Four men came from Italy to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ into our country in a very unique way. They were four Passionists, three priests and one brother, who knew very little about our culture, very little about our history and yet made a contribution to our country that is quite unbelievable. They were Fr. Anthony Colandri, C.P., Superior; Fr. Stanislaus Parogyh, C.P.; Fr. Albanus Magno, C.P.; and Br. Lawrence DiGiacomo, C.P. These four men started the monastery in Pittsburgh and from that monastery came hundreds of men over the years who have preached the Passion of Christ wherever they went.
Four men who dynamized our culture. Four men who brought a message to our culture that was relatively unknown. These Passionist men preached missions and retreats in every corner of our country. They have since brought the message of Christ to 13 other countries throughout the world. Their simple story is that in the passion of Jesus Christ you have the greatest love story the world has ever heard. They taught that Christ went through an agony, a scouring and a crucifixion as an act of love for each one in this country.
Preachers have come and gone in the history of our country, but these preachers were different. They had a love story that they wanted the world to hear about and the world did hear about it because of their efforts. If you go back about 150 years ago and just consider what transportation was, consider we had no computers, no telephone, no television, yet because of these four the passion of Christ became more widely known and more deeply loved. Their love story was something that went back to the time that Christ was in the Garden of Olives. Their love story goes back to the time that Christ was on the Cross. Their love story is being told today that centuries ago a man on a Cross said to all of us, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do". Their message was one of forgiveness prompted by the desire to remind all Catholics and all people that Jesus Christ died for all of us, that he died out of love for us and that love can always be ours if we keep the passion of Jesus Christ in our hearts.
Paul of the Cross died in 1775, one year before the Declaration of Independence. But it was not until 1852 that the Passionist spirit began to enrich the American Church.
The first Passionist retreat was preached in Pittsburgh in 1856, and the first mission in 1857. In the following years, Passionist missions and retreats became familiar to Catholics from coast to coast.
In 1906 Holy Cross Province was established in Chicago. Today's priests and brothers continue to proclaim Jesus Crucified: Robert Weiss and Blaize Czaja who have preached missions for some 30 years; missionaries Carl Schmitz, murdered in 1968 while working for the poor in the Philippines, and Walter Kaelin, who began work in India in 1983 when he was 65; Raymond Sanchez, prison chaplain; Alex Steinmiller, minister to street youth in Detroit and San Antonio; Francis Keenan, Emergency Room chaplain for over 20 years; Donald Senior, who continues the tradition of Biblical research begun by the deceased scholars Carroll Stuhlmuller and Barnabas Ahern, and expert at Vatican Council II. Stauros, U.S.A., founded by the Passionists, has been strongly involved with challenges of contemporary human suffering, particularly in advocacy work with and for persons living with disabilities.
Passionist Community in North America
O Spirit of God,
radiant light and source of all life,
Invigorate us with your power.
May our ears remain open to hear your Word,
May our minds remain open to understand your call,
May our hearts remain open to listen to your voice.
May we be inspired by the message of Christ,
and by the example of St. Paul of the Cross,
to carry out the mission
of preaching the Gospel of justice and peace.
to a world so in need of your compassionate love.
We pray to you, 0 Faithful God,
in trust and in hope,
through Christ Crucified and the Holy Spirit,
one with you forever and ever.
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