Lay Spiritans are an energetic and committed group of people who serve and relate to the Congregation in a many different ways to share their time and talents to make the world a better place.
Read profiles and thoughts from associate spiritans.
John Buettler, Holy Ghost Preparatory School faculty Guidance Counselor and former English Professor, Bensalem, PA. He has been a faculty member at Holy Ghost for 33 years. He and his sons are alumni of the school and his wife is the librarian. He is a member of a Lay Spiritan group that includes other faculty members.
"Lay people bring an energy to the Spiritan community that comes from being present in and aware of the world. The spirit goes where it will, which is compatible with the life of a lay person who has kids, family, a job. It is a spirituality that interprets life as it is lived. The Spiritans have had a vital formative role in my life. They have been more of a father to me than any other man in my life. They performed my marriage, baptized my children, celebrated my 25th wedding anniversary, and married my first child. They are very dear to me."
Virginia Sedor, Administrative Assistant to the U.S. Provincial, Bethel Park, PA. Virginia Sedor grew up in the Spiritan parish that her grandparents belonged to, attended school there, and was eventually married by a Spiritan priest in the same parish. She provides secretarial support and meeting organization and assists visiting Spiritans from around the world.
"My long relationship with the Spiritans certainly helped bring me closer to the Holy Spirit and our Blessed Mother," she notes. "I have long admired the Holy Ghost Fathers for their commitment to work with God's poor and for their genuine kindness to all."
One of her favorite projects was assisting Father Koren in the archive office with the production of a series of books that included a short biography of every Spiritan who ever worked in Africa and Brazil. Recently she provided support at the Spiritan Enlarged General Council which was held at Duquesne University. "I felt a sense of satisfaction knowing that along with my missions at home, in my own small way I am helping the Spiritans in their mission worldwide."
Peter and Judy Stubbs, Little Rock, Arkansas
Peter and Judy Stubbs' work with the Spiritans has taken them many places -- Canada, Louisiana, Texas, and Arkansas. In North Little Rock, Arkansas, Peter was Deacon at St. Patrick's and Judy worked with the Director of Religious Education.
The Stubbs saw more and more lay people becoming involved with the Spiritans. "The Spiritans don't mold you into what they want you to be," says Judy. "They encourage everyone to use the gifts they have and to go to the areas they have been called to. The Spiritans include everyone because everyone has something to offer."
Parish of St. Mark's, Harlem, New York
St. Mark's in Harlem reflects the Spiritan belief in openness to other cultures in many ways. It was the site of the first jazz mass ever offered. The church's iconography and statuary includes pictures of an African-American Jesus and Mary as well as a statue of St. Martin de Porres, the son of a Spanish gentleman and black freed-woman from Panama.
"Being in a parish is also being open to the rest of the world," says Father Leonard Tuozzolo, a former pastor at St. Mark's. He feels that there is a unique sense of spirit in the African-American parish. "Worship within the African-American tradition has a particularly holistic approach. The whole body is part of the worship and there is an emotional 'giving over' in an African-American mass that you don't often find elsewhere," he notes.
Eleanor Osbourne, Holy Ghost Preparatory School faculty Spanish and French teacher, Bensalem, PA
Though Eleanor Osbourne has been a foreign language teacher at Holy Ghost Preparatory School for 17 years, she sees her first job as being an example for her students.
"I try very hard to send them the countercultural message of keeping Christ at the center of their lives," she says. "When they leave school, I hope they will have some inner resources to draw from. Another way I try to go beyond the classroom and reach out to a larger community is as a member of the Lay Spiritans Association. It's an opportunity to make life more comfortable for those in need. I think all of us take on challenges we never imagined we would face in our lifetimes. Despite his challenges, Father Libermann continued in his Spiritan vocation to bring the Gospel to the world. I receive strength from the fact that no matter what the challenge is, I can get through it with prayer."
Gene Betit, Our Lady Queen of Peace, Arlington, VA, Director of the Office of Social Justice
Gene Betit wants to open your eyes to the people around you. So many of us live our lives ignoring or failing to notice all those around us who are in need economically, emotionally, or spiritually. As a Deacon at Our Lady Queen of Peace and Director of the Office of Social Justice, Gene, a retired Army officer, is at the helm of a number of programs that help people in need and open the door for others to reach out and help. The parish has a food pantry, emergency assistance program that helps with rent, medical costs, and transportation, and a clothing recycling program. He also takes part in works of advocacy to raise awareness and spur people in the community and government to take action.
When he accompanied a group of parish young people on a mission trip to Appalachia, he was pleased to hear them ask, "What about home? There must be poor at home who need our help too." "They made that connection," he says. "Homeless people are often out of sight and out of mind. Or people rationalize that they're addicts who can't be helped. But the kids saw that wasn't true. Everybody has problems. I went through 4 years of unemployment myself."
John Fitzpatrick, Holy Ghost Preparatory School faculty Bensalem, PA
John Fitzpatrick coordinates two service trips each year for students at Holy Ghost Preparatory School that give these young people a chance to live the Spiritan call to help those who are most in need.
"The trips are designed to get our students out of the protected world of suburban America and into contact with the marginalized," John says. "We try to arrange forms of service that push the students to go beyond themselves. What is essential is that the students interact with those in need. We do not let them stuff envelopes in an office.
"We tell them, 'Do not judge the people you serve by your own cultural standards, but rather become one with them, adopting their culture in all things that are not contrary to the Gospel.' For our students, Father Libermann's advice translates into openness to the other in service without judgmental attitudes. The students instead try to blend with the community and understand their genuine needs," John notes.
A spirituality of relationships at Parish of St. Mary Magdalene, Chicago, IL
The parish of St. Mary Magdalene includes African-Americans, Haitians, Hispanics, Polish, and others.
"They told me it was the diversity that drew them. I feel that is the strength of a Spiritan parish," says Father Edward Vilkauskas, former pastor.
Parish diversity can be seen not only in the faces at mass, but also in the traditions that people bring to the parish from their native lands. There is los Posadas, a reenactment of Mary and Joseph's search for an inn, a large celebration on the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and a powerful Haitian prayer group. The parish celebrates their patron saint's day with a festival that includes foods from all the different cultures represented in the parish.
"We have many chances to share in the community," Father Vilkausas adds. "The global or missionary impulse of the Spiritans brings home the world-wide view of the church and pushes us beyond ourselves towards the idea of making room for others."