The “dc”

By Kelly L. Colangelo

It was the summer before my sophomore year of college that I found myself in a dusty old church closet. There were books that looked like they were from the 1930s, old pictures, tables full of junk, about 100 crucifixes’ and a certain musty smell in the room.
It was Sr. Marla Marie who recruited me to help her clean this closet… something I regretted saying yes to at first, but now I am forever grateful. My job was to throw old things out, label boxes, clean, and make everything neat. Easier said than done!
As our time progressed with the project, it became known as the “damn” closet. Sr. Marla Marie would ask, “Where are you Kelly?”and my response would be: “I’m in the “dc”, Sister.” My immediate feeling once the job was done was relief because it was finally over. After a couple of months and even up to the present moment, this experience was life changing.
Blessed with loving parents, one older sister, and a small extended family, I grew up in upstate, New York in a small city. My parents instilled in me the value of faith and education. I was educated in Catholic and public schools. My parents and teachers inspired me to work hard and they laid down a solid foundation for my character and faith formation.
Throughout my life I have been fortunate having known religious and priests who have shown me their love of God through the love and service that they have shown their neighbor. They are real heroes. My positive experiences with priests and religious that I knew as a child, teenager, and college student nourished in me a strong trust in the Church and all that She teaches.
All of them are people of great faith; always praying and helping others. I was and still am struck by their enthusiasm for young people and their passion for God. I am a better person because of knowing them. We need priests and religious to serve as examples of holiness God’s mission in our world.
Who I am today is partly because of religious. Among them, is Sr. Mary Cepha, who helped to show me the true meaning of giving. Around Christmas time, I visited apartment homes for elderly people with Sr. Mary Cepha and together we slipped Christmas cards under apartment doors. This three hour project brought joy and Christ to the residents. During my participation in the Life Teen program, I experienced Sr Mary Eileen’s enthusiasm for youth ministry.
Then, there is Sr. Linda Jean, a parish visitor who prepared me my first communion and many years later assisted me with planning a mission trip for teens in my youth ministry program. I visited her in the Bronx prior to the service weekend to set up the arrangements. The next day for breakfast, Sr. Linda had 17 different choices for me! Her hospitality and kindness were unconditional.
I will always be grateful to Sister Marla Marie as I got to journey with her best smile, warm greeting and sense of humor that is better than most comedians. Through being with her and seeing her visits with others, she is able to give people a sense of value for who they truly are. I will never forgot how she prayed with me… or how she took me to World Youth Day in Germany. She became and is my dear friend and confidant. It is in these moments where her zeal and passion for serving Christ shows me a perfect example of what it is to be a Sister. The best piece of advice she has given me is to “remember who you are”.
Then, there was Fr. Mike Mazurchuk, a Vincentian priest who helped deepen my relationship with God through daily Mass and retreat opportunities. He was so giving of himself to others, I saw the face of Christ through him. I will never forget Fr. John Wood’s kind heart. Fr Wood always remembered to ask me about my college classes, friends, and family. Fr. Robert Conrad had the best jokes! He supported me and came to my high school hockey games. Fr. Felix Colosimo’s down to earth approach to people and the faith have been an encouragement to me.
I remember them all. These and many other religious and clergy have had a tremendous influence in my life.
Who knew that a dusty, old church closet could be so meaningful? Because of it, Sr. Marla Marie became a fixture and role model in my life. I have been inspired to live the Catholic life of faith and to serve others. With joy in my heart, I seek to serve Christ in the persons of those in need. Thanks to that “dc”!

Kelly Colangelo is a 2007 graduate of Niagara University and just received her Masters degree in May from Syracuse University. Since 2007, Kelly has been serving as the Youth Minister at Immaculate Conception Parish in Fayetteville, NY.


Visiting Brocton MA

Our Light Shines

An email from David Shipman of St. Theresa's in Brockton, MA.

"I thought you might appreciate this. You gave my MYO class a key chain light this morning. When I opened it this evening the light did not work. I showed my 19 year old son and joked, is God trying to tell me something? I then did the laundry and forgot to take the light out of my pocket. It flashed through my mind that maybe it will work afterwards. Wouldn't you know it, it worked after I retrieved it out of the wash. It was a nice metaphor for how when we are cleansed by the blood of Christ our light shines."


The Rosary and Maronite Spirituality

Brother John M. Samaha, S.M.
Origin of the Rosary
The Rosary, the blessed beads that quietly slip between our fingers as we pray over the mysteries of Jesus’ redemptive life, has an ancient origin. Most likely it originated in the ancient East and not in the medieval West, perhaps in India. It was and still is a popular prayer device among the Muslims, who use the Arabic term masbahat , which means to give praise. Devout Muslims used the masbahat in repeating the attributes of God, just as it was used by the early Christian hermits. Following the Crusades the Rosary found its way to the West. The missionary who worked hardest to spread this devotion was Abed El-Ahad, Saint Dominic, and his Dominican companions.
The Rosary became a popular method of prayer and spread quickly in the West during the Middle Ages. For Christians it has always been “the Gospel strung on beads.” It is a simple and easy prayer that can be employed for vocal prayer or silent contemplation by individuals, families, and communities.
Papal Encouragement
Since the 16th century the popes have frequently encouraged the faithful of East and West to pray the Rosary. The first was a Dominican pope, Saint Pius V, who wrote a papal letter about the Rosary in 1569 shortly after the Council of Trent, and instituted the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.
In the late 19th century after the First Vatican Council the illustrious Pope Leo XIII wrote more than ten encyclicals and instructions promoting the use of the Rosary.
To make pastoral applications of the Marian teachings of the Second Vatican Council Pope Paul VI in 1974 authored the apostolic exhortation Devotion to Mary (Marialis Cultus). Paul VI discussed the Rosary at some length as a summary of the Gospel comprised of prayers based on Gospel texts. He urged the faithful to pray the Rosary, and especially recommended the family Rosary in these words:
“We would like now to join our voice to the voices of our predecessors and strongly recommend the prayer of the Rosary in the family…because the Christian family is a family church….If the family neglected this communal prayer, it would lose its character as a Christian family.”
“In addition to the prayer of the Divine Office (Liturgy of the Hours) …the Rosary of the Virgin Mary would be the most preferable communal prayer for the Christian family.”
Pope Paul VI concluded his recommendation by saying: “We would like to repeat that the Rosary is an excellent and magnificent prayer….”
In a pastoral letter about the 1987 Marian Year, our Patriarch, His Beatitude Nasrallah Peter Sfeir, encouraged all Maronites to honor the Mother of God by praying the Rosary.
Pope John Paul II, enthusiastic devotee of our Blessed Mother, in 2002 issued a pastoral letter entitled The Rosary of the Virgin Mary, in which he proclaimed October 2002 until October 2003 the Year of the Rosary, and put forth the Luminous Mysteries based on the public life of Jesus.
Our present Holy Father, Benedict XVI, values the prayer of the Rosary as a means of contemplating Jesus with Mary’s eyes. For him pondering the mysteries of the Rosary calms a “restless spirit, allows the soul to settle into tranquility…and grants a vision of God.” He associates the Rosary with consolation and healing, an inner refuge which enfolds us “in the rhythm of the prayer of the whole Church.” “I do it quite simply,” he said, “just as my parents used to pray.”
The Rosary Today

Unlike some Eastern Christians who erroneously consider the Rosary foreign to Eastern spirituality, Maronites have emphasized the prayer of the Rosary for centuries. On a visit to Maronites in Lebanon in 1580, Jesuit Father Eliano recorded that he brought them “about one thousand rosaries.”
Early on, the Rosary was a common method of prayer in the East among Christians and non-Christians. Even though it came to us through Western missionaries, it was and still is an easy and rich method of prayer to help the faithful fathom the mysteries of God along the journey of salvation. And we do so with a special companion, the Mother of God and our Mother. Praying the Rosary, particularly in the family, is an excellent method of bringing us together in the faith under the protection of her who always and everywhere intercedes for all people. Let us spare no effort to remain close to her.

(Brother John is a Lebanese American in the Congregation of the Marianist in Cupertino, California.)

During October, the month of the rosary this is a good video on the Rosary.



Thank you to my Maronite friends at St. Joseph's in Atlanta for fundraising and purchasing this beautiful car for the Maronite Servant mission.

Sisters of St. Basil

In July '09, I had a blessed visit and stay with the Sisters of Saint Basil at Mount Saint Macrina in Uniontown, PA. I spent a few days there with Sister Barbara Jean in consultation on religious formation. Read more about the Sisters of St. Basil the Great, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Province. "The Sisters of St. Basil the Great, a religious order of the Eastern Catholic Church, was founded in the 4th century by St. Basil and his sister St. Macrina. The Basilian Sisters came to the United States from Ukraine in 1941..."
Sister Barbara Jean Mihalchick, OSBM... Currently, she serves as vocation directress, directress of the community's Association Program, and the program director of the Mount Saint Macrina House of Prayer (formerly the Retreat Center) located in Uniontown, Pa. After teaching in parochial schools for nine years, Sister earned a Master's Degree in Christian Spirituality from Creighton University, and she then began her ministries in retreat work, spiritual direction and parishes. For twelve years, Sister Barbara Jean served as the Assistant General Superior of the Sisters of the Order of St. Basil the Great with residence in Rome and frequent ministry among the Sisters in Eastern Europe.
Since living at Mount Saint Macrina, Sister Barbara Jean has participated in each of the LifeQuest weekends held there. She has also worked with committees in preparing formation guidelines. Sister also serves as a Provincial Councilor.
(Bio taken from the OSBM website.)


What does it mean to be Maronite Catholic?

By Curtis Taylor
When people see my Maronite Cross, they ask-what does that mean? Is that a telephone pole, a menorah, or a tree? I usually just laugh off the simple question and respond with it’s a cross. It’s my religion. This usually ends up striking up an enlightening conversation with someone about my faith that I am truly happy to oblige to.
To me, being a Maronite Catholic is unlike any other religion in the world. We express our faith in such a beautiful and touching way that it not only spiritually enriches the soul, but it also stimulates the mind and body. When I think about the Maronite Church, I think of the homeland, Lebanon, the youth, the Antonine Sisters, the Maronite Servants, the priests and deacons, our bishops, and how we all desire that strong and passionate, spiritual relationship with God. Being Maronite, we have one of the most beautiful LIturgies you will ever go to, in my opinion. The fluidity and culture, and tradition we Maronites express during our Liturgy gives us a sense of pride in our faith, our homeland, our culture, and our churches.

I have tried, especially now being a college student, to go to other Catholic Churches. I attended a Roman Church which was beautiful and an the Mass was amazing, but in the end, something was missing…it just wasn’t my Maronite Liturgy. I don’t know…I guess what I’m trying to say is nothing compares to my Maronite faith. I know, even through college and the lowest of lows, my faith in my church, The Maronite Catholic Church, Our Lady of Lebanon, and God will always be on my side and will strengthen me to do what is right and acceptable to live a Maronite Catholic life.

Curtis, 18, is attending Marquette University in Milwaukee studying International Business and Arabic. He is from Wadsworth, Ohio and attends Our Lady of the Cedars in Akron. He hopes to attend the Maronite Church in Chicago at least once a month while in school.


September Visits

Little Brothers of St. Francis, Fr. Bill Salmon, and guests shared Ramsho at Mother of the Light Monastery (Weymouth MA), followed by a Lebanese dinner.

Sister Marla Marie had the blessing to meet Archbishop Joseph Soueiff, of the Maronite Eparchy in Cyprus. His Excellency was born in Chekka, Lebanon in 1962 and ordained a priest in 1987.