Migrant Ministry: Then and Now

20160914_195454_resizedFather Vincent Albano, who has been serving the needs of the migrant farm workers for over four decades, recently shared information about his current mission. He is wrapping up his season of service in the Diocese of Lafayette, Indiana with the assistance of three SOLT sisters. Since SOLT has been a part of the migrant ministry from its inception, the opportunity to look back into history presented itself with this story that was recounted in Father Albano’s own words. The historical passages were excerpted from The Original Communion, a collection of autobiographical accounts of original members of SOLT, and the final paragraph is Father Albano’s update.

Ministry to the migrant farm workers and their families was an apostolic work of SOLT from its very beginning. Called to serve the poorest of the poor and recognizing their great needs, our founder, Father James Flanagan, sent sister and lay members of SOLT to the migrant fields and camps in Rocky Ford, Colorado when the SOLT was still in New Mexico.

SOLT’s migrant ministry branched out to Wisconsin, Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska by the time I was assigned to this ministry. Besides serving the migrant farm workers, we were asked to reach out to the many Spanish speaking local people who were residents in those areas and who were lacking pastoral care in their own language. They too benefited greatly from the migrant team’s presence and were helped to develop leadership skills and abilities to serve alongside the members of the migrant team.

20160918_190208The migrant worker team visited the migrants in the fields, ranches and local camps, taught catechesis, prepared children and young people for their First Holy Communion and Confirmation, baptized, married, prepared the Liturgy, celebrated the Eucharist and witnessed the presence of the Church among their brothers and sisters “on the move.” These experiences helped the local people as well as our migrant farm workers, recognizing that they too were given by God with gifts and talents to share with their brothers and sisters and are called to be the Church and to build up the Church in their parishes as well as keep the ministry to Hispanic and migrant people alive and growing with the migrant team was no longer there.

20160911_073803_resizedPresently, I am with three of our Sisters ( Srs Maria de Jesus, Maria Marta and Maria Asuncion) serving in Migrant Farmworker Ministry in the Diocese of Lafayette in Indiana from August to September. We will have a Despedida (farewell) Mass for the families on September 24 with Bishop Timothy Doherty and some of the children and young people will receive their First Holy Communion and Confirmation. The local parish St Mary’s in Alexandria, hosts the Mass and provides a special fiesta meal afterwards for all the migrant workers who come. We bless the cars and the pick-up trucks that the families come in for their safe travels home to Texas, Florida or other places!

 

 

 

“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!”

“Home of the Trinity” Under Construction in Iowa

Areas of deepest apostolic need are not always visible to the naked eye. Spiritual needs can sometimes be difficult to realize for a missionary disciple. For Sister Marie Hesed, that need has been identified and remedied by a vision for the future in the Diocese of Sioux City, Iowa.

Before she joined SOLT, Sister Marie Hesed belonged to the Missionaries of Charity. Her work among the poorest of the poor led her to cultivate a shared garden where learning and working became intertwined with the practicality of providing food for the hungry. Of course, lessons about God’s abundant banquet of everlasting love complemented the work that was sustaining them physically. Sister Hesed’s little gardening project, and the inspiration that grew from it, provided a foundation for a big idea that was yet to bear fruit.

Sister Hesed has described the call that led to her entrance into SOLT in 2003 as a “call within a call.” Her commitment to this call brought her to Iowa where 31 acres of donated land brought the vision into clearer focus. Domus Trinitatis, or “Home of the Trinity” was envisioned with a strategic plan that would gain momentum in the following years.

Since 2012, local volunteers, inspired by Sister Hesed’s dream, have worked to fundraise, donate, pray, and support the efforts of SOLT through their dedication to this project. Because of their countless hours of work and admirable organization, the first phase of the building project, the convent, began this past spring.

The following excerpts are taken from the Domus Trinitatis website:

“Domus Trinitatis will be a place where missionaries can come between assignments to be renewed and learn about sustainable agriculture to take back on their missions, but it will also be a place for Priests, Sisters, couples, single people and families to come to spend time in creation, learn, and be renewed. Domus Trinitatis is unique because there will be no charge for retreats, thereby allowing anyone to attend. Just as from the start, we will sustain Domus Trinitatis by donations, cottage industries, God’s will, and the support of those who faithfully believe in giving everyone a place to find renewal.”

“There will eventually be hermitages (small houses for people attend a retreat to stay in), a stand-alone Chapel, a home for a SOLT Priest to live on site, a Rosary walk, coffee shop, orchards, gardens, greenhouses, a pond, barns, and more.”

With gratitude, we offer our prayers of thanksgiving for the efforts of the people of Iowa. Their spirit of service and sacrifice is humbling to witness. It is a call for all of us to respond to God’s work in our lives with generosity and joy. May God abundantly bless the efforts of all involved in the Domus Trinitatis project.

March for Life 2015: Hope and Foreboding

January in the Tropics; January in the Nation’s Capital

What a difference twelve months can make. Last year at this time I was serving in Benque Viejo, Belize, fully immersed in the joys and sorrows of our busy SOLT mission at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish.  The sad anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, passed with hardly a ripple in that Caribbean/Central American country where the Culture of Death has only recently begun to make its inroads.

In April of 2014, however, I was reassigned back to the United States- to Kansas City, as it turns out. And so it was that when January 22nd rolled around this year I found myself participating in the 42nd annual March for Life protesting the Court’s heinous ruling. With about 200 fellow pilgrims from the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, I marched to the steps of that same Court whose ruling has caused an estimated 50 million deaths through abortion. One speaker dubbed our peaceful protest (about 500,000 in all) “The largest civil rights march ever.”

Pro-Life: Sine qua Non for SOLT

If the opportunity to participate in the March for Life was a novelty for me, protesting Roe v. Wade in less dramatic ways was not.  To be a member of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity by definition is to be pro-life, as longtime member Nikki Sullivan informed me back in 1985 when I applied to the community. In an informal interview over the phone, she gently asked where I stood on the issue.  Upon hearing that I was pro-life, and had openly protested abortion, Nikki voiced her approval: this was one issue on which SOLT was unanimous, she informed me.  Since becoming a member, I have prayed from time to time in front of the abortion mill in Corpus Christi, TX, like SOLT laity, priests, brothers and sisters.

March for Life 2015: Joy, Hope, Energy

Never having participated in a March for Life before, I hadn’t anticipated the joy, hope and energy of our protest, especially on the part of the youth. Truthfully, I was unprepared for the exuberance and steady confidence with which they proclaimed “We are the pro-fife generation!” and “We will end abortion in our time!”  The kids I met made it easy to believe what one of our rally speakers proclaimed: that of all the age groups, young people are the most pro-life. Talking with teens like Paige and Naomi from Benedictine College (below), I was left with an unexpected gift of hope: Yes, I believe it. Yes, I think legalized abortion will end in our times – largely because of this rising generation!

Steps of the Supreme Court: March’s End, Intercession’s Beginning

Our three-hour long March for Life ended on the steps of the Supreme Court – the institution whose 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision resulted in the impeccably legal deaths of millions of babies in the womb. Once each group reached its destination it reversed direction, moving against the sea of packed humanity towards Union Station and home.

The Supreme Court in the background; pushing against the tide as I return to ordinary life. The more I think about it, the more fitting the symbolism appears – and not only, unfortunately, in terms of abortion.

On Friday, January 16, 2015 the Supreme Court announced its intention to rule on whether states can ban gay unions.* As I write, 36 of 50 states allow these pseudo-marriages.  If the Court rules that states cannot forbid these unnatural arrangements (despite the frequent disapproval of the electorate), how will this country, and the world, change?  What will it mean for our children and grandchildren to live in a world where marriage as instituted by God is seen as merely one possible living arrangement? Will gay couples be content to peacefully coexist with those who uphold the sanctity of marriage?  St. John the Baptist, pray for us. (Mk. 6:18); St. Thomas More, pray for us; Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, pray for us.

Submitted by Sr. Mary Katherine Malmros, SOLT

*Marriage by definition is the permanent union of a man and a woman.  Speaking of gay “marriage” creates a linguistic and hence cultural beachhead for its acceptance.  In the war between the Culture of Life and the Culture of Death, language is the first casualty.

March for Life Collage

Benedictine College students Paige( r) and Naomi, latest in a long line of Raven Pro-Lifers.

Bp. Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph said Mass for the pilgrims from his diocese and joined them in the March.

Sr. Mary Katherine Malmros, SOLT, in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Never too young to work for the Culture of Life.

Congratulations Mark and Natasha!

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On Saturday, December 6, 2014, the Nuptial Mass of Natasha Josephine Hermann and Mark Christopher Baca was held at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Los Chavez, NM, (just north of Belen.).  Fr. Dan Estes was the main celebrant, Fr. James Flanagan delivered the homily, and Fr. John McHugh concelebrated.

The wedding was attended by many members of both families, as well as many members of SOLT.  One of the special moments came when both sets of parents prayed blessings over each of the newlyweds.

Natasha has been a long-standing member of SOLT since the time she served in Our Lady’s mission in Benque in 2001, and then again from 2005-2007.  For the last several years she has lived in Bosque, NM serving with Our Lady’s community there.

We are rejoiced for Mark and Natasha and their new life together.  And we ask the special blessing of the Most Holy Trinity and Our Lady upon them.

Pictured with Mark and Natasha are Natasha’s sister Katie, Fr. James Flanagan, SOLT Founder (seated) and Fr. John McHugh, SOLT Co-founder

Obituary for Fr. John Hickey

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Fr. John Mary Joseph Riley Hickey, 85, went to be with our Heavenly Father on Saturday, November 08, 2014. He was born on October 02, 1929 in Shawnee, Oklahoma to Maurice A. Hickey and Cecilia Riley Hickey. He proudly served our country in the US Navy during the Korean Conflict. He was ordained a priest in 1996 and will be deeply missed.

He is preceded in death by his parents, two sisters, Joanne Sissons, Helen Dieter; and a brother, Maurice Hickey, Jr.

He is survived by his brothers and sisters, Mary Mica of Austin, Texas, Ethleen H. Mikolajczak of Deer Park, Texas, Kelvin L. (Esther) Hickey, Dennis M. (Mollie) Hickey both of Pasadena, Texas, and Donald J. (Irene) Hickey of Richmond, Texas. He will also be missed by his numerous nieces, nephews and other relatives and friends.

The Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 2pm on Tuesday, November 11, 2014 at Our Lady of Corpus Christi in Corpus Christi, Texas. Burial will take place in Amarillo, Texas.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity at Our Lady of Corpus Christi, 1200 Lantana St., Corpus Christi, Texas 78407.

Obituary for Fr. Vincent A. Nicosia, SOLT

1927-2014Fr. Nicosia
Fr. Vincent Nicosia, age 87, who was born on March 10, 1927 in Brooklyn, NY and a resident of Bosque, NM went to be with our Lord on Wednesday, November 05, 2014. He was the first-born son of Anthony and Vincenza (Anna Ingrassia) Nicosia. He attended P.S. 202 and Boys High School in Brooklyn but never graduated. He proudly served in the United States Navy for two years towards the end of WWII. After he was honorably discharged from the service he attended a Technical Institute receiving a diploma in electronics. For some years he was employed as a TV technician until he and his brother moved out to Santa Monica, CA where they were both employed by Douglas Aircraft Company as electronic technicians in the missile division. It was during this period that he met and married Goldie Inzer, a widow with three children. After some 16 years with the then MacDonald Douglas Corp. (presently Boeing) he took a lay off rather than make a move with the company to another state. He then ventured into becoming a General Contractor doing alterations and remodeling to homes. After some 15 years as a contractor and the passing of his wife after a long illness, he discontinued the business and returned to school. It wasn’t very long after the death of his wife that he felt the calling by the Lord to follow in His footsteps. He was accepted at Holy Apostles College & Seminary in Connecticut with the goal of being ordained a Catholic priest. After having become a professed member of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, he was ordained at his home parish of St. Louis de Montfort in Santa Monica, CA on October 24, 1992 at the age of 65. After ordination he was made pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in La Joya, NM. After 8 ½ years as pastor, he retired from the parish at the age of 75. Returning to the Formation Center in Bosque, NM, he continued to work as Director of Financial Development for the Society.

He was preceded in death by his parents; his beloved wife, Goldie Inzer Nicosia; step-daughter, Sondra Shlanta and husband, Alexis; brothers, Charles and Albert Nicosia; and brother-in-law, Robert Baer.

Fr. Vincent is survived by his step-son, Eugene Inzer and wife, Anita; step-daughter, Brenda Miklos; granddaughter, Norelle Shlanta; sister, Grace Baer; brother, Joseph Nicosia and wife, Marcia; seven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

All services will be held at Our Lady of Belen Catholic Church, beginning with a Viewing on Friday, November 14th at 6:00 p.m.with a Rosary to be recited at 7:00 p.m. A Final Viewing will be held on Saturday, November 15th at 10:00 a.m. with a Funeral Mass to be celebrated at 11:00 a.m. Interment will be held at the Santa Maria Catholic Cemetery on Friday, November 21st.

Sisters Celebrate 25 Years of Religious Life

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On September 29, 2014, the Feast of the Archangels, three of our sisters celebrated twenty five years of vowed Religious Life. Sr. Maria Asuncion Gonzales, serving in Robstown, Texas, Sr. Maria Reina Ramirez, serving in Colon, Mexico, and Sr. Maria Marta Umul, serving in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. The sisters traveled to their home country of Guatemala to celebrate their silver jubilee with their families and the local SOLT Community.

Sr. Asuncion, Sr. Reina, and Sr. Marta first entered SOLT in Melchor de Mencos in the Peten region of Guatemala and began their formation with the legendary missionary, Fr. John McHugh, SOLT, and Sr. Mary John Simon, SOLT.  Over the years, they have been assigned in a number of our houses around the world and have followed faithfully in the missionary footsteps of Fr. John and Sr. John!

Each sister was honored in her home parish with family and friends, music, food, and fun. The celebrations were each a tremendous witness of fidelity to Our Lord and a sign of hope for the entire People of God. The love and fraternal camaraderie shared among these sisters was a visible witness as they traveled from village to village to be present at each other’s celebration.

May they continue to witness the great joy of being called and chosen to belong solely to God.

Congratulations to our three dear sisters!

Thank you for your witness of love and fidelity to Our Lord, the Eternal Bridegroom!