Sent to Warm Hearts and Minister Thy Charity to All |
Denise M. Trias
This article is ideal for the feast of the Finding of the Body of St. Stephen for it is sandwiched between two saints who had such a devotion to Our Lady and her holy Rosary - St. Alphonsus Liguori and St. Dominic. Indeed, many Catholics are refinding the Body of Faith of their Fathers in East Boston and elsewhere in New England, resurrected by the valiant efforts of Sister Mary Bernadette, CMRI and her fellow Sisters of the Congregation of Mary Immaculate Queen. For the first time a few weeks ago, eight of the CMRI Sisters were able to visit Sister and tour her mission as well as meet the wonderful people who have come to love Sister Bernadette and all she stands for in fulfilling Christ's call and living the Vocation prayer to the fullest: "Give us...SISTERS to teach the young and nurse the sick, and to minister Thy charity to all." This article illustrates this fact in showing the fruits of the Spokane Marian Sisters' visit to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Mission in East Boston and the faithful's response to their zeal.
Our Lord taught that
Editor's Note: Denise is a mother of five children in New England
who promotes mothering and mentors mothers.
Denise gave up a career to have a large family and to be a mother
only to find herself in a struggle over her children being forced
into a lifestyle against everything she holds dear. She asks
for prayers for her family.
She is the founder of The Catholic Mom and strives to live the ideal proffered by the golden-voiced St. John Chrysostom, "What grander task can anyone have than that of guiding souls, of training the young? I esteem him who understands how to mold and educate youth more highly than the painter, the sculptor, and every other artist, whoever he may be." She shares the Catholic way of living in many aspects of daily life including Homeschooling, Nurturing, Catholic Saints and Education. Below she shares the recent trip by eight CMRI Sisters who were given a week to vacation across the country in Boston, visiting with their colleague and Director of the "Singing Nuns", Sister Mary Bernadette at the East Boston Mission of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
"All things have their season..."
Not only does this include a day of rest on the Sabbath
from our weekly labors, but this also includes the need for
periodic recreation and seasonal breaks from our daily duty.
In this spirit, eight Sisters from the Congregation of Mary Immaculate Queen with the Mother House in Spokane, Washington, flew into Boston in July to join Sister Mary Bernadette, CMRI for a brief respite from their teaching and printing apostolates. Those Sisters visiting were the Reverend Mother Mary Dominica along with Sister Mary Agatha, Sister Mary Petra, Sister Marie Janae, Sister Maria Regina and Sister Giovanna Marie. Accompanying these were also two Novice Sisters, Sister Mary Veronica and Sister Michael Marie. The latter is the most recent addition to the CMRI family, having received her white veil from His Excellency Bishop Mark A. Pivarunas on June 27 this year on the Feast of Our Mother of Perpetual Help.
Click the photo below to see an enlargement
in order to identify the Sisters by name
After staging their Annual Summer Concert in the Courtyard at Mount Saint Michael's (which was directed by Sister Mary Bernadette, who flew to Spokane for a few weeks to prepare the concert for July 8th), several of the Sisters received permission to visit Sister Mary Bernadette when she returned to Boston where she oversees Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Mission. The Mission was founded in April of 2005 in East Boston and Sister Bernadette continues to spearhead this wonderful apostolate, which grows more as the years go on.
The CMRI Sisters are also often known as "The Singing
Nuns." They acquired this moniker from giving a few concerts a year and share their wonderful music through CD recordings and a bookstore apostolate. For the most part,
though, the Sisters are all teachers, running a K-12 school
at Mt. St. Michaelís in Spokane. Their Congregation (which includes Priests, Brothers and Sisters) has churches, chapels, and missions established throughout the United States in Washington, Idaho, Montana, Arizona, California, Florida, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania, with a minor seminary in Idaho and a major seminary in Omaha, Nebraska.
With Boston being one of the newest of these missions,
the Sisters were pleased to be greeted on their trip by the
gracious Italian Community of East Boston who
shared with them their delicious Italian food, hospitality and warmth, not to mention sense of humor. Many were honored when the Sisters showed up to participate in the Block Rosary at Our Lady of Victory Gardens where Sr. Mary
Bernadette of the Boston Mission has been leading the rosary and ministering to the needs of the people each Tuesday.
At a Saturday potluck at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Mission
the Sisters gave the community a mini-concert of their favorite songs from two of their more popular CD's such
as Edelweiss, Dominique, Ave Maria and God Bless America, to name a few. Afterwards,
they answered questions from the lay people and visited with the children who were quite impressed with these edifying ladies dressed in traditional blue habits with the wide smiles and sparking eyes that manifested the love of God and His children wherever they went.
One little girl, Teresa Agnes, 10 was especially impressed with the Sisters. "They were very nice. They were modest. I had a lot in common with Sister Maria Regina who
used to like to play with paper dolls also when she was
my age. She gave me the address of her little sister in Colorado who is my age, so we can be pen pals."
Sister Maria Regina, who just professed her triennial vows this past June, described how she will be teaching
for the first time this fall at Mt. St. Michaelís in Spokane. She had the opportunity to observe classrooms and the students this past spring and see how each teacher conducts her class, and go to school, so to speak, on the various styles of each teaching Sister, combining the best of each one. That is her goal and she is confident this kind of preparation will help her when she steps into the classroom in September. She, along with the other Sisters realize they are molding the Traditional Catholic leaders of tomorrow in possible future Priests, Sisters, Brothers, and those who will become parents in continuing the patrimony of the true Roman Catholic faith.
Father Casimir Puskorius, CMRI, Pastor, Rector and Administrator of Mount St. Michaels in Spokane, described how the seeds of a vocation grow. "I knew Sr. Mary Regina from years ago when she came to a singles
get together," he said, "and realized she was called to something higher."
Father seeís hope and promise in the future of these "fervent younger Sisters." Sister Giovanna Marie and Sister Michael Marie used to be two of his students in a philsophy class in high school at the Mount prior to their taking the habit in giving their lives to God. "They are seeking the highest good," he said. "I am so happy to see that two girls I taught in school are truly seeking the highest good by following their vocation in religious life."
Father Casimir explained why philosophy is such an important subject at the Catholic curriculum. "The Church considers philosophy to be the handmaid of theology. It helps us understand our Faith better and helps demonstrate our Faith better. Many terms we use in theology come straight from philosophy. Like matter and form, actuality and potentuality and causality."
The children wear modest uniforms, and take turns attending Mass twice a week with their classrooms in addition to Mass with their families on Sundays.
Sister Mary Petra is the principal. Father Casimir and Father Michael Anaya teach at the
school with one male lay teacher and approximately twelve to fifteen Sisters. There are approximately 165 students from kindergarten through the highest level of high school, 12th grade seniors.
Father Casimir described the K-8 school that the Sisters run as having a unified traditional Catholic curriculum, designed by Sister Marie Vianney. "We are working on a more standard curriculum for the high school at the present."
The school and the Mother House Convent of the CMRI Sisters are both dependent on the families and the generosity of the parishioners to support the school and the good Sisters who do not receive a salary or stipend. Trying to maintain a campus of this magnitude can be a massive task. Mount St. Michael is located on an elevated 300 acres overlooking the city to the west. The grounds, manicured and maintained by volunteers and Brother Sebastian are a massive task for they also encompass 527,000 square feet of buildings, including the main building which is a five-story brick fortress-like edifice built in 1916 by the Jesuits of Father Pierre-Jean De Smet, S.J. who founded the city of Spokane. As pastor, spiritual director, and administrator Father Casimir is first and foremost an alter Christus, bringing Christ to all and that means being kind and gentle, and at other times serious and firm. Having been through it himself over the many years, he has persevered and prays the Sisters will as well. He realizes that each congregation goes through their ups and downs and that many families at the Mount have gone throughout the years from rigidity to laxity. "In time I have great hopes," expresses Father, "they will finally find
the middle ground as St. Thomas teaches."
One of his greatest joys continues to see the fruition of vocations and he says he is happy Mount St. Michaelís is blessed with these many new vocations, and it doesn't hurt to balance their spiritual life with a little rest and relaxation once in awhile. "The Sisters deserved a vacation to Boston. Combining vacation with visiting a mission - we all need that at times. I think they enjoyed the history part of it."
If anything, New England is packed with history, and the
the Spokane Sisters were able to not only have a day of fun, going whale watching as tourists, but take a pilgrimage to the
Shrine of the North American Martyrs in Auriesville, New York, and Father Benedict Hughes of the Congregation offered a High Mass (sung by the Sisters, of course) in a private Chapel in the Birkshires for the families of western Massachusetts who so kindly hosted the Sisters on their trip. Father Benedict is the Rector of St. Joseph's Minor Seminary in Rathdrum, Idaho, around 25 miles east of Spokane. He flies to Boston twice a month on a weekend basis to minister to the needs of the Boston CMRI Mission and the lay people who are interested in attending the Sacraments of traditional Roman Catholicism.
Also teaching the grade school children at Mary Immaculate Queen Parish in Rathdrum where Father Benedict is pastor is Kathleen Sullivan who hails from the Boston area and came home for a summer visit at the same time. In the photo above to the right, she is the one standing in the center among all those enjoying the Sisters' summer concert in East Boston.
Reverend Mother Mary Dominica wrapped up the sentiment of all the Sisters. "We were talking as we got home about what a well rounded trip it was."
For example, their visit involved the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy, caring for the sick and elderly. The Sisters accompanied Father Benedict one
day as he visited a woman and administered the Sacrament of Extreme Unction.
The Sisters were also able to sing a high Mass for Father Benedict at the Boston Mission's Mass location in Woburn on Sunday and then go up to Maine where Father offers Mass for the Catholics of the surrounding areas near Lewiston.
Their trip also involved appreciation for what we have lost and the restoration of the sacred. This was evident when the
the Sisters visited the devastated Sacred Heart Church up in Lawrence, Massachusetts that was gutted by the Archdiocese, but now is being renovated by a like-minded community who desires to preserve the traditional churches and sacraments of the Roman Catholic Faith.
Wherever the Sisters went, they were received warmly and that can only result in a deeper yearning and love for the true Catholic Faith and sacraments. One evening they all traveled to a country home near Lowell where they were treated to dinner by a woman who attends the mission. There they met one of the guests Maria Theresa, who had just learned about their work that week of spreading the message of Our Lady of Fatima and promoting the Roman Catholic Faith and the Traditional Latin Mass (the Tridentine Mass). "When I saw them get out of their car in their full habits, consecrated to God in their piety," said Maria, "I realized how inadequate I was dressed but how they inspired me to be holy in my thoughts, words and modesty. They were total brides of Christ who had
sacrificed their whole lives to Him in order to bring others to the true Faith. But what most impressed me was their joy. It was like looking at a newlywed bride, so full of joy and excitement. I was reminded how as a mom I am also called to be holy. They inspired me."
And that is why the Sisters traveled across the country to visit: to inspire and encourage through prayer and hospitality, something associatiated with Saint Lazarus' sisters Saint Mary and Saint Martha, whose feast we just commemorated this past Sunday. Martha epitomized hospitality and graciousness. And the CMRI Sisters epitomize what Religious life is all about in balancing the contemplative with the active life in serving in God's vineyard, nourishing souls through their love and dedication. It is interesting to note that it was the priests and lay faithful from the East Coast who originally accompanied Fr. DeSmet and his missionaries in converting the West. Now the West is returning the favor by bringing the True Roman Catholic Faith back to Boston.
To learn more about the Congregation of Mary Immaculate Queen go to CMRI. In Boston, Sr. Mary Bernadette offers regular rosary groups and catechism classes and the CMRI offers the Latin Mass at least twice a month. For more information, you may contact Sister at