Rooted in Hope
Sometimes all you need is a little hope. Rich Sroczynski, who serves as a volunteer with both the Marianist Family Retreat Center (MFRC) in Cape May, New Jersey, and Interfaith-RISE, a refugee resettlement agency headquartered in Highland Park, New Jersey, was hopeful when he pitched the idea of a retreat for refugees and asylees at the Marianist facility.
“I knew there would be challenges in developing interfaith programming, as well as language and culture differences, menu considerations, logistics, and costs,” he said. “But I was confident these things could be overcome.”
January 27-29, MFRC hosted an Interfaith Retreat for Refugees for 19 people, including individuals, couples, and families with children. All had been displaced from their home countries of Afghanistan and Ukraine and worked with Interfaith-RISE to help them transition to life in the United States.
“Our theme, ‘Rooted in Hope,’ really resonated with all of the participants, no matter their faith or culture,” said Jessica Sherwen, program director for the retreat center, who, along with nine volunteers, five staff members, and the director of Interfaith-RISE, facilitated the retreat. “While all of the retreatants had been uprooted by war or political unrest, their hope survived, even if their way of life did not,” said Sherwen.
The retreat leaders used a variety of experiences to help participants get acquainted and unwind while they discussed the topic of hope. Activities included prayer, a walk on the beach, a trip to the local zoo, and free time to enjoy being in community with others who had been through similar experiences.
“One of the highlights of the weekend was when everyone was asked to write words of hope on a rock, decorate it, and plant it somewhere around the community,” said Sroczynski, who also serves on the Marianist Social Justice Collaborative‘s Immigrant Justice Team. Another occurred when participants were asked to share their hopes and dreams with the group.
But Sroczynski recalled the most memorable event occurred on the last night of the retreat, “It started when Bro. Stan Zubek played ‘Old McDonald’ and got everyone laughing trying to make animal sounds.” Then, the Ukrainians shared a favorite folk song.
“Emboldened by this,” Sroczynski said, “the Afghan families stood and sang an Afghan folk anthem together. Their longing and sorrow for their home at that moment was palpable, and by the time the song ended, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.”
Sherwen, who has overseen hundreds of retreats since she began working at MFRC nearly 20 years ago, said, “I honestly don’t have words to describe the powerful emotions of that moment.”
In The News
Constitutional Changes and Navigating the Law
St. Mary’s University School of Law’s student-led publication, The Scholar: St. Mary’s Law Review on Race and Social Justice, hosted its 2023 Annual Symposium on Friday, Feb. 24.
This year marked The Scholar’s 25th anniversary as a law journal. Because of this significant milestone, the roster of speakers was filled with distinguished members of the Texas legal community. Embracing the theme of “Constitutional Changes and Navigating the Law,” several attorneys, law professors, and public officials presented legal changes within their practice area over the last 25 years.
Marking 20 Years of Health Care for the Homeless
The Center for Respite Care in Cincinnati, OH, was founded 20 years ago. The vision to help some of the most vulnerable in the community was led by Bro. Bob Donovan. Doctor Donovan practiced medicine privately for several years before entering the Society of Mary and making final vows in 1988. He then returned to Cincinnati to become the medical director of the Cincinnati Health Care for the Homeless Program. Together with a dedicated crew, Bro. Bob’s vision came to life. The program’s success was recently spotlighted in the Cincinnati Enquirer. Click here to read the write-up.
Have you thought about becoming a Lay Marianist? Perhaps you are one and want to be more involved. We have an invitation for you!
This summer, July 20-July 23, in St. Louis, MO, you are welcome to join the Lay Marianist Assembly.
Marianist Ministries in Action
Inspired by Beauty
Bro. Fred Halwe has served as an administrator, high school teacher, university professor, and Tecaboca counselor. In 2018, when he retired from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, he was ready to start a new chapter in his Marianist life. But then the pandemic struck, and he wondered what he would do. “I couldn’t go to the library and could only read, watch TV, or surf the internet for so long.”
That’s when an idea struck him. Why not use his time to create mosaics? As a child, Bro. Fred loved to draw and paint, but his creative bug never took him into the realm of professional art. “My real love was teaching English, and for 55 years (most of it at Central Catholic), that consumed my time,” he said.
Over the years, however, Bro. Fred was inspired by the works of other Marianist artists, especially the late Bro. Mel Meyer. In 1960, he took an art class from Bro. Mel which included some sessions on mosaics. He also recalls visiting Emil Frei & Associates, a St. Louis business specializing in stained glass and mosaics for churches. The experience “left my jaw agape,” he said.
“After the classes with Bro. Mel, I made a few simple mosaics for my parents and a few more for Central Catholic, including a circular altar top that was used for years at the school for liturgies.”
During the COVID shutdown, Bro. Tom Suda encouraged him to take up mosaics. Since then, Bro. Fred has made several for the Marianist Residence where he now lives. But he is reticent to refer to himself as an artist. “I’m a copyist,” he said. “I trace a picture, paint some glass, cut and paste it, and — voilà — three weeks later, there you have it.”
He is amazed that anyone is making anything of “this hobby of mine,” he said, noting that he uses scrap glass from broken picture frames and a supply of $3 hobby paint to create the mosaics.
Mosaics are not his only medium. He sometimes paints adaptations of subjects he likes, a few of which can be seen here, along with some of his mosaics.
When asked why he creates art, Bro. Fred takes a philosophical tone. “There’s the good, the true, and the beautiful,” he said. “As Marianist teachers, we are big on the ‘good’ and the ‘true.’ We oversee 50-minute classes, grade in percentages, set deadlines, and demand order in our classrooms. But we shy away from focusing on the ‘beautiful.’ That’s a shame.”
Bro. Fred believes there’s a reason why God is a Trinity and encourages everyone to stop and look for themselves. “To see the beautiful, all you have to do is open your eyes and look.”
A Marianist Moment
Canonization Process Updates on Some of our Holy Marianists
From what we read and know about the canonization process, it can be long, arduous, and expensive. Evidence of this can be seen in reading various resources such as “Give Us This Day’s” section, Blessed Among Us, which gives the dates when the saints and blesseds died and when they were declared saints and blessed. For example, our Marianist founders, Blessed Chaminade, died in January 1850 and was beatified in September 2000, and Blessed Marie of the Conception de Batz de Trenquelléon died in January 1828 and was beatified in June 2018.
It is amazing that religious families, such as our own and other groups who support these causes, diligently engage in the process despite the time and effort it takes. I believe it comes from the determination and the faith of the people involved, who strongly believe that these holy men and women deserve to be recognized formally by the Catholic Church.
Click here to read more and access resources, including a podcast.
From the Archives
Former President Harry Truman – Pen Pal to a Marianist
The Marianist Archives showcase a signed letter from Harry S. Truman (1884-1972) to Fr. Robert Hackel (1932-2022) dated June 2, 1965. Truman was the 33rd President of the United States, serving from 1945 to 1953.
Fr. Bob was known for an intense interest in politics and wrote to Truman for many years leading to personal replies from the former President. He received a master’s degree in political science and for four decades worked primarily in high school assignments at St. Mary’s High School (his alma mater), Chaminade College Preparatory, and St. John Vianney High School in St. Louis, MO; St. Joseph’s School in Victoria, TX; Nolan Catholic High School in Fort Worth, TX; Thomas More High School in Milwaukee, WI; Gross Catholic High School in Omaha, NE; Central Catholic High School in San Antonio, TX; and St. Louis School in Honolulu, HI.
If you’d like to see more from the Marianist Archives, visit and “like” this Facebook page.
Pray With Us
Please join us in prayer for these members of the Marianist Family.
Fr. Franz Schorp – Year Unknown
Fr. Franz Schorp – 2015
Fr. Francis “Franz” Walter Schorp, 91, died on February 19, 2023, in San Antonio, TX, with 70 years of religious profession. His obituary will appear in the next issue of FamilyOnline.
The obituaries for Fr. Donald Wallace and Fr. Anthony Jansen were not completed in time for the January issue of FamilyOnline. They are now available and can be read by clicking on their names, highlighted below.
Fr. Donald Wallace’s obituary. Fr. Don died on January 25.
Fr. Anthony Jansen’s obituary. Fr. Tony died on January 27.
Good to Know
New Executive Director
The International Marian Research Institute at the University of Dayton (UD) has a new executive director. Neomi De Anda is an associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies, a lay member of the Marianist family and past president of the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States. “She brings a cultural diversity to the work that will enrich the institute and its impact on Marian studies in this country and beyond,” said Fr. James Fitz, vice president for mission and rector at UD.
Click here to read more.
Memorare Marianist Lay Community Makes Commitment
On Chaminade Day, Jan. 22, 2023, eight St. Mary’s University students made their Lay Marianist commitment as members of the Memorare Marianist Lay Community. The students began their formation in August, meeting in the parlor in the Marianist Residence on campus. José Matos Auffant and Bro. Dan Klco guided them in their formation. The Memorare MLC will continue to meet throughout this semester to continue formation with Bro. Dan.
(Pictured L to R: Bro. Dan Klco, SM, Suzy Ibarra, Lorelie Gonzalez, Arlene Chaidez, Chiara Cossio, Suzanna Marbach, Viviana Gonzalez, Arturo Cantu, Francisco Garcia, and José Matos Auffant)
Lenten Retreats at MRCC
Lent is the perfect time to seek spiritual renewal!
The weekend of Mar. 10–12, the Marianist Retreat and Conference Center (MRCC) in Eureka, MO, offers the retreat: The Seasons of our Lives Through the Eyes of Mary.
Friday, April 7, MRCC will host its annual Good Friday Day of Recollection, presented by Msgr. Michael John Witt. The theme this year is “Hunger for God.” It will include opportunities for sacramental reconciliation, spiritual direction, inspirational talks, and quiet time.
Every month MRCC also hosts Marianist Prayer Gatherings. On Mar. 6, worship will be led by Mary Kate Westrich, JoAnne Bone will give the Marianist moment, and Larry Decker will teach on the Seven Sorrows of St. Joseph. On April 3, Ben Allen will lead worship, Liz Lozano will give the Marianist Moment and Fr. Oscar Vasquez will provide the teaching.
Click here for more information and additional dates.
Hearing God’s Voice in the Wilderness
University of Dayton Campus Ministry encourages all to enter into God’s presence during the season of Lent. To inspire participation, the university is offering an array of free events during the 40 days of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, which runs through Wednesday, April 5. Easter is Sunday, April 9.
Click here for a complete list. Masses will also be streamed via the University of Dayton Campus Ministry YouTube channel.
40 Days of Service
Now in its seventh year, 40 Days of Lent and Service is a St. Mary’s University initiative offering a diverse range of opportunities for campus community members to connect and volunteer with nonprofits.
The Office of Rector and the Marianist Educational Associates of St. Mary’s University are also providing Journey to Pascha: 40 Days of Lenten Reflections with daily readings from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Click here for a calendar of readings.
New Provincial Council Members
The Marianist Province of the United States is delighted to announce that the following Brothers have accepted an invitation to continue to serve as members of the next Provincial Council: Provincial Fr. Oscar Vasquez, Assistant Provincial Bro. Bernie Ploeger, Assistant for Religious Life Fr. Timothy Kenney, Assistant for Education Bro. Jesse O’Neill, and Assistant for Temporalities Bro. Joseph Markel.
We thank the following previous councilors for their service. Bro. Charles Johnson for his 13 years of service to the Province as a Councilor. (Eight years of service during Fr. Marty Solma‘s Council and these last five years) Fr. Charles (Kip) Stander for his five years of service to the Province as a Councilor.
This new Provincial Council will be installed during the Province Assembly this summer. Its term begins on July 1, 2023. Please keep them in your prayers.
General Council From Rome Visits U.S. Province
The Marianist General Council, based in Rome, Italy, arrived in the United States in late January for a two-month visit to our Marianist schools, communities, and institutions.
- Fr. André-Joseph Fétis, Superior General, is from the Province of France
- Bro. Maximin Magnan, Assistant, Education, is from the Region of Togo
- Fr. Pablo Rambaud, Assistant, Religious Life, is from the Province of Spain
- Bro. Michael McAward, Assistant, Temporalities, is from the Province of Meribah
They began their visit in San Antonio, then split into groups to travel to California, Philadelphia, New Jersey, Ohio, Missouri, Florida, Puerto Rico, and Hawaii. They will travel around the U.S. until the end of March.
Click here to see some pictures from the visit.
Volume One Now Available
Volume One of the General History of the Society of Mary by Fr. Antonio Gascon Aranda is now available for purchase on the North American Center for Marianist Studies (NACMS) online bookstore!
The first volume of this multipart general history examines the origins of the Society under the first three superiors general (William Joseph Chaminade, Georges Caillet, and Jean Chevaux), the evangelization of youth by means of teaching, and France’s nascent middle-class values that would eventually impact Marianist education.
Stay in Touch
The Fulcrum from Marianist LIFE – Living In Faith Experience
Justice Jottings from the Marianist Social Justice Collaborative
AMU Newsletter from the Association of Marianist Universities
District Update #67 from the Marianist District of India
Via Latina 22 from the General Administration of the Society of Mary
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