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Friday, April 18, 2014

Fr Robert Chapa Bringing the Gospel to Sailors Readying for Deployment

This story was taken from the US Navy Website, April 16th, 2014.

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Robin W. Peak, USS Makin Island (LHD 8) Public Affairs

PACIFIC OCEAN - A MV-22 Osprey with engines roaring waits on the flight deck for its next mission. Fueled up and pilots on station, only one more passenger needs to board: Lt. Robert J. Chapa, Roman Catholic chaplain aboard USS Makin Island (LHD 8).

Transported by “Holy Helo,” a term used for helicopters transporting chaplains, Chapa, from Robstown, Texas, landed on the deck of USS Comstock (LSD 45) Sunday, and Roman Catholic Sailors and Marines aboard were given the opportunity to attend Palm Sunday mass.

This was Chapa’s first trip visiting another ship in the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG).

Comstock does not have a Roman Catholic priest permanently assigned to its chaplain department.

“One of our jobs as chaplains is to facilitate so that everybody has the opportunity to worship,” said Cmdr. Timothy Moore, from Easley, S.C., command chaplain aboard Makin Island.

There are two chaplains on Comstock, two on USS San Diego (LPD 22), and Makin Island has four. Lt. Chapa is the only Roman Catholic priest in the entire ARG.

“There are only 48 Roman Catholic priests currently serving as active duty chaplains in the Navy, so we’re spread out thin,” said Chapa. “That’s why it’s important that I go out to other ships to provide that service.”

Upon arrival on Comstock, Chapa and his assistant, Religious Programs Specialist 2nd Class Paul M. Ludlam, from Dearborn, Mich., wasted no time preparing the chapel on board for service.

Moore also said that moving forward into deployment, he would like to get Chapa out to each of the ships in the ARG at least once a month to minister and perform services.

“He’s an excellent priest,” said Moore. “I am very pleased with Father Chapa’s willingness to be able to do exactly what our mission is as chaplains. He’s called to serve and is willing to serve. It’s important for everybody to have an opportunity to worship.”

The service lasted roughly 45 minutes and was given to approximately 20 Sailors and Marines collectively aboard the Comstock.

Sailors aboard Comstock expressed their gratitude for Chapa’s visit.

“Father Chapa's mass was very refreshing,” said Ship’s Serviceman 3rd Class Albert Raymond Bruan, from West Orange, N.J. “It is important to strengthen faith especially in trying times like training cycles and deployment.”

Lt. Byron T. Johnson, Chaplain aboard Comstock expressed his appreciation for the service.

“Our ship really appreciated Chaplain Chapa's visit,” said Johnson. “We have many Catholics onboard and it is a blessing to have a priest willing to fly in to provide the religious needs of our service men and women.”

At 1 p.m. the following day, Lt. Chapa once again boarded a “Holy Helo” and left Comstock to return to Makin Island.

“I enjoyed going out to the ships. The Sailors were very welcoming,” said Chapa. “It was all good.”

Makin Island ARG is in the Amphibious Squadron Marine Expeditionary Unit Integration Training (PMINT) phase in preparation for its upcoming deployment.

For more news from USS Makin Island (LHD 8), visit

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Two New SOLT Deacons for the Church

The following two SOLT brothers were ordained deacons today, Saturday, April 12, 2014 at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, in Detroit, Michigan, by Bishop Montforton.

Deacon Jeremy Davis, SOLT 

Deacon Beau Schweitzer, SOLT

In his rousing homily, bishop Montforton said that they are called to be deacons forever, not temporarily, but that they are configured to be servants of the people.

Deacon Schweitzer, in a heartfelt word of thanks, assured the people that, just as they had given Jesus Christ to the ordinands in their formation, so now in Sacred Diaconate, they would try to give Jesus to them in service.

In providing the Church with such servants, it is God's way of showing his people that he will continue to care and guide them.  We are very grateful for the gift of these new deacons.

Let us pledge to pray for them as they serve the Church.

Sharing the Evangelii Gaudium, the Joy of the Gospel by Fr Peter Marsalek

The following article was taken from the Spring 2014 SOLT Mission Magazine:

Dear Friends of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity,

The recently published Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, is pertinent to all Christians, but holds particular elements that are especially relevant to religious missionary communities. After reading the exhortation, there are a number of points that really struck me, a couple of which I will share below.

The first is the joy that should be present in the life of Christians, and in a particular way in the life of consecrated people. Giving one’s life entirely to the Lord is certainly a challenging path, but being able to dedicate one’s life in prayer, community life and in service to the Gospel is also an amazing privilege. By being joyful, not merely in a superficial way, but in an enduring, abiding manner, religious missionaries witness to the fact that it is always worthwhile to give one’s life to the Lord. Through their intimacy and communion with God, consecrated people are called to be a sign of the joy found in heaven! There is no more effective evangelizing instrument than the person who witnesses the profound joy of a life given to Christ. It is a testimony that must be present in order to give authenticity to our belief that we are called to live in communion with God in this life and the next.

As the General Superior of SOLT, one of my responsibilities is to visit the many missions of our community. One of the key indicators that I look for as a sign of the effectiveness of a SOLT team in mission is the joyful and peaceful spirit of the members of the team. Wherever authentic, abiding joy is present, almost certainly there is a corresponding effectiveness in the pastoral ministry of the team.

One of the other illuminating points of Pope Francis’s exhortation which I would like to mention here is the notion that our life is meant to be a mission that is constantly striving to share the Gospel with others. There is no taking a vacation from the work of evangelization or from religious life! There are always people to meet, people to speak with, and people in need of hearing the essential message of our salvation: God loves us personally; He became one of us in Jesus Christ; He died for us to save us from our sins; and, He opened the pathway for us to live with Him as His children. While it may not be easy to be an expert in all areas of Catholic doctrine, each of us can surely appreciate the great importance of sharing this essential message.

Following the exhortation of Pope Francis, I pray that each of us will be joyful missionaries who constantly look for opportunities in our conversation with others to share the cause of our joy, happiness and hope—Jesus Christ.

Fr. Peter Marsalek, SOLT

General Priest Servant
Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity 

Friday, April 11, 2014

American Regional Assemby, May 26th - June 1st, will Celebrate the "Joy of the Gospel"

2013 SOLT Chapter at Our Lady of Corpus Christi, TX
From Monday, May 26th to Saturday, June 1st, 2014, there will be a SOLT Regional Assembly at Our Lady of Corpus Christi, TX (click here for directions).  The theme this year is taken from Pope Francis' new apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, the "Joy of the Gospel."

The events will include:

The 90th birthday celebration of SOLT Founder, Fr James Flanagan on May 29th

May 27th - Profession of First Vows

May 28th - Selection of new regional servants (superiors) of priests', sisters', and lay communities

May 29th - Perpetual Profession of Sisters

May 30th - Mission Reports

May 31st - Priestly Ordinations

June 1st - Thanksgiving Masses of newly ordained priests

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Two Men to be Ordained SOLT Priests on May 31st at Corpus Christi Cathedral

On Saturday, May 31st, 2014, at 10am, at Corpus Christi Cathedral (click here for directions), two SOLT Deacons will be ordained to the Sacred Priesthood of Jesus Christ by His Excellency, the Most Reverend Wm. Michael Mulvey, Bishop of Corpus Christi, TX:

Deacon Tristan Abbott
Deacon Michael Slovak

We ask you to kindly keep them in your prayers.

Their Masses of Thanksgiving will be celebrated as follows:

Rev. Father Tristan Abbott, SOLT

Sunday, June 1st, 2014, at 7:30am
Our Lady of Corpus Christi Adoration Chapel
1200 Lantana St, Corpus Christi, TX 78407, USA

Sunday, June 8th, 2014, at 11:30am
St Ignatius Catholic Church
597 Walkers Rd, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands

Rev. Father Michael Slovak, SOLT

Sunday, June 1st, 2014, at 10am
Christ the King Catholic Church
3423 Rojo St, Corpus Christi, TX 78415, USA

Sunday, June 8th, 2014, at 10:30am
Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church
4445 Avenue A, Beaumont, TX 77705, USA

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Six SOLT Sisters to Make Perpetual Promises May 29th in Corpus Christi

On Thursday, May 29, 2014, at 10am, at St Joseph Catholic Church in Corpus Christi, TX (click here for directions), the following Sisters of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity will make their perpetual profession of solemn vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience:

Sr Mary Elizabeth Albers

Sr Kateri Marie Benedicta of the Cross Burbee

Sr Rejoice Mary Hoedoafia

Sr Maryam Caritas Sparke

Sr Jean Marie of Corpus Christi Walker

Sr Maria Caritas of the Cross Wendt

We ask you to kindly keep them in your prayers.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

We Are Hope Brokers in Hell by Fr Antonio Anderson, SOLT

Photo by Elizabeth Torres, StarTribune
The following article appeared in the Notre Dame Magazine for UND alumni, Spring 2014

“What was I thinking? I had way too much dinner — now, if I get shot in the gut, I’ll get peritonitis for sure.”

Those words ran through my head one night in 2011 as I drove to the hospital to anoint a parishioner; and no, I am not a psychiatrically certified paranoiac. I run a parish in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, a city that has seen hundreds of violent deaths over the last several years.

This morning I received an email from the local U.S. Consulate that advised about the dangers of travel in Mexico. Kidnappings, the message warned, have doubled in number in this northern state of Tamaulipas; to blame for these “threats to safety and security” are the “Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) working in the country.”

I am glad to see that the consul doesn’t tell the whole story. He didn’t write, for instance, that Nuevo Laredo is the international headquarters for the most feared and violent cartel in Mexico. (That organization will go unnamed here, for my own safety.) Carjackings, the consul might have said, are the task of only the incoming novices in the organization. Torture, murder and executions of entire families is the trade of midlevel members. Beheadings were not mentioned either. Ten days ago we celebrated Masses for three young men who died eight blocks from the parish in that fashion, in broad daylight, in an open field. The parishioner witnesses still shudder.

Other parishioners have nightmares about the street executions of mafiosos at the hands of the military. A hundred yards from our Chapel of Santa Isabel, six young gang members who had relinquished their arms to the soldiers after a gunfight were forced to kneel and receive a bullet each.

Then there are the nameless victims. At our Santa Rosa chapel, which is surrounded by several acres of mesquite trees, it is not uncommon to offer Mass with the stench of a decaying dog in the background. The government-run services do not efficiently remove all the refuse in the newer, nearby settlements, so the mesquite patch is a favorite dump site. Those at Mass told me one muggy day, however, that what we had assumed to be a canine was discovered to be a human corpse — an unidentified, “nameless” young male.

“Why are you there?” asked the worried ladies at a wedding reception in Laredo, Texas, just north of the Rio Grande. “Don’t go back. Why don’t you stay here where it is safe?” The answer for my team of religious and for me is that we are hope-brokers in hell. We are here offering God and His joy and peace where it is most needed. I serve with three religious sisters — a Guatemalan, a Mexican and a Texan — and a brother priest who is a ’79 Notre Dame grad, and we believe God wills us to be here. This is His mission, and the nucleus of the mission is to reveal His unfailing love.

God is love, we learned in grade school catechism in Chicago or Houston or wherever we grew up, but here in the midst of a civil war in which, by some estimates, 100,000 Mexicans have been killed throughout the country in the last six years, it is essential to reiterate that revelation: God is love.

God is medicine for this human hemorrhage. Pope Francis untiringly calls all Catholics to go to the periphery of existence and offer joy and peace to the sorest and saddest. This you can do among your relatives and neighbors, he says; go to the abandoned elderly in your midst or the black sheep of the family. We missionaries do that here on the periphery of the human family. Jesus’ Incarnation and Crucifixion are perennial lessons in the gratuitousness and splendor of His love, but He still relies on missionaries to preach that He came and He cares. Emmanuel is here in Nuevo Laredo, too.

Christ’s way

We have, of course, many local teachers in Christ’s way. Before celebrating a funeral Mass for a gang member killed by the military, I spoke with his mother, who said her son had been in the cartel for only two weeks. I knew the lad; I had on occasion given him work watering the parish trees. She said that when he joined the gang she prayed he would be killed before he was obliged to murder. Her prayer was answered.

Then there are the wives and mothers and grandmothers who have lost their men and boys, and they decide to forgive. They come to Mass to pray for their desaparecido, their disappeared, and then they come to Mass to give thanks when a missing boy is discovered alive, or they come to pray for his soul when a body is found. And they forgive whoever it was — a rival gang member? the commander in their son’s own gang? the soldiers? They never find out in many cases, but “Pero no importa, Padre, yo los perdono.” “Whoever it was, I forgive him.”

We also have teachers of patience and detachment. I think of Piedad, who lost muscle function and feeling in her legs because of a car wreck. When the rats in her house started eating her toes as she slept, she didn’t find out till the next morning. God bless her. Bandages were all she asked from me. From a hill in our parish territory near Piedad’s house you can see across the Rio Grande to the hotels, hospitals and orderly streets of Laredo, Texas. It is surreal that so close to Nuevo Laredo there is peace and prosperity, but God is here, too, and amid the suffering, fear and injustice live thousands of beautiful children of God.

The service-adventure is nonstop. Among a hundred other tasks our team performed on a recent day, we met with a family that brought in a severed foot to be blessed. They intuited, I suppose, that the body is holy and even a surgically detached foot deserves a blessing before burial. What respect for life; what irony. Minutes later a 40-year-old woman came in for counseling. She was ready for help regarding the sexual abuse she suffered as a child.

That afternoon I visited a young criminal who had seen more violence than many weary war veterans. Bedridden now, he had signed up with the cartel at the age of 15. At 17 he was in a gun battle with the military and was shot in the back.

A bullet in the back is a bad thing. Usually. But Pablo recognized it as a mercy bullet. The only way his bosses would let him out of the gang alive would be if he suffered a debilitating injury, yet he knew he was so far from God’s face that he had no right to ask for miracles. He got one anyway: the bullet that paralyzed him. As I tell many of the penitents who come by scores to confession every week, God wants to forgive you, more even than you want forgiveness. God wants to save you, more even than you want to be saved. So Pablo, lying on his stomach, was reconciled to God and the Church and humanity through a beautiful confession.

“The greater the sinner, the greater right he has to my mercy,” said Jesus to Saint Faustina in one of his heavenly visits to her Polish convent. It is true; I am an eye witness.

And there are lessons in charity. Little Luis Alberto: What an honor to know him; what an honor to serve him. He was 8 years old when his older sister started convulsing. Quickly his dad put everybody in their old minivan and sped toward the hospital, distant from these recently settled barrios. Everyone in the family feared for her life, and she was barely breathing when Luis Alberto started praying out loud, even shouting his prayer: “Father, take me. Take me instead of her. Please!”

Dad ran a red light. Luis Alberto died instantly in the crash. His sister is a catechist now in the parish, and Luis is one of our saints.

He is not atypical. Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, and my parishioners in their plywood shacks, some with dirt floors, saw the ruin on TV and rose to the Gospel challenge. We gave our entire Sunday collection to our needy neighbors to the north, and the collection that Sunday was a third larger than normal. It was bigger than the Christmas collection, a whopping 6,000 pesos (roughly $450). Factory workers in the parish make $2 an hour, so this was no mean gift. Pope Francis warns about the globalization of indifference and challenges us to a contrary globalization of mercy. In the midst of war and an asphyxiating economy, these holy folks give to Darfur, Haiti and even Japan.

When the first Franciscan missionaries came to America, they shocked the Aztecs with Jesus. The natives were used to gods that cried for human blood, gods that demanded human sacrifice; here was a God who gave His own blood, who sacrificed Himself to give life to humans. This Christian shock-love continues to be the best remedy for the cynicism of modern pagans.

Leti demonstrated this. She is the head of my confirmation catechists. An extortionist called her with frighteningly detailed information about her daughter’s whereabouts and habits. He threatened terrible things unless she complied with his demands for money. Leti gave him a lesson in the way of love that has become a lesson for me and for many. She told him she did not have the thousands of pesos he demanded but she loved him “with the love of Christ” and wished only good for him. After several attempts to terrorize her, he admitted his malice and ended asking for her prayers. Leti loved shockingly, and love won.

Here in Nuevo Laredo, here in a world with no embalming and no air-conditioning, where evil wears no mask, one can see clearly that decisions have consequences. I think of Roberto and Pepe. Their families live one block apart. Roberto was an altar boy and so was Pepe. Roberto is dead, and Pepe is in the seminary. Decisions have consequences: Roberto, at age 16, decided to make easy money with the gangs. Soon he was in a battle in Monterrey. After a victorious encounter with rivals, he left his armored SUV to check that there were no survivors from the enemy gang. He was shot in the neck by a wounded foe pretending to be dead.

Pepe was an altar boy at the same altar as Roberto. His family has similar economic trials, but instead of coveting a car, Pepe decided to serve and love for a living. He said yes to a call to the priesthood, and when we see him on weekends he has an unfailing, sunshine smile. Love makes a difference. Christ’s way works.

Blessed John Henry Newman put it well: “If you feed the hungry, tend the sick, succor the distressed; if you bear with the froward, submit to insult, endure ingratitude, render good for evil, you are, as by a Divine Charm, getting power over the world and rising among the creatures. God has established this law.”

A choice

Why are we here? We are here because we love these people, and we want to charm the ones who need charming. We are here for the salvation of souls. Giving away the gifts that God gives me is also simply a joy. On July 13, 2012, for example, God put me in the right place at the right time. My ’92 Ford pickup was due for an oil change. The mechanic was Catholic but not a practicing one, so as he worked, I worked, reminding him that missing Mass is no insignificant indifference. In effect, when we miss Mass we tell Our Lord we don’t need His Word. He is not our way; we have found another way. When we miss Mass we reject His loving presence in the Eucharist; we tell Him we would rather be content with His things than with His person.

As I evangelized, up drove a shiny SUV filled with teenage cartel members. My mechanic had friends in low places, apparently. They conversed, and as they drove away I saw the driver give the thumbs-down signal. Somebody was condemned to die. I questioned the mechanic and learned he had been beaten and robbed by five young men who were independent thugs, something highly penalized by the cartel, which wants to be the only dark force in town. My mechanic had described the beating to his gang friends and asked for retribution. Immediately the death of the five upstart thieves was decided upon.

But God had the last word. Before I left the mechanic’s roofless shop, I had convinced him murder was incommensurate with their crime. After all, even though they had stolen his stereo, he had recovered his car. He listened and acted. The sentence was commuted in time, and the five hoodlums were allowed to disappear into exile. They swam the Rio Grande that very day.

“Push back against the age as hard as it pushes against you,” said Flannery O’Connor, the Catholic writer. But pushing hard isn’t an eye for an eye. Christ taught us to push harder than that: “Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27). Live the Beatitudes. Love with Cross-love. Paradoxically, although Christ-love creates and endures, although it builds hospitals and happy homes, it is also mysteriously fragile. Yet again, paradoxically, there is strength in fragility. As G.K. Chesterton noted: Birds are fragile, yet they fly. Rocks fall.

Christ was fragile in the crib and on the cross. But look what eternal and temporal good He does. We fly with Him when we decide to trust Him. Saint Claude de la Colombière said, “Thou, then, shall be my strength, O my God! Thou dost promise me that this will be in proportion to my confidence.”

Our fragile missionary team strives to “push hard” with the countercultural, disinterested love that Jesus teaches. When He was executed, one of His last actions was to offer salvation to two criminals. One accepted and one didn’t, but He wanted both rebels with Him for eternity. In this mission we keep offering the choice, striving to make Christ appealing. Some think martial law and the presence of the military can bring peace to Nuevo Laredo. We bet our lives that there is another way, a way that works. Christ gave His life that even the most violent villain might be redeemed if he so chooses. We, too, want the salvation of all, even the enemies of society.

A risk

“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting,” said Chesterton. “It has been found difficult and left untried.” How often we become discouraged at ourselves or at the incoherent Christians around us. Real Christianity has too often been left untried by card-carrying Catholics. But the Christian experiment has, in fact, been corroborated in many places in every age. The saints and their prodigious legacies are witnesses to that. Love does work.

The challenge is to try the authentic Christian experiment again and again in your home and your workplace. “Love your enemies,” said Jesus. This is not an absurd, starry ideal; it is a law that works in Seattle and Omaha. Love makes you more yourself; it makes you free and happy. Pope Francis writes of “a profound law of reality: that life is attained and matures in the measure that it is offered up in order to give life to others.” Eureka!

We insist on calling our race homo sapiens. Statistically or demographically, this intelligence is hard to demonstrate. Perhaps homo sapiens is a prospective name, a name that expresses what we should shoot for. If that is the case, then I propose a new prospective name for humanity. Let us call ourselves homo amans: loving man. God is love, we learned in catechism class. What we didn’t quite learn is that to the extent that we are like Him we are like ourselves. We were made by love in order to receive love and give love.

A charming image comes from the fourth century doctor of the Church, Saint John Chrysostom: Returning to their homes from the holy Mass, the Christians exhale a breath of love, and they are fearful to the demons.

Love-dragons: That is who we are when we take the risk and love; this is what we become when we decide to live the Christian experiment.

Antonio Anderson (“Tony” in his PLS days at Notre Dame) was ordained in 1991 by Blessed John Paul II for the Society of Our Lady (SOLT). For the last 13 years he has served a parish of 90,000 on the impoverished outskirts of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. His short monograph, “A Portrait of the Priesthood,” will soon be available in both English and Spanish.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Two SOLT Men to be Ordained Deacons

On Saturday, April 12th, 2014, at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit, Michigan, two SOLT brothers, Br Jeremy Davis, SOLT, and Br Beau Schweitzer, SOLT, will be ordained to the sacred order of diaconate by his Excellency, Most Reverend Jeffrey M. Monforton, Bishop of Steubenville, Ohio.  God willing, after formation and experience in sacred ministry, they will go on to sacred priesthood.

Br Beau Schweitzer, SOLT

Br Jeremy Davis, SOLT
Congratultions!  Our prayers go with you.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

SOLT Lay Retreat Talks with Founder, Fr James Flanagan, SOLT

Fr James Flanagan Talk 1

Fr James Flanagan Talk 2

Fr James Flanagan Talk 3

Fr James Flanagan Talk 4

Fr James Flanagan Talk 5

Fr James Flanagan Talk 6

Thursday, January 30, 2014

New SOLT Priests Ordained

Four men were ordained to the sacred priesthood on the feast of St Francis de Sales, 24th of January, 2014, at 10:00a.m. in the Cathedral of Corpus Christi, by Bishop W. Michael Mulvey:

Fr. Michael Mary Mercy of Christ Crucified Wight, SOLT
Fr. Patrick Prajzner, SOLT
Fr. Juan Villagomez, SOLT
Fr. Al Abainza, SOLT

Here are some pictures:

Location:Corpus Christi, Texas

Monday, January 27, 2014

Live as God's Adopted Children

By John Heuertz
Special to the Catholic Key

What is Holy Scripture’s practical answer to the question, how are we to live? Its answer is that we are to live like Jesus and Mary.

Fr. Peter Marsalek is a Canadian Texas transplant, a published academic authority on stormwater, a former tennis pro, and the new General Priest Servant of SOLT, the Society of Our Lady of the Trinity – a Catholic religious body once headquartered in our diocese for 20 years.

On January 15 at the Catholic Center, Fr. Marsalek gave a talk entitled “A Scriptural View: Living As A Child Of God” that outlined Holy Scripture’s remarkable consistency concerning how all humans should live.

Citing the New Testament and St. Thomas Aquinas, he began by saying that Catholics who wish to evangelize should begin with the central truths of the Faith. One central truth is that each of us is made an adopted child of God by Baptism.

“Nothing comes close to the root of our dignity like the fact that we are God’s adopted children,” Fr. Marsalek said.

And if we are His children then we are also His heirs – heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, St. Paul wrote in Romans 8.

We first learn about our heavenly Father by experiencing our earthly fathers. Other influences include Revelation, Holy Scripture, friends, society and especially free will.

But there is only one input into who Jesus is, and that is His heavenly Father. “If you know Me, then you will also know My Father” (Jn.14:7).

With characteristic precision and insight, St. Thomas outlined four ways we can know God as Father in this world and the next.

“But with adoption comes responsibility,” Fr. Marsalek said. “Do my actions reveal that I am a child of God? Have I absorbed the values of my Father?”

We show by our actions that we are adopted sons of God by being like Jesus. “So be imitators of God, as His beloved children,” St. Paul wrote to the Christians at Ephesus.

And not only God. “Mary is the perfect adopted child of God. May we imitate her perfectly,” Fr. Marsalek said.

Perhaps passion for imitating the Mother of God indicates that Mary, the perfect adopted child of God, inspired a visionary young college student to found SOLT.

Before he graduated from Boston College in the 1950s, Jim Flanagan had the idea that priests, nuns, sisters and laity could form pastoral teams to do the work of the Lord in the world together. After long prayer and discernment, he presented this idea to his archbishop, Richard Cardinal Cushing.

The Cardinal may have sensed how radically Flanagan’s vision departed from the Church’s traditional, hierarchical understanding of itself in the world – while at the same time giving rich new expression to the Church’s traditional understanding that it should live in the world like Jesus and Mary did.

To encourage both prudence and fortitude, he gave Flanagan the wise counsel to let this vision develop for five years.

Five years later, Fr. James Flanagan got the Cardinal’s blessing to pursue his vision, and the Cardinal’s permission to move to the Archdiocese of Santa Fe with a handful of companions at the invitation of Santa Fe Archbishop Edwin Byrne.

SOLT was first established in 1958 in the Immaculate Heart of Mary parish in Holman, New Mexico – an economically disadvantaged area high in the Sangre de Cristo mountains that needed help with its church and school.

Volunteers began to arrive and stay. Some came from Boston College at the urging of Fr. Joseph Flanagan SJ, the other Fr. Flanagan’s brother and the Chairman of BC’s Philosophy Department for many years.

Marian bishops have always been crucial to the SOLT story. Being very Marian, Bishop Charles Helmsing invited Fr. Flanagan and his companions to Kansas City in 1964. Fr. Flanagan became the pastor of St. Francis Seraph parish in the East Bottoms, and SOLT’s next 20 years in Kansas City were most productive.

SOLT members organized spiritual and corporal works of mercy here with the team approach that is gaining SOLT increased renown inside and outside the Church.

The group started the suicide hotline called Human Rescue, and started a transition house for the recently incarcerated called Dismas House.

It helped integrate a transitional neighborhood in the marketplace way, and helped Vietnamese refugees find work and housing.

Its nurses helped the sick at Truman Medical Center, and its teachers ran grammar schools and helped teach special needs children.

SOLT’s interest in migrants was perhaps the most important apostolate to SOLT’s long-term development. Many came into the USA through places that are part of the Diocese of Corpus Christi. Because of this interest, the bishop invited SOLT to base its administration there, where it is still located.

SOLT began its first mission in Mexico in 1965 and in the Philippines in 1975. In 1998 SOLT began forming seminarians at the Angelicum, the Dominican Pontifical University in Rome, and started pastoral work in Rome in 2000.

Today the Society of Our Lady of the Trinity is active in 12 countries on five continents. The Society says that the gift that our Heavenly Father gives in Jesus to the Church today through The Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity is the Trinitarian Life of Jesus.

Fr. Marsalek was elected SOLT’s fourth General Priest Servant last July and visited Kansas City last week as part of visiting SOLT teams everywhere. Contact Dr. Jim Doughterty at for more information about SOLT.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Gray Robes Advent 2013 Edition

Here is the SOLT Seminary of Detroit, MI, official publication, the Gray Robes, Advent 2013 edition:

Sunday, December 1, 2013

SOLT Mission Magazine Autumn 2013

The following is the message of the SOLT General Priest Servant from the Autumn 2013 edition of the SOLT Mission Magazine.

Dear Friends of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity,

During this year of faith, each one of us is invited in a special way to reflect on the gift of faith and to pray for its increase and manifestation in our lives. It can be tempting sometimes to think of faith as merely an intellectual activity by which we affirm our belief in a series of propositions related to God and the Church. In reality, the gift of faith and our profession of faith goes much deeper than that. While the faith is certainly related to an intellectual assent, it also pertains to an act of our will.

The relationship between faith and action is seen clearly in the etymology of the Latin word “credo” (I believe). Credo is a compound word that combines cor, meaning “heart,” and the verb do, meaning “I give.” Put simply, credo really means, “I give my heart” to the object of my belief. In the context of the Apostles Creed, professing our belief in God the Father Almighty, in Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Spirit should ultimately signify that we not only affirm the existence of God, but that we give our hearts completely to the Most Holy Trinity. Belief in God is not meant to be merely an affirmation of an intellectual proposition, it extends to an act of giving one’s heart to God! The gift of faith is no static reality in our lives. It is a dynamic force that constantly challenges us to give our hearts more completely to the Most Holy Trinity on a daily basis. When the faith is truly embraced, life becomes a pilgrim age in which the presence of God is deeply experienced and manifested in the daily events of our lives. This is certainly an accurate description of the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary—a pilgrimage of faith by which she gave her heart to God and experienced His presence and love throughout her life in a radical way. We too are called to imitate our Mother Mary in giving our hearts to the Holy Trinity and allowing God’s presence to radiate in our lives. This is what it means to live by faith.

In this edition of the Mission magazine, you will encounter a few stories of people of faith, of people who have given their hearts to the Holy Trinity after the example of Mary, and have experienced His mercy and love in their lives and in the lives of others. As this year of faith draws toward its conclusion, let us pray for one another that the gift of faith deepen in our lives, and that each one of us may follow the example of our Mother Mary in giving our hearts completely to the Most Holy Trinity.

Fr Peter Marsalek,
SOLT General Priest Servant

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Who Knew that our Former Pastor Was Famous?

Who knew that Father Brady Williams, SOLT, former pastor of Most Holy Trinity Parish in Phoenix, was, well, actually famous?

Apparently, the 5th through 8th graders at Most Holy Trinity Catholic School knew. 

The SOLT Community was well aware that Father Brady was recently appointed to be the new General Secretary to the General Priest Servant, which required him to leave Phoenix and relocate to the Generalate’s headquarters in Corpus Christi. 

We also knew that he was not only the former pastor of one of the largest and most diverse parishes in Phoenix, with 7 weekend Masses, an elementary school, an active youth ministry project and center, and 24 Hour Adoration Chapel, but that he was a gourmet cook, gardener, golfer, runner, pianist, comedian, and (limited) actor. He was also a scholar and former Rector for the 15 SOLT seminarians attending Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit.

But famous?

Listen to what the teacher of the 5th through 8th grade students at Most Holy Trinity, Sr. Mary Claire of the Holy Family Strasser , SOLT, had to say:

“When Father Brady heard I was teaching about latitude and longitude, we came up with a project where Father could keep in touch with the kids when he journeyed to the Philippines for the recent ordinations. Father Brady has a twitter account where he posted about his travels and his current location. 

“The students would find his location (latitude and longitude) and discuss what they were observing.  It was a great little interactive learning project to keep them connected with Father, their old pastor, who they think is famous and to see SOLT’s missions. I heard one student tell her mom:  ‘Father Brady is spreading the Good News in Asia!’

“Father also posted pictures of his subsequent visit to the SOLT missions in Thailand and China, where we even Skyped with him. The kids had some great comments afterwards. ‘I didn't realize there were so few Catholics in Thailand. We need to spread the Gospel more over there’, one said. Another observed: ‘You always hear about prophets, but it is rare that you ever know them.’"  

Where will the famous Father Brady be off to next?

For now, Father Brady is back at his office work in Corpus Christi, as SOLT prepares for another 4 priestly ordinations on January 24 in Corpus Christi, besides the recent ordinations on September 28 in the Philippines. Keep in touch for further Father Brady sightings from the SOLT community and Sr. Mary Claire and her wonderful students at Most Holy Trinity Catholic School!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

SOLT Seminary visit and ordination of Bishop Mulvey and General Servants

This article was reposted from the blog of Bishop Michael Mulvey

On Sept. 22 through Oct.1, I had the privilege of traveling to the Philippines for a visit to the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT) community. As many of you know, the SOLT community exists as a diocesan rite under the ordinary of the Diocese of Corpus Christi.

I was accompanied Father Peter Marsalek, SOLT, the society’s new General Priest Servant, Sister Megan Mary Thibodeau, SOLT, their new General Sister Servant, and others. It provided me an opportunity to acquaint myself with the community in Asia and visit their seminary.

My visit was very successful. I came away very impressed with the dedication and zeal of the priests, seminarians and sisters who serve in such difficult situations in the Philippines and beyond. I was able to ordain three priests and three deacons on Saturday, Sept. 28, in the St. Gregory the Great Cathedral in Legazpi, Philippines.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Enroll Your Loved Ones in the SOLT Mass Card Association

Spiritual Benefits for Members of the
Mass Association

  • Living and deceased members share in the celebration of a weekly Mass at the Perpetual Adoration Chapel of Our Lady of Corpus Christi.
  • Every family or individual will enjoy a share in the daily recitation of the Divine Office and Holy Rosary offered by members of SOLT.
  • Living and deceased members will share in all the good works performed by the members of SOLT.
  • On the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity, a special Mass will be offered for living and deceased members of the SOLT Mass Association.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

SOLT Seminarians Newsletter: Gray Robes Summer 2013

Here is the Summer 2013 edition of "The Gray Robes," the official publication of the SOLT Seminarians of the American Region.
If you have trouble viewing, or to download, click here

Monday, September 2, 2013

Welcome Message for our Website from Fr Peter Marsalek, SOLT General Priest Servant

This is the welcome message from the General Priest Servant for our website on this page.

Every authentic religious community that is formed is given a particular gift or animating spirit from the Holy Spirit which characterizes the specific nature of the community.  As many religious communities experience, it is not always easy to encompass the entirety of this animating characteristic with words.  This past summer, at the SOLT General Chapter, we revisited the  verbal expression of our charism and concluded with the following: Disciples of Jesus through Mary  living in Marian-Trinitarian communion serving on ecclesial family teams in areas of deepest apostolic need.

The charism statement may seem rather complex, but essentially, it underlines three important aspects of SOLT: 1. The Marian-Trinitarian spirituality; 2. The team aspect of ministry; and 3. The missionary dimension.  While it would be difficult in an introductory article to elaborate in depth on all three elements, I would like to address the most mysterious, namely, the Marian-Trinitarian dimension of the SOLT charism.

Written six years after the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity was founded, the Vatican II document Lumen Gentium (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Nov.21, 1964), made explicit reference to our Blessed Mother in her relationships with the persons of the Trinity: she is the beloved daughter of the Father, the mother of the Son, and the tabernacle of the Holy Spirit.  (LG 53) Furthermore, Lumen Gentium reaffirmed that Mary "shines forth to the whole community of the elect as the model of virtues." (LG 65)  In SOLT, one of our primary objectives and missions is to strive to imitate and manifest this Trinitarian life of Mary.

Each of us is called to live as a son or daughter of the Father.  Mary saw her life from the perspective of the Father's eternal plan for her life and from the perspective of a loving Father in whom she could trust and rely upon for guidance.   In return, Mary understood clearly that her life was to manifest her Father's goodness.   Every child represents their parents by their behavior and Mary's life is a clear reflection of the goodness of her heavenly Father.  Striving to imitate Mary's example, we too should recall that God the Father has a special plan for our lives and we can trust that He will lead and guide us in that plan.  Like Mary, our words and actions should manifest that we too are the beloved children of God!

When considering Mary as the mother of the Son, it may at first glance appear to be something impossible to imitate since being a mother to a particular person is a unique role.  However, when we consider the words of Jesus, "whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother" (Mt 12:50), it is a reminder to us that Mary is the mother of Jesus not only by blood, but also by virtue of imitating Him perfectly in following the will of God.  Mary is the perfect disciple of Jesus and she provides for us an exemplar.  Mary journeyed with her divine Son throughout His life, all the way to the foot of the Cross, and conformed herself to the image of her Son.  As Jesus is the eternal Son of the Father, and the perfect image of the Father, Mary's conformity to Christ renders her too as an image of the Father and manifests her as the beloved daughter of the Father.  We too are called to be conformed to Christ so that by resembling Jesus, we manifest that we are the adopted children of our Father in heaven.

The task of being totally conformed to Christ in order too manifest ourselves as children of the Father, is something which requires supernatural assistance.  Mary is referred to as the "temple of the Holy Spirit" because of the intimacy of her relationship with the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit overshadows Mary and makes Jesus Christ present within her.  In an obvious way, the Annunciation communicates this truth, but even throughout the rest of Mary's life,  the Holy Spirit continued to animate and strengthen her in her pilgrimage of faith so that she would be conformed to Christ in her thoughts, words and actions.  It is the Holy Spirit, acting with Mary's continual fiat, that enables her to engender Christ, be conformed to Him, and manifest that she is the beloved daughter of the Father.  As disciples of Jesus through Mary, we are called to live in this intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit so that Christ may be engendered within us, and that we would be manifested as the adopted children of God the Father through our words and actions.

Within the entire SOLT family and on each of our teams at our various missions, we are called to manifest this Trinitarian life of our Blessed Mother in our relationships with one another and the people we serve.  We pray that through our Blessed Mother's intercession, we would be given the strength to follow the path of discipleship that she lived.  May each of our lives manifest that we are the beloved sons and daughters of the Father, model disciples of Jesus Christ, and temples of the Holy Spirit.  

God bless you, 

Fr. Peter Marsalek, SOLT

General Priest Servant
September 2013

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Groundbreaking of Domus Trinitatis Retreat Center in Iowa

Sr Marie Hessed gives the speech at the groundbreaking at Domus Trinitatis

The following article was posted on the Catholic Globe, Diocesan Newspaper for the diocese of Sioux City, Iowa.

By MICHELLE DELANEY, Globe staff reporter

After more than 40 years in religious life, Sister Marie Hesed has spent plenty of time in third-world countries serving others. Having spent numerous years working with missions inplaces like Mexico, Calcutta, Africa and Cuba she knows the strain put on missionaries and ministers.

In May of 2011, Sister Hesed came to Iowa with the hopes of making a long-time dream of hers a reality. She wants to establish a place where missionaries, those in ministries and laypeople can come to renew themselves.
“What struck me when I arrived here was the community. They were a very, very practicing, faithful Catholic community. We felt we were in a safe, peaceful, I would even say, stress-free environment in Willey,” said Sister Hesed. “To me, those were very strong elements I felt we needed for the center.” 

Sister Hesed is in the beginning process of building the center, Domus Trinitatis, which is Latin for home of the Trinity.

Encouraging signs

When she first came to Iowa, she began the process by focusing on selling sacramental wine through the Santa Maria Winery. John and Rose Guinan, owners of the winery, generously offered to give half of the proceeds from the wine to Sister Hesed and her renewal center. 

“I was always fascinated with her vision for the renewal and retreat center. We know from our daughter’s experience in missions,” said John, “that they’re basically on 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There’s no way to step back and recharge.” 

John went on to say that Sister Hesed spoke to him about the people in vocations she would see burn out and leave because themapy couldn’t get recharged and maintain the constant pace of mission life. 

After being in Iowa for a bit, Sister Hesed received a gift that solidified her dream. Leon and Donna Kannebeck donated 31 acres of land for the center. 

“A big thing, for me, was to see if God wanted this. So, I waited to see if anybody would donate land,” said Sister Hesed. 

She admitted that she had been rather discouraged because people didn’t think that anyone, given the high value of land, would donate. 

“The gift is an extremely generous gift, I couldn’t quite believe it at first,” she said. The land is located one mile north of Willey, just outside of Carroll. 

Her vision 

With the land secured, Sister Hesed along with Sister Maria Amata, who came to Iowa in July of 2012 to help with the project, have been hard at work raising awareness and planning the center. 

Sister Hesed spoke of her desire to raise $1 million of the estimated $5 million needed for the center before beginning construction. She would like to break ground and start the convent this summer. 

The land will be divided into two sections, split by a stream that runs through the property. On one portion of the land, there will be at least 12 small spaciously placed, private cottages. These cottages will be available to married couples, priests, brothers, sisters and laity. This portion of the center will give people the opportunity for quiet reflection, prayer and time with nature. 

The convent, house for the resident priest and cottage for volunteers will be on the other side of the stream. This side will also fewature the chapel bell tower and reception area. convent
Sister Amata spoke on how the chapel will be open for adoration 24/7. 
“We want people to be able to come, pray and learn here,” said Sister Amata.

They plan to offer classes on spirituality, the faith, new evangelization and much more in the reception area.
There will also be two small barns on the property, an orchard, greenhouse, gardens and high towers to teach techniques for hydro and aqua-ponics. They already have two beehives they will bring onto the property. 

“Our desire is to become self-sustainable and to teach these practices to those who come so they can bring it back to their mission,” said Sister Hesed. 

The goal of the center is to bring people closer to God and renew themselves. The center will be open to anyone, not just Catholics because everyone needs a refuge for prayer and renewal.

There will be no set price for time spent at Domus Trinitatis. Sister Hesed stressed that she wants people to give freely what they can to thecenter. 

“What I’ve found is for people like us, who have taken a vow of poverty, and for other people, it is very expensive to get away even for a weekend,” she said. “So, freely given, freely give. That’s the whole premise of it.”

Community Involvement

Both Sister Hesed and Sister Amata noted that they are amazed, encouraged and overwhelmed by the amount of support they have received so far. 

They both have spent a considerable amount of time in hard, strenuous missions encountering broken people.

chapel“That’s why this is such a good place to come away and renew yourself spiritually,” said Sister Amata. “This is a fantastic place to have this center.”

Both sisters spoke on how the community has already given so much by being so faithful and accepting. “Their witness of practicing, their strong values and their family values already influence the center. By just being who they are, they are already helping in the renewal of those who are in difficult missions,” said Sister Hesed.
Sister Hesed has given several presentations on her mission and has had a great turnout for them. 
She has already had people come forward and volunteer services such as landscaping, gardening, building and farming. 

With the help of several people, four dinners have been scheduled to inform and raise funds for the project. The event, A Dinner for Domus Trinitatis, will be held at the Santa Maria Winery in Carroll on Feb. 6, Feb. 27, March 6 and March 27 with the social hour starting at 5 p.m. and the event starting at 6 p.m.

A nice meal will be served with a complimentary glass of wine. After the dinner, a member of the core group will do a brief introduction and then Sister Amata will give an overview on their society, Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT). Sister Hesed will then speak about the project, explain the importance of the project and discuss some of the details. 

Once Sister Hesed finishes, the Kennebecks will talk about what moved them to donate the land. To wrap things up, Tim Rial, a financial advisor, will ask people to pledge. 

After the presentation, people will be able to ask any questions they have. 

The event will cost $50 per person or $75 per couple. All proceeds will go toward Domus Trinitatis. Contact Julie Mashing at or (712) 292-3011 for more information or tickets to A Dinner for Domus Trinitatis. Each presentation can hold fifty people, so people are encouraged to sign up early. All denominations are welcome.

Another way the sisters are trying to raise funds is by asking people to take home a jar and fill it with their lose change. The jars are called St. Joseph jars because the foundation of this work was dedicated to St. Joseph. 

Community reactions

Julie Mashing has been helpingSister Hesed spread the word about Domus Trinitatis. 

“I was touched when I met herand felt a calling to let others know about this amazing person and the vision she has for the spiritual retreat center,” said Mashing. 

Mashing also explained that spending time with Sister Hesed has encouraged her to look at missionaries, priest and sisters as people, people with feelings struggles, just like everyone else. 
sisters“In the few months I have known Sister Marie Hesed, I have learned more about my faith, being humble and how God works every day. If she inspired me this way, there are no limits on how she will inspire the rest of you. Sister’s dream is God’s work,” said Mashing.
Amy McCargar has also been working with Sister Hesed and helping raise awareness for Domus Trinitatis. 

“I truly believe that God has brought Sister Hesed here for a reason. She has been all over the world, touched thousands of lives, worked directly with Mother Teresa and now she is in this little town in west central Iowa because God has called her to create Domus Trinitatis,” said McCargar.

McCargar went on to explain that she reads in the bible and hears at church how people are called to serve. She noted that this is the perfect chance to fill that call. 

“I feel so blessed that this retreat center will be in our community, in our diocese, in our state, and in the Midwest. I love that Sister Marie Hesed wants the retreat center to be not only for missionaries, but for priests, nuns, couples and people of any religion and families. I look forward to taking my family to the center, for my children to be in the presence of strong spiritual leaders and to be able to learn and help with the agriculture aspect of the center,” said McCargar.

The center is predicted to take three to five years to build. Domus Trinitatis aims to become an “epicenter of spirituality and the new evangelization.”

More information can be found by following Domus Trinitatis on Facebook.