Advent Events

Christmas Mass Times

December 25, 2017 - 10:30am
Christmas Eve Masses December 24 - 4:30pm & Midnight Christmas Morning Mass December 25 - 10:30amRead more

Welcome!

If you have never been to a Catholic church, or if you are new to our area of Kansas City, welcome!

If you and your family have been away from the Catholic Church for some time, welcome back! If you are an active member of our family at St. John Francis Regis, welcome! In short, we are glad you are here.

Come and join us for Holy Mass and be transformed by God’s grace. Participate, go out “into the deep”— get involved. We are truly blessed to have such a Christ-centered, faith-filled community. We invite you to join us and experience this great gift of God. Learn ways you can get involved at St. John Francis Regis by browsing our site, our bulletin, or our Facebook page. Take advantage of the various links and videos and contemplate anew the splendor of our faith alive in our age.

I invite you to consider becoming a registered member of our parish so you can grow in abundant love of God and neighbor. We look forward to seeing you, and may God richly bless you!

In Christ,
Fr. McCaffery

Upcoming Events

Christmas Mass Times

December 25, 2017 - 10:30am
Christmas Eve Masses December 24 - 4:30pm & Midnight Christmas Morning Mass December 25 - 10:30amRead more

Knights of Columbus Officers Meeting

KofC
December 27, 2017 - 7:00pm

First Friday Adoration

January 5, 2018 - 9:00am
Adoration Chapel
First Fridays we have 12 hour Adoration in the Adoration Chapel from 9:00am to 9:00pmRead more
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Advent

Advent: More Than a Chocolate Calendar

Saint of the day

December 16, 2017 - 7:21pm
Born in 931 in Burgundy, France as the daughter of King Rudolph II of Burgundy, Adelaide was promised in marriage when she was only two years old, to a man named Lothaire, the son and heir of his enemy, Hugh of Provence.Lothaire was killed when still young, and Adelaide was to have a tumultuous life that paralleled the struggle for political power of the times, something she had come to symbolize.Having been sought after by various kings and nobles after Lothaire’s death, she was finally married by Otho the Great of Germany, who had invaded Italy.When Adelaide and Otho’s son,  the Emperor Otho II died, his son Otho III, only a child at the time, became emperor. In 991, Adelaide was invested as the Regent of the Empire, and she used her power as the effective empress to increase evangelization efforts, especially in northern Europe, and built many monasteries and churches, and also gave much aid the poor.She died in 999 at the monastery of Seltz, Alsace, and was canonized in 1097 by Pope Urban II.
December 15, 2017 - 5:21pm
Born in Genoa Italy on April 2, 1587, Virginia was raised in an aristocratic family which was nonetheless pious, and from a young age she longed to consecrate herself to God in the religious life. However, she was pressured into an arranged marriage at the age of 15 on account of her social status, and had two daughters.Her husband, a drinker and gambler, died after only five years of marriage, and Virginia dedicated her time to raising her children, prayer and works of charity, which she devoted herself to entirely once her children had grown up, caring for the sick, elderly and abandoned.She founded a refuge center in Genoa in 1625, which soon became overrun with the needy, and she rented an empty convent in 1631 where she cared for the sick with the help of other women, and she instructed the women in the faith in addition to thier work.She constructed a church dedicated to Our Lady of Refuge, and soon the women who worked with her in the hospital were formed into two congregations: the Sisters of Our Lady of Refuge in Mount Calvary, and the Daughters of Our Lady on Mount Calvary.Victoria retired from the administration of the orders, and performed manual labour and begged for alms, but was called back to administrative duties soon after.She began to receive visions and locutions in the later years of her life. She died in Genoa on December 15, 1651 and was canonized by Pope John Paul II on May 18, 2003.
December 14, 2017 - 4:21pm
Dec. 14 is the liturgical memorial of Saint John of the Cross, a 16th century Carmelite priest best known for reforming his order together with Saint Teresa of Avila, and for writing the classic spiritual treatise “The Dark Night of the Soul.� Honored as a Doctor of the Church since 1926, he is sometimes called the “Mystical Doctor,� as a tribute to the depth of his teaching on the soul's union with God. The youngest child of parents in the silk-weaving trade, John de Yepes was born during 1542 in Fontiveros near the Spanish city of Avila. His father Gonzalo died at a relatively young age, and his mother Catalina struggled to provide for the family. John found academic success from his early years, but failed in his effort to learn a trade as an apprentice. Instead he spent several years working in a hospital for the poor, and continuing his studies at a Jesuit college in the town of Medina del Campo. After discerning a calling to monastic life, John entered the Carmlite Order in 1563. He had been practicing severe physical asceticism even before joining the Carmelites, and got permission to live according to their original rule of life – which stressed solitude, silence, poverty, work, and contemplative prayer. John received ordination as a priest in 1567 after studying in Salamanca, but considered transferring to the more austere Carthusian order rather than remaining with the Carmelites. Before he could take such a step, however, he met the Carmelite nun later canonized as Saint Teresa of Avila. Born in 1515, Teresa had joined the order in 1535, regarding consecrated religious life as the most secure road to salvation. Since that time she had made remarkable spiritual progress, and during the 1560s she began a movement to return the Carmelites to the strict observance of their original way of life. She convinced John not to leave the order, but to work for its reform. Changing his religious name from “John of St. Matthias� to “John of the Cross,� the priest began this work in November of 1568, accompanied by two other men of the order with whom he shared a small and austere house. For a time, John was in charge of the new recruits to the “Discalced Carmelites� – the name adopted by the reformed group, since they wore sandals rather than ordinary shoes as sign of poverty. He also spent five years as the confessor at a monastery in Avila led by St. Teresa. Their reforming movement grew quickly, but also met with severe opposition that jeopardized its future during the 1570s. Early in December of 1577, during a dispute over John's assignment within the order, opponents of the strict observance seized and imprisoned him in a tiny cell. His ordeal lasted nine months and included regular public floggings along with other harsh punishments. Yet it was during this very period that he composed the poetry that would serve as the basis for his spiritual writings. John managed to escape from prison in August of 1578, after which he resumed the work of founding and directing Discalced Carmelite communities. Over the course of a decade he set out his spiritual teachings in works such as “The Ascent of Mount Carmel,� “The Spiritual Canticle� and “The Living Flame of Love� as well as “The Dark Night of the Soul.� But intrigue within the order eventually cost him his leadership position, and his last years were marked by illness along with further mistreatment. St. John of the Cross died in the early hours of Dec. 14, 1591, nine years after St. Teresa of Avila's death in October 1582. Suspicion, mistreatment, and humiliation had characterized much of his time in religious life, but these trials are understood as having brought him closer to God by breaking his dependence on the things of this world. Accordingly, his writings stress the need to love God above all things – being held back by nothing, and likewise holding nothing back. Only near the end of his life had St. John's monastic superior recognized his wisdom and holiness. Though his reputation had suffered unjustly for years, this situation reversed soon after his death. He was beatified in 1675, canonized in 1726, and named a Doctor of the Church in the 20th century by Pope Pius XI. In a letter marking the 400th anniversary of St. John's death, Pope John Paul II – who had written a doctoral thesis on the saint's writings – recommended the study of the Spanish mystic, whom he called a “master in the faith and witness to the living God.�
December 13, 2017 - 3:21pm
St. Lucy is a virgin and martyr of Syracuse in Sicily, whose feast is celebrated on December 13th. According to tradition, Saint Lucy was born to rich and noble parents in the year 283. Her father was of Roman origin, but his early death left her dependent upon her mother, whose name, Eutychia, seems to indicate that she was of Greek heritage.Like so many of the early martyrs, Lucy had consecrated her virginity to God, and she hoped to devote all her worldly goods to the service of the poor.Her mother, Eutychia, arranged a marriage for her, but for three years she managed to postpone the marriage. Lucy prayed at the tomb of Saint Agatha to change her mother’s mind about her faith. As a result, her mother's long haemorrhagic illness was cured, and she consented to Lucy's desire to live for God. Saint Lucy’s rejected bridegroom, Paschasius, denounced Lucy as a Christian. The governor planned to force her into prostitution, but when guards went to fetch her, they could not move her even when they hitched her to a team of oxen. The governor ordered her to be killed instead.After a gruesome torture which included having her eyes torn out, she was surrounded by bundles of wood which were set afire, but the fire quickly died out. She prophesied against her persecutors, and was then executed by being stabbed to death with a dagger.Legend says her eyesight was restored before her death. This and the meaning of her name led to her patronage with eyes; the blind, eye trouble, and other eye ailments.
December 12, 2017 - 2:21pm
In 1531 a "Lady from Heaven" appeared to Saint Juan Diego, a poor Indian from Tepeyac, a hill northwest of Mexico City. She identified herself as the Mother of the True God and instructed him to have the bishop build a church on the site and left an image of herself imprinted miraculously on his tilma, a poor quality cactus-cloth. The tilma should have deteriorated within 20 years but shows no sign of decay after over 470 years. To this day it defies all scientific explanations of its origin.Apparently the tilma, in the eyes of Our Lady of Guadalupe, reflects what was in front of her in 1531!  Her message of love and compassion, and her universal promise of help and protection to all mankind, as well as the story of the apparitions, are described in the "Nican Mopohua," a 16th century document written in the native Nahuatl language.There is reason to believe that at Tepeyac Mary came in her glorified body, and her actual physical hands rearranged the roses in Juan Diego’s tilma, which makes this apparition very special.An incredible list of miracles, cures, and interventions are attributed to Our Lady of Guadalupe. Each year an estimated 10 million people visit her Basilica, making her Mexico City home the most popular Marian shrine in the world, and the most visited Catholic church in the world after Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.Altogether 24 popes have officially honored Our Lady of Guadalupe. His Holiness Blessed John Paul II visited her Sanctuary four times: on his first apostolic trip outside Rome as Pope in 1979, and again in 1990, 1999 and 2002.The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is celebrated on December 12th. In 1999, Blessed John Paul II, in his homily given during the Solemn Mass at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, his third visit to the sanctuary, declared the date of December the 12th as a Liturgical Holy Day for the whole continent. During the same visit Pope John Paul II entrusted the cause of life to her loving protection, and placed under her motherly care the innocent lives of children, especially those who are in danger of not being born.Patronage: Americas, Central America, diocese of Colorado Springs Colorado, diocese of Corpus Christi Texas, diocese of Dodge City, Kansas, Estremadura Spain, diocese of Gallup New Mexico, Mexico, diocese of Nashville Tennessee, New Mexico, New World, diocese of Orange California, diocese of Phoenix Arizona, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, diocese of Sacramento, California, diocese of Sioux City Iowa, Spain. Source: Sancta.org
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Daily Readings

December 16, 2017 - 1:00am
1 Then the prophet Elijah arose like a fire, and his word burned like a torch.
2 He brought a famine upon them, and by his zeal he made them few in number.
3 By the word of the Lord he shut up the heavens, and also three times brought down fire.
4 How glorious you were, O Elijah, in your wondrous deeds! And who has the right to boast which you have?
9 You who were taken up by a whirlwind of fire, in a chariot with horses of fire;
10 you who are ready at the appointed time, it is written, to calm the wrath of God before it breaks out in fury, to turn the heart of the father to the son, and to restore the tribes of Jacob.
11 Blessed are those who saw you, and those who have been adorned in love; for we also shall surely live.
December 16, 2017 - 1:00am
1 Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou who leadest Joseph like a flock! Thou who art enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth
2 before E'phraim and Benjamin and Manas'seh! Stir up thy might, and come to save us!
14 Turn again, O God of hosts! Look down from heaven, and see; have regard for this vine,
15 the stock which thy right hand planted.
17 But let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand, the son of man whom thou hast made strong for thyself!
18 Then we will never turn back from thee; give us life, and we will call on thy name!
December 16, 2017 - 1:00am
10 And the disciples asked him, "Then why do the scribes say that first Eli'jah must come?"
11 He replied, "Eli'jah does come, and he is to restore all things;
12 but I tell you that Eli'jah has already come, and they did not know him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of man will suffer at their hands."
13 Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.
December 15, 2017 - 1:00am
17 Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: "I am the LORD your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you in the way you should go.
18 O that you had hearkened to my commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea;
19 your offspring would have been like the sand, and your descendants like its grains; their name would never be cut off or destroyed from before me."
December 15, 2017 - 1:00am
1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff which the wind drives away.
6 for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
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Mass Times

Weekend Mass

Saturday 4:30 p.m.

Sunday 8:30 a.m. & 10:30 a.m.

Confession Times

Wednesday 6:00 p.m.

Saturday 3:30 p.m.

Or by appointment.

Eucharistic Adoration

Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament occurs every Wednesday evening from 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. with confession and benediction.

Daily Mass

Monday 7:00 a.m.

Tuesday 8:30 a.m.

Wednesday 8:30 a.m.

Thursday 6:15 a.m. & 8:30 a.m.

Friday 8:30 a.m.

First Friday Adoration

24-hour exposition of the Blessed Sacrament occurs every first Friday of the month from 9:00 a.m. Friday to 9:00 a.m. Saturday.

Catholic News

December 17, 2017 - 1:05pm

Vatican City, Dec 17, 2017 / 12:05 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- With Christmas just eight days away, Pope Francis said three simple attitudes can help prepare us to welcome Jesus Christ.

“Saint Paul invites us to prepare for the coming of the Lord by assuming three attitudes: constant joy, persevering prayer and continual thanksgiving,” the Pope said. “Joy, prayer and gratitude are three attitudes that prepare us to live Christmas in an authentic way.”

Pope Francis’ remarks to the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square came ahead of the Angelus for Gaudete Sunday, the Third Sunday of Advent, which this year coincided with Pope Francis’ 81st birthday.

He said the liturgy in recent Sundays has focused on how to be vigilant and how to prepare for the way of the Lord. For Gaudete Sunday, the liturgy invites Christians to joy.

The Pope cited St. Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians, “always be happy.”

“That is to say, always remain in joy, even when things do not go according to our desires,” Francis explained. “Anxieties, difficulties and sufferings permeate our lives, and so many times the reality around us seems to be inhospitable and arid, like the desert in which the voice of John the Baptist resounded, as the Gospel of today recalls.”

John the Baptist’s voice in the desert reveal that Christian joy rests on “the certainty that the desert is inhabited.”

This is Jesus, who in the words of the Prophet Isaiah comes “to bring the good news to the poor, to bind the wounds of broken hearts, to proclaim the freedom of slaves, the release of prisoners, to promulgate the year of grace of the Lord.”

Jesus’ mission in the world consists of “liberation from personal and social sin and the slavery that it produces.”

“He came to earth to give back to men the dignity and freedom of the children of God, which only He can give,” said Pope Francis.

Unceasing prayer helps us enter into relationship with God, the source of true joy.

“The joy of the Christian comes from faith and from the encounter with Jesus Christ, the reason for our happiness,” the Pope continued. “The more we are rooted in Christ, the more we find inner serenity, even in the midst of everyday contradictions.”

The Christian who has met Jesus cannot be “a prophet of misfortune” but must be “a witness and a herald of joy,” said Francis. This is “a joy to share with others; a contagious joy that makes life's journey less tiring.”

St. Paul also stressed “the grateful love of God,” his generosity, mercy, patience and goodness. Christians are to be “living in an endless state of thanksgiving.”

Pope Francis closed his remarks before the Angelus by entrusting the congregation to the intercession of the Virgin Mary.

“She is ‘the cause of our joy,’ not only because she is the Mother of Jesus, but because she continually leads us to Him,” he said.

After the Angelus, the Pope called for the release of six women religious kidnapped in Iguoriakhi in Nigeria’s southern Edo State.

On Nov. 13 gunmen abducted the sisters, three professed women and three aspirants, from their convent. There have been no claims of responsibility for the crime in a country where kidnapping for ransom has become common.

“I unite my heart to the appeal of the bishops of Nigeria for the liberation of the Sisters of the Eucharistic Heart of Christ,” he said.

“I pray with insistence for them and for all the other persons who find themselves in this painful condition,” he continued, adding “may they all, on the occasion of Christmas, finally return to their homes.”

December 17, 2017 - 8:04am

Münster, Germany, Dec 17, 2017 / 07:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- When Father Clemens August von Galen was consecrated Bishop of Münster in October 1933, he chose for his episcopal motto Nec laudibus, nec timore – 'neither by praises nor by fear,' which summed up his ministry throughout Germany's Nazi period.

The motto was taken from the liturgy for episcopal consecration, which prays that the new bishop will love humility and truth, and not be overcome by either praise or fear.

Bishop von Galen wrote in his first pastoral letter that “Neither the praises of men nor fear of men shall move us. Rather, our glory will be to promote the praise of God, and our steadfast effort will be to walk always in a holy fear of God.”

During his entire episcopacy the bishop spoke up against the Nazis' euthanasia program and racial theories, and defended human rights and the cause of justice. He was among the most outspoken of Germany's bishops during that era, and assisted the writing of Pius XI's 1937 anti-Nazi encyclical Mit brennender Sorge.

He was made a cardinal in February 1946, just one month before his March 22 death, and he was beatified in 2005 by Benedict XVI.

Blessed von Galen's motto “would be a great motto to have for a bishop,” Fr. Daniel Utrecht of the Toronto Oratory told CNA. Fr. Utrecht is the author of The Lion of Münster: The Bishop Who Roared Against the Nazis.

Fr. Utrecht was drawn to write about Blessed von Galen because he was a model bishop.

“I was telling some people about him during World Youth Day in 2005, and they said, 'We need bishops like this, why have we never heard of this guy? Someone should write a book about him',” he related.

The priest recalled reading in German a two volume work of Blessed von Galen's documents, letters, and sermons written as a bishop. “They became more and more fascinating, and there just wasn't much in English to read about him. I eventually came to the conclusion that it was up to me to write an English-language biography.”

Blessed von Galen was born into a German noble family in 1878, and was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Münster in 1904. As a priest he wrote on the origins and limits of state power, and the importance of voting as a responsibility for the common good rather than doing so for private interests.

In the later years of the Weimar Republic, Blessed von Galen supported the German Centre Party, which worked to present a Christian voice in defense of Catholic interests and human rights in the public square, and entered into coalition governments with other parties in an effort to balance power.

But the priest was unable to sway many of his acquaintances to support the Centre Party – other Catholics were arguing that the Nazi Party was most compatible with Catholic ideals.

Many bishops had barred Catholics from being members of the National Socialist movement. But when Hitler softened his antireligious stance and stated early in 1933 that Christianity would be prominent in Germany's rule, the bishops took him at his word and began allowing Catholics to join the movement.

But when Blessed von Galen was made a bishop later that year, he maintained his anti-Nazi beliefs. Within a year he clashed with government officials over the rights of Catholic schools and the Nazis' racial and anti-Jewish ideology.

He was most outspoken against the Nazi's involuntary euthanasia program, which under which the disabled, mentally ill, deformed, senile, those with Down syndrome, and the incurably sick were killed. The program began in 1939, and more than 70,000 people were euthanized under it.

Blessed von Galen led Catholic protest against euthanasia. He delivered three sermons in the summer of 1941 which condemned the program, as well as Nazi attacks on the Church, and raised public awareness of what has happening. After the sermons' delivery he was nicknamed “The Lion of Münster”, and they resulted in a Nazi propaganda minister, Walter Tiessler, recommending that he be executed.

The bishop remained outspoken against Nazi atrocities throughout World War II, and afterwards spoke up against injustices committed by the occupying Allied forces.

“I see plenty of parallels today,” Fr. Utrecht told CNA. “I hope that people reading the book get it for themselves.” Blessed von Galen's “example of courage and being able to speak out in defense of human life is of interest, very much of interest today, in the fight against abortion and euthanasia …  the defense of liberty, religious liberty, the defense of a place for religion in the public square is a very, very big lesson that he has for us.”

In addition to supporting Catholic witness to the value of human life in the face of abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, and the dictatorship of relativism, Fr. Utrecht said that the cardinal can speak to Catholics facing political dictatorships as well.

The priest shared how during a recent trip to Germany he met a priest from Africa who is “very keen on making von Galen known to the Africans, because he said 'In many places we have totalitarian governments and not enough of the bishops speak out', – so he thought there was a great parallel there.”

Since Cardinal von Galen was beatified 12 years ago, there is a need to develop devotion to him, Fr. Utrecht reflected. “Greater devotion to him is the next step, not just locally, but worldwide.”

“There are plenty of people who do know about him and who are pushing devotion to him, but it needs kind of a new push, so I hope we can get a push, and not only there, but among English- reading people elsewhere.”

This article was originally published on CNA March 22, 2017.

December 16, 2017 - 7:25pm

Vatican City, Dec 16, 2017 / 06:25 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Journalism must prize truth and reflection over sensationalism and clamor, Pope Francis told journalists on Saturday.

“It is important that the criteria of judgment and information are offered patiently and methodically so that ‎public opinion is able to understand and discern, and is not stunned and disoriented,” the Pope said Dec. 16, according to Vatican News.

The Pope encouraged journalism that embodies “serenity, precision and completeness.” It must use calm language that favors “fruitful reflection” and thoughtful, clear words that reject “clamorous and ambiguous speech.”

The Pope spoke to about 350 members of the Italian Periodical Press Union and the Italian Federation of Catholic Weeklies, who met him at the Vatican.

“Your free and responsible voice is fundamental for the growth of any society that wants to be called democratic, so that a continuous exchange of ideas and a profitable debate based on real and correctly reported facts are assured,” the pontiff told them.

He noted the dominance of speed and sensationalism in some reporting, which lacks precision and thoroughness. It is dominated by overheated emotions, not thoughtful reflection.

The pontiff stressed the need for reliable information, verified data and news that does not aim to amaze and excite. Rather, it creates in readers a healthy critical sense that allows them to ask appropriate questions and make justified conclusions.

“There is no need to fall into the ‘sins of communications’: misinformation, that is saying only a part which is calumny and which is sensational, or defamation that seeks out things past and old and bringing them to light today,” said Pope Francis. “They are very grave sins that damage the heart of the journalist and damage the people.”

December 16, 2017 - 5:26pm

Vatican City, Dec 16, 2017 / 04:26 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis met with the youth of Catholic Action on Saturday as the movement marks its 150th anniversary year.

The pontiff encouraged the young people to meet with the movement’s “grandparents.”

“This is something very beautiful and important,” he said, adding that “the elderly are the historic memory of every community, a heritage of wisdom and faith to be heard, preserved, and valued.”

“These are your peripheries!” he said.

The delegation of 12 boys and girls, accompanied by their teachers, came from 12 different Italian dioceses, Vatican News reports. The movement aims to expand Catholic influence in society.

The Pope encouraged the youth to fix their attention on “the decisive events of the life of Jesus” and “to seek to become ever more like Him, your greatest and most faithful friend.”

He encouraged them to be ready to shoot a photograph and to be “good photographers,” both of the deeds Jesus has done and of the reality of their world.

They should be attentive to those who have forgotten, “the poorest, the weakest, those relegated to the margins society because they are considered as a problem.”

They should seek out those “no one ever sees” and “dare to take the first step to meet them, to give them a little bit of your time, a smile, an act of tenderness.”

For Pope Francis, the meeting with the delegation was joyful because it allowed them to update him on their activities of “solidarity in favor of the poor and of the most disadvantaged.”

December 16, 2017 - 4:01pm

Denver, Colo., Dec 16, 2017 / 03:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In recent years, some Catholics have been concerned by pushes from governments in locations such as Louisiana and Australia who challenge the secrecy of the sacrament of confession, asking that priests betray the solemnity of penitents’ confessions when they hear of serious crimes in the confessional.

However, Catholics should not be afraid, because keeping the secrecy of the sacrament of confession is one of the most important promises priests make.

The code of canon law states that “the sacramental seal is inviolable; therefore it is absolutely forbidden for a confessor to betray in any way a penitent in words or in any manner and for any reason.” Priests who violate this seal of confession are automatically excommunicated.

Priests take this solemnity of the seal of confession very seriously; these four priests who died protecting it are witnesses to the extreme lengths to which priests are willing to go to protect the seal of confession.

St. John Nepomucene

Born in Bohemia, or what is now the Czech Republic, between 1340 and 1350,  St. John Nepomucene was an example of the protection of sacramental secrecy, being the first martyr who preferred to die rather than reveal the secret of confession.

When he was Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Prague, the now- saint servedas confessor of Sofia of Bavaria, the wife of King Wenceslaus. The king, who had infamous outbursts of anger and jealousy, ordered the priest to reveal the sins of his wife. The saint's refusal infuriated Wenceslaus, who threatened to kill the priest if he did not tell him his wife’s secrets.

King Wenceslaus and John Nepomucene came into conflict again when the monarch wanted to seize a convent in order to take its wealth and give it to a relative. The saint prohibited its seizure because those goods belonged to the Church.

Filled with rage, the king ordered the torture of the saint, whose body was then thrown to the Vltava River in 1393.

St. Mateo Correa Magallanes

Saint Mateo Correa Magallanes was another martyr of the seal of confession. He was shot in Mexico during the Cristero War for refusing to reveal the confessions of prisoners rebelling against the Mexican government.

He was born in Tepechitlán in the state of Zacateca on July 22, 1866 and was ordained a priest in 1893. Fr. Matteo served as chaplain in various towns and parishes and was a member of the Knights of Columbus.

In 1927, the priest was arrested by Mexican army forces under General Eulogio Ortiz. A few days later, the general sent Father Correa to hear the confessions group of people who were to be shot. After Fr. Mateo finished administering the sacrament, the general then demanded that the priest reveal what he had heard.

Fr. Mateo responded with a resounding “no” and was executed. Currently, his remains are venerated in the Cathedral of Durango.

He was beatified Nov. 22, 1992 and canonized by St. John Paul II May 21, 2000.

Fr. Felipe Císcar Puig

Fr. Felipe Císcar Puig was a Valencian priest who is also also considered a martyr of the sacramental seal because he was martyred after keeping confessions secret during the religious persecution of the Spanish Civil War.

During the war, revolutionary and republican forces engaged in violent battles for power, and many Catholics were targeted. This was especially true of the coastal province of Valencia, on the Mediterranean sea.

The Archdiocese of Valencia indicated that, according to the documents collected, Father Císcar was taken to a prison near the end of August 1936. There, a Franciscan friar named Andrés Ivars asked that Fr. Císcar hear his confession before the friar was executed be firing squad.

"After the confession, they tried to extract its contents and before his refusal to reveal it, the militiamen threatened to kill him,” says an archdiocesan statement by a witness to the event.  The priest then replied, “Do what you want but I will not reveal the confession, I would die before that.”

"Seeing him so sure, they took him to a sham court where he was ordered to reveal the secrets.” Fr. Císar remained committed to his position, stating that he preferred to die, and the militiamen condemned him to death. Fathers Felipe Císcar and Andrés Ivars were taken by car to another location where they were shot on September 8, 1936. They were 71 and 51 years old, respectively.

Both Felipe Císcar and Andrés Ivars are part of the canonization cause of Ricardo Pelufo Esteve and 43 companions.

Fr. Fernando Olmedo Reguera

Fr. Fernando Olmedo Reguera was also a victim of the Spanish Civil War who opted to die rather than break the secrecy of confession.  

Born in Santiago de Compostela Jan. 10, 1873 and ordained a priest in the Capuchin Order of Friars Minor on July 31, 1904, Fr. Olmedo was killed Aug. 12, 1936. He served the order as its provincial secretary until 1936, when he had to leave his convent due to the severe religious persecution in the area.

Fr. Olmedo was then arrested, and beaten in prison. He then was pressured into revealing the confessions of others, but Fr. Olmedo did not give in. According to reports, he was shot at a 19th century fortress outside of Madrid by a populist tribunal. His remains are entombed in the crypt of the Church of Jesus of Medinaceli in Madrid, and he was beatified in Tarragona Oct. 13, 2013.

 

 

This article was first published Aug. 22, 2017.

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