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.
“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.
Included 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. ”
Two young men prepare for their next step in their journey toward becoming Mercedarian Friars.
On August 29th, Postulants, Vincent and Scott, began their initial formation in the Order of the BVM of Mercy. They were just answering the Lord’s call to “come and see”. Over the next 9 months they would live in the Order’s House of Studies and experience the Mercedarian religious life. Vincent and Scott followed the house horarium or schedule. The horarium helps religious to live a rythem of prayer, communal meals, work, and recreation. The postulant often finds in the schedule a sense of peace and joy that comes from communion with God and others.
The postulancy program also offers the candidate an opportunity to study the Catholic faith and apply it. Each week, Vincent and Scott, attended a class at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary. Also, twice a week they received further formation from the Master of Postulants. These classes were in human formation, Spiritual Theology, the virtues, and Mariology. Besides their classes, Vince and Scott, spent four days a week getting apostolic experience at Lankenau Hospital, Saunders House Nursing Home, and Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School.
Now after 9 months of experiencing the religious life, Vince and Scott are preparing themselves to begin a very important year, the Novitiate. The Novitiate is the opportunity for a young man to “Come and Live” the life of a religious. It is a canonical year from July 8th to July 9th of the following year. Under the direction of the Master of Novices, the novice will study the history of religious life, the vows, the Rule of Saint Augustine, the documents of the Church concerning religious life, the Mercedarian Order, and it’s saints. During this time, the novice will also become more aware of the customs and traditions of the Order, in particular, those associated with Our Blessed Mother who is honored as the foundress of the Order.
Vince and Scott’s next step in formation begins July the 8th 2012 when they are invested in the “Habit of Mary”. No doubt this will be an exciting moment for each of them, but the real journey has just begun! Now they must impress Mary’s “image as a seal upon their hearts, so that nothing may be in their mouths, minds or conduct that does not breathe love for the Virgin Mary (Const. #154).” The habit is to be the outward sign of their future consecration.
Please keep both Vincent and Scott in your prayers as they begin the novitiate this July 8th.
Br Michael reflects on the detachment of the novitiate. No more computer, just paper and pen.
On July 8, I was invested with the white habit of Our Lady Mercy. It was a great day, my heart was leaping with joy as I began my novitiate.
Unfortunately, my family could not attend; it was a private ceremony with the friars, as is custom with the church and the order. However, when I make my first profession, they will all be able to come and celebrate that great day.
The novitiate is a year spent away from the world. It is meant to draw us closer to Christ and help us discern our vocation in a deeper and more profound atmosphere.
This year I will not have access to the Internet or a computer in order to grow closer to Christ with fewer distractions. (Hasta luego, my 13,389 Twitter followers! Goodbye, Xbox 360!)
I also had to cancel my cell phone. Once I take my simple vows I can no longer own a cell phone.
You might be thinking, “I could never be without my cell phone.” At first I thought the same thing, however, when I began to delve into Christ I realized there was nothing in this world more important to me than Him. I am more than willing to lose my earthly material attachments in order to wholly love God and harbor the quiet to hear His voice.
While in the novitiate my family can come to visit twice during the year and I can receive weekly phone calls.
My goals during novitiate are to grow in holiness as a Mercedarian Friar, unite myself more closely to Jesus through the practice of interior prayer, and ransom the souls from purgatory – most especially those of the deceased priests and religious.
If you feel a call to follow Our Lord, do not be afraid! This is the best decision I ever made and I am happy I took that first step.
If you do not heed the call you feel in your heart, you will always ask yourself, “What if?”
I urge you take that leap of faith and let God lead the rest of the way.
As a postulant, Michael Bowes composed his vocation story. He is now a novice in LeRoy, NY. Here is the second installment of his journey to the Mercedarians:
During my discernment with the Mercedarians I found a holy spiritual director who helped guide me on my journey. Father Jack Fullen. He passed away shortly before I made my second visit with the Mercedarians.
In the weeks leading up to my first visit I asked Father Jack how I could see God working in my life and what kind of signs He would give me if this was the right place.
Father Jack explained to me the slight difference between the natural and the supernatural worlds and how they work together. He told me that sometimes God lifts the veil between these two dimensions and we are given a quick glimpse of God putting the puzzle pieces together to lead us to Him. I didn’t really understand Father Jack at the time, but I would soon experience a first-hand glimpse of God’s hand in my life.
I made my first visit to the Mercedarians in March 2010 and had a wonderful time.
On my last day I spent an hour in the chapel praying and asking God for direction. I felt He was inviting me to apply and I decided to ask for an application.
As I was getting up to leave, I felt rather bold and asked God for three signs that this was indeed the place He wanted me enter.
I know we shouldn’t ask for signs, but after so many disappointments with previous communities and vocational discernments I wanted to be sure this was the place.
One of the signs I asked for was that I would receive confirmation from an outside source not associated with the community. What little faith I had! And what a surprise God had in store for me.
All three signs were mere days from being answered.
When I arrived home, I told my Mom over dinner about the monastery and how excited I was with everything I saw and experienced.
Mom asked me where the novitiate was and I told her Le Roy, N.Y. Mom inquired further if the Mercedarians there were called “the Fathers of Our Lady of Mercy.”
I told her no, that she must be mistaken and confusing the name with another religious order.
Mom insisted that there was a group in Le Roy called “the Fathers of Our Lady of Mercy.” I was sure she was confused.
To settle our argument she told me to hang on for a few moments while she went upstairs to get something. She returned carrying a card and handed it to me. I flipped over the card to discover the signature of the Mercedarian Vicar Provincial, Father Richard Rasch.
I turned over the card and looked at it: It was a mass card. I slowly turned and looked at Mom and asked her where she got the card from.
“I have been having Masses said for you through this group since you were born,” she told me.
My knees wobbled and I felt like my legs had just turned to jelly. Here was my big sign!
For 29 years, Mom had been having Masses said for me through the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy and neither of us had realized this was the same order I was now in application with.
A few months later, as I waited for the council to vote on my application, I had another confirmation from God regarding this order.
I was helping my Mom move books she had brought home from my late grandmother’s house. One of the piles I was attempting to move toppled over and the books cascaded across the floor.
One book spun out of the middle and slid into my mom’s foot. It was faded tan and ragged with age.
Mom bent down and picked up the book. Her eyes lit up and she let out a slight gasp. She opened the first page and then asked me to come over and look at what she found. The name of the book was “The Magnificat” and it was published by the Mercedarians.
This book was more than 30 years old. Inside, we found notes written in pencil with dates. One of the notes was written on Dec. 25, 1980 – when I was just 3 months in the womb. Mom had said this novena to St. Raymond Nonnatus, who is the patron saint of the unborn and is one of our great Mercedarian saints. She dedicated me to him before I was born.
Apparently this book ended up on my grandmother’s shelf, where it sat untouched for 29 years until that perfect moment that God chose to reveal it to us. has everything planned out for us and He reveals these things in His own time.
On June 2, 2010, I was accepted into the Mercedarians and on Aug. 20, 2010, I entered the postulancy.
In the months leading up to my entrance I was tormented with second thoughts and questions if this was really what I was supposed to do.
You would think with all the confirmations I had, there would be little doubt in my heart.
It was not so.
I did doubt and I wondered if I was going to be missing out on a family by entering religious life. My fears and doubts were quickly quelled as I felt God tell me about the family that I was going to be a part of. I was soon going to have more brothers, sisters, and fathers than I could ever have imagined. This message was a welcome sign. It helped me surmount a persistent stumbling block.
I find that God gives me sufficient grace to live a holy and celibate life for him. I unite myself with Jesus and I ask the Blessed Mother to keep me pure in mind, heart, and body. In doing so, I do not find the struggle with the celibate life to be difficult.