Father Paul Hu Remembered for Heroic Dedication to the Faith

Fr. Paul Hu, SOLTPlease remember in your intentions the repose of the soul of Father Paul (Yongian) Hu.

Father Hu was born in Beijing, China to his parents Mingjian Hu and Ruijai Wang. He attended seminary under a time of severe religious persecution in China. Persevering in the midst of these conditions, Father Hu was ordained to the diaconate in 1986 for the Diocese of Beijing and to the priesthood in 1994. Shortly afterwards, Father Paul was forced to flee his homeland.

Father Hu arrived in the United States in 1994 and was introduced to SOLT. He continued studies and formation in SOLT at Holy Apostles Seminary in Connecticut and made his perpetual promises in 1998.

One of Father Hu’s first assignments as a SOLT priest was at Our Lady of Corpus Christi in Corpus Christi, Texas, where he served as a teacher and counselor. After seven years, he was reassigned to be the Parochial Vicar at St. Ann’s Parish in Belcourt, North Dakota in 2011. His final years were spent serving the people of the Diocese of Corpus Christi out of Casa San Jose until his health prevented him from continuing to work.

This past month of June 2016, after serving as a missionary priest in the United States for over two decades, Father Hu was granted U.S. citizenship. His mission to spread the faith had been welcomed in a country where freedom of religion gives opportunity to those who seek to follow the evangelical command of Christ: “Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations.”

Father Jerry Drolshagen, Regional Priest Servant, remembered him as “very heroic in his dedication to the faith.” Father Hu’s bishop from Beijing also paid tribute to him in a letter of recommendation written years ago: “Father Paul Hu is a priest with extreme deep faith and outstanding in his strong leadership quality.”

Father Paul Hu passed into eternal life late Saturday evening, July 16, 2016, on the anniversary of the day SOLT was founded, which coincides with the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. May he be welcomed home by the words of the Master, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

2016 American Region Assembly: Merciful Like the Father

The American Region of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity kicked off their 2016 Assembly with a Mass, celebrated by Father Dan Estes, former director of Our Lady of Corpus Christi.

Opening Mass2The theme for this year’s assembly built upon the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy call to be “Merciful Like the Father” and incorporated this call into the charism of SOLT, “Serving of Areas of Deepest Apostolic Need.”

Father Drolshagen, Regional Priest Servant, set the tone for the Assembly in his homily for the first Mass as he recalled SOLT’s founder and the gifts he tirelessly shared with everyone who came into his life, and he connected this Year of Mercy that providentially coincided with Father Flanagan’s departure from earthly life.

“Many people came from near and far to celebrate with us the Year of Mercy and the home-going of Father Jim Flanagan and especially to lift up the legacy that he left to SOLT, a legacy of the call to be recipients and instruments of God’s mercy in this world,” recalled Father Drolshagen.

NikkiFather Drolshagen continued to draw his reflection out of the words of the Holy Father: “Pope Francis writes, ‘Mercy is the very foundation of the Church’s life.’ And so firmly rooted in this foundation of faith, hope and charity, we can move forward through anything with joy, confident that our Heavenly Father loves us, and in His providence and love, he will guide us to our ultimate good.”

Finally, Father Drolshagen called to mind the source of the inspiration that continues to capture the hearts of members and associate of SOLT.

“Most of us were attracted to SOLT…either because we recognized in Father Jim a man, a priest who was firmly rooted in God’s mercy, who was firmly rooted in the foundation of the Church’s life,” said Father Drolshagen, “or if we didn’t know him, we saw this focus of his, this spirit of his, reflected in those who had joined his community and were living the life that he sought to support as the proper way to live for a Christian.”

“Above all else, Father Flanagan was a man and a priest who lived and loved God’s mercy and wanted everyone to experience it,” concluded Father Drolshagen.

Deacon and coKeynote addresses were given by representatives from each of the vocations on Wednesday morning. Sister Ann Marie Walsh, Deacon John Purk, and Father Antonio Anderson entertained and inspired their audience with personal memories about Father Jim Flanagan that produced many instances of laughter mixed with the warm familiarity of shared experiences.

Assembly week continued on Wednesday with the renewal of lay commitment, including the committed members and consecrated widow associates. Thursday evening’s Mass celebrated renewal of Sr Mediatrix kidsvows for the sisters and renewal of promises for the brothers. Other events during the week included a pilgrimage to the Holy Doors of Corpus Christi Cathedral; mission reports from Belize City, Phoenix, Wyoming, New Jersey, and other locations; and vocations meetings. Youth programs and evening activities such as game night and the annual talent show showcased the lighthearted spirit of the SOLT community.

FirstPromisesThe week’s highlighted event was the much anticipated first promises of novices Gene Grandy and Javier Ebertowski, who both received their gray robes and the title of “Brother” during the ceremony within the Mass. Father Samuel Medley, new director of Our Lady of Corpus Christi, delivered the homily that once again echoed the themes from the week.

“‘Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy.’ With these words, Pope Francis ushered in the Year of Mercy,” Father Medley began. “It is no small coincidence that you two are consecrating yourselves today in this Year of Mercy as a living sacrifice of mercy. It is one way of understanding that everything in your life has happened, God has permitted to happen, for an increase of mercy in your life.”

SistersFather Medley continued to expand on the theme of mercy as gift and sacrifice. “Every time that charism is generated in a new person, in other words, every time that person comes to gift themselves in promises, they are, as it were, a new wine skin, a new way of gifting themselves in this charism to God.”

In his concluding remarks, Father Sam offered his advice from the experience of his own vocation: “Do not be surprised by the depth of the Pascal Mystery that you are invited to encounter. Do not be afraid of that. Be rather fearful of not pleasing God, of not asking Our Lady for her help in doing this.”

Father Scott Giuliani parentsSaturday marked the final day of the 2016 American Region Assembly as well as the anniversary of the Foundation of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity. This anniversary, like most significant dates in SOLT, coincides with a Marian feast, the feast day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Members gathered to celebrate Mass and the renewal of wedding vows for members of the laity. Father Scott Giuliani’s parents renewed their vows in celebration of 50 years of wedded life. It was a grand conclusion to a week of communion and renewal.

Sister Maria Christina professes in Papua New Guinea

DSC_4871Sister Maria Christina Moses, a native of Papua New Guinea, recently made her perpetual profession to the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity. Father Peter Marsalek and Sister Megan Mary Thibodeau traveled to the island situated off the coast of Australia to visit this remote mission site and to officiate the event that took place on May 31, 2016.

The ceremony was held in Sister Christina’s home parish in Kendep in the Enga province of the Western Highlands.  It was the first time a profession ceremony was held in her parish.  The Mass was celebrated by Bishop Arnold Orowae of the Diocese of Wabag and concelebrated by a number of SOLT and Diocesan priests.

DSC_4942Sr. Maria Christina is one of seven children, and most of her family was able to attend her profession, as well as the majority of her tribe. She had professed first vows on December 8, 2009.

SOLT has been in Papua New Guinea since about 1994 when Fr. Tom Gier began the mission.  SOLT’s presence has been continuous since then.

Sister Megan said it was interesting to learn about some of the challenges that the missionaries had encountered. “When talking with our team there, they were explaining a bit about the Pidgen language and how limited it is,” Sister Megan shared. “There are many words that we use in English that cannot be translated and therefore require a long explanation.” She said a couple of examples of words not translatable are “nature” and “virtue”. IMG_1348

Father Peter said that the primitive culture, though lacking in development, revealed great natural beauty and very interesting and wonderful people. “Our team is making a great contribution there and there is still so much more which can be done,” said Father.  “It really is a great mission for our community and our SOLT members there seem to be really thriving!”

IMG_1393The mission in Papua New Guinea consists of three parishes in Togoba, Ulga and Tagada.  The three parishes are about 15-20 mins apart by car.  Each parish has between 3-8 outstation churches that it serves and two of the parishes (Ulga and Tagada) have schools attached to them as well.

SOLT has four priests and four sisters serving there.  Three of the priests are pastors of the three parishes and the fourth works at the Diocese of Mt. Hagan Chancery Office as the Director of Health Services for the diocese.

Of the four sisters, two assist in the parishes and the other two work for the Chancery Office – one as the Director of Communications and the other in accounting.

“Sister Mary” Delights Twitter Audiences

SisterMary2Sister Miriam James Heidland, known for her quirky sense of humor and her penchant for keeping abreast of Twitter happenings @onegroovynun, has tapped into a modern audience with some help from an anonymous celebrity sister.

“Sister Mary,” whose trademark gray veil is featured in the off-sided forefront in photos of various televised sporting events and activities accompanied by hilarious captions, was created to show that being a sister is nothing less than being a dedicated servant of God, but also can involve some silliness and good humor along the way.

“It gives a broader view to the whole world of what religious life is like,” Sister Miriam shared recently with a San Antonio online news outlet, “You get to know us on a different level […] nuns are people too.”

Back in February, Sister Miriam’s antics hit the national spotlight, being featured in a humor article by Huffington Post. Comedy Editor Andy McDonald wrote: “…she has hashtag blessed us all by bringing that work to us on the Internet, live-tweeting her and her sisters’ experience watching the biggest game of the year. It was really magical.”

Check out some of these tweets from Sister Miriam’s (and Sister Mary’s) fans:

Father Flanagan’s Memorial Mass at OLCC

IMG_3333webA Memorial Mass for Father Flanagan was celebrated at the Our Lady of Corpus Christi Chapel on Tuesday, May 3, 2016. The event had been planned to offer a liturgy in remembrance of Father Flangan for the more of the members of SOLT who were unable to attend the funeral and burial in New Mexico at the end of April.

Bishop Michael Mulvey presided over the liturgy, and Father Peter Marsalek, General Priest Servant delivered the homily that drew from the Gospel for the Mass. He noted that its Eucharistic theme was a fitting scripture to pair with the memory of Father Jim Flanagan.

 

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“The Eucharist was truly at the center of Fr. Jim’s life – for Him, it truly was the best way to ‘walk in the presence of the Lord in the land of the living.’  Indeed, living communion to communion for Fr. Jim was precisely a part of constantly seeking to live in the presence of the Lord.”

Audio Recording of Father Peter Marsalek’s Homily

 

RizziowebMembers from the local SOLT community participated in the Memorial Mass. Sister Margaret Mary read the First Reading, and Sister AnnMarie Claire sang the Psalm. Mona Lisa Biberstein read the Second Reading, Deacon Paul Moore of the Diocese of Corpus Christi proclaimed the Gospel, and the Rizzio family brought up the gifts. B.J. Biberstein led the choir comprised of SOLT members and associates.

 

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Father Rogel “Ogie” Rosalinas joined the choir on the guitar to play the recessional hymn. It was a hymn that had been composed by Father Flanagan Himself, Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity. Its words and simple melody invoked the devotion so passionately taught and humbly lived out by the Founder of SOLT:

 

IMG_3363webOur Lady of the Most Holy Trinity
Most Holy, Immaculate Virgin May.
You are the Mother of God Himself.
You are the Queen of all creation.
You are the keeper of heaven’s treasure.
You are our help and protection.
Grant us your intercession and may your favor never fail us.

 

IMG_3422webFollowing the Mass, a reception was held in the Kolbe center, adjacent to the chapel. Bishop Emeritus Edmond Carmody gave the blessing before the meal, and the gathering continued with the palpable joy of lives dedicated to Trinitarian communion. As a thoughtful observer might have looked around the room filled with laughter and friendship, the final words of Father Peter’s homily that evening could have been recalled: “As we proceed to carry on the work of our founder Fr Flanagan, let us also affirm our ‘yes’ to the Most Holy Trinity, to serving in communion with Bishop Mulvey and to our commitment to make our community everything the Holy Spirit intended it to be!”

Father Francisco “Keats” Guianan laid to rest in the Philippines

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Last Wednesday, April 27, Father Keats, who had passed away at a SOLT mission site in Arizona back in March, was remembered in a funeral Mass in his homeland of the Philippines. Father Roger Abalon presided over liturgy as the main celebrant and homilist. Father Keats’s brother, Fr. Rex Hidalgo, delivered a beautiful account about his life.

The next day, family and friends as well as members of the SOLT community again gathered to attend the burial Mass at which Bishop Jose Rojas presided and gave the homily. Father Keats was laid to rest at the SOLT Formation Center’s Porta Coeli Cemetery in Putiao, Sorsogon. May he rest in the peace of Christ.

 

 

 

Two New SOLT Deacons Ordained in the Philippines

Diaconate Ordination Apr 2016

Two SOLT brothers were ordained deacons this Monday April 25, 2016 in the Philippines by Bishop Arturo Bastes of the Diocese of Sorsogon with the permission of Bishop Michael Mulvey of the Diocese of Corpus Christi, TX, USA.

IMG_0390Brother Tirso Villanueva and Brother Amigo Bringino had recently professed their perpetual promises at the 2016 SOLT Asia Assembly on April 8th of this month. That day marked the final step in their commitment to SOLT, and this day of diaconate ordination marks the beginning of their ordained ministry in the Church, a final step before priesthood.

Please join us in celebrating the brotherhood and ministry of these two young men who are committed to serving the Church through the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity.

Brother Amigo

Br. Amigo with his parents before the ordination

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Br. Tirso with his mother before the ordination

SOLT Asia’s 2016 Assembly

The Asian region of SOLT gathered for its 2016 Assembly April 4-8 at the Formation Center Putiao in Sorsogon in the Philippines. The theme for the annual event was “SOLT Ecclesial Family: Witnessing God’s Mercy.”

Father Peter Marsalek, General Priest Servant, traveled for the occasion which included receiving the perpetual promises of two men who are going to be ordained for SOLT on April 25th.

Group DiscussionAlso in attendance were Sister Megan, General Sister Servant, and Father Dan Estes, General Servant of the Laity.

The week began with a Mass celebrated by Father Peter Marsalek, after which he gave his account of the last days and funeral of Father James Flanagan, the founder of SOLT who passed into eternal life last month.

Day two of the assembly began with Mass celebrated by Father Dan Estes, SOLT, and the homily was delivered by Father Ronald de Jesus. The afternoon talk, entitled “The Holy Trinity: Source of God’s Mercy,” was given by Msgr. Rodel Cajot, a diocesan priest and professor of the seminary. Evening sessions included vocations meetings.

 

IMG_9949Day three began with Mass celebrated by Fr. Ryan Bores with homily by Fr. Edgar Barias. Afternoon sessions included testimonies with the theme: “SOLT Ecclesial Family: Experiencing God’s Mercy.” Evening sessions for day three included reports from the missions.

Mass on day four was celebrated by Fr.  Dominic Sathit Sriwanchai and the homilist was Fr. Teodolfo Medina. The Most Reverend Jose Rojas presented the reflection after Mass, “SOLT Ecclesial Family: Mirroring God’s Mercy.” Workshops followed in the afternoon, and administrative reports by vocation were continued into the evening.

 

Finally, on day five of the assembly, a Mass at St. John Nepomucene Church in Bonga, Bacacay in Albay celebrated by the Most Reverend, IMG_9921Arturo M. Bastes, honored two SOLT brothers, Brother Amigo Bringino and Brother Tirso Villanueva, who made their perpetual professions.

Please remember these SOLT Brothers in your prayers. Their ordination to the priesthood is scheduled for April 25, 2016.

 

Father Flanagan’s Vigil and Funeral Mass

Homily and coffin

 

Our beloved founder, Father James Flanagan, passed into eternal life on March 24, 2016. Members from his spiritual family of SOLT and from his immediate family gathered to pray for his soul and to remember his life and teachings. The Vigil and Rosary was held at Our Lady of Belen in Belen, New Mexico on March 28, 2016 and the Funeral Mass was celebrated the next day on March 29, 2016 at St. Gertrude the Great in Mora, New Mexico.

Bishop Michael Mulvey of the Diocese of Corpus Christi, Texas was the main celebrant at the Funeral Mass for Father Flanagan, and the homily was given by Father Peter Marsalek, General Priest Servant of SOLT. An audio recording of Father Marsalek’s homily is available below.

 

 

Text of Father Marsalek’s Homily for Father Flanagan’s Funeral Mass

 

Father Flanagan was buried at the SOLT Sisters’ convent in Mora, New Mexico. We wish to thank everyone for your kind words of comfort and support during this bittersweet time of missing the earthly presence of our founder while at the same time rejoicing in the hope and mercy of everlasting life.

 

Burial

 

 

SOLT Founder Father Flanagan Passes into Eternal Life at Age 91

FrFlan at Hoste

Father James H. Flanagan (Father Jim), Founder of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT), passed into eternal life on Thursday, March 24, 2016 in Bosque, New Mexico. He was 91 years old. Father Flanagan was born on May 29, 1924 on the Feast of the Ascension at Forest Hills Hospital in Jamaica Plain, Boston, Massachusetts. His parents were James Henry Flanagan and Rose Freeley Flanagan. Father was the oldest in the family of five, three brothers and one sister: Joseph, S.J., Kevin, Newman, and Rosemarie. Father Flanagan was preceded in passing by his brothers, Father Joseph and Kevin.

Father was baptized on the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity in Sacred Heart Church in Roslindale, Massachusetts. He received his First Holy Communion and the Sacrament of Confirmation at the same church.

He completed elementary school at St. Frances Xavier School in the Sacred Heart Parish in Roslindale and graduated from Boston College High School. After a year of studies at Seton Hall Prep School in South Orange, New Jersey, he entered Notre Dame University on a football scholarship. In 1943, he joined the Navy and served in World War II in the Pacific War Zone as a Navy Frog Man; after the war, he returned to Notre Dame and began taking classes in the law school in addition to his undergraduate courses.

Father was called by God to the priesthood after returning to Notre Dame for a year and entered Saint John Seminary in the Archdiocese of Boston. On January 10, 1952, he was ordained a priest by Richard J. Cardinal Cushing (then Archbishop Cushing) at Boston’s Cathedral of the Holy Cross. His first assignment as a priest was Associate Pastor at St. Elizabeth Church in Milton, Massachusetts. A year and a half later he received his second assignment as Assistant Pastor of St. Patrick’s Church in Lowell, Massachusetts.

On December 8, 1957 Father Flanagan was permitted to depart from the Archdiocese of Boston to prepare for the foundation of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, New Mexico under the sponsorship of His Excellency Archbishop Edwin V. Byrne. He was assigned Associate Pastor serving at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Holman, New Mexico where Fr. John McHugh (later, the first SOLT priest) was pastor. While he was at Immaculate Heart of Mary parish, Fr. Flanagan founded the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity on July 16, 1958, comprised of priests, consecrated sisters and brothers, and lay members. From its small beginning in Holman New Mexico, SOLT has grown to having missions and apostolates both in the United States and throughout the world. Currently, SOLT’s Generalate is located in the Diocese of Corpus Christi.

Funeral arrangements are as follows:

Monday, March 28, 2016

Wake and Rosary: Our Lady of Belen in Belen, NM, 6-9 pm

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

-Viewing at 12 pm: St. Gertrude the Great in Mora, NM

-Rosary: 12:30 pm

-Funeral Mass: 1 pm

-Burial immediately following at the Sisters’ Convent in Holman, NM

-Reception following burial