Selected Text from the May 2017 issue of The Catholic Islander
The Magazine of the Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands
Most Rev. Herbert Bevard - PUBLISHER
Father John Matthew Fewel -EDITOR
Sarah Jane von Haack - MANAGING EDITOR
Brother James Petrait, OSFS - WEBMASTER
Msgr. Michael Kosak - PROOFREADING, Advantage Editing
Deacon Emith Fludd- CIRCULATION
Jenny Bis - GRAPHIC DESIGNER
Click on the links or scroll below for the text from the following articles from the May 2017 issue of The Catholic Islander:
Pictured on the cover: Giovanni Battista Tiepolo and the Immaculate Conception
Feature Story: Jesus Explosion — God’s Love
by Gregory Quan Kep, from Trinidad
Jesus Explosion — God’s Love was held from March 31 through April 2 at Holy Family’s Columban Hall. Participants from St. John, St. Thomas, and St. Croix, joined 19 visitors from Trinidad, totaling a lively 300 participants.
The Jesus Explosion began in Trinidad 15 years ago under the spiritual directorship of Father Ian Taylor. It has since attracted interest from Europe, India, United States and the Caribbean. Our Lady of Mt. Carmel pastor, Father Anthony Abraham, brought the event to the Virgin Islands after experiencing Jesus Explosion as its featured speaker last year in Trinidad.
This years’ speakers were Father Anthony Abraham, Father Ian Taylor and Kerry Ragoorbarsingh. The three day meeting began slowly, yet the crowd soon was lifted up in spirit, and enthusiasm then mounted quickly.
The 19 young Trinidadian missionaries sacrificed much in cost and labor, so that they could help launch the Jesus Explosion locally. They were led by Father Ian Taylor and Trinidad’s Jesus Explosion coordinator Debbie Karmody. The USVI team was coordinated by OLMC’s Digna Doway.
The group thanked Father Abraham, Father Neil and parishioners, noting with gratitude, “We were well taken care of and our hosts were very hospitable.”
News from the Knights and Dames of Malta, Virgin Islands Area
The Knights and Dames of Malta, Virgin Islands Area, sponsored a program for students at Ss. Peter and Paul School. The program called Pure in Heart was presented shortly before Holy Week at the Cathedral of Ss. Peter and Paul, for upper classes at Ss. Peter and Paul School. The day long program was designed to strengthen students’ commitment to and understanding of, Catholic moral teaching on purity and the value of human life from the moment of conception to natural death.
The presenter, Deborah O’Hara- Rusckowski, is a nurse and Dame of Malta. She works in apostolates in Haiti and the Philippines. Ms. O’Hara- Rusckowski, who is actively involved in the fight against human trafficking, recently made recently made a presentation at the United Nations on this topic. She holds a Masters degree in Theology and worked for the archdiocese of Boston for 8 years. She started the Pure in Heart program, which has been extremely successful, in Boston, Mass. Knight of Malta Jerry Woodhouse and his wife, Dame of Malta Christine Woodhouse, sponsored the presentation at the invitation of SPPS principal Father Eduardo Ortiz-Santiago.
Cover Story: May, the Month of Mary
by Father John Matthew Fewel
“Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” With his grand salutation fit only for the empress and queen of all of creation, the archangel Gabriel bowed cover story low before the woman who would within a twinkling become the Mother of God.
The angelic messenger from the throne of God spoke thus to one set apart, from all eternity, from every other creature. No one besides Mary most holy, other than God himself, is so high, so noble and so venerable in all of creation. Such a woman as Mary, crowned with 12 stars, intercedes for poor humanity with Almighty God himself and has no equal on earth or in the heavens.
Among the peoples scattered over the globe, never was there even conceived in the mind of man one so elevated or so honored; and with such completeness of holiness and grace. There have been countless gods and goddesses put forth from the mind of man. But all of these are nothing more than phantoms, and their inventors no less helpless after worshiping and beseeching their favors as before. These false gods and goddesses of man are unfailingly as polluted with mankind’s own faults and sins as is humanity itself.
Mary, the Immaculate Conception, as Gabriel honored her in his greeting, is as free from every stain and fault as God himself, who brought her into being. Mary, who went step for step along the way of the cross with Jesus, her own son, has been given to us, after his own offering of himself, to free us from our sins.
When we are lost and dead in sin, it is Mary who pleads for us. Mary pleads for graces from God for all who ask, for repentance and forgiveness. No one may approach Jesus in the Eucharist to commune fully with him who is not clean of grave sin — washed in Christian baptism and absolved, according to the Church’s prescription, from all subsequent, serious sin.
Mary is approached from all corners of the earth and from every degree of faith, or unbelief. Mary guides every heart and soul who comes to her to her divine Son.
“Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help or sought your intercession, was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto you, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother. To you I come, before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word incarnate, despise not my petitions, but, in your mercy, hear and answer me. Amen.”
Journey of Faith: A Life Centered in Christ
by Paul McAvoy
Rita de Chabert Schuster, one of this year’s Keys and Sword Honorees, was born and raised on St. Croix. While today she can be found helping out in all kinds of ministries at Holy Cross Catholic Church, her first introduction to the Catholic faith was as a student.
“When I was 6 years old, I attended St. Mary Catholic School, and continued until the ninth grade” she said. “In school, I learned about God my Father, God the Holy Spirit, Mary, my mother and Jesus, my brother.” Though Rita had wanted to become a Catholic, and her mother liked the school very much and had a great respect for the Catholic Church, she didn’t want to give up the Episcopal Church.
As a young woman, Mrs. Schuster attended Howard University in Washington, D.C. In her sophomore year, she became engaged to Lowell Schuster, the love of her life. They were married two years later in July 1954. Though he was Catholic, he respected her wishes to remain an Episcopalian. Her family loved him and were very supportive of the marriage. “My faith journey actually began after our wedding and birth of our first child.”
After a few short years of living in Germany while Lowell served in the Army, they returned to St. Croix. The Schusters raised four wonderful children. They were baptized in the Catholic Church and enrolled at St. Mary School. Rita still remained active in the Episcopal Church throughout this time.
“My daughter Janine Schuster, then a teenager, came home one day and asked permission to go to St. Ann’s Church on Tuesday night. I inquired of her why; and she responded, ‘I heard there’s an organization called the charismatic renewal and I am anxious to find out what it is all about,” Rita recalled. “So she went, and when she arrived home, Janine was so excited about the prayers and songs. The following week, I thought I better go and see what my daughter is getting into.”
Though she was a little frightened by the way the congregation was worshiping, praying and teaching, the charismatic renewal sparked an interest in Rita. Rita began to enjoy the renewal and accompanied her daughter every Tuesday night. Once again, her desire to become a Catholic was reignited.
Rita’s parents, husband and children were thrilled with the decision to be received into the Catholic Church in 1977. “God wanted unity in my family,” she said about her planned conversion, which soon spread into a strong desire to order her life around the Catholic faith.
She became involved in St. Ann’s Parish, founded an intercessory prayer group, attended Bible Study and served on the Parish Counsel. She also served as a lector and an extraordinary minister of holy Communion. As years went by, she became a teacher during prayer meetings. Rita went on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, where she walked and prayed in the Footsteps of Jesus.
“There was no doubt that my faith in God was getting stronger and greater,” said Rita. She founded the Magnificat, a ministry for Catholic women, and co-founded the Discalced Carmelites and served as its president for 10 years. She worked on the ' St. Mary School Dinner and Auction annually and attended numerous religious retreats. His Holiness Pope St. John Paul II awarded Rita one of the highest honors that can be awarded to a lay person by a pope for her distinguished service to the Church, the Cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice.
Her son, Troy de Chabert Schuster, encouraged his mother and eight other people to become members of the Order of Malta. They were invested in the Order of Malta at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. The order’s main areas of focus are to defend the faith and to help the sick and the poor. Rita took this mission to heart and recently donated a plot of land and two houses that were given to her by her parents to Catholic Charities. They are now developing a three-story building for the homeless and a soup kitchen for the poor. This shelter will be completed in the very near future.
Today, Rita is looking forward to helping the sick and the poor with her fellow members of the Order of Malta. She also continues to be involved with the Discalced Carmelite Order. That spirituality continues to guide Rita in her work and charity. She is humbled by the Keys and Sword Award and wishes to continue to serve the poor and her Church in whatever way she can.
Spiritual Fitness: Lectio Divina - Praying through the Year with Scripture
by Sister Ann Shields (a renowned author and a member of the Servants of God’s Love)
Gospel for May 28 - The Ascension of the Lord: And he said to them, “Thus it is written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And [behold] I am sending the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
Then he led them [out] as far as Bethany, raised his hands, and blessed them. As he blessed them he parted from them and was taken up to heaven. They did him homage and then returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and they were continually in the temple praising God. (Lk 24:46-53)
After you have read these verses, pause and ask God to show you what he wants you to see. As we come to readthis section of Scripture which deals with several of Christ's encounters with his disciples after His resurrection, you can imagine they are still somewhat confused and disbelieving.
Prior to this passage in Luke, Jesus appears to them, shows his wounds from the crucifixion and then tells them he is hungry and asks for something to eat. The line immediately before our reading says: “Then, he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” Jesus speaks to them about the Messiah from the prophets and the psalms.
Then Jesus tells them, “You are witnesses of these things.” In other words, Jesus is telling them: You’ve seen my life, my death and now you are witnesses to the truth of my resurrection. They are probably overcome with joy, but still feel somewhat confused.
But before Jesus leaves them, he tells them to stay in the city. In other words, don’t go running around, telling stories, asking questions. He tells his disciples: Stay here, at home; stay in familiar territory, wait and pray “until you are clothed with power from on high.” In other words, wait on the Lord, pray, wait on me, listen for my action. Don’t start making your own plans. You don’t yet understand how God wants to use you, or where or when — so wait on God’s call, God’s action. Just as God sent his Holy Spirit to equip the disciples for the work they will be called to do — to evangelize, to preach, to lead people to faith in the Messiah — so will he do for you. That means daily time with God in prayer, reading Scripture daily and receiving the Eucharist as often as you can.
Take time this Easter season to thank God for the gifts he has given you. Then ask him to bring alive the gifts he gave you in baptism and confirmation. If you don’t know your gifts, then ask God to show you. Ask him to activate those gifts he wants you to exercise now in your family, parish or workplace, so that God may be glorified — through you. Yes, you. Finally, read Acts 2:14-42. Look what God did with uneducated fishermen, who finally put all their trust in God. Look how he used them! Do you not think God is looking for new disciples to bear witness to his love and his truth? He teaches. He equips. He looks for our willingness.
Take notice. The Scripture says that after Jesus left them, they worshipped him, then returned to Jerusalem with great joy! Then it says they continually went to the temple to worship and praise. The power of the resurrection and the work of the Holy Spirit were already evident in their lives. So can it be in ours. Learn from what the Scripture teaches us.
He is risen. Alleluia!
Legion of Mary Members Celebrate their Annual Convocation
On March 26 the Legion of Mary, Curia Mary, Immaculate Conception held its Acies at the Cathedral Ss. Peter and Paul. This Legion annual function is held on the feast of the Annunciation or a convenient day close to it. It was attended by legionaries from different parishes with their spiritual directors, Father Anthony Abraham, Father Neil Scantlebury and Father Eduardo Ortiz-Santiago.
Acies is a Latin word meaning like soldiers ranged in a battle array. This is a very important event for legionaries because on this day they renew their promise to the Blessed Mother, to bring Jesus to the world by fighting the forces of evil.