Tony Melendez Concert in Honor of St. Mary’s School 125th Anniversary

December 8th, 2013

Please join us for this incredible event to CELEBRATE 125 years of Catholic Education in Salem! Tickets are on sale NOW! Please follow THIS LINK to get your tickets!

Photo of Forty Hours

November 18th, 2013

Nov. 1st, 2nd and 3rd: Solemn Eucharistic Adoration (Forty Hours Devotion)

October 30th, 2013

Oct. 10, 2013: Requiem Mass for John Kolb

October 14th, 2013

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Oct. 1st: Feast of St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face

October 1st, 2013

September 10th: St. Nicholas of Tolentine

September 10th, 2013

ST. NICHOLAS OF TOLENTINE, CONFESSOR {1245- 1305}, Patron of the Holy Souls in Purgatory

Born at — Sant’ Angelo, in Pontano, near Fermo, in the March of Ancona

His parents, said to have been called Compagnonus de Guarutti and Amata de Guidiani (these surnames may merely indicate their birth-places), were pious folk, perhaps gentle born, living content with a small substance. His mother was a model of holiness. They were childless until a pilgrimage to a shrine of the original Saint Nicholas at Bari, Italy where his mother asked for a son whom she promised to dedicate to God’s service. When her wish was granted, she named the boy Nicholas. He soon gave unusual signs of saintliness. Already at seven he would hide away in a nearby cave and pray there like the hermits whom he had observed in the mountains.

His religious formation was greatly influenced by the spirituality of the hermits of Brettino, one of the congregations which came to form part of the “Grand Union” of Augustinians in 1256, whose communities were located in the region of the March where Nicholas was born and raised. Characteristic of these early hermits of Brettino were a great emphasis on poverty, rigorous practices of fasting and abstinence, and long periods of the day devoted to communal and private prayer.

After hearing the inspired preaching by Reginaldo da Monterubbiano, Prior (local superior) of the Augustinian monastery in Sant’Angelo, he felt a call to embrace the religious life. His parents gave a joyful consent. His piousness so impressed the Bishop of Fermo that he permitted Nicholas to join the minor orders as young boy. As soon as he was old enough he was received into the Order of Augustinian friars and made his novitiate in 1261. At age eighteen he made his profession and entered the monastery at Tolentino where he was very active in administering the sacraments to the local community. He quickly won over the trust and love of the locals; he was often called upon to pray for the deceased loved ones and was affectionately referred to as the “Patron of Holy Souls”.

As Nicholas entered the Order at its inception he learned to combine the ascetical practices of the Brettini with the apostolic thrust which the Church now invited the Augustinians to practice. At times Nicholas devoted himself to prayer and works of penance with such intensity that it was necessary for his superiors to impose limitations on him.

At one point he was so weakened through fasting that he was encouraged in a vision of Mary and the child Jesus to eat a piece of bread signed with the cross and soaked in water, to regain his strength.

Nicholas repeated these steps throughout the community to help the sick, resulting in numerous miracles of healing. In his honor the custom of blessing and distributing the “Bread of Saint Nicholas” is continued by the Augustinians in many places to this day including his shrine.

On account of his kind and gentle manner his superiors entrusted him with the daily feeding of the poor at the monastery gates, but at times he was so free with the friary’s provisions that the procurator begged the superior to check his generosity. Even before his ordination he was sent to different monasteries of his order, at Recanati, Macerata etc., as a model of generous striving after perfection.

He was ordained in 1271 and said his first Mass with exceptional fervor; thereafter, whenever he celebrated the holy Mystery he seemed aglow with the fire of his love. He lived in several different monasteries of the Augustinian Order, engaged principally in the ministry of preaching.

In 1275 he was sent to Tolentino, and remained there for the rest of his life. He was known for his humility, meekness and sanctity. His preaching, instructions and work in the confessional brought about numerous conversions, and his many miracles were responsible for more, yet he was careful not to take any credit for these miracles. “Say nothing of this,” he would insist, “give thanks to God, not to me. I am only a vessel of clay, a poor sinner.”

As a priest and religious, he was full of charity towards his brother Augustinians as well as towards the people to whom he ministered. He visited the sick and cared for the needy. He was a noted preacher of the Gospel. He gave special attention to those who had fallen away from the Church. People considered him a miracle worker. He often fasted and performed other works of penance. He spent long hours in prayer.

Nicholas worked to counteract the decline of morality and religion which came with the development of city life in the late thirteenth century. A fellow religious describes Nicholas’ ministry in these words:

“He was a joy to those who were sad, a consolation to the suffering, peace to those at variance, refreshment to those who toiled, support for the poor, and a healing balm for prisoners.”

Nicholas’ reputation as a saintly man and a worker of miracles led many people to the monastery of Tolentino.

He worked as a peacemaker in a city torn by civil war. Preached every day, wonder-worker and healer, and visited prisoners. Received visions, including images of Purgatory, which friends ascribed to his lengthy fasts. Had a great devotion to the recently dead, praying for the souls in Purgatory as he traveled around his parish, and often late into the night.

Reported to have resurrected over one hundred dead children, including several who had drowned together. Legend says that the devil once beat Nicholas with a stick; the stick was displayed for years in the his church. A vegetarian, Nicholas was once served a roasted fowl; he made the sign of the cross over it, and it flew out a window. Nine passengers on ship going down at sea once asked Nicholas’ aid; he appeared in the sky, wearing the black Augustinian habit, radiating golden light, holding a lily in his left hand; with his right hand he quelled the storm. An apparition of the saint once saved the burning palace of the Doge of Venice by throwing a piece of blessed bread on the flames.

He spent the last thirty years of his life in Tolentino preaching with wonderful success, where the Guelfs and the Ghibellines were in constant strife. Nicholas saw only one remedy to the violence: street preaching, and the success of this apostolic work was astounding. “He spoke of the things of Heaven,” says his biographer St. Antonine. “Sweetly he preached the divine word, and the words that came from his lips fell like flames of fire. Among his hearers could be seen the tears and heard the sighs of people detesting their sins and repenting of their past lives.”

Towards the end diseases tried his patience, but he kept up his mortifications almost to the hour of death. He died surrounded by his community. He possessed an angelic meekness, a guileless simplicity, and a tender love of virginity, which he never stained, guarding it by prayer and extraordinary mortifications. Many of the cures obtained through Saint Nicholas’ prayers were received while he himself was infirm.

In 1345 a lay Brother cut off the arms of his body intending to take them to Germany as relics, and the friars then hid his body to prevent further attempts of this kind. It has not been found to this day, but the arms have been preserved. It is recorded that they have bled on several occasions, usually; it is said, before some calamity that befell the Church or the world.

When in 1884 Nicholas was proclaimed “Patron of the Souls in Purgatory” by Pope Leo XIII, confirmation was given to a long-standing aspect of devotion toward this friar which is traced to an event in his own life. On a certain Saturday night as he lay in bed, Nicholas heard the voice of someone who identified himself as Fra Pellegrino of Osimo, a deceased friar whom Nicholas had known. Fra Pellegrino revealed that he was in Purgatory and begged Nicholas to offer Mass for him and for other suffering souls so that they might be set free. For the next seven days Nicholas did so and was rewarded with a second vision in which the deceased confrere expressed his gratitude and assurance that a great number of people were now enjoying the presence of God through Nicholas’ prayers. As this event became known, many people approached Nicholas, asking his intercession on behalf of their own deceased relatives and friends.

Like many of the saints, Nicholas received from God a particular calling. It was not to feed the poor, although he did, nor to be zealous for the salvation of souls, although he was. His call was to help the Holy Souls in Purgatory.

St. Nicholas had a great love for the Holy Souls. He would offer Mass, pray and do penance for them so they could more quickly enter Heaven. Because many Catholics have forgotten about the souls in Purgatory, except when November 2nd – All Souls Day – comes around, St. Nicholas can teach a valuable lesson.

Nicholas died in Tolentino on 10 September 1305. He was canonized by Eugene IV in 1446: the first member of the Augustinian Order to be canonized.

Saint Nicholas’ body is “preserved” and venerated by the faithful in the basilica in Tolentino in the city of Tolentine which bears his name. His feast is celebrated by the Augustinian Family (and on the Universal Calendar of the Church) on the 10th of September.

September 4th: Feast of St. Rosalia of Palermo, Hermitess

September 4th, 2013

Saint Rosalia (1130–1166), also called La Santuzza or “The Little Saint”, is the patron saint of Palermo, Sicily, El Hatillo, Venezuela, and Zuata, Anzoátegui, Venezuela.

According to legend, Rosalia was born of a Norman noble family that claimed descent from Charlemagne. Devoutly religious, she retired to life as a hermit in a cave on Mount Pellegrino, where she died alone in 1166. Tradition says that she was led to the cave by two angels. On the cave wall she wrote “I, Rosalia, daughter of Sinibald, Lord of Roses, and Quisquina, have taken the resolution to live in this cave for the love of my Lord, Jesus Christ.”

In 1624, a horrible plague haunted Palermo, and during this hardship St Rosalia appeared first to a sick woman, then to a hunter to whom she indicated where her remains were to be found. She ordered him to bring her bones to Palermo and have them carried in procession through the city.

The hunter climbed the mountain and found her bones in the cave as described. He did what she had asked in the apparition, and after the procession the plague ceased. After this St Rosalia would be venerated as the patron saint of Palermo, and a sanctuary was built in the cave where her remains were discovered.

The celebration, called the festino, is still held each year on July 15. It is still a major social and religious event in Palermo. In 1995, 1996, 1997 and 2001 the celebration has been produced by Studio Festi.

Also on September 4 there is an event related to the festino and St. Rosalia; a tradition of walking barefoot from Palermo up to Mount Pellegrino. In Italian American communities in the United States, the July feast is generally dedicated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel while the September feast, beginning in August, brings large numbers of visitors annually to the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn in New York City.

 

Devotion to St. Rosalia in Kenner, Louisiana:

The annual St. Rosalie (Rosalia) Procession celebrates one of Kenner’s oldest and most meaningful traditions. In 1855, Sicilian immigrants settled into the Kenner area on the tract of land spanning from what is now the intersection of Williams Boulevard and Kenner Avenue to the St. Charles Parish line.

Although this community began to thrive quickly, it was vulnerable in its infancy stages. Completely dependent on the growth of produce and health of livestock, tragedy struck in 1898 when an epidemic of “Charbon,” (commonly known today as Anthrax) infiltrated the area. Without the sale of vegetables and livestock, the immigrants would have no means to feed and care for their families.

Desperate for help, the farmers prayed for the intercession of St. Rosalie, the patron saint of their native Palermo, Sicily, and asked her to stop this devastating epidemic that was quickly killing their crops and livestock. The prayers of these farmers were so powerful, that the skies opened and a long rain fell, in turn, stopping the spread of the disease.

The grateful farmers were in awe of St. Rosalie’s grace and promised an annual procession through the streets of their community in her honor. That year, in 1898, the first St. Rosalie procession took place and the residents of Kenner have continued to honor her for saving this community until this day. Throughout this three mile procession of faith and prayer, participants carry a statue of St. Rosalie and her holy relic, while praying the Rosary and other Litanies.

Parish Announcement:

August 27th, 2013

Parish Knights of Columbus to Sponsor

Our Lady of Guadalupe Prayer Program

at St. Mary’s on September 7th and 8th

           The Our Lady of Guadalupe Prayer Program began August 3, 2011 at the 129th Supreme Convention in Denver. This program features an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  Our Lady of Guadalupe, as patroness of the Americas, has special significance to the Knights of  Columbus. When the Order sponsored a tour of a relic of St. Juan Diego’s tilma in 2003, Our Lady of Guadalupe’s role as mother of all in the Americas became very clear.  In city after city, crowds of tens of thousands of people came to venerate Our Lady of Guadalupe. What was most striking was not the number of people, but the number of nationalities and ethnicities represented in each gathering. Likewise, at the Guadalupe Festival sponsored by the Knights of Columbus in 2009 in Phoenix, more than 20,000 people came to venerate and celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe. It is our hope that this prayer program will continue to expand devotion to Our Lady and the evangelization of the Americas.

The pilgrim icon of Our Lady of Guadalupe will be venerated in our church sanctuary next Saturday and Sunday, with a prayer service following the Saturday evening Vigil Mass (beginning around 6:15pm).  All are encouraged to attend.

Letter from our Parish Seminarian

August 16th, 2013

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Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Dear Parish Family:

In writing to you, I wish to inform you that I have successfully completed my first year of studies (out of a total of seven years) at Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Denton, Nebraska.  Thank you for your prayers and support in this endeavor.  It has truly been a great year that I will never forget!

I have enjoyed the many opportunities that have been presented to me during my time at the seminary, especially the extra opportunities for prayer, spiritual reading, and for socializing with fellow seminarians.  The whole seminary took a trip to Colorado to go hiking in the beginning of the academic year.  This was a great chance to begin to become acquainted with my new confrères.  The first year class took many day-trips as well, including a visit to the Omaha Zoo, the Strategic Air Command Museum, the Carmelite nuns, the “Pink Sisters,” the Schoenstatt Shrine of Our Lady, and a few nearby hiking trips.  These outings provide welcome breaks from the many studies that we do at the seminary.

My classes this year were very good, though.  This year, I took Latin I, Introduction to the Spiritual Life, Introduction to Liturgy, Christian Doctrine, Gregorian Chant, Music and Morality, Sacred Scripture, and Constitutions of the FSSP (our fraternity: the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter).  I received my report card and found that, with the help of God, I had performed quite well in all of my classes.  This fall, I will begin to take more difficult classes as I begin the study of Philosophy for two years, followed by four years of Theology.

Also this fall, on October 19, I will receive what is called the “First Clerical Tonsure.”  Tonsure is a ceremony in which a man leaves behind his state as a lay person and becomes a cleric, a person consecrated to the service of God and His Holy Catholic Church.  This internal transformation is shown externally by the change of dress that takes place during the ceremony.  The man begins to wear publically and constantly the roman cassock and white clerical collar, showing his consecration to the service of God and the Church.  The transformation takes place when the Bishop cuts five snips of hair in the shape of a cross from the head of the one being tonsured, symbolizing the renunciation of a worldly life and the offering of oneself to God.  One is allowed to let the hair grow back, though.

But why all this?  Why give one’s life completely to God?  Well, God calls everyone to a particular vocation in life.  Some He calls to the priesthood, some to the religious life, others to the married life, and still others He calls to remain unmarried.  On our efforts to cooperate with God’s will for our lives depends our Eternal Salvation.  If God is calling me to the priesthood, I must cooperate with a generous and joyful heart, recognizing the marvelous privilege it would be to serve God and His people as a priest.

Venerable Pope Pius XII, in his hallmark encyclical letter of 1947, Mediator Dei, stated that “Jesus the Son of God quite clearly had one aim in view when He undertook the mission of mercy which was to endow mankind with the rich blessings of supernatural grace” (MD #1).  Before Our Lord’s passion and death, He instituted the Catholic priesthood as a way of perpetuating His work upon Earth, particularly in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which is “the supreme instrument whereby the merits won by the divine Redeemer upon the cross are distributed to the faithful” (MD #79).

Pius XII further explains that “By [priests], [the faithful] will be supplied with the comforts and food of the spiritual life.  From them they will procure the medicine of salvation assuring their cure and happy recovery from the fatal sickness of their sins.  The priest, finally, will bless their homes, consecrate their families and help them, as they breathe their last, across the threshold of eternal happiness” (MD #43).  So, we can see that the priesthood is absolutely essential for the salvation of souls.

In order to ensure that the world has good Catholic priests to lead its people to Christ, it is essential that young men studying for the priesthood in seminaries be formed properly that they may grow in the knowledge and holiness that are necessary to become worthy instruments through which Jesus Christ may communicate to the world “the rich blessings of supernatural grace” (MD #1).

As can easily be seen from the above paragraphs, the priesthood is vitally important, and without seminarians, what guarantee do we have of priests for the future?

So, dear parish family, I ask you to please continue to remember me in your prayers.  I have enjoyed my first year very much, and I look forward to a great second year and beyond.  It has been great to have been home on summer vacation.  I will return to the seminary on August 31.  I thank you all for your support, most especially for the prayers that you already offer for me.  I pray for you all every day.

Please remember that St. John Vianney, the patron  of parish priests, once said, “The priest is not a priest for himself; he is a priest for YOU!”

Thank you all very much!

May God bless you and may Our Lady of Guadalupe protect you!

In Christ,

John E. Streff
On the Feast of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

August 15: The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

August 15th, 2013

From Venerable Pius XII’s Apostolic Constitution defining “ex cathedra” (from the chair of Peter) the dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin of November 1, 1950, MUNIFICENTISSIMUS DEUS:

43. We rejoice greatly that this solemn event falls, according to the design of God’s providence, during this Holy Year, so that we are able, while the great Jubilee is being observed, to adorn the brow of God’s Virgin Mother with this brilliant gem, and to leave a monument more enduring than bronze of our own most fervent love for the Mother of God.

44. For which reason, after we have poured forth prayers of supplication again and again to God, and have invoked the light of the Spirit of Truth, for the glory of Almighty God who has lavished his special affection upon the Virgin Mary, for the honor of her Son, the immortal King of the Ages and the Victor over sin and death, for the increase of the glory of that same august Mother, and for the joy and exultation of the entire Church; by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma:

that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.

45. Hence if anyone, which God forbid, should dare willfully to deny or to call into doubt that which we have defined, let him know that he has fallen away completely from the divine and Catholic Faith.

46. In order that this, our definition of the bodily Assumption of the Virgin Mary into heaven may be brought to the attention of the universal Church, we desire that this, our Apostolic Letter, should stand for perpetual remembrance, commanding that written copies of it, or even printed copies, signed by the hand of any public notary and bearing the seal of a person constituted in ecclesiastical dignity, should be accorded by all men the same reception they would give to this present letter, were it tendered or shown.

47. It is forbidden to any man to change this, our declaration, pronouncement, and definition or, by rash attempt, to oppose and counter it. If any man should presume to make such an attempt, let him know that he will incur the wrath of Almighty God and of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul.

48. Given at Rome, at St. Peter’s, in the year of the great Jubilee, 1950, on the first day of the month of November, on the Feast of All Saints, in the twelfth year of our pontificate.

I, PIUS, Bishop of the Catholic Church, have signed, so defining.

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SOME PHOTOS FROM OUR PARISH CHURCH DECORATED FOR OUR LADY’S FEAST: