I don’t remember the deaths of the Churchwomen of El Salvador, but I do “remember” them. I was born in 1978, so I was only two and a half years old when Sr. Dorothy Kazel, Sr. Ita Ford, Sr. Maura Clarke, and
I will never be able to say where I was, what I was doing, or my reaction to that event. However, I will forever “remember” their witness, their willingness to say “yes” to the needs of their brothers and sisters, to say “yes” to Christ’s calling. Throughout my formation as a lay Catholic—as a teacher, minister, and advocate, I have been blessed with opportunities to remember the lives and witness of these four women.
Today in El Salvador, hundreds of Salvadorans along with others from across the world have gathered to commemorate their lives. Included in this group are students from John Carroll University and Fr. Robert Niehoff, S.J., John Carroll’s president. Sr. Dorothy Kazel, a native of Cleveland, earned her graduate degree from John Carroll in 1974, and has an endowment for Latin American studies at the university named in her honor.
Fr. Niehoff and I started at John Carroll on the same day in 2005—of course, he had the role of president and I was just a campus minister. I remember walking across campus with him during his first few days. I explained that I had been tasked with leading students to the annual vigil at the gates of Ft. Benning to call attention to the role of U.S. policy and training in the deaths of people like the four Churchwomen.
Editor: This is a summary version of Pope Francis’ Misericoria Vultus, explaining the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. See the full text.
Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy. These words might well sum up the mystery of the Christian faith. Mercy has become living and visible in Jesus of Nazareth, reaching its culmination in him… (MV, #1). We need constantly to contemplate the mystery of mercy… Mercy: the ultimate and supreme act by which God comes to meet us… Mercy: the bridge that connects God and man, opening our hearts to the hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness (MV, #2).
…I have proclaimed an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy as a special time for the Church, a time when the witness of believers might grow stronger and more effective. The Holy Year will open on 8 December 2015, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception... When faced with the gravity of sin, God responds with the fullness of mercy. Mercy will always be greater than any sin, and no one can place limits on the love of God who is ever ready to forgive… On that day, the Holy Door will become a Door of Mercy through which anyone who enters will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons, and instils hope… a similar door may be opened at any shrine frequented by large groups of pilgrims, since visits to these holy sites are so often grace-filled moments, as people discover a path to conversion… (MV, #3).
Editor: Mindful of our own La Salette, Fr. Bob Susann, ministering at the Orlando International Airport, we share a presentation by Fr. Michael G. Zaniolo, STL, President of the National Conference of Catholic Airport Chaplains given during the XIV World Seminar for Catholic Civil Aviation Chaplains on April 11, 2010.
Nazareth is a central point of reference for the Blessed Virgin Mary in the unfolding drama of our salvation in Jesus Christ. It is also, as I hope to demonstrate, an inspirational and formational resource for the mission, ministry, and life of airport chaplains and pastoral agents…
In Mary’s journey, Nazareth is a place of departure. From Nazareth, Mary goes to Elizabeth her cousin. From Nazareth, Mary goes with Joseph to Bethlehem and even to Egypt. From Nazareth, Mary goes with Jesus and Joseph to Jerusalem.
From Nazareth, Mary goes to follow her son in his public ministry. In her life story and in her journey of faith, the holy house of Nazareth is truly a point of departure. That same place is a point of arrival. She returns to Nazareth from Egypt. She returns to Nazareth from Jerusalem. Whether she departs or arrives, this holy place where the Word was made flesh becomes a center, a focal point of her journey and pilgrimage of faith…
Advent is a good time for penance. But Advent is a time of preparation for the coming of the Lord into my life. It is a time to prepare myself for the "advent" of the One I love, Who is a priority in my life – a priority above and beyond all priorities.
Why speak about repentance or penance at all? Penance reminds me of purple and black, abstinence from sweets during the old-time Lent, of statues covered with purple cloth; of purple vestments and purple everything. Everything, in fact, had a strict, monastic, becowled discipline about Advent and Lent.
But then, you ask why? The reason for penance is simply that there can be no love without it? "Say that again, slowly", I hear people ask. All of us, at this point in our lives, know what love is. Not infatuation. Not "engouement (infatuation)" as the French would say colorfully. But real, genuine, tested, affection for another human being.
There can be absolutely none of that without penance. If someone cannot do without, he or she cannot love. Cultivating a relationship with another person, maintaining friendly rapports with that person always involves awesome self-denial. The investment in time alone involves much sacrifice and renunciation. People you love make insistent demands upon you, sometimes without realizing it.
Father Andrew M. Greeley, referring to a sociological survey he had conducted with parents and family writes:
…As I followed the labors of the Synod, I asked myself: What will it mean for the Church to conclude this Synod devoted to the family?
Certainly, the Synod was not about settling all the issues having to do with the family, but rather attempting to see them in the light of the Gospel and the Church’s tradition and two-thousand-year history, bringing the joy of hope without falling into a facile repetition of what is obvious or has already been said.
Surely it was not about finding exhaustive solutions for all the difficulties and uncertainties which challenge and threaten the family, but rather about seeing these difficulties and uncertainties in the light of the Faith, carefully studying them and confronting them fearlessly, without burying our heads in the sand.
• It was about urging everyone to appreciate the importance of the institution of the family and of marriage between a man and a woman, based on unity and indissolubility, and valuing it as the fundamental basis of society and human life.
• It was about listening to and making heard the voices of the families and the Church’s pastors…
• It was about showing the vitality of the Catholic Church, which is not afraid to stir dulled consciences or to soil her hands with lively and frank discussions about the family.
• It was about trying to view and interpret realities, today’s realities, through God’s eyes…
• It was about bearing witness to everyone that, for the Church, the Gospel continues to be a vital source of eternal newness…
• It was about making clear that the Church is a Church of the poor in spirit and of sinners seeking forgiveness…
• It was about trying to open up broader horizons, rising above conspiracy theories and blinkered viewpoints, so as to defend and spread the freedom of the children of God, and to transmit the beauty of Christian Newness, at times encrusted in a language which is archaic or simply incomprehensible.
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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.”