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Desire to Work for Others: Katherine Drexel


Katherine Drexel, born on November 26, 1858 in Philadelphia, was born into the wealthiest families in America. She was the daughter of an investment banker. Her family owned a considerable fortune. Her uncle was the founder of Drexel University. When her father died, he established a trust for his three daughters worth fourteen million dollars. Devout Catholics, all three of them regarded their fortune as an opportunity to glorify God through the service of others.

As a young and wealthy woman, she made her social debut in 1879. However watching her stepmother’s three year battle with cancer taught her money could not save her from pain and death. Her life took a profound turn. She had several marriage proposals. But she decided to give herself and her fortune to God. There were plenty of claims on her generosity. But Katherine felt a special dedication to those who were ignored by the Church, especially blacks and Native Americans. She was appalled by the treatment of Native Americans. She endowed scores of schools on Indian reservations and supported Catholic missions on reservations. She also established 50 missions for Native American in 16 states. In 1878 during a private audience with Pope Leo XIII she begged the pope to send priests to serve the Native Americans. He responded, “Why not become a missionary yourself?” It was another turning point.

Finding no existing religious orders corresponding to her sense of mission, she founded her own: The Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored People. A few months later, the Philadelphia Archbishop Ryan blessed the cornerstone of the motherhouse in Bensalem, PA. In the first of many incidents that indicated not all shared her concern for social justice, a stick of dynamite was discovered near the site. She insisted that her sisters rely on alms, while she reserved her fortune for initiatives such as the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions and the founding of Xavier University in New Orleans, the first Catholic College established for black students. Such efforts on behalf of blacks drew the ire of the KKK who made multiple threats. Segregationalists harassed her work even burning a school in Philadelphia. But by 1942, Drexel and her order founded and established a system of black Catholic schools in 13 states, plus 40 mission centers and 23 rural schools.

In 1935, Drexel suffered a heart attack and in 1937 she relinquished the office of superior general. Though becoming gradually more infirm, she was able to devote the rest of her life to Eucharistic adoration and therefore fulfilling her lifelong desire for a contemplative life. Over the course of six decades, Mother Katherine spent about $20 million dollars of her fortune building schools and churches, as well as the paying the salaries of teachers in rural schools for blacks and Indians.

Mother Drexel, whose life spanned the era of slavery and the dawn of the civil rights movement, died on March 3, 1955, at the age of 96. She was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2000. Numerous schools, parishes and churches are named in her honor.

Mother Drexel: “Often in my desire to work for others…some hostile influence renders me powerless. My prayers seem to avail nothing…In such cases I must not grieve. I am only treading in my Master’s steps.”

Just who is St. Valentine?


We have just celebrated Valentine’s Day. But who is St. Valentine exactly and why his name synonymous with love and romance? The patron saint of love has been identified with two early Christians: a priest martyred in Rome around 269 and buried on the Flaminian Way north of the city and a bishop of Terni, in Umbria, who was also executed in Rome. Some seventeenth century sources assert they are the same person. Modern experts believe the priest-martyr to be the real Valentine. The name “Valentine” derived from “valens” (worthy, strong, powerful) was a popular name in Late Antiquity. At least eleven other saints are named Valentine.

The reasons for his association with lovers is also disputed. There are many legends associated with this saint, none of them based on fact. One is that Valentine, a priest, going against the emperor’s order, secretly married couples so their husbands wouldn’t have to go to war. The legend claims that soldiers were sparse in those day so this was a huge inconvenience for the emperor. Another legend is that he refused to sacrifice to pagan gods. Being imprisoned for this, Valentine gave his testimony in prison and through his prayers healed the jailer’s daughter of blindness. On the day of his execution, he left a note for her signed “Your Valentine.” A possibility for his association with lovers derives from a centuries old belief that birds choose their mates on February 14. Another one is that it is a survival from the Roman festival of Lupercalia held in mid-February to secure fertility and keep evil away. It was once thought that Valentine’s Day was created to supersede this pagan feast. But this theory has been dismissed by modern scholars. Many of the current legends were invented  in the fourteenth century, most notably Geoffrey Chaucer and his circle, when February 14 first became associated with romantic love.

What we do know for certain is that troubled lovers have invoked him since medieval times and that the custom of sending a Valentine’s Day card to a chosen partner, first commercialized in the U.S. in the 1840s, has become a major industry.

St. Martin of Tours (316-397)


He was the son of a pagan Roman officer and born in 316 in what is now Hungary. Educated in Pavia in northern Italy. From the age of ten, he knew he intended to become a Christian but was enrolled in the Imperial calvary five years later against his will and before he could be baptized. One bitterly cold night at Amiens, he gave half of his cloak to a freezing naked beggar and soon afterwards saw a vision of Christ wearing it. This is the basis of his invocation against impoverishment and has been depicted by numerous artist including El Greco (seen above). As a result of this event, he was finally baptized.

He asked for a discharge because he believed that as a Christian he was not allowed to fight and was accused of cowardice. His answer to that was to stand unarmed in battle holding only a cross-at the sight of which the enemy surrendered. He was given his discharge in 339 and became a disciple of St. Hillary of Potiers; he ended up converting his mother to Christianity. Martin later travelled in Italy and Dalmatia. He lived as a hermit for ten years before rejoining Hilary who encouraged him to found a community of monk-hermits at Liguge, the first monastery in what is now France.

In 372, Martin, now 56, accepted the episcopate in Tours. He was reluctant to accept the position and continued to live as a monk, first in a cell near his church and later at Marmoutier where he established another great monastic center. He continued to live in a strict monastic way until his death. He was zealous in the discharge of his duties. As bishop of Tours, he was a dedicated missionary to the Franks and other northern tribes who had invaded the region. As a former soldier, he used military methods in missionary work. He travelled to the remotest parts of the diocese by foot, by donkey and by boat. From Tours, he led an army of monks through France destroying idols, pagan temples and graves and preaching. Martin was also a wonder worker whose miracles included healing lepers and raising a man from the dead.

Martin opposed Arianism and Priscillianism, the two great heresies of the day, but condemned the practice of putting heretics to death. He actually interceded with the emperor Maximus in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent the execution of Priscillian and others for heresy, declaring that it was sufficient to declare them heretics and excommunicate them.

The first great pioneer of Western monasticism, Martin died at Candes, near Tours in 397. More than 2,000 monks attended his body on its return to Tours. He is the patron saint of France. His feast day is November 11. The saint has given his name to a spell of good weather around his feast day (Nov. 11) known as St. Martin’s summer; the English equivalent of the American Indian summer. His biography, written by Sulpicius Severus, was extremely popular in the Middle Ages and his cult was widespread. In France, over 4000 churches are dedicated to him. And the Benedictine monastery near me where I am going to be an oblate is named after St. Martin of Tours. A popular saint indeed, he is the patron saint of not only France, but also soldiers, horses, riders, geese and wine growers. His emblems are a globe of fire and a goose.

All Saints: Remembering Those Who’ve Gone Before


This past weekend, we celebrated the Feast of All Saints’ Day also known as All Hallows or the Feast of All Saints. It falls on November 1, the day after Halloween. In fact the term Halloween comes from All Hallows Eve. It is celebrated across the board; Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants celebrate this feast. The following day is All Souls (November 2). October 31-November 2 is called Hallowtide.

In Catholic theology, the day commemorates all those who have attained the beatific vision in heaven. It is a national holiday in many traditional Catholic countries. The next day commemorates all the faithful departed who have not yet been purified and reached heaven. In both the Catholic and Anglican churches, November 2nd is called the Commemoration of All Faithful Departed. The celebration of these days comes from the fundamental belief that there is a spiritual and prayerful bond between those in heaven (Church Triumphant) and those still on earth (Church Militant). In local congregations, deceased members are honored and remembered.

All Saints’ Day may originate in the ancient Roman observation of May 13, the Feast of Lemures, in which malevolent and restless spirits were propitiated. Some scholars base the idea that this Lemuria festival was the origin was that of All Saints on their identical dates and the similar theme of all the dead.

In the early church, Christians would commemorate a martyr’s death at the place of death. In the fourth century, with the persecution of Diocletian the number of martyrs became so great that a separate date for each could not be assigned to each. But the church, rightly feeling that every martyr should be venerated, appointed a common day for all. The first trace of this can be found in Antioch on the Sunday after Pentecost. And in the Eastern Orthodox Church, All Saints is still celebrated on this day.

The origin of All Saints’ Day cannot be traced with certainty, and it has been celebrated on various day in different places. The Feast of All Saints on its current date is traced to the foundation by Pope Gregory III (731-741) who in oratory on relics moved the day of celebration to November 1 and suppressed the May 13 festival.

A November festival of all saints was already widely celebrated in the days of Charlemagne. It was made a day of obligation throughout the Frankish empire in 835, by a decree of Louis the Pious issued at the instance of Pope Gregory IV and with the assent of all of the bishops.

The festival was retained after the Reformation in the Anglican, Lutheran and Methodist churches. Protestants generally regard all true Christians as saints. There are those saints with a capital “S” like Luke, Peter, Paul, etc. And then there are those with a little “s” (the rest of us). In Protestant churches, All Saints is celebrated in remembrance of all Christians both past and present.

In Mexico, All Saints coincides with the first day of the Day of the Dead celebration. Known as the Day of the Innocents, it honors deceased children and infants. In Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Chile, France, Hungary, Italy, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Malta, Peru, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Spain and U.S. cities like New Orleans, people bring flowers to the graves of dead relatives. In some parts like Portugal, they also light candles on the graves.

In Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, Finland, Catholic parts of Germany, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Serbia and Sweden, the custom is to light candles and visit the graves of deceased relatives. In English-speaking nations the festival is traditionally celebrated with the hymn “For All the Saints” by Walsham How. The most familiar hymn tune for this hymn is “Sine Nomine” by Ralph Vaughn Williams. Another popular hymn for this day is “I Sing a Song of the Saints of God.”

Remembering those who have gone before is especially important. Laura Huff Hileman writes, “Saints are just people who are trying to listen to God’s Word and live God’s call. This is the communion of saints we speak of in the Apostle’s Creed-that fellowship of believers that reaches beyond time and place, even beyond death. Remembering the saints who have helped extend and enliven God’s kingdom is what All Saints’ Day is about.” Indeed, we are surrounded by that “great cloud of witnesses” and they are watching us each and every day. On All Saints, we take time to remember “all the saints from whom the labors rest.”

A Story of Love & Dedication


On October 19th, we celebrate the Feast of St. Luke, the patron saint of my parish. In my research, I found the following article in the Tacoma newspaper dated January 20, 1936. It is regarding Ms. Emma M. Unthank, the fiance of the Rev. Henry S. Bonnell, the first priest who died in 1884 (age 31). Her story of love and dedication to him is both heart warming and inspiring. I have reprinted here:

A little white-haired lady put fresh flowers on a 52-year-old grave in Tacoma cemetery today, keeping a tryst with her fiance of half-a-century ago. Every day since 1884, seasonable flowers have nodded over the grave; and every day except in the stormiest weather, Ms. Emma Unthank has seen to it they were in place.

The grave was that of the Rev. Henry S. Bonnell, an Episcopalian clergyman. In 1882, Mr. Bonnell, a tall, eager-eyed young man with the square cut full beard of his day, came to the wilderness of Washington Territory. A native of St. Peter’s Episcopal Parish, Brooklyn, and protege of Bishop Paddock of that city, he had just graduated from General Theological Seminary in New York.

Here in the Northwest he assumed the rectorate of St. Luke’s Church, Tacoma, and in addition rode a circuit through the valleys of the Puget Sound country. One of his charges was Christ Church, Puyallup. He was instrumental in founding the first Tacoma Young Man’s Christian Association. In Tacoma, too, he met Miss Unthank, then studying to be a school teacher. Petite and dark-haired, she attracted him immediately. They were affianced and the wedding date tentatively set.

Constant rain in the Sound country, however, aggravated a lung ailment from which the minister suffered. He contracted tuberculosis, went to California to recuperate and died there in 1884. His body was returned to Tacoma on almost the exact day that been set for his wedding. Miss Unthank, remained here and become a teacher in the city schools. She continued in this position until a few years ago. Generations of children passed under her tutelage without guessing of her after-school pilgrimages to the cemetery five miles from her home.

She never married.

A few days ago a curious visitor to the cemetery noticed the flowers on the old grave. Investigating, he learned the whole story from the Rev. E.C. Schmeiser, present rector of the Puyallup church, who was one of the few persons cognizant of Ms. Unthank’s half century of devotion. Miss Unthank retired from active teaching some time ago. She and her sister, also unmarried, continued to live together in an old-fashioned house. Rain was threatening in Tacoma today and few visitors were expected to the cemetery. But attendants waited confidently for the arrival of a sprightly little old lady-she’s nearly 75 now-who would surely come with flowers for the lover of fifty-two years ago.

I hope you found that story heart-warming as I did. Ms. Unthank died, unmarried, on the 23rd of February 1941, age 82. She is also buried in the old Tacoma cemetery in the same grave as her sister, Minnie. The cross on our altar is in memoriam of the Rev. Henry Bonnell on which is inscribed “He was a bright and shining light.” May we also be remembered as such.

William Bradford: Governor & Historian


William Bradford (1590-1657), Pilgrim Father, governor of Plymouth colony and this nation’s first historian, was born at Austerfield, Yorkshire in England. Early on, he fell under Puritan influence. As a young man, he left the local parish and joined a Separatist congregation at Scooby whose members included Richard Clyfton, John Robinson and William Brewster. He had only a modest elementary education but he managed to teach himself Greek, Latin, Hebrew among other languages. In 1608, the Separatists left England for the Netherlands in the search for religious freedom. They settled in Leiden where Bradford worked in a textile workshop. He lived there from 1609-1620.

In 1620, Bradford joined his fellow Separatists on the voyage on the Mayflower to America. These Pilgrim Fathers founded Plymouth colony. Bradford was chosen as governor and was re-elected as governor nearly every year of his life until his death in 1657. He is respected for his skillful administration and religious piety.

Bradford is well-known for his work as an historian. His work, Of Plymouth Plantation, is a classic of seventeenth-century Puritan literature. It tells the story of the founding of the Plymouth colony and it is the first work to refer to the Separatists as “pilgrims.” He writes about them leaving Leiden:

So they left the goodly and pleasant city which had been
their resting place for near twelve years, but they knew they
were pilgrims and looked not much on these things but lifted
their eyes to the heavens, their dearest country, and quieted
their spirits.

He describes the events in terms of the sovereignty of God and he relates many stories in which God intervened on their behalf to bless the Pilgrims. “The marvelous providence of God” protected them. His providential view of early American history would help to give later Americans great confidence that they and the nation were in God’s good hands.

Church History as a Roadmap

If you are taking a trip somewhere, what is the one essential thing you take with you? A roadmap. (or a GPS device). You need it in order to get to your destination. Without it, you are going to get lost and end up somewhere else. You need that roadmap so that you can get to your destination. Church history performs the same function. It is a roadmap. The past sheds light on the future. There is so much we can learn from those who have gone before us. 

In my church tradition, we have what is known as the three pillars of Anglicanism: scripture, tradition and reason. All three are essential. Scripture is primary. Church tradition helps us understand the scriptures. We see how those who have gone before us have understood those same passages and it then helps us shape our views. Our reasoning abilities is also key but it is shaped by the first two. Church history (tradition) plays a vital role.

How should we live out our Christian faith and live according to the scriptures? How should we think about a certain issue? Church history can help answer those questions. Those who have gone before us still speak today. We just have to be willing to listen intently to what they have to say. And if you do, you will find a deep well of spiritual wisdom from which to draw from.

Walking the Camino


The Way of St. James is the name of any of the pilgrimage routes to the shrine of the apostle St. James in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galacia in northwestern Spain, where tradition tells us that the remains of the saint are buried. The Way of St. James or the El Camino was one of the most important Christian pilgrimages during medieval times, along with Rome and Jerusalem and one where a plenary indulgence could be earned. Legend tells us that the saint’s remains were transported by boat from Jerusalem to northern Spain where he was buried on what is now the city of Santiago de Compstela.

The Way can take one of dozens of pilgrimage routes to Santiago. Traditionally, as with a lot of pilgrimages, the Way starts at one’s home and ended at the pilgrimage site. However, a few of the routes are considered main ones. During the Middle Ages, the route was highly travelled. Yet, the Black Death, Protestant Reformation and the political unrest in 16th century Europe led to its decline. By the 1980s only a few pilgrims per year arrived in Santiago. Later, the route attracted a growing number of pilgrims. The route was the first to be declared an European Cultural Route by the Council of Europe in 1987. It was also named one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.

Whenever, St. James’ Day (July 25) falls on a Sunday, the cathedral declares a Jubilee Year. The most recent was 2010. The next will be 2021.

The scallop shell, often found on the shores in Galicia, has long been the symbol of the Camino de Santiago. As the symbol, the shell is seen very frequently along the trails. The shell is seen on posts and signs along the route in order to guide pilgrims along the way. The shell is also seen on pilgrims themselves as wearing a shell shows you are a traveler on the Camino. Most pilgrims receive a shell at the start of their journey and either attach it to themselves by sewing it onto their clothes or wearing it around their neck or simply keeping it in their backpack. The pilgrim’s staff is a walking staff used by pilgrims to the shrine . Usually the stick has a hook on it so that something may be hung from it and may have a crosspiece on it.

Today, tens of thousands of Christians and many others set out each year to make their way to Santiago de Compostela. Most travel by foot, some by bicycle, and a few by horseback.  In addition to those making a religious pilgrimage, many others walk the route for non-religious reasons like travel or sport. And many consider it a spiritual adventure to remove themselves from the hustle and bustle of modern life. It serves as a retreat.

Pilgrims on the Way walk for weeks or months to visit the city of Santiago de Compostela. They follow many routes but the most popular route is Via Regia and its last part the French Way. The Spanish consider the Pyrenees a starting point. Common starting points along the French border are St. Jean-Pied-de-Port or Somport.

In Spain, France and Portugal, pilgrim’s hostels with beds in dormitories dot the common routes, providing overnight accommodation for pilgrims who hold a credencial. It usually costs between 6 to 10 euros per night per bed. Pilgrims are usually limited to one night’s stay and are expected to leave by eight in the morning to continue their pilgrimage.

Most pilgrims carry a document called the credencial which is  a pass which gives access to inexpensive, sometimes free, overnight accommodation along the trail. Also known as a “pilgrim’s passport” the credencial is stamped with the official St. James’ stamp of each town  or hostel at which the pilgrim has stayed. It serves a record of where they ate or slept. It also provides proof to the Pilgrim’s Office in Santiago that the journey was accomplished according to an official route.

The compostela is a certificate of accomplishment given to pilgrims upon finishing their pilgrimage. To earn it, one needs to walk at least 100 km. At the Pilgrim’s Office, the credencial is examined for stamps and dates, and the pilgrim is asked to state whether the motivation was “religious,” “religious and other” or “other.” In the case of the first two, a compostela is available. In the case of “other” there is a simpler certificate in Spanish. The Pilgrim’s Office gives more than 100,000 compostelas each year to pilgrims from more than 100 different countries.

A Pilgrim’s Mass is held in the Cathedral at noon for pilgrims. Pilgrims who received the compostela the day before have their countries of origin and starting point of their pilgrimage announced at the Mass. The highlight of the service is the synchronization of the “Hymn to Santiago” with the spectacular swinging of the huge Botafumeiro, the famous thurible kept in the cathedral. Incense is burned in this swinging metal container or censor.

The Camino has been highlighted in TV show “Rick Steves’ Europe” and the movie “The Way.”





Keeping Watch: The Easter Vigil


The Easter Vigil also called the Paschal Vigil or the Great Vigil of Easter is a service in traditional Christian churches as the first official celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus. It is traditionally at this time that people are baptized and that adult catechumens are received into full communion with the Church. It is held in the hours of darkness on Holy Saturday and sunrise on Easter Sunday–most commonly in the evening on Holy Saturday or midnight. It is the first celebration of Easter, days traditionally being considered to begin at sunset.

In the West, liturgical churches including the Roman Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran, it is among the most important services of public worship in the church year and is the first time since the start of Lent, that the exclamatory “Alleluia” is used, a distinctive feature of the Easter season. 

The original twelve Old Testament readings for the Easter Vigil survive in an ancient manuscript belonging to the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem. The Armenian Easter Vigil also preserves what is seen as the original length of the traditional gospel reading of the Vigil (from the Last Supper to the end of Matthew’s Gospel). In the earliest Jerusalem usage the vigil began with Psalm 117 [118] sung with the response, “This is the day which the Lord has made.” Then followed twelve Old Testament readings, all but the last being followed by a prayer with kneeling.

(1) Genesis 1:1-3:24 (Creation and the Fall) (2) Genesis 22:1-18 (the binding of Isaac) (3) Exodus 12:1-24 (the Passover) (4) Jonah 1:1-4:11 (Jonah) (5) Exodus 14:24-15:21 (crossing the Red Sea) (6) Isaiah 60:1-13 (the promise of Jerusalem) (7) Job 38:2-28 (Lord’s answer to Job) (8) 2 Kings 2:1-22 (the assumption of Elijah) (9) Jeremiah 31:31-34 (New Covenant) (10) Joshua 1:1-9 (Entering the Promised Land) (11) Ezekiel 37:1-14 (Valley of Dry Bones) (12) Daniel 3:1-29 (The Three Youths) 

The final reading leads into the Song of the Three Children and is not followed by a prayer with kneeling, but is followed by the prokeimenon of the Eucharistic Liturgy. 

In Roman Catholicism, the Vigil consists of four parts:

1. Service of Light 

2. Liturgy of the Word

3. Christian Initiation and the Renewal of Baptismal Vows

4. Holy Eucharist

Because the new liturgical day begins at sunset, the vigil starts between sunset on Holy Saturday and sunrise on Easter outside the church, where an Easter fire is kindled and the Paschal Candle is blessed and then lit. The candle will be used throughout the season of Easter, remaining in the sanctuary or near the lectern, and throughout the coming year at baptisms and funerals, reminding all that Christ is “light and life.”

After the candle has been lit, the ancient dramatic rite of Lucernarium begins. The deacon carries the candle through the nave of the church which is in complete darkness, stopping three times to chant an acclamation such as “Christ our Light” or “Light of Christ” (Lumen Christi) to which the people respond “Thanks be to God” or “Deo Gratias.” As the candle proceeds through the church, all present receive candles which are lit from the Paschal candle. As this symbolic Light of Christ spreads throughout those gathered, the darkness is decreased. The deacon, priest, or a cantor now chants the Exsultet (also known as the “Easter Proclamation”) after which the people are seated for the Liturgy of the Word. Once the candle has been placed on its stand in the sanctuary, the lights of the church are switched on and the assembly extinguish their candles. Though in some churches the custom is to continue the liturgy by candlelight or without any lights until the Gloria.

The Liturgy of the Word consists of seven readings from the Old Testament (Genesis 1:1-2:2; Genesis 22:1-18; Exodus 14:15-15:1; Isaiah 54:4-14; Isaiah 55:1-11; Baruch 3:9-15, 32-4:4; Ezekiel 36:16-17, 18-28. The account of the crossing of the Red Sea is given special attention since this event is at the center of the Passover, in which Christ’s death and resurrection is the fulfillment of. Each reading is followed by a psalm or a biblical canticle sung responsively and a prayer relating what has been read in the Old Testament to the Mystery of Christ. After the readings are finished, the candles are lit on the altar and the Gloria in Excelsis Deo is sung for the first time since before Lent, and the church bells and organ, silent since that point on Holy Thursday, are sounded again–although it is customary in some churches to have no organ playing during Lent at all, except when accompanying hymns. The Gospel of the Resurrection then follows, along with a homily.

At that point, the water of baptismal font is blessed any catechumens and candidates for full communion are initiated into the church by baptism and/or confirmation. After the celebration of these sacraments of initiation, the congregation renews their baptismal vows and receive the sprinkling of baptismal water. The prayers of the faithful then follow. After the prayers, the Liturgy of the Eucharist continues as normal. This is the first mass of Easter Day. During the service, the newly baptized receive Holy Communion for the first time. According to the Missal, the Eucharist should finish before dawn. 

In the Anglican Communion, the Easter Vigil is not universal but its use has become far more common in recent decades. The service follows more or less the same form as the Roman Catholic one. Though in the Anglican service, there are up to nine readings from the Old Testament. And the Gloria is sung after the Baptism or Renewal of Baptismal Vows. Confirmation only happens if a bishop is present since he/she is the only one who can confirm someone. 

The Lutheran service is also similar. And like in Anglicanism, the service is enjoying a renewed popularity. The Easter Vigil is also a very important service in Eastern Orthodoxy as well and commences at midnight Saturday. 

Two Men and a House They Built



On a lake in southeastern Wisconsin, is a house, Nashotah House, a traditional and theologically conservative seminary in the Episcopal Church. It is also officially recognized by the Anglican Church of North America. Here is the story of two of the men who founded the school. 

Bishop Jackson Kemper (1789-1870) was the first missionary bishop of the Episcopal Church. He was born in the Hudson River Valley of New York, where his parents had taken temporary refuge during a smallpox outbreak in New York City. Baptized David Jackson Kemper by Dr. Benjamin Moore, the assistant rector of Trinity Church, NYC. He eventually dropped the name “David.” His father was Colonel Daniel Kemper, a former aide-to-camp to General George Washington at the battles of Germantown and Monmouth during the American Revolution. His mother, Elizabeth (Marius) Kemper, descended from well-known families of the Dutch New Amsterdam era.

At Columbia College, he studied theology under Dr. Henry Hobart and graduated in 1809 as valedictorian of his class. Having moved to Philadelphia, he was ordained a  deacon in 1811 and priest in 1814. In 1835, the Episcopal Church decided to consecrate missionary bishops to preach the gospel west of the settled areas. Kemper was chosen and he promptly headed west. He found that clergy who had lived all their lives in the East were slow to respond to the call to join him on the frontier. So he recruited priests from among men already in the West and established a college in St. Louis for that very purpose. He went on to found Nashotah House and Racine College in Wisconsin and founded the mission parish that became the Cathedral Church of All Saints in Milwaukee. 

Kemper constantly urged a more extensive outreach to the Native American peoples and the translations of the Bible and services of the Church into their languages. His first official act as Missionary Bishop, in what would become Wisconsin, was laying the cornerstone for a new frame building for Hobart Church, Duck Creek, which served the Oneida Indian Mission. But more importantly, it was at that church that he ordained William Adams and James Lloyd Breck, two of the men who would assist him in establishing Nashotah House on October 9, 1842. He also ordained a member of the Ottawa tribe, Emmagahbowh, as deacon in 1859. These were the first ordinations in what would become Wisconsin. 

Kemper supported the Oxford Movement, although he maintained the importance of separation from the Catholic Church. In 1846, he purchased a property adjacent to Nashotah House and spent the rest of his life there. From 1847 to 1854, he served as provisional bishop of the newly formed Diocese of Wisconsin, and then served as its diocesan bishop from 1854 until his death in 1870. He also supported the creation of a new diocese, though he did not live to see the formation of the Diocese of Fond du Lac come to fruition. Kemper is honored on May 24th in the Episcopal Church.

James Lloyd Breck (1818-1876) was a priest, educator and missionary of the Episcopal Church. Born in Philadelphia County, he went to high school at the Flushing Institute, founded by William Augustus Muhlenberg, who inspired him to resolve at the age of sixteen to devote himself to missionary activity. He received his bachelors from the University of Pennsylvania in 1838 and a B.D. from the General Theological Seminary in 1841.

In 1842, now a deacon, he went to the Wisconsin frontier, with two of his classmates under the direction of Bishop Kemper, to found Nashotah House as a monastic community, seminary and center for theological work. It continues today as a seminary. Breck was ordained into the priesthood by Kemper later that year. 

In 1850, he moved to Minnesota, where he founded a school for boys and girls such as Breck School in Golden Valley, MN and the Seabury Divinity School at Fairbault, MN. He also started missionary work among the Ojiibwa. On June 23, 1850, on top of Grandad Bluff, Breck celebrated the first Episcopal eucharist in the La Crosse area. 

In 1867, he moved to Benicia, California to build another two institutions. Breck was known as “The Apostle of the Wilderness.”

Breck died in Benecia in 1876. He was buried beneath the altar of the church he served as rector but later his body was removed and reinterred on the grounds of Nashotah House in Wisconsin. The recommittal service there had 14 bishops, around 100 priests and numerous lay people in attendance. As legacy, Breck School was established in 1886 in Wilder, Minnesota. 

Nashotah House considers itself to be within the orthodox Anglo-Catholic tradition. Overall, the faculty support traditional theology and conceptions of Christian doctrine in opposition to liberal theologies. Graduates themselves come from a variety of jurisdictions both inside and outside of the Episcopal Church. Nashotah House sees its mission to form priests and church leaders from all over the Anglican Communion, including several international students.

Nashotah began as a community inspired by traditional monastic life of prayer, work and study. James Lloyd Breck‘s vision was to create a center for Christian formation in the (then) wilderness that would also be movement to propagate other communities for the purpose of evangelizing the frontier. Today, much of this vision remains intact and students still live a Benedictine cycle of prayer,work and study. The life of the Seminary seeks to form the character of priests and leaders into the image of Christ. Various students have been involved in mission work around the Anglican Communion as well.

“Seminarians are invited to participate in an ascetic, disciplined, prayerful season of spiritual growth in Christ” in which they “practice the Benedictine Rule of daily prayer, labor, and study.” Daily routine includes Morning Prayer, Mass, breakfast, classes, lunch, and Solemn Evensong.

172 years later, the mission founded Kemper and Breck continues today and the impact of the House continues to impact the world for Christ. These two men would be pleased to see that.