Selected Text from the October 2016 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

Scroll below for the text from the following articles:

From the Bishop: Canonization of St. Teresa of Calcutta - from page 2

From the Editor’s Desk: God's Presence in the Holy Eucharist - from page 4

Keeping Up with Father Neil Scantelbury - from pages 12, 13

Special Report: St. Teresa of Calcutta - from pages 14, 15


FROM THE BISHOP:  The Most Reverend Herbert A. Bevard, Bishop of the Diocese of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands


     On Sunday, September 4, 2016, Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, canonized Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the Foundress of the Missionaries of Charity. During that ceremony, Mother Teresa was canonized, her name was added to the list, or "canon" of saints recognized by the Catholic Church. Saint Teresa is revered the world over for all she accomplished with her work for the poor and the needy. Her life was marked by a thirst to serve the suffering Christ on the cross by how she met and ministered to those who were suffering in this world. She spent her life giving loving care to those most in need of her kindness. Saint Teresa once said "holiness does not consist in doing extraordinary things. It consists in accepting with a smile what Jesus sends us. It consists in accepting the will of God." In her simple theology, she said that bringing joy to an unhappy person is priceless.

Prayer to St. Teresa of Calcutta

     You allowed the thirsting love of Jesus on the cross to become a living flame within you, and so, you became the light of His love to all people. Obtain from the Sacred Heart of Jesus what I implore in prayer. Teach me to allow Jesus to pierce my whole being so completely that my life too may radiate His love and love to others. Amen.


FROM THE EDITOR'S DESK - By Father John Matthew Fewel

God's presence in the holy Eucharist

     He is Risen. He is Lord. And He is in the room. How everything would change, and change quickly, if Jesus were honored, adored, worshipped as LORD and God at holy Mass as He should be! If each soul fell silent before, during and after Mass as if Jesus were speaking directly to each individual with words of forgiveness and mercy, you could hear a pin drop.

     What we believe is shown in how we behave. Do we really believe God is real and present in the Eucharist?

     The priest at the altar offers up the prayers to God for the people, and then utters the words of consecration: FOR THIS IS MY BODY, Jesus Christ is physically, really and substantially present. Those Catholics who have confessed and been absolved of their sins, and who have prepared themselves very well to receive holy Communion, come forward to receive his sacred body and his precious blood in such a transformed state as to put everything else aside, with mind, heart, soul and body completely fixed on what is about to happen.

     The most holy and meek manner of receiving our Lord, and the norm of the Church, is to kneel, and receive the Eucharist on the tongue. It is allowed in the U.S. and in certain places that holy Communion may be given on the hand. But in both cases, Our Lord must be received most carefully and reverently. A profound bow from the waist is to be offered before one steps forward to receive holy Communion in the hand. Both hands are to be presented in the form of a cross -- the right hand under the left. If unable, one should receive on the tongue -- not in the free hand, if the other is encumbered or otherwise occupied.



     Anyone who thinks that priests live a quiet life should talk to Father Neil Scantlebury -- if they can manage to catch up with him! Between his work as pastor of Holy Family Parish, his diocesan work as chancellor, teaching math and Scripture at Ss. Peter and Paul School and leading pilgrims on international trips, Father Neil gives new meaning to the word "busy." Everywhere he goes, and in all he does, Father Neil radiates the joy of the Gospel and a sincere love of the priesthood.

     Father Neil was born and raised in Barbados, and has been involved in the Church since boyhood. "My father was a deacon, and we were very active in the Church," he says. "He would have me and my brothers do things like arrange the seats, sort the envelopes, things like that." Faith was an important part of the Scantlebury household: from observing holy days to bedtime stories about the lives of the saints. "One that really interested me was that of Maximilian Kolbe, the Catholic priest who was martyred at Auschwitz (the infamous Nazis concentration death camp) when he chose to die in the place of another man."

     At an early age, around 5 or 6, Father Neil recalls first having the desire to become a priest. "But as I grew, I also became interested in other things, such as sports like cricket ‚-- I used to play for my school and with my friends ... and then, later, young ladies began to look interesting," he says, with a laugh. "I still had not strayed away from the Church," he quickly adds. Still he had begun to struggle with the idea of a relationship, and wondered if God was calling him to married life.

     After graduating high school, Father Neil went to the St. Augustine campus of the University of the West Indies in Trinidad to study mechanical engineering. "Before I left, my pastor at the time said that I should go and offer my services to the college chaplain," Father Neil says. "I really think anything of it, but, on reflection, that was something very practical that kept me close to and involved in the Church." For instance, while at college he met other young men interested in their Catholic faith, and they formed a household together ‚-- where they ate meals, prayed, attended Mass and lived in community. It was, Father Neil recalls, a very enriching time for his faith.

     Nearing graduation, Father Neil began to question his career path: "I liked the math, I liked the design, I liked to build," he says. "But deep within me I strongly sensed that engineering was not for me. I asked the Lord, 'What is it that you want me to do?' And a voice came through into my consciousness and heart, saying, 'Priesthood.'

     "I wasn't too happy at first," he says, noting that a close friendship with a young lady at college did lead to thoughts of marriage. But ultimately, after praying about it, Father Neil wanted to explore God's will for him. By a happy coincidence, Father Neil had met Msgr. Michael Kosak at a prayer service in Trinidad, and Msgr. Kosak invited him to come to St. Thomas to teach for a year at Ss. Peter and Paul School. He did, and found he very much liked St. Thomas and the people of the Virgin Islands. In that time, he also discerned his vocation to the priesthood, and applied to be a priest for St. Thomas.

     "My parents were very happy for me," he recalls. "My brothers were saying, ‚'Are you sure you want to do this?‚' Typical brothers! But they were happy and supportive of my decision."

     Bishop Sean O 'Malley was sending young men to study at Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., so that's where Father Neil went for his five years of formation. Aside from challenges with the weather, he had a good experience there. "I had never seen temperatures below 60 degrees!" he says. "I saw the people there playing Frisbee in shorts when it was that cold, and I thought they were crazy ... I always made sure my room was nice and toasty, so much so that the men above me did not need to turn on their heat." The culture and the studies were an adjustment, but, luckily, Father Cecil Corneille had also gone to study at Mount St. Mary‚Äôs and the two became fast friends.

     "That was a special time for me," Father Neil says. "My spiritual director, Father Lou Kennedy, challenged me in a number of different ways to my benefit, and I thank God for him. May God grant him eternal life and may he rest in peace." Father Neil was ordained in 1995 at the Cathedral of Ss. Peter and Paul, and began his ministry on St. Thomas at Holy Family Parish, where 21 years later he is back as pastor. His favorite part of his vocation is celebrating the sacraments.

     "I enjoy being a priest, celebrating the holy sacrifice of the Mass," he says. "How can I repay the Lord for what he has done for me? The cup of salvation I shall raise. Celebrating the Mass is one of the greatest gifts God has given me."

     "I enjoy hearing confessions, giving absolution, anointing of the sick. Preparing the soul to meet Jesus, to anoint someone and give them absolution and to see them just breathe their last, is like, 'Wow! Go in peace.' To prepare someone to enter heaven is mind-boggling for me. It's just a great gift and opportunity."

     In addition to his priestly duties, Father Neil counts among his jobs those of teacher of math and religion at the Cathedral High School, archivist for the diocese, chancellor (assisting the bishop in many administrative matters) and, recently, international traveler, as he was part of the diocese's group that went to World Youth Day in Poland.

     The trip, which he called ‚"a wonderful time," included trials (lost luggage), long hikes and being moved in enormous crowds. Throughout it all, though, a sense of grace came to everyone who was there. "Some experienced the joys and the grace of God as we sang on the tram, as well as when we were in a big open field where we spent a vigil the night before the Mass with the Holy Father ... Everyone who went there experienced a great blessing." While there, Father Neil got to visit Auschwitz and the cell of St. Maximilian Kolbe, one of his boyhood heroes, and an inspiring example to him of what a priest should be ready to do for others.

     In all of his roles, Father Neil lives as a witness to the priestly vocation and the love that God has for his people of the Virgin Islands. Father Neil says it perfectly: "I became a priest to serve God's peopl -- to celebrate Mass and the sacraments; and it is keeping with my vocation of 'serving' that I also serve as a teacher and in the chancery.




     Born in Skopje, Albania (now Macedonia), on August 26, 1910, Anjezë (Agnes) Gonxhe Bojaxhiu considered her baptismal day, August 27, her true birthday. When she was growing up, Agnes’ mother extended an open invitation to the city's poor to dine with her family, and told her daughter: “My child, never eat a single mouthful unless you are sharing it with others.” When Agnes asked about the people eating with them, her mother would respond, “Some of them are our relations, but all of them are our people.”

     From an early age, young Agnes was fascinated by the lives of missionaries in Bengal. After deciding to pursue a consecrated religious life, Agnes arrived in Calcutta in 1929 to begin her novitiate. There, she learned Bengali and taught at St. Teresa’s School. When she took first vows in 1931, she wanted to be named after St. Thérèse of Lisieux, but chose the Spanish spelling of Teresa, and became Sister Mary Teresa. She made her final profession of vows in 1937, and was first called Mother Teresa while teaching at St. Mary’s School in Calcutta.

     In September 1946, Sister Teresa experienced what she later referred to as the call within the call: “I was to leave the convent and help the poor while living among them. It was an order. To fail would have been to break the faith.”

     In 1948, she received permission to begin the Missionaries of Charity. Mother Teresa traded in her traditional habit and began wearing the simple cotton sari for which she became so well-known; she became an Indian citizen and received basic medical training. By 1949, a group of young women had joined her, and the Missionaries of Charity went on to become officially recognized as a diocesan religious congregation. They went into the slums of Calcutta to care for the sick and hungry.

     The mission of the congregation, then as now, was articulated by Mother Teresa in her acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979: “In the poor it is the hungry Christ that we are feeding, it is the naked Christ that we are clothing, it is the homeless Christ that we are giving shelter.”


     In 1952, Mother Teresa opened Kalighat Home for the Dying in Calcutta, which was a free hospice for the poor housed in an abandoned Hindu temple. All those who came to the home received care consistent with their faith. Next came a home for those with Hansen’s disease, or leprosy. She established outreach clinics throughout Calcutta for those suffering from the dreaded disease.

     Lost children found a home with the Missionaries of Charity at Nirmala Shishu Bhavan, a home for orphans and homeless youth. By 1960, the missionaries were operating orphanages and hospices all over India. In 1965, they expanded their mission to Venezuela with five sisters. Throughout the next decade, more missions followed until they had a presence on every continent.

     Throughout the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity Brothers, the contemplative branch of the sisters, the contemplative branch of the brothers and the Missionaries of Charity Fathers. For the laity, she founded the Co-Workers of Mother Teresa, the Sick and Suffering Co-Workers and, later, the Lay Missionaries of Charity. She also founded the Corpus Christi Movement for Priests in 1981, as a “little way of holiness” for those who wished to share in her charism.

     Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 “for work undertaken in the struggle to overcome poverty and distress, which also constitutes a threat to peace.” She planned to use the approximately $190,000 in prize money to build more homes for the poor, “especially for the lepers.”

     As of 2015, the Missionaries of Charity numbered 377 brothers and 5,029 sisters worldwide, who were operating missions, schools and shelters in 137 countries.


     In March 1997, with significant problems impairing her health, Mother Teresa stepped down as superior general of the Missionaries of Charity. Following a final visit to Rome to visit Pope St. John Paul II, she returned to Calcutta, where she died on Sept.5. The government of India gave her a state funeral, and she was buried at the motherhouse of the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta.


     In early 1999 — less than two years after Mother Teresa's death — Pope St. John Paul II waived the usual five-year waiting period and allowed her canonization cause to be opened. This was the first time a canonization cause was not subject to the five-year rule. In 2003, the Holy Father beatified Mother Teresa before a crowd of 300,000 in St. Peter Square. In advancing the cause for canonization, a miracle must be documented from the intercession of the blessed. In 2002, the Vatican recognized as a miracle the healing of a tumor in the abdomen of an Indian woman. In 2015, Pope Francis recognized a second miracle attributed to her that involved the healing of a Brazilian man with multiple brain tumors. Pope Francis declared Blessed Teresa of Kolkata a saint at the Vatican on Sept. 4.

The Catholic Islander / October 2016 /