PBSI’S board of directors, clockwise from top: Fr. Bill Nordenbrock, C.PP.S. (black jacket); Sr. Karen Elliott, C.PP.S. (Dayton) (red cardigan, black collar); Sr. Maria Hughes, A.S.C. (magenta jacket, floral scarf); Phil Hartke of the CPPS Sisters of Dayton’s financial staff (white-red-blue plaid shirt); Sr. Joni Belford, C.PP.S. (O’Fallon) (gray jacket); Sr. Diana Rawlings, A.S.C. (pink polo); and Fr. Dave Kelly, C.PP.S. (black shirt).
The Missionaries of the Precious Blood in the United States are partnering with the Adorers of the Blood of Christ and the Sisters of the Precious Blood in Dayton, Ohio to create the Precious Blood Spirituality Institute (PBSI).
The PBSI will promote Precious Blood spirituality to the world, coordinating retreats and workshops, and offering volunteer opportunities where the spirituality is lived out.
“The institute will help us bring our spirituality to the world, at a time when the world sorely needs it,” said Missionaries of the Precious Blood, Cincinnati Provincial Director Fr. Jeffrey Kirch, C.PP.S.
The PBSI will also offer resources, teaching, and guidance to the members and lay associates of its partner congregations, helping them strengthen their own sense of Precious Blood spirituality and how it influences and informs their missions and ministry sites. The PBSI will work with each collaborating congregation to ask how the PBSI can best serve it.
The PBSI will also partner with Catholic Theological Union in Chicago to offer courses and support academic research and writing about Precious Blood spirituality. This partnership will be called The Robert Schreiter, C.PP.S. Institute for Precious Blood Spirituality at Catholic Theological Union (in brief, the Schreiter Institute).
The work of the PBSI will be guided by a board, the members of which will be appointed by the sponsoring congregations. Two directors—one for the PBSI, the other to further the PBSI’s work at CTU—are being sought to carry out the mission of the Institute. Fr. Bill Nordenbrock, C.PP.S. has been appointed interim director of the PBSI to begin the work of the Institute.
The Missionaries, the Adorers of the Blood of Christ, and the Sisters of the Precious Blood of Dayton have committed to support the PBSI financially, while the Sisters of the Most Precious Blood of O’Fallon, Missouri are collaborating in the project.
The dual approach of academic research and teaching, along with outreach such as workshops, retreats, and lived experiences in Precious Blood spirituality, is an important and innovative component.
A working group of members from each of the congregations has been helping the project take shape, envisioning ways that it can carry the Precious Blood message to the world.
Examples of Precious Blood spirituality lived out might be workshops and training led by the PBSI; circle training; and immersion experiences at the Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation in Chicago or at the border, for example. The PBSI could seek out partners who would offer volunteer ministerial placements. These opportunities would be offered to members and lay associates of the congregations, as well as to those who have no prior knowledge of the Precious Blood family or its spirituality.
While the partnership with CTU will allow the PBSI to introduce Precious Blood spirituality to a wide-ranging group of students and scholars, it may also undertake programs and partnerships at other institutions and ministry sites, such as the ASC’s Newman University in Wichita or the Missionaries’ Precious Blood Renewal Center in Liberty, Missouri.
It is a way for the congregations to ensure that the treasure of their Precious Blood charism will continue into the future, carried by a new generation. “Somehow, we have to put this message out. Our spirituality is really needed in the world today,” said Fr. David Kelly, C.PP.S., a member of the working group that helped make the congregations’ vision of the Institute come alive. “How do we promote our Precious Blood spirituality in and among our own membership—among the Missionaries, the Adorers, the Precious Blood sisters—and also in the world in which we live and serve?”
Precious Blood spirituality is lived out in many ways. For some, it is discovered through the Eucharist. Others see it in social justice issues. Other hallmarks are hospitality and a willingness to accompany God’s suffering people, as Jesus did. Some use it as a way to bring God’s reconciling love to the world.
For Sr. Maria Hughes, A.S.C. the PBSI will show the many facets of Precious Blood spirituality to people eager to explore it. “It’s my hope that this board and the executive director will use this great opportunity to work with all of our congregations and pull out the best of who we are and who we can be,” to share that with the world, said Sr. Maria, who is part of the working group.
The Precious Blood Sisters of Dayton, Ohio have placed a priority on spreading their spirituality beyond their own membership, said Sr. Donna Liette, C.PP.S., who served on the working group. “The important part in the first years of the Institute will be hearing from many voices: what is Precious Blood spirituality to you, and how can the institute bring this to the world?” she said. “Our founder Mother Brunner so hoped that her good work would continue long after she was gone. We hope the Institute will ensure that.”
The PBSI at CTU (The Schreiter Institute) is also seen as a way to continue the work and ministry of the late Fr. Robert Schreiter, C.PP.S., who spent his life as a priest at CTU and helped to articulate Precious Blood spirituality to generations of ministers of the Church. He also traveled around the world to help people suffering from civil and personal trauma see that they could find healing through the Blood of Christ.
Fr. Schreiter, who died in June 2021, was equally deft at both components: academic research, writing, and teaching, and living out what he learned and taught. It is hoped that the PBSI will have the same impact but in its own way. “We looked at how we could ensure that the work of Fr. Schreiter was not lost or ended,” Fr. Kelly said. “We felt it would be good to have an academic component, breaking open the spirituality from study, which then could lead to living it out in real-time and real places. That’s what Fr. Schreiter did. He took the theology and made it accessible to us—and we all benefited from that. He helped us really see the spirituality of the Precious Blood as something we lived out in our daily work.”
CTU is looking forward to the collaboration, said Sr. Barbara Reid, O.P., CTU president. “CTU is thrilled to partner with the Precious Blood communities to establish a new institute at CTU that promotes their charism of reconciliation and peacebuilding,” Sr. Barbara said. “Named for our beloved colleague Fr. Robert J. Schreiter, C.PP.S., of blessed memory, this institute will ensure that his groundbreaking work, and that of his brothers and sisters, will endure into perpetuity and imbue our students, and all who attend the PBSI programs, with his legacy of mission and ministry, most especially needed in the world today.”
The working group that brought the project to this point consists of Sr. Joni Belford, C.PP.S..; Sr. Maria Hughes, A.S.C.; Sr. Donna Liette, C.PP.S.; Fr. David Kelly, C.PP.S.; and Fr. Bill Nordenbrock, C.PP.S.
“One of the hopes of the PBSI is that we can expand the sharing of our spirituality beyond our congregations,” said Fr. Nordenbrock. “This will help us with evangelization. How do we go outside of ourselves in sharing this message? That’s our hope: sharing our spirituality beyond the current boundaries that we have. In this way, we hope to be good stewards of the spirituality that the Church has given to us.”