Sr. Maria Lucina Enters Eternal Rest

 SISTER MARIA LUCINA ~ MELINDA SHELLENBARGER

Sister Maria Lucina of the Lamb of God, SOLT, (Melinda Shellenbarger) died Saturday, June 23, 2018, after a courageous battle with cancer, at St. Anthony Regional Hospital in Carroll.

Mass of the Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m., Tuesday, June 26, 2018 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Willey. The Celebrant will be Fr. Peter Marsalek, SOLT. Con-Celebrants will be Fr. Kevin Richter and Fr. Mark Wendling, SOLT. Music will be by Sister Mary of Holy Hope and the SOLT Sisters. Lectors will be Joe Shellenbarger and Sister Maria Stella Maris. Gift Bearers will be: Sister Maria Mater Dei, Mia Balderas, Grace Elbers, Emma Elbers, and Hannah Elbers. Eucharistic Minister will be Sister Marie Hesed. Casket Bearers will be: Joe Shellenbarger, Jerry Shellenbarger, John Shellenbarger, Dan Elbers, Scott Sibbel and Vern Greving. Burial will be in St. Mary’s Cemetery in Willey.

Friends may call at St. Mary’s Church in Willey after 4 p.m. on Monday where there will be a rosary at 5 p.m. and a Christian Wake Service at 7 p.m. Additional visitation will be from 9:30-10:15 a.m. on Tuesday morning in the St. Mary’s Parish Hall in Willey.

Funeral arrangements are under the direction of the Sharp Funeral Home in Carroll and online condolences may be left at www.sharpfuneral.com.

Born on January 17, 1957 at Slayton, Oregon, Melinda was the daughter of Robert and Arlene (Oenning) Welter. She is the eldest of six children and grew up in Torrence, California and Beaverton, Oregon. Melinda married Lonnie Shellenbarger at St. John the Baptist Church in Portland, OR in 1982. They welcomed their beloved daughter Lindsay, in 1984. The family resided in Oregon City where Melinda owned and operated Shell Graphics, where she did architectural renderings and Heaven’s Treasures Catholic Gift Store. After meeting Fr. Pinto, SOLT in 1992, she became a member of the Disciples of Jesus and Mary. She grew in her Catholic faith and felt God calling her to dedicate the rest of her life to His service. In 2006, Sr. Maria Lucina entered formation with the Sisters of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity(SOLT). She professed her first vows on July 16, 2012 and final vows on July 11, 2017. Sr. Maria Lucina was a gifted artist and shared her many gifts with everyone she encountered. She served for many years at Our Lady of Corpus Christi Retreat Center, in Corpus Christi, Texas, at Divine Mercy Parish in Belize City, Belize and at Domus Trinitatis in Willey, Iowa.

Sister Maria Lucina is survived by her daughter, Lindsay (Rory) Fitzgerald of Orlando, FL; her mother, Arlene Welter of Beaverton, OR; her siblings: Joseph (Junita) Welter of Aloha, OR, Jeffrey Welter of Vancouver, VA, Lisa (Randy) Cornwell of Beaverton, OR, John Welter of Hillsborough, OR, and Jerry Welter of Aloha, OR; as well as many aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and the members of her SOLT family.

Her father, Robert Welter and her husband Lonnie Shellenbarger preceded her in death.

 

 

First Impressions in Belize

Recently, Fr. Mark Wendling and Sr. Mary Elizabeth Albers led a group of young people to serve in Belize for almost two weeks. Below is a short write-up from one of the missionaries, Jack Kessler.

High: Attending Mass Sunday night I was struck by the deep sense of community present in the parish. The people were clearly excited by the return of Father Mark and the sense of anticipation was infectious. Celebrating the liturgy in Spanish was invigorating both because it reminded me of the universality of our faith and because it challenged me to be present without falling back on familiar routine.  I am excited to celebrate the source and summit our faith with the community of Benque again.

God moment: Today I was blessed to celebrate adoration with the rest of the group up here at Chapel Hill.  Watching the Blessed Sacrament I was reminded of a, possibly apocryphal, quote from the Cure of Ars Where he described Adoration as “I watch Him and He watches me”  That is what we did. We watched God and felt His presence with us. It was very relaxing and helped remind me of the goal of this mission i.e. to serve Him.

New experience: I had traveled to Mexico before so the actual process of traveling to Belize was not particularly new. However, once we reached Benque proper I was astonished to discover that Father Mark is for all intents and purposes a major celebrity to the people there. Driving through the town it felt like he stopped to chat with every person there.  The friendliness and courtesy displayed by the Belizeans was disarming in its simplicity. It felt almost like we were all returning to visit old friends, transforming a “foreign” place into a familiar shelter.

Other thoughts: Visiting Belize, I have been fascinated by the many different people I have met and the work that SOLT is doing here. This is mainly because it is such important work with a clear and visible impact but also because I have a personal connection to SOLT’s mission in Belize. My aunt spent several years as a missionary here and growing up I would always hear her talk about how much being here had meant to her. Coming here meant I could in part see what had excited her so much about this country and its people. What I could not foresee is that this would lead to me being constantly introduced to people as her nephew. In that sense I am very much in her shadow. I just hope I do not embarrass her too much.

Consecration, Communion, Service

 On August 11th of last year, our own dear Fr. Bob Cronin of SOLT passed into eternity on the Turtle Mountain Reservation, where he had loved and served for more than 25 years. In the two weeks leading up to his death, we community members, as well as many parishioners, held vigil in his room, serving his needs under the gaze of our Eucharistic Lord, 24/7. When Christ came for him, there was a priest, a sister, and a lay person with him. From my time and meditations there at his bedside, I would like to draw out three particular points of the joys of Consecrated Life that I feel this experience showcased.

First, consecration. It is an inexhaustible source of joy and grace for me to be a bride of Christ and a Church in miniature. Consecration is the reality that makes people ask us, “What are you?” To be able to stand for Christ and the Church in a public, marked, concrete, and special way was definitely something that attracted me to this life. And not only do I stand for Him, but the King of Heaven has reached down and chosen and marked me for Himself. This symbolism of consecration means that I represent and stand for another. This mystery was so clearly revealed as we Sisters stood by the bedside of Fr. Bob, as signs of our own dear mother Mary, who persevered by the Cross of her dying Son, or as signs of the Church who stays faithful to all her sons and daughters to the last minute of their lives. This standing for another is expressed to me in many other ways, also, like the kindergarten students who persist in calling to me, “Hey, Mary!” or the questions and conversations that begin when people see our habit.

Secondly, communio or communion. This word is dear to our Community, as our charism states that we are “Disciples of Jesus through Mary, living in Marian-Trinitarian Communion, serving on Ecclesial Family Teams, in areas of deepest Apostolic need.” It is a joy to live out every day, in reality and in hope, full communion of Heaven and Earth, communion of all members of the Church, and communion of all of creation in the love of the Trinity. How beautifully this was felt in serving Fr. Bob! One of the other priests would say Mass every day in his room, and when Mass was not being offered our Lord in the Eucharist remained exposed in adoration for Fr. Bob and whoever was taking care of him that shift. Heaven and earth, priests, sisters, and laity all working together as it ought to be. I was able to sit in silence with others for many hours and watch Fr. Bob breathe, pondering life, and death, and beauty, keeping the rhythm of the day with the Liturgy of the Hours. All of us were touched by this communion and community united in a single purpose, a picture of what Jesus prayed for when He said, “Father, that they may be one…”.

Third, service. Service to always and to all. It is a great gift to realize that my life does not belong to me, but to all people in service. At Saint Ann’s, I am the religion teacher in our Catholic school, and we Sisters are also involved in lots of things, such as bringing Holy Communion to our many homebound parishioners, teaching sacramental prep, serving our nursing home, and running a thrift store. It is in service that I am able to complete the example that Christ gave as our Divine Bridegroom in laying down His life, and it is where I am able to be an outlet to the many gifts, insights, and services given to me. My favorite saint is Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati who expressed this so well. “Jesus comes to me every morning in Communion, and I return the visit by going to serve the poor.” As I sat by Fr. Bob’s bed, I often thought of the fact that it is not the number or quantity of people visited that makes a difference, but rather to make each and every encounter with anyone count, to re-gift to them their dignity and the love Jesus has for them, to let each one know that they are priceless.

I thank God that He has chosen me to be a Sister! Pray for your Sisters, and for the people God has given us to serve, that we may be found faithful! And may we always find the source of our joy in the consecration, communion, and service God has gifted us with.

Written by Sr. Mary Rachel Craig, SOLT

New Endeavors in Education

Christy Snoke first fell in love with Belize when she visited our SOLT mission in Benque Viejo del Carmen as a chaperone with St. Michael’s Parish Youth Group from Findlay, Ohio, 8 years ago. She always knew that one day she would return to Belize to do something important. Now she lives in Belize City working with SOLT at Divine Mercy Parish in starting Mother of Mercy Montessori. Below is an interview with Christy about her experience in helping start Mother of Mercy Montessori.

How many children attend Mother of Mercy?

Currently we have 12 children enrolled in our program.

When did the program open?

Mother of Mercy is licensed as a daycare. I tell everyone, I run a Montessori daycare or school in the same fashion- Montessori style.  Our opening Mass and day was September 12, 2017.

Why did you start the program?

There were several reasons we started the program.  There is a greater history in the Divine Mercy parish than I know of, but there has been a plan for an early childhood center at Divine Mercy for many years now.  The property and building have been there, prayer warriors praying as God lined up the time and individuals necessary to make it a reality.

There has been a desire to have an authentically Catholic early childhood development program that can build a “Civilization of Love” within the Belizean culture.

In a providential meeting with a SOLT sister in Benque Viejo del Carmen in June 2010, right before I started my Montessori journey, we discussed her vision for Montessori and the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd in Belize.  From that moment forward, I knew that one day God would align people to start a program.

How did you start the center?

In November of 2016, parishioners of Divine Mercy and I gathered to discuss Montessori and how it could enhance and build upon the beautiful Belizean culture.  Several talented Belizeans pulled together their gifts and skills to gather the necessary tools to begin the program.  Within in a short few months, we had applications submitted for the program, materials purchased, caregivers lined up, generous sponsors and some interested families.  By the beginning of March 2017, we were on our way!

Do any volunteers assist with the program?

We have volunteers assisting with the program.  Sr. Stella Maris is one of our lovely caregivers. Ms. Therese is a retired preschool teacher who contributes beautifully to the cultural element of the program.  We now have Janine Chicas, a dear parent, as the lead caregiver.  Martita, another parent, has assisted with cleaning, making aprons, etc.  All of the families are required to volunteer each year.  We also had St. John’s Junior College education department come for a day to volunteer their time building a sandbox, playing with the children and other tasks around our center.  We’ve had Guiselle and Nina, high school students volunteer on their holiday break.  Indira Chavarria assisted in purchasing snack and drinking water on a weekly basis

We have many volunteers assisting with the program, including SOLT members and the laity. Our volunteers are retired teachers, parents, and friends from all walks of life who clean, make aprons, provide food, and create cultural elements for our classroom. All of the families are required to volunteer each year.  We also had St. John’s Junior College education department come for a day to volunteer their time building a sandbox, playing with the children and other tasks around our center.

Have you seen any difference in the community or in the children already?

On a relational level, we have built some great relationships with our families.  I’m so happy to be able to walk alongside them as they raise up the next generation of adults.  We’ve been able to provide meals for a few children who otherwise may not be able to eat regularly.  Children come eagerly to our community and leave joyfully.  Their parents say they wished they had had this program sooner for their children.  Their children are more willing to be independent and help at home and with the family.

More and more people are interested in our program.  We value relationship, authenticity, provide opportunities for children to engage in a whole person developmental program.  People want to know why we are so different from other programs and are excited to invest in a system that can bring real change in their community.

Why is the program Montessori?

Montessori creates an environment that focuses on the individual needs of the child within the greater context of society.  We focus on individuals, but the whole of those individuals and the whole of the community.  We look upon the child as a gift, regarded with the upmost dignity.  We allow them to explore in a safe microcosm of the larger society, to use their curiosity to learn about the world they live in. We value independence, spontaneous learning, the development of freedom and discipline, respect, culture, etc.

The children learn to manipulate concepts concretely in order to move to thinking more abstractly.  They use their hands to train their minds.  They become good at doing things, develop a deep desire and love for learning, find intrinsic value in their personal efforts that aren’t based off of external rewards and punishments.  Children become contributing members of society through purpose-filled work.

What are the children like?

The children a fun, quirky, have very different personalities from one another, loving, joyful, compassionate, enjoy purposeful work, lovers of beauty, etc. Trust had to be established before there could be mutual respect/respect for the caregivers. They are tender and compassionate.  They are relational. They love to say hi to Jesus, their Good Shepherd.

Order and routine, and the ability to repeat and master activities are important for children to learn and grow.  These children find great joy in being able to repeat and master the work they encounter everyday at Montessori. They are like any other children.  We all have universal human tendencies, regardless if we are from Asia or North America.  

Are you looking for volunteers at Mother of Mercy Montessori?

I think that could be great if volunteers came to be assistants. Ideally, it is better to have someone stick around for longer in order to create stability (like volunteers in Benque who decide to stay for an additional year or two). However, we would need to discuss with Fr. Scott and the board and then determine housing, food, etc. so the volunteer(s) can have a place to live close to the church so they can be a part of the community. Belize City is entirely different than Benque. It’s beautiful but our volunteer program is not yet as developed for volunteering long term.

A New Missionary Adventure

I was first bit by the travel bug the summer between fourth and fifth grade when I tagged along with my Irish grandmother for a family wedding in the English countryside. After the nuptials, which included top hats and penguin coats, we paid a visit to my uncle who was stationed with his family in Frankfurt, Germany, serving in the army. My life was never the same after that. I had been given an insatiable desire to see the world. As a teenager I would experience first hand the far off cultures of Turkey, Greece, Italy, France, and Switzerland. Admittedly, the motivation to travel wasn’t always holy, fueled mostly by a desire to find fortune and happiness.

However, my twenties unearthed a powerful reversion back to the Church, and my zeal for travel, in this new light, revealed a missionary heart. I knew God had put the desire for travel in me, and now He would use it for His glory!

Within a few years of that realization, I was commissioned. My fiancé (God built Him with a missionary heart, too!) and I had an incredible opportunity to move permanently to Belize with a non-profit organization giving talks all over the country on St. John Paul the Great’s Theology of the Body. When we learned of this opportunity, I felt no reservation, and we both knew it was a call.

There wasn’t much time to prepare ourselves, as my fiancé was able to fly down right away and I was completing my last semester of college. We miraculously cleaned out his apartment within a week, thanks to some of our SOLT sisters who dropped by and picked up a few items. He took just about everything he owned and compressed it into three large suitcases and a plastic storage bin.

Because our move was an indefinite one, my packing did require more than someone who committed themselves for a year or two. I was shocked at how many things I was able to part with, give away, or found altogether unnecessary. Initially, I had the idea that I could bring everything I owned with me, but once I packed the first suitcase I realized the error of my ways. I will admit that the attachment I felt to all my holy books was the most difficult one. I ended up bringing five: my bible, True Devotion to Mary, The Four Cardinal Virtues, Life of Christ, and Love and Responsibility. Turns out that’s all I needed for now.

Finally, I will say that the “until I see you again” partings from my family were tearful and sentimental, but they were also joyful and profound! Our Blessed Mother continually walked with me, giving me every grace to begin this journey, which so far has been the best one of my life.

Submitted by Sarah Gomez from Corpus Christi, Texas

SOLT Goes to SLS!

From January 2nd – January 6th, around 8,000 young adults gathered in the McCormick Place Convention Center in downtown Chicago to attend the Student Leadership Summit (SLS) hosted by the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS). College-aged students all from different schools throughout the country took time away from their Christmas break to have a deeper encounter with Jesus Christ and to learn how to bring their confreres at their perspective colleges and universities to that same type of encounter. The week is filled with beautiful liturgies, a powerful extended time of Eucharistic Adoration, inspiriting talks, and specified workshops related to growing deeper in prayer and techniques in evangelization.

Conference keynote speakers included Bishop Robert Barron, Sr. Bethany Madonna, SV, Jim Caviezel (the actor who played Jesus in Passion of the Christ), Dr. Ted Sri, Sarah Swafford, Fr. Mike Schmitz (a former volunteer at our SOLT mission in Belize), and Curtis Martin (the founder of FOCUS). It was so encouraging to see a thousand young adults during their free time spend an hour in silent prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. To see so many college students who were evangelized and who desired to be more effective evangelizers themselves was extremely edifying. SLS is a microcosm of the growing and alive Church in the United States. It is the New Evangelization at work, and it is working! The “who’s who” in evangelization and religious orders were there to recruit young men and women enthusiastic for their faith to join in their mission in the Church.

SOLT sponsored a booth in order to promote volunteer opportunities at our missions in Belize, Mexico, and North Dakota as well as our two-week mission trip to Belize in May. Throughout the week, our SOLT team of Sr. Mary Elizabeth, Sr. Laudem Gloriae, Fr. Mark Wendling, Brenton and Lucía Seymour, and I talked to hundreds of young adults who expressed varying degrees of interest at the prospect of volunteering after graduation at one of our missions or joining our mission trip this summer. Some of our past volunteers in Belize and some of our current volunteers, SOLT Missionary Teachers, in Belize joined us at our booth not only to catch up and hang out with SOLT, but out of their own enthusiasm they also joined us in encouraging others to volunteer at our missions. For me, it was a beautiful time of reconnecting with old friends who are now at work in leadership in various ways in the Church. Some are now priests and sisters and deacons and seminarians, some are in charge of youth groups and campus ministry, some are in different niches and organizations of evangelization.

SLS was an important time of promoting SOLT, so that our name and our faces are recognizable as forces in the New Evangelization and as a viable option for advancing the mission of the Church. More information about our mission trip to Belize in May can be found at MeetSOLT.com.

Br. Dave Brokke, SOLT 

REVIVE: Encountering God’s Love

         In the months of September and October, our SOLT parishes in Phoenix, Camp Verde, Arizona and St. Joseph, Corpus Christi, Texas, hosted an 8-week series called Revive: Encountering God’s LoveRevive is the first step in a three step ministry known as Becoming Missionary Disciples which is part of SOLT’s Immaculate Conception Project, part of a generous grant designed to bring about the New Evangelization in the United States through a variety of avenues. The other steps of Becoming Missionary Disciples include Disciple, a 10-week course as a follow-up to Revive, and Mission, the third step, which is primarily small and medium sized discipleship groups that meet in homes over a longer period of time. Fr. Eduardo Montemayor describes the purpose of Revive is “to evangelize by providing a shallow entry point for Catholics with [the] goal of leading people to faith and conversion and worship.” The course usually includes talks primarily given by SOLT priests, sisters, and other parish leaders over dinners as participants meet in small groups with certain points of questions and discussion.

Most Holy Trinity Parish had two simultaneous courses of Revive running in both English and Spanish. Revive in English had around 80 people at Most Holy Trinity complete the course, 60 of whom attended the two-day retreat, along with a team of 36 volunteers. Revive in Spanish had around 250 people attend the course with a team of 74 volunteers. Fr. Eduardo has said that Revive, overall, was “excellent. It has created a community of participants full of enthusiasm and renewed faith. Many have gone on to volunteer in their areas of giftedness.” One of the participants of Revive said that “it renewed my interest in exploring my faith. I liked the targeted talks aimed at explaining specific aspects of our faith. The talks at the table offered different experiences of our faith.” Another commented on the strength that the SOLT Ecclesial Team brought with the different vocations being represented along with the help of other volunteers, “The joy and enthusiasm exhibited by Father, Sister, and my table leader was contagious. Their love and devotion to Jesus has been renewing and energizing.”

            The team is currently filming each of the talks of the program to be able to offer it to a larger audience. The Immaculate Conception Project also includes the Liturgy Prep video series, found on SOLT.net, as well as the beautiful Marian Prayer Garden currently under construction in Corpus Christi, Texas.

New Convent Foundation: Missionaries in the Motor City

Detroit: a city whose name connotes crime, a failing infrastructure, and desperation. But an area is never really hopeless! This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Detroit uprising, where, during five days of violence, thousands of buildings burned and more than 40 people lost their lives in racial and economic uprisings all over the city. While trying to move past the causes and effects of these social difficulties, the people of Detroit have been turning to God more dynamically. Archbishop Vigneron wrote a beautiful pastoral letter this summer entitled “Unleash the Gospel” and in November, the Archdiocese will celebrate the beatification of Venerable Solanus Casey OFM. Both events offer beacons of hope and renewal for the city and church!

The Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity was founded to serve in areas of deepest apostolic need, and so six years ago, SOLT moved into Detroit to serve at the parish of Most Holy Redeemer (MHR), a huge bilingual community in the Mexicantown district. This mission truly is a gem among many parish gems in Detroit. Established in 1880 by the Redemptorist community, MHR is a huge vibrant parish with five Sunday Masses, an elementary school, an adoration chapel, and many thriving parish ministries. Our SOLT seminarians are also in residence at the parish, studying at the nearby Sacred Heart Major Seminary.

This month of August, three of our SOLT Sisters joined the team in Detroit, completing the three-fold aspect of priests, sisters, and laity serving here. Sr. Kateri Marie, Sr. Mary Solanus Casey, and newly-professed, Sr. Mary Agnus Dei will be serving in the parish and school in different capacities. A former doctor’s office across the street from the church was bought and is currently being renovated as the “new” convent. The excitement is high for this new transition in Detroit! Sr. Kateri Marie said, “The parish seems to be very excited about SOLT Sisters coming to the mission! Even though there are other communities of sisters in the area, the parishioners are excited for us to be present.” She also stated, “I think the witness of fidelity to Jesus and His Church is going to be very important for SOLT Sisters to manifest at this mission.” Detroit definitely needs, and will be receiving, some people who believe in them and are willing to stay among them in the struggle. “For hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience (Rom. 8:24).”

We thank the Most Holy Trinity for sending our sisters to serve in this area of the peripheries, and we ask our Mother Mary to accompany our sisters in mission. To learn more about this SOLT mission, please visit the website http://holyredeemer.comcastbiz.net/Staff.html

If you would consider helping the SOLT Sisters repair and furnish this new convent, your contribution would be greatly appreciated! Contributions may be made by clicking ‘donate’ at http://www.solt.net/ with the memo: “New Convent in Detroit.” Most importantly, please keep us in your prayers as we serve God’s people.       Ave Maria!

Fr. John McHugh, SOLT

Please see the links below for coverage of Fr. John McHugh’s funeral Masses in Robstown, Texas, as well as Mora, New Mexico. Fr. John died on July 31, 2017 and was buried in Holman, New Mexico, next to SOLT Founder, Fr. James Flanagan.

Fr. John Slide Show Link: https://youtu.be/EcPOG3gXHiY
Fr. John Vigil (August 3, 2017 in Robstown, Texas): https://youtu.be/zwbPHy6oHZ4
Fr. John Funeral Homily (August 4, 2017 in Robstown): https://youtu.be/jOBcNwMQ_WA
Fr. John Funeral Homily (August 7, 2017 in Mora, New Mexico): https://youtu.be/Ekt-oUljwzE
Fr. John Funeral Words (ESPAÑOL-New Mexico): https://youtu.be/XLCExK8zbmA

Tribute to Br. Michael Brady, SOLT

When I first met Br. Michael he was doing some work in the Bishop’s office. I was a SOLT lay member and Fr. Flanagan’s chauffeur for the summer. Fr. Jim and I were sitting at an old, rustic, dining room table chatting with Bishop Jerome Hastrich… the Ordinary of the missionary Diocese of Gallup, NM. Little did I know that this cheerful brother was the Bishop’s right-hand-man!

Upon Bishop Hastrich’s death, for some strange reason, the new bishop decided to canonically suppress Br. Michael’s community. Fr. Flanagan rescued Br. Michael, bringing him into SOLT and giving him, not only a new life… but a new name as well; Br. Michael of The Precious Blood.

What many people in SOLT never knew about this truly humble brother was that he himself was a co-founder of a Religious Congregation… The Brothers of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Bishop Hastrich was concerned about his priests living alone in the desert and he decided to establish a community of Brothers who could be companions and helpers for his priests. Br. Michael was the first to respond to the Bishop’s advertisement announcing the foundation of the new community.

When Brother met with Bishop Hastrich in Penn Station, NYC, he asked the holy Bishop, “How many members are there in the new community?” Bishop Hastrich responded, “One… YOU!” Brother Michael went on to found the community with Bishop Hastrich and became the first Superior General and the first Novice Master of The Brothers of Our Lady of Guadalupe (a Religious Congregation with Vows).

Most people with this kind of stellar resume, coming into a new community (SOLT), would make sure that everyone knew about their impressive background. But that was not the good brother’s way. His was the way of humility… Our Lady’s way! I had a number of mission assignments with Brother and not once, in conversations with me or with others, did he exploit this “treasure trove” of credentials.

Br. Michael was so well formed as a religious that, due to the depth of his interior life, he was practically “invisible”… or to put it another way; he was simple and transparent… and this is what made him such a unique and wonderful brother. Very often, due to his appearance, Brother was completely misunderstood and perceived as being something he certainly was not! Because he was legally blind, he walked slowly and very deliberately. And because of his bleeding disorder, he held his head up high. Put these 2 traits together and what do you have? A “Primadonna”! Throw in an “upside-down-smile”, the result of a mini-stroke, and what do you get… a “sour-puss” Primadonna! But the minute you engaged him, you would immediately discover that he was very cheerful, humble, and supremely friendly.

Br. Michael’s sufferings were never ending… and this is what made him the truly special brother that he was. In 3rd world mission, he was incomparable. He would live anywhere, sleep on any sort of a bed, eat anything put in front of him, and travel great distances without a single word of complaint. In friendship, he was the same Br. Michael with the humblest campesino or the wealthiest benefactor. His deep understanding of the importance of balance and common sense in religious life was something all of us in SOLT can learn from (I know that I am still learning from his example!). Br. Michael was one of Our Lady’s gifts to her society… and our wise and discerning Founder saw that right from the start.

Submitted by Fr. Larry Tucker, SOLT