You may say, “I don’t know if I’d like all that
contemplative stuff.” Well, I admit I do. I also admit I was once a
weird kid who prayed up in the big maple tree in our front yard. But
there’s nothing weird about breaking away from the busyness of
everyday life to pray, meditate and reflect for a while. There’s
nothing strange about silence, a rest from the noise that surrounds
us daily. As a quote from the Passionist web site says, “Happy is
the person who reflects on the life giving passion of our Lord. He
will be humble, trustful, thankful and loving towards Jesus who is
our justice, our sanctification and our redemption.” –St. Vincent
Strambi, Passionist Bishop.
So the next
time you need a spiritual boost, think Passionist. You’ll be warmly
welcomed, whether you’re part of a group or a party of one.
to comment on your beautiful website. It is one of the very best I have
seen. It is informative, based on your spirituality & truly a welcome sign to
me, I am 64 and after working 27 years in Church Ministry I have recently
retired. I am married and have 3 sons, 7 grandchildren........I am blessed
abundantly as you see. I always had a very deep spot for religious life &
although happy and content in my present life it is something that is very
close to me.
you peace in the New Year & please pray for us. I will pray for you
especially those in formation. I loved the video of the
profession...........it was so beautiful. Thank you for welcoming us into
Blessings & God's love,
My introduction to
St. Paul of the Cross
by Shawn Reeves
I first encountered St. Paul of the Cross, quite
literally, by way of a relic of the Saint that a priest had when I first came
on the pastoral staff of St. John's Catholic Newman Center in the summer of
2001. Since I had never heard of St. Paul of the Cross, I
researched his life and discovered that he had founded the Passionists.
I was intrigued to find that much of the spirituality that I had been drawn to
near that time was a reflection of this great Saint. Indeed, most of all, I
was shocked at how I had seemingly coincidentally stumbled upon this lover of
Christ's passion during the same time when the Holy Spirit began to draw my
own prayer life into deeper reflection on the sufferings and wounds of Christ
and my union with them. As the Lord gradually led me into a fuller
appreciation of the Passion, a powerful desire for humility, and a conviction
of my utter dependence and "nothingness" before God, I knew the Lord had
introduced me to a true spiritual kindred in St. Paul of the Cross, and I have
had a devotion to him ever since.
The paper on St. Paul of the Cross was written for a Christian Spirituality
course that I took for my graduate studies toward my MA in Theology from
Franciscan University of Steubenville. For our term paper, we
were given the option of investigating and writing on any Saint/Mystic of our
choice - I chose St. Paul of the Cross because, though I had a devotion to him
already, I still had very little knowledge of his life, writings, and
spirituality at that time. Needless to say, after writing the paper I
understand him more and appreciate more deeply his fervent devotion to Christ
and His Passion, as well as his utter humility and and confidence in the Lord.
Read Shawn's paper....In
the Side of Christ: The Spirituality of St. Paul of the Cross
The Passionist Nuns of Whitesville,
by Fr. Victor Hoagland, CP
The ancient Celts called them “thin”
places, places where heaven and earth come close.
Since their founding in 1771 by St. Paul of the Cross and
Mother Mary Crucified Costantini in Tarquinia, Italy, the Passionist Nuns have
given the world places apart where prayer ascends to God and God’s blessings
descend on his people below. A world looking for bearings–like our own–needs
“thin” places like these.
In the rolling Kentucky hills and
farmlands outside the town of Whitesville, 16 women religious carry on a daily
rhythm of prayer and work in one of the newest convents of the community.
Growing numbers of laywomen and men are finding their way to St. Joseph’s
convent at Whitesville to be associated with the nuns and nourished by the
St. Joseph’s is one of almost 30
communities of Passionist Nuns found throughout the world, from Italy, to
Indonesia, Korea, Japan and the Philippines. In the United States, besides
Whitesville, there are convents in Pittsburgh and Scranton, Pennsylvania and
Ellisville and Erlanger, Kentucky.
The chapel, monastery and retreat house
of St. Joseph at Whitesville were built in 1995 after the nuns decided to leave
their monastery in neighboring Owensboro, Kentucky, which needed extensive
repair. With boundless trust in St. Joseph, who cared for the Child Jesus, they
bought the present 170-acre site of spacious woodlands and a quiet lake as a
backdrop of earth and sky for their rhythmic life of prayer and work. Their
12-room retreat house and spacious chapel are open to others who want to share
in their life of prayer.
“We believe we ‘re on holy ground
here,” Mother Catherine Marie, the superior of the St. Joseph’s convent says,
“and it’s ground dedicated to the mystery of the Passion of Christ. We celebrate
the Eucharist and the prayer of the Church here. We believe the praying Christ
is here, and we can change the world by the power of his Passion.”
The nuns believe strongly in their
vocation to change the world. “We are a voice of the praying Christ in his
people. We are a voice for the people who don’t know how to pray,” Mother
Catherine Marie explains. The nuns reach out by prayer and personal contacts to
the world beyond them and today they’re using a new means of communication to
attain their goal – the Internet.
The site (http://www.passionistnuns.org/)
is directed to people far and wide, providing information about St. Joseph’s,
its various retreat programs, on-line books and meditations about Passionist
spirituality, and an invitation to young women to consider a vocation to the
community. The lively response so far to their Internet ministry has surprised
them; recent vocations have come from it. A printed newsletter “From the Foot of
the Cross,” also let’s others know about St. Joseph’s.
Living on holy ground can be a daunting
task, just think of Moses who met a challenging God on the holy ground of Mount
of Sinai. What draws a woman to this high calling?
Ask Sr. Mary Agnes, who celebrates 25
years as a Passionist Nun in May 2006. Vickie Higgs grew up in Owensboro and
early on was attracted to the women religious, the Ursuline nuns, who taught
school there. Graduating from high school, she wanted to enter the community,
but her father urged her to go to college and work for a while instead.
Vickie began a series of careers,
rising to be a successful office manager for a local car dealer and then head
bookkeeper for a Savings and Loan Association. She played guitar at parties and
affairs with Boots Randolph and his band; she did car commercials on TV. She had
a full social life and the security of good jobs; the notion of becoming a nun
faded from her mind.
As a student, however, Vicki made some
retreats at the Passionist Nuns’convent in Owensboro and occasionally visited
there with her aunt who knew one of the nuns. She found herself regularly
attending Benediction at three in the afternoon on Fridays in the convent
chapel, and then coming for daily Mass. One quiet Friday afternoon as she prayed
in the chapel she was filled with a simple conviction: “The One who died for you
She decided to enter the community in
Now Sister Mary Agnes, she settled into
the routine of the community and learned its ordinary duties, but gradually she
was called to use the skills she had learned in her working days in Owensboro.
In 1992 she was elected superior and led the nuns to their new home in
Whitesville–prayer book in one hand and blueprints in the other. Today, she’s
still breaking new ground as the community’s “web woman” in charge of its
When asked what stood out in her
experience of the Passionist life over the years, Sister Mary Agnes replied:
“The fidelity of God. He is worthy of complete trust no matter what we ask him
to do, no matter how impossible it seems. If God wants it, he will make it
An ancient Love draws the women of St.
Joseph’s together. “Jesus Christ loved us so much,” says Mother Catherine Marie,
their present superior, “that we want to make a lifelong return for love. Love
is repaid only by love.” She thinks that “Each believer is writing another
chapter to the Gospel of the Passion,” and so the community is also dedicated to
fostering the spiritual life of men and women who have become affiliated with
Seen from a distance the chapel and the
other buildings of St. Joseph’s seem inseparable from the rolling Kentucky
countryside around them, solidly anchored to the earth. Yet, as the day passes,
the lake on which they’re set catches the passing clouds and suggests that
heaven and earth are not really separate at all. This is a “thin place,” and the
blessings of God fall on it. --Fr. Victor
"I just noticed,
you have a way to see what Retreatants say... but
what about what
Personally, I am really glad
that you are in our community. We need you, we need your prayers, you are
special to us, more than any of us know. Thanks for being here."