Selected Text from the March 2017 issue of The Catholic Islander
The Magazine of the Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands
Most Rev. Herbert Bevard - PUBLISHER
Father John Matthew Fewel -EDITOR
Sarah Jane von Haack - MANAGING EDITOR
Brother James Petrait, OSFS - WEBMASTER
Msgr. Michael Kosak - PROOFREADING, Advantage Editing
Deacon Emith Fludd- CIRCULATION
Jenny Bis - GRAPHIC DESIGNER
Click on the links or scroll below for the text from the following articles from the February 2017 issue of The Catholic Islander:
From the Bishop's Desk
Bishop Herbert Bevard
My dear friends:
Among print magazines, newsletters, and newspapers, in my estimation, there is none more attractive or interesting than The Catholic Islander. Each month it has beautiful and colorful covers, large, high quality photos inside, showing priests, deacons, religious, and parishioners involved in all kinds of ministries and activities. It is an avidly read, faithfully Catholic, periodical.
One of the most important purposes of The Catholic Islander magazine is that it helps our diocese to be united as a Catholic family across the waterways that separate our three islands.
But, beyond the shores of our territory, did you know that The Catholic Islander is read in many places around the world, online?
Our diocesan websites: catholicislander. com, and catholicvi.com, which are run and maintained by Brother James Petrait, O.S.F.S., bring The Catholic Islander to the world. International interest in The Catholic Islander has surged in recent months. A report submitted by Br. James showed that the number of visits around the world increased from hundreds to over a thousand per month, in late 2016. There were 1,478 visits in October, 2,050 in November, and 3,155 in December.
The top five countries where people looked at The Catholic Islander online were: the US mainland, China, Ivory Coast, South Korea, and the Russian Federation.
On any one visit, there may be varying numbers of hits (clicking the mouse on something) and pages viewed. For 2016, the total was a staggering 289,825 hits and 166,142 pages viewed.
This remarkable phenomenon may be due in part to recent work by our webmaster to allow the translation of our English-language The Catholic Islander magazine, by automated software, into any of several languages: like Chinese, French, Korean, Russian, and more.
As interesting as this all may be, the significance of Br. James’ report goes beyond some merely impressive numbers.
Our Catholic duty is to go forth and spread the Gospel message. In our digital age, with the sea of information both good and evil to be found throughout the internet, the message of Gospel hope is going out to all the world from our tiny diocese of St. Thomas, through our humble diocesan periodical, The Catholic Islander!
May God bless you, each and every one, and may your personal Gospel witness also grow daily!
After Many years in her adopted Crucian home, a beloved ICM sister departs for new assignment
Sister Lovina Reyes, I.C.M., to whom we bid sad farewell last month, has been a prominent, longtime member of St. Croix’s I.C.M. community. She has served local parishes with great energy, love, and dedication. Sister for several years led choir practice at St. Joseph High School and directed the student choir at weekly Mass. Sister Lovey, among all of her activities also regularly assisted with music for Sunday Masses at St. Patrick’s in Fredericksted. As she departs for her new assignment in her native Philippine Islands, Sister Lovina takes with her Bishop Bevard’s apostolic blessing, thanks, and love, as well as the affection of countless Crucians, and all those who have come to know and love Sister Lovey in the Diocese of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, which she has served so faithfully.
The Legislature of the Virgin Islands Had a Prayer Service at St. Joseph Church on January 11, 2017
The Virgin Islands Legislature chose St. Joseph Church on St. Croix for their prayer service after the swearing in of the new senators on St. Thomas. The service was filled with the senators, their spouses and friends. The media and security were also present.
The Catholic prayer service was held with the readings done by Deacon James Verhoff and the sermon by Father John Mark, pastor of St. Joseph Church. Father Mark delivered a very strong address and exhorted the senators to work for the people, strongly repeating the point several times. He also reminded the Legislature of the many downturns in religious faith during the present time and focused on issues of abortions, same-sex marriage and prayer in public schools. Afterwards, the Our Father was led by Father Mark and Deacon Verhoff and the senators and all of those present stood and joined hands in a moving expression of unity.
SISTER CONSTANCE VEIT, L.S.P.
The director of communications for the Little Sisters of the Poor.
A few days ago I met a very little girl who made a big impression on me. Grace and her older brother Benedict suffer from a rare genetic disorder that has resulted in serious hearing impairment and limited physical growth. The two come to our home for the elderly each week with their mother to pray the rosary with our residents. Watching Grace and Benedict interact with the elderly, I was amazed by their maturity and graciousness. I almost felt that I was in the presence of angels — such was the radiance of these two beautiful little ones in the midst of our frail seniors.
In all likelihood, Grace and Benedict will never make an impact on the world scene, and yet I believe that they, and so many other little, hidden souls, make a huge difference in our world spiritually. This is what our Holy Father is suggesting by his Lenten message this year. The theme he has proposed for our 2017 journey through Lent is the word is a gift. Other persons are a gift.
Using the parable of Lazarus and the rich man from St. Lukes Gospel, Pope Francis turns our attention to those whom we might usually ignore. He compares the anonymity of the rich man, who is never named in Scripture, with Lazarus, who appears with a specific name and a unique story. Lazarus “becomes a face, and as such, a gift, a priceless treasure, a human being whom God loves and cares for, despite his concrete condition as an outcast.”
The Holy Father continues, “Lazarus teaches us that other persons are a gift. A right relationship with people consists in gratefully recognizing their value.” Lent, he says, is a favorable season for recognizing the face of Christ in Gods little ones. “Each of us meets people like this every day,” says the pope. “Each life that we encounter is a gift deserving acceptance, respect and love. The word of God helps us to open our eyes to welcome and love life, especially when it is weak and vulnerable.”
This is what our foundress St. Jeanne Jugan did so beautifully. Mindful of Christs promise that whatever we do to the least of his brothers and sisters we do to him, she opened her heart and her home definitively to the needy elderly of her day. She often counseled the young Little Sisters, “Never forget that the poor are Our Lord ... When you will be near the poor give yourself wholeheartedly, for it is Jesus himself whom you care for in them.”
Jeanne Jugan looked upon each elderly person with the loving gaze of Christ and so she saw each one as a treasure worthy of reverence and loving care. She knew that despite outward appearances, each person to whom she offered hospitality was someone for whom Christ died and rose again; each one was someone worthy of the gift of her own life.
Pope Francis’ prayer this Lent is that the Holy Spirit will lead us “on a true journey of conversion, so that we can rediscover the gift of Gods word, be purified of the sin that blinds us, and serve Christ present in our brothers and sisters in need.” Let us pray for one another, he concluded, “so that by sharing in the victory of Christ, we may open our doors to the weak and the poor. Then we will be able to share to the full the joy of Easter.”
I thank God for my recent encounter with Grace and Benedict, for they opened my eyes anew to the beauty in each human person. My wish for you this Lent is that God lead might you to a similar lifechanging encounter.
St. Joseph High School students take part in a week-long training program
Thirty-four St. Joseph High School students spent the week of Jan. 23-27, 2017, preparing to join the ranks of the Teen CERT (Community Emergency Response Team), a youth disaster preparedness program sponsored by the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA) and Virgin Islands Rescue. The week was spent on campus with instructions given to the students on the various aspects of being prepared for emergencies. The week ended on Friday with a three-hour disaster simulation program in which other students in the school were involved as simulated victims. All of the 34 students received certification from VITEMA.
Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Barbecue Fun Day held at Ss. Joachim and Ann Parish on St. Croix
On January 16, 2017, Ss. Joachim and Ann Parish family celebrated its annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Barbecue Fun Day, which was attended by many parishioners, friends and guests. The fun day began with morning Mass and continued throughout the day on the church grounds. Children enjoyed pastime games like sack race, lime-in-spoon, apple-on-a-string, tug-of-war, children and adult musical chairs, Zumba, dominoes and bingo. Attendees enjoyed a scrumptious meal of BBQ chicken, ribs, hot dogs, potato salad, Johnny cakes and local beverages, such as passion fruit, sorrel, ginger beer and maubi.
Athniel 'Addie' Ottley
The Voice of WSTA for 52 Years
By Paul McAvoy
For more than 52 years, listeners to WSTA’s morning show on 1340 AM have woken up with Addie Ottley, his voice a warm presence in homes and cars throughout the Virgin Islands. Whether talking about the news of the day, playing upbeat music, or discussing issues in the community, Addie’s morning show is a staple of island life. What you may not know is how committed Addie is to his Catholic faith. Since his early days as a student at Saints Peter and Paul school, right up to today, Addie is grounded in the Catholic faith passed down from his parents.
“I was born on St. Thomas,” Addie said, “and I had eleven brothers and sisters ... We were all about the Catholic faith. My father, twice a week we would have a Saturday get together in the living room to say the Rosary to our Blessed Mother. All of us continued to practice Catholicism through our adult life. I’m now 75 years old and continue to attend Mass on a regular basis and receive Holy Communion once a week.”
Addie and his siblings went to Saints Peter and Paul school, where the lessons in faith supported what they were learning from their parents. “We were taught by the Redemptorist’ Fathers, they ran it for years, and then the Sisters of Charity,” Addie said. “We went to Mass on Wednesdays and Sundays. It was a requirement of the students. It was all nuns — you know what that means,” he recalled, with a laugh. “You couldn’t get away with anything! We were brought up properly to respect and listen to parents and teachers.”
Winning a local disc jockey contest while still in high school is what got Addie into the radio business. It was the late 1950s, and his show “Addie at Night” was a hit with the young crowd. Addie knew he wanted a career in broadcasting, and had to convince his parents.
When he went to the States to study electronic engineering, he continued to record shows at WOWO in Ft. Wayne, Indiana and sent the programs back to the islands for broadcasting. “When I graduated the offers were there for engineering jobs, but at the same time I got a call from the manager, Len Stein at WSTA radio station,” he said. “They wanted me to return to the islands to be assistant manager, and hopefttlly manager in a few years. That was my calling. So I came back to St. Thomas and began hosting the morning show in 1965.”
While hosting the morning show, Addie got to know the issues and concerns that people had in the community, and he wanted to get involved with solutions. He first ran for the Senate in 1968, and served many years. He was appointed Lieutenant Governor by Melvin Evans, and served in that role with an eye toward helping the people. Though he and Governor Evans lost their re-election bid, Addie continued to serve in politics for several more years.
Members of the Ottley family and other local investors bought WSTA radio station in 1985, and continued the formula for positive programming and maintaining the mix of call-in, music, local issues, and talk that defined his morning show. Around that time Addie also started hosting “Face to Face” on PBS, interviewing people who were making a difference in the community.
Addie stays active in the Church, from broadcasting the 10:30 a.m. Mass at Ss. Peter and Paul Cathedral to being involved in the recent restoration work there. Faith continues to be important to Addie, his wife, Mary, and their family. “To this day, I say the Rosary,” he said. “The good Lord has blessed my life. My faith is very strong in the Catholic religion.”
by Doug Culp
WHAT DO YOU SAY WHEN ... A friend says their prayers are not being answered?
In 2017, Theology 101 will focus on the topic of evangelization. Specifically, the task will be to offer some ways of approaching various questions Catholics may encounter from co-workers, family and friends regarding the practice of the faith. Of course, we must remember that nothing can replace the power of witnessing to the Good News through our own actions and words combined with our willingness to accompany others on their faith journey.
What do I say when a friend tells me they have prayed and prayed for something, but their prayers were not answered?
Now they are giving up on God.
THE THREE RESPONSES
A few years ago, a homilist gave a short reflection on his own experience of prayer: “Prayer may be about our needs, but it should never be about our wants. Prayer is an honest conversation in communion with God. It is simply receiving God’s gift of love. The answer to our prayers becomes the life we lead for God for there are only three responses given by God to prayer: ‘yes,’ ‘not yet,’ and ‘I have a better idea.’”
You will notice “no” is not an option.
When our prayer is not answered immediately, perseverance and persistence are required. One way of understanding prayer is to think of each prayer as a seed. The Gospel of Mark teaches us that the fruits of prayer may not be realized instantly. The seed first produces the blade, then the ear, and finally the ripe wheat in the ear, typically out of the sight and control of the farmer who planted the seed.
In addition, the Parable of the Sower might be helpful. (Mt. 13) Sometimes, in order for our prayer to be fruitful, we need to sow it, taking care to water and tend to it all the while trusting that the seed will grow of its own accord and on its own timeline.
If we, instead, try to force this growth, we will succeed only in preventing it altogether. If we sow our prayer only to then “dig it up” incessantly with worry and doubt, it will never take root. Nor does it serve us to enthusiastically look for any signs that point to our prayer being answered, only to give up hope at the first sign of delay.
WHEN OUR PRAYER IS NOT ANSWERED IMMEDIATELY, PERSEVERANCE AND PERSISTENCE ARE REQUIRED
HAVE A BETTER IDEA
When our prayer seems to have gone unanswered, we are called to consider that God may have a better idea. This calls for our discernment and ultimately our surrender.
After celebrating the Last Supper, Jesus went to Gethsemane to pray. Matthew’s Gospel tells us that he began to feel sorrow and distress and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me.” (26:39) Of course, we know the cup he was referring to was the passion of the cross. Three different times, Jesus repeated his prayer. Luke’s Gospel says that Jesus “was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground.” (22:44) Yet, Jesus’ prayer went seemingly unanswered as the cup of his death did not in fact pass.
Of course, that Jesus asked to be spared from the cross is not the whole story. He indeed asked for what he desired, but that desire was subordinated to the Father’s will. In the same way, the Gospels encourage us to ask ourselves about the conformity of our prayer to the desire of the Spirit, especially when we are tempted to stop praying because we think our prayers have not been answered.
In the spiritual classic, Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence, St. Claude de la Colombiere puts it this way: “Christ promised on behalf of his Father that he would give us everything, even the very smallest things. But he laid down an order to be observed in all that we ask, and if we do not obey this rule we are unlikely to obtain anything. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells us: ‘Seek first the kingdom of God and his justice and all these things shall be given to you besides.’”
The person who is about to give up on prayer and God because it does not seem to yield results is in danger, for the most critical thing we can do at such times is pray and persist in prayer with a trust in the faithfulness of God. We must continue to pray, even more so amidst distraction and dryness, with a humble and honest heart that pleads with the Father for our needs, but says with Jesus, “not my will, but your will be done.”
FOR FURTHER REFLECTION
Consider prayerfully reading the following passage from the Book of Exodus (3:7-8): But the Lord said, “I have witnessed the affliction of my people in Egypt and have heard their cry of complaint against their slave drivers, so I know well what they are suffering. Therefore, I have come down to rescue them from the hands of the Egyptians and lead them out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey."
We know that that the Israelites had been slaves for a long time at this point. We also know that even after the Lord delivered them from Egypt, they spent another 40 years in the desert before entering the Promised Land. Along the way, there was grumbling, backsliding, idolatry and doubt as their prayers and God’s promise were unfulfilled.
1. Given all this, what does this story have to teach us about the nature of answered prayer? 2. How might this passage help you support a friend who is struggling in his or her faith because of unanswered prayers?
Which Pope said the following?
"In a vision of the Book of Revelation ... we see that in front of God's throne an angel is holding a golden censer in his hand into which he continues to put grains of incense, that is our prayer, whose sweet fragrance is offered together with the prayers that rise to God (cf. Rev 8:1-4). it is a symbolism that tells us how all our prayers — with every possible limitation, effort, poverty, dryness and imperfection they may have — are so to speak purified and reach God’s heart. In other words we can be sure that there is no such thing as superfluous or useless prayers; no prayer is wasted. And prayers are answered, even if the answer is sometimes mysterious, for God is Love and infinite Mercy."
A) Pope John Paul I
B) Pope Benedict XVI
C) Pope Clement X
D) St. John XXIII
(Answer at the bootom of this page.)
By Father Kevin MacDonald, CSsR
What if I Fall?
I saw an enormous star tonight in the sky. It was probably a planet, although I could not tell you which one. It made me think of my ignorance of the night sky. Would I be able to explain, for example, the rotation of the earth around the sun to a second-grader? How about gravity? Why are we not falling off the earth into space?
These thoughts bring to mind a wonderful retired bishop from Green Bay, Wis., Bishop Robert Morneau. Bishop Morneau is a poet, a philosopher and a prolific writer with 47 books to his credit. He also has the ordinary touch and a sense of humor to prove it. For example, he is a huge Green Bay Packers football fan. As bishop, he was once asked to deliver the game ball at the start of the Packers season. He said that no one threw a better 10-yard spiral than he did.
In one of his retreat talks, Bishop Morneau issued an interesting challenge. He said that people should try to do four things every year: 1) read a math book; 2) read a science book; 3) memorize a poem; and 4) stay up-to-date with technology. Why would the bishop issue such a statement? I think it is, perhaps, that he was ahead of his time. We know now that such exercises keep our minds sharp and active. Keen mental faculties will help us to be more attentive to prayer and creative in our acts of charity. Expanding our knowledge of science and art can benefit all aspects of our lives.
Gazing upon the extravagance of our night sky, for example, can lead us to contemplate the creative mystery behind it. Just like the stars light up the night, so does the light of Christ dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds. The unforgivable sin is when we do not allow the light of God into our lives. God, as we know, forgives every sin, as there is nothing that we can do that will place us outside the love of God. It is only when we choose to live in darkness that we cut ourselves off from the reach of God. People need to know the power of the light of Christ. Even the smallest ray of light causes the darkness to recede.
When we exercise the power of our minds and deepen our gratitude for the beauty that surrounds us, God smiles in appreciation. I'll conclude with a poem by a young woman from Australia, Erin Hansen. (Perhaps we can all memorize it before next months edition of The Catholic Islander.)
There is freedom waiting for you
On the breezes of the sky
and you say, "What if I fall?"
Oh but my darling
What if you fly?
FATHER KEVIN MACDONALD, CSSR, IS A REDEMPTORIST PRIEST, MISSIONARY PREACHER, EVANGELIST AND RETREAT MASTER. HE 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., 1.386.428.6426.
Saint of the Month
St. Maria Josefa of the Heart of Jesus
“There is another type of assistance that must never be forgotten and it is the assistance of the heart that adjusts and enter in sympathy with the person who suffers and go to meet his necessities.”
St. Maria Josefa felt called to religious life at a young age growing up in 19th-century Spain, initially believing she was called to join a monastery and live a contemplative life. But when she was just 18, Maria realized she had a vocation to a more active religious calling. She originally joined the Institute of the Servants of Mary, but soon discovered her call was more specific, and she needed to focus on the sick in both hospitals and in their homes.
Marfa founded a new order in Bilbao, Spain the Institute of the Servants of Jesus in 1871, before she was even 30 years old. Sister Maria Josefa was the first mother superior of this order, which was dedicated to serving and caring for the sick, children, elderly and homeless. She served in this role for 41 years.
From her childhood on, Marfa showed a strong love for the Eucharist, and a dedication to the sick and poor. She felt it was the calling of the Servants of Jesus to accompany the sick “until the door of eternity.”
The importance of having a contemplative spirit when caring for the sick was a hallmark for Mother Josefa and the sisters. She once wrote: “Don't believe sisters that the assistance consists only in giving medicines and food to the sick. There is another type of assistance that must never be forgotten and it is the assistance of the heart that adjusts and enter in sympathy with the person who suffers and go to meet his necessities.”
At the time of her death in 1912, Sister Marfa Josefa had founded 43 homes with more than 1,000 sisters. After her death, the Institute of the Servants of Jesus expanded to more than 100 houses in 16 countries, with a special focus on the poorest areas of Asia and Latin America.
St. Marfa Josefa was canonized by St. John Paul II in 2000.
Which Pope said the following? Answer is B) Pope Benedict