A Saint From New Jersey

(A narrated slideshow of Sister Miriam Teresa Demjanovich, SC – Youtuber: Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth)

Like St. Thérèse of Lisieux, Miriam Teresa Demjanovich led a relatively hidden life in a convent and died young. St. Thérèse was 24 when she died, and Teresa was 26. Teresa was born in 1901 in Bayonne, N.J., to immigrants from Slovakia, the youngest of seven children.


After graduating from high school at age 16, she spent two years caring for her sick mother. After her mother’s death, she entered the College of St. Elizabeth in Morristown, N.J., and was one of only two students from her class to graduate summa cum laude.

She taught English and Latin at the Academy of St. Aloysius in Jersey City, but after a year of that realized that teaching was not her vocation. She had long been interested in the life of a religious so in 1924 she began to seek a religious community. First, she visited the Carmelite community in the Bronx, but the Carmelites weren’t willing to accept her because she had poor eyesight caused by oscillating pupils that gave her headaches. The Carmelites suggested that she wait a few more years.  She didn’t wait. Late in 1924, she applied to the Sisters of Charity at Convent Station, N.J., and was accepted. She was supposed to enter the order on Feb. 2, 1925, but her father caught a cold that developed into pneumonia and he died on Jan. 30, so her entrance was postponed until Feb. 11. After her postulancy, she became a novice and took the religious name Miriam.

Benedictine Father Benedict Bradley was the community’s spiritual director, and he quickly recognized Sister Miriam’s spirituality as well as her writing ability. He encouraged her to write down her spiritual thoughts—much as St. Thérèse’s superior had encouraged her to do. Then Father Benedict asked if she would write conferences that Father Benedict would deliver. With her superior’s approval, she began to do that, preparing a new conference for Father Benedict each week.

In November of 1926, Sister Miriam became ill. After a tonsillectomy, she returned to the convent, but could barely walk to her room. After a few days, she asked if she could return to the infirmary, but her superior, thinking it odd that someone so young could be so sick, told her, “Pull yourself together.” When Father Benedict saw how sick she was, he notified her brother, who called their nurse-sister. She went to the convent and immediately took Sister Miriam to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with “physical and nervous exhaustion, with myocarditis and acute appendicitis.” Doctors, though, didn’t think she was strong enough for an operation and her condition worsened. Her brother and sister asked permission for her to profess her vows and permission was granted. She died on May 8, 1927. After her death, Father Benedict told the community that the conferences he had been giving had been written by Sister Miriam. The community immediately recognized her spiritual maturity, published the conferences in a book called Greater Perfection, and began her cause for canonization. Beatification requires evidence of one miracle that happened after the candidate has died and as a result of a specific plea to the candidate.

The miracle that opens the way for the beatification of Miriam Teresa Demjanovich involves the restoration of perfect vision to a boy who had gone legally blind because of macular degeneration. Silvia Correale, the postulator for Sr Teresa’s cause in Rome, said : “All ophthalmologists know that this condition cannot be totally healed. It can be stopped from advancing, but it cannot be fully cured.” The decision as to the miraculous nature of this healing was unanimous by all committees, she added. Traditionally, beatifications have taken place in Rome. But several years ago, Pope Benedict XVI said beatifications could take place in the country and diocese from which the blessed person came.Sainthood requires a second miracle, though candidates deemed martyrs need only one for canonization.

Nun_Beatification.JPEG-019d-899x1024Michael Mencer holds a cross with a lock of hair of the Sister Miriam Teresa Demjanovich during a beatification ceremony for the nun at Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014, in Newark, N.J. Demjanovich, who died in 1927 at age 26, is credited with curing Mencer’s eye disease as a boy when he was given a lock of the nun’s hair and prayed to her. The ceremony moves Demjanovich a step closer to sainthood with her beatification as it is the third in a four-step process. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

The second process, known as the Apostolic process, is instituted by the Pope to more closely scrutinize the person’s past and to determine if he or she should be elevated to sainthood.

There are currently about 30 people in the US whose cause has been introduced into Rome. Pope John Paul II has canonized about 280 people worldwide during the last 25 years. In petitioning for Sister Teresa in July, Archbishop Myers conducted a ceremony that included sealing the documentation that will be present Sister Teresa’s beatification cause to Vatican authorities, the first step towards canonization as a saint. The paperwork was officially transported to Rome in late July. “It is now up to the congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome,” said a spokesperson for the Archbishop last week. “If she is beatified, it was be the first time someone in New Jersey has been.” Reports began to surface from around the world attributing a variety of miraculous “favors and cures” done at her intercession. In 1945, Rome authorized the local bishop to begin investigations as to whether or not Sister Teresa met the standards for sainthood. Becoming a saint is a rigorous process that involves four steps. The church appoints someone to scrutinize claims of miracles the intent to disprove them.

The second stage, a person’s heroic virtues are recognized and the pope declares the individual a “servant of God”. This happened in 1955 entitling Sister Teresa to be called venerable. Next the Vatican closely examines a candidate’s writings.

Finally to become as saint, a person must have miracles associated with him or her. In 2003, a tribunal met in Convent Station concerning alleged miracles at the intercession of Sister Teresa that took places in the 1960s. She was credited with helping to heal people.

The Vatican standard for miracles is extremely high: A board of doctors, notoriously exacting, must conclude that no reasonable medical explanation exists for a healing. If there are living witnesses, they are brought to testify. If the pope grants Sister Teresa the newly elevated “Blessed” status, he will do so at a mass held in Rome, at which time he will also set a feast date to be celebrated related to her life.†





The Underdog Saints: The Patron Saint of undocumented migrants (and of the deported) and the Patron Saint of drug Traffickers


Juan Castillo Morales, (?–1938) known by many as  Saint Juan Soldado (Juan the Soldier), was a convicted rapist and murderer who later became a folk saint to many in northwestern Mexico and in the southwestern United States. A private in the Mexican army, Castillo was executed on February 17, 1938 for the rape and murder of Olga Camacho Martínez, an 8-year-old girl from Tijuana, Baja California. His adherents believe that he was falsely accused of the crime and have appealed to his spirit for help in matters of health, criminal problems, family matters, crossing the U.S.-Mexico border and other challenges of daily life. Relatively little is known about Castillo, while accounts of his death vary widely. He was a private in the Mexican army from Jalisco. In 1938, while stationed in Tijuana, he was accused of the rape and murder of Olga Camacho Martínez, an eight-year-old girl who disappeared on February 13, 1938, and whose decapitated body was found shortly thereafter. The girl’s father, by some accounts, was involved in a labor dispute arising out of the closing of a local casino by President Lázaro Cárdenas. Castillo was arrested and allegedly confessed. Other accounts claim he maintained his innocence until his death. A crowd, perhaps led by the girl’s parents and others connected with the labor dispute, attempted to seize him while he was in custody, setting fire to the police station and the city hall and preventing firefighters from responding to the fires. Local authorities turned him over to the army, which proceeded to sentence him to death after a summary court martial. Castillo was shot pursuant to the so-called ley fuga, which authorized the killing of prisoners who attempt to flee, but in fact was often used as an excuse for summary executions. He was buried at the site of his death.

Shortly after his execution the story began circulating that he was innocent and had been framed by a superior officer, Jesse Cardoza, who was guilty of the crime. Residents began reporting strange events associated with Juan Soldado’s gravesite shortly after his death, including blood seeping from his grave and ghostly voices. Others began leaving stones at his tomb, attributing miraculous occurrences to them.

In the old Puerta Blanca cemetery there are now small chapels dedicated to Juan Soldado. The first one is the edge of the pantheon where he died. The second chapel is for all to enter and is where it says he is buried; both chapels are regularly visited and prayed at by people who have problems crossing the border into the United States or who are involved in the trafficking of people in the borderland. Devotees have also claimed that he has interceded for them in other areas, such as health and family problems.

Other shrines to Juan Soldado can be found elsewhere throughout the region, while votive candles, ex voto cards and other religious items devoted to him are sold throughout northwestern Mexico and the areas of California and Arizona where immigrants passing through the region have established communities. Similar cults have arisen around the grave sites of other victims of injustice who met a violent death and who are believed to have the power to intercede on behalf of those who pray for them.

Juan Soldado’s cult reflects, in some ways, the unsettled community that Tijuana was and is. The Catholic Church had no well-established local saints in the Tijuana region and was itself compromised in the eyes of many by its association with the powerful interests against whom the Mexican Revolution had been fought. Juan Soldado, a humble, nearly anonymous emigrant from the countryside who was allegedly wrongly accused by the authorities, was a fitting symbol of the upheavals that the people of that era and region confronted.

Juan Soldado is among a group of unofficial saints not recognized by the Roman Catholic Church but worshiped by people on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Many of the region’s folk saints were underdogs with checkered pasts who battled the system or were failed by it.


In South Texas, the faithful pray at the shrine of Don Pedrito Jaramillo, a liquor supplier who is said to have healed the poor through herbal medicines and faith healing.

“Conditions have defined the region’s popular saints. They are saints not stemming from mystical holiness but rather from profaneness,” according to Manuel Valenzuela, a
Tijuana sociologist who has written a book about border saints and folklore.


Among them is Jesus Malverde, a Robin Hood-style outlaw from the Pacific coast state of Sinaloa. Hanged in 1909 and believed to be one of Mexico’s first marijuana growers, today he is the unofficial patron saint of drug traffickers.

Juan Soldado, ayúdame a cruzar (“Soldier John, help me across”) – supplication voiced by undocumented migrants at the tomb of Juan Soldado, prior to attempting a border crossing.

Social Media Believers



“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven” Matthew 6:1.

Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips” Proverbs 27:2

The  Catholic Church is embracing online tools such as Twitter and Facebook to deliver its message.  The Church is using new media to stay in touch and relevant  with its followers.  The new media is not an optional extra, it is a central element in what we need to do in the proclamation of the gospel today. The interactive nature of social media made it an ideal tool for communicating the gospel and  young people today expect that community leaders to be proficient in new media. We need to be faithful to the people to whom we’re preaching. The substance of the Church’s message had been lost on in classical media like radio and (other) techniques because you  have a reaching out to people but you don’t have any contact with the response that they actually make. This modern-day engaged audience is using  whatever means available to elicit faith and to deepen our faith in Jesus.  This new media is about interactivity! Social media is a real-time engagement filled with reaction and raw emotion. Opinions are wielded like swords, we enjoy quick satisfaction, Twitter and Facebook are emotion outlets, where complaints are being heard. Anger is also expressed, contrary views vigorously opposed! As believers we are called to walk by the Spirit, perhaps especially on social media, given its reach and impact and due to the time spent there. Ask yourself if your posts are gracious and edifying,  if love and kindness are reflected? Are you blessing or cursing?  In the social media we can shine brightly for Christ. We can point people to Jesus with the light of our lives, with eternal truth, and with grace-filled interactions. People are watching and our attitude on social media, as Catholics, should be the counter-cultural way of the cross, should be of humility, of enhancing our witness as followers of Christ.



Confession and Reconciliation


Confession is not difficult, but it does require preparation. We should begin with prayer, placing ourselves in the presence of God, our loving Father. We seek healing and forgiveness through repentance and a resolve to sin no more. Then we review our lives since our last confession, searching our thoughts, words and actions for that which did not conform to God’s command to love Him and one another through His laws and the laws of His Church. This is called an 10 Commandments. When doing an exam of conscience begin with a prayer asking for God’s help, then review your life with the help of some questions, which are based on the 10 Commandments, tell God how truly sorry you are for your sins and make a firm resolution not to sin again. Recall your sins asking yourself about your daily prayer habits and thanking God for all gifts! Are you reading things (or other media) contrary to Catholic teachings or involving in non-Catholic sects? Engaging in superstitious practices like palm-reading or fortune-telling? Did you take the name of God in vain? Cursing or taking a false oath?  Are you going to Mass on Sundays or holy days of obligation? Are you attentive at Mass? Did you keep fast and abstinence on the prescribed days? Did you disobey your parents and lawful superiors in important matters? Did you hate or quarrel with anyone, or desire revenge? Did you refuse to forgive? Were you disrespectful? Did you get drunk or took illicit drugs? Did you willfully look at pornography, entertain impure thoughts or engage in impure conversations or actions? Did you use artificial means to prevent conception? Were you unfaithful to your spouse? Did you engage in sexual activity outside of marriage? Did you steal or damage another’s property? Have you been honest and just in your business relations? Have you been responsive to the needs of the poor and respected the dignity of others? Did you tell lies? Did you sin by calumny, or detraction, of others? Did you judge others rashly in serious matters? Have you envied other people? Then comes the Sacrament of Reconciliation that might be face-to-face or anonymous, with a screen between you and the priest where the priest gives you a blessing or greeting. He may share a brief Scripture passage. Make the Sign of the Cross and say: “Bless me father, for I have sinned. My last confession was…” (give the number of weeks, months or years). Confess all of your sins to the priest. The priest will help you to make a good confession. If you are unsure about how to confess or you feel uneasy, just ask him to help you. Answer his questions without hiding anything out of fear or shame. Place your trust in God, a merciful Father who wants to forgive you. Following your confession of sins, say: “I am sorry for these and all of my sins.” The priest assigns you a penance and offers advice to help you be a better Catholic and you say an Act of Contrition, expressing sorrow for your sins and the priest, acting in the person of Christ, then absolves you from your sins.

Act of Contrition

God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you, and I detest all my sins because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell; but most of all because they offend you, my God, who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve with the help of your grace to confess my sins, do penance, and to amend my life. Amen.











“I am a “fool” for Christ”

Jesus' MacBook Pro

“Should anyone ask you the reason for this hope of yours, be ever ready to reply, but speak gently and respectfully.” – 1 Peter 3:15

I found myself frequently in that awkward situation of trying to explain “what I do.” I stay at home, I write for a Catholic website, I am an evangelist, a Catholic Writer, and I am about to volunteer one more time!  This is my life. But somehow I never thought that this would make for a very interesting conversation that win me lots of new friends. Sometimes it’s hard to talk about the things that are truly meaningful to us because in doing so, we make ourselves vulnerable. We open ourselves up to the scrutiny and judgment of others. But the alternative is to live and interact with people in a superficial way, where we resign ourselves to discussing work and the weather importantly, though, it wouldn’t begin to explain what these things really mean to me. My family often got into “lively” discussions about all kinds of things. Sex, politics, religion, you name it…nothing was off-limits. Still, it’s one thing when it’s family and quite another when it’s a co-worker or casual acquaintance. You have to choose your words carefully. So it got me thinking: How do we go deeper in our conversations? How can we engage others in discussing things that are really important to us? As Christians, we are called to witness to the love of Christ in our lives, but we must be creative and find ways to share our beliefs without being pushy or preachy. Be genuinely interested in getting to know people. I’ve found that if I want to talk about what I do, I usually start by saying that I volunteer a lot – even people with no faith recognize the good that’s been done in the world through volunteerism. But if possible, I like to explain that my faith that compels me to do so. Sure, I’ve been blessed in my life and want to give back! I want to help make the world a better place – to bring hope and love to others in whatever way I can. And I always try to present my vocation- to evangelize- in a positive light!  Being a good listener is key, to let the conversation flow naturally.  If you want to talk about your faith or it comes up in conversation, start with easy topics. Try to avoid most of the hot button issues and stick to areas of common ground. When I tell someone I’m Catholic, usually the first thing they ask is something about Pope Francis. I was in Rome and I saw him, Yes, of course, we all love him. It’s a great opportunity to explain how important the pope’s role is – how we respect and follow him regardless of our personal likes and dislikes. Never be afraid to let your feelings show. We get so used to being “on” all the time and worry about what people think, that our conversation becomes stilted. Remember, it’s okay to be a “fool” for Christ. And trust that the Holy Spirit will give you the right words! Also God has a great sense of humour and so should we. Sometimes you’ve just got to laugh at how things turn out or where God takes you. God takes us out of our comfort zone and into “uncharted territory.” But the good part is, He never asks us to go there alone!






    “Pray the Rosary every day in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary to obtain peace in the world . . . for she alone can save it.” (Our Lady, July 13, 1917)
    “God has placed peace in her hands, and it is from the Immaculate Heart that men must ask it.” (Jacinta, shortly before her death)
    “When you pray the Rosary, say after each mystery: ‘O Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who have most need of your mercy.’ “ (June 13, 1917)

      (Every Rosary increases Mary’s power to crush the head of the Serpent and to destroy his evil power in the world.)
    “Jesus wishes to establish devotion to my Immaculate Heart in the world. I promise salvation to those who embrace it.” (June 13, 1917)

    1. FIRST SATURDAY DEVOTIONS, which include:
        • reception of Holy Communion, and Confession (within 8 days before or after)
        • pray five decades of the Rosary
        • spend 15 minutes in meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary.
        (All the above to be offered up in reparation for sins and ingratitude against the Immaculate Heart of Our Lady.)
    2. OFFERING IN REPARATION THE SACRIFICES, TRIALS AND CROSSES OF LIFE,especially those sacrifices involved in keeping God’s Commandments, and in fulfilling the duties of one’s state in life – offering them through the Immaculate Heart of Mary in reparation to the Divine Majesty so offended by sin, and for the conversion of sinners.
      “Sacrifice yourselves for sinners and say often whenever you make a sacrifice: ‘O Jesus, it is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the offenses committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.’ “ (Our Lady, July 13, 1917)
      “Pray much and make sacrifices for sinners, for many souls go to hell because there is no one to make sacrifices for them.” (Our Lady, August 19, 1917)
    3. CONSECRATION TO THE IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY. Any formula may be used which expresses a sincere confiding of oneself without reserve.



  1. To all those who shall pray my Rosary devoutly, I promise my special protection and great graces.
  2. Those who shall persevere in the recitation of my Rosary will receive some special grace.
  3. The Rosary will be a very powerful armor against hell; it will destroy vice, deliver from sin and dispel heresy.
  4. The Rosary will make virtue and good works flourish, and will obtain for souls the most abundant divine mercies. It will draw the hearts of men from the love of the world and its vanities, and will lift them to the desire of eternal things. Oh, that souls would sanctify themselves by this means.
  5. Those who trust themselves to me through the Rosary will not perish.
  6. Whoever recites my Rosary devoutly reflecting on the mysteries, shall never be overwhelmed by misfortune. He will not experience the anger of God nor will he perish by an unprovided death. The sinner will be converted; the just will persevere in grace and merit eternal life.
  7. Those truly devoted to my Rosary shall not die without the sacraments of the Church.
  8. Those who are faithful to recite my Rosary shall have during their life and at their death the light of God and the plenitude of His graces and will share in the merits of the blessed.
  9. I will deliver promptly from purgatory souls devoted to my Rosary.
  10. True children of my Rosary will enjoy great glory in heaven.
  11. What you shall ask through my Rosary you shall obtain.
  12. To those who propagate my Rosary I promise aid in all their necessities.
  13. I have obtained from my Son that all the members of the Rosary Confraternity shall have as their intercessors, in life and in death, the entire celestial court.
  14. Those who recite my Rosary faithfully are my beloved children, the brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ.
  15. Devotion to my Rosary is a special sign of predestination.

True Love


Love can always conquer
Whatever discord brings
and love can also cover
a multitude of things.

Don’t you underestimate
what love can ever do,
for love is God eternal
and His love can renew.

What is cold and lifeless,
now lost all hope and died,
for love can breathe new meaning
and give it back new life.

Please don’t give up on love
when it seems that all is lost,
for there is always hope
if we’re prepared to pay the cost.

For love is always worth it
no matter how much the price,
for love will be much stronger
when we trust in Jesus Christ.

So let God have full reign,
let Him live within your heart
then you will know true love,
for this He will impart.