Living Hope Newsletter – August 2009

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Claretian Publications continue ministry of the printed word

Saint Anthony Claret, founder of the Claretian Missionaries, was not satisfied with simply preaching the Word of God. Born in Catalonia, Spain in 1807, he left a trail of books and pamphlets he had written behind him during his extensive travels. Claret published more than 200 books and The Claretians published their first magazine, Voice of St. Jude, in Chicago in the 1930's. hundreds of pamphlets. Pope Pius XI would later call him the "Modern Apostle of the Good Press."

"Publishing in the nineteenth century was one of the most effective ways to spread the Gospel," says Meinrad Scherer-Emunds, Associate Publisher of Claretian Publications in Chicago. "Claret recognized that publishing would give him more impact."

Today Claretian Missionaries continue the ministry of the printed word with their publishing houses in China, the Philippines, India, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Spain, Poland, Siberia, Italy, Argentina, Brazil, Nicaragua and the United States.

The Claretian Missionaries of the Eastern Province in the United States began publishing their first magazine, Voice of St. Jude, in Chicago in the 1930's. Since then, Claretian Publications has evolved into a close collaboration between the Claretian Missionaries of the Eastern Province and lay professionals who produce the magazines, pamphlets, newsletters read by generations of Catholics.

St. Claret always envisioned that lay and religious would present a lucid and organized front to undertake the most urgent tasks in the announcement of the Word of God to the world.

Currently, there are 16 Claretian publishing houses throughout the world. Most are led by the Claretian Missionaries but all work together with lay professionals. "The Claretian Missionaries are somewhat distinct in that they have entrusted a greater role to the people they work with. It helps them to be more effective in their ministry if they hire effective lay people to work with them," explains Scherer-Emunds, who has been with Claretian Publications in Chicago since 1991.

Like their founder, the Claretian Missionaries use every possible means to encourage dialogue among Catholics about their faith. Claretian Publications has also long been a leader of Spanish-language religious publications with its Hispanic Ministry Resource Center (HMRC).

With the advance of technology, Claretian Missionaries have entered the search for new initiatives for the task of continuing announcing the truth of Christ to the world. The Claretian presence on the Internet has grown in the past few years with the success of and among others.

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Father Ferdinand Okorie, C.M.F., recently ordained to priesthood

Becoming a missionary priest involves enormous sacrifice - traveling to far-away lands, living within foreign cultures and providing spiritual direction to those most in need - but it is a responsibility Father Ferdinand Okorie, C.M.F., was eager to accept.

Fr. Okorie, originally from Nigeria, was ordained to the priesthood on March 4 in the Blessed Claretian Martyrs Chapel at O'Reilly Student Center, which is staffed by Claretian Missionaries on the campus of Missouri State University (MSU).

In 2003, Fr. Okorie came to the U.S. to study theology in Chicago at the Catholic Theological Union. After graduating with his Masters in Biblical Studies, his general supervisor in Rome decided to have him stay and continue his ministry in the U.S. In 2007, Fr. Okorie was assigned to the Claretian Catholic Campus Ministry (CCM) at MSU.

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Being an altar server throughout his grade school and high school years and serving as president of his home parish's altar server association influenced Fr. Okorie early-on to become part of the Catholic Church. "I was raised in northern Nigeria, which is predominately Muslim," says Fr. Okorie, whose parents and seven siblings all reside in Nigeria. "My parents are from the south, which is mostly Catholic. They made religion part of our upbringing and encouraged us to be part of the devotional groups in my local parish. My family has made my stay in the U.S. for the past six years a lot easier through their support and encouragement."

Fr. Okorie attended a junior seminary in Nigeria where he had many opportunities to attend and listen to conferences and workshops. One of the presentations that left a lasting impression on him was given by a missionary priest. "From that day, I looked forward to becoming a missionary priest," he explains.

The mission of the Claretian Missionaries to "strive to work for the salvation of souls," attracted Fr. Okorie from the start. He also felt drawn to the charism of the Claretian Missionaries because of their devotion to the Blessed Mother: a Claretian is the "son of the Immaculate Heart of Mary."

"I knew from the beginning that becoming a missionary priest would be a huge sacrifice," says Fr. Okorie. "I see my vocation as an opportunity to serve people and bring them closer to God. Whatever you do in life, if you feel that God is calling you to be part of this renewal process, I think that it is a great opportunity to serve."

As a Claretian Missionary, Fr. Okorie knows that he must be willing to serve wherever the need is most urgent, whether it is a foreign country, the inner city, a university setting, or a community parish.

"Campus ministry has been an amazing experience and enriching." Fr. Okorie says. "I would like to work in a parish setting for a little while to experience a different kind of ministry. But wherever the mission is going to lead me, I will be there."