Volume 19, Number 5 | May 29, 2020

A Joyful and Unique First Vow Ceremony

The Marianist Novitiate Community: Bro. Tom Wendorf, John Shim (KO-novice), Bros. Tom Redmond, Dan Klco and Leno Ceballos, Francisco Cho (KO-novice), Bro. John Lemker and Fr. Chris Wittmann.

Yes, they wore masks. But their eyes were smiling above them. Yes, it was a small gathering of brothers and priests in the novitiate chapel instead of a crowd of family and friends filling church pews. And yes, it took place in the middle of a global pandemic.

It was a ceremony unique in the history of U.S. Marianists. But the characteristic solemnity and joy of the event remained.

Magdaleno (Leno) Alonso Ceballos Marcel

On May 23, Magdaleno (Leno) Alonso Ceballos Marcel, made his first profession of vows as a Marianist brother. Fr. Chris Wittmann, province director of novices, presided at the Mass; Fr. Charles (Kip) Stander received the vows. The event was live-streamed to all those joining in spirit while sheltering in place.

“A vow ceremony is always a sign of hope. It’s encouraging to have new brothers in the Society of Mary,” says Fr. Chris. He noted that while the pandemic presented significant limitations on the ceremony, the Marianists believe safety had to be the primary concern.

Bro. Leno, 31, grew up in southern California and first met the Marianists at the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress in 2012. He was attracted to the Marianist life of prayer, devotion to Mary, and commitment to community. “In the early part of his discernment, Leno met Marianists who really connected with him and inspired him,” says Fr. Chris.

Leno made his aspirancy at Casa Maria Community in San Antonio and his novitiate at Mount Saint John in Dayton, Ohio. During his novitiate, he volunteered at the Brunner Literacy Center in Dayton, tutoring adults in preparation for GED (high school equivalency) exams.

“Leno brings to us a real passion for living this life well and for growing in his faith,” says Fr. Chris. “He’s an excellent person in community … he has a gift for reaching out to others.”

Learn more about Marianist formation.

See the video.

See more photos.

‘Family Spirit’ Takes New Forms for 2020 Graduations

Nick Niemeier
Nick Niemeier
Chaminade-Madonna College Preparatory Class of 2020
Chaminade-Madonna College Preparatory Class of 2020
Roman Wilson

The Class of 2020 at Marianist-sponsored high schools across the country faced an upheaval like none before. Still, these young women and men were celebrated with an outpouring of pomp and circumstance that showcased Marianist family spirit in fresh and unusual ways.

“We have an outstanding cadre of school leaders – principals, presidents – who are deeply rooted in the Characteristics of Marianist Education,” says Bro. Jesse O’Neill, assistant for education for the Province. “They were called to demonstrate adaptation and change – to think creatively in the face of this shutdown, and I’m really proud of the ways they’ve done that.”

The presidents, principals and campus ministers of each of the 17 Marianist-sponsored secondary schools gathered with Bro. Jesse in online meetings to discuss strategies and share ideas and best practices. “I think they responded the way Chaminade and the Marianist founders did when they were faced with chaos (of the French Revolution). They adapted while keeping their focus on the mission.”

And so, with the mission of showcasing their graduates, schools rolled out some novel tributes: They posted signs in each senior’s yard, created individual social media spotlights and organized car parades, YouTube Masses, campus light-ups, and even mini “private graduation” ceremonies. They weren’t the traditional cap-and-gown, tassel-turning processions, but they were joyful displays nonetheless.

We may have to be physically distant but the Marianist family spirit remains,” says Bro. Jesse. “I want all our grads to know that God gives them the strength they need to respond to tough situations. And if they feel like they don’t have the strength, they need to remember that they have each other. The light of God is always there.”

Marianist Barbecue: Summer Recipes for Your Next Family Picnic

With the summer barbecue season in full swing, Bro. Leo Slay teamed up with Eloy Olivarri, head chef at the Marianist Residence, to offer the Marianist Family some mouth-watering recipes and cooking tips.

How does Southern Peach Yam Bake, Strawberry Fruit Salad and Bro. Leo’s barbecue burgers sound? You’ll find these recipes and cooking tips here.

Bro. Leo served as a food service manager at Marianist schools and retreat centers for 70 years and worked as a food consultant for the military and other organizations. Having grown up in St. Louis, he knew his way around the kitchen because “our family-owned three restaurants — two steakhouses and an Italian restaurant,” he says. “I never use recipes,” he says, having committed to memory the dishes and methods used in his family’s business.

His love for cooking boils down to this: “Food makes people happy. There’s no better way to be happy than to serve God and be of service to others.”

Bro. Leo is featured in the upcoming Summer 2020 edition of ALIVE magazine.

Marianist pandemic retreat team: top, left: Steve Joebgen, Bro. Mark Motz; middle: Michelle Khawam, Mike Bennett; bottom: LeeAnn Meyer and Daniel Vasquez

Ministry Team Rolls Out “Marianist Digital Retreat for a Pandemic”

It started with a simple idea: Why not use the time of sheltering in place during the coronavirus pandemic to create a digital retreat for high school and college youth?

This was the question Steve Joebgen, campus minister, Archbishop Moeller High School, put to Sr. Gabby Bibeau.

Within days, Sr. Gabby connected Steve to a team of other campus ministers that included Mike Bennett, campus minister, University of Dayton; Michelle Khawam, campus minister, Chaminade Julienne Catholic High School; LeeAnn Meyer, assistant director of Marianist strategies – student programs, University of Dayton; Bro. Mark Motz, vocation director for the Marianist Province; and Daniel Vasquez, youth and young adult minister, Holy Rosary Parish, San Antonio.

“With permission, we borrowed ideas from a similar Jesuit retreat,” says Steve. Within a month, the team wrote, edited and rolled out A Marianist Digital Retreat for a Pandemic, with a special focus on Marianist history and spirituality.

Once completed, “we realized this retreat could be of interest to anyone in the Marianist Family,” says Steve, who urges people to share it.

The retreat is designed to be completed individually or as a small group that can meet (virtually) to share in discussion, reflection and prayer.

A Marianist Moment

By Bro. David Betz

A Dream Realized!

May 25 is the Feast of Mary, Help of Christians. This day in 1816, Blessed Adèle and several of her companions traveled to Agen to start a religious community with the assistance of Blessed Chaminade and Venerable Marie Thérèse. It was a dream come true for Blessed Adèle. At a young age, she considered entering the Carmelites because she wanted to commit herself to a life of service to her God. The seeds of this desire started when she was only 4 four years old.  When she was 13, she expressed the desire again by asking to spend time in a Carmelite monastery in preparation for her Confirmation. But her friendship with Jeanne Diché, whom she met during this preparation time, led to an entirely different direction.

From their friendship, her “Association” began which grew into a large network of young women in the rural areas that surrounded the Chateau de Trenquelléon. She and fellow associates were involved with providing material goods to local families in need and religious education to young girls. Her Association eventually connected with Blessed Chaminade’s Sodality in Bordeaux. In her correspondence with Blessed Chaminade, she mentioned her desire for religious life. With the assistance from Blessed Chaminade, Blessed Adèle’s desire finally came to fruition, but it was not joining the Carmelites but being part of a new venture, The Daughters of Mary.

I would like to share with you some excerpts from Fr. Joseph Stefanelli’s book, Adèle, about the beginning of the Daughters of Mary. Read more.

Marianist Family Members in the News

The Marianist Archives in San Antonio

Province Archivist, Mary Kenney’s article, “Marianists Consolidate Province Archives in San Antonio,” was featured in the May 2020 issue of The Southwestern Archivist. The article reveals the establishment of the National Archives of the Marianist Province of the United States (NAMPUS) in San Antonio, Texas. Read the article.

Fr. George Montague: First Corinthians

Congratulation to Fr. George Montague. His commentary on First Corinthians, originally published by Baker Press, is going to be published in Polish.

Marianist Ministries in Action

Celebrating 200 Years of Marianist Education

As we conclude this month with our reflections on the bicentenary of Marianist Education, I want to thank everyone who has contributed their thoughtful words during what has been an extraordinary year of celebration on so many levels. It is fitting that we conclude with two reflections that profoundly speak of the gift of Marianist education — its breadth of influence and its ability to break through with God’s love even during a time of pandemic. Let us continue to pray for one another.

Bro. Jesse O’Neill, Assistant for Education

Being a Marianist Educator During a Pandemic
By Rev. John Thompson

Although I am currently a pastor of a Marianist parish, I always consider myself an educator. I may not be in a school setting as in the past as a teacher, campus minister, chaplain, president or assistant professor, but as a pastor, I too educate with every word, gesture, and look. Ask my parishioners, they will tell you!

Read more.

Go Home and Love your Family
By Michele Sweetmon

This time apart has been difficult for everyone. As social creatures, we have an intellectual and emotional need for the stimulation and community that others provide.

Mother Teresa instructed us that “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” Students at Gross Catholic are finding that one rainbow in the storm of COVID-19 is time with family. High school students are often so busy or distracted that family-time is pushed to the side. Read more.

When Technology Helps Advance the Mission

On April 15,  the Marianist Educational Associates (MEA) at St. Mary’s University concluded a year of formation. In addition, four new members of the faculty and staff made their public commitment. Current MEAs renewed their promise to sustain and nurture the Marianist Charism on campus.

Fr. Bill Meyer began with welcome remarks, and Fr. Tim Eden concluded with the final blessing. Dr. Jessica González Uhlig presided as the coordinator of formation while Bro. Allen Pacquing was in attendance for additional support.

The COVID-19 pandemic was not going to stop prayer and celebration together. This may be the first MEA commitment service to take place via Zoom.

Riordan’s virtual 3 O’clock Prayer

From their bedrooms, closets, hallways and other home places, students of Archbishop Riordan High School in San Francisco gathered in spirit in this virtual collaboration of the Marianist 3 O’clock Prayer last month. In need of a little inspiration? Watch now.

Pray With Us

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

Bro. Raymond Kane – undated

Bro. Raymond Kane – 2015

Bro. Raymond Kane, 81, died May 27, 2020.  Bro. Ray was a teacher and guidance counselor. He also dedicated many years in retreat ministry. He loved moderating social activities, living in community and sharing his faith with others. His obituary will appear in the next issue of FamilyOnlineSee more photos.

Fr. Larry Doersching

Fr. Larry Doersching – 2015

Fr. Lawrence Bernard Doersching, 74, died on May 27, 2020. Fr. Larry was a teacher and a high school administrator. He lived his life with great gratitude and shared his fervent faith through his work in campus ministry and retreat ministry. He believed that living a Marianist spirituality helped him perceive God’s will and to be generous in service. His obituary will appear in the next issue of FamilyOnlineSee more photos.


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 second group of 2020 Jubilarians we honor as a special section of FamilyOnline.


70 years of profession

I was born in St. Louis in 1929, the last of six children. I graduated in 1947 from South Side Catholic High School, now St. Mary’s High School. A couple of the brothers asked me to join the order, but I wasn’t interested.

Read more.


60 years of profession

I joined the Marianists because of their commitment to educate leaders for the Society and the Church. Every day of my Marianist life has offered me exciting opportunities to work on this task of educating leaders. I have found working at University of Dayton a great environment for this work. The questions and challenges of students have keep me thinking of new ways to present the ideals of Christian leadership, whether in public service, the professions or in service to the Church.

Read more.


60 years of ordination

Father James Kunes is celebrating 50 years of priesthood in the Society of Mary. He professed first vows on Aug. 22, 1948, in Beacon, N.Y., and he was ordained on July 17, 1960, in Fribourg, Switzerland.

Read more.


50 years of ordination

Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Aug. 17, 1938, I attended Catholic grade school at St. John the Evangelist in Deer Park. After graduation from eighth grade in 1953, I went to Purcell High School. During my senior year, I decided to be a priest or religious. I was attracted to both the diocesan priesthood and to the Society of Mary.

Read more.

Good to Know

Marianists Celebrate Nurses Week

The Marianists celebrated Nurses Week by honoring the nurses that care for the Marianists in our care centers. Fr. Rudy Vela, professor of community and theology at St. Mary’s University and member of the Ligustrum Community in San Antonio, Texas, says, “We pray for our nurses constantly because they are our first responders, but we wanted to do something special for them to let them know how much we truly care.” Bro. Jack Somerville, director of the Marianist Community in Cupertino, California, reports that in addition to special prayers for their nurses they decorated and shared a special meal. He says,”This was a particularly special nurses week because of the great care our nurses have taken to protect us from COVID-19. A Herculean task, indeed. We cannot thank them enough.”

Thank you to all of our Nurses!

See more photos.

From left to right: Bro. Bill Schlosser, Bro. Roger Bau, Josh, and Ethan

Governor’s Island Tree Planting for Earth Day 2020

On a cold day in April, three trees were planted around the Governor’s Island Marianist Community in Huntsville, Ohio, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.

Planting trees does more than just beautify an area. Trees are beneficial to the environment in so many ways. They help produce oxygen and filter out pollutants to clean the air. In addition, trees also help preserve water levels in the soil.

Thank you Bro. Roger Bau for sharing.  See more photos.

Happy Birthday Fr. John Leies

Several St. Mary’s University faculty, alumni and staff members wished Fr. John A. Leies a happy 94th birthday via video conference on April 24.

Susan Ferguson: Advocate and Champion for Catholic Education

Susan Ferguson, executive director for the Center for Catholic Education, will retire on May 31 after a 30-year career at University of Dayton. She served as an instructor and advisor in teacher education, first year experience coordinator, CCE director, and Marianist Educational Associate. Her passion for supporting Catholic education, educating the whole child and the Marianist charisms have been evident through all her years of service. Susan is a true servant-leader and a blessing to all that she encounters because she treats everyone with respect, support, encouragement and hospitality. She will be greatly missed by students, colleagues, community partners and educators alike, both locally and nationally. To read more about Susan  visit the Center for Catholic Education blog.

Stay in Touch


AMU Newsletter from the Association of Marianist Universities
District Update 33 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

FamilyOnline Submissions

We welcome and encourage submissions of interest to our nearly 3,400 subscribers. Please send them to Bernadette McCaffrey Groner.


Stay in touch with the Marianist Province by downloading our new mobile app!

Download your free copy today for easy access to information that supports the work of Marianist-sponsored ministries. Compatible with Apple iOS and Android devices.

Single 2018