One Man Responds with Courage to the Lord’s Invitation to “Come and See”

Peace in the Lord Jesus!  My name is Vincent.  I am 23 years old, from the greater Philadelphia region in Pennsylvania, and a postulant with the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy.

Vincent prays in the Chapel at the Mercedarian House of Studies

I was born into a strong, Catholic family where I have been blessed with the biggest grace of life, the Catholic Faith.  From an early age, my relationship with Christ surrounded the Mass and the frequenting of the sacraments.  It was here that the Lord placed a deep and joyful desire on my heart to serve Him at the altar and among the Communion of Saints, the Church.  But it wasn’t until I went through several – and ongoing! – conversion experiences in my life that I began to muster up the fortitude to cooperate with His grace to say “Yes!” to the only Person Who really matters, Our Lord Jesus Himself.

I began to foster devotions to the saints: to become better friends, with Jesus, Mary, my guardian angel, St. John Vianney, St. Therese of Lisieux among others.  However, an experience with illness left me questioning mortality, “why am I truly here?”  I needed to re-commit to the Lord God, and Our Father in heaven.  After traversing through the downright frightening, existential experiences of college, I learned something about the virtue of perseverance.  But, there was yet incompletion inside.

A friend told me about the parish of Our Lady of Lourdes.  He urged me – and it was Christ in him – to “Come and see.”  Thus I met the Friars of the Blessed Mother of Ransom, and from Day 1, the Lord prepared my heart to receive the resonant joy of accepting that He wanted me to discern my vocation, with others of the same mind and heart, here.  Finally, the Lord broke through: “Vincent, why do you stand here idle all day? – Do something!”

Dear Jesus, we give you our hearts and pray to do what you ask of us.  Then, whatever happens, is Your Holy Will, for we trust in You!

Mary Intercedes in a Man’s Journey to America and Religious Life

About 2 weeks ago,the Mercedarians welcomed 3 new postulants to the formation progarm. The following is the vocation story of one of the postulants, Tu Pham:

Tu Pham

I was born in a small town South Vietnam. My family was devoutly Catholic during my childhood, and my grandfather made a point of developing good habits of Mass attendance at a young age. I moved to the United States when I was 21 years old.
At the time that I moved to the United States, there was new legislation regarding immigration for person over the age of 21. This meant that I had to go through an immigration interview—an idea that filled me with great fear. Thankfully, my grandfather sent me a letter of encouragement that instructed me to pray to Mary for her assistance. I took his advice and prayed slowly with my heart. After doing this for two months, my interview came. By this time, I was able to face the interview without fear or worry, confident in my hope. I was allowed to stay in the country.
After this, I began my real journey to God through Mary. We all have different paths, but a similar way to God through doing ordinary things with a great depth of love. I began to attend Mass regularly. Soon, I also felt the beginnings of a deep desire to become a religious brother. I talked to my parish priest and was given a few different opinions and ideas about communities to visit. One priest, knowing my great devotion to the Blessed Virgin, told me that I should visit the Mercedarians in Philadelphia because of their similar devotion.
In the end, I chose to become a Mercedarian because I saw in the Order a place for my great Marian devotion. In addition to this, the common respect and love amongst the brothers is a wonderful and attractive aspect of the Mercedarian life.


ROME, ITALY –  Br. Scottston Brentwood, O. de M. shares with us the newest installment of his reflections from Eternal City…

Hello everyone,

I realize I have been rather silent lately, but with the changing weather my sinuses etc have been in open rebellion, I find I’m constantly tired from thinking in two languages simultaneously, and I have been racking my brain with the various past tenses in preparation for my exams.  On Friday, I had my exam to determine if I move up to the next level, and I am happy to say that when the grade was given out afterward, I was told I was “optimal.”  Thus, all IS truly well in the “Eternal City.”  I will strive to be more attentive to writing you – forgive my silence.

I thought I’d share something I did for school with you.  The following is my thoughts on the Italian Language as well as some examples of the differences between English and Italian.  For those who know Italian, I’m sure this will bring back some memories.

I will write more as time allows.
-Fra. Scott-

Google Translators and my Thoughts on Italian…(in English

One of my Italian friends who is learning English enjoys typing various English sentences that he understands into the online translators and makes fun of the translations that are made in Italian.  I did not comprehend this until I tried it myself.  WOW!  I was honestly surprised at the MISTAKES.  Some I could understand, but in some cases, you would type something like, “I went to the store,” and the translation said, “I did NOT go to the store.”  Now I see why a human translator is indispensable for inter-lingual communications.  I can only presume how pathetic English speakers appear in the eyes of those who employ translations from these “online tools.”   Such is life.

When I studied Anthropology I learned that language is a reflection of the culture from which it derives.  If you truly wish to understand the outlook of a culture, you MUST learn the language AS they use it.  I can attest that with Italian this is true.  I submit as my evidence Italian traffic.  In Italy, everything is a suggestion – traffic lights, traffic lanes, stop signs, even parking places.  There are more exceptions to the rules than there are applications OF the rules.  The same holds true for the language.

So what is unique about the Italian Language?  Personally, I think it is almost impossible to learn it!  The grammar is a THOUSAND times more difficult than English, and though most think, “Italian is like Spanish or French,” it is the Spanish speakers who have the hardest time in class (I have had many Spanish speaking classmates).  One teacher became frustrated with one Spanish student and finally said, “Remember, when you use ‘Se’ in Spanish, it is ‘Si’ in Italian, and when you use ‘Si’ in Spanish, it is ‘Se’ in Italian, unless it is a combined pronoun with an indirect object or…” the list continued.  The student(s) continued to make the same mistakes, however.

Some other things to consider with Italian:  When we say things like “I am taking a class” in English, in Italian it is, “I am making a class.”  When we say, “It is cold today,” in Italian it is, “It makes cold today.”  If you want to say, “I am cold,” in Italian you MUST say, “I have cold.”  If you say the literal “I am cold,” it means your personality is reticent and few people like you.  The same principle pertains to the verb, “finished.”  To say the English equivalent of “I am finished working,” you MUST say, “I have finished working.”   To say “I am finished” means you are physically deceased.

In English we use the present and future tenses a LOT.  In Italian, they use the present and PAST.  To say, “yes, yes, I underSTAND” (present tense – si, si, io copisco), in Italian you MUST say, “yes, yes, I underSTOOD” (past tense – si, si, ho copito).  One Italian friend said once, “You could never be Italian.”  When I asked why, he retorted, “Because you use the future tense, and Italians do not.”  In speaking, Italians NEVER use the future tense.  It is found only in books (if its found at all).  For example, “Today I am going to class (present tense), and tomorrow I WILL go to class (future tense)” in SPOKEN Italian would be, “Today I am going to class (present tense), and tomorrow I am going to class (present tense).”

For me, the past tense in Italian is the bane of my studies.  English has four past tenses, but Italian has five.  I now understand and use four of the five, but the fifth (passato remoto) is hardly ever used in North or Central Italy…only in the South of Italy is it used, so I will not worry about it at the moment.  Still, for school, I have to know it.

In Italian, the word meaning, “to like something” does not exist as it does in English.  In Italian, to “like” something is worded as an INDIRECT object.  For example, “I like books” in Italian would be, “To me, the books are pleasing.”

My litany could continue, but I will spare you the rambling.  My point to all of this is merely that Italian as a language is VASTLY diverse when contrasted with English (or any language for that matter).  Also, in order to understand where the Italians (or any other culture) are coming from, you must learn the language – the way in which they think, is the way in which they speak.  You cannot understand where they are coming from if you cannot think in the same manner as they do.  Grammar is one ASPECT of a language, but I am confident if you looked at our own language you would see that what the grammar says we should say and what we ACTUALLY say are usually different.  Therefore, I will keep studying this language, as futile as it may seem.  I said before it is ALMOST impossible to learn…I did not say it WAS impossible…

Institution of Ministry of Acolyte

ST. CHARLES SEMINARY, OVERBROOK – On the evening of May 1, 2009, in St. Martin’s Chapel, Auxiliary Bishop Daniel E. Thomas, D.D., S.T.L., V.G. of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia instituted 14 seminarians from various dioceses and religious congregations to the ministry of Acolyte. Mercedarians Br. James Chia, O. de M. and Br. David Spencer, O. de M. were among those who received the ministry.

Br. James Chia, O. de M. receives the Minstry of Acolyte from Bishop Thomas.
Br. James Chia, O. de M. receives the Minstry of Acolyte from Bishop Thomas.

Br. David Spencer, O. de M. receives the Minstry of Acolyte from Bishop Thomas.

Br. David Spencer, O. de M. receives the Minstry of Acolyte from Bishop Thomas.

In his homily, Bishop Thomas called the new Acolytes to deepen their devotion the Holy Eucharist and reflected on the words of the Mass texts from the feast of St. Joseph the Worker to inspire these young men as they continue their journey to the priesthood.


Br. David and Br. James with the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy

In addition to the presence of the Mercedarian Friars, the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy and members of the Mercedarian Third Order attended the Mass. Honorary Third Order Mercedarian Bishop Michael Burbidge, Ordinary of the Diocese of Raleigh, North Carolina, concelebrated the Mass and instituted two seminarians from his Diocese to the Ministry of Acolyte.

Bishop Burbidge with the Mercedarian Students and members of the Third Order.
Bishop Burbidge with the Mercedarian Students and members of the Third Order.

Please offer your prayerful support for Br. James and Br. David as well as all of the seminarians who received this ministry.

Left to Right: Fr. Matthew H. Phelan, O. de M. (Master of Students), Msgr. Joseph Prior (Rector, St. Charles Seminary), Br. David Spencer, O. de M., Bishop Daniel E. Thomas (Auxilary, Archdiocese of Philadelphia), Br. James Chia, O. de M., Fr. David E. Diamond (Vice-Rector, St. Charles Seminary)
Left to Right: Fr. Matthew H. Phelan, O. de M. (Master of Students), Msgr. Joseph Prior (Rector, St. Charles Seminary), Br. David Spencer, O. de M., Bishop Daniel E. Thomas (Auxilary, Archdiocese of Philadelphia), Br. James Chia, O. de M., Fr. David E. Diamond (Vice-Rector, St. Charles Seminary)