Author Archives: seanwokelley

Open Letter from Maria Smith

Open letter in English and Spanish from the desk of Maria Smith.

Follow me… How many times have we heard these words?  Over and over in Scriptures Jesus calls his disciples to follow him.  These are two small words loaded with meaning.

What are they saying to each one of us today, especially as we begin a Lenten journey?

There is a song written by Michael John Poirier called “Strength for the Journey”.

The first verse says,

     “There is a road meant for you to travel.

Narrow and steep is the shepherd’s way,

and as you say, “Yes,” letting me guide you,

I will be strength for the journey.”

Every year as we enter the season of Lent, we find ourselves at the threshold of a new journey.  Each Lent presents us with a new opportunity to stop and reflect on where we have been in our faith life and where we are being called to go.  It calls out of us a new commitment to follow in the footsteps of Jesus on the path he was destined to pave for our salvation.

In our attempt to immerse ourselves into Lent, we often fall victim to focusing only on the more penitential aspects of the Lenten season and forget that the fasting, prayer and sacrificial acts we perform are simply a means by which we are drawn more deeply into the heart of God.  Too often we overlook the fact that death did not have the last word on Good Friday.  The journey for Jesus did not end at the cross, but actually initiated the beginning of our salvation which manifested itself on Easter Sunday through his glorious resurrection.   Certainly, the journey for Jesus was not easy, but then what journey in life ever is?  We have a guarantee that Jesus has paved the way for us and we need to trust that he walks alongside us, encouraging us, guiding us and reminding us that it is in the very act of accepting our broken humanity with humility that we allow ourselves to be transformed into a more genuine reflection of him. This Lent, as our community grows and changes, ask the following questions.

Where is God calling us to follow?  Can we take a leap of faith into the unknown?

Can we believe that positive change can happen even when the path doesn’t always seem clear?

Can I follow God into the depths of my soul to find my truest self so that I can then follow God’s challenges to meet the needs of others?

Can I follow and not feel the need to lead?

It is our hope that we can be each other’s companions on the journey through Lent.  As we strive to be Christ for one another, we can thereby also be Christ’s “strength for the journey”.

May this journey through Lent be transformative, reflective and fruitful so that together we can arrive at the Easter resurrection and joyfully rejoice with the whole Church: Alleluia! Jesus Christ is Risen!

Joining you as companions on this Lenten journey, your sisters and brothers of University Ministry 

Wayne E. Romo, Clare Strockbine, Bro. Brian Halderman, Elisa Noriega, Irene Quesnot, María Smith, Bro. Brandon Alana



Sígueme… ¿Cuántas veces hemos oído estas palabras? Una tras otra vez, en las Escrituras, Jesús llama a sus discípulos para que lo sigan. ‘Sígueme.’ Esta simple palabra está cargada con gran significado. ¿Qué nos dice esto a cada uno de nosotros, en especial ahora que comenzamos nuestro viaje de Cuaresma? Hay una canción de Michael John Poirier, llamada “Strength for the Journey” (Fuerza para el Camino). El primer verso dice:

 “Hay un sendero  para que sigas.

Angosto e inclinado es el camino del pastor,

y al responderme “Sí”, dejándome guiarte,

yo seré tu fuerza para el camino.”

Al comenzar la temporada de Cuaresma cada año, nos encontramos en el umbral de un nuevo camino. Cada Cuaresma nos presenta una oportunidad nueva para detenernos un momento y reflexionar sobre dónde estamos en nuestra fe y a dónde se nos llama. Nos inspira un nuevo compromiso de seguir los pasos de Jesús sobre el camino que le fue destinado trazar para nuestra salvación.

Es común que, al tratar de sumergirnos en la Cuaresma, caigamos en la tendencia de enfocarnos sólo en los aspectos de penitencia; y olvidar que todo el ayuno, rezo, y sacrificio que hacemos son tan sólo medios por los cuales nos adentramos más en el corazón de Dios.
No nos acordamos que la Muerte no tuvo la última palabra el Viernes Santo. La travesía de Jesús no terminó en la cruz, sino que marcó el inicio de nuestra salvación, manifestada el Domingo de Pascua a través de su gloriosa resurrección.
Ciertamente el trayecto de Jesús no fue fácil, pero ¿qué camino lo es en realidad en esta vida? Tenemos la garantía de que Jesús nos ha delineado la senda y tenemos que confiar en que Él camina a nuestro lado, alentando, guiando y recordándonos que al aceptar con humildad nuestra flaqueza humana, nos acercamos a transformarnos en un reflejo de Jesús más genuino. Esta Cuaresma, conforme crece y cambia nuestra comunidad, hazte las siguientes preguntas:

¿Hacia dónde nos llama Dios a seguirlo? ¿Somos capaces de ir hacia lo desconocido en un acto de fe? ¿Podemos creer que cambios positivos suceden aún cuando el camino no siempre está claro? ¿Puedo seguir a Dios hasta lo más recóndito de mi alma para encontrar a mi verdadero ‘yo’, y así pueda cumplir sus retos y auxiliar a los demás?

¿Podré seguir sin tener la necesidad de liderar?

Esperamos que podamos ser mutuos compañeros en nuestro camino de Cuaresma. En nuestra meta de ser como Cristo el uno por el otro, también podemos ser, como Cristo, la propia Fuerza para el Camino.

Que este trayecto de la Cuaresma sea transformativo, esté lleno de reflexión y sea productivo para que juntos podamos llegar a la Pascua de Resurrección y alegrarnos con la Iglesia al celebrar: ¡Aleluya, Cristo ha Resucitado!

Uniéndonos como sus compañeros en esta trayectoria de Cuaresma, sus hermanos de University Ministry

Wayne E. Romo, Clare Strockbine, Bro. Brian Halderman, Elisa Noriega, Irene Quesnot, María A.Smith, Bro. Brandon Alana


Greetings from Fr. Kip Stander, S.M.

Greetings from Fr. Kip Stander, SM

February 19, 2012

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Hi to all you Rattlers from Bengaluru (Bangalore) India!  I hope that the semester is going well for all of you and that the Lenten season is a blessing for you, your families and all the members of the St. Mary’s community.

I was asked to write a little about REDS (Ragpickers Education and Development Scheme) here in Bengaluru.  The Marianists sponsor this urban program both in Bengaluru, Karnataka (southern India) and in Ranchi, Jharkhand (northern India).  We also have the Chaminade Rural Development Programme in Binda, also in Jharkhand – maybe later I can tell you about these too!

In Begaluru and the surrounding area we have 27 REDS Centers serve 1,549 women and children.  In the slums we have 3 Daycare Centers, 17 Play Schools (children 3-6 years of age), 5 tailoring instruction units, a computer training center, and 5 centers where we tutor slum children after school (several of the tutoring centers are the same center as Play Schools in the morning hours).  I have visited many of the Play Schools where the children are taught some reading and writing skills, receive a meal, learn about personal hygiene and, of course, have fun.  It is a joy to hear a group of 20-40 little ones recite a poem or rhyme and sing a song with smiles on their faces and pride in their eyes.  This lays the groundwork for them to continue in formal education.

Another aspect of REDS is to recruit young men from the streets (6-14 years of age) to be given skills training in plumbing, welding, electrical work and tailoring.  This is done at a residential center located on the same property as our formation programmes for the Brothers in town.  Currently we have 80 boys in REDS Deepahalli as it is known.

Since women have a pivotal role in Indian families, we offer skill training in tailoring (-there is a thriving garment industry in this area that needs skilled workers) and basic computer skills.  The computer programme is supported by the Bosch Company, as is the plumbing unit at Deepahalli.

We are doing good work, but there is so much more that can be done.  We are only scratching the surface.

Thank you for considering supporting the REDS programme here in India.  Know of our gratitude and prayers for your efforts!

Peace and prayers,

Fr. Kip