Tag Archives: charity

St. Vincent de Paul—Some facts about his life you may not know

St. Vincent de Paul                                         Wikipedia commons

By Larry Peterson

I have been a member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society for twenty-five years. At present I am not active but being part of this organization has allowed me to interact and work with the least and most marginalized of God’s people. My affiliation with the society has allowed me to experience some of the most uplifting moments of my life.

Those who reached out to us were always in dire straits. They had no food, had been evicted, could not pay for life-saving medication, had no water, had no gas or electricity among other necessities of life. There were even those who had no shoes.  Somehow, we always managed to help anyone who came to us. If we did not have the capabilities, we were able to forward them to a place that could.

I mention those things because it all goes back to the example and inspiration displayed by one man; St. Vincent de Paul. On his feast day of September 27, here are a few things you may not have known about this great saint.

  • The first one is; St. Vincent did NOT found the St. Vincent de Paul Society. It was named in his honor by Frederick Ozanam, the 20-year-old student who modeled the society after St. Vincent’s works and teachings. The highlighted link will give you Frederick’s story.

 

  • Vincent de Paul was captured by pirates and sold into slavery. Desperate for money Vincent was notified of an inheritance he had received from an elderly woman who knew him. He had made the journey to Bourdeaux to claim the estate. Disappointed that the inheritance was mostly needed to satisfy a debt, Vincent headed back to Toulouse. The ship he had taken was attacked by pirates and most of the crew was killed or wounded, including the captain. Vincent and the other passengers were taken into chains and sold into slavery and taken to Tunis. Vincent remained a slave for two years before escaping with another and making it back to France.

 

  • Vincent could have been a “community ” Upon returning to France he was working in a church in the country. The area was so poor many people actually died from starvation. Vincent was horrified and began contacting old friends, many of whom were wealthy, asking for help. He formed groups and they went from house to house seeking clothing, food, and furniture. They were so successful that word spread and other parishes asked to be taught how to organize such efforts. Vincent’s organizational skills began being emulated all over France.

 

  • Vincent de Paul was the founder of a religious order called The Vincentians. Under Vincent’s rule, those who entered ministry pledged to devote their lives to the spiritual and material needs of the poor. Later on Vincent, along with Louise de Marillac, founded the Sisters of Charity. The work started by Vincent de Paul expanded to opening hospitals, orphanages, and homes for the mentally ill. His work also included serving prisoners and slaves.

 

Vincent de Paul died on September 27, 1660. He was canonized a saint on August 13, 1729 by Pope Benedict XIII.

It is not sufficient for me to love God if I do not love my neighbor. I belong to God and to the poor.” –St. Vincent de Paul

St. Vincent de Paul, please pray for us.

 

 

 

An Example of the Dark Side of Secularism—attacking the Knights of Columbus

Knights of Columbus Color Guard                                                                    kofcknights.org

By Larry Peterson

I am not going to use any names here. There is no point. Everyone knows who is who.

The Epiphany of the Lord for 2019 will be celebrated on January 6. The entrance antiphon  will read, “Arise Jerusalem, and look to the East and see your children gathered from the rising to the setting of the sun.”  Baruch 5:5

How fitting as we hear how the three wise men from the East, followed the brilliantly shining Star using it as their guide to lead them to the Savior of the world. They were seeking out Goodness and Love, and all they wished to do was worship the One who brought it.

Flash forward 2000+ years and we head into the year 2019.  Two political “rising stars” from the West (who also happen to be United States Senators; one from California and one from Hawaii)  have decided to attack a man who has been named for consideration for a seat on the United States District Court in Nebraska. They are pounding the print and media with their message saying this man is not qualified to be a judge because his views are “extreme.” They know this because he is a member of the Knights of Columbus. Herod would be proud.

The Senator from Hawaii has decided that the Catholic views on abortion and same-sex marriage held by the Knights of Columbus are “extreme.” The Senator from California depicted the Knights as “an all-male society” and asked the judicial nominee if he was aware that the Knights of Columbus “opposed a woman’s right to choose” and were against “marriage equality.” In the new democratic party approving of abortion and same ex-marriage seems to be the litmus test as to whether or not you are “good or bad.”

Those two senators are not the only two trashing the judicial candidate for being Catholic and a member of the Knights of Columbus. Most of those who call themselves “Democrat” is too. These people seem to think that the desire to honor and protect life and traditional marriage (you know, between a man and a woman) makes you an ‘extremist”.

Why even the incoming Speaker of the House, a “devout” Catholic, proudly teaches that abortion is a woman’s “sacred right.”  This flies into the very core of Catholic teaching and is an abomination created for political gain. What has happened to truth, honor,  and integrity?

Here is the thing; I am a member of the Knights of Columbus and have been a member since 1964. I also have another 1.9 million men around the world whom I call “Brother.” You see, we Knights are all Brothers and proud of it.

We proudly proclaim our core principles of Charity, Unity, Fraternity, and Patriotism without shame or hesitation.   We respect and defend life all over the world. We (the Knights of Columbus) donated over $185 million and  K of C Service hours valued at $1.9 billion in 2017.

Our charitable activities include the Christian Refugee Relief Fund, Disaster Relief, the Ultrasound Initiative, Coats for Kids, Special Olympics, the Global Wheelchair Mission, and Habitat for Humanity. Plus so much more at the local levels by so many K of C Councils spread from coast to coast and around the world.

So you see, when these very important people decide they do not like our principles and beliefs and think they are picking on only one person (Re: Brett Kavanaugh) they are not. They are trashing millions of people and 1.9 million of them are members of the Knights of Columbus.

One final thought, the senator from California, suggested that the Knights of Columbus is  “an all-male society. She might do a bit more research because she obviously has never heard of the Columbiettes. They are the womens’ branch of the Knights of Columbus and this year they celebrate their 80th anniversary.  Yes, we Knights work hand in hand with our Columbiette Sisters and together, we do great things for others.

From Venerable Fulton J Sheen:   There is no word more “dangerous” than liberalism, because to oppose it is the new “unforgivable sin.”

 

On the Fifth Anniversary of her Passing: Remembering a future saint: Mother Antonia Brenner aka The “Prison Angel”

By Larry Peterson

Mother Antonia Brenner Praying with Prisoners in La Mesa prison

Mother Antonia Brenner Praying with Prisoners in La Mesa prison

This is a love story. No, it is not about romantic love. Rather, it is about the love of

Christ exploding in the soul of a woman who ran with her God-given gift and did her best to shower it upon some of the meanest and worst criminals in Mexico.

This is about Mother Antonia Brenner, who was born in Beverly Hills, CA, was married and divorced twice, had seven children and ultimately became known as the “Prison Angel” of La Mesa Prison, the worst and most dangerous prison in all of Mexico.  Mother Antonia died five years ago on October 17. On the anniversary of her passing, I just thought I would remember her with a few words.

Mary Clarke was born in Beverly Hills, Calif.on December 1, 1926. Her dad, Joe Clarke, was a successful businessman and Mary and her two siblings grew up surrounded with affluence and the glitz of the movie world. One thing was certain about Papa Joe. No matter how good life was for his family he made sure his kids were always taught to help the less fortunate. The desire to help others would blossom in Mary and was one day destined to explode. However, before the “explosion” Mary embarked on a circuitous life journey.

Mary married at 18 and had three children. The first died shortly after birth. That marriage ended in divorce and then Mary married again. The wedding took place in Las Vegas and it was to a man named Carl Brenner. She and Carl had five children together but ultimately, that marriage also ended in divorce. Mary had somehow distanced herself from her strict Catholic upbringing. No matter, it seems that the Holy Spirit had his eye on Mary Clarke her entire life. It was time for Him to shower His grace on His daughter.

Mary became more and more involved in charity work and has her seven children got older she began to visit La Mesa Penitentiary to deliver donations such as food, medicine, and clothing to the prisoners. The plight of the prisoners at La Mesa began to impact her greatly and as time went by her growing compassion and love of neighbor would become focused on these people. They would become her specialty, her ministry, her purpose in life.

In 1977, after her kids were grown and her second divorce was final, Mary gave away her expensive belongings, moved out of her home in Ventura and headed to La Mesa. She had received permission to move there. Her new home was to be a 10′ by 10′ cell. She would live as any other inmate, sleeping in her concrete cell and having only cold water and prison food. The amenities in her room included a Crucifix on the wall, a Bible and Spanish dictionary nearby and a hard, prison bed. In the morning she lined up with the other prisoners for roll call. This was to be her home for the next thirty years.

The story of how this twice divorced woman and mother of seven kids from two marriages was accepted by the Catholic Church as a Sister and founder of a new order can be found at the links provided. Suffice it to say that as time went by Sister Antonia became “La Mama” (Mother Antonia) aka The Prison Angel,

“La Mama”. The Prison Angel

Mother Antoni© Brenner praying with prisoners.. courtesy eudistssisters.org

She walked freely among the drug traffickers, thieves, murderers, rapists, and others touching cheeks and offering prayers. Many of these people were among the most violent and desperate of men. Yet she happily walked with them and comforted and consoled them and held their heads between her hands as they were dying.

Mother Antonia Brenner truly saw the face of Christ in each and every prisoner she came in contact with. She loved them all. Why else would hardened criminals, some who had never loved or been loved,  call the diminutive woman who hailed from Beverly Hills, “La Mama”? They loved her in return.

I believe that one day Mother Antonia Brenner will be canonized a saint and inducted into the “Catholic Hall of Fame”. She was an example for each and every one of us showing us how to selflessly “love our neighbor” no matter who they might be.

N.B. Mother Antonia founded the order known as The Eudist Servants of the 11th Hour. The word, Eudist, is taken from St. John Eudes, a 17th-century priest, and founder of the Eudists Order and the Order of Our Lady of Charity. The 11th Hour indicates that the Eudists sisters accept women in life having a second calling. They must be at least 45 years-old to enter the order.

©Copyright Larry Peterson 2018