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Via Media


Even more vocations…

posted by awelborn

A very nice article from the local paper about the Sisters of Mary of the Eucharist in Ann Arbor, growing as other orders shrink and age.

They were smart. They were good at sports. They were fun to hang out with.

But spend the rest of her life with them?

Nope, not what Showalter planned. She was going to college, intending to become a scientist, a wife and a mother.

But in late July, as Sister Maria Faustina, Showalter took permanent vows in the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, an order based in Ann Arbor Township.

"God puts this call in your heart; he places it there, and it’s a gentle call. You can choose to ignore it, and I tried to for three years,” said Sister Showalter, 27.

The Sisters of Mary, founded in 1997, are growing at a time when many other Catholic religious orders are shrinking or simply disappearing. Four young sisters, including Sister Showalter, made perpetual vows late last month, and Friday morning, six more made their initial vows. A new group of 17 postulants – beginning sisters – is expected in September, which will bring the community total to 64.

The Order’s website.

Now someone please help me out here – I’ve wasted several minutes here, looking for a link to another Ann Arbor-based order (I think) – very solid spiritually and vocationally, that does not, in fact, wear full habits, but rather some simple clothing and a large cross. I actually wrote about them once, in an article for OSV. As I recall, their primariy apostolate was care for the impoverished elderly. Anyone?



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Philip

posted August 8, 2005 at 12:48 am


“”There’s always been a rear guard action among Catholics who don’t like Vatican II,” said the Rev. Richard P. McBrien, former chairman of the Department of Theology at the University of Notre Dame and a longtime voice in the Catholic Church in America”
Yeah Father McBrien you keep telling yourself that…



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Mary Jane

posted August 8, 2005 at 5:47 am


I think you’re looking for the “Alma Mercy” sisters, many of whom are academics and physicians.



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Mary Jane

posted August 8, 2005 at 5:49 am


Here they are – http://rsmofalma.org/indextest.htm
It’s the Religious Sisters of Alma, Michigan. Now I’ll go drink my coffee.



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Dan Crawford

posted August 8, 2005 at 6:56 am


Fr. McBrien needs a prayer life.



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Jim Manney

posted August 8, 2005 at 7:09 am


I think you mean the Servants of God’s Love. I can’t find a website for them. Here’s a link to a radio program co-hosted by one of the sisters:
http://www.avemariaradio.net/christian-radio-host.php/Sr.-Sarah-Burdick-and-Tom-Loewe/



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Susan

posted August 8, 2005 at 7:42 am


“”There’s always been a rear guard action among Catholics who don’t like Vatican II,” said the Rev. Richard P. McBrien, former chairman of the Department of Theology at the University of Notre Dame and a longtime voice in the Catholic Church in America”
Would it kill Fr. McBrien to do a little research? I’ve visited these sisters as I’ve discerned. Their Masses are a beautiful, faithful Novus Ordo (that’s not liking Vatican II?) Also, their newsletters have included details about their studies. These sisters are very educated about Vatican II and embrace it completely and faithfully.
Fr. McBrien – seriously, 20 minutes of research before you give a quote would be a really good idea.



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Chris

posted August 8, 2005 at 8:04 am


20 minutes? How about 5?
Seriously, the rationale is simple. Like wearing full habits? Pre-Vatican II. No need to research.



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Rev. James Maranki

posted August 8, 2005 at 8:31 am


Fr. McBrien suffers from the disease know as impulsivefootinthemouthitis. Agian if he would do only 5 minutes worth of research he would soon realize how ridiculous his statement is.



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Henry Dieterich

posted August 8, 2005 at 8:35 am


Here’s the website for the Servants of God’s Love.



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Der Tommissar

posted August 8, 2005 at 11:10 am


“”There’s always been a rear guard action among Catholics who don’t like Vatican II,” said the Rev. Richard P. McBrien, former chairman of the Department of Theology at the University of Notre Dame and a longtime voice in the Catholic Church in America”
Actually, Father McBrien is right, and it amazes me that everyone misses that point. When he talks about a rear guard that doesn’t like Vatican II, do you think he means there are people that have studied Gaudium et Spes or Veritatis Splendor and come up with a scathing critique? Really?
That’s not his Vatican II. That’s not what he’s talking about, and it astounds me that people keep playing along with him as if it was. It gives his position too much ill-deserved respectability.
When Fr. McBrien says “Vatican II” he means:
Strip the sanctuary and smash the altars. Unlink the rosaries and burn the vestments. The sacrifice is ended, never to return.
The problem that I think most conservative or “neoCaths” have with evil Traditionalists (and vice versa) is precisely on this point. Neocaths see argue with those who want to destroy the church about the specific meanings of the documents of Vatican II. In doing so, they don’t challenge much of the “spirit” that gets bandied about. They assume it to be the case. Traditionalists argue about the “spirit” of Vatican II, and get so caught up in that they don’t challenge much of the interpretations given about the documents of Vatican II. They assume it to be the case. Therefore, Traditionalists and Neo-Catholics find themselves arguing with each other.
PS. Nothing in Vatican II directed Pope Paul VI to invent an entirely new liturgy out of whole cloth.



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Susan

posted August 8, 2005 at 11:31 am


Well, Der Tommisar, I think the point is that anyone who looks at these sisters will see that they are not part of the group that dislikes Vatican II.
I don’t think anyone is denying that there are those people who reject VII. We know they exist.
It’s Fr. McBrien’s quote applying to the Sisters of Mary Mother of the Eucharist that’s ridiculous.



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Der Tommissar

posted August 8, 2005 at 12:21 pm


Susan,
It depends on what you mean by “Vatican II”, and there is the disconnect. I think you can make the case that according to Father McBrien they do wholeheartedly reject it, according to his vision of the Council.
After all, they wear habits and don’t protest the injustice of the oppressive patriarchy. They probably have Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament too!
Father McBrien’s quote is spot on. People are just ignoring the implications.



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Kevin Miller

posted August 8, 2005 at 12:46 pm


Uh, DT, there are PLENTY of non-Trads who challenge – extensively and intensively – the liberals’ claims about the “spirit of VatII.”



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Mary Jane

posted August 8, 2005 at 2:09 pm


Thanks for the link to the Servants of God’s Love. I did listen a fair bit of one of the radio shows and found it quite lucid. Because of my own family’s Protestant background and some dicey liturgical experiences, I tend to be very leery of charismatic Catholics. (I know it’s not fair, but that’s just the situation.) A look at this order, a listen to the Sister’s radio bit – both did a good deal to make me more positive about this. While I’m still not wild about the music if it’s used liturgically and not for private listening, at least I’m revising my opinion. And of course, that comes as a huge relief to all of you out there, doesn’t it? [grin]



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Zach Frey

posted August 8, 2005 at 2:42 pm


It was a very nicely done article.
What doesn’t come through in the online edition is that this was the Sunday lead.
The Ann Arbor News did a great job with the photographs, too. The front page was a shot of the novices processing into Christ the King. There was also a shot of the novices prostrating themselves (with Bishop Mengeling at the altar). There were also photos of the mother house (with the expansion project underway), sisters at the library, a novice at prayer, etc.
In fact, other than the (obligatory?) one-paragraph sniping by Fr. McBrien, it seemed entirely positive coverage.
Given the usual editorial stances of the Ann Arbor News, having the front page plastered with a crucifex held high by a nun in habit has got to be the result of somebody’s intercession! :)
peace,



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Der Tommissar

posted August 8, 2005 at 3:19 pm


Uh, DT, there are PLENTY of non-Trads who challenge – extensively and intensively – the liberals’ claims about the “spirit of VatII.”
It would be silly to claim that only Traditionalists have objections to a lot of the blatant insanity that is in the air these days. I’m not claiming that any one side magically always has a correct argument or interpretation. Nor am I saying that one side is more sensitive or has a better handle on the situation in the Church today.
If Sr. Whacky were to appear at a parish and agitate for…oh..let’s say communion in the hand, and claim it was all part of the “spirit of Vatican II”, a “neoCath” would most likely crack open every relevant section of every document of Vatican II to prove that statement is so much rubbish. At the same time, there is a general sense of “now, I don’t want to seem radical and reactionary. We all know reform was needed…” People stare at the weird guy who can argue in perfect circles. Sister gets her way.
Same scenario, Sister meets a Traditionalist. The Traditionalist explains how perceptions of the Blessed Sacrament developed and how the doctrine became more clarified through the Church’s History. The Traditionalist would crack open every reference to the Blessed Sacrament and the thought behind communion in the hand throughout the life of the church, until about 1965.
When Vatican II is brought up as a justification as well as the prudential acts of various prelates in allowing the practice in certain specific instances, the Traditionalists excommunicates all the bishops involved. He then excommunicates the priests involved, the parish committees, their dogs and the guys who sell the candles to the local churches. People keep their kids away from the weird guy, and sister gets her way.
Then conservative guy and traditionalist guy send each other very snarky emails, and call it their apostolate. None of them lived happily ever after.
You can point out exceptions to the rule? Glad to hear it. I still believe those still exist as very general currents of thought. To my mind, it’s the biggest obstacle to undoing the damage of the last few decades.



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VM

posted August 8, 2005 at 3:20 pm


I hope the new order does well, and I also hope though that they won’t revert too much to the old model of religious life. Many changes needed to be made, and while some orders threw out the essentials, to go back to some of the ridiculous practices would definitely be a backward step. I’m not saying that this group is doing it because I don’t know them. It’s easy to collect a lot of vocations by recruiting; it’s difficult for them to persevere over the long haul. It’s not the number who enter that matters; it’s the number who stay over the years. Time will tell.



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mio

posted August 8, 2005 at 4:01 pm


I would say, rather, that the “rear guard action among Catholics who don’t like Vatican II” consists of folks like Fr. McBrien himself, who elevate their dreams of what Vatican II should have done above what the Council’s documents actually say.
To put it another way …
Does Fr. McBrien agree that “steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them”?
Does he often (or ever) note in his column that “Gregorian chant … should be given pride of place in liturgical services”?
No?
Then there he is, just another rear-guarder who doesn’t like Vatican II.



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DJP

posted August 8, 2005 at 5:11 pm


For those Charismatic Catholics out there, Servants of God’s Love Religious Community used to be part of Sword of the Spirit, an international, interdenominational covenant community. The Sword of the Spirit had branches everywhere, including Steubenville (not the University, although they met there), whose group was called Servants of Christ the King (formerly called Servants of God’s Love, which Sr. Ann Shields was a founding member back in the 1970’s.)
As a Steubenville graduate, I remember Ann Shields going back and forth on the habit. When she was a Sister of Mercy, she did not wear one; then in the 1980’s, she returned to the full habit, then formed this new community and now doesn’t wear the veil.
Why did so she do that?
Also, is her community completely independent of the Sword of the Spirit? What is the status of that? Maybe Jim Manney can answer that question.



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DJP

posted August 8, 2005 at 5:18 pm


Oh, I almost forgot about Fr. McBrien.
What kind of a priest is he, besides his liberal leanings? Faith in Christ? Love for the Church? Any respect for the Papacy?



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michigancatholic

posted August 8, 2005 at 6:48 pm


DJP, he’s famous for writing a book that’s utter baloney about Catholicism. Anyone out there, did that get dissed by the CDF or the USCCB or?



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DJP

posted August 9, 2005 at 6:56 am


Thanks MichiganCatholic
But what is he like as a person? Is he known for his charity? His outreach? His prayer life? Is the Mass central to his ministry as a priest? We know that he writes about politics in the Church but what about his spiritual side?
I ask these questions because sometimes his politics and his negative perspective toward the Papacy force us to see only one dimension. Does he believe in Christ as the Church professes?



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Roz

posted August 9, 2005 at 8:52 am


To DJP:
Yes, the Servants of God’s Love are independent of the Sword of the Spirit ecumenical association of communities.
As Amy mentioned, they minister to the elderly; also some of the sisters care for foster children and a number of them teach in local Catholic schools. My children were taught by several of the Sisters while they were living together as celibate laywomen before the order was established. They are delightful women, devoted to Christ, and remembered by my kids as “loads of fun but tough”.



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Henry Dieterich

posted August 9, 2005 at 9:01 am


As I member of Word of Life community, which is a member community of the Sword of the Spirit, I believe I can answer the questions posed by DJP above. The Servants of God’s Love began as a sisterhood of celibate women within The Word of God, an ecumenical charismatic community in Ann Arbor. The Word of God was one of the founding communities of the Sword of the Spirit. At that time, they took no canonical vows, were not considered a religious order, and did not wear habits. Several of the members were Protestants. The Servants of the Word, an ecumenical brotherhood of celibate men, had also been founded within the community. The first superior was (now Sister) Dorcee Clarey. Sister Ann Shields, who had been a Sister of Mercy, left her order because of the direction being taken by the leadership in embracing feminism, unorthodoxy, and so on. When she left the order (with the approval of all relevant ecclesiastical authorities) she moved to Ann Arbor to continue to live out her vocation within the Servants of God’s Love. She was almost immediately elected superior, being senior to the other members both in age and in experience of the religious life. (She has written numerous books and spoken at uncounted conferences and retreats.) In 1991, most of The Word of God leadership decided to leave the Sword of the Spirit. Many members of the community, who disagreed with this decision, formed what is now Word of Life community. Likewise, the Servants of the Word, who by now had several houses in different communities in Europe, Asia, Latin America, and the US, remained part of the Sword of the Spirit. Sister Ann and most of the Servants of God’s Love remained part of The Word of God. During the 1980s, many of the Protestant members of the Servants of God’s Love had become Catholics. A few of the sisters disagreed with the decision to leave the Sword of the Spirit and left the sisterhood, while continuing to be committed to celibacy within the Word of Life. At least one of them has taken formal private vows as a consecrated virgin in the diocese of Lansing (all are in fact Catholic). The remaining Protestant members of the Servants of God’s Love left at this time as well. It appears that Sr. Ann’s plan was to take the Servants of God’s Love in the direction of becoming a Catholic religious order. This led to the sisters achieving an initial canonical status, whereupon they began using the title “Sister,” and subsequently reaching their current status. Their acceptance by the diocese is indicated in part by the membership of Sr. Ann on the diocesan Pastoral Council. Many members of the Servants of God’s Love are, I believe, members of The Word of God, but not, I think, all of them, especially the new vocations since 1991. The Sword of the Spirit continues to exist; I should point out that almost all the member communities have a majority of Catholics as members, and that most of the communities are entirely Catholic (although not most in North America, but that is but a part of the total). Catholic communities, and Catholics within ecumenical communities, participate with the approval of their local bishop. The Word of God still exists. I believe most of its members are Catholic as well, although there are also many Protestants. The Servants of Christ the King in Steubenville, however, has since dissolved, although Franciscan University, I am happy to say, still flourishes.



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amy

posted August 9, 2005 at 10:31 pm


Henry:
Is there a Cliff Notes version of your post?
Wow. That’s intricate.
Thanks!
A



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anon

posted August 10, 2005 at 1:07 pm


uh, believe it or not, that IS the cliff notes version. there’s a lot more there and some of it ain’t too pretty (ie. hurt and anger from many past members of all above mentioned communities). but that’s the history of christianity, no? henry did a pretty good job describing without all the nastiness and gossip. but he does describe it from a particular perspective esp. since he is still involved with these communities…



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