Category: Josephite News

Healing Racial Division

HowzeBY TERRY DICKSON

The harsh realities of racial segregation were spelled out for Bishop Joseph Lawson Howze at an early age. Bishop Howze, 91, a native of Daphne, Alabama, was appointed the first bishop of Biloxi in 1977. He was the first black Catholic bishop in the 20th century to head a diocese, and at the time of his retirement in 2001, he was the top-ranking active black Catholic bishop in the U.S.

“I remember that there was very strong segregation in Alabama, especially,” he said. “We went to public schools and the schools for the black kids were closed in March so they could work in the potato fields. The other schools were not closed. So that shows the difference between the races during that particular time. Segregation was evident.”

However, Bishop Howze said his family was fortunate in that they were never the targets of serious racial backlash.

A cradle Baptist, Bishop Howze attended Most Pure Heart of Mary School in Mobile, Alabama, as a child, and became a Catholic at age 25 under the instruction of Josephite Father Benjamin Horton.

Father Horton soon transferred and was replaced by Josephite Father Vincent Warren. “After my baptism, I used to travel with him to his mission churches. It was he who really inspired me to become a priest.”

Bishop Howze was admitted to Christ the King Seminary at St. Bonaventure in New York and was the lone black seminarian. In 1959, he received his doctor of divinity degree and was ordained for the Diocese of Raleigh.

Bishop Howze served in several black parishes throughout North Carolina before being appointed pastor of the Basilica of St. Lawrence, a predominantly white parish in Asheville, in 1968. “There was a period of adjustment,” he recalled, “but I got to know everybody and was loved by the people.”

However, he wasn’t immune to the indignity of racial segregation.

He described a meeting the Raleigh bishop had with priests at a Holiday Inn and the management of the hotel “made it known that they weren’t going to serve me at the dinner. So, the bishop and the entire group of priests left.’’

In 1972, he was appointed auxiliary bishop of Natchez-Jackson, MS. Bishop Howze’s appointment was a watershed moment for African- American Catholics. Then-  Bishop Joseph Brunini of Natchez-Jackson “was looking for a black bishop to come here,” he recalled. “That’s the reason why I was named here.”

As far as the changes that came about as result of the implementation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Bishop Howze found them to be “drastically wonderful.”

“The change in Mississippi was phenomenal really, and I think the reason was because the direct relationship between whites and blacks in the South was good,”

Bishop Howze said. “I lived in a community in Mobile growing up with both whites and blacks living in the community. But racial segregation was still there.

“After we played, we couldn’t go to school together and we couldn’t go to church together, but we were friends. So I think that, after integration, it was easier for those whites who wanted to integrate.”

Dickson is editor of the Gulf Pine Catholic, newspaper of the Diocese of Biloxi, MS.

Pastoring in Black Parishes

Josephite Pastoral Center hosts national conference

BY KELSEY BRANNON

The Josephite Pastoral Center hosted lead- ers of African-American parishes during the three-day annual conference held at St. Joseph Seminary in Washington, D.C., Nov. 11-13.

With 35 parish leaders in attendance, “Pastoring in Black Parishes” provided updated information and insights about the unique needs of serving in African-Ameri- can parishes. Called a “Clergy Enrichment Conference,”  the  workshops  and  speakers aimed at helping to “develop pastoral skills necessary to effectively serve in the African- American community.”

Father Freddy Washington, CSSp, pastor of St. Mark Church in Harlem, New York, and Father Maurice Nutt, CSSR, a member of the Redemptorist mission team, were presenters. Father William Norvel, superior general of the Josephites and Bishop John H. Ricard, SSJ, also addressed the conference.

The Josephite parish, Our Mother of Mercy in Houston, TX, celebrated its 85th year of establishment. The parishioners formed a committee that planned and prepared a celebration for the anniversary. Georgia Provost was the chair of the committee.

Festivities began Nov. 7 with a Gospel concert. Various choirs from around the area participated in making it a community-inclusive event. The following day, various members of the parish were honored including the longest married couple and the oldest and youngest parishioners.

Shemery Tolliver was one of the parishioners honored. He regularly volunteers as an altar server, in addition to cleaning up and keeping the property in order.

The committee also planned a street festival on the Sunday before the anniversary Mass. The festival consisted of music, entertainment and food.

The goal was for fellowship among the congregation and to celebrate the parish history.

In the early 20th century, there wasn’t a Catholic church located in the Fifth Ward, which is comprised mostly of African Americans. In 1927, the Mississippi river flooded Louisiana causing major crop damage. As a result, residents of that area – who were predominately African Americans and Creoles – decided to move west for a chance at a better life. The majority of this community resettled in Houston in the Fifth Ward area.

They came with backgrounds in the building trades. Some were carpenters, electricians, and bricklayers. At the parish, they hosted extensive fish and chicken dinners, which eventually helped them to raise enough money to build a church. Later, a school was built for first through 12th grade.

A credit union was established for its parishioners in 1965. “We service not only the parishioners at Our Mother of Mercy, but the entire Fifth Ward community,” said Ms. Provost.

Through the years, the parish grew from a little seed to a big tree with deep roots. The church services the needs of the community with food pantries, youth programs and 35 other ministries, which have come to life over these 85 years.

Father Brian Fox, SSJ, is pastor of Our Mother of Mercy Church in Houston, TX.

black parishes

 

 

 

Year of Censecrated Life

Consecrated Life

Pope Francis proclaimed 2015 the Year of Consecrated Life. The first day of the new year began on the first Sunday in Advent, Nov. 30. The Year of Consecrated Life will end on February 2, 2016, the World Day of Consecrated Life.

In a canonical sense, the Catholic Church defines consecrated life as a form of Christian living by one who is faithful to follow Jesus Christ and takes public vows recognized by the Church.

Consecrated persons commit themselves, for the love of God, to chastity, poverty and obedience. Consecrated life may be lived in institutes or individually and can include clergy or lay people.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, consecrated life is “characterized by the public profession of the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience, in a stable state of life recognized by the Church.”

“Consecrated life is very important. It has contributed to the church a ministry of service to many,” said Father William L. Norvel, SSJ, superior general of the Josephites. “We evangelize in the African-American  apostolate and this is one of the gifts of consecrated life.”

The Josephites minister to African Americans in 41 parishes around the United States.

The year also marks the 50th anniversary of both the Second Vatican Council’s “Constitution on the Church” and the publication of the conciliar decree on the renewal of consecrated life “Perfectae Caritatis.” The Vatican stated that the purpose of the Year of Consecrated Life is to “make a grateful remembrance of the recent past” while embracing “the future with hope.”

The Josephite community is still making plans on how it will mark the Year of Consecrated Life.

 

A PRAYER FOR THE YEAR OF CONSECRATED LIFE

O God, throughout the ages you have called women and men to pursue lives of perfect charity through the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience. During this Year of Consecrated
Life, we give you thanks for these courageous witnesses of Faith and models of inspiration. Their pursuit of holy lives teaches us to make a more perfect offering of ourselves to you. Continue to enrich your Church by calling forth sons and daughters who, having found the pearl of great price, treasure the Kingdom of Heaven above all things. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
– Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life And Vocations | www.usccb.org

 

 

 

Remember your loved ones on All Souls Day

In Autumn, the leaves change color. Flowers, once vibrant and bright, lose their luster. The Fall season makes us think of things past.

This is the time of year when we visit cemeteries and remember loved ones. We gather to pray for those who have gone before us. And in our prayers, we pray that “perpetual light will shine on them.”

Praying for the dead is a natural part of our faith. Our church teaches that “purgatory exists, and that the souls detained there are helped by the suffrages of the faithful.” We also know that those who have died in the love of God can have their souls purified “by the suffrages of the faithful in this life, that is, by Masses, prayers, and almsgiving, and by the other offices of piety usually performed by the faithful.”

angelThe Josephites annually observe the month of November as the time we pray in a special way for all of our deceased members, friends, relatives and benefactors. The Josephites conduct a “Nine Days of Prayer for the Departed” novena, Oct. 24 – Nov. 2. You are invited to join with us and remember your loved ones. The novena prayers can be found on our website: www. josephites.org.

The most effective of all prayers is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The Josephites will remember your loved ones in the Masses we offer on All Souls Day, November 2. All Josephite seminarians, novices, priests and brothers will join our prayers with yours on their behalf.

Also, the Josephites offer throughout the entire month of November prayers for all the deceased loved ones you recommend to us.

It is comforting to know that there is something that we can do for those we love. There is a way for us to remember them. We pray for them even as they watch over us and pray on our behalf before the Lord God. Thus, it is with confidence we pray, “Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord. May perpetual light shine upon them.”

Oldest U.S Diocese Celebrates 225 years

bascilica2

By Father Frank Hull, SSJ
Archivist

The Josephite community has its roots in Baltimore. Its call came from here. Its mission began here. Its work flowered here. Its headquarters opened here and remains here. The Josephites are happy to be a 143-year part of the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s 225-year history.

When the American Bishops met in Baltimore in 1866 during the Second Plenary Council, they sent a plea to Rome to send missionaries to the recently emancipated slaves. At the same time, the Catholic Church in England was forming a community to prepare priests to send

to the foreign missions. This was the St. Joseph Foreign Mission Society under the direction of Father Herbert Vaughan. In 1871, he offered the first four priests to Pope Pius IX who directed them to America where the archbishop of Baltimore, Martin John Spalding, welcomed them to St. Francis Xavier parish, the Jesuit-sponsored community of African Americans. This became the first fully staffed African-American parish in the country and still thrives at its third location in East Baltimore.

The Josephites extended their ministry to Prince George’s County in Maryland and south to Virginia and North Carolina and by 1888 had 15 priests. That same year, in an effort to attract American vocations, they purchased the old Western Maryland Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue in Baltimore, directly behind St. Mary’s Seminary, and named it St. Joseph’s Seminary. The students attended classes at St. Mary’s for 48 years and it was the first seminary in the country to admit black students. In 1891, Father Charles Uncles, one of the seminarians, was ordained in the Baltimore Cathedral by Cardinal Gibbons, the first black priest ordained in the United States. Father Uncles was a native Baltimorean and a member of St. Francis Xavier parish.

XavierChurchThe Josephites established its second parish – St. Peter Claver on Fremont Avenue in Baltimore, which was served by priests from St. Joseph’s Seminary. The seminary that year produced the first printed copy of The Colored Harvest (now The Josephite Harvest), the oldest continually published mission magazine in the country.

Another sign of growth was the 1889 purchase of the Highland Park Hotel in the Walbrook section of Baltimore as a minor seminary. The building was renovated with the help of St. Katharine Drexel’s sister. The institution trained young seminarians until it moved from Baltimore to Newburgh, New York, in 1930.

In collaboration with Baltimore’s Cardinal James Gibbons and the approval of the parent English Society of St. Joseph, it was decided that a separate American community with a singular purpose of serving African Americans would attract more men and provide a more efficient administration. In 1893, five men chose to begin the new community with the name of St. Joseph’s Society of the Sacred Heart (Josephites). Cardinal Gibbons assumed local jurisdiction and the five men headquartered in Baltimore were now in charge of eight churches and two institutions.

The new community faced many challenges with a shortage of men and an excess of financial and social problems. But the Lord provided both men and means for expansion, especially into the southern dioceses. In Baltimore, St. Monica, St. Pius V, St. Veronica and Christ the King parishes were added. Through demographic changes, two of these were eventually eliminated. One of these, St. Monica Church, established in 1893, was eventually demolished to make way for the Orioles’ Baseball stadium. St. Pius V had its origins in St. Barnabas Church in 1907 and was recently joined with St. Peter Claver parish. St. Veronica’s has been in the Cherry Hill neighborhood since 1945.

When Washington was part of the Baltimore archdiocese, Josephites had served St. Augustine parish in the early 1880’s. Holy Redeemer parish was erected in 1922 and Incarnation and Good Shepherd parishes in 1924. Three years later, the Josephites assumed pastorship of St. Vincent de Paul when a vast urban re-construction leveled most of the Good Shepherd area. In 1932, the Josephites opened St. Joseph’s parish in Glenarden. Holy Family Church in Mitchellville had a Josephite pastor from 1938 to 1972. The Church of the Epiphany in Georgetown was built as a Josephite parish and continued for 35 years.

The Josephites rejoiced when one of its own, Josephite Father John Ricard, was appointed auxiliary bishop of Baltimore in 1984. Born into the Josephite parish of St. Francis Xavier in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, he served Baltimore with special distinction as urban vicar for 13 years. He was appointed the Ordinary of the Pensacola-Tallahassee diocese in northern Florida where he served until his retirement in 2011. He is now rector of St. Joseph’s Seminary in Washington, a building dedicated by Baltimore’s Archbishop Michael Curley in 1929.
Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 2.52.42 PMThe Josephite presence in the Baltimore archdiocese has been greatly enhanced by several religious communities of Sisters. The community of Franciscan Sisters, founded in Glen Riddle, Pennsylvania, by the sainted Baltimorean Bishop John Neumann when he was Philadelphia’s archbishop, came to staff St. Peter Claver School in 1890 and served for 108 years. The Josephites had long been associated with the Sisters’ St. Joseph’s Hospital at both its old location on Eager Street in Baltimore and the new one in Towson, Maryland. The O’Dea Medical Building at the Towson site is named for a former Josephite superior general and long-time chaplain.

The Baltimore-based Oblate Sisters of Providence taught in the first Josephite parish school at St. Francis Xavier in 1878. In 1893, they taught in Baltimore’s archdiocesan schools in Washington – at St. Cyprian’s until 1986 and from 1923 to 1954 at Good Shepherd (St. Vincent). Josephites have long been chaplains at the Oblates’ century-plus-old St. Frances Academy on Chase Street in East Baltimore whose chapel was dedicated by Cardinal Gibbons in 1907.

The House of Good Shepherd for Colored Girls was established in Baltimore in 1892 with the help of the pastor at St. Peter Claver who had interested Mrs. Elizabeth Morrell, sister of St. Katharine Drexel, to finance a suitable building.

The Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart grew from a ladies’ St. Joseph Guild at the new Josephite parish of St. Peter Claver in 1890 specifically to teach religion to black children in public schools. The religious community was approved by Cardinal Gibbons who appointed a Josephite as their first superior. By 1895, they had four houses on West Biddle Street where they conducted an industrial school and did catechetical work in six parishes. They pioneered in working with the deaf while maintaining their special mission to catechetical teaching.

Their presence in Baltimore continues from their house in Towson.

In the early 1940s, the School Sisters of Notre Dame were prominent in community affairs in the Josephite parish of St. Veronica in the Cherry Hill area of Baltimore. The parish developed its Head Start Program into one of the country’s largest. The Sisters had been teaching at Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish in Washington 20 years before the Josephites were assigned the parish in 1943. Their ministry there covered 85 years.

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 2.52.34 PMThe Josephites were instrumental in opening the first orphanage for black girls in Baltimore –
St. Elizabeth’s on St. Paul Street in 1881. The Sisters of St. Francis were originally an Anglican community working with the poor in London and Father Vaughan brought them into the Church in 1871 and appointed a Josephite as their first ecclesiastical superior. Ten years later, the now Bishop Vaughan asked them to come to Baltimore where they assumed operation of a home for African-American girls on St. Paul Street near the Josephite St. Francis Xavier Church. They opened an orphanage on the Josephite minor seminary property in Walbrook in 1889 and later moved to Maryland Avenue. Presently, they operate St. Francis School for Special Education and St. Elizabeth School.

The most recent Josephite house in Baltimore opened in 1961 as a retirement and nursing facility for its members. It had been the home of the Jenkins family who had built Corpus Christi Church on Mount Royal Avenue. Cardinal Gibbons was a visitor to this 1880’s-era house and offered Mass in its chapel. A new facility was built in 1999, dedicated by Cardinal William Keeler. The older building has been used as a Josephite novitiate.

For the last 84 years, the Josephite headquarters has been on North Calvert Street. The current Superior General is Father William Norvel, the first African American to head the Society. No stranger to Baltimore, he had served as Consultor General from 1983 to 1987 and was pastor of St. Francis Xavier parish from 1996 to 2000.

The Society continues to direct from Baltimore. There are Josephites in 14 dioceses and two seminary sites in Nigeria where 16 men are in study. Six others study in Washington.

May the nourishing by the Archdiocese of Baltimore in the past continue God’s work ad multos annos.

Celebrating St. Joseph Seminary

Archives

By David Andrews

2014 marks the 125th anniversary of the opening of St. Joseph seminary which is now located in Washington, D.C. The venerable red brick building capped with a copper green tower that overlooks northeast Washington is the third installment of buildings that have housed Josephite seminary activities.

The first Josephites were trained as foreign missionaries in England before taking up their ministry in African-American communities. When their training was complete, the Josephite missionaries were sent from London, England, to the United States.

SeminaryLater, a Josephite seminary was located in Baltimore. Construction crews began work on renovating the Western Maryland Hotel on the corner of St. Mary’s Street and Pennsylvania Avenue when the infamous “Blizzard of ’88” turned Charm City into an icebox. The work crews welcomed the sweltering summer months during the renovation.

Father Charles R. Uncles, the first black seminarian to be educated and ordained in the United States, made the Baltimore seminary the first integrated house of formation in American history.

In 1893, a large brick building next door on Pennsylvania Avenue was dedicated and housed the second Josephite seminary until 1930. Today, this building, called the Father Charles R. Uncles Senior Plaza, is an affordable housing center for the elderly.

The student body grew to 56 in the late 1920’s, and the seminary moved 35 miles south where it relocated to Northeast Varnum Street in Washington, D.C. in 1930. The latest installment of St. Joseph’s seminary was a stark contrast to the original Western Maryland Hotel, as it was built rock-solid, prepared to hold the challenging task of training future Josephites.

A member of the very first group of Josephite seminarians was Father Joseph St. Laurent, SSJ. He spoke at the dedication of the new St. Joseph’s Seminary in Washington, D.C. in November 1930 about its importance.

“To those who have been witness from the beginning, it is clear and manifest that some power, above that of man, has protected this institution with a strong hand,” Father Laurent said.  “It is not easy to explain, on any other grounds, its persistence through discouraging vexations, its survival amidst crushing trials. I recall, not without emotion, those early days when all but two seminarians failed to return. As may be imagined, the air was charged with misgivings. There was serious talk of closing the establishment. But times have changed.”

The current seminary rector, Bishop John Ricard, SSJ, said, “The current brick seminary was reinforced by steel and was state of the art. Many other communities of men and women were building around the same time in the area around Catholic University. They wanted to take advantage of the resources of the university, in terms of theology and philosophy, and they wanted to share the rich educational resources with each other.”

Apart from electrical and heating renovations in the late 1990’s, the building has remained structurally sound and has just needed general maintenance, as would any 84-year-old building, Bishop Ricard said.

Today, the Josephite seminarians attend the Dominican House of Studies, but the building on Varnum Street remains their home. The back field is used for recreational and organized sports within the community.

Although it has seen renovations and relocations, the Josephite Seminary continues to be the epicenter of young men discerning a life of service to God and to the African-American communities nationwide.

Josephite Outreach – Helping Coast to Coast

Parishioners1

By John Powers
Parishes are valuable participants in their communities. They are places of worship and prayer. They are places for sacraments and celebrations. They are important landmarks in their community and rally sites for events and activities.
Josephite parishes stretch from Baltimore, Maryland to Los Angeles, California. Each of these parishes has an important impact on its parishioners and their communities.

In this issue of The Harvest, we surveyed the 40 Josephite parishes and asked how they were reaching out to the communities they serve. The answers are varied but each saw the Josephite charitable outreach as part and parcel of the gospel mission.

Parishioners2I was hungry and you gave me something to eat

All Josephite parishes operate regular activities to provide food and sustenance to those in need. Parishes operate on-going food pantries, serve meals and provide food baskets for holidays.

At St. Brigid church in Los Angeles, Father Michael Okechukwu, SSJ, said that every Wednesday for many years, parish volunteers serve hot meals in the church hall. “Although the program is scheduled to end at 2 p.m., the need is so great that it generally runs till 3:30 p.m.,” said Father Okechukwu.

He added, “We always try to meet the needs of the community. Charity is about giving away material objects and helping to bear one another’s burdens out of love. That is what makes us human.”

Holy Family parish in Natchez, Mississippi, runs a stew pot and collects food once a month. A special needs collection brings in $400 to $500 dollars a month for special needs. The pastor, Father James Fallon, SSJ, said many parishioners volunteer to participate.

At St. Luke parish in Washington, D.C., the food bank is a monthly activity that helps more than 50 families each month. According to Father Cornelius Ejiogu, SSJ, it is important that the distributed food lasts at least a week or two.

The parish outreach program welcomes corporate donors, including a bakery that donates bread. However, most of the donations come from parishioners who also donate money to buy food. Food is collected for three weeks and distributed in large baskets during the last week of the month.

The food bank was started by Josephite Father Joseph Del Vecchio when he was the pastor. Father Cornelius said, “Generosity is in our nature. When we are generous, we give a part of ourselves as well.”

At Church of the Incarnation in Washington, Father John Carroll, SSJ, said the most active charitable event at the parish is the food pantry. Started about 20 years ago, the food pantry is open on the third Friday of every month, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. To raise money for the pantry, a special envelope is collected every third Sunday of the month.

About 100 families are served. “Charity is an ordinary way of life,” Father Carroll said. “We are involved with it day in and day out.”

At St. Francis Xavier church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, feeding the hungry is an ecumenical and mobile activity, according to Josephite Father Edward Chiffriller, pastor. “On one Saturday each month, two large trucks from the Baton Rouge Food Bank pull into the parking lot and more than a hundred volunteers from the member churches and organizations of Together Baton Rouge unload large quantities of fresh vegetables, fruit, milk, eggs, bread and other perishables donated by area supermarkets,” Father Chiffriller reports.

The volunteers organize the food into bags and boxes for distribution to the people who arrive early to get a good place in line.

parishioners4Members of the Louisiana National Guard Youth Challenge Program eagerly help the recipients by carrying the food to their cars. By 11 a.m. all the food has been distributed and the volunteers load up the trash on the trucks and clean up the parking lot. About 350 households receive food each month.

At St. David parish in New Orleans, parishioners help to make holidays better for mem-bers of the community. Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas baskets are put together a month ahead of time. Every basket always contains a gift certificate or a gift card, and the food is never expired. Some baskets also contain clothing.

More than 100 families are served at St. David’s, according to Josephite Father Oswald Pierre Pierre-Jules, pastor. “Of course, every basket is different depending on the holiday.”

The annual program is funded by donations from parishioners. The collection is usually taken every second Sunday.

“The most important thing about charity is that we have the scripture in mind,” said Father Pierre-Jules, “We always want to let people know that they are not alone, and we are their family.”

Parishioners at St. Joseph Church in Alexandria, Virginia also prepare holiday baskets that include canned goods and turkey and chicken. More than 80 families were assisted last Christmas, said Father Donald Fest, SSJ, pastor.

At St. Luke parish in Washington, according to parish staff member, Shirley Williams, more than 50 families benefit from the parish food bank each month. That number swells to more than 100 families during the Thanksgiving food drive.

Ms. Williams said the parish youth also lead a blanket drive during Christmas. Teenagers distribute the blankets to the homeless found on park benches in the downtown area.

Youth and education
Father Patrick Healy, SSJ, pastor at St. Augustine Church in New Roads, Louisiana, said the parish hosts a literature program for children on the first Sunday of every month. “Young adult volunteers present a short lesson for children based on the weekly scripture readings.

parishioners5The classes are held in a former elementary school building,” he said.

At Our Mother of Mercy in Church Point, Louisiana, Father Francis Butler, SSJ, said the parish offers a Head Start program. They also host a retreat for teens each summer. He said the parish is planning for an after-school program.

Father Butler said, “We want to demonstrate God’s love for the children of our community, especially as they are challenged by the secular culture. We want to bless them and help them meet the challenges they face in life.”

At St. James Major parish in Prichard, Alabama, assisting families to pay for Catholic school is important. They assist families who cannot afford a Catholic education by subsidizing tuition. The parish funds a scholarship program for Catholic school students. Started 12 years ago, Josephite Father Leo Udeagu, pastor, said the program raises about $10,000 each year.

He said that a board of parishioners meets monthly to discuss how many children they can assist and how to raise money to support them. Outside organizations have given grants to the parish for tuition assistance and the parishioners make donations. “Many children of our parish do not have the privilege to receive good Catholic education, and we do our best to be there for them and helping those who are struggling.”

At St. Joseph parish in Alexandria, Virginia, Father Fest said the parish hosts an Advent Angel Tree, which solicits gifts for nursing homes, the Oblate Sisters of Providence and retired Josephites. The youth help in that effort.

“It’s a great way to get the children involved, because it demonstrates the real meaning of Christmas,” said Beverley Anderson, who is in charge of the Advent Angel Tree program.

“The Cross Will Flower” program, led by women in the Alexandria parish, provides gifts for newborn babies, which are requested by the Crisis Pregnancy Center.

Meeting unexpected needs
For more than 15 years, Shrine of Our Mother Mercy parish in, Rayne, Louisiana, has met the emergency needs of the neighborhood by collaborating with a Christian service center in the community.

Josephite Father Richard Wagner said, “Helping the people around the community is fulfilling the corporal works of mercy.”

Holy Family and St. Anne parishes participate in a shelter for battered women and children, Father James Fallon said. The parishes also support a community volunteer nursing program, which brings parishioners together quarterly to discuss health-related issues.

At St. Francis Xavier Church in Houston, the parish has offered a Health Fair that provides free services such as medical screenings, blood pressure and glucose level checks, nutritional advice, dental screenings and much more, according to parish staff member Shirley Foreman. This year, more than 350 people participated in the Health Fair, she said.

At Most Pure Heart of Mary parish in Mobile, Father Kenneth Ugwu, said the young adult group collects winter coats, clothing, shoes, and bedding for families and individuals in shelters.

In addition to providing for the homeless, Most Pure Heart of Mary coordinates a Christmas gift program, called the Angel Tree, for children whose parents have been incarcerated. The Angel Tree program, led by Julia James, has been ongoing for at least 15 years.

Parishoners3Homelessness and emergency needs
At Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church in Reserve, Louisiana, Father Christopher Amadi, SSJ, said charitable outreach is “doing what Jesus would do by providing the people with what they need.” He said that many people in the community come to the church for food as well as help with their gas or electric bill.

“We also have helped people find a job,” he said.

At Corpus Christi parish in New Orleans, helping the homeless through the Brother’s Keeper Project is an outreach priority. The purpose of Brother’s Keeper is to gather daily necessities such as bowls, pots, utensils and toiletries for the homeless.

“Many times, these people are only offered a mattress and nothing else,” said parishioner Sheryl Turner who works with 36 other members of the parish in the program.

She said the Ladies Auxiliary was inspired to start the program when they were asked to donate shoes for the homeless. At that time, she said volunteer nurses would check the feet of the homeless because many of them would walk around barefoot. From that event, the program grew. Most of the donations are from the parish.

At St. Francis Xavier parish in Baltimore, Father James McLinden, SSJ, said that every Thursday there is an outreach program to help people within the community with their electric cut-offs and eviction notices. The church collaborates with the St. Vincent DePaul society to assist families residing in four zip codes around the parish each week. There is an annual budget of about $25,000 a year to support this program, he said, which is raised from a weekly collection.

He said the parish program has been helping the community for more than 15 years.

Father Healy said St. Augustine parishioners conduct home visits to discuss personal hardships and assist families. “We also are there to pray with them,” he said.

Evidence collected for Father Tolton’s sainthood cause heads to Vatican

By Michelle Martin
CHICAGO (CNS) – With prayers, songs and sealing wax, Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago formally closed the investigation into the life and virtues of Father Augustus Tolton Sept. 29 in a ceremony in the St. James Chapel at the Archbishop Quigley Center.
Investigation for sainthood cause officially closed for first black U.S. diocesan priestThe prayer service marked the binding and sealing of the dossier local research aimed at making Father Tolton, the first African-American diocesan priest, a saint. Cardinal George opened the cause in 2010.
Now the cause for Father Tolton’s canonization moves to the Vatican, where the documents collected by supporters of his cause in the Archdiocese of Chicago will be analyzed, bound into a book called a “position,” or official position paper, and evaluated by theologians, and then, supporters hope, passed on to the pope, who can declare Tolton “venerable” if the pope determines he led a life of heroic virtue.
Auxiliary Bishop Joseph N. Perry, the postulator of the cause, said the collected evidence — which includes everything from newspaper articles to correspondence to eyewitness testimonies — certainly indicates that is the case.
“Everything in the record of the case demonstrates that we had a saint among us and we hardly noticed,” Bishop Perry said. “Father Tolton leaves behind a shining example of perseverance.”
He was born a slave in 1854 on a plantation near Brush Creek, Missouri. His father left to try to join the Union Army during the Civil War. In 1862, his mother escaped with her three children by rowing them across the Mississippi River and settling in Quincy, Illinois.
Young Augustus had to leave one Catholic school because of threats; he found a haven at St. Peter parish and school, where he learned to read and write and was confirmed at age 16.
He was encouraged to discern his vocation to the priesthood by the Franciscan priests who taught him at St. Francis College, now Quincy University, but could not find a seminary in the United States that would accept him. He eventually studied in Rome and was ordained for the Propaganda Fidei Congregation in 1886, expecting to become a missionary in Africa. Instead, he was sent back to Quincy, where he served for three years before coming to the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1889. First black U.S. diocesan priest and sainthood candidate shown in archival photo
He spearheaded the building of St. Monica Church for black Catholics, dedicated in 1894, and died after suffering heat stroke on a Chicago street on July 9, 1897.
Springfield Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki, whose diocese includes Quincy, attended the ceremony, as did representatives of the Diocese of Jefferson City, Missouri, where Brush Creek is located.
Cardinal George, who is to retire when his successor, Archbishop Blase J. Cupich, is installed Nov. 18, called the opening of Father Tolton’s cause one of the most important, if not the most important, thing he has done in his more than 17 years as archbishop of Chicago.
“The church, over the centuries, has ordained many priests, most of them quite holy, in some ways, some in great ways,” the cardinal said.
Father Tolton was one such holy priest, who “devoted himself to his people, quietly and in his own way,” he said, despite great difficulties and setbacks.
“Virtue has consequences, and virtue is stronger than evil,” Cardinal George said. “History is what God remembers. The rest passes.”
During the ceremony, Bishop Perry thanked members of the Father Tolton Guild, who are working to move the cause forward; members of the historical commission, who examined the records of his life; and members of the theological commission, who examined his writings to make sure that they are free of doctrinal error.
Neither commission found any reason for holding the cause back.
“Father Tolton demonstrated himself to be humble yet courageous, faithful to his priestly vows, welcoming to both black and white,” Bishop Perry said.
If the pope declares that Father Tolton indeed led a life of historic Christian virtue and is to be called venerable, Bishop Perry said, the next step is to look for evidence of a miracle attributed to Father Tolton’s intercession. The dossier sealed Sept. 29 includes letters already written to Cardinal George telling of favors granted after praying for Father Tolton’s intercession, Perry said.
In general, one confirmed miracle is needed for beatification, and a second such miracle is needed for canonization.
Andrew Lyke, director of the archdiocese’s Office for Black Catholics and a member of the Father Tolton Guild, said he will continue working to spread the word about the cause. His office and the Augustus Tolton Pastoral Ministry Program at Catholic Theological Union sponsor pilgrimages to sites significant in Father Tolton’s life and ministry, both in Missouri and Quincy and in Chicago, and the guild encourages everyone to pray for the priests intercession for whatever their needs are.
At the moment, Father Tolton is among four African-American Catholics whose sainthood causes have been opened, Lyke said, and his office tries to draw attention to all four.
The others are Mother Henriette Delille, foundress of the Sisters of the Holy Family in New Orleans, who has been declared venerable; Mother Mary Elizabeth Lange, foundress of the Oblate Sisters of Providence; and Pierre Toussaint, who was brought to New York as a slave and later became a well-known philanthropist, also declared venerable.
“But of course I have a special place in my heart for Father Tolton,” Lyke said. “He has always been an inspirational historical figure, but I feel much closer to him spiritually since I’ve been praying to him every day.”
Martin is a staff writer with the Catholic New World, newspaper of the Chicago Archdiocese.Click here to read the originally published article on CatholicNews.com

Four Josephites Honored in Celebration

Four Josephite Novices took part in the Celebration of Investiture and Reception of the Josephites Constitution during the Holy Mass on Monday, September 15, 2014.  The ceremony took place as a memorial of  ‘Our Lady of Sorrows’ at the St. Joseph’s Seminary, Washington, DC.


20140915_071303
From right to left: Dalmas Abuto Otieno, Fred Kaddu, Emmanuel Priva and Emeka Johnson Oodo.


Pictured below, the four novices stand with Director Father Joseph M. Doyle, S.S.J.


20140915_074021
From left to right: Dalmas Abuto Otieno, Fred Kaddu, Fr. Joseph M. Doyle, SSJ., Emeka Johnson Oodo and Emmanuel Priva.


The four men will remain in the Novitiate ‘Canonical’ program until late June/early July when they will make their First Profession, committing themselves to the apostate of the Josphites.

Celebrating 125 Years of the Josephite Seminary

St. Joseph Seminary Washington DC2014 marks the 125th anniversary of the opening of the Josephite seminary in Washington, D.C. The venerable brick red building capped with a copper green bell tower that steeps over northeast Washington is the third installment of buildings that have housed Josephite seminary activities.

The first Josephite seminary was located in Baltimore. Construction crews began work on renovating the Western Maryland Hotel on the corner of St. Mary’s Street and Pennsylvania Avenue when the infamous “Blizzard of ’88” turned Charm City into an icebox. The work crews welcomed the sweltering summer months during the renovation.

The first Josephites were trained as foreign missionaries in England before taking up their ministry in African American communities. When their training was complete, the Josephite missionaries were sent to London, England, to the U.S.

Father Charles R. Uncles, the first black U.S. seminarian to be ordained, made the Baltimore seminary the first integrated house of formation in American history.

In 1893, a large brick building next door on Pennsylvania Avenue was dedicated and housed the Josephite seminary until 1930. Today, the second installment of the seminary building honors the first black Josephite priest. The Charles R. Uncles Senior Plaza offers affordable housing for the elderly.

St. Joseph Seminary Washington DCThe student body grew to around 56 in the late 1920’s, and the seminary moved 35 miles south where it relocated to Varnum Street in Washington, D.C. in 1930. The latest installment of St. Joseph’s seminary was a stark contrast to the original Western Maryland Hotel, as it was built rock-solid, prepared to hold the challenging task of training future Josephites.

Seminary Balt-DrawingA member of the very first group of Josephite seminarians was Father Joseph St. Lauret, SSJ. He spoke at the dedication of the new St. Joseph’s Seminary in Washington, D.C. in November 1930 about its importance.

“To those who have been witness from the beginning, it is clear and manifest that some power, above that of man, has protected this institution with a strong hand,” Father Lauret said. “It is not easy to explain, on any other grounds, its persistence through discouraging vexations, its survival amidst crushing trials. I recall, not without emotion, those early days when all but two seminarians failed to return. As may be imagined, the air was charged with misgivings. There was serious talk of closing the establishment. But times have changed.”

The current seminary rector, Bishop John Ricard, SSJ, said, “The building was built out of steel and was state of the art. Many other communities of men and women were building around the same time in the area around Catholic University. They wanted to take advantage of the resources of the university, in terms of theology and philosophy, and they wanted to share the rich educational resources with each other.”

Apart from electrical and wire renovations in the late 1990’s, the building has remained structurally sound and has just needed general maintenance, as would any 84-year-old building, Bishop Ricard said.

Today, the Josephite seminarians attend the Dominican House of Studies, but the building on Varnum Street remains their home. The back field is used for recreational and organized sports within the community.

Although it has seen renovations and relocations, the Josephite Seminary continues to be the epicenter of young men discerning a life of service to God and to the African-American communities nationwide.


Photo Gallery