Updates from the Monastery

Updates from the Monastery 6/2/2024

Dear Friends,

Laudato Si Committee: This group has continued to beautify our property. They meet regularly to study Pope Francis’  documents and asked  me to make this request, “Do you like to garden? Do you love the Monastery gardens? The St. Paul Laudato Si team can use your help to maintain them. No expertise needed, just willingness to work. We’re meeting the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Tuesdays of the month at 4:30 pm. Join us at the St. Paul Garden between the Church and Monastery Office. For more information, email Rose at roseannlord7@gmail.com or call 412.951.7224 and leave a message.”

Corpus Christi: This Sunday we celebrate this beautiful feast of the Body of Christ. Our Passionist tradition when we entered the Monastery we received a new name, as our Founder St. Paul of the Cross and his brother John Baptist of St. Michael did. I received the name Justin and was given permission to add “of the Blessed Sacrament.” I love this feast especially. Today we thank God for the wonderful gift of His Body and Blood. We receive the Lord Who wants to be with us. That thought alone moves us to prayer. We will have a beautiful procession through our Garden after the 10 am Mass on June 30. The Passionist Associates will provide coffee and some refreshments following the procession.

All are invited and can see the gardens, all beautiful!

Monthly Holy Hour: For the month of June, our beautiful Holy Hour will be on Tuesday, June 11, at 7 pm. Please join us as we pray for Passionist vocations. It is a beautiful time of quiet, prayer, and song. It is growing in attendance! I look forward to it each month.

St. Maria Goretti Shrine: Work is being done on the background mosaic at the studios. I had hoped it would be installed by her feast day in July. I will check on the progress later this week. It will honor our modern martyr.

St. John Fidelis McMillan: Many of you have asked how he is doing. I saw him last week and he is fine. We told him all is well here and that many of you still ask about him. He wants to be remembered to all. His niece, Mary McGee, recently sent photos of his 100th birthday party in our Jamaica, NY Monastery last fall. He is still going strong! I put the pictures on the Community Bulletin Board in our private quarters so we Fathers can see him at his party, surrounded by generations of nieces and nephews, all of whom sent a generous donation to our Monastery to honor their uncle. We are grateful.

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

Updates from the Monastery 5/6/2024

Dear Friends:
SCHEDULE CHANGES – Due to the PASSIONIST ASSEMBLY:  Our Superior has called a meeting of all the professed Passionists in the eastern United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. We meet in Jamaica, NY from May 21 to 23. Fr. Joe at 88 is excused. Fr. Richard is getting through a knee replacement and cannot drive. The rest of us head to New York on the 20th and return by the 24th. Masses, Confessions, Novena Services are canceled from Monday May 20th till and including Friday, May 24th. Our regular schedule of Masses and confessions resumes on Saturday, May 25th. An exception! Fr. Joe said he will offer a 12:10 Mass each day Monday through Friday, May 20 -24. Thank you, Joe.
THANK-YOU PASSIONIST ASSOCIATES: Last Sunday after the 10 am Mass, the Passionist Associates had a reception in the garden room for anyone who wanted to get together after Mass. They had prepared coffee and an assortment of fancy pastries etc. The best part wasn’t the nice refreshments. It was how everyone enjoyed that time to catch up and have an opportunity to chat. Usually, retreats are being conducted and space isn’t available. People chatted and enjoyed the opportunity. For some it was a great hour! We are appreciative to the Associates for this thoughtful gathering.
PASSIONIST NUNS ELECT SUPERIOR: On this past Friday, the Passionist Nuns, here in Pittsburgh, held their elections for Mother Superior. On the first ballot, Mother Mary Joyce, C.P. was re-elected Superior. Mother Catherine Marie, C.P., Superior General in Rome, had appointed the Rector here to preside. Fr. Curtis tabulated the votes and after the first ballot, it was my honor to confirm Mother Joyce as the re-elected Superior.  We ae all happy and assure her of our prayers and admiration
VOCATIONS HOLY HOUR: This prayer time is scheduled for Tuesday, May 14th.  I look forward to it each month – a beautiful hour of quiet and prayer before Jesus exposed in the Blessed Sacrament. The people attending is increasing. The music is beautiful, the prayer is moving and to be with Jesus in the quiet is a gift. Come see.
OUR BEAUTIFUL CHURCH – PALLADIO AWARD: I am told by the architects who renovated our church, O’Brien and Keane, that the Palladio Award is a very prestigious award. It’s about the highest you can get and highly competitive. Our church was entered along with over 220 other entries. In all, 20 Awards are given. Our church won 1st place for renovation and interior design of a classical traditional building. The architects are delighted and are flying me up to Boston to receive the award with them. They said wear your Passionist habit to the dinner. I will be honored to.
JOHN CARDELLO UPDATE: Our faithful friend and helper with everything in the church – set up, sacristy, collections, Mass, Benediction, Stations had a bad fall weeks ago. Has been with his son and daughter-in-law up by Grove City recuperating. I’ve been calling him to tell him we miss him. Couldn’t get through. I had the wrong number. Spoke with his son. John has an infection and is recuperating in the hospital. I connected up with him and he sends his best and his prayers..
LIFE OF ST. PAUL OF THE CROSS PRESENTATION: Judy Callan, who oversees the formation of our Passionist Associates, lay people who desire to be more closely connected with our community and share in the charism of St. Paul of the Cross, asked me to give a presentation on the Life and Spirit of our Founder, St. Paul of the Cross. I did that on Thursday evening. If there were people who come here and would appreciate a presentation on the life and spirit of St. Paul of the Cross, I would be happy to show it again.

With gratitude,

Fr. Justin Kerber CP

Updates from the Monastery 4/21/2024

Dear Friends,

 Fr. Jerome McKenna, C.P.: His funeral and burial were here this past week. He was very much appreciated by his family, his Passionist Community, the dioceses where he was assigned, and the many people he served. He was the eldest of seven brothers, all born and raised here in Pittsburgh. Two brothers, Joseph and Regis, live here in Pittsburgh and his brother Robert is a Passionist Brother at our infirmary at our Jamaica, NY Monastery. Fr. Jerome was born April 13, 1930 and professed his vows as a Passioinist in 1951. He was ordained a priest in 1958. He died this past April 7 in Atlanta, where he was Pastor, the oldest active pastor in our country!

Fr. Jerome lived at our monastery in Rome following his ordination. He did further studies in Theology and obtained an advanced degree in Theology from the Angelicum University in Rome. In his 66 years of priesthood, he held may positions in our Passionist Communities and in the dioceses in which he served. He was Rector of this Monastery for 2 terms, Provincial Consultor, Provincial Secretary, and Director of Passionist Volunteers. He established various apostolates, serving many years as Pastor in West Virginia and in Atlanta, Georgia until his death. He even served as Vicar General for the entire diocese of Wheeling/Charleston. He was extremely capable and talented, and beyond that, a very good, holy, and dedicated Passionist priest.

The Archbishop of Atlanta celebrated a funeral Mass at St. Paul of the Cross Parish there and then Father’s body was transferred here. A funeral Mass was celebrated this past Friday with our Provincial, Fr. Jim O’Shea, C.P. as the main Celebrant. Archbishop Gregory Hartmayer of Atlanta and the Bishop of Wheeling/Charleston presided. Father is buried now in our Monastery cemetery next to the church. There are more than 125 Passionists buried there and in our Crypt. 

On a personal note, I first met Fr. Jerome when he was a Deacon preparing for Ordination at Union City, NJ. I was a 7th grader who wanted to become a Passionist priest. He and his classmates impressed me as so kind. He was Rector here when I professed my vows in 1965. Last year, I asked him to fly up from Atlanta to be interviewed by the delegation that came from Rome, investigating the cause of canonization of Fr.Theodore Foley, C.P., for 

sainthood. Fr. Jerome had lived with Fr. Theodore for over 10 years in the USA and in Rome. At 92, he was a star witness and sharp as a tack. May God now welcome him into heaven with Theodore and all the holy Passionists.  

I have already asked him to send us some new vocations! Thank you, Fr. Jerome, for your goodness and dedication.

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

Updates from the Monastery 4/14/2024

Dear Friends,

FUNERAL OF FR. JEROME MCKENNA, C.P.:  Fr. Jerome died In Atlanta, Georgia following a fall on April 7th, just six days before his 94th birthday. He was the oldest active Catholic Pastor in the USA. Fr. Jerome was a very likeable Passionist priest from a big family here in Pittsburgh. He took his vows in Pittsburgh in 1951and was ordained in 1958. He served in many important positions and was in in-charge of our Social Concerns. He had a degree from Rome. Worked with the Servant of God, Fr. Theodore Foley there. Was Rector of several monasteries including here at St. Paul’s. He served as Director of Social Concerns and as a Provincial Consultor. He served as Pastor in West Virginia for 20 years and was Vicar General of the Wheeling Diocese. His last assignment was Pastor of our parish in Atlanta, Georgia from 2009 till his death. He was a favorite of mine. I first met him in 1957 when he was a deacon in Union City, NJ. I attended his ordination as an 8th grader in April, 1958. He was Rector of this Monastery when I took vows in 1965. He came here last year to testify on behalf of Theodore Foley’s cause for canonization. At 93 he was still sharp as a tack and deeply loving our Passionist Community. He outdid himself-testifying in behalf of Fr. Theodore’s sanctity. May they now enjoy the presence of Jesus with Paul of the Cross and all the great Passionists who went ahead of them.  The funeral Mass was held in Atlanta. Here at this Monastery, he will be viewed in the church Thursday April 18th, 3 to 9pm. The Mass of Christian Burial will be on Friday at 10:00am with burial in our cemetery. Fr. James O’Shea, C.P., our Provincial, will officiate. Atlanta’s Archbishop, Gregory Hartmayer, OFM Conv. will attend.  

ST.MARIA GORETTI SHRINE PROGRESS:  Within the next few months, the shrine of St. Maria will be completed. The art studio is working on the mosaic to be installed on the shrine rear wall. It is of the Netuno countryside. The backdrop of where Maria was martyred. There will be a matching railing and a place to kneel and pray. Prayers for healing, purity, forgiveness will be there. We also have a first-class relic of the saint.  

THE PALLADIO AWARD: If you are into church architecture, you probably know  that this is a prestigious award by ‘Traditional Building Magazine’ and coveted by church architects. There were 220 entries this year and 20 Awards given. St. Paul of the Cross Church in Pittsburgh won the award for “Interior Design of a Non-Residential Structure.”  Our church came in 1st in that category. Thank you, Jim O’Brien and co-workers for designing and the renovation of our beautiful church, the first in the world dedicated to St. Paul of the Cross. 

HOLY HOUR FOR VOCATIONS: We did not much advertise the time of the April Holy Hour for Passionist vocations. It was last Tuesday. Yet, I walked into the church and was happy to see 40 some people. What a beautiful hour we had honoring Jesus. Thank you. The Passionist we prayed to was Bl. Grimoaldo from Pontecorvo, Italy. St. John Paul II beatified him. His niece, Ida, visited us at our Monastery in Jamaica, NY when I was superior. In Rochester, NY, where she lived, is a shrine to the young Passionist Blessed. Ida has since gone to God. The next Vocations’ Holy Hour is Tuesday, May 14th. Thanks for coming.  

FR. RICHARD’S KNEE SURGERY:  Our dedicated Vicar, Fr. Richard Nalepa had knee replacement surgery this past Wednesday. Everything went well. I waited in the family room with his brother, Ken and sister-in-law, Evelyn. The doctor reported afterwards that everything went perfectly. He will be a few more days in rehab and then come home. 

THE ALTAR GUILD: The Altar Guild keeps the church running! They take care of the sacristy, the sacred wash, the candlesticks, the vestments. They order and care for the flowers, set-up for feast days and liturgical seasons and feasts. They have been in existence for about 5 years now. I want them to know how grateful we are. Thank you: Jane, Phyllis, Suzy, Cindy, Barb, Deb and Tina.                                    With love and gratitude, Fr. Justin Kerber, C.P.  

Updates from the Monastery    4/7/2024

Dear Friends,

 EASTER MASS ATTENDANCE: This is a special thanks to you for attending our Easter Masses. We offered 3 Easter Masses: the Vigil on Saturday evening and the two Easter Sunday Masses. Over 400 attended. We are not a parish and don’t advertise. The music was superb, the church was beautifully decorated, our entire staff and Altar Guild contributed to organizing, assigning, cleaning, decorating. It was an exceptionally beautiful Easter. Also, thanks to all of you who attended. The best attendance in a long time. The collection was also one of the most generous we have had. Thank you.
NEWS ON THE ST. MARIA GORETTI SHRINE:  Mr. Jim O’Brien, the architect whose company oversaw the church renovation, called me recently with two great pieces of information. The mosaic for the St. Maria Goretti Shrine is half way finished and is beautiful.  I hope, if possible, to bless her shrine some time near her feast day in July. Jim said everything so far is on target and beautiful. He said our church has also won a prestigious award for church renovation. It will be awarded in New Hampshire in June. He asked me to attend the dinner. We’ll see. We have received two other awards for renovation and outside lighting. God certainly takes care of us. This shrine will also have prayers and a kneeler. We can seek Maria’s intercession to be faithful Christ as she was in purity and chastity in forgiveness and integrity.
INTEGRITY:   I have always liked that word. I remember in the high school seminary an upper-classman told me his special hobby was ‘etymology.’ I didn’t know what it meant and looked it up. It’s the history of words. How a word comes into a language. A good strong word I always liked is integrity. I remember once saying: “When I die, I hope someone says: ‘He was a man of integrity’.” As I recall, ‘integrity’ came to English from the French and Latin word ‘integer’ which means whole, together, not a lot of loose ends! That will be a beautiful gift to pray for at St. Maria’s shrine. Our society needs to value purity, forgiveness and integrity.
GOOD NEWS FROM THE PASSIONIST NUNS IN CARRICK: Very shortly, a young woman who has spent over a year in discernment living with the community of Passionist Nuns will be vested in the Passionist habit. She will spend a year as a novice in prayer and study discerning whether God is calling her to devote her life to Him. After this year, if she desires to continue, she will pronounce her first vows and the beautiful Passionist Sign will be placed over her heart and she will wear it, being a daughter of St. Paul of the Cross. Three years later if all goes smoothly and she wishes to continue and the community judges her fit, she will take final vows as a Passionist Nun. One of our priests goes to their convent each morning for 

Mass. I find it a wonderful honor to serve these holy women and help them in their beautiful dedication to Christ as Passionist Contemplative Nuns. It is a very special vocation not given to huge crowds but to those who receive the gift a beautiful prayerful life.


With love and gratitude, Fr. Justin Kerber, C.P.  

Updates from the Monastery 3/24/2024

Dear Friends:

HOLY WEEK IS HERE: This is a pressure time in the church, especially for Pastors. I was one for 20 years. You have all the Rites of receiving people into the Church. The three great days of holiness immediately before Easter. Cleaning the church, decorating for Easter, preparing sermons, confessions, helping other places with confessions, trying to recollect yourself and being in God’s presence. This past Wednesday, we had our prayer morning. The community voted that on all Wednesdays we would spend the first part of the day in prayer. And we have. The front door, open all days from 9 to 5 for confessions and other business, is closed till 1pm. Only on Wednesdays is the first public Mass at 12:10pm.  We agreed to spend those early hours each Wednesday in prayer and quiet. We have Divine Office, Community Mass, a short meeting if needed and an hour of Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament before lunch. We open at 1pm. This past Wednesday was particularly beautiful. During that adoration hour, I brought with me two books for prayer. A small book I use on Holy Thursdays at adoration till midnight. The book is “The Hymns and Prayers of St. Thomas Aquinas.” It’s a little book with beautiful words about the Eucharist. The other book was a personal diary hand written by Fr. Augustine Paul Hennessy. He was our Master of Novices, the Passionist priest who trained me and my class how to be Passionists in 1964 – 1965, right here at this monastery, where we first became Passionists.  About four years ago, before Fr. Timothy Fitzgerald left for our infirmary, he said: “Justin, I want you to have this book. It’s Fr. Augustine’s diary, beautiful thoughts. I know you were very close to him and he would want you to have it.” It is one of the most precious things I now have. Some years after my novitiate, I was again stationed with Fr. Augustine in Springfield, Mass. Often after a meal, we would walk on the monastery grounds and he would share his beautiful thoughts on God with me. He looked on me as a beloved spiritual son. I had many grateful thoughts as I read from his diary last Wednesday. I’d like to share some beautiful reflections he wrote on training us as Passionists. He wrote: “My aim was to embody in my words and still more, in my life, four goals: to be relaxed with the Providence of God and seldom crippled by fear, to believe in the uniqueness of each one’s vocation in Christ, to expect the inevitability of conflict and the predictability of failure and to insist that maturity is impossible without a total commitment to love.” He told us two qualities were especially needed to accomplish this: mystic insight and maneuverability. I remember this still so clearly. Mystic Insight – see what God is asking and  Maneuverability - able to adjust to the moment by moment demands of love. These are what make a happy Passionist. Then he writes: “I was confident that by lecturing to them and sharing my life quite openly with them they would learn, partly by an osmosis, that a Christian career is a career in Christ. A career in Christ is a career on the Cross. A career on the Cross is a career of sacrificial love. This is Good News from Calvary.”  May we all strive to love God with the great intensity and tenderness of love that he did. After my parents, he was one of the most important people in my life by God’s Providence. Have a wonderful Holy Week and Listen to His Love.

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


Updates from the Monastery 3/16/2024

Dear Friends, 

HOLY WEEK SCHEDULE: The community reviewed last year’s schedule. It will remain pretty much the same. The one change is we will recite Morning Prayer in the church at 9a.m. Thurs., Fri. and Sat. rather than sing the lessons of Tenebrae.  Mass of the Last Supper will be on Thursday at 7 p.m. with the washing of feet. Procession follows with adoration till midnight.  That is a beautiful time to pray and be present to the Lord. I read some of the prayers and hymns of St. Thomas Aquinas who wrote the Mass prayers and hymns including the Tantum Ergo for this feast.  The Dominicans who lived with Thomas said he liked to even sit very close to Jesus when he adored the Eucharist. It is a beautiful evening to spend time close to the Lord. I love that time and do my best to stay till midnight

BIOGRAPHY OF FR.THEODORE FOLEY,CP:   I mentioned last week that Fr. Victor Hoagland sent me a copy of the new biography of Fr. Theodore Foley he has written. It has been taken to our General Headquarters in Rome where it will be translated into both Italian and Spanish. It’s a little over 70 type written pages. If pictures etc. are added, it will be a bit larger. It is very well done and a joy to read. I also had two people recently contacting me about cures attributed to his intercession. A cure has to be proven where there is no other explanation and there’s a lot of technicalities. Eventually, one will come through. Fr. Victor has a web site where he has a lot of good Passionist material: Victor’s Place.

MONASTERY COOKS:  I have reported to you over the past six years our need for a monastery cook. You heard of our searches, try outs and successes and failures. What I have learned from being a superior for over 40 years and what’s of prime importance: fidelity to prayer and good meals!  I want to thank Ann Hedges for the great job she is doing and Gemma Kolcun for the times she has filled in. Things are running smoothly in our kitchen.

GENERAL CHAPTER 2024 NEWS:  The General Chapter opens in Rome this October. I was elected a delegate from our province and am greatly honored. The Passionists world-wide are divided into 6 configurations – geographical groups. The priest whom the General appointed to head our configuration is Fr. Rafael Vivanco Peres, C.P., a Mexican Passionist in Rome. When I was Pastor in Raleigh, I had Rafael several times preach Missions for the Spanish speaking at the Raleigh Cathedral. My good friend, Fr. Aurelio Miranda, C.P., whom I have had here in Pittsburgh was elected to represent Brazil. So together with Fr. Jim, our Provincial, I am now feeling what a great experience this should be surrounded by many excellent Passionists. God’s in charge.

PASSIONIST NUNS: The Sisters have much to celebrate.  Because on the Solemnity of the Annunciation, a young woman, after having spent many months as a postulant will advance to the novitiate. She begins a full year of prayer and discernment about becoming a vowed Passionist nun. Sr. Mary Megan of St. Joseph will be vested in the Passionist habit and spend the next year in prayer and discernment of God’s will for her life. It is a beautiful and unique vocation. Pray for her.

HOLY HOUR LAST WEEK: The monthly hour of adoration for vocations every month is one of my favorite prayer times. The singing is beautiful. Andrea brings in beautiful cantors and instrumentalists. We adore the Lord exposed in the monstrance. Pray to Mary and Paul of the Cross. I get moved when we carry the Eucharist through the Church. We had about 45 participants last week. Not a great crowd but a beautiful faith filled group and attendance is going up. I so appreciate this time with you and the Lord.

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

Updates from the Monastery  3/10/24

Dear Friends, 

HOLY HOUR FOR VOCATIONS:  This coming Tuesday in our church we have the monthly Holy Hour. We pray that God will bless the Church with vocations to priesthood and religious life. It is a beautiful hour – songs, quiet, Rosary, Benediction and carrying the Blessed Sacrament through the church. Each month, we invite one of our Passionist saints to be with us. Bl. Lorenzo Salvi is chosen for this Tuesday. Last month, we had a higher attendance. Glad to see that.
JOHN CARDELLO: Our dedicated friend, John, is recuperating in a nursing facility. John assists daily by setting up the altar, lighting the candles, often serving as lector at daily Mass.  A couple weeks ago, he had a bad fall down a flight of monastery stairs breaking four ribs and clavicle. His son has moved him up to a facility in Grove City close to him. His daughter drove all the way from California. He is getting love and attention! When I told him I would drive up to see him. He said: “Please bring a pair of rosary beads.”  Had a wonderful visit. He thanks everyone.
BIOGRAPHY OF FR. THEODORE FOLEY, C.P.: Fr. Victor Hoagland called the other day from our monastery in New York. He said he had just finished writing a longer biography of the Servant of God, Fr. Theodore Foley, who is entombed in our church. I’ve read a good part of it. It will be translated into Italian and Spanish. Including English, it will be printed in three languages in Rome. People are visiting his tomb every day and recording favors granted and petitions requested.
ST. MARIA GORETTI SHRINE: Finally, the agreements have been signed. The architect who renovated our church, Jim O’Brien, has helped me finalize the last renovation to our church. Brett Rugo of Rugo Stone was hired to finish St. Maria Goretti’s shrine. It is to be a place of prayer for purity, healing, and forgiveness. Maria Goretti was taught and ministered to by Italian Passionists. They gave her first Communion, heard her first confession and taught her of God. One of our priests, Fr. Jerome, assisted her when dying as she forgave her murderer. The Passionists sponsored her cause for canonization as one of our own. The marble statue of her on the St. Joseph side of our church is an exact replica of the one under the main altar in the church in Corinaldo, Italy where she was baptized. Cardinal Christoph Pierre, Nuncio to the USA, got permission for us to replicate that statue for our shrine. A beautiful mosaic of the Netuno countryside will be the backdrop. The mosaic is being prepared.  The shrine will be beautiful and a place to pray for purity, healing and forgiveness.
HOLY WEEK:  Despite a reduced number of priests, we will try to keep everything going for Holy Week so that everything will be maintained. We will have a Community Meeting of the Passionists this week and will finalize.

RETREAT HOUSE – LENTEN DAYS OF RECOLLECTION:  These days planned by Fr. Curtis and Fr. Michael are being attended and appreciated. Actually, despite the reduction in number of Passionists, everything is being maintained: the masses, confessions, retreats, special programs. I am very thankful for your attendance and the generosity of the members of this community. 

PILGRIMAGES:  When I was a Pastor in North Carolina in conjunction with other parishes served by Passionists there, we led pilgrimages to Italy: “In the Footsteps of St. Paul of the Cross.” Also, pilgrimages to the Holy Land centered on the Passion of Christ. “Catholic Travel Agency”, located in Anaheim, CA, helped us with everything. I plan on contacting that Director to inquire about Passionist pilgrimages to the shrine of Fr. Theodore Foley in Pittsburgh and the holy places of New York.

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

Updates from the Monastery 3/3/2024

Dear Friends, 

DAILY CELEBRATION OF THE EUCHARIST:  What an honor it is to go to Mass every day and what a great honor to celebrate Mass each day. There is nothing more important that I can do as a priest. I promised God when I was ordained that I would celebrate Mass every day of my life. Except for 2 days when I was hospitalized, He has helped me keep that promise for over 52 years. There is nothing more important in my life that I do. #43 of the Passionist Rule of Life states: “The Eucharist is central to the life of each community. In so far as possible, we celebrate it together each 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 every community, and for each religious, the Eucharist is a divine reality that transforms their lives.” This beautiful directive comes to us from Paul of the Cross and from the Church. What a beautiful gift! Daily Mass – what a gift – to renew what he did on the Cross and then receive Him because He wants to be with me and wants to be with you!
DAYS OF RECOLLECTION: Frs. Curtis and Michael are offering “A Day of Recollection for each Week in Lent.” It is for your spiritual growth and holiness. Each week they are having a different speaker. It’s all for you and your coming closer to the Lord. Check out the schedule – the Tuesdays of Lent – see if you are available and if this is beneficial for your spiritual growth. All are welcome.
PASSIONIST FEAST DAYS: Countries, Religious Organizations, Communities of Priests, Brothers and Nuns etc. have special feast days for their members. It is true of the Passionists. We follow all the Masses of the entire Church and some that are specific for the USA and others specific to Passionists all over the world.  Passionist feasts include those in honor of Saints, men and women, who were Passionist priests, brothers and sisters, for example: St. Paul of the Cross, St. Gabriel, St. Gemma etc. There are also special feasts that were set up by St. Paul of the Cross and later Fr. Generals of the Passionists that recall specific devotions to the Passion of Christ, for example: Jesus Crowned with Thorns, Jesus in Gethsemane, Jesus Scourged etc. Fr. Thomas Struzzieri, the first Passionist bishop was influential in establishing these first feast days proper to our community.
HOLY HOUR FOR VOCATIONS – MARCH 12TH: One of my favorite hours of the month is when we adore the Lord in this Eucharistic hour. Nothing else to do but be with Him. We usually get between 25 to 30 people. What matters is that we are adoring the Lord. Last week it was over 40 people.  Andrea and the Cantor provided beautiful music. I look forward to it and 

find it very prayerful. I thank Andrea for providing a beautiful musical setting.
POPE FRANCIS’ MARCH PRAYER INTENTION: At this time of year, we celebrate beautiful feast days of great martyrs of our faith. Last week, I mentioned that I have always admired St. Polycarp, an early martyr, anxious to shed his blood for Christ.  Sts. Perpetua and Felicity will be celebrated in March, greatly loved and admired women martyrs of the early Church. The Acts of their Martyrdom was read at the Eucharist. Another is St. Justin, who had the honor of shedding his blood for Christ. These heroes and heroines of the 2nd century followed the Apostles. Martyrdom was a great honor granted them. This year Pope Francis’ March Intention for the Apostleship of Prayer is: “for the martyrs of our day, witnesses to Christ.” “Pray that those who risk their lives for the Gospel imbue the Church with courage and missionary drive. And are open to the grace of martyrdom.”  Great Love!                                                            

With  appreciation, 

Fr. Justin Kerber, C.P., Rector

Updates from the Monastery  2/25/24

Dear Friends:
ST. POLYCARP: In my office, I have a file cabinet where I keep talks and sermons I’ve written. Some I like. Some I throw out when I read them a second time. I also have a section on the saints, mostly short stories about each of the saints. I love St. Paul of the Cross and St. Therese of Lisieux and I have lots of stories about them. For Feb. 23rd, the feast of St. Polycarp, I went to my notes. I have always admired everything about him except his name. He’s one of the early Bishop Martyrs, put to death for the faith in the year 155 at the age of 86. He was a disciple of St. John the Apostle! Polycarp related how John would tell the people about Jesus. John would sit when he preached at the Eucharist. John would tell them all about Jesus even how he looked. Polycarp served very long as Bishop of Smyrna in Turkey. When St. Ignatius of Antioch had been arrested and was being brought across the sea to Rome for martyrdom in 107, the young Bishop Polycarp walked down to where the boat was being re-supplied and knelt in the sand and kissed the chains around the hands and feet of Ignatius.  48 years later, Polycarp, himself, after having been arrested for being a Christian and being asked to deny Christ responded: “For 86 years, I have served Him. He never did me any wrong. How can I blaspheme my King, who saved me?” He was condemned to death. The fire was lit and he was burnt to death and could be heard praying: “Lord, Jesus Christ, I bless you for judging me worthy to share the cup of Christ.” The account of his martyrdom was written by Marcianus, who signed it this way: “I, Marcianus, knew him, saw him in flames, touched his remains with my own hand.” The account was read at Masses to inspire the early Christians!
LENTEN DAYS OF RECOLLECTION: For each week in Lent, Fr. Curtis has invited a speaker for a day of recollection at the retreat house. He has asked me to speak at the first one this Tuesday. It’s in God’s hands!
VISIT OF OUR FR. PROVINCIAL:  As I write this bulletin message Fr. Provincial, Jim O’Shea, has arrived for a visit and to check up on how things are going in Pittsburgh.  He is working very hard at a plan to hopefully insure the continuance of our Retreat House Ministries especially in light of the decreasing number of Passionists. Pray God blesses our Province with new members.
STATIONS OF THE CROSS:  We are having the Stations of the Cross each Friday in Lent at 7:00pm.
This past Tuesday, we also had the Holy Hour for Vocations. We had close to 40 people show. It made me very happy because everybody so reverently prayed and sang beautifully. I sincerely find it one of the best hours of the month.
ST.MARIA GORETTI SHRINE: I have approved the contracts to finish the work on the St. Maria Goretti Shrine. It is already beautiful and a place to pray for strength and healing and peace. Maria Goretti, Martyr for Purity, will help all of us to be pure and chaste in all the situations of our lives.  The shrine will have a beautiful mosaic background based on her area in Netuno. There will be prayers and a place to kneel and pray for purity and strength, a place of forgiveness and peace.
OUR MONASTERY MINISTRIES: The number of Passionists in this community since  2018 has gone from 17 to 6. I want to thank my fellow Passionists for all the extra work they are now doing. Two are serving full time in the Retreat House. The R.H. is doing well with programs and attendance. The other 4 of us cover much and at advanced ages. Thank you, Men, for Daily Masses in the Church, Daily Mass for the cloistered Nuns, 3 Sunday Masses, 4 novena services on Mondays followed by confessions, daily confessions at the front door from 9am to 5pm, Confession in the church on Saturdays, being present each day for our community prayer together and also for Eucharistic Adoration on Wednesdays.  I am so very grateful to you, our staff and the wonderful people here.  
With deep appreciation, Fr. Justin Kerber, C.P., Rector

Updates from the Monastery    2.16.24

Dear Friends:
STATIONS OF THE CROSS: For the Fridays of Lent, we will pray the Stations of the Cross. I am honored to lead them on all the days I am available. It is a beautiful practice dating back to the early Church . Pilgrims would go to the Holy Land and walk to the places where Jesus walked in Jerusalem carrying His Cross to the Hill of Calvary. They remembered His love. We do the same but in Pittsburgh.
HOLY HOUR FOR VOCATIONS THIS WEEK: One of my favorite monthly events! All of us praying and being quiet in the presence of the Lord. God hears our prayers and the desires of our hearts. I thank the faithful group that comes every month along with Andrea and the beautiful singer.
QUIET PRAYER: St. Paul of the Cross wanted our communities to be houses of prayer. I appreciate that so much being here in Pittsburgh. There are only six professed Passionists now. However, we met and determined we will keep our prayer life going and so continue striving to be faithful to prayer. We celebrate a number of Masses every day. However, on Wednesday mornings we close down the front door till 1pm. On those mornings, we have our prayers together and a Mass just for the Passionists with an hour of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament before lunch. We open the front door at one and resume all our normal services. It’s great that the community wanted to create this quiet prayer time.
ST. GABRIEL OF OUR LADY OF SORROWS,C.P.: Declared a Saint by Pope Benedict XV in 1920, St. Gabriel is patron of youth, students, seminarians, clerics and the Abruzzi region in Italy. His feast day is Feb. 27th. Saint Gabriel was born in 1838. He came from a large wealthy family in Spoleto, Italy. His father was a lawyer and served as mayor. He grew up in a household where devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows was typical of family life. He was a normal teenager: he danced, hunted, had many friends but felt something was lacking. He turned to Jesus and Mary and received a calling to become a Passionist. Despite objections from his father, Gabriel entered our community after high school. His father never spoke to him again. Gabriel loved God with all his heart and became a saint. One day, his Director, Fr. Norbert, saw him pacing around his room very agitated. “What’s the matter, Gabriel?” “Father is there anything in my heart, I have not given to God? Tell me what it is so I can rip it out and belong to Him completely.” Saint Gabriel is remarkable because he went so quickly from a life devoted to the pleasures of this world, to becoming centered on the Passion of Christ. He grew daily in love with Christ and Mary, Mother of Sorrows. This kind and holy student died from tuberculosis at the age of 23 in 1862. Pope Francis, when speaking on his feast day, said that Gabriel is one “whose example helps young people to be enthusiastic disciples of Jesus and inspires sick people to offer your suffering in union with those of Christ.” His shrine at the Passionist Monastery near the snow-capped Gran Sasso Mountains is one of the most visited shrines in all of Europe. Our Pittsburgh Monastery has always been a place of great devotion to him. For over a hundred years, Pittsburghers have been coming here praying to him. He was to be canonized in 1913. Our Gabriel Chapel was added on to the church to be ready for that canonization. Because of World War I, his canonization was delayed. When it happened in 1920, our chapel had already been built! Today his main shrine is in Abruzzi, Italy .
WHAT THE PASSION MEANS TO ME: Fr.  Curtis, Director of our Retreat House has asked me to speak at the Retreat House Day of Recollection on Feb. 27th. He gave me the topic: ‘What the Passion means to me.’ I have begun thinking about what to say. What it means to be a Passionist and to wear the Sign over my heart. Paul of the Cross said: “The Passion contains everything. Wisdom comes from the wounds of Christ.” I am praying over this and want to connect it to the Mass. We learned as children: “The Mass is the unbloody sacrifice of Christ offered on our altars.”  It’s all connected and it all about God loves us.
Gratefully in Christ,   Fr. Justin Kerber, C.P. 

Updates from the Monastery  2/11/2024

Dear Friends, 

LENT AND ASHES AND GIVING UP THINGS:  Lent is here. Ashes will be given out at all Masses Wednesday. Please see the schedule. Stations of the Cross at 7pm on Fridays. Please do extra things for Our Lord….prayer, kindness, reaching out to someone, avoiding things that displease Him and sacrifices -all things that show our love for Jesus. Daily Mass is one of the best things we can do…renewing what Jesus did on Calvary, offering Him to the Father and then He comes to us.
Let me share with you a true Lent story. It’s 1954, Jersey City, sitting in the kitchen before supper, my whole family is there: Mom and Dad, I’m 8 yr. old, Bill, a 4th grader and my 3 younger brothers are there; Bob 6, Jack 5 and Fred 2 (probably in a high chair).  My mother said that before we have supper that we should share what we were going to do special for Our Lord for Lent. She went first and said she was going to daily Mass every day. Next, Dad said he would give up sweets, Bob and Jack followed saying they would sacrifice candy. My turn came and I said I will also go to Mass every day. I think my mother said that it meant Saturdays, too. I never have stopped. By the 6th grade when I met a Passionist for the first time, I told Fr. Michael Anthony Campbell that I went to daily Mass and wanted to be a priest. He told me he was expelled from China after spending nearly 5 years in solitary confinement for the faith and was so happy to say Mass again. He told me how much he loved God. That’s how I became a priest. When we do something for the Lord, He does much more for us. Give Him the best.  
PRAISE NATION: This is a charismatic type of prayer group which attracts people ,young and old, to the Catholic Church. Bishop Zubik speaks highly of its good work. Fr. Levi, a diocesan priest, along with Joe Jacobs, a dedicated layman, give a lot of leadership and spiritual direction to the entire group. Fr. Curtis has been on the front line in working with them. He has arranged some usage of the retreat house. I was asked if the monastery church and parking lots could be used at times for prayer meetings and services when  free.  I gladly agreed. The first program of Praise Nation is this Saturday night, Feb. 10 at 7pm. I was asked to preach so I will experience the faith and prayer. I am delighted the Passionists can help. More delighted that young people are responding, am grateful to Fr. Curtis for his apostolic creativity. All people are welcome at these prayer meetings.
PASSIONIST NUNS – GOOD NEWS: As I write this bulletin, I just got back from Mass at our Nuns. Mother Joyce told me the young woman living with them will be vested in the habit and begin preparation to be a Passionist . We wish Sr. Mary Meaghan well and assure her of our prayers.

ST. MARIA GORETTI SHRINE: I talked with Jim O’Brien on Friday. They are researching backgrounds for the mosaic that will be on the rear wall of the shrine. She was martyred in Netuno. It will be a place where we can pray for fidelity to Christ and forgiveness.

STATIONS OF THE CROSS:  A very popular Lenten devotion is the Stations of the Cross. On all the Fridays of Lent, we will have the Stations in our church at 7pm. All are welcome.

HOLY HOUR FOR VOCATIONS: There will be the monthly Holy Hour for Vocations on Tuesday, Feb. 20th  There is beautiful music, quiet, rosary and benediction. This month we will ask St. Vincent Strambi to be with us. This early companion of St. Paul of the Cross wrote the first biography of the Founder. St. Paul. Vincent became the second Passionist bishop. He said: “God raised up Paul of the Cross in the Church that we might learn to love God from our hearts   With much gratitude, Fr. Justin Kerber, C.P., Rector 

Updates from the Monastery 1/28/2024

Dear Friends, 

COMPLETION OF ST. MARIA GORETTTI SHRINE: I am nearly half way through my 2nd term as Rector here in Pittsburgh. It was our custom for the outgoing superior to move away upon completion of his 2nd term. It was a good custom. Maybe because of the shortage of personnel, the custom has not been always followed in recent years. With an aging community, people are less maneuverable. One thing I had wanted to accomplish here was the renovation of our church. That has been accomplished beautifully through your generosity and the exceptional goodness of Jack Mascaro. However, the beautiful St. Maria Goretti shrine needs completion. I spoke with our primary architect, Mr. Jim O’Brien, a number of times in these past weeks.  Plans are now underway, sketches shared, decisions made for the completion of the shrine. Perhaps a mosaic on the back wall, a kneeler, prayers available for purity, chastity, forgiveness, healing and strength. St. Maria Goretti, a saint from a Passionist parish and a patron of our community, is a model of purity in a culture that seems to no longer cherish or strive for this virtue. I hope this shrine will inspire us to strive to be pure and chaste and to please God in all our lives.      

FEB. 2ND ST. BLASÉ – BLESSING OF THROATS: Next Saturday, Nov. 3rd is the feast day of St. Blasé, Bishop and Martyr. We will have the Blessing of Throats after the 8:00a.m. Mass.

“DO THE TRUTH IN LOVE”:  As a seminarian, my class had a special honor. As high school seminarians for three years we had as rector of the Seminary in Dunkirk, NY., Fr. Augustine Paul Hennessy, C.P.  Then when we came to the Novitiate here in Pittsburgh in 1964-65, Fr. Augustine had moved here and was our Master of Novices who taught us spirituality and how to be a Passionist. He was one of the finest Passionists I have ever met. He had a doctorate in Theology, was elected head of the Theological Society of America, was called to Europe to debate theologians at the time of the Vatican Council but above all he was one of the most loving and saintly Passionists I have known. He always told us: “Do the truth in love.” I have thought of that so many times as a Passionist, as a priest, as a Superior. The other night I was listening to the political debates I just wanted to say: “Do the truth in love.” It applies to so much. Before Fr. Timothy Fitzgerald left here for the infirmary where he died not long after in Nov. 2021, he gave me a book.  He said: “Justin, you were very close to Fr. Augustine, I want you to have this.” It was a hand written book of some 200 pages entitled: “By the Gift of his Grace – Reflections on a Happy Life” by Augustine Paul Hennessy, C.P. I have it next to my bed and I read it many a night. Beautiful! Beautiful reflections. To me it is all about living in God’s presence and ‘doing the truth in love.’ Our country needs that so much. As a young priest, I was stationed in W. Springfield, Mass.  Fr. Augustine was Rector there for a couple years. We would walk many a day after lunch and talk about the things of God. One day he said to me: “Justin, when I die I want you to preach for me.”  I was dumbfounded and so very grateful.  He died when I was In North Carolina. Someone else preached. That was alright. All I want is “To do the truth in love.” It is a beautiful way to live.

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

Updates from the Monastery    1/13/2024

Dear Friends, 

THE CHURCH WAS BEAUTIFUL: The church was beautiful for Christmas. The flowers, lights, manger scene and Christmas decorations were as beautiful as I have seen them. The ladies of the Altar Guild headed by Jane Connor do a fantastic job. They decorated and had the church spotless. Rusty and John did much of the heavy work. I want to thank all of them. Many nice things happened over Christmas, especially the music selected and arranged by Andrea Terlesky. Thanks, too, to the musicians that accompanied her and made the Masses beautiful. I am grateful for the tremendous generosity of so many of you that allowed us to help the 50 or so families who come to the monastery food bank for assistance every Friday.  We were able to generously provide food gift cards for Christmas dinners. Thank you for your tremendous generosity shown the Passionist Community that enables us to keep things going here in Pittsburgh.
THE RETREAT HOUSE IS DOING SO WELL: Transitions are difficult. Happily, the Retreat Center is moving along under the direction of Fr. Curtis Kiddy and Fr. Michael Greene. They are starting new programs and building up the loyal retreat movement that Fr. Gerald preserved and served for sixteen years.  This is the first retreat movement in the entire U.S.A. We are here 104 years! Fr. Curtis brings years of experience as a Pastor to this assignment.  It continues to be a beautiful prayerful place to encounter Jesus.
OUR APOSTOLATE AS CONFESSORS FLOURISHES: One of the beautiful apostolates that the Passionist Community of Pittsburgh has been known for is providing access to the sacrament of Penance for the clergy of Pittsburgh and for the laity. Besides all the confessions heard in the church on Saturdays and after novena services on Mondays, a Passionist priest is available every day except Sunday at the Monastery Office. This is arranged so clergy and lay people have access to the sacrament of Penance six days a week with anonymity observed. I have pledged as long as I am Rector to continue providing this service which has been offered for over 160 years.  St. Paul of the Cross said our houses were to truly be a “Refugium Peccatorum,” a refuge for sinners. We offer confessions nearly every day and all day. Right before Christmas, one of the Bishops of Pittsburgh stopped by and asked to see the Rector. He said: “Fr. Justin, I have made this trip to your monastery to especially thank your community for providing such access to the sacrament of penance. The clergy are very appreciative.  At a time when so many things are being cut back, we are so grateful to the Passionists for providing this sacrament. The esteem we have for your community continually increases.” Actually, it is an 

honor to honor our Founders’ wishes!    

AN ELECTION THAT MADE ME HAPPY: Every 6 years, the Provincial superiors of the 25 or so Passionist provinces (groupings) along with Fr. General and his council are called to Rome to review the life and ministry of the Passionists and to elect a new Fr. General. They all meet with the Pope and promise fidelity. Each province also elects one of their members as a voting member at this meeting. Last week, the votes were counted for the delegate who will represent our province (Eastern U.S.A. and the Caribbean). I was elected as the delegate. I was absolutely surprised and was also quite happy. Pray that I represent our men well in October and am faithful to our Father, St. Paul of the Cross.

HOLY HOUR FOR VOCATIONS:  Our monthly Holy Hour for Vocations, the first for 2024 in slated for this Tuesday at 7pm. We have Benediction, Rosary, singing and beautiful silence to adore the Lord in the Eucharist. There’s nothing else to do but to be with Jesus in the Eucharist. We look at Him and He looks at us. We give Him our hearts and He gives us his love. Please join us! 


I simply want to say that Christmas means God loves us very much. So much so, that He came to us as an Infant and became one of us so He could die for us on a Cross.

The Founder of the Passionists, St. Paul of the Cross, besides founding a religious order spent his entire apostolic life preaching missions and retreats throughout Italy. He constantly reminded people of the love of the Crucified Christ. Whenever he would open a mission in whatever locality, he would carry in a large Crucifix and set it before the people. He would then tell them: “Listen to His love.” The Crucifix spoke louder than any words of Paul. The Crucifix is the proof God loves us. When we gaze upon the Cross, we listen to His love. And that love proves itself in wounds and nails, pierced flesh and a head crowned with thorns.

My friends, what do we hear Him say, when his arms are stretched out reaching out to you and me? Things you and I need to hear and know. We hear Him say, you are important to Me. I love you and you don’t have to prove yourself to me or earn my love. I love you always. When you fail, when you wander, when you forget me……I never wander or forget you. I am more anxious to forgive you, than you are to be forgiven. I want your love. I was born an Infant in Bethlehem so I could give myself in love for you. The arms that reach out from the wood of the manger are the same arms that reach out from the wood of a Cross.    

There is a little story that I love very much and have told it on many Christmases. It is a true story that took place during the Second World War. It occurred in a prison camp built by the Japanese in the Philippines. The Filipino prisoners asked if they could have a prayer room in the prison. One of the Filipinos carved a wooden crucifix. A certain Japanese guard would watch the prisoners meditate before Jesus on the Cross. When Christmas came, several prisoners carved a manger scene and placed it in the room. The guard watched as the Filipinos prayed with equal fervor before the Infant in the manger.

One day the guard pointed to the Infant in the manger and then to Jesus on the Cross and simply asked: “The same one?” The answer was given him: “The same one.”

Then looking at the crib and then at the Cross, he softly said: “I’m sorry.”

What a beautiful story. The crib is about love and the Cross is about how great that love is. The arms of the Babe reach out from the manger. The arms of Christ Crucified reach out from the Cross - the same one, the same one.

This Christmas we celebrate His coming to earth. I am sorry he had to suffer. Yet I am so very happy, He loved us that much – the same Christ at Bethlehem and the same Christ on Calvary.

Here is a final story from the life of St. Paul of the Cross. I love it very much. I first heart it from my Master of Novices when I was here in Pittsburgh as a novice in 1964. It is about a simple beautiful gesture from when St. Paul was an old man in his eighties on his death bed.  The Infirmarian, Bro. Bartholomew Calderoni, noticed that he was holding a Crucifix in his hands. Quite oddly for a man in pain, the image of the Lord was turned away from him, facing upwards toward the ceiling. Thinking he would be doing the old man a favor, the Brother gently turned the crucifix around in Paul’s hands so he could look on the suffering Christ.

A few minutes later, the Brother re-entered the room, and again the image of Christ Crucified was turned away from Paul’s gaze and turned toward the ceiling. Again, Brother Batholomew tried to turn it around in the dying man’s hands. But Paul shook his head in protest and whispered: “Let Him face heaven so that He may say a good word on my behalf to His heavenly Father.” 

As we listen to the love of the Infant Jesus this Christmas, know how much he loves you. Listen to that love as you gaze on the Babe in swaddling clothes. See the same one, the same one who hangs upon the Cross, loving us thoroughly and speaking a good word on our behalf to his heavenly Father. May the best gift you receive this Christmas come as you listen to His love!

Monastery Updates 12/23/2023

Dear Friends,

In the church where I grew up, was a beautiful stained-glass window of St. Thomas Aquinas, the great 13th century Dominican theologian. It depicts an event that happened toward the end of the saint’s life. Thomas is before the crucifix. He was in Salerno, Italy, and had worked late into the night finishing the 3rd section of the Summa Theologica. He had just written on the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus and was lost in prayer. A sacristan passing by saw him kneeling before the Cross. He then heard a voice coming from the Crucifix: “You have written well of me, Thomas; what reward will you have?” Thomas replied: “Nothing but yourself, Lord.” Thomas asked for nothing but in reality connected to everything. To connect with Jesus and possess Him is to have everything our hearts desire. May you experience that love. May all of you connect with your loved ones, your families.  But above all may you connect with the love Christmas celebrates.  A love that moved the arms of the Infant reaching out from the manger to become the very arms that reach out in love for us from the Cross. He reaches out to connect with us. May we connect with Him. May Jesus be your best gift this Christmas.
With love and prayers, 

Fr. Justin Kerber, C.P.

Monastery Updates      12/17/2023

Dear Friends,

Christine, who serves in so many capacities here, told me that a short Christmas message was needed for the bulletin. Last year, I spoke of how Paul of the Cross loved the image of the Infant Jesus resting on the wood of the Cross. Paul had such a painting in his room. It reminded him of Christ’s love, so strong, from birth to death for us on a Cross. He came to earth to stretch out His arms on the Cross and give Himself for us. Look at those outstretched arms and see how much God loves you. One of the greatest blessings I have had was Fr. Augustine Paul Hennessy, C.P., as Rector of the Seminary when I was in high school. Later, he was my Master of Novices here in Pittsburgh. I learned how to be a Passionist from him. He often quoted Pope St. Pius XII’s great encyclical “Mystici Corporis,” the mystical Body of Christ. One line I remember by heart: “In the crib, on the Cross, in the unending glory of the Father, Christ has all the members of His body united to Him in a way more loving than a mother has for the child in her arms or that with which a person loves himself.” Wow! Jeus died on the Cross for me with a love more tender than a mother for her child or a man for himself. We celebrate this at Christmas. It is overwhelming! A few years back when I was Pastor in Raleigh, I was sitting in the old cathedral and helping with the Christmas confessions. The confessionals were taken so I heard in the body of the church. Somehow, the angle where I sat, was one whereby the large Crucifix with Jesus’ outstretched arms was directly behind the stable with the outstretched arms of the Infant. From the wood of the manger to the wood of the Cross, Jesus reaches out to tell us, “I love you this much. This is how much I love you. I want your heart more than anything else this Christmas.”                 

                                                                  In Christ, Fr. Justin Kerber, C.P., Rector

Monastery Updates

Dear Friends,

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE RETREAT HOUSE MUSIC MINISTRY:  Last Tuesday evening I had a beautiful experience in our Retreat House Chapel. I attended a 2 hour musical performance put on by the Retreat Center Music Ministry directed by Joe Schubert with Nick Capone, organist. I attended primarily to show my support for Fr. Curtis Kiddy as he has assumed Retreat House leadership. Honestly, I went as duty but two hours later was hoping it wouldn’t end! Never did I expect to enjoy it as I did. Superb! The singers and musicians were magnificent. The time flew by and was I happy to have experienced this prayerful singing and raising of the mind and heart to God. Isn’t that what we learned as children to be the definition of prayer?
THANKS TO OUR PASSIONIST ASSOCIATES:  Our C.P. Associates treat us as family. Do you know why? Because we are family. They are lay people who have studied our Passionist spirit and charism. They have associated themselves with us in ministry. They love St. Paul of the Cross and all that Paul is for the church. This Sunday after the last Mass, they are going to decorate our refectory (dining room) and then have a special dinner with the Passionist Community to celebrate the Christmas season. We are so grateful to them for all they do and all the help they give us in trying to maintain our Passionist charism and ideals. Paul Ruhl is the new chairman of the Associates and he is doing great. We will have a nice celebration and it’s all rooted in the charism of St.Paul of the Cross to which we have all committed ourselves.
2ND COLLECTION THIS WEEKEND:  It will go to purchasing substantial gift certificates for the 40 families that come each Friday for assistance. I thank you for your generosity at Thanksgiving. I thank also your understanding of these changes as we are trying to maintain our primary works within an atmosphere of prayer and quiet.
CONFESSION MINISTRY CONTINUES:  This is especially important for our front door ministry which includes us being available Monday through Saturday for the sacrament of Penance. Holy things happen each day at our front door. It is not a parish office or a place to catch up on what’s going on. St. Paul of the Cross asked that our houses offer confession freely and be a “Refuge for Sinners.” As an old man, they would carry him down from his sick room in a specially made chair to the sacristy to hear confessions!  Our front door is a holy place!
OUR MUSIC MINISTRY:  Andrea Terlesky is the church Music Minister and does a wonderful job at the organ and piano. Especially are we graced with wonderful cantors and instrumentalists. I publicly want to thank her for the beauty of our liturgies and for the special beauty we have at the Holy Hours for Vocations. Come see and hear for yourself!
With my deepest gratitude for all your kindness and support                    

Fr. Justin Kerber, C.P., Rector 

Monastery Updates      12/1/2023

Dear Friends:
WORKSHOP ON THE CALENDAR: Fr. Victor Hoagland, Passionist priest at our monastery in New York, put together a very nice 2024 Passionist calendar. I’ve been explaining it to you over the past weeks. We had a session on it after Mass this Saturday. Less than 20 calendars remain. Sold several hundred.
ADVENT IS UPON US: First Sunday of Advent already! I entered the Passionist High School Seminary in 1958. That first year we were not allowed to go home for Christmas. The next year they relaxed those strict rules. It was wonderful to be with our families again for Christmas. I saw my parents, brothers and relatives. I made a special trip up to the Passionist Monastery in N.J. to let my Vocation Director, Fr. Bennet Kelley, C.P., know how happy I was. I saw his secretary, Mrs. Viola Cannata, who handled mailings for the Vocation Club. She said: “Billy, I want to give you a book. Keep it.” I did and still have it, “The Reed of God” by Caryll Houselander. I pull it out every Advent. The author was a mystic and has some of the most beautiful insights into Advent I have ever read. I’ve preached using her thoughts. I’ve prayed using her words. I’ve read them practically every Advent since Viola gave me that book. I pulled them out again Advent 2023, over 60 years later. Listen prayerfully - “Advent is the season of the seed…the seed of the world’s life was hidden in Our Lady. 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. Every beat of her heart gave Him His heart to love with, His heart to be broken by love.” I still love that book and it calls us all to be mystics in love with Jesus. Mary shows us how.  
2ND COLLECTION FOR OUR FOOD LINE- CHRISTMAS GIFTS: We have put aside the Thanksgiving Collection and other gifts that have come in. We will also have a 2nd collection next Sunday which will be added on. Peg Donley, who directs our Friday Food Line, will be given these funds so that all the families who regularly come to our Friday Food Line will receive gift certificates for a good Christmas dinner. Thank you for helping with this.
VOCATION HOLY HOUR: The monthly Holy Hour will be Tuesday, Dec. 12th. Come pray with us. We adore Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Say the rosary. Have beautiful music and beautiful silence in the presence of the Lord. We ask God to bless the Passionists throughout the world with new members.
LAIUDATO SI GROUP MEETS:  We meet on certain Tuesdays at 6:30pm. It’s a great group. Roseann Lord heads it up. We pray and reflect and develop various projects to show our appreciation for God’s gift of our earth. We have begun re-reading Pope Francis encyclical “Laudato si. I am grateful to all these people for the wonderful work they have done for our property and retreat house.
With much gratitude and prayers, Fr. Justin Kerber, C.P., Rector

Monastery Updates

Dear Friends,

A BEAUTIFUL THANKSGIVING: We had a beautiful Thanksgiving Mass. The music and singing was superb. Andrea Terleski, our Music Minister, has a way of finding these wonderful instrumentalists and cantors who join us. It was beautiful. I thank our regular faithful cantors and all the extras and instrumentalists who join us for these special celebrations. Thanksgiving

was beautiful. 

AN UNPOPULAR DECISION: I want to thank you for understanding why we are not able to continue doing the “Giving Tree” project. Last weekend, I announced that we would not have the Giving Tree this Christmas. We will give the 40 to 45 families who come weekly for assistance gift cards to Giant Eagle for Christmas Dinner. Peg Donley, who heads our Food for the Poor Line, said food is so expensive. We cannot give out Gift Cards like we did other years. I suggested we take up collections in church. Then the monastery will make up the difference. A collection was taken on Thanksgiving. Another will be taken up in Advent. This will replace the

Giving Tree Project. I made that decision to help the poor and to protect our Passionist life. We are not a parish and don’t want to be. Our front door is open for Mass cards and people coming for help mostly sacramental, the Sacrament of Confession. Six days of the week, we are available. The Giving Tree interferes with that Apostolate, a primary ministry in Pittsburgh. We only have 5 religious. We cannot have people dropping off presents all the days before Christmas. Tying up the front door with noisy chatter as if we were a parish office. Also, there is the difficulty in finding adequate and reachable space to store things while maintaining our privacy and quiet. Rusty is called on to do much of the work. He is now maintenance man, not

only for the monastery, but also for the retreat house. Bro. Matt who delivered and organized things died. We are a small aging community. I have made this decision, as Rector, that this is not compatible with our life here or the atmosphere we want at the front door. I do this for the good of the Passionist Community.

DECEMBER HOLY HOUR FOR VOCATIONS: One of the nicest hours of the month is the Holy Hour of Adoration for Passionist Vocations. This month - December 12 th , Tuesday, at 7p.m. We pray quietly and have the rosary and benediction. I invite everyone to come December 12 th at 7pm. We invite a Passionist Saint or Blessed to accompany us. This month it will be Bl.

Bernard who celebrated mass in the church!

PASSIONIST CALENDAR WORKSHOP: Following Mass, the 8am Mass next Saturday, December 2, I will have a brief explanation of the Passionist Calendar and the liturgical year. We have been selling them at the office. The calendar has all the Passionist feasts listed, the American feasts and those of the universal church and the readings for each day of the year. All

are welcome – 8:30am next Saturday.

DECEMBER PASSIONIST FEASTS: There is one feast day of a Passionist in December on the 9 th , the feast day of Bl. Bernard Silvestrelli. He served as Superior General of the Passionist for 25 years and had a reputation for holiness. Born into a wealthy Roman family, their palatial home was at Piazza Minerva not far from the Passionist Generalate. Born in 1831, ordained a priest in 1855, he became a Passionist in 1857. Made his novitiate with Francesco Possenti, St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows! When Superior general, he used his inheritance to further the growth of the Passionist Congregation all over the world and here in the United States. He visited Pittsburgh encouraging the community here. During his leadership, the congregation experienced great growth in numbers, houses and activities. As Fr. General, he arrived in New York in the spring of 1896. There is a picture of him sitting at the front of this monastery with all the community around him. I’m inviting him back for our Holy Hour!

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

Monastery Updates 11/17/2023

Dear Friends:
THANKSGIVING DAY MASS: At 9:30 on Thursday Morning, we will celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving. What a beautiful way to celebrate the day - giving thanks to God for his blessings on us and our country. There’s much to be done in getting ready with the turkey and trimmings. However, remember the reason for it all, to give thanks to God for so many gifts received. Receiving the Giver of the Gifts into our hearts makes for a perfect day.
HOLY HOUR THIS PAST WEEK:  I had forgotten to put an announcement in the bulletin for the Holy Hour last Tuesday. I wondered if any one would remember, was hoping someone would come. I was so happy to see the 34 people who came out. That hour is refreshing – just to be with Our Lord in the Eucharist. The music was some of the best I have heard in my six years here. It was exceptionally prayerful. We knew the presence of the Lord.
FEAST OF THE PRESENTATION OF MARY- NOV. 21: St. Paul of the Cross had great devotion to this particular feast. He received the habit on this day. He named the first monastery, for Mary’s Presentation. The early Passionists tell us he celebrated this feast as if it were Christmas. He traveled up to Monte Argentario to celebrate with a novena. It is believed he received special mystical graces on this feast.  We celebrate it this Tuesday.
PRAYING WITH FR. THEODORE: At Fr. Theodore’s tomb in our church are two books where you can inscribe favors requested or favors received. The books are written in every day. I read them and am deeply touched by the faith, goodness and beauty of the petitions and the many favors granted. People also call in to have their prayers and favors added. I have seen miraculous things. Our church is blessed by his presence. In the 1950’s, Fr. Theodore used the confessional on the right as you enter the church. The sign ‘Fr. Rector’ was his. It’s still there.   
ST. MARIA GORETTI SHRINE: Moving toward completion - the architect, Mr. Jim O’Brien from Virginia, helped me this past week. He has designed the back wall. Inscribed there will be prayers for purity and forgiveness and chastity.  Maria’s life is beautiful and speaks much to our whole society which struggles so much to be chaste. Maria’s pure life and heroic forgiveness of her attacker, Alesandro, touches all of us.
GIVING TREE / FOOD BANK: I was asked if we would have the Giving Tree this year. I talked to different people and I made a decision. We will substitute by helping our Food Bank Ministry. From the first days of this monastery, we have helped the poor and needy with food. Going back to the 1700’s, Paul of the Cross, himself, urged the brothers to set aside food for the needy and poor. The custom continued when the early Passionists came to Pittsburgh in 1852. For the past 171 years, we have cared for the poor by feeding the hungry. Every Friday morning, a group of volunteers come in and operate our food bank giving substantial food to 35 - 45 local families. It runs all year long. At Christmas, we try to provide a gift certificate so that these families can have a good Christmas dinner. As you know, food is very expensive nowadays. Peg Donley has been running the food bank for us with a number of volunteers for the past years. Her recently deceased husband, Tom, took great care of the poor as if he were serving Christ, Himself. Because we are down to 5 Passionists here, because Rusty is now also in charge of maintenance in the retreat house, because our front door is very busy with confessions before Christmas, we are not able to give the assistance, space and time to what the ‘Giving Tree’ needs. This was a hard decision, not popular. However, I think this is best for our Passionist Community. We will feed the hungry by special collections to help the poor with providing gift cards for their Christmas dinners.
PASSIONIST ASSOCIATES: They number about 30 here in Pittsburgh and are among the most loyal people to our community. They chose a new leader, Paul Ruhl. I am in contact with him and offering to help in any way he asks. Bernie Jordan and Jan Marco led the group for years. They were excellent. He is now the leader. I have assured him of any help or assistance that is needed from the professed Passionists.
Grateful for all your help and kindness, Fr. Justin Kerber, C.P., Rector

Monastery Updates      11/5/2023

Dear Friends:
MONASTERY ALTAR GUILD:  When the renovation of the church was completed, I assembled an Altar Guild to keep the church and sacristy spotless and to care for the vestments and altar linens. Jane Conner heads a group of about 8 women who have for these past few years kept the church fresh with flowers ordered, linens washed and ironed, statues dusted, sacristy in order and spotless. John O’Neill has for over a quarter of a century done all the heavy cleaning of floors and pews during the summer and through the winter ice and snow. These ladies have formed a wonderfully working group. On certain Saturdays, they have had a communion breakfast in our refectory after the morning Mass. I have given them a talk which is more a teaching on some aspect of the faith.  One time it was the theology of the Eucharistic Prayers, another a workshop on Scripture. This Saturday, I will explain the Church Calendar. I am so grateful to John and Rusty Wilcox and our Altar Guild for our beautiful clean church.
BLESSED PIO CAMPIDELLI: We celebrated Mass in his honor on his feast day Nov. 3rd. He is one of our young Passionist Blesseds. From central Italy, Pio is greatly honored in that area. He was a copy of St. Gabriel and died Nov. 2, 1889 before his ordination to the priesthood. A miraculous healing of a child was attributed to his intercession and St. John Paul declared him Blessed in 1985. One of our priests in Rome told me that there are other claims of miraculous healings attributed to him. We might see his canonization before long. Pope John Paul once said to us: “I have given you, Passionists, so many saints and blesseds. You should all become holy!”
ST. MARIA GORETTI SHRINE: This is the one area in our beautifully renovated church that has not been completed. I contacted the architect, Jim O’Brien. He has designed an area on the rear wall to display prayers for purity, healing and forgiveness behind the beautiful statue of Maria. She has her hand raised fending off her attacker. I have asked our artists, Bob and Dave, who beautified St. Gabriel’s shrine, to help me complete this area. I’d like their help to design the prayer cards with that symbol of Maria’s hand reaching out and God’s hand reaching back. A first-class relic of St. Maria Goretti has been placed there. Expect to see a kneeler etc. before long.
HOLY HOUR FOR VOCATIONS:  November 14 at 7pm:  A married man wrote me just the other day about the monthly Holy Hour: “I plan to attend. I love those services…Every Catholic Church everywhere prays for vocations, but the prayer service at St. Paul of the Cross is so much more. The piano, the cello, the hymns, the incense creates the opportunity for prayer and solitude, the distinguishing marks of the Passionist Congregation, at a time when the world can seem like it’s coming apart…” I thanked him for his beautiful words. Please join us. All are welcome, Tuesday the 14th.
CALENDARS:  We have sold nearly 200 of the Passionist Calendars. We have about 40 or so remaining. They are nicely done with the universal feasts of the Church listed along with feasts particular to the USA. Also, all the Passionist feasts are listed and high-lighted. The daily Mass readings for each day are indicated where to be found. Enjoy!
Gratefully in Christ, Fr. Justin Kerber, C.P., Rector

Monastery Updates    10/27/2023

Dear Friends,

ALL SAINTS DAY: Wednesday, Nov 1, is the Feast of All Saints and a Holy Day of Obligation. It began in Ireland as a feast of all the Holy Martyrs and eventually spread to England and, by the 700s, to Germany and a good part of Europe. In Rome, it was an established feast by the 900s. It is now celebrated by the entire Church. It honors not only the Holy Martyrs and Canonized Saints but all those souls now sharing the glory of God. We are thankful and hope one day this will also be our feast. Wednesdays are our prayer mornings however, this Wednesday, our 9AM Mass will be open to everyone. Also from 11 AM to Noon there will be Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in the Church. The 12:10 Mass will be as usual.

ALL SOULS DAY: November 2 is the Feast of All Souls and dates back to the 800s. Much earlier, St. Augustine had recommended this feast. The date was selected as Nov.2 by the Benedictines. In the 1400s, the Dominicans started allowing priests to celebrate 3 Masses for the Dead on Nov.2. Pope Benedict XV extended that privilege to all priests in 1915 because of the number killed in WWI and Masses not said because of the bombings.

HOLY HOUR FOR VOCATIONS: We continue to pray for Passionist vocations with our monthly Holy Hour on Tuesday, Nov.14th .The special Passionist that will accompany us that evening is Blessed Pius Campidelli. He was a copy of St. Gabriel, dying as a student before ordination and offering his life for the conversion of sinners. Bl. Pius is highly revered at our foundation in Central Italy. He was beatified in 1985. When I asked who among our Passionists is close to canonization, I was told that a miracle attributed to him is under investigation.

PASSIONIST CALENDAR 2024: The 2nd order of 140 calendars arrived a week ago and is half sold-out. The 1st order of 100 sold out in a week. I am having a Communion breakfast soon for the Altar Guild shortly. I will give a little workshop on the calendars. I will also set a date in December when I’ll explain this Passionist calendar for any others who may want. Fr. Victor Hoagland, C.P., produced it, highlighting all our Passionist saints and 

celebrations. The calendar is being sold in our Monastery Office for $5.00 (at cost).

PASSIONIST RETREAT HOUSES: When I professed my vows as a Passionist in 1965, I was the youngest member of the Eastern US Province and the last in seniority. I was exactly number 650. We had monasteries and retreat houses up and down the East Coast, plus flourishing missions overseas. Since then, Passionist communities have grown tremendously in Africa, Vietnam, South America, Indonesia, the Philippines, and more. I remember at the last General Chapter in Rome being surprised at the number of Asian Passionists. However, we have declined in many of the first world countries and especially in the US. I am now number 37 in seniority of approximately 90 Passionists in the eastern US. Many of our retreat houses have closed. In an attempt to keep each house in Hartford, CT, New York, Florida, and Pittsburgh afloat and running strongly, both spiritually and financially, our Provincial is relying on us consolidating resources and working more closely with lay associates. We are all adapting and praying that this new effort goes well. It is all for God’s glory and that the Passion of Christ will always be in our hearts. 

With gratitude for all your help, Fr. Justin Kerber, C.P., Rector 

Monastery Updates     10/20/2023

Dear Friends:
PASSIONIST ASSOCIATES: One of the nicest things about living at the Pittsburgh Monastery is that it has a great group of Passionist Associates. They are lay people who after a period of formation in Passionist spirituality commit themselves to the charism of St. Paul of the Cross. In various ways, they assist us here in Pittsburgh. All this springs from that fire that burned in the heart of St. Paul to have Jesus Crucified loved and appreciated. The Associates stand with us, as we stand with Mary, and respond to the suffering Christ on the Cross and in the suffering members of his Body. Some help with the food we give to the poor. Others help in the running of the monastery, like serving as receptionist. Others have volunteered to help with retreat house practicalities etc. Our house has to thank Fr. Don and Jan Marco and Bernie Jordan for having formed this group so well. Paul Ruhl is the new leader. Along with Judy Callan, they are bringing new vitality to the Associates. This Sunday we will have a prayer service, during which 3 new Associates, having gone through a year of formation, will commit themselves as Associates. Our present 32 Associates will recommit themselves to Passionist spirituality and service of God’s people. After that prayer service, the Passionist professed community with the Associates will have a nice dinner. Thank you, Passionist Associates, for all you do in helping us live together the charism of St. Paul of the Cross, our beloved founder.
CALENDARS AVAILABLE:  A second shipment of Passionist Calendars 2024 has arrived. The first 100 went in less than a week. 140 more are available at the front office at $5.00 each. I’m selling them at cost! No freebees. I told the receptionist that only the Bishop gets a free one or if Fr. General comes from Rome! People are buying them. I plan to have a night where I’ll explain the calendar and the Passionist feasts and saints. The calendar is an aid to prayer. It’s 3 calendars in one and includes the daily Mass readings. All our Passionist feast days and saints are there.Fr. Victor called and offered me a job as his salesman!
ENJOYABLE FEASTDAY OF ST. PAUL OF THE CROSS:  Lastly, we had a wonderful celebration for the feast of our founder. He died on Oct. 18, 1775. His feast day is Oct. 19th but in the USA Oct. 20th.  Since the Passionists here were all home on the 18th, we celebrated St. Paul’s Mass then. We were joined by Fr. John, a visiting Passionist from Ireland. We also had a quiet hour of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament before noon and a wonderful dinner celebration with hors d’oeuvres beforehand. The Passionist Nuns had their celebration on Thursday. On Friday, we offered Masses in his honor in the church. Our Founder, Paul of the Cross, is one of the most wonderful saints. St. Vincent Strambi once said: “God raised up St. Paul of the Cross in the church, that we might all love God with our hearts!”
With gratitude and prayers, Fr. Justin Kerber, C.P., Rector

Monastery Updates 10/8/2023

Dear Friends,

 PASSIONIST CALENDAR AVAILABLE:  Fr. Victor Hoagland is one of my favorite Passionists. He taught my class theology. I loved his classes on Liturgy and the Fathers of the Church. In 1971, I was assigned before ordination to accompany him on retreats and preaching assignments and learn from him.  I loved it. We have remained good friends through the years. In 2018, we were delegates to the General Chapter in Rome. It was wonderful to be with him again and still learn from his wisdom!  I called him up a little over a week ago and told him I heard he put out a 2024 Passionist Calendar.  I asked him to explain this calendar. He said that it was three calendars in one. It has all the Passionist feast days, the feast days particular to the American Church, and the feasts for the entire Roman Catholic Church. He said it is meant to be a help to prayer and a help to all our Passionists Associates so that we can be ‘praying with the Passionists.’ There’s also a guide to the daily Scripture readings. I said to Fr. Victor: “Send me 100.” They just arrived and will be available in the Monastery Office this Monday. I am asking $5.00 for each calendar. This is solely for your spirituality and to help you ‘Pray with the Passionists.’
BLESSED BRO. ISIDORE DeLOOR:  He is one of our greats and close to canonization. His feast day is Oct. 6th. He was a Passionist Brother, not a priest. He worked hard and he prayed hard. Born in 1881 in Belgium, he died of cancer in 1916. He was extraordinary in his love for Jesus and his care for the people around him. He became a saint in concrete ways – cooking meals, answering the door, plowing the fields, caring for the sick and the poor and always faithful to prayer. Diagnosed with cancer at the age of 30, he died at 35 totally surrendering to God. The war in Europe had broken out. The only one at his burial was the grave digger. His holiness, love and charity were never forgotten. In 1984, St. John Paul II declared him Blessed. Miracles have been given through his intercession. My mother, Mary, had great devotion to him. There was a time when she was dying in the hospital in Jersey City. She told me Bro.Isidore had come to her.
HOLY HOUR FOR VOCATIONS TUESDAY:  We continue to pray that God will bless the Church with vocations in the Lord’s service and our community with dedicated men and women, Passionists. The Holy Hour is beautiful and a time of quiet when the Lord comes to us. It is one of my favorite times of the month. Please come and join us this Tuesday at 7pm. We praise and encounter the Lord in the beauty of the quiet and in the song, prayer and Sacrament. Bl. Grimoaldo Santamaria will be the Passionist whom we ask to accompany us that evening. St. John Paul also declared him a Blessed. I knew his niece, Ida. She died not too long ago in Rochester, NY.
DAY OF RECOLLECTION WEDNESDAY:  Frs. Curtis Kiddy and Michael Greene have opened the new retreat season for this fall. They are offering a Day of Recollection this Wednesday, Oct. 11th. This is a day program with lunch included and with prayer and reflection.
THANKS AGAIN: Many wonderful things are happening at our monastery and retreat house. The church ceiling is repaired. The grounds are beautified. Things we could not have afforded. Jack Mascaro Co. came through again. The scaffolding company and Lisanti Painters helped us also.  A loyal retreatant oversaw the beautification of the gardens and the extensive asphalt and concrete repairs. We have no salaries or set income, whatever. Everything is free will offerings. It all gets done. God takes care of us. Thank you, God and thank YOU.
          With much appreciation and gratitude, 

Fr. Justin Kerber, C.P., Rector

Monastery Updates 10/1/2023

Dear Friends:
UPDATE ON CEILING REPAIRS:  As I write this, I have just come from the church and have seen that the ceiling repairs are completed. Shawn, the painter, explained what had happened. When the church was renovated the ceiling murals on canvas were all removed and then the ceiling painted. However, on the last panel before you exit the church, a painting on paper had already been painted over in the 1940’s. Some cold and moisture got in and that paper and paint began to crack. The paper and paint was removed. The ceiling there has been repainted. The Job is completed. Thank you to Lisanti Paint Co. and Mascaro Construction.  Masses have resumed in the church. The scaffolding will be removed this coming week. Thank you to our maintenance man, Rusty Wilcox, who oversees all these projects through to a good conclusion.
UPDATE ON RETREAT HOUSE:  It is great to see the Retreat House up and running. Many of our Passionist retreat centers in this country have closed and been sold. However, here in Pittsburgh, which is the very first retreat house for laymen that was built in all the United States, it is going strong. All the physical renovations are completed. Fr. Jerry Laba served for 16 years as Director, which is way longer than anyone in its history. He has now handed it over to a new retreat team, Fr. Curtis Kiddy and Fr. Michael Greene, who are working nicely together to offer programs to build up the faith and the love of Jesus Crucified of those men and women who came here. I thank Fr. Jerry and offer any help I can give to Fr. Curtis and Fr. Mike.  
PROGRAMS BEING OFFERED: Retreats for men and retreats for women are being scheduled throughout the year. This coming month on Oct. 11th from 10am to 3pm, a ‘Day of Recollection’ is being offered. Fr. Richard Jones is preaching on the Paschal Mystery. Call the retreat house for the cost and a reservation.
GARDEN WORK NEAR COMPLETION: Our gardens have been renovated and literally hundreds of plants planted. A generous retreatant has spear-headed this project which includes repairs to all the walk ways and asphalting large sections of the trails in our garden. We have close to nine acres of beautiful hilltop property. Most of the land was a gift from the first Bishop of Pittsburgh so that in this quiet solitude Passionists could encounter the love of the Crucified Christ and bring others to do the same. The Laudate Si team have worked with Dave and have helped beautify our land. They want us to protect this gift of God’s creation so that all of us can hear God speak to us in the beauty of nature .
FR. THEODORE FOLEYS HELP BEING SOUGHT:   Fr. Theodore’s cause is moving along nicely. Many people are calling in to have their intentions written in at his shrine. Others are reporting favors granted. I, in particular, receive phone calls and letters of favors granted. I do believe that we have a saint’s shrine in our church.  I know he answers prayers.
ST. MICHAEL PROTECT US:  I wrote on St. Michael last week. As I write this, it is the 29th of September, his feastday. Paul of the Cross said he is the special protector of the Passionists. Paul received his help in choosing candidates for our life. I pray to Michael today for more Passionists so that our work of proclaiming the love of Christ Crucified may flourish and increase abundantly. May God grant us new members.
Gratefully in Christ, 

Fr. Justin Kerber, C.P., Rector

Monastery Updates 9-24-2023

Dear Friends:
NEW RETREAT SEASON BEGINS:  The new retreat season begins this weekend. Frs. Curtis Kiddy and Michael Greene are heading up the program. This is a major apostolate of our house. Pray  we have a successful year. Pray for those who come here that they experience the tremendous healing love of Jesus Crucified.
CHURCH CEILING BEING REPAIRED: For some reason the ceiling paint in the rear of the church is peeling. It’s the only place. The companies are repairing it and have been most gracious. Only the last panel is peeling. That panel was not part of the original church. There was a coal mine entrance near the front in the 1800’s which was filled in and that last section added later. Our regular Sunday Masses will be in church. Hard hats will not be provided! Some week days, daily Masses will be moved to the private chapel of the monastery and retreat house if repairs are going on in the church.
GARDEN BEING RENEWED & BEAUTIFIED:  Be sure to walk through our gardens, when retreats are not going on. They have been landscaped and beautified. New plants and trees have been added and flowering bushes. We are grateful to the benefactor who funded much of this. Likewise, our thanks to the Laudato Si Team that continues to beautify the gardens and the front entrance. They are making us more aware of caring for the beauty God’s gifts and more grateful for His beauty which surrounds us.
FR. THEODORE FOLEY IS HELPING US:  Fr. Massimo Parisi returned to Rome this past week. He had spent time here and at our Monastery in Jamaica, NY. He is the Passionist ultimately responsible for the cause of Fr. Theodore Foley. His title is: “Postulator General.” He handles the causes of all Passionists proposed for sainthood. He told me that he is pleased with the work that has been done to advance the cause of Fr. Theodore. He went from Pittsburgh to New York where he interviewed some last living witnesses to Fr. Theodore Foley. I think there will be some movement on Fr. Theodore’s cause.
MONTHLY HOLY HOUR FOR VOCATIONS CONTINUES:  I thank those who come out each month for the Holy Hour for Passionist vocations. I thank, Andrea, our Music Minister, for the beautiful music provided. There is something very special and holy about that hour. I look forward to it, the quiet, reverence and prayerfulness. We are also having young men apply to be Passionists.
SEPT. 29TH ST. MICHAEL, OUR PROTECTOR:  This coming Friday is the feast of St. Michael, the Archangel.
Since the earliest days of our community, St. Paul of the Cross named him the Protector of the Passionists. The first Passionists, Fr. Paul and his brother, Fr. John Baptist, visited the great shrine of St. Michael on Monte Gargano. They spent the entire night in prayer. Paul asked St. Michael to be our special protector. Our 2nd Monastery founded in Vetralla was named ‘San Angelo’ in his honor. Numerous times Paul wrote how he knew St. Michael had protected the Passionists from things and persons that would harm us. There is a beautiful altar to him in our first church at Monte Argentario.  I pray to him to send us good candidates for our Passionist life. I will be offering the 7:30am Mass in our church this Friday, his feastday, Sept. 29th.
MONASTERY HAS FOUND A COOK:  Finally, it appears we have an excellent monastery cook, Ann. The priests are all smiling and going back for seconds! Deo Gratias.

In Christ with love and gratitude,

 Fr. Justin Kerber, C.P., Rector

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