Since I last wrote you to commemorate the founding of the Militia of the Immaculate (October 16, 1917), the world has experienced a second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. Now, on the occasion of the anniversary of St. Maximilian’s birth, I wanted to write again to encourage you and to strengthen the bond that unites us through St. Maximilian and his devotion to the Immaculate Mother of God.
On January 8, 1919, Father Maximilian celebrated his twenty-fifth birthday, having been ordained a Franciscan priest on the previous May 28, 1918. How timely the parallel is for us that, in those days as well, the second and worst wave of their own pandemic (1918 Spanish flu) was coming to an end. Perhaps, Father Maximilian and the other friars in Rome, where he was studying for his doctoral exam in theology, were feeling some sense of relief. Still, the Spanish flu had claimed the most victims in the age group from 20 to 29 and Father Maximilian had already lost two young friends, close confrères with whom he had founded the Militia of the Immaculate: Friar Antoni Głowinski, from Romania, died October 18, 1918 and Friar Antonio Mansi, from Naples, died October 31, 1918. Following the funeral service for Friar Antonio on November 2nd (All Souls’ Day), Father Maximilian, together with other friars, accompanied the body to the cemetery. Typically, All Souls’ Day in Europe sees cemeteries filled with visitors but, in 1918, the cemetery itself became another victim of the Spanish flu, as Father Maximilian simply writes in his notes, “An automobile with several coffins. The cemetery closed.” Then, Father Maximilian’s own “City of the Immaculate” in Poland was ravaged by the pandemic; of the 70 friars affected, several died.
However, in St. Maximilian’s written notes following spiritual meditation at the time, there is no entry on the significance to be attributed to the pandemic or the anxiety it was inevitably causing. No, his notes are filled with expressions of complete entrustment and utter confidence that all things can be done through the Immaculate. The following meditation notes appear in and around St. Maximilian’s birthday: “Jesus is our love. Mary our hope – you can do all things through her.” (January 4); “Entrust all things to the Immaculata.” (January 18); “Trust her in all things.” (January 21); “Trust in the Immaculata without limits.” (January 26).
St. Maximilian’s filial devotion to the Immaculate Mother of God is unique. Behind every expression of faith in our loving God and Savior, who cares for all in every circumstance of life, there is also implied the conviction that the Immaculate will intercede and insist on our behalf (Ad Iesum per Mariam). Even at Auschwitz, this can undoubtedly be read into St. Maximilian’s letter to his mother on June 15, 1941. In this, the last extant letter written by him, St. Maximilian writes, “All is well with me. Beloved Mama, do not worry for me and for my health, because the good God is in every place and, with great love, He thinks about everyone and everything.”
Let us pray to our loving God, through the Immaculate, for an end to the Covid-19 pandemic and for the consolation of all who have been devastated by it. Let us pray especially that we, as M.I. members, will continue to consecrate ourselves to the Immaculate for the common good, for the betterment of our world and for the conversion and salvation of souls. May the prayers of St. Maximilian accompany and strengthen us in this holy resolve.
Very Reverend Fr. Jobe Abbass, OFM Conv.
Provincial Delegate –
Our Lady of the Angels Province Delegation of St. Francis of Assisi (Canada)
Province Delegate – Militia of the Immaculate (M.I.)
As we are about to celebrate the 103rd anniversary of the founding of the Militia of the Immaculate by our Franciscan confrère, St. Maximilian Kolbe, I am happily recalling the M.I. Initiative carried out over the last sixteen months in the Franciscan parishes of Our Lady of the Angels Province. Although Covid-19 has interrupted the tour, I was able to visit 22 of our 39 parishes to promote consecration to the Immaculate and enrollment in the M.I. My heart still swells with joy when I think of the enthusiastic congregations who warmly embraced the Initiative and, then, the thousands who decided to make the act of total consecration to Mary and enroll in the M.I.
In contemplating the anniversary of the M.I during this pandemic, I could not help but think back to the 1918-1920 flu pandemic which, like Covid-19, was also driven by a respiratory virus. One of the worst pandemics in human history, its four waves infected 500 million people, a third of the world’s population at the time. Sadly, according to the estimates, the virus took the lives of between 17 and 50 million people. St. Maximilian was ordained a Franciscan priest in Rome on April 28, 1918, during the pandemic’s first wave, and he celebrated his first Christmas as a priest in Rome just as the second and worst wave of the pandemic ended. He returned to Poland in July of 1919 just after the third wave and he was teaching in Krakow during the pandemic’s fourth and final wave in 1920. According to the statistics, the pandemic claimed 466,000 victims in Italy and between 200,000 and 300,00 in Poland. Nevertheless, upon examining St. Maximilian’s letters and other writings, I could not find any references or reflections on the tragic losses caused by the pandemic. This was all the more surprising given that, since his 1917 diagnosis, St. Maximilian was suffering from tuberculosis, an underlying condition whose side effects include difficulty breathing.
At the same time, however, we cannot lose sight of St. Maximilian’s intense focus and sense of mission already animated by an ardent love of the Lord and His Blessed Mother. Having founded the M.I. in 1917 to combat the evils present in the world, St. Maximilian intended by the consecration or entrustment to the Immaculate that he and, indeed, all M.I. members would offer themselves totally to the Blessed Mother as instruments in Her hands to bring about the salvation of all and thereby lead them ever closer to the source of Love, the Sacred Heart. Although St. Maximilian’s writings do not contain direct references to the 1918 flu pandemic, it is curious that, when Father Maximilian celebrated Christmas Mass that year, he noted in the Mass register the following intention: Pro amore usque ad victimam (For love even unto victimhood). By “victimhood” Father Maximilian may well have intended the lengths to which he was committed to sacrifice for the work of the Immaculate but I believe it is also possible that St. Maximilian thought for a moment, “If, in pursuit of Love, I fall victim, even as a result of the pandemic, then so be it.” Thus, his apostolic zeal was already heroic, standing him in good stead for his battle with the evil of Nazism he would later experience in Poland and, especially, at Auschwitz.
As we celebrate the 103rd anniversary of the M.I., I send you all my warmest greetings of peace and every good. May St. Maximilian pray for us, through the Immaculate, to Our Lord for the grace that the Covid-19 pandemic cease, that the sick regain their health and that those who have died may rest in peace.
~Fr. Jobe Abbass, OFM Conv.
Our Lady of the Angels Province M.I. Assistant
Consistent with our Franciscan charism and tradition of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, our province has been progressing in our efforts to more fully tap into this devotion from our Kolbean heritage, through the example of St. Maximilian M. Kolbe, OFM Conv., and the continued efforts of his Militia of the Immaculata’s (M.I.) unconditional consecration to the Immaculate. Fr. Jobe Abbass, OFM Conv., who serves as our Province MI Assistant, began our Province M.I Initiative Tour of our pastoral ministries, in May 2o19. Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the tour had to be halted as of March 2020.
The remainder of the M.I. Initiative Tour has been tentatively re-scheduled for next year:
The following article has been shared by our Province Delegate to the Militia of the Immaculate (M.I.) ~ Fr. Jobe Abbass, OFM Conv.:
From our Order’s Website: “300 Years as the Principal Patroness of the Order”
On May 7, 2020 the Order marked three hundred years since the Blessed Virgin Mary, under the title of the Immaculate Conception, was declared the principal patroness of our Order. That declaration was made by decree of the 156th General Chapter (May 1719) and approved by Pope Clement XI on May 7, 1720. To celebrate this significant anniversary, our new General, Friar Carlos Trovarelli, presided at a Mass in Rome at the Basilica of Santi Apostoli, still closed because of Covid-19. After the Mass, Friar Carlos renewed “today and forever” (oggi e per sempre) the consecration of the entire Order to the Blessed Virgin Mary, invoked under the title of the Immaculate Conception (see the Order’s website for the beautifully detailed prayer of entrustment).
The Order’s Communications Office recounts that what occasioned this joyous commemoration was a letter which our General received from one of the oldest friars in the Order, Friar Oreste Casaburo (age 94) of the Neapolitan province. In a letter to the General, Friar Oreste reported that he had made a happy discovery last year when he found an article by St. Maximilian Kolbe, entitled “Two Hundred Years Ago” (see The Writings of St. Maximilian Maria Kolbe, 1271).
In the article, which was written in Japan in May 1934, Friar Maximilian explained that, at the conclusion of the 156th General Chapter in Rome, it was decided to raise up and establish the Blessed Virgin Mary, under the title of the Immaculate Conception, as the Principal Patroness of the Order. The newly elected General, Friar Carlo Giuseppe Romilli of Bergamo, Italy, together with his definitory, decreed:
“Since its origin and throughout its history, the Order of Friars Minor Conventual has surrounded the Conception of the Blessed Virgin with special manifestations of devotion. Therefore in the footsteps of their fathers, the Venerable Definitory has decreed to establish the Blessed Virgin, under the title of Immaculate Conception, as their main Patroness, in the firmest hope that more and more every day in our Order, devotion and veneration toward the Mother of God and toward the mystery of her Immaculate Conception increase and develop.”
Our Communications Office stated that, in his letter, Friar Oreste underscored: “In Father Kolbe’s day, it was 200 years, now it is 300 years, three centuries.” He invited the Minister General to seize the occasion: “Given this curious but happy coincidence, the idea popped into my head of asking if you might not address to us a few words of comfort during this bitter “virus” situation by way of a “Franciscan prayer” to the Virgin, entrusting your apostles and sons to Her, as our Seraphic Father, St. Francis, once did.” It was very soon after receiving Friar Oreste’s letter that our 120th Minister General decided to accept the proposal and renew forever the consecration of the Order to the Immaculate Conception. The Communications Office ended its report stating: “Once again we encounter the tradition of the Order; we hope and trust in the protection and guidance of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Cf. Constitutions, art. 1, §§ 6-7).”
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
On Friday May 1st, the bishops of the United States and Canada are going to reconsecrate our countries to Mary, Mother of The Church. Here at the shine will be doing the same. First, we will be praying the Rosary together with each of the five decades in a different language, reflecting the cultural diversity of our fraternity and public ministry. Secondly, we will pray together the consecration prayer, lifting up our country, our states, counties, cities, and all our people to Mary, Mother of the Church. Please join us. The video will be posted on the front page of our website on Friday, May 1st for on-demand viewing.
Change the narrative! Stay close to the Lord and his holy Mother… and St. Anthony!
We continue to pray for all of you. Please send us your prayer intentions or light a candle by going to the “worship” tab on our website.
May the Lord give you peace.
Since May 2019, in an effort to more fully tap into our Kolbean heritage (Franciscan charism and tradition of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary through the example of St. Maximilian M. Kolbe, OFM Conv. and the continued efforts of his Militia of the Immaculata’s “M.I.” unconditional consecration to the Immaculate), Fr. Jobe Abbass, OFM Conv., who serves as our Province M.I. Assistant, had been on an M.I. Initiative Tour of our pastoral ministries.
Friar Jobe has had to postpone the 2020 stops for April and May because of the pandemic limitations, including the closure of the US – Canada (where he resides) Border. He hopes to be able to do resume a new schedule, in June. If he is able to do so, it will be released and published on this site.
Consistent with our Franciscan charism and tradition of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, our province has been progressing in our efforts to more fully tap into this devotion from our Kolbean heritage, through the example of St. Maximilian M. Kolbe, OFM Conv., and the continued efforts of his Militia of the Immaculata’s (M.I.) unconditional consecration to the Immaculate. Fr. Jobe Abbass, OFM Conv., who serves as our Province MI Assistant, has had to postpone the 23rd & 24th stops on our Province M.I Initiative Tour of our pastoral ministries. He hopes to reschedule the April 18-19, 2020 Tour Stop #23 at St. Casimir Church as well as the April 25-26, 2020 Tour Stop #24 at St. Elizabeth of Hungary Catholic Church (Baltimore, MD). Friar Jobe’s scheduled stops on this tour hope to continue through October of 2020 and hopes to be able to resume the schedule after the pandemic crisis has past.
Consistent with our Franciscan charism and tradition of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, our province has been progressing in our efforts to more fully tap into this devotion from our Kolbean heritage, through the example of St. Maximilian M. Kolbe, OFM Conv., and the continued efforts of his Militia of the Immaculata’s (M.I.) unconditional consecration to the Immaculate. With a view to promoting consecration to the Immaculate among the faithful served through the ministries of our friars of Our Lady of the Angels Province, Fr. Jobe Abbass, OFM Conv., who serves as our Province MI Assistant, has completed preparations for the 21st & 22nd stop on our Province M.I Initiative Tour of our pastoral ministries. Friar Jobe’s scheduled stops on this tour will continue through October of 2020. Keep him and all those he greets in your prayers, as he continues to preach at the Masses to encourage the faithful to consecrate themselves to the Immaculate, and to enroll in the M.I.
On the weekend of March 21-22, the M.I. Initiative promoting consecration to the Immaculate and enrollment in the M.I. planned its 21st and 22nd stop at St. Benedict the Moor Parish (at left) and Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church (below) in Columbus, Georgia. Friar Jobe was welcomed to the Franciscan Martyrs Friary the weekend before, when he celebrated Mass at St. Anne Catholic Church. As the friars serving St. Benedict the Moor Parish (pastor – Fr. Noel Danielewicz, OFM Conv.) and Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church (pastor – Fr. Bob Benko, OFM Conv.) also live in community in that friary, Friar Jobe planned on celebrating Mass at these two Tour Stops next. However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, no public Masses are to be celebrated. Instead, Friar Jobe’s homily for the Fourth Sunday of Lent was pre-recorded and a link will be provided for the English-speaking faithful of the two parishes. The Spanish text of the sermon was given to Friar Bob who will be celebrating a Live Streamed Mass for the Spanish-speaking parishioners of Our Lady of Lourdes.
From Fr. Jobe: “Let us pray that, just as the man born blind was born that way to reveal the works of God, so too the corona virus will ultimately reveal how much more powerful is the merciful and healing love of the Lord and the Immaculate.”
Consistent with our Franciscan charism and tradition of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, our province has been progressing in our efforts to more fully tap into this devotion from our Kolbean heritage, through the example of St. Maximilian M. Kolbe, OFM Conv., and the continued efforts of his Militia of the Immaculata’s (M.I.) unconditional consecration to the Immaculate. With a view to promoting consecration to the Immaculate among the faithful served through the ministries of our friars of Our Lady of the Angels Province, Fr. Jobe Abbass, OFM Conv., who serves as our Province MI Assistant, has completed the 20th successful and rewarding stop on our Province M.I Initiative Tour of our pastoral ministries. Friar Jobe’s scheduled stops on this tour will continue through October of 2020. Keep him and all those he greets in your prayers, as he continues to preach at the Masses to encourage the faithful to consecrate themselves to the Immaculate, and to enroll in the M.I.
On the weekend of March 14-15, 2020 the M.I. Initiative promoting consecration to the Immaculate and enrollment in the Militia of the Immaculate made its 20th stop atSt. Anne Catholic Church, in Columbus, GA. Due to the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic, attendance at the four Masses was limited but over 1400 of the faithful followed the celebrations on live stream. The friars of Franciscan Martyrs Friary (Columbus, GA): Fr. Robert Schlageter, OFM Conv. (Guardian and Pastor of St. Anne’s), Fr. Noel Danielewicz, OFM Conv. (Pastor of St. Benedict the Moor Parish where the MI Tour plans to visit on March 19th as Tour Stop #21), Fr. Bob Benko, OFM Conv. (Pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church where the MI Tour plans to visit on the weekend of March 21-22nd as Tour Stop #22), Fr. Manny Vasconcelos, OFM Conv. (Parochial Vicar of St. Anne’s & Campus Ministry Chaplain at Columbus State University), and Fr. Paul Pantiru, OFM Conv. (Parochial Vicar of St. Anne’s) are joyfully hosting their confrere, Fr. Jobe, as he visits their Columbus pastoral ministries. The parishioners pf St. Anne’s were very appreciative in welcoming our M.I. Initiative as well. Some are seen below in the photo taken just before they worked on disinfecting the pews and doors before the next Mass.
Friar Jobe (top center) & Friar Robert (front center), who also headed up the work crew, is pictured along with the parish volunteers who volunteered to keep the church disinfected and clean for the next Mass.
Most of the friar priests and brothers of the Custody with Bishop Pabillo holding the relic, Friar Jobe on his right and the Filipino custos, Fr. Francis Victor Mateo, OFM Conv. on his left. On the left end of the row of concelebrants is also Our Lady of the Angels Province friar, Fr. Eric de la Pena, OFM Conv., who was home on vacation with family.
At the invitation of the Custos and Definitory of the Provincial Custody of the Immaculate Conception and Bl. Bonaventure of Potenza in the Philippines of the Province of Seraphic Father St. Francis in Italy, the relics of St. Maximilian Kolbe were brought by Our Lady of the Angels Province friar ~ Fr. Jobe Abbass, OFM Conv. to the Philippines for a two-week (February 4-18, 2020) Pilgrimage to our confrere’s friaries and parishes.
His Excellency, Most Rev. Roberto Orendain Gaa, D.D. (top left) next to Friar Jobe, and many of the local friars, including the Provincial Custos, Friar Francis Victor and the pastor of St. Maximilian M. Kolbe Parish ~ Friar Linus Bacayan, OFM Conv. holding the reliquary
The third stop highlight is an important one recalling the visit Maximilian made to the pontifical delegate on May 30, 1936 at the Benedictine Abbey of Our Lady of Montserrat of the Subiaco-Cassinese Congregation, of Monte Serrato, in Manila. On Monday, February 11th, the relics of St. Maximilian were joyously received by the abbot and monks of Our Lady of Montserrat Abbey. The friars traveling with the reliquary were welcomed by San Beda Rt. Rev. Dom Austin P. Cadiz, OSB (8th Abbot of the Abbey of Our Lady of Montserrat) with hospitably offered meals and accommodation for the two days that the relics were venerated in the abbey church. The stop was made to recall St. Maximilian’s visit to the abbey on his return trip from Japan to Poland. On that date, Fr. Kolbe celebrated Mass in the abbey church and consulted with the papal delegate who, at that time, had his office and living quarters at Montserrat Abbey. (Photo cred: San Beda University)
The friars and monks of the abbey, took a photo with the abbot, Very Reverend Austin Cadiz, OSB, (center), Friar Francis Victor Mateo to his left and Friar Jobe
February 21, 2020: Fr. Jobe (center) celebrated Mass with the Novices and had morning classes with them. The Novitiate Community of southeast Asia, normally located at Tagaytay, has been relocated to Parañaque because of the recent eruption of the Taal Volcano. These ten novices hail from the Philippines (4), Indonesia (3) and Vietnam (3).