Volume 19, Number 7 | July 31, 2020

An Important Message From the Provincial

On June 24, the Marianist Province of the United States published a list of Marianist and former Marianists, living and deceased, found to have sexually abused a minor since 1950 in the United States. We are deeply ashamed that some among our members have been guilty of these sins. Abusive behavior is a betrayal of our religious vocation and has no place in our ministries. All entrusted to our care should be safe. This is why we are confronting the darkness of these sins in a spirit of sorrow and accountability, and with a sincere desire for reconciliation and healing.

I invite you to visit Marianist.com/healing, where you will find the list and other important information regarding this release. We pray that the Holy Spirit guides us at this time. Let us pray for each other as we journey through this most difficult reality.

Peace and Prayers,

Fr. Oscar Vasquez, SM

A Life Move for A 9-year LIFE Leader

Every family experiences changes. Beloved members move on, move out or spread their wings in any one of a hundred ways. The family cheers them on while exhaling a sad sigh.

The Marianist Family is no different as it says goodbye to Toni Mesina, who has served as national coordinator of Marianist LIFE for the past nine years. Toni is leaving LIFE, a faith-formation program for high school students, to return to her original vocation as a classroom teacher.

Toni began her Marianist career in 2001, teaching at Saint Louis School in Honolulu. She then taught at Nolan Catholic High in Fort Worth, Texas, from 2006 to 2011 (Nolan was a Marianist-sponsored school until 2014). During these years, Toni was active with campus ministry and with the LIFE program.

“Toni has a deep-seated passion for service and a pure joy of being in ministry,” says Christopher Casupang, director of campus ministry at Saint Louis School. He has worked with Toni for decades. “Toni wants kids to be on fire for faith and community, and for her, the Marianist Charism has fed that fire.”

Toni says her fondest LIFE memories are of observing teens at the summer programs. “So many kids have an ‘ah-ha’ faith experience at LIFE,” Toni says. “Maybe it’s under the trees at a prayer service, or just in conversations with new friends, but it can be really profound. I’ll miss being part of that,” she says.

This summer was to have included a big celebration of the 50th anniversary of Marianist LIFE. The event, canceled due to the pandemic, would have been a joyous last hurrah for Toni. And while she is not concluding her tenure commemorating such a significant milestone for LIFE in the way she had planned, she can rest assured she has built on the strong, spirited foundation of LIFE, and she leaves with the blessings and good wishes of her Marianist Family.

Erica Duarte will be taking the reigns from Toni as the new national coordinator for Marianist LIFE. Learn more about Marianist LIFE.

See more photos.

A Marianist Moment

By Bro. David Betz

We are living in a strange and anxious moment in history. Since March 2020, we have been dealing with the COVID pandemic and, since the end of May 2020, we have been confronted with unwarranted police behavior and its aftermath. These moments call us to conversion and to take stock of our motivations and values in relating to ourselves, others and God. As for ourselves, what are we doing to take care of ourselves, emotionally, physically and spiritually? As for others, what are we doing to honor the dignity of others and to aid in the common good? As for God, what are we doing to deepen our relationship with God? I ask these questions because they are questions that I ask myself daily. This month, we celebrated the Feast of St. Benedict on whose Rule our Marianist Spirit/Rule of Life is based. In the prologue of his Rule, St. Benedict quotes Proverbs 4:20 which says, “Listen carefully, my child, to your master’s precepts, and incline the ear of your heart.” How are you listening to God during this strange and anxious moment in time and what are you being asked to do to build up the Reign of God?

Marianist Ministries in Action

MSJC Teams Host “Seeing White,” A Podcast Series on Racial Justice

On July 23, the Racial Justice Team and the Adele Social Justice Project, co-sponsored by the Marianist Social Justice Collaborative, launched an eight-week discussion, prayer and reflection group focused on the Peabody-nominated podcast series “Seeing White.”

The podcast series explores whiteness in America – where it came from, what it means and how it works. “Whiteness and white supremacy are the water we swim in as Americans,” says audio director John Biewen.

The podcast is an invitation to examine the foundations of whiteness and “to name our own implicit bias,” says Maureen O’Rourke, who co-chairs the MSJC’s Racial Justice Team with Sr. Nicole Trahan. “It helps us become attentive to societal constructs that benefit some and oppress others and develop right relationships that call us to true community.”

This conversation starts within, but also as the Marianist Family. “If we do the reflection and research and act together, then our collective gift to the world as a Marianist Family will be amplified,” says Maureen. “Our faith and commitment to the dignity of all people require  us to pay attention, organize and act for racial justice.”

Fifteen people signed up for the discussion group. If more people are interested, the groups will sponsor another “Seeing White” series later this year. Interested? Visit msjc.net/contact.

Marianist Family Members in the News

My Bout With Covid-19: Community Made All the Difference

By Sr. Laura Leming

It was an auspicious day in March when I fell ill — the Annunciation — my community’s name day. At first, I felt a strange dizziness as I was getting ready to preside at our COVID-imposed communion service. But soon, I realized I had the dreaded fever that presages the virus. I’d had a flu shot, but clearly I needed to isolate. That’s when my community sprang into action — calling my cell phone so I could be part of morning prayer and vespers on speakerphone, taking my breakfast, lunch and supper orders. Before each meal, a tray appeared at my door, sometimes with a masked community member standing six feet away to get the latest report on fever and cough.

I truly don’t know how people do this who live alone. I was never so sick that I couldn’t move around my room or even do most of my teaching on Zoom. But that required carefully timing the cough syrup and breathing treatments for my morning class and having a team teacher in the afternoons. Even so, a few times when the cough was so bad I had to lie on my stomach to ease it, it occurred to me that this just might kill me.

Community made all the difference — maintaining a rhythm of prayer, slowing down for me on our Easter day walk and saving some of our Baily’s chocolate chip cookies that I could enjoy when I got my sense of taste back 18 days later. Six weeks later, I was back to feeling fine and almost full energy. My COVID-19 test was negative. But after reading many accounts, including that of an epidemiologist who tested negative four times but who could have been telling my story, my community and I are pretty sure our house was visited by the virus, in a “mild” form, thank God. The experience leaves me deeply grateful to be alive and deeply grateful for Marianist community life.

See more photos.

Bro. Bob Donovan Honored as a Healthcare Hero

Bro. Bob Donovan, M.D., was honored with a “Healthcare Heroes Award” from the Cincinnati Business Courier in June. Each year, the Courier recognizes those who have made an impact on healthcare in their community. Bro. Bob is a family physician and medical operations lead at the Center for Respite Care, Inc. in Cincinnati, Ohio.

After being in private practice for several years, Bro Bob entered the Society of Mary in 1988. Following profession of vows, he returned to Cincinnati and became medical director of the Cincinnati Health Care for the Homeless Program. As part of his duties, he has delivered primary care to people experiencing homelessness on the mobile medical clinic at several Cincinnati area shelters for 24 years. He currently cares for people experiencing homelessness (and others) at the McMicken Health Collaborative. He oversees medical operations for the Center for Respite Care as well.

Bro. Bob said, “After becoming a Marianist, I began to search for something that would be my ‘ministry.’ Providentially, I heard about the Health Care for the Homeless program that had started in Cincinnati. The work and the patients aligned with my calling. When the Center for Respite Care Inc. started in 2003, I became the physician for that unique program. Since that time, my personal commitment has been to our community members in need of medical treatment lacking resources, at-risk or experiencing homelessness, disenfranchised from families and loved ones and who needed a healing start to reenter society. At the center, we provide quality medical care “for people experiencing homelessness who need a safe place to heal while assisting them in breaking the cycle of homelessness.”

Congratulations, Bro. Dr. Bob Donovan. You are truly, a healthcare hero.

Pray With Us

Please join us in prayer for these members of the Marianist Family.

Bro. Hugh Bihl – Early Years

Bro. Hugh Bihl – 2015

Bro. Hugh Bihl, 89, died July 27, 2020. His obituary will appear in the next issue of FamilyOnlineSee more photos.

Bro. Hugh Charlson’s obituary: Bro. Hugh died on June 25. His obituary was not completed in time for the June issue of FamilyOnline. It is available now. Read his obituary.

Fr. Larry Doersching’s obituary: Fr. Larry died on June 10. His obituary was not completed in time for the June issue of FamilyOnline. It is available now. Read his obituary.

Bro. Raymond Kane’s obituary: Bro. Ray died on June 10. His obituary was not completed in time for the June issue of FamilyOnline. It is available now. Read his obituary.


Marianists Celebrate Jubilees

Each year, the Society of Mary recognizes brothers and priests who are marking milestones of their first professions of vows or of their priestly ordinations. This is the final group of 2020 Jubilarians we honor as a special section of FamilyOnline.


70 years of profession

Growing up in a close-knit family, speaking an Italian dialect in our family, in a poor parish (St. Agnes) in San Antonio, I was educated in its small school with much-loved sisters and teachers. When I met the Marianists in high school (Central Catholic), the way in which the brothers related to the students and how they interacted with one another continued my prior family and school experiences very well.

Read more.


60 years of profession

Raised in the 1940s, immersed in Catholic culture, I early, easily and consciously absorbed the sense that God was the deepest and all-encompassing reality and that being in touch with the great mystery above me, below me, within me and all around me was the highest value. Mary, who I spoke of in those early years as “Our Blessed Mother,” was an intimate part of that world and my experience of it.

Read more.


60 years of profession

I often say to people that I have been blessed during my 60 years of ministry to do ministry that I enjoyed doing. Whether it was: teaching in the classroom (and 60 years later, I am still in touch with former students and their parents); helping to create the first Marianist Sharing Fund in the New York Province; working in the Maryland Legislature; or being active on several boards that serve legal services groups, religious communities, Marianist schools and social justice organizations, I have been happy and fulfilled in that ministry.

Read more.


60 years of profession

As a Marianist, I have been able to serve students with special needs. Reaching out to these students has graced me to be human, to accept who I am — the gifts and talents with which God has blessed me. My life as a Marianist has been one of living in faith, as Mary did — many unknowns. Each year has been an interesting one.

Read more.


60 years of profession

When I reflect on the past 60 years of Marianist life, the word that comes to my mind is GRATITUDE.

I am so grateful to God and Mary for the gift of my call to live the Marianist Charism as a Marianist Brother. I’ve been blessed with a supportive family, my Marianist Brothers, and the many lay Marianists with whom I have shared life, the communities of which I’ve been part and the ministries in which I have been called to serve.

Read more.

Good to Know

100 Years Ago, Jakob Gapp Joined the Society of Mary

From Via Latina #292 – July 2020

Life is full of events, encounters and highlights. Opening the book of one’s life sometimes allows us to find a hidden meaning in it, a particular resonance that gives meaning to today.

It was Jakob Gapp’s experience on August 13, 1943, in the Berlin prison of Plötzensee, which served as a reminder of that very same summer day in a previous year, a happier day, a day that would be fully brought to completion in the sacrifice of his life: “On August 13, 1920, I began my novitiate, the most beautiful year of my life, and today I hope to be able to begin the life of blessed eternity.”

Read more.

Bird by Bird

How we transform grief — one small act of kindness at a time.

By Jan D. Dixon

Overwhelmed. That’s how I feel. 150,000 deaths from COVID-19 as of Friday, July 31. I can’t wrap my head or my heart around that number. It’s horrific. But it’s hard to take in that much suffering and loss in one sentence — in one lonely statistic.

I tend to go numb. Try to think about something else. Anything else. That’s when I know I need to take a step back and break this down — to personalize these losses. And yes, our First UMC church family knows people personally — Stuart Porter and Cheryl Stauffer — who died from this terrible disease here in Cortez, Colorado.

Read more.

St. Francis de Sales Grade School is Getting a New Look!

The DeSales Corner and East Walnut Hills neighborhood in Cincinnati, Ohio, will soon be enhanced by the work of local artist, Brandon Hawkins, and five young men and women “who will change the face of our school and our neighborhood,” says Bro. Bob Dzubinski . “Scaffolding was erected on June 22, and we all await the final day when ArtWorks of Cincinnati, which has contracted to paint one face of our school with a three-story mural, will be finished.”

25 Years With the Marianist

On July 5, Grace Zollman,  director of Nursing and Resident Services at the Marianist Center in Cupertino, California, celebrated 25 years of employment with the Marianists. The Marianist Center in Cupertino hosted a celebration in her honor.

Thanks Bro. Jack Somerville for sharing this milestone.

Stay in Touch


AMU Newsletter from the Association of Marianist Universities
The Fulcrum from the Marianist LIFE
District Update 36 from the Marianist District of India
Gifts and Tasks from the Int. Organization of Marianist Lay Communities
Justice Jottings from the Marianist Social Justice Collaborative

Magnificat from the World Council of the Marianist Family
MLC-NA e-News from the Marianist Lay Community of North America
NACMS Newsletter from the North American Center for Marianist Studies
Via Latina 22 from the General Administration of the Society of Mary

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