The Father of Public Education in Puerto Rico never went to school.

Rafael Cordero y Molina             en.wikipedeia.org

By Larry Peterson

Rafael Cordero y Molina came into this world on October 24, 1790, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He was born into a low-income family and had two older sisters.  His dad, Lucas Cordero, worked on a tobacco farm and his mom, Rita Molina, took care of the children and the home. Although considered “free,” they were also black, and because of that, their children were not allowed to attend school.

Rafael’s parents had a small amount of education and imparted what they could to their children. Rafael showed an instant love of reading and began to read as much as possible. He developed a passion for literature. That dedication, coupled with his determination to become a teacher, led him on his arduous journey to achieve his goal.

Rafael’s mom and dad did their best to instill the faith into their children. Instruction in the faith by the local priest was open to all.  At the age of 14, he received the Sacrament of Confirmation. From that point forward, he would continue to grow in faith and remain a devout Catholic his entire life.

Rafael began working in the tobacco fields at a young age. When he was twenty years of age, he managed to open a school in the town of  San German. From the very beginning of his career as a teacher, the young man would never accept any money or gifts for his teaching. His earnings as a tobacco farmer and maker of tobacco products were the only monies he would ever consider using.

Rafael’s school in San German was on the street known as Moon of San Juan. In the beginning, it was just black and mulatto children attending his school. As time went by, underprivileged white children also began attending. When racial segregation was a dominant factor in many places around the world, Rafael treated all people the same and never discriminated against anyone.

He would be at this school for the next 58 years. He taught children not only how to read and write, but also arithmetic, history, Catholic doctrine, and even calligraphy. The place was not only a school. It was also his home and a tobacco shop. He would instruct the children, and while they studied, he would roll cigars to sell. On the walls, he had images of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and his patron, St. Anthony of Padua. There also was a large Crucifix hanging for all to see.

In 1847 Juan Prim Prats became the Governor. He hated all non-whites and immediately set out to subjugate them.  Governor Prats instituted direct repression of blacks on the island. He decreed the “Bando Negro” law which justified any aggression against blacks, be they free or slaves. Writings show that Prim visited Rafael’s school several times and, unexpectedly, always approved of its operation. Rafael attributed that to prayer and protection from Our Lady. Prim lasted in power only a year, and all blacks and mulattos on the island breathed a deep sigh of relief.

Rafael Cordero’s reputation as a saintly teacher grew, and more people wanted to send their children to him, including the rich. People began calling him the “Maestro.” Some of those who studied under him included Alejandro Tapia y Rivera, a famous poet, and playwright; Roman Baldorioty de Castro, a professor and politician; and Jose Julian Acosta, the journalist.

“Maestro” Rafael Cordero devoted his entire life to the free education of children and young people. In 1868, sensing the end of his life was near, he called his students together and prayed with them. He gave them his blessing saying, “My children pray for this poor old man who has taught you how much he knew. He has nothing left but a breath of life.”

A few minutes later, at 5 p.m., he died. The date was July 5, 1868.  Next to him was a burning candle and scapulars sent to his bedside by the Carmelites. More than 2000 people attended his funeral, and he became known as the “Father of Public Education in Puerto Rico.”

Each year in Puerto Rico, the Rafael Cordero National Medal  is given to the annual Teacher of the Year. Schools are named after him in Puerto Rico and Jersey City, N.J., and Brooklyn, N.Y. Lastly,  the schoolhouse he taught in is registered as a historical site in the National registry of Historical Places of the United States.

In 2004 the process of Rafael Cordero’s canonization was begun. On December 9, 2013, Pope Francis declared that he had lived a life of “heroic virtue” and was worthy of the title, Venerable.

Venerable Rafael Cordero y Molina, please pray for us.

 


A Caregiver Remembers; Living with Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s disease                                                                                          en.wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

What follows is some insight for those who have never been a primary caregiver. This is more like “a day in the life” of someone living and caring for an Alzheimer’s patient who is usually a spouse or a son or daughter.  Many folks have seen people with Alzheimer’s or have relatives or friends with the disease and think they “get it.”  Still, unless you, as a caregiver, live it, day after day after day, year after year, up until the end, you do not “get it.” You just can’t.

Simple memories triggered

My thoughts and I were sitting together reflecting the other night, just floating back to days long gone. The trigger for the thoughts was my wife, Marty, who passed away from cancer and Alzheimer’s Disease five years earlier on March 27. The thoughts kept bouncing around, and the “little things” that used to happen frequently began to dominate the memory flow. Anyway, I would like to share some of those simple memories. This is from an evening I remembered well. It was when I promised I would call her in sick for work.

It began like this. After dinner (I had turned into a pretty good cook), Marty asked me, “What time is my show on?”

Sundowning

Reflexively I would ask her, “Which one?” I knew she had no favorite show. I also knew she had stepped into what is known in Alzheimer’s disease as “sundowning.” I called it, ‘Uh-oh time.’ I called it this because these were the moments when she would unexpectedly become frustrated and agitated.

I could see her tensing. Then she would look at me and, raising her voice a decibel or two, would say, “You know what show. Just tell me what time it comes on.”

I had become a guilt-free liar

As a Catholic who loves his faith, I do not lie. However, the fact was, in my caregiver world, I had become a guilt-free, therapeutic liar. It was about survival, mine and hers. My justification was that without me, she was alone, and she was no longer able to survive on her own. “Sorry, sweetie, your show is not on tonight. There is a special about sharks on, and sharks scare you, right?”

“You know I don’t like sharks. I am scared of sharks. But that’s okay. I can watch the news, right?’

“Absolutely.” I had lied to my wife, Marty. I felt no guilt. It was a necessary tool for me to use in my role as her caregiver.

She headed to the sofa, sat down, and picked up her puzzle book. She always was good at doing the anachrostics (I find them incredibly difficult). Still, she would sit and look at the page, holding the pencil on it, which never moved. Then she said, “Do I have to go to work tomorrow? I’m so tired. I really could use a day off.”

Liar’s Hat on

Two years earlier, I might have tried to explain that she did not have a job and had not worked in seven or eight years. She still may have understood. Those days were gone. So, with my “Liar’s Hat” still in place, I answered, “You’re right. You do look tired. I think you need a day off too. Don’t worry. I’ll call in for you and tell them you’re sick.”

“You would do that for me?

“Of course, I would do that for you.”

That’s’ so nice. I’m so glad I don’t have to get up and go in. Is today Sunday?”

Whew, a relief question. I could  tell the truth. “No, it’s Wednesday.”

“Wednesday, are you sure?”

“Yes, it’s Wednesday.”

Things were quiet for a while It was about 9 p.m. when I walked back to the bathroom. Suddenly I hear smashing and banging coming from the utility room off the kitchen. I head in there, and in a matter of minutes, Marty had pulled out of the wall cabinet all of the plastic containers, glasses and cups, and other things inside and stacked them all on the washer and dryer below. “Hey hon, what are you doing?”

We have to get rid of the junk

She looks at me, and I can tell she is agitated. “We have all this junk. We have to get rid of it. Why do we have all this junk? We have to throw it out.”

Immediately, I switch back to my ‘Liar’s Hat’. “Okay, when should we throw it all out?”

“I don’t know, maybe right now?”

“Well, it is kind of late. Maybe we can do it in the morning.”

“I don’t feel like putting it all back tonight.”

“Don’t worry about it. I’ll do it.”

“Oh, thanks. I’m too tired

There was one final comment. She looks at me and asks, “We are married, right?”

“Yes Marty, we are married.” (That was not a lie)

She got into bed about 9:30 and was asleep in about two minutes. I was mentally worn out but I looked at her and realized that an innocence had come from an unknown place and  embraced her. I also knew that when she awoke in the morning, she would not remember anything of what had happened.

I was blessed

Since I do not “punch a clock” I have the joy of being able to attend daily Mass at 8 a.m.. Marty will wake up at about 7 a.m. and always ask me, “Are you going to church?”

I answer, “Yup.”

She will ask, “Will you take me with you?”

“Of course.”

From 1 Corinthians 13:4-5

 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

As a caregiver to a child of God, I was blessed.

Copyright©LarryPeterson 2022


Ironically, the Patron Saint of the Unborn is a Young Man

St. Gerard Majella                                                           aleteia.org

By Larry Peterson

The Annual March for Life  will occur in Washington D.C. on Friday, January 21. Tens upon tens of thousands will march in defense of the unborn. Many expectant women, scared and unsure of their situation, most likely will avoid it. If you are one of them, you might turn to a young man for intercession. He is the Patron Saint of Unborn Children and Expectant Mothers. Many a miracle has been attributed to this man’s intervention. His name is Gerard Majella.

Gerard was the youngest child born to Domenico and Benedetta Majella. They had three daughters, and Gerard was their only son. The date was April 6, 1726. The Majellas were a hard-working Italian family. Benedetta brought her children to Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of Graces as often as she could. Gerard, only three, loved the “pretty lady with the baby.”

Mama, mama, see what I got from the little boy.”

When Gerard got a bit older, he would run off to the shrine by himself. The first time he came home, he yelled out, “Mama, mama, see what I got from the little boy.” In his hand, he held a small roll of bread. No one paid much attention, but after several days of coming home with bread, his mom followed him to see where he was getting the bread.

Mom was stunned by what she saw

What she saw stunned her because the statue of Our Lady of Graces came to life and the child she was holding scampered down to play with Gerard. She quickly left and, sure enough, when Gerard came home, he had another small loaf of bread with him. Benedetta kept this to herself.

Gerard’s dad died when the boy was twelve, and the family was left in poverty. Gerard’s father had been a tailor, so his mom sent him to her brother so Gerard could learn the trade. However, after a four-year apprenticeship, Gerard was offered the job as a servant for the local Bishop of Lacedonia. Needing the money, he took the position.

He would bring the poor leftovers from the bishop’s table

The Bishop kept hearing stories about Gerard and his kindness. He would always stop and visit the poor in the clinic, how he always helped others, and how he even brought the poor leftovers from the bishop’s table. The young man was gaining a reputation just by being himself.

“I want to be a saint.”

Gerard returned to his trade as a tailor when the Bishop passed away. He divided his earnings among his mother, the poor, and with offerings for the souls in purgatory. By the time he was 21 years-old, he had established a steady business. His mom was quite worried about her son. He looked thin and frail because he was always fasting and doing penance. She begged him to eat, and he told her, “Mama, God will provide. As for me, I want to be a saint.”

Gerard tried to join the Capuchins, but they thought him too sickly to endure the demands of the order. Finally, after much pleading and nagging, he was accepted as a lay brother into the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, aka the Redemptorists.

As a lay brother, he would never be a priest, say Mass, or hear confessions. He would live under the same roof, wear the same habit, and share the prayers. He also would take the vows of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience. He would be a caretaker to the monastery. He embraced this role and served them well, acting as a gardener, sacristan, porter, cook, carpenter, and, of course, the tailor.

The children always flocked to hear his amazing stories

But there was always the children. They flocked to Gerard to hear his amazing stories and learn how to pray. Once, when a large group was sitting around listening to him, a little boy fell off a cliff. When they reached the child, they thought he was dead. Gerard said to the boy’s father, “It is nothing.” Then he traced a cross on the boy’s forehead, and he awoke. It was just one of Gerard’s many miracles that people witnessed.

Gerard had tuberculosis and died on October 16, 1755. He was 29 years old. Many miracles were attributed to his intercession. One stands out as the reason he has come to be known as the patron of mothers. A few months before his death, he was visiting a family. He dropped his handkerchief, and one of the girls picked it up to return it to him. He told her to keep it because  one day, she would need it.

The handkerchief

Years later, as a married woman, she was about to give birth and the doctor was sure the child would not survive. She remembered the handkerchief and asked for it. When she held it to her womb, the pain disappeared, and she gave birth to a healthy baby. There was no explanation.

In 1893 Pope Leo XIII beatified Gerard. And on December 11, 1904, Pope St. Pius X canonized him in Rome. He was now St. Gerard Majella.

St. Gerard is the patron saint of unborn children, expectant mothers, and motherhood.

St. Gerard; please pray for all those pre-born children in danger of losing their lives and for expectant moms everywhere.

Copyright©larry Peterson 2022

 


The Last Christmas Tree (Inspired by a True Story)

The Last Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree  commons.wikimedia.org

A Short Story by

Larry Peterson

Inspired by a true story:

It was 6:00 A.M., and she was exhausted. She stood there, unblinking, looking into the mirror at the person staring back at her. Running her hands through her tousled, just-got-out-of-bed hair, she sighed deeply. She leaned forward, stared some more, and said to herself, “Oh my God, Sharon, you look just awful.”

She had to leave by 6:30, so she hurriedly washed her face, brushed her teeth, and tried to create some order with her hair. She had worked twenty-two days straight since Thanksgiving, and today would be the last day before the holiday. It was Christmas Eve, and there was still much to do, including getting a Christmas tree.

As Sharon, a meter reader and installer for the local utility company, pulled on her work shoes; a soft voice came from behind. It was her youngest, six-year-old Joey.  She turned, and he said, “Mommy, Santa can’t come here tonight.”

She was somewhat stunned by the unexpected comment. “Joey, why would you think that. Of course, he can come here.”

“But we have no Christmas tree. Can’t you stay home from work and get us a tree?”

They had kept asking, and she had kept promising, and it was always “later” or “tomorrow,” and now, just like that, time was up. She turned and held out her arms to her boy. “Come over here, “ she said.

He ran over, and she hugged him. She looked into his nervous eyes and said, “Don’t worry Joey, I only have to work a little while today, and then I will get the tree. I will have it when I get home from work. Then we will all decorate it, and Santa will have a tree to put the toys under. Don’t worry.”

Oozing innocence, he simply looked at her and believed it would be so. “Okay, mommy.”

She stood up and said, “C’mon, sweetie. Let’s get you back in bed. I will tell April you are awake.”

“No need, mom. I’m up. C’mon with me, Joey. We can watch some TV.”

It was her twelve-year-old son, Alvin. She turned and smiled at him. “Thanks, hon. They promised us we would be home early. Say a prayer it actually happens.”

“Mom, what about a tree?”

“Alvin, I know,  I know. I promised Joey, and I promise you, we will have a tree. Don’t worry. These last 20 days just seem to have run together, and—don’t worry, we will have a tree.”

It was about 6:50 when she pulled into the loading dock area to pick up her assignments and needed materials. The parking lot was already empty of the work trucks as all the crews had left for their assigned destinations. Sitting in her vehicle, she took out her Rosary and held it tightly. A “single” mom and devout Catholic, prayers had brought her through some, lonely, harsh and scary days after her husband had walked away from her and the children. She blessed herself and began to pray.

She was quietly asking the Blessed Virgin to allow Christmas Eve to go smoothly and for her to be able to get a tree when a tap on her window startled her. She turned to see her field supervisor, Herb Guerin, standing there. She rolled down the window, “Hi Herb, what do you have for me today?”

“Here you go, Sharon.” As he handed her the work orders he said,  “I’m sorry, but I have to dump two more on you. They just came in but they are right next to each other, so it should go quick.”

“Please, Herb, I still have to get a Christmas tree. Can’t you get someone else? My six-year-old is thinking that Santa won’t come to our house. I have to get a tree.”

“Look, I understand. But this is about five minutes away from where you are going. A transformer blew up, and 1400 homes are without power. That could be more than 4000 people. It is Christmas Eve, and they need their power. The line crew is on-site but there are two new meters we need installed. You should be able to squeeze that in, don’t you think? Those people are counting on us to get their power on.”

“Okay, Herb, okay. What are the addresses?” He handed her the add-ons, and they wished each other Merry Christmas. She drove away, fingering her rosary beads. That proved more soothing for her than a cup of morning coffee.

Sharon had finished her regular assignments by noon and it should have been the end of her workday. But, as is the way of things, the transformer was not delivered until 2:00 .P.M and she could not install the new meters until after the transformer was replaced. It was 4:00  P.M.when she finally started for home.

Heading home, she kept looking for Christmas trees for sale. Even the seasonal tree lots that sold trees every year were empty. She had been confident that she would find a tree quickly. Now her confidence was being shattered. There were no trees anywhere. She thought a moment and then prayed, St. Anthony, please help me find a tree for my kids?”

Sharon did not plan to go home until she had found a tree. But she had not eaten, she felt sick to her stomach and needed to stop by the house which was only five minutes away. She thought she could just run inside, use the bathroom and simply “chill” for a few minutes. She looked at the clock; it read 5:35. A shiver ran down her spine.

She stepped from her van as Joey came running out of the house, “Hi Mommy, did you get our tree? Did you?  Where is the tree? Where is the tree? You got the tree, right?”

Sharon took a deep breath and knew she should have found a tree before coming home. Looking upwards, she quickly and quietly prayed, “Dear God, I need Your help. Please.”

Just like that, April, who was fourteen, Alvin, eleven, and Austin, eight,  were standing in front of her. Joey was in front of them. All she could see were four sets of insecure and nervous eyes looking  at her. A sudden blanket of fear seemed to come out of nowhere and grab hold of her. Oh my God, I do not know if I can do this. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I need your help. Tears came to her eyes.

April quickly went to her mom and gave her a hug. She said, “Mom, it’s okay. Don’t worry.”

Then Alvin was standing next to her, and Austin and then Joey was hugging her leg and she felt the love of her children and blurted out, “Okay, listen to me. I did not get the tree yet. I just needed to get a drink and use the bathroom. Then I will get it. Alvin, can you come with me to help?

“Why should Alvin get to go?” Austin asked. “Why can’t we all go?”

“Yes, yes, yes,” said April, “All of us should go. It will be all of us finding our family Christmas Tree.”

Sharon looked at the four of them and was suddenly buoyed with a sense of “Christmas.” Everything was feeling right. She had been slowly buying and hiding things since July. Toys and other gifts were in the back of her work truck, and more were stashed in the shed in the back yard. (The kids never let on that they knew). “Okay,” she said.  “Let’s get in the car and go find a tree.”

They piled into their fourteen-year-old 1988 Chevy Corsica, and Sharon headed toward Washington Ave. Her children had no idea how tired and worn out their mom was. Well, why would they; their Mom was not like other people; she was MOM. Being up since 6:00 A.M., not eating all day except for some stale chocolate chip cookies and two containers of coffee, was not something that could stop their Mom. That possibility was never considered.  They did not grasp that it was she who was hungry, tired, and feeling a bit weak. She said, “I hope we can find a tree quickly. You kids must be starving.” Things were never about her.

They were all focused on a tree, not food.  Alvin said, “ We can eat later, mom. Let’s check Walmart first; they have tons of trees.”

Sharon sighed and made a quick left onto Highway 19 N. They pulled into Walmart’s parking lot five minutes later. The store was just closing. They drove over to the nursery and found out there were no trees left. Al tried to run into the store to look for an artificial tree, but the doors were already locked.

Sharon said, “There is a Christmas tree lot over on Belcher Rd. They might have something.”

That lot was empty, and the search continued, from supermarket to supermarket, to home-improvement centers and discount outlets, to nurseries, and even looking outside convenience stores. Sharon was now driving and not thinking. They had searched for a tree for over two hours, finding more than a dozen places that sold trees but now had none. It was now almost eight o’clock.

She was feeling a sense of despair. It was dark, and most stores had already closed. April suddenly blurted out, “Hey Mom; there is the Burger Barn. Can we get something to eat? I’m starving.”

They all chimed in, “yeah, mom—c’mon Mom—we’re starving, Mom!”  Sharon knew that sitting in the car with the four kids eating cheeseburgers, fries, and holding drinks would be a disaster. “Okay, stop yelling; I can hear you. But there is no way we eat in the car. Lets park and go inside. We need a break anyway.”

As they walked toward the entrance, Austin said, “Mom, we just better face it. We aren’t going to find a tree. It’s too late. They’re all gone.”

“Stop it, Austin, have some faith. As soon as we sit down, we will all say a Hail Mary together and ask our Mother Mary to help us find one. And you watch, she WILL help us find one.”

They walked inside, found an empty table, and sat down. Sharon’s faith had helped her through incredibly difficult times, and she was about to call on it again. She reached out her hands, and they all followed her lead, holding each other’s hands. Bowing their heads, they prayed a Hail Mary together. When they finished, Sharon and Alvin headed to the counter to get their food.

The impromptu Burger Barn  “dinner” went reasonably well. The order came out quickly. Nothing was dropped or spilled, and, to top it off, everyone was quiet as they devoured their food. After spending a calm and pleasant fifteen minutes, it was time to find their tree.

As they stood up to leave, an old man, disheveled and dirty, approached them. Nervously, the man said, “Excuse me, ma’am. I think I can help you.”

Sharon had watched as he approached and haltingly said, ‘Huh…help me? What do you mean? We are fine. We do not need any help. Please, we have to go.”  She turned to her nervous children and said, “Okay kids, it’s time to leave. Let’s go.”

“Ma’am, please, don’t be afraid. I watched you and your children praying and it was a beautiful thing. And— I heard your boy say you needed a tree. I can help you.”

“How can you help us? I suppose you know where a tree is?” Sharon asked.

“Yes, I do,” said the man. “But you have to trust me and follow me. I will take you to it.”

“Follow you? We don’t even know you. Why should we follow a complete stranger to an unknown place? I have my children with me. Look, sir, I’m sure you are a very nice man, but I’m not following you anywhere.”

The man quietly said, “I’m sorry to have bothered you and your family. You all have a merry Christmas.”

They were all watching him as he walked toward the exit. As he disappeared, one of the workers came by and smilingly said, “I hope that man didn’t frighten you. He is harmless. He’s just a kind old man who  stops in here every so often for some coffee.”

Sharon, hearing this, quickly huddled her kids around and said quietly, “Look, we just prayed to the Blessed Virgin for help, and this old man comes out of nowhere and offers us a tree. It seems a bit crazy, but it is Christmas Eve. They know him here, so he must be harmless. We have to trust that Jesus and His Mom are helping us. As foolish as it sounds, I say we follow him. What do you kids think?”

“Why not, mom.,” April said. “Jesus will protect us.”

They all agreed, and Sharon said, “Okay, let’s see if we can find him.”

They hurried outside, and the old man was just standing there. As Sharon approached him, he smiled and said, “I thought I would wait to see if you changed your mind. I’m glad you did.”

Across the road from Burger Barn was a golf course. The man told Sharon, “There is a gravel service road at the end of the golf course parking lot. Drive down that road for about a half-mile, and you will find your tree. All I ask is that you say a prayer for all of those folks who have no home to go to on this cold, Christmas Eve.”

The surrounding golf course was unlit and pitch black. The headlights from the car cast an eerie glow as they slowly drove forward. Sharon had them all praying together as they ventured into the unknown. The mother of four was driving using faith for fuel. She was afraid. So were her children. The only sound that could be heard was the gravel crunching beneath the tires.

And then, as they turned around the bend in the road, there it was. A Christmas tree, not just any Christmas tree but the most beautiful tree they had ever seen. It was fully decorated, and all lit up. It was as if a light was shining down upon it. The entire area was lit up. As they got out of the car, an older woman stepped out from behind the bushes. Sharon and her kids just stared at her, not knowing where she came from, who she was, or how all this was happening. The woman asked, “Do you like the tree?”

Sharon said, “Who are you? What is going on? Are we all dreaming?”

“No, Sharon, you are not dreaming. Do you like the tree? What do you kids think? Do you like it?”

Austin said, “It is the most beautiful tree I ever, seen, ever.”

“Does everyone agree with Austin?”

They all agreed, and the woman said,  “Well then, Sharon, you just take your family home. When you arrive, the tree will be waiting for you. And, Joey, don’t worry, Santa will be coming to your house tonight.”

Sharon asked, “What do you mean, just go home. What about the tree?”

“Don’t worry about the tree. It is yours. Trust me. All I ask is that you say a prayer for all of those folks who have no home to go to on this cold, Christmas Eve.”

“I don’t understand. How will the tree….?”

The lady smiled and said, “Have faith, sweetie. It got you here, didn’t it?”

Sharon and her kids got into the car and began their ride home. As they passed the Burger Barn, they looked for the old man, but he was nowhere to be seen. Alvin said, “How did she know all of our names?” No one said anything.

While driving, Sharon had them all praying for homeless people, and, for the most part, all of them were trying to understand what had happened.

When they pulled up to their house, all they could see was the Christmas tree that had been at the golf course only a short time before. It was standing in their living room in front of the window. They got out of the car and just stood there, in shock, not understanding, but seeing what they thought impossible. When they went inside, the house smelled like fresh carnations mixed with a hint of pine. Underneath the tree was a creche with figures carved from ivory. It was beautiful.

It was almost midnight when all the kids were finally in bed. Sharon got the gifts from her truck and the shed out back and placed them around the tree. Then she sat down, took out her Rosary, and began crying and praying simultaneously.

Christmas morning came, and Sharon made sure everyone was up, dressed, and ready to go to 8 A.M., Mass.  After Mass, she told the kids that they were going back to the golf course to find the man and woman who helped them. She wanted to thank them and invite them for Christmas dinner. The kids readily agreed.

The course was crowded with golfers, many out to show off their new clothes and golfing equipment. The gravel road was blocked off, so they got out of their car and began to walk. When they reached the bend in the road, they stopped. Nothing was there except a golfer looking for his shanked golf shot.

Sharon said to the man, “Excuse me, sir, did you see an elderly man and woman anywhere around here?”

“Sorry, lady, the only thing I’m hoping to see is my missing golf ball.”

As they slowly walked back to the car a white dove flew down from a tree and landed facing them. The bird seemed to be looking up at them. They all stopped and marveled at this snow-white bird.

The bird stayed looking at them for about ten seconds, then slowly fluttered its wings, flew up and landed on Sharon’s shoulder. She remained still. Turning her head ever so slowly, she looked at the dove. The bird looked back at her, and their eyes connected. The bird leaned in and rubbed its face against Sharon’s cheek. Then it flew away.

MERRY CHRISTMAS

Copyright©Larry Peterson 2019 updated 2021

 


You cannot claim to be Catholic if you do not believe in the Mass and Holy Eucharist

Catholic Mass                                                                                     en.wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

What follows are quotes about the Catholic Mass. It would be best if you remembered that only within the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass can the Holy Eucharist become present. That happens by the actions of ONLY an ordained Catholic priest. It is he who stands in the shoes of Christ (in persona Christi) and says the words of consecration over the bread and wine, giving us Jesus Christ under the appearances of bread and wine.

 

                   A FEW WORDS FROM SOME GREAT SAINTS ABOUT HOLY MASS

The following quotes are from some of the greatest Catholic Saints who ever lived. These quotes are about the Mass in which the Holy Eucharist becomes the REAL PRESENCE.

When Mass is being celebrated, the sanctuary is filled with countless angels who adore the Divine Victim immolated on the altar.”  St. John Chrysostom 347-407 A.D.

“If we really understood the Mass, we would die of joy.” –  St. John Vianney 1786-1859

The angels surround and help the priest when he is celebrating Mass.” – St.Augustine of Hippo 354-430 A.D.

It would be easier for the world to survive without the sun than to do without Holy Mass.” – St. Padre Pio 1887-1968

“The heavens open and multitudes of angels come to assist in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.” – St. Gregory the Great 540-604 A.D.

“How happy is that guardian angel who accompanies a soul to Holy Mass!” – St. John Vianney 1786-1859

“I believe that were it not for the Holy Mass, as of this moment, the world would be in the abyss.” St. Leonard of Port Maurice  1676-1751

And from Pope St. John Paul II  1920-2005

From this moment on, live the Eucharist fully; be persons for whom the Holy Mass, Communion, and Eucharistic adoration are the center and summit of your whole life.”  

Let us thank God daily for the Holy Mass and the gift of Jesus in the Eucharist!

Copyright©Larry Peterson 2021

 


Evangelizing—What is it, and how can we, as individuals, Evangelize?

Holy Spirit, Pentecost, Evangelize

By Larry Peterson

What is Evangelization?

We Catholic/Christians are asked to ‘evangelize.” But for me, the word, Evangelize, has always been intimidating. And what does that word actually mean?  The Merriam-Webster Dictionary says that the word, evangelize, is a verb that means “to preach the gospel to” or “to convert to Christianity.” St. Pope Paul VI said, “Evangelizing means to bring the Good News into all the strata of humanity, and through its influence transforming humanity from within and making it new.”

Are we called to Evangelize?

Does the Bible call on us to Evangelize? It sure does, and here are two short examples. Matthew 4:19 says, He said to them, come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Another is in John 20:21, it says, Jesus said to them, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”

Evangelli Gaudium—the new evangelization summons us all

Lastly, I will call upon Pope Francis and his Evangelii Gaudium. In his apostolic exhortation,  published in 2013, the Holy Father “reaffirmed that the new evangelization is a summons  to all the faithful, and is to be carried out in three principal settings.” The three settings are 1) ordinary pastoral ministry (to inflame the hearts of the faithful), 2) outreach to “the baptized whose lives do not reflect the demands of Baptism” and 3) “evangelization to those who do not know Jesus Christ or who have always rejected him.

First of all, when I think of Evangelizers, I envision people such as Billy Graham speaking to a stadium filled with thousands of people or Venerable Fulton Sheen teaching class on television so many years ago. I have even thought of Burt Lancaster playing the character of Elmer Gantry, reigning down words of “fire and brimstone” inside a tent filled with a captive audience. To this very day, we have street preachers praising Jesus and doing their best to convert the unbelievers. As for me, I have never been able to do that.

Do not get me wrong. I have never backed away from a discussion about my faith. If I was in a group or among friends and my Catholic faith was challenged or ridiculed, I would not be quiet. On the contrary, I would defend it the best I could. But I was never one to initiate a conversation. I can still remember my dad telling me, “Never get into a discussion about religion or politics. You can never win.” Well, my dad was wrong. I finally found a way to evangelize.  And, I want to share it with you, the reader.

Evangelizing is not complicated—You just have to be ready for the moment

The first thing I have come to understand is that the ‘evangelizing” business  can simply begin as a “one on one” interaction.  Since we are all called to evangelize, we have to be ready for the “moment. “Okay, what does that mean?

First of all, the “moment” to evangelize is hard to plan. The fact is, the moment can spring up at the most unexpected times or in the strangest of places. You just have to be ready. Here is an example. The following happened to me while in line at a supermarket.

There was a young lady in front of me, and she had a child sitting in her cart. The cashier was shaking her head and returning the woman’s debit card to her. The lady slid it back into the scanner. Again it was rejected. A tear ran down the woman’s face. Her child, sensing her mom’s distress, also began to cry. Can you seize this unexpected moment and “evangelize?” Why not?

The first thing you have to do to be an effective evangelist is smile at people you do not know. Since you are an evangelizer, you have already smiled at both the woman and her child. Okay, she did not want to make new friends but trust me, she saw your smile. You have also noticed that her grocery cart has about thirty dollars worth of groceries in it. Your moment to begin evangelizing has arrived.

You take your debit card and ask the cashier to put the woman’s charge on your card (I do not do this very often). What do you think might happen? Here are a few examples from personal experience; a) The lady tells you, “Please mind your own business.” b) The lady tells you, “No, thank you,” She lifts the child from the cart and leaves the store.  c) The lady gives you a dirty look and says, “That’s not necessary  I have the cash right here.” d) The lady says, “Thank you,” and accepts your offer. e) You might have a few expletives thrown your way. You never know.

Paying it Forward

In this case, I am dealing with the d). You help her save face by saying, “Look, I’m paying it forward.” One of these days, you do something for someone else. That’s all there is to it.”

The lady gives you a final “thank you” and begins to leave. I call after her, “Maam, can you wait one second. I have something for you.”

She stops and waits while you check out.. My moment has arrived. I walk over to her and say, “I was wondering. Do you have Jesus in your life?”

I have thrown it out there, and now I wait. She sighs and looks at me. I sense her nervousness, so I quickly say, “No problem, it’s okay. I just wanted to give you this.”

Evangelizers must choose a primary tool

I have discovered that evangelists need a primary tool in their evangelizing kit. Most evangelists seem to have a Bible in their hand. Not me. I have a cross, a small cross. You cannot see it because it is in my pocket. It is 1.5 X 2.5 inches in size. It is made of  Olive Wood from the Holy Land and is blessed by a priest. I did not invent this idea, I found these crosses online. They are called Comfort Crosses or Caring Crosses. They have turned me into a quiet evangelizer. I love them. (If you want, you can find them online too).

I reach into my pocket, and I pull out the Comfort Cross. I hold it up between my thumb and forefinger and begin to explain to her what it is. She is just looking at me, but I cannot get a feel for what is going on inside her. I tell her, “Jesus loves you, and this Cross will keep you close to Him.”

She is pursing her lips, and I know it is time to finish what I started. I say to her, “Carry it with you in your pocket or purse. Take it to bed with you. Just always keep it close to you. Squeeze it and tell Jesus you love Him. Trust me, you will feel His love returning to you.”

This turned out to be a GOOD moment. A tear rolls down her cheek, and she blurts out, “You have no idea what this means to me. Thank you, thank you.”

The lady takes the Cross and, through her tears, smiles. She leaves the store, and I never expect to see her again.

I certainly am no Billy Graham or Venerable Fulton Sheen. But the moments for me to be a one on one evangelizer pop up in the strangest places. Supermarkets, gas stations, convenient stores,  auto repair shops, doctor’s offices, hospital lobbies, McDonald’s, and Walmart. I have handed out my comfort crosses in all of those places. And, of course, many of my attempts are not appreciated. It is okay. At least I gave it a shot. I figure they threw rocks at Jesus and look what He did for me; the least I  can do is try.

I will finish by mentioning the woman I profiled. Almost a year later, I was in the same supermarket. A lady comes up to me and says, “Oh my God, it’s you. I can’t believe it. Remember me?”

I was almost sure I did, but I was not positive. She says, I’m the person you gave the Comfort Cross to, and you “paid it forward for me. Remember?”

I sure did remember. “Yes, of course. How are you?”

She says, “I have been back to this store four or five times hoping to see you. And finally, here you are. I cannot believe I found you.”

I’m thinking, what does she want? I say, “Wow, I can’t believe it either. So why were you looking for me?”

“Well, I loved the Cross you gave me and carried it everywhere. And then I lost it, and I miss it so much.  I wanted to find you to see if I could get another one.”

Suddenly I teared up. I reached in my pocket and pulled out two crosses. “Here you go. You now have a spare.”

She gave me the biggest hug I could imagine and thanked me again. It was an evangelizing bonus. You never know what to expect when you evangelize.

One final thought. If you want to evangelize you have to be willing to talk to strangers. Once in a grocery store or a doctor’s office, or a lab for bloodwork, or wherever you may be, the opportunity is usually there. Take a chance—say “Hi” to someone nearby, talk about the weather, or even mention the cold pizza delivered to you. You never know if an “evengelizing moment” is coming your way.

Copyright Larry Peterson 2021


He Loved God, family, and Country. He became a priest, went to war, and laid down his life for his friends

Joseph Verbis LaFleur: The Priest Who Laid Down His Life For His Friends

By Larry Peterson

Joseph Verbis Lafleur was born in Villa Platte, Louisiana, on January 24, 1912.  He was the fourth child born to Agatha Dupre and Valentine Lafleur.  When Joe was a young boy, he began telling his mom that he would grow up and be a priest. He was so sure of his calling that he became an altar boy at the age of seven.

“I want to be a priest. Can you help me?”

During the early 1920s, the family came upon hard times and were forced to move to Opelousas, about 20 miles from Ville Platte. Their new parish would be St. Landry Catholic Church. The pastor was Father A. B. Colliard. The priest quickly sensed something special about young Joe and paid close attention to him. When Joe was 14, he nervously approached Father Colliard and said to him, “Father, I want to become a priest. Can you help me?”

Father Colliard happily agreed to help young Joseph. First, he met with Joe and his mom. After receiving her approval, the priest made arrangements for her son to enter St. Joseph’s Minor Seminary in St. Benedict. From there, Joe moved on to attend Notre Dame Major Seminary in New Orleans.

Joseph Lafleur never doubted for a moment his calling to serve as a priest. He received the Sacrament of Holy Orders from Archbishop Joseph Rummel of New Orleans. On April 5,1938, Father Lafleur celebrated his first Solemn High Mass at St. Landry’s, his home parish.  He was then assigned to St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church in Abbeville as an assistant pastor.

Joines the Army Air Corp as a Chaplain

While still an assistant pastor at St. Mary Magdalene church, he joined the Army Air Corps. The year was 1941, and the United States was months away from the attack on Pearl Harbor.

In July of 1941, Father Lafleur was sent to Albuquerque, New Mexico. His unit was the 19th Bombardment Group. Four months later, the 19th arrived at Clark Field in the Philippines. This was about 60 miles from Manila. Father Joe had told his mom before leaving that he “volunteered because all those other men being drafted had no choice.”

Just as it was at St. Mary Magdalene’s parish, Father Joe went about trying to organize the men on base into different activities. He would organize baseball games for the men who wanted to play baseball. He wanted to start a Holy Name Society for the men. He organized discussion groups so the guys could share their feelings of loneliness being away from home and family. His mind was always focused on helping the men, mentally and spiritually. He wrote his sister, Edna, that “once I get back to Louisiana, I will never leave again. But I am not sorry I came here.”

Last Letter Home

That was the last letter the family ever received from him. On December 7, Pearl Harbor was attacked. Clark Field in the Philippines was struck shortly after. Life was forever changed for Father Joseph Lafleur and many others on December 8, 1941. In May of 1942,  the Japanese conquered Mindanao, and the last of the American soldiers on the island were taken, prisoner. Among them was Father Joseph Lafleur.

POW

From May of 1942 until September of 1944, Father Joe never ceased ministering to his fellow POWs. He contracted Malaria several times and refused medicine because he believed others needed it more than him. He sold his watch and eyeglasses to the locals to procure more food for his brother prisoners. He even managed to build a small chapel called—St. Peter in Chains, where Catholic and non-Catholics alike could attend daily Mass. The ongoing, upbeat love and care he showed others, influenced many.

A POW named Bill Lowe had abandoned his Baptist faith. He watched how Father Joe never gave in and never despaired. He was always upbeat, loving Jesus, and doing his best to spread the Good News. When Lowe returned home, he became Catholic, and his son grew up to become a Catholic priest and Air Force Chaplain. Lowe reported that many became Catholic because of Father Joe’s example.

Gives his own life to save 83 men

On September 7, 1944, while being transported on a Japanese ship to Japan with 750 other Americans, the ship was struck by torpedoes fired by an American submarine. The sub’s captain and crew had no idea Americans were on board. Father Joe could have gotten off but refused until as many were saved as possible. He was credited with saving at least 83 men by helping them get out and swim to shore.

Father Joseph Verbis Lafleur leaves behind an unbridled legacy of love and compassion for others, including the Catholic faith he loved so much. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (twice), The Bronze Star, and the Purple Heart.

On September 5, 2020, he was declared a Servant of God when Bishop John Douglas Deshotel opened his cause for Beatification in the Diocese of Louisiana.

copyright©Larry Peterson2021


Did You Know that a Founder of Modern Europe might be Canonized?

SCHUMAN

Europeana Collections (CC BY-SA 4.0)

He was the Prime Minister of France and a Founding Father of Modern Europe. He is now climbing the ladder to Sainthood

By Larry Peterson

Robert Schuman was born on June 29, 1886, in Luxembourg. His father, Jean-Pierre Schuman, was a native of Lorraine. When his country was annexed by Germany in 1871, he was made a German citizen. Always French, his father left for Luxembourg, and his German citizenship was inherited by Robert. Robert’s mom, Evange Duren, also came from Luxembourg.

Robert’s secondary schooling took place from 1896 until 1903 at Athenee de Luxembourg. From there, he would move on to study law, economics, theology, philosophy, politics, and statistics at the University of Berlin. He received a law degree with the highest honors from Strasbourg University.

Begins Law practice

In 1912, Robert set up a law practice in Metz. When war broke out in 1914, he was called up by the German army but was excused from service because of poor health. From 1915 to 1918, he served in an administrative capacity for the German government. After the war ended, Alsace-Lorraine was returned to France, and in 1919, Robert became a French citizen.

Robert Schuman quickly became involved in politics. In 1919 he was elected as a member of the Chamber of Deputies. He was instrumental in drafting the reintroduction of French Civil and Commercial codes in Alsace-Lorraine, formerly under German control. Schuman also began investigations into the corrupt steel and railroads industries.

At the beginning of World War II, Robert, who possessed keen insight into the methods of the Germans, was asked to become a member of the French government as the man in charge of the refugees. The Nazis took control of France in May of 1940. As a member of French National Assembly since 1919, Schuman was immediately high up on their radar.

Arrested by the Gestapo

Robert was arrested by the Gestapo on September 14, 1940. The charges were “resistance and protest against Nazi methods.”  He was about to be shipped to Dachau when a German lawyer, who knew him well, intervened. His efforts kept Robert in prison in France. Robert managed to escape in 1942 and immediately joined the resistance. He worked with them until France was liberated in 1944.

After the war, Robert Schuman was a busy man. He was a founder of the Popular Republican Movement (MRP).  He served as Minister of Finance in 1946, Premier (Prime Minister) from November 1947-July 1948, and Foreign Minister from July 1948 to December 1952. In 1950, while Foreign Minister, he developed the Schuman Plan. This plan led to economic and military unity between Germany and France.

In 1958, the initiatives put in place by Schuman would eventually lead to the European Economic Community, better known as the European Common Market. Robert would serve as President of the Common Assembly (the consulting arm of the Common Market) until 1960.  He also served as Minister of Justice from 1955 to 1956.

“Father of Europe”

Besides participating in all of the aforementioned capacities, Robert Schuman was instrumental as one of the founders of the European Union and NATO. From 1958 to 1960, he was the first President of the European Parliament. At the end of his term, they awarded him the title of “Father of Europe.” In addition, the 1964-1965 academic year at the College of Europe was named in his honor.

Bible scholar and devout Catholic

Robert Schuman was a devout Catholic and a Bible scholar. His role in trying to break the seemingly never-ending cycle of wars in Europe has been praised by several popes. He was a proponent of the writings of Pope Pius XII, who despised fascism and communism. He was made a Knight of the Order of Pius IX. He was an expert in medieval philosophy, specializing in the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas. His quest for peace among people and nations was always rooted in his Catholic faith.

On Saturday, June 19, 2021, Pope Francis placed Robert Schuman on the road to sainthood by recognizing him as a man of “heroic virtue.” This means that Robert Schuman now holds the title of Venerable Robert Schuman.

Venerable Robert Schuman, please pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2021


These Three Nurses accepted Martyrdom rather than Deny their Catholic Faith

By Larry Peterson

This is about three young women. They were all Red Cross nurses but had been mistaken for Catholic nuns. The year was 1936, and the Civil War in Spain was raging. The Catholic clergy was a prime target for the government militia. The three nurses were taken prisoner by the rebel soldiers.

The innocent women, who were Catholic,  had come to help and treat the sick and dying no matter what side they were on. It was all about taking care of those in need. Inspired by their love for Jesus, they were simply following His way, demonstrating love and kindness the way Jesus taught. Even though they were not nuns, they loved their faith deeply and were not about to denounce it.

The three ladies were beaten, tortured, and treated in the most degrading and heinous ways imaginable. This cruel treatment continued all through the night and then, for the grand finale, they were shot to death. Their names were Maria Pilar Gullon Yturriaga, age 25;  Octavia, Iglesias Blanco, age 42; and Olga Perez-Monteserin Nunez, age 23.  

After inflicting their degrading and painful acts upon the women, their torturers demanded that they renounce their Catholic faith. Exhibiting unbelievable courage and saying over and over, “Viva Cristo Rey” (“Long live Christ the King”), they died “in odium Fidei” (“in hatred of the Faith”).

  • Nurse Maria Pilar Gullon was born on May 29, 1911, in Madrid, Spain. Her mom and dad were devout Catholics, and Maria became a member of Catholic Action and the Daughters of Mary in Astorga, Spain.  She taught catechism and worked with the poor and the sick. But her calling was to nursing, and she became a Red Cross Nurse and wound up at the front during the Spanish Civil War. She was captured by the militia and (as mentioned) died a martyr’s death on October 28, 1936.
  • Nurse Octavia Iglesias Blanco was born on November 30, 1894, in Astorga, Leon, Spain. At age 42, she was the oldest of the three women and tried her best to be the “big sister” as they were beaten and violated. They apparently all stuck together as best they could because they all died the same way, “in odium fidei” never giving  up to the evil being showered upon them.
  • Nurse Olga Perez-Monteserin Nunez was born on March 16, 1913, in Paris, France. At the age of seven, she moved to  Astorga, Spain with her parents. At the age of 23, she was the “baby” of the group but just as determined and dedicated to helping the sick, wounded, and dying as her older nursing sisters. When she reported for duty at the Red Cross headquarters she was assigned to the front, the same as Nurse Maria and Nurse Octavia.

Prior to their Beatification Ceremony on May 29, 2021, Bishop Jesus Fernandez Gonzalez of Astorga said, “These martyrs were not linked to either side—the Red Cross went wherever it was summoned, regardless of who was in control. Nor did they carry weapons or even use words to attack anyone. They were simply moved by human compassion and Christian charity, knowing the risks and dangers when signing up as volunteers.”

Bishop Fernando Gonzalez also said that the three women had clung to their crosses and forgiven their executioners, offering a “model of the Christian lay vocation.”

The Bishop continued by saying, “Although they were given the opportunity to apostatize, they did not do so. They were people with their whole lives ahead—only a great hope could have enabled them to renounce it, and only a great love could have sustained such hope. The testimony of martyrs offers a lifeline, keeping us afloat in the truth that liberates,”

The Beatification ceremony took place on Saturday, May 29, 2021, at Santa Maria  Cathedral in Astorga.  The celebrant representing Pope Francis was Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, Prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Saint’s Causes. The newly Beatified women were originally buried in a mass grave at their execution site. They were re-interred at the Cathedral in Astorga in 1948.


Don Ruggero M. Caputo –Apostle of the Eucharist–Recognized for “Heroic Virtue

Adoration Monstarnce no Flash                                                public domain

By Larry Peterson

He now bears the title of Venerable

Ruggero (Roger) Maria Caputo was born on May 1, 1907, in Barletta, Italy, located in the Italian peninsula’s southeastern section. He was born into a humble family with strong moral and religious principles. During his childhood and into his adolescence, he was fortunate to come under the guidance of Don Angelo Dimiccoli, a priest who loved his faith deeply.  Don Angelo had the ability to instill in his young students a strong desire to follow Jesus.. (Father Angelo would become Servant of God Archbishop Angelo Dimiccoli).

Father Angelo’s influence on Ruggero was quite powerful. When Ruggero was nineteen, he felt the call to the priesthood pulling at him. But he had left school in third grade to work in the fields. He now wanted to enter the seminary, but his education was almost non-existent. So he left his work behind him and found himself attending school sitting among third graders. He was determined to do what was necessary to become a priest. He wanted nothing less than to serve his Lord.

He studied hard to qualify for the Pontifical Regional Seminary so he could receive his high school education and move on to his theological studies. He worked intently and even had to squeeze in a year of military service for the province of Chieti. Ruggero never wavered in his quest, and on July 25, 1937, he was ordained a priest in the Cathedral of Barletta.

He was a simple and humble man content with being a shepherd

Don (Father) Caputo began his ministry serving an ongoing role as assistant pastor at many parishes. He was a simple and humble man and never aspired to high office. He was content with doing his work as a shepherd spreading devotion and love for God, and continually working to save souls.

During Don Ruggero’s lifetime, his deep love for God spread out to inspire at least a dozen vocations to the priesthood and over 150 women religious vocations. At the same time, he organized several lay apostolates for teens and young adults. His influence and success in fostering vocations came from his daily devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. Next to his love for offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, he loved Eucharistic Adoration. He spent as much time as he could in front of Jesus.

“He was a soul in love with the Blessed Sacrament.”

One of the women inspired by Don Ruggero to become a nun was quoted as saying, “Don Ruggero was a soul in love with the Blessed sacrament. We girls, if we needed his help, went to church to find him behind the column on his knees, on the ground, in front of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, absorbed in deep, silent, and mystical Eucharistic conversation. Here was the strength, the energy that he gave to us. This is what he put in our veins; to be all for Jesus.”

On July 1,1951, Don Ruggero Caputo was transferred as an assistant pastor to the Holy Spirit parish. This was the beginning of his moving from parish to parish because his superiors were alarmed at the notoriety Don Ruggero was receiving. The youth loved him and flocked to him, and his success with conversions had lit a fire of jealousy among the higher-ups. They were hoping to quiet the unexpected phenomenon.

“He forgave and consoled more than your own father—”

However, the more he was seen and the more women that heard him speak, the more his following increased. Sister Maria  Antonina said, “as soon as you approached him, you realized that he really loved Jesus and you.” Sister Antonia Distaso said, “He forgave and consoled more than your own father, even when he encountered opposition.”

Towards the end of his life, he was hospitalized with a painful illness that kept him bedridden. One of the nuns who was caring for him quoted Don Ruggero as saying, “Now I have to do my part. As St. Paul says, “I complete in my flesh what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ, in favor of His body which is the Church.”

Before dying, he said, “You will bury me underground among the people. Because even after I die, I want to stay a priest to the people.” Don Ruggero Caputo passed away on June 15, 1980.

On January 21, 2021, Pope Francis confirmed the “heroic virtues” of Servant of God Ruggero Maria Caputo. He now bears the title of Venerable, and his cause for beatification is moving forward.

copyright©LarryPeterson 2021