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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: November 2009
Tuesday

Redemptorist Worldwide Chapter | Rome, Italy

November 10, 2009

On Monday, Nov. 9, the 108 General Chapter delegates (the newly elected General Consultor from Spain, Father Alberto Eseverria, having become a chapter delegate), along with the confreres serving as auxiliary staff for the chapter, boarded three buses at 6:30 a.m. and went on a pilgrimage to the Naples area of Italy.

We were celebrating the 277th anniversary of the founding of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer in Scala, Italy. On Nov. 9, 1732, St. Alphonsus Liguori, with a group of companions, left the city of Naples and began the Congregation in Scala.

We went to the city of Pagani, where St. Alphonsus spent his last days and where his sacred relics are present in one of the altars of the beautiful Basilica of St. Alphonsus. The Most Rev. Michael Brehl, our newly elected Superior General, was the main celebrant of a festive Mass. Many of us were amazed to hear him celebrate the Mass and preach in Italian, a language he has not studied. One can only say his willingness to do so was a combination of the grace of the Holy Spirit on his new office, lots of practice over the weekend in reading Italian, and great courage. The confreres in Pagani had organized a superb choir that sang beautiful hymns written by St. Alphonsus.

After the Mass, we boarded our buses again, and headed off to the Shrine of St. Gerard in the village of Materdomini for a celebratory dinner. We had a classic Italian meal with good wine, an antipasto, three different pasta courses, beef, fruit, cake, and coffee. Some confreres might have opened a notch or two on their belts. With the confreres hoping that the chapter will be completed by Saturday, there was lots of good humor and many pictures being taken with friends made over the last weeks.

After dinner, we had time to visit the Shrine of St. Gerard, where his relics are also in the main altar. St. Gerard may well be the most popular of all Redemptorist saints. He is a special patron of pregnant women, and of couples seeking to become pregnant.

This shrine is a great place of devotion in Italy. I have two favorite spots: one is a large room filled with thousands of pictures of babies whose parents have placed the child’s picture in the church out of gratitude to St. Gerard, and the other is large statue of Gerard where pilgrims touch the saint’s foot with a handkerchief.

This custom goes back to a story of the life of St. Gerard. One day he dropped his handkerchief and a young woman sought to give it back to him. He told her to keep it since one day she may need it. Years later, the woman was having a very difficult childbirth and was on the verge of death. She asked for the cloth Gerard had given her. Soon after it was brought to her, she and her newborn baby were restored to health.

We joyful but weary pilgrims returned to the bus for the almost four-hour trip back to the Salesianum. Father Manny Rodriguez carefully counted us to make sure we left no one behind. Most of us skipped the waiting meal and went to our rooms to sleep.

Our regular order of meetings and deliberations begins again Wednesday at 7 a.m.

We thank and give you praise O Lord, for the gift of our Congregation and for watching over us for 277 years!

Ciao,

Father Pat Woods
Provincial Superior
Baltimore Province

Monday

Today, Nov. 9, the Redemptorists celebrate their "birthday," the 277th anniversary of the founding of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. Since that day in 1732, the Redemptorists have spread throughout the world, preaching and ministering to the poor and most spiritually abandoned. There are about 5,000 of St. Alphonsus’ spiritual sons serving in 77 countries worldwide.

Has your life been touched by the Redemptorists and their ministry? Help us celebrate their anniversary by sharing your stories of how God’s grace has touched you through them. Visit our Facebook page to share your story, or e-mail us at webmaster@redemptorists.net.

For those who don’t know the story of the Redemptorists’ beginnings, here’s the story (courtesy of the Redemptorist General Government):

"The Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer was St. Alphonsus Liguori’s response to the call he experienced coming from Jesus through the poor… The Year 1730, Alphonsus was exhausted from his missionary labors. His doctors ordered him to get some rest and breathe some clean mountain air. With a few of his companions, he went to Scala, on the Amalfi coast south of Naples. High up in the mountains was the Sanctuary of Santa Maria dei Monti, a perfect place for rest, a perfect place for contemplation near the Mother of Our Lord: mountain heights, beauty, and below, the sea….

But, Scala also meant poverty. In the mountains there lived groups of shepherds who came to the missionaries asking them for the Gospel, the Word of Life. Alphonsus was surprised at their hunger for the Word of God and recalled the words of the prophet: "The babes cry for food, but there is no one to give it to them" [Lam 4:4]. His first biographer tells us that when Alphonsus left Scala, a part of his heart remained with these shepherds and that he would weep thinking of how he could help them.

In Naples, after much prayer and consultation to help him discern clearly…. he came to understand that he had to return to Scala. Surely there was poverty in Naples as well…, but there were many others there that could help the poor escape from their place as society’s marginalized. In Scala, the poor were alone, with no one to help them…,totally abandoned. During St. Alphonsus’ time, these shepherds and country peasants were the most downtrodden group in society: "they were not considered men as other men…, they were the disgrace of nature." It was because of their lot in life that St. Alphonsus chose to be at their side, to share his life with them and to bring to them, in abundance, the Word of God.

On November 9, 1732, in his beloved Scala, St. Alphonsus Liguori founded the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer to follow the example of our Savior Jesus Christ announcing the Good News to the poor. He was 36 years old. His life became one of mission and service to the most abandoned. The Congregation was approved by Benedict XIV on February 25, 1749."

Friday

Chapter Chat: Let us rejoice!

Redemptorist Worldwide Chapter | Rome, Italy

November 6, 2009

Gaudeamus. For those who have forgotten their Latin, “let us rejoice” would be the English translation. This also is the word for “a party” that is used at the General Chapter and among European Redemptorists.

When I was in the seminary we called it, in our attempt to be classy, a soirée. Now in our Province, we seem to simply get to the basics: there will be drinks and hors d’oeuvres before dinner.

I have been to two General Chapters and the election of the Superior General is a very moving spiritual time. An excitement grows in the room as the votes are counted and the confrere nears the two-thirds majority required.

On November 4, when the 72nd vote was counted for Michael Brehl, the room broke into applause. Eventually, the count was finished and Father Joe Tobin, the present Superior General, asked Father Michael if he accepted the position of Superior General. Michael said, “With the grace of God to help me, I accept.” Then, every Redemptorist at the retreat center came forward to embrace the newly elected Superior General and offer him support and prayers. Father Michael Brehl had been serving as the Provincial of the Edmonton-Toronto Province. He is 55 years old, and is well known and respected in the Baltimore Province.

Half an hour later, we went to chapel for a solemn singing of the Te Deum, the ancient hymn of thanksgiving that goes back to St. Ambrose: “God, we praise Thee: we acknowledge Thee to be the Lord.”

Father Brehl processed in, along with the two former Superiors General, Fathers Juan Lasso and Tobin, made the profession of faith and accepted his position as Superior General. His words were simple: “I do not feel alone. I have the support of all the confreres. No Redemptorist can achieve anything by himself. We walk together.”

After dinner, we had a wonderful party, a Gaudeamus, with song, champagne, and cake. What touched me in all of this celebration was the sense of real joy among the confreres. Certainly, an outstanding man had been elected General and that made us happy, but it was about more than that.

It was the joy of being a Redemptorist, of having a graced history that goes back to 1732 and St. Alphonsus, and that in spite of our struggles and challenges, God is with the Congregation as we move into the future with hope.

What impressed me most about the election was the party. No, it was not the Heineken beer I was enjoying. It was the men of different languages and cultures singing festive songs of celebration in honor of Father Michael. It was seeing Fathers Enrique Lopez, Serafino Fiore and Jacek Dembek, the other candidates for the office of Superior General, surround Michael with their songs of joy. We are not men from different nationalities — we are Redemptorists. There was a deep sense of peace and hope among us all.

The next day we elected six General Consultors who will work with our Superior General in leading the Congregation over the next six years. We in the Baltimore Province are delighted that the first Brother ever to be elected a General Consultor is Brother Jeffrey Rolle, a member of our Province for the English-speaking Region of the Caribbean.

We know well his gifts as both a pastoral minister and a formation director. Our “loss” is the gain of the whole Congregation. Many confreres thanked me for Brother Jeffrey’s name being nominated. There were tears in the eyes of some confreres at this historic moment.

Brother Jeffrey is from the Caribbean Island of Dominica. The other General Consultors are: Fathers Enrique Lopez (Paraguay), Jacek Dembek (Poland), Juventius Andrate (India), Alberto Eseverri (Spain), and Joao Pedro Fernandez (Angola). They are truly an international group.

We ask your prayers for the Most Reverend Michael Brehl, Brother Jeffrey, and the other members of the newly elected General Council. We pray for the continuing outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Father General and his Council. We place them in the arms of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

Gaudeamus!

Father Pat Woods
Provincial Superior
Baltimore Province

Thursday

Redemptorist Worldwide Chapter | Rome, Italy 

November 5, 2009

Statement from Baltimore Provincial, Very Rev. Patrick Woods, on the election of Brother Jeffrey Rolle as a General Consultor of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer:

Brother Jeffrey Rolle, a member of the Baltimore Province and the English Speaking Caribbean was elected November 5 as one of the six General Consultors of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. Brother Jeffrey will be part of the General Government under the leadership of the Most Rev. Michael Brehl, the newly elected Superior General of the Congregation.

Brother Jeffrey was born in 1965 in the Commonwealth of Dominica. He was professed a Redemptorist on Sept. 7, 1991. Brother Jeffrey is a graduate of St. John’s University in Queens, New York. Additionally, he has a master’s in theology from the Washington Theological Union and a master’s in pastoral counseling from Loyola University in Baltimore.

As a Redemptorist, Jeffrey has served in parish ministry on the Island of St. Lucia, and for the past several years has been a formation director of our college seminarians in New York City. For the last five years, Brother Jeffrey has been serving on the General Secretariat for Brothers.

Brother Jeffrey is the first Brother elected as a General Consultor in the more than 277 years since founding of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. His responsibilities will include working with the Superior General and his Council in guiding the Congregation for the next six years. He will visit various Redemptorist communities throughout the world to support and guide the confreres in their lives as Redemptorists.

We of the Baltimore Province and the English-speaking Region of the Caribbean are proud of Jeffrey and know that he will offer great service to the Redemptorists. We shall miss his daily presence in our lives, but we assure him of our prayers that the Lord and Our Mother of Perpetual Help bless and guide him in this very important ministry of service.

Wednesday

Redemptorist Worldwide Chapter | Rome, Italy

November 4, 2009

Statement from Baltimore Provincial, Very Rev. Patrick Woods, on the election of Very Rev. Michael Brehl as Superior General of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer:

The Very Rev. Michael Brehl, a Redemptorist of the Edmonton-Toronto Province, was elected Superior General of the Congregation November 4 during the General Chapter in Rome. Father Brehl is the 19th Superior General and the first Canadian to be elected to this office.

Father Brehl was born in Toronto, Ontario, in 1955. He was professed a Redemptorist on August 15, 1976, and ordained to the priesthood on March 15, 1980.

Among his assignments, Father Michael has served as a pastor, a missionary, a formation director, and Provincial Vicar. He had been elected Provincial Superior of the Edmonton-Toronto Province three times.

Father Brehl is widely respected as a retreat director and has given retreats to Redemptorists in various parts of the Congregation. He is well-known among the Redemptorists of the Baltimore Province for the outstanding retreat he gave us two years ago on St. Alphonsus and prayer. Father Brehl has also served as a moderator of the General Chapters in 2003 and now in 2009.

His term of office as Superior General of the Congregation is for six years, and he will reside in the Redemptorist General House in Rome. There have been 18 Superiors General since the Congregation was founded by St. Alphonsus Liguori in 1732.

We Redemptorists of the Baltimore Province congratulate our confrere Father Michael on his election as Superior General. We promise him our prayers to our founder, St. Alphonsus, to all our saints and blesseds, and to our great patroness, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, that they intercede to God as we seek to follow Jesus Christ, Our Most Holy Redeemer, in preaching the Gospel to the most abandoned, especially the poor.