6 Thousand College Student Meet in Orlando to “FOCUS” on True Conversion

The Mercedarian Friars and Sisters joined thousands of University Students at the FOCUS conference in Orlando, Florida January 2nd-6th. Here is an explanation of this event and the important work of FOCUS:

Sr Ana prays before the Blessed Sacrament.

Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) is a flourishing new organization dedicated to re-evangelize America’s college campuses. Fourteen years ago, the movement began with the simple purpose of inviting college students into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church. Inspiring and equipping them for a lifetime of Christ-centered evangelization, discipleship, and friendship in which they lead others to do the same.

Like the Early Church, the FOCUS movement seeks plant “the mustard seed” of faith throughout the United States. Beginning with our nation’s future leaders, FOCUS sends teams of young, trained missionaries to the college campus in order to reach students with the gospel. In partnership with the university parish and/or Newman Center, FOCUS missionaries host large group outreach events, weekly Bible studies and offer one-on-one mentoring with student leaders. These FOCUS missionaries are now found in 74 campuses throughout the United States

Every two years, FOCUS has a natural conference, which inspires thousands of youth through dynamic orthodox talks, fellowship, and a strong emphasis on the Sacraments. This year’s conference is called “SEEK”. Over 6 thousand Catholic College students travel thousands of miles to Orlando, Florida in search of that which is “true, beautiful, and good”. They were not disappointed as they came face to face with Christ through Catholic orthodox teaching, Eucharistic Adoration, and the Sacraments.

Sr Rosaria, SOLM with our display.
Sr Rosaria, SOLM with our display.

The Mercedarian Friars and Sisters attended the conference for the first time this January. They were edified by the enormous number of students and their openness to the Gospel message. This message included several talks on such counter-cultural topics as: chastity before marriage, Pro-life activism, combating relativism, respecting the dignity of women, and the deadly effects of sin on the soul.

The highlight of the weekend was on Friday night. On this evening, Fr. Michael Keating, a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, confronted the students with the deadly effects of sin on the soul and the need for conversion. The students were encouraged to adore the Most Blessed Sacrament and make a complete examination of conscience. They then were given the opportunity to receive God’s Mercy through the Sacrament of Confession. There 125 priests available to hear the confessions of thousands of students. The power of God’s grace was present as over 5 thousand students went to confession and received the Lord’s unfathomable mercy. With joy, the priests heard confessions for over 4 hours into the early morning on Saturday!

Fr Joseph hangs out with some hobbits at the Conference.
Fr Joseph hangs out with some hobbits at the Conference.

In these times when we can get discouraged with the increasing secularization of America, it is great to know that God is working powerfully through such groups as FOCUS. May the Lord continue to bless this organization, which seeks to evangelize the youth and bring them into an authentic relationship with their Savior Jesus Christ and His Body the Church!



Several Articles Highlight Mercedarian Friar’s Ordination

Fr. James Chia, O. de M. has been assigned to the Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle in St. Petersburg, FL. There he will be the Assistant Pastor.  The Newly Ordained will be kept busy administering the Sacraments, visiting the sick, preparing couples for marriage,  teaching catechism, and a variety of other pastoral tasks. Here are some pictures from Fr James’ Mass of Thanksgiving in St. Petersburg:


Check out several articles on Fr James:







The Mercedarian Friars Celebrate the Ordination of Fr. James Chia, O. de M.

On November 24th, Deacon James Chia was Ordained to the Priesthood of Jesus Christ. The liturgy took place at St. Ignatius Parish in Yardley, Pa. Present were friars, family and friends of Fr James. Here are some pictures from the weekend:

Read the Latest in Our Press Releases and Articles

Want to catch up on the latest news of the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy? Read our press releases stored on PR Log. Or click on our list below.

Oct 19, 2012
We should avoid suffering if we can lawfully do so, but if not, we must accept it and unite it to the one sacrifice of Christ.
Mar 22, 2011
A passionate Italian-born priest of an ancient men’s religious order with a presence in the United States explains how he entered the Mercedarian order.
Feb 24, 2011
Read the story of Fr. Justin A. Freeman, O. de M., who came from a small town in Virginia.
Feb 15, 2011
The boyhood duties as an altar server planted the seeds of the priesthood for a Pennslyvania man who “wanted more.”

Ancient Order of Friars Show Healthy Signs of Growth

Feb 14, 2011
A ancient religious order of priests and brothers is attracting new members in the United States.
Mar 11, 2010
A new video by the Mercedarian Fathers and Brothers talks about the Order of Mercy’s ongoing mission of rescuing Christians from various forms of captivity.

Not on Your Bucket List

All Christians, in all walks of life, are called to holiness. But priests are called in a special way to this life. Pope John Paul II, quoting the Second Vatican Council, has said that all of the baptized are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity. He added that this applies,

Br. Scott Brentwood
Br. Scott Brentwood receiving diaconate ordination

in a special way to priests. They are called not only because they have been baptized, but also and specifically because they are priests, that is, under a new title and in new and different ways deriving from the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

Thoughts like these course through the minds of our friars as they approach the altar to receive the laying on of hands of the bishop in the Rite of Ordination. Indeed, the calling to the priesthood is sublime – not just another feather to be tucked into one’s cap in the journey of life.

Special Identification with Christ

As stated in our Constitutions, the Mercedarian priest has a special identification with Christ (N. 178). Our priests redeem those held in chains by modern forms of captivity. The Constitutions state that in their priestly training,

Theoretical formation must be united with pastoral practice so that, by knowing men well and loving Christ, they may be able to nourish the flock of the Lord with preference for those who faith is in danger and the most needy.

Is God calling you to become a Mercedarian friar, either as a priest or a brother?

Click for more information:

>Greetings from Vocation Director Fr. Joseph Eddy, O. de M.
>Contact Fr. Joseph
>Mercedarian Formation
>7 Quick Questions About a Religious Vocation
>Information Form
>Mercedarian Facebook Page

New Children’s Book tells the story of St Peter Nolasco

The Friar’s at the House of Studies translated and printed a book entitled “The Great Adventure of St. Peter Nolasco”. This book has been sent to several of the houses in the US Vicariate. Here is what the 3rd Order in St. Petersburg did with their books:

Blessing of books at our meeting. Fr Oscar and President, Sue Tambasco.

On April 27, we celebrate the feast of Blessed Peter Armengol (1238-1304). Following a misspent and dissolute youth he who came to serve the Lord later in life. He gave up worldly ways to work tirelessly for the ransom of captives and atoning for his sins. Blessed Peter Armengol is a model of confidence. His life inspires everyone who, amid the crisis of the modern world, needs special graces from Our Lady to remain completely faithful. He is the patron for the conversion of youth.

President, Sue Tambasco presents book to the Cathedral of St. Jude School principle, Mrs. Wiand and Media Specialist, Mrs. Evrin.

The Tampa Bay Third Order, during the month of his feast, purchased youth books about the founder of Our Order, Saint Peter Nolasco. These books were blessed during our meeting and presented to seven elementary school libraries though out the Diocese of St. Petersburg, FL. We pray that the will inspire and educate the youth in the Mercedarian Spirit.


Third Order in Tampa Bay has Lenten Retreat

Wherever the Mercedarian Friars are in the world one is likely to find groups of dedicated lay people living “the redemptive spirit”. Among the most important of these is the Third Order. This confraternity of lay mercedarians are found in several parts of the United States including: LeRoy( NY), Philadelphia, Cleveland, St. Petersburg, and Atlanta.

The Constitutions of the Order tell us that 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). Members of the Third Order know and cherish the spiritual treasure of the Order so they are able to realize the Mercedarian ideal, according to the directives of the Church and of the Order, in keeping with the circumstances of each country. Here is some local activities of our Thrid Order in St. Petersburg, Florida:

Also see: http://orderofmercy.org/collaborators/third-order/

Video on Br. Scott Brentwood’s Ordination Brings Home His Roots

Three hours after posting, our video of the Dec. 10 ordination of Deacon Scott Brentwood has taken off like a rocket. The seven-minute video was viewed by nearly four hundred persons in that time on Gloria TV. (See video.)

Br. Scott Brentwood being ordained. Click for video on Gloria TV.
"The whole experience was phenomenal," says Deacon Scott

The video weaves images of the rustic Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia where Deacon Scott grew up and has many pictures of his ordination by Most Rev. Giuseppe Mani, the archbishop of Cagliari, against the backdrop of the historic Shrine of Our Lady of Bonaria in Cagliari, on the island of Sardinia in the Mediterranean Sea.

“The whole experience was phenomenal, but to me the most rewarding part was being in one of our oldest Sanctuaries, surrounded by numerous priests/brothers of the community, knowing that those in the USA were able to participate via internet….” Deacon Scott said in his article, “A Mercedarian Journal from Rome.”

The video traces his Catholic upbringing in rural Virginia where the Catholic population was very small, as well as his attraction to the Order of Mercy through holy cards that he came across during an unexpected stay at a friend’s apartment.

See the video on Gloria TV, or the articles on our website: “One of Our Own Is To Be Ordained to the Sacred Diaconate,” or Deacon Scott’s complete story, “A Friend’s Suggestion Leads to a Mercedarian Vocation.”



News from Around the United States Vicariate

The Vicariate in the United States is composed of six houses in the states of New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida. Here is some news going on in several of these houses.

A Mercedarian takes part in the Extraordinary Form Mass on the Feast of St. Stephen, Cleveland, OH

Fr. Michael
Fr. Michael as Deacon.

A beautiful and successful Solemn Mass for the patronal feast of St. Stephen was celebrated at St. Stephen’s Church in Cleveland on Tuesday, December 27, 2011! Those who took part in the High Mass were Fr. Bede Kotlinski, OSB, Celebrant; Fr. Michael Donovan, O. de M., Deacon; and Mr. Albert Beltz, Sub-deacon. The St. Stephen schola  provided the wonderful sacred music during the liturgy.

Fr. Michael is a Mercedarian priest who is stationed at the Order’s parish, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, West Cleveland. He works as a parochial vicar at the parish. Fr. Michael has many duties at the parish including: teaching Catholic Doctrine at the school, teaching adult formation classes in Sacred Scripture, and coordinating the Mercedarian Third Order. He has been gifted with a beautiful voice and a love for the sacred liturgy. This has lead Fr. Michael to celebrate the Extraordinary form of the Mass on several occasions at the Order’s parish at Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

See impressive photos of the Latin Mass at beautiful St. Stephen’s Church, Cleveland.

A New Deacon, Br. James Chia, in LeRoy, N.Y.

Br. James Chia
Br. James is from Malaysia.

The Order rejoices at yet another Ordination to the diaconate: Br. James Chia, O.de M. will be ordained the Sacred Diaconate on January 7th at 4:30 pm at Our Lady of Mercy Parish, LeRoy, NY. The ordaining bishop will be Most Rev. Edward M. Grosz, D.D. from the Diocese of Buffalo.

Br. James come from Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. He grew up in a devout Catholic family of 17 children! In December 1989, Br. James came to Philadelphia to study Electrical Engineering Technology at Temple. Eventually he decided to immigrate to United States in 2001 in search of the American Dream. After a time of seeking his own dreams, Br. James came to realize God was calling him to be a Mercedarian Friar. After seven years of formation, Br James is now preparing to be ordained a Transitional Deacon in the Church. We ask for your prayers for Brother as he makes his final preparations for this important step toward priestly ordination.

Read the article, “One Man’s Search for the American Dream Led Him to Become a Mercedarian Friar.

In St. Petersburg, FL, Fr. Ken helps a group of Catholics explore the rich heritage of our Catholic Faith

Fr. Ken
Fr. Ken in Sunny Florida

Fr. Ken Breen, O. de M. is the Parochial Vicar at the Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle in St. Petersburg. Father has been teaching a Bible study series over the past few years at the Cathedral. These classes are held each Monday. Fr. Ken teaches two classes that day, morning and evening, to over 20 people a class.

Over the next several Mondays, the Bible study topic will be Fr. Barron’s Catholicism Series. Word on Fire Catholic Ministries offers a unique vision of the Catholic Faith with this brand new series. This program seeks to explore, through a global journey, the living culture of the Catholic Church. From the lands of the Bible, to the great shrines of Europe, to the shores and heartland of America, to the mysteries of Asia, to the rich landscapes of Latin America, to the beating heart of Africa. It is a ten-part DVD series that Fr. Ken calls “So powerful”! May this Bible study and all Fr. Ken’s work at the Cathedral lead to an increase in the love for the our beloved Catholic Faith!

Go to the Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle.


Friar Celebrates the Silver Jubilee of Religious Vows

Fr James Mayer, O. de M. celebrated his 25th anniversary of relgious vows in the Order of BVM of Mercy. Br Daniel gives this account of the celebration:

On August 14, 2011, family, friends, priests, religious, and many of the lay faithful joined our Mercedarian friars in celebrating the Silver Jubilee of Religious Vows of Reverend Father James W. Mayer, O. de M.  at a special mass at Saint Rocco Catholic Church, Cleveland, Ohio.  Saint Rocco, besides being Father’s home parish, is also the oldest of our foundations here in the United States.  It is there, fittingly both a beautiful sanctuary, and the ideal place to call to mind the commitment made by Father James twenty-five years ago.  As a youth it was there that Father James experienced the joy, fraternity and witness of the Mercedarian religious. Their commitment, as Father James’ commitment, is the response of a generous lover to the call of God.  A free response made by all of us individually and collectively as Mercedarians to consecrate ourselves more intimately to God, in imitation of our Father and Founder Saint Peter Nolasco, attained through the grace of God and the help of our Mother, Our Lady of Mercy.  It is this free gift of oneself, as Father James did so many years ago, and continues to live to this very day that permits the perfection of love given through generous and faithful fulfillment of the redemptive mission of our Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy. A perpetuation of  he redemptive mission to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters in Christ.  Surely, it is this total gift of self for others that sweetly lulled not only our ears as the Introit was magnificently chanted, but within the very heart of Father James himeself: “God, our protector, keep us in mind; always give strength to your people. For if we can be with you even one day, it is better than a thousand without you” [Psalm 84:10-11]. For Father James, to answer God’s call to religious life, is better than anything else the world might propose.  Following the homily, given by Father Mark Hollis, we witnessed Father James renewing his Profession of Vows.  What a blessing for us all, especially for Mr. and Mrs. Mayer, to celebrate with their son this milestone of his life-giving commitment.  Deo  gratias! And thanks, Father James, for your continued “yes” to the Lord! Ad multos annos.

Summer time still an active time for Mercedarian Students

Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us that “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens”. The month of May ushers in a time of transition for the Mercedarian students in Philadelphia.

Br David receives his Master Degree from St Charles Borromeo Sem.

The month begins with the pressure of final exams at St Charles Borromeo Seminary and other Colleges the Friars attend. Studies can be challenging as the seminarians learn the classics such as Latin, Greek, and philosophy. As they progress in their academic formation, the friars tackle such areas as Church History, Systematic Theology, Pastoral Theology, and Sacred Scripture. Br. Dominic, a non-clerical student, completed his 3 year at Cabrini College in pursuit of a Bachelors in Secondary Education (English). Despite the rigors of final exams the friars maintain the house schedule, which includes communal prayer and meals.  The students support each other in their studies and pray as a community that the Holy Spirit grant everyone the gifts of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding.

This year the vicariate was blessed to have two friars complete their theological studies at St Charles Borromeo Seminary. Br. James Chia, O. de M. and Br. David Spencer, O. de M. began at Overbrook several years ago in the Pre-Theology program. After many years of study, prayer, and hard work they have completed their time of academic formation. On May 20th, St Charles Borromeo Seminary held its Concourses at Saint Martin’s Chapel. Br David received his Masters of Arts in Pastoral Theology. The special emphasis of his Master’s thesis was on the Liturgy and Redemption.

Soon after their studies concluded the student fulfilled their constitutional obligation by going on a weeklong retreat. The retreat master was Fr. Eugene Costa, O. de M. Fr Eugene has been the Order Novice Master for over 30 years! He has a wealth of knowledge and a great love for the Consecrated Life. Fr Eugene gave the students several conferences on Blessed John Paul II’s contribution to the theology of consecrated life. Each evening, the friars had exposition and benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. There was much time for prayer and reflection on consecration that each of them share as Mercedarians.

Now having been renewed spiritually, the simply professed prepare themselves for a busy summer. They will be getting an opportunity to visit their families for some rest and relaxation. Then, many will head to different Mercedarian parishes and houses to give assistance and get apostolic experience. The summer apostolic experience offers the students a chance to get to know the solemnly professed friars that make up the vicariate of the United States. They, also, experience the redemptive apostolates that the Order is involved in.

Truly, as the book of Ecclesiastes says, “there is a time for everything…”  For students in formation with the Mercedarians, summer offers a time to labor, a time to pray, and a time to rest. But, all time belongs to God and is given to us as a gift. May this summer’s experiences lead those in formation to see the presence of God in all each experience, each person, and each moment!