Updates from the Monastery

Monastery Updates 9-10-23

Dear Friends:
HAPPY BIRTHDAY MARY, MOTHER OF GOD: As I write this note to you, it’s Friday morning, Sept. 8th. Before Mass, I spoke early this morning with Fr. Peter Grace on the phone. He’s a good friend. He asked if I realized it’s the feast of Mary’s Birthday. Other than Jesus, it’s only Mary and John the Baptist whose birthdays are celebrated with a special Mass. Today’s celebration of Mary’s birth is connected with Mary’s mother, St. Ann. Peter is Pastor in North Carolina of St. Ann’s Church in Clayton. It was at the basilica of St. Ann in Jerusalem, which was built near what was believed to be the home of Joachim and Ann, that the feast of Mary’s Birthday originated about the year 400. After I celebrated Mass this morning, I spent time praying and reflecting on the beautiful Mass and breviary prayers for today. We speak to Mary today and thank her in many of the prayers for Jesus and for her complete ‘Yes’ to God. Listen: “God saw her beauty and visited her in her lowliness.” “With heart and mind let us sing glory to Christ on this holy feast day of the glorious Virgin Mother of God.” “Your birth, O Virgin Mother of God, proclaims joy to the whole world, for from you arose the glorious Sun of justice, Christ our God.”  God blessed her humility and lowliness and chose her and she said “Yes.” The words of the Mass Preface sum it up: “Today, we celebrate that happy day on which the glorious and immaculate Mother of God appeared in the world like a shining star. After the sin of the first woman, there was finally opened to us the long-desired gate of life and we have been called by the Son of the Virgin Mary out of the darkness in to the joy of eternal light.” 
REGIONAL DAY – TUESDAY, Sept. 12th: Fr. Provincial has contacted all the Passionist priests and brothers in our Province which includes eastern USA, the Caribbean and several in Canada. We are all to be available on Tuesday 9-12 and 2-5 for a day of refection with him through the internet.  The day is entitled “Our Solidarity with Each Other and the World.” I will be studying the materials he has forwarded us to read. He has sent out five pages of notes and Scripture references which I will be studying this week-end. I want to be very prepared for the discussion. There are presentations scheduled to be given and references to Pope Francis’ call for a synodal Church that listens, discerns and acts in response to the challenges of today. Please note – the front door of the monastery will be open on Tuesday but no priests will be available for confessions until 1pm on Wednesday. This announcement will be made at all the Masses. We very much treasure the ministry in this house of confessions and remaining available six days a week. There will be times, like this, when there will be exceptions to our availability. Thank you for your understanding 
HOLY HOUR FOR VOCATIONS: Our monthly Holy Hour for Vocations will be on Tuesday, Sept. 19th at 7pm. We will expose the Blessed sacrament and honor the Lord with song, silence, the rosary and benediction. It is a most beautiful hour for us to be in prayer and adoration. We ask in a special way for God to bless us with vocations and especially to the Passionists both men and women. Some people tell me it is one of the most beautiful hours of the month. It is honestly the same for me. I look forward to it and get disappointed when I am not able to lead it. This month we will pray especially to Bl. Grimoaldo, CP, a young Passionist Blessed and imitator of St. Gabriel.  I knew his niece and spoke with her a number of times. She lived near Rochester, NY. St. John Paul II beatified him in 1995. Thanks for praying with us.

Gratefully in Christ, 

Fr. Justn Kerber, C.P., Rector 

Monastery Updates 9/2/2023

Dear Friends,
I returned from a two week vacation this past Wednesday. I want to share a bit of it with you. It was great. I had saved travel points over the past 10 years to take a trip for my 50th anniversary of priesthood. I never used them. I figured I better because at 78 there’s not a big window of time left! What I wanted to do was be in a Passionist setting, nothing I love more. In 2012, I was elected a delegate to our General Chapter held in Rome every 6 years. There were 80 Passionists from all over the world who were chosen to elect the Fr. General, who heads our worldwide community and stands in the place of St. Paul of the Cross. It’s about a 40day meeting. You even get to meet the Pope! One day during a break between sessions, I decided to pray at a statue of St. Paul in the garden. I felt I was being followed by one of the other delegates, Fr. Aurelio Miranda from Brazil.  At 32, he was the youngest voting member of the Chapter and had been elected to represent Brazilian Passionists. I kidded with him and asked if he were following me. He said: “Yes. I like when you speak and say things about the Eucharist and St. Paul of the Cross.” I liked what he said. It was one of the nicest things said to me. We became friends and over the years have kept in touch. He filled in when I was in Raleigh. He came here in 2018 when I first arrived. He loved Pittsburgh. I returned that visit these past two weeks. He is in between assignments and serving with two other Passionists in Colatina, Espiritu Sancto, Brazil. The 3 Passionists there have 15 Masses on the weekend! Almost everyone is Catholic. I was able to concelebrate Masses. He translated when I spoke with their youth groups. I lived with the Passionists. Fr. Aurelio could not have been a better host. I was very impressed with the holiness of that place. There were Passionist symbols all over. Kids were wearing shirts with the Passionist sign. Aurelio and I went out a few times and just talked about our beautiful vocation of being Passionist priests and what an honor it is to serve you. I bragged about you and how good the people are to us here in Pittsburgh and in North Carolina and many places we serve. How lucky we are to be Passionists and to minister to and with you. I wanted to share this with you.  Thank you for everything with my love and gratitude,
Fr. Justin Kerber, C.P., Rector

Monastery Updates 8/12/2023

Dear Friends:  I will be on vacation and away for the next two weeks. There have been many changes here and things are falling into place. We are a smaller community.  We will continue to serve you faithfully with the sacraments especially being available daily for confessions. Fr. Curtis is taking charge of the retreat house nicely. Fr. Michael Greene and he hit it off very well. We still hope to get additional community members. This past week we had the Holy Hour for Vocations. It is very beautiful – the peace, the silence, the music, the prayerfulness. We had 30 some people. Last month, when we honored Fr. Theodore, we had around 140 people! It’s one of my favorite hours of the month – looking at Jesus and Jesus looking at us. We have much for which to be grateful. God is so good to us. And thank you for being good to us.
As Passionists, the Bishop gives us permission to be in this Diocese and to have a church where people can come and pray even though we are not a parish. Bishop allows us to have public Masses on Sunday. Not all dioceses do that. We are grateful that here in Pittsburgh the Bishops have always been extra good and generous to us. When I arrived and met Bishop, he told me how much he loved having the Passionists and that he had received his vocation while making a retreat here. He thanked me for all we do. He asked me not to have baptisms, weddings or funerals in our church except for rare exceptions which he specified. He wants people to relate to their parishes and his parish priests to be near their people especially at those important times. I promised him I would be obedient.
Gratefully in Christ, Fr. Justin Kerber, CP, Rector

Monastery Updates 8/4/2023

Dear Friends,

WELCOME FR. MICHAEL GREENE, C.P.: Our Community was blessed with a new member this past week. Fr. Michael Greene has been assigned here to help in the Retreat Center. He will assist the new Director, Fr. Curtis. Fr. Michael is originally from the Bronx, NY and has been a member of various retreat teams. He worked in the radio and television apostolate in Scranton and NY. Besides his experience, he is a very nice person and a good and faithful priest. We are all quite happy that he is assigned here with us.

THIS TUESDAY-HOLY HOUR FOR VOCATIONS: Our monthly Holy Hour for Vocations will be on Aug. 8 at 7 PM. People tell me how much they appreciate that hour of prayer with Rosary and Benediction. Our Music Minister, Andrea Terlesky, always has a beautiful cantor to add to the beauty of the Hour. Our Passionist Community is not the largest in the Church. I hear several young men are applying at this time. St. Paul of the Cross had the custom of saying, “Few, but good.” I’d rather say, “Many, but good!” He also frequently said, “God sends us what we need at each moment.” Our trust is in Him.

BL. DOMINIC BARBERI, C.P.: This is a hero of mine. Born in 1792, he lived at the time of Napoleon’s attacks on the Catholic Church and suppression of religious communities. He worked as a shepherd for the uncle who raised him and was not given a formal education. It was on the hillsides that he learned to pray and, with the help of his parish priest, taught himself to read and write. It was a rough time for the Church and the Passionists. Napoleon was closing religious houses and monasteries in Italy. Dominic’s neighbor’s son was a Passionist priest who had to return home and live with his family. He invited Dominic to pray at his family’s chapel. There, Dominic experienced God calling him to be a Passionist and he had a mystical attraction to go to England. He entered the Passionists and was ordained in Rome in 1821. For the next 19 years, he shared the life and ministries of the Passionists in Italy. He taught theology and philosophy to the seminarians, regarded as an outstanding teacher and theologian. During this time, he never forgot God’s call to England and he prayed constantly for their conversion. He even learned the English language. He was elected Rector of the new monastery in Lucca and then served as Provincial. Pope Gregory XVI requested Fr. General to ask Dominic if he would be willing to establish Passionists in England: just what he had been waiting years for! He left for England in 1840 and until the end of his life worked for the conversion of the English and the establishment of the Passionist community there. He endured persecution and rejection but also had some great success. He died of a heart attack at the Reading, England train station at 3 PM, August 27, 1849.He received many English into the Catholic Church, among whom and the most famous is St. John Henry Newman, whom Pope Francis canonized in 2019. Dominic Barberi is indeed one of our heroes!

In Christ, Fr. Justin Kerber, C.P. 

Monastery Updates   7/27/2023

Dear Friends:
PASSIONIST ASSOCIATES: The Pittsburgh Community has the biggest group of Passionist Associates in the United States. There are nearly 30 and they take their connection to us seriously. They have studied our life and spirit and annually renew their commitment to assist the mission and spirit of the Passionists in Pittsburgh. They recently chose a new leader for this group, Paul Ruhl. I met with him this past week and pledged the support of the professed community here. Paul succeeds Jan Marco, who for years has led the Pittsburgh Associates to be one of the best functioning group of associates. Judy Callan oversees the formation of new Associates. Recently, we had the annual recruiting of new members. There are about 4 who will begin a discernment process in joining our Associates. I want to thank Jan Marco who for the past years has been a very capable and strong leader of the Associates in this area.
SR. OLIVE ANN, C.P.: One of the Passionist Nuns here in Pittsburgh died on Tuesday, July 25th at the age of 79. She had been ill for a long time. Mother Joyce and the sisters cared for her with such love and tenderness during the years she was here. Sr. Olive had spent many years as a 3rd grade teacher. She was happily married to Richard Schneider for 26 years. He died in 1995. She had enjoyed horseback riding, motorcycle riding, carpentry work, playing a guitar and painting. She entered St. Gabriel’s Monastery in Clarks Summit, Pa in 2002. Olive professed her Vows as a Passionist Nun in 2005. When St. Gabriel’s closed, she transferred to Our Lady of Sorrows Monastery here in Pittsburgh in 2020. Her funeral Mass and burial was at the Passionist Nuns this past Friday. I witnessed the loving care the Sisters here in Pittsburgh gave Olive over these years of her sickness. Thank you.  
FR. MICHAEL GREENE, C.P.: Fr. Provincial has assigned Fr. Michael to our community for the coming year to be especially helpful in the retreat house apostolates and the local work of the monastery. He is the Vice-Rector of our monastery in Jamaica, NY. He is scheduled to arrive August 1st. We are especially happy that he will join us.
ST. MARIA GORETTI SHRINE: I have been in contact with Jim O’Brien, our main architect, about finishing the shrine to St. Maria. That shrine is meant to be a place for praying to be chaste in all walks of life. There will be a place to kneel and visible prayers for chastity, for healing and for forgiveness. Her life teaches forgiveness and chastity. I placed a relic of Maria there that was given us in a beautifulreliquary. I hope it will be a place of consolation and strength for all.

LAUDATE SI GROUP: This group meets every other week. The recent meeting was so smooth and optimistic about how our gardens can be the means of leading us to God and contemplation. Much work is being done to preserve the natural beauty and to welcome people to see God’s beauty all around us. Paul of the Cross would tap a wild flower with his cane and say: “Hush! You speak too loudly of the beauty of God.” It was enough to lift him up in mystical prayer.
LENTEN MISSION: Plans are getting underway to have a Passionist Mission during one of the weeks of Lent. I am contacting one of our finest preachers and hoping to negotiate a full week of Passionist preaching in our church!  
WINDOW REPAIR: Mascaro Company again has come through to help us. Somehow the glass blew out of one of the circular windows far up on the façade of the church. It is quite difficult to get at. The Mascaro Company again is helping us remedy the situation. We are again so grateful.
COOK: We are still looking for a cook for the supper meal, Monday thru Thursday.
If you need information or are interested, please call me 252-375-5201. I have not been having luck finding someone to cook supper.

In Christ, Fr. Justin Kerber, C.P. 

Monastery Updates 7/21/2023

Dear Friends:
PASSIONIST ASSOCIATES INFORMATIONAL MEETING: Following the 10am Mass this Sunday, there will be an informational meeting on joining the Passionist Associates here at St. Paul’s. They are a dedicated group of lay people who share in our spirit and mission. There is a period of formation after which they strive to live our Passionist charism. 

RETREAT HOUSE PROGRAMS: Our retreat house has a variety of programs. During the summer various groups use our facility. Some parishes come with high school students for a Mission Trip. When I was pastor in North Carolina, we tried to bring our young people here. Joe Farris and leaders brought 40 to 50 high schoolers every year. It was a great spiritual experience. This past week there were around 45 students from St. Peter’s in Greenville, NC. They had many projects. I helped with confessions on Thursday night. It was beautiful. A number said: “Father, you baptized me.” or “Father you were the priest who married my parents.” I want to thank the parents in N.C. for handing on the faith well.
WE PREACH CHRIST CRUCIFIED: I was reading the minutes of the First Missionary Congress of our Passionist Community in the United States. It inspired me. It was attended by 32 Passionist missionaries, among the best preachers in our country. The meeting was held at our first monastery across the Atlantic, St. Paul of the Cross Monastery, Pittsburgh, PA, right here! The meeting opened on Thursday morning, January 25th, 1894 and closed on January 27th. Many of the participants were Pittsburghers. Of our first vocations in the new world, so many were from Pittsburgh.  Fr. Fidelis Kent-Stone was present. He was considered the Fulton Sheen of his day. Known throughout the United States as an excellent preacher, he had been a leading minister in the Episcopal Church. After the death of his wife and after his three daughters were taken care of, he became a Passionist priest and was known throughout the country as a most gifted preacher. He served as Superior in the USA, Assistant to Fr. General in Rome, Founder of the Passionists in Argentina and Chile etc. I was reading his address to the missionaries. He powerfully said to his fellow Passionists: “We are professionally promoters of devotion to the Passion of Jesus Christ. If in all else we succeed, but fail in this, our life’s work must be a failure……by a vow we freely bound ourselves to promote the devout remembrance of the Crucified.” He is considered one of the greatest Passionists in the history of the USA. At the end of his life, he asked permission to see his daughters again. (He had not been allowed to visit them as a Passionist!) He died while visiting them in California and is buried at our monastery in Missouri.
PASSIONIST VOCATIONS: Thank you for coming out this past week for the Vocations Holy Hour.  Three young men have been approved to begin their formation for Passionist life and priesthood. I feel the Holy Hour is a powerful time of prayer. Next Holy Hour will be in August!
LAUDATO SI TEAM MEETING AND WORKING: This little group is accomplishing so much. I can’t tell you how pleased I am with the beauty of nature they are providing us. I want to open our gardens more for prayer and reflection. The gardens are shaping up and we have a benefactor doing major repairs on the paths and walk ways. We have acres of property. Paul of the Cross would tap a flower and say: “ Hush! You speak too loudly of the beauty of God.” and then be lost in prayer!
PASSIONIST POSTULATOR GENERAL VISITING: The main “Saint-maker” for the Passionists, Fr. Massimo Parisi, was not allowed to be present when we had our visitors from Rome. He is not allowed to influence the proceedings when someone is up for canonization. He does the foot work but remains silent when there are interviews etc. He told me his judgement was everything went very well for Fr. Theodore. Now, he wants to see the shrine and will be here for a few days. He’s never been to the USA before. He’ll be in Pittsburgh Sept. 13 – 16.
THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR HELP – Gratefully, Fr. Justin Kerber, C.P.

Monastery Updates          7/15/2023

Dear Friends:
PASSIONIST ASSOCIATES: This weekend Passionist Associates will speak at each Mass about who they are and what they do. They are recruiting new members. They are lay people who spend close to a year in studying what it means to be a Passionist. They look at our history, charism and ministry. After a period of prayer and formation, they decide whether or not to make promises to promote Passionist values and ministry. They help us in various ways and the professed Passionists join with them in activities throughout the year. Most of all they learn the spirit and charism of St. Paul of the Cross. Several Associates will speak before each of the Masses this weekend. Next weekend following the 10a.m. Sunday Mass, there will be a meeting for anyone interested in further information in the rose garden room at 11:15. You can also call the front office for further information. We are all very grateful for our Associates!
NEW BEGINNINGS: Our Retreat House, the first laymen’s retreat house in the entire U.S.A., continues its’ work of 103 years, with the new Retreat Director, Fr. Curtis Kiddy, C.P. We received word that the Provincial will be assigning another Passionist to assist Fr. Curtis. We welcome having another Passionist here.
HOLY HOUR WITH ST. MARIA GORETTI: We celebrated her feast day this month. We will ask her to accompany us at the Vocation Holy Hour on this Tuesday at 7pm June18th. We have the beautiful shrine to her in our church. Recently, we placed a relic of Maria there. Also, I have been in contact with the architect. We plan to add prayers and a place to kneel to seek Maria’s aid in living a pure life. There will be three prayers high-lighted. A prayer to help us be pure despite all the temptations that surround us in our culture daily. Another prayer will be for healing for people who have been hurt. And a third prayer for the conversion of the offenders. St. Maria taught us to avoid anything that could be displeasing to God and to even pray for the conversion of the offenders. She prayed that Allesandro, her murderer, would be converted. At Maria’s shrine in Corinaldo, Italy, her saintly mother, Assunta, is buried on one side in the rear of the church and on the other side is buried her attacker, Assesandro. Maria prayed for forgiveness even for her murderer.  He died repentant.  
THE MISSING PICTURE:  In the sanctuary of our beautifully renovated church, are three very vauable paintings by Hildreth Meier, who is called the ‘icon of the art-deco period.’ They are nearly 100 years old and painted originally for our church in Union City, NJ, St. Michael’s. During the recent church renovations, we received a most generous grant to have them restored. They are beautiful paintings of St. Paul of the Cross as Founder, the deathbed scene of St. Gabriel and St. Gemma rapt in prayer in the midst of preparing supper. There is also 1 empty wall. I am thinking of a Theodore Foley painting as a confessor who had great devotion to Mary. His Passionist title was Fr. Theodore of Mary Immaculate.
AIR CONDITIONING AND CHURCH REPAIRS: We are about to sign a contract to have repairs done on the façade of the church. A window blew out during a strong storm, it’s to the left of the St. Paul of the Cross statue on the facade. It seems to have something to do with the paint on the ceiling peeling. We have for now put plastic there.  Also, I am looking into getting bids for air conditioning the church. I could try to raise funds.  Let me know if you favor that or not.
Gratefully in Christ, Fr. Justin Kerber, C.P.  

Monastery Updates 7/1/2023

Dear Passionists and Friends,

Our Provincial, Fr. Jim O’Shea, has asked me to report to my fellow Passionists about the recent developments in the cause for canonization of the Servant of God, Fr. Theodore Foley, C.P. He is buried in our church.  Here’s the letter I wrote. Fr. Theodore served as Superior General of our community from 1964 till his death in 1974. Before going to Rome, he had served in Pittsburgh as Rector from 1956 to 58. Because of his evident holiness,  after his death the Passionist Provincial Chapter voted overwhelmingly to propose Theodore for sainthood. For the past decades, that process has been underway. His body, originally buried in his hometown of Springfield, MA, was transferred to our church in Pittsburgh in 2009. His tomb had become a place of prayer and veneration. Every day, people are petitioning through his intercession for favors and healings. We have kept records of the hundreds of people who come to that tomb and write petitions and requests for favors and healings. There also is a place to give thanks for favors and healings received.
Fr. Massimo Parisi, C.P., who is in charge of the causes for sainthood for the Passionist Congregation, informed me that there was some movement on Fr. Theodore’s cause. His works and writings have all been examined.  No problem there. People are attesting to his holiness and others writing of favors received and prayers answered. There are even claims of healings and miraculous cures.
The diocese where a person dies sponsors the person for canonization.  Fr. Theodore died in Rome. So this past June 15th, the head of the Tribunal for the Archdiocese of Rome and a lawyer, Msgr. Giuseppe D’Alonso and Mr. Marcello Terrimani, arrived in Pittsburgh on June 18th. I met them at the airport with Fr. David Monaco, C.P., who served the entire next 8 days as interpreter.  They examined many of the papers we had and the pages of favors granted. They interviewed a number of witnesses who knew Fr. Theodore. Fr. Jerome McKenna, who had lived with Fr. Theodore six years in both the USA and Italy seems to have been a star witness. They couldn’t get over his memory and detail. He was interviewed for hours on hours.  Mrs. Dorothy Hilley, who typed for him as a young woman and helped with the bulletin in the 1950’s testified. Bro. Leo Difiore testified about the spiritual direction he gave him about becoming a Passionist Brother. Mrs. Mary Ann White and Mrs. Nancy Burke testified to favors and healings received. Fr. Vincent Boney was unable to travel. They asked me to please come up with another witness who had known him and spoken with him. I told them I had met him two or three times. That sufficed and I was able to give testimony as to his holiness and the esteem with which he is held by our brethren.  They traveled up to the Passionist Nuns. Low and behold – a 2nd star witness emerged. Sr. Mary Ann remembered him coming and speaking to them on the renewal and called them to move with the church as the new Rule came out. She rivaled Jerome McKenna for keenness of memory.  We had our monthly Holy Hour for Vocations which we dedicate to a different holy Passionist each month. We prayed this June to Theodore for vocations. The Visitors came. More people showed up than at Sunday Mass! The Music Director was magnificent.  They took pictures and heard from the people of our love and esteem for Fr. Theodore.  They seemed very pleased with everything and the wonderful reception they received. They returned to Rome. Subsequently, I am hearing of people wanting to attest to some major healings and favors received. I think Fr. Theodore’s cause will advance.
Keep it in your prayers. I can attest he answers prayers.                       
With deep gratitude and esteem,  Fr. Justin Kerber, C.P., Pittsburgh, PA    

Monastery Updates       6/17/2023

Dear Friends:
FEAST OF THE SACRED HEART: This past Friday was the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Sacred Heart is the title of the parish where I was baptized, confirmed, attended school, said my first Mass and so on. This devotion developed in the Church. The Heart of Jesus has always been seen as the symbol of God’s love. In the Old Testament, God’s love is described to be like that of a parent for a child or a husband for a wife. In the New Testament, we adore and love the tender pierced heart of Jesus from which flows living waters. In the 1600’s, St. Margaret Mary and St. Claude de la Colombiere through their prayer, writings and visions helped the Sacred Heart of Jesus become an object of personal devotion and eventually a celebration and feast. The Sacred Heart of Jesus is filled with love to meet every need. At the feast day Mass this past Friday, was assigned a reading from Deuteronomy for the first reading. It’s one of my favorites. I prayed over it the night before the feast: “It is not because you are the greatest of all peoples that God set his heart on you, it is because He loves you.” I think that is one of the most beautiful lines in all of Scripture. God loves me because he chooses to love me. It is never because of anything we have or haven’t done. His love is greater than any human love. He chooses to love me and hold me to His Sacred Heart. We are called to rest in that love. That’s beautiful prayer.
FR. DONALD WARE RECIEVES NEW ASSIGNMENT: Our Pittsburgh Community is certainly changing. Fr. Curtis became Retreat Director this week. We also received word that Fr. Donald has been assigned to our Scranton Monastery. Fr Provincial has asked him to work at setting up a new type of program for the monastery. Recently, a diocesan priest was appointed Pastor and the Provincial wants to offer Passionist programs from the monastery. Donald served several terms as Vicar here and has led the Passionist Associates and been a member of the Retreat team. He is often in the front parlor helping in that ministry. He is very well known to so many Pittsburghers.  Thank him for his ministry and wish him well in Scranton.
ARRIVAL OF MEMBERS OF THE ROMAN TRIBUNAL: Members of the Roman Tribunal are arriving on Monday evening to investigate the cause of Fr. Theodore Foley for sainthood. The former General also served as Rector of this monastery before going to Rome to lead the world-wide Passionists. He was always thought of as an excellent holy Passionist. Since his death in 1974, he has been considered for sainthood. His cause for canonization was opened in Rome and his body was transferred here and entombed in our church. Many favors are reported to have been granted through his intercession and even claims of cures are now being noted. The Diocese of Rome where he died is sponsoring the movement toward his being considered for sainthood. This week people who are still living will attest to his holiness and others will attest to favors and cures that were thought to have come from his intercession. People who lived and worked with him are coming here to give testimony. Please keep this in your prayers. He was a great man and has been always held as very saintly among the Passionists of the U.S.A.

 MONTHLY HOLY HOUR: We will have our monthly Holy Hour for Passionist vocations this coming Tuesday from 7 to 8. The usual benediction, rosary and prayers. We will pray this month especially to Fr. Theodore to encourage young men in a Passionist Vocation. I know God hears these prayers. I will invite the Monsignor and Judge coming from Rome to be with us this night. I ask the Passionist Associates to try to be present. As I was writing this bulletin message. I received a call from a young man with whom I have been talking and have met with over past year about being a Passionist. He called to tell me he received application papers, after having met with our Vocation Director, to enter the formation program to be a Passionist. He said he is one of three who are applying. Keep your prayers up and come to the Holy Hours. Thank you so much. Through the intercession of Fr. Theodore, may God grant us holy vocations.
With much gratitude for all your help, Fr. Justin Kerber, C.P., Rector

Monastery Updates 6/10/2023

Dear  Friends:
A little update: This is the week Fr. Curtis takes over leadership of the at House. I pledge him all our support and help. The gardens are being beautified and the Laudato Si group is helping  that happen. What I most want to say is this Sunday is a beautiful feast:  Corpus Christi  -  The Body of Christ – The Blessed Sacrament.  Like Paul of the Cross and Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows, we, Passionists, when we entered the monastery were given a new name with a title that was especially meaningful. I received Justin of the Blessed Sacrament. Corpus Christi is a special feast for me.
BEAUTIFUL FEAST OF CORPUS CHRISTI: I remember Fr. Augustine Paul, our Novice Master, speaking to us one day on St. Paul of the Cross’ great devotion to the Eucharist. Fr. Gus said St. Paul once said: “If God were one day to give me the grace to fully understand the gift of the Eucharist, you would find me dead of love and grief at the foot of the altar.”  He meant that understanding  God’s love for us and how He wants to be with us our hearts would bust for love of him. We would grieve that we had loved him inadequately in return. And ‘at the foot of the altar’ because the altar is where we offer sacrifice and we would sacrifice ourselves fully for Him.  What a beautiful reflection! God wants to be with me. God comes into my heart under the appearance of bread. Everyday of our lives, we can receive Him and be one with him. If we really understood that, there would be no room in our churches!
THE CAUSE FOR CANONIZATION OF FR. THEODORE FOLEY: Fr. Theodore was born in Springfield, MA in 1913. He entered the Passionists as a young boy of 14. He took his vows as a Passionist, finished the various studies and was ordained a priest in 1940. He pursued a doctorate in theology from Catholic University in Washington.  He taught our seminarians and was a beloved teacher and director. In the 1950’s, he was elected Rector of this monastery in Pittsburgh. He was beloved by many. He didn’t drive but took the street car to visit the sick and bring them Holy Communion. The communities where he lived regarded him as an excellent superior, very gentle and loving in his leadership.  He wrote a short biography of himself when he was elected General in which he spoke of the beauty of being in the Pittsburgh house. Because of the amount of confession here, he called it a “refugium peccatorum ” - a refuge for sinners.  He was elected Rector of this Pittsburgh Monastery at the Provincial Chapter of 1956. He was called to Rome to serve Fr. General as Consultor for English speaking Passionists. He, himself, was elected Fr. General, head of the Passionists in 1964. He served with the Bishops as a Father of the Second Vatican Council. He was re-elected General and was looked upon as a very holy and spiritual leader after the model of St. Paul of the Cross. He died in Rome after returning from visitation of Passionist missions in Indonesia having contracted a virus. His remains are entombed in our church. Immediately after his death he was proposed for sainthood.
MEMBERS OF THE ROMAN TRIBUNAL COMING TO PITTSBURGH: June 19 -25 officials will be with us to hear statements and testimonies regarding the holiness of Fr. Theodore. People are being scheduled to meet with them.  This visitation will bring to a close the diocesan process which has been in process for the past years.  Fr. Jerome McKenna will fly in. He lived 6 years with Fr. Theodore.  Fr. Theodore’s  secretary has been located and she will give testimony. Bro. Leo DiFiore is also scheduled. If you wish to speak to the officials about him or exceptional favors received, please contact me. Lastly, I will hold the monthly Holy Hour for Vocations on Tuesday, June 20th at 7pm and pray to Fr. Theodore that night. Could our friends and especially the Passionist Associates make an effort to come that night? You will also meet the members of the tribunal. Thanks so much.
With much gratitude for all your kindness, Fr. Justin Kerber, C.P.

Monastery Updates 6/2/2023

Dear Friends:
JUNE AND THE MARTYRS: Following the great feast of Pentecost (we celebrated last Sunday), the month of June is filled with the feasts of Saints who were martyrs. We wore red vestments last Sunday for the pouring forth of the fire of the spirit. Now, during daily Masses in June, we wear red again because we celebrate many martyrs who shed their blood for Christ. We see RED for the fire of the Spirit and RED for the blood of martyrs. June 1st was St. Justin the Martyr, a brilliant philosopher and theologian, who shed his blood in 165. We have the actual court transcript wherein Justin affirms his loyalty to Christ which led to his martyr’s death. Then the 2nd, 3rd and 5th of June – all feasts of martyrs. Sts. Marcellinus, a priest, & Peter, an exorcist, martyred in 303. June 3rd we celebrate the 22 Ugandan Martyrs, Charles Lwanga and his companions. They remained faithful to the Church as the King tried to stamp out Christianity. They were court pages martyred in 1886 faithful to Christ and not to the king’s sexual demands. June 5th is the feast of St. Boniface, Apostle to Germany. Martyred there in 754. We honor on June 22nd, St. Thomas More, a lawyer, and St. John Fisher a bishop, the two hero martyrs for standing up to Henry VIII. Their heads were placed on London Bridge to scare those loyal to the Pope. Their example inspired more. June 28th is the feast of St. Irenaeus, Bishop Martyr of Lyons, put to death in 200 for his fidelity. The  Pillars of the Church, Peter and Paul, are celebrated on June 29, both of whom shed their blood for Christ in Rome around the year 67. Peter was crucified but upside down, feeling unworthy to die as Jesus did. Lastly, June 30th is the celebration of the first martyrs of the Church of Rome. The Emperor Nero hated the Christians and blamed a fire in Rome on them in the year 64. He rounded up 979 Christian and put them to death. Many were burt alive or thrown to the wild beasts. Christians were used as human torches. We honor those who had the honor to shed their blood for Christ.
PRESENTATION ON ST. PAUL OF THE CROSS:  There is a wonderful group of lay people here – the Passionist Associates. They help us in many ways and dedicate themselves to our Passionist spirit and charism. There is a new group of people preparing to join these Associates. One aspect of their training is studying the life and spirit of St. Paul of the Cross. I have been asked to give a presentation for them on the life of Paul of the Cross. I will show a video of his life and ministry. If you would be interested in knowing more about our founder, St. Paul, you are welcome to attend this presentation. It’s Thursday, June 8th.  Come to the front door of the Monastery office by 6:15pm. The presentation will be shown in the old monastery library. All are welcome.
VISITORS FROM ROME: During the week of June 18th, we are expecting a visit from some officials from the Archdiocese of Rome. The President of the Roman Tribunal and one of the Vicar Generals are expected. They are coming to look into the progress of the  cause of canonization for Fr. Theodore Foley who is buried in our church.  Fr. David Monaco, C.P. will serve as the interpreter. He speaks English/Italian. Those giving testimony are: Fr. Jerome McKenna, C.P. who lived 6 years with Fr. Theodore in both the U.S.A. and Italy, Mrs. Dorothy Hilley, who as a young girl served at this monastery as a secretary to Fr. Theodore, Bro. Leo DiFiore who knew Father while Leo was a high school student discerning a Passionist Vocation. I may have the monthly Holy Hour for Vocations that Tuesday evening and have Fr. Theodore as the Passionist whose help we are seeking. I’ll keep you posted. If we have a service in the evening, I will alert everyone. Theodore died in Rome. The Diocese where you died is the usual diocese supporting the canonization.
FR. CURTIS BACK FROM VACATION: Fr. Curtis took his vacation early. We have missed him. He will be back by the end of the week and ready to go. Fr. Gerald hands over the reins of the retreat house officially on June 15th. He has led our retreat house for 16 years. That’s longer than anyone in its 105-year history. Congratulations to both!
LOOKING FOR MONASTERY COOK:   We are looking to hire a cook to prepare and serve the evening meal for 6 - Monday through Thursday. We need someone reliable and capable and if you are interested, please call me at 252-375-5201.
Gratefully in Christ, Fr. Justin Kerber, C.P., Rector

Monastery Updates 5/28/2023

Dear Friends:
THE PENTECOST MESSAGE FOR US: Pentecost is a great feast of encouragement and hope. That’s not where we are right now in our world. We are weary of political fighting and discouraged that our Catholic values are not being upheld. We are afraid of what our young people are being taught and frightened that some of our basic beliefs are being ignored. Is Christianity being abandoned?   John, the Apostle, wrote his gospel around the year 95 to people who were experiencing the same sort of things. They were frightened and losing heart! John was the last living Apostle. The other evangelists had written their accounts 25 years earlier. John is now compelled to give his gospel because of what was happening in the church of his time. Those Christians were discouraged, losing hope, feeling let down. Was it all falling apart? John was the last living Apostle, the last eye-witness to Christ. What happens when he dies? It would be an awful state without him. Who would guarantee the orthodoxy of what was preached? How would the faith remain intact? They were frightened that it would all fall apart. A second disappointment: Jesus said he would return a second time. They had waited long, nearly 60 years! Jesus made them a promise. Would he not keep his word? Why hadn’t Jesus returned? John alleviates these fears by telling them about Jesus’ promises and the sending of the Holy Spirit. He develops a theology of the Holy Spirit, the only place in all the Gospels. The Spirit sent at Pentecost would be their hope. The Paraclete who led the Apostles in their witness to Jesus will be with the Church until the end of time. Don’t be afraid. The Paraclete will lead you along the lines of truth. The Paraclete, the Spirit of Jesus, will direct your children. He is with us and those we love. Jesus never abandons us. Jesus is with us even now as we go through political squabbling and confusion.  Be filled with hope. He never abandons us. Pentecost 2023! He will keep us faithful to the truth and to the One who is the Truth – Jesus Christ. God never abandons his people.
LAUDATO SI GROUP: I had a call from our Provincial, who is a big fan of Pope Francis and his encyclical on creation and the environment. He had asked all the Superiors to set up a team to work at their particular Passionist location and begin implementing the vision Pope Francis gives for creation and care for our world. The group has been working and praying and caring about what we do here. They have had wonderful ideas, shown a film and invited knowledgeable people to speak. They have initiated various steps so that our acres of land are treasured and proclaim the beauty of God. Fr. Jim expressed congratulations for the leadership our house has shown. I told him to thank Rose Ann Lord especially for her competence and her leadership!
PASSIONIST NUNS: One of the nicest things about being in Pittsburgh is we are near a convent of Passionist Nuns and serve as chaplains to the community by saying Mass for them each day. We take turns and I consider it an honor to celebrate there. Each year they have a retreat prior to Pentecost. Mother Joyce asked if I would preach it this past week. I agreed but wished they had gotten someone better. Their Masses are beautiful and not rushed, always beautiful singing. I shared my heart with them for the five. Gave a little homily each day at Mass and then afterwards a longer talk. I covered the Spirit of the Passionist Nuns, a little workshop on Scripture, a talk on Holiness and the Saints, showed a slide presentation on the life of St. Paul of the Cross. The last day from St. Teresa of Avila’s Interior Castle – “God wants us to know our misery and He is King.” I was happy to be with them. They inspire me and give me much more than I could give them. Pray for the Sisters and pray for vocations.
Gratefully in Christ, Fr. Justin Kerber, C.P., Rector  

Monastery Updates     5/21/2023

Dear Friends:
THESE ARE NOVENA DAYS: Jesus died on a Friday – Good Friday. Rose from the dead on the following Sunday. We call it Easter. He walked among his friends. Came to them in bodily form. It was not a ghost. He ate with them. Ghosts don’t eat. He instructed them, forgave them, broke bread with them, shared in their work as fishermen – shared the Eucharist! Reassured them. Loved them. And forty days later on a Thursday, he led them out and commissioned them to go forth and preach the Gospel to all the world. He assured them of his presence and on that Thursday ascended into the heavens. He told them to wait for his special gift. For nine days the 11 Apostles stayed with Mary and prayed. A nine-day period of prayer! (We call it a novena.) Then on the 50th day after Easter, as they were praying, the Holy Spirit came upon them.  Jesus was true to His Word. He would not leave them orphans. That Sunday, the first Pentecost, buildings shook and a tremendous noise of wind was heard and people came out of their houses, flames of fire appeared over the heads of Mary and Peter, Andrew, James, John, Thomas, James, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Simon and Jude. They spoke in foreign tongues and everyone understood. It was the beginning of the church. No longer were they afraid. No longer would they cower. They were on fire with love for Christ and his message and would now go to the ends of the earth out of love for Jesus and His Gospel. They would shed their blood over the next decades in far off lands as they planted the Gospel. These are the beautiful events we celebrate these liturgical weeks. This week we are in the nine-day period of prayer awaiting with Mary the Spirit of Jesus to implant in our hearts courage, devotion and love. Be faithful and know God will not be outdone in generosity.
FR. THEODORE’S CAUSE BEING FURTHER INVESTIGATED! Beginning June 19, a delegation from Rome will arrive to investigate further the cause of canonization for the Servant of God, Fr. Theodore Foley. He was Rector here in the 1950s’ and died in Rome in 1974 after serving over 10 years as Superior General of the Passionists. He was noted for exceptional holiness and kindness. The visitors will meet some people who knew Father Theodore including Fr. Jerome McKenna and Dorothy Hilley, who served in secretarial duties when Father was Rector here. I am convinced that God will raise him up as an example of priestly holiness all of us.
LOST AND FOUND: True story. For my 50th of ordination celebration I had prepared a speech to give after the dinner. I was going to read a letter Fr. Theodore wrote me personally from Rome in May of 1972. He spoke to me kindly about being a Passionist priest. It was a beautiful letter that I received from a saint addressed to me personally. I brought it to the reception and placed it with the speech on the lectern to read at the end of the dinner. Somehow it got misplaced and I never saw it again. I prayed all these months for it to reappear. A few days before Easter, 8 months later, I was praying to Fr. Theodore for a special intention in the back of the church. Nobody was there so I talked out loud to him at his tomb. “Theodore, please grant this prayer I ask. Forget the letter. I had begged you to find that. I don’t need it. Forget it.”  Two days later, Holy Thursday morning, a telephone call: “Are you Fr. Justin Kerber?” I answered “Yes.” We have found in a shopping bag in a linen closet an old letter of yours.” They dropped it off that night in the church, Holy Thursday, during adoration. I knew. That’s enough.  
LAUDATO SI GROUP MOVING AHEAD: Meets this week under the competent guidance of Rose Ann Lord. Steadily and surely, we have been moving ahead discussing issues and planning. We are now working in our garden. We hope to continue and to integrate ideas about stewardship. Work has begun in sections of the garden where we are treasuring God’s gifts and preserving our resources. There is a Passionist program coming out on the internet that we are hoping to discuss and study along with the garden work. I am pleased with the progress we are making. We have other plans, too.
Gratefully in Christ, Fr. Justin Kerber, C.P.

Monastery Updates 5/12/2023

Dear Friends:
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY:  To all the mothers that attend our services – Masses, Novena, Holy Hours – Happy Mother’s Day. It is with deep gratitude that we offer our prayers for you today. Mary, Our Blessed Mother, is honored today all throughout our church. The Altar Guild ordered special flowers for the main altar.  Also, flowers have been placed before the beautiful statue of Our Lady up front. They represent the love we bring to Mary for all of her motherly care over the years. We, Passionists, ask Mary to bless each of you by bringing you closer to the heart of her Son. Mary appeared to St. Paul of the Cross and directed him to found a community in the Church that would love and appreciate especially her Son’s Passion and Death. These Passionists would stand with his Mother at the foot of the Cross and ‘Listen to His Love.’ Please pray to Our Mother that we will always be faithful and that God will call forth young people to stand with Mary and love her Son.
NEWS FROM THE POSTULATOR GENERAL: The Postulator is an assistant to Fr. General who deals with promoting the causes of Passionists for sainthood. Our current one is Fr. Massimo Parisi.  We have 7 Passionist Saints, 34 Passionist Blesseds, 15 Passionist Venerables and 5 Servants of God. The large number of Blesseds is because an entire community of 27, mostly young Passionist seminarians, were martyred in Spain in 1936 for refusing to deny their faith. Fr. Theodore Foley, buried in our church, has been declared a Servant of God. He served in Rome as General Superior.  Prior to that, he served here as Rector in the 1950’s. Because of a number of favors received and his reputation for holiness a delegation is coming from Rome to investigate further. They should be here the week of June 19th. They want to speak with people who lived with him. I have informed those who knew him and hopefully most will be able to come and testify. We will have a prayer service in his honor those days. Hopefully, his cause will be advanced to the next steps. I remember as a seminarian sitting next to him and I have a letter he wrote me from Rome when I was ordained. I am greatly honored to help advance his cause for sainthood.
FR. CURTIS KIDDY APPOINTED NEW RETREAT DIRECTOR:  About two weeks ago, we received word from Fr. Provincial that he was appointing Fr. Curtis Kiddy of this community as the new Retreat Director of St. Paul of the Cross Retreat House effective June 15th. We were pleased with that appointment because we know how well Fr. Curtis has been received these past years as a member of the retreat team. Fr. Curtis is a dedicated priest and faithful Passionist. We know he will continue the dedicated work of Fr. Gerald and all the generous Passionists who have served in this retreat house for over 100 years.
THANKS TO FR. GERALD  LABA FOR 16 YEARS OF LEADERSHIP:   We want to thank Fr. Jerry for 16 years of leadership to our retreat house. He stressed its Passionist identity. For all the good things he did we are grateful. Especially bringing it through the covid crisis that actually closed down many places, his steady and steadfast hand pulled it through. Today it is flourishing in a renewed and renovated facility much more accommodating. We will have a celebration for him at a later time when we can thank him personally.
MAY 16  - FEAST OF ST. GEMMA GALGANI: Our community cherishes St. Gemma as one of our own. Her spiritual director was a Passionist, Venerable Fr. Germano. St. Gabriel Possenti appeared to her and called her his sister placing the Passionist Sign over her heart. Born in 1878 near Lucca, Italy, she dedicated herself to meditation on the Passion of Jesus. She was orphaned but welcomed into the home of a deeply Christian family. Her desire was to enter the Passionist Nuns. It was never realized because of poor health and the publicity surrounding her extraordinary graces. She distinguished herself as an exceptional exemple of holiness in the world. She had visions, the stigmata, the wounds of Jesus at times visible on her body. She died at Lucca on Holy Saturday, April 11th 1903 at the age of 25. She predicted before her death that the Passionist Nuns would open a convent in Lucca and said: “The Passionists will have me in death.” In 1905, a Convent of Passionist Nuns was opened in Lucca. Gemma’s body was removed from the parish cemetery and placed beneath the main altar in 1923, where it is venerated by the Passionist Nuns and thousands of pilgrims who come each year and pray at her shrine. Pius XII declared her a Saint in 1940. We will honor our Sister at Mass on Tuesday.
In Christ, Fr. Justin Kerber, C.P., Rector 

Monastery Updates     5/7/2023

Dear Friends:
HOLY HOUR FOR VOCATION THIS TUESDAY:  At 7pm on May 9th, we will have the monthly Holy Hour for vocations. We pray especially for our community that God will send us dedicated young people to follow the vision of St. Paul of the Cross. The Passionist Nuns in Carrick are always faithfully remembered. It is a beautiful Eucharistic Holy Hour. I look forward to it each month. I understand there are several young men hoping to make application soon. One of them I have been speaking regularly with over the past year and a half. This month I am asking St. Paul of the Cross to assist us specially. He called the Blessed Mother the real founder of our community. Passionists stand with Mary at the foot of the Cross. I expect her to renew our community and send new members to stand with her at the Cross of Jesus. Come pray with us for that intention.
LAUDATO SI TEAM:  It has taken a good part of a year for us to find our way. It seems to me we are heading in the right direction: not to waste but to conserve and treasure and find God in the beauty of creation. Rose Ann Lord, who leads us, has a beautiful understanding of the encyclical and the goodness of creation. We are moving ahead to do concrete things here on our property to respect God’s gifts, to foster prayer and awe in the presence of God. There’s a beautiful story in the life of St. Paul of the Cross. He was an old man and still General of the Congregation. He was doing a final visitation of the communities and was visiting one Passionist house south of Rome. He had bouts of sciatica and arthritis and walked in the garden with a cane. In the garden, a beautiful wild flower caught his attention. He was seen tapping it with his cane and saying: “Hush! Hush! You speak too loudly of the beauty of God.” After an hour, the priest in charge of the seminarians told one of them to go and bring the old man in. He was lost in prayer at God’s beauty in that simple flower!
OUR ALTAR GUILD: These women have done a great job in keeping the church and sacristy supplied and clean and all in order for the liturgical seasons and feast days. I have also given them some reflections after Communion breakfasts. We talked about scripture and the theology of the Eucharist and the Mass. Their dynamic leader, Jane Conner, is recuperating after an auto accident. I have brought her communion. We await her full recovery. That group has become so very helpful for the smooth running of our services. Thank you so much.
FR. THEODORE FOLEY:  Visitors from Rome are scheduled to be here some time after July 4th. They are going to interview some of the last living witnesses to the holiness of Fr. Theodore. Fr. Massimo Parisi, C.P. and one of the Vicars from the Archdiocese of Rome plan arriving a few days after the 4th. They will be talking about the next steps in Fr. Theodore’s canonization. There are tons of papers of favors granted. There are, however, all sorts of conditions necessary for an authentic cure. The cause is moving ahead!
VOCATION NEWS: I don’t have much information on this. I just know the young fellow with whom I speak is hoping to apply for this fall. He very much appreciated the Vocation program recently at our New York Community and was impressed with some others interested in the Passionists
EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS:  I led several 12 day pilgrimages to Italy “In the Footsteps of St. Paul of the Cross.” I made a video of the highlights – Ovada, Monte Argentario, Vetralla, Rome. I am planning on preparing a presentation for the Altar Guild and would be glad to share it with others. Let me know.
With much gratitude for all your goodness to us, 

Fr. Justin Kerber, C.P., Rector

Monastery Updates        4/29/2023

Dear Friends:
This coming week has important feast days. Monday is St. Joseph the Worker. We also celebrate the feast of two of the twelve Apostles, Philip and James. There is another very important saint whose feast is this Tuesday, St. Athanasius of Alexandria.  Even in his own time, he was seen as a great defender of the Church. It is with good reason that his statue was placed by Bernini along with those of Ambrose, Augustine and John Chrysostom, the four holy Doctors of the Church, that surround the chair of St. Peter in the magnificent apse of the St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican. Athanasius was ‘the champion of the Incarnation’, Jesus truly God and man. This at a time when the Arian Heresy was ripping the church apart, saying that Jesus was not truly God and man. Athanasius defended the 4th Gospel teaching: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Having been made Bishop of Alexandria in Egypt in 328 at the death of Bishop Alexander, it was left to Athanasius to defend the Faith against the heretics. It was not easy. He became Bishop at the age of 31 and for the next 45 years was fighting the Arians. He was sent into exile for a total of 18 years. I remember when we were studying Patristics – the Fathers of the Church, Fr. Victor Hoagland told us that the theology of the 2nd Eucharistic Prayer is so much in line with the thought and theology of St. Athanasius on the Incarnation.  Athanasius is the impassioned theologian of the 4th Gospel “The Word became Flesh and dwelt among us.” I remember that to this day. When I celebrate Mass and use the 2nd Eucharistic Prayer. I try to remember exactly what is happening. “Let your Spirit come upon these gifts to make them holy so that they may become for us the body and blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ.”  The same Spirit that came upon Mary to make the Lord present! Wow! The Word is becoming flesh under the appearance of bread and stretching out his arms on the Cross to save the world. That’s what Athanasius defended and was willing to undergo persecution and exile to defend. A mystery of faith that we proclaim at each Mass! May St. Athanasius help you and I to appreciate as he did the tremendous gift of Jesus in the flesh and under the appearance of bread and wine.   

With much gratitude, Fr. Justin Kerber, C.P.  

Monastery Updates 4/23/23

Dear Friends:
WAITING FOR THE HOLY SPIRIT: There’s 50 days between our celebration of Easter and Pentecost. Jesus rose from the dead. Walked again among his disciples. Ascended into heaven from where, He poured forth the Holy Spirit upon the Church.  Then what he commissioned His Apostles to do happened. They preached the Gospel and spread it to the ends of the earth. By the year 63, Peter and Paul are preaching in Rome. The Gospel has reached what was considered the center of the universe: Rome. They have followed Jesus instruction to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth. It is there they shed their blood for Christ. The Apostles have been faithful to what Jesus commissioned them to do.. “Go into the whole world and preach the Gospel.” The readings at Mass these weeks after Easter are pretty much daily including stories of the spread of the Gospel throughout the world. All these days, the readings and stories are often taken from ‘The Acts of the Apostles.’ I love that section of the bible written by St. Luke. Actually, Luke wrote one book – 52 chapters long. It was divided in half when placed in the Bible. 24 chapters on the life of Jesus (his gospel) and 28 chapters about the works of the Apostles (Acts). Luke was not an Apostle or even a Jew. Luke was a doctor and a gentile friend of St. Paul. He presents many of Jesus parables. Many believe Luke met Mary and so can recount in his gospel Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem. Luke presents Jesus’ love for the poor and the forgotten. He presents the tenderness and compassion of Jesus and His special care for women. It is so astounding to realize when reading Luke’s Acts of the Apostles that 11, mostly uneducated fishermen, not theologians or canon lawyers or linguists at a time where there was no telephone, television, computers. Yet they could convert the world through the power of the Holy Spirit!  It is so encouraging. When we look at our world today and things that are being proposed. We wonder have people forgotten Jesus and the way of life he calls us to. We know in the end. Jesus will prevail. We have the same Spirit poured forth at Pentecost. We have the same Spirit that led the Apostles. We have the Spirit of Jesus who will keep us faithful to cherishing all life. We have the same Spirit that led the Apostles and kept them faithful. Come Holy Spirit! Pentecost is May 28th! Come Holy Spirit. Fill the hearts with the fire of your love.  
WAITING FOR VISITORS:  Fr. Massimo Parisi is scheduled to come from Rome. He is the “Saint-maker” and overseeing the canonization process for Fr. Theodore Foley, C.P.    There is some movement on Fr. Theodore’s cause. Keep praying and let us know of favors granted. I am hearing of favors and several cures reported.
VOCATIONS HOLY HOUR: This Tuesday at 7pm we will have an hour of prayer with exposition of the Blessed Sacrament for Vocations especially to the Passionists. We will pray to St. Paul of the Cross for help. I am talking to a young man who is discerning a vocation. He recently made a retreat up at our Monastery in New York. He told me there were a few other young men on the retreat. Pray God will give us strong holy young Passionists.
‘LAUDATO SI’ TEAM:  There were ten in attendance for a meeting on April 18th. Roseann Lord led the meeting. I gave a tour of the beautiful monastery grounds. Roseann gave a handout with information about St. Paul of the Cross’ love of the natural world and the Passionist commitment to Pope Francis encyclical, Laudato si. We reviewed our Mission Statement. We had a discussion on enhancing the monastery gardens to create a more inviting meditative space. A number of the members had considerable gardening experience. Several acquired the title of Master Gardener from Penn State. They will meet with Rusty Wilcox. There will be an annual cleanup of the grounds in May. Everyone had excellent suggestions for enhancing our place. There was much enthusiasm and energy and we ended the meeting very positively. Pope Francis put it: “Teach us to discover the worth of each thing, to be filled with awe and contemplation, to recognize we are profoundly united with every creature as we journey towards your infinite light. Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle for justice, love and peace.”
With much gratitude, Fr. Justin Kerber, C.P.                                                                                                

Easter Greetings 4/9/2023

Dear Friends:
HAPPY EASTER WITH GRATITUDE: To all of you I send our sincere wishes for a happy and very holy Easter. Special thanks go to those who have contributed to the beautiful services we had this week. The Music Ministry, the Altar Guild, our employees and staff, Associates, lectors, servers, ministers and each of you. Thank you for helping us celebrate God’s love during this Holy Week. Thursday was a celebration of the gift of priesthood and the Eucharist. Pope Francis spoke to priests that day. He told us to be “peacemakers and ministers of God’s mercy. Don’t live double lives and always be ministers of God’s mercy. Don’t be bureaucrats looking for perks and privileges. Don’t be yearning for the Church of the past or become discontented old bachelors. Rather always be welcoming and loving. Fix your gaze on Jesus. He will give you graces for the good of the faithful. Thank God for everything. Avoid worldliness, worrying about numbers and the efficiency of programs.”   Wow! Such good advice! Friday, we walked from Gethsemane to Calvary with Him. Prayed with Him and loved Him. St. Paul of the Cross always said “Listen to His Love” and especially as you gaze on the Cross. We have done that. We are over- whelmed that God loves us so much. Let us return that love. Alleluia! He conquered death and came back to life and awaits us in heaven.
GOOD NEWS FROM ROME: This past week I had a series of messages from our Postulator General in Rome regarding the cause for canonization of Fr. Theodore Foley. Fr. Massimo Parisi is that Passionist priest. He oversees causes for canonization of deceased Passionists. He will be coming to St. Paul’s with officials from the Holy See to check on the progress of the cause of Fr. Theodore. They should be here around June. They will be speaking to some of the remaining witnesses who knew Father. They will question them about his holiness and what they witnessed as people who knew him. We have recorded many favors granted and petitions asked. I think all of Fr. Theordore’s writings have been gone over at this point. It would seem that the Holy See would like to put forth examples of great holiness in the priesthood. Fr. Theodore certainly fits the bill. I remember one time sitting next to him when I was a professed student and felt so honored even then to be near a man who was regarded as a man of such great holiness. I hope one day St. Paul of the Cross Church will also be known as the Shrine of St. Theodore, Passionist!  Pray for this and spread devotion to him. Thank you and Happy Easter!
Gratefully in Christ, Fr. Justin Kerber, C.P.  

Holy Week Updates 4/4/2023

Dear Friends:

LAUDATO  SI GROUP:  The Laudato si group met this past week on Tuesday. It is coming together. Rose Ann Lord is a wonderful leader. We are still trying to clearly define our role and what best to do. Rose has a lot of experience with respecting the gifts of the earth, building gardens and has been studying the documents. The group is beginning to focus on our gardens and how we can best use them and treasure them showing respect for God’s creation. We are hoping to make our property more available for prayerfulness and being in the presence of God.
Fr. THEODORE FOLEY: It is pretty much set that in the next couple months the Postulator General for the Passionists, Fr. Massimo Parisi, will come to Pittsburgh with diocesan officials from Rome. They will speak to some of the last living witnesses who knew Fr. Theodore. All Father’s writings and letters have been examined. Things are lining up nicely. Above all, we need a miracle, that can be verified as such, with no other explanation than divine intervention. Fr. Theodore is now called “Servant of God.” Next step is “Venerable.”  I was asked to line up four witnesses who knew him to be interviewed. Two are here in Pittsburgh. I am telling you these things because there seems to be movement on his cause for canonization. Please continue writing in the books back by his tomb - favors requested and favors granted.
KEEP HOLY WEEK HOLY:  Waving palm branches and then listening to the reading of the Passion, we begin Holy Week today, the most beautiful week of the year. On Palm Sunday, we wave branches for our King and then kneel during the Gospel as he dies a horrible painful death nailed to a Cross. You can bring Palm Branches home to display in your house and remind you of this important week. We will have Tenebrae (morning prayer) at 9a.m. in the church - Wed., Thurs., Fri.  Thursday is the day of the Last Supper. Mass that day, only in the evening, commemorates the gift of the Eucharist. During it will be the Foot Washing as Jesus did on that night. He shows us love for him must prove itself in service to one another even to stooping to wash feet. We recall how that night he gave us the Eucharist and the priesthood. With Christ just received into our hearts, we process through the church singing and thanking Him.  Adoration lasts till midnight. I love that time. I have always tried to stay there with Christ till midnight. Quiet time so beautiful thanking Jesus for this gift and for dying on the Cross. We stay with Him in Gethsemane as he undergoes his agony. Good Friday we make the Way of the Cross at noon both in our garden or in church. Growing up, we kept those hours holy. No radio or T.V. or food was allowed. We tried to keep silence. My mother encouraged us to fast. I like to walk the stations here outside. At the fourth Station, we remember His Mother. He met her on the way to Calvary. I wonder how she got there. She had to push through the crowds to see Him.  That once handsome face of her son was hard to recognize covered with dust and dirt, spit and blood. Their eyes met and she could still read in them. Those eyes reflected how much he loves us. Mary stood by the Cross as Jesus offers Himself to the Father for us. Friday is a day of gratitude and sorrow. Then all is quiet until Jesus comes back to life. He raises Himself from the dead. He conquers death and opens heaven to all of us. Easter Sunday! It is the greatest feast of the year. Everything He said is true. Everything He taught is believable. He proved it when He rose from the dead and now awaits us in heaven. One day, we will be with Him forever. Amen. Alleluia! What a gift is our faith! How wonderful our Church! Alleluia!
CONFESSIONS: One of the most beautiful apostolates of this monastery is having a priest available everyday except Sunday to minister to those wanting to go to confession. We are honored that so many avail themselves to receive this sacrament here. During Holy Week, however, no confessions are scheduled from Holy Thursday through Easter Sunday. We do this so that the Passionists may have time to prayerfully enter into the celebration of the mysteries of the Passion and Death of the Lord to which they have especially dedicated their lives. Have a beautiful Easter.
With much gratitude, Fr. Justin Kerber, C.P., Rector 

Monastery Updates 3/25/2023

Dear Friends:

OUR MONASTERY CRYPT: One of the treasures of this monastery is the crypt. Lately, people are asking me to give a tour of the crypt. When the Passionists first built the church, they were in their thirties in the 1850’s.  A number of young men, especially a lot of Germans from the families that lived in Birmingham, became Passionists. There were some Irish, too. As soon as the monastery opened, they started a novitiate where young men could be trained to be Passionists. One of these seminarians, originally from Ireland, Ignatius Meara, had been a vowed Passionist for a year when he contracted Tuberculosis. He died at the age of 19 in 1863. He was first Passionist to die in the new world. They buried him in a vault in the floor of the sanctuary of the church.  That was the Italian custom. Some years later after 8 burials, we were told by the city we could no longer bury people in the floor of the sanctuary.  We built a crypt under the monastery chapel and transferred 8 sets of remains there and used it until 1893 when the city told us to bury our dead in a cemetery. We have been doing that and there are about 125 or so Passionist priests and brothers in the cemetery next to this church. Around 1980, we were told that the crypt could again be used with sealed coffins. There are now about 50 buried in the crypt.  The founders of the monastery are there and also the remains of 3 Passionist bishops. All three I knew. Bishop Cuthbert O’Gara, whom I met in N.J. as a 7th grader, when he had come back from nearly 5 years in a communist jail in China. The bishops who ordained me as a deacon and a priest are there – Quentin and Reginald. The crypt is fascinating. It has relics of the saints, a book in which is the actual writing of St. Paul of the Cross, the Passionist sign that St. Paul wore on his habit., artifacts from our Passionist Bishops are displayed as well as vestments from the Czar’s chapel in St. Petersburg, Russia.  Come visit it and see all this and more!

VOCATION PROGRAMS: This weekend there is a vocation discernment retreat being held at our retreat house in Jamaica, NY. It is for those coming to a decision on Passionist religious life.  Our community has someone attending. Please pray for those discerning and ask God to bless us with strong dedicated candidates to proclaim the love of a Crucified Christ.

LAUDATO SI: Our team will meet this week. We are figuring out in what direction to move. We showed the film. Now how do we implement directives that help us treasure God’s gifts and be more respectful of creation all around us. Renovations in our garden are about to begin. We want to respect all God’s gifts of creation and so better be able to share them with our neighbors and those who come here. If anyone is interested in helping us. Please call the receptionist at our front door. Leave your name and number. They will be given to Rose Ann Lord, who heads our Laudato si Committee. 

PASSIONIST NUNS:   A beautiful part of living at our Passionist Monastery in Pittsburgh is that there is located about 3 miles away a convent of Passionist Nuns. They are a totally cloistered group of women who spend their days in contemplative relationship with the Lord. They pray frequently. They support themselves primarily through baking the altar hosts used for Mass in hundreds of churches in our country. They have a beautiful convent and grounds in Carrick founded about 1910 from the first convent of Nuns in Italy. We serve daily as their chaplains for Mass. It is a privilege to go there, a very holy place. A young woman has recently entered who begins her time of preparation to become a Nun. There are several other young women discerning a vocation.  Pray for them and our wonderful Passionist Nuns.

WEDNESDAY MORNINGS: Recently, we made some changes in our schedule so as to enhance our religious life together. We are the smallest community in size since the foundation of this house in 1853 – 6 Passionists. We were forced to cut back a bit so as to have time to enhance our prayer and community life. We made Wednesday a community day. We have Morning Prayer together in the Chapel at 8am; Community Mass in the chapel at 9am; Community Meeting at 10:00; Adoration with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament at 11:00 and lunch together at 12. The front door opens at 1pm for confessions and business. There is a 12:10 Mass in the church for the public for anyone wishing to attend. Confessions don’t start till 1pm on Wednesdays. This has afforded us with community time and prayer time alone and we are appreciating it.

Gratefully in Christ, Fr. Justin Kerber, C,P, 

Monastery Updates     3/18/2023

Dear Friends,

OUR WEBSITE:  www.stpaulofthecrossmonastery.com  is being taken care of by a new person. She is a young mother of three, a musician and teacher. I met her and her husband in North Carolina. The family visited me here in Pittsburgh a year ago. Her husband was raving about her work for his music and website. They are both faithful Catholics. I have hopes she will help us make our website more user friendly.  

ENROLLMENTS & PURGATORIALS ARE NOW ON LINE: One of the first things the web master did was to put our Mass cards and Enrollments on line. You can now select, order and pay for them on line. That will help the financial viability of this house.  It is a huge place with insurance bills and all sorts of things that need to be paid for promptly.  We depend solely on free will offerings, bequests, the enrollments, offerings that come from the candles at the shrine etc. 

LAUDATO SI GROUP MEETS: The group that planned the showing of the film on the Pope’s encyclical on the care of God’s earth meets this week to plan. We would like to expand and do some concrete actions and projects. We have beautiful acres of property. I am hoping we can use them more for prayer and appreciating God’s gifts. The Passionist Community will be meeting this week on Wednesday and this will be one of the items of discussion. The Laudato si group is open to hear from you.

ST. MAR1A GORETTI SHRINE: A beautiful addition to our church was adding the shrine to St. Maria Goretti. Her fidelity to Christ no matter what the cost is an example for all of us today. Her refusal to offend God by a sexual sin even to the shedding of her blood helps all of us to strive to follow her good example. Maria was stabbed to death for not consenting to sin sexually and died forgiving her attacker. She had been given her first communion and made first penance with Passionist priests. Our community sponsored her canonization. We oversee her shrine in Netuno, Italy where she in entombed. The marble statue in our church is a replica of the one in Corinaldo, Italy where her mother and her repentant attacker are both buried in the back of that church. I want our shrine to be a place where people can pray for strength to be pure, for forgiveness of sins, for healing of wounds, for loving and pure hearts. I am going to have special prayers there where we can pray for these things. Every so many years the relics of Maria are sent on pilgrimage. I am trying to have our church placed on the list. This past year we obtained a relic from her bones and it is in a beautiful reliquary which you see attached to the shrine.     

STATIONS OF THE CROSS:  I have appreciated very much that you are making the Stations of the Cross on the Friday nights of Lent. We have picked up in numbers. A Passionist Church should be especially a place where we show our love for Jesus Crucified. It is wonderful to remember his love that made Jesus give all for us.

ANNUNCIATION – MARCH 25TH: Next Saturday, is this wonderful feast. The Angel Gabriel announces to the Virgin Mary that she is to become the Mother of God. Jesus takes flesh in her. Christ the Word is enfleshed in Mary. Gabriel announces to her God’s plan and Mary says “Yes.” She lets God use her. She had nothing to give Him but herself. He asked for nothing else. Mary conceives and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. The feast is exactly nine months before Christmas. Enjoy this feast.  I remember visiting Nazareth and the Basilica of the Annunciation built over what, from the first centuries, was believed to be the home of Mary. There is an altar there that has the words of the Angelus in Latin “Et verbum caro factum est.”  And the Word was made flesh. And one other Latin word was added ‘hic’ which means ‘here.’ Wow! Right here.  I was with my classmate, Fr. Peter, we asked the sacristan if we could come back and say Mass at 6:30 the next morning. He said he would be here but couldn’t open the church till 7:30 or so.  Peter handed him something green and at 6:30am we had a beautiful Mass ‘hic’ right here where Mary became the Mother of God.                                     

Gratefully in Christ, Fr. Justin Kerber, C.P., Rector 

Monastery Updates 3/11/2023

Dear Friends:

THE MOVIE: “THE LETTER”: The Laudato si committee this past week had a showing of the film “The Letter” at our retreat house. It was well received. The film was exceptionally well done. It presented the goodness and beauty of God’s earth and the care that must be given this gift. It was all based on Pope Francis’ Encyclical letter, ‘Laudato si’. We didn’t know how many or if any would come. About 26 people came. The committee that organized the presentation was pleased. We will meet on March 28th. At that time, we will make decisions of how to gather together and how to implement some of the Holy Father’s thinking.     

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: I thank those who are coming out at 7pm Fridays in Lent. We recall the Way Jesus walked to Calvary. It is a beautiful custom and I invite you to join us.

FR. THEODORE FOLEY:  This past week we reprinted Fr. Theodore Foley leaflets. People are praying to him. We have in the back of the church near his tomb two stands with books on them. In the one book, is recorded favors requested through his intercession. In the other, is recorded favors granted through prayers to him. In the files, there are two cures written up that people felt were miraculous. However, the scrutiny given a “cure” is terribly strict. It has to be miraculous without any doubt. No other explanation can be possible. We are going to relook at one of the cures. The priest in charge of Passionist canonizations lives in Rome, Fr. Masimo Parisi. He is coming over in several weeks for a visit and to interview some living people who knew Fr. Theodore. I think all of Theodore’s writings and papers have been examined. I could see him being declared Venerable before lone. Beatification and canonization require a proven miracle. There is certainly a cult of praying to him here. I know he answers prayers! 

VOCATION PROGRAM: The Passionists are offering a program for men interested in priesthood and religious life. It’s for those who are discerning that God is calling them. That means you have already spent time looking at a religious vocation and are considering it.  If this would interest you, call Fr. Curtis or myself. We can give further information about that week-end retreat.

ST. CYRIL OF JERUSALEM: This St. Cyril was the Bishop of Jerusalem. He is one of the 37 Doctors of the Church. He is the Doctor of Catechesis. Right after ordination, he was put in charge of instructing adults preparing for Baptism. He received many people into the Church and was a brilliant theologian. He then became Bishop of Jerusalem at a time when a heresy, Arianism, was dividing the church. It denied the divinity of Christ. Cyril was a gentle teacher but got caught up in the heretical controversy that put him at odds with even the emperor. Most of his time as Bishop he was fighting heresy. In the end, the Arians lost and the Council of the Church defined the true faith using Cyril’s words and definitions. He was exiled three times and excluded from his diocese for over 16 years. In the end, the Council of Constantinople backed Cyril and his wording of the Creed was accepted by all as the true faith. “I believe in one God…and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father.” People died for those words. The Holy Spirit speaking through the gentle St. Cyril kept us faithful to the truth. Here is a beautiful quote from him: “We proclaim the Crucified and devils quake. So don’t be ashamed of the Cross of Christ. Openly seal it on your forehead that the devils may behold the royal sign and flee trembling far away.”

Gratefully in Christ, Fr. Justin Kerber, C.P. 

Monastery Updates     3/4/23

Dear Friends:

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: On the Friday nights during Lent, we have the Stations of the Cross at 7pm. It is a beautiful tradition, the Way of the Cross. We think of Jesus as he made his way through Jerusalem carrying his Cross to his place of execution, Calvary, outside the city walls. St. Jerome, the great biblical scholar and Doctor of the Church, lived in Bethlehem for the last 35 years of his life. He died in 420. Jerome attests to how crowds of pilgrims in Jerusalem would make the way of the Cross. They would begin where Pilate condemned Jesus and stop and pray at different points, especially where he met his mother, and then end at Jesus’ tomb. This continued for centuries. Indulgences were attached to making this way of the Cross. In the 1300’s, the Franciscans were appointed Guardians of the holy places in Jerusalem and the Way of the Cross. When the Moslems blocked entrance to the Holy Land and pilgrims were prohibited from pilgrimages there, various Popes allowed the erecting of a Way of the Cross in various places and churches throughout the world. In 1742, Pope Clement XII set the number of stations at 14 and allowed every church to erect them inside the church on the walls. That’s how we have come to have the beautiful custom of the Stations of the Cross. We, especially as Passionists, are very happy to remember Jesus great love for us during the way of the Cross. Join us on Friday nights.

HOLY HOUR FOR VOCATIONS: You are also invited to join us this coming Tuesday for an hour of quiet prayer and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. We pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life especially the Passionists. It is a time for the rosary and time for adoration and quiet. There are some beautiful songs sung. But mostly, we look at God and he looks at us. It is one of my favorite times of the month. I invite you to come and look upon Jesus and have Him look upon you.

‘THE LETTER’: This is the name of an hour-long film on Pope Francis’ encyclical on the beauty of God’s creation and our care for the gift of the earth. I have not yet seen the film. Everyone who has thinks it is beautiful and helps us understand the mind of Pope Francis as he calls us to cherish and protect God’s gift of the earth. I put together a small committee on the Pope’s letter “Laudato si.”  They are sponsoring this showing. I hope you will be able to attend. We are looking for ways to open our beautiful gardens for prayer a little more. This committee hopes to implement some of the teachings of Laudato si. Please come on this Wednesday, March 8 at 7:30pm in the retreat house. We are having some light refreshments afterwards. If you are able to come, it would help us if you called in.

RETREAT HOUSE PROGRAMS: Frs. Gerald and Curtis have been conducting the week-end retreats here and I am hearing so many good things about the programs they are offering. During covid many things closed down. People stopped coming to church and to retreats. Everything is starting to pick up a bit including the retreats. Besides the week-end retreats, during Lent the retreat house is offering Days of recollection and prayer. They are greatly appreciated. If you think you would like some quiet refreshing time with the Lord, these programs are available to you. Thanks for all your help.

Gratefully in Christ, Fr. Justin Kerber, C.P. 

Monastery Updates 2/25/23

Dear Friends:

‘LAUDATO SI’ FILM MARCH 8 TH : We have arranged to have a free showing of the film “The Letter” on the message of the Pope’s encyclical on the care of God’s creation at 7:30pm in our retreat house lounge on Wednesday, March 8 th . We have set up a committee headed by Roseann Lord to help understand and implement the Pope’s message on caring for the gift of the earth. We feel this is a way to gather people with practical concerns for the beauty of our earth and how the beautiful acres of our property can be used to bring people closer to God. I am reminded of a beautiful poem of Elizabeth Barrett Browning: “The earth’s crammed with heaven and every bush afire with God. But only he who has eyes takes off his shoes….” Lord, give us eyes to see your presence in the beauty of creation. Please come Wednesday, March 8th . Call in and let us know. We were planning some light refreshments for afterwards and need to know. LENT HAS BEGUN: I had a beautiful experience the first day of Lent. I preached on it at the evening Mass. Trying to figure what to give up for Lent, I was fasting most of Ash Wednesday day for blood work I had in the afternoon. Hungry, I stopped at a McDonald’s on the way home. I ordered a fish sandwich which came with French fires. I wanted to use catsup and thought maybe I should give up things that make food taste better. Anyway, as I was thinking , I saw an older woman employee come over and help a teenager who dropped her fries all over the floor, then help a woman who got angry at a machine that didn’t take her order correctly, then the woman got ketchup for those of us who needed some. She inspired me and I decided I would try to be nicer to people. I thought of Jesus: “It is love I desire and not sacrifice.” Perhaps try to be more kind to people who cross our path and I used the ketchup.

ST. POLYCARP: His feast day was Thursday, the 2 nd day of Lent. He was a martyr and an Apostolic Father – one of the early bishops of our church appointed by one of the Apostles . He led the church in Smyrna. He knew John the Apostle. He spoke on things John had preached and how John preached. He was 86 when a persecution broke out. Polycarp was arrested and sentenced to be martyred for his loyalty to Christ. Asked to deny the Lord, he said; ‘Eighty six years I have served him and he never did me any wrong. How can I blaspheme my King, who saved me?” They tried to burn him to death but the flames would not touch him. He was stabbed by the executioner. The story of his martyrdom was written and read as one of the Mass reading in the early church.

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Every Friday in Lent, we will have the stations of the Cross at 7pm in the church. I will do my best to lead them. Please come out for this simple journey on the Fridays of Lent. It is a beautiful way to remember how much God Loves us. In grammar school in the 7th & 8th grades, I would go to Sacred Heart Church in Jersey City and make the Stations of the Cross. A Passionist priest told me it was a good way to prepare to be a Passionist. Many years after that, as a Passionist priest , I had to clean out a deceased uncle’s apartment. I found a box with old letters. One was from the Pastor of Sacred Heart Church in 1913 to my great grandmother, Filipina Thorne Kerber. It was thanking her for donating three of the Stations of the Cross in memory of the deceased of the Kerber family. It made me think.

VOCATION PROGRAM: Our Province is planning a weekend retreat for those interested in being a Passionist priest or brother. It will be hosted at our retreat house in New York. If you think you might be interested, let Fr. Curtis or myself know and we can talk with you about it and give you further information.

HOLY HOUR FOR VOCATIONS: For March, our Holy Hour will be Tuesday, March 7th. This is one of the events I appreciate most each month. A beautiful quiet hour of prayer, song and silence. In the presence of Jesus, who always hears our prayers.  MONASTERY GARDENS: Both the retreat house and monastery are working to beautify our gardens. They are a beautiful place for God’s presence. Any help will be appreciated.

Gratefully in Christ, Fr. Justin Kerber, C.P.

Monastery Updates 2/17/2023

Dear Friends,

THE SOLEMN COMMMEMORATION OF THE PASSION: The Passionists celebrate a feast proper to their community on the Friday before Ash Wednesday. As I write this message to you, it is that day and we are celebrating this feast. It goes all the way back to our founder, St. Paul of the Cross. St. Paul wanted this to be the ‘joyful’ celebration of the mystery of Good Friday focusing on the Passion of Jesus “as the most overwhelming sign of God’s love.” Fr. Thomas Struzzieri, who was assistant superior to Paul, wrote the prayers and got the approval for the feast. Paul leaned on Thomas to get a number of things accomplished. He had connections. It was shortly after this that Fr. Thomas was named the first Passionist Bishop. St. Paul was honored but missed him greatly. Paul said: “Wisdom comes from the wounds of Christ. The Passion contains everything. By gazing on the Cross, we understand God, ourselves, love, the human heart and the heart of God.”

ASH WEDNESDAY: Please note that we are adding extra Masses for Ash Wednesday: 7:30am, 12:10pm, 5:30pm. Ashes will be distributed at those Masses. I remember growing up and how we would do something special for Lent. You would give up candy or sweets or do something special like Mass every day or say the Stations of the Cross. I still think Mass is the best thing to do for Lent. Jesus offers Himself again to the Father. Then He comes to us because He wants to be with us.

THANK YOU - TOM DONLEY: On Saturday, Feb. 11, Tom Donley died surrounded by his family. He was 87. He and his wife, Peggy, had celebrated their 50 th wedding anniversary last year. They have two sons and four grandchildren. As a young man, he had considered a vocation to the Passionists. After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh, he had a 30 year career in the insurance business. After retiring, he reconnected with the Passionists by volunteering at the monastery here on the South Side Slopes. For nearly 25 years, he has been the director of the Monastery’s Food Bank along with his wife, Peggy. They have served Christ faithfully week after week in the needy who come here for food and assistance. He has kept our food bank supplied and cared for the Lord as he comes in the guise of the poor and needy every week. St. John of the Cross, the Carmelite mystic, has a often quoted famous saying: “In the evening of life, we will be judged on Love alone.” I used that quote at Tom’s funeral Mass. All those years of serving God’s needy of helping families with basic sustenance. All the truck loads of food picked up and delivered, week after week, month after month in the heat of summer and the cold of winter and all done for Jesus as he waited on line for help from Tom, Peggy and their cohort of volunteers. I first came to this monastery in August, 1959 for a visit. I had completed my first year of high school seminary with the Passionists at Dunkirk, NY. I wanted to see this monastery where eventually I would come to officially become a Passionist. I thought it was one of the most beautiful places I had ever seen and holy. Saints were buried in the crypt. It was the first Passionist foundation in the new world. Fr. Gregory Flynn was in charge of the novices. One day we would be one of them hopefully. I was told this monastery was important for two things. Confessions were heard every day except Sunday. People came here for confession. It was a ‘refuge for sinners.’ Secondly, on Fridays the needy came here for food since the very first days of our time in Pittsburgh. Just as Paul of the Cross had wanted: “Always put aside some of your food for the poor.” In a special way, we, Passionists, thank Tom and Peggy Donley for keeping us faithful to our care for the poor. God bless them specially! In the evening of life, we will be judged on love alone.

Gratefully in Christ, Fr. Justin Kerber, C.P., Rector

Monastery Updates 2/4/2023

Dear Friends:

ORDINATION IN PUERTO RICO: I returned last Monday deeply appreciative of having attended the ordination to the priesthood of Fr. Luis Daniel, C.P. The young man who attended with me was very impressed, likewise. It was beautiful. Our Bishop, Neil Tiedemann, was the ordaining Bishop. He delivered a beautiful homily on priesthood. Please pray we will have some more ordinations and here in the USA.

CHANGES IN REGULAR SCHEDULE: We are proud of our tradition dating all the way back to the founding of this monastery in 1853 of daily having a confessor available for clergy, religious and laity. We will continue this service with a slight change. On Wednesdays only, the front door will open at 1:00pm. This allows for our community in the morning hours to have prayer, Mass together, and meetings. So, on Wednesdays, the church will be open as regular. There will only be one Mass on Wednesdays for the people at 12:10pm. A confessor will be available at the front office which will be open from 1 till 5pm that day.

LAUDATO SI - film on March 8 th : Fr. Provincial asked each community to set up a ‘Laudato si team’ that will try to bring some teachings from that encyclical of Pope Francis into practical life in their area. I assembled a small group and have asked them to look into ways where by we can implement some of the Pope’s concerns. We have been meeting for several months and are going to show the film “The Letter” in the retreat house on March 8 th at 7:30pm. We hope this will lead to us looking into projects for protecting the environment. The film is open to everyone. We are hoping to draw some of the many young people who live in our vicinity.

FEAST OF THE PRESENTATION OF JESUS IN THE TEMPLE WAS FEB. 2: I had Mass for our Passionist Nuns that day and was touched by this feast. Here’s part of my homily: 

One day in Jerusalem, a mother in her middle teens, accompanied by her somewhat older husband, brings her new born Son to the house of God. They were poor and for the past forty days had grown accustomed to the humblest of lodgings. They carry a pair of captive pigeons, the offering of the poor. As they enter, Mary is not over-awed by the splendor of God’s house. She is at home there. For no son of Israel belonged so completely to God as her Son. For Mary’s Son had no father but his Father in heaven. On this day of Jesus’ presentation in the temple, she presents to God the very best gift she had – her Son – her flesh and blood. Upon entering the House of God, the Infant Jesus is recognized for who He is – ‘The Light of Revelation” and “The Glory of Israel.” Of all the people in God’s house that day, he is recognized by two people advanced in age but alive with wisdom. Simeon who the gospel says  ‘was in the temple filled with the Spirit’ and Anna ‘who was constantly in God’s House worshiping day and night in prayer.’ It is no mere coincidence that Simeon and Anna recognize Christ and rejoice in the presence of Jesus. They are able to do so because they are people of prayer, constantly in the temple, filled with the Spirit, day and night. We are also called to live in the temple, to be temples where God is worshiped. We are called to be people who are prayerful.

If so, we like Simeon and the holy Anna will be people of prayer to whom God will come and who will recognize Christ. Prayer is about God and giving him honor and praise. It is not about us or what we get out of it. When we are faithful to prayer, we live in God’s presence. A change of heart takes place whereby we become more loving. As the poet William Blake wrote: “We are put on earth for a little space that we may learn to bear the beams of love.”. When we are faithful to prayer, we have a greater ability to listen to God in the situations of daily life. Simeon and Anna recognized Christ. They were two people of tremendous prayer constantly in the temple. St. Paul of the Cross, a great mystic and man of prayer, said that he saw the name of Jesus written on the foreheads of the poor. By prayer, we like Anna and Simeon see and recognize Jesus everywhere."

VOCATION HOLY HOUR - TUESDAY FEB. 7 TH : Join us this Tuesday for an hour of prayer for vocations especially to the Passionists. It is a prayerful hour with beautiful singing, quiet adoration, rosary, benediction and this month we will ask the Passionist Saint, Gabriel Possenti to be with us specially!

IN CHRIST, Fr. Justin Kerber, C.P., Rector

Updates  1/22/2023


POPE FRANCIS PRAISES US CATHOLICS FOR PRO-LIFE WITNESS: Returning from Mass at the Passionist Nuns this past Friday, I was thinking that it was the day of the Right to Life March in Washington. When I was Pastor, we always accompanied the young people from our school and parish. We had Mass and were part of the annual March for Life. It was a beautiful thing and I miss being part of that. I was gladdened to read the message our Pope sent to all the participants in the National Prayer Vigil for Life. Pope Francis said to Americans, he “is deeply grateful for the faithful witness shown publicly over the years by all who promote and defend the right to life of the most innocent and vulnerable members of our human family.” My good friend, Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington, is now chair of the Bishop’s Pro-Life Committee. He said the most important work lies ahead. It is the work of not only changing laws but of changing hearts.

ORDINATION IN PUERTO RICO: This Thursday, I am flying down to San Juan, Puerto Rico for an ordination to the priesthood of a young Passionist seminarian, Luis Daniel Guivas. He is a member of our Province based in the eastern USA. I have been also talking to a young man interested in becoming a priest in our community. Our Vocation Director asked me to accompany him to Fr. Luis’ ordination. I am honored. I will return Monday. The ordination is Friday at our church of St. Gemma there and his first Mass will be Sunday at his home parish. I return Monday. Pray that God sends us more. St. Paul of the Cross would say: “More. More. Never enough because we have to proclaim the love of Christ Crucified.”

VOCATION HOLY HOUR: We have a beautiful hour of prayer for vocations to the Passionist way of life once a month on a Tuesday. We say the rosary, have some beautiful songs, quiet, and end with benediction. I ask a Passionist saint to accompany us each time. Always on a Tuesday from 7 to 8, St. Gabriel will be with us this month. His beautiful shrine is in our church. It’s the room with all the candles. It was added-on in 1920 the year of his canonization. There were so many people coming here to pray to him. It was enhanced during the renovations with a beautiful new statue of St. Gemma and ceiling paintings copied from those on the ceiling of our first church at Monte Argentario. St. Gabriel is a deeply loved Passionist saint. Didn’t live to be ordained a priest. He loved the Sorrowful Mother. She led him to Jesus and he became a saint.

His Director, Fr. Norbert Casinelli is also up for sainthood. He was still alive when Gabriel was beatified and he spoke to some young Passionists about Gabriel. They asked why were they canonizing this kid? Fr. Norbert said if you knew him you would understand. He loved God so much and the Blessed Mother.

NEW WEDNESDAY SCHEDULE 2/7: Reminder starting Feb. 7 th , there will be a change of schedule on all Wednesdays. One Mass at 12:10. Monastery door open for confession only after 1:00pm. Reasons were all explained last week.

LAUDATO SI: A group to discuss this encyclical of Pope Francis on the environment and care for God’s earth has begun meeting. They are reflecting and thinking of ways the monastery may implement and help others to understand the Pope’s concerns. A date is being chosen for the showing of the film, ‘The Letter,’ which explains the Pope’s message. The date will be finalized this week.

Gratefully in Christ, Fr. Justin Kerber, C.P., Rector

Changes to schedule coming 1/13/23

Dear Friends:

THE PASSIONIST RULE ON DAILY EUCHARIST: St. Paul of the Cross wrote a rule of life for Passionists that we strive to live. It has been updated and edited with the approval of the Pope. Our last revisions were in 1984 and approved by St. John Paul II. In my copy back then, I highlighted #43 which reads: “The Eucharist is central to the life of each community. In so far as possible, we celebrate it together every day as the fundamental action of community life. Our common sharing in the same Body of Christ nourishes the life of our community, constitutes its norm and fosters union among ourselves. For each community, and for each religious, the Eucharist is a divine reality that transforms their lives.”

OUR FR. PROVINCIAL RECOMMENDED TO OUR COMMUNITY: When Fr. Jim O’Shea, our Provincial Superior, visited our community last year, he noted that we had gone down from 17 members to 6. We were trying to maintain all our commitments. He told us to at least once a week have a Mass together.

We did several times on feast days. When Fr. Jim returned recently, he gently reminded me that I had not followed his directive of a weekly Eucharist. The community has met for three weeks and have agreed to implement changes that will enable us to be faithful to our Passionist Rule and the directive from our Provincial. This will affect you and our schedule at the monastery.

Please Note NECESSARY CHANGES: After a number of meetings, we have decided the following effective February 8th :

Wednesdays will be special community days for the vowed Passionist Community; 8am Morning Prayer, 9am Community Mass, 10:00am Community Meeting, 11:00am Adoration of the Bl. Sacrament, 12:00 Lunch, 5:00pm Evening Prayer, 5:50pm Supper.

** On Wednesdays the front door will not open until 1:00pm, Confessions will be available on Wednesdays from 1 – 5pm.

** There will be no 7:30 Morning Mass on Wednesday beginning Feb.7 th (Intentions already taken will be celebrated). The Mass on Wednesday open to the public is at 12:10pm.

** Beginning Feb. 7 th and on Wednesdays the front door will open at 1pm.

Thank you for any adjustments you may have to make.

THANK YOU VOCATION HOLY HOUR: This past week we had a Holy Hour for Vocations. It is always for me a highlight. Andrea and the Cantor, Amy, provided beautiful music. We prayed, adored the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and then asked St. Charles to take care of our community as he did when he was at our monastery at Mt. Argus. Thank you for coming out.

With gratitude, Fr. Justin Kerber, C.P., Rector

Updates from the Monastery 1/8/23

Dear Friends:

HOLY HOUR FOR VOCATIONS TUESDAY: We are set for the Holy Hour at 7pm on January 10th. We are assured of music and it will be a beautiful time of adoration and prayer. Please attend and pray for us that God will bless the Church with religious vocations and remember especially us, Passionists. Each month I pray ahead of time and ask one of our Passionist saints or blesseds to accompany us during that hour. This month I am inviting St. Charles Houben. 

St. Charles Houben was an outstanding Passionist priest. Born in Holland in 1821 to a devout Catholic family of 11 children. He learned of the Passionists while in military service. He applied to our community and was accepted by Bl. Dominic Barberi and pronounced his vows in 1851 in Belgium. After ordination, he was assigned to England where the Passionists had recently opened 3 foundations. In 1856, he was transferred to Ireland to a new monastery being built on the outskirts of Dublin, Mt. Argus. He never mastered the English language and was considered a poor preacher. The Irish people loved him. There were eloquent preachers in the house but all the locals flocked to Fr. Charles for his blessing and confession. Though a Dutchman by birth, he was referred to as Fr. Charles of Mt. Argus. Towards the end of his life, hundreds were coming daily for his blessing and for confessions. He also had the gift of healing and cured many. People came from England, America, Australia and parts of Europe. He couldn’t understand it and would just ask them to pray for “Poor old Charlie.” At his death in 1893, the papers noted that thousands came from all over. They had never seen anything like this. The Rector of Mt. Argus wrote his family: “The people have already declared him a saint.” St. John Paul II declared him Blessed in 1988. Pope Benedict XVI canonized him with 4 others at an outdoor Mass because of the enormous crowds of people on June 3, 2007.

I was part of the Passionist delegation and concelebrated at the mass with the Pope in St. Peter’s Square. I remember it began to rain and I was not under the canopy! A great honor even though I got soaked. Let me tell you a little story, I never forgot. At one point, the Fr. General of the Passionists visited all the Passionist Monasteries throughout the world to see how they were doing. His report on Mt. Argus was dreadful. He called it one of the worst Passionist communities he visited. Except for a couple good religious there, it was not what it should be! It’s wonderful when things are perfect, but we are meant to become saints even when they’re not!

OUR WEBSITE HAS A NEW WEBMASTER: We have gotten a new webmaster, Brenda Accurso. She has already put the Mass cards and enrollments online. She has updated material there. Hopefully in a month or two, we will get it all up to date. I think she will do an excellent job.

COMMUNITY MEETINGS BEING HELD: We are having regular Community Meetings here to make adjustments to our schedule and commitments now that we are only 6 in the community. It was easy to fulfill all our commitments and have a regular community life when there were 16 or 18 here. Fr. Provincial told us we need to have a weekly Mass just for the Passionists. We pray and share at that. Our Rule from St. Paul of the Cross calls it: “The fundamental action of community life.” So we have been having weekly meetings and have made some decisions to enhance our living together and adjust to the declining numbers. We hope to have everything in place by February. Basically, we will be adjusting when we open the monastery on Wednesdays and the number of public Masses and when confessions begin that day. We hope Wednesday will be a time of prayer, community Mass and a time we can meet. I will keep you fully informed of the changes that we make.

ORDINATION SCHEDULED IN PUERTO RICO: One of our seminarians, Luis Daniel Guivas, CP will be ordained a Passionist priest. Currently, he serves as Deacon in our New York parish. He will be ordained on Jan. 27 in Puerto Rico at our church, St. Gemma, by our Passionist Bishop, Neil Tiedemann, CP. The assistant Provincial asked if I could attend and bring with me a young man who is interested in joining our community. I will be honored to attend and to bring to the ordination and first Mass there. Pray that God blesses all our work!

In Christ with much gratitude, Fr. Justin Kerber, C.P.

Christmas Message

Dear Friends:

A Holy, Blessed and Merry Christmas! This is how much God loves us that He sends His Son as an infant who will 33 years later die on a Cross to prove that love. Jesus is proof of a God that would spare nothing to prove His love. There is nothing we could ever do that would make God love us less! The hands of the little Babe that reach out to us from the manger will become the hands stretched out to us and nailed to the wood of a Cross. They tell us of His love. Some years back as Pastor, I gave as a Christmas present to each of the staff a flat Cross on which was resting the Infant Jesus. I had read in a letter of St. Paul of the Cross written on December 18, 1761 to a person he was directing: “Many years ago I had a picture of the Infant Jesus painted on German paper that had Him sleeping quietly on a cross. Oh! How much that symbol pleased me. …On Christmas you will have the Infant in your heart and be transformed into Him with love. Rest with Him on the crib of the Cross being in union with his heart. Then listen to Mary’s lullaby: “May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” The second verse is “To work, to suffer and to be silent.” The third verse is: “Do not excuse yourself, do not complain, do not harbor resentment.” What a beautiful Christmas message 2022 from our father and founder, Paul of the Cross. May we strive to follow it and become saints.  

With love and prayers, Fr. Justin Kerber, C.P., Rector


Dear Friends:

After John the Baptist’s arrest, Jesus tells his followers to go tell John what they have seen Jesus doing: the blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the dead rise and the poor have the Gospel preached to them. Jesus tells them He is the One and these things happen when we are with Him. In these last days of Advent, we await the One who never disappoints. We have had enough of politics, war and threats of war, positions and opinions contrary to Christ and the Gospel and to human life, itself. We await the One, who loves us more than we can imagine. The great Cardinal Newman, now a Saint wrote: “God beholds you. God calls you by name. God views you in your day of rejoicing and in your day of sorrow. God sympathizes in your hopes and in your temptations. God hears your voice, the beating of your heart and your very breathing. You do not love yourself better than God loves you.” St. Paul of the Cross tells us: “What God sends is better than anything we could choose for ourselves.” Surrender to His love. He never disappoints. He is always faithful. Come to Me and I will refresh you. He comes under the appearance of bread so He can be with us. The arms that reach out from the wood of the manger are the same arms that reach out from the wood of the Cross. They tell us how much we are loved. He is more anxious to forgive us than we are to be forgiven. There is nothing we could ever do that would make God love us less. Christ wants to lavish us with his love. I want to end this message with my favorite quote from Vatican II: “The Lord is the goal of human history, the focal point of the longings of history and of civilization, the center of the human race, the joy of every heart, and the answer to all its yearnings.” Come Lord Jesus!

Gratefully, Fr. Justin Kerber, C.P., Rector


Dear Friends:

NOVENA OF MASSES: This past week, I had to fill in at the front door more than normal. A few things surprised me. I know many people come in to the confessional all day long. In many places confessions are falling off. Not so here. More men than women come and more young than old. Many people come in or phone in for Mass cards and enrollments. Others call in with prayer requests. That day I helped with answering the phone and manning the office desk, there were nearly 50 requests to enroll people in the Christmas Novena! WOW.

‘LAUDATO Si’TEAM MEETS: Our Provincial, Fr. Jim O’Shea, asked that the Local Superior of each foundation have a team to consider ways of implementing and living Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment. He has and will send out some directives. We are a workable small group and had our second meeting and shared a lot of good ideas. Rose Ann Lord is leader and has practical experience. Suggestions were quite good. We are looking into showing the film “The Letter” one night when space is free. Young people especially have been impressed by it. The monastery is surrounded by many younger people.

WE HAVE CANDLES AGAIN: At any given time, you can go to the St. Gabriel shrine which is attached to our church (built in 1920 for St. Gabriel’s canonization). There are always large ruby six day candles burning – at least 125 of them. We were running out of candles because our supplier’s machine had broken down. We were down to our last boxes of candles. Good News! Machine is fixed. Thousands of candles are back in stock as of two days ago! I often turn the lights out at night. That whole shrine room remains brightly lit by about 130 candles before St. Gabriel, St. Gemma, St. Vincent Strambi and St. Therese. Beautiful act of faith, each one!

VAGABOND MISSIONARIES: These are young people who do street ministry to young people. I knew them when I was Pastor in Greenville, N.C., which is one of the areas in our country where they work. They are also in four Pittsburgh locations including Allentown, right near us. I invited them to use our church, gardens, chapel for prayer and sacraments. The young missionaries will be here this Monday for a day of prayer before Christmas. I admire them and am delighted whenever I can talk with them, say Mass, have adoration and confession available. They are generous servants of the Gospel!

GOD LOVES THIS PLACE: Our bookkeeper about a week ago gave me an alert that our operating budget was very low and we need to write some checks. I sent her something I had in reserve and told her not to worry. Since I have been here, I have seen miracles constantly. God loves this place and what we do here. I told her that. Within the past few days, we received several wills and several large benefactions. God takes care of us if we take care of his people and serve them generously with the sacraments and prayer! Thank you for remembering us in your wills.

ORDINATION SCHEDULED: One of our Passionist seminarians, Luis Daniel Guivas, has been approved for ordination this January by the Provincial and his Council. They want to make this a beautiful Passionist celebration. His family is in Puerto Rico. He will be ordained there. I got a call from our headquarters asking if I would attend and bring a candidate with whom I have been meeting. I had not planned on attending. However, I must be obedient to my Superiors. Yeah! Yeah! What an honor.

Gratefully in Christ, Fr. Justin Kerber, C.P., Rector


Dear Friends:

HOLY HOUR FOR VOCATIONS TUES. DEC. 6TH:  This coming Tuesday night is our monthly Holy Hour for Vocations. It is one of my favorite nights of the month. It’s a night to adore our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and to ask him to send young people to continue the charism and work of St. Paul of the Cross in the Church. This Tuesday 7pm to 8pm. We simply expose the Blessed Sacrament. We say the rosary. Pray in silence for vocations, especially Passionists. I carry the monstrance through the church and pray over each one. We have a cantor and organist who provide beautiful music. We call upon a particular Passionist saint or Blessed to accompany us and to beg God to send us Passionists who will proclaim the love of Christ Crucified – priests, brothers, nuns, sisters. We end with benediction. I always leave assured that God hears us. When I was a Pastor in the North Carolina, we received a new Bishop. He announced that every parish was to have a monthly Holy Hour for vocations. The diocese always had 2 or 3 seminarians studying for priesthood. After the Holy Hours started, after a year or two, we were praying for our 20 or so seminarians. I know God will hear our prayers. The Passionist Nuns are having inquiries and we pray for them, too. Please come out this Tuesday. I have invited Blessed Bernard Silvestrelli, CP to accompany us. He was a classmate of St. Gabriel, Superior General of our community for many years, the first General to visit the Passionists in the USA and a visitor to this Monastery. He is only a step away from canonization. I am sure he will assist us. Come out and let us send our prayers and Jesus will not disappoint! All are welcome.

FR. VINCENT SEGOTTA, C.P.   We received word from our Community in Jamaica, NY that Fr. Vincent had died during the night on Dec. 2nd. He was 81. Many of you often ask for him as he had been assigned to the Pittsburgh community for many years. He left here not long before I arrived. Often people ask: “How is Fr. Vincent doing?” Lately, we had to tell them that he was quite sick with cancer. I had not lived with him as a Passionist. But I knew him when I was a young boy. We were both from Jersey City and the same parish, Sacred Heart. In fact, he lived right around the corner from us. I remember his mother, Rose, and his father drove a big truck. Vinnie had three sisters that called him “Brother.” They would often be looking for him and would ask; “Did you see, Brother?” The answer inevitably was: “Yes. He was walking up the block to church and had a prayer book!” He was in the choir and loved singing, a short man with a exceptionally strong voice. He was also an altar boy and taught me to be one. Our paths didn’t cross much as Passionists. I hope they will in the future because I’m sure he’s with God singing his heart out about God’s goodness.

WEB SITE IS FINALLY BEING REVAMPED:  We will have a special part of the site for our enrollments and remembrance cards and purgatorials. This bulletin message will also be posted. It is being revamped as you read this. Pass words and pay pal and all sorts of things will be worked out. Rome wasn’t built in a day but it didn’t take as long as our website!

With much gratitude and appreciation, Fr. Justin Kerber, C.P., Rector


Dear Friends:

THANKSGIVING CELEBRATION: We had a beautiful well-attended Mass at 9:30 on Thanksgiving Day. We are still not back to pre-pandemic attendance but it appears some services are picking up. The usual collection for the food bank brought in a goodly amount of food. The offerings received will also go to supplying food for those in need. Thank you very much.

FOOD BANK AND DOOR MINISTRY: These are two of our ministries that go back to the founders of this monastery. Every Friday we open our food bank, under the direction of Peg and Tom Donley and a number of volunteers, and are able to assist a large number of local families with food and groceries. St. Paul of the Cross had directed our brothers to always put aside some food for the poor. He also called our monasteries: ‘refugium peccatorum,’ the refuge for sinners. In following that directive, we have the sacrament of penance available everyday from 9 till 5 with the exception of Sundays. We have done this from the very beginning of this monastery and hope to be able to continue it in the future. 

DECEMBER HOLY HOUR – ADORATION FOR VOCATIONS: Our monthly hour of adoration for vocations will be Tuesday, Dec. 6th. We will have rosary, benediction and beautiful music. I am asking Bl. Bernard Silvestrelli, CP to accompany us that hour. He was General of the Passionists for 25 years and died in 1911 after a bad fall. He was known for his holiness. Our community grew and expanded to many countries under his holy leadership. A classmate of St. Gabriel, he was the first General to come to the United States. He led a Provincial Chapter here in Pittsburgh. We ill invite him to come to this church again and ask God for more Passionist priests, brothers, nuns and sisters.  

LAUDATO SI COMMITTEE: This group which our Provincial directed be established will meet on Monday, Dec. 5th at 6:30 in the heritage room. Susan Lord agreed to lead us. With directions from Fr. Jim, we hope to develop this group into an active body that will help us better appreciate and preserve God’s gifts of our earth and environment.

THANK YOU NOTES FOR MY JUBILEE: I had a wonderful jubilee celebration. I have not yet been able to send out thank-you notes. Please be patient and know I am very conscious of your kindness and appreciative and intend to thank each and everyone.

RECENT DEATHS OF BENEFACTORS: Recently, three of our loyal friends and benefactors died. We remember them specially in our prayers. The Rector says Masses each month for our benefactors deceased. I want to express our gratitude to these three who were so good to us for many years. Sylvester ‘Jake’ Kramer, 97, died Nov. 19, Rita Kasicky, 93, died Nov. 20, Mary Stromple, 91, died Nov. 22

ADVENT IS HERE: Caryl Houselander wrote this, my favorite Advent reflection: “For nine months Christ grew in His mother’s body. By His own will she formed Him from herself, from the simplicity of her daily life. She had nothing to give Him but herself. He asked for nothing else. She gave Him herself. Working, eating, sleeping, she was forming His body from hers. His flesh and blood. From her humanity she gave Him His humanity. Walking the streets of Nazareth to do her shopping, to visit her friends, she set His feet on the path of Jerusalem. Washing, weaving, kneading, sweeping, her hands prepared His hands for the nails. Every beat of her heart gave Him His heart to love with, His heart to be broken by love.”  - from ‘The Reed of God.’

With much gratitude,  FR. Justin Kerber, C.P., Rector