In the Realm of Miracles

By Fr. Tony Fortman, C.PP.S.

Today we celebrate the ascension of the Lord. Jesus ascended into heaven body and soul in the presence of the Blessed Virgin Mary and his apostles. This is not the first time Jesus was suspended in the air. If we go back to the transfiguration, we see that Jesus was suspended in the air when he was talking to Moses and Elijah.

Many of us may think that supernatural experiences are not needed to needed to inspire our faith. That is true. Jesus said blessed are those who do not see but still believe. Yet we have the Eucharist change into real flesh and precious blood. As Christians, it is not necessary for us to have supernatural experiences, but God still chooses to work in that realm. We do believe a miracle takes place at every Eucharistic celebration. I do believe in the true presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. To me, the miracle is that the body and blood of Jesus continues to look like bread and wine. Because I know it’s the body and blood of Jesus.

To be honest, I have not had a lot of supernatural experiences. When I was visiting in our parishes in Lima, Perú in 1999, I was being shown around by a fellow C.PP.S. seminarian, Emanuele Lupi. He was later ordained and is now serving as our moderator general—but during that trip to Peru, where he was in ministry, he introduced me to a lady who was a teacher.

Nine years later, I was at Medjugorje when the same teacher approached me, although she did not know it was me. She asked me a question about faith. By then I had been ordained and was dressed as a priest. The miracle was that this lady teacher was from South America and I met her again in Eastern Europe nine years later.

On this solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, our hope is that our souls will ascend to heaven someday. We read in Scripture, “Our citizenship is in heaven and from it we await a savior.” This world is a testing ground.

Everything that happened to Jesus will happen to us. We will experience joy, pain, betrayal and new life. You and I are called to extend the mission of Jesus. Jesus ascended into heaven and is interceding for us to continue his mission. Let us give all we have to extend the reign of God. Glory to the Blood of Jesus, now and forever.

 

 

Fr. Tony Fortman, C.PP.S., is the pastor of the three parishes in the Catholic Communities of Northwest Dayton, Precious Blood, St. Paul and St. Rita.

 

A Powerful Passage

By Fr. Jeffrey Kirch, C.PP.S.  

The “Journey to Emmaus” is one of the most well-known stories in the New Testament. It is a vivid story that we can truly connect with. Two downtrodden disciples leaving Jerusalem…an encounter with a stranger to whom the disciples tell the story of Jesus’ death…the stranger relating to the disciples the whole of salvation history…and the climax of recognizing Jesus in the breaking of the bread. It is truly a powerful passage.

As a homilist, I’ve reflected and preached on this passage numerous times. Each time I highlight a different aspect of the story. Sometimes it is the recognition of Christ in the breaking of the bread, sometimes it is the burning of the disciples’ hearts. Sometimes, my mind is drawn to the image of the “journey on the road.”  The two disciples are leaving Jerusalem and traveling to Emmaus. They are going from one place to another place.

So many stories in Scripture involve a journey. Movement is a vital component of our spiritual life. Scripture is loaded with stories of journeys: Abraham, Moses, Joseph, the journey that led to the Nativity, Jesus’ journey up to Jerusalem, the journey of the first apostles, and the journeys of Paul.

And think about all the journeys we take in our faith, such as the annual journeys of Lent and Advent. There is the journey of coming to faith through RCIA. The formation journey that we all are on, as we move into a deeper and deeper relationship with our God.

The concept of “journey” is rooted in our faith, in part, because we associate it with the idea of progress. As Christians we are on a journey to God. That is what we are doing here on earth. While on the journey we strive to build up the Kingdom of God. As we progress, we grow closer and closer to God. As St. Thomas Aquinas taught, we come from God and we return to God. Fundamentally, life is that journey.

Thankfully, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, we do not make this journey alone. We are joined by others who help us when we stumble or take a wrong turn. But most importantly, we are joined by Christ. The First Letter of St. Peter directs us to “conduct yourselves with reverence during the time of your sojourning, realizing that you were ransomed from your futile conduct, handed on by your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold but with the precious blood of Christ as of a spotless unblemished lamb.”

Our journey continues. Through our redemption in the Precious Blood of Christ, we pray it brings us ever closer to God.

This reflection by Fr. Jeff Kirch, C.PP.S., was originally shared in 2020.

The V. Rev. Jeffrey Kirch, C.PP.S., is the provincial director of the United States Province. Previously, he served as the secretary general of the worldwide Congregation and was also in ministry at Saint Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Ind., of which he is an alumnus.

Volunteers Serve in Many Ways

By Tim Deveney

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of hearing Fr. Greg Boyle, SJ, speak at the Ignatian Solidarity Network’s Teach-in for Social Justice. Fr. Boyle said we need to not “settle for just shaking your fist, roll up your sleeves to create the place where we cherish each other with every breath.” Over the last 10 years, I have seen Precious Blood Volunteers do exactly this.

Precious Blood Volunteers is a ministry of the United States Province of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. Our volunteers serve at one of our placements in Kansas City or Chicago.

They are formed in Precious Blood spirituality by living in intentional community, walking with people who are suffering, and seeking reconciliation.

The program was created in 2008 by the Kansas City Province, to provide opportunities for lay people to live in service to others for a year as a part of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood.

Since that time we have had volunteers serving people at Catholic schools, health clinics, social service centers, a hospital, an LGBTQ service center, parishes, a legal aid clinic, and at the Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation. Our volunteers have gone on to careers in medicine, education, nonprofit management, ministry and engineering.

The volunteers who serve with us are often right out of college, but we have had people in other stages of their lives, including people in their 30s, 60s and 70s.

Our volunteers have served in a variety of roles, including teaching, mentoring, tutoring, campus ministry and coaching at Cristo Rey Kansas City High School. In Chicago at the PBMR, our volunteers have worked in arts and music programs, tutoring, the woodshop, the garden, and in peace circle training.

Currently we have four young people committed to serving with us and we are working on finding a few more to round out the 2023–24 cohort.

The volunteer cycle starts in late July with our orientation retreat at the Precious Blood Renewal Center (PBRC) in Liberty, Mo. During orientation, our new volunteers learn more about the Precious Blood spirituality and charism, have time to reflect on what they are being called to in their service, and better understand the expectations we have for them in their work and community life.

Each month they will participate in spirituality/justice nights, when volunteers share the blessings and challenges of the work they are doing.

Our volunteers also participate in two retreats and have other opportunities for spiritual growth. The mid-year retreat’s focus is seeing where God has worked in their lives over the first half of their term of service and to help them develop a focus for the last few months.

The second last retreat is the end of year at PBRC. At this retreat, volunteers reflect on how God has worked in their lives over their term of service and to see how they want to carry forward what they have experienced. We will help our volunteers find a spiritual director if they seek it out.

We would love to have your help in supporting our volunteers and the program in general. The most important item on the list is praying for them. Many of our volunteers have told me they felt the prayerful support of the Precious Blood community.

You can follow along with what is happening with Precious Blood Volunteers by following us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Links to those can be found on our website,preciousbloodvolunteers.org.

Tim Deveney is the director of the Precious Blood Volunteers program.

 

 

Mercy, Wrapped in Mercy

By Fr. Bill Nordenbrock, C.PP.S.

The first time that I preached on the Gospel account of the appearances of the Resurrected Christ to the disciples was the day after my ordination. As I reflected on this narrative then, what caught my attention was that Jesus needed to make a repeat appearance. At the Easter appearance Jesus had given the disciples his peace and his mission, but one week later the disciples were still locked away in hiding. What happened? Weren’t the disciples paying attention?

It seems that even the appearance of the Resurrected Christ was not enough for the disciples to put fear aside and to become missionary. So in my first Mass homily, I shared my prayerful hope that with the grace of God, my priesthood would be lived outside the safety of sanctuaries.

Forty years later, the context of my life has changed, and a different revelation speaks to my heart. Part of that changed context is since 2000, the Second Sunday of Easter has been designated Divine Mercy Sunday.

Recently I read a meditation that described God as being “mercy, wrapped in mercy, wrapped in mercy.” What a powerful statement about our God! This is the identity of God that is proclaimed in the second reading: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in God’s great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead . . . ”

The paschal mystery is the revelation and gift of God’s mercy. The life blood poured out on the cross was the mercy of God drenching all people. And the Resurrected Christ returned to his disciples to make sure that they got the message and the command to share that message with the world.

The mercy of God changes our lives; changes who we are. We become hope-filled missionaries carrying God’s mercy to all. If we are paying attention. If we have heard the promise often enough for the gift of mercy to be more than a gift from God, but also a commission to bear the Good News as a gift to be given to others.

In one of my favorite Scripture passages, St. Paul repeats this message. About the paschal mystery, he wrote: “All this has been done by God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation” (2Cor 5:18).

Today we hear again that the mercy of God has been given to us. Again and again, this is the story of God’s unfailing and unconditional love for us. So, let’s stop being afraid. Let us hear the Good News that seeks to transform our lives and accept the commission that sends us into the world to live lives that give witness to God’s mercy.

As I often proclaim in the dismissal rite when celebrating the Sacrament of Penance: Your sins have been forgiven. Go forth in peace and forgive others.

 

A former moderator general of the worldwide congregation, Fr. Bill Nordenbrock, C.PP.S., resides in Chicago. He serves as the provincial secretary and treasurer of the United States Province.

 

 

Fr. Edgar Jutte, C.PP.S., 1935-2023

Fr. Edgar Jutte, C.PP.S., 88, died at 12:30 a.m. on Monday, April 10, 2023, at St. Rita’s Medical Center, Lima, Ohio, where he had been a patient for several days. He died of complications following a fall at St. Charles Center, Carthagena, Ohio, where he made his home.

He was born on March 21, 1935, in St. Peter, Ohio, to Theodore and Mary (Dorsten) Jutte. He entered the Congregation in 1949 at Brunnerdale, its former high school seminary near Canton, Ohio, and was ordained on June 9, 1962.

After his ordination, Fr. Jutte was an assistant pastor at Precious Blood Church in Fort Wayne. In 1965, he volunteered to serve in the Peruvian mission.

Fr. Jutte returned to the United States in 1973, then served as a chaplain at the Maria Stein convent of the CPPS Sisters. From 1974-75, he ministered at Precious Blood Church in Fort Wayne. He became an associate pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Ottawa, Ohio, in 1976.

In 1978, Fr. Jutte returned to Latin America, this time to minister in Chile. He then returned to Peru in 1982, when he was assigned to ministry in La Oroya, a mining town far above the tree line in the Andes.

An injury forced his return to the United States in 1993. He served in parishes in Mexico from 2000-2013, when he retired to St. Charles Center in Carthagena, Ohio, where he lived for 10 years.

Fr. Jutte is survived by his only sister, Madonna Brunswick, Coldwater, Ohio; his brother, Thomas Jutte, Sidney, Ohio; a sister-in-law, Dorothy Jutte, New Bremen, Ohio; and several nieces and nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews.

He was preceded in death by brothers Mark Schwieterman and his wife, Rosemary; Orval Schwieterman and his wife, Helen; Roger Schwieterman and his first wife, Dorothy, and his second wife, Dolores; his brother, Donald Jutte; brother-in-law John Brunswick; and sister-in-law Vivian Jutte.

Fr. Edgar had a strong constitution and strong faith to go with it. When he served in La Oroya, he took on ministry in small, remote villages, hiking out with only a few necessities. That was the way he lived out his vocation. But he also nourished it; he enjoyed reading theological texts and then discussing new ideas with his fellow Missionaries.

He was devoted to the people of God and to his religious congregation. Missionaries would play cards some evenings and trade stories about legendary C.PP.S. Missionaries of yore. Fr. Edgar would comment, “Well, the age of characters is gone.”  and his fellow members would respond, “Sure they are!” They would cast significant looks at Fr. Edgar, who never minded jokes and pranks at his expense. Quick witted, he would wait for an opportunity to pay them back in kind.

A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated on Tuesday, April 18 at 2 p.m., with Fr. Jeffrey Kirch, C.PP.S., provincial director, presiding. Fr. Tom Brenberger, C.PP.S., will be the homilist. Burial will follow in the Community cemetery.

Calling hours at St. Charles will be held in the Gaspar Room on Monday, April 17, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and on Tuesday until the beginning of Mass.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, United States Province.

Fr. Joseph Hinders, C.PP.S., 1936-2023

Fr. Joseph Hinders, C.PP.S., 86, died at 3:50 p.m. Saturday, April 8, 2023, at St. Rita’s Medical Center, Lima, Ohio, where he was being treated following a fall at St. Charles Center, Carthagena, Ohio, where he made his home.

He was born on November 18, 1936, in Celina, Ohio, to Homer and Emma (Pax) Hinders. He entered the Missionaries of the Precious Blood at Brunnerdale, their former high school seminary in Canton, Ohio, in 1951, and was ordained on June 8, 1963.

Fr. Hinders taught at Cardinal Newman High School, Santa Rosa, Calif., after his ordination. He ministered at St. Joseph Parish in Wapakoneta, Ohio, and Holy Rosary in St. Marys, Ohio, before volunteering for the Missionaries’ mission in La Oroya, Peru in 1966.

He served there for four years before returning to the U.S. in 1970, when he was appointed an instructor at Brunnerdale. In 1981, he was transferred to Florida where he ministered to farm workers in the Diocese of Orlando. He also ministered at Resurrection Church in Winter Garden, Fla. He returned to Ohio in 1984 then ministered to the Hispanic community in Dayton.

In 1988, he requested a leave from the Community. He was laicized in 1994. In 1990, he married Mercy Escobar. He and Mercy lived first in South St. Louis where he worked for the St. Louis Department of Corrections, then in El Salvador, where he taught English. Mercy died in 2007.

In 2009, he requested to be reincorporated with the Missionaries. He received permission and was definitively incorporated and reinstated as a Missionary of the Precious Blood on May 25, 2010. He served as parochial vicar at St. James the Less Parish in Columbus from 2010-13 then retired to St. Charles Center in Carthagena, Ohio. There, he helped tend the Community garden and ministered in area parishes as needed, particularly at St. Bernard Church in Burkettsville, Ohio.

He is survived by his adopted son, Juan Carlos Hinders, Baltimore; his sister, Marita (Gene) Pitstick, Akron, Ohio; a sister-in-law, Doris Hinders, Kettering; and numerous nieces and nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews.

He was preceded in death by his brother John, John’s first wife, Jean, and his second wife, Virginia; his brother Urban; and sisters Mary (Richard) Rutledge and Louise Hinders.

Fr. Hinders had a searching mind and a wry wit. His gentle, introspective nature did not mean he wasn’t paying attention; his observations were usually on-target yet never to be feared. He was extremely kind and appreciated anyone who walked into the room. He liked taking care of people, and enjoyed his association with St. Bernard Parish in his later years. He wanted to be of service.

He also appreciated God’s creative powers, especially in the form of flowers. He was a conscientious gardener who knew how to make things bloom. Even when his physical strength ebbed and he was no longer able to spend much time outdoors, he surrounded himself with pictures of flowers, a reminder of hope and grace.

A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated on Monday, April 17, at 2 p.m., with Fr. Andy O’Reilly, C.PP.S., presiding. Fr. Jim Gaynor, C.PP.S., will be the homilist. Burial will follow in the Community cemetery.

Calling hours at St. Charles will be held on Sunday, April 16 from 1:30-7 p.m., and Monday until the beginning of Mass.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, United States Province.