Author: Renewal Ministries Staff

‘Only One’ Shelter Offers Guests God’s Love

Renewal Ministries’ Missions Administrator Kathleen Kittle recently served on mission in Hungary. You can read the full report here. During her time in Hungary, Kathleen spent a day with Country Coordinator Deacon Zoli Kunszabo’s wife, Panni, shown above at the Only One homeless day shelter. Below, Panni shares more about the Only One shelter, the mission behind it, and the people it serves. You can read more about Only One at its website, here.

By Panni Kunszabo

A real home means loving relationships, something we only experience in fragments until we reach our true home with the heavenly Father. We were created for this heavenly home, and we long for it after we arrive on earth as miserable little people. That is to say, we desire the presence of God. When we understand with our hearts what great love and acceptance our Creator has for us, we want to share this with others, especially those who are true beggars in this earthly home—those for whom no one cares, worries, cries, or mourns.

I talk of nobody’s children, individuals who belong to no one, who have no family with caring wings to cover them. At Only One, we lead and offer these people to God’s care. This is our vocation.

The people we care for do not know how to love, as they have not yet experienced it. The world expects them to live healthy, normal lives, but it is impossible for them. Their hearts bleed from open wounds—the pain of which they try to dull with drugs, alcohol, and periodic unhealthy relationships. These wounds then produce sins and thus more wounds.

In our little daytime center, we beg for the love of the merciful God to fill our hardened hearts so that, with them, we may love our starving guests. As we provide them food and clothing, and try to find them accommodation and work, we try to love them—for we can do nothing else. This is, after all, the only thing that makes sense in the end.[1]

We are open every work day in order that those who beg, or who live in shelters, on the street, or in poor unheated flats, can visit and be at home, can tell us what happened to them, can cry. We opened our doors seven years ago and since then, many thousands have honoured us with their life stories, often talking for hours, finally finding someone who listens. There were days when four hundred people visited us, other times one hundred. Nonetheless, we try to treat everyone as an individual and speak to the one before us as the most important one at that moment. I will share some of their stories below:

  • Kati was abandoned to state care when she was only an infant. When she was twelve, she found herself with foster parents who prostituted her to feed their own smaller children. Today, she is in her twenties, has lost her teeth, and is a drug-addicted prostitute.
  • Jenő lost his job after his eyesight weakened from work, and thus he was let go after thirty years of being in middle-management. At fifty-something, alone, having lost his parents, and not having a family, this university-educated, intelligent man has tried everything in his desperation. He was unable to return to his former employer, even as a warehouse worker. Slowly, the lack of income began to show in his small apartment. As he waits to reach retirement age, he does the jobs in the public works program. He cleans up after dogs in parks, and his health declines. You can no longer see who he was once upon a time.
  • No one knows why Jancsi’s parents placed him into state care when he was two years old. The family he was placed with made him live with the animals in the barn. When Christian villagers saved him at the age of six, he was still unable to talk. His family is unable to care for him and have entrusted Jancsi to us. He is autistic and mentally challenged and now over sixty. For seven years now, he has his own place at a table where he repairs radios with a soldering iron. In the evening, he goes “home” to his usual shelter, where the “keep a bed for him.”
  • Marcsi’s mother abandoned her and her six siblings to state care when Marcsi was only a month and half old. This may have been the last time she was given a loving hug. Their mother never visited them, and all the siblings, including her twin, were placed in different institutions, as was the custom at that time. The caregivers were not allowed to hold the crying infants, lest they become attached to them. That infant is now a woman of over fifty; she is frightening to look at, and is ostracised even among the homeless. She became a very particular lone wolf.
  • Upon arriving home from school one day, the then eight-year-old Peter found his whole family in a pool of blood. For some unknown reason, his father killed his mother, his younger brother, and then himself. In shock, Peter hid for weeks in the forest near his home until he was found. He still cannot find himself and is without a home today at the age of forty.
  • Hear the story of how Only One transformed the life of Tomi Olaj (be sure to turn on captions unless you speak Hungarian.)

These are some of the guests we greet every day.

We believe that God knows the horrific depths of the suffering these people have been through. We believe they, too, have been redeemed and are loved, even when to  human eyes they seem unlovable because of their behaviour and appearance.

We believe that we, too, have been brought out of our sins, from our own depths and misery, and we are witnesses to God’s desire to deliver us all.

There are times when we see the success of our ministry, when before our eyes someone who was once frightening becomes meek and mild and even becomes a daily volunteer and helper; when a drug-addicted Gypsy man becomes an irreplaceable colleague who returns every weekend to his place of birth, to give witness to the endless love of God. We know a young orphan of twenty who arrived the day we opened. He had already been in prison three times for burglary and had no home to return to, but when he came to our day centre, he said “yes” to the invitation of God and changed his life. Tom has had work for five years now, rents an apartment, is not homeless because he found a family in us.

We do not always see the fruits of our labour; our “only” task is to be together with our guests. We try to show them some of God’s merciful love until they arrive at their true home, the one prepared for all of us and where we all strive to arrive.

“For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor 13:12-13).


[1] “On coming into the world, man is not equipped with everything he needs for developing his bodily and spiritual life. He needs others. Differences appear tied to age, physical abilities, intellectual or moral aptitudes, the benefits derived from social commerce, and the distribution of wealth. The ‘talents’ are not distributed equally.  These differences belong to God’s plan, who wills that each receive what he needs from others, and that those endowed with particular ‘talents’ share the benefits with those who need them. These differences encourage and often oblige persons to practice generosity, kindness, and sharing of goods; they foster the mutual enrichment of cultures.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd ed., 1936-1937.)

Combating the Pro-Abortion Movement in Tanzania

Tom Edwards - DSC05655» Bishop Liberatus Sangu holds a fetal model used in Pro-Life presentations.

 

This marked Renewal Ministries’ seventeenth consecutive year in Tanzania. Bishop Liberatus Sangu invited us to present the first Renewal events in Shinyanga, which has a population of 100,000. We conducted an outdoor rally of several days on the cathedral’s grounds. We also conducted workshops for laity, a priests’ retreat, and a sisters’ retreat.

We were blessed with a team of fifteen people from the USA, Canada, Slovakia, and Tanzania. We had the perfect mix of clergy, religious, and laity—a team with a multitude of talents, eager for the task at hand. Bishop Liberatus greeted us warmly upon arrival. He was involved with the Renewal as a parish priest and was overjoyed that we accepted his invitation.

When the bishop held our fetal models for the pro-life workshops, he was shocked at their life-like appearance and feel. He had never seen such visual aids (abortion is rampant and no formal pro-life teaching exists there), and he was delighted. He blessed the models, and that blessing carried into the pro-life workshops. All who attended received the teaching with great zeal.

Men and women attended the pro-life workshop in nearly equal numbers (which isn’t typical). The participants had an intense hunger and knew the need for these teachings. The diocese has never had any pro-life movement or education. Secular forces sponsored by Western governments have come in like a flood and established pro-abortion clinics that are administering many kinds of contraceptive devices (often with no education given to the recipients regarding side-effects).

Jean Marie Thompson led the pro-life workshops, with the assistance of Nancy Van Ryswyck and Bohdan Novak. They provided in-depth teaching, with three hour sessions each morning for five days.

The following are a few of the testimonies from our team:

“They have no pro-life groups and were ready to devour all the information we presented. We had lively discussions, and participants took pages and pages of detailed notes. They continually expressed their deep gratitude for the teachings. It was beautiful to see the Holy Spirit bring them such joy and truth through His Word. May He continue to bless them in this way!”

—Jean Marie

“I spoke to one man a word of prophesy that God was calling him to serve men who are bound by the sin of impurity and women who are considering abortion. I had a strong sense that God was going to protect him at every step and send him people. He was surprised, but he accepted it. He took a bicycle and went home. On his way home, a motorcycle crashed into him—his wheels were broken, and it seemed he should have died. But he was not harmed. The man on the motorbike gave him money to get his bike fixed. He came back, praising God for His faithfulness. Later that evening, he spoke and prayed with a woman who was going to abort her child, and she decided to give birth to her child. Alleluia! God is faithful!”

—Bohdan

“Without your team, many parts of Tanzania could not have been reached by the Word of God. God bless and keep you strong!”

—Louisa (from Tanzania)

This article originally appeared in Renewal Ministries’ November 2017 newsletter. Check it out for more details on this mission including outreach at a Priests’ retreat, a Sister’s retreat, and efforts to bring clean water to the area.

Fr. Francis Martin: Humble Man and Spiritual Giant

Fr Francis Martin and RalphFr. Francis Martin was a great Scripture scholar, preacher, and long-time friend of Renewal Ministries. He was the priest who supervised Ralph Martin’s Licentiate in Sacred Theology thesis at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, DC. We came across the following article on Fr. Francis and wanted to share with you some highlights of his life.


Fr. Francis Martin’s holy life was punctuated by an equally holy and peaceful death.

Dec. 23, 2017 marks what would have been the 61st anniversary of Fr. Francis Martin’s priestly ordination. He was a humble man, not in need or want of awards or honors, but deserving of them nonetheless.

For those who were blessed to know him, he made a profound impact. I had the privilege of working very closely with him for three-and-a-half years as his executive director to help him realize his vision in founding The Word Proclaimed Institute (WPI), an organization dedicated to assisting clergy and lay people in the authentic teaching and preaching of Holy Scripture. On Oct. 21, one day after what would have been his 87th birthday, Fr. Francis’ WPI was awarded the Pope Francis Charity and Leadership Award by the Catholic organization, Caritas in Veritate International.

His life’s mission was to open up Scripture so as to know and love Christ more and to help others do the same. He accomplished this while exemplifying the love and mercy of God the Father to the people he encountered. He remained grounded in that Love, responded generously to the needs of others, and managed to do so with a heavy dose of Irish humor and storytelling.

Fr. Francis was born on Oct. 20, 1930 in the Bronx, New York to Arthur Francis and Jane Frances Ryan Martin. His father was an executive of a famous mid-20th-century shoe company, I. Miller & Sons in New York. Arthur’s studies at Columbia University were interrupted by his U.S. Army service during World War I. Jane graduated from a teaching college and taught in a public grammar school in New York. Fr. Francis had two sisters — Joan who was six years older and Ann who was three years younger.

His love of Scripture started around 6 years of age when he lined the neighborhood kids up to teach them Scripture, whether they wanted to or not. His passion for Scripture was sparked even more when his Jewish middle school teacher told him that the Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew. When he saw the Hebrew text for the first time, he knew that he would study Hebrew so that he could read the Old Testament in the original language. In addition to Hebrew he also became fluent in Aramaic, Greek, Arabic, Latin, French, German and several other languages. At WPI, I witnessed him regularly translating the Bible from Hebrew and Greek right on the spot in our weekly sessions creating video commentary on Scripture. I felt very blessed to sit at the feet of this Scripture scholar and spiritual giant and receive firsthand the fruits of his contemplation of Scripture.

Continue reading here.

Practical Steps to “Grow & Go”

Grow and Go_DOL image
As we near the end of this year, it is worth looking at how we have grown in our relationship with Christ and meditate on what we might be able to do in the coming year to not only draw closer to Him, but to draw others to him as well. The Catholic Diocese of Lansing has set forth an initiative that we felt might help you plan some practical ways to GROW and GO in this coming year…

Q. What is it that the average Catholic is being asked to do?

A. The average Catholic is simply being asked to GROW and GO. That’s the catchy new terminology we’re using, though it makes it sound a little easier than it really is. Growing begins by yielding all of our life to Jesus Christ – by making him the center of all of our decisions and handing over lordship of everything to him. This can only happen through grace. Therefore, we should all pause on a regular basis to ask God to help us give him everything. Once we have sincerely converted and opened ourselves to the activity of the Holy Spirit, then we are really ready to begin maturing and growing as a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Throughout all the centuries of Christianity, there have been four basic nonnegotiable tenets of the Christian life (GROW):

  • Prayer. Personal and corporate. Every Christian is called to the sacraments and to daily personal prayer.
  • Study of the faith. From the very inception of the Christian community, we see that they devoted themselves to the “teachings of the apostles.” (Acts 2:42) We, too, need to continually grow in our knowledge and understanding of God’s word.
  • Engage in parish life. There’s no such thing as a lone Christian. We need each other. Christian companionship and accountability is a requirement of discipleship.
  • Serve others’ needs. In order to grow as a disciple of Jesus, we must always be aware of the physical and spiritual needs of those around us and be disposed to filling those needs.

The “GO” part comes from Jesus’ great commission to all of us … yep, all of us! “Go therefore and make disciple of all nations.” – a.k.a. evangelize. I should be clear that the “GO” part is inextricably connected to the “GROW” part because one cannot give what one does not have. Therefore, we must all be “intentional disciples” if we hope to be successful “missionary disciples.”

To help people understand how they can go evangelize, we’ve broken it down into four parts: pray, witness, invite and accompany. As stated before, prayer precedes and covers all of our work. When it comes to evangelizing, we must first lovingly pray for those who we want to bring into the family of God. Then we might find that God has opened a door for us to witness to Jesus in our lives and to his saving Gospel. Then, it only follows that at some point we will want to invite them to our Christian community and hopefully into full communion with us. The fourth principle is accompany. This one happens in countless ways, but the importance of it can’t be overstated. Accompanying is how we meet people where they are and patiently insist on their greatest good, Jesus.


Create your Personal Evangelization Plan. Use these questions to guide you as you Grow+Go:

To Grow as a disciple…

1. PRAY: When in your day will you commit to pray?
2. STUDY: What can you study, read and attend to learn about your faith this week?
3. ENGAGE: How can you become more involved in your parish?
4. SERVE: What can you volunteer to do this month to help those in need?

To Go and evangelize:

1. Ask the Holy Spirit to bring to mind someone in your life who is no longer coming to church. Write the person’s name on a piece of paper and answer these questions:
2. How will you pray for him/her?
3. How can you share your faith with him/her?
4. What could you invite him/her to?
5. How could you accompany him/her?


Original articles for the above content:


 

Symposium Honors Fr. Solanus Casey’s Legacy

Ralph_SHMS Fr Solanus_Blog

In preparation for Fr. Solanus Beatification, Sacred Heart Major Seminary hosted presentations by faculty and guest speakers.

This post was originally written by Maggie Doyle for the Sacred Heart Major Seminary Mosaic blog on November 20, 2017.

Sacred Heart Major Seminary celebrated the November 18 beatification of Wisconsin-born Fr. Solanus Casey of the Capuchin Franciscan Order of Saint Joseph, by hosting a one-day symposium on October 28, 2017. Open to the public, the symposium honored Father Solanus’ legacy, featuring curated presentations by the seminary’s internationally renowned faculty and guest speakers.

Fellow Capuchin Franciscans, authors, scholars, and theologians shared moving keynotes, testimonies, and stories that brought to life the soon-to-be Blessed’s humble, inspiring path to sainthood.

Evangelization was a featured through-line of the symposium, with topics including “Holiness and Evangelization” by Dr. Ralph Martin, Sacred Heart Professor of Theology and Director of Graduate Programs in the New Evangelization, and “How Father Solanus Unleashed the Gospel” by Fr. Stephen Pullis, Archdiocese of Detroit Director of Evangelization, Catechesis, and Schools. Monsignor Todd J. Lajiness, Sacred Heart Major Seminary president and rector, celebrated Mass, after which guests enjoyed lunch together.

The afternoon’s presentations by Dr. Edward Peters, Chair of Faculty Development, and Fr. Peter Ryan, Instructor of Theology illustrated in-depth examples of Father Solanus’ service to the poor, personal encounters, and his unique role as a “Simplex” priest. A vibrant question and answer session between participants and speakers brought the symposium to a close.

In addition to Sacred Heart faculty, two members of the Capuchin Order presented on the life of Fr. Solanus. Br. Richard Merling, O.F.M., Cap. and Fr. Martin Pable, O.F.M., Cap. shared stories of Father Solanus and the impact he had on the local community.

“I think this is a great moment where the Church in Detroit can evangelize by revealing the inner heart of Father Solanus, not just raising him up as a hero out of our reach, but as somebody who is really relevant for us,” said Dr. Ralph Martin.

As showcased by more than 250 attendees, Father Solanus’ exemplary dedication to faith and service has left an indelible mark on the community and continues to inspire the lives of many in the Archdiocese of Detroit and beyond. In 1995 Saint Pope John Paul II declared him venerable. Father Solanus was elevated from a venerable to a blessed by Pope Francis on May 4, 2017. At 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 18, the Beatification Mass at Detroit’s Ford Field elevated Father Solanus as the second American-born male to be beatified.

. . .

Photo of Ralph Martin at the Symposium courtesy of Sacred Heart Major Seminary.