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: http://www.corneliofabro.org.


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”: www.st-bertoni.com, 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’ – www.st-bertoni.com – 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




Mundelein Seminary
1000 East Maple Avenue
Mundelein IL     60060

Feast of Holy Espousals
January 23, 2016

Dear Stigmatine Lay Member,

At least in Chicago for this Year of Mercy, we were blessed with surprisingly mild temperatures up through Christmas. However, with January, severe temperatures of deep cold have covered so much of this northern hemisphere.  However, with hope in our hearts – at both ends of each day, little by little a minute is added to the light of both ends of the day – dawn comes a bit earlier and sunset is about a minute later each day. Soon it will be ground Hogs’ Day, with winter already half over.

As a result, at this time, I have been moved by reading again St. Gaspar Bertoni’s Lenten homily of well over two hundred years ago – about 13 years before he established the Stigmatines, on November 4, 1816. As you know, this year [2016 – a Year of Mercy] is the second centenary of the Stigmatine Community.

St. Gaspar Bertoni preached this homily in his parish Church the day before spring was due to begin that year of  1803. In this sermon, he brings up the matter of the Eucharist, the Most Blessed Sacrament – and he calls to mind an old idea that the Church nourishes regarding Holy Communion: Say only the word, and my soul will be healedThis is a paraphrase of a Synoptic statement, and was further developed by St. Ignatius of Antioch [commemorated in the Liturgy on February 17th]. He was an old Bishop of Antioch, in Syria– and was tormented as an old man, by being chained and forcibly brought to Rome for execution, walking frequently long distances in this situation. He considered that the sting of the Serpent of Genesis left poisonous venom in our human system, which needs the Eucharis regularly as our pharmacum], a Greek word from which we derive farmacy] to help to heal spiritual difficulties.

It would suffice to read St. Gaspar’s Spiritual Diary, covering the years 1808 – 1813 of his life, to see what a profound impact the Eucharist had on his own long-suffering spiritual life.  He saw it as a need – and one that gave him much fortitude and constancy in persevering in his call until his dying day.

With this Lent, let us do what we can to deepen our own Eucharistic faith – and our Apostolic Mission of sharing God’s word in the “New Evangelization” on our presently lived situation. St. Ignatius of Loyola, named for the old Bishop of Antioch, developed to an art form what Jesuits termed as “evangelical conversation. As a honored part of the Ignatian Apostolic Mission. In this Year of Mercy let us be open to receive in abundance the Mercy of God that we all need and share this with one another by pardoning any and all who jay who offend us.

God bless you all – let us continue to pray for each other.

Sincerely in the Healing Wounds of Christ,

Fr. Joseph Henchey, CSS
Acting Spiritual Director



Mundelein Seminary
1000 East Maple Avenue
Mundelein IL     60060

December 26, 2015
Feast of the Holy Family: Jesus, Mary, Joseph

Dear Stigmatine Lay Member,

With Christmas behind us, and New Year’s Day just ahead – it is good time – in this Year of Mercy – to reflect with St. Gaspar Bertoni, regarding the passing of time. In Italian, there is a word that sums up much of his life: FugacitàTempus fugit! How quickly time goes by! – these liturgical feasts and the Saints of the  year all have their message for each one of us.

St. Gaspar once wrote [July 8, 1808]:

“Making the most of your time” (Ep 5, 16). Time never comes back. We have therefore to use it with great diligence.

In this note there are three separate parts that seem to be closely connected to a warning of the Imitation of Christ. [1] This is also in three parts:

… Keep always in your mind the end.  The past time never comes back. You will never acquire virtue without care and diligence…

The year 2016 presents us [myself included!] with much grateful reflection: – on November 4, 2016 – the Stigmatine community celebrates 200 years of life! On a much lesser scale, my own life celebrates this new year in a special way: I joined the Stigmatines at Waltham on the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6, 1946 – 70 years ago! And on July 1, 1956, I was ordained a priest – so this new year will mark 60 years of Stigmatine priesthood for me. Please join me – through St. Gaspar’s inspiration – in thanking God for all that was, for what is now and for all we look forward to in hope.

Sometimes one thinks of the “good old days”! This may have some value, as to express thanks to God – and learn the necessary lessons for doing better from past mistakes. The world of the past is gone! And God chose us all before this world even began! [Ep 1:4]. The word “Ex-odus” gives us a challenging insight: in our return to God, we are all invited by vocation to leave what was, live what is, and strive for whatever God may want of us in the future. In the Our Father, we pray for the bread of this day – the Psalmist reminds us: this is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice in it! [Ps 118:24].

Modern astronomy, with the considerable insights offered these last 25 years or more from the Hubble telescope, amazes us all especially about the number of the stars and planets – their distances – their speed – their age! Again a Psalmist tells us: that a thousand years in the sight of God are like an hour in the night! [Ps 89]. When we cannot sleep, that may seem like a long time – but when all is said and done, this, too, passes! A “Light Year’ is like 6 trillion miles! – and science has contacted distant objects, thousands upon thousands of light years away! In comparison to such a “light-year” a 75 year life – span is like the blink of the eye – a century has been measured as meaning about 6 seconds! It has been said that the sun has 10 billion years of life and has used up 5 of these – as St. Thomas said in another context, Christ entered history in the middle of the night and in the middle of time! [This has led to the “insiders’” joke: eat your desert first, life is uncertain!] But, with St. Gaspar, we firmly believe we are all in God’s hands.

Scripture often reminds us of this as modern theology and liturgy remind us:

THIS DAY: the spirit behind the Liturgy of the Hours is the blessing of the whole day: morning, noon, even-tide and night. In the General Instruction for the “Liturgy of the Hours” (February 2, 1971), it is stated:

“…: Christ told us about the need to pray continually and never lose heart (Lk 18:1). The Church has faithfully heeded this exhortation by never ceasing in her prayer and urging us to pray. Through Him, let us offer God an unending sacrifice of praise (Heb 13:15). The Church not only satisfies this precept by celebrating the Eucharist, but also in other different ways especially by celebrating the Liturgy of the Hours.  Compared with other liturgical actions, the particular characteristic which ancient tradition has attended to the Liturgy of the Hours is that it should consecrate the course of the day and night (SC 83, 84).

As his spiritual diary drew towards its conclusion, St. Gaspar wrote the following on May 24, 1810: Today, therefore, if you shall hear His voice… harden not your hearts as those ones did, to whom He swore in His wrath… if they will enter into His rest…

The Three Masses of Christ offer an on-going contemplative theological reflection on the divine transcendence, and yet the impassibility of God – in these three aspects of the mystery of the Incarnation:-

  • the presence of Jesus Christ as the Eternal World in his Eternal Birth, His ‘pre-existence’ [Jn 1:1];
  • His Birth from Mary at Dawn, in the virginal of the Eternal Son – and the initial beginning of His Church;
  • The on-going birth of Christ in the minds and hearts of the Faithful open through Divine Grace to His coming until the Second Advent. Here the Divine transcendence and imminence come into contact and almost inter-twine but ‘without confusion. In this On-going birth of Christ is the passing over of each of the Faithful from sin to life – believing in Him is an initial realized eschatology.

This is continued in a recent reading from the Liturgy of the Hours:

[A sermon by St Bernard
Let the word of the Lord come to us]

We know that the coming of the Lord is threefold: the third coming is between the other two and it is not visible in the way they are. At his first coming the Lord was seen on earth and lived among men, who saw him and hated him. At his last coming All flesh shall see the salvation of our God, and They shall look on him whom they have pierced. In the middle, the hidden coming, only the chosen see him, and they see him within themselves; and so their souls are saved. The first coming was in flesh and weakness, the middle coming is in spirit and power, and the final coming will be in glory and majesty.

Our late, illustrious Stigmatine confrere, Fr. Cornelio Fabro, CSS [+May 1995] developed the theme as the “contemporaneity” of Christ in our daily lives – which, he believed, pertained to our Founder to a great extent. There is a strong biblical background to this – as the Trinity dwells within [Jn 17:26] – Grace is a share in God’s nature [2 P 1:4] – the recurring themes: in Christ Jesus, in the Holy Spirit teach this lesson with simple eloquence. While we are indeed a “Resurrection People”, we also believe that in the reception of Holy Communion we receive the Lord as He is now, in His risen state. While Jesus can no longer suffer in His physical body, He daily does so in a mysterious manner, in His “mystical body’ the Church. He is with us, unto the consummation of this world.

For life’s journey – especially in the “dark places”, St. Gaspar was convinced that God’s Word is like a Light for our persevering journey [Ps 119:105]. May Mary, Star of the Sea – the Morning Star, guide us all on our life-long journey home to God.

Fraternally yours in the Merciful Lord,

Rev, Joseph Henchey, CSS
Acting Spiritual Moderator

[1] Book I, c. 25, 11.



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’ (www.st-bertoni.com), 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
 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