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Joint Jubilee Mass of Religious Profession

At Mt. Carmel Center in Dallas, Texas on Wednesday, October 17, 2018, Fr. Jenaro de la Cruz from Burgos, Spain, celebrated his 60th anniversary of profession, and Fr. Sam Anthony Morello of the Sacred Heart, his 65th of profession. Fr. Jenaro opted to speak briefly a er the Communion silence; Fr. Sam Anthony spoke after the Gospel reading. The following is a summary of Fr. Sam Anthony's Reflections, of Gratitude to God and to his Brothers of the Southwestern Province of St. Thérèse.

My Dear Brothers:

Since Fr. Jenaro will address you a er the Communion silence, let me begin simply by thanking this brother of ours for his years of vigorous service to our Province and to the Hispanic Catholics of the Southwestern USA. In spite of a chronic asthma condition on, this man has been heroic for years on end, carrying more than his share of the Hispanic Ministry of the Province. Thank you, dear Fr. Jenaro, for your faithful dedication on to the Order and the Church in these parts. We have all seen your tireless conventual and ministerial witness in our company. You and Fr. Jesus Sancho are our link with our historical‐early Spanish Fathers in the Southwest, Spaniards from Valencia. They left  us a loving legacy of pastoral solicitude for our migrant Hispanic brothers and sisters in the faith. (And I would like to add that in the younger days of both of us, we two served together on the provincial council. I still find those placid and enjoyable memories.)

Speaking of memories, allow we to recall the celebration of my 25th anniversary of priesthood in Rome. That celebration also was a joint celebration. Fr. Camilo Macisse, OCD., was in Rome from Mexico at that time in 1987, and the Generalate put us together on the altar for the occasion. It was in April of that year. Each one of us spoke briefly to the friars at the Generalate during the Mass. And I remember well how impressed I was by the simple comments of Fr. Camilo. He especially remarked that he was not celebrating 'his fidelity to God', but rather 'celebrating God's fidelity to himself'. And he meant just that. Well, on this happy occasion, I wish to echo Camilo's deep gratitude to God‐the‐'Ever‐Faithful'‐One (in Hebrew, God's 'hesed') for his merciful confirmation of my own vocation to Carmel for some 65 years. In human frailty I certainly have failed God's love often to my own dismay; but God's patient and gifted light and penitence of soul eventually won out in my life. So, I publicly thank him for his loving mercy, and for his eventual establishing me more securely in my as I aged. In my mid‐eighties now, though prone to easily fall physically, I am full of gratitude for the peace and stability of soul I experience in the 'Great Mysterion' revealed by God the Father in the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. My life in Carmel has enabled me to grow in appreciation of this fundamental gift. The Lord truly gives us a peace that the world can neither give nor take away.

Besides Fr. Camilo, someone else adds to my indebtedness to God, and that is our Holy Mother Teresa of Jesus. One of most memorable talks I heard in my five student years at the Teresianum in Rome was a conference given by the celebrated Discalced Carmelite, Fr. Thomas Alvarez, who died earlier this very year. In 1958 or '59, Fr. Thomas shared his reflections after an in‐depth study of the bulk of the extant Letters of St. Teresa of Jesus. In his typically analytical way, he declared that the most characteristic expression of St. Teresa in her letters was/is simply "Gracias"! And he noted that the same graciousness and thankfulness was present when she addressed the poorest of her benefactors as when she addressed the more affluent: 'Gracias for the 4 eggs'; 'gracias for the 3 cucumbers'; 'gracias for the dozen sardines'! And so, taking my cue from her, I wish to list a number of my own grateful memories in your hearing today. [And let me add that until this plan emerged in my mind, I suffered complete writer's block....]

I thank God that this small Province of Oklahoma received me into its fold just two weeks after my gradua on from the Catholic High School of St. Thomas in Houston. I left home on the Feast Day of St. Anthony of Padua, June 13, 1952, and rode to our Minor Seminary in Dallas by train. I was to turn 18 the very next month on July 15. That was 66 years ago, hard to believe, but ever so true. God is good!

I thank God that the novitiate for us seven novices at Marylake went well, and that I was accepted for my first profession on July 20, 1953. And that was 65 years ago this year. A second year at the novitiate house included some college preparation courses. Fr. Simon Stock was our student master and we lived with him downstairs in newly constructed rooms. We continued to follow the novitiate's daily schedule, including the midnight Office. But we had classes during the day: in Tanquerey's Spiritual Life; Gregorian Chant according to the School of Monserrat; and an Introduction to Philosophy by J. Maritain.

In 1954 we few newly professed friars were moved to our Shrine of the Little Flower in San Antonio. The Vincentian Fathers took us Carmelite students under their wings first at St. John's Seminary for two years of college courses. I thank God for really excellent professors there. After two years we moved to classes in philosophy at Assumption Seminary, also in San Antonio, and still under the Vincentian Fathers. And in 1956. Joseph Neilson, Lawrence Kovlowshi and I made solemn profession, thanks be to God.

A special grace for which I thank God was the fact that in 1958 Joseph Neilson, David Cardenas and I were sent to Europe to study theology. Fr. David went to Valencia, and Joseph and I to the International College of the Order, the Teresianum, in Rome. A special word of gratitude to God for our extraordinary five years in Rome. Joseph and I saw three popes within those five years, and the opening of an ecumenical council. We saw Pope Pius XII only once at Castel Gondolfo; he was very ill and could not speak, and he died shortly afterwards. We were present for his funeral. We were in St. Peter's Square at the announcement of the election of Good Pope John XXIII, now canonized. We were present for his in‐coronation, and then the canonization of St. Martin de Porres. As newly ordained priests, Joseph Neilson, Camilo Macisse, David Cóstello of Ireland and I welcomed some 2200 bishops who opened the Second Va can Council on Oct. 11, 1962. What a great day to remember and celebrate even now. (The Catholic Church since the 16th c. Council of Trent "was removed from the deep freeze", as they said, and "could now thaw out!" We were there full of hope for the future.)

Returning to our province in 1963 after five years abroad, I spent a year at Marylake, and then a year at our parish in Oklahoma City, with Fr. Henry Bordeaux, under Fr. Albert Martinez from Spain. (We both have vivid memories to share of our year together in our Oklahoma parish.) Then came the five years between 1965 and 1970 at our experimental house in Sharpstown of Houston, Texas. It was my first experience at a wider co‐responsibility in community: each of us four friars had a contracted job outside community. We kept the regular community schedule of divine office and mental prayer, attended to our Cloistered Carmelite Nuns of Houston and the Carmelite Missionary Sisters of Mexico in Houston. We helped out in parishes on weekends, while daily some of us taught at Dominican College, an all‐Women's School of Nursing and Teaching. I served as chaplain, and we friars were theology teachers and spiritual counsellors to the girls. An invaluable experience in growth and development for which I thank God's divine providence.

In 1970 I was moved to Marylake as novice master for four years. And then, in 1974 a dream came true for which I bless God's goodness. I wanted to open a spirituality center in Dallas in the abandoned building of our former Mt. Carmel Minor Seminary. We needed a residence for a handful of students who could easily attend the University of Dallas if we revitalized the old seminary on Chalk Hill. So, Fr. Herman Estáun, provincial, allowed me and Fr. Mary Philip Wurth to reopen the place as Mount Carmelo Center – An Informal Institute of Christian Spirituality. It was intended to educate Catholics and interested Protestants in the History and Practice of the Western Contemplative tradition. From day one, it was an ecumenical institute. Naturally our Carmelite doctors and spiritual writers, alone with basic 'lectio divina' on the sacred scriptures, were to be featured highly in our presentations, discussions, and directed meditations. This orientation attracted a number of Episcopalians and Methodists, and other Protestants as well; and this included a significant presence of Protestant clergy. At that historical moment, our Order was internationally engaged in a post‐Conciliar House of Prayer Movement. And as verified later at a convention in Ireland, our province was among the earliest to engage in this type of specific Carmelite Apostolate.

Blessed be God for such a grace; we sailed on the winds of the Holy Spirit and enjoyed much success in the Dallas area. While acting as student master, I also served as provincial director of the Secular Order, and became an assistant professor of spirituality at the University of Dallas. Then suddenly at the end of December of 1985, by phone I was directed to move to Rome by the Feast of the Epiphany (1986). In Rome I served the Order there for five years, taking the place of a Canadian Carmelite from the Washington Province who had resigned after a few months.

In Rome I served on the General Definitory (equivalent to a board of directors) under the leadership of Fr. Philip Sainz de Baranda, General Superior, from Burgos, Spain. What a grace to see and experience the Order on at more international level and see the Church at work in Countries that spoke English as a second or third language. This amounted to an intense re‐education via travel and general visitations. I even made it as far out as Australia and New Zealand, Hong Kong and Kuwait. Israel was often on the list. Malta was also included, and Holland. And Naturally I was in and out of the USA, Ireland, England, and English‐speaking Canada. What an emotional widening far beyond a man's own reading and studying on his own. I thank God for opening this vista of reality to me. And allow me to mention that I interiorly call the sudden beckoning to Rome my 'Habakkuk experience'. Then, in 1991 a new general chapter in Rome elected my Lebanese‐Mexican classmate Fr. Camilo Macisse as General Superior. I happily returned to my province, arriving in Houston for Mother's Day in May of that year. I was allowed to return to Mt. Carmel Center under good Fr. Mary Philip Wurth who had preserved Mt. Carmel Center intact, especially with the help of Fr. Aloysius Deeney.

In 2002 Fr. John Suenram, Fr. Marion Bui and I were transferred from Dallas to the Basilica of St. Thérèse in San Antonio. There I conducted many funerals in a blessed but aging parish. We friars introduced Healing Masses at the Basilica. I worked with the parish Catechumenate, was spiritual assistant to our Secular Order, and participated in the daily chaplaincy of our Carmelites Nuns. We also gave spiritual conferences.

Three years later, in 2005, I was moved as Student Master to our House on the campus of Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans. There was a placid community of sometimes three, sometimes four Carmelite students studying theology. Fr. Bonaventure Sauer and our provincial superior, Fr. Gregory Ross lived at the seminary with us in a separate student house. I wish gratefully to testify to the fact that Fr. Gregory is a wonderful gentleman: even though we had some major differences at the time, there was always easy communication and the preservation of friendship for the entire six years. And we even endured the wrath of Katrina together in 2005, along with our Carmelite Nuns of Covington, LA., who took us in for an entire academic semester; for the entire time our nuns offered their sisterly service with guest accommodations and daily hospitality. What a blessing for which we friars remain grateful to this day! Nothing like our cloistered Carmelite Nuns of the Southwestern Province when it comes to caring for us Teresian friars, down and out, and even stranded on stormy roads.

In 2011, our provincial chapter closed our student house in New Orleans, returned it to the Archdiocese of New Orleans as we left the city. Happily I was moved to our beautiful Marylake Monastery in East End, Little Rock, AR. To the province I say 'thank you very loud' (a la Martha Raye in the '50s) and I thank God profusely for the beginning of a prolonged second novitiate.... Living for a long period with Fr. Raphael Kitz before he died in June of 2018, was a grace par excellence. To live for seven years in the company of our gentlest friar but ailing priest, Fr. Raphael Kitz, was 'chairos' – 'graced me'. He had bladder cancer. And during my long stay with him he endured as many as nine bladder interventions. It was very obvious to me in early 2018 that, after the last opera on on his bladder, he could not regain his strength. Then he fell in the kitchen one morning at the end of May of 2018, and broke his right arm in three places. He was so weak already that although he endured the operation on his arm well enough, it was too much of a blow to his system. His oxygen levels dropped, his blood pressure began fluctuating, and his kidneys began to shut down. After a second treatment of dialysis, and after two weeks of severe pain and discomfort, dear Fr. Raphael Kitz died a very peaceful death in the Lord; wordlessly he simply stopped breathing. He was an accomplished pianist, a true scholar of Teresian‐Carmelite Spirituality, nothing short of an 'unpublished biblical scholar' and 'a fine‐tuned wisdom‐harp of the Holy Spirit'. This gentle warrior breathed his last in great submission to his YAHWEH GOD, his ABBÀ in Christ Jesus, and he rested in the stability of the Risen Lord of the Paschal Mystery (the constant focus of his personal spirituality). What a benevolent confessor to everyone who approached him. What a peaceful priest and human being! What a brother and exemplar to us all! May he rest in a well‐deserved evangelical peace.

I am so happy to share that at times when we were alone, I looked across the kitchen table during meals to just tell Raphael how fortunate I was to be growing old with him (he was only three years older than myself). He was such a fine Carmelite brother to us all, and a fervent disciple of 'Jesus the Master and 'Definitive Exegete of Both Testaments', as he used to say, with quiet celebration. That's the type of thing I would hear at Raphael's daily input at our dialogue homilies during the conventual Mass at Marylake. I considered the Mass me with Raphael the richest me of our daily horarium. What a blessing, and what a Memory!

Rest eternal to you, Raphael, my second novice master. And blessed be God who works in each one of us and who especially works in all of us together ‐‐ in Mary's Carmel ‐‐ and in the Church of Apostolic faith, founded on our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Messianic Bridegroom send to us by YAHWEH God of both Covenants, our most Awesome and yet most Merciful Father of the Wisdom of Divine Revelation.

Amen in the Holy Spirit of the Father and the Son. And Alleluia!

Written by Fr. Sam Anthony Morello, OCD

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