Welcome Fr. John Michalowski, S. J.

Welcome Fr. John Michalowski, S. J.

Welcome Fr. John Michalowski, S. J.

We are happy to welcome Fr. John Michalowski S.J. as the new parochial vicar at Our Lady of Hope Parish. He will arrive (actually, return, to Maine) in mid-May joining us
from St. Peter Church in Charlotte North Carolina where he has served as Parochial Vicar since 2016.

Fr. Michalowski entered the Society of Jesus in the then New England Province on September 1, 1973, the same day as Fr Paul; he was ordained to
the priesthood on June 20, 1981, and pronounced his final vows in June 1990.

Fr.Michalowski has served in a variety of roles in his time as a Jesuit, including serving as a religion teacher and chaplain at Cheverus here in Portland from Fall of 1982 to Spring of 1999 with a sabbatical in 1991 for Tertianship. After completing the associates’ program at Loyola in Guelph, Ontario, he became the director of Campion Renewal Center in Weston, MA until 2005. He was then pastor at Saints Mary and Joseph Parish in Salem, NH until 2016. Fr. Michalowski will replace Fr. Brian as Parochial Vicar of Our Lady of Hope Parish.

Fr. Brian remains Superior of the Jesuit Community of Maine and will remain active in our retreat ministries through the ACTS ministry and the Ignatian Partnership of Maine. He will also expand his role at Cheverus High School.

Fr Michalowski brings years of experience in parish and retreat center settings and will enable us to continue to grow and integrate the Ignatian ministries in Maine.

One Way of Living the Eucharist

One Way of Living the Eucharist

One Way of Living the Eucharist

“The Church must initiate everyone — priests, religious, and laity — into an ‘art of accompaniment’ which teaches us to remove our sandals before the sacred ground of the other.” — Pope Francis

A thought for reflection, especially during this Lenten season. How might we grow in our ability to experience and express accompaniment? Is that not one way of living the Eucharist?

Part 2: African-American Leaders in the Catholic Church – Patrick Healy, S.J.

Part 2: African-American Leaders in the Catholic Church – Patrick Healy, S.J.

Part 2: African-American Leaders in the Catholic Church – Patrick Healy, S.J.

As we recognize – and celebrate – Black History Month each February, we take this opportunity to highlight the contributions of African-American leaders in the Catholic Church. First proposed at Kent State University in 1969 and celebrated there in 1970, Black History Month was officially recognized by President Gerald Ford in 1976. Educational institutions and communities throughout the US “honor the too often neglected accomplishments of black Americans throughout our history” (Gerald Ford, 1976).

Black Americans have been leaders in the US Catholic Church since the middle of the 19th Century. .

Bishop James Healey’s brother Patrick was born in 1834. He, too, was sent north to study – first at the Quaker school on Long Island, in Flushing, New York and subsequently at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, where he graduated in 1850 at the age of 16.

Patrick entered the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) after graduation – the first Black American Jesuit. Patrick identified as white. His African American heritage was known to the Jesuits, but not widely acknowledged.

Patrick began graduate studies at Georgetown University and was sent to Rome to continue his studies. He transferred to Saint-Sulpice Seminary in Paris and completed his studies at the Catholic University of Louvain where he became the first African American to earn a PhD.

Fr. Patrick Healy, S.J. returned to Georgetown as the Chair of the Philosophy department. He was considered for the presidency of Georgetown, but the Jesuit superiors in Rome appointed Rev. John Early, S.J. as president due to Patrick’s race.

When Fr. Early became ill, Patrick increasingly took on the duties of president of Georgetown. When Early died suddenly, Patrick was named acting president by the board of directors. He was later inaugurated as president of Georgetown in 1874.

Patrick Healy, S.J. sought to modernize Georgetown University – overseeing the establishment of a new “commercial and scientific school,” reforming the curriculum, and building Healy Hall, the signature building on Georgetown’s campus. By the time of his death in 1910, Patrick was often referred to as the second founder of Georgetown University.

Fr. Brian Conley, S.J.

African-American Leaders in the Catholic Church: James Augustine Healy – Bishop of Portland

African-American Leaders in the Catholic Church: James Augustine Healy – Bishop of Portland

African-American Leaders in the Catholic Church: James Augustine Healy – Bishop of Portland

As we recognize – and celebrate – Black History Month each February, we take this opportunity to highlight the contributions of African-American leaders in the Catholic Church.

First proposed at Kent State University in 1969 and celebrated there in 1970, Black History Month was officially recognized by President Gerald Ford in 1976. Educational institutions and communities throughout the US “honor the too often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans throughout our history” (Gerald Ford, 1976).

Black Americans have been leaders in the US Catholic Church since the middle of the 19th Century.

James Healy was born into slavery in 1830. His father, Michael, owned a plantation in Georgia and his mother, Eliza, was a slave.  They had 10 children together – James was the oldest.

Michael wanted his children to have an education, so he brought them north. After coming north, James and his brothers would never see their mother again.

James began his schooling at a Quaker school on Long Island (New York), but experienced discrimination there, due to both his Irish Catholic and African heritage. Michael met Bishop John Fitzpatrick, the Bishop of Boston who urged Michael to enroll his children at the recently established College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts.

He and his brothers did well at Holy Cross and James graduated as the valedictorian of the first graduating class in 1849. James began his seminary training in Montreal and then in Paris, France at Sulpician Seminaries. He was ordained to the priesthood at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in 1854.

Father Healy was concerned about his return to Boston given due to the discrimination against Catholics, Irish immigrants, and African Americans at the time. Bishop Fitzpatrick and others knew of Fr. Healy’s African American Heritage. Barbara Miles, archivist of the Diocese of Portland, Maine comments, “He never proclaimed his racial identity. He was very quiet. He didn’t deny being African American, but he didn’t publicize it either. On his return to Boston, Father Healy established a house for homeless boys and later became Bishop Fitzpatrick’s personal secretary. He also served as chancellor and rector of the cathedral. Father Healy became the pastor of St James Parish, the largest parish in Boston.

In 1875, Pope Pius IX appointed Fr. Healy as the Bishop of Portland, Maine, making him the first African-American bishop in the United States. He served 25 years in Portland – founded 60 new churches, 68 missions, and 18 schools. Bishop Healy died in August 1900 and is buried in Calvary Cemetery in South Portland.

Sources: www.portlanddiocese.org. James Augustine Healy: From slave to scholar to shepherd.

– Fr. Brian Conley, SJ

Confession, Reconciliation, Penance, Oh My

Confession, Reconciliation, Penance, Oh My

Confession, Reconciliation, Penance, Oh My

Confession/Reconciliation/Penance.

These terms are often used to describe what “should happen” in the season of Lent. But what are they? Do they all mean the same thing?

In what ways can these realities be helpful to us?

Mark your calendars for Sunday, March 10th from 2-3 PM. Fr Brian will lead a discussion in which we can explore the meaning of these terms.  And, Fr Paul will invite us into a brief prayer experience.

This Lent is a good time to accept the invitation to go deeper into your spiritual life and relationship with God who loves you.

During the week of March 11-15 the parish will offer several special times to celebrate God’s forgiveness and healing/the sacrament of reconciliation.

  • Priests will be available 6:30-7:30 at St. Pius Church on Monday and Thursday.
  • On Tuesday evening, there will be a short service of reconciliation at 6:30 and time for the sacrament.
  • Priests will also be available after the 9 AM Mass on Wednesday.

If you missed Fr. Brian’s piece on the Sacrament of Reconciliation, you can find it here.

 

 

An Experience of Pardon and Peace

An Experience of Pardon and Peace

An Experience of Pardon and Peace

An Experience of Pardon and Peace: The Grace of the Sacrament of Reconciliation

Participating in the Sacrament of Reconciliation is one of the actions that Catholics are encouraged to take during the season of Lent (with fasting, almsgiving, and prayer as the other encouraged practices).

In this blog, I’d like to reflect with you on the sacrament of reconciliation and consider ways that we might deepen that experience or have a more satisfying experience of this sacrament. I was an adult before I experienced for myself the power of this sacrament and a different understanding of the sacrament earlier in my life might have been beneficial to my spiritual life.

When I was growing up, every Lent and Advent, my mother insisted that we go to confession. We went to the church, each of us would go into the confessional – a dark, closet-like place where I knelt and spoke to the priest through a screen. I would list all the things I had done wrong since the last time I had gone to confession. The list was repetitive: “I fought with my brothers and sisters; I got mad at my parents; I didn’t do my homework.” The priest would tell me to say some prayers; I would say an Act of Contrition; the priest would say some words that I did not understand and I would say the assigned prayers as quickly as I could before leaving the church. On the way home, my mom would often say how good she felt or that she felt lighter. As a child I never felt lighter or better after confession – in fact it was often the opposite – I often felt dark and heavy.

What was missing from those experiences of the sacrament? In one sense, nothing was missing. All the elements were there – contrition, penance, and absolution. I am certain that I received some spiritual benefit from those twice annual trips to the confessional – if only to be taught to admit that I was wrong every once in a while. While I had done the minimum necessary, a few small steps might have allowed for a deeper experience – the sort of positive experience my mom described.

  • The first step might have been a deeper examination of my conscience. The rote nature of my confession is one piece of evidence that I had not truly examined my conscience. If I had paused longer, I might have considered what the fights with my siblings were about. Why was I mad at my parents? Who was I hurting by not doing my homework? A deeper examination of conscience would have shifted my attention from me – to the relationships in my life. My relationships with my family and my relationship with God. A more reflective examination of conscience might have led me to acknowledge the many gifts that I had received and the generosity of those around me – I might have discovered some gratitude rather than the guilt or shame for having fallen short.
  • Second, I rushed through the penance – which I saw as a punishment. (“I got 10 Hail Mary’s this time and 3 Hail Mary’s last time – what did I do that was so much worse?). Just as a more thoughtful examination of conscience might have led to gratitude, a more reflective practice of penance might also have shifted the focus from me (the one punished) to the relationship – five Hail Mary’s and consider each of my siblings and my Mom as I prayed each one. As a priest, I try to link the penances I suggest in the sacrament to what I have heard. Is someone fighting with their brothers and sisters – then ask Mary’s intercession for them as part of the penance. (Or do something nice for your family – like do the dishes on a night when it is not your turn).
  • Finally, had I listened to the words of absolution, I might have reflected more on the sacrament. The priest’s words of absolution begin: “Almighty God, through the death and resurrection of your Son, Jesus, you have reconciled the world to yourself and poured out the Spirit for the forgiveness of sin…” Reconciled – the relationships have been restored – the relationship with God, with family members, with the whole world. The words of absolution continue: “Through the ministry of the Church may God grant you pardon and peace…” Once again, an invitation to pause and consider the gifts that are offered – pardon and peace (two ways of describing the experience my mom described on the way home). Am I accepting these gifts and putting them into practice by trying to make some small changes that might preserve these gifts and the relationships in my life? The words conclude: “I absolve you from your sins, In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”. The priest then invites the penitent to “Go in Peace.”

The sacrament of reconciliation has changed over the years. Here at Our Lady of Hope Parish, we use a reconciliation room that allows the choice between confessing face-to-face with the priest or remaining behind a screen (either way the room is well lit!). In the last year or two, the wording for the words of absolution changed slightly (I used the new words above). I hope that these changes allow people to approach the sacrament without embarrassment or shame and allow them to experience the grace of the sacrament.

I know that one of my favorite parts of being a priest is when I sense that someone is leaving the sacrament feeling a bit lighter with the experience of pardon and peace conveyed in the words of absolution.

Fr. Brian Conley, S.J.

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