Newsletter #10 - Franciscan Friars of Mary Immaculate (O.F.M.I.)
Sept., 1983 St. Hyacinth Parish, Detroit (Poletown), Michigan
HABEMUS EPISCOPUS! On July 15, 1983 we had the privilege of entertaining here at St. Hyacinth Parish the bishop of Gallup, New Mexico, the Most Reverend Jerome J. Hastrich, Spiritual Director of the National Blue Army. During that time I had the opportunity to talk with His Excellency about our group. It was not my intention to ask him to adopt us, however, not only because of its distance away from Michigan, but also because I felt it was not what we were looking for.
Yet, as often happens, God had other plans for us. While driving the good bishop to the airport on the following Sunday, the bishop proposed to me. It was a solemn moment even though it was in my car, Zosia. He asked me to come to Gallup, NM., establish our community, work amongst his own seminarians, and work jointly with the Franciscans already in his diocese.
On July 23rd, I wrote back to the bishop accepting his proposal on behalf of the group. It was with, I hope, prayerfulness and joyful willingness that I formally wrote to His Excellency. O that very same day, the bishop himself wrote a letter formally expressing his desire for us to come and work in his diocese. My letter of July 23rd arrived after he sent his and so he wrote again on July 30th, 1983 expressing satisfaction at our positive answer. He invited us down to Gallup to visit with him and to discuss our ideas with him. This visit we will arrange for the middle of November (23rd) during the Thanksgiving recess. This is the only possible time we can make it.
Needless to say, we are overjoyed that Our Lady has send us so good and holy a bishop as Bishop Hastrich. His reputation amongst orthodox Catholics is unequaled by any representative of the Hierarchy in the United States. He is Marian; he is absolutely orthodox, and he is not afraid to profess either. It can be no accident that God has answered our prayers. We now pray for the continued health of the bishop so that he may continue to direct our group for many years to come.
By the way, not that it is relevant or anything, but His Excellency is a Milwaukee boy just like I am. Of course, that hat to have counted little for the bishop.
We shall continue our prayers and penances for the intention of the bishop and for our community's success.
Last week I was lampooned by a number of persistent calls from a “Fr. Tom” whom I did not seem to know. Finally we both had a chance to talk after having our calls miss each other for a while. Fr. Thomas Charlton is from the east. He was phoning from Boston, so I presume he was from that area. He hit me with a very interesting proposition which I promised him that I would pass on to you gentlemen.
It seems that Fr. Tom is from a new group called the Rosarians which is a revival of a previously obscure and almost extinct congregation. I hope I am not in any way confusing the issue. Fr. Tom, coming from the east talked very fast. From what I gleaned from our conversations (several different times) his group is totally dedicated to the Fatima message, promoting it, living it, and spreading it. They recite the full fifteen decade rosary each day, have at least two hours of prayers, wear religious garb. Their community has a house in Italy about forty-five minutes away from Rome. They also have a bishop who is a member, I believe, of their community and who supports their efforts. This bishop lives in Rome and is an exile from Czechoslovakia. Somewhere I have his name written down. Their monastery is also a shrine of Our Lady of Mercy where Our Lady was once supposed to have appeared to a peasant two-hundred years ago. There are six members who have formed this society.
What Fr. Tom wanted from me was to invite me to plug in our group into his. In other words, he was inviting us to full union with his group, a merger, if you will. The are all Americans; Fr. Tom, besides the bishop, is the only priest. Presently, he is living a diocesan life until they begin to live together as a community. He was in Boston to contact other groups like ours to try to combine together to form one strong united group instead of piddly little groups. Fr. Tom listened patiently to me while I explained our goals, purposes and objectives. He said they perfectly match with those of his group. Yet, Fr. Tom wasn't too sympathetic with the idea of our group being founded along Franciscan lines. He claimed that his group also incorporated Franciscan ideals within its framework. Fr. Tom feels that to found a group today for the purpose of reform along Dominican or Franciscan (or any other existing order's) lines defeats the purpose of founding it at all! I informed father that I was a Franciscan and that I took vows ans will always remain Franciscan and that I would form our group along those ideals. In fairness, I promised that I would contact all of you soon.
Fr. Tom expressed the urgency with which the Fatima message should be adapted. He also felt that it was a waste of time to try to reform already existing groups from within. The only way to go was to unite as one group with all the other small, orthodox groups now being established into a brand new order.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
As I promised Father Thomas, I would like to bring this up to all of you. And I certainly would not stand in the way of anyone wishing to take Fr. Tom up on his proposal. Now you understand that the mere fact of allowing you to discuss this amongst yourselves is indicative of my philosophy of wanting to, trying to do God's holy Will? I am just here without any benefit of direct Divine Revelation hitting me over the head. Who am I to stand in the way of God's Will? I want whatever He wants. But until I know differently, I will continue to do what I, through my intellect, instincts, feelings, emotions, spiritual reflection – all of those – lead me to do.
PLEASE! PLEASE! GET BACK TO ME ABOUT WHAT YOUR THOUGHTS ARE. There is a lot to what Fr. Tom is presenting to us. In principle, it it better to have a united front of one strong group rather than all these small bands of good groups wandering around. Also, it is an advantage to have a bishop as head of the group and at it's core of activity.
WHAT ARE YOUR FEELINGS, THOUGHTS, INSTINCTS ABOUT THIS?
Let me summarize my thoughts:
Our adapting a Franciscan idealism is a definite advantage:
And finally, Franciscan traditions, idealism, and emphasis can be easily blended with the four pillars of all orthodox groups presently being founded: loyalty to the Church's teachings, loyalty to the Holy Father, love for Our Lady, and a life of penance.
By forsaking our particular Franciscan identity, garb, and traditions, we lose out at readily identifiable means with which to implement these Fatima emphases in the world.
Franciscans adopting the Fatima motif for their expression is very possible and most likely compatible, especially in it's emphasis on poverty, which means “letting go” the world, the material things of life, the selfishness, and the use of sexual expression for our lives.
All religious groups should be living these essentials, whether or not they come from Fatima, Lourdes, La Salette, or Yugoslavia.
As you see, there are two sides to every story. I ONLY HOPE THAT I HAVE BEEN FAIR to this wonderful young priest who approached me with such sincerity and fervor. But what I have told you is essentially what I have tried to convey to Fr. Tom. In fact, I plan to send him a copy of our newsletter. Please pray for God's Will. If the majority of you feel inclined to explore his offer, please write and inform me. We haven't got anything decided as of yet. We are just in the embryonic stages of development so we may move in any direction. HELP US PLEASE!
As you know our pilgrimage began on July 28th, 1983 and was successfully completed on August 20th, 1983.
We will have a fuller account of our impression and descriptions of our Pilgrimage, 1983 in succeeding newsletters. But for now, we would like to inform you of our itinerary.
ODDS AND ENDS
Below you will find how we have grown. Not everyone on our mailing list is really a potential member of our Franciscan community. But we have about 53 on our mailing list – interested parties – who want to be informed.
BRINGING THE TOTAL MEMBERS OF OUR ROSTER TO: 53
We want very much to expand our newsletter to include articles, pictures and news items of interest to you. We are beginning to work on this at the moment. If you have any ideas please write.
Our next newsletter will contain a complete article on our pilgrimage and further developments on our proposals. Also will contain information about our novitiate program.
MY TWO CENTS
Well, this has been quite a significant newsletter. Not only one but two proposals were presented to all of the members of our venture. These two proposals have their pro's and con's. I am sure it will be interesting to hear from all of you about your own thoughts on the subject.
These are trying times for the Church of Christ. Yet despite all of the apparent abuses in the Church today, their accompanying dangers, and the mass confusion; these are exiting times. Exiting? Yes, exiting because of the true challenge they present to us.
Whatever these days may be, they are days in which cowards find much consolation. In fact, in no other times had the invitation of Christ to follow Him been so clear as in these. Some say that we are living in the “end times”. Well, I am not certain about that. I believe in the theory of multiple fulfillment of prophecies given about the end times. This means that our generation can experience what may seem to it to be those apocalyptic days. We know neither the day nor the hour. We must content ourselves with with doing the Will of God and being prepared like the wise virgins who were found with their lamps still brightly burning when the Master returned to call them to the Wedding Feast.
In our attempt to religious life through this venture we hope to be like those vigilant virgins as we await our Master's return to bring us to His heavenly Eternal Banquet.
So, my little brothers, do not be afraid of those who can kill the body, but rather fear those (the evil one) who can kill the body and soul. If it is your wish to protect this precious gift of spiritual life in your soul, you must not be a coward. You must be willing to fight the good fight, run the race (as St. Paul the Good Apostle of the gentiles expresses it).
My prayer for you all is that God will give you the grace of Christian courage. For there is nothing as destructive of the human soul as fear; nothing as constructive as a free fearless spirit.
Copyright 2009 City of Mary, Mount Morris.