The US bishops did something remarkable at their recent meeting in Baltimore on November 11. What was it?
They voted to promote the beatification cause of an American Servant of God. To my knowledge, they have never done anything like this before. In any event, it’s exceedingly rare.
Whose case did they do this with?
That of Mother Mary Teresa Tallon, foundress of the Parish Visitors of Mary Immaculate. They are based in Monroe, NY, and their mission is to spread the gospel door-to-door.
Why do you suspect the bishops decided to do this?
It’s likely they agreed with outgoing USCCB president Timothy Cardinal Dolan that the successful completion of her cause would benefit not only the Archdiocese of New York but the entire US Church. After all, we are in the age of the New Evangelization, we just concluded the Year of Faith, where the focus was largely evangelization, and Mother Tallon’s life and example could have a profound impact in this nation, which many believe sorely needs it. After all, 10 percent of Americans are fallen away Catholics. She founded her order to reach out to such people. In a sense, she’s the “mother” of groups such as Catholics Come Home and Fr. Barron’s Word on Fire.
Who was Mother Tallon?
She was the daughter of Irish immigrants born in upstate New York, born in 1867, and she joined the Holy Cross Sisters of South Bend, IN, at age 19. After three decades as a Catholic school teacher, she was attending Mass when she believes God inspired her to found her order. She wanted to “go out in search of the lost lambs and bring them back to the fold by means of Christian instruction.”
She died in 1954, “thanking God for the original grace of her vocation and sustaining her order since its founding.”
Promoters of venerable’s cause express frustration
The promoters of Ven. Agnelo de Souza beatification cause are expressing extraordinary frustration over the roadblocks they believe they have to face.
Who was Agnelo de Souza?
He was the sixth of nine children who could remember huge parts of sermons he heard from the time he was a child. He was orphaned at age 11, after which he joined the seminary, where his studies were impacted by poor health. Following his ordination, he became a missionary and then spiritual director at the local seminary. He died in 1927 at age 58.
What seems to be the issue?
His vice postulator Fr. Hilario Fernandes says “a major hurdle is [that] many doctors find it difficult to draw a line between nature and supernatural forces. ‘It is a genuine difficulty, [he says] no doubt about it. Today science has developed so much, that it is difficult to say where science ends and where the supernatural powers begin to come in.’”
However, his problem is not so much with science and the medical community as it is with the law governing the creation of saints.
Father says he wants more attention paid to the devotion of the faithful to Ven. Agnelo and the graces people believe they've received by his intercession. He doesn't want the bar for beatification and canonization to be so high.
Should it be?
Good question. Absolutely. Devotion can be a fickle thing. Faith in a person's sanctity can wax and wane. Faith needs to be there for the recognition of sanctity, granted, but the Church has its rules – including those for the need of an incontrovertible miracle, both for beatification and canonization – for a reason. After all, what would happen if we said, "Oh, this person's a saint," only to have information later come to light that contradicts that? When the Church declares a blessed or a saint, she makes an infallible declaration that this person is in heaven. We need proof of that.
The Church’s sainthood process has worked well for centuries, and despite Father's fervent and totally understandable wish that it was easier to make his hero a saint, we need to maintain it. Otherwise, the canon of saints risks becoming a sort of Catholic Hall of Fame. Recognizing someone as a saint is more than that, though.
Indian priest closer to canonization
On November 19, it was reported by the Archdiocese of Goa, India, that an alleged miracle credited to the intercession of Bl. Joseph Vaz has been deemed worthy of study by the Vatican.
Why is this newsworthy?
This will excite anyone who knows about this incredible saint, which, sadly, too few do.
Bl. Joseph Vaz was an Indian priest from Goa, which is where St. Francis Xavier's incorrupt body rests. Priest, and he lived over 300 years ago. After an amazing career in India, “he travelled to Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) ministering to the Catholics in that country.” As a result of his evangelical efforts, he is called the “Apostle of Ceylon.” At the time, the Calvinist Dutch ruled much of the island and Catholicism was illegal. Because of this, he had to minister in secret. He walked around barefoot not only to hide his status as a priest but to be like the poor. Also, he was a great confessor, bringing many people to conversion through this sacrament. He also had a tremendous Marian devotion.
Really, people ought to learn more about this incredible hero, because I can't do him justice here.
Blessed important to the Holy Father to receive “equivalent” canonization
In late November, the Holy See’s press office announced Pope Francis was likely to bestow the equivalent of canonization on Bl. Peter Faber (whose name in French is the same as former Packers quarterback Brett Favre).
What is “equivalent canonization”?
“Equivalent canonization” is where the Pope inserts the name of the new saint in the universal calendar of saints without verifying a miracle performed through his intercession and without holding a formal canonization ceremony.
According to Catholic News Service, “equivalent canonizations – used most recently for St. Angela of Foligno and St. Hildegard of Bingen – recognize the candidates’ widespread fame of holiness and veneration by Catholic faithful sustained over centuries.”
Who was Bl. Peter?
He was a Frenchman born in 1506, and he was a college roommate of Ss. Ignatius Loyola and Francis Xavier at the College of St. Barbara at the University of Paris. Faber actually was the first of the Jesuits to be ordained a priest and he celebrated the Mass in 1534 during which St. Ignatius and the others took their vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
With St. Francis Xavier and St. Ignatius Loyola, Bl. Peter was an early cofounder of the Jesuits, the religious order to which His Holiness belongs. Evidently, not long after his election to the papacy, the Pope asked the Congregation for the Causes of Saints where Bl. Peter’s canonization cause stood. He then directed the Congregation to study and evaluate Bl. Peter’s cause “on its merits.”
A “panel of historians and a group of theologians convoked by the congregation already voted unanimously in favor of the canonization, and [the postulator for Jesuit saints’ causes] said he would be surprised if the cardinals did not follow suit.”
Besides his being a Jesuit, what does the Pope about Bl. Peter?
Francis told a Jesuit magazine several months ago that he admires Bl. Peter’s “dialogue with all, even the most remote and even with his opponents; his simple piety, a certain naiveté, perhaps, his being available straightaway, his careful interior discernment, the fact that he was a man capable of great and strong decisions but also capable of being so gentle and loving.”
According to the Italian newspaper Avvenire, Bl. Peter “is an important reference point for understanding the Pope’s leadership style.” Also, “Faber lived on the cusp of an era when the unity of the Church was being threatened. He mostly kept out of doctrinal disputes and steered his apostolate towards a reform of the Church, becoming a pioneer of ecumenism.”
How will the equivalent canonization take place?
The blog “Vatican Insider” reports the Holy Father will issue a papal bull decreeing the canonization.