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Saints in the Making

Blessed Peter Donders

Feast Day: January 14

Blessed Peter Donders

Peter Donders was born in Tilburg, Holland, on October 27, 1809, and as a boy he felt called to the priesthood. His family was poor, and his schooling was cut short so that he could learn weaving, which was his father's trade. At the age of 22, he entered St. Michael-Gestel Seminary. Ordained a priest on June 5, 1841, Donders set out for Paramaribo, Surinam, a Dutch colony.

For 14 years he ministered to the city's 2,000 Catholics, and regularly visited the plantation slaves, the military garrisons, and the indigenous people who lived along the rivers. In 1856, he volunteered to minister to people with leprosy at Batavia, where he remained for the next 28 years.

In 1866, he joined the Redemptorists, professing his vows on June 24, 1867. These vows gave him a more vivid sense of the apostolic missionary community, and he left Batavia more often to minister to other pastoral needs.

Donders died among his lepers on January 14, 1887. He was mourned as their benefactor and invoked as a saint. Pope John Paul II beatified Donders on May 23, 1982. Blessed Peter Donders is buried in Batavia, Surinam.

Blessed Kaspar Stanggassinger

Feast Day: September 26

Blessed Kaspar Stanggassinger

Kaspar Stanggassinger entered the Congregation with the intention of preaching the Gospel to the most abandoned. Instead, his superiors appointed him to form future missionaries. In addition to teaching, he gave pastoral assistance at churches in neighboring villages, especially by preaching. He was deeply devoted to the Eucharist, and in his preaching he invited all to have recourse to the Blessed Sacrament in times of need and anxiety.

He was 28 when he arrived at the seminary in Gars, Bavaria, in 1899. He preached the opening retreat of the year to the students, but he soon fell victim to a fatal case of peritonitis.

Kaspar used to say, "The saints have a special intuition. For me, who am not a saint, what is important are the simple eternal truths: the Incarnation, the Redemption and the Holy Eucharist." He was declared blessed by John Paul II on April 24, 1988.

Source: Sacramentary and Lectionary Supplement, The Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. (North American Redemptorist Spirituality Commission, 2007)

Blessed Gennaro Maria Sarnelli

Feast Day: June 30

Blessed Gennaro Maria Sarnelli

Gennaro Sarnelli was born in Naples, Italy, on September 12, 1702. Son of the Baron of Ciorani, he had a solid cultural and spiritual formation. Dedicating himself to the study of jurisprudence, he gained a doctorate in civil and canon law at age 20. Caring for the sick in the Hospital for the Incurables, he felt the call to the priesthood. During this time he also came to know Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, who was his first biographer.

Ordained a priest in 1732, he dedicated himself especially to the catechesis of young boys and to the rehabilitation of girls at risk of becoming prostitutes. In June of the following year, he entered the Redemptorists. He dedicated himself to the preaching of the Word of God to those who were most destitute of spiritual help.

For reasons of health, in 1736, he returned to Naples, where, while continuing the missionary activity of the Redemptorists Congregation, he resumed his previous pastoral and charitable activities, especially among the sick, the old, those in prison and the young boys forced to work as dock-laborers. He also initiated a fervent movement against the spread of prostitution.

A prodigious writer, he published more than 30 books on a wide range of subjects, including socio-juridical studies, moral issues, mysticism, pedagogy, pastoral practice, Mariology, and ascetical theology.

In 1741, he organized and took part in the great mission among the spiritually abandoned areas in the outskirts of Naples. Spent by his burning zeal, he died in Naples June 30, 1744, at the age of 42. John Paul II beatified him on May 12, 1996.

Source: Sacramentary and Lectionary Supplement, The Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, Raymond Corriveau, C.Ss.R., editor. (Liguori, Missouri: North American Redemptorist Spirituality Commission, 2007.)

Blessed Nicholas Charnetsky and companions
(Four Redemptorist Martyrs of Ukraine)

Blessed Nicholas Charnetsky and companions

Bishop Nicholas Charnetsky (1884-1959)
Bishop Vasyl Velychkovsky (1903-73)
Father Zenon Kovalyk (1903-41)
Father Ivan Ziatyk (1899-1952)
Feast Day: June 28

Nicholas Charnetsky was born in Semakivci in Halychyna, Western Ukraine, in 1884. He completed his theological studies in Rome and was ordained a diocesan priest in 1909. After obtaining his doctorate in theology, he was spiritual director and professor of theology at the major seminary in Stanislaviv.

He entered the Redemptorist novitiate in Zboisk in 1919 and was professed in 1920. During his early years he was assigned to teach in the minor seminary and subsequently to the giving of popular missions. He was ordained bishop in 1931 and appointed the Apostolic Visitor to the Ukrainian Catholics of Volyn. From 1931-39, he ministered to the people of Volyn, Polisia, Pidliasia, and Belorussia. During World War II he was in Lviv, ministering pastorally and teaching at the theological academy. From 1945-56, he was imprisoned in about 30 Soviet labor camps and prisons. Following his release in 1956, he returned to Lviv and acted as bishop of the suppressed Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine. He died in 1959.

Vasyl (Basil) Velychkovsky was born in Stanislaviv, Western Ukraine, in 1903. He studied at the Major Seminary in Lviv and was ordained a deacon in 1923. He entered the Redemptorists as a deacon, professed vows in 1925, and was ordained a priest shortly after. After teaching at the minor seminary in Zboisk, Vasyl worked as a missionary for the next 20 years in rural Ukraine. He was arrested in 1945 and was condemned to death, but the death sentence was commuted to 10 years imprisonment. He was released in 1955.

He was consecrated bishop by Metropolitan Slipyj in a hotel room in Moscow in 1963. He became the head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Ukraine. Arrested once more in 1969, he spent three years in prison. In the spring of 1972, near death, he was exiled from Ukraine. He died in Winnipeg, Canada, in 1973. It is believed that his death was caused by a slow-acting poison administered prior to his release from prison.

Zenon Kovalyk was born in 1903 in Ivachiv Horishniy near Ternopil in 1903. He joined the Redemptorists and professed vows in 1926. He studied philosophy and theology in Belgium and was ordained in 1932. He went with Bishop Charnetsky to Volyn as a parish missionary and subsequently to Stanislaviv where he also conducted missions. Zenon was a fearless preacher of God's Word and love of the Mother of God. He was arrested by the Soviets in 1940. While in prison he continued his pastoral ministry among the prisoners. When the Soviet prisons were opened on the arrival of the invading German army, Father Zenon's body was found crucified to a wall of the prison of Zamartynivska in 1941.

Ivan Ziatyk was born in 1899 in Odrekhova, southwest of Sanok (now part of Poland). He entered the UkraiĀ­nian Catholic Seminary in Peremyshl in 1919 and was ordained in 1923. He became prefect of the seminarians and taught theology and catechetics. He joined the Redemptorists in 1935, professing vows in 1936. He taught Scripture and dogmatic theology at the Redemptorist seminary in Holosko (near Lviv). Subsequent assignments were to the monastery in Ternopil as well as to the minor seminary in Zboisk (near Lviv) where he was superior of the community. The difficult situation in which the Ukrainian Catholic Church found itself (with all its bishops arrested and with the Belgian Provincial expelled), resulted in Father Ivan holding the posts of the Provincial of the Redemptorists and the Vicar General of the Ukrainian Catholic Church. He was arrested in 1950 and condemned to 10 years imprisonment, but died of a savage beating in 1952.

The four Redemptorists were among 25 Ukrainian martyrs beatified during the papal visit to Lviv in 2001.

Source: Sacramentary and Lectionary Supplement, The Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, Raymond Corriveau, C.Ss.R., editor. (Liguori, Missouri: North American Redemptorist Spirituality Commission, 2007.)


The Redemptorist martyrs of Cuenca, Spain

Martyrs of cuenca

Father Javier Gorosterratzu (1877-1936)
Father Ciriaco Olarte Pérez de Mendiguren (1893-1936)
Father Miguel Goñi Áriz (1902-1936)
Father Julián Pozo Ruiz de Samaniego (1903-1936)
Father Pedro Romero Espejo (1871-1938)
Brother Victoriano Calvo Lozano (1896-1936)
Feast Day: November 6

Javier Gorosterratzu was born in 1877 in Navarra. When he was 16 he joined the Redemptorists, and he was ordained a priest in 1903. Father Gorosterratzu taught in Burgos and León and was renowned as a popular missionary and an expert confessor and spiritual director. He was the author of two historical works and a manual of philosophy. On August 10, 1936, he was arrested by the militia of the Popular Front and shot in the cemetery of Cuenca. Before he died, he forgave his killers.

Ciriaco Olarte was born in 1893 to a very religious family in Álava. His family encouraged him to consider the priesthood, and he joined the Redemptorists in 1904. He was ordained in 1917 and three years afterward went to Mexico as a missionary. He returned to Spain in 1926 and ministered in Madrid until May 1935, when he moved to Cuenca. On July 31, 1936, he was arrested, taken to the place called “Las Angustias” (Sorrows), severely wounded, and left to die.

Miguel Goñi was born in Navarra in 1902 and as a child expressed the desire to become a priest. He joined the Redemptorists in 1918 and was ordained a priest in 1925, despite poor health and extreme shyness. He became a popular and tireless mission preacher. In 1932 he was transferred to Cuenca and  ministered especially in the parish of St. Phillip Neri. He was arrested by the militia, shot, and left to bleed to death on August 31, 1936.

Julián Pozo was born in Álava in 1903 and entered the Redemptorist seminary in 1913. There he was known for his deep spirituality. He was ordained in 1925, despite having suffered from tuberculosis since 1921. He was widely known for his serene disposition and great gifts as a confessor and spiritual director. He transferred to Cuenca in 1928. On August 9, 1936, he was arrested while praying the rosary. He was shot and killed along the road from Cuenca to Tragacete.

Pedro Romero was born in Burgos in 1871. He entered the Redemptorist school at El Espino and was ordained in 1896. Because of his shyness, he was not drawn to missionary activity but instead devoted himself to meditation, prayer, mortification, and the ministry of reconciliation. When the Spanish Civil War broke out, he lived with a local family and went begging in the streets in order to continue his apostolate. In May 1938 he was arrested and imprisoned, dying of dysentery in prison on May 29.

Victoriano Calvo was born in Guadalajara in 1896 and early on showed a distinct inclination to the spiritual life. His family were reluctant, however, and in 1919 he ran away from home to join the Redemptorist community. He made his profession in 1920 and the following year was assigned to Cuenca, where he served as a clerk and porter. He also provided spiritual direction for young women and was known for his asceticism. On August 10, 1936, he was arrested and shot in the Cuenca cemetery along with Father Gorosterratzu.

Source: The Redemptorists of the London Province


Blessed Peter Donders, C.Ss.R. (1809-1887)
A presentation by Redemptorist Father David Louch

Blessed Kaspar Stangassinger, C.Ss.R. (1871-1899)
A presentation by Redemptorist Father Edward Eherer

Blessed Gennaro Sarnelli, C.Ss.R. (1702-1744)
A presentation by Redemptorist Father Jon Hansen

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