Reflecting Heaven Part 26: Our Saints and Blesseds in the Apse

10-20-2021Reflecting HeavenFr. Don Kline, V.F.

Joseph De Veuster (Father Damien of Molokai) (1840–1889), Professed Priest of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary (Picpus Fathers) (Vlaams-Brabant, Belgium – Molokai, Hawaii, part of U.S.); missionary to the Hawaiian Islands from Belgium; voluntarily chose to serve the sick and dying in the leper colony of Kalupapa on the island of Molokai; died from the disease after serving 16 years there; Declared Venerable: 7 July 1977; Beatified: 4 June 1995 by Pope John Paul II and Canonized: 11 October 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI; St. Damien De Veuster’s feast day is May 10.

Barbara Cope (Mother Marianne) (1838–1918), Professed Religious of the Franciscan Sisters of Syracuse (Bergstrasse, Germany – Hawaii, U.S.); she was born on January 23, 1838 in Germany; the following year her family emigrated to the United States, settling in the industrial city of Utica, New York;  in 1862 she entered the novitiate of the Sisters of the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis in Syracuse, New York; she helped found the first two Catholic hospitals in Central New York, with charters stipulating that medical care was to be provided to all, regardless of race or creed;  while serving as the superior of the Franciscan Sisters of Syracuse in upstate New York, she responded to Father Damien’s request to come and serve the lepers on Molokai; he promised her that neither she nor her sisters would ever contract leprosy;  with six other Sisters, she traveled to Honolulu to answer his call, arriving on November 8, 1883 and moved to Kalaupapa where she herself cared for the dying Father Damien; after years of serving and nursing the lepers, she died on August 9, 1918, due to natural causes; . she was buried in Kalaupapa; in 2005, her remains were brought to Syracuse for reinterment at her motherhouse, but in 2014, her remains were returned to Honolulu and are enshrined at the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace; her sisters still serve the few remaining victims of Hansen’s Disease and none of them ever contracted the disease; Declared Venerable: 19 April 2004; Beatified: 14 May 2005 by Cardinal José Saraiva Martins and Canonized: 21 October 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI; feast day January 23.

Fra Junípero Serra (1713–1784), Professed Priest of the Franciscan Friars Minor (Mallorca, Spain – California, U.S.); Founder of California and the first nine of the chain of 21 California Missions from San Diego to San Francisco; his missionary efforts earned him the title of “Apostle of California”; he was born Miguel José Serra Ferrer in the village of Petra on the island of Mallorca on November 24, 1713; at age 16, he enrolled in a Franciscan school in the capital city, Palma de Majorca, where he studied philosophy, and a year later, he became a novice in the Franciscan order; in 1737, he was ordained a priest, and three years later earned an ecclesiastical license to teach philosophy at the local university; he was considered intellectually brilliant by his peers; at age 35, he desired to become a missionary and landed in Mexico in 1749;  after teaching in Mexico City, he set out to evangelize the Indians in California; despite a painful injury to his left foot, he established nine missions in California, traveling more than 600 miles in the process; on August 28, 1784, at the age of 70, Junípero Serra died at Mission San Carlos Borromeo and is buried there under the sanctuary; he is known for his love of the Native Americans who he saw as children of God who deserved the opportunity for salvation and he fought for their rights and their dignity; Declared Venerable: 9 May 1985; Beatified: 25 September 1988 by Pope John Paul II and Canonized: 23 September 2015 by Pope Francis; feast day July 1.

Francis Xavier Seelos (1819–1867), Professed Priest of the Redemptorists (Bavaria, Germany – Louisiana, USA); a German Redemptorist who worked as a missionary in the United States frontier; towards the end of his life, he went to New Orleans to minister to victims of yellow fever; he then died after contracting the disease; he was born in Füssen, Bavaria on January 11, 1819; he was accepted by the Redemptorists and sent to America as a missionary, arriving in 1842; he worked for several years in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as curate to St. John Neumann; his availability and innate kindness in understanding and responding to the faithful’s needs quickly made him well known as an expert confessor and spiritual director;  he dedicated himself to the life of an itinerant missionary preaching in English and German in the states of Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Wisconsin;  he eventually settled in New Orleans; exhausted from visiting and caring for victims of yellow fever, he contracted the disease and died on October 4, 1867, at the age of 48;  Declared Venerable: 27 January 2000; Beatified: 9 April 2000 by Pope John Paul II; his feast is October 5.

Teresa Demjanovich (Sister Miriam Teresa) (1901–1927), Professed Religious of the Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth (New Jersey, USA); she was born Teresa Demjanovich in Bayonne, New Jersey, on March 26, 1901; her parents were Ruthenian immigrants to the United States from what is now eastern Slovakia; she wished to become a Carmelite, but stayed in the family home to care for her sick mother; after her mother died in the influenza epidemic of November 1918, she was encouraged by her family to attend college and graduated with highest honors in June 1923; she desired to enter the religious life, but various circumstances made her uncertain which community she should enter; meanwhile, she accepted a teaching position; in 1925 she was admitted to the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth; known for her quiet piety and pursuit of perfection in loving God, she wrote the conferences for the novices  which, after her death, were published in a book, Greater Perfection; her profession of permanent religious vows was made “in articulo mortis” (danger of death) on 2 April 1927; she was operated on for appendicitis on 6 May and died on 8 May 1927 from complications including myocarditis; favors and cures attributed to her intercession are continually being reported; her “message” is that “everyone is called to holiness”. Declared Venerable: 10 May 2012; Beatified: 4 October 2014 by Cardinal Angelo Amato, S.D.B.  Her feast day is May 8.

Stanley Francis Rother (1935–1981), Priest of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City; Martyr (Oklahoma, USA – Sololá, Guatemala); Stanley Francis Rother was born on March 27, 1935, in Okarche, Oklahoma; Rother was strong and adept at farm tasks; after completing high school, he decided to become a priest; he attended Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland  and was ordained to the priesthood on May 25, 1963; he served as an associate pastor in various parishes around Oklahoma; in 1968, at his request, he was assigned to the mission of the Tz’utujil people in the rural highlands of southwest Guatemala; by 1975, he had become the de facto leader of the Oklahoma-sponsored mission effort in Guatemala; at the beginning of 1981, he was warned that his name was on a death list of the government death squads and that he should leave Guatemala to remain alive; in the morning of July 28, 1981, just after midnight, shooters broke into Rother’s church’s rectory and shot him twice in the head; on December 1, 2016, Pope Francis issued a decree confirming that Rother had been killed “in odium fidei” (in hatred of the faith) which would allow him to be beatified, and he was beatified on September 23, 2017; Declared Venerable: 1 December 2016; Beatified: 23 September 2017 by Cardinal Angelo Amato, S.D.B.; his feast day is July 28.

Father Francis Solanus Casey (1870–1957), Professed Priest of the Franciscan Capuchins (Wisconsin, USA – Michigan, USA); Bernard Francis Casey (nicknamed “Barney”) was born on November 25, 1870, on a farm in Oak Grove, Wisconsin, the sixth of sixteen children born to Irish immigrants; he left home for a series of jobs including lumberjack, street car operator and prison guard; feeling called to the religious life, he was accepted into the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin in Detroit and was received into on January 14, 1897; he was given the religious name of “Solanus” after Saint Francis Solanus; both men shared a love of the violin; he struggled with his studies because classes there were taught in either German or Latin, neither of which he knew; due to his academic limitations, he was ordained on July 31, 1904 as a “simplex” priest, who could preside at a Mass but would not have the faculties for public preaching or hearing confessions; he served for two decades in a succession of friaries in New York and was recognized as an inspiring counselor;  in 1924, he was transferred to the Saint Bonaventure convent in Detroit, where he worked until 1945 and he served as the simple porter (or receptionist and doorkeeper); each Wednesday afternoon, he conducted well-attended services for the sick, and through these services, he became known for his great compassion and the fantastic results of his consultations with visitors; people considered him instrumental in cures and other blessings; he loved to kneel before the Eucharist in the quiet of the night and play his violin before the Blessed Sacrament; after a great deal of suffering, he died on July 31, 1957 in Detroit; his last words were “I give my soul to Jesus Christ;” on July 8, 1987, his remains were exhumed and were found to be incorrupt; he was known during his lifetime as a wonderworker, for his great faith and his abilities as a spiritual counselor, but especially for his great attention to the sick, for whom he celebrated special Masses; many miraculous cures have been attributed to his intercession, both during his earthly life and in death; Declared Venerable: 11 July 1995; Beatified: 18 November 2017; his feast day in July 30.

Michael Joseph McGivney (1852–1890), Priest of the Archdiocese of Hartford; Founder of the Knights of Columbus (Connecticut, USA); the son of Irish immigrants, he was born on August 12, 1852 in Waterbury, Connecticut, the eldest of 13 children; he left school at 13 to work in one of the local brass mill making spoons; in 1868 when he was 16, he entered the seminary, but he had to leave the seminary to return home to help finish raising his siblings after his father’s death in June 1873; eventually he was able to resume his studies, was ordained a priest on December 22, 1877, and assigned as assistant pastor at Saint Mary’s Church in New Haven, Connecticut; from his own experience, he recognized the devastating effect on immigrant families of the father and wage earner’s untimely death and saw that many Catholics were still struggling to assimilate into the American economy; so on March 29, 1882, he founded the Knights of Columbus, with a small group of parishioners at Saint Mary’s Church, as a mutual aid society, to provide financial assistance, in the event of the men’s deaths, to their widows and orphans; the organization developed as a fraternal society; he was also known for his tireless work among his parishioners, to whom he gave his all;  the beloved Priest of the Beatitudes  died from pneumonia during the influenza pandemic of 1889-1890 at the age of 38 in Thomaston, Connecticut on August 14, 1890.   Declared Venerable: 15 March 2008; Beatified: 31 October 2020 by Cardinal Joseph William Tobin7 by Cardinal Angelo Amato, S.D.B.  His feast day is August 13.

If you would like to contribute to this project, please go to the online giving at . Your gifts enable us to continue the mission of the Church of making more disciples. Thank you for all who have helped to keep our parish focus on Christ, Our Eucharistic King!