Friday, June 30, 2006

Saint Jerome Emiliani

Jerome was born to a noble family of Venice, Italy. He loved the good life and spent his youth carelessly enjoying the pleasures of this world. When he grew up he became a soldier and was put in command of a fortress high in the mountains.

One day, his post was attacked by troops of Maximilian I. He was taken prisoner and thrown into a dungeon. Chained in that miserable prison, he had time to think about his life. He began to regret the careless way he had been living. He was sorry that he had thought so little about God and for wasting so many years living a wicked life.

Jerome promised the Blessed Mother that he would change his life if she would help him. His prayers were answered and by a miracle he was able to escape to safety. Jerome, with a grateful heart, went straight to a church. He hung his prison chains in front of Mary's altar.

After returning to Venice, he took charge of the education of his young nephews while he studied to be a priest. When he became a priest he was devoted to works of charity.

Plague and famine struck northern Italy. Jerome began feeding the sick and the hungry with whatever money he had. He was especially concerned about the many homeless orphan children he found in the streets. He rented a house for them, and gave them clothes and food. He taught them about Jesus and the Catholic faith.

Saint Jerome started a religious congregation of men called the Company of the Servants of the Poor. They would care for the poor, especially orphans, and would teach youth. He did all he could for the peasants. He would work with them in the fields and would talk to them of God's goodness while he worked by their side. He died while caring for plague victims in 1537.

Saint Jerome Emiliani was a gift to the people of his time and to all the Church. By totally turning his life around, he became an image of the love of God. He gave hope to those who were poor and abandoned. He is the Patron Saint of orphans and homeless children and we celebrate his feast on February 8 th.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Blessed Marie-Leonie Paradis

Elodie Paradis was born in the village of L'Acadie in Quebec, Canada. Her parents were poor but good Catholics and they loved their little girl. When Elodie was nine, her parents wanted her to have the best education they could afford, so they sent her to a boarding school. The Sisters of Notre Dame warmly received their new student but Elodie and her family missed each other very much.

Mr. Paradis had a flour mill and although he worked hard, the mill did not make enough money to support his wife and children. He heard wonderful stories about large amounts of gold that was to be found in California. He was so worried about his family that he decided to go.
But in California, Mr. Paradis did not find the wealth he hoped for. When he returned to L'Acadie, he was shocked to find that his little Elodie had joined the convent to become a nun. She had entered the Holy Cross convent on February 21, 1854.

Mr. Paradis went to the convent and he begged his daughter to return home, but she really wanted to stay there. Finally, her father agreed and she took her vows as a nun in 1857.

Blessed Marie-Leonie taught school in different cities. She prayed and lived her life joyfully. As time went on, Sister Marie-Leonie was led by Jesus to begin a new religious order in the Church. The Little Sisters of the Holy Family were begun in 1880.

These loving sisters are committed to serving and caring for priests in the household. This helps the priest to carry out their important ministries without difficulty. The Little Sisters of the Holy Family now have sixty-seven convents in Canada, the United States, Rome and Honduras.

Although Mother Marie Leonie was weak and often sick, she worked for her sisters until the last few hours of her life. But she never stopped caring for God's people. She completed the book of rules she had written to help give her sisters the guidance they would need for their life.

On Friday, May 3, 1912. Mother Marie-Leonie said she felt very tired. She went to rest and died a few hours later. She was seventy-one years old.