December 24, 2012

Very Reverend Father Raymond Meagher, O.P. - RIP

Recently a copy of the eulogy for Fr. Raymond Meagher, O.P., delivered by Fr. Ignatius Smith, O.P., in Washington, DC on October 22, 1954 was given to the friars in Pleasantville, NY.  Fr. Meagher served as Provincial of the Province of St. Joseph from 1913-1930, and was instrumental in founding Providence College and in building the House of Studies in River Forest, IL, and many other accomplishments.  The Province of St. Joseph tripled in size during his years as Provincial.

Very Reverend Raymond Meagher, O.P., S.T.Lr., Ph.D., LL.D.
Born 1873
Died October 19, 1954
Requiescat in Pace

Very Reverend Father Raymond Meagher, O.P.

We gather with heavy hearts and a sense of tremendous loss for the obsequies of the Very Reverend Raymond Meagher, O.P. He died on Tuesday at the age of 81, a Dominican for 65 years and a priest for 59 years. Time does not permit a detailed account of the superb achievements and the wonderful personality that mark him as one of God’s giants in the Order of Preachers and in the Catholic Church in our Republic. However, as much as he would object to it, you would wish me to unfold for you, quickly, the pattern of priestly character he has left for our inspiration.

Nature and God conspired to give to Father Meagher remarkable gifts of mind and heart. His keen intellect, his calm and accurate judgment, his quick and sound reasoning distinguished him from the time of his entrance into the Order of Preachers in 1888 and commanded respect for him at Louvain where he finished his theological studies. His great mind was matched by a heart that throbbed with love for God, love for the Church, love for his Order, love for his family and love for mankind. With his outstanding talents it does not amaze one to find Father Raymond selected by God and his brethren to assume tremendous responsibilities.

His first task, teaching, was most successful, but it was brought to an early close by the decision of his Provincial to give his talents wider range outside the classroom. This decision proved to be correct because in every area of Catholic life to which he was assigned or elected he rendered very distinguished service.
Father Meagher was a preacher of outstanding ability. He was sound, simple and practical in doctrine, perfect in diction, orderly in composition, earnest in presentation, dignified in manner, eloquent in communication and effective in enlightening, persuading and converting.

Father Raymond as pastor in St. Antoninus in Newark, N.J., in St. Dominic’s in Washington, in St. Peter’s in Memphis, in St. Vincent Ferrer’s in New York was most zealous and successful. In these offices his remarkable versatility and his deep apostolic spirit manifested themselves at all times. He was inspiring in his devotion to the children in the parochial schools. He promoted and pioneered in athletic and social activities for teen-agers fifty years ago. He multiplied church devotions. He was especially helpful to the sick and the needy. In all his ministrations he showed a buoyant cheerfulness that made him very approachable and made religion attractive.

In his capacity as superior of the Dominicans in these respective localities he is remembered as a kindly and sympathetic religious gentleman. He was deferential to the older religious and to the infirm. He was sympathetic but firm. He promoted the sociability and religious fellowship so necessary for successful community life. He was dedicated, without ostentation, to regular observance. His example inspired all to selfless and sacrificial service of all God’s people.
Father Meagher was elected Provincial of St. Joseph’s Province in 1913 and occupied that office until 1930. In this position his high appreciation of the mission of the Order of Preachers in the life of the Church Universal was in constant evidence. By him was established the Poor Boys Priesthood Association for the education of young men for the priesthood, mainly in the Dominican Order. His devotion to this cause was both unflagging and successful and the personnel of the Province tripled under his leadership. You who remember his directions recall his constant emphasis on the need of a great army of men in the white habit of St. Dominic, highly educated and apostolic preachers and teachers, whose active life would reflect the traditional contemplative spirit of the Order of Preachers. It was to render such service to the Mystical Body of Christ that he enlarged the horizon of Dominican activity in the United States by his devotion to Providence College and by the construction of the Dominican House of Studies in the suburb of Chicago, Ill. In this work, in the supervision of construction work undertaken in our old parishes, and in erecting new foundations Father Meagher secured, he displayed both great architectural appreciation, financial genius and apostolic zeal.

The new opportunities he secured for Dominican activity and the new foundations he obtained from various Ordinaries revealed his deep devotion to the Order and to the Church. This double devotion of Dominicans to their Order and the Church has been the boast of the Sons of Dominic for seven hundred years. It flowered in the constant and successful efforts of Father Meagher to expand Dominican activities—the Holy Name Society, the Rosary Confraternity and the Third Order of St. Dominic and all Dominican publications. He was in constant contact with the members of the hierarchy, by correspondence and personal visits, offering the services of his subjects in these holy causes. The Bishops knew him, respected his zeal and unselfish devotion to religion, and they favored him in many ways. This zeal was recognized in Rome and is memorialized in the adoption, under him, of a missionary field in China cared for by the Dominican Fathers, Brothers and Sisters of this Province. These are facts to be remembered about this great religious gentleman, through whose example and leadership, through whose knowledge of and cooperation with the hierarchy was given fresh realization of the Dominican tradition “The Order for the Church and not the Church for the Order.”

Another superb and life-long quality in the character and career of Father Meagher was his remarkable ability to make and keep real friends. Persons on every level of society and in every area of life were drawn to him, loved him and in return were the recipients of his friendly attention and generous service. Perhaps this unusual ability was based partly on the variety of his interests and the versatility of his talents. As an outstanding Churchman, in the deepest sense of the term, he was skilled in and at home with discussions of the ecclesiastical sciences, church problems and church policies. Churchmen liked to be in his company. He was interested in and talked intelligently and intelligibly about public affairs, politics, sports, entertainment and was appreciated by the laity who were devoted to these various pursuits of life. He quickly put people at ease and easily won their admiration and affection. His friendships were lasting. He was loyal to, attentive to and grateful for those whom he listed as his devoted friends and they were and are innumerable.

Even in the last few years while comparatively inactive, devoted largely to liturgical interests, a constant sufferer, Father Meagher continued to inspire those who were near him. His grit and courage were an inspiration to his brethren and a source of bewilderment to his physician and nurses. All got to know the deeper holiness and Christlike manliness of this unusual priest. All knew, as the rosary slipped through his feeble fingers, that he was carrying, without complaint or murmur, his cross of pain for Jesus’ sake.

This acceptance of physical pain and mental anguish was the same kind of sanctified submission that had made him so considerate and helpful in the misfortune in others. This Christlike meekness of this vibrant and dynamic priest made him always reverent of authority. When superior, it made him receptive even of the dissenting opinions of others. It enabled him to welcome suggestions from any one, of high or low station in life. It gave him the power to create a democratic atmosphere in every group and to make obedience to law less difficult. It gave him the wisdom and prudence to respect the sacred personality of all human beings, the religious dignity of his brethren and the sovereign eminence of all priests.
We will always cherish the memory of his courage in the administration of justice, his squareness and his frank, straight-forward instructions. We will never forget the charity so evident in his kindly speech, and his sympathetic understanding of human frailty, in his patience with criticism, in his generous forgiveness of injuries done him.

God was good to us in giving to us such a Preacher, Pastor, Provincial, Churchman, Priest, Religious and Friend. Jesus, Mary, Joseph and Dominic will welcome him into their heavenly society. For that we pray. An army of happy souls whom he helped to save will rejoice over his rejoining them. In this his family, always so dear to him, will find consolation. To our prayers for him we add our sympathy and condolence to you his relatives and friends. Father Raymond — as we quote from the word of God — “was beloved of God and men and his memory is in benediction.” Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.

Washington, D.C.
October 22, 1954.

October 1, 2012

Dominican Saints: An All-Star Cast

To learn more about the Saints of the Order of Preachers,
Bro. Peter Martyr Yungwirth OP has been posting a series
called Dominican Saints 101 on the website of the Province
of St. Joseph. Those pages are being collated on the province's
blog for vocations. Check it out!

August 6, 2012

Apostle of Ohio: Edward Dominic Fenwick, O.P.

Pat McNamara recently wrote an article for the popular web portal Patheos, about the founder of the Dominican Province of St. Joseph, Fr. Edward Dominic Fenwick OP, who was later to become the first bishop of Ohio.
By 1800, Americans were moving westward by the thousands, settling the untamed backwoods of Kentucky. Barely a generation had passed since Daniel Boone guided the first white settlers there. Only a few years earlier had the bloody Indian wars ended. Here, in 1805, the centuries-old Dominican Order established its first house in North America, a simple log-cabin like the one Abraham Lincoln would be born in a few years later. Its founder was Edward Fenwick: teacher, pastor, frontier missionary, and Ohio's first Catholic bishop.
See the whole article: The Apostle of Ohio: Bishop Edward Dominic Fenwick OP

See also Edward Dominic Fenwick: Open to God by Bro. Bonaventure Chapman OP

June 18, 2012

Unforgettable Images of the Priesthood

In an article in the National Catholic Register, "Unforgettable Images of the Priesthood," Mr. Tom Hoopes recounts a memory he will never forget while attending Mass at St. Mary's, our parish in New Haven, CT.
But the greatest priestly action I have ever seen was at Mass on a hot summer Sunday at St. Mary’s Parish in New Haven, Conn. 
This was back before the parish had air conditioning. It was tough for the congregation, but worse for the visiting priest who said Mass in the summer. He had diabetes and some kind of degenerative nerve disorder that made his hands shake. 
“It’s hot for you,” he would joke. “But I’m up here wearing a horse blanket!”
This priest’s homilies were excellent, showing him to be a great student of Catholic social teaching, but the moment that is burned in my memory happened during the Eucharistic prayer. 
Father was slowing down through the first part of the prayer, like an old record player that needed to be cranked. When he started the consecration, it sounded like he was going to stop altogether. But after he started the consecration, it quickly became clear that nothing could make him stop.
“Take this,” pause, “all of you,” pause, “and” … long pause … “eat it.” 
He took a long gasping breath and looked like he wouldn’t recover. A parishioner ran to his side. The priest made it clear he wasn’t about to leave the altar, so the parishioner brought a chair for him to rest on. 
“This … is … my … body … which will be … given up … for you.” 
He lifted the host with shaky hands. We watched in rapt silence. He slowly worked through “When the supper was ended, he took the cup …” 
And then a replacement priest had been brought over from the rectory. But Father wasn’t about to stop halfway through the consecration. Word after agonizing word, he got to the end of the consecration. By then, an ambulance had come. After he elevated the chalice, he was carried away on a stretcher. 
Then the replacement priest stepped up to the altar. “Let us proclaim the mystery of faith,” he said. Talk about alter christus. Watching that priest was like watching Our Lord consecrating the Eucharist — from the cross. 
“Mom, why wouldn’t he stop?” the kids asked their mother in the car. “Because he’s a priest,” said April. “That’s what priests do.” 
She was right. It is vitally important that priests preach and that they do it well. But preaching isn’t the most important thing priests do. A priest doesn’t need to be talented, interesting or well-read to do the most important things priests do. When you really need a priest, any priest will do.
The Dominican priest was Fr. Jack Reid OP, who suffers from Parkinson's Disease and is currently retired at Providence College.  The Dominican priest that relieved him to finish the Mass was the then, Fr. Anthony Giambrone OP, who is currently studying at Notre Dame towards his PhD in Biblical Theology.

St. Mary's is also the church where the Knights of Columbus were founded by the Servant of God, Fr. Michael McGiveny.

Pray that the Dominicans friars will continue to reflect the image of Christ and His holy priesthood! Pray also for holy Dominican vocations!  (click here for the 2012 Novitiate class)

April 28, 2012

St. Catherine of Siena

Father Francis Martin narrates a brief story about St. Catherine of Siena while teaching at the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception at the Dominican House of Studies, August 29, 2008, during an S.T.L. level course on Divine Revelation.

February 21, 2012

Ash Wednesday 1220

"On Ash Wednesday, February 12, 1220 (a few days after the death of Blessed Reginald), Jordan and his two favorite companions received the Dominican habit from the hands of Father Matthew of France." Victor F. O'Daniel, O.P., The First Disciples of Saint Dominic (1928).

From the Libellus of Jordan of Saxony:
The Entrance of Brothers Jordan, Henry and Leo into the Order of Preachers
75. On Ash Wednesday, when the imposition of ashes reminds the faithful of their origin from and return to dust, we decided that a suitable way to begin the season of penance would be to fulfill the vow we had made to the Lord. Now none of our companions where we lived knew of our plan. So when Brother Henry left his lodgings and one of his companions asked him where he was going, he answered, "To Bethany." He did not understand what Henry meant, but later on he did, when he saw Henry enter Bethany, which means "the house of obedience." The three of us met at Saint-Jacques and, while the brethren were chanting "Immutemus habitu," we presented ourselves before them, much to their surprise, and, putting off the old man, we put on the new, thus suiting our actions to what they were singing.

Immutemur habitu, in cinere et cilicio: jejunemus et ploremus ante Dominum: quia multum misericors est dimittere peccata nostra Deus noster.

Let us change our garments for ashes and sackcloth: let us fast and lament before the Lord: for plenteous in mercy is our God to forgive our sins.

February 17, 2012

St. Peter Martyr and the Foundation of the Servites

Like the Mercedarians, who were helped in their foundation by St. Raymond of Penafort, OP, so too were the Seven Holy Founders of the Servites (today's feast) aided by a Dominican in their foundation: St. Peter Martyr (1206-1252).

The early chronicles of the Servite Order place great emphasis on the importance of St. Peter Martyr in the foundation of their Order.  He is said to have personally presented the case of their Papal approval to Pope Innocent IV.  He is said to have had a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary in which she described to him what their habit should look like (which looks mostly like the Dominican habit but black).  One legenda even has him placing their Order under the Rule of St. Augustine (which the Dominicans follow).  While that last part doesn't appear to be historically true, it is true that their constitutions are almost a direct copy of the Dominican Constitutions codified by St. Raymond of Penafort.  Thus, it is not surprising to find this comment in a 14th century Servite chronicle:

"Brother Peter of Verona of the order of Saint Dominic, the Holy Martyr, of whom not enough can be said of the good that he wished, the good that he did, and the good that he still does daily for us.  If her were still among us, there would be nothing more he could do for us.  Let us pray therefore that he continue to protect us from heaven, as much as he did on earth.  Let us venerate Saint Peter of Verona, who has done much good for us."

With that in mind, it's no wonder that while the last of the Seven Holy Founders, St. Alexis Falconieri, was still alive, the Servite general chapter "mandated that the feast of Peter was to be celebrated as a duplex: the highest liturgical rank" and that "a statue of Peter was placed in the refectory of the convent of Monte Senario in Florence, the home monastery of the order."  No wonder, St. Peter Martyr is sometimes referred to as the Second Founder of the Servites.

Quotes from: Donald Prudlo, The Martyred Inquisitor: The Life and Cult of Peter of Verona (+ 1252) (Burlington: Ashgate, 2008), page 52, footnote 62.