Monday, April 25, 2016

Sweet Holy Spirit: Annual Revival, St. Augustine of Hippo, East St. Louis, IL

St. Augustine Parish in East St. Louis, IL, recently celebrated their annual revival.  This year's revival preacher was Fr. Maurice Nutt, C.Ss.R.

Father Nutt is currently a member of the Redemptorist Parish Mission Preaching Team based in Chicago, IL.  Additionally he is a member of the faculty of the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana, New Orleans, where he teaches Preaching.  He has written three books:  Thea Bowman:  In My Own Words, Advent and Christmas Wisdom from St. Alphonsus Liguori, and Lent and Easter Wisdom from St. Alphonsus Liguori.  Father Nutt is also a contributor to the African American Catholic Youth Bible, a collaborative project between the National Black Catholic Congress and St. Mary’s Press.  He has also published many articles about preaching, evangelization and stewardship.

For the closing evening of the revival, the choir from St. Alphonsus Parish (aka, the Rock) in St. Louis helped provide the music.  The youth choir from St. Augustine also did a wonderful job as did the Praise Dancers.  Here are some photos:

Fr. Maurice Nutt

The St. Augustine Praise Dancers

Choir from "The Rock" Catholic Church in St. Louis

Sr. Thea Bowman Catholic School: Spring Concert

Sr. Thea Bowman School is the only Catholic grade school in East St. Louis, IL. My brother, Br. Tom Eaton, OFM, teaches religion and computer classes there.

The school curriculum is unusual in that it features music and dance components. All the students from kindergarten through 8th grade receive violin lessons. All the students learn the elements of dance, and the older students receive additional lessons in ballroom dancing. Here are some photos from the spring concert on April 24.

The school is doing a great job with limited financial resources and recurring problems with the physical plant (roof, windows, etc.) If you would like to make a donation or receive more information about how you can help, please contact Roberta Trost at 618-397-0316.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Franciscans in Asia: Friar Jeff Haller, OFM

Sacred Heart Province recently received the following report from Fr. Jeff Haller, OFM.


I just returned from a month of teaching in Yangon, the largest city and former capital of Myanmar (Burma).  Last year the friars of the Myanmar (OFM) Foundation and the FMM (Franciscan Missionaries of Mary) in Myanmar decided to collaborate in organizing a teaching program---which will perhaps develop into an institute---open to the public. Since we had a break in our academic year in Thailand, and the Minister General encouraged us in Thailand to seek closer collaboration with our brothers in Myanmar, I offered to help them in their program during the brief period I was available. Most of the students were of university-age or close to it. 

What struck me as commendable, in addition to the educational assistance in English that was being given, was the way that Christians, Buddhists and Muslims were coming together with mutual respect to further their education. We teachers were all friars and sisters of St Francis, but we made the classes very inclusive to those who came through the door.  In addition to the different religious identities represented, we had a variety of Myanmar’s ethnic identities: those who were of the majority Burmese population, but also those who were of Tamil and Telugu backgrounds (India) and some from the Myanmar states of Chin, Mandalay, Kachin, Kayin, and Shan.

One of the benefits of being in Yangon at this time was the opportunity to celebrate Holy Week with the Burmese.  Probably the highlight for me was to attend Easter morning mass at the cathedral in Yangon’s city center; the celebrant was Cardinal Charles Bo, who last year made history for the Church in being named Myanmar’s first cardinal ever. [ Catholic new sources state:  “Bo's appointment as Myanmar's first cardinal is seen as support for his efforts to push national reconciliation, peace, justice and freedom as his people struggle with religious and ethnic tensions and other problems.”] 

Cardinal Bo gave a homily which probably would have been unthinkable even 5 years ago. He cited some of the problems that have plagued the nation in the past and kept it in a “crucified” state.  Not surprisingly, he mentioned Aung San Suu Kyi and the obstacles she has had to overcome to reach her current role in the new government (which became empowered on March 30---the first civilian-elected government in 50 years). He also included Martin Luther King and Barack Obama among the persons who represent hope over oppression.  I was able to chat briefly with Cardinal Bo after mass and thanked him for the very upbeat tone of “resurrection” he shared with the congregation;  Easter as it should be!     

  --Jeff Haller, ofm

[Article appeared in the Sacred Heart Province ATP April 12, 2016]

Displaying Cardinal Charles Bo Easter Day  2016.JPG

Franciscans in Africa: Fr. Damien Isabell, OFM

Fr. Damien Isabell has been serving in the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) for over 30 years. Besides teaching in the local Franciscan seminary, he has also taken on the job of housing, feeding, and providing education and technical training for some of the homeless boys in the area.  The last I heard, there were 27 boys in his care.

Fr. Damien recently sent some photos.  Since the DRC does not have a celebration comparable to the USA's Thanksgiving day, the boys designed their own thanksgiving celebration.  The local bishop and some Third Order members came to join in the festivities.  Fr. Damien's note indicated that when the kids started dancing, others in the area joined in.

Also, Fr. Damien got the rare privilege of being invited to baptize some of the boys during the Easter celebration.  Here are some of the pictures we received.

To make a donation to support Fr. Damien's work in the DRC, please contact Br. Joseph Rogenski, FMU, 3140 Meramec St., St. Louis, MO, 63118.  If you wish to donate online, please click on this link which will take you to the Franciscan Charities webpage:  Franciscan Charities

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Extension Society Lumen Christi Awards

Every year, the Extension Society recognizes a Church minister to receive the Lumen Christi award.  This year there is a long list of nominees.  I was pleasantly surprised to see Sr. Phyllis Wilhelm on the list.  Sr. Phyllis is a Joliet Franciscan.  She and I worked together in Bayfield, WI, where she was responsible for ministry and catechesis on the Red Cliff (Ojibway) Reservation.  Sr. Phyllis has dedicated a significant portion of her religious life ministering in the Native American community.

To see the list of nominees and to read Sr. Phyllis' and others' summaries, please click on this link.

Lumen Christi Nominees

Kevin Delgado

Disqus for Fr. John Eaton, OFM