Father Tom's Notes
This week, we observe the Feast Days of two lesser-known “Blesseds,” persons who have been Beatified by the Church, but not yet Canonized as Saints. They are Blessed Francis X. Seelos (USA) on Monday, and Blessed Marie Rose Durocher (Canada) on Tuesday.
Born in southern Bavaria in 1819, Francis Xavier Seelos attended Seminary in Munich. On hearing about the work of the Redemptorists among German-speaking Catholics in the United States, he came to this country in 1843. He was assigned to a parish in Pittsburgh as an Assistant to Saint John Neumann. (Imagine being a member of a parish where both priests are saints!) He moved to a parish in Maryland where he had the responsibility for training Redemptorist seminarians. During the Civil War, Father Seelos went to Washington, DC and appealed to President Lincoln that those students not be drafted for military service, though eventually some of them were.
For several years, he preached in English and in German throughout the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic states. Finally, he was assigned to a parish in New Orleans where he spent the rest of his life and ministry. While working with the sick, he contracted Yellow Fever, succumbing to the disease in 1867 at the age of forty-eight.
Blessed Marie Rose Durocher was born in Saint-Antoine, Quebec in 1811, the tenth of eleven children Three of her brothers became Priests and one of her sisters became a Nun. She helped one of her priestly brothers in his parish ministry and while doing this, became aware of the need for Catholic schools in the frontier province. She was asked by the local Bishop to found a new community of Religious Sisters to provide Christian education, especially among the poor in the area. In 1844, she founded the Congregation of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, opening five convents in five years. Today, some 1,000 Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary continue to educate children in Canada and the United States, as well as in the missions of Africa and South America.
Always in poor health and worn out from her many labors, Marie Rose died on her 38th Birthday, October 6, 1849. On her deathbed, she told a Sister who was watching with her, “Your prayers are keeping me here — let me go.” She is a patron saint of the Sick.