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Since 1732, the Redemptorists — a congregation of missionary priests and brothers — have followed in Jesus’ footsteps, preaching the Word and serving the poor and most abandoned.
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Monthly Archives: July 2009
Sunday

Redemptorist Father Jerome Holland, a native of South Bronx, died Sunday, July 26, at the St. John Neumann Residence in Stella Maris, Timonium, MD. He was 80 years old and had been receiving nursing care over the past few years.

A Wake Service will be held at Stella Maris on Wednesday evening at 7 o’clock and the Funeral Mass will be offered there on Thursday, July 30, at 10 a.m. Burial will be at Mount St. Alphonsus in Esopus, NY, at one p.m. the following day.

The son of Felix and Mary Kenny Holland, Father Holland was born on Nov. 1, 1928. He was educated at Immaculate Conception School and, in the sixth grade, impressed by the hard work and zeal of the Redemptorist priests there, he found his calling to follow in their footsteps.

After completing grammar school, he was accepted as a student in the Redemptorist minor seminary of St. Mary’s in North East, PA. He spent his novitiate in Ilchester, MD, and made his first profession of vows in 1951; his final profession was in 1954. In the meantime, he went on to complete his studies for the priesthood at Mount St. Alphonsus in Esopus. He was ordained on June 17, 1956.

Father Holland’s priestly ministry began in Puerto Rico, where he served in Aquadilla (1958-59), Caguas I (1959-64), Aguas Buenas (1964-67) and Caguas II (1967-74).

Father Thomas Travers, who preceded Father Holland in Caguas and eventually became Vice-Provincial of San Juan, cited as an example of his confrere’s hard work his efforts at the out-mission of Villa Esperanza. "We had just built a church when I was there, but it wasn’t finished," Father Travers said. It was Father Holland who "finished off the sacristy and the meeting room for parish groups; he finished building the bell tower outside and the shrine to St. Jude." Father Travers added: "He was a well-balanced, happy guy, who did a lot of good work and would often be out visiting people in their homes… The people loved him there very much."

In 1974, Father Holland returned to New York, being stationed at Most Holy Redeemer Church in the East Village. Three years later, he was transferred to Immaculate Conception Church in the Bronx, where his facility with the Spanish language and his appreciation for Hispanic cultures were much welcomed in the largely Spanish-speaking neighborhood. After two three-year terms there, he was sent to Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Seaford, DE, a parish the Redemptorists had taken on both for the sake of the full-time residents and for the migrant field workers.

Father Holland’s next assignment was back at Most Holy Redeemer Church in New York. Father Joseph Tizio, who was rector there, recalled that Father Holland "had a great sense of humor and was wonderful with the people, both Spanish- and English-speaking. He kept to a diabetic diet better than anybody I know. The only time he broke it was when there was pot roast, his favorite meal; otherwise he never went off that diet! He carried that discipline in other areas of his life, in work and prayer."

Another confrere who was with him at Most Holy Redeemer noted that Father Holland was "a great fan — as in fanatic — of sports. "He favored the Giants baseball team, which used to play at the Polo Grounds, and the Giants football team; he rooted for the Knicks in basketball and the New York Rangers in hockey."

During Father Holland’s tenure in the East Village, the area was a tough place for outreach ministry due to the growing incidence of drug use and dealing. After a nearby crack house was raided and ordered torn down, he was very supportive of community efforts to turn the lot into a garden.

Maureen O’Neill, who was in residence at the parish while serving as a Redemptorist Lay Missionary, said Father Holland "loved to tell jokes and he had at least one everyday and one for every Sunday he preached. The congregation loved it."

At the age of 75, Father Holland was transferred to Our Lady of Perpetual Help Rectory in Manhattan. Father Francis O’Rourke, who was rector then, said that "a lot of people forget this, but he was one of the reasons we have the Mass in November for deceased confreres up at Esopus." It was especially important to Father Holland because an older brother, Father Charles Holland, was then among the deceased confreres. Father O’Rourke added: "He was a nice fellow, good to have around, a lot of fun. When he was here, though, the doctor was concerned that Jerry was getting confused."

To provide increased care for his health needs, Father Holland was transferred to St. John Neumann Residence in Saratoga Springs, NY, where he could get residential nursing care. When the Baltimore Province closed that house recently, he moved, along with many of his confreres, to the new accommodations at Stella Maris.

 

Rev. Jerome Alfred Holland C.Ss.R.

  • Born: November 21, 1928
  • Professed: August 2, 1951
  • Ordained: June 17, 1956
  • Died: July 26, 2009

 

Services

Funeral services:

July 29
Viewing from 6 to 8 p.m.
Wake Service at 7 p.m.
Stella Maris Chapel
Timonium, MD

July 30
Funeral Mass, 10 a.m.
Stella Maris Chapel
Timonium, MD
Buffet luncheon to follow

July 31
Burial at 1 p.m.
at Mount Saint Alphonsus Retreat Center
Esopus, NY

Thursday

Last Saturday, Redemptorist priests, brothers, their families, friends and caregivers gathered to celebrate the beginning of a new ministry in the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

After years of planning and months of construction, 17 retired Redemptorists in need of skilled nursing care moved into their new home last month on the fifth floor of Stella Maris in Timonium, Md. The men living in the new St. John Neumann Residence, while no longer engaged in active ministry, remain a vital component of the Redemptorists’ missionary activities throughout the Baltimore Province and the world through their prayers and sacrifices.

“The move has gone very well; it’s a beautiful place,” said Very Rev. Gerard Szymkowiak, Redemptorist superior of the St. John Neumann Residence. “There’s great joy and great cheer. We’ve had visitors every day.”

Many of the residents arrived in Maryland from the Redemptorists’ former facility in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., where they had maintained a community for 90 years. The move to Baltimore was considered something of a homecoming, however; the Redemptorists have served in the archdiocese since the 1840s.

On Saturday, the Redemptorists were joined by Very Rev. Patrick Woods, provincial of the Baltimore Province; Cardinal William Keeler, retired archbishop of Baltimore, Archbishop Edwin O’Brien, and Auxiliary Bishops Denis Madden and Mitchell Rozanski for a Mass celebrating the Redemptorist Feast of the Most Holy Redeemer. After the Mass, Archbishop O’Brien blessed the Neumann Residence.

During his homily, Father Woods said he was humbled by the “trust and deep sense of obedience” of his elderly confreres who made the move from New York to Baltimore.

“The men who are stationed here in Stella Maris rode horses in Brazil, fought racism in the South, spread devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help all over Florida, comforted the dying poor in the Dominican Republic, preached missions and retreats throughout the Eastern United States, forgave sins in tiny huts in the Campos of Brazil and Puerto Rico, brought the faith to children who smiled at the priests’ and brothers’ broken Spanish and Portuguese, and taught in the seminaries they built,” Father Woods said. “It is not easy to have men in their eighties and nineties, some quite sick, to leave all that is familiar to them, to leave home, as they once did as young men decades ago, and begin a new assignment. These are pioneers. They are missionaries.”

If you would like to support the ministry of our retired Redemptorists, please click here.

Friday

What to give a pope who already owns an iPod? How about a personal item that once adorned the body of the first male, naturalized U.S. citizen to be declared a saint?

Through the generosity of the Redemptorists of the Baltimore Province, when President Barack Obama met with Pope Benedict XVI July 10 in Rome, he presented the pope with a stole (pictured) that was used to dress the earthly remains of St. John Neumann, a 19th-century Redemptorist who tirelessly served the growing immigrant population in the United States.

The president and the pope met privately for about 30 minutes at the Vatican. The two exchanged gifts – the pope presented the president with a mosaic of St. Peter’s Basilica and a signed copy of the pope’s newest encyclical, "Caritas in Veritate" ("Charity in Truth") – and the pope met the rest of the Obama family.

"It’s a delight that something of one of our Redemptorist saints would be given to our Holy Father," said Very Rev. Patrick Woods, provincial of the Redemptorists’ Baltimore Province, which encompasses the U.S. East Coast. "We’re delighted as Americans that our president is visiting the Holy Father, and delighted that something belonging to our province would be given to him." Father Woods said the stole was an appropriate gift to give to the pope as a symbol of the priesthood that was "at the heart of St. John Neumann’s life as a Redemptorist." In light of Neumann’s extensive service to immigrants, Father Woods said the gift was also symbolic of the new wave of immigration occurring in the United States, and the Redemptorists’ continued service to these often marginalized and over-looked groups.

"We’re giving the gift because it was asked for by our government to be given to the pope, and it’s an honor," said Very Rev. Al Bradley, vice provincial for facilities.

Louis R. DiCocco, president of the St. Jude Shops and St. Jude Liturgical Arts Studio, an architecture and design firm that specializes in building and restoring churches, was instrumental in procuring the stole for the president. A Philadelphia native whose family has long been devoted to St. John Neumann, DiCocco was approached by the Obama administration based on his participation in the pope’s recent U.S. visit. His company designed and built one of the chairs used by Pope Benedict during his meeting with the U.S. bishops at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., in April 2008.

"They wanted to find an antique chalice, but I suggested it was important to get something more personable," DiCocco said. "I told them about this stole that was something that belonged to an immigrant who was so instrumental in serving immigrants and building Catholic schools. What better than the stole that represents the priest?"

For more information about St. John Neumann, visit the National Shrine of St. John Neumann at www.stjohnneumann.org.