Category: Harvest Stories

Junior Knights and Daughters engage youth

By Ariana Cassard

When the Knights of Peter Claver gather in Kansas City, MO, for the 22nd Biennial National Convention in July, the Junior Knights and Junior Daughters will have a prominent role.

The convention is an opportunity for Junior members to exchange ideas, receive encouragement and discuss opportunities.
A strong community is created when young people are involved in leadership positions.

The Knights of Peter Claver, the largest African-American Catholic lay organization in the world, created the Junior Division to encourage strong leadership skills for youth. The Junior Division has the same mission and structure as the Knights, but is comprised entirely of Catholic youth ages seven through 18.

The Junior Knights and Daughters have local and state divisions through which youth can gather to impact their community through events, conferences and community outreach.

This division enables youth to not only be part of a large organization, but to be leaders. Members enter into an election for leadership positions across the local, state and national levels.

Since the 2015 National Convention in Orlando, Junior Supreme Knight Carrington Guillory and Junior Supreme Lady Callia Cox have served in top leadership roles.
Carrington, 15, is a sophomore at St. Louis Catholic High School in Lake Charles, LA. He made history by succeeding his older brother, Creighton Guillory, as Junior Supreme Knight.

“While watching my brother conduct himself around the organization as Junior Supreme Knight, I knew that I could bring my leadership skills to the Junior Division,” said Carrington.

Callia was initiated into the Junior Division in Charleston, SC, where she lived until her family relocated to New Orleans last year. The 18-year-old is a senior at The Academy of Our Lady in New Orleans.

Both Carrington and Callia said they were honored to hold this office over the past two years. Their duties include writing speeches, traveling to local conferences, handling communication and planning for the upcoming Convention. According to Callia, preparations for the 22nd National Convention began over a year and a half ago.

Through their involvement in the Junior Division, Carrington and Callia are able to meet and work alongside Knights of Peter Claver in both the Senior and Junior Divisions.

As Junior Supreme Lady, Callia said that she has been changed by her experience. “This position has given me a voice, it’s taken me out of my comfort zone,” said Callia, who described herself as shy. She now feels she has a business mind and leadership skills that are more developed than most of her peers.

Both officers have been able to use their platform to bring attention to worldwide issues. Callia’s focus has been shining a light on homeless youth. “As kids we know how it feels to be a kid, but don’t know how it feels to be homeless, to have both of those burdens,” Callia told The Harvest.

She chose the Junior Daughters’ charity for this year’s convention, which is “Morning Glory Café,” a volunteer-run café tackling homelessness in Kansas City.

Carrington has focused his service around a housing project in Haiti, hosted by Cross Catholic Outreach. “Each home costs approximately $6,000, providing four rooms on a concrete slab,” said Carrington.

These are youth-led ideas, presented at a national level, with an international impact.

Carrington and Callia will soon pass the torch to a new pair of young leaders, elected at this year’s national convention. They both hope their successors will use their roles to listen to their fellow Juniors and create a pipeline for new ideas.

Celebrate the Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus on June 23!

Do you know why the Josephites are called Saint Joseph’s Society of the Sacred Heart?

It’s because, inspired by Saint Joseph, the Josephites have a very special devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

This year the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart is June 23, which is 19 days after Pentecost. The Josephites lead an annual “Sacred Heart of Jesus Novena of Reparation for the Offenses Against Life.” You are invited to join us in this special novena. The Novena begins on June 23, the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The Josephites lead this novena with special confidence because a devotion to the Sacred Heart is part of our name: The Society of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart has been ministering in the United States for more than 140 years. Please join us in this unique mission of evangelization.

The Josephites are Pro-Life and Pro-Family. Saint Joseph protected his family when they fled to Egypt as the Holy Innocents were being slaughtered in Nazareth. Today more than ever, we need this protection against the attacks against family life. And you can help!

As you know, there are many attacks against life – abortion, euthanasia, immoral stem cell research – that take place every day. During the month of June, you are invited to join the Josephites in prayer to make reparation for these sins against life. Every life is sacred. Every human life is made in the image and likeness of God. Every human life deserves our respect and protection. With your help, we can build a culture of life.

In June, the Josephites will pray in Reparation for Offenses Against Life. We will pray that the unjust acts against life – “God’s most precious gift” – will stop. You can add your prayer intentions to ours as we make reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus by visiting

May good Saint Joseph intercede for you and all your special intentions. You can be assured that we Josephites will be praying through the intercession of the Sacred Heart of Jesus for all your special needs and intentions.

A life of service

St. Luke parish in Washington honors long-serving staff for commitment

By Ariana Cassard

Successful parishes need a dedicated staff. At St. Luke Church in Washington, D.C., two men were recently honored for more than four decades of service to the parish community.

John Quarles joined the staff at St. Luke Church over 40 years ago. As director of St. Luke’s Community Center, Mr. Quarles showed up every day to care for the center and the programs that take place there.

St. Luke’s Community Center is the social arm of the parish. It is home to a number of community programs, such as youth basketball, social activities, Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous programs, and CSOSA, a program run by the U.S. Justice Department to re-integrate those returning home from incarceration. Mr. Quarles cared for each of these activities.

“He lifts up his Catholic faith and understands the meaning of service,” said Josephite Father Cornelius Ejiogu, pastor of St. Luke Church and personal friend to Mr. Quarles.

When Father Cornelius began his pastorate at St. Luke, Mr. Quarles was one of the first men he met. The other was Eugene Russell.

Mr. Russell is described as a quiet, dedicated man who has devoted his life to doing the background work at St. Luke.

Mr. Russell began working in maintenance at St. Luke 23 years ago, as an assistant to the maintenance supervisor. By the time of his retirement, he had been promoted to maintenance engineer.

His duties included ensuring the church is properly taken care of both on the inside and outside, as well as welcoming groups at the church for parties and meetings. Father Cornelius praised Mr. Russell’s dedication to the church, saying he cared for it as he would his own home.

Mr. Russell told The Harvest that in his retirement, he misses the parishioners the most. “I love interacting with the parishioners of the church. It was very helpful for me with my job,” he said.

The legacy of these two men was celebrated with a retirement party in the church hall in January. Over 300 parishioners, friends and family members gathered for a Mass of Thanksgiving, followed by a luncheon in St. Luke Center. Each retiree was awarded a plaque in appreciation of their years of service.

Both Mr. Quarles and Mr. Russell will be remembered for the impact they had on St. Luke Church. “These men loved St. Luke with all their heart, and I think that’s the genesis of all their sacrifice,” said the pastor.

While they have retired from their duties, Father Cornelius said he would not miss these men, because he will still see them at Mass every Sunday.

KPC turns 102

Knights and Ladies to gather in Dallas

When the assembled Knights and Ladies of Peter Claver gather in Dallas, July 21-26, they will be bringing together the largest organization of African-American Catholics in the world.

The annual event, which marks the 102nd meeting of the national group that was founded by four Josephite priests and three laymen, is an excellent opportunity to network and to share ideas.

According to James K. Ellis, Supreme Knight, “We encourage the members of all Councils and Courts to register and attend the National Convention. The National Convention provides an opportunity for attendees from different states and districts to network with one another and is also a perfect opportunity to share ideas for the programs of our noble objectives.”

The festive and informative convention includes a business meeting, workshops, keynote speakers and an awards dinner.

The event also will have a charitable focus. A fashion show luncheon will benefit Catholic Charities of Dallas and Fort Worth and a “white linen dance” will raise funds for the Earl Harvey Kidney Fund and the Tolton Educational Fund.

Special awards will be presented for the Cartegena Award, given to a Knight for service and achievement. The Good Neighbor Award will be presented to the top three Grand Assemblies that performed the most outstanding deeds for their fellowman and Claverism.

‘I am a product of a Josephite parish’

Father Rodney Armstrong

By Ariana Cassard

Editor’s note: This article is part of a series introducing Harvest readers to Josephite priests and brothers in ministry.

Father Rodney Armstrong’s Catholic education has always been rooted in the Josephite society.

“I became a Josephite because I am a product of a Josephite parish,” said Father Armstrong, who was baptized and confirmed in Corpus Christi church in New Orleans. He has always been a Josephite parishioner and credits his vocation to this deep involvement.

Beyond his rich Josephite history, the Josephite mission was what called Father Armstrong to the priesthood. “It was the only community of priests and brothers that worked exclusively in the African-American Catholic community,” Father Armstrong told The Harvest.

This unique charism placed the Josephites at the top of a young Armstrong’s vocational considerations.

As a summer seminarian, Father Armstrong learned more about the role of a Josephite priest while serving in a series of Texas parishes. After his ordination in 1991, his first assignment was as an associate pastor in Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Washington, D.C.

Throughout his experience as a Josephite, each assignment has delivered different joys and challenges. He faced his greatest challenge during his assignment at Holy Family church in McNair, Texas.

The parish was in need of a new facility to better serve its parishioners and community members. Father Armstrong was tasked with creating a new parish center. Although it was difficult to get the project off the ground from conception to completion, the outcome cemented this project in his mind as a victory.

“It was a game-changer for the parish,” said Father Armstrong. “It made all the difference in the life of the parish.” With additional classrooms, office space, a commercial-sized dining room and kitchen, the completion of this parish center aided and encouraged Father Armstrong in his ministry at Holy Family.

After reflecting on this logistical triumph, Father Armstrong told The Harvest that his greatest joy in his vocation has been serving people. “Working in the parish is what I call ‘being in the trenches’ because that is where the basic work of the church is done.”

Throughout his 26 years of service, he has had the privilege of forming relationships with parishioners from different parishes across the country, each of which he has cherished.

“In many of those situations you are embraced and you become part of the people’s lives, and sometimes part of their families,” said Father Armstrong.

Father Armstrong now serves as the pastor at Our Lady Star of the Sea in Houston, Texas, which included for the first three years a part-time chaplaincy at Texas Southern University Catholic Newman Center.

Father Armstrong celebrated the 25th anniversary of his ordination in 2016.

What is a Missionary?

By Father Joseph Doyle, SSJ

When we think of “foreign missions” we think of priests and religious men and women traveling thousands of miles to preach the Gospel “to all the nations.”
Such was the dream of Father Herbert Vaughan who opened St. Joseph’s College of the Sacred Heart at Mill Hill, London, England on March 19, 1866 to begin training men for the foreign missions. His plan was to send his first missionary priests to Africa, Asia and other “pagan lands.”

After many painful negotiations with the Holy See about the assignments for the four recently ordained priests, Pope Pius IX, upon the advice of Archbishop Martin John Spalding of Baltimore, agreed to send them to the United States to “evangelize Negroes.”

Father Vaughan departed for America with his four “apostolic missionaries” on Nov. 17, 1871 and arrived in Baltimore on Dec. 5, 1871. They were known as St. Joseph’s Society of the Foreign Missions, consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Some knew them as Josephite-Mill Hill missionaries who were trained in England and served in the African-American communities of Maryland, Virginia, South Carolina and elsewhere.

By 1893, the American Josephites separated themselves from the English Mill Hill Missionaries but both communities remained missionaries in foreign lands. It was not until 1908 that the Holy See decided to drop the United States from the list of “mission territories” which depended on clergy, religious and donations from Europe to build up the Body of Christ, the Church, spiritually and materially in our country.

The Vatican must have realized that the Catholic Church in the United States could now stand on its own feet in terms of financial resources and personnel. At last, we had a growing number of indigenous clergy and seminaries would continue to multiply for the next fifty years or so. Catholic parishes and schools, some staffed by diocesan priests and others by religious communities, grew at an unprecedented rate.

One of the many reasons for this phenomenal growth was that many Catholics were mission-minded. Having benefited from the good work of missionaries in our own country, it was now the obligation of U.S. Catholics to support their own parishes and schools without neglecting the foreign missions.

For example, in 1918, the Catholic Student Mission Crusade was started by two Society of the Divine Word seminarians in Techny, Illinois for the purpose of supporting missions at home and abroad. By the 1930’s, nearly a half-million members were enrolled in Catholic high schools, colleges and seminaries, including the Josephite seminary in Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, in 1972, the national office of the CSMC closed its doors. Were Catholics, especially young Catholics, losing their sense of mission-mindedness? Or, was it perhaps a new vision of “mission,” presented by Vatican Council II that was not yet fully understood?

The Council document, “Ad Gentes,” explained that, “the specific purpose of missionary activity is evangelization and the planting of the Church among those people and groups where she has not yet taken root” (AG, 6). It goes on to say that the “work of evangelization” remains the personal responsibility of all Catholics who have the obligation to actively support and promote the missions. That is how we become “heralds of the Gospel.”

Having begun as “foreign missionaries,” the Josephites are now “home missionaries,” serving exclusively in the African-American community in the United States.

For the past fifty years or more, the Josephites have worked with other religious communities such as the Paulists and Glenmarys in promoting the ideas and experiences of evangelization based on the teachings of Pope Paul VI’s “Evangelii Nuntiandi” and Pope John Paul II’s “Redemptoris Missio.” Many good, creative initiatives have come out of this collaboration, especially in our parishes. These documents provide the theological foundation for an understanding of evangelization and the “new evangelization.” Only the Gospel of Jesus Christ itself, properly internalized and proclaimed by the way we live, would be a better way to restore a sense of mission-mindedness.

Were Catholics, especially young Catholics, losing their sense of mission-mindedness?

There is nothing wrong with being an “arm chair missionary” whereby we offer our prayers and sacrifices for missionaries. St. Therese of the Child Jesus is a perfect example. She and St. Francis Xavier are patrons of the missions – one contemplative and the other active.

We can support the missions financially following the example of Ven. Pauline Marie Jaricot who, as a young woman, collected a penny a week from the employees in her family’s silk factory in France. She is considered the foundress of the Society of the Propagation of the Faith. Now days, a penny per week doesn’t go very far, so parishioners are asked to be generous in the Mission Sunday collection, the Indian and Negro Mission collection and the collection for the Home Missions.

The concept of mission-mindedness can take many different forms. It is a wonderful thing to see how many affluent Catholic parishes “twin” with poor parishes at home and abroad. The wealthy parishes have reported many blessings as a result of their sacrificial generosity, not the least of which is an increase in vocations from their parishes as a result of young parishioners taking mission trips to countries such as Haiti and Mexico. Some families have visited their “twin” parish as a summer vacation instead of going to the beach or a theme park.

Finally, the tables have turned. Missionaries from Africa, such as the Missionaries of St. Paul, have been coming to the United States to fill the gap left by the serious shortage of American vocations. The Josephites have been relying on vocations from Africa to join our ranks, and after seminary training in Nigeria and Washington, D.C., they are ordained to serve in the African-American community. It appears that once again, the United States is “mission territory.”

Father Joseph Doyle, SSJ, is novice director for the Josephites.

What is the value of growing up in an African-American parish?

What is the value of growing up in an African-American parish?

By: Cathy McClain

I am a convert. The sign of the cross – this wonderful, visible recognition of my faith – is what brought me to the church.

Geography is what brought me to my particular parish. I have been to many Catholic churches but always find the need to return to my home parish. I can receive the Eucharist and fulfill my Mass obligation at any of the six parishes I pass every Sunday morning but it is only at my home parish that I feel like an included member of the Body of Christ. I need the worship experience every Sunday to give me the ammunition to get through the week.

I grew up in an economically depressed community that was created in response to political pressure about the way returning veterans of color were being treated by the City of Baltimore. My community of Cherry Hill was the home to the largest concentration of public housing east of Chicago and received very few human services even though the majority of the community lived below the federal poverty income guideline.

The Josephites had the foresight to create a parish, called St. Veronica’s, in this impoverished community of 17,000 African Americans and the church quickly became the anchor of the community. The parish became the change agent for many residents in the community.

Receiving services and assistance when I was growing up meant spending countless hours at a bus stop and traveling for hours to the center of the city and often being sent back multiple times. When there was a demonstrated need for energy assistance, the pastor connected with Baltimore Gas and Electric Company and government services and invited them to set up satellite locations in the community. The pastor even housed them at the church at no cost.

When there were not enough recreational opportunities for young people, the parish again opened its doors to Operation Champ so the community children had a safe place to play and learn crafts.

Other services quickly followed: a food pantry, a thrift store, a drug treatment program, Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and even a Headstart program. Later there were homeownership workshops and job fairs hosted by the parish … all in an effort to make the community self-sufficient.

The community grew and because of the influence of St. Veronica, a major community anchor, Cherry Hill became self-sustaining. But something else happened. The residents were filled with pride as they were empowered to take control of their own lives. They became fishers of men.

The parish itself grew because of its outreach and the volunteer rate at the parish is still about 45 percent. All of the services are done by volunteers, with the exception of the Headstart program. Though there are still plenty of handouts – food, clothing and so on, the parish is providing education and training to allow community residents and parishioners to help themselves. Services have never been limited to parishioners.

St. Veronica is a family church where I was not related to anyone outside of my immediate small family when I joined. The parish adopted me and groomed me and nourished my gifts to help me become a part of the fabric of the community.

We come for Mass on Sunday morning and stay for the fellowship as we catch up on each other’s lives. We take the time to know one another rather than the hit or miss I have experienced in other churches. That same sense of welcome is extended to whomever comes through the door for Mass.

After 70 years, St. Veronica’s Church is still an anchor in the Cherry Hill community – providing food and clothing to residents regardless of their religious background or income. Worship is spirit filled and fulfilling on so many levels. I don’t lose my sense of self in the worship, rather it is embraced. The parish community wraps you in its embrace and covers you during any storm. As someone who doesn’t have a lot of family, that has been life sustaining for me.

Today when I consider the fiscal decisions that many of our parishes are facing I am concerned that a valuable piece of our history may be lost. Cherry Hill would not be the community it is without the influence of the Josephites and the creation of the parish of St. Veronica.

The Josephites taught those who were too poor to give to instead give of their time and talent. They helped us move from members of the parish to owners of the parish. My guess is that it is still one of the few parishes in the country that is run very efficiently and completely by volunteers assisting the pastor. St. Veronica’s, in a very real way, represents what the Josephites had in mind when they honored their mission to work in the impoverished African-American community to help them realize their worth.

As we move on to the next big thing, it is my sincere hope that we don’t overlook this major contribution to the African-American community and the important work of the Josephites.

While I only wrote about my experience at St. Veronica’s, I am certain that members of other Josephite parishes can say with some certainty that it represents your parish as well. The work of the Josephites, after all, is transferable and we are blessed to have them.

Cathy McClain, a mother and grandmother, is a member of St. Veronica, pastored by Rev. Steven Ositimehin, and volunteers as the parish secretary. She also is a program manager for Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

Bishop Reflection: Cardinal Donald Wuerl

‘Because of the Josephites, the faith of the
African-American Catholic community continues to
flourish, grow and meet the challenges of the day’

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of interviews with bishops who lead dioceses where Josephites serve. Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, reflects on his experience with Josephite parishes and African-American Catholics.

(CNS photo/Jaclyn Lippelmann, Catholic Standard)

Who are the Josephites to you?

As the spiritual shepherd of a large archdiocese, I am most grateful for the dedication and service of so many who help this Church in her mission to manifest the kingdom of God in our midst. The Josephite priests and brothers, in their own way in that respect, continue to offer significant service as they live their charism within the archdiocese. The gifts they bring to the Church are undeniable as they are evidenced in the vibrant faith of the African-American Catholics throughout the archdiocese and the nation, and it is a joy for me to call the Josephites brothers and co-workers in the vineyard of the Lord.

The Society of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart (the Josephites) plays an important and invaluable role in the life and mission of the Archdiocese of Washington. For example, we are privileged to be host to the order’s Saint Joseph Seminary, and their Pastoral Center, which brings many good men from around the country and the world here to study, pray and bear witness to the loving care and freeing truth of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Also, multiple parishes in the archdiocese are currently, or have in the past, been entrusted to the care of the Josephites, including the Church of the Incarnation, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Saint Luke’s, and Saint Benedict the Moor churches. Each of these longstanding parishes offers substantial social outreach and each in turn often works together with other churches historically serving the African-American community, such as for events like the annual East of the River Revival.

Thanks to the sacramental, educational and pastoral ministry of the Josephites, that portion of the flock entrusted to them has grown and been strengthened in the Spirit, and they have also helped to build up the kingdom of God in a way that others simply might not be able to. Because of their work, the faith of the African-American Catholic community continues to flourish, grow and meet the challenges of the day. This has included making use of their particular gifts in the service of our common calling to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ and to be a bridge to the greater community, recognizing that we are all sisters and brothers, one human family before God.

In what ways do you interact with the Josephites?

As archbishop, it is my privilege to regularly visit our parishes, including those with Josephite leadership. It was my pleasure just a short while ago to celebrate a major anniversary of one that had been given to the care of the Josephites when it was originally established. Looking back at their history, I noted that the parish was a living tribute to the great faith of the African-American members of the Church who in both good times and bad, when enduring injustice and struggling for justice, always remained strong in the faith and in recognizing our identity as God’s family. The archdiocese also recently held its special liturgy and reception to celebrate Black Catholic History Month at one of these parish communities under the Josephites’ care.

Last April the Josephite Pastoral Center and the Archdiocese of Washington, along with the National Black Catholic Congress and Pax Christi USA, hosted a Black Catholic Convocation for parishioners. What do you see as the benefit to gathering Black Catholics within the archdiocese?

The Convocation offered a fruitful opportunity for area African-American Catholics to gather for fellowship and prayer, and to discuss topics relevant not only to them, but all peoples, and not only within this archdiocese but across several dioceses.

Saint Paul, in referring to the Church Universal as the Body of Christ, reminds us that within this one body, this one family of God, there are many parts, each existing not as separate units, but with their own special gifts in communion and harmony with the whole. These gatherings are unique opportunities that showcase the enriching cultural diversity in worship, community and leadership that exists within the Catholic Church, which together is also like a beautiful symphony. Each time these gatherings take place, the Church expresses its universality and gives testimony to our basic belief that we are all created and loved by our God.

How are religious communities included into the mission of the Archdiocese of Washington?

When we speak of the contributions made by religious communities, we must first give thanks to God and acknowledge that the reason our Catholic education and healthcare systems exist at all is precisely because of our women and men religious. Beyond their legacy of first establishing and operating our schools and hospitals, even with lay people now taking over many of these functions, the spirit of these religious continue to inspire. Our archdiocesan Office of Consecrated Life works to promote and support vocations to the religious life and our Office of Missions works closely with religious communities as well.

Since our nation’s capital is located here, together with institutions of higher learning like The Catholic University of America, nearly 70 communities of women religious and more than 40 men’s communities have a presence in the archdiocese in addition to many societies for apostolic life and institutes of religious life. They have all given their life to daily serve the Lord and others and we depend on their charism quite a bit, from the great importance of their prayers to their diverse ministries of teaching, healing, caring, and evangelizing. As with the Saint Joseph Society of the Sacred Heart, these religious orders have an invaluable function here in working for the renewal of society through their support and participation in the New Evangelization.

In 2016, you celebrated the 50th anniversary of your priestly ordination. In your 50 years of priestly ministry, how have you seen the diversity of the Church change?

Here in the archdiocese, because Washington is such a cosmopolitan city, we are privileged to be able to experience the richness of multi-cultural heritages and perspectives. We celebrate Mass in more than 20 languages and minister to people from all around the globe in our parishes and through our archdiocesan Office of Cultural Diversity and Outreach. When Pope Francis came to visit Washington in 2015 and we had that grand celebration of Mass for the canonization of Saint Junípero Serra on the steps of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, as you looked around at the assembled crowd, what you saw was a slice of the whole world, reflecting the universality of the Church and the whole human family. People of every nationality, ethnicity, race and socio-economic background were there.

This diversity has always been present in the Church Universal from the very start, as we read in the account of the first Pentecost. This diversity of peoples and cultures, which includes the whole human family, has always been there, but a bit disjointed and not always so visible and apparent, and in this respect, we have seen great change in the past 50 years. Back in the 1960s, a person’s experience of the world was often limited to his or her own community; now we have a global awareness and this strengthens our bonds of communion and solidarity.

During my priestly ministry, the world saw the popes – Paul VI, John Paul II, Benedict XVI and now Francis – becoming international apostles, traveling to practically every point on the globe. Developments in the news media, television and then the Internet progressively exposed us to a greater international experience. Now, today, we have a much greater awareness and appreciation for the universality of the Church and for the fact that we are one human family, whether we can trace our family lineage back to Europe, Asia, Africa or our Native American ancestors have been in the Americas for centuries.

As at Pentecost, rather than everyone speaking a different language, we are increasingly speaking and understanding with one voice. This greater realization and experience of cultural, ethnic and racial diversity has been not only a blessing for our Church, but for our nation and for our world. There is still more work to be done though.

St. Joseph Manor welcomes retired Josephites

Living in retirement but still serving in prayer

By Ariana Cassard

Since Josephite priests and brothers devote their lives to the mission of the Josephite Society, where do they go when they retire?

On a hilltop of land in the Mt. Washington neighborhood of Baltimore, St. Joseph’s Manor is home to 17 retired Josephite priests and one brother. Both custodial and ambulatory care is provided for the men, but beyond the physical help they receive, these Josephites find joy in living in community and prayer.

“Josephites are aging, just like any other religious community,” said Father Paul Oberg, SSJ, rector of St. Joseph’s Manor. He considers the Manor to be not a place of surrender at the end of the retired priests’ lives, but as a home in which they can continue their ministry.

Each day at the Manor begins with prayer at 7:30 a.m., followed by Mass and breakfast. After breakfast, some men are taken to doctors appointments, while others spend time reading one of the numerous books in the library.

Once lunch is served, it is followed by free time in the afternoon. At this point, many residents choose to venture out of the building and even off the property. Some spend time indulging in hobbies, such as gardening and painting.

Evenings are spent having dinner as a community and either joining in on special events or logging in more prayer time.

“I try to spend roughly four hours in prayer each day,” said Father Francis Butler, SSJ.

For the retired priests at the Manor, prayer is their main involvement in the furthering of the ministry. They pray for successful ministries, adaptation of the men coming from Nigeria, more vocations and the African-American communities the Josephites serve.

The great benefit of this life is the freedom from responsibility, according to Father Butler. He recalls the days as an active priest and all of its joys, but also the expectation of being available all hours of the day.

The men are given the gift of optional activities, such as “Spiritual Exercise” with Sister Anne Marie, a Daughter of Charity who comes Tuesdays and Thursdays to spend time with the residents. Volunteer Mike Duggan, called the “activity man,” will pick up residents and take them wherever they’d like to go, whether that’s the drugstore or a nearby horse farm.

Visitors and volunteers are vital to the operation of the Manor. Groups from surrounding parishes and organizations devote time to visiting with the men, organizing celebrations, helping with daily tasks.

“Volunteers bring outside joy to the men,” said Father Oberg. “We try to keep them busy as much as we can, but we could use more support.”

Volunteer Jeannie MacDonald has found her time at St. Joseph’s Manor to be mutually beneficial. In 2011, she moved into a house on West Lake Avenue in Baltimore. A neighbor told her about the beautiful Manor down the street and encouraged her to venture onto the property. There she came across a man walking his dogs and struck up a conversation, eventually revealing himself to be the rector. He invited her to come for Holy Hour once a month.

At the time, Ms. MacDonald brought with her many questions. She had married a Catholic man, but it was not something she practiced. She slowly became more involved at the Manor, attending Mass, and then staying for breakfast to talk with the men. It was through their faithfulness that she came to her own faith.

“The first thing that happened was I met these people, and they showed me a side of the Catholic faith I never knew,” said MacDonald. “You can’t be here and go to Mass with these men and not gain faith.”

She was Confirmed in the church at age 63. She now volunteers her time at the Manor four days a week, helping the men with their belongings, communicating with loved ones, taking them offsite to run errands and attend appointments.

“They really are all individuals,” she said, noting her joy in speaking with each resident and hearing about his priestly ministry. Her perception of the church has been completely altered by volunteering her time to these men.

Because no one ages at the same pace, the Manor must be suited for both the retired priests who are still very active and those who are facing tough medical battles. The two registered nurses and one doctor, along with the rest of the staff, ensure that each resident is provided with the best care.

“It’s like a family. When one gets sick, it hurts us all,” said Father Daniel Paul Bastianelli, who moved into the Manor six years ago.

As this population ages, financial obstacles also increase. “It’s a struggle, because the medical costs have skyrocketed,” said Father Oberg. In order to maintain the facility and quality of care for these men, the Society solicits the help of organizations and individuals who can donate resources.

“Because of the generosity of donors, we are able to keep going,” Father Oberg said.

Racial Harmony

The quest continues

By Father Joseph Doyle, SSJ

A protester is detained by Louisiana law enforcement near the headquarters of the Baton Rouge Police Department in Baton Rouge July 9. (CNS photo/Jonathan Bachman, Reuters)

A protester is detained by Louisiana law enforcement near the headquarters of the Baton Rouge Police Department in Baton Rouge July 9. (CNS photo/Jonathan Bachman, Reuters)

In light of the atrocious acts of violence over the past few months, new fears have arisen in both the African-American and white communities. People wonder when it will end and some ask themselves what they can do about it. One answer to the problem lies in the word: harmony.

Almost ten years ago, Archbishop Alfred C. Hughes, of the archdiocese of New Orleans, wrote a Pastoral Letter on Racial Harmony. The document demanded that all people recognize that we are brothers and sisters made in the image and likeness of God and that we treat one another accordingly. The archbishop called for an end to discrimination in schools, workplace and housing.

At the end of his letter, he offered many practical suggestions as to how individuals and parishes might work to bring about racial harmony. Now, ten years later, we can look back and see that some progress has been made.

At least there is more diversity. But diversity is not harmony. It might be a good starting point to have people who are different rub shoulders with one another, but that is not harmony. Many places of employment, institutions of learning, public service, etc. are diverse in terms of age, sex, race and religion, but often harmony is lacking.

When we think of harmony we think of music – how different notes, played on different (diverse) musical instruments, produce beautiful music. Unfortunately, some modern music lacks harmony and thus does violence not only to the ears, but to the soul. Likewise, some modern art lacks harmony in color, shape, texture, and so on, thus producing violence not only to the eye, but to the soul as well.

Harmony begins with oneself. It is called inner harmony when a right-ordered, virtuous life is the result of a right-ordered relationship with God. In the Catholic Church, the sacramental system, tradition, teachings and the witness of holy people are great advantages to living a harmonious life. From the harmonious individual, the ripple effect spreads to the family, from the family to the neighborhood and workplace and from there to the rest of society. Acts of violence find no place in such an environment, but because of original sin, they will always exist to one degree or another.

Ultimately, God is the one who brings about harmony, just as he did in the beginning with the creation of the universe as we read in the Book of Genesis. Through the original sin, Adam and Eve lost the inner harmony they once had. The Good News is that Jesus Christ restored the inner harmony to humankind by his life, death and resurrection – not only for individuals, but for communities as well.

In the Acts of the Apostles, we see how there was harmony among the first Christians, not perfect but enough to have observers remark, “see how the Christians love one another.” Love is at the center of a harmonious life. It is God’s solution to the problem of violence in our society.

Father Joseph Doyle is novice master for the Society of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart.