Redemptorists logo
Our Mother of Perpetual Help Icon
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.
Redemptorists logo


Monthly Archives: January 2010

Redemptorist Superior General Michael Brehl this week asked for prayers for a confrere who was severely beaten recently while visiting with fellow Redemptorists and parishioners whose church cemetery in Hanoi, Vietnam, had been vandalized.

Brother Anthony Nguyen Van Tang, 36, had gone to the parish of Dong Chiem where a cross in the cemetery had been demolished. There was a conflict and Brother Anthony was left unconscious in a pool of blood. He is now recovering from his injuries at home.

“The Government denies any responsibility, but this denial is refuted by the Catholic Bishops in Vietnam, by witnesses, and by independent journalists,” Father Brehl said. “The Provincial Superior of Vietnam has asked our prayers at this difficult moment. Not only is it a tense situation for the Redemptorists, but also for many dedicated lay men and women, especially those who are active in the ministry. I have assured Father Vincent (Redemptorist Provincial), all the confreres, and the men and women with whom we work that we are in solidarity with them, especially in our prayers. Let us not forget them in their need.”

News reports from the state media accuse the Redemptorists of instigating riots, and urge the government to severely punish them. Other articles in the Catholic media report that parishioners have been harassed and beaten.

The Redemptorists have urged parishioners and all Christians to avoid violence, and to work and pray for peace. They have begun the practice of praying the Prayer of St. Francis (Lord, make me an instrument of your peace) at every service.

"I urge all Redemptorists and associates to pray this prayer in solidarity with our Redemptorist confreres and Catholic brothers and sisters in Vietnam," Father Brehl said.

The Baltimore Province provides support to Redemptorists in Vietnam, including helping to educate priests and seminarians.

Please join us in praying for the Redemptorists in Vietnam and for the people they serve, for their safety and perseverance.


Father James Dowds, a Redemptorist of the Baltimore Province, recently began a new assignment in China Lake, CA, under contract with the U.S. Navy to provide religious and counseling support to active duty military and their dependents at the Naval Air Weapons Station. He will also care for the pastoral needs of the retired military living in the local communities.

Part of the Redemptorist charism is service to the poor and spiritually abandoned. The All Faith Chapel at China Lake had been void of Catholic services since July 31, 2006 due to the unavailability of a Navy or civilian priest to take over the Catholic program.

“It is our (the Naval Chaplain Corps) responsibility to provide religious opportunities for the military in the community,” said Cmdr. Roger VanDerWerken, the Navy chaplain in charge of the chapel’s religious programs. “We were the only base in the Navy Southwest Region that didn’t have either a Navy Catholic priest or a contracted priest. Now all bases within the region have a Catholic priest to serve the needs of the military and their families.”

View Larger Map

A Pittsburgh native, Father Jim isn’t a stranger to the Navy. He joined the Navy in 1974 as a hospital corpsman. He entered the seminary in 1976 and was ordained a priest in 1985. In 1989 he was commissioned in the Navy Chaplain Corps as a reservist, where he completed 20 years. He served in Desert Shield/ Storm with 1st Battalion, 11th Marines. He also served in Guam; the Joint Task Force, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; and the Naval Medical Center, Portsmouth, VA.

Father Jim had a choice of positions, wondering which one he should take. He had never heard of China Lake before. As with many religious people, he left the choice to God. The very next day he received a call from the Region Chaplain asking him to come to China Lake.

Father Jim said: “Jesus often went to the desert to pray. The Lord has called me to the desert several times in my life: the first Persian Gulf War; U.S. Marine Corps exercises at 29 Palms, both as a corpsman and later as a chaplain; and for one year in the semi-arid climate of Guantanamo Bay, which looked more like a desert than not. God has been good to me in the desert and I am happy to be here!”

Father Jim plans to work in conjunction with Father Paul Kado, pastor of St. Ann’s, the local Catholic parish. “It’s a win-win situation for everyone,” said Father Jim. “We won’t duplicate times of our Masses so people can have a choice, giving them more options.”

“We are one Church,” said Father Paul. “We are not two churches, but one. He is ready to help me and I am ready to help him.”

(News Release courtesy of Naval Air Weapons Station, China Lake, CA)


Father John Creaven died January 23 at the St. John Neumann Residence at Stella Maris in Timonium, MD, at age 87.

Father Creaven was born June 21, 1922, and first professed vows as a Redemptorist August 2, 1944. He was ordained to the priesthood June 19, 1949.

A wake service will be held Tuesday, January 26 at 7 p.m. at Our Mother of Perpetual Help Church in Ephrata, PA. A funeral Mass will be celebrated Wednesday, January 27 at 11 a.m. Burial will follow in the Redemptorist cemetery.

Please pray for the repose of the soul of Father Creaven, and for the comfort and peace of his family, fellow Redemptorists, and friends.


Father John Creaven, a Redemptorist priest for 60 years, died Saturday, January 22, at the St. John Neumann Residence at Stella Maris, in Timonium, MD. Father Creaven was 87 years old and had suffered from serious digestive problems for many years.

A Mass of Christian Burial was offered January 27 at Our Mother of Perpetual Help Church in Ephrata, PA, with burial in the Redemptorist cemetery of the nearby St. Clement Mission House. Father Creaven had been assigned to St. Clement’s twice, from 1963-67 and from 1987-2007.

Born on June 21, 1922, in Jamaica Plain, MA, Father Creaven was the son of Malachy and Bridget Collins Creaven and grew up in St. Thomas Parish. Drawn to the Redemptorists from an early age, he was accepted at the congregation’s minor seminary in North East, PA, after completing grammar school. He made his novitiate in Ilchester, MD, and professed his first vows in 1944. He continued his studies at Mount St. Alphonsus Seminary in Esopus, NY, and was ordained to the priesthood on June 19, 1949.

Like most of his confreres of that time, Father Creaven’s first assignment was to a foreign mission. He served from 1950-54 in Brazil. His next three assignments were to the Southeast United States: in Hampton, VA; Ft. Oglethorpe, GA; and Tampa, FL.

From there, he was assigned in 1960 to St. Joseph Church in Rochester, NY. The following year, he went to Our Lady of Fatima Church in Baltimore and in 1963, Father Creaven accepted his first assignment to St. Clement Mission House in Ephrata.

In 1967-68, he served at St. Boniface Church in Philadelphia and then moved on to St. Clement Church in Saratoga Springs, NY, where he served for seven years. His next assignment, in 1975, was to St. Mary’s Church, Annapolis, MD; two years later, Father Creaven was assigned to Mission Church (Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help) in Boston.

From 1979-83, he served at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Bradford, VT, and was responsible for two chapels, Our Lady of Light in South Stratford and St. Francis of Assisi in Norwich. His ministry took him next to Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Baltimore, where he served for four years.

Father Creaven’s lengthiest assignment came in 1987, when he was named again to St. Clement Mission House, Ephrata. From there, he assisted at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in New Holland and St. James Church in Lititz.

Father James O’Blaney, pastor now at St. James, said Father Creaven was well-loved by the parishioners in the Lancaster County churches.

“He had a good sense of humor and people liked his company,” he said. “He kept up with his friendships and when news of his death reached us, a good many people spoke warmly about him.”

Father Raymond Collins, who was Father Creaven’s rector at Ephrata for six years, noted that “people enjoyed talking with him and you always got a smile when you mentioned his name.”

Father James Small of the Ephrata community described his confrere as a “swing man” because even in semi-retirement he made himself available to help out wherever he was needed.

“He had a difficult time with his back; he was in great pain. But he had an old car he used to drive around — very slowly,” he said. From his early years, Father Creaven was a very good car mechanic and also good at working with electricity, Father Small recalled.

“You could set your clock by the time he was in chapel,” he added. “He was very, very faithful to his schedule. He was a good man and suffered a lot with pain.”

Father Patrick McGarrity, rector at Ephrata now, described his friend as “a delightful storyteller with a quiet Irish wit about him. People used to love it when he would leave the altar and process down the aisle blessing those on the left and the right — as if he were the pope!”

Father Creaven’s daily schedule included morning meditation, then breakfast — invariably one banana, two slices of toast and 12 grapes — and then back to the chapel.

“He was especially devoted to the Blessed Sacrament, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, and St. Joseph,” Father McGarrity said. He joked that Father Creaven was always the first into the refectory for lunch, but only had a cup of soup and a piece of fruit; 2:30 p.m. was his break for a cup of tea and two plain doughnuts — no sugar or icing accepted, just plain doughnuts. Because he had great difficulty in digesting foods, Father Creaven’s supper always consisted of pureed mashed potatoes and pureed carrots.

If he had not had the chance to celebrate Mass at one of the churches, Father Creaven could be found at 7:10 p.m. celebrating Mass in the house chapel and enjoying the quiet for a long thanksgiving afterwards, Father McGarrity said.

Due to Father Creaven’s health problems, he was assigned in 2007 to the St. John Neumann Residence in Saratoga Springs, NY, where he could get around-the-clock nursing care. When that property was closed in 2009, Father Creaven was among the confreres who were transferred to the Redemptorists’ new facility at Stella Maris in Maryland.

Father Creaven was predeceased by his parents, his brother Malachy, and his sister Eileen Higgins. He is survived by his sister Rita Morley of Hull, MA; sister-in-law Mary Creaven of Quincy, MA; and longtime friends Jim and Maria Costello of East Earl, PA.


Rev. John Creaven, C.Ss.R.

  • Born: June 21, 1922
  • Professed: August 2, 1944
  • Ordained: June 19, 1949
  • Died: January 23, 2010



Wake service
January 26
7 p.m.
Our Mother of Perpetual Help Church
320 Church Ave.
Ephrata, PA

Funeral Mass
January 27
11 a.m.
Our Mother of Perpetual Help Church
Burial to follow in Redemptorist cemetery


As rescuers continue to dig through mountains of concrete to rescue survivors, and as relief supplies are slowly reaching people desperate for food and water, the picture of the devastation continues to sharpen.

The Redemptorists give thanks that, as far as we know, none of our confreres lost their lives. In the Baltimore Province, we rejoice with our novice whose family is safe in Haiti. But word from our fellows in Port au Prince is grim.

Redemptorist Superior General Michael Brehl is appealing to Redemptorist communities around the world to send aid to the Port au Prince region, calling the need "immediate."

True to their mission to preach God’s plentiful redemption to the poor and most abandoned, the Redemptorists in Haiti stand alongside the people they serve especially at this time. They grieve and rejoice, fast and feast, tear down and rebuild with their people.

If you would like to make a gift to the Redemptorists to help them with relief and recovery efforts in Haiti, please make a donation for General Ministry Support using our online donation form. Please mark the gift as in honor of Haiti. Any online donations marked for Haiti will go directly to help the Redemptorists on the ground in Port-au-Prince.

The Redemptorists’ residence in Port au Prince (Monastery of St. Gerard) is standing but damaged. The Church of St. Gerard is in ruins — some parts of walls and the sheet metal roof are all that remain. St. Gerard School, which included elementary and high school grades, collapsed, killing most of its 300 students and teachers.

The entire area surrounding St. Gerard Church has been leveled, according to reports.

In Jeremie, the home of the Redemptorist formation residence (St. Alphonsus House), west of Port au Prince, barely felt the earthquake. Damage was also reportedly light in Fonfrede and de Chateau in the Diocese of Cayes where the Redemptorists staff several missions. The effects of the quake were also light to the north of the capital where a monastery of Redemptoristine Nuns is located.

The major seminary in Port au Prince, which serves all the dioceses in Haiti, was completely destroyed. Several Catholic schools and colleges are in ruins as are the Cathedral of Port au Prince and several other churches.

Please continue to keep the Redemptorists and the people of Haiti in your prayers. Your support of the relief and rebuilding efforts is truly a gift. May God bless you for your generosity.

Mother of Perpetual Help, patroness of Haiti, pray for us!