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Saint Junipero Serra, OFM

Untitled-1St. Junipero Serra, canonized on Sept. 23, 2015 during a Mass in Washington, DC.Born at Petra, Majorca, Spain, November 24, 1713, a son of Antonio Nadal Serra and Margarita Rosa Ferrer who spent their lives as farmers, Junípero Serra was baptized on the same day at St. Peter’s Church and was given the name Miguel José.

In Petra, Serra attended the primary school of the Franciscans. At 15-years-old, he was taken by his parents to Palma to be placed in the charge of a cathedral canon, and he began to assist at classes in philosophy held in the Franciscan monastery of San Francisco.

Joined the Franciscans


Serra was admitted as a novice at the Convento de Jesús outside the walls of Palma on September 14, 1730, and made his profession on September 15, the following year. He chose the name Junípero in memory of the brother companion of St. Francis.

He studied philosophy and theology at the Convento de San Francisco. The date of his ordination to the priesthood is not known, though it probably occurred during the Ember Days of December 1738.

Serra obtained his doctorate in theology in 1742 from the Lullian University, Palma. He was called to the Scotistic chair of theology at the same university as primary professor in January 1749 to become an Indian missionary in America.

Read more: Saint Junipero Serra, OFM

Pope Francis Says Change is Needed

Editor: On July 9, 2015 in Bolivia, Pope Francis gave a powerful and prophetic address to the World Meeting of Popular Movements, which brought together delegates from popular movements from around the world. These are selected portions of his address.

Untitled-1... The Bible tells us that God hears the cry of his people, and I wish to join my voice to yours in calling for land, lodging and labor for all our brothers and sisters. I said it and I repeat it: these are sacred rights. It is important, it is well worth fighting for them. May the cry of the excluded be heard in Latin America and throughout the world.

Let us begin by acknowledging that change is needed... we need change; we want change... I would like us all to consider some important tasks for the present historical moment, since we desire a positive change for the benefit of all our brothers and sisters... I would like... to propose three great tasks which demand a decisive and shared contribution from popular movements:

THE FIRST TASK IS TO PUT THE ECONOMY AT THE SERVICE OF PEOPLES.

Human beings and nature must not be at the service of money. Let us say NO to an economy of exclusion and inequality, where money rules, rather than service. That economy kills. That economy excludes. That economy destroys Mother Earth.

Read more: Pope Francis Says Change is Needed

Keeping Up with the Times

In our fast-paced world, “keeping up with the times” can seem like a full-time job.

Untitled-1This constant need for updating can apply to technology, psychology, ecology, meteorology and, yes, even theology; that is, our faith and our beliefs. Literally, if our faith is truly alive and well, it also needs to be updated and reapplied to our ever-changing world.

Unless we choose to live alone on an island, we do need to relate to others. All of us are constantly being effected by the words and images, the triumphs and tragedies, the gifts and challenges of this day and age.

Just a few months ago, a well-known and respected Catholic theologian and writer from Connecticut, Fr. Richard McBrien, died. I was told that he was asked how the Church was able change its view of various topics. He responded that some ideas or practices eventually became “accurate but inadequate”; by this I think that he meant that some ways of looking at ideas or practices were good in their own day but are simply no longer adequate for our present day.

Read more: Keeping Up with the Times

The Wonder of It All!

During this past few weeks, our world been treated to a truly wonderful feat of discovery, the first close-up pictures from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft of the “once-planet”, Pluto and its five moons.
Untitled-1new pictures of Pluto and its surface
But forty-six years ago, on July 20, 1969, some of us may also remember Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong landing on the moon! It certainly captured our nation’s attention but perhaps even that too has gone the way of the eight-track tape.

Some of us in these United States have unfortunately become blind or insensitive to the true wonders of life – the birth of a child, the healing of illnesses, and the wonders of nature all around us. We take them for granted and let them disappear into the ordinariness of daily life. That is unfortunate because, in so doing, we are missing the wonders of God’s presence as well.

Read more: The Wonder of It All!

Church Helps Myanmar Flood Victims

Editor: Extensive flooding has effected the area of Yangon (previously Rangoon) where our fellow La Salettes have previously ministered from late 1937 until 1976. The Catholic Church is doing its best to help the many thousands of victims.

Untitled-1Flood-affected residents in Kalay, upper Myanmar's Sagaing region. – Copyright © AFP, used with permissionYangon, Myanmar, August 13, 2015 – More than 100 people have been killed and thousands more displaced by monsoon flooding in Myanmar, one of the poorest nations in Asia. With government relief efforts faltering, the Catholic Church is stepping in to offer help…

Fr. Leo Mang told CNA that the Catholic Church is working through local emergency units as well as “Caritas,” the bishops’ social arm, to reach out to victims and offer aid.

In the last month, torrential rains have created landslides and floods in Myanmar, also known as Burma. The current situation in the country varies by region… Residents of more elevated regions are seeing some relief, as water levels begin to subside. However, much of the water has now reached delta areas such as the lower Myanmar Irrawaddy division, and there are fears that dams and reservoirs might burst.

Read more: Church Helps Myanmar Flood Victims

Children in God’s Creation

Untitled-1As I stepped off a tiny airplane onto a wet tarmac in my childhood hometown, the sweet aroma of post-rain mountain air stopped me in my tracks. Each clean breath seemed to clear from my head the smog and drought and allergies of the city where I currently live. My eyes scanned the big Montana sky painted across the hilly horizon and I was a child again, drawn to run hidden trails and skip rocks across rivers. The piercing silence of my sacred childhood places invited me home, to recall something about myself. Then I felt a tug on either side of my shirt: “Daddy, will you help us off the plane?”

My few stolen minutes of airplane reading that day, besides children’s books to my two restless kids, were devoted to Laudato Si’, Pope Francis’ much anticipated and eye-opening encyclical on the environment.

Of the many passages which caught my attention, one essential passage spoke to this return trip I am enjoying to the place where my friendship with God was nurtured in nature:

Read more: Children in God’s Creation

Strategy for Reconciliation in Korea

Seoul, South Korea, Aug. 25, 2015 – With an increasing number of faithful, the Catholic Church in South Korea may foster a climate of reconciliation and peace, as the nation has reportedly made a deal with North Korea to avoid military escalation after days of fire exchanged between the nations.

Untitled-1Pope Francis at Mass for Peace and Reconciliation in Seoul, Korea at Myeong-dong Cathedral, August 18, 2014South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported Aug. 24 that North Korea had agreed to express regret over the injury of two South Korean soldiers by a landmine earlier in the month, and that South Korea agreed to stop propaganda broadcasts via loudspeakers located on the border between the countries.

The Catholic Church has grown significantly in South Korea since the Korean War ended in 1953, and its presence may be important in nurturing a culture of reconciliation, as was one of the main goals of Pope Francis’ visit to South Korea one year ago.

Catholic Faith Growing Rapidly


In 1960 there were some 500,000 Catholics in South Korea – less than two percent of the population. There are now 5.5 million Catholics in the nation, who constitute 11 percent of the population. The Buddhist Research Institute predicted last year that in 2044, 56 percent of the population of South Korea will be Catholic, which would give the Church a significant impact on South Korean society.

Read more: Strategy for Reconciliation in Korea

God’s Spooky Ways

Untitled-1The interior of our La Salette Shrine in Ipswich, MA, now closedWe are all familiar with the scary movie genre, where moviegoers are expecting and often greeted with repeated moments of being “scared out of their wits.” Since I am not often a fan of such types of movies, my last memories of these upsetting but exciting movies were Jaws, Jurassic Park and I no doubt will be going to the current “Jurassic World”, all involving Stephen Spielberg. And I still don’t really know what holds my fascination with this kind of movie.

The following is an actual event that might be termed spooky or, as urbandictionary.com describes it, weird, terrifying or even awesome.

I was ministering in our La Salette Shrine in Ipswich, MA, in the late 1980’s and was asked to lead our monthly healing service, which regularly welcomed some 600 to 800 people. Our service included hymns, prayer, a scripture reading, a short sermon and small group prayer. This was a charismatic prayer service and lasted over two hours in our Shrine Church.

Read more: God’s Spooky Ways

Holy Mary – A Song by Eric Clapton

Untitled-1Eric Clapton and Luciano Pavarotti at a benefit concert for Bosnia in 1996 (Photo from YouTube)It is a pleasant surprise to hear songs of faith from well-known secular artists. I read about the origin of Eric Clapton’s song, Holy Mary. I invite you to read about when and why it was composed and then watch the video – a beautiful expression of the struggle to rise from despair to faith and hope, from loneliness to reconciliation with himself and the power of God, expressed through his relationship to Holy Mary, Jesus’ own Mother.

In this video of a benefit concert for Bosnia in 1996, Eric Clapton performed this song he wrote for the Blessed Mother, joined with the renowned Italian opera singer, Luciano Pavarotti, and a wonderful Gospel choir. The words of the song are a genuine prayer to Mary for Clapton.

In his memoir, Clapton: The Autobiography, the musician writes about a rock-bottom moment he had with his alcoholism in a Rehabilitation Center in 1987:

 

“I was in complete despair,” wrote Clapton. “In the privacy of my room, I begged for help. I had no notion who I thought I was talking to, I just knew that I had come to the end of my tether... and, getting down on my knees, I surrendered.

Read more: Holy Mary – A Song by Eric Clapton

We Stand With Pope Francis

Untitled-1Just days after Pope Francis released a powerful encyclical on environmental justice and ecology that has reverberated around the world, Catholic and evangelical leaders are asking members of Congress and presidential candidates to recognize climate change is a moral issue that requires an urgent response.

“Pope Francis has issued a bold call to action, and the clock is ticking on a challenge that requires a collective effort in service of the global common good,” said Catholic university presidents, clergy, nuns, and faith-based advocates including Christopher Kerr, ISN executive director, four Jesuit university presidents, and Rev. William Kelley, S.J., secretary for social and international ministries of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the Untied States.

Kerr continued, “As citizens of the most powerful nation in human history, we have a unique responsibility to promote sustainable development, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and build a thriving culture of life that protects human dignity.”

Read more: We Stand With Pope Francis

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La Salette Missionaries, Province of Mary, Mother of the Americas

Our Community: The Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette are deeply rooted in the Apparition of Our Lady of La Salette which occurred near the hamlet of La Salette in southeastern France on Sept. 19, 1846. The Missionaries were founded in 1852 by Bp. Philbert de Bruillard, Bishop of Grenoble, France, and presently serve in some 25 countries.

Our Province: The Province of Mary, Mother of the Americas, was founded in 2000AD and is one of several provinces in the congregation. The members of this Province serve mainly in the countries of Canada, the United States and the Region of Argentina/Bolivia.

Our Mission: Our La Salette ministry of reconciliation responds to the broad vision given by Mary at La Salette as well as in response to the needs of the Church. As reconcilers, we together with the laity take seriously Mary’s mandate: “You will make (Mary’s) message known to all (her) people.”

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