First of all, thank you SO MUCH for the tremendous turnout and total participation by so many at the parish auction on November 3. The decorations were outstanding. The food and drink were great. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. I know that there will be a full reporting of the expenses and proceeds in the coming weeks. By the way, cash contributions are still welcome. The co-chairs, Jessica Faltus and Karen Bourneuf, assembled a great committee. They all did a great job! Thank you again.
The election is over! To the victors, congratulations; to the losers, thank you for running. To ALL: PLEASE may we have civil discourse in the future. This is being written prior to the election (because of my vacation), so I don’t know who won (obviously)! PLEASE may we work together: E Pluibus Unum: Out of many ONE! Thank you.
To all Veterans: I would like to wish a very happy Veterans Day. I guess the “official” holiday is tomorrow, November 12, but today is the day when on the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour, that “the war to end all wars” came to an end in 1918, one hundred years ago today. Unfortu- nately that was not the war to end all wars. We have been in almost constant armed conflicts since the end of World War I. For this we are all sad, to say the least. BUT it is to you, the Veterans among us, to whom we owe a great day of thanks for the freedoms that we have. May God bless us all as we celebrate this holiday!
This weekend we celebrate the Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time. No matter how many times we say we trust in the Lord, we often live as if we are in charge of our own lives and dependent only on our own talents. We will be reminded next week that not only are we called to live in utter surrender and dependence on our Lord, but we are to give from our very poverty to those who are in need. We must trust God will provide for us as we empty ourselves to care for the poor and the oppressed. It is a risky way to live but it is the life of faith and trust to which we are called.
Next weekend we will have a DOUBLE CELEBRATION: The Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time AND the Feast of the Secondary Patroness of the Archdiocese, Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne, RSCJ, and the bicentennial of her arrival in Saint Louis. (The readings will be of the Sunday, while the prayers will be of Saint Rose Philippine.)
First about the readings for next weekend: As the liturgical year draws to an end, the church uses the Scriptures to turn the hearts and minds of her people to the life to come. How will we know when the end is coming? We do not know the day or the hour. But we know that in God’s own time, when light shines and triumphs over darkness, and when justice and love rules over all, then time as we know it will no longer matter and God’s second coming will be upon us.
Second, about Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne: She was born in Grenoble, France, on August 29, 1769. She was one of eight children and was educated at the Visitation Academy near Grenoble.After graduation she entered the Visitation Sisters but, during the French Revolution, her monastery was closed, and the nuns were dispersed. After the Revolution she tried to reestablish her monastery, but was unable to. However her Spiritual Director told her of the new institute started by Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat, the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
During her childhood, Rose Philippine had heard many stories in her parish church from missionary priests of life in Louisiana, founded as a colony of New France, and had long felt a desire to serve the Native Americans who lived there. In 1817, Bishop William Dubourg, S.S., Bishop of the Diocese of Louisiana and the Two Florida’s, visited the convent in Paris. He was looking for a congregation of educators to help him evangelize the Indian and French children of his Diocese. After meeting him, Duchesne, who had never lost her desire to serve as a missionary, begged permission from Mother Barat to serve in the bishop’s Diocese.
In 1818, with Mother Barat’s blessing, Mother Duchesne headed out to the United States with four other Sisters of the Society. After ten weeks at sea, they arrived in New Orleans. To their shock, however, the bishop had made no provisions for housing them. After they had rested briefly with the Ursuline nuns, they took advantage of the newly established steamboat service up the Mississippi River to travel to St. Louis, and in November 1818, settled in St. Charles, in what was then the Missouri Territory, a journey of seven weeks. She was later to describe the location as “the remotest village in the U.S.”; nonetheless the community established a new Sacred Heart convent in a log cabin there, known as the Duquette Mansion, the first house of the Society ever built outside France the first in St. Charles County, Missouri, and the first free school west of the Mississippi. “Poverty
and Christian heroism are here”, she wrote of the site, “and trials are the riches of priestsin this land”. The following year Dubourg moved the community across the river to the town of Florissant, Missouri, to the Parish Church of Saint Ferdinand, where they opened a school and a novitiate.
The United States had purchased the area from France only fifteen years earlier, and settlers, many poor but others with money and slaves, were streaming in from the East Coast of the United States. Their new foundation faced many struggles, including lack of funds, inadequate housing, hunger and very cold weather, and the Sisters struggled to learn English. By 1828, the Society’s first five members in America had grown to six communities, operating several schools. After establishing more convents, in 1828, the Jesuits asked Mother Duchesne to return to Saint Charles, to that same log cabin where they had lived, in fact, because it was still the biggest house in town – and conduct the parish school. The Sisters did so. In 1835 they built their first brick building.
But she wanted to be a missionary. So in 1841 the Jesuits asked the Sisters to join them in a new mission with the Potawatomi tribe in eastern Kansas, along Sugar Creek, current Johnson County, Kansas. At age seventy-one, she was not among those initially selected for the trip. But she was ultimately chosen. Unable to master their language, she was not able to teach, so she would spend long periods in prayer. The children named her Woman Who Prays Always. In 1842, after a year among the Potawatomi, it was clear that her health could not sustain life in a missionary village
and she returned to St Charles. She spent the last decade of her life living there in a tiny room under a stairway near the chapel (just as she did in Florissant!). Toward the end of her life, she was very lonely, going blind, feeble, and yearned for letters from Mother Barat. She died November 18, 1852, aged 83. She was beatified by Pope Pius XII on May 12, 1940, and was canonized by Pope Saint John Paul II on July 3, 1988. (I was privileged to have been able to distribute Holy Communion at her canonization Mass.)
Because of her connection with Saint Louis, after her canonization she was made secondary patron of the Archdiocese, along with Saint Vincent de Paul. A very holy and courageous lady, may we celebrate her feast appropriately. The Archbishop will be celebrating a special Mass at 2:30 P.M. on Sunday, November 18, at the Cathedral Basilica. All are welcome.
Fr Joe Weber