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Lord, Have Mercy View Comments
By John Celichowski, OFM Cap

These are a pilgrim’s reflections. They come from my own experiences and learning as a seminarian, pastor, jail minister, attorney, and Capuchin Franciscan provincial, including conversations with survivors of sexual abuse by clergy and religious, offenders, victim assistance coordinators, experts in the field, and others involved and affected.

For a Church that has healing and reconciliation at the core of our mission, the overreliance on litigation to resolve allegations and help victims and survivors should strike us as odd, even a scandal and a sign of failure. Is there an alternative?

In this reflection I hope to offer an alternative framework to promote justice, healing, and reconciliation; to make the Church a safer place; and to help us become truer to our mission. This framework is already part of our Catholic tradition: the spiritual works of mercy.

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John Celichowski, OFM Cap., is the provincial minister of the Capuchin Franciscan Province of St. Joseph, based in Detroit, Michigan.


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Conrad of Parzham: Conrad spent most of his life as porter in Altoetting, Bavaria, letting people into the friary and indirectly encouraging them to let God into their lives. 
<p>His parents, Bartholomew and Gertrude Birndorfer, lived near Parzham, Bavaria. In those days this region was recovering from the Napoleonic wars. A lover of solitary prayer and a peacemaker as a young man, Conrad joined the Capuchins as a brother. He made his profession in 1852 and was assigned to the friary in Altoetting. That city’s shrine to Mary was very popular; at the nearby Capuchin friary there was a lot of work for the porter, a job Conrad held for 41 years. </p><p>At first some of the other friars were jealous that such a young friar held this important job. Conrad’s patience and holy life overcame their doubts. As porter he dealt with many people, obtaining many of the friary supplies and generously providing for the poor who came to the door. He treated them all with the courtesy Francis expected of his followers. </p><p>Conrad’s helpfulness was sometimes unnerving. Once Father Vincent, seeking quiet to prepare a sermon, went up the belltower of the church. Conrad tracked him down when someone wanting to go to confession specifically requested Father Vincent. </p><p>Conrad also developed a special rapport with the children of the area. He enthusiastically promoted the Seraphic Work of Charity, which aided neglected children. </p><p>Conrad spent hours in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. He regularly asked the Blessed Mother to intercede for him and for the many people he included in his prayers. The ever-patient Conrad was canonized in 1934.</p> American Catholic Blog The Resurrection is neither optimism nor idealism; it is truth. Atheism proclaims the tomb is full; Christians know it is empty.

 
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