Friday, February 25, 2011

May She Rest in Peace

One is my Center;
Wisdom and Word

Dwelling within me,
Spoken and heard.
                           Sr. Margaret Banville, OSsR

Sister Margaret
"Peg" Banville, OSsR
Born October 9, 1925
Professed Vows January 23, 1951
Final Vows January 23, 1954
Solemn Vows May 31, 1961
Born into Eternal Life February 21, 2011

Our beloved Sister Margaret “Peg” Banville, OSsR, a contemplative nun of the Order of the Most Holy Redeemer and senior member of our community, died Monday, February 21, 2011, at the Redemptoristine Monastery of Esopus, NY after a long illness.

She served in the Canadian Women’s Army Corps from 1943 to 1946 and was discharged as a Sergeant before entering the Redemptoristine Nuns in 1949. She spoke of her vocational call to contemplative life as a mysterious one that came suddenly and irresistibly. In 1957 she came to Esopus with five sisters to open a new monastery on the grounds of Mount St. Alphonsus. She fulfilled many offices in community including prioress, vicar, novice mistress, and archivist. She attended international General Assemblies of the Order of the Most Holy Redeemer in Rome in 1983 and 1992. She was also a certified spiritual director. She sought naturalization as a citizen of the United States in 1968 and proudly exercised her right to vote with great diligence.

She was born on October 9, 1925 in Toronto, Canada, a daughter of the late Wilfred Banville and Catherine Bergin. She professed religious vows as a Redemptoristine nun on January 23, 1951 as Sister Mary Gemma of the Blessed Sacrament. She shared with many the depth of her spirituality grounded in the life of Jesus Christ and in awe of the Wisdom of God as well as the humility of God who creates, saves and forgives.

Besides her ten Redemptoristine Sisters, survivors include one sister, Grace Somers of Toronto and many nieces and nephews along with their children and grandchildren. She was predeceased by three brothers and two sisters.

Friends will be received in the chapel of the monastery from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday with a Vigil Prayer Service at 7:30 p.m. A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10:00am on Thursday in the monastery chapel. The Rev. Francis Jones, CSsR representing Provincial Rev. Kevin Moley, CSsR will preside. Rev. Andrew Costello, CSsR, will offer the homily. Burial will be at Mount St. Alphonsus cemetery.

The Judgement 

What will it be like?
I have to face him.
Will he say I am a disgrace,
turn me away, rejected?
I have to face him.

We will surely arrive soon;
The City gates come into view.
I see an old man peering out.
He sees our caravan,
runs quickly toward us.

We are face to face.
He speaks,
“Welcome, daughter!
Welcome to your home
With blessing and joy!”

It will be like that!

Sr. Margaret Banville, OSsR

Sunday, February 06, 2011

In the Archdiocese of New York

World Day for Consecrated Life:
Remarks at St. John's
Church, Woodstock, NY

In 1997, Pope John Paul II declared that the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, February 2nd would be World Day for Consecrated Life in our Church. Our diocese moved it to a Sunday and that is why I am here. The Vicar for Religious of the diocese asked us to make ourselves available to the local Church to mark this day. I made that offer to Father George who immediately invited me to speak to you.

What do I want to tell you about religious life? I want to tell the elders among you that religious life is alive and well in our time. It just doesn’t look like you remember it. For the younger cadre here I am a visual aide to illustrate a point; that there are sisters, nuns and bothers in our Church and they sometimes look like this. But no matter what they look like, habit or no habit, veil or no veil, they exist, they are working, they serve mightily and they are happy. These are women and men who have made promises to God to live their lives in community, with vows of poverty, obedience and chastity in order to serve their loving God and God’s people. The counties of Ulster and Dutchess alone enjoy the presence and ministry of Dominicans in Glasco who give retreats and have great hermitages, the Benedictines in hospital service, my Redemptoristine community at Mt. St. Alphonsus of the Redemptorists, the Marist Brothers who run a camp and offer youth retreats and spiritual direction, the motherhouse of the Carmelite Sisters of the Aged and Infirm in Germantown, Sisters of St. Ursula at Linwood Retreat Center, the Poor Clare contemplatives in Wappinger Falls along with the retreat house of the Franciscan Fiars Minor at Mt. Alvernia, and the Carmelite contemplatives in Beacon.

I personally know religious who are teachers, social workers, spiritual directors, Hospice chaplains, lawyers, counselors. I know some who minister to migrant workers, maintain soup kitchens and food pantries, work with the deaf, serve on the boards of community service organizations, reach out via the Internet and other media, and many whose lives are given to the apostolic work of prayer for a needy world, its diverse nations and peoples and all of God’s creation.

Today we heard the words of the prophet Isaiah:

Share your bread with the hungry,
Shelter the oppressed and the homeless;
Clothe the naked when you see them,
And do not turn your back on your own.
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn……

We also heard Jesus declare that we “are the salt of the earth”; that we are to be “the light of the world”. Surely the religious in our Church have heard these words and acted upon them, “Your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”

Not only are religious present and active in our Church and happily fulfilled in their vocation. They are also filled with hope, as you should be, for the future of religious life. I assure you this manifestation of the search of the human heart for the Power that is beyond us will not disappear. The sciences of anthropology and sociology tell us that this impulse to live a life more closely united with the transcendent is as old as humankind. It is present in all cultures and societies; appearing as the native American shaman, the Buddhist monk or nun, the tribal medicine man, the Moslem Sufi, as well as Catholic Trappist or Sister of Charity. The impulse is sure to appear. It may even bob up to the surface in your family or among your friends. Please do your best, if you are given the opportunity, to encourage and guide this impulse.

Last year I spoke to a group of parents and asked them. “What would you fear if your child wanted to pursue a religious vocation? They said they would worry about their child being happy; would be concerned about what their son or daughter would have to give up and the promises they would have to make. Who of us has not had some unhappiness? Who of us has not had to give up things in life? Who of us has not had to make and keep promises? These are realities of life. Most of us look back at all of that and still remember what was good, loving and joyful. And we say, “I wouldn’t have had it any other way.” The promises made in religious life mirror all of our promises, every promise represented here; fidelity in marriage and relationship, dedication to nurturing children, the promises of the sacrament of ordination, perseverance in religious vows, faithfulness in honoring the true self, the mundane obligations of earning a living, or the duties of citizenship and service. We are all in this life of following Christ together but we do it in a blessed and wonderful variety of ways.

I say these things to you as someone who, in another life, was a professional, a wife and a mother; someone who paid taxes, worried about the kids, fretted over politics; someone who seriously followed the spiritual life, sometimes succeeding and sometimes failing badly. But God called me to the contemplative life of prayer and service in a monastic community. My life is not better than yours, it is just different. It is a life fulfilled in being committed to the Redemptoristine charism, our spirituality, which is to be a “living memory” of Jesus Christ for the Church and the world. We would welcome you to our monastery for private prayer, participation in the Divine Office or Liturgy of the Hours, and Mass. We also welcome field trips by parish committees, groups or classes. Contact information is available at the exits should you wish to learn more or want to send us a prayer request.

Please remember that religious life is alive and well. It is a happy option for Christian living. But most of all remember that we are in this together; together searching for God; together loving and praising our God and serving God in serving each other. You are the salt of the earth and a light for the world.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

The Church Celebrates Consecrated Life

Redemptoristine Solemn Profession
Final Blessing
World Day
for Consecrated Life

In 1997 Pope John Paul II declared that a World Day for Consecrated Life would be observed on the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, February 2nd of every year. In our diocese the day for consecrated life was moved to a Sunday, February 6th. Pope Benedict XVI marked the day on the Feast in Rome. Zenit News reported exerpts of the Pontiff's remarks to those who have consecrated their lives to God. They appear below.

Be Listeners of the Word

A Reflection on the Roles of Simeon and Anna at Christ's Presentation

Benedict XVI urged consecrated men and women in the Church to be "assiduous listeners of the Word" as he offered Simeon and Anna as examples of lives "dedicated totally to the search for the face of God."

The Pope said this today during evening vespers in St. Peter's Basilica on the occasion of the World Day of Consecrated Life, which is observed on the feast of the Presentation of the Lord. Reflecting on the Gospel passage that recounts the entrance of the Child Jesus into the Temple, the Holy Father noted that only "two elderly people, Simeon and Anna, discovered the great novelty" of Christ's presence.

"Led by the Holy Spirit, they see in that Child the fulfillment of their long expectation and vigilance," the Pontiff said. "Both contemplate the light of God that comes to illumine the world, with their prophetic gaze open to the future, as proclamation of the Messiah: 'Lumen ad revelationem gentium (a light for revelation to the Gentiles)!'"

"The evangelical icon of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple," he continued, "contains the essential symbol of light; the light that, coming from Christ, shines on Mary and Joseph, on Simeon and Anna and, through them, on everyone."

The Holy Father noted that the Fathers of the Church "linked this radiation to the spiritual journey," and he added that consecrated life "expresses this journey, in a special way as 'philocalia,' love of divine beauty, reflection of the goodness of God."

Benedict XVI said the evangelical icon also "manifests the prophecy, gift of the Holy Spirit." He explained: "Simeon and Anna, contemplating the Child Jesus, perceive his destiny of death and resurrection for the salvation of all peoples and proclaim this mystery as universal salvation.

"Consecrated life is called to this prophetic witness, linked to its twofold attitude, contemplative and active. Given to consecrated men and women, in fact, is to manifest the primacy of God, passion for the Gospel practiced as a way of life and proclaimed to the poor and to the last of the earth."

"In this way," he added, "consecrated life, in its daily living on the paths of humanity, manifests the Gospel and the Kingdom already present and operative."

Finally, the Holy Father said that the evangelical icon of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple "manifests the wisdom of Simeon and Anna, the wisdom of a life dedicated totally to the search for the face of God, of his signs, of his will; a life dedicated to listening and to proclaiming his Word."

"Dear brothers and sisters," the Pope urged, "be assiduous listeners of the Word, because the wisdom of life is born from the Word of the Lord!"

Friday, February 04, 2011

Live Tonight

Podcast for Vocation Discerners

The Sister Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary of Monroe are doing wonderful work for the cause of religious vocations. They have mounted an interactive website,, on the Internet. Beginning very gradually over two years ago, they have become more and more technologically sophisticated and are continuously reaching out to experienced folks and experts who can assist those discerning a religious vocation and the vocation directors in congregations and orders who wish to work with them. Here is a safe and informed place where those interested can have any question answered.

Tonight I will be a third voice in one of their weekly podcasts. Along with Sister Julie and Sister Maxine, I will help to field questions as they come in live, by e-mail or those that have come in during the week.

Here's a link:

Just click on "Listen Now" and follow the prompts. Be sure to turn on your speakers.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Check Out a Great Interview

Today, the Feast of the Presentation, was designated by Pope John Paul II as World Day for Consecrated Life in 1997. His purpose was to cast a spotlight on the witness given to the Church and the world by those vowed to the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience. In the diocese of New York where we are located the intention of this day had been moved to Sunday, February 6th. However, the Feast of the Presentation is most appropriate because the Holy Family was met in the temple by two persevering people whose lives had been dedicated to patient waiting for the arrival of the Messiah. We are told that at the sight of Jesus Simeon declared, "Now Lord, you can let your servant die in peace for you have kept your promise. My eyes have seen the salvation of the Lord..." And Anna too, old and bent as she was, delighted in the realization of her prayers.

Archbishop Joseph Tobin, CSsR was interviewed today on Vatican Radio, (in English) speaking about consecrated life and the meaning of this day. The picture at the Vatican Radio site is of Archbishop Tobin and our communty. We are sadly unidentified. Here is the link:

Archbishop Tobin is the former Father General of the Redemptorist Congregation. He was recently appointed secretary to the Vatican Congregation for Consecrated Life. He and the newly appointed prefect of that Congregation, a Brazilian, will be processing the results of the Apostolic Visitation of Congregations of Religious Women in the United States. I am sure all will recognize the love with which Archbishop Tobin so eloquently expresses the role of religious life in the Church and in our world.