Archive for the ‘Saints of the 1860s’ Category

Feast of James W. C. Pennington (October 21)   Leave a comment

Above:  James William Charles Pennington

Image in the Public Domain

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JAMES WILLIAM CHARLES PENNINGTON (1807-OCTOBER 20, 1870)

African-American Congregationalist and Presbyterian Minister, Educator, and Abolitionist

Born James Pembroke

James W. C. Pennington comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (New York:  Church Publishing, 2006), the most recent addition to my library.

James Pembroke was a slave in Maryland.  Initially his father (Brazil Pembroke) and mother belonged to different masters.  Then the family became the property of just one of the two masters, until another slave owner purchased our saint’s brother.  Young James, trained as a stone mason then as a blacksmith, received many beatings as he grew up.  At the age of 20 years our saint escaped to freedom in Pennsylvania.

Quakers–namely William Wright–helped our saint for six months in Pennsylvania.  Wright took the fugitive slave into his home.  Quakers educated our saint, influenced him to convert to Christianity, and helped him to move farther north, first to the Brooklyn-Long Island area, via the Underground Railroad.

Our saint, who assumed the name “James William Charles Pennington,” taught school on Long Island before moving to New Haven, Connecticut.   He worked toward becoming a minister while auditing courses at Yale College, which, due to a racist admission policy, never admitted him as a student.  Pennington, ordained a minister, accepted a call in 1838; he became the pastor of a Congregational church in New Town, on Long Island.  That year he also presided at the wedding ceremony of Frederick Douglass and Anna Murray.

From 1840 to 1848 Pennington served as the pastor of the Talcott Street Congregational Church, Hartford, Connecticut.  It was a congregation of African Americans, most of whom were active in the community.  Our saint opened a parochial school, for local public schools did not admit African Americans.  Pennington, active in efforts to help the slaves aboard the Amistad, also worked against racism domestically.  He advocated for opportunities for African Americans to improve their economic opportunities.  Our saint also spoke out for the right of African-American men to vote in Connecticut.  Furthermore, he condemned racism within the abolitionist movement, to which he belonged.  That criticism changed the minds of some white people for, starting, in the 1840s, Pennington received and accepted invitations to preach in white churches.  Our saint also wrote the Textbook of the Origin and History, Etc., Etc. of the Colored People (1841), which countered racist claims and justifications for chattel slavery.  The friend of William Lloyd Garrison served as the President of the Connecticut Anti-Slavery Convention (1840f) and as a delegate to the global anti-slavery convention in 1843.  Our saint, who wrote for abolitionist newspapers and edited and published two such newspapers, also advocated for moral character and conduct, especially as part of the temperance movement.

Penningon continued to serve God and work for social improvement during his final years.  He, pastor of the First Colored Presbyterian Church, New York, New York (1848-1856), returned to Hartford (1856-1857) before spending years as a traveling minister.  The Civil War compelled him to abandon his pacifism and recruit African-American soldiers for the United States Army.  After the Civil War our saint ministered among former slaves in the Presbytery of Florida.  He, aged about 63 years, died in Jacksonville, Florida, on October 20, 1870.

Pennington spent most of his life serving God, challenging social injustice, and attempting (with some success) to change the minds of racists.  The main obstacle with which he had to contend was the truth of the punchline from an anachronistic joke about the number of psychiatrists necessary to change a light bulb:  only one person is necessary, but the light bulb must want to change.  Those who did not desire to abandon their racism remained entrenched in it.  Pennington, however, presented the counter-argument effectively.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 13, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE TWELFTH DAY OF ADVENT, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL JOHNSON, “THE GREAT MORALIST”

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN FURCHTEGOTT GELLERT, GERMAN LUTHERAN MINISTER, EDUCATOR, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF ELLA J. BAKER, WITNESS FOR CIVIL RIGHTS

THE FEAST OF PAUL SPERATUS, GERMAN LUTHERAN BISHOP, LITURGIST, AND HYMN WRITER

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Holy and righteous God, you created us in your image.

Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and to make no peace with oppression.

Help us, like your servant James William Charles Pennington,

to work for justice among people and nations,

to the glory of your name, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-26

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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Feast of Charles Gounod (October 17)   Leave a comment

Above:  Charles Gounod

Image in the Public Domain

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CHARLES FRANÇOIS GOUNOD (JUNE 17, 1818-OCTOBER 18, 1893)

French Roman Catholic Composer

Charles Gounod glorified God via music.

Our saint, born in Paris, France, on June 17, 1818, grew up in an artistic and devout family.  His father, François Gounod, was a painter.  Charles’s mother, Lemachois Victoire, was a pianist.  Gounod studied philosophy before matriculating at the Paris Conservatory in 1836.  He continued his musical studies in Rome and Vienna.  Early compositions included Ferdinand, an oratorio that won the Grand Prix de Rome in 1839; a Mass (1842); and the Requiem (1843).

Gounod, back in Paris, continued to work as a musician and a composer.  He served as the organist and choirmaster at the Church of Foreign Missions.  Our saint studied for the priesthood in 1846-1847, but decided to focus on music instead.  From 1852 to 1860 he was the conductor of the Orphéon Choral Society in Paris.

Gounod left the country during the Franco-Prussian War.  He, in London during 1870-1875, founded the Royal Choir Society.  Our saint, back in France, became an officer of the Legion of Honor in 1880.

Gounod, aged 75 years, died in St. Cloud, France, on October 18, 1893.

He left a fine musical legacy consisting of operas, cantatas, masses, incidental music, songs, works for pianoforte, and other secular and sacred works.  In the realm of sacred music our saint’s masterworks included the St. Cecilia Mass (1855), his setting of the Ave Maria (1859), and the Requiem in C (1893).

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 12, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE ELEVENTH DAY OF ADVENT, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF SAINT JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL, FOUNDRESS OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE VISITATION

THE FEAST OF ALICIA DOMON AND HER COMPANIONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS IN ARGENTINA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS BARTHOLOMEW BUONPEDONI AND VIVALDUS, MINISTERS AMONG LEPERS

THE FEAST OF SAINT LUDWIK BARTOSIK, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

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Almighty God, beautiful in majesty, majestic in holiness:

You have shown us the splendor of creation in the work of your servant Charles Gounod.

Teach us to drive from the world all chaos and disorder, that our eyes may behold your glory,

and that at last everyone may know the inexhaustible richness of your new creation in Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Isaiah 28:5-6 or Hosea 14:5-8 or 2 Chronicles 20:20-21

Psalm 96

Philippians 4:8-9 or Ephesians 5:18b-20

Matthew 13:44-52

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 61

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Feast of Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky (October 14)   2 comments

Above:  Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky

Image in the Public Domain

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SAMUEL ISAAC JOSEPH SCHERESCHEWSKY (MAY 31, 1831-OCTOBER 15, 1906)

Episcopal Bishop of Shanghai, and Biblical Translator

Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky was on of the great missionaries.

Schereschewsky, born in Tauroggen, Lithuania, the Russian Empire, on May 31, 1831, grew up in a devout Jewish family.  He began to study for the rabbinate in 1846.  In Breslau (1852-1854), to continue those studies, our saint encountered missionaries from the London Society for Promoting Christianity Amongst the Jews.  He also read the New Testament in Hebrew.  Schereschewsky converted to Christianity in 1854.

That year our saint emigrated to the United States, to matriculate at Western Theological Seminary, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to prepare for the Presbyterian ministry.  In 1857, however, Schereschewsky converted to The Episcopal Church and transferred to the General Theological Seminary, New York, New York.  He graduated in 1859, became a deacon that year, and left for Shanghai, China, as a missionary.  Our saint learned Chinese during the journey.  He, ordained to the priesthood in 1860, worked out of Beijing from 1862 to 1875.  He translated the Bible and much of The Book of Common Prayer into Mandarin during that time.

Schereschewsky served as the Bishop of Shanghai from 1877 to 1883.  He, paralyzed in 1881, spent 1882-1895 (1882-1886 in Switzerland) for medical treatment.  Our saint, who resigned in 1883, had helped to found St. John’s College, Shanghai, and begun to translate the Bible into Wenli.

Asia beckoned.  Schereschewsky and his loving wife, Susan Mary Waring (1836-1909), returned to Shanghai in 1895.  They relocated to Tokyo, Japan, two years later.  She helped him continue to translate the Bible into Wenli.  Our saint typed 2000 pages with just one finger, as well as Susan’s assistance.

Schereschewsky died in Tokyo on October 15, 1831.  He was 75 years old.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 1, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CHARLES DE FOUCAULD, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF DOUGLAS LETELL RIGHTS, U.S. MORAVIAN MINISTER, SCHOLAR, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF EDWARD TIMOTHY MICKEY, JR., U.S. MORAVIAN BISHOP AND LITURGIST

THE FEAST OF PETER MORTIMER, ANGLO-GERMAN MORAVIAN EDUCATOR, MUSICIAN, AND SCHOLAR; AND GOTTFRIED THEODOR ERXLEBEN, GERMAN MORAVIAN MINISTER AND MUSICOLOGIST

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O God, in your providence you called Joseph Schereschewsky from his home in Eastern Europe

to the ministry of this Church, and sent him as a missionary to China,

that he might translate the Holy Scriptures into languages of that land.

Lead us, we pray, to commit our lives and talents to you,

in the confidence that when you give your servants any work to do,

you also supply the strength to do it; through Jesus Christ, our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Isaiah 12:1-6

Psalm 84:1-6

2 Corinthians 4:11-18

Luke 24:44-48

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 637

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Feast of Cecil Frances Alexander (October 12)   Leave a comment

Above:  Cecil Frances Alexander

Image in the Public Domain

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CECIL FRANCES HUMPHREYS ALEXANDER (1818/1823-OCTOBER 12, 1895)

Irish Anglican Hymn Writer

Cecil Frances Alexander comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via hymnody, to which she contributed greatly.  She wrote more than 400 hymns and poems (mostly for children), including “There is a Green Hill Far Away,” “Jesus Calls Us,” “All Things Bright and Beautiful,” “Once in Royal David’s City,” and “I Bind Unto Myself Today,” my favorite hymn.

Cecil Frances Humphreys, born in Miltown House, County Tyrone, Ireland, in 1818 or 1823, depending on the source one believes, was daughter of Major John Humphreys, of the Royal Marines.  She demonstrated her literary abilities at a young age, and, in 1848, published her first volume of poetry.  Two years later our saint married William Alexander (1824-1911), then the Anglican Rector of Termonamongan.  He became the Bishop of Derby and Raphoe in 1867 then the Archbishop of Armagh (the primate of The Church of Ireland) in 1896, as a widower.

Our saint was a woman of her Victorian times.  She pursued a literary career, for which she won acclaim.  Her finest poem, according to reputation, was “The Burial of Moses,” which Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892), said he wished he had written.  Our saint’s hymns and other poems, volumes of which she published, graced various Anglican hymnals of her time.  She also devoted herself to the tasks of a parson’s wife.  Furthermore, she was a philanthropist, caring actively for the poor and for “fallen women,” as well as supporting a school for deaf children in Londonderry financially.

Alexander died in Londonderry on October 12, 1895.  Her legacy of hymnody has survived her, fortunately.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 10, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHANN NITSCHMANN, SR., MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND BISHOP; DAVID NITSCHMANN, JR., THE SYNDIC, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND BISHOP; AND DAVID NITSCHMANN, THE MARTYR, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN LUDWIG BRAU, NORWEGIAN MORAVIAN TEACHER AND POET

THE FEAST OF EDWARD BENSON WHITE, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

THE FEAST OF LOUIS FITZGERALD BENSON, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMNODIST

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Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

Cecil Frances Alexander and others, who have composed hymn texts.

May we, as you guide us,

find worthy hymn texts to be icons,

through which we see you.

In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 44:1-3a, 5-15

Psalm 147

Revelation 5:11-14

Luke 2:8-20

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 20, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS AMATOR OF AUXERRE AND GERMANUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; SAINT MAMERTINUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; AND SAINT MARCIAN OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

THE FEAST OF JOHANNES BUGENHAGEN, GERMAN LUTHERAN PASTOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCELLINUS OF EMBRUN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF OLAVUS AND LAURENTIUS PETRI, RENEWERS OF THE CHURCH

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Feast of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos (October 5)   Leave a comment

Above:  Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED FRANCIS XAVIER SEELOS (JANUARY 11, 1819-OCTOBER 4, 1867)

German-American Roman Catholic Priest

Alternative feast days = October 4 and October 12

Franz Xaver Seelos, born in Füssen, Bavaria, on January 11, 1819, devoted his adult life to the service of God.  His mother was Frances Schwarzenbach.  Our saint’s father was Mang Seelos, a parish sacristan and a textile merchant.  Seelos, named after St. Francis Xavier (1505-1552), received the sacrament of baptism on the day of his birth.  Our saint, confirmed on September 3, 1828, received his First Communion on April 2, 1830.  He, having discerned his priestly vocation while a boy, graduated from the Institute of St. Stephen, Augsburg, in 1839.  He continued his education at the University of Munich, where he studied theology and philosophy.  In 1842 Seelos graduated from the University of Munich and matriculated at St. Jerome Seminary, Dillengen an der Danau.

1842 was a year of turning points in the life of our saint.  He joined the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (the Redemptorists) on November 22.  St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori had founded the order in 1732.  Seelos felt drawn to the order, due to its work with the abandoned, the poor, and immigrants.  He left the seminary on December 9, 1842, with the intention of ministering to German immigrants in the United States of America.

Seelos spent 1843-1867 in the United States.  He, having sailed on March 17, 1843, arrived in the New York City on April 29.  Seelos, ordained to the priesthood in Baltimore, Maryland, on December 22, 1844, ministered to German immigrants faithfully.  For nine years he served in St. Philomena Church, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  For six of those years he was the assistant to and spiritual student of St. John Nepomucene Neumann (1811-1860).  For three of those years Seelos was the local Redemptorist novice master.  At. St. Philomena Church our saint was a popular confessor in three languages (French, German, and English) and from many people from various backgrounds.

Our saint’s final thirteen years were full of faithful service, too.  Seelos served in Baltimore (1854-1857), Cumberland (1857-1862), and Annapolis (1862-1863), all in Maryland.  Along the way, in 1860, he avoided becoming the Bishop of Pittsburgh.  In 1863, Seelos, as the Superior of the Redemptorist seminary, persuaded President Abraham Lincoln to exempt seminarians from the military draft.  Later that year our saint lost his job, for alleged leniency.  Seelos spent 1863-1866 as an itinerant priest in states in the North, from New England to the Midwest.  In 1866-1867 our saint served in a German immigrant parish in New Orleans, Louisiana.  On October 4, 1867, he, aged 46 years, died of yellow fever.  Seelos had contracted the disease while ministering to people afflicted with it.

Pope John Paul II declared Seelos a Venerable then beatified him in 2000.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 9, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT DENIS, BISHOP OF PARIS, AND HIS COMPANIONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN LEONARDI, FOUNDER OF THE CLERKS REGULAR OF THE MOTHER OF GOD OF LUCCA; AND SAINT JOSEPH CALASANCTIUS, FOUNDER OF THE CLERKS REGULAR OF RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS

THE FEAST OF ROBERT GROSSETESTE, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC SCHOLAR, PHILOSOPHER, AND BISHOP OF LINCOLN

THE FEAST OF WILFRED THOMASON GRENFELL, MEDICAL MISSIONARY TO NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR

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O God, our heavenly Father, who raised up your faithful servant Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos,

to be a pastor in your Church and to feed your flock:

Give abundantly to all pastors the gifts of your Holy Spirit,

that they may minister in your household as true servants of Christ and stewards of your divine mysteries;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you

and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Acts 20:17-35

Psalm 84 or 84:7-11

Ephesians 3:14-21

Matthew 24:42-47

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 719

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Feast of Marie-Joseph Aubert (October 1)   Leave a comment

Above:  Mother Marie-Joseph Aubert

Image in the Public Domain

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MARIE-JOSEPH AUBERT (JUNE 19, 1835-OCTOBER 1, 1926)

Foundress of the Daughters of Our Lady of Compassion

Also known as Marie Henriette Suzanne Aubert and Meri

Mother Marie-Joseph Aubert comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.  There is also a cause for her canonization in the Roman Catholic Church.  The irony of that is wonderful, given how often Aubert was at odds with the hierarchy of her Church, especially in New Zealand.

(Marie Henriette) Suzanne Aubert, born in Saint-Symphorien-de-Lay, Loire, near Lyons, France, on June 19, 1835, was devout from an early age.  Her father was Louis Aubert, a bailiff.  Our saint’s mother was Henriette Catherine Clarice Périer.  Suzanne, disabled for a long time due to a childhood accident, recovered.  The experience contributed to her decision to spend her life helping the disabled, the deformed, and the seriously ill.  So did contact with Marists in Lyons.  St. Jean Baptiste Vianney (1746-1859) mentored Suzanne spiritually from her teens into her early twenties.  She became a nurse and served during the Crimean War.  Our saint also studied piano under the tutelage of Franz Liszt (1811-1886).  In September 1860 the 25-year-old saint, resisting family opposition to her intention to become a nun, joined the missionary expedition of Bishop François Pompallier to New Zealand.

Our saint spent most of the rest of her life in New Zealand.

She taught Maori girls in Auckland from 1860 to 1869.  During this period Suzanne Aubert became Sister Marie-Joseph of the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy, in June 1861.  The French-Irish order divided in 1862; the French nuns formed the Congregation of the Holy Family.  Bishop Pompallier left New Zealand in 1868 and resigned in March 1869.  His financial troubles caused the school to close and the Congregation of the Holy Family to disband.  Bishop T. W. Cooke, the next bishop to whom Aubert answered, ordered her to return to France.  Our saint disobeyed, replying,

I have come here for the Maoris, I shall die in their midst.  I will do what I like.

Aubert moved to Napier in February 1871; there she served in a lay capacity in the Marist Order’s Hawke’s Bay Mission, at the invitation of Father Euloge Reignier.  At that time our saint was a sister of the Third Order Regular of Mary.  At the Hawke’s Bay Mission she worked as a nurse, a catechist, and a teacher.  She, fluent in Maori, prepared and published a Maori-language catechism and prayer-book in 1879 and a Maori grammar in 1885.  She, known to the Maori as “Meri,” studied Maori herbal remedies and used them to supplement Western medicines.  Our saint also proved vital to the revival of the Marist mission in the Diocese of Wellington.  The mission, devastated by war during the 1860s, was short on priests.  Aubert’s persistence in lobbying Archbishop Francis Redwood and the leaders of the Marist Order led to the presence of more priests, including Father Christophe Soulas.

Aubert, Soulas, and three Sisters of Saint Joseph of Nazareth arrived at the Jerusalem Mission on the Wanganui River on July 8, 1883.  Personality and philosophical differences became evident quickly, leading to the departure of the Sisters of Saint Joseph the following year.  Soulas and Aubert, allies, eventually received permission to found a new diocesan order, the Daughters of Our Lady of Compassion (1892).  Aubert served as the first Superior of the order.  The members of the order initially focused on education and health care for Maori.  The nuns operated schools, dispensed medicine, and cared for disabled people and the chronically ill.  Aubert raised funds for the order by marketing herbal remedies.

At the Jerusalem Mission, starting in 1891, Aubert’s work also involved taking in abandoned and neglected children.  In the space of a decade she accepted responsibility for 70 children.  In the context of politics in New Zealand, European-style founding institutions were controversial.  Aubert, partially dependent on yet distrustful of civil authorities, refused to open the books for government inspectors.  Also, the geographically isolated mission was not the best place for the foundling institution.

Thus, it came to pass that, in January 1899, Aubert and three sisters did arrive in Wellington.  While the Jerusalem Mission continued our saint opened a new front in her work–helping urban poor people–invalids, the hungry, the unemployed, the incurably ill, et cetera.  The soup kitchen was controversial because, according to the colonial Department of Labour, it allegedly discouraged people from seeking employment.  Aubert’s rebuttal was that she was meeting a need.  The affordable daycare was popular with mothers.  Our Lady’s Home of Compassion, Wellington, opened in 1907, accepted the unwanted, handicapped, and seriously ill children, as well as chronically and terminally ill women.

Aubert founded St. Vincent’s Home of Compassion in Auckland in 1910.  This institution attracted the ire of the government and of certain Protestants alike.  Why was the order so secretive, protecting the privacy of children?  Yet Aubert and her defenders replied that the policy was necessary, to reduce the likelihood of infanticide.

Aubert also had enemies in the Roman Catholic hierarchy in New Zealand.  Certainly diplomacy was not her defining characteristic.  Neither was obedience.  (Nor should they have been.)  Aubert had, for example, ignored Archbishop Redwood’s order that she help only Roman Catholics.  As she told donors, her work was

salvation of souls, not the sanctification of Catholics.

Furthermore, Henry Cleary, the Bishop of Auckland, thought that our saint should have restricted her work to efforts to help women.  He arranged for the closing of St. Vincent’s Home of Compassion in 1916.

Aubert spent 1913-1919 in Europe.  She went there to seek papal approval for her order, but stayed until after the end of World War I.  Our saint, who worked as a nurse during the Great War, obtained the desired papal approval and became the Superior General of her order in April 1917.

Aubert spent her final years in her adopted country.  She, aged 91 years, died at Our Lady’s Home of Compassion, Wellington.  Mourners at her funeral included many politicians and leaders of a variety of denominations.  It was the largest funeral for a woman in New Zealand.

Aubert loved her neighbors as she loved herself.  The Golden Rule, seemingly simple and inoffensive, has proven to be neither simple nor inoffensive.  That has been unfortunate, reflecting the immorality and amorality of those who have found it offensive.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 26, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAUL VI, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK WILLIAM FABER, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN BRIGHT, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF JOHN BYROM, ANGLICAN THEN QUAKER POET AND HYMN WRITER

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God of love, we remember with thanksgiving Mother Marie-Joseph Aubert,

whose devotion to the needs of others transcended race or religion;

touch us deeply with your love,

enlarge the boundaries of our compassion,

and keep us in the way of Jesus, for your name’s sake.  Amen.

or 

Jesus of Jerusalem, in your compassion, Marie-Joseph visited and fed

the taurekareka, the unwanted, the desperate and the criminal;

give to your whole church, we pray, your caring, pioneering spirit.  Amen.

Deuteronomy 15:7-11

Psalm 107:1-22

James 2:14-18

Mark 6:34-44

–The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia

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Feast of the Martyrs of Melanesia, 1864-2003 (September 27)   Leave a comment

Above:  Map of New Zealand and Melanesia, 1958

Image Scanned and Cropped from Hammond’s World Atlas–Classics Edition (1958)

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INTRODUCTION

The Feast of the Martyrs of Melanesia comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.  This feast overlaps with two other commemorations from various provinces of the Anglican Communion–that of John Coleridge Patteson and His Companions (September 20) and that of the Martyrs of the Melanesian Brotherhood (April 24).

1864-1871

The first Anglican martyrs in Melanesia were Frederick Lorenzo Fisher Young (usually known as Fisher Young) and Edwin Nobbs, who died in 1864.  Young and Nobbs were descendants of H.M.S. Bounty mutineers; Young was a great-great-grandson of Fletcher Christian (1792-1842).  Young, born on January 27, 1846, was a native of Pitcairn Island.  Nobbs was a son of an Anglican priest stationed on Norfolk Island, the headquarters of the Melanesian Mission.  In 1864 Young, Nobbs, and Bishop John Coleridge Patteson were on Santa Cruz Island when natives shot them with arrows.  Young and Nobbs contracted tetanus and lockjaw.  Young died on August 24, after having forgiven his assailants.

I have already written about the martyrdoms of Joseph Atkin, Stephen Taroniara, and Bishop Patteson in 1871.

1904-1926

Others came to wear the crown of martyrdom, also.

  1. Arthur Ako died in his garden in 1904.  In 1898 he and fifteen converts from Fiji founded a Christian village at Kwara’ae, Fiu.  Within two years, with the addition of non-Fijian Christians, the village’s population had increased to about 100.  Hostile neighbors harassed the villagers.  The village remained after Ako’s murder and became the center of the spread of the faith in the area.
  2. James Ivo, a teacher from Nggela, died (by shooting) at Ngorefou in 1906.
  3. James Sili, falsely accused of sorcery, was standing on the veranda of the mission-house when someone fatally shot him in 1910.
  4. Charles Christopher Godden, born in Violet Town, Victoria, Australia, in 1876, was a poet, as well as the first Australian missionary to die in Melanesia.  He, ordained to the Anglican diaconate in 1899 and the priesthood the following year, was briefly the Curate of St. Michael’s Church, Surry Hills.  He volunteered for missionary work.  On September 3, 1900, Godden left for Norfolk Island, headquarters of the Melanesian Mission.  He arrived in Omba, New Hebrides (now Vanuatu) in April 1901.  There Godden supervised the construction of a church building and some schools.  On December 12, 1905, while on leave in Sydney, Australia, he married Eva Dearin (d. 1964).  They returned to Omba the following April.  On October 16, 1906, an angry, vengeful Melanesian man, released from an Australian prison after serving his sentence for attempted murder, killed Godden, who had never done anything to him, but was of European ancestry.  Our saint’s murderer was angry at people of European ancestry, due to his incarceration.  Eva gave birth to a daughter, Ruth, in July 1907.
  5. Ben Teilo, from Matema, was the first native Reef Islander ordained to the Anglican priesthood, in 1919.  He met his martyrdom via an axe attack in 1926.

2003

1998-2003 was a time of crisis in the Solomon Islands.  Two rival militias, the Isatubu Freedom Movement and the Malaitan Eagle Force, fought over competition between ethnic groups for land and jobs.  Government instability ensued, the economy suffered, and natural disasters made bad manners worse.  Military forces from Australia and New Zealand helped to stabilize the situation and end the crisis by the end of 2003, three years after the signing of the peace treaty.

Nathaniel Sado was a novice in the Melanesian Brotherhood.  He, in charge of the piggery, liked the pigs very much and fed them sweet potatoes he had picked from his garden then cooked.  Sado and animals got along well; he was one of the few novices the donkey liked.  Our saint, a native of the volcanic island of Savo, enjoyed taking expatriates to the hot springs there.  Sado, who was naïve, had befriended Harold Keke, notorious leader of the Isatubu Freedom Movement, and a man responsible for the murder of two priests, one of them a Member of Parliament in 2002.  Sado thought he really knew Keke; he was terribly mistaken.  Sado, accused of being a government spy, sang hymns as guerrillas beat him death at Easter (April 20) 2003.

Six Melanesian Brothers went to ask for Sado’s corpse.  They paid with their lives on or about April 23, 2003.

  1. Robin Lindsay was the Assistant Head Brother.  He, a longterm member of the Melanesian Brotherhood, was, according to the Father Richard Carter, a chaplain to the Brotherhood, “the encourager,” and a man who had a gift for helping people build on their strengths.
  2. Francis Tofi worked for peace in the strife-torn Solomon Islands.  He organized an effort, in conjugation with police, to sink all the ammunition, explosives, and high-powered weapons they could find into the sea, beyond reach.  Tofi, an expert in peaceful conflict resolution and an advocate for disarmament, fearlessly spoke out against Keke.  Tofi had received an offer from the World Council of Churches to accept a place at the Bossey Institute in Geneva and to assist with a course on conflict resolution.  He, according to his own words, had no fear of dying for the sake of peace and in the service of God.
  3. Alfred Hilly, stationed for two years at a the Chester Resthouse in Honiara, was the epitome of hospitality, teaching an abandoned child to read, tending to visiting children, and reading blood slides at the local malaria clinic.
  4. Ini Partabatu was an actor and a courageous opponent of injustice.  He acted in dramas about development and health issues.  Partabatu also condemned brutal police tactics that disrespected the rights of the accused.
  5. Patteson Gatu, admitted to the Melanesian Brotherhood in October 2002, was usually quick to smile.  His sense of humor, combined with his faith, made him an agent of grace.
  6. Tony Sirihi, having lost his father at an early age, found a family in the Melanesian Brotherhood.  He grew into a bold Brother, a courageous man, and a good friend who participated in the process of disarmament.

In March 2005 Harold Keke and two former guerrillas received life sentences for the murder of Father Augustine Geve, M.P., in 2002.

CONCLUSION

These are sobering stories that remind one of the command of Jesus to take up one’s cross and follow him.  Some follow Christ all the way to their own Golgotha.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 13, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PETER OF CHELCIC, BOHEMIAN HUSSITE REFORMER; AND GREGORY THE PATRIARCH, FOUNDER OF THE MORAVIAN CHURCH

THE FEAST OF GODFREY THRING, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JANE CREWDSON, ENGLISH QUAKER POET AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF NARAYAN SESHADRI OF JALNI, INDIAN PRESBYTERIAN EVANGELIST AND “APOSTLE TO THE MANGS”

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Creator God, whose majesty is in the storms as well as in the calm,

we thank you for those of every race who gave their lives in Melanesia for the sake of Christ;

may we your church always proclaim your gospel, live your commandments,

and overcome the powers of darkness; through Jesus Christ our Redeemer.  Amen.

or

God, you call us, your missionaries, to carry our lives in our hands;

we praise you for many servants in Melanesia whose lives

were taken by those for whom they would gladly have given them.  Amen.

Isaiah 26:1-4

Psalm 97 or 149

Colossians 1:9-14

John 12:20-26

–The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia

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