Sister Mary Jacinta Doyle, SFP
Image of Blessed Frances in the St. Clare Chapel Sanctuary
Sr. Jo-Ann Jackowski carries the Paschal Candle: Come, Holy Spirit!
Sr. Tiziana Merletti, Congregational Minister, welcomes guests.
Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk processes to the altar
Opening of the Inquiry Session
Sr. Mary Jacinta Doyle, Vice-Postulator, presents medical document
Sr. Mary Jacinta Doyle, Vice-Postulator, taking the oath
Archbishop Pilarczyk signs the document
Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Siemers with Sr. Arlene McGowan
Awesome! Wow! Fantastic! Renewing! Solemn! These were some of the adjectives used to describe the historic moment in our Congregation and in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati as we celebrated, in the context of Solemn Vespers, the Opening Session of the Diocesan Inquiry for the Cause of Canonization of Blessed Frances Schervier. This took place at St. Clare Convent Chapel on April 17, 2009 at 7:30 PM.
Most of the Sisters in the US Area were able to be present since they were already gathered there for the US Area Assembly. Sister Tiziana Merletti, Congregational Minister, Sisters Marilyn Trowbridge, Anna Ingoglia and Joanne Schuster, Congregational Councilors, as well as Sisters Maria Atorino and Cristina Di Nocco from Italy were present.
We were joined by some of our Brothers, by Mr. Tom Siemers and his wife and family, some of our Associates, women religious, collaborators, and friends.
Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk presided. He later wrote that he enjoyed being a part of this historical step in the life of the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor. He had reminded us several times that he had never been in St. Clare Convent Chapel! This was also the first time a Diocesan Inquiry for the Cause of Canonization had taken place in the Archdiocese!
The Ceremony Begins
The procession entered the Chapel with Sister Jo-Ann Jackowski leading with the Easter Candle, followed by those who would be taking the Oath during the Ceremony: Rev. Christopher Armstrong, Episcopal Delegate; Rev. Richard Klug, Promoter of Justice; Dr. Paul Sweeney, Medical Expert; Rev. Raymond Larger, Notary and Sister Mary Jacinta Doyle, Vice Postulator. Sisters Tiziana and Joanne followed, preceding Rev. Joseph Binzer, Chancellor, Deacon Francis Wagner and Archbishop Pilarczyk.
When the procession arrived at the back of the Chapel, Sister Jo-Ann sang: “Jesus Christ is the Light of the World.” All responded singing: “A light no darkness can extinguish.” The Veni Creator was then sung as the procession came to the front of the Chapel and all took their places. This was very moving since we use the Veni Creator when we begin many of the important functions in our Congregation and in the Church.
The small choir of our Sisters sang beautifully the verses of the first Psalm 141 while all responded with the refrain. The choir had a few practices, as the melody was new to all. This was followed by “All the Ends of the Earth” (based on Psalm 98) and “Here I Am, Lord” (based on Isaiah 6). Sister Mary Maloney read from Ephesians 3:15-21. This was very moving, as we were praying for those who would be participating as members of the Tribunal. Archbishop Pilarczyk followed with some remarks, reminding all that the responsibility of the Tribunal is to gather the testimony of the witnesses, but not to decide if, in fact, a miracle had been performed. That would be decided by the Congregation of the Causes of the Saints in Rome.
Mandate of Appointment and Presentation of the Petition
Rev. Joseph Binzer led the ceremony of the Opening Session. He asked Sr. Mary Jacinta to come forward and exhibit the mandate of her appointment as Vice Postulator and to present the petition for the initiation of Diocesan Inquiry into the alleged miraculous healing of Mr. Thomas Siemers of Cincinnati, which happened in March, 1989 and is attributed to the intercession of Blessed Frances Schervier.
Archbishop Pilarczyk examined the mandate of appointment and handed it to Fr. Binzer so that it could be registered among the acts of the first session. Fr. Binzer then read the “Supplex Libellus” of the Postulator and the Decree establishing the Cincinnati Diocesan Inquiry. This also included biographical notes on Blessed Frances Schervier, the alleged miraculous healing, the invocation to Blessed Frances and the alleged miracle and the Pleading:
“To verify the nature of the event considered miraculous, . . . I beg your Excellency if you would start, in Your Ecclesiastical Curia, a Canonical Investigation about the presumed miraculous recovery of Mr. Thomas Siemers, with the hope of the canonization of the aforesaid Blessed Francesca Schervier.”
This was very moving and very solemn, following the protocols of the Congregation for the Cause of the Saints. Fr. Binzer then presented many other documents, naming each, including the letter from Sr. Tiziana Merletti, SFP and Sr. Katharina Maria Finken, SPSF to Rev. P. Luca M. De Rosa, OFM, Postulator.
Fr. Binzer then asked Archbishop Pilarczyk, touching the Book of Sacred Scriptures, to take the prescribed oath:
“In the name of God. Amen. I, Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Archbishop of Cincinnati, swear to carry out faithfully and diligently the task that is assigned to me in the Cause concerning the alleged miracle attributed to the Blessed Frances Schervier. I also swear to keep all matters confidential. May God help me and may these holy Gospels assist me.”
Archbishop Pilarczyk signed the document and Fr. Binzer applied the seal. Each of the other members of the Tribunal and Sr. Mary Jacinta also took the oath and signed the document, after which it was sealed. Again, this was very solemn and very moving!
Vice-Postulator Presents Medical Document
Sr. Mary Jacinta then presented the medical document pertaining to the inquiry and the list of witnesses. Archbishop Pilarczyk then ordered Fr. Binzer to establish a public record of those things accomplished in this session. The Archbishop, Fr. Armstrong, Fr. Klug and Fr. Larger then signed the document. Fr. Binzer then signed it and fixed the seal.
The Vespers then concluded with the singing of the Magnificat, the Intercessions written and read by Sr. Arleen Bourquin, the singing of the Our Father, the blessing by the Archbishop and the closing Hymn “Easter Alleluia.”
What a privilege to have been a part of this impressive, moving and historical event in the life of our Congregation and in the life of our Archdiocese!
All were invited to the reception, which followed. The excitement was felt! The members of the Tribunal were so excited and appreciative of the opportunity to be involved in such an event! We have some new “brothers!”
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This is what many of our Sisters, Associates and Collaborators told us about this experience in the life of our Congregation and the Church . . .
“I could feel the presence of Mother Frances Schervier along with the Holy Spirit. I had a very good feeling in my heart when I left the Chapel.” - Associate Katie Huddleston
“The service was truly a memorable experience that will last forever. We will keep in our prayers all those involved in the process.” - Anonymous
“As I sat in the Chapel for the program to begin, the procession began. All was very solemn. The Sisters and invited guests became very still – no coughing, no whispering, and the atmosphere was most reverent and humble. The program in no way can convey the feeling of pride and grandeur as this poor little Bulcak sat there taking into my heart this once in a lifetime experience.” - Sister Miriam Bulcak
“I found the Ceremony to be just AWESOME and INSPIRING! As the legal documents were being signed I looked up and saw all the angels hovering above. Along with the beautiful music that Sr. Jo-Ann, the choir and congregation provided, the choirs of angels were playing their trumpets, flutes, harps and violins. With heaven and earth dancing, how could one’s spirit not be so uplifted. I give thanks to God for the privilege to have witnessed history in the making.” - Associate Joan Mills
“I found it an awe inspiring experience. It gave a sense of history since I never experienced this before and probably never will again.” - Anonymous
“The service was truly an experience of a lifetime! I felt so very grateful – deeply joy-filled! We honor Mother Frances and the goodness that she is!” - Sister Maria Klosterman
“Friday evening was a day to remember! It was a joyful, spiritual experience that cannot be fully expressed only experienced. Quite heavenly!” - Sister Theresa Calviello
"Wow! I felt like I was in Rome with the ‘High Court’. All of the persons took an oath on the Bible -- even the Archbishop. What a turn out with people from various backgrounds and life styles. I had the privilege of directing traffic to the parking lot and of getting people to the right door. Each person was so human and very light hearted. They were full of fun even after the ceremony. There was a spirit of joy -- something wonderful is happening and we celebrate this!" - Sister Adelaide Link
“I, with the Brothers in my community, was privileged to witness the inauguration of the first steps toward Canonization of Blessed Mother Frances. In experiencing all the festive moods of the evening, most impressive was the mood that came from our Sisters – the joy, the personal expressions - that Mother Frances stood in the midst of it all. It was our honor to be present for the momentous occasion.” - Brother Julian Lane, CFP
In gratitude to Sister Arlene McGowan for the fine photography.