Selected Text from the January 2018 issue of The Catholic Islander
The Magazine of the Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands
Most Rev. Herbert Bevard - PUBLISHER
Timothy and Shelby Olive - EDITORS
Mary Kay McPartlin - MANAGING EDITOR
Brother James Petrait, OSFS - WEBMASTER
Msgr. Michael Kosak - PROOFREADING, Advantage Editing
Deacon Emith Fludd- CIRCULATION

Click on the links or scroll below for the text from the following articles from the January 2018 issue of The Catholic Islander:

From the Desk of Bishop Herbert Bevard - from page 3

Cover Story - I am My Brother's Keeper - Catholic Charities in the U.S. Virgin Islands - from page 11

Pro-Life Message - You Have a Right to be Alive - from page 12

Special Announcement - From Editor to Editors - from page 13

Journey of Faith - Looking to the Future with Hope - from page 14

Saint of the Month, St. Gianna Berretta Molla - from page 17

Reflection: New Year Hope - from page 20

About the picture on the cover - Catholic Charities food distribution after Hurricane Irma

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From the Desk of Bishop Herbert Bevard

January 2018

Dearly Beloved People of the Diocese of St. Thomas,


     Long ago and far away, Joab survived the condition of his life and said, “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” We find ourselves in a similar position today and we repeat these same faith-filled words that Joab chose. I am very much aware that many of you have suffered a great deal from the terrible storms, Irma and Maria, that devastated all four of the islands that comprise our diocese. For your suffering and pain, for your sense of loss and discouragement, I am truly sorry. So many people have lost their homes, their businesses or places of employment, their relatives and friends, who have moved to other locations. For all of this and more, I offer my promise of prayers and these words in which I hope you will find consolation. Together, we turn to God and to His Most Holy Mother Mary and we say with faith, “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

     Although many people lost many things, it is good to know that the loss of life was not substantial. By and large, we lost material things. Although the struggle to restore our normal way of life is very difficult, we must admit, that, considering we were hit by two category five hurricanes in quick succession, our losses could have been much more painful. We have much to thank God for.

     Some of the buildings owned by the Church were badly damaged. Others were damaged to a lesser extent and some were not damaged at all. I am pleased to inform you that these properties were covered by insurance and are, even now, in the process of being fixed and restored. Although it is early to make predictions, I believe that in some cases these restored and renewed structures will be an improvement over what preceded them. I look forward to being very involved with this process of restoration.

     The number of people who have come to the aid of the Church in the Virgin Islands is beyond counting. In your name and to all of them, I express my most sincere gratitude. In particular, I wish to thank Sister Donna Markham of Catholic Charities USA, whose kindness, wisdom and generosity have been outstanding. I am also grateful to Mr. Joseph Boland and his Catholic Extension team for their visit and assistance. Along with Catholic Charities USA and Catholic Extension, we are indebted to the Catholic Home Mission Society for their great help. I feel I should also express my gratitude to the Catholic Mutual Insurance Company and the Christian Brothers for their wonderful and speedy aid in providing money for repair and restoration of so many of our facilities.

     Irma and Maria struck hard and did great damage to our beautiful islands, but they also served to remind us that we must always recognize our reliance and dependence upon Almighty God in whose love we find hope and salvation.


Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Herbert A. Bevard, Bishop of the Diocese of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands


Cover Story

I am My Brother's Keeper - Catholic Charities in the U.S. Virgin Islands

     I’m sure most of us have asked ourselves at one point in our lives if we truly are “our brother’s keeper.” Growing up the eldest in a house of four girls, I remember often telling my parents I was, in fact, not the keeper of my sisters. It wasn’t until I matured a little more that I realized there is some truth behind what my parents were trying to teach me. In a very literal sense, we cannot be the “keeper” of our brothers and sisters. We cannot control someone’s actions, or what they choose to say of their own free will. God, Himself, doesn’t even control our actions. He gifted us that freedom, so we would have the ability to love. If we look at it through this lens, we see that being our brother’s and sister’s keeper does have a place in our lives as Catholics; to love our neighbor as ourselves and to love God above all. I can’t think of a better example of this than Catholic Charities.

     In 1910, the National Council of Catholic Charities was founded with the intention of bringing a sense of unity to those who work in charitable ministries and to advocate for the poor. Over the span of 70 years, the NCCC grew rapidly with the help of NCCC founder, Msgr. John O’Grady and, later, the Vatican II Council to transform NCCC into Catholic Charites USA. In 1990, Catholic Charities and the USCCB agreed Catholic Charities USA would coordinate disaster relief for the Church in the United States. Due to the over whelming poverty that was exposed because of hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, Catholic Charities USA started a campaign to reduce poverty in the U.S.

     This mission is seen in the Virgin Islands by Catholic Charities USA in the Virgin Islands. Led by Andrea Shillingford, they serve the poor and homeless by providing outreach programs; hosting soup kitchens and established Bethlehem House — where they have provided shelter for 6,500 nights and served 54,000 meals. After Hurricanes Irma and Maria, Catholic Charities USA in the Virgin Islands was the first on the ground providing much needed aid to those in need. Two months later, Catholic Charities continues to provide meals and shelter for the poor, homeless and those who suffered losses from the storms. It also continues it’s mission of advocacy through outreach and raising awareness for the much-needed aid in the the United States Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

     On Dec. 14, 2017, Bishop Herbert Bevard, along with Catholic Charities USA in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic School students, and, principal, Father Ortiz-Santiago, welcomed CEO and Director Sister Donna Markham OP, PhD to St. Thomas in hope of providing better outreach and advocacy for the territories.


Pro-Life Message

You have a Right to be Alive!


     You have a right to be alive! This right did not come from you willing it. It didn’t come from your family, or from the government, or from any other human being. You don’t have this right because you are healthy or sane; able to breathe on your own or because you have full control of your body. You have a right to be alive because you are made in the image of God, who has given you this right.

     No one can take this right from you — unless you forfeit it by attacking someone else. When you are an annoyance to others, when your life is difficult for you or for others — these aren’t situations that give anyone the right to take your life. For you and all who have life are presumed innocent until proved guilty.

     This doesn’t mean your life will be easy. God did not cause your difficulties. Instead, He gives you life, grace and the strength to use these gifts to help others. In a sense, your life is not your own. Instead, your life is a very spark of the divine within you, for your soul is created directly by God and your soul is what really gives you your human life.

     God has given you this life and the right to this life in order that you may allow yourself to be loved into eternal life. This life then is a time of transition, a time of preparation for the fullness of life which awaits us. This does not mean that this life is unimportant. To the contrary, how we live now affects how we will live then.

     Jesus loved life, but poured out his life for us. That is the model for all of us — to pour out in love and service our lives for others. It is what we need to do with our right to be alive.

     Jesus wants you to lay down your life for — not by abandoning your right to be alive, but by embracing life as Jesus did, with a fullness of love.

     This is my message to all, including those not yet born. — from Bishop Earl Boyea, Diocese of Lansing, Michigan.


Special Announcement

From Editor to Editors

by Father John Matthew Fewel - who serves the Diocese of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands


       I am happy to introduce Timothy and Shelby Olive as the new editors of The Catholic Islander.

     Timothy and Shelby are newly weds and are members of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Mafolie. They both work for the Olive family business, Caribbean Gifts and Things, Inc. Timothy has always been interested in aviation and the Church. He earned his pilot’s license and, not long afterward, flew Our Lady of Perpetual Help pastor, Father Eduardo Ortiz-Santiago, between St. Thomas and St. Croix for a special Mass. A lifelong altar server, Timothy is often seen at the bishop’s Masses acting as master of ceremonies.

     Shelby is a student at Catholic Distance University currently focusing on an associate’s in Catholic studies. Shelby is a talented photographer and has contributed to The Catholic Islander since coming to live here from the U.S. mainland following her marriage to Timothy. Her journalistic interest and artistic sense will serve the The Catholic Islander well, as she and her husband take up the reins of our popular diocesan magazine.


Journey of Faith

Looking to the Future with Hope

by Paul McAvoy, the communications and marketing director for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany, Ny. He is also a freelance writer for Faith Catholic.


     Most newlyweds can expect to experience some changes during their first year of marriage. For Timothy and Shelby Olive of St. Thomas, their first year of marriage was a doozy.

     The couple wed in January 2017 and Shelby moved from Maryland to the U.S. Virgin Islands. Timothy Olive, who is from St. Thomas, works at his family’s business and is taking on more of a leadership role. Then, the hurricane hit and, now, they and many on the island are working to rebuild. They also have taken on to a new task as co-editors of The Catholic Islander. Throughout all of these changes and challenges, their Catholic faith has been their anchor.

     “I owe my faith upbringing to my parents, my grandparents, and the Church — one hundred percent,” Timothy said. He was born and raised on St. Thomas, and went to Ss. Peter and Paul School from pre-K to 12th grade. Timothy’s father, Steve Olive, is the diocesan master of ceremonies, so Timothy grew up around the liturgy and is involved with Ss. Peter and Paul Cathedral Parish. In 2007, his sister went to college and worked at the Catholic TV station. Timothy stepped in to help, and that role in Catholic communications ignited his faith in a stronger way. In working to spread the Gospel message, Timothy began to deepen his faith.

     The pro-life movement is another area where Timothy is active in his faith, and it’s what brought him and Shelby together. Timothy explained, “In 2012, I went up to March for Life in Washington, D.C., for the first time with Father Eduardo Santiago. One of the first things he said when he was ordained was that he was bringing a team [from St. Thomas] to the March for Life. I was hesitant to go at first, it was a big trip, but I decided to go. I ended up falling into a leadership role in that group. That was the first place I met my wife, Shelby, at that march in 2012, and we stayed in touch for all these years after.” Though 2012 had been Timothy’s first time at the March, Shelby had been going for many years. A native of Accokeek, Maryland — a small town near Washington, D.C. — the annual event in January was a regular occurrence for Shelby.

     “1 grew up going to the March for Life ... and I come from a very strong Catholic family. I remember when I was younger my dad would always go every year. And my mom would always make these signs for him ... They always volunteered with the parish, and my mom was involved in youth ministry. So, I ended up becoming a leader in that too,” says Shelby.

     Shelby felt her presence at the March each year was important as an active witness on behalf of the unborn.

     “I can’t challenge people in their faith to be pro-life and stand up for what’s right if I’m not willing to stand up myself,” she says.

     The annual March for Life typically draws up to 650,000 people from all over the country to Washington, D.C. on Jan. 22, the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. Many of the attendees are involved in church youth groups. After 2012, Timothy and Shelby stayed in touch and one year later, met again when he came with another St. Thomas group to the march. Shelby invited them to stay at her parents’ home. Timothy and Shelby’s relationship deepened, and they knew they were called to marriage. In honor of their shared commitment to the pro-life movement, they wed Jan. 22, 2017.

     The couple moved to St. Thomas and are involved at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish. They lead the youth group and the Legion of Mary, and are looking forward to building up both groups.

     Since the hurricanes, they and the community have come together to help one another.

     “I remember the days following the hurricane and how thankful everybody was. To this day, everyone is just so thankful for life. Some people we know have lost everything, but at the end of the day, they’re so thankful and there’s just this outpouring of love because God spared us. It’s hard to think of, but it honestly could have been a lot worse than it was,” says Shelby.

     Though the rebuilding process continues, Timothy and Shelby are looking to the future with hope — hope for the Church, hope for connecting young Catholics, and hope for St. Thomas.

     Timothy has been a contributing photographer for The Catholic Islander and also helps write and post photos for the blog. He’s enthusiastic about starting this again.

     “As co-editor, I’ll receive all the materials,and take photos and videos. I’m excited to get back into my held of technology, which I love so much, and spreading the faith through technology and communications,” says Timothy.

     Shelby is looking forward to the new role, too — though she still has a love for youth ministry, and she is studying at Catholic Distance University, she will be diving in to her new role with the magazine.

     “It’s a different direction for me, but it’s fun and it’s interesting. I’ve always liked photography as a hobby and being able to write, and to use it towards a goal for the Church, is really exciting for me,” she says.

     2017 has been a year of new beginnings for Timothy and Shelby, and they have embraced each change with hope and optimism. It’s fitting that they take the reins of The Catholic Islander magazine at this time. They are looking forward to a bright future on St. Thomas spreading the Gospel message and working to share the love of God with the people of Virgin Islands.


Saint of the Month

St. Gianna Berretta Molla B. 1922 | D. 1962 | Feast Day: April 28

The Patron Saint of: Mothers, Physicians, and Unborn Children.


St. Gianna sacrificed herself for the birth of her daughter

     Born in Magenta, Italy on October 4, 1922, St. Gianna Beretta Molla became a pediatric doctor and a surgeon at the age of 27, ministering to poor women and children. Her Catholic devotion to Jesus began in childhood, and she carried her love for Christ as she ministered to those in need.

     As an active member of lay-focused organization Catholic Action, St. Gianna worked to spread the social teachings of the Catholic Church throughout society. In 1955 her witness to Christ transformed after she married Pietro Molla. They became parents to Pierluigi, Maria Zita and Laura, and St. Gianna’s life was perfectly harmonized between work and family.

     Her faith was put to the test in 1961. St. Gianna and Pietro learned of the uterine tumor growing alongside their fourth child. She was given three choices: an abortion to save her life and allow future pregnancies; a hysterectomy or removal of the fibroma to save the life of the unborn baby with possible future complications.

     St. Gianna had the fibroma removed, determined for her child’s birth. Gianna Emanuela Molla was successfully delivered via cesarean section on April 21, 1962. St. Gianna died one week later from septic peritonitis.

     Beatified by St. John Paul II on April 24, 1994, Gianna was officially canonized as a saint on May 16, 2004, with her husband and children in attendance. Her canonization followed a verified miracle in 2003 to Elizabeth Comparini, who delivered a healthy child following pregnancy complications after she prayed to St. Gianna for her intercession.



New Year Hope

by Father Kevin MacDonald, CSsR - a Redemptorist priest, missionary, preacher, evangelist and retreat master.

     Oman said to me shortly before Christmas, “I can’t believe you Christians.You all believe in a carpenter from Nazareth. To me, it’s all ‘gobbly gook.’” I didn’t have a quick response. Perhaps I was a little stunned. After all, I had only said hello to the man. If I was better prepared, I might have said, “Do you at least have hope?” God can work with hope. It’s not faith, but it’s moving in the right direction.

     Two remarkable women, one a teenage mother and the other a woman on the outside of her childbearing years, saw hope in their children who were yet to be born. The Virgin Mary and Elizabeth also faced tremendous challenges. They were both living in a patriarchal Jewish society that pushed women into the background. They were victims of the chaos and confusion brought on by the conquering Roman army and, yet, they were both filled with hope.

     The origin of all this hope is, of course, the Holy Spirit. The same Holy Spirit that hovered over the waters in the Genesis story was intimately interwoven in the lives of Mary and her cousin, Elizabeth. Such hope often springs into song. The angels sang at Jesus’ birth. Zechariah sang when his speech returned and he named his son John. Simeon sang his prophesy that Jesus was to bring about the rise and fall of many and that a sword would pierce Mary’s heart. Mary sang her song of triumph in the Magnificat: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior for He has looked with favor on his lowly servant. From this day all ages will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is His Name.” (Lk 1:46-49)

     This new year is a time of hope. I say this with full knowledge of the difficulties of this present time. There are companies closing and prices rising. Friends and family members are moving far from home and fiscal cliffs (whatever they are) are looming. The world grieves over terror attacks that are too numerous to count. There is still the herculean task of recovery and repair from this hurricane season.

     Can a person be hopeful in the midst of such uncertainty and violence? Yes, because hope runs deeper than temporal setbacks and misfortune. I hope because of Jesus. I hope because I know that the Lord is with the grieving families who lost loved ones to hurricanes and wildfires. I hope because wars, natural disasters, financial insecurity, illness, crime, human excess and selfishness will never stamp out the face of Christ or the Spirit of God hovering over our world. Our God is with us and that will never change.

     I do hope for better days. I hope for peace and for peacemakers. I hope for unity among Christians and understanding and respect between all the peoples of the world. I hope because a carpenter from Nazareth changed the world. I’m humbled to be able to share His story.

     This song of hope needs to be passed on. Fifteen thousand children were asked in a survey: “What do you think makes a family happy?” They did not list big houses or fancy cars or new computers. The vast majority of children responded: “Doing things together.” When we do things together, like go to church, volunteer for community service or visit the elderly, the song of hope is heard more clearly. Our children need an anchor. They need hope.

     Mary and Elizabeth understood. They passed on this hope to their children. John the Baptist grew up and pointed to the fulfillment of hope in Jesus. Jesus reveals to the world that hope leads to faith and faith is a relationship that leads to joy, the joy that Jesus says, “no one can take from you.” (Jn 16:22b)

     Our Mother Mary knew of this joy, despite her difficult life. When she was a teenager she proclaimed: "God has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty ... He has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children forever.” (Lk 1:53-55) When she was an adult, she gave the directive to the servants at the wedding in Cana: “Do whatever He (Jesus) tells you.” What marvelous advice. When we do what Jesus tells us, our hope is fulfilled.

     Now, we just have to pass it on.

Father Kevin MacDonald, CSsR visits the Caribbean, the U.S. mainland and overseas in his work. To contact Father Kevin, call Sacred Heart Church in New Smyrna Beach, Fla., 386.428.6426.