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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From Prep School to Seminary: One Man’s Call to the Order

Josh LaPorte is a Postulant in Order. Here he answers questions about his childhood and vocation:

1) Tell us about your background? Where are you from? Where did you go to school?

Josh receives the shield of the Order.
Josh receives the shield of the Order.

I was born on July 18, 1989 in Suburban Detroit, in Sterling Heights, MI at Mt. Clemens General Hospital. I was adopted at birth. I grew up in the Sterling Heights area for the majority of my childhood until I was six years old when we moved to Rochester Hills, MI. We remained there for the rest of my life. We also have a vacation house in the north of Michigan.

My Father is a Certified Public Accountant working as a managing partner at an international firm called UHY advisors.  He has been working there since college.  My mother was and is still a homemaker.  Prior to her being a homemaker, she was a practicing Psychologist.

I discovered my love for music when I was three and a half years old. It was then that I picked up my first violin and begin studies in music.  I would find lots of success in that field of study, and pick up more instruments along the way, like percussion (drums, cymbals, etc.).  I would study these privately until the age of 17.

I entered Montessori when I was five in September 1994 at Kensington Academy. I would make my first communion in April of 1998.  I left Kensington Academy after completing the third grade in 1999.  I would then continue studies at a private fine and liberal arts school in Auburn Hills, Michigan called Oakland Steiner where I would complete the rest of elementary and middle school.  After that, I would be homeschooled for my freshman year of high school, and then complete the rest of my high school career at St. Mary’s Preparatory.

St Mary’s Prep School is strong Catholic Institution where I would begin discerning my vocation or exploring the possibilities of a vocation.  We attended Mass in high school twice a week, and sometimes three times a week if it was a holy day of obligation.  I would graduate there St Mary Preparatory School in May 2008. My crowning achievement was winning the Louis Armstrong Jazz Award.

After high school I started studies in philosophy at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Downtown Detroit. I remained there for 4 years until I finished discerning my call and entered the Mercedarian Friars.

2) When did you first start thinking about religious life and/or priesthood?

I started thinking of a vocation when I was a junior in High School during Mass.

The Shield was given to the Order by King James I 800 years ago.
The Shield was given to the Order by King James I 800 years ago.

3) How did you come to know about the Order of the BVM of Mercy? What drew you to this community?

I came to know about the Order of the BVM of Mercy and plenty of other orders through Vocation Placement Services on the internet. I was drawn to this community because of the way they live religious life and the Charism of order itself. The Mercedarians redeem those who are in captivity at risk of losing their faith.

4) Now that you are a postulant what is your favorite part of the Religious Life?

I enjoy as a postulant the community prayers, the common meal, and recreation time.

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


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!

One Friar’s Vocation leads him to Serve in Ways he could Never have Dreamed of

Fr Richard Rasch, O. de M. has been blessed to serve the Order in a variety of capacities from Prision Ministry to Pastor to Vicar Provincial. Here Fr Richard answers some question about his vocation story:

Fr Richard Rasch, O. de M.
Fr Richard Rasch, O. de M.

So, Father Richard, could you tell us a little about your family?

I grew up in a Middle class family. My father was Lutheran. My mother was Catholic. Many times we would go to Lutheran Services at 8am & Catholic Mass at 12noon. Both of my parents were very faithful and devoted to church. They gave good example to us in living Christianity in their daily lives.

When did you first consider Religious life and/or Priesthood?

I think the first time I thought about it was in High school.  I always had the desire to go to Catholic High School, but my Father could not see spending the extra money. So I went to a public school all my life. After that I went to community college for two years. After saving some money, I was able to enroll in a Catholic College, Niagara University, to complete my bachelor’s degree.

How did you first discover the Mercedarian Friars?

I first knew Mercedarian from Niagara University. There were several friars attending the University. At that time the Order had a house near Niagara Falls on College Avenue.  Different times I would stop by to pray with the community while I was in college.

What are some of positions that you have held in community and how have you served the Order over the years?

I have been in a variety of capacities from taking care of youth to prison chaplaincy, to hospital chaplaincy, to being pastor, to superior, and, also, Vicar Provincial. I was Vicar Provincial of the United States Vicariate for 4 terms (12 years).

Fr Eugene, Fr Tim, and Fr Richard chat inbetween meetings.
Fr Eugene, Fr Tim, and Fr Richard chat inbetween meetings.

What have been your greatest joys in Religious Life?

One of my greatest joys is preparing people to die. One of the hospitals that I was chaplain at was mostly cancer patients. I got to know the patients and their families’ real well. I ended up doing many of the funerals of these patients as well. Just being there with them and going through those difficult times was powerful. There are people that still keep in touch with me even now years later. I had their mothers or fathers funerals and they still remember me. They send Christmas cards each year. It amazes me. This is one of my greatest joys.

Another great joy is taking care of community service workers (those assigned by the courts, in lieu of, or in addition to, other criminal justice sanctions). My background is in a bachelor’s degree in Social Work and Criminal Justice. I have worked for several years as a Prison Chaplain. To me the prison and hospital suited me better personality wise and ministry wise.

Do you have any suggestions for those young men who are starting to begin to think about being religious and/or a priest?

The Holy Spirit will direct you where He wants you. Be patient with yourself and be patient with the community. The grace of God is there with you to guide you.


St. Peter Paschal or Paschasius was born at Valencia, Spain. When he grew up in years he embraced the ecclesiastical state, which he adorned by his many virtues. St. Peter left his post in 1250 to join the Order of Mercy and he received the habit in the Valencia Cathedral at the hands of Arnaldo of Carcassonne.

St Peter was one of the first theologians to say Mary was Immaculately Conceived.

His learning and his piety pointed him out as a worthy successor to the Bishop of Jaen, who had a short time previously been called to receive the reward of his labours ; and from the first moment of his promotion to that see he became renowned for his zeal in the redemption of the Christian slaves who were captured by the Moors, and for the conversion of the infidels. So powerful were his words that many of the Mussul mans renounced their errors to embrace the doctrine of Jesus Christ.

The followers of Mahomet were filled with anger when they heard of these things, and while the Bishop was on a visit to Grenada they seized him and cast him into prison. The faithful of Jaen learning that their beloved pastor had been reduced to slavery by these wicked men, collected a considerable sum of money and sent it to the Bishop, that he might thus procure his deliverance. The Saint received their gift with gratitude, but instead of spending it for his own ransom he employed it to procure the freedom of many women and children, whose weakness gave him cause to fear that they might not remain steadfast in the profession of their Religion.

St. Peter continued, therefore, to be a prisoner, and was treated with great cruelty by the infidels because of their hatred for the Christian name. One privilege they, strange to say, granted him that of offering up daily the. Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

One morning during his long imprisonment, when he had made his preparation for saying Mass, during which he had used the discipline to mortify himself in order to obtain from God strength and perseverance for his poor Christian slaves who were so inhumanly treated, he was disappointed at finding no one present to serve it. He went towards the door which led into the prison, to see if there was anyone near who could come to assist him. At that moment Jesus Christ Himself appeared to him under the appearance of a little boy of four or five years of age, clad in the poor garments of a slave, and asked him of what he was in search. “My dear child” replied the Saint, “I am looking for someone who may be able to serve Mass.” “I will gladly do that, my Father, if you will only accept of me.” The Saint, who had never before seen the child, asked him who he was. “I will tell you who I am when you have finished Mass.”

St. Peter Paschal then offered up the Holy Sacrifice with a feeling of great devotion, such as he had never before experienced ; and when he had finished his prayers of thanksgiving he asked the little boy several questions concerning the truths of our holy Faith, to all of which the child gave answers so full of wisdom that the holy man gazed upon him in wonder. Finally he put to him this question : “Tell me, my child, who is Jesus Christ ?” The little boy answered : “I am Jesus Christ ; it is I Who was crucified for your salvation, and for that of the whole world ; look at My hands, and My feet, and My side, and you will recognize the wounds I received during My Passion. Because you have of your own choice remained prisoner, in order that you might procure the freedom of my captive children, and because, to obtain their freedom, you spent the money sent to you to procure your own, you have made Me your prisoner.” Having said these words, the little boy suddenly disappeared, leaving the Saint filled with exceeding great joy.

The Mahometans, revering the sanctity of their prisoner, resolved to grant him his liberty if only he would promise never to write or to say anything against the law of Mahomet. The Saint, desiring to obey God rather than man, refused to agree to this, and continued, as he had always done, to write and to preach against it. The Moors became exceedingly angry, and beheaded him as he knelt at the altar making his thanksgiving after Mass. This took place on the sixth day of January in theyear 1300. vies dcs Saints, Petits Boll., xii. 55

St. Peter with the Child Jesus.

 The catechism in examples (1908)

Author: Chisholm, D
Volume: 5
Subject: Vol. 5
Publisher: London : Burns Oates & Washbourne ltd
Possible copyright status: NOT_IN_COPYRIGHT
Language: English
Call number: AKD-5986
Digitizing sponsor: MSN
Book contributor: Regis – University of Toronto
Collection: regislibrary; toronto

Holy Week at the Order’s Basilica dedicated to Our Lady of Bonaria

In this installment of “A Mercedarian Journel From Rome” Deacon Scottston tells us of his experience of spending Holy Week in the Order’s famous Shrine to Our Lady of Bonaria.

Holy Thursday

Just a quick update from the Eternal City. Today we returned to class after our Easter break… and I can honestly say I was not ready to go back, but we do what we must.

As for Holy Week, I spent it in Sardinia at our Shrine of Bonaria (which as you remember we have had since 1334). Every Mass was full – standing room only – but it was a wonderful experience spending the Triduum with our community there.

Palm Sunday had a beautiful procession, and the youth performed a Passion play that was very well orchestrated.

Holy Thursday and Good Friday were spent with Archbishop Pier Giuliano Tiddia of Oristano…as well as the Vigil. I must admit, the most moving celebration was Holy Thursday… and nothing quite compares to sitting there in layers of antiquated grandeur (gold thread is heavy btw), with the central doors of the basilica open…. overlooking a sea of faces….and watching the ships move through the harbor as they enter the Mediterranean….all while listening to ancient Latin hymns sung in a most excellent fashion by a talented choir……… definitely makes a ceremony seem like a dream……

Veneration of the Cross

Good Friday was enveloped in clouds – a fitting ambiance – and the ceremony was particularly moving given that the Cross used for the veneration was practically life sized, and the Corpus was (in that lighting) rather authentic looking. An interesting tradition here is the presentation of Our Lady of Sorrows to the Crucified Christ after the veneration by the people.

The Vigil went well as did the celebrations for Easter Sunday. After the morning Masses, there was another “meeting” of the Blessed Mother, but this time with the Risen Christ that was VERY well attended.

Before returning to Rome I accompanied the Provincial to visit our community in Alghero. I was there two days before returning to Cagliari, and the next day returned to Rome. The day after my arrival I attended the Priestly Ordination of a Jesuit classmate at the Church of the Gesu, and afterwards was taken to the rooms used by St. Ignatius of Loyola (founder of the Jesuits) and ultimately where he died. After a day of “rest” (Sunday), we returned to classes.

The Risen Lord meets Our Lady

All of those were great experiences, even if they left me tired before returning to class. I am truly thankful for the graces of this Easter Season, and I pray you are experiencing the same.

I’ll be in touch. -Deacon Scottston-


Santuario Nostra Signora di Bonaria

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:

The Latest News from Our Friar Studying in the Eternal City

Deacon Scott Brentwood, O. de M. is an American Mercedarian Friar studying Canon Law in Rome. Over the past 3 years, he has been giving our readers updates on his experiences as a religious preparing to become a Canon Lawyer. Here’s his latest ponderings from his second semester at the Gregorian:

Deacon Scottston (middle) at his Ordination.

Just a quick update to let everyone know how things are going here in the Eternal City.

I trust all is well back in the United States; here things are rather quiet.

We began our second semester at the Gregorian in mid February, and I must admit that this semester is rather challenging – Temporal Goods of the Church, Processes (inner workings of the various tribunals, but specifically tribunals for nullity cases), the Relationship between Religious Professions and the State, Penal Law, a Praxis in Penal Law, a Praxis in Rotal Matrimonial Jurisprudence, and Canonical Latin. I also have a seminar on the Apostolate of Institutes of Consecrated Life in the Local Church that requires a 20 min presentation based on a text I have to write. Most of these are interesting, but it is a rather heavy load,especially given that everything is done in Latin (primarily) and Italian. Fiat voluntas tua.

Aside from school, there is very little going on – I have 4-6 hours of class every day, and with 1.5 hrs total spent on the METRO (subway) going to and from class, there is little time to do much else. I still find myself in various places throughout the city…churches mostly… or an obscure museum… but the majority of my time (lately) is spent with books, or with translating etc. in preparation for the Chapter.

A classroom at the Gregorian where Deacon Scott studies.

I have been spending more time with our friars in the Generalate, and last week I was invited by the General for lunch. After a nice meal we spent the next few hours chatting about various things, and as he too had studied Canon Law, we discussed briefly what was going on with the revisions for the New Constitutions. From a juridical point of view, this really is an exciting time for the community… as we prepare for the eighth version of the Constitutions of the Order.

Aside from that, as I said before, all is quiet. I hope everyone is well, and I will be in touch soon.

In Our Lady of Mercy and St. Peter Nolasco,

-Deacon Scottston O. de M.-

The Order’s Mission in India Continues to Grow as New Houses Open.

Fr. Ken Breen, O. de M. and Fr Vincent Pinella, O. de M. worked together for 13 years to establish a formation house in India. There efforts have born great fruit as over 30 friars have completed formation and been ordained priests. Here is a letter from Fr Vincent telling of the joyful news of a new house and apostolate for the Mercedarian Friars in India:

Dear Fr. Ken,

Fr. Ken when he was in India.

Sorry if it has been a long time since I send you an e-mail. But I was thinking to write you in these coming days in order to let you know about the new house which we have opened in Tamil Nadu. Last Friday, February 3rd, Fr. Cyril, Fr. Antony, and Bro. Victor took charge of the substation of Patlur in the Salem Diocese. There are 60 Christian families of good tradition living there. Another substation with 30 families, has been entrusted to our religious as well. It is 3 Kilometers from Patlur. Fr. Jaison, Fr. Siju and myself have accompanied our brothers as they went to their new assignments. The bishop couldn’t come, because he was participating to the Conference of Indian Bishops in Bangalore. It was the first Friday of the month so, more or less, all the priests were busy with functions in their churches. Only Fr. Francis, Vicar Forane, and Fr. Michael (a parish priest where the substation is located) were present. Fr. Antony celebrated mass in Tiruchengode in order to allow Fr. Francis to accompany us to the new substation.

Everything was simple and good. At 6.30 p.m., we celebrated mass followed by a small reception and supper with porrotas and vegetable curry. In this place, there is a round new beautiful chapel and the old chapel in good condition where the religious will stay as accommodation. Two small bathrooms are here and nearly 3 cents of land. It is located not so far from the river Cauvery, therefore, they have good water.

In these months till the Provincial Chapter they will work in that area, looking also for a future land and to discern if it will be the proper place or we will go to another substation suggested by the bishop. This decision will be by the new government after the  Provincial Chapter. The bishop assured us that, after making the final decision, he can erect the substation as a parish. It seems that the three religious are happy.

Several of the young Indian friars.

Please send this report to the other community of USA, because I will send to Fr. Provincial the same in Italian to be sent to the Italian community. About the emblems, we need a good number (at least 100) of metal. If you arrange those in cloth is also good.

Greetings to everybody. In Christ,

Fr. Vincent

Also see “Amazing India”

Notes from the Novitiate: The Montserrat Shrine.

Fr Eugene, the Order’s novice master, speaks to us about the inspiration St Peter Nolasco found while on pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Montserrat.

Dear Mercy Family,

It was at Montserrat, in Spain, that St. Peter Nolasco gained the supernatural courage and strength that sustained him in his work for the captives.

Montserrat Shrine

We see in our Saint (St Peter Nolasco) a fundamental progression within the Marian perspective.

First: A road from Mercy to Mary. We already know that mercy or the redemption of captives was achieved without taking Jesus’ mother into account. Yet at a specific time, Peter discovered the in depth connection binding the work of mercy with Mary’s ecclesial presence. From then on the paths are joined. Mary is linked to the program of liberation. She is the model, the inspiration, and the beginning of the redemptive work. Upon reaching the end of the path, one discovers Mary as “the radical expression of mercy”; she is the depth and the inner stability of all apostolic works.

Second: From then on we understand the road leading from Mary to the Mercedarians. Uniquely, Peter Nolasco discovers that Mary is the foundation of mercy and freedom. She sustains and determines the meaning of the liberation movement, giving it a maternal and mysterious aspect, always receptive to the Heart of Jesus and of His Loving Father (Constitutions of the Order of the B.V.M. of Mercy, #7).

At the end of that process the paths are mutually fruitful and complementary, so much so that St. Peter’s redeeming endeavor is forever called the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy. From then on St. Peter’s Friars, Sisters, and the Third Order will always consider Mary as the Mother of Freedom, the one who encourages the redemptive plan of mercy, and sustains it with her presence. Mary specifies, promotes, and gives meaning to God’s liberation among mankind. This is why we can begin from Mary as Mother of Compassion; she appears as the Mother of Captives: the Blessed Mother came to Peter Nolasco and enabled him to understand the mystery of God’s redemption made visible in people’s distress and captivity.

As our older sister, Mary is the first and most privileged disciple of the Lord. She shows us the road of faith lived in accordance with the teaching of Jesus and His redemptive work. The imitation of this type of committed discipleship brings us to discover the essential moments of service and sacrifice, from the Church to others. Mary “presides over and inspires our prayers” (Constitutions #73). She brings us the risk to live faith, challenge to trust, which is not void but rather authentic acceptance of the Divine Will.

Yes, the Marian way of our Mercedarian commitment is being in love with God, so completely, with surrender and abandonment, which is a tradition of choice by being for others in mercy to secure true liberation in Christ.

Let us always say: Yours in Christ through Mary,

Fr. Eugene Costa, O. de M., Novice Master

Ancient Order of Friars Sees Vitality in U.S.

In an ornate church west of Philadelphia, a tiny bell rings and three robed men file in and walk towards the sanctuary. In the pews, a congregation of white-robed men and also local parishioners rise, and begin chanting in an ancient, almost never-heard language.

Three Mercedarian men
Mercedarians wear white

“Tota pulchra es Maria,” the group intones in Latin, or “O fairest Virgin Mary.” The men are brothers and priests of the Order of Mercy, and the group boasts of a good number of young faces.

“It’s encouraging to find that this ancient order is attracting men today. The traditions of chant, common prayer, and evangelistic outreach is very appealing today,” said Fr. Joseph Eddy, 33, who has been the group’s vocation director, or recruiter, for the past year for the order.

Known formally as The Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy, the U.S. vicariate of the group, which covers the entire country, boasts of ten men in formation against a backdrop of 22 solemnly professed friars. “That’s a healthy sign,” Fr. Joseph said. “The older orders such as ours tend to struggle to get vocations. God is blessing us with these new men, and we look toward a grace-filled future.”

The order’s friars, which consist of brothers and priests, wear crisp white habits, pray the Divine Office together, and live a community life based on the Rule of St Augustine. The men teach in schools, administer parishes, and do other work.

No wonder the order is doing well. Traditional groups tend to be those that are attracting vocations today, according to a 2009 study by the well-respected Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University.

The Order of Mercy, also known as the Mercedarians, has its U.S. motherhouse in Philadelphia. The Salve can be heard on their popular YouTube channel. Or visit the Facebook page of Fr-Joseph Thomas Eddy.

(Feb. 14, 2011)