by Sister Ann Marie Emon
I love the changes in the seasons that happen each year. As we turn our calendars to November, a myriad of feelings come to us. Cool crisp days lead to trees turning beautiful colors. There are changes in our church as well. Pope Francis canonized five saints this past October. These were people who dedicated their lives to the pursuit of loving God and serving God’s people. They were people who served the poor, the sick ,the disenfranchised and the marginalized. The new saints were from Brazil, England, India, Italy and Switzerland.
For the many Brazilians most of the canonization of Maria Rita Lopes, popularly known as Sister Dulce was about her love for the poor. She founded the first Catholic workers organization in the state of Bahia. She started a health clinic for poor workers, created a hospital, an orphanage and care centers for the elderly and disabled. She became known as the “the mother of the poor.” She died in 1992 at the age of 77.
In England the theologian, poet and cardinal, John Henry Newman, lived from 1801 to 1890 and on October 13th, 2019 was canonized by Pope Francis. Sally Axworthy, the British ambassador to the Holy See, spoke highly of Cardinal John Henry Newman as an “ important figure and a giant of the 19th century.” Axworthy went on to say that the first half of Henry Newman’s life he was an Anglican. He defined Anglicanism as a middle way between Catholicism and Protestantism. Henry Newman joined the Catholic Church and had a great impact on the development of doctrine which opened the way to Vatican II. He was honored as a saint on the Anglican calendar on August 11th the day of his death. His feast day on the Catholic calendar is October 9th, the date he joined the Catholic Church at the age of 44.
Along with Blessed Newman and Blessed Dulce three others were canonized on October 13th: Blessed Marguerite Bays a laywoman from Switzerland; Blessed Josephine Vannini an Italian and Blessed Mariam Thresia Mankidiyan an Indian. Their lives changed as they grew closer to God and His people.
Pope John Paul II beatified Marquerite Bays in 1995 lauding her as an example for all lay Catholics. The Pope went on to say that “She was a very simple woman with a very normal life. She did not accomplish anything extraordinary yet her existence was a long and a silent progression on the path toward holiness. She died in 1879 at the age of 63.
The Italian named Blessed Josephine Vannini was the co-founder of the Congregation of Daughters of St. Camillus. It was a religious order dedicated to living out the vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and another vow which was to serve the sick even if it meant risking death.
The Indian founder of the Congregation of the Holy Family is Blessed Mariam Thresia Chiramel Mankidiyan. Her religious order dedicated their lives to helping couples and families, serving the poor, the sick and the dying. She lived a life of austerity. She received the stigmata in 1909. She died in 1926.
Each saints’ lives brought with it a profound dedication to their ministry. These men and women were challenged to live a christian life in service of God’s people. At times change was at the center of their lives. How are you doing with the changes in your life? Do you live a life of change that is good for showing God’s people the life of love? Take this time of year to bring growth and praise to God so we can spread God’s love and compassion to all of God’s people.