We are happy to welcome Dee Mansi as a monthly contributor to .famvin. Please look for her reflections on Ireland, United Kingdom and Europe on the second Sunday of each month.
“The land of Saints and Scholars” – is a 19th Century adage meaning the land of Ireland – alluding to a distant past when the island was a seedbed of faith and scholarship in a chaotic world. March is a massed month for saintly celebrations – including the ubiquitous St. Patrick (17th) who is universally remembered in marches, songs, shamrocks and much green dressing up! The Irish parents of Patricks and Patricia’s born this month couldn’t resist it, and often the second name was Joseph (19th)– brewing a crop of PJ’s! Do you have a Saints name? I do! My second name is Mary to expunge the pagan influence of my first (pre)-Christian name – Deirdre (nickname Dee)! Although its Gaelic saga origin identifies me as Catholic if I lived in Northern Ireland as non-Catholics don’t have Celtic names. Musing on this – when the leaflet below dropped on the door mat!
“We’re named after them, our churches celebrate them, we take up causes under their inspiration…but which saint matters to you and why?”
“Through a gift in your Will” – we were exhorted to consider donating to Catholic Legacy representing 27 charities and asked, “which saint matters to you and why?” Wonderfully, our hero – Vincent – was cited as one by the St. Vincent de Paul Society and Columban the other for the Columban Missionaries. Vincent’s “legacy of seeing the goodness and holiness of those we serve …inspires us into the future.” Of course, he is not alone…
In January, the Vincentian Family Executive Committee heard from Sr. Bernie Miller, DC about her work on the chronological creation of a Vincentian Missal of Saints, Blesseds, Venerable and Servants of God. Community foundation dates and special information e.g. Apparitions of Mary to Catherine and Alphonsus Ratisbone will also be included. Prayers to and about founders of specific Communities can be customised.
As the discovery of more esteemed Vincentians emerged, the recent excitement is two more Blesseds were added by Fr. Joe Agostino, CM, Vincentian Family Office Co-ordinator of our 150 Vincentian Family branches, in March, when meeting European Communities; Blessed Anna Maria Janer of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Urgell near Barcelona, Spain, and on the Balearic Island of Majorca in the Mediterranean; Francinaina Cirer, Sisters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul of Majorca, beatified in 1989.
In Great Britain, although 10% of the 65 million are Catholics, with 15% of the 6.5 million regularly practicing, in an increasingly secular and multi-faith culture, Catholics are not numerous. Our Vincentian Family GB happily also has Anglican members; Company of Mission Priests (Warden, Fr. Beresford Skelton) and Anglican Sisters of Charity who celebrate their 150th anniversary this year. I am excited to be interviewing Sr. Clare Lockhart in September when she flies down from The Hebrides Islands, Scotland. More of that in my October column – a big surprise awaits!
So for our British Catholic community to have a new Saint is an energizing, and spiritually emotional time. It was with great pleasure that Blessed (Cardinal) John Henry Newman’s (1801-90) cause for canonization has been proven, and Pope Francis recognized the second miracle (May 2013, USA). The decision to canonize the former Anglican priest, who founded the Catholic Oratorian congregation in 1848 comes nine years after his beatification by Pope Benedict 16th during his 2010 visit to Great Britain.
Joyfully, both Anglican and Catholic will celebrate! As one of the highest profile figures to be received into the Catholic Church in Victorian England, and one of the most important religious figures of his generation “Newman’s long spiritual pilgrimage ‘out of shadows and images into the truth’ is quoted by the Oratorians as a “clear example of how God uses all the varied circumstances of our lives to draw us to himself, in his own good time and in so many different ways.”
Finally, a young Vincentian Blessed – at these decisive moments for the future of Europe, the Pier Giorgio Frassati Association (he died aged 24), headquarters in Rome, is promoting “for the faith of its people and for the rediscovery of the Christian values that are at its core.” Pier Giorgio Frassati’s dream will come true on April 6th: a worldwide Rosary for Europe. Sadly, political chaos reigns,and we are looking to present day Saints and Scholars. Let us pray!
Dee Mansi is a lay member of AIC, Vincentian Collaboration Commission, Vincentian Family Executive Committee & Depaul Assembly; a retired School Principal, Schools Inspector and Leadership in Education Lecturer. Dee is Irish, living in London with her husband and son, she travels in Europe and beyond.