This October 17, 12 days from now, would have been the one-hundredth birthday of Pope John Paul I. It is also the date on which his beatification cause will submit the positio or position paper, which, according to Catholic News Service, “includes a biography, an analysis of the candidate’s writings and summaries of testimony offered by people who knew him. A positio usually runs to several thousand pages.”
Prior to becoming the Supreme Pontiff, he was known as Albino Cardinal Luciani, and he was the patriarch of Venice. After the death of Pope Paul VI, his fellow cardinals named him Pope and he chose the name John Paul, signaling that he wanted to carry on both his predecessors’ legacies. However, he died of a heart attack after 33 days.
Then in 2003, his cause for beatification was formally opened, and to keep Pope Benedict up to date on things, the postulators of Pope Luciani’s cause met with the Pope on September 26. Two days later was the thirty-fourth anniversary of his death. And for those who are interested and live in the New York City area, there will be a Pope John Paul I Conference the weekend of October 12 in Queens, NY, and registration closes on Sunday, October 7. To find out more go to www.facebook.com/jpicentenary.
Fox trot and tango for Tolton
If you are in the Chicago area and have the evening of Friday, October 19 open, there will be the first annual “Gala for the Cause of Sainthood of Father Augustus Tolton.” The fund raiser for Fr. Tolton’s beatification will feature a silent auction, the Seton Academy Jazz Ensemble, a DJ, and dancing. For more information, go to www.blackcatholicchicago.org.
The Church has a new “French-bred” Blessed
On Sunday, September 23, the Church gained a new blessed when Angelo Cardinal Amato beatified Fr. Louis Brisson in the packed Troyes cathedral, which featured the French Interior Minister Manuel Valls. In fact, there were so many people wanting to get in, that they had to play the ceremony on a huge television screen outside the cathedral.
Brisson was born in 1817 and was an only child whom his parents and his pastor homeschooled. Sometime while he was young, he decided to enter the seminary, and in 1840 at age 23, he received holy orders.
Not long after his ordination, Venerable Mother Marie de Sales Chappuis put her eye on him and decided that he should start an order of priests that would do the sorts of things St. Francis de Sales did, preaching, evangelizing, apologetics, and that sort of thing. But Fr. Brisson’s reaction was basically, “Whoa, back off. I just want to be a priest, you know? I’m just getting used to this priest business, I’m only 23, and you’re asking me to start an order?”
But Mother Marie de Sales was very persistent and so, dragging his feet, he established the order. And when he wasn’t busy founding this order and teaching at a nearby junior seminary, he was building an astronomical clock used at the motherhouse of the order for women religious he founded, the Oblate Sisters of St. Francis de Sales in Troyes.
Slowly, the Holy Spirit opened his heart to the city’s poor, and he established homes for them where could have a warm place to live, food to eat, and good Catholic catechesis. He also established similar homes for young women of working age so that they wouldn’t need to find work in the so-called oldest profession.
A 1905 law resulted in many religious orders being kicked out of their houses. So it was that the orders founded by Fr. Louis Brisson moved their headquarters to Rome. By this point, however, Father was 88 years old, and he decided to retire. Three years later, he died on February 2, 1908, at age 91.
The miracle that put him in the category of the beatified involved a young Ecuadorian boy whose foot was mangled and crushed. The women’s religious order founded by Fr. Brisson is in Ecuador, and the sisters there knew the boy. So they prayed for Father’s intercession, and the boy’s foot was completely healed. God be praised for His workings through the saints! How it shows forth His awesome glory!
Kenyan Cardinal beatification candidate gets a new campaign team
The beatification cause for the Servant of God Maurice Michael Cardinal Otunga of Kenya has a new postulator and vice postulator. Dr. Waldery Hilgeman, a canon lawyer who is considered an expert on the Vatican’s court system, is the new postulator, and he’ll handle the Rome end of the beatification effort. Br. Reginald Cruz lives in Kenya, and he’ll handle the heavy lifting there.
What’s the difference between a vice postulator and a postulator? The postulator’s job is to handle the cause once it gets to Rome once all the work on the diocesan end finishes. Br. Reginald represents the postulator in Kenya and manages the local end of things, getting out prayer cards, interviewing those who knew the Servant of God, and that sort of thing.
So who was the Servant of God Maurice Michael Cardinal Otunga? Born in 1923 and the son of a chief, he became convinced that it was his being a son of God that was the most important. When he encountered Christ, it changed his life on a dime, and all he wanted to do from that point was to serve his Lord. It wasn’t a coincidence, therefore, that he served Mass day in high school.
Ordained at age 27 in 1950, he went on to serve the Church for 53 years, 28 of those as the cardinal archbishop of Nairobi, capital of Kenya. When Bl. John Paul II was planning to consecrate the world to Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart, it was at the same time he was recuperating from his assassination attempt. So he put Cardinal Otunga in charge of the efforts. Both men participated as young bishops at Vatican II.
In a part of the world where men often join the priesthood to raise their standard of living, His Eminence never used his clerical status to better his own condition but instead to serve God by serving His people, especially the poor.
As an online biography puts it, “At the end of his life he had no house, no car, no possessions nor a nice bed. He was a great listener; A man of peace and joy but a true warrior of the spirit. Soft spoken but at war with evil and the structures of sin; [he was a] great promoter of the dignity of man, of life, of the family.”