Category Archives: General


Dear Friends of the Stigmatines,

Every year – on the Friday following Divine Mercy Sunday (Second Sunday of Easter or traditionally, Low Sunday) – the Stigmatines celebrate what is called our “Titular Feastday” or “Title Day”. This year, our Feast is celebrated on Friday, April 8th. On this day, in a special way,  we honor the Five Wounds of our Savior, Jesus Christ. In this celebration we recall the “Sorrowful” Wounds and give our Lord praise and gratitude for His Saving Passion – and we also celebrate the “Glorious” Wounds of Jesus – the Wounds he kept after His Resurrection – “trophies”, if you will, of His compassionate and merciful love.

This year, our Feast of the Sacred Stigmata is celebrated within the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Pope Francis has stated that “God always thinks mercifully” (Pope Francis, The Church of Mercy: A Vision For The Church, p. 73). Our Holy Father continues: “God came out of himself to come among us; he pitched his tent among us to bring us his mercy that saves and gives hope” (ibid.). This is yet another way of appreciating and understanding the commemoration and celebration of Jesus’ Five Precious Wounds. They evidence the magnitude of Christ’s salvific love for us. Just as Saint Thomas probed these Holy Wounds (John 20.27), so we are invited to give our attention to Christ – by adoring His Wounds – the holy marks of His great and saving love.

From Easter through Pentecost, we are invited by the Sacred Liturgy to contemplate God’s love on our behalf – in His Passion and Death, Resurrection, Ascension and Sending of the Holy Spirit. It is such a “Holy Time” for us to remember and celebrate the “wideness” of Jesus’ love. May this sacred time bring you many blessings!

Please be sure that you and your intentions will be remembered by the Stigmatine Fathers on the great Solemnity of the Sacred Stigmata on April 8th. We ask for your prayerful remembrance, too. May God continue to bless you in this reverent and  beautiful Easter Season.

In the Sacred Stigmata of our Lord,

The Stigmatine Fathers
Holy Spouses Province


Mundelein Seminary
1000 East Maple Avenue
Mundelein IL 60060

March 27

Very dear Stigmatine Lay Member,

The Stigmatines have three major community liturgical celebrations: January 23rd; the feast of the Hoy Souses, Mary and Joseph – June 12th, the Solemnity of the canonized Founder – and the Friday after Mercy Sunday, the Feast of the Sacred Stigmata [this year, it is commemorated on April 8th].

As we are soon to remember the last mentioned, the Sacred Stigmata are remembered on Good Friday, as a major cause of our Lord’s death. They are also remembered on “Mercy Sunday’, as the Gospel is on the wounds of Christ retained in His risen body, the source of the Church’s Apostolic Mission of Mercy.

Over the years, this liturgical commemoration has moved around a little in the calendar of the year, due to the number of elements the community wanted to commemorate in its celebration:

  • Before the IInd Vatican Council, the usual celebration was on the Friday before Lent – this was preceded by a Novena of prayers among the Stigmatines. This led to the comment of my old Novice Master, Fr. John B. Zaupa, our only Father General who served as Fr. General for three terms: in Rome, spring comes once the three Novenas are completed: the one for Christmas; then, the Novena for the Espousals day in January- and then the Novena in preparation for the Last Friday before Lent. This led to the old saying among the Stigmatine community “old-timers’ regarding this feast celebrated on a Friday:

In Chiesa, Grande Festa –
In refettorio, feria Sesta!

[This meant: in Church we had a great a joy-filled celebration – but in the refectory it would still be Friday!]

  • The present placing of the Feast of the Stigmata in the Easter time remembers this revelation of the Mercy of God – but a Friday was chosen, that we never forget the sorrowful side of these two aspects, both sorrowful and glorious.

As in the Eucharist, we pray with the Church each day: Say only the Word and my soul will be healed. She learned from Isaiah 53:5, that the wounds inflicted on the mysteries Suffering Servant would be instruments of our healing!

The accompanying document is an excerpt from the introduction to my study Stimmate Integre[1], in which I offer a few reflections on the feast of the Sacred Stigmata, and in general on the Stigmatine Charism.

A blessed Easter time and feast of the Sacred Stigmata to all!

Sincerely, in the Sacred Stigmata of Our Lord Jesus Christ,

Rev. Joseph Henchey, CSS
Acting Spiritual Director


P.S.: I take this opportunity to let you know I will be participating in a Symposium on Father Cornelio Fabro, CSS, in the Catholic University of America, in Washington D.C., on April 1st – 2nd, 2016. For further information, this is the web-address:


Appendix I: “A Few Reflections on the Feast of the Sacred Stigmata”, by Rev. Joseph Henchey, CSS – 2000.

[1] The study Stimmate Integre can be found on the website: “A Tribute to St. Gaspar Bertoni”:, under “Life & Spirituality”.



Traduzione in Italiano (da Padre Giancarlo Mittempergher, CSS):

Tradução em Português (por Tereza Lopes, leiga Estigmatina):



Mundelein Seminary
1000 East Maple Avenue
Mundelein IL     60060

Palm Sunday 2016
March 20

Dear Stigmatine Lay Member,

With this date, a long and cold winter is now just hours away from ending.  And, with Palm Sunday, we enter into a truly ‘Holy Week’ – the conclusion of Lent through a Liturgy of hope-filled faith that sheds much light on the mysteries in which we believe: the Eucharist and Priesthood, instituted together at the Last Supper – the sorrowful wounds on the Lord of Good Friday – and the glorious aspect of the Stigmata of Easter night. In the Cenacle room, Christ shows his wounds, retained in His glorious body, and presents these as the integral source of the Apostolic Mission: As the Father sent Me, I now send you [cf. Jn 20].

With the mystery of death, we are also encouraged to believe in the healing and saving wounds of the Risen Lord. Scripture offers a variety of wounds why we suffer: Punishment for past sins; Purification of our present state; Pedagogy, in that suffering, is the ‘School of God’ for St. Gaspar [Letter # 45, p. 109; # 157, p. 256; 2nd Letter 2 to Bragato, p. 326]; Repentance to ask the Lord’s Pardon; Eschatology, in that we do not have here a lasting home – and finally, this is a personal lesson of Christ Himself. Whatever He assumed [suffering and death] He has redeemed.

Over the centuries, some experts have taught that one of the underlying causes for Atheism is the apparent powerless-ness of God. The Stigmata, in their integral aspects, teach us that as every sin confessed is sacramentally transformed from being an obstacle to God’s grace to a co-efficient of the penitent’s holiness.

The life of St. Gaspar shows us that the path to holiness, while universal for all, is tailored for each persevering believer: in his own life, he was moved by grace to accept the atrocious suffering’s of life-long poor health and painful surgeries, enabling to be blessed in them with the mysticism and the wisdom of the Cross of Christ. As Isaiah of old spoke of a mysterious suffering Servant, whose wounds would heal us [Is 53, 5] – St. Peter saw this theme in his first Encyclical to the Church, explaining the spirituality of Baptism. St Peter states: By His wounds, you have been healed!  [1 P 2:24].

In Jesus’ Passion and Death, we are given a participation in the very nature of God:  through His precious promises we have all come to share in the divine nature [cf. 2 P 1:4]. The Cry of the Church in every Mass is: Lift up your hearts!

In the accompanying study, let us reflect on the image of the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world.

A blessed Easter to all!

Sincerely in the Healing Wounds of Christ,

Rev, Joseph Henchey, CSS
Acting Spiritual Moderator


Appendix I:


This letter, originally in English and translated into Italian and Portuguese:





Happy Easter!

Dear Friends of the Stigmatines,

As I write this message, it is the Feast of Saint Joseph! Our Holy Founder, Saint Gaspar Bertoni, gave us Mary and Joseph, as our Holy Patrons. May Saint Joseph guide and be with you each day!

We are entering Holy Week and the great Easter Season that extends through Pentecost. This is certainly a blessed time for us all. Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI offers us some wonderful insights into the Easter Feast and Season. In his book, Holy Days, Meditations on the Feasts, Fasts and Other Solemnities of the Church (pp. 52 & 53), he states:

“…death does not have the last word, because Life will be victorious at the end.”

This certainty of ours is based not on simple human reasoning, but on a historical fact of faith: Jesus Christ, crucified and buried, is risen with his glorified body. Jesus is risen so that we too, believing in him, may have eternal life. The resurrection, then, is not a theory, but a historical reality revealed by the man Jesus Christ by means of his “Passover”, his “passage”, which has opened a new way between heaven and earth (cf. Heb. 10.20). It is neither a myth nor a dream, it is not a vision or a utopia, it is not a fairy tale, but it is a singular and unrepeatable event: Jesus of Nazareth, son of Mary, who at dusk on Friday was taken down from the Cross and buried, has victoriously left the tomb. The resurrection of Christ is our hope! This the Church proclaims today with joy. She announces the hope that is now firm and invincible because God has raised Jesus Christ from the dead. She communicates the hope that she carries in her heart and wishes to share with all people in every place.

As always, Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI writes so eloquently. He captures the essential Easter message of hope.

The Stigmatine Fathers are devoted to this Easter message. Our devotion to both the sorrowful and glorious Wounds of Christ invite us to bring the Easter message of peace and joy to all whom we serve. We are so happy and privileged to share the Lord’s message: “Peace be with you!”

Thank you for visiting us through this medium of communication. Please be sure of our continued prayers for you, your loved ones and all your intentions. As always, we ask you to pray for vocations to the Stigmatine Priesthood and Religious Life.

A blessed and joyous Easter Season!

The Stigmatine Fathers
Holy Spouses Province



February 22, 2016
Chair of St. Peter

Very dear Stigmatine Lay Member,

We are approaching the mid-way point of Lent – and in anticipation of a new spring-time, and of Laetare Sunday. This is a time likewise of Prophetic Joy – as also happens with the Third Sunday of Advent. We look forward in faith and hope to our Redemption as celebrated with the Sorrowful Stigmata of Good Friday. We need also to ponder a bit further, and look forward to the Healing and Glorious Stigmata of Easter Sunday. On this day, the Precious Blood and the Risen Body of the Lord are received together in the Holy Communion – as we ponder the words of Jesus regarding His own Mission: As the Father sent Me, now I am sending you…! Showing His Glorious Wounds, Jesus commits to us all to our share in His Personal Mission of revealing the Merciful Father’s face. This is known also as the “Apostolic Mission”, that same Mission He received personally from His Father, shared with His Apostles, and meant to be taken up by each of the baptized down through the centuries, and has nourished us with our every Amen at Holy Communion.

On this Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, each one of us is invited to ponder that share of the Cross committed to St. Gaspar in his Trinitarian, Christological, Ecclesial and Eucharistic vocation – one that was forged in St. Gaspar, deeply wounded by personal suffering for years on end. The Stigmatine Spirit gifted to us all challenges each of us in our deferential service in continuing Christ’s Mission in responding to the needs of the Church today, wherever we are. St. Gaspar has left behind a series of rather massive writings where he pondered two-fold aspects of the one mystery of the Most Sacred Stigmata. St. Gaspar did not have any “experiential” knowledge of the Sacred Wounds of the Lord, as has been attributed to St. Francis of Assisi and in the 20th century, the Franciscan, St. Pio.

However, there were very painful incidents in St. Gaspar’s life that profoundly affected him and his personal spirituality. It all enabled him as the long years of his went by, as he put on the mind of Christ Jesus [cf. Ph 2:5, ff.]. These would be:

  • the deaths of his loved ones, with whom he shared his childhood years – particularly, perhaps his 3 year old sister, Matilda;
  • the separation of his mother and father;
  • some apostolic fear and trembling – as his “stage-fright’ in teaching catechism when his Bishop suddenly appearing to listen to him; or his assignment to help wayward priests, in some instances older than he was, and to guide them back to their priestly mission;
  • life-long and extended illnesses and repeated painful lancing of leg ulcerations;
  • the lack of development in the Congregation.

Perhaps much like St. Paul, St. Gaspar also experienced intimate solidarity with Christ, and bore something of a type of the stigmata of the Lord, bearing faithfully the “brand-marks of Jesus” [cf. Ga 6:17; 1 Co 4:11, ff.], “the sting of the flesh”.   St. Gaspar certainly lived his “thorn” throughout so much of his life [cf. 2 Co 12:7], constantly making up “for what was lacking in the sufferings of Christ!” [cf. Col 1:24] in his deferential service for the much troubled Church of his time.   St. Gaspar was convinced that we are all called to live with Him in the power of God [2 Co 13:4].   This is one of the “modes”, manners of living the life of Jesus Christ. [cf. CF # 2]. This is how the Stigmatine Founder made a lifelong oblation [obsequium] to God’s Mercy [cf. Rm 12:1] of his sufferings in union with those of Jesus Christ.

One of the features of St. Gaspar’s voluminous writings is that there is hardly any explicit mention of the sublime doctrine in his special devotion to the Espousals of Mary and Joseph. But, his writings evidence a fuller appreciation of the integral Stigmata of Jesus Christ, i.e., the Sorrowful and Glorious dimensions of the one mystery.

There follows in Appendix I some excerpts on ‘The Integral Paschal Mystery’: first, a brief sampling of some of St. Gaspar’s writings [‘Meditations in Primum Regum’], and secondly a summary of my study ‘Stimmate Integre’ (that can be found in full in the website ‘A Tribute to St. Gaspar Bertoni’ – – under ‘Life & Spirituality’).

Hoping that my efforts here are not too extended, this lengthy note is only meant for our personal Lenten reflections and an increase of our hope in the Mercy of God – uniquely manifested in the Healing Wounds of our Risen Lord.

Respectfully and lovingly in the Merciful Lord and His Healing Wounds,

Father Joseph Henchey, CSS
Acting Spiritual Director






Lenten Greetings!

St. Gaspar Bertoni, Founder of the Stigmatine Congregation

St. Gaspar Bertoni, Founder of the Stigmatine Congregation

Dear Friends of the Stigmatine Fathers,

As you visit our website, we are beginning the Holy Season of Lent – the Church’s time of retreat and reflection on our Lord’s deep love for us all. Due to our devotion to the Sacred Five Wounds (Stigmata) of Christ, we Stigmatines find Lent to be a great blessing that gives us a special time to honor our Lord’s suffering and Passion – all for the forgiveness of our sins. May this Lenten Season truly be a time of renewal for us all.

In his book, Holy Days – Meditations on the Feasts, Fasts, and other Solemnities of the Church, Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI offers a beautiful reflection on Ash Wednesday and Lent. He states:

In his book, Holy Days – Meditations on the Feasts, Fasts, and other Solemnities of the Church, Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI offers a beautiful reflection on Ash Wednesday and Lent. He states:

In his book, Holy Days – Meditations on the Feasts, Fasts, and other Solemnities of the Church, Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI offers a beautiful reflection on Ash Wednesday and Lent. He states,

At the beginning of Lent, which represents an intense path of spiritual training, the liturgy proposes three penitential practices that are precious to the biblical and Christian tradition – prayer, almsgiving and fasting – in order to prepare oneself to celebrate Easter more properly and thus to have the experience of the power of God who “triumphs over evil, washes away our sins, restores innocence to sinners, joy to the afflicted, extinguishes hatred, brings us peace and humbles the proud in the world” (Easter Proclamation). Lent recalls to us the forty days of fasting that the Lord underwent in the desert, prior to commencing his public mission. The Holy Scriptures and the entire Christian tradition teach that fasting is a great help to avoid sin and everything that leads to it. That is why, in the history of salvation, the invitation to fast recurs time after time. The faithful practice of fasting contributes to the unification of the human person, body and soul, by helping one to avoid sin and to grow in intimacy with the Lord.

In this Jubilee Year of Mercy, this message is echoed by our Holy Father, Pope Francis. He reminds us of the “wideness” of Jesus’ merciful love. The Sacred Stigmata of Christ is “proof of this love.” The Stigmatines – since 1816 – have proclaimed this message of hope. We thank you for supporting our mission and we pray that the Lord of Mercy will touch your lives anew with His gracious love.
May the Lenten Season be filled with many blessings for you. Please be sure of our continued prayers for you and all your intentions.

Lenten blessings,

The Stigmatine Fathers
Province of the Holy Spouses, Mary and Joesph

Rev. James Cunningham, CSS is called back to Father’s home

Father James T. Cunningham, CSS
December 21, 1919              + January 22, 2016

Father Jim Cunningham in June, 2004
Father Jim Cunningham in June, 2004

My husband, Vicente, and I, had opportunity of meeting Father Jim Cunningham in the year of 2004, almost 12 years ago, when visiting the Stigmatine community in Waltham, MA. For all the times I had opportunity of being with him, I had a clear understanding that I was with a Saint, that had just come down from heaven.He used to give a blessing to whoever he met during the day, and tell each one words of love, peace and hope. He used to offer Mass and play accordion in nursing homes.

We had opportunity of seeing him many other times, even though we don’t leave close to Waltham. Each time was a God’s gift to us.

Now, he is just called back home by our Heavenly Father. While we are already missing him, we know we have now a new intercessor in heaven.

May God rest you, dearest friend! Thank you for your loving presence among us on earth.


 (All taken at the Stigmatine propertyu in Waltham, MA)

Father Jim Cunningham on his 85th birthday, in December 21, 2004
Father Jim Cunningham on his 85th birthday, in December 21, 2004


Father Jim Cunningham in January, 2005
Father Jim Cunningham in January, 2005


Father Jim Cunningham in March, 2006
Father Jim Cunningham in March, 2006


Father Jim Cunningham in July, 2009
Father Jim Cunningham in July, 2009




Dear Stigmatine Friends,

Please find below a Summary of Father Henchey’s Stigmatine Works.

All his Stigmatine works are published in the website ‘A Tribute to St. Gaspar Bertoni’ (, that Father Henchey offers to the Stigmatine Founder.

Also, these same works are included in a CD-ROM he had opportunity to hand-out to the lay Stigmatines during the formation meetings in Waltham recently.

I encourage you to be familiar with this document, as this refers to a wonderful Stigmatine library, that Father Henchey has developed during his over 59 years of Priestly life and almost 70 years of Stigmatine Religious life.

In the spirit of St. Gaspar Bertoni,

Tereza Lopes

Lay Stigmatine



Mundelein Seminary

1000 East Maple Avenue

Mundelein IL 60060

 October 27, 2015

Dear Stigmatine Lay Member,

Our Father General, Very Reverend Maurizio Baldessasri, 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




2015 International Conferences of the Stigmatine Laity in Brazil

This 2nd International Meeting of the Stigmatine Laity will take place at the Retreat and Conference Center of the Province of the Holy Spouses (“Santana Farm”) in Corumbataí, SP, Brazil, from August 24 to 31, 2015.

The Province of the Holy Spouses will be represented by:

Page Vandewater
Ruthie  George-Vandewater
John Marzilli

Follow the invitation letter and the documents prepared for this event:

  • Invitation letter

Invitation letter – English

  • History of the Stigmatine Laity in the Province of the Holy Spouses

Electronic presentation:
2015 Intl Conf Lay Stigs – History – to be presented by Mrs. Page Vandewater

Text documents:
2015 Intl Conf Lay Stigs – USA -En (English)
2015 Intl Conf Lay Stigs – USA -It (Italian)
2015 Intl Conf Lay Stigs – USA – PtBr (Portuguese)

  • American Culture

Electronic presentation:
2015 Intl Conf Lay Stigs – American culture – to be presented by John Marzilli

2015 Intl Conf Lay Stigs – American culture – It
2015 Intl Conf Lay Stigs – American culture – PtBr

May St. Gaspar Bertoni bless all the participants for a fruitful meeting and a great time together!

Tereza Lopes