Thank God, the black-out affecting much of Northern California overseen by Pacific Gas and Electric did not effect Brentwood, California, so we traveled to the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church on Friday, October 11, 2019, to attend the second annual Marian Conference. The event was hosted by Fr. Quang Minh Dong, the pastor, Fr. Arturo Bazan and Fr. John Erick Villa, both parochial vicars, Deacon Ron Horan, Deacon John Erick Villa, the Missionary Sisters, and multiple hard working volunteers from this wonderful parish. Upon arrival, we are always stunned with the beauty of the mission style church, campus, and gardens. While working at Glad Tidings in Pleasanton, California, I had the good fortune of seeing Fr. Garcia every week as he came to our Catholic book shop to visit his friend, my boss. It was Fr. Garcia who was the pastor of the old downtown church that held only about 200 people. It, like the new church, was of the California Mission style. Ground-breaking began for the new church in June, 2002 and completed in 2004. It is the most beautiful church in California.
The Marian Conference began with the scriptural rosary led by Deacon John Kortuem in the beautiful sanctuary, followed by the opening mass and keynote address by Father George Mockel, the Vicar-General of the Diocese of Oakland. Father George’s talk was very sincere and meaningful. He dared to address the disappointment he felt regarding the Church scandal. He suggested that we look to St. Francis of Assisi as one who came to the aid of the Church when it was in trouble on the past. [God raises up saints during troubles in the Church, such as St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila. Then too, He has raised up an English convert and saint for our time, (a time of trouble in the Church), in the Canonization of St. John Henry Newman which would take place the day after the conference, on Sunday, October 13, 2019, the anniversary of the final apparition of Our Lady of Fatima. The conference coincided with the Amazon Synod taking place in the Vatican.]
Father George Mockel referred to Matthew Kelly’s book “Rediscovered Saints” along with Bishop Robert Barron’s “Hearts on Fire”. He then quoted the last words recorded in the Gospel, “Do whatever He tells you,” Our Lady’s words to the waiters at he wedding feast in Cana. This becomes her last testimony to the Church! St. Francis was told by Jesus Christ, “Repair my Church.”
St. Thomas Moore, portrayed in the drama, “A Man for All Seasons”, did not agree with the divorce of King Henry VIII, from his wife, Anne Bolen. St. Thomas Moore’s conscience told him that it was wrong. He is then executed. Father George considers Bishop Barron the second greatest evangelist next to St. John Paul II and St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta. To “do whatever He tells you” is the bottom line! The Church is a mother and a teacher, according to St. Pope John XXIII. It is Christ’s Church!!!
A short video was presented of Bishop Michael, who could not attend the conference as he was in Rome for the Canonization of Mother Mary Theresia of Karala, India, Margaret Bays of Switzerland, John Henry Cardinal Newman of England, Sr. Josephine Vannini of Rome, Italy, and Sr. Dulce Lopez of Brazil.
[I watched the Canonization mass said by Pope Francis on EWTN when I returned home along with the Thanksgiving Mass of St. John Henry on October 14, 2019 held at Basilica of John Lateran. St. John Henry Cardinal Newman lived from 1801-1890. He was a noted theologian, writer, minister, and Don at Oxford, first in the Church of England, and after his conversion, he became a Cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church at age of seventy-eight. He wrote 22,000 letters, many books, and was famous for the founding of the Oratory,”There IS an objective truth”, and “Heart speaks to Heart.”]
After Fr. George’s key-note address, Fr. Quang Dong, the Pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary, gave a formal welcome and reminded us of last year’s conference theme: “With Mary, We Say Yes to the Lord”.
Due to airline delays, Joan and Dave Maroney were unable to give their 6:30 p.m. Friday night scheduled talk. Fr. Gladstone Stevens, PSS, graciously and very capably pinch-hit for the Maroney couple flying in late from Texas. Fr. Gladstone is a convert from the Episcopal church; he is now a Roman Catholic priest and a brilliant ad-lib speaker! [It was so appropriate that the night before Blessed John Henry Newman, also a convert, became a saint, that our second speaker was also a convert from the Episcopal Church! Times have changed since the days of the persecution of the Catholics in England! Note that Prince Charles, heir to the thrown, attended the Canonization mass of John Henry Newman yesterday at the Vatican!]
Fr. Gladstone is a member of the Society of Saint Sulpice and teaches Systematic Theology at Saint Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore, Maryland. Here are some of the ideas he shared with us: 1) We are created by words. We are the some-total of all the words we have taken in. We hear 30,000 words each day. Everything was created into being by speech. 2) Obedience: hear reverently the Word of God. 3) Salvation begins by hearing! 3) “Let there be Light!” were God’s first words. 4) The Second Eve is the oldest name of Mary according to Cardinal John Henry Newman. The Tree of Life was also in the Garden of Eden. The Tree of Good and Evil was the other tree not to be touched. The First Eve listened to Satan. The Second Eve listened to an angel.
Following dinner, there were confessions being heard, a Eucharistic Procession, and Overnight Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Saturday morning began with an International Rosary and Benediction, followed by Mass and the Anointing of the Sick by Bishop Jaime Soto.
Fr. Gladstone Stevens, PSS, gave his second talk at 9:30 a.m. He spoke about the Real Presence in the Eucharist, saying that unfortunately, many Catholics do not believe this!!! He said that we are suffering from a famine of the Word of God. What must we eat? We must eat the Body and the Blood of Christ! Adam and Eve fell by eating incorrectly. We eat in order to live.
Fr. Gladstone recommended the reading of St. John Paul II’s book on The Eucharist, especially the chapter on the Blessed Mother. Early on in the speech Fr. Gladstone said that if a priest does not have a close relationship with The Blessed Mother, he, too, may not have strong faith in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. Fr. Gladstone then recommended a book by Pope Benedict XVI Emeritus that states that when Mary was at the foot of the Cross, she was an icon of God the Father! We have to love the Eucharist like Mary loved her Son. Someone had to die!! Your Mother had to lose her child for us to have the Eucharist. St. John Paul II said that a priest is one who allows himself to be consumed at the needs of his people.
After the talk by Fr. Stevens, the Fil-Amm Ministry of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church of Brentwood served FREE delicious coffee made from coffee beans grown on a plantation in the Philippines. What a sweet, welcomed and gracious gesture! Such delicious coffee! This is part of a fund-raising project for IHM.
Although I had heard Joan and Dave speak at the Divine Mercy event at the Cathedral of Light in Oakland, this presentation was even more anointed! Here are some of the highlights: 1) Turn things off and pray! Stay in constant prayer!. 2) What St. Faustina was told to do: pray a Holy Hour (for our country), pray the Litany of the Saints, receive Holy Communion, and pray the novena.
What are the four important aspects of The Divine Mercy? a) The image of The Divine Mercy, b) The Chaplet of The Divine Mercy, (that will appease the angel of wrath due to abortion! c) Prayer, and d)The 3:00 p.m. Holy Hour. The Feast of The Divine Mercy is the Second Baptism! Ask for huge things from God! Fast! No meat on Fridays! Stop and pray at 3:00 p.m.
Our Lady of America appeared to Sister Mary Ephrim in Ohio on September 15, 1956, giving her a message. Our Lady of America appeared again on October 7, 1957, asking us to pray the family rosary. On October 13, 1956, she appeared holding a model of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception of Washington D.C. She asked that the Bishop processed with the statue of Our Lady of American and provide a permanent place for her veneration at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. (There are chapels along the sides of the shrine with images of the Blessed Mother from many, many nations, but none from the USA. Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patron of all the Americas, North and South.) Our Lady promised that if her wishes were granted, the National Shrine would be a safe-guard forever for our country. She appeared wearing white, and asked for the reformation of life. She appeared on May 22, 1954 and December 20, 1959. She wants a picture of her image honored in our homes. She asked that a medal be struck. Sister Mary Ephrim’s spiritual director, Monsignor Paul F. Leibold, who later became the archbishop of Cincinnati, Ohio and is now deceased, gave his approval of the messages and the medal. Sr. Mary Ephrim’s visions began when St. Faustina died. in 1938. Cardinal Burke has investigated this apparition and has okayed it. More information is available at http://www.OurLadyofAmerica.org
In 1943, the words, “under God” were not included in the Pledge of Allegiance. These were President Lincoln’s words, i.e. “Under God”. On February 8, 1954, President Eisenhower added the words, “under God”, to the Pledge Allegiance.
“Without faith, there can be no love”, Jesus told Sister Mary Ephrim. In 1954, He said, “Woe to children who neglect to honor their father and mother. Joan asked us to read the messages! How can we bring God into our homes? Have the Lord enthroned in your home. How does one venerate the image of The Divine Mercy? By enthronement. A packet was available after the talk called: “Enthroning The Divine Mercy as King of Home and Family, Informational Guide. It is available at http://www.familydivinemercy.org Fr. Seraphim was consulted about the enthronement and he said the prayers were perfect.
In the 1950’s, the upper church of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. began to be built. Next year, it will be the 100th anniversary of the ground-breaking of the Shrine. The Blessed Mother promises purity to the world if her requests are met. We were asked to pray the Rosary for 72 days, beginning next Saturday, with the intentions that the Bishops will honor Our Lady’s request.
Father Mark Wiesner gave a talk at 2:00 p.m. He is the pastor of St. Charles Borromeo parish in Livermore, California, followed by the Holy Hour at 3:00 p.m. with a very anointed praying of the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy. Thank you, Jesus.
After the dinner break, there was a candlelight rosary procession followed by the closing mass by Father Quang Minh Dong. Besides the wonderful program described above, there was a parallel program of masses and talks in Spanish by Msgr. Eduardo Chavez, Fr.Arturo Bazan, and Bishop Jaime Soto May God in His great mercy bless, guide, protect, and anoint all those who made this wonderful Marian Conference possible. Thank you, Jesus. Our Lady of America, pray for us. We look forward to October 9-10th for the 2020 Marian Conference in Brentwood, California. Jesus, I trust in You.