“Roamin’ Catholics”

by Phillis Fuller-Clipps, Cleveland Western Reserve, Ohio Companion

image of Cleveland Western Reserve Companions of the Missionaries of the Precious BloodPrecious Blood spirituality is the welcoming feeling you receive when you enter a parish or a room for the first time and you feel at home. It is feeling appreciated as a person; it is being welcomed to share your gifts and talents with your church community. It is being missed when you do not attend Mass. It is the overwhelming feeling of “Hey, where have you been?!” when you return to Mass after missing a few Sundays for whatever reason, with no questions or judgement. It is the love and support you receive through the struggles of life just by attending Mass.

Our nurturing and spiritual stories as African American Catholics in Cleveland are intertwined with the history of St. Adalbert/Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament (sa/olbs) and St. Edward parishes. Both were staffed by the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and Precious Blood priests, brothers, and sisters. We learned life lessons about faith, family, perseverance, and challenging work. Some of us attended Catholic schools and were taught the value of daily prayer and discipline. Some of us are converts as a result of our children becoming interested in the Catholic faith while attending St. Adalbert school.

Our introduction to Precious Blood Companions was a courtship. Our pastor invited a group of us to dinner, where he prepared the meal, we had light conversation and discussions about spirituality and Precious Blood Companions. In retrospect, he served us and taught us about Precious Blood spirituality the same way Jesus served and taught his disciples. There were about fourteen of us; nine completed the process to become Companions and have enjoyed our relationship with the Precious Blood community since 2005.

These are the lessons and charisms we learned from our Precious Blood priests and brothers for over seventy-two years, but when our parish was suppressed in 2010, we were forced to see how unloving, unwelcoming, and unappreciated we really were as African Americans in the larger Catholic Church. We visited approximately fifty churches within the Cleveland diocese. Sadly, the ethnically-centered churches (Hungarian, Sloven, Slovak, Polish etc.) tended to be the most indifferent as well as intolerant.

Because we understand that Catholicism is really “universal,” we continued undaunted and revisited places that were unwelcoming, not to intimidate or agitate, but to show that we are the Church, not our nationality or the color of our skin. Some treated us the same as the first visit, while others were more welcoming. The coldest comment we heard was, “We hope you find a parish.” The most insensitive gesture we experienced was when no one would join the line we were in for Communion but joined a separate line. During the same Mass, the priest refused to distribute the Blood of Christ, leaving it on the altar. It should be noted that though this occurred in a Hungarian parish, it is located in the heart of the African American Community. The church had the appearance of being closed, but we found the Mass schedule on the Diocesan website. Thank God for technology.

We were not looking for a church home; we were being challenged to continue the life lessons we had learned through our relationships with the Precious Blood community while appealing the decision to close our parish. We had become “Roamin’ Catholics.”

The visits had a range of eye-opening experiences, both positive and negative, and gave us opportunities to form and continue relationships. Along our journey, we met people from other churches that had been closed who appealed their parishes’ closings. Like us, some of those parishioners had begun visiting other parishes or just stopped attending Mass. The Mass was and continues to be important to us because we are one with Jesus each Sunday that we gather at the table of God and share in the Eucharist. The body and blood of Jesus sustains us always, gives us the encouragement, energy, and hope to continue. 

During the appeal process, we gathered with former sa/olbs parishioners in January to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.; early summer for Black Catholic Sunday at the Sorrowful Mother Shrine in Bellevue, Ohio; and in the late summer for a healing Mass with Fr. Gene Wilson. We also continued to gather monthly as Companions, visit with fellow Ohio Companions for an annual gathering that rotates between Cleveland and Columbus, as well as attend retreats at Maria Stein and St. Charles.

Finally, exactly two years after our parish was closed, it was allowed to reopen. Although we were delighted, we were also heartbroken because the Precious Blood community had taken its leave from Cleveland and would not be returning. We worked through our adjustment with a diocesan priest using the circle process with the assistance of the Precious Blood community to help us express our fears, expectations, strengths, and weaknesses. 

We Companions met with our new pastor and a Precious Blood priest at the main altar of our church. It was a very difficult and rewarding process. We were able to openly and honestly express how each felt about the two years without our parish, the loss of Precious Blood community, and the acceptance of a diocesan priest. We were able to acknowledge our differences and were reminded it was new situation for each of us. We shared stories of our spiritual growth and traditions. Most importantly, we learned of our similarities. We agreed to disagree and work together to glorify God and carry his message in our community.

Our new journey has been challenging. Over sixty percent of our parish members had joined a new parish, stopped attending church, changed churches, or had passed away. All of the “Roamin’ Catholics” returned to sa/olbs and have served as church leaders and organizers. Developing a relationship with our new pastor was difficult for us because we longed for the spirituality we had experienced with the Precious Blood community that wasn’t there with our new pastor. He is a wonderful person, and we have grown to know, love, and trust each other. We were blessed to learn that he had volunteered to be our pastor when he learned we would be allowed to reopen. And so we let go of the past, treasure our memories, and forge ahead with new relationships, a new beginning, and the opportunity to continue to share our lessons learned. 

We continue to share our Precious Blood spirituality with everyone who attends our parish. We continued the practices and lessons learned from the Precious Blood community.

Tapping the Wine Cellar-August 19, 2021

Please join Fr. Keith, Vicky, Tim, and special guests, Companions Gretchen Bailey and Pat Large for August 19th’s Tapping the Wine Cellar! We hope you can take some time to explore the readings for Sunday using this video as a jumping-off point.

Tapping the Wine Cellar will take a break as we prepare for a new project that explores the book In Water and in Blood: A Spirituality of Solidarity and Hope by Fr. Robert Schreiter, C.PP.S. Watch the website and our Friday emails for more information when we are ready to invite people to participate.

 

A Celebration of the Kansas City Province

On August 15, we celebrated the founding of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood (1815) and the Kansas City Province (1965). Tthe Kansas City Province gathered to remember the last 56 years as a Precious Blood community in the Midwest. We took time to celebrate the accomplishments and most of all, the people as we prepare to create a new United States Province later this year. May God bless our province, people, and the work we do. 

Please enjoy the slideshow we shared that celebrates the last 56 years.

Tapping the Wine Cellar-August 6, 2021

Please join Fr. Keith, Vicky, Tim, and special guests Sr. Donna Liette, C.PP.S. and Fr. David Matz, C.PP.S. for August 5th’s Tapping the Wine Cellar! We hope you can take some time to explore the readings for Sunday using this video as a jumping-off point.

REMEMBRANCE OF HIROSHIMA AND NAGASAKI

from Gabino Zavala, Justice and Peace Director

At 8:15 am on August 6, 1945, Hiroshima became the first city to suffer an attack by a nuclear weapon. Many were immediately incinerated. Thousands more died in the next four months because of the effects of nuclear weapons.

Three days later, on August 9 Nagasaki was also attacked by a nuclear bomb. Historically, Nagasaki was the center of Japanese Catholicism since 1549 when the Jesuit Missionary Francis Xavier began his missionary work in Japan. That day 8,500 of the 12,000 Catholics were killed.

The cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki commemorate the bombings every year. They have made a commitment to ensure that the memory of these horrific attacks is not forgotten and to continue to pass on  information about the bombings so that we might work for nuclear disarmament and world peace.

Nuclear weapons continue to be a serious threat to human life and to all of God’s creation. Justice and Peace are intimately linked with the issue.  Where there is armed conflict, injustice thrives, and injustice provides fertile ground for violence. This time of commemoration of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki can help us to focus on prayer, reflection, and action on behalf of peace and nuclear disarmament.

PRAYER IN REMEMBRANCE OF HIROSHIMA AND NAGASAKI

May the God of Peace, the God of healing be with you,
may the love of Christ dwell deep within your hearts,
may the spirit enlighten your way.

We remember the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
We stand in the presence of all those who perished.
We pray for the victims of these unspeakable atrocities.

We elevate the voices of those who have witnessed the destructive power of nuclear weapons.: the Hibakusha, the Pacific Islanders, the downwinders.

We pray for those who awoke on a beautiful morning and saw the sky suddenly rain down fire. Thousands were instantly incinerated, many others severely burned.

In the homes, streets, gardens of those cities the agony and suffering began with flames smoke and destruction.

We ask for forgiveness again, seventy-six years later. And we will continue to ask for forgiveness.

We ask you in the midst of this broken world where nations raise weapons against other nations, where innocent women, men, children and the elderly are the victims of violence, that we learn to act as peacemakers.

May you inspire us to create a peaceful world.  May we call our leaders to accountability and to remind them  that more weapons of war do not bring peace. Make us a peaceful people in a peaceful world. Amen.

Celebrating the Month of the Precious Blood

by Fr. Jerome Stack, C.PP.S.

As we celebrate the month of the Precious Blood, the following suggestions may be useful.

While St. Gaspar did not leave us an extensive treatise on the Precious Blood, some of his writings and sermons on the topic have been collected by the late Beniamino Conti, C.PP.S., and were published in English translation as Standing at the Cross: The Preaching of Saint Gaspar del Bufalo (C.PP.S. Resources Series 36, 2017).

Another member of the Italian Province, Tullio Veglianti, C.PP.S., has published a book of daily meditations for the month of July. An English translation is available as The Blood of Christ: A Month of Meditations (Missionaries of the Precious Blood, 2018). Each day has a theme that is expressed in a reading from Scripture, followed by a reflection, a reading from a spiritual author, intercessions and a closing prayer. It is suitable for private or group use.

The late Robert Schreiter, C.PP.S., has published several books on Precious Blood Spirituality. The most important of these is In Water and in Blood: A Spirituality of Solidarity and Hope, originally published in 1988 and now available in a revised edition (Orbis, 2007).

A book of particular interest to members of religious congregations is Barry Fischer, C.PP.S., The Cry of the Blood: The Challenge of Refounding (Messenger Press, 2004).

I have uploaded several resources to a Dropbox folder which may be of interest. The proceedings of the first three Precious Blood Study Weeks contain a number of articles that deserve attention today, more than 50 years since the third Study Week was held in 1968. John Colacino, C.PP.S., of the Atlantic Province, has compiled a course of readings and prayer for the month based on the structure of the Office of Readings. There is a scripture reading for each day and a reading from a spiritual author. The latter readings are on a three-year cycle while the Bible readings are the same each year. Also in the folder is an article on St. Catherine of Siena and the Precious Blood. The folder may be accessed at   https://bit.ly/3vzfVYW

Finally, there are a number of articles on the spirituality of the Precious Blood on this website, that of the Cincinnati Province (https://cpps-preciousblood.org), and the site of the General Curia (https://www.cppsmissionaries.org).