Companions celebration at Sonnino House

On Sunday, July 7th, Northern California Companions gathered at Sonnino House in Berkeley for a belated feast day celebration. They also had two other reasons to celebrate. Timothy Guile made his first covenant with the community. Timothy began formation in San Rafael but had to move to Guam for family reasons. With some creative use of technology and learning about what time zone Guam is in,  the Companions were able to work with him to finish formation. The celebration was a chance for him to make his covenant in person with the  Companions he has come to know. They also celebrated the new gathering space that is being developed at Sonnino. This room will now have space for all the Companions to join together for gatherings, ongoing education and community events.

Winds of Change

Then he breathed on them and said:
“Receive the Holy Spirit…”
John 20, 22

Dear Friends,

I wonder if the sirens were blaring that first Pentecost when the disciples were gathered and “suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind”? This noise, like the sound people have described far too often around the Midwest this Spring as tornadoes have cut swaths of destruction, knocked the disciples off their game. Their game was to stay put, stand pat, tremble in fear, play it safe.

But the Spirit had other plans. The Spirit of God thrust them into the world to speak new languages. As Paul reminds us, “The love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Spirit of God dwelling within us.” Pentecost awakens the Spirit we already know lives and breathes within us. The Spirit is always with us. Unfortunately, we often keep her hidden in the basement of our souls or gathering dust in the attic of our minds, content to live and move and have our being as mannequins instead of men and women of the Spirit.

Saint Gaspar often noted we are “people of the Spirit.” Pentecost celebrates the Spirit stirring into flame the desire in the first followers of Jesus to continue his mission of mercy and compassion. Those tongues of flame that shoot like lasers into the hearts of those first followers caused all heaven to break loose. The wind of the Spirit freed the disciples from fear, awakened the power and potential already inside of them.

Each of us carries this breath of the Spirit with us from birth. But like those first followers of Jesus, we have breathed in so much fear, hurt, hate, and harm that sometimes we forget how to breathe, how to speak words of tender mercy, how to love one another.

In the Gospel story of the Pentecost event, the disciples are portrayed as a community hiding in fear in that upper room. But with a gentle breath and a greeting of peace, Jesus stirs their courage. Not immediately, of course; it would take a while for them to have the lung capacity to breathe peace instead of fear. They had inhaled so much foul air—the pollution of betrayal and greed, the smoking ruins of dreams gone up in flames, the Sulphur-like smell of evil—that it would take some time to fill their lungs with the sweet, crisp air of the Holy Spirit. But with this gift of the Spirit comes reconciliation and forgiveness, and the courage to spread that mercy to the ends of the earth.

Pentecost is a celebration of the Spirit—wind, fire, breath. The Spirit manifests Herself is so many ways: courage, wisdom, knowledge, understanding. The power of Pentecost is in unleashing the potential for good that already exists among us. Are we ready to embrace it? As Pope Francis asked in his first Pentecost homily as pope in 2013, “Are we open to God’s surprises? Or are we closed and fearful before the newness of the Holy Spirit? Do we have the courage to strike out along new paths which God’s newness sets before us, or do we resist, barricaded in transient structures which have lost their capacity for openness to what is new?”

This season of the Spirit invites us to set sail on new paths, carried on the winds of change. As a province, these prevailing winds will welcome a new leadership team on Monday evening, June 10, as Father Garry Richmeier, Father Dave Matz, Brother Daryl Charron, Father Timothy Armbruster, and Father Keith Branson will be installed as our new provincial and council. As we welcome the new, I want to thank the missionaries who have served us in leadership the past eight years—Fathers Richard Bayuk, Tom Welk, Ron Will, Mark Miller, and Jim Betzen. As provincial, I have been blessed to have their wisdom and counsel, their friendship and commitment to the community’s future.

I am also deeply grateful to the province staff who continue to serve all of us with fidelity, creativity, and initiative. The gifts they bring each day in the service of the community reflects the Pentecost story in advancing the gospel message and especially the charism of our founder and the spirituality of the Precious Blood.

As I prepare the take leave of the office of provincial, my appreciation to all of you, members, companions, volunteers, and friends, is boundless. Thank you for your encouragement, prayers, patience, and support these past eight years. I beg your pardon if my mistakes and missed opportunities have in any way hurt you. I trust in your mercy, compassion, and the bond of charity that serves as that holy thread that ties us together.

Robert F. Kennedy once said, “We can begin to work a little harder to bind up the wounds among us and to become in our hearts, brothers [and sisters] once again. The answer is to rely on youth—not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of will, a quality of imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease.” This becomes our Pentecost challenge as we embark on the New Creation.

And so, in conclusion, I offer this prayer and pray all to take good care:

Great and Holy Spirit,
whose breath gives life to the world,
whose voice is heard in the whisper of a gentle breeze,
whose force is found in the rush of a mighty wind,
You sweep us off our feet on this great feast of Pentecost.
With a sacred gust of grace, you make known to all peoples
the power of your pardon and peace.
With tongues of fire, O Great Spirit,
You create from many languages
a language of love to proclaim with one voice
the favor of your forgiveness and fidelity.

O Gracious God, during this season of the Spirit,
open wide the door of our hearts where all your abundant gifts are stored.
Open wide our minds to the wonders of Your Sacred Presence in all of creation,
and in all peoples of this earth.
We never cease to thank and praise you, O God,
for renewing our dreams, resuscitating our hopes,
and reviving the language of love we left for dead.
And so, with the breath of Your Son inspiring us,
we conspire with all peoples of this planet,
to breathe peace,
to be peace.
+ Amen.

With peace in the blood of Christ,

Joe Nassal, C.PP.S.
Provincial Director

Go Back to the Drawing Board

by Gabino Zavala, Justice and Peace Director

Last week the Trump administration announced a new immigration plan with family visas greatly reduced and no mention of Dreamers. This plan is not the just and comprehensive reform of our immigration system that we as a Precious Blood community envision in our corporate stance. The President and his administration must go back to square one to come up with a truly comprehensive, and just reform of our broken immigration system.

President Trump outlined his plan for “modernizing our immigration system for a stronger America,” where he aims to impose more new security measures at the border, dismantle the asylum process, and vastly scale back the system of family-based immigration which has allowed immigrants to bring their spouses and children to live with them. Over the last two years, this administration’s immigration policy has resulted in a ban on travel from six Muslim-majority countries, separation of families at the border, closing the border to asylum seekers and an obsessive desire to build a wall along the U.S.—Mexico border.

As Precious Blood Missionaries we are called to have a love and respect for the poor and the vulnerable in our midst and to recognize the dignity in every human being. It is because of this that we are called to advocate for migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. Our history tells us that this country was built by immigrants who left their homes under difficult circumstances to make a new life for themselves. This administration’s “new” plan does not address the reality of those who are presently fleeing from violence and oppressive poverty. President Trump forgets that America is stronger when we embrace diversity and work together.

The requirements of this new plan are not in keeping with the Gospel of Jesus, who welcomed all people. Therefore, we advocate that we meet the needs of all vulnerable people. This “new” plan sounds very much like the policies of the last two years, which has served as a sad narrative seeking to demonize and dehumanize our immigrant neighbors. We should urge our President and his administration to go back to the drawing board and find solutions for the common good.

Welcome to our New Companions!

Six new Companions presented their first covenants at liturgy during the Kansas City Province Assembly on April 30, 2019.  Please welcome Turf and Joann Martin who will be part of the Central Missouri Group and Evelyn Moreira, Jessica Reyes, Luis Lainez and Nestor Brizuela who have formed a new Companion group in Los Angeles at Saint Agnes Church.

2019 Precious Blood Assembly Recap

It was a packed four days in Kansas City. Close to 200 people participated in the various prayer services, discussions, and celebrations during the 2019 Kansas City Province Assembly.

During our opening prayer service, we remembered those in our community who have passed from this world. Of special remembrance were three former provincial directors who died during this past year: Fr. Tom Albers, Fr. Jim Schrader, and Fr. Jim Sloan. We welcomed six new Companions and celebrated the renewals of 15 current Companions during the Tuesday night liturgy. On Wednesday evening, we celebrated with eight members who marked their jubilarian anniversaries.

Tuesday morning, the community voted to move forward with the proposal for the New Creation of a single province with the Cincinnati Province. The Cincinnati Province will hold a similar vote at their assembly later this May.

The main business of this year’s assembly was the election of a Provincial Council. Fr. Garry Richmeier was elected the new provincial director. Fr. David Matz was elected the vice-provincial director/first counselor. Br. Daryl Charron, Fr. Timothy Armbruster, and Fr. Keith Branson were elected the second, third, and fourth counselors, respectively.

Fr. Ron Will was elected to be the delegate to the General Assembly. The General Assembly will be held in Poland in September. Provincial Director-elect Fr. Garry Richmeier will also attend the General Assembly. They will be joined by delegates from all the Precious Blood communities around the world.

We were able to post many photographs and videos to our Facebook (@CPPSKC) and Twitter (@CPPSKansasCity) pages. Please be sure to visit and like those pages!

Images from Prayer Services and Masses

Images from discussions, elections, and presentations.

Discernment Weekend

by Fr. Timothy Armbruster, C.PP.S.

Waking up to a dusting of snow on the ground in Chicago is no big deal, except when it is the end of March. We gathered in Chicago at Drexel House for our Lenten Discernment weekend on March 29-31. Fr. Steve Dos Santos and I, along with the men in the house, welcomed three inquirers for the weekend. Joining us were Elliot Rich from Chicago, Newton Lih from San Fransisco, and Connor Zink from Cincinnati. It was a wonderful weekend of sharing and reflecting upon our Precious Blood Spirituality. Frs. Lac Pham and Dennis Chriszt, as well as our students Matt Perez and Greg Evers joined us for the talks and sharing. Our talks on Saturday focused upon different aspects of healing. Fr. Lac’s talk focused upon our human woundedness and need for healing, Fr. Steve’s talk focused upon Jesus’ desire to heal us and wash us in His Precious Blood, and Fr. Dennis’ talk focused upon the call to share the love of Jesus with others.

Throughout the weekend we experienced the hospitality of the formation house with time for sharing, prayer, and meals. We concluded our time together with Mass at St. John the Baptist Church, in Whiting, IN. After the weekend, Newton was able to travel with me to Kansas City and got a chance to meet the staff and members at Precious Blood Center.

We continue to pray for those who are in discernment that through our prayers and conversations they may come to know God’s call in their lives.