Living Hope Newsletter – April 2012

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New Province Formed,
New Leadership Elected

On August 25 of last year, the Claretian Missionaries formed their new USA Province by formally merging the Eastern and Western Provinces of this country. This historic event was the focus of the Province’s Chapter the week of August 22, presided over by the congregation’s Superior General from Rome, Rev. Josep M. Abella, C.M.F. Representatives from the Claretian Province of Mexico and the Claretian Delegation of Canada attended to witness as members of the North American Claretians leadership.

The Provincial headquarters is located in Chicago, which was the headquarters of the former Eastern Province. Chicago is also the home of the National Shrine of St. Jude. The Claretians came to Chicago in 1925, built the National Shrine of St. Jude, and began the St. Jude League in 1929 to foster devotion to this Apostle. The Claretian priests continue to bring every petition the League receives to the altar of St. Jude every week, where all are remembered in the Masses offered by the Claretians.

After the formalities of the Chapter week, the Very Rev. Rosendo Urrabazo, the new U.S. Provincial Superior, remarked, “The formation of a national province is an opportunity to reflect upon the future of our ministry in the whole United States, to affirm the many good works of the past, and to dream and plan of new adventures in the service of God’s Word.”

The Province elected its new Provincial Council also on August 25. The leadership of this dynamic Province are the following priests:

• Very Rev. Rosendo Urrabazo, C.M.F.
• Rev. Mark Brummel, C.M.F.
• Rev. Bruce Wellems, C.M.F.
• Rev. José Sanchez, C.M.F.
• Rev. Len Brown, C.M.F.

“Members of our Province have a long history of missionary activity among the poor,” said Fr. Mark Brummel, who is also the Director of the St. Jude League. “The Claretians in this country have always made special efforts to support the mission efforts in the U.S. while also contributing to our congregation’s missions throughout the world. I look forward to building new and creative ways to continue fulfilling our missionary vocation.”

Council & Fr. Abella Rough

The Claretian Missionaries is a Roman Catholic order of priests and brothers founded by St. Anthony Mary Claret in Spain in 1849. They are 3,000 members working in 63 countries; they are dedicated to seeing the world through the eyes of the poor and to improving the world from these same communities. The primary ministries of the Claretians in the U.S. are:

• preaching and living God’s Word, especially through parish ministry;

• fostering and maintaining a devotion to St. Jude, the patron saint of hope, throughout the U.S.;

• social-justice and community development programs within high-poverty, urban communities; and

• publishing periodicals and materials to support leadership development in the Catholic Church and to help Catholics live their faith in the U.S. today.

“Sometimes people tend to see a parish as just a sacramental structure,” Fr. Bruce Wellems notes. “But for us it is far more than that; it is the heart of where the community gathers to live and celebrate the gospel.”

Focusing mainly on high-poverty communities, the Claretians dedicate themselves to living and working with the people in great need. They work on faith, health, education, leadership, and violence intervention as they build healthy communities—always with the people. Their programs address the issues of hunger, poverty, gang and domestic violence, housing, parenting, and education achievement—rough realities tackled with the trust and support of the people within the inspiration and power of God’s Word.

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An Urban Dolorosa

“Dolorosa” is derived from Latin and is usually translated to mean sorrowful. The historical place that includes this word is the Via Dolorosa (The Way of Suffering), which is the path in Jerusalem that Jesus took as he carried his cross, and the path along which so many of the Stations of the Cross occurred.

An interfaith coalition in Chicago—committed to violence intervention efforts, youth development programs, and compassion for those who suffer— organized the city’s first Urban Dolorosa (Sorrowful City) event. This event served two goals:

• to memorialize the almost 300 Chicago schoolchildren killed by violence over the past three school years, and

• to inform and mobilize the city’s communities to commit to community development and nonviolence for the sake of all children still living . . . to open up options for them to be children who come to understated that hope has a place in their lives.

The event began on All Saints Day. Its special service was held a total of five evenings across five of the city’s poorest neighborhoods, and drew crowds of all ages every evening. Fr. Bruce Wellems, C.M.F., hosted one of the memorial services at the Claretian parish of Holy Cross/ Immaculate Heart of Mary. The service included poetry, music and songs, slideshows, a youth chorus, an adult chorus, candlelight processions, and the solemn reading of each child’s name.

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After the service, Fr. Bruce led the crowds in a candlelight vigil procession throughout his neighborhood . . . a literal symbol of what the Claretians and many members of this active parish do on a daily basis: make sure the Church is the source of the light on what is good and safe and healthy and welcoming in this community.

Fr. Bruce, in true Claretian Missionary spirit and vision, is relentless in implementing the improvements and the hope he challenges his community to build and then protect. As their pastor, his faith and his energy are contagious. He is respected by the people struggling with him, as well as by politicians, civic leaders, and other priests across the city. Fr. Bruce was recently invited to give testimony to the Rules and Ethics Committee of the City Council of Chicago about the vital importance of really understanding the needs of his community through the eyes of the people who live for the hope of improvement every day. His testimony to the Council ended with Fr. Bruce’s submission of over 1,200 letters of support from his neighborhood people and businesses, and his parting blessing, “God bless you with the grace of wisdom and care for our people.”

Like many Claretians, Fr. Bruce is truly an urban missionary. He inspires from his pulpit at Mass, from his podium to civic audiences, and while sitting on the Rectory steps with a few teenage youth from his parish. His quote from the prior article on the new province is worth repeating here. “Sometimes people tend to see a parish as just a sacramental structure. But for us it is far more than that; it is the heart of where the community gathers to live and celebrate the gospel.”