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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: February 2011
Monday

Less than one month since the Redemptorists launched the first Perpetual Help Novena app for iPhone/iPad, her image and her message have already spanned the globe.

More than 120 people have downloaded the nine-day novena since February 4, and they hail from everywhere: United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, Belgium, Australia, Japan, Singapore, Canada, Philippines, and even the United Arab Emirates.

One person wrote: "Of all the ways you could spend ninety-nine cents (which won’t even by a soda these days) this is one of the best. Nine beautiful prayers."

Thank you to those who’ve already downloaded this beautiful prayer. If you haven’t seen it yet, you can view the app in the iTunes store.

Would you help us continue to make her known?

Monday

Redemptorist missionary, Father George Henry Bridge, remembered as the hard-working priest with his own pilot’s license, died on the afternoon of Monday, February 28, 2011 surrounded by his confreres at their religious community in Stella Maris in Timonium, MD.

Father Bridge was born on April 16, 1922 and professed his first vows on August 2, 1943. He was ordained a priest on June 20, 1948.

He began his ministry as a parish priest in the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, the Mission Church, in Boston and in St. James Parish in Baltimore. Then for five years, while still a very young priest, he was assigned to the responsibility of Assistant Novice Master (Socius), directing the spiritual development of future Redemptorists at St. Mary’s in Ilchester, MD.

Next he was assigned to missionary work in Santo Domingo, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

For 34 years he preached in impeccable Spanish to the faithful in San Lorenzo, Guayama, Mayaguez, Caguas, Las Matas, Aguadilla, Ponce, and Aguas Buenas. He built chapels, shrines and even a landing strip for aircraft because he believed that aviation would become the preferred mode of transportation in the future. He was appointed rector in Christiansted, St. Croix, and eventually served the poor and abandoned migrant workers in Wauchula, Florida for the last seven years of his active ministry.

Those who knew him well sing his high praises because that was something Father Bridge never did for himself. He preferred to be humble and didn’t brag about his own talents or accomplishments.

But much like his founder, St. Alphonsus, he ventured among the people who lived in remote and hard to reach areas and was instrumental in bringing the Adult Christian Initiation program to the forgotten souls in the hill country.

“Although he was unassuming by temperament, he was enthusiastic when preaching the Spirit of the Lord in the context of the Charismatic Movement,” says fellow Redemptorist, Father John McKenna.

“He was a hard worker and very responsible,” says his confrere, Father Tom Travers, who can still recall sermons that Father Bridge preached over sixty years ago on the topics of respect and obedience! “Once, while he was assigned to campo work in Las Matas de Farfan, Father George was returning from a long trip in the mountains by mule. He suddenly lost his footing, fell, and dislocated his shoulder. We had to rush him to the hospital in San Juan de la Maguana to have it put back into place.”

Small wonder why this priest would look to aviation as the safer mode of travel for the future. Also indicative of his being ahead of his time, Father Bridge was especially health conscious in an era when health food was anything but fashionable. He even diagrammed his own physical, emotional and intellectual biorhythms and was willing to help others plot theirs. He did all this in an effort to foster harmony between physical and spiritual wellbeing.

Perhaps most significant of all, he was both a prayerful and a happy priest. Father Travers verifies, “As a young priest, he used to spend a great deal of time praying in chapel, which is probably why he was assigned as the Socius for the novitiate.”

Father Charles Guttenberger, who preached on the occasion of his silver jubilee of Ordination, said this about Father Bridge: “People sometimes ask a priest: are you happy being a priest? If you asked Father George if he is happy being a priest, he would say yes, I am happy being and living as a priest of Jesus Christ.”

In his own words, some sixty-eighty years ago, while he himself was a young novice, Father George wrote simply and genuinely: “I tried to give myself, heart and soul, to my novitiate. Maybe its success will be really authenticated ten or twenty years from now. It was here at the novitiate that I learned the value of my vocation, of the religious life, the priesthood and fellowship in the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. I am determined now to make the very best of my vocation…by the grace of God and the all-powerful aid of our dear Mother of Perpetual Help, who has led me along ever since my early boyhood.”

The hearts and minds and souls that he touched through the ministry of his priesthood and religious life stand in fervent testimony that this journey, which began as a dream for young George, was certainly authenticated and fulfilled in the pathways of Father Bridge as he followed for a lifetime in the footsteps of Christ. May he rest in peace.

 

Rev. George Bridge, C.Ss.R.

  • Born: April 16, 1922
  • Professed: August 2, 1943
  • Ordained: June 20, 1948
  • Died: February 28, 2011

 

Services

Viewing
March 4
10 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Main Chapel
Stella Maris
2300 Dulaney Valley Rd.
Timonium, MD

Funeral
March 4
11 a.m.
Main Chapel
Stella Maris

Burial
Sacred Heart of Jesus Cemetery
Baltimore, MD

Tuesday

Redemptoristine Sister Margaret “Peg” Banville died February 21 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Monastery in Esopus, NY, after a long illness. She was 85.

A viewing will be held February 23 from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. at the monastery, with a vigil prayer service beginning at 7:30 p.m.

A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. in the monastery chapel. Burial will follow at Mount St. Alphonsus cemetery.

Sister Peg was born October 9, 1925 in Toronto, Canada. She served in the Canadian Women’s Army Corps from 1943-46 and was discharged as a sergeant. She professed vows as a Redemptoristine January 23, 1951 and took the name Sister Mary Gemma of the Blessed Sacrament.

She professed final vows in 1954, and in 1957 she was one of five Redemptoristines who came from Toronto to Esopus, NY, to established a new monastery on the grounds of Mount St. Alphonsus, which was then serving as the Redemptorists’ North American seminary.

Sr. Peg served in a variety of roles in the community, including prioress and novice mistress. She became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1968.

Read more about Sister Peg’s life and vocation at the Contemplative Horizon blog, written by Redemptoristine Sister Hildegard Pleva.

The Redemptoristines are an order of contemplative monastic sisters founded in 1731 in Scala, Italy, by Venerable Maria Celeste Crostarosa. Venerable Maria Celeste was a friend of St. Alphonsus Liguori, who founded the Redemptorists a year later.

Tuesday

Despite the cold and snow, the school community at Our Lady of Perpetual Help School in Brooklyn, NY, turned out in force to celebrate Catholic Schools Week January 30-February 4. The students participated in a variety of ways in a special Mass held in the lower church of the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help is one of seven parish schools in the Baltimore Province.

Photos Courtesy of Deborah Ross.

Friday

Note: What follows is the first in a regular series of stories we’ll share on redemptorists.net about people who’s lives have been changed through a Redemptorist parish mission.

I was giving a talk on confession, and I said, "Most of you would probably rather have a root canal than go to confession." When we go to confession, so often we just zero in on our sins and not on what Jesus wants to give us in that sacrament.

I saw this 7-year-old girl sitting next to her mother. I called her up to the front and had her stand next to me. She held my hand. And I said, "See this innocence of this little girl? All of you have a nostalgia for this innocence. When you go to confession, Jesus restores that innocence. That’s what your soul’s going to look like."

I preach missions with the help of a Redemptorist lay missionary. She said that I told the girl two or three times, "You’re beautiful." I don’t remember saying that at all. But the girl ran back to her mother. The mother had tried to tell her daughter several times how beautiful she was, but the girl just kept saying, "No, I’m ugly."

After standing up there with me in front of the church, the girl ran back and told her mother, "You’ve been trying to tell me I’m beautiful but I didn’t believe it. Now I know."

— Fr. Bill Gaffney, C.Ss.R.

To find a Redemptorist parish mission near you, view our parish missions calendar.