Summer 2017 Denver Province Snapshots
Ordinations, Professions & Jubilarians:
Celebrating 60 Years of Ordination: Rev. Albert Babin, C.Ss.R., Rev. Bruno Lischwe, C.Ss.R.
Celebrating 60 Years of Ordination: Rev. James Keena, C.Ss.R., and Rev. Joseph Stenger, C.Ss.R., Rev. William Cleary, C.Ss.R., Rev. Warren Drinkwater, C.Ss.R., Rev. Gilbert Enderle, C.Ss.R., Rev. Joseph Fenili, C.Ss.R., Rev. David Polek, C.Ss.R., Rev. Richard Quinn, C.Ss.R.
Celebrating 50 Years of Ordination: Rev. Charles Beierwaltes, C.Ss.R., Rev. William Peterson, C.Ss.R., Rev. Paul Coury, C.Ss.R., Br. Charles Fucik, C.Ss.R., Rev. Samuel Maranto, C.Ss.R., Rev. Michael Quinn, C.Ss.R., Rev. Kenneth Sedlak, C.Ss.R., Rev. Allan Weinert, C.Ss.R., Rev. James White, C.Ss.R.
Celebrating 25 Years of Ordination: Rev. Rev. Anthony Nguyen, C.Ss.R., Rev. John Fahey-Guerra, C.Ss.R., Rev. Tuan Pham, C.Ss.R.
Fr. William “Fitz” Fitzgerald — Beloved Fr. William “Fitz” Fitzgerald, a faithful Son of Alphonsus who embodied the Redemptorist charism, died on June 1 at the age of 99 at St. Clement Health Care Center in Liguori. Blessed with intelligence, a charming personality and a liberal sprinkling of Irish wit, Fr. Fitz left the office of Provincial Superior of the Oakland Province and opted for the life of a foreign missionary in Brazil – at age 54, and without understanding a single word of Portuguese. He devoted nearly four decades of his 68 years in ministry to the poor “excludeds” who eke out a meager existence scavenging through dumpsites for recyclable materials in the State of Bahia, and helped to elevate them from virtual slaves to salaried workers.Fr. Fitzgerald also serve on the faculty of Holy Redeemer College in Oakland from 1947 until 1954 and was a popular professor, inspiring his students and encouraging critical thinking, all the while infusing them with zeal for the Redemptorist mission. He also served as local superior and Novice Master at St. Alphonsus College in Bridal Falls, Oregon, and as Treasurer of the Oakland Province for six years starting in 1954. After 38 years in Brazil, he returned to the USA and was assigned to the St. Mary of the Assumption Parish community in Whittier in 2010. He was 92, and holds the record as the oldest religious ever to complete Praesidium safe environment training. As his health deteriorated, and he was assigned to St. Clement Health Care Center in 2012. From there he regaled his confreres with tales of his adventures in Brazil – sometimes in English, sometimes in Portuguese – until shortly before his death. May the soul of this faithful Son of Alphonsus rest in eternal peace.
Sr. Barbara Armstrong, a talented artist who left a legacy of beautiful icons and paintings, peacefully passed away on June 17 surrounded by her Redemptoristine community, who were gathered in prayer at her hospital bedside. Professed for 67 years, Sr. Barbara made her final profession in 1953 as Sr. Mary Gerard of Jesus. She was sent with seven other Sisters to establish the new foundation in Liguori in 1960, and served as its first superior. Just as the Holy Father had commissioned the Redemptorists to “make her known,” Mother Mary Celeste told Sr. Barbara that her vocation was to write icons of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. She produced more than 20, most the size of the original in Rome. Br. Dan Korn, the Denver Province iconologist, was impressed by the genuine warmth and detail Sr. Barbara has written in the Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, especially considering that she had no formal artistic training. One of her beautiful icons is displayed in the lobby to greet visitors to the monastery in Liguori. Her life of dedicated prayer has borne fruit and called down God’s graces on the Redemptorists, their ministries, and the many other people she remembered in prayer each day. May she rest in eternal peace.
Br. John Matthys, C.Ss.R., a kind and gracious confrere who was devoted to his family and his Redemptorist confreres, died of complications resulting from COPD on July 3. He was 68. Br. John served in a number of Redemptorists parishes including Holy Redeemer Parish in Detroit, St. Michael Parish in Chicago, St. Gerards Parish in Brooklyn Park and St. Alphonsus Parish in Minneapolis. He also served as part of the retreat team at Our Mother of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Oconomowoc, and the Villa Redeemer Retreat Center community in Glenview. He will be remembered for his hard work and dedication, and as well for his countless acts of kindness particularly in his encouragement and care for his elderly and sick confreres at St. Clement Health Care Center. May he rest in peace.
Transition to Ministry Program: Redemptorist priests in the Transition to Ministry Program met at the Redemptorist Renewal Center in Tucson on May 8-12. Fathers Pete Schavitz, Robert Wojtek and Thomas Ha led the program for members of the Baltimore, Edmonton-Toronto and Denver provinces, as well as the Extra Patrium Vice Province.
Redemptorist Students Awarded Divinity Degrees
The 49th Commencement ceremony at Catholic Theological Union (CTU) in Chicago was held on May 11, 2017. Two of our Redemptorist students – Chung Tran and John Son Tran – were awarded Master of Divinity degrees. John Son was ordained to the diaconate on July 16 at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Chicago, while Chung will spend a pastoral year in Thailand before he professes his perpetual vows. Held in the beautiful K.A.M. Isaiah Israel Congregation synagogue (situated right in front of Barack Obama’s Chicago residence), with all the pomp of caps and gowns and serenaded by the Chicago Brass Ensemble, the packed assembly hall witnessed an ecumenical experience—a United Nations of people. The ceremony was purposely not called a graduation event (the end of an experience), but a commencement, because the students are now to begin new practices of proclaiming the Good News around the world.
Witnesses to Plentiful Redemption: The Minneapolis Evangelization Team was tasked with finding ways to renew and expand the Redemptorist charism of evangelization, especially among the poor and most abandoned. Mindful of the importance of the laity in this work, the Team has launched a new lay collaboration project centered on the personal call of Catholics to be witnesses to Christ Jesus among their own circle of family, friends and neighbors. This new group, “Witnesses to Plentiful Redemption,” has begun in the Minneapolis community as an addition to Partners in Ministry efforts. We are testing this group as another possible way for the laity to be united with the Redemptorists in prayer, devotion and mission.
Annual Student Gathering: Redemptorist students, their formators and vocation directors in the North American Conference met at Notre Dame Retreat Centre near Rochester, NY for the annual student gathering May 21-27. Well-known author Fr. Dennis Billy of the Baltimore Province presented a two-hour workshop on St. Alphonsus every morning. Fr. Dennis cited the writings of St. Alphonsus to share his genius for pastoral ministry, his stature as one of the greatest spiritual writers and mentors, his guidelines for Redemptorists to become great preachers and confessors, and his inspiration to live a community life that reflects Jesus as Savior and Redeemer. Formators and vocation directors held meetings each afternoon and evening while the students strengthened fraternal bonds during unstructured social time. Provincial Superior Stephen Rehrauer and Fr. Jerry Knapp, Provincial Vicar of the Baltimore Province, received the vows renewed by some Redemptorist students at the closing Mass.
I am Joseph, Your Brother: A pilgrimage to the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred in Newark was more like a homecoming for some 100 gay and lesbian Catholics and their families. Sharon Otterman reports on Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin’s recent welcome to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in “As Church Shifts, a Cardinal Welcomes Gays; They Embrace a ‘Miracle’” in the June 13 edition of The Wall Street Journal. “I am Joseph, your brother,” Cardinal Tobin told the group, which included LGBT Catholics from around New York and the five dioceses in New Jersey. “The “LGBT Pilgrimage” was organized by gay ministries within the Church of the Sacred Heart in South Plainfield, NJ and the Church of the Precious Blood in Monmouth Beach, NJ. It stemmed from a conversation between David Harvie of the South Plainfield group and Fr. Francis Gargani, a Redemptorist of the Baltimore Province who proposed the idea to Cardinal Tobin.
The University Series at St. Mary’s of the Assumption: Last Fall, Fr. Steve Nyl started an eight-week program for adults who had never been confirmed. He repeated the program in Spanish this Spring. On May 16, more than 100 adults from our region were confirmed at St. Mary’s, of whom 25 were from the parish. “The University Series” is the brain-child of Fr. Dave Heney of our neighboring parish, St. Bruno’s in Whittier. It consisted of a special presentation each Monday through Thursday evening during Lent.
Bring a Friend to Church: The priests at St. Mary’s of the Assumption Parish in Whittier agreed to preach on Pentecost on the theme that parishioners are called to be apostles. The celebrants also announced that Corpus Christi Sunday would be “Bring a Friend to Church” Sunday. Each parishioner was encouraged to invite someone to accompany them to Mass that day, and at each Mass a commentator explained the meaning of each part of the Mass.
Significant Upcoming Dates:
July 30: Arthritic Blessing in Parishes
August 1: St. Alphonsus Liguori Feast Day
August 6: Transfiguration
August 15: Assumption
August 22: Queenship
September 8: Birth of Mary
September 12: Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary
September 15: Our Lady of Sorrows
September 24: Our Lady of Mercy
September 27: St. Alphonsus Birthday
October 5: Bl. Seelos Feast Day
October 7: Our Lady of the Rosary
October 12: Our Lady of the Pillar