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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: June 2012
Tuesday

Four Redemptorists are participating in a special three-day celebration in honor of Our Mother of Perpetual Help at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. We will share the homilies from each day’s Mass on redemptorists.net.

 Day 2: God has done great things — Mary and confidence

By Rev. Kevin MacDonald, C.Ss.R.

 
The Blessed Mother did not have much to say in the New Testament, but her few words leave more room for reflection. Can you remember her first words in Scripture?
 
“How can this be?”
 
In other words, she investigated. She asked questions. She used her intelligence. “How can this be?” She did not take everything at face-value and say, “it has to be true because the Bible tells me so.” She dug deeper. She wanted the truth and she was not afraid to ask even the most difficult questions to attain it.
 
What a wonderful example for us.  Our faith and religion is so deep, our world so full of mystery that we need to ask questions. How can this be that the universe is still expanding?  How can this be that a child so full of life and love can die of cruelty or neglect? How can this be that a loving and merciful God can cause so many divisions around the world? It is our duty to ask questions. It is our duty to study and probe and dissect. It is our duty to follow Mary’s courageous example.
 
Can you remember our Blessed Mother’s second words in Scripture?  
 
“Let it be done to me according to your word.”
 
She accepted. She trusted. She stepped out in faith. There is no other way. We will never have all the answers.  Mary did not have a blueprint of her life. She had no idea that some day she would be holding the lifeless body of her Son in her arms. What she did have was the faith that God would never abandon her. She replaced fear with trust. The questions in her mind may have persisted, but she surrendered to God’s will and learned to experience her utter dependence upon God.
 
Finally, who remembers Mary’s last words in Scripture?  I’ll give you a hint — wedding feast of Cana.
 
“Do whatever he tells you.”
 
What wonderful advice. We need look no further than the cross to see how Mary put her own words into action. On that dark Friday — 1,979 years ago — it was certainly within Mary’s right to cry out, to protest the cruelty, to plead Jesus’ innocence, but Mary was doing all that could be done. She was holding the tension, standing in strength, refusing to give back this hate. She resisted the urge to strike back. In essence, what Mary was doing was this: She couldn’t stop the crucifixion, but she could stop some of its bitterness, some of its hatred, some of its anger and jealousy. 
 
 
The Blessed Mother, obedient to what Christ taught us, was radiating everything that was antithetical to the crucifixion. Her gentleness, forgiveness, understanding, peace, and light were not resignation, but strength.
 
Sometimes darkness has its hour and nothing we can do can stop it. We, like Mary are asked to stand under the cross, to absorb, by our own presence, some of its hatred, some of the blindness and sin that surrounds it. Then, and only then, will we be following the unshrinking example of Mary — and find ourselves walking in the footsteps of Christ.
 
 
 
Tuesday

In his fear and his hurry to find the comfort of his mother’s arms, Jesus has almost lost one of his sandals; he became human like us in all things but sin.

Excerpted from The Perpetual Help Story, Liguori Publications, 1976; and The Story of an Icon by Fabriciano Ferrero, Redemptorist Publications, 2001.

Mother of Perpetual Help, your very name inspires confidence. We come before your holy picture in praise and thanksgiving to God, seeking your intercession with Jesus, your Son, for all the needs of our lives today.

You answered when called to be mother of our Lord.

You wondered as your Son grew in wisdom, knowledge and grace.

You delighted as your Son healed the sick.

You enjoyed peace as your Son comforted the afflicted.

You rejoiced as your Son forgave sins.

You suffered at the wounds your Son endured for our salvation.

You exulted in your Son’s resurrection.

You are the first of all the disciples and saints. We trust in your motherly love and care. Obtain for us all the graces we need to fulfill God’s plan each day of our lives.

Amen.

Monday

Four Redemptorists are participating in a special three-day celebration in honor of Our Mother of Perpetual Help at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. We will share the homilies from each day’s Mass on redemptorists.net.

Day 1: My spirit rejoices in God my Savior — Mary and joy

By Rev. Philip Dabney, C.Ss.R.
 
When I was a young boy, probably younger than Mary in the gospel, I used to like to sing a lot.
 
My mother would often hear me singing and would say: “Someone’s happy!”
 
This may sound strange, but you see, my mother, she knew me really well. She knew that my singing was a sign of joy, especially at those times I was trying to cope with sadness, or boredom of doing a chore, or just being tired.
 
Who was the saint who said that “to sing is to pray twice?” I think that when we are in touch with the deeper dimension of our being, that place where words are too deep to be expressed, a song can say what is deep within our hearts.
 
Mary knew that.
 
She knew from her praying of the psalms, that the psalmist expressed words of prayer in song. Mary also knew that other women poured out their souls before God particularly when they were deeply distressed. Hannah, who longed for a child, and had been blessed with Samuel, sang a song of joy and gratitude, after she had consecrated him to God. And many of the sentiments in her song echo Mary’s Magnificat.
 
Imagine the rollercoaster of emotions that Mary experienced after being asked to be God’s Mother, when she had not yet married. This emotion is greeted with the words: “That the Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the most high will overshadow you.”
 
What does a young woman do with all of this mystery?
 
Well … Mary eventually sang her Magnificat.
 
This may not have been her immediate response. But when she was in the company of the faith of her cousin Elizabeth, Mary sang: “My soul rejoices in God my savior.”
 
We must ask ourselves, what is the cause of her joy? Mary is joyful because she realizes that all the promises of God are now fulfilled in Christ Jesus, the child within her womb. And this joy of hers is always with her no matter what, regardless of what happens to her.
 
I read not so long ago how the great composer Johann Sebastian Bach, returning from a journey, found that his wife and two children had died. That night, in his diary, he wrote: “Dear Lord, may my joy not leave me.”
 
He was not referring to the feeling of joy: that is never in our power. No, he was speaking of an essential joy rooted in his recognition that God is gracious, that the grace of God is made flesh in Jesus, that Jesus is Emmanuel, God-with-us.
 
Joy comes when Christ comes; joy is where Christ is. We can see this deep joy at work in people’s lives. 
 
All of us know certain people suffering with serious illness who through their faithful relationship with the Lord maintain a genuine joy. Yes, there is a “pain in the body, but deep joy in the soul.”
 
There are those who may lack a physical pain, but in the circumstances of their lives know mental anguish and stress. Again, we see the joy of faith that breaks through their pain.
 
The poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, meditating on Our Lady’s sorrows, wrote in his diary: “Christ’s joy in spite of sorrow, wish to enter into this.” Joy in spite of sorrow, joy in the midst of pain! How can this be? Because God is gracious and the face of his graciousness, his mercy, his compassion, his love, is the face of Christ, and Christ is Emmanuel, God always with us.
 
Mary can truly be our source of joy. For no one has such an abundance of joy to give as Mary does. She proclaims this joy in every line of her Magnificat. Her soul rejoices, magnifies, exalts in the wonders of God.
 
And she invites us to come to her, so that she might bring Emmanuel into our wounded hearts, to shine on our darkness, so that our nights are no longer dark but bright as day.
 
Mary, Our Mother of Perpetual Help, not only promises to “help” us always, but her title also suggests that she has countless “helps” to offer us, “gifts” to help us live our lives in the fullness of God’s loving embrace.  
 
As we remember our loved ones who are suffering today, in any way, as we become aware of our own suffering, let us remember to ask Mary to help us — gift us with her deep joy.
Monday

The Child grasps his mother’s hands in fear, as if frightened by something. The hands of Our Mother hold her Son securely; her right hand directs our gaze to Jesus. With her left arm she supports her Child. So closely does she hold him that the lines of his body blend into hers so that it is impossible to separate Mother and Child in the picture.

Excerpted from The Perpetual Help Story, Liguori Publications, 1976; and The Story of an Icon by Fabriciano Ferrero, Redemptorist Publications, 2001.

Mother of Perpetual Help, your very name inspires confidence. We come before your holy picture in praise and thanksgiving to God, seeking your intercession with Jesus, your Son, for all the needs of our lives today.

You answered when called to be mother of our Lord.

You wondered as your Son grew in wisdom, knowledge and grace.

You delighted as your Son healed the sick.

You enjoyed peace as your Son comforted the afflicted.

You rejoiced as your Son forgave sins.

You suffered at the wounds your Son endured for our salvation.

You exulted in your Son’s resurrection.

You are the first of all the disciples and saints. We trust in your motherly love and care. Obtain for us all the graces we need to fulfill God’s plan each day of our lives.

Amen.

Monday

Redemptorist missionary, Father Pierce John Kenny, remembered as a dignified priest who never lost the common touch, died on June 25, 2012 at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Towson, MD under the care of his religious confreres at St. John Neumann Residence, Stella Maris in Timonium.

Father Kenny was born on November 28, 1943 in Brooklyn, New York, professed his first vows as a Redemptorist on August 2, 1963, and was ordained a priest on June 22, 1969.
 
After graduating from the Redemptorist Preparatory Seminary in North East, PA in 1962, he made his novitiate year in Ilchester, MD, and received his B.A. in philosophy from St. Alphonsus College in Suffield, CT in 1966. After completing his graduate studies in theology at Mount Saint Alphonsus Seminary in Esopus, NY, Father Kenny served on the foreign missions in South America at Telemaco Borba, Parana and Bela Vista.
 
He returned to the Baltimore Province as vocation director from 1974 until 1978 and was then appointed to St. Gerard’s parish in Lima, Ohio. The following year he returned to the then Vice-Province of Campo Grande where he worked for six more years in Ponta Grossa and Paranagua. June, 1986 found him stateside once again in Brooklyn for a year and then for the next five years at St. Clement’s Mission House in Ephrata, PA.
 
In 1992 he was transferred to St. Clement’s Parish in upstate New York at Saratoga Springs where he served until June 15, 1998 when he returned for the final time to his hometown. He remained a member of the OLPH community in Brooklyn until his death fourteen years later.
 
“When we were in the seminary, I remember him as a terrific athlete,” states his classmate, Father Gordon Cannoles. “He played all sports and was really good at them. Of course he was adept at studies, but I believe his real strength was his community spirit which he carried with him to the foreign missions. For example, I was assigned to Paraguay, just across the river from Pierce, when he was stationed in Brazil. In those days there were no Masses on Sunday evening so both communities would get together for a meal and a card game and to chat about the ministry. He could have watched TV but Pierce preferred to spend time with the confreres and this was the spirit that kept us all going. You have to understand that we were in the boondocks, so these community get-togethers became a real lifeline for us. I will always be grateful for his presence and joyful spirit at a time when our ministry was a physical challenge and we were all so far away from home.”
 
Father Pat Lynch, another classmate, agrees. “When I think of my contact with Pierce, first in the seminary and later in Lima, Ohio — we went there as a new team — the word ‘community’ comes to mind immediately. Pierce always had a great community attitude: ‘let’s get the men together, especially around a good meal or soiree.’ He was easy to be with and also down to earth: No frills. What you see is what you get. This is what attracted many people to him, especially the very ordinary people. Whether he was in Brazil or in the States, Pierce was likable and approachable and at the same time, respected. However, he also had a lighter side and I always enjoyed his unique sense of humor. He did things that were quietly funny. I recall a time in Lima when we went to an appreciation party for the Bingo workers. This was a dinner-dance and some of the couples were really expert ballroom dancers. Well, right in the middle of this elegant music, Pierce stands up and, with a very dignified demeanor, starts dancing by himself. Some of the ladies tried to hook up with him, but he was in a dancing world of his own. Can you picture him in his clerical suit, a bit on the pudgy side, making these hilarious dance moves but with a serious look on his face? We couldn’t stop laughing. He could appear distinguished and still not take himself too seriously.”
 
A third classmate, Father Kevin Moley, who was also his local superior and his provincial superior says, “Father Pierce was certainly one of the most popular men in our class. During our graduate studies in theology at the Mount, we team-taught a religion course at Presentation parish in Port Ewen, NY. I handled the preparatory materials and he fielded the question-and-answer periods. He was always pleasant, outgoing, and the type of confrere who loved community life, loved a good party, and was always willing to help in any way he could. I also believe that this is why illness was so unkind to him. Sickness took a real toll on him toward the end. Why? Because poor health prevented him from doing the ministerial and communal activities that he loved. But those of us who really knew him, remember the priest who could carry himself with dignity while never losing the common touch.”

 

Rev. Pierce Kenny, C.Ss.R.

  • Born: November 28, 1943
  • Professed: August 2, 1963
  • Ordained: June 22, 1969
  • Died: June 25, 2012

 

Services

Viewing
June 28
7 p.m. to 9 p.m. with wake service at 7:30 p.m.
Lower Church
Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help
526 59th Street
Brooklyn, NY

Funeral
June 29
10 a.m.
Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help

Burial
Cemetery of the Resurrection
Staten Island, NY