Father Moreau, Founder of the Holy Cross Family

Today marks the death of Father Basil Moreau (1799-1873), a French priest who founded the Congregation of the Holy Cross to addresss the pastoral and educational needs of the local Church, which was still recovering from the French Revolution. The community’s name is taken from the place where it was founded: Sainte Croix, a suburb [Read More...]

The Apostle of Japan

Today marks the death of Alessandro Valignano (1539-1606), the Italian missionary who oversaw Jesuit activity in Asia for over thirty years. He was among the first Europeans to master the language. It was Valignano who sent the great Italian Jesuit Matteo Ricci to China, but his real ambition was the conversion of Japan, a country [Read More...]

“The Snowshoe Bishop”

Today marks the death of Bishop Frederic Baraga (1797-1868), first Bishop of Marquette and the first Slovenian priest in America. Ordained in 1823, he answered a call for volunteers to minister to Michigan’s Native peoples. For nearly forty years he worked in northern Michigan, often traveling on snowshoes through harsh winter weather. He wrote the [Read More...]

“Whatever concerns the poor is always our affair.”

Today marks the death of Mother Joseph of the Sacred Heart (1823-1902). Born Esther Pariseau in Montreal, she joined the Sisters of Providence at age twenty. In 1856, she and four other sisters were sent to Fort Vancouver, Washington. In 1858 she founded the first permanent hospital in the Pacific Northwest, St. Joseph’s. By the [Read More...]

“He has done the greatest thing anyone can do.”

At the time of his assassination, plans were underway for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to make a retreat with Thomas Merton at Our Lady of Gethsemani Abbey. On April 5, 1968, Merton wrote to Coretta Scott King: Some events are too big and terrible to talk about. I think we all anticipated this one: [Read More...]

Founder of Christian Unity Week

Since today begins the week of prayer for Christian Unity, it’s a good opportunity to mention one of its founders, Father Paul Wattson (1863-1940). The son of an Episcopal priest, he was ordained in 1885. Over the years he felt a growing call to the religious life. In 1898 he and Lurana Mary White, an [Read More...]

An Apostle to the Slovak Immigrants

Between 1870 and 1920 some 650,000 Slovak immigrants came to the United States. A largely Catholic population, they had 241 parishes by 1930. Today marks the death of an early leader of the Slovak community, Father Stephen Furdek (1855-1915), the first Slovak priest in America. Born in Slovakia, he volunteered for the Diocese of Cleveland, [Read More...]

“You Are Just Like Jesus”

A 1959 Gallup Poll listed him as the seventh most popular person in the world (I’m not sure who the first six were). In his time, Dr. Thomas A. Dooley (1927-1961) was a Catholic folk hero whose humanitarian work in Southeast Asia won him the admiration of popes and presidents. Today marks his death of [Read More...]

A Woman Who Made a Difference

This day, as Pope Gregory XI entered Rome in 1377, officially marks an end to the Avignon Papacy (1308-1377), a period known as the “Babylonian Captivity of the Church.” For most of the 1300’s, the Popes were French. In 1308 Clement V (Bertrand de Got) moved his residence to France (seen above) after some trouble [Read More...]

“A Magnificent Priestly Dynasty”

During National Vocations Awareness Week, I’ve referred quite a bit to families with multiple vocations. As noted earlier, every diocese and religious community can fill in their own examples. (Over the years, it’s been estimated that nearly 350 Brooklyn priests had a relative previously ordained.) This photograph shows four brothers who all became Monsignors, the [Read More...]