June 4, 2023
ENCOURAGE DEEPER UNDERSTANDING OF SCRIPTURE
The Most Holy Trinity
In my experience, one of the peculiarities of being a man is the somewhat unlikely ability to look into the mirror, no matter how out of shape he may be, and declare with full confidence: “Looking good, buddy!” Ask a man. He’ll probably confirm it.
Therein lies a mystery. You might think I re-fer to man’s ability to deceive himself or his propensity toward vainglory. But in this case, I refer to the mystery of a healthy and proper sense of self-love. We human beings (both men and women) have the utterly weird ability to look at ourselves as if we were another. Then we tend to love this “other.” Then, somehow, that love becomes a bond between the two. We are three and yet one.
This Sunday is Trinity Sunday. We ponder anew that God in His unity is a play of multiplicity: Lover, Beloved, and shared Love. Or, as we also proclaim, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. If we allow it, this mystery heals our temptation toward self-hatred and destruction. We all know how awful it is to look into the mirror and not know the person we see, or, equally bad, to know and hate who we see. Jesus, the Son of God, draws us into the dynamics of authentic self-knowledge and self-love. Perhaps we could ask the Holy Trinity this Sunday to teach us to truly look at ourselves and to properly love who we see looking back.
Father John Muir
I hope you’ll acknowledge with me a simple fact: it’s not normal to have tongues of fire “part and come to rest” on people. It is actually pretty strange. Yet that is precisely what we celebrate in this feast of Pentecost. How can this mean something to us in our daily lives?
Jews had a tradition that heaven is a temple made of bricks of fire. So, through the apostles, the heavenly temple is coming to earth. But this fire looks like tongues, not bricks. That means that heavenly speech will be crucial to building a dwelling place for God on earth among men and women. So, it’s no surprise when the apostles begin to speak in a miraculous way that is understood by all language groups. They are speaking of what God has done in and through Jesus: bringing heaven to earth and uniting all peoples to God and to each other.
How often our speech divides: gossip, slander,insults, and so on. How strange and rare it is when people speak in ways that truly unite instead of divide. Imagine how powerful it would be if you and I began to speak at home, at work, and in our community in a way that made people hear heavenly speech. Imagine if you spoke of the mighty deeds of God in a way that everyone could understand. That’s precisely what the Holy Spirit descends upon us to do. Ask Him to come as a tongue of fire to you once again, and He will. Then speak!
— Father John Muir
Seventh Sunday of Easter
Spiritans in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati/Covington
In 1851 Archbishop John B. Purcell visited Fr. Francis Libermann and asked him to staff the Inter diocesan seminary in Cincinnati. He consented. The Congregation asked Fr. Ignace Schwindenhammer to embark with some companions for the U.S.A. Somehow the affair fell through. It was only when the Congregation was expelled from Germany as Jesuit-related that, in 1872, the Congregation decided to begin a province by opening a college in Covington, Kentucky. The provincial designate, Fr. Joseph Strub, could only go later, and Fr. George Ott was temporarily placed in charge by the Congregation. When they arrived in Covington, the local bishop told them they had come “one year too soon.” There was no place for them to stay together, so Fr. Ott went to Cincinnati to explore possibilities.
Archbishop Purcell received him with open arms and offered St. Boniface in Piqua with its five mission stations. The Congregation eagerly accepted Archbishop Purcell’s offer of having a parish in Berlin (Forte Loramie), and a House for Brothers near Pontiac was acquired. The Spiritans earned their bishop’s praise for doing the work they were doing.
Fr. Ott, however, had overlooked that all these little places in a very rural area offered no chance to develop a new province. The Congregation needed to work in or near a large city. When Fr. Strub arrived in 1874, he saw this mistake at once and decided to withdraw gradually from most of these little stations. The departure was hastened by a conflict with Archbishop Purcell, who began to assign some Spiritans to different stations without the consent of their religious superiors. In late 1876 all Spiritans had left Ohio, except two who left the Congregation to join the diocesan clergy.
In 1891 Archbishop William Henry Elder asked the Spiritans to come and take over the ministry to the blacks in Cincinnati Archdiocese, but this couldn’t materialize until the time of Archbishop John T. McNicholas, OP, in 1928, three years into his episcopate as Archbishop of Cincinnati. The parish given to the Spiritans was St. John the Baptist Church in Dayton.
The Archbishop asked the Spiritans to care for the growing African American Community in Dayton, and on September 5, 1928, Fr. Edward Malloy became the first Spiritan Pastor for St. John the Baptist Parish between Krug and William Street in Dayton.
He enrolled twenty-five adults and 25 children in the parochial school, 20 African-Americans. Fr. Edward C. WHITE succeeded Fr. Malloy with a congregation of 155 adults and 57 children in the school. The other pastors after him were the Frs. Henry J. THESSING, 1936-1945; Joseph POBLESCHEK, 1945-1945; John M. LUNDERGAN, 1947-1948; THESSING again until 1950; James KILBRIDE, 1950-1959; Paul LIPPERT, 1959-1963.
St. John’s Parish was truly Home to the African American Catholics in Dayton until 1963, when this Church had to give way to the new highway, now I-75 & State Route 35. The Archbishop asked parishioners to join St. James and Resurrection parishes, while a few opted to go to St. Agnes. In 1994 with the abrupt departure of Fr. Tom Stricker, the Holy Ghost (Spirit) Fathers were again asked to serve the Parish of Resur- rection and Fr. Freddy Washington was appointed the Pastor. These two parishes merged in October 1999 when constraints led to the closure of St. James Parish. These two parishes continued their Journey of finding a neutral location where they could worship together and give a chance to their long-awaited dream of having a church on their own. Thanks to God, on May 14, 2005, a new parish and new Church built under the supervision of Fr. Francis Tandoh, a Spiritan priest from Ghana, were dedicated by Archbishop Daniel Pilarzcky with his first appointed Pastor Fr. Francis Tandoh, a Spiritan priest.
6th Sunday of Easter
The Era of Fr. Francis Mary Paul Libermann
The great spiritual leader who would renew the Spiritans in 1800 was an improbable candidate for the task, the Venerable Fr. Mary Francis Paul Libermann. Born in Alsace in 1802 as the son of Rabbi Lazarus Libermann and called Jacob. The family hoped he would follow in his father’s footsteps and become a rabbi. Like several of his brothers, however, Jacob became a Catholic in 1826 and opted for the Catholic Priesthood. He had chosen Francis as his first baptismal name.
Fr. Liberman developed epilepsy in his seminary days, which delayed his ordination. Overcoming the obstacle of this severe illness and with his spiritual director’s approval and the Holy See’s encouragement, he founded the Congregation of the Holy Heart of Mary in 1841 as a missionary group to work, especially with people of African and African descent. A few days before that, he had been quietly ordained a priest explicitly for that purpose.
This new venture took root, and Fr. Libermann sent the first Congregation of the Holy Heart of Mary missionaries to the missions. One of the first missionaries is on his way to canonization as a saint, the blessed James Laval, popularly known as the apostle of Mauritius. Two others went to work in Haiti and Reunion in the following year.
When the Irish-American Bishop Edward Barron came to see him for personnel to staff his immense vicariate of the two Guineas (in Africa) – it stretched about 5,000 miles along the coast of West Africa without limits to the interior – Libermann placed seven priests at his disposal. Many of these early missionaries died, but one of Liebermann’s first missionaries to arrive would become the first Bishop of Gabon. As time passed, that vicariate of the two Guineas became “the Mother of all the churches in West Africa.”
He reorganized the institute and gave it a mighty impetus – one so strong that, even though he died four years later, it could develop into one of the larger religious orders of men. The Congregation of the Holy Spirit spread all over Europe, North America, the West Indies, and large parts of South America; all over Africa; islands in the Indian Ocean, Pakistan, and on to Australia, Papua New Guinea, and recently the Philippines, Taiwan, and Paraguay. Here in the States, it engaged heavily in what is now called social work and in education on every level.
In Africa, in particular, the Spiritans’ labor was blessed. While the original mission in West Africa expanded mightily, work on the other side of the continent began in 1862 on the island of Zanzibar in the 2,000-mile-long mission of the same name. Bagamoyo, now in Tanzania, became “The Mother of all churches in East Africa.”
Thousands of Spiritan priests and brothers devoted their lives to bringing Christ to this continent, and other religious orders came to share in the task. The first three African priests were ordained in 1842. One hundred-fifty years later, we find about 450 dioceses in East Africa and over 300 in Nigeria, not to mention the rest of the countries on the West Coast and central parts of Africa, staffed mainly by African Bishops, taking care of over a hundred million Catholics.
The new world order that began to arise from the ashes of World War II affected the Church’s existence when everything came up for re-appraisal. One result of this was a scarcity of candidates for the priesthood and religious life in most countries of the northern half of the world. In the other half, however, vocations became more abundant, so gains in the south significantly offset personnel lost in the north. The Congregation has flourishing provinces there, notably in Africa. Thus it can continue its mission today in over sixty-three countries.
5th Sunday of Easter
As the Spiritans celebrates their 150 years of evangelization in the United States of America and with Pentecost feast at the Corner we want to feature the Congregation of the Holy Sprit in our next three issues of our bulletin beginning today. Keep in mind that Fr. Francis Tandoh, C.S.Sp. and Fr. Benoit Mukamba, C.S.Sp. are all Spiritans.
A Compilation of the History of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Holy Ghost) Under the Protection of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (The Spiritans)
Most of you who have been with St. John’s Parish, St. James, St. James/ Resurrection Parishes, and recently those in the Northeast Family of Parishes might have heard the name Holy Ghost Fathers. These are the same people called the Spiritans, a name congregation members have bore since the Foundation of the order. This name became more prominent when with Vatican II, the third person of the Trinity was no longer Holy Ghost but Holy Spirit; then we changed the name of the order, which was named after the third person of the Trinity to the Holy Spirit Fathers, Brothers, and Lay Associates so the word Spiritans ─ people of the Spirit, became more meaningful.
We are a Roman Catholic Religious Congregation of over three thousand members, founded in 1703 in France by a young man called Claude Francis Pollard des Places. He was a son of a wealthy businessperson and a lawyer in Brittany. Endowed with a superior intellect, he graduated summa cum laude in 1697 and earned a degree in law three years later. After helping his father for a year, this pious young man gave up all his aspirations for wealth and fame to become a priest.
In 1702, he went to Paris to study Theology. This young man was moved with compassion noticing the poverty of his fellow students for the priesthood to support them as best as he could, giving them spiritual guidance. They revered him very much and encouraged him to unite them to form a community where they could pursue their vocation. The group later gave birth to the Congregation of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday, May 27, 1703.
For sixty years, The Congregation was led by superiors chosen in their twenties by equally young fellow seminarians, living together in a kind of “student republic.” While others were satisfied with a few months to about one and a half years of seminary training, the Spiritans demanded three years of philosophy (prerequisites: mathematics and then still newfangled Newtonian physics), four to five years of theology with an option of two years of Cannon law or scripture studies. Then these young priests placed themselves at the disposal of the bishops for types of ministry judged less desirable by others. Moreover, for about 150 years, the institute remained more a movement than an organization. A common ideal rather than statutes held it together. It just needed the structure to be recognized as an institute. Paullart the place died in 1709, less than two years after his
The Missions of the Spiritans are spread worldwide. While we may be involved in many diverse ministries, we have dedicated ourselves to working with the poor and disadvantaged in those situations where the Church has difficulty finding ministers. Spiritans witness the gospel by being with the people and identifying with them in their struggles and joys; we go into a place to be with them and be part of them.
In 1732, when George Washington was born, the Spiritans first came to North America, where many others soon followed him. They worked primarily among the Indians and Acadians in Canada and also taught at the seminary of Quebec. At the same time, others went to the Far East, where they labored in China, Cambodia, Vietnam, Siam, and India.
In 1765, the Holy See began to entrust overseas missions directly to the Congregation. One of these was Guiana or
Cayenne in South America, where they took over the work of the suppressed Jesuits among Blacks and Indians. In 1779, the first two Spiritans landed in Senegal, Africa; they were the forerunners of many others on that continent. Thus, the Congregation’s apostolate now extended over the four continents.
(The fifth, new Holland, now renamed Australia, was then not yet much more than a name given to an obscure area of the world).
(to be continued)
4th Sunday of Easter
I recently rescued a dog. She’s a terrier and rather adorable. And she’s crazy about me. She could spend all day with me. But I’m a pastor at a parish and sometimes I leave her at the front desk of the church office. She constantly amazes me by her ability to distinguish between my voice and that of everyone else. If I say one word, even if I’m hidden around a corner, she’ll sprint toward me and jump up into my arms.
This week the readings focus our attention to the voice of the risen Jesus Christ. Comparing his disciples to sheep and himself to a shepherd, he says, “They recognize his voice.” He speaks to us and wants us to respond. When we hear his voice, we follow. Throughout this coming week, we will experience many interior promptings to receive God’s love, and to love Him in return. That’s his voice. Follow it into the safe and tender arms of Christ.
By contrast, some voices we will hear do not con- vey God’s concern and love for us, but rather produce fear, despair, and other harmful mischief. Jesus calls these voices those of robbers. Does an idea or thought make it harder for you to love God? If so, run away. Let it go. It is most likely not the voice of the Risen Lord. Keep waiting for him to speak. You will recognize his voice. Then run to him as fast as you can.
— Father John Muir
3rd Sunday of Easter
I always feel a little sad when someone begins to speak to me with the words, “Father, I know you’re so busy, but …” It happens a lot. And I get it. He or she is trying to be respectful of my time. But it saddens me because a priest makes Jesus present to people in a special way, and Jesus always has time for us. Don’t we all feel at times that God just doesn’t have time for us?
Nonsense. Just look at the stunning “Road to Emmaus” story we hear this week. It’s the day Jesus rose from the dead. And the Risen One appears in disguise to two disciples. He walks with them, chats with them, and eventually eats with them. It could have been hours he spends with them — two unnamed persons — in the middle of nowhere. On the day he rose from the dead!
My friends, please take this to heart: The Risen Jesus is not too busy to spend time with you! He doesn’t have “better things to do.” You and I are members of this crucified and risen Body. He therefore has all the time in the world to be with us. So, I challenge you this week to approach him confidently in prayer and conversation. After all, being with you and me is the reason he rose from the dead.
Father John Muir ©LPi
Deacon Ken’s 2nd Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy)
I read a story not long ago about a Bar in Texas whose owner wanted to expand the bar. The owner had the land to accomplish his wish. A certain church in the town, desired that the bar be done away with completely, so the church began to have prayer services asking God that He would do something to prevent the expansion of the bar. Sure enough, about a week before the bar was to open with its new expansion, lightening struck the bar and burned the entire structure to the ground. The whole church congregation gathered and bragged about how their intercession had brought the demise of the bar. Naturally, the bar owner was furious with the church. He hired a lawyer and sued the church claiming that the actions of the church were either directly or indirectly the cause of the fire. Of course, the church denied all responsibility for the damage to the bar. Having read the bar owner’s complaint, the Judge exclaimed: “I’m not sure how I’m going to settle this claim. It seems I now have a bar owner that believes in the power of prayer, and now, a whole church congregation who doesn’t”.
There are a couple questions in the moral of this story that we can ask ourselves. What does it take for me to believe? Will I stick to my guns when I’m pressed about my beliefs?
Poor “Doubting Thomas”. He didn’t say he couldn’t believe. He said “I will not” believe! That’s sad! Unfortunately, there is a little bit of doubting Thomas in all of us. Do we pray and believe that God will answer our prayers? Do we believe in the Real Presence in the Eucharist? Do we believe that Jesus died to expiate our sins, rose from the dead, and is coming back one day for us? All hard to believe without seeing!
What has to happen for us to believe without seeing? Which is greater, to see and believe or to believe without seeing? Which takes the greater faith? Do we have it? A great example of those who believed in God’s word and, Jesus’ actions and words, can be found in the first reading. In today’s vernacular “They had it going on!” Imagine living in a world where we could devote ourselves to the teaching of the apostles, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers. To see or even just to hear about the many wonders and signs the apostles were doing. Some apostles were raising people from the dead. Imagine living in a world where we were all praising God and truly enjoying each other’s company. Imagine living in a world where the number one song was always “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong.
Today is Divine Mercy Sunday. The message of Divine Mercy Sunday is that God loves us – all of us, especially sinners. He wants us to know that his love and mercy are greater than our sins. God wants us to put our trust in him so that He can grant us His mercy. And, as we receive his mercy, He wants us to share that mercy with others. When we share his mercy with others, all will come to share His joy. Today, we are reminded that Jesus ate with Sinners. In his words and deeds He showed them the Father’s boundless mercy for them and the vast joy in heaven over one sinner who repents. The proof of his boundless love is the sacrifice of his own life for the forgiveness of sins.
Not just today but every day, devote some time to the teachings of the apostles. Contemplate Jesus’ great love and mercy for us in the breaking of the bread. May we always remember that in this Holy house, and in our homes and hearts, in the words of the responsorial psalm, “Give thanks for the Lord for he is good, His love is everlasting.
A most Happy and Joyous Divine Mercy Sunday to you all!
Deacon Ken Stewart
2nd Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy)
Due to the constant unchecked flow of data and information through the Internet, it can be hard to know when a story is real news or rubbish. It never ceases to amaze me when someone I know has bought into some crazy fake news story. Sometimes the story is just so unbelievable: celebrities who gained two hundred pounds in a month, women having babies who were never pregnant, or people actually being seen who are dead! Like Elvis!
The apostle Thomas found the news that Jesus was alive just too far-fetched to believe. But he didn’t first hear the news on the Internet or read it standing in the grocery store checkout line. His friends told him. His fellow apostles told him they had actually seen the Lord with their own eyes. Their testimony was not enough. He needed proof.
The resurrection of Jesus gives us not only hope, but also a reason to be his disciples. We have not seen with our own eyes but, like Thomas, we have a community, the Church, that has relayed the truth to us. This same Jesus now calls us to go forth to spread the Gospel. More unbelievable than that, we have, through the gifts we have been given, a chance to change and even save lives. The day may come that you, moved by this news of the risen Lord, will be an agent of his love to the point where someone will tell the tale that you, a follower of Jesus, actually helped to change his or her life. Pretty unbelievable, right?
Tracy Earl Welliver, MTS
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