In the Family
Ever wondered who was who, which was quite what, in the family of the Catholic Church? There are so many wonderful communities and religious orders, families within the family of the Catholic Church - a fabulous party of brothers and sisters, older cousins and new babies. On this podcast, fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers will talk about their communities.
Grazie Mille to Olen Cesari for the gift of his music.
with Sr Maria-Isabel: "This congregation was founded in Spain in 1881 by St Benedict Menni, María Josefa and María Angustias. .. Our Father Founder Benedict Menni came to Spain to restore the Order of the Brothers of St John of God in 1867 because the Order was extinguished through the war. And he restored the Order in Spain, Portugal and Mexico. At some point he was told that they were not able to look after the mentally ill women. So somehow in Granada, María Josefa and María Angustias had a call from God and they didn't know for what, and they met Benedict Menni and in 1881 they started our congregation whose special charism is to glorify God the Father through caring for the sick and showing compassion and love. … So we were founded specifically to care for people with mental disabilities. … Our Founder was very strong about our spirituality which is uniting contemplation and activity. And the theme of our spirituality is the Good Samaritan and the beautiful passage of Martha and Mary, which is work and contemplation. We could not really do the work we do if it wasn't through great strong prayer life."
Sister Maria-Isabel Canton-Lopez is Superior of the Congregation of Sisters Hospitallers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (& Manager) at St Augustine's Care Home.
with Sr Maria Gaudia: "The Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy is mostly inspired by St Faustina, though she didn't start the Congregation but from 1995 she has been called our spiritual co-foundress, as her role, her inspiration is so powerful for all of us, she cannot be anything less than that. The historical beginning of the Congregation is in 1862, 1st November, when Mother Teresa Potocka founded the congregation. Since the very beginning, the mission of the congregation, the spirituality, the charisma, was mercy .. mercy through words, deeds and prayers."
with Fr Emmanuel Mansford CFR: "The Franciscan Friars of Renewal are a new community in the Franciscan tradition, founded in 1987 by 8 men who were already Franciscans from the Capuchin branch of the Franciscan Order. St Francis lived 800 years ago and began the order that we now call the Franciscans. As a young man he had a powerful conversion experience of the love of Jesus and gave everything away in response to the Gospel where it says 'take nothing with you for the journey, neither gold nor silver, nor haversack nor staff and go, sell everything you have and give it to the poor.' And so he responded radically to the words of Jesus and began to live as a poor man, preaching and caring for the poor, for the lepers. Within months other men came to join, so much so that after 20 years there were 5000 friars in Europe. That was 800 years ago. In 1987 the friars who began our community left the Capuchins because they wanted to recover and rediscover something of the orginal inspiration of St Francis. So they were given permission by the Cardinal Archbishop of New York, Cardinal O'Connor, at the time to begin this little reform in New York, in the Bronx. They were given an old parish church that was fallen down. The area was known as Fort Apache because it was an area characterised for riots and drugs and burnt out buildings. So they moved into this poor little area with $800 and there were 8 friars. They began to just live a Franciscan life together, a life of prayer, fraternity and service of the poor, preaching of the Gospel. Little by little, God has blessed us and there are now 120 friars in 15 friaries in different places throughout the world."
Father Emmanuel Mansford CFR was at St. Fidelis Friary in East London. He is currently on sabatical (walking the camino to Santiago de Compostela before doing some studies in Rome in the autumn) and will then return to New York. The CFRs place themselves under the protection and guidance of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
with Fr William Pearsall SJ: "The call first came to the founder, St Ignatius of Loyola, in this way: St Ignatius, born at the end of the 1400s, lived the first part of the Reformation era, and not originally involved in reformation issues, became a part nevertheless, became a part of the new reformation of the Church, because in his life the way that Jesus came to him reformed him so much that he wanted to share that experience with others. He began as a soldier and wounded in battle, was sent to the family castle in Northern Spain, in the Basque country, to convalesce and it was during this convalescence that he felt the motions of the Spirit within him and he discovered the gifts of discerning the spirits so that he could find God's will, and it was God's will that he should be a soldier of Christ. And so he formed around him a band not of soldiers but of scholars to start with, because it was at the University of Paris that the idea finally coalesced that from his experience as a pilgrim, learning to pray, learning to find God, that from this experience, from the spiritual exercises that came out of this experience, a new movement could be born that would serve the Church and help souls and this was his great desire: to help souls. He saw people in that way, as children of God needing to always be in a good relationship with God and helped by one another into that relationship."
Father William Pearsall SJ was the parish priest of the Jesuit Church of the Immaculate Conception, in Farm Street, London.
with Sr Mary of St Joseph ocd: "The Order of Carmel in itself goes back to the Middle Ages, began in the 13th century on Mount Carmel from which it takes its name in the Holy Land, begun by a group of hermits who gathered there and eventually formed themselves into a religious order. In Spain in the 16th century, when the Church was undergoing the Reformation, St Teresa of Avila founded a reformed branch, a renewed branch, of the Carmelite Order, based on what she understood of the spirit of those early hermits. The essence of her vision was to construct a way of life that would support and encourage a life of prayer, a life dedicated to prayer, very much at the service of the Church and of the whole of humanity. Her own experience of the Reformation, this attack on the unity of the Church, impacted on her as an attack on Christ himself, and that led to her famous declaration "My one wish was and still is that, as Christ has so many enemies and so few friends, his few friends should be good ones." She saw that life of prayer as being a way of serving the Church in a hidden interior way, strengthening the Church as it were from within.
Today we experience the Church under attack in many different ways, suffering in many different ways, attacked from outside, suffering scandal and dissension from within, and we can easily resonate with Teresa's words when she said "The world is on fire. Don't let any more harm come to your Church, Lord." So today the Carmelites still desire to offer their lives in prayer for the Church, for all of humanity. Prayer understood as a relationship with God, we're invited, called by God, to a relationship of deep intimacy with him, to the point of coming to recognise our oneness with Him. We trust that by opening ourselves, opening our hearts fully to the love that God desires to bestow on everyone, to pour out on the whole world, that we can be channels of His love to others by receiving it as fully as we can ourselves."
Mother Mary of St Joseph is at the Notting Hill Carmel in London. She is the author of Upon This Mountain on prayer in the Carmelite tradition. She and many of her sisters gave their something about Mary during the novena to St Thérèse of Lisieux. You can contact the sisters with prayer requests here.