Mundelein Seminary
1000 East Maple Avenue
Mundelein, IL 60060

Thanksgiving 2015

To: Stigmatine Lay Member

Dear Friends,

Greetings from Mundelein Seminary.  My assignment here as one of the “Adjunct Spiritual Directors” has been a most pleasant experience. In so many professions – like doctors and professors and athletes [!], age is a major factor in one’s continuance in his/her line of ability. With the priesthood and religious life, however, older age provides endless possibilities of experiencing the Cross and the Healing Wounds of Christ – in this, we truly have a Model in our canonized Founder, St. Gaspar Bertoni.  He spent up to 30 years of his life in bed for serious leg infections, and the consequent surgical and very painful episodes of lancing over and over again. Along with these, he suffered many years of serious illness.

Another month has rolled around- and with this one, the “Holiday Season” opens. You can be sure that you and all you share in my daily Mass – and in your kindness please pray for us Stigmatines, our apostolates and missions.

As has been the custom, there will be no First Saturday morning Mass for the group at St. Joseph’s Hall. Admitting that some of us are beyond the age for easy driving in the winter-time – and the high possibility [probability!!] of dangerous snow conditions, there will be no communal Stigmatine Laity Mass at St. Joseph’s Hall.

However, with this letter, please  be sure of our prayers for all of you and all you have loved, during the Holiday Season – as this is  our December reflection, I thought it might be helpful for you to see St. Gaspar Bertoni’s entry in his personal diary for December 25th, 1808, He wrote:

[93.]         During the three [Christmas] Masses: recollection and an experience of the great benefit of [my] vocation. What a great blessing it is to become oblivious and stripped of all created things. To seek only God.  How much did God honor and love His humiliated Son.  Oh, what a responsibility do we have to do for Him, partly at least, what He firstly did for us.

            Christmas fell on Sunday that year. Fr. Bertoni was overwhelmed by the blessings he had received, which he shares through brief hints and interjections.

The benefit of his Vocation is to be understood as total Vocation: a vocation to the priesthood – of all the baptized – is a vocation to holiness

What is left for us is perhaps to pick up quietly that spiritual surprise with which Fr Bertoni could contemplate: how much did God honor and love His humiliated Son. He made comparisons and concluded for himself and for us: What a responsibility do we have to do for Him, partly at least, what He first did for us. May Fr, Gaspar obtain for us the grace to be struck by awe at God’s action. [Fr. Joseph Stofella, CSS]

This Letter will be accompanied by St. Gaspar’s New Year’s Letter of January 1, 1803.

May God love you all this Christmas and all through the New Year.

Sincerely yours in the Merciful Lords Healing Wounds through His coming to us in our own suffering:

Fr. Joseph Henchey, CSS
Acting Spiritual Director


Mundelein Seminary
1000 East Maple Avenue
Mundelein IL 60060

 October 27, 2015

Dear Stigmatine Lay Member,

Our Father General, Very Reverend Maurizio Baldessari, CSS, has sent a letter out to the entire Stigmatine family, including, of course, all of you!

Following Fr. General’s advice, let us all pray during the Second Centenary Year of the Stigmatine Family for its works, its missions – and even its failures!

We all serve a merciful God, and by the Wounds of His Divine Son we are all healed!  [cf. Is 53:5, 1 P 2: 3, ff.].   Yet is in the Eucharist, too, that all the wounds of life are healed: “Say only the word and my soul will be healed!” [From the Liturgy]

God love you all. A blessed Thanksgiving and holiday time!

Sincerely yours in St. Gaspar Bertoni,

Fr. Joseph Henchey, CSS

Acting Spiritual Director



Mundelein Seminary
1000 East Maple Avenue
Mundelein IL 60060

Feast of St. Teresa of Avila
October 15, 2015

Dear Stigmatine Lay Member,

Many greetings and a daily remembrance in my Mass for you all!  Through the kindness of Tereza Lopes, our Lay Stigmatine Member of Brazil, presently living with her husband Vicente, in Plano TX.

For our November 2015 reflection from St. Gaspar, I would like to share with you two documents from our Stigmatine History. One of these is a translation of the entries under the date of November 4th, through the years from 1777-1911.

The first is from the “Stigmatine Calendar”:


November 4

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 Trinità 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.’


The second entry is from an original composition called the ‘Short Chronicle’, written during World War I. Here is the then Superior General’s letter of that time:


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

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 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.

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.
  1. The most austere penance the most sincere joy.
  1. 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.
  1. The most regular discipline with the most varied multiplicity of occupations.
  1. The most complete subjection with the full development of the individual activities of the Confreres.
  1. Their constant study and work with their most solid piety.

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
The Superior GeneralFather John Baptist Tommasi.

It is truly a challenge to keep these lofty ideals, but this is our call as we begin a kind of centenary year honoring our canonized, St. Gaspar Bertoni. Let us continue to pray for one another!

Gratefully yours in the Merciful Stigmata,

Rev. Joseph Henchey, CSS


Stigmatines – St. Joseph’s Hall
554 Lexington Street  Waltham MA   02452

 Regular Stigmatine Lay Meeting: Saturday, October 3,  2015        9:00 a.m. Mass – St. Josephs Hall

September 15, 2015
(Seven Dolors of Mary)

Dear Stigmatine Lay Member,

             Those of us who had the privilege of listening to Page Vandewater and John Marzilli at our recent September meeting, were much encouraged by their very positive report on the International Stigmatine Laity meeting held a month ago in Brazil.   We are grateful to them for representing us.

             Please remember the important Stigmatine community meetings beginning September 17th   & 18th    here: [the meeting of the  Superior General , Fr. Maurizio Baldessari, CSS, and  members of the Province with  the General Council] – and all next week, the annual meeting of our Stigmatine Council of Superiors [made up on the General Council and the world-wide Stigmatine Provincials]. These are important meetings for the Stigmatine community so your prayers for us all are most welcome.

             The October meeting is scheduled for Saturday, October 3rd for the 9:00 a.m. Mass. This is the month of the Holy Rosary, and Fr. Leonard Ferrecchia, CSS will be the celebrant. He will express a few thoughts on the Papal Document of Pope St. John Paul IInd, on St. Joseph as Guardian of the Redeemer and Spouse of Mary.

             In October, also, we remember St Francis of Assisi: il piu’ santo degli italiani, e il piu’ italiano dei Santi! – he is “the most holy of the Italians and the most Italian of the saints”!]   Rather than my regular conference, I will offer St. Gaspar Bertoni’s Franciscan Homilies – two on the great Saint himself and the third one on the Stigmata and Espousals in the life of the Capuchin mystic, St. Veronica Giuliani.  If you have a computer you may get a copy of these conferences, if you would like them, by contacting John Marzilli, or Tereza and Vicente Lopes, our faithful members in Plano TX – who contribute so mightily and have for so long, spreading devotion to St Gaspar Bertoni. If it is possible for Tereza, she will offer these conferences on the Stigmatine Laity Web site.

             God love you all – let us continue to pray for each other!

 Fr. Joseph Henchey, CSS
Acting Spiritual Director

Three “Franciscan” Panegyrics

Back from the 2nd International Meeting of Stigmatine Laity in Brazil

Waltham, MA, Sep. 3, 2015

Hi, everyone,

We had a WONDERFUL time!!
We were told at the opening of the conference that it would be “Bertonian Immersion” – which it truly was.

There were:

1) excellent presentations by priests and novices on Bertonian history, prayer and spirituality – and

2)  presentations from each of the 11 countries on the Lay Associates in each country (startup, current formation, activities etc

3) a field trip to Casa Branca for the grand tour, wonderful dinner, and a novena Mass…. a two hour liturgy that was breathtaking.

4). morning prayer in the chapel every morning before breakfast

5) daily Mass in the chapel every day before supper

6) wonderful food

7) wonderful accommodations (they ended up putting the three of us in the Provincial House – Fr. Nelton was in the Provincial room/office – John across from him – Ruthie and I were across from Br. Joseph’s room (he was away during this time – we met him only the last day)

8) and several evening ‘entertainments’ put on by those of with enough talent to do so. (the American delegation decided to stay in the audience!)

Everyone was very friendly…. people remembered Fr. Henchey, Tereza and Vicente…

There were 11 countries represented: Brazil, Paraguay, Chile, USA, Italy, Thailand, Ivory Coast, Tanzania, Botswana, South Africa, Philippines & American. Thank God for the last seven I mentioned….. our common language was English so we got to know each other well. John knew several of the 4 Thai people (I had met one once) & some Filipinos –  and three of the South Africa folk had been our bosom buddies five years ago in Verona (Fr. Daniel had taken us English speaking – after the conference  – on that grand tour of Italy for a week.)

We were graced with another blessing: immersion in the Brazilian culture… because of assorting scheduling changes we ended up as the first arrivals and last to leave – therefore – at both ends, we were ‘one of the family’ ie eating our meals in the kitchen with Fr.

Nelton, the novices, the farm workers and female staff. (good sign language was the order of the day!)

Another blessing was that we were rested when the conference started, and then had some time at the other end to reflect on all that we’d experienced and learned.

I was amazed at the beauty of the complex – and how wondrously they’d designed it to ‘bring the outside to the indoors – and vice versa’ so that one lived enjoying nature and construction working in harmony… very impressive…

Ruthie was entranced by the parade of the cows who marched past our windows every morning, returned every night and sometimes grazed just yards away… then there were the beautiful birds…and, of course, the great kindness of every person at the complex – and the wonderful, wonderful food.

The trip down was without incident – and the long leg from Miami to Capison was only 1/3 full we could stretch out to sleep.

The return trip, however, was 25 hours. The plane was more crowded, we were delayed on the Tarmac by mechanical issues for three hours – missed our connection in Miami, etc etc…However, we praise and thank God for everything in every circumstance (I Th 5:17…. first principle of the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius….and certainly the attitude of St. Gaspar! )

Oh, and yes, both busts of St. Gaspar arrived intact!

It was a great privilege to have been part of Stigmatine family these many years and we thank you for this.

Page and Ruthie
(and I’m sure I speak for John)