Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Alice Springs: Remembering John Paul II’s Visit 25 Years Later

25 years ago, a Polish Pope stepped off a plane and kissed the tarmac in Australia for the first time. Jesuit Father Frank Brennan remembers Pope John Paul II’s first visit Australia, and reflected on the Alice Springs portion of his trip for the Australian Jesuit blog, Eureka Street

As the Pope completed the lengthy speech, he took a large gum branch, reached into a clay coolamon which later would be used in the Alice Springs church for baptisms, and blessed the people with water.

It was at that moment that the lightning sounded and the heavens opened. All of us in the crowd were convinced that grace and nature were one and indivisible at that moment in the red centre. The Centralian Advocate reported that ‘as an electrical storm was threatening the gathering of about 4000 people, most of the thunder was coming from the podium’.

The Pope later confided to Bishop Ted Collins, ‘I think the people prefer meeting me rather than listening to me. But I had to say it all because otherwise it could not be published.’ The mainstream media picked up the Pope’s remarks about land rights, self-determination and reconciliation.

But he put even more demanding challenges to the Australian Church when he enunciated the place of Indigenous Australians in the life of the Church, and when he outlined the relationship between Christian faith and Aboriginal culture and religious tradition.

Fr. Brennan is an adjunct professor at the College of Law and the National Centre for Indigenous Studies, Australian National University. To read his full reflections, please click here.

Father Ciszek Day Mass Includes Panachida Service

The 27th annual Jesuit Father Walter J. Ciszek Day Mass was concelebrated in October at St. Casimir Roman Catholic Church by nine priests, including three Byzantine Catholic Rite clerics.

For the first time in St. Casimir’s during the annual Mass, a Panachida service – a service to remember the deceased in Eastern Catholic and Orthodox churches – was conducted at the conclusion of Mass, for Fr. Ciszek, a Shenandoah native whose cause for canonization is under investigation in the Catholic Church. Father Ciszek, baptized a Roman Catholic, served his priesthood in the Byzantine Rite.

The Panachida service was celebrated by the Jesuit Father Thomas Sable, co-postulator for the cause of canonization of Father Ciszek; Monsignor Nicholas I. Pukak, pastor of St. Mary Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic Church, Freeland, the oldest Ruthenian Byzantine church in America; and Monsignor John S. Mraz, guest homilist and pastor of St. Ann Roman Catholic Church, Emmaus, and the director of the Allentown Diocese Office of Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue.

During his homily, Mraz said that he was honored to be the homilist, not for being an expert on Father Ciszek, but for his devotion to him and the cause for canonization.

“While I was in the seminary in the early 1970s, I learned about the heroic virtue and the saintly life of a native of Shenandoah, Father Walter Ciszek, who suffered for decades in the Stalinist gulags in Soviet Russia, and the strange spy swap that returned him to his family in Pennsylvania and the Society of Jesus,” he said.

“Once Father Walter was able to surrender his life to his vocation and his future in Christ, his stubbornness became determination in the face of the communist oppression,” said Mraz. “His pride became courage in the midst of religious oppression. His self-sufficiency became reliance upon Christ’s grace and the decades-long isolation from family, friends and the religious community.”

Father Ciszek was born Nov. 4, 1904, in Shenandoah and was a parishioner of St. Casimir’s, where he was baptized and attended the parochial school. He was ordained in 1937 as the first American Jesuit in the Byzantine Catholic Rite. He secretly entered the Soviet Union in 1939 as a missionary priest and was arrested in 1941 as a Vatican spy. After 23 years as a prisoner in the Soviet Union, he was released and returned to the United States. He died Dec. 8, 1984. His cause for canonization began in the Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Passaic and was later transferred to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Allentown. His cause is currently being reviewed at the Vatican.


Beatification Cause Opened for Young Jesuit Killed by Nazis

The beatification cause for Jesuit novice Tomas Munk and his father, Frantisek Munk, was opened on Sept. 27 in the Slovakian city of Bratislava.

The city’s Archbishop Stanislav Zvolensky presided at the ceremony accompanied by various bishops.

A tribunal will now examine evidence of Tomas and Frantisek’s martyrdom. Father Ondrej Gabris, the vice postulator of the cause, has submitted a list of 14 testimonies.

Born in Budapest on January 29, 1924, In the mid-1930s, Tomas began having an interest in the Catholic faith.  He was baptized in 1939 in the city of Ruzomberok, Slovakia.

In 1943, Tomas entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus, studying in Bratislava and Ruzomberok.  In the autumn of 1944, Nazi soldiers came in Ruzomberok. After several months the whole family was arrested and the Nazi eventually came to the Novitiate and took him away as a Jewish convert. According to a fellow novice, now a respected Jesuit, Tomas confided to him having prayed all night in the Novitiate chapel: “I have sacrificed my life for my nation, for its conversion and for the Church.”

Frantisek and his wife Gizela, together with their sons Tomas and Juraj, were sent to a concentration camp. They were later separated and sent on three different trains to Germany.  Tomas and his father were shot during a “death march” near Sachsenhausen on April 22, 1945.

The Catholic television station “Tv Lux” aired a special documentary on Tomas and his father to mark the opening of their cause for beatification.



Jesuit’s Experience in Native Ministry on the Pine Ridge the Focus of This Month’s Podcast

Jesuit Father Peter Klink is currently the school parish chaplain at the Red Cloud Indian School in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. The Pine Ridge reservation of the Lakota Tribe covers a large, 5,000 square foot swath of land in the southwestern corner of South Dakota.

Here, Fr. Klink ministers to the Lakota’s communities three schools and in its parishes. He’s held many responsibilities during his 26 years of native ministry on the Pine Ridge, including 18 years as the school’s president.

Today, staggering poverty and an unemployment rate that hovers around 80% leave the children of the Pine Ridge facing an uphill struggle as they learn and grown up on the reservation. But, Klink endeavors to make sure the two elementary schools and the high school that make up the school system on the Pine Ridge are a beacon of hope for the possibility of a bright future for the Lakota and their families.

Recently, Klink took the time to speak with National Jesuit News by phone from the Red Cloud School for our monthly podcast series. You can listen to our interview with him below:

Jesuit Shares Tale of Survival as WWII POW

Jesuit Father John Ruane

Jesuit priests and seminarians, above, in a photo taken at Loyola College in Los Angeles after they were freed by American soldiers in 1945. Jesuit Father John Ruane is in the top row, second from right.

Jesuit Father John Ruane, 91, who was interned in the Los Banos civilian internment camp on the island of Luzon in the Philippines during World War II, said of his survival, “God was protecting us.”

Fr. Ruane said that going to the missions appealed to him, and he was sent to the Philippines to study philosophy at Ateneo de Manila in July 1941. By 1942, all the priests and seminarians were placed under house arrest by the Japanese military, and in 1945, the Jesuits were moved to the Los Banos camp. They could take few belongings, and the 80 Jesuits were assigned to live in huts with 16 internees in each.

Given rice mixed with a little meat and water twice a day, Ruane said, “We were weak.” He said that they didn’t move around too much to preserve their strength and people would blackout often.

The priests would take turns saying Mass with the wine they had smuggled into the camp, and some of the Jesuits professors who would lecture the internees.

Ruane said they never gave up on the Americans and knew they were close since their airplane engines were stronger than the Japanese.

Ruane and the other internees were rescued by the U.S. troops, and he returned to the United States to be ordained; earned a doctorate in philosophy at Louvain, Belgium; and then returned to Cebu in the Philippines to teach Jesuit seminarians until 1969.

Read more about Ruane at and NJN.