We Do Not have to Go It Alone

A New Year’s message from our provincial director, Fr. Jeffrey Kirch, C.PP.S.

I am not one of them, but I have heard about people making New Year’s resolutions.

Usually, these are cast in the first person: I will quit smoking. I will learn a new skill.

I am here with good news: if you hope to grow in wisdom, knowledge, or fortitude in the coming year, you do not have to go it alone.

These gifts come to us through and from the Holy Spirit. Life, we hope, is a long journey of enlightenment. We want to think that we are far wiser than we were 10 or 20 or more years ago.

Was that our own doing? Some of it was, perhaps. But the farthest leaps in understanding always come to us when we plug into the power of the One who created the universe.

So if we want to use this year as a time when we see more clearly and understand more deeply, all we have to do is ask for inspiration and guidance from the Holy Spirit. And then follow the light that the Spirit always provides.

The Miracle Presented Anew

By Fr. Jeff Kirch, C.PP.S., Provincial Director

Francia, Francesco; The Nativity of Christ; Glasgow Museums; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/the-nativity-of-christ-83994

On behalf of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, serving the people of God around the world, I would like to wish you and your family a very merry and blessed Christmas.

“All around the world” has been on my mind. Earlier this month, I was in Rome to attend a meeting about religious life. I am still thinking about all those good men and women who minister to the people of God in so many ways.

Today they are celebrating Christmas in many ways, each according to their culture and customs. But each in awe of the newborn who changed the world for all of us. 

The central truth of Christ remains the same across time and cultures. But the way that we embrace the Truth is very personal. The universal and the intimate—it is a paradox that God cares about the whole world and each one of us. God is the creator of the universe and is embodied in a child too young to walk.

Let us all join in this worldwide celebration today with a continual sense of wonder that this miracle is presented to us anew. That we see it through our own eyes, yet share the Good News with all the Earth.

New Symbol for the United States Province

by Jean Giesige, Dayton Office

When the Missionaries of the Precious Blood created their United States Province from the former Cincinnati and Kansas City Provinces earlier this year, they knew they would need a new symbol for this new entity.

The process of creating a new symbol began as it ends, with the Missionaries of the Precious Blood.

Four Missionaries were asked to participate in a discussion of their own call, their experience of the Congregation, its mission, and their understanding of Precious Blood spirituality.

They did a deep dive into the Congregation’s identity. One question they were asked: If the Congregation was a person, what would be its personality traits? Some of their answers were: “Empathy; a person who really listens; nonjudgmental; integrity; looking at current events and ready to respond in love; respect for others; compassionate; spiritual; humble.” 

Their thoughts were distilled and sent to a design firm that came up with the first round of symbol design drafts. The committee of four Missionaries took a long look, rejected a few designs outright, made recommendations on the rest, and set the designers back to work. 

The drafts that made it through that initial process went on to the Provincial Council. Council members studied the design drafts, rejected some, and asked the artists to refine others. The drafts went through several more rounds. The council studied not only the symbol design but the words that went with it. 

Council members were unanimous on the design that they ultimately chose. Elements of the design include the cup, cross, and covenant. The wine that is filling the cup is both flowing in, representing God’s Spirit infused into the Community, and flowing out to the world. It shows movement, because “Missionaries are not statues,” as St. Gaspar said.

“This process has allowed us once again to talk about who we are and how to present that to the world,” said Fr. Jeffrey Kirch, C.PP.S., provincial director. “I appreciate the input of the council and of those four Missionaries who talked so vividly about their vocation and the identity of the Congregation that we all love. The new symbol was born out of all of that. I hope we can embrace it.”

St. Gaspar, a Child of the Magi

By Fr. Ben Berinti, C.PP.S.

As we celebrate the feast day of our founder, St. Gaspar del Bufalo, the Missionaries in this country do so, for the first time, as the United States Province. That should give us a jolt of energy, since this is our invitation to rebirth, our time of renewal. And our founder was all about renewal, revival and reveling in the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ.

Ever since our founding Assembly in June 2022, I keep returning to the image of St. Gaspar as a “child of the Epiphany,” born on that feast day, and continue to contemplate what implications this could possibly have for us as we live out our commitments and covenants to the Congregation and the mission of St. Gaspar for our times.

What a glorious feast of the Church on which to be born, even if it did mean he had to bear the heavy burden of the strange names his parents bestowed upon him, Gaspar Melchior Balthazar del Bufalo Gaspar carried not only the traditional names of the Magi, but he inherited their questing spirit, their vivid imagination, their fearlessness in the face of a grueling journey, and the wonder that they displayed upon finding the incarnate Son of God.

But as much as St. Gaspar embodied the qualities of the Magi, he was not only a “child of the Magi,” but also a “child of the Shepherds.” While the Magi brought their exotic element to the wonder of the Incarnation, they were not the first witnesses to the Word Made Flesh. It was to the working, poor, unwelcome mundane shepherds that the invitation to come and worship was first proclaimed—not by a star, but rather by an angelic chorus.

And yet, these two sets of people, and what they represent in the Gospels, hold one thing in common—something important to our founder. Both the Magi and shepherds lived on the fringes of the society and culture into which the divine was incarnated. And this reality also finds its way into the heart, soul and zeal of St. Gaspar.

St. Gaspar leaves us the task of also embodying a life on the fringes, a life reaching out beyond the rigid boundaries so many want to create in our day—a mission that not only looks to the stars for big and bold dreams, but also a mission that has its feet firmly planted on the ground where the less than exotic needs of our brothers and sisters still cry out for the Word Made Flesh.

As a child of the Magi, St. Gaspar truly lived the meaning of the great feast of the Epiphany—recognizing the divine presence, especially in the Blood of Christ, dwelling within our world and us. And he not merely recognized it but responded to that revelation by offering his unique gifts for the renewal of God’s people.

May we honor our founder today and each day going forward by doing the same!

Fr. Ben Berinti, C.PP.S., is a provincial councilor with the United States Province. An author, preacher and pastor, he is in ministry in Melbourne Beach, Fla.

Kansas City Province Statements on Ukraine

Our Lady of Zarvanytsia

Our Lady of Zarvanytsia

Anguish and Suffering in Ukraine
from Gabino Zavala, Justice and Peace Director

As Missionaries of the Precious Blood, we join people around the world in praying for the suffering people of Ukraine. We pray for peace. As always, war is a deadly failure and is not the answer no matter what reasons the Putin-led Russian government has given. We condemn the Russian invasion and bombing of cities throughout Ukraine.

We applaud the Biden administration’s ongoing efforts to resolve the crisis through diplomacy. We condemn the use of violence by the Putin-led Russian government. We call on all involved—Russia, Ukraine, Nato—and all nations to prioritize protecting human life by promoting the cessation of hostilities.

Over a century ago Pope Benedict XV warned against the “useless slaughter” of war. Today Pope Francis and the Bishops of Ukraine echo his warning. We stand with them is saying that war is always a failure of humanity. All of us are aware of the devastating consequences of war, in which the poor, the infirm, the marginalized are always the first victims.

Our hearts are with the people of Ukraine who are in anguish as they endure the violence, suffering, and devastation that this Russian invasion has brought upon them. Our hearts should break for lives lost and people displaced from their homes. We stand with the people of Ukraine who defend their homeland and cry out for peace. Let us join our voices to the plea of Pope Francis, “War, never again!”

Statement on the War in Ukraine and Provincial Donation for Relief Efforts
from the Kansas City Province Leadership Council

As Missionaries of the Precious Blood, our charism calls us to stand with all who are marginalized and oppressed, and we stand against the use of violence to assert power and control over others. The Russian leadership’s assault on Ukraine is immoral and a total disregard for human life and liberty. We condemn this action, and we encourage others to join their voices with ours. The people of Ukraine are our brothers and sisters, and we support them with our prayers and our voices, as we call for an end to the violence. We want to offer assistance to the many Ukrainian refugees fleeing the fighting. To this end, the Kansas City Province is sending $20,000 to Catholic Relief Services for Ukrainian refugee support. Please consider supporting our Ukrainian brothers and sisters in whatever way you can. Let us continue to pray for peace throughout the world, especially in Ukraine, and that the Spirit may soften the hearts of all leaders to end aggression and violence.

Virtual Masses

Wondering where you can attend Mass virtually? Here’s a list of Kansas City Province parishes, and others who offer Mass online. They livestream via Facebook, so you’ll need an account to view the Masses live.

St. Mary of the Visitation, Ottumwa, Iowa, https://www.facebook.com/StMaryChurchinOttumwa/

St. Mary’s, Centerville, Iowa, https://www.facebook.com/stmaryscentervilleiowa/

St. Mary’s, Albia, Iowa https://www.facebook.com/StMarysAlbia

Most Holy Redeemer Parish, San Francisco, California https://www.facebook.com/mhrsf/

St. James Parish, Liberty, Missouri https://www.facebook.com/StJamesLibertyMO/

St. James Parish, Kansas City, Missouri https://www.facebook.com/stjamesmidtown/