Volume 23, Number 6 | June 28, 2024

Do Not Be Afraid To Say “Yes”

Sophia Bair

“Just like Mary, do not be afraid to say, ‘yes.’ Have courage because you never know what doors God may open for you,” advises 23-year-old Sophia Bair.

Sophia said “yes” to participating in a year-long service project through the Marianist Partners in Urban Leadership, Service and Education or PULSE program, which has inspired her to pursue pediatric medicine. “I was drawn to participate in the PULSE program because I was introduced to the Marianist Charism during my time at University of Dayton (UD). I have been inspired by the mission ever since. I believe our faith requires us to take action,” she said.

PULSE is a Marianist-sponsored post-graduate initiative that matches volunteers with non-profits for a one or two-year commitment. “I wasn’t apprehensive to commit to a whole year of service, but my parents certainly were. They were concerned I would lose interest in returning to school as I planned to continue to medical school after my year of service, but in reality, this year helped solidify my desire even more,” Bair stated.

Sophia and two other volunteers doing music therapy for guests

The pre-medicine UD graduate from Indianapolis just completed her “gap year” by volunteering at the St. Vincent de Paul Gateway Shelter for Women and Families. She reported that the most challenging part of her volunteer work was also the most rewarding, “It is difficult to work in a homeless shelter and meet people oftentimes on the worst days of their lives. But, I had the opportunity to meet so many incredible people, and it was a privilege to be with them and hear their stories.”

Bair is heading to Michigan State in the fall to begin medical school. “Because of my PULSE experience, I want to be a pediatrician who serves homeless children,” she said. Adding, “This year of service has been one of the best experiences of my life. I am eternally grateful to this program and the Marianist family for their constant support. “

Next month,  three other young adults will begin their journey with the PULSE program for the 2024-2025 year. If you or someone you know is interested in participating, please click here for more information.

In The News

First Vows Celebration for Guillermo “Memo” Peña Contreras

Bro. Guillermo “Memo” Peña Contreras professed First Vows in the Society of Mary (Marianists) on June 8, 2024, at Capilla de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe (Chapel of Our Lady of Guadalupe) in Querétaro, Mexico. Director of Novices Bro. Dennis Bautista and Assistant Director of Novices Fr. Tim Eden presented Bro. Memo as a suitable candidate for the profession of vows after a period of formation and discernment. His vows were received by Provincial Fr. Oscar Vasquez, who was the principal celebrant, with Assistant for the Office of Religious Life Fr. Tim Kenney concelebrating.

Born in Corregidora, Querétaro, Mexico, he excelled in school and received a law degree from Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro in 2013. While practicing law, one day, he was invited to join prayer in a chapel at a Marianist community that he’d walked by a thousand times before on the way to his grandmother’s house. During Holy Week of 2019, he decided to join those Marianist Brothers.

“The Marianists are always very close to people, especially those in need, the poor, and the sick from schools, communities, and parishes. Marianists are always willing to help, to listen, or to give some of their time to hear others. Working as a brother is not just working like any other job. Working as a brother is showing that all that we do is for God and our blessed Mother,” said Memo.

Memo will begin his service at the Querétaro Marianist Community.

Click here to read more. Click here to view photos from the ceremony and celebration.

Service Awards

Sr. Grace Walle, FMI, was recently honored by the Marianist Social Justice Collaborative for more than 20 years of service on the Anti-Death Penalty and Restorative Justice Issue Team.  She has also served on the MSJC Steering Committee for 14 years.  Bob Stoughton, one of the first Marianist volunteers, was also honored for more than 20 years on the issue team, many as chair.  Lay and religious Marianists from the Dayton, OH, area attended the awards event along with leaders from Death Penalty Action and local members of Ohians to Stop Executions.


Serra Immortal Awarded to Provincial Council Member

Congratulations to Fr. Tim Kenney, Assistant for Religious Life of the Marianist Province of the U.S. He was one of three alumni from Junipero Serra High School in Gardena, CA, honored at an awards luncheon as a Serra Immortal. The school describes a Cavalier Serra Immortal as an alumni, coach, administrator, or dedicated supporter who, after leaving the school, excelled in their chosen field and promoted the school’s advancement. It is someone who inspires both current and future Cavaliers to dream of achieving the same distinction.

“Fr. Kenney is an example of an alumnus who has made exceptional accomplishments in the education field. Through the years, Fr. Tim has given exceptional service in local, state, national, and world affairs, which has made a positive impact on society,” said Serra Alumni Association President Brian Cooper.

Some of Fr. Tim’s family and friends who attended the ceremony included province employee Kathy Cooper, Marianist Brother Fr. Ted Ley, his brother Kevin Kenney, sister Theresa Kenney Martinez, Lay Marianists Marty and Doloris Procaccio, Marianist pilgrimage participants Terry O’Neill and Diane Lawrence, as well as Tom and Ellen Celaya and fellow ’73 graduate Michael Lievans.

Marianist Ministries in Action

Let’s Taco ‘Bout  It

Affiliates of the Ahava and L’Esperance Lay Marianist Communities (MLCs) in Dayton, OH, gathered to reflect on prayer and God’s presence. Members Marianne Cipolla-McCulloch and Caitlin Cipolla-McCulloch hosted the event at their Miamisburg home.

A taco bar was enjoyed by all as conversation flowed, centering on the North American Center for Marianist Studies (NACMS) podcast featuring Fr. Quentin Hakenwerth. A key idea emphasized in the discussion was Fr. Quentin’s challenge to observe the importance of prayer and to consider ways their vocation as Marianists can help them heed the presence of God in their lives.

Caitlin, who was recently named the NACMS Program Administrator, described it as a “fruitful meeting that brought together two MLCs at different ages and stages of life.” Click here to listen to the podcast and, perhaps, create your own prayer challenge.

A Marianist Moment

Marianist Women’s Summit and FMI (USA) 75th Anniversary

The Marianist Sisters invite you to a “Marianist Women’s Summit” and the celebration of the 75th anniversary of its USA Foundation from Oct. 25-26 in San Antonio. The summit will provide an opportunity for lay and vowed women in the Marianist Family to visit, pray, and converse about Mary’s Magnificat call in our lives.

The event will take place at the Marianist Sisters’ Our Lady of the Pillar Community on Friday and at St. Mary’s University School of Law on Saturday. The guest speaker will be Dr. Neomi De Anda, a theologian and Lay Marianist who serves as the Executive Director of the International Marian Research Institute and is an Associate Professor in Religious Studies at University of Dayton.

All attendees must register. The final registration date is Oct.1, 2024. Refunds for cancellations will be issued up to Oct. 10, 2024. If you would like to register online and pay by credit card, please visit tinyurl.com/marianistwomenssummit or use the QR code.

From the Archives

Celebrating 175 Years of Marianists in America

With Mary as their model, the Marianists arrived in the U.S. in 1849, in Cincinnati, Ohio, to begin building communities of faith. That makes this year – the 175th anniversary – a milestone to celebrate! See the images below for background on the first U.S. Provincial and the start of what is now University of Dayton. If you’d like to read more on Fr. Meyer and the joys and struggles of founding the Society of Mary in the United States, the North American Center for Marianist Studies has a book available. Click here for more information.

If you’d like to see images from the archives, visit and “like” this Facebook page.

Pray With Us

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

Date Unknown

Fr. Joseph Donald Cahill, 95, died on June 18, 2024, in San Antonio, TX, with 75 years of religious profession. He was set to celebrate his jubilee this year. You can read his bio here.

His obituary is forthcoming and will be posted here as soon as possible.

Click here to see more pictures.

Each year, the Society of Mary recognizes brothers and priests who are marking milestones of their first profession of vows or their priestly ordinations. Thank you to our 2024 Jubilarians! We will highlight them over the course of the next few months in FamilyOnline. Click here to see pictures from the Jubilee celebration in Cupertino, CA, earlier this month.


70 Years of profession

I was born on September 7, 1935, in San Francisco, CA. I attended St. John the Evangelist Grade School, Archbishop Riordan High School, and Saint Mary’s College. I earned a master’s degree from UCLA and a PhD from Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh. I am thankful to God and Mary, my family, my nurturing home parish, and fellow Marianists. To all who made this unfold — I am most thankful! I am most grateful to have been called to be a Marianist religious brother in a society founded by Blessed William Joseph Chaminade for the glory of God and the honor of Mary. Click here to read more.


70 Years of profession

Thinking back over these years, I’ve come to realize how important “family” has been throughout my entire life. I was born an only child but into a large, extended Irish-American family. I don’t think I was ever very conscious of being an “only.” We actually referred to our family as a “tribe” – parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and numerous cousins. We belonged to each other. So, family was important to me from the beginning. What has been most rewarding has been living in community and working side by side with men and women committed to embodying the spirit of Jesus and Mary in their lives and in the lives of others. That, for me, is what Marianist priesthood is all about. Click here to read more.


70 Years of profession

I have enjoyed my life as a Marianist. My life as an active Marianist could be seen as a life as a teacher, a counselor, and a coach. My life as a Marianist is a constant backdrop to this life. When I began teaching, I was more interested in “doing the job.” Over time, I discovered that being a Marianist, I took in more than the students I taught, counseled, or coached and all whom I met. Finally, is my life as a Marianist. When I retired from working in high schools and moved to Cincinnati, I realized more clearly my life as a life of service to the people with whom I work and to my community. Click here to read more.


70 Years of profession

I was born on February 21, 1936, in Smithton, IL. My formal education included Saint John the Baptist Grade School, Maryhurst Postulate, Marynook Novitiate and St. Mary’s University, where I earned a degree in History.  A neighbor’s family had a son who was a Marianist whom I admired. I entered the postulate at Maryhurst, which led to the novitiate. I was always interested in things scientific and technological, and I enjoyed providing for the physical needs of the community and institution wherever I was assigned. It has been a fulfilling life dedicated to the advancement of the kingdom of God. Click here to read more.


60 Years of ordination

I was born and raised in Braddock, Pennsylvania. I professed my first vows in Marcy, New York, in 1952 and was ordained in 1964 in Fribourg, Switzerland with 24 other Marianists from other Provinces of the Society of Mary. My service includes ministry at high schools, University of Dayton, the Provincial Council and the International Marian Research Institute. There are so many graces we have received in these many years. “What can I ask of the Lord? I will take up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. I will say my vows to the Lord.” Psalm 116:12-14. Click here to read more.


60 Years of ordination

As a grade-schooler at St. Norbert parish in Pittsburgh, I greatly admired our associate pastor. This led me to choose the priesthood as my vocation, and I entered a high school seminary. Having failed freshman algebra, I had to retake it in summer school. It was available at North Catholic, where I met some impressive Marianists. As they say, the rest is history. I am profoundly grateful for having been called to the Marianist life – a life of ministry and service flowing from faith and Fr. Chaminade’s charism. The motto I chose in the novitiate was “Behold your Mother.”  Click here to read more.

Good to Know

Now Accepting Seed Grant Applications

Do you have a project that needs additional funds? The Visitation Marianist State Community may be able to help. The community of vowed Lay Marianists provides grants in the following categories:

  • Strengthen Marianist Lay communities and networks
  • Assist in building the Church
  • Impact the faith and involvement of young adults in the Church
  • Social justice, including economic justice, environmental justice, and human rights

Grants are intended for special projects, not for general operating funds. Grant proposals must be sponsored by a member of the Marianist Family. For more information or to request an application form, click here. Applications are due by August 31, 2024.

The Ripple Effect of Family Spirit

Linda Muller never planned to attend St. Mary’s University (StMU). But with three degrees (B.A. ’86, B.B.A. ’86, M.A. ’03), a wedding, eight children and a 30-year career, currently as Director of Enterprise Systems and Services at the university, Muller is happy with God’s plan.

On the last day of orientation all those years ago, the Houston native made the long drive to San Antonio on a whim. Already packing up for the day, the staff took one look at Muller and took her to the cafeteria to get something to eat before helping her settle in.

“From that moment, I was sold on St. Mary’s,” Muller said. “When people arrive on campus, they are our family, whether they’re here for one day or whether they’re here for four years or 30 years. Family spirit is the foundation of everything at St. Mary’s.”

Her promotion of the family spirit earned her a spot as one of the 2024 Marianist Heritage Award honorees for showcasing faithfulness to the University’s Marianist heritage.

Click here to discover how StMU played a role in meeting her husband and just how many of her children decided to become Rattlers too.


Click here to discover job opportunities within our Marianist Ministries across the United States. 

New listings include:

• St. Vincent-St. Mary High School (OH) – President

• Mother Seton Academy (MD) – President

• Chaminade College Prep (CA) – Assistant Director of Student Activities

• St. Vincent-St. Mary High School (OH) – Director of Advancement

Check Out More Marianist News

Via Latina from the General Administration of the Society of Mary

Sharing Our Marianist Stories podcast from North American Center for Marianist Studies

Justice Jottings from the Marianist Social Justice Collaborative

AMU Newsletter from the Association of Marianist Universities

District Update #82 from the Marianist District of India

FatherSide Chats is a web video series featuring Fr. Gene Contadino. Discover new episodes every Tuesday about a variety of topics. Click the graphic to view episodes. Click here to read more.

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