Selected Text from the June 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 June 2017 issue of The Catholic Islander:
Pictured on the cover: Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral Hispanic Community Way of the Cross on Good Friday
From the Editor's Desk
by Father John Matthew Fewel
Here I am, Lord
(Text that accompanies the title photo of the assembled priests): The assembled priests of the Diocese of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands concelebrate at the Chrism Mass. With the sacred oils from this Mass, and with the rites of the Church, especially the holy Mass, priests assist their bishop to serve the people of God. In turn, the people of God serve as God has called them, in the state to which God has called them, using the gifts with which God has equipped them for evangelization. Through prayer, sacrifice, charitable works and penance, the faithful go about spreading the kingdom of God
Priests serve the people of God. The people of God are called by virtue of their baptism to
be what the Lord himself calls them, a priestly people. In order to equip them for this most important work, God has given them great gifts of inestimable value in the sacraments of the Church — through which feeding, arming, equipping and in every way preparing the faithful for spiritual warfare against the devil and his demons is to be accomplished. Through the apostolic, sacramental ministry, or holy orders, men are called to teach, administer the sacraments — most especially the Eucharist — and build up and strengthen the body of the Church.
God calls certain men to holy orders of the priesthood. Without priests, there would be no holy Eucharist. No Mass. No absolution of sins. God doesn’t deny his Church anything that is necessary to her work. He unfailingly calls the number of men necessary to carry out his mission in the world.
And the work is great. Fewer young men, however, are answering the call of God to the most important task of the building and edifying of the Church.
Pray for vocations to the priesthood — not so much for more, for God has called to the priesthood all the men we need, but for men to respond when they are called by saying to God, “Yes.”Our community is filled with young men who have been adorned with all of the necessary potential, from every background and culture. These young men must be formed well in their Catholic faith and encouraged to listen and to be attentive, wherever and at whatever time God calls them.
Samuel the prophet, as a young boy, heard God calling to him. He only required guidance to discern, and to respond with clarity and readiness to do God’s will. An atmosphere of prayer, primarily in the home, must be so rich that the voice of God may, like seed sown, find fertile soil so that he may be heard by young men and boys. Also, so that the call from God may be anticipated, sought after, prepared for and sensed by families — especially parents.
God speaks in whispers, which must be heard today through so much confusion, distraction and noise. When silence is Udll carefully maintained in the home, for personal and family prayer, the still, small voice of God may be heard. As clear, soft, melodic harmonies of music carry through the air the sweetest and loveliest of sounds, so the sound of God’s call may then gently alight upon the ear of one who is open and prepared to listen when he calls, with a heart ready to respond, “Here I am, Lord. Send me.”
Journey of Faith
Alive in the faith
BY PAUL MCAVOY
Claire and John Foster recently were honored at the Keys and Sword Gala for their work with the Knights and Dames of Malta, but their involvement in building up the Church the Virgin Islands goes back much further than their work with the Order of Malta. Claire and John both arrived on St. Thomas and met in 1961. They fell in love and married. John began a successful real estate firm and was involved in the community, while Claire devoted her energies to helping in the Church. It was a meeting in the 1970s with a priest from Italy that changed her life, and her faith, dramatically.
“I was a cradle Catholic all my life, doing the things that good Catholic girls do,” she said, “but I wasn’t alive in my faith. After I was here for several years, a priest named Father Serafino Falvo came from Italy. Fie was the chaplain on an Italian Line cruise ship. Somewhere along the line, he met people who brought him alive in his faith. When he came to St. Thomas, he started meeting people, and he really brought the charismatic movement here — and that’s when we all were on fire for Jesus.”
Claire describes those early days of the charismatic movement as an exciting time, when they would have prayer meetings anywhere they could and the group of Catholics involved was growing by the day. Msgr. Michael Kosak was involved with the movement, and it influenced Floly Family Parish, where Claire was a founding member.
As her faith grew, so did her works in charity and leading pilgrimages all over the world to renowned Catholic sites. Claire was always eager to learn more about the faith and share it with others. One day, she learned that the nun in Alabama who had been publishing these small books that Claire was passing around had founded a TV station — EWTN. Claire went to visit her sister on the mainland, saw EWTN for the first time and was hooked.
“I wrote Mother Angelica and she sent me all of the information she sent the priests if you want to get them involved,” Claire recalled. She began to ask around and, with the bishop’s blessing, sent information to all of the priests.Though her first attempts were unsuccessful at getting agreement from the local television station owners, Msgr. Michael Kosak knew one of the station owners and rented a station on St. Croix. Fie suggested they do the same for St. Thomas and set up a meeting.
“By that time, Bishop Sean O’Malley had arrived, and then everything started happening,” Claire said. “So a deacon and bishop and I went to see this man at the station. And we said, ‘I know you said you don’t have enough transponders, but what if we rent one from you?’ First he said no, he was too busy for the meeting and couldn’t help us. Fie started talking — he did most of the talking, we were praying most of the time — and in that time he talked himself into it!”
The station is still on today, and airs EWTN, as well as local Catholic Masses and programming. Claire invited Mother Angelica down for the station’s inaugural week, and she happily accepted and traveled all over the islands, meeting people for a week in the late 1980s. Now that Claire is housebound, she especially enjoys being able to view Masses from the Cathedral on the station. “Getting EWTN here was really my mission,” she said. “I’ve followed where I thought I was being led to do — I have great faith the Lord will lead me to wherever he wants me to go.”
Claire and John have an impressive list of other activities with the Church, from being a patron of the Vatican Museums, to the Order of Malta, to Catholic Charities, among so many. John officially converted to Catholicism 40 years after they were married, taking Augustine as his confirmation name. Today they live on St. Thomas, and have been members of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish for 15 years. The Fosters continue to be gratefully involved in the Catholic community, giving back wherever they can.
Saint of the Month
St. Maria Guadalupe Garcia Zavala - Feast Day: June 24
Mother Lupita - Patron Saint of Nurses
St. Maria Guadalupe Garcia Zavala, known as Mother Lupita, embraced a life of poverty while serving the poor and sick during a dangerous time in Mexico’s history.
Born in Mexico in 1878 into a family that ran a religious goods shop, Maria frequently visited the basilica next door to the shop, even at a young age. At 23, Maria told her spiritual director, Father Cipriano Ihiguez, that she was no longer going to get married; instead, she felt a strong calling to serve Jesus with an undivided heart by serving the poor and sick. Father Cipriano told Maria, in turn, of his desire to form a congregation that would care for the hospitalized. Maria broke off her engagement, and the two joined together to found an order of care-givers, The Handmaids of St. Margaret Mary and the Poor.
Serving as a nurse when the congregation began in 1901, Maria cared for patients regardless of their wealth or status. As the superior general of her order, she provided anexample of genuine joy in embracing poverty, often begging in the streets for funds for the hospital when needed. She sincerely believed that one can only truly be “poor with the poor” by loving and living in poverty.
When the Catholic Church in Mexico underwent persecution beginning in 1911, Maria often put her own life at risk by hiding priests, including the archbishop of Guadalajara, in her hospital. Maria served as the superior general of her order until her death in 1963. Her congregation now has 22 houses in Mexico, Peru, Iceland and other countries.
Canonized by Pope Francis on May 12, 2013, Maria becomes Mexico’s second female saint. At her canonization Mass, the Pope said, “This new Mexican saint invites us to love as Jesus loved us ... to come out of ourselves and care for those who are in need of attention, understanding and help, to bring them the warm closeness of God’s love through tangible actions of sensitivity, of sincere affection and of love.”
by Doug Culp
What do you say when ... FAMILY MEMBERS CLAIM RELIGION DOESN’T MATTER AS LONG AS YOU’RE A GOOD PERSON?
In 2017, Theology 101 is focusing on the topic of evangelization. Specifically, the task is 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.The Question
At a recent family gathering, several of my family members were saying that it doesn’t matter what religion you are, as long as you are a good person. What can I say?
FIRST THINGS FIRST
One of the first things you can do is to agree that being a good person is important. You can also acknowledge the goodness of your family members’ underlying desire. That is, they are seeking some common, unifying value capable of overcoming the divisions and conflicts that are often attributed to differences in religious beliefs.
At the same time, you need to examine your own reaction to this statement. Is it true? Is the goodness of a person the point of all religions? Do religions merely represent different paths to the same goal and are they therefore, all equally valid and true?
MANY PATHS, SAME GOD
The claim that all religions are equally valid and true since all represent different paths that lead to the same destination is well-intentioned. However, this position seeks to build unity among people and religions by in essence, negating religion altogether. To hold that all religions are equally valid and true is to say that no religion is ultimately valid or true.
THE WHOLE TRUTH, AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH
Next, you might gently probe your family members’ position to see if their assertion is capable of accomplishing its goal of transcending religion in order to attain unity. A great way to do this is to simply ask them questions. For example, a few fundamental questions would be: What does it mean to be a good person? Who determines the definition of a good person? What are the criteria for determining whether someone is good? Where do the criteria come from? Why are these the criteria and not some other criteria?
Questions like these reveal that we simply cannot assert the absolute truth of something without making a dogmatic claim at the same time. Absolute truth claims are by nature dogmatic.So, when we say that being a good person supersedes religion, we are creating a new dogma that “good” behavior transcends all other religious truth. We are establishing our own truth as the criterion against which all other claims of truth must be measured. It’s as if being a “good” person is now a religion in itself.
We often try to escape the tensions of life, but life happens precisely in the tension. Rather than deal seriously with the competing truth claims of different religions through the hard, long work of dialogue, mutual respect and a commitment to seeking the truth together, we are sometimes tempted to search out shortcuts to avoid healthy, necessary conflict in the name of peace. Your family members’ statement offers you the perfect opportunity to model what this means in practice.
Certainly, being a good person is an important step to establishing peace between people. The question remains, though: is it enough? Does being a good person represent the fullness of the truth?
Our Catholic faith would answer with a clear “No.” It is Christ’s death and resurrection that saves, not our being good. Yes, we are to try to be good people (a tremendous challenge given that we live in a fallen world plagued by sin), but more so we are called to the life of Christian discipleship — a discipleship that finds its fullest expression at the intersection of the Tree of Life that is the wood of the cross,
FOR FURTHER REFLECTION
Consider prayerfully reading the following Gospel passages: "As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’1 Jesus answered him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: 'You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; you shall not defraud; honor your father and your mother."’ He replied and said to him, "Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth." Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, "You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to [the] poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." At that statement his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!"
Mark 10:17-23: Reflection Questions:
1. How might this passage speak to the assertion made by the family members?
2. What does it have to say about our ability to be good?
3. What does Jesus’ conversation with the rich man mean for the claim that being a good person is all that matters?
Who said the following? "The Lord has created us in His image and likeness, and has given us this commandment in our heart: Do good and do not do evil. The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone!... And we all have a duty to do good. And this commandment for everyone to do good, / think, is a beautiful path towards peace. If we, with everyone doing his own part; if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of meeting: we need that so much. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!' But do good! We shall meet there."A) St. Ambrose
B) Pope Benedict XVI
C) St. Isidore
D) Pope Francis
(scroll down for the answer)
Answer to Evangelization Quiz: D) Pope Francis