Tuesday, January 31, 2017

St. John Bosco

Today is the feast of St. John Bosco, founder of the Salesian priests.  We know that here New Rochelle, the Salesians have a wonderful high school for boys.

He began his work with indigent boys in Turin, Italy.  Not only did he bring them together for spiritual and communal activities but he also began training classes for them at night so they could eventually get work. His work with these homeless boys grew from 6 to 600 within five years.  Today, the Salesians have schools all over the world.  Let us pray with them that God will bless their work with young men as they try to not only educate them but also to deepen their faith in Jesus Christ.

KM Donohue, OSU

Monday, January 30, 2017

Catholic Schools Week

Each year, in January, we celebrate Catholic Schools for the gifts they bring to our parish communities, and to the lives of children and families throughout our nation.  For centuries, Catholic schools have provided a safe and secure learning environment within a community of faith. Growing up in a Catholic community provides students with a lived experience of Christian discipleship. They learn what it means to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, they practice living the values of the Catholic religion, and share the journey of faith. The administration, faculty, staff, and parents all become models of what it means to live as Catholic Christians in today’s world.

When we live in a community of faith we develop a personal relationship with Jesus. We are in relationship with one another.  We are called to renew our commitment to the Ursuline motto of “Serviam” – I will serve.  Catholic education provides students with the equipment necessary to become good citizens and contributing members of society.

As we celebrate Catholic Schools Week this week let us remember that we are called to be Christ for one another and all those we meet along the journey of life.

Pat Schifini, OSU

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Beatitudes: A Way of Life

In today’s gospel we here the familiar teachings of Jesus called the Beatitudes, from the gospel of Matthew (5:1-10).  These are an invitation to a way of living that brings true happiness and both inward and outward peace. The beatitudes call us to a radically new way of being when we center our lives on God, and we become transformed. The beatitudes call us to true happiness and the deepest of joy as we find our true identity in our relationship with God and true peace both inwardly and outwardly.

When I was on retreat the leader suggested that we look at the Beatitudes as an attitude of being.  This intrigued me as I had never looked at them in that way.  Every time I hear the Beatitudes read at Mass I am brought back to that retreat.  The Beatitudes are an important guide for our daily living.  To live the Beatitudes is to be centered on God and God’s desires for our life. They invite us to live as peacemakers, to bring reconciliation, to seek out opportunities for mercy and compassion, to pursue justice and righteousness.  Pope Francis calls us to live the Beatitudes in our daily life too.

Pat Schifini, OSU

Friday, January 27, 2017

Happy Feast of St. Angela

Today we celebrate the Feast of St. Angela!  Angela was a woman ahead of her times and always sought the good of others.  In her spirit we pray:  My last word which I urge upon you to the last drop of my blood, is that you remain in harmony, united together, all of one heart and one will. Be bound one to the other by the bond of charity, respecting each other, helping each other and bearing with each other in Jesus Christ.  See how important is this union and concord; long for it, pursue it, embrace it, and hold on to it with all your might. (Last Counsel of St. Angela Merici)

Angela, valiant woman, inspire us today to be people of faith, people of action, people in love with God and all creation.  May we be makers of peace in a wounded world.  May we be creators of justice in a broken world.  May we be passionate and compassionate in an indifferent world.  You, who traveled the road before us, be with us as you promised.  May the example of your pilgrim heart encourage us on our journey. Amen

Happy Feast of St. Angela!

Pat Schifini, OSU

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Conversion of St. Paul

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul (Acts 9: 1 – 19).  Whenever I read the story of Paul’s experience it causes me to stop and wonder about my own response to God’s invitation.  Paul had a profound experience of God calling him to change his ways and he responded with great courage and a firm sense of purpose.  It would be so much easier for us if God would send messages like he did the early disciples.  God continually calls us to be his hands and feet in our world today.  We have been charged to be Christ for one another – to reach out and help others in various ways.  If we listen, we will hear God’s call.

One of my favorite quotes by St. Teresa of Avila states very clearly God’s call to each one of us, “Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”  May this feast fill us with the grace to respond generously to the call of our loving God, that we may always bear witness with our lives to God’s abundant love for us.

Pat Schifini, OSU

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

St. Francis de Sales

Today, January 24, is the Feast of St. Francis de Sales, founder of the Oblates of St. Francis.  He is also the Patron Saint of the Diocese of Wilmington, DE.  It is fitting that Francis' feast and St. Angela's feast are celebrated in the same week as the Oblates and Ursulines have worked together in that Diocese for almost a century.
Both of these holy ones dedicated their lives completely to the service of their God, both founded religious communities and both served the young people of their time.  In them, we find examples of saints who listened to God's calling and followed it throughout their lives. Let us pray to have the courage to listen to God's call in our lives and the strength to follow that call as long as we live.
KM Donohue, OSU

Monday, January 23, 2017

Words of St. Angela

St. Angela Merici, in her writings said many wonderful things.  As we approach her Feast Day on Friday, January 27th, I wanted to share some of my favorite ones that deal with her call that we are unified and care for one another.

“Have confidence and strong faith that God will assist you in everything. Pray to God.  Depend on God’s strength.  There is no doubt that since God gave you this great task, so will your God give you the strength to carry out.  Encourage one another to continue resolutely the task you have begun and be happy together!”

“See how important this unity and harmony is, for this reason, long for it, search for it, embrace it, hold on to it with all your strength.  And moreover, I assure you, that every request you make of God will most certainly be granted, and I myself shall be in your midst furthering your prayers.”

Let us embrace St. Angela’s words with open hearts and the desire to live them out each day!

Pat Schifini, OSU

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Christian Unity

St. Angela Merici, in her writings said, “Live in harmony, one heart, one will.  Long for it, search for it, embrace it with all your strength.”

I was reminded of this quote when I was reflecting on the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.  January 18 – 25, 2017 is the time designated when Christians around the world have taken part in an octave of prayer for visible Christian unity.  By annually observing the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Christians move toward the fulfillment of Jesus' prayer at the Last Supper "that they all may be one."  (John 17:21)  The theme of this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is "Reconciliation-The Love of Christ Compels Us." (2 Corinthians 5:14-20).

As we continue to pray for unity let us remember the words of St. Angela and the mandate of Jesus.

Prayer for Christian Unity

God of all, we pray as one, that we may be one, just as the Lord Jesus prayed we may be one in Him.  Your son Jesus compels us to be reconciled to one another.  May our spirits be joined to your Holy Spirit that we may witness to the visible unity of your Church.  May we all recognize that we are truly one with you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit and grow together in peace.  We ask this in the name of Jesus our Lord.  Amen

                                        Compliments of Graymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute.

Pat Schifini, OSU

Friday, January 20, 2017

Prayer for Inauguration Day

As Donald J. Trump takes the oath of office today let us pray:

Loving and gracious God: As our nation undergoes this presidential transition, we pray: “Thy Kingdom Come.”  May your Holy Spirit instill our president of righteousness and the values and principles of your kingdom to exercise the sacred trust of administering the nation.  Give our new president, his administration, and Congress the ability to honor you by doing what is right, fair, and just for all citizens, especially the poor, hungry, and marginalized.  We ask that all the people in our nation, irrespective of race, gender, ethnicity, or religious faith be treated with dignity.  We pray for the wholeness, health, integrity, soundness, welfare, security, prosperity, harmony, and justice of all the citizens of our nation.  Help our nation develop a foreign policy that fosters peace, justice, equality, and freedoms that can advance the development, rights, and privileges of our global neighbors.  Move our nation to provide international leadership in the good stewardship of all the natural resources that you have entrusted to humankind.  “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.”

Pat Schifini, OSU

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Taking Time

Today we hear in the Gospel of St. Mark that, “Jesus departed with his disciples to the sea, and a great multitude from Galilee followed him; hearing all that he was doing, they came to him in great numbers from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, beyond the Jordan, and the region around Tyre and Sidon. 

He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him; for he had cured many, so that all who had diseases pressed upon him to touch him.

Whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and shouted, “You are the Son of God!” But he sternly ordered them not to make him known.”  MK 3:7-12

I always find it interesting that Jesus too wanted to get away from it all.  Sometimes he just needed a little bit of quiet. Doesn’t this sound like us too.  There are times when we need to just turn everything off and take some time to pause and gather our thoughts.  Since Jesus also did this then I venture to say that we can also do it.  Take some time each day to turn off and spend some time quiet.  Our loving God is always grateful to hear from us.

Pat Schifini, OSU

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Being Judged

Today's Gospel has a special theme about not judging other people.  Jesus came upon a man with a withered arm and the Pharisees watched Jesus to see what he would do about the man as it was the Sabbath.  Jesus approached the man and cured his arm and this upset the Pharisees as no work was to be done on the Sabbath. Jesus believed it was better to heal the man than to let him continue with the withered arm.  The Pharisees judged his action and condemned him.  How often do we judge others when we see them do the right thing and we cannot acknowledge that what they are doing is right.  Let us ask God to give us the courage to always do the right thing even though we might be judged by others. Imagine being judged for doing the right thing!

KM Donohue, OSU

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Sabbath Rest

In today’s Gospel, we read: “As Jesus was passing through a field of grain on the Sabbath, his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of grain.  At this the Pharisees said to him, "Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?"  He said to them, "Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions were hungry? How he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest and ate the bread of offering that only the priests could lawfully eat, and shared it with his companions?"  Then he said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath."  Mark 2: 23 – 28

I always find this to be an interesting reading as Jesus takes on the Pharisees and sets them straight.  The Sabbath rest is something we do not always observe in our face paced world.  We need to take the time to pause, stop and quiet ourselves so that we can be really present for God and others.  As we take the time to pause and stop we are better able to be present to others.  In the days ahead let us make a sincere effort to be slow down and relish God’s immense love for us.

Pat Schifini, OSU

Monday, January 16, 2017

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today, January 16, we, as a nation, remember the life of Martin Luther King, Jr.-husband, father, son, dreamer who had such hope that the issue of race would be put to rest in this country where we profess that all men are created equal.  Those of us who are older remember the unrest in America after he was murdered-his dream and those of his friends shattered by a bullet. I was living in Washington, DC at that time and with my Ursuline Sisters, watched as whole neighborhoods were destroyed in the riots.  The race problem in this country has not been solved and we as Christians should pray for equality each day.  The challenge is before us each day and hopefully, we will rise to the challenge by standing next to our brothers and sisters who are denied their God given rights.

KM Donohue, OSU

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Follow Me

In today’s Gospel we read, “Jesus went out along the sea.  All the crowd came to him and he taught them.  As he passed by, he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus, sitting at the customs post.  Jesus said to him, "Follow me."  And he got up and followed Jesus.  While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners sat with Jesus and his disciples; for there were many who followed him.  Some scribes who were Pharisees saw that Jesus was eating with sinners and tax collectors and said to his disciples, "Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?"  Jesus heard this and said to them, "Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.  I did not come to call the righteous but sinners." (Mark 2: 13 – 17)  As I prayed over this reading this morning I was struck that Jesus called the unlikely person to come and follow.  Perhaps this is a good message for us to reflect on this day – that God calls all of us to be our best selves and serve others.  May this day be filled with many moments of blessing for all.

Pat Schifini, OSU

Friday, January 13, 2017

A Life Well Lived

I am watching the live stream of the funeral of NYPD Detective Steven McDonald.  About ten years ago, we had the pleasure of having him come and speak to our school community.  It was an amazing assembly and his message is the one he lived every day of his life.  When he was here he gave out cards with a Pledge of Non-Violence on it as well as a reflection on You Are Very Special.  I have that simple card on my desk in my office and I often read it.  As we honor him this day let us take a moment to recommit ourselves to non-violence.

I promise that I will do my best to refrain from participating in acts of violence in my home, in my school, and in my neighborhood.  I also promise to stand with other human beings who are treated unfairly.  By doing this I make know how special I am.  I will remember that I want to live in a peaceful world, and by taking this pledge I will be doing my part to achieve this goal.

Pat Schifini, OSU

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Inner Strength

I read this reflection this morning in Daily Word and it really touched my heart.  As you read it may you feel your connection with our God ever deepening and ever growing.


I am connected within to the spirit of God. Wherever I go, whatever I do, I am divinely uplifted.
I may look back on my life and find times when I felt insignificant or lacking confidence. Still, I take to heart the energy available to all things, even something as simple as water. Once harnessed and directed, water becomes the dynamic force in a steam turbine. Those same molecules, when influenced by cold, become ice with the power to crack concrete and topple trees.

When I discover and harness my power within, I have the potential to make a mighty difference in my life and in the world. I place my attention on Spirit. With faith, I can overcome any circumstance: My inner strength is greater than any outer appearances.

Pat Schifini, OSU

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Do Not Be Anxious

 Today's scripture readings encourage us not to be anxious and worried for we are under the care of the Living God, who cares for the birds of the air and the lilies of the field.  We are promised that He will care for us too.  Of course, that does not mean to sit back and relax!. We must do our part by being faithful to our our prayer and daily living.  Prayer is not a magic formula for us to get what we want from God.  It is a collaborative effort.  Ask God to bless this time and to send His Holy Spirit to guide you as you review and then take the exams.

KM Donohue, OSU

Monday, January 9, 2017

Baptism of Our Lord

Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Baptism of Our Lord. This brings to an end the season of Christmas. The Church recalls Our Lord's second manifestation or epiphany which occurred on the occasion of His baptism in the Jordan. Jesus descended into the River to sanctify its waters and to give them the power to beget sons of God. The event takes on the importance of a second creation in which the entire Trinity intervenes.

In Matthew 3: 13 – 17 we hear the familiar story: “Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him.  John tried to prevent him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?”  Jesus said to him in reply, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”  Then he allowed him.  After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened for him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming upon him.  And a voice came from the heavens, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Most of us do only know of our own baptism from pictures and the stories people tell us.  When we were baptized, we were marked with the cross drawn on our foreheads and this is the true sign of our faith.  We were baptized and the stain of “original sin” was removed from us and we became a child of God.  Our baptism was not the same as Jesus’ in the Jordan River and we are continually called to live out our baptismal call to be a child of God.  We are always loved and cared about by our God.  May we take some time today to recall our baptism and to remember that we are a beloved child of God and that God is pleased with us!

Pat Schifini, OSU

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Our Lady of Prompt Succor

The statue of Our Lady under the title of Our Lady of Prompt Succor came to New Orleans in 1810. Over the following two centuries, the Ursuline Sisters have shared this devotion to Our Lady of "Quick Help" with many who pray to the Mother of God in moments of pain or need, joy or thanksgiving, or simply out of desire to live their lives with deepening fidelity and love.  

Today, January 8th, we celebrate the feast day of Mary, Our Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Prompt Succor. Devotion to Mary under this title dates back to the early 1800s, when Our Blessed Mother intervened at the behest of a community of Ursuline nuns in New Orleans, to protect not only the monastery, but the entire city from both consuming fire and invasion.

Today, we honor and look to our Blessed Mother for continued deliverance from all that troubles us. Through her powerful, constant, and gracious intercession, we are freed from evil, our courage is bolstered, and we brought closer to her blessed Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ!

Let us pray today and every day for the graces we need through the intercession of Our Lady of Prompt Succor.

Pat Schifini, OSU

Friday, January 6, 2017

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.  Elizabeth is the first American born saint.  She grew up here in New Rochelle, was an Episcopalian, a wife, a mother.  When her husband died at an early age, Elizabeth became a Catholic, a move very much frowned upon in her day.  She eventually overcame many obstacles and began a religious order of women who were to educate children, the Sisters of Charity.  These Sisters ministered to many parishes in the Archdiocese of New York and educated thousands of young boys and girls.  She did not let the obstacles in her path stop her from responding to God's call.  With a listening heart, she was able, with His help, to fulfill His plan for her.

KM Donohue, OSU

The Epiphany of the Lord

Today in many parts of our world the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord Jesus, also known as “Little Christmasis celebrated.  In the Eastern Christian Churches, the Epiphany is celebrated on January 6 and is as big a feast as, if not bigger than, Christmas.  

The word “epiphany” comes from the Greek word, Epiphania, which means “a shining upon” and it is sometimes translated as “manifestation.”  For this is the day when tradition holds that the three wise men came from afar to pay homage to the Christ child.  This is a day when the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh were presented to the child Jesus as he lay in the manger.   These gifts were a foreshadowing of the events to come later in Jesus’ life.

As we reflect on this solemnity today let us reflect on the following questions:  How have I experienced the Light of Christ shining upon me?  What have I done when I have been energized by the Light of Christ?  How have I let the Light shine through me to others?  What more can I do to help enlighten others?  Let our answers bring about a renewed sense of the joy of Christmas when Christ came into the world to dispel the darkness and bring us light!  May we always be the light of Christ for all to see.

Pat Schifini, OSU

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Beloved Child of God

Today as I was looking out of my car windshield I was struck by the scene of two swans who were in the inlet.  Over the years the swan has been an important part of my faith journey.  The swan is a beautiful creature who displays the spiritual life as it goes deep into the water to secure what it needs and then it brings their head way above water and continues the journey.  As we grow in our spiritual lives we need to go deep within and spend time praying and reflecting on our relationship with Jesus.

In today’s first reading from John we are reminded that each one of us is a beloved child of God.  There are times when we are more certain of this than other times.  John encourages us to continue to develop our spiritual lives.  We are truly a “work in progress.”  Each day we are given the opportunity to grow closer to Jesus and need to be like the swan and secure what we need and continue to grow into the beautiful work of art that God has planned for us.  As we return to the busyness of our daily routines let us always be reminded that I am a beloved child of God.  Let this knowledge help us to be more present and open to the wisdom of those I encounter.

Pat Schifini, OSU

Monday, January 2, 2017

Humble and Kind

Today we celebrate the Memorial of Sts. Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen, two who were known for being a bishop and doctor of the Church.  These men were friends and grew to love and serve God.  Both were known for their humility.  Humility can be tricky to navigate. To live humbly means to live gratefully within one’s means. It also means that we recognize what our God given gifts are, and are not. 
The song Always Be Humble and King came to mind as I prayed today.  Perhaps as we begin a new year it is a good time to recall the message of this song and the call of our God to find our true selves.  The refrain is: 
Hold the door say please say thank you don't steal, don't cheat, and don't lie I know you got mountains to climb but always stay humble and kind.  When the dreams you're dreamin' come to you, when the work you put in is realized.  Let yourself feel the pride but always stay humble and kind…
Let us be humble enough to accept our calling, and courageous enough to bless others whose gifts are different from our own.
Pat Schifini, OSU

Sunday, January 1, 2017

January 1st

Happy New Year!  Today we celebrate the first day of the New Year!  It is a day when we honor Mary as the Mother of God.  It is a day to honor her as the Mother of Jesus.  Mary played a very special role in the life of Jesus and does so in our lives too.  May we pray this day for our families as we celebrate the beginning of a new year.  “O God our Father, by the light of the Holy Spirit, lead us to be thankful for the gift of faith.  May we grow in our relationship with Jesus, your Son.  May we be confident witnesses to Christian hope and joy to all we meet.  We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen”

For the past 50 years the Church has also celebrated World Peace Day on January 1st.  As we reflect on Pope Francis’ message this day may our homes and hearts be filled with love, peace and joy always.  "I pray that the image and likeness of God in each person will enable us to acknowledge one another as sacred gifts endowed with immense dignity. Especially in situations of conflict, let us respect this, our “deepest dignity”, and make active nonviolence our way of life." ---Pope Francis

Pat Schifini, OSU