Oklahoma Newsletter

My Photo
Location: Dallas, Texas, United States

Born in San Francisco, raised in East Texas, AA Covington LA, BA Santa Clara CA, MA Washington DC, professed Discalced Carmelite at Marylake AR on 20-Jul-64, ordained R. Cath. priest 13-Jun-70.


Golden Jubilee

Morello ordinatio
On Tuesday of our Provincial Assembly in San Antonio, we celebrated the golden priestly jubilee of four of our friars.  On April 29th 1962, Fathers Joseph Neilson and Sam Anthony Morello were ordained in Rome.  On May 26th 1962, Fathers Christopher Timoney and John Henry Bordeaux were ordained in San Antonio.  Father Joseph died this year in San Antonio on Saturday March 17th at Morningside Manor on Babcock Rd at 4:20 am, one month short of his 50th ordination anniversary.  His classmate in Rome, Fr. Sam Anthony had taken ill at Marylake, and was unable to make it to the assembly.  Fr. Christopher has been residing at St. Francis Nursing Home in San Antonio since 2002.  He attended the jubilee Mass in a wheel chair. 

At the same Mass, we celebrated the silver ordination jubilee of Fr. John Magdalene Suenram who was ordained on November 22, 1987, in this basilica.  Father John, recuperating from a devastating automotive accident in 2010, preached for the jubilee Mass.  Father ascended the pulpit in the basilica where he had been pastor for almost all of the ‘90s, and announced to a hearty applause, “It’s good to be back home.”

The offertory gifts were presented to Father Henry by his two sisters from Milton LA, Janie and Gloria.  Linda Drum is a photographer who took these pictures, and was kind enough to send them to me for our archives.  Fr. Henry was the principal celebrant for this Mass.  In addition to his fellow Carmelite friars, we were joined by three priest friends of Fr. Henry on the altar and one Society of St. Peter priest in the pews.  He was assisted by two deacons, Jacques Abat, and Daniel Cisnernos.  Also assisting were our two students, Juan Guillermo and Jorge, as well as our postulant Martín Orosco. 
Father Henry was flanked by the other jubilarians: Father John Magdalene to his right, and Fr. Christopher to his left.  In back can be seen Fathers Bonaventure, Jerome and Stephen.  The deacons are on the far right.  Stephen has just been named our new novice Master who will soon receive Martín into the novitiate at Mount Carmel of Dallas. 

At the end of Mass, Father Henry gave a short thanksgiving address to all who have supported his vocation to the priesthood.  He tried his best to get Christopher to say a few words, but was unsuccessful in this endeavor.  One of the few rare times in Christopher’s life when he was been at a loss for words!  Father Henry continued to give thanks to all those who promote vocations and support our priests in their sacerdotal vocation. 

Our final photograph shows Father Henry flanked by [left to right]: Ralph Reyes (pastor and superior in Oklahoma City), John Magdalene (jubilarian), Henry, Luis Belmonte (pastor of the Basilica), Luis Castañeda (Our Father Provincial) and Gregory Ross (Vocation Director).  Let us all heed the jubilarian’s words to pray for vocations to the Priesthood and to Religious life. 


25th Profession Jubilee

We celebrated our annual retreat at Marylake from Oct 17-21 the 3rd week of October. Fr. Raphael preached the retreat on Saint Teresa’s way of prayer as a relationship of intimacy with Jesus. On Thursday Bonaventure coined the name, “Rudolf the red-nosed Carthusian” referring to the Jesus Book St. Teresa used.

On Wed., 19-Oct-11 at 5:00 pm Mass we celebrated the 25th silver jubilee of Bonaventure and Marion’s profession. They made their profession on the feast of Our Lady in July of ’86, but we wait until the province is all gathered together at Marylake to celebrate these things.

Our Fr. Provincial read the epistle, and after Marion read the gospel, each jubilarian spoke of his personal journey to Carmel. Both spoke of their gratitude to God for giving them 25 years of community life in our province. Living together in community is not always rosy, as any married couple can also attest.

Each rose has thorns. How did Paul express it? “In order that I might not become conceited I was given a thorn in my flesh.” [2 Cor 12,7] With the joys of community life come obligations and service to the brethren. Each of these two friars have stood up to these responsibilities with courage and valor for 25 years.

Fr. Bonaventure, in his gratitude to his religious brothers, also mentioned some failures he perceived in the positions of leadership to which we had elected him, accompanied by misunderstandings. His calls for restructuring and collaborative ministry did not always fall on sympathetic ears. But from a retrospective view on it all, he retains now a deep sense of thanks for having been accepted and being loved by his Brothers.

Fr. Marion recounted his long journey through imprisonments and boat wrecks of biblical proportions to finally get to learn about the Carmelite life through our nuns in Lafayette and Father Henry who introduced him to the friars. Marion laid down his guard and spoke of his personal feelings of gratitude to Our Lord and his Carmelite brothers for accepting his years of struggle with language and customs to arrive at this time of acceptance and true Brotherhood.

Fr. Luis, our Provincial, joined the two jubilarians on the altar for their Mass of Thanksgiving. The Community of Marylake had decorated the altar with autumn flowers and invited all, after the Mass, to a banquet in the refectory prepared by Rolf Tinner, a Swiss chef friend of Johnny Diaz.

Our retreat continued Thursday with Fr. Raphael’s final conference in the morning, and all the friars returned home to their monasteries and parishes Friday morning.


General Definitor's visit

On Monday, April 12th, the General Definitor, Fr. John Grennan, flew in to make an informal visitation of our province. He flew from Rome to Newark where he went through customs, then caught a flight to Little Rock and actually came in almost an hour early. That’s something unheard of around these parts.

We had a nice visit with Father John. Here’s a picture of our little community with him. Father Marion Joseph is on the left, then Fr. John Michael, Father Grennan and Fr. John Magdalene on the right. Father John Magdalene made a vegetarian meal for Father Grennan. Father has been on a strict diet recently and brings his own blender. He has also been mending from knee surgery and had to cancel visitation of the California-Arizona province due to that.

The last picture was taken Wednesday morning the 14th as our Father Provincial, Gregory Ross [left] prepared to drive Father Greenan to our nuns in Jackson for lunch, and then onto our house in New Orleans. From there they will go to Covington, Lafayette, New Caney, San Antonio, Dallas and end up in Oklahoma City. After a meeting of Provincial Councils, Father will begin visiting the Washington province before returning to Rome.


Raphael's jubilee

Father Raphael Kitz celebrated his golden jubilee as a priest this year. The jubilee celebrations began on June 2nd with a Mass with the Arkansas bishop for all jubilarians serving in the diocese. Raphael is shown here with the other jubilarians about to enter the cathedral in Little Rock for the jubilee Mass. The priest on the left, Gregory Hart, celebrated his 25th, and the priest on the other side of Father Raphael, Msgr. John Kordsmeier is celebrating his 60th.

Next Father was interviewed by the newspaper. He is shown here with Lladro’s bronze sculpture of Holy Mother Teresa of Jesus to the left and Edith Stein’s passport photo hanging on the wall behind him in the entrance room of the Monastery of Marylake. The headline of the article: “Priest spends 50 years… teaching spirituality.” In 1953 Father Raphael Kitz, OCD, came to Marylake Monastery and became a novice in the Order of Discalced Carmelites. As the novice master since 1993, Father Kitz has instructed at least 30 novices in the lifestyle and teachings of the Carmelite tradition.

Raphael celebrated his actual ordination day, September 19th at our Nuns in New Caney Texas. Then our big celebration was held in October when our entire province gathered at Marylake for our annual retreat. Raphael concelebrated this jubilee Mass with Father Stephen Sanchez, superior of Mt Carmel Center in Dallas who celebrates this year his 25th jubilee of Religious profession.

Fr. Gregory Ross, our provincial, preached extolling each for the service rendered our province as priests and as religious. Raphael entered our province after a brief stint with the Dominicans, in September 1953, four years before Stephen was born. Stephen was professed on July 16, 1984, in this very chapel where he was now celebrating his 25th jubilee.

After the Father Provincial’s sermon, Father Raphael had a few words of his own to share. He kept the subject matter lighthearted as you can see from Stephen’s reaction. “You would think a person his age would be thinking of retiring, but he’s going like the Energizer bunny,” noted Raphael’s local superior. He has put 200,000 miles on his car in the last seven years alone. He ministers to our Secular Order in Jackson Mississippi each month, and is extraordinary confessor to our Nuns in the Houston area. Each Sunday finds him at a parish in Arkansas.

After the jubilee Mass the province gathered to have their picture taken with Father Raphael. We then adjourned to the refectory for a feast with the biggest bottle of champagne ever seen in these parts. Raphael poses here with two of his community members at Marylake: Frs. John Michael and John Magdalene. A month later and we still haven’t finished off that bottle. Maybe for Thanksgiving! Also check out the Marylake blog at http://okfriarsnewslet.blogspot.com for the jubilee decorations there.


Gregory's birthday

On Wednesday 21-October Fr. Gregory Ross, our Father Provincial turned 45. The Province was gathered for the week at the Monastery of Marylake for retreat. We had decided to celebrate the 50th sacerdotal jubilee of Father Raphael and the 25th jubilee of Father Stephen’s profession on that day, so to give the Provincial his due, we surprised him with a birthday cake on the night before his birthday. The cake had four candles. When you get this old is easier to count the decades than the years.

In our second picture Father Sam appears to be discussing with Gregory the ramifications of middle age. The sad faced dog balloon is tied to a red bag of coffee, Chicory of course –no son of Nawlins would have any other kind.


Juan's ordination

As our province gathered in San Antonio for Juan Cabrera’s ordination, we found two of our Fathers in the hospital: Fr. Christopher and Fr. Joseph. We kidded Juan about what happened at Luis Joaquin’s ordination in 2003. Fr. Michael died during the ordination ceremony. “Which one of us is your ordination going to kill off?” we asked Juan. He answered, “Maybe one who is not even in the hospital!”
Fr. Stephen Sanchez, acting superior in Dallas, helps Juan get dressed in the sacristy for his ordination on Friday June 12th.

Juan’s family flew in from Puerto Rico for the occasion. That’s his brother and sister on the left, and his Mom Maria “Bory” and Dad Jorge Sr. (Juan is Jorge Jr.) on the right of our basilica’s front pew.

Our novice, Br. Juan Guillermo was one of the main servers for the ordination Mass. He stands here beside concelebrant Stephen Sanchez in the sacristy as we prepare to begin our procession into the church. We were privileged to have the Archbishop himself lead the ceremony. In the past, the archbishops have often sent their auxiliaries to perform our ordinations at the basilica.

The Mass finally begins at 7:00 pm sharp. The Little Flower choir did a beautiful job with music for the ceremony as our priests and brothers led the procession, when all had taken their place in the sanctuary, Juan was left quite alone at the altar rail. You can see the tomb chapel in the background.

The ordination of a priest is a most complex ritual, but the actual act of ordination is a simple gesture done in absolute silence, as the bishop lays his hands on the ordinand’s head. This happened at 7:57 pm, so you can see that almost a hour of preparatory prayers preceded the actual ordination.

The next thing is the investiture of the new priest in the priestly vestments. Juan was assisted by our vocation director, Luis Joaquin Castañeda, and our Father Provincial who is preparing the chasuble. Each vestment has a spiritual significance: the alb, the cincture, the stole and the chasuble.

The chasuble was the final priestly vestment to go on. As our Father Provincial and Fr. Luis Joaquin straighten Juan out, we can see in the background that Father Joseph got out of the hospital in time to attend the ordination ceremony. Father pulled his motorized chair (I heard he calls it his “electric chair”) up to the altar rail between Juan and the server.

At the offertory Juan’s mother brings up the paten which holds the Eucharistic bread, and his father brings up the chalice which will soon contain the blood of Christ. The two deacons of our Little Flower parish receive the offertory gifts from Juan’s family.

The first Mass of a priest is usually considered to be the Mass said on the day after his ordination, for that would be the first Mass at which the newly ordained priest would preside. But the actual first Mass of a priest is actually his ordination Mass which he concelebrates with the archbishop, José Gomez [left] and Luis Gerardo Belmonte [right] who is the pastor of the basilica.

At the end of Mass, Juan thanked all who helped him with their prayers and sacrifices to come to this day: his family, his Carmelite community, his friends and classmates at the seminary. It takes a whole church to produce a priest, and after Juan expressed his gratitude to them all, the archbishop led the congregation in an applause for he who is now our Father Juan.

At the end of Mass we sang the Salve Regina as the archbishop, Juan and Luis Gerardo prepare to process out of the sanctuary into the basilica to greet the many people who had come from far and near to be with Father Juan for this joyful day in his young life. The parish hosted a reception in the parish hall after the ceremony.


Ralph's 40th

Ralph Reyes, when he was a student in Washington D.C. back in the ‘60s, used to say he was going to die young. We kept telling him, “only the good die young.” It is true that so many of our Carmelite saints died in their twenties: St. Thérèse the Little Flower, Elizabeth of the Trinity, and Teresa of the Andes (only 19). Well, last Wednesday our province, gathered in San Antonio, celebrated with Ralph his fortieth jubilee as a priest. A few of the many priests who concelebrated that Mass (the few who vested early) gather around Ralph in the sacristy [left to right]: Frs. John Michael, James Curiel, Luis Joaquin (Ralph’s superior), Henry, Jenaro, Ralph, Gregory (our Provincial), Stephen, Bonaventure, Luis Gerardo (the pastor) & Sam A Morello.

At the offertory, The Knights of Columbus presented Ralph with a chalice which he gratefully accepted and brought into the sanctuary for that Jubilee Mass. Ralph was ordained in Uvalde Texas, his hometown, on the 15th of June 1969. His ministry has been a great blessing for our province, and though we refrain from wishing him 40 more, we certainly pray he makes it to his golden jubilee in ten years. Then maybe he can take a much deserved rest from his many labors. Presently he serves as pastor of Little Flower church in Oklahoma City.