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Mundelein Seminary
1000 East Maple Avenue
Mundelein IL 60060

October 28 2016
Sts. Simon & Jude, Apostles & Missionaries

Very dear Stigmatine Lay Member,

In less than two weeks – this coming November 4th, 2016, the Stigmatine Community will celebrate its 200th birthday. As a grateful souvenir of this happy occurrence, we submit for this month’s Stigmatine reflection, our “Stigmatine Calendar” – that notes some events [major and minor!] of the community from 1777-1911.  These community diary notes were jotted down over the years, with remarks for almost every day of the month, for every day of the year. One example is as follows – On what happened on other November 4’ths over the years:


1794:   Francis Peter Faber Pacificus Leonard Cartolari was born, the son of Peter [future Stigmatine].

The building and Church of the Stigmata, mother-house of the Stigmatine Congregation
The building and Church of the Stigmata, mother-house of the Stigmatine Congregation


1816:   The birthday of the Congregation. On this day, Fr. Bertoni, Fr. John Mary Marani and Brother Paul Zanoli came to the Stimmate to take up residence. The beginnings of the Congregation.



1862:   The Novitiate was transferred from the Stimmate to the Trinità   for the second time.   Fr. Marani, Superior General, blessed the House, that had been renovated. Fr. Vincent Vignola celebrated the Mass. The Triinità had been vacant for the past three years due to the work going on there. There were three Professed Students: Charles Zara, Francis Sogaro and Louis Morando [these last two would pass away as Consecrated Bishops].  There were four Novice Students: Andrew Sterza, Joseph DeVai, Joseph Sembianti and one other. There were also several Brothers there: Bro. Zanoli, Infirmarian and laundry; Bro. Nicora, Porter and tailor; Bro. Reali, Cook.  Among the Aspirants were Anthony Caucigh, Pio Gurisatti and James Marini.

1866:   This was the Golden Jubilee of the Congregation.  It was the first Sunday of November. The day was celebrated both at the Stimmate and at Villazzano, Trent, where the Students of the Congregation were living ‘in exile.’

1885:   On this date, Bishop Riboldi [later Cardinal], welcomed the Congregation of the Stimmate into his Diocese. The Congregation had come to Pavia to assist with the Oratory of St. Aloysius; to conduct a night school for workers’ and to preach Missions throughout the Diocese as long as this did not conflict with the other functions there.

Father Pio Gurisatti [1848- +1921] 4th Superior General [1891 – 1911]
In writing [over 50 years ago] his very authoritative biography of St. Gaspar Bertoni,  Fr. Joseph Stofella [one of our greatest community biographers and historians] noted a minor characteristic shift in life. He underwent a kind of “character’ change that brought him from a “happy-go-lucky” lad, to one who was more reflective and pensive.  In Fr. Stofella’s view this change seems to have been occasioned by domestic difficulties of his parents, and by a number of deaths in the Bertoni household, during St. Gaspar’s early teen years.  One death in particular might have been  included here – that of a three years old sister, Matilde, who died of miliary fever- which afflicted the Founder himself for years to come . The term Fr. Stofella used to describe St. Gaspar’s early shift, was “fugacità”, meaning a keen awareness of the passing nature of time – as noted in a well-known Latin saying: Tempus fugit!  The Saint’s spiritual writings offer us a reflection:

17th SEPTEMBER 1808

Bro. Antonio Nicora [1835- +1921]
 [49.]           Meditation. Death. The past is no more. The future has not yet arrived. Only the present is here. And it is in my hands. Let me live day after day, or rather from morning to midday and from midday to evening. Let me do every single thing with all possible perfection. Perhaps I will have no more time in which to glorify God.
This is a reflection on the Meditation of the day during this course of Retreat which lasted 8 days. The previous day he had meditated on the Foundation (the Purpose of Human Life) and on Sin.  On the 17th he meditated on the Last Things and first: on Death. After the text which he heard from the Retreat Master and ended with:  only the present is here –   it is in my hands!  He then added his personal resolution.  This resolution has its source in a reading of ‘Rodriguez’:

… Do not take into account anything except TODAY. It is the usual temptation of the Devil to frighten us with the prospect of having to persevere for the whole stretch of a long life. This happened to St. Ignatius at Manresa. But who is not able to make an effort only for one day?

Fr. James Marini
[1849- +1925]
To this he adds a charming text from Genesis, about Jacob trying to win Rachel to himself. This could become a norm of life and it is chosen as a conclusion of the whole chapter. This is the text [These seven years were] seemed to him but a few days, because of the greatness of his love! (Gen 29, 20)… [1]

To come to practical conclusions, Fr. Gaspar restricted his terms to half a day… which is also a suggestion of St. Ignatius for the practice of the Particular Examen.   As far as the original text to which Fr. Gaspar referred, it is from St. Augustine’s Confessions:

… This is what is called time. The past is not ours, nor can it be recalled. The future is not yet and will perhaps never be. Only the present belongs to us. But, alas! We scarcely have it, because it runs away even though we can keep it for ourselves. In fact in the same time that it starts to be it passes or rather it has passed away… [2]

Fr. Andrew Sterza
[1847- +1898]

The good use of time! Fr. Gaspar makes a practical resolution for holiness in the spirit of the most pure love. What matters for him is only the greater glory of God.


28th APRIL 1811

[167.]          Watch and pray: This summarizes all the advices of

Scripture and of the Gospel.

WATCH: This means we have to be fully awake and strong: but without weapons. One could not resist if attacked: we shall be conquered.

PRAY: This means to be well armed, but asleep. If we are to be attacked we shall be stripped of our arms and killed by treachery.

WATCH and PRAY! This is a man who is strong, awake and well armed. He won’t be conquered.

Along with being our bicentenary, November is also the Month of the Holy Souls! Let us pray for our deceased, relatives and benefactors – and Stigmatine Lay members.

Respectfully in the Merciful Lord,

Fr. Joseph Henchey, CSS
[Acting Spiritual Director]

 [1] Rodriguez, Part I, Tract 2, c. 6.

[2] Fr. Stofella found this text of Augustine’s Confessions  11,  in: Fr. Vincent Houdry, SJ,  Preacher’s Library. Remondini:  Venice –  a book much used by our early Confreres.


Stigmatine Calendar [1777-1911] – by Rev. Joseph Henchey, CSS


Mundelein Seminary
1000 East Maple Avenue
Mundelein IL 60060

September 30, 2016
64th anniversary of our departure for Rome!

Dear Stigmatine Laity,

On this date in 1952, the North American Professed students left New York by boat [AN OLD Italian liner, the SATURNIA – mentioned by Winston   Churchill  in his classic history of the World War II years!]  for Rome and our studies there! By a strange happenstance, we landed first in Genoa – from which Christopher Columbus has been reputed to have departed in 1492 – to discover American! We had it backward but for many of us, the Roman years were indeed a blessing to which we often look back with much nostalgia.  There were 26 of us who sailed from New York on that date, with the late Fr. Charles  Egan, who had been appointed the ‘Prefect of the Professed Students.’


During these recent weeks, we all rejoiced in hearing of the accounts of the meeting of the Stigmatine Lay Members in Rome, Verona and Milan, and the royal retreatment they received from our Italian  confreres who hosted them all. What we have all learned in all this history and sharing with one another is that St. Gaspar Bertoni used Eucharistic terminology in writing his Original Constitutions. He said the Stigmatine is called to work, serving the Bishops, for the Church, anywhere in the diocese and  world [CF # 5], striving to develop as a community some real expertise in some aspect of the very broad field For any service of the word of God whatsoever [cf. CF # 185].  The term St. Gaspar [CF # 2] used to express his own total. This like the offertory of the Host, offered for the Consecration of God’s power, and the Holy Communion with God and our fellow human beings.  Abandonment to God through the Church as obsequium from Rm 12:1: makes of  your bodies [i.e., lives] an oblation to God’s Mercy!].

Abp. Francis Sogaro [1839- +1912]
The documents of the Second Vatican Council reminded us that there is one Priesthood of Mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ – but two ways of sharing in it:

  • on the one hand, there is the Priesthood of the Baptized – empowering each of the baptized to make an oblation of their own lives through their own self-giving in life;
  • then there is the Priesthood Holy Orders, in which the ordained priest acts in the Name of Jesus Himself especially in Eucharistic Consecration, and Sacramental Absolution in the sacrament of Penance: – My Body – My Blood – I absolve you.

Father Joseph Sembianti [1836- +1914]
Father Joseph Sembianti [1836- +1914]
During the   international gathering of the Stigmatine Laity earlier this month, our historians remind us that St. Gaspar was ordained a priest on September 20, 1800. As a rather lowly contribution to this  second centenary year of Stigmatine life – and to call to mind these dates in our Stigmatine history, with this letter I submit two documents for your reflection:

  • the actual, official Minutes of the meetings of the first 18 General Chapters from 1871-191 These  Minutes were translated some years ago from the  Stigmatine General Archives in Rome and I do not think they have every appeared before in any language   for those interested in Stigmatine History – [It is interesting to note that the great Jesuit Society did this some years ago, and published their Minutes, as: “For Matters of Greater Moment – an expression from St. Ignatius’ written Constitutions] – The First 30 – A Brief History of a Translation of  the Decrees -1994];
Father Dominic Vicentini [1847- +1927]
Father Dominic Vicentini [1847- +1927]
  • the second document we are sending is a study on these Chapter Minutes, zeroing in on two points: CF # 5; # 185 – epitomized in Latin as quocumque [anywhere] and quodcumque – any ministry of the word of God whatsoever. Three good men left the Stigmatines at the time in an around the 12th General Chapter [of 1890]. They assumed some prominence in other communities: Francis Sogaro [Archbishop], Joseph Sembianti [Director General of the Comboni Missionaries]  and Dominic Vicentini [Superior General of the Scalabrini community].   That period  was a difficult one in our history.

With this letter, we send to you the Minutes of all the General Chapters from 1871-1911 – and also the reflections on the History of the 12th General Chapter and its  trials. This is sent not so much for your information, but your good prayer that we Stigmatines might continue seeking a fuller way of seeking the perfect work of the Priesthood [cf. CF # 7].

In these gigantic tasks of Stigmatine History, I owe a debt of gratitude to the Stigmatine Laity member, Mrs. Tereza Lopes, of Plano, Texas.

Respectfully submitted:

Fr. Joseph Henchey, CSS
Acting Spiritual  Director


During the annual province-wide retreat of the Stigmatine Laity of the Holy Cross Province, in Brazil (known as FABER), there was elected the new coordination for the next 2 years.

Just after the counting of the votes, the elected members were consulted and all accepted their assignment.  The elected coordinator and vice-coordinator, respectively Lena Martins and Cidinha Paiola, who were in Rome, accepted their assignments by phone calls.

This is the new coordination of the Stigmatine Laity (FABER), for the next 2 years:

Lena Martins (Praia Grande – SP): Coordenadinator
Cidinha Paiola (Marília): Vice-Coordenadinator
Ana de Jesus (Itararé): 1st Councilor
Kelci Santos (Campinas): 2nd Councilor

Carlos Dalpino (São Caetano do Sul, SP)
Maria Antonia Bernava(Marília, SP)

Carlos Dalpino
FABER – São Caetano do Sul, SP


Mundelein Seminary
1000 East Maple Avenue
Mundelein IL 60060 USA

August 29, 2016
Memorial of St. John the Baptist

Logo2With the beginning of the month of September in a few days, we are fast approaching the date of our second centenary as a religious Congregation at the service of the Church, through the assistance of Bishops, to be observed on November 4, 2016.   To commemorate this in a special way this year, the Stigmatines will observe, as you may know, a very special meeting of the Stigmatine Laity to be held in Rome and Verona, from September 8 to 19.  We will be well represented by our dear members: Page and Ruthie Vandewater, and John Marzilli, from the state of Massachusetts, and Tereza and Vicente Lopes, Brazilians, living in Plano, Texas.

The young Gaspar Bertoni giving entertainment to the boys in Verona

September is important to us as well, as this  September 20th, will
mark the anniversary of St. Gaspar’s Priestly Ordination, September 20, 1800. This date began for a 53 year period of priestly service to the Church of that time offered by his oblation to the Mercy of God [cf. Rm 12:1, ff.]. It ended n June 12, 1853, the day of his being born into heaven.


Father John Baptist Tomasi [1866- †1954], 5th Superior General [1911-1922]
Father John Baptist Tomasi [1866- †1954], 5th Superior General [1911-1922]
On the commemoration of our First Centenary, November 4, 1916 [during World War I], our Superior General at that time was Fr. John Baptist Tomasi.  As a very personal and much-cherished memory of mine is that I served Fr. Tomasi’s last Mass.  It was celebrated on the Feast of St. John the Evangelist, December 27, 1953. During his private Mass, he continually repeated the Creed after the Gospel – so I went to call the Superior, and it turned out that Fr. Tomasi had suffered a stroke. He was put to bed, and we were all present at his death about a week later, on January 2, 1954.

As Superior General, for the first centenary, Fr. Tomasi issued a real classical ‘Circular Letter’ as they were called in those days, to the entire Congregation In that wonderful letter, Fr. Tomasi wrote the following:



It would seem to me that I could not offer a better Preface for these historical recollections which see the light of day in order to recall the first centenary of our Congregation – than the Circular Letter that I sent out to the Confreres on that occasion. Along with this, I will also add the kind testimonies that have come to me from the authoritative persons to whom I thought myself to be duty-bound to have them participate in the remembrance of such an extraordinary occasion.

I wish with all my heart that this publication might animate us all to realize that yearning that I expressed in my letter, for the greater good of our Institute, souls and of the Church.

Fr. John Baptist Tommasi
Superior General


The Superior General
to all the venerable Fathers and beloved Brothers
of the religious Congregation of the
Stigmata of our Lord Jesus Christ


Father John Mary Marani [1790 – † 1871 ], 1st Superior General [1855 – 1871]
The 4th day of November 1816, our Venerable Founder took possession of the locality of the House of the Stimmate and established there his dwelling, accompanied by Fr John Marani and by Brother Paul Zanoli, for the purpose of carrying out there the  holy plan with which the Lord had inspired him.  On that day, therefore, there began our beloved Congregation which as a result will complete on November 4th next, the first century of its existence. In this centenary recurrence, the Congregation finds the world in conditions very similar to those which were experienced at its beginning. At that time, there were deeply felt the disastrous results of a world-wide crisis that had just terminated – while the crisis that so travails the world today is even more acute, and we are experiencing all the horrors of an inhuman war and all the alarm for its consequences, which will result from this for the cause of religion and society. Nonetheless, the memory of our beginnings ought to serve as some comfort in the present hour.

There was indeed the desolating spectacle of the devastation wreaked on the religious field by so many human deviations at the beginning of the last century. The occasion of all this served the Lord in order to lead our Venerable Founder to experience within himself the inspiration for a new religious community. He thus manifested, with still an additional argument, how the divine Providence always makes His purposes holy even when situated into the greatest human travail.

No picture of Brother Paul Zanoli [1793- †1866] s available. He entered the House of the Stimmate with Father Gaspar Bertoni and Father John Mary Marani on November 4, 1816.

The fact that there can be no external celebrations would seem to be fitting for the circumstances in which we are living.  And therefore, with my present Circular Letter, I invite all the Confreres to celebrate on that day such a joyous recurrence, with some religious service of a family and intimate character, for the scope of thanking the Lord for all the benefits showered on our Congregation in this century of its existence, to placate the Divine Justice and to obtain the grace to keep ourselves ready for all He might permit as a just punishment for our own sins and those of others.

Let us pray above all that the Lord might concede to us, even at the cost of some heavy sacrifice, to re-acquire fully that secret of the saints, through which our early members knew how to harmonize together so many values which, by human criteria, are altogether irreconcilable. Our first confreres knew very well how to unite the following:

  1. The continuous quest for the most humble, hidden way, given as the characteristic of their life, together with an illustrious reputation for holiness.
  2. The most austere penance the most sincere joy.
  3. A heroic detachment and an authentic spirit of poverty with the legitimate expenses undertaken for the buildings of the house and the Church, realized without debt, and also in taking care of them without sparing propriety and décor.
  4. The most regular discipline with the most varied multiplicity of occupations.
  5. The most complete subjection with the full development of the individual activities of the Confreres.
  6. Their constant study and work with their most solid piety.
Stimmate bw
The House and Church of the Stigmata, mother-house of the Stigmatine Congregation

These conciliations represent the secret of the saints; they remain a mystery to this world, and precisely for this reason, they represent the divine character of the Lord’s works.  This secret ought to be the precious inheritance that our first Fathers and Brothers have left to us.  If we have lost these to some extent, may the Lord grant them to us anew.  And let there be the humble recognition that, in fact, we have lost these values in part, and the vivid yearning that we might reacquire this spirit in its entirety. These are the sole conditions that the Lord asks of us in order to bestow on us this important gift that would constitute for us the most beautiful celebration of our centenary.

In order to facilitate for us the acquisition of such a grace, the reception of the Apostolic Approbation of our Constitutions could indeed contribute to this. It is my hope that during this year, this grace will be granted.

I announce further that as a remembrance of such a happy experience as this is, that there are being published the historical recollections of our Religious Congregation.

I wish from my heart the blessings of heaven on all

Rome, October 24, 1916
Fraternally yours in the Merciful Lord

As we prepare for this special event in our lives and hearts, I offer a few, reflections of St. Gaspar himself, taken from his diary for the Month of September over 2 centuries ago.

Fraternally yours in the Merciful Lord,

Father Joseph Henchey, CSS
Acting Spiritual Director



Appendix I:
Some Excerpts from St. Gaspar Bertoni’s Diary



Stigmatine Laity
International Encounter

September 8-19, 2016


The General Council, along with the Province of the Sacred Heart (Verona), invite the Stigmatine Laity to celebrate the Feast of the 200 years of the founding of the Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata with this following program:

Contents:      Rome:            “Jubilee of Mercy”
                           Verona:         “200 years of Stigmatine life”


September 8 – Thursday
– Arrival and accommodation in Rome

September 9 – Friday
– Visit to Rome: Vatican Holy Door /  Historical Center

September 10 – Saturday
– Audience with the Holy Father / Visit to the City / Mass in Saint Agatha Church

September 11 – Sunday
– Mass and lunch in Santa Croce at Flaminio.

September 12 – Monday
– Departure for Assisi and arrival in Verona / Sezano.

September 13 – Tuesday
– Bertonian journey in Verona

September 14 – Wednesday
– Verona: Visit to the Stimmate Church with the Holy Mass/Visit to the city/Evening entertainment.

September 15 – Thursday
– Visit to Milan

September 16 – Friday
– Visit to Lake Garda Sirmione: place of Brunora Ravelli/Shrine of the Crown

September 17 – Saturday
– Formative meeting and exchange of experiences/Holy Mass at the Shrine

September 18 – Sunday
– Dossobuono (ABCS): Mass, dinner and concert

September 19 – Monday
– Departure from Verona: Train Station or Airport

Fr. Tadeu Lima, CSS
Fr. Claudio Montolli, CSS