ideologies are truly idolatrous religions, that require altars and victims, especially victims, thousands and even millions.  He added that the aberrant increase of the violence towards the victims were much more numerous than even the Roman persecutions.2

3.         Dear brothers, before the valiant and unanimous answer of these martyrs, above all of the many priests and seminarians, I have often wondered: how does one explain their superhuman strength to prefer death before reneging their own faith in God?  Moreover of the efficacy of divine grace, the answer lies in a good preparation for the priesthood.  The in the years before the persecution, in the seminaries and in the houses of [Religious] formation they were clearly informed of the mortal danger they were to meet.  There were prepared spiritually in order to face even death through their vocation.  It was truly a pedagogy of martyrdom that made these young men and women strong and even joyful in their supreme testimony.

Mercedarian martyrs of 1936, poster

4.         Now let us ask a question: Why does the Church beatify these martyrs?  The answer is simple: the Church does not want to forget these her valiant children.  The Church honors them with public worship, so that their intercession may obtain from the Lord a beneficial rain of spiritual and temporal graces in all of Spain.  The Church, a house of forgiveness, does not look for culprits.  She wants to glorify these heroic witnesses of the gospel of charity because they deserve admiration and imitation.

Today’s celebration wants to scream again loudly to the world, that humanity needs peace, fraternity, peace.  No one can justify war, fratricidal hatred, the death of the neighbor.  With their charity, the martyrs opposed the rage of evil, as a powerful wall opposed the monstrous violence of a tsunami. By their gentleness, the martyrs deactivated the homicidal weapons of tyrants and executioners, conquering evil with good.  They are always actual prophets of peace in the world

5.         Now a second question: Why does the beatification of the martyrs from many Spanish dioceses come about here in Tarragona?

There are two reasons.  Before all else, the most numerous group of martyrs is from this ancient Spanish diocese, with 147 martyrs, including the auxiliary bishop Manuel Borrás Ferré and the young seminarians Ioan Montpeó Masip, [who was] 20 years old, and Josep Gassol Montseny, [who was] 22.

The second reason comes from the fact that, in the first centuries of Christianity, here in Tarragona, ecclesia Pauli, sede Fructuosi, patria martyrum, the bishop Fructuoso and his two deacons, Auguio and Eulogio, were martyred, burned alive in the year 259 A.D. in the city’s Roman amphitheater.

We briefly remember the martyrdom of these first two Tarragonese witnesses, because it re-proposed the essential dynamic of all persecution, that, for a moment, shows the arbitrariness of the charges, and the atrocity of the tortures, and for another, the superhuman strength of the martyrs in accepting the passion and the death with serenity and with forgiveness on the lips.

Tarragona, the See of a flourishing Christian community during the Third Century AD, was the object of a violent persecution, by order of the emperor Valerian.  Bishop Fructuoso and the deacons Augurio and Eulogio were victims of this persecution. From their martyrdom we have the Actos, that transmit to us the notary protocols of the trial, of the interrogation, of the answers, of the condemnation and the execution.3 The capture of Fructuoso and his deacons took place on Sunday morning, January 16, 259.  Taken to jail, Fructuoso continually prayed and gave thanks to the Lord for the grace of martyrdom.  Furthermore, he also continued his work as pastor and evangelist, comforting the faithful, baptizing and proclaiming the Gospel to the pagans.  After some days, on the 21st of January, the three were summoned by the consul Emiliano for interrogation.  Fructuoso and the two deacons refused to offer sacrifices to the idols, reaffirming their fidelity to Christ.  The three were then condemned to be burnt alive.  Brought to the amphitheater, the holy Bishop  shouted that the Church would never be left without a pastor and that God would keep his promise of protecting it in the future.

6.         What message do the ancient and modern martyrs offer us?  They leave us a double message.  Before all, they invite up to forgive.  Pope Francis recently has reminded us that “the joy of God is forgiving!…Here! The whole Gospel, all of Christianity, is here! But make sure that it is not sentiment, it is not being a “do-gooder”! On the contrary, mercy is the true force that can save man and the world from the “cancer” that is sin, moral evil, spiritual evil. Only love fills the void, the negative chasms that evil opens in hearts and in history. Only love can do this, and this is God’s joy!”4

We are called then to the joy of forgiveness, to eliminate from the mind and the heart the sorry of rancor and of hatred.  Jesus said “Be merciful, just as (also) your Father is merciful” (Lk. 6:36). We should make a concrete examen, now, about our will to forgive.  Pope Francis suggests: “think of a person with whom we are annoyed, with whom we are angry, someone we do not like. Let us think of that person and in silence, at this moment, let us pray for this person and let us become merciful with this person.”5

Today’s celebration may be, then, the feast of reconciliation, of forgiveness given and received, the triumph of the Lord of Peace.

Mercedarian friars from the US
Mercedarian friars from the United States during the canonization.

7.         This raises the second message: the conversion of the heart to goodness and mercy.  We are all invited to convert ourselves to the good, not only to those who are declared as Christians, but also those who are not.  The Church also invites the persecutors to not fear conversion, to not be afraid of the good, to reject evil. The Lord is a good father who forgives and welcomes with open arms, his prodigal sons from the ways of evil and sin.

Everyone [of us]–good and bad–needs conversion.  We all are called to convert ourselves to the peace, to fraternity, to respect the liberty of others, to serenity in human relations. So have our martyrs acted, so have the saints worked, that–as said Pope Francis following “the way of conversion, the way of humility, of love, of the heart, the way of beauty.”6

It is a message that  concerns all the youth, calling them to live with fidelity and joy the Christian life.  But that is going against the current: “to go against the current; this is good for the heart, but we need courage to swim against the tide. Jesus gives us this courage! There are no difficulties, trials or misunderstandings to fear, provided we remain united to God as branches to the vine, provided we do not lose our friendship with him, provided we make ever more room for him in our lives. This is especially so whenever we feel poor, weak and sinful, because God grants strength to our weakness, riches to our poverty, conversion and forgiveness to our sinfulness.”7

So the martyrs have behaved, young and old.  Yes, also youth such as, for example, the seminarians of the Diocese of Tarragona and of Jaén and the twenty-one year old layman of the Diocese of Tarragona.  The have not been afraid of death, because their gaze was projected toward heaven, toward the joy of eternity without end in the charity of God.  If they lacked the mercy of men, God’s mercy was present and overflowing.

Forgiveness and conversion are the gifts that make us all martyrs. Forgiveness brings peace to the hearts, the conversion creates fellowship with others.

Our Martyrs, messengers of life and death, are our intercessors for a life of peace and brotherhood. May this be the precious fruit of this celebration in the Year of Faith.

May Mary, Regina Martyrum, remain the powerful Help of Christians.


+Angelo Cardinal Amato

Prefect of the Congregation of the Causes of the Saints

Tarragona, Spain,

October 13, 2013


1.) Pronounced in Tarragona, Spain, on October 13, 2013

2.) Luigi Sruazo, Miscellanea londinese, vol. II, Anni 1931-1933, Bologna 1967, pg. 286. Article was published in El Matí of Barcelona, December 19, 1933.

3.) See the brochure very well documented PEDRO BATTLE y HUGUET, Santos Fructuoso Obispo de Tarragona y Auguri y Eulogio diáconos. Actas de las of Martyrdom, Tarragona, 1959. These Acts were also known outside the church Tarragonese. For example, the Spanish poet Aurelius Prudentius, made a detailed and faithful translation of his hymn VI Peri stephanon or Book of crowns. The same St. Augustine in the sermon of the day of the feast of Saints he comments on the text.

4.) Pope Francis, Angelus, September 15, 2013.

5.) lb.

6.) Pope Francis, Meditation, April 19, 2013.

7.) Pope Francis, Homily, April 28, 2013.

Groups such as Life Teen are challenging our generation to radical generosity with God

Today’s world is filled with so many examples of infidelity. This is especially the case in marriage. The news outlets are constantly occupied with juicy stories of politicians, sports figures, and celebrities who are unfaithful to their vows and promises. The priesthood and the consecrated life is not faring much better. It is no wonder that many young people struggle to make life long commitments. The statistics and their real life experiences show that this is impossible or not worth it.

301550_10151606535662034_655092057_nWe are certainly in trying times, but as St Paul says, “where sin increased, grace increased all the more (Romans 5:20).” With the eyes of faith we can notice signs of the New Springtime of the Church.  One of these signs is the work of Life Teen a lay missionary movement in the Church which focuses on evangelizing and strengthening the faith of today’s youth.

This summer Fr Ken and I had the opportunity to spend time at one of Life Teen’s missions, the Edge camp in Hiawassee, Georgia. This camp offers middle school students from Life Teen parishes the chance to have an experience of their faith which is steeped in the Sacraments, Scripture, and Church teaching, yet also really fun. The theme for this year’s camps was Fearless with the symbolism of climbing the mountain of faith.

Hiawassee Missionaries
Hiawassee Missionaries

What was most impressive to us as Religious friars about the Life Teen movement is the fearless commitment that its members are freely giving to be missionaries. These young adults, often in their 20’s, are offered the opportunity to become true missionaries for a few weeks, a summer, or even for several years. This commitment to living all the radicalness of a missionary is freely offered and must be freely accepted.

When reflecting on this “movement of the Spirit”, one is drawn to thank God and the missionaries for their sign of fidelity to something greater. In fact, this is what Pope Francis did July 28th in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in an encounter with the volunteers at World Youth Day (another instrument of the Holy Spirit today). Pope Francis stated that “I could not return to Rome” without having thanked all the volunteers for their “countless” acts of loving service to the pilgrims in Rio. Fr Ken and I felt a similar gratitude for the dedication and countless hours of work and prayer which we experienced in the missionaries at Camp Hiawassee. What better words than the Pope’s to express the youthful enthusiasm shown in the service of the Gospel:

“With your smiles, your acts of kindness and your willingness to serve, you’ve shown it is more blessed to give than to receive.” Their example, he said, was in the model of St. John the Baptist, who prepared the way of the Lord. “Every one of you,” he said, “was a means … to meet Jesus. And this is the most beautiful service we can give as missionary disciples, to prepare the way so that all might meet, know, and love the Lord.”

Fr Ken on the trampoline with the youth
Fr Ken on the trampoline with the youth

The Pope recognized in the commitments and service made at World Youth Day an opportunity to learn the virtues which promote fidelity to the higher calling of marriage, priesthood, and consecrated life. Francis challenged the volunteers to even greater generosity:

“God calls you to make definite choices … to respond to your vocation is to move towards personal fulfillment.” “God calls each of us to be holy … but he has a particular path for each of us.” Some, he said, “through family life in the sacrament of marriage.” He noted that many consider marriage “out of fashion,” and added that “in a culture of relativism and the ephemeral, many (say) it is not worth making a life-long commitment, a definitive decision, forever, because we do not know what tomorrow will bring.”

“I ask you instead to be revolutionaries, to swim against the tide. Yes, I am asking you to rebel! To rebel against this culture that sees everything as temporary, and ultimately believes you are incapable of responsibility, of true love.”

He re-iterated, “have courage to swim against the tide, to be happy.”

How ironic that we find God and personal fulfillment only when we are able to give ourselves as a sincere gift to another or to all in consecration (Gaudium et Spes, 24)? Yet this has always been the truth, but it is today a revolutionary act. We need rebels who will step out in faith and make lifelong commitments trusting God’s grace. The culture has taught us to doubt. To doubt that God is faithful once and for all time. To doubt the grace of our baptism which calls to that same fidelity in our lives. Certainly fidelity is not intended to be easy, but it is the path which the Lord gives each individual to holiness.

Fr Ken working in small groups at camp.
Fr Ken working in small groups at camp.

Groups such as Life Teen International are signs that the Holy Spirit is at work giving young adults the tools that they need to make lifetime commitments. This is a process and God’s ways are mysterious. Yet, the witness of young adults giving one or more years of their lives to live as true missionaries is a huge step in trust in God and courage. After making this step, the individual missionary is fitted with all the necessary training and support to live the commitment. They learn the essentials of the faith and the Church’s teachings on mission. The missionaries study the life teen mission statutes and make certain promises to support Catholic community living. However, the most important support that they receive is from a prayerful Catholic community. The Life Teen community prays the liturgy of the hours in common each day. They also have Eucharistic Adoration with meditation and sharing on the Scriptures.

It is easy to see how this missionary apostolic movement is truly forming its members to live their baptismal call to holiness. Those who take part in the mission, whether through summer staff or service staff or full-time missionaries, are begin prepared to be those “revolutionaries” who can be witness of fidelity to their vocations in the world. Some will become married people who will raise children for the kingdom of God. Others will be ordained priest who will stand in the place of Christ in parishes throughout the world. Still others will feel a call to the even more radical life of the evangelical counsels, becoming witnesses of the life to come.

Whatever the call, we thank God for raising up movements such as Life Teen, which are preparing the soil for the New Springtime of the Church. Teaching the youth about the God who is always faithful. Then giving them the tools to step out and make lifetime commitments. To live our call to imitate God in His faithfulness and in the process truly find ourselves through our vocation.

                                                                                                                                       Fr Joseph Eddy and Fr Ken Breen,

                                                                                                                                        Order of Mercy

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Mercedarian Priest’s Inner City Renewal Efforts Became a National Model

The energetic transformation of a gritty Cleveland near-west side neighborhood thirty years ago stands as a model for urban renewal today. Most of the credit for the decades-long effort — a truly Gospel-insired project — goes to Fr. Marino Frascati, a Mercedarian priest who emigrated from Italy.

Fr. Marino Frascati, O. de M.
Fr. Marino Frascati, O. de M. rescued others from the grip of poverty.

As pastor of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in Cleveland, Fr. Marino faced many challenges including the changing neighborhood around the parish. The result of his work included a large housing unit for the poor as well as vibrant new businesses which were encouraged to come into the area.

The soft-spoken optimist only persisted amidst obstaces, and often asked, “Why not?”

His many awards include congratulations from President Jimmy Carter, the Star of Italy from his homeland’s consulate and a Medal of Honor from Pope John Paul II.

The Mercedarian priest’s undertaker and longtime parishioner, Jim Craciun, called him a renaissance priest who inspired the rebirth of one of Cleveland’s important neighborhoods. The priest died in November 2009, but he is remembered today as true leader who put Gospel values to work for his fellow man.

Power Used for Good

Plain Dealer columnist James Neff once called the white-robed priest “the most popular and powerful man in the neighborhood.” Ray Pianka, Cleveland Housing Court judge, said, “He would never give up at City Hall or in the halls of Congress.”

The priest prophesied a neighborhood of condos and restaurants instead of noisy trains and idle factories. One of many skeptics called the area “the Coal Coast.” But the prophesy came true.

Fr. Marino was a founder, president and eventually president emeritus of the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization. Pianka, the group’s long-time director, later the neighborhood’s councilman, said the priest helped the 1973 group become a national model, with breakthroughs such as the first federal urban development grant outside of a downtown.

Public and Private Investments

Villa Mercede, or “Town of Mercy”
Villa Mercede, or “Town of Mercy,” was built as an affordable residence for the poor, and was one of Father’s projects.

Overall, the group has raised about $100 million and spurred more than $1 billion in private investments.

Frascati formed other organizations at Mount Carmel, which added a few million dollars’ worth of more projects to the near West Side neighborhood. He led the construction of a seniors’ high rise called Villa Mercede for his order, The Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy. He created condos and houses through the Nolasco Housing Organization, named for the order’s founder, St. Peter Nolasco.

Father’s Journey to the Priesthood

Fr. Marino was born in Castel Viscardo, Italy and entered the Mercedarian Order at 14. In 1948, he began to study theology at a Franciscan seminary in Teutopolis, Ill. He was ordained as a priest in 1951.

He briefly worked at Our Lady of Mercy Monastery in Middleburg Heights, St. Rocco Church in Cleveland and other local sites. Then came 13 years as Mount Carmel’s associate pastor and 25 as pastor. Fr. Marino said a weekly Mass in Italian. He helped dry up controversial bars. He blessed new homes and an ice cream shop called Blessings. He served as dean of Holy Name Societies for the West Side.

Founded Youth Groups

He started many activities for youngsters. He founded and led a Boy Scout troop. He took children to the Alleghenies, the Great Smoky Mountains and more. Fr. Marino left Cleveland in 1995 to become his order’s vicar provincial in LeRoy, N.Y. Nine years later, he chose to return as Mount Carmel’s pastor emeritus.

The Mercedarian friar died November 1, 2009 at age 84 from heart disease at Regina Health Center, Richfield, his home in his later years.

“We remember Fr. Marino as a great example of a Mercedarian who gave his life to free those captive to marginalization and poverty,” noted Fr. Joseph Eddy, O. de M., the Order’s vocation director.

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A Mercedarian Perspective on the Year of Faith

Essential to the Charism of the Order of the BVM of Mercy is a profound concern for the True Faith. It is for this Faith that hundreds of friars have exercised the 4th Vow and given up their lives for Captive Christians in danger of losing the Faith. In October 2012, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI opened the Year of Faith. Here is a Mercedarian perspective on this Holy Year:

St. Peter Nolasco founder of the Order.
St. Peter Nolasco founder of the Order.

Eight hundred years ago a man followed in the footsteps of his father and took up the family merchant business. He like many other young men had the desire to live a life of adventure and purpose. The merchant business offered him an opportunity to travel far from his residence of Barcelona into Muslim occupied parts of Southern Spain and abroad. Yet as he traveled, experienced danger, and earned a solid living Peter Nolasco felt that something was missing. He desired more. Not just more money or adventure, but a greater purpose to his life. While traveling through Muslim occupied lands, Peter was “cut to the heart” (Acts 2:37) when he saw the captive Christians. They were striking in appearance: dirty, smelly, and gaunt from hunger. As Peter investigated further, he was stunned by the deplorable living conditions of these men, women, and children who were treated as slaves in bondage and chains. They like Isaiah’s suffering servant were “despised and rejected by mankind…like one from whom people hide their faces…”

It was not their pitiable appearance that most affected Peter. Rather it was that they were Captive because of their Catholic Faith.  Peter knew that the faith was the most precious gift that a person could have. It was for our faith that Jesus offered Himself as a captive and was crucified. Peter was filled with sorrow when he heard that thousands were renouncing the True Faith in order to obtain their freedom or a better standing in society. For Peter, the Captives were most poor and impoverished of all people for one reason: because their faith was in serious danger.

Now in 2013 we as Catholic Christians are celebrating the Year of Faith. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI called this year in order to re-enkindle a love for the Faith in a world that is longing for meaning. People’s faith is still in danger today. Modern forms of Captivity are choking and stifling people’s faith to the same degree that Islam did in the early 11th Century. For this reason, the Successor of St Peter the Apostle feels pity for the captives who throughout the world are losing the most precious gift that we have, our faith. As Benedict says in the inaugural letter opening the Year of Faith, “Belief in Jesus Christ, then, is the way to arrive definitively at salvation.” “Faith working through love” (Gal 5:6) becomes a new criterion of understanding and action that changes the whole of man’s life (cf. Rom 12:2; Col 3:9-10; Eph 4:20-29; 2 Cor 5:17).” Just as St Peter Nolasco realized in the early 1200’s, faith is the gift given only by God’s grace which changes our lives and opens the door to salvation.

The Charism of the Order is to free Captive Christians
The Charism of the Order is to free Captive Christians

In his Moto Proprio letter, Benedict sheds some light on new forms of captivity which expose people to “the abandonment of the practices of the Christian life and the loss of their faith (Mercedarian Constitutions #4)”.  The Pope Emeritus states:

“It often happens that Christians are more concerned for the social, cultural and political consequences of their commitment, continuing to think of the faith as a self-evident presupposition for life in society. In reality, not only can this presupposition no longer be taken for granted, but it is often openly denied. Whereas in the past it was possible to recognize a unitary cultural matrix, broadly accepted in its appeal to the content of the faith and the values inspired by it, today this no longer seems to be the case in large swathes of society, because of a profound crisis of faith that has affected many people.”

How true it is today that people think of their faith as an aspect of their cultural or family history, but do not realize the impact that faith can and should have on one’s whole life. For our forefathers, faith was the impetuous behind their love of family and country; it impacted every decision that they made. Yet, today the effects of increased secularization, both within and without the Church, have caused one’s faith to be viewed as a personal belief which should not have an impact on others. People often state they are Catholic, but this reality has little or no impact on their lives.

Much of the problem stems from poor catechesis in our nation over the past fifty years. Truly whole swathes of the Catholic population are ignorant of the basic tenants of the Faith. Long held Christian virtues, such as love, are so watered down or obscured that they are hardly recognizable. When faced with difficult moral Truths many will reject them as fanatical, since they don’t have the understanding of the foundational principles. As Benedict says:

“Evidently, knowledge of the content of faith is essential for giving one’s own assent, that is to say for adhering fully with intellect and will to what the Church proposes. Knowledge of faith opens a door into the fullness of the saving mystery revealed by God.”

We have to be able to know the Faith in all its beauty to be able to truly accept it. Thus, people in the United States are held in bondage, not by Islam, but by ignorance. People are giving up the precious gift of faith because they cannot see the beauty and importance of it. It is Easter Faith in the Resurrection that truly changes people’s lives. The Faith of the Church gives one a perspective on life that makes sense of suffering and trials; gives meaning to everything. Truly Faith gives us a “new vision”, which changes our life in ways unimaginable.

Fr Matthew teaching the Faith.
Fr Matthew teaching the Faith.

The task for future redeemers is to present the foundations of the faith which have sustained Christians for over 2 thousand years. It is for this orthodox faith that so many have died for. It is presented for us in the Creed which stretches back to the early Church. Christians in the early centuries were required to learn the Creed from memory. St Augustine recounted this as he handed over the creed to the newly baptized:

“…the symbol of the holy mystery that you have all received together and that today you have recited one by one, are the words on which the faith of Mother Church is firmly built above the stable foundation that is Christ the Lord. You have received it and recited it, but in your minds and hearts you must keep it ever present, you must repeat it in your beds, recall it in the public squares and not forget it during meals: even when your body is asleep, you must watch over it with your hearts.”

The Year of Faith is focusing our attention on the Creed and the fundamental principles that are contained within it. Yet as Mercedarians we must ensure that these principles are presented in a way that is appealing and understandable to today’s Christians. It is for this reason that we “visit” the captives; come to understand them while showing true Christian compassion for them. Here we learn to present the foundations of the faith to a generation which is hungering for truth and meaning.

May this Year of Faith be an opportunity for us to reach out to those held captive by ignorance of the Faith. Through the merits of Christ’s Precious Blood may many “chains be broken” as Catholics discover the precious treasure which is hidden before their eyes. The priceless gift of our Catholic Faith!





Mercedarian Friar to be ordained to the transitional diaconate

After years of preparation and study Br. David Spencer, O. de M. will be ordained a transitional deacon at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Philadelphia on Saturday April 6th at 9:30AM. This will enable him fulfill the Order’s redemptive charism in a special way as a one ordained into the service of Christ.

St Stephen was the first deacon and he was martyred for the faith.
St Stephen was the first deacon and he was martyred for the faith.lo

The deacon is an ordained minister of the Catholic Church. There are three groups, or “orders,” of ordained ministers in the Church: bishops, presbyters and deacons. Deacons are ordained as a sacramental sign to the Church and to the world of Christ, who came “to serve and not to be served.” The entire Church is called by Christ to serve, and the deacon, in virtue of his sacramental ordination and through his various ministries, is to be a servant in a servant-Church.

As ministers of Word, deacons proclaim the Gospel, preach, and teach in the name of the Church. As ministers of Sacrament, deacons baptize, lead the faithful in prayer, witness marriages, and conduct wake and funeral services. As ministers of Charity, deacons are leaders in identifying the needs of others, then marshalling the Church’s resources to meet those needs.

Men, such as Br David, who are in priestly formation are first ordained Transitional Deacons. This is a temporary state of men who intend to go on for the priesthood. Br David will serve as a deacon in the Order for a period of time as he learns and prepares for Priestly Ordination.

Let us keep Br. David in prayer during the next few days as he prepares to receive this great Sacrament. May Our Lady of Mercy give him the graces he needs to respond to this great call!

A Raffle to Win a Statue of Our Lady of Mercy

Here are some pictures of Focus 11 (vocation awareness day for 6th graders) in the Diocese of St. Petersburg. The Friars and the 3rd Order had a Mercedarian vocation table. To draw attention to the Order and promote a love of Our Lady of Mercy, the children signed up to win one of 3 three 12″ statues of Our Lady of Mercy for their classroom. Thanks to Fr Tony and Sue for spreading the good news of the redemption to the youth in St Petersburg, Florida!

In the Little Town of LeRoy, NY, the 3rd Order is making a difference for the Captives

The Third Order is an association of lay people integrated into the Mercedarian family, which participates in the redemptive spirit (Constitutions of the Order of the B.V.M. of Mercy, #117). Each Mercedarian community also has these lay people who commit themselves to pray and work for the Christian captives. In this article, Fr Ken, Vicar Provincial, and Fr Eugene, Novice Master, share some of the events and work done by the 3rd Order in LeRoy.

Fr Ken enjoys some fish with some friends.
Fr Ken enjoys some fish with some friends.

“In this little town of LeRoy, NY, the third order is making a difference for the captivity of the world and the aspirations of our New Evangelization. St. Peter Nolasco’s spirit is alive in our lay organization in helping the poor, truly being a witness and a sign for those in the plight of suffering and abandonment.

Recently in this Year of Faith, we are publicly praying the Rosary for an end to immorality, abortion and Euthanasia.  We conclude this Rosary on the first of the month with the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. On the 3rd Saturday of each month, we also offer after the 4:30 Vigil Mass, the Rosary and a dedicated prayer for the success of the New Evangelization.

workersIncluded in our many charitable works, are the Fish Bake we did for the benefit of the victims of Hurricane Sandy and also for liberation from human trafficking. We also have an annual sale of St. Joseph’s Bread and in the past many breakfasts and bake sales for charity especially for families without resources.

Truly as a Marian family, we continue to pray for our Country and the world so that we make inroads in combating secularization and atheism. Our charism of Mercy is not only here in LeRoy, but wherever our Mercedarian love and mercy are shown. May Our St. Peter Nolasco and Our Holy Mother of Mercy enable us to bring about a true conversion for us and for the many. ”


Fr. Gene and Fr. Ken

The Order of the BVM of Mercy Mourns the Loss of Br. Richard Henry, O. de M.

In the early morning on Sunday, January 6th  one of the oldest friars in the US Vicariate passed on to the next life. Br Richard was laid to rest on Friday, January 11th after 44 years in Vows. REQUIESCAT IN PACE

Br. Richard Henry, O. de M.
Br. Richard Henry, O. de M.

BR. RICHARD HENRY, Ode.M  was born May 6, 1932 in Brockville, Ontario, Canada. He was the beloved son of the late Hugh and Viola and step son of the late Helen Henry. The loving brother of the late Robert, twin Patricia and step brother of Gail Davis and Neil Pottruff. Br Richard was the dear uncle and friend of many. He was a U. S. Air Force Veteran who served 15 years in Special Services.

In 1967, Br Richard entered the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy, The Mercederian Friars.  On August 10th, 1969 he made his first profession of Simple Vows. Br Richard served in several apostolic assignments during his 44 years of religious life including: St. peter’s Church, LeRoy, New York: St. Barnabas, Brewers Mills, Ontario, Canada; Genesee College, Batavio, New York; Eckerd College, St. Petersburg, Florida; Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and St. Rocco Church, Cleveland, Ohio.

During his final years, Br. Richard suffered from a type of leukemia that slowly brought him to our Lord.  In the suffering of his illness, he was an example of strength in the faith. Br Richard’s religious consecration has been a testimony of perseverance and we pray that our Lady of Mercy accompany him in his encounter with the Redeeming Christ.

A Mass of Christian Burial was  held at St. Rocco Church, 3205 Fulton Road, Cleveland, OH 44109 on Friday January 11, 2013 at 10:30 AM. The Main Celebrant was Bishop A. James Quinn. The interment was at Holy Cross Cemetery.

Those who remember Br Richard have stated the following:

“I meet Brother Henry as a student at Eckerd College where he served as chaplain. He encouraged me to become more active in my faith and participate in the Student Mass on campus. Every year I could expect a kind card or phone call and it always came when I could use his encouragement the most. I am glad I got to talk to Brother Henry one last time this Christmas. Rest in God’s Peace Brother”–Brendan Kirkpatrick – Medford, MA   Jan 11, 2013

“Brother Henry was a gentle and joyful presence at Eckerd College for many years. He was more concerned for others than for himself. He brought warmth and light into any room he entered. He was an example and inspiration, and is very much missed.”–Diane Elmore Listort – St. Petersburg, FL – Colleague at Eckerd College

“I’ll always remember his humor and the great lessons that would make the learning of our faith come alive! He was a true inspiration of faith. He taught me to serve at the altar and in the community. Thanks for all that you’ve done for all of us!” ~Opie—Richard Smith – Euclid, OH – Friend/Student   Jan 10, 2013

“Brother Richard Henry was a dear friend and colleague who was beloved by all at Eckerd College–students, faculty, and staff. A person of deep faith and devotion to others, he truly was a sacrament of God’s presence on our campus for Catholics and non-Catholics alike. He was sorely missed when he retired from Campus Ministry at Eckerd after nearly a decade of service. His “signature” parting greeting, uttered at the end of every telephone conversation and meeting, was “Be good to yourself.” It was that sentiment of gentle and loving care for others that imbued every aspect of his life and ministry. The Eckerd College community mourns the loss and celebrates the life of our extraordinary friend, Brother Richard Henry.”–James J. Annarelli, Ph.D. – St. Petersburg, FL – Friend & colleague at Eckerd   Jan 09, 2013

“Brother Richard was a good friend. He was encouraging and always showed you the brighter side of life. His deep devotion to our Lord and to Our Lady of Mercy was an inspiration to me. I will not forget what a blessing he was to my family and me.”–Dominic Tortelli – Cleveland, OH – friend   Jan 08, 2013