News from San Antonio Church – December 31, 2023

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Weekly Bulletin December 31, 2023

by Terrie Evans

On this Sunday, New Years Eve, we celebrate the religious holiday the Feast of the Holy Family.  It honors the sanctity of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, The Holy Family and celebrates the family unit.  The devotion to the Holy Family grew around the 15th century when venerated them in many works of art that depicted them   as the ideal Christian Family.  Since 1921, the Feast of the Holy family has been a liturgical celebration in the Catholic Church when it was added to the liturgical calendar by Pope Benedict XV.  In 1969, the Feast of the Holy Family has been celebrated during the season of Christmastide.  A Prayer: “O God, who were pleased to give us the shining example of the Holy Family, graciously grant that we may imitate them in practicing the virtues of family life and in the bonds of charity, and so, in the joy of your house, delight one day in eternal rewards.  Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.  Amen” 

On January 1st, New Years Day there will be no MASS AT SAN ANTONIO CHURCH.  This is the Feast Day of the Blessed Virgin Mary as we honor her on the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.  We celebrated Mary being the mother of Jesus on the 8th day after his birth.  Under Levitical Law, Mary would have had him circumcised on this day and according to Luke 2:21 was then given the name of Jesus.  In Rome around the 14th Century, it was celebrated as the Feast of The Circumcision and the Octave of the Nativity.  In 1960, Pope John XXIII removed the mention of the Circumcision of Jesus from the General Roman Calendar.  In 1969 with the revision of the liturgical year and the calendar of the Roman Rite stating:  January 1st, the Octave Day of the Nativity of the Lord, is the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, and also the commemoration of the conferral of the Most Holy Name of Jesus. 

Pope Paul VI would explain: “This celebration.  Laced on January 1st is meant to commemorate the part played by Mary in this mystery of salvation.  It is meant also to exalt the singular dignity which this mystery brings to the holy Mother through whom we were found worthy to receive the Author of life.  It is likewise a fitting occasion for renewing adoration of the newborn Prince of Peace, for listening once more to the glad tidings of the angels and for imploring from God, through the Queen of peace, the supreme gift of peace.”  A Prayer for this January 1st: “O God, who through the fruitful virginity of Blessed Mary bestowed on the human race the grace of eternal salvation, grant we pray, that we may experience the intercession of her, through whom we were found worthy to receive the author of life, our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son.  Who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.  AMEN.” 

On Tuesday, January 2nd we celebrate the feast day of Saints Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen, Bishops and Doctors of the Church who met while studying in Constantinople and at the University of Athens.  Both were well educated, smart and holy who during their lives became the model for monasticism in the East.  Monasticism is followed by those who withdraw from society in order to devote themselves totally to God through prayer, penance, and solitude.  They lived at a time of Arianism (heresy claiming that Jesus Christ was created and therefore not divine) and with their teachings, helped the Church to heal, eradicate the heresy, and restore the unity of faith to the church in the East.  They would spend years in solitude praying to prepare them for their common mission.  Basil and Gregory were ordained Priests and were consecrated as Bishops.  Basil opened a school of Oratory for religious communities and was known as a brilliant speaker.  Basil and Gregory wrote books and always worked to defend the Church.  Basil drew up riles for men who wished to live together as Monks.  These rules are still the basis of every Monastic Community in Eastern Churches.    A Prayer to Sts. Gregory and Basil: “You were called by God to be a light in the midst of darkness during a time of great turmoil within the Church.  Please pray for me, that I will never live, enveloped in the darkness of this world but will always carry the light of Christ to scatter falsehood and sin, so that God may be glorified, and souls may be saved, Saints Basil and Gregory, pray for me.  Jesus, I trust in You.  AMEN.” 

On Wednesday, January 3rd we honor The Holy Name of Jesus first celebrated in Germany, Belgium, England, and Scotland that came to be observed universally during the reign of Pope Innocent XIII (1721-1724). Since Vatican II and under Pope Paul VI this day is no longer celebrated as a feast although the idea behind it is still valid.  Since we love and respect the name of Jesus, it is proper that we pay homage to it.  The spirit of this is captured by St. Paul: “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father “(Phil2:10-11). The Franciscan Bernadine of Siena promoted the devotion to the Holy Name who asked the faithful to “Adore the Redeemer of mankind,” while displaying the trigram HIS on a tablet in gold letters.  In Italy, the devotion to the Holy Name became very popular with the HIS trigram inscribed over the doorways of houses.  The tablet used by Bernadine is now venerated at the Basilica of Santa Maria in Aracoeli In Rome.  A very old and popular prayer, The Litany of the Holy Name began in the 15th Century was formally approved by Pope Pius IX in 1862 while the Novena in Honor of the Name of Jesus and the Chaplet of Our Lord are some of the many devotions to the Holy Name of Jesus that are promoted by the Society of the Holy Name.  The Little Sachet, associated with the Holy Name is a religious article used by Catholics and bears the statement “When Jesus was named, Satan was disarmed.” 

On January 4th we honor and celebrate St. Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton a wife, grieving mother and widow who would find her calling after becoming a Catholic after her husband William Magee Seton passed away on December 27, 1803.  She was received into the catholic Church on March 14, 1805, by Fr. Matthew O’Brien. Pastor of the St. Peter’s Church, the only Catholic Church in the city of New York.  In 1806, she received the Sacrament of Conformation from the only Bishop in the nation, the Bishop of Baltimore, John Carroll.  When she converted to Catholicism, Elizabeth tried to establish an academy for young ladies with little success until she met a Sulpician Father, Louis William Valentine Dubourg wanted to start a religious school located in Emmitsburg, Maryland.  Fr. Louis had taken refuge in the United States from religious persecution during the Reign of Terror in France.  Elizabeth accepted his offer and in 1809, moved to Maryland where she established the St. Jospeh’s Academy and Free School dedicated to the education of Catholic Girls.  She would then establish a religious community dedicated to care for children of the poor by the 1st Congregation of Religious Sisters founded in the United States and their school was the 1st free Catholic School in America.  The congregation was then called the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph and Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton was lovingly known as “Mother Seton”.  The Sisters adopted the rules of the Daughters of Charity in 1811, which were co-founded in France by Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac. In 1812, there were 19 Sisters in the small community when it was accepted as an official Order with Mother Seton becoming the 1st Superior.   She died on January 4, 1821, at the age of 46, nine years after losings Anna Maria (1795-1812) and five years after the death Rebecca Mary (1802-1816).    Elizabeth Ann Bayley and William Magee Seton’s other children were William II (1796-1868), Richard (1798-1823), Catherine (1800-1891) who was the 1st American to join the Siters of Mercy.   

By 1830, the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph were responsible for running orphanages and schools in Cincinnati and New Orleans and had established the 1st hospital west of the Mississippi in St. Louis.  In addition to the original community of Sisters at Emmitsburg, they are also based in Newy York city, Cincinnati, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Convent Station, New Jersey and Greensburg, Pennsylvania.  Seton High School in Cincinnati was founded as Mount St. Vincent Academy (Cedar Grove) in 1854 and in 1927, was renamed in honor of Elizabeth Ann Seton.  In 1931, our beloved Sister of Charity, Sr. Blandina Segale, Servant of God journeyed to Rome and met with the Pope to petition for the canonization of ‘Mother Seton”.  In 1936, her spiritual writings were approved by theologians and in 1940, her cause was formally opened granting her the title, Servant of God.  With the miracle in 1952 of a 4year old girl healed due to the intercession of Elizabeth Ann Seton, Pope John XXIII declared her beatified on March 17, 1963, with him stating: “In a house that was very small, but with ample space for charity, she sowed a seed in America which by Divine Grace grew into a large tree”.  The miracle attributed to her canonization took place in 1963 with the healing of Carl Kalin who was given hours to live after contracting meningitis and encephalitis in his brain.  Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton was finally canonized on September 14, 1975, by Pope Paul VI in a ceremony at St. Peters Square:  Pope Paul VI stated: “Eliabeth Ann Bayley Seton is a saint.  St. Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton is an American.  All of us say this with special joy and with the intention of honoring the land and the nation from which she sprang forth as the first flower in the calendar of saints.  Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton was wholly American!  Rejoice for your glorious daughter.  Be proud of her. And know how to preserve her fruitful heritage.” 

In 1980, the Daughters of Charity Health Network established Bayley Seton Hospital in Stapleton, Staten Island, new York and is now the Bayley Seton campus of Richmond University Medical Center.  Mother Seton School in Emmitsburg, Maryland, located less than a mile from the original school, Saint Joseph’s Academy enrolls 306 students from pre-kindergarten through 8th grade and has a ratio of 15 students to every teacher.  A Prayer to St. Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton: “O God, You raised up St. Elizabeth in Your Church so that she might instruct others in the way of salvation. Gant us to follow Christ after her example that we may reach You in the company of our brothers.  AMEN.”

On January 5th we celebrate the Feast day of John Neuman born on March 28, 1811, in the Kingdom of Bohemia, Austrian Empire, the only male United States citizen to be named a saint.  His alma mater was the University of Prague and his choices at that time were to become a physician, a lawyer, or a priest.  His father was prepared to pay the tuition for medical school.  John chose the Seminary which he entered in 1831 and while studying theology, he read reports of a need for priests in the United States to serve German speaking communities.  In 1828 Monsignor Frederick Rese, Vicar-General of Cincinnati visited Europe in search of priests.  He was able to secure 3 priests, 13 lay brothers and by 1832, the Redemptorists were a prominent element in North America taking care of German Congregations.  At the same time, John Neumann passed his canonical examinations for the priesthood and told he would not be ordained because the Diocese had more priests than needed.  He would have to journey to America to be ordained, something his family would not be able to see.  He was sorry he would not be able to give the 1st traditional priestly blessing to his parents and he would not have his family in attendance at his 1st Mass.  He departed on the morning of February 8, 1836, with 200 francs ($40) only telling his sister Veronica of his plans to leave Bohemia.  He arrived in Munich on February 18th, and on to Strasburg on the 26th of February, he was told he would not be needed in Philadelphia, where after his ordination would be his first post.  When he arrived in Paris, the money he was promised for the journey was given to other missionaries and was told a rich merchant would give him funds.  The money never materialized, and he decided to continue on leaving on Easter Sunday morning on the largest sailing vessel out of Le Havre, the Europa a 210-foot three mast ship with a 60-foot beam.  The voyage lasted 40 days with the passengers coming within sight of land on Trinity Sunday, May 28, 1836.  On the feast of Corpus Christi, he finally stepped ashore with tattered clothes and $1 in his pocket and looking for a Catholic Church.  Seventeen days after his arrival, John Neumann was finally ordained a priest by Bishop Dubois at St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral to the subdiaconate on June 19th, the diaconate on June 24th and the priesthood on June 25th, celebrating his 1st Mass on the morning of June 26th at St. Nicholas Church.  John Neumann became the 1st Redemptorists to profess vows in the United States.  The diocese he would serve was home to 200,000 Catholics with 36 priests, 33churches, several oratories, and 50 homes serving as temporary places of worship.  St. John Neuman would visit his Diocese by foot, canal boat, stagecoach, railway, and on horseback although because of his height (5ft 2 in.) his feet did not fit into the stirrups. In 1840, he asked to be admitted to the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer and took his vows in Baltimore in 1842.  He became a Naturalized citizen in 1848 and became a pioneer in organizing the parochial school system.  He was committed to providing educational opportunities to immigrant school children.  He would also do missionary work in Maryland, Virginia, and Ohio.   Neumann would become the Provincial Superior of the United States and in 1852, was appointed Bishop of Philadelphia where he established the 1st National Italian Parish in the country.  While he was Bishop, more than 80 churches were built, and he drew many Orders of Sisters and Christian Brothers into the city.   He spoke German, French and was fluent in Italian which endeared him to many communities throughout Philadelphia. While performing his duties St. John Neumann collapsed and died on a street in Philadelphia when he was 48 years old.  His funeral and burial were at St. Peters Church where he was laid to rest beneath the undercroft floor under the high altar.  The cause for his canonization was opened formally in 1896 granting him the title of Servant of God and was declared venerable by Pope Benedict XV in 1921.  St. John Neumann was beatified by Pope Paul VI in 1963 and canonized by Pope Paul in 1977.  In 1980, Our Lady of the Angels College was renamed Neumann College and in 2017, the state of New Hampshire established the St. John Neumann Education Trust for the advancement of Catholic Education in the state.  There are 15 schools named for him throughout the United States and in 2011, on the 200th anniversary of St. John Neumann’s birth, the Redemptorist Fathers celebrated the Closing Mass for the Neumann Year on June 23, 2012, in Philadelphia.

On Saturday, January 6th, the Catholic Church honors Andre Bessette (1845-1937) a Canadian lay brother of the Holy Cross Order who was a highly regarded figure of the Catholic Church among French-Canadians.  As a young boy, he developed devotions to St. Joseph and the Pasion of Christ while taking catechism lesson from his parish priest, Andre Provencal.  Years later, the pastor decided to present Andre Bessette to the Congregation of Holy Cross in Montreal with a note to the Superior, “I am sending you a saint.”  He was finally accepted on behalf of the Archbishop of Montreal, Ignace Bourget and in 1872, entered the novitiate of the Congregation.  He entered as Brother Andre and made his final vows at the age of 28 on February 2, 1874.  Brother Andre was assigned the task of porter, laundry worker, messenger, and sacristan at the College Notre-Dame in Quebec.  For 40 years he stayed visiting the sick in their homes and he recommended prayers to Saint Joseph with many claiming cures through the intercession of Brother Andre and Saint Joseph.  He would not take credit for the cures and launched a campaign to have a chapel built to honor Saint Joseph.  In 1924, the construction of a Basilica named St. Jospeh Oratory broke ground on the side of the mountain close to Brother Andre’s Chapel.  He died at the age of 91 in 1937 with one million mourners filling past his coffin to pay their respects with his remains entombed in the church he helped build. The cause for his beatification was opened on July 20, 1950, with the miracle attributed to him was the healing of Giuseppe Carlo Audino’s cure from cancer.  He was then beatified by Pope John Paul II on May 23, 1982.  In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI there was a decree to recognize a second miracle at Brother Andre’s intercession and in 2010 he was formally declared a saint.  Brother Andre Bessette was the 1st saint of the Congregation of Holy Cross, the same religious order that founded the University of Notre Dame.  Many schools and churches are named for him throughout Canada and in the United States.  St. Edward University, a Holy Cross School located in Austin, Texas is home to the School of Humanities and in Niles, Illinois a program to support student learning at Notre dame College Prep is named the St. Andre Scholars.    Throughout Canada, there is the St. Andre Bessette Secondary School, Brother Andre Catholic School, and St. Andre Bessette Elementary School.  The churches named in his honor are St. Andre Bessette Parish in Laconia, New Hampshire, a city with many residents of French-Canadian Heritage, in Ecorse, Michigan, St. Andre Bessette Catholic Church and in Portland, Oregon the St. Andre Catholic Church located downtown.  In support of Brother Andre’s work, Andre House was established in Phoenix, Arizona to aid those homeless and poor and in Pittsburg, in Pennsylvania, the Epiphany Roman Catholic Church, established a coffee shop, Brother Andre’s Café that employs workers with disabilities.  There is a statue of Saint Andre unveiled on the 50th Anniversary of Holy Cross College in Notre Dame, Indiana and Andre Place, the retirement facility sponsored by the Brothers of Holy Cross is adjacent to the college.  At the University of Notre Dame across the street from Holy Cross College, there are many statues and stained-glass windows depicting St. Andre.

As we honor St. Andre Bessette, we also celebrate San Antonio Church’s own Holy Cross Father, Fr. Fred Serraino, C.S.C. He grew up in the Little Italy section of South Fairmount and was ordained to the priesthood on December 21, 1968, at the Holy Cross Seminary Chapel.  Fr. Fred Serraino came back to San Antonio Church to celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving on June 1, 1969, to a church filled with honored parishioners.  On May 25, 2018, he celebrated the 50th Anniversary of his ordination at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the campus of Notre Dame and is now a resident of Andre House.  Fr. Fred’s parents were the late Anthony and Philomena Serraino, long-time parishioners of our church.  His brother Frank Serraino and his sister Carmella “Cumi” (Serraino) Berger and their families are still active members of our church.

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