Tag Archives: Springfield

Saint Francis Xavier (1506-1552)

“All nations will come to climb the mountain of the Lord,” the Prophet Isaiah says in our Advent readings. Joining Portuguese merchants, Saint Francis Xavier went to far-off Asia, not for exotic spices and goods, but to call new followers to Jesus Christ.

For 10 years, Francis Xavier labored in India, Japan and southeast Asia to bring the gospel to the native peoples of these lands. In a letter to St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, he explains that he’s so busy teaching and baptizing he has hardly a minute to himself. “Send help,” he says.

“Many, many people hereabouts are not becoming Christians for one reason only: there is nobody to make them Christians. Again and again I have thought of going round the universities of Europe, especially Paris, and everywhere crying out like a madman, riveting the attention of those with more learning than charity: ‘What a tragedy: how many souls are being shut out of heaven and falling into hell, thanks to you!’”

He’s driven by missionary zeal. Today, unfortunately, we’re becoming more like those university people in Paris– concerned about ourselves and ready to let the rest of the world go by.

The statue of Saint Francis Xavier above is  in the beautiful church of the Sacred Heart in Springfield, MA, where Father Theodore Foley went as a boy. Was it put there after a Novena of Grace preached by some Jesuit missionaries, I wonder? How many  people, like Theodore Foley, heard the story of the fiery missionary and saw themselves called to be missionaries ?

The Prophet Isaiah’s call to the nations is not confined to his time. God’s mission to the nations is for our time too.

https://vhoagland.wordpress.com/2014/02/08/father-theodore-foley-cp/

Father Theodore Foley, CP

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Fr. Theodore Foley, whom I knew and lived with in community, may take his place among the saints someday. He died October 9, 1974. Here’s a summary of his life.

He was born in 1913 in Springfield, Massachusetts into a devout Catholic family.  He went to Catholic schools and experienced a vibrant Catholic life in Sacred Heart parish in the north end of Springfield.

As a young boy of 14 he was attracted to the missionary spirit and spirituality of the Passionist community. Entering the Passionists, he was ordained a priest in 1940 and became one of its best spiritual guides and teachers of theology.

In 1958 Father Theodore went to Rome to be a general consultor for the worldwide Passionist community. In 1964 he became its superior general. He led his community through the turbulent decades of the 1960s and 70s when social unrest, political confrontations, assassinations, anti-establishment and anti-war demonstrations began shaking the western world and the Catholic Church.

As traditional values came into question and church membership (including membership in his own community) began to decline, he was a rock of hope to those shaken by the times.

A participant in the Second Vatican Council, Father Theodore took up its challenge and worked tirelessly to bring the message of Jesus Christ to the world. Seeking new opportunities to do God’s will, he traveled to Asia and Africa to extend the missionary outreach of his community. He also promoted the study of the Passion of Jesus as a remedy for a world in danger of forgetting God.

For him a perilous time like ours was not a reason to do nothing. It’s a time for “God’s purification in our lives and we have to accept it and do our best for the future of the congregation and our church.”

While furthering new ventures in Africa, he contracted a deadly virus which on his return to Rome caused his death on October 9, 1974.

A gentle man, faithful to prayer and unfailingly kind to others, Father Theodore believed that God is always at work in our world, even in bad times. The mystery of the passion of Jesus, which he kept constantly before his eyes, nourished in him a steady hope that God leads us on, no matter how dark life seems to be.
https://vimeo.com/19438932

A hope like his is a hope to pray for today. Father Theodore is a candidate for canonization, and here’s a prayer that his cause succeeds:

Prayer for the Beatification of Fr. Theodore Foley, CP

 

Lord Jesus Christ,

You called Theodore Foley to follow you to Calvary’s heights as a Passionist priest and through your Immaculate and Sorrowful Mother taught him to fulfill your Father’s will by loving God and neighbor.

Let his life inspire us to a life of deeper virtue.

We humbly ask you to glorify your servant Father Theodore according to the designs of your holy will and through his intercession, grant the request I now present to you. (here mention  your request). Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

 

The Miracle of Belief

I ‘ve been doing some research recently on the life of Father Theodore Foley, CP, a native of Springfield, MA, whose cause for canonization is being considered in Rome. A relative of his, Bill Wendt, introduced me to historians at the Springfield Armory and the Springfield Historical Museum last week, who gave me a good overview of that city in the 1900‘s.

Why look at where someone grew up and the family he came from?  We’re influenced so much by these things. The gospels included information about Jesus’ early years so that we could know him better.

Interest in Father Theodore is strong in Springfield, a city that is going through hard times now. The local media and the diocese of Springfield have been particularly attentive to the news of his possible canonization.

Here’s an example from a story by Jack Farrell in the local paper from West Springfield from a few week ago:

“Father Foley died in Rome on Oct. 9, 1974 (the same day, incidentally, as Oskar Schindler, the German who saved hundreds of Jews in the Holocaust and who received a papal order of chivalry from Pope Paul VI as a result) from an apparent virus he’d contracted in his missionary travels around the world.

But shortly before his death, he came to West Springfield to visit his aunt and sister Marie, for whom he’d recently found a place to live – Marie Foley called West Springfield home until her death in 2002 at the age of 86.  On that visit, the priest told fellow Passionists that he wanted to be buried on the monastery grounds.  But in the 1990s, when the monastery closed, the cemetery, including Father Foley’s grave, was moved to Gate of Heaven in Springfield.

Father Foley’s original gravesite had an impact on at least one participant at a 1970s retreat, the late West Springfield resident Daniel Baldyga, who’d been having doubts about his faith.  When he began to pray at his grave, the result was life-altering.

“As I stood before Father Foley’s grave and prayed, I experienced a profound religious experience.  There’s no way to describe it,” he told the former Union-News in a 1989 interview tied to publications of his novel, “A Sailor Remembers.”

“But any doubt I had experienced was erased, and it’s never returned.”
Mr. Baldyga, who went on to become a Eucharistic minister and a church lector, said at the time that his life became more ordered.  “It’s as if it was by design,” he said.

Mr. Baldyga’s experience would likely be of interest to the Passionists and to the Vatican as the study of Father Foley continues and witnesses are called to testify regarding his sanctity.”

Is belief recovered a miracle? I think it is, and we need that kind of miracle today more than ever, don’t we?

Here’s a video on Fr. Theodore’s life, in case you missed it>

Prayer for the Canonization of Father Theodore Foley, C.P.
Lord Jesus Christ,
you called Father Theodore Foley to follow you as a Passionist Priest even to Calvary’s heights.
Through your Immaculate and Sorrowful Mother,
you taught him obedience to your Father’s will and the fulfillmentof your Commandment of loving God and neighbor.
Let the loving inspiration of your servant move us to live a more profound life of virtue.
We humbly ask that you glorify your servant Father Theodore Foley
according to the designs of your holy will.
Through his intercession, we ask you to grant the request I now present (mention your request).  Through Christ our Lord, Amen. (Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be to the Father).
Approved + Paul M. Boyle, CP, Bishop Emeritus of Mandeville.
To report favors received, please contact:
Rev. Fr. Vice Postulator, CP
Immaculate Conception Monastery
86-45 Edgerton Blvd.
Jamaica, NY 11432
718.739.8184

Prayer for the Canonization of Father Theodore Foley, C.P.

Lord Jesus Christ,

you called Father Theodore Foley to follow you as a Passionist Priest even to Calvary’s heights.

Through your Immaculate and Sorrowful Mother,

you taught him obedience to your Father’s will and the fulfillment of your Commandment to love God and neighbor.

Let the loving inspiration of your servant move us to live a more profound life of virtue.

We humbly ask that you glorify your servant Father Theodore Foley according to the designs of your holy will.

Through his intercession, grant the request I now present (mention your request).  Through Christ our Lord, Amen. (Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be to the Father).

Approved + Paul M. Boyle, CP, Bishop Emeritus of Mandeville.

To report favors received, please contact:

Rev. Fr. Vice Postulator, CP

Immaculate Conception Monastery

86-45 Edgerton Blvd.

Jamaica, NY 11432

718.739.8184

Fr. Theodore Foley Remembered

Foley Memorial

A memorial area honoring Fr. Theodore Foley, CP in Sacred Heart Church, Springfield, Mass. was blessed today by Bishop Timothy A. McDonnell of the Diocese of Springfield.

Fr. Theodore led the worldwide religious community of Passionists until his death in 1974 and the process for declaring him a saint has begun in Rome. Sacred Heart, in Springfield’s North End was Foley’s parish where he was baptized, attended school and served as an altar boy.

I was one of  nine Passionists at the service, along with a number of diocesan priests, seminarians, sisters and laity. I liked Bishop Mc Donnell’s observation that Fr. Theodore is “a reminder that holiness is all around us.”  How true that is! The memorial area in this beautiful church built in 1889, which has been the spiritual home for so many from the area, is a testimony to the simple, powerful faith of generations of loyal Catholics like the Foleys and their holy son.

The Springfield Republican covered the story  http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2009/06/late_springfield_priest_rev_th.html?category=Springfield and CBS televevision.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Springfield Priest A Candidate For Sa…“, posted with vodpod

Photo courtesy of Jim Brady, Chicopee

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