In light of the COVID-19 panedemic, CMSM moved a planned national justice and peace gathering online, with presenters and attendees gathering via video conference. Following this virtual gathering, the group issued a statement, Envisioning Gospel-Based Solidarity and Flourishing with Migrants. The statement reads in part:
“From March 16–18, 2020, a national gathering of Catholic religious justice and peace leaders, organized by
the U.S. Conference of Major Superiors of Men, met to develop collaborative responses and strategies to the
emergency on the US – Mexico border, as well as the crisis of immigrants and their families throughout the
United States. The meeting, originally scheduled to be held in Las Cruces, NM, was held online. We
gathered with our hearts reaching out in prayers to God for our brothers and sisters affected by COVID-19
and in solidarity with medical workers who are at the front line giving medical assistance to those who are
“We affirmed the common humanity we share with migrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers, and expressed a
desire to strengthen our solidarity with them, in order to build a stronger nonviolent movement within the
Catholic Church to challenge inhumane and unjust immigration and border policies. And we looked at how
racism, economic injustice, climate change, militarization and migration are all interconnected, just as we as
a human family are connected to our migrant sisters and brothers. An intersectional lens helps us to see how
these issues not only exacerbate each other, especially forced migration, but how getting to the root causes of
forced migration requires us to address each of these issues together.
“We acknowledged the intimate connection between racism toward immigrants and forced migration. This is
an old story, rooted in centuries of oppression against native peoples, but its impacts are as cruel as ever,
based on policies that criminalize immigrants and militarize borders. During the current administration we
have seen the devastating impact of cruel and inhumane policies that deny immigrants the right to asylum,
detain and separate families, traumatize children, as well as effectively seal the border denying entry to most
immigrants. The courts have often pushed back on federal policies leading to a huge increase in state level
anti-immigrant legislation focused on enforcement.”
Read the full statement here.
In light of the extraordinary impact the pandemic has had on ministry, worship, and communication, CMSM has developed a resource page for religious institutes to assist them in ministry during the coronavirus, or COVID-19, pandemic.
Drawn from a number of organizations, topics include Holy Week and Easter during the pandemic, postponing chapters and elections, communications and livestreaming, immigration, ministry with young people, managing anxiety, and keeping healthy.
If you have additional Catholic ministry resources you would recommend to assist religious institutes, please share them with us.
Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, prefect for the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, has written to all men and women religious in the context of Lent and the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Read the letter: English | español
In this special Lenten message, he encourages religious men and women to participate in requirements of Church and government officials to safeguard health and, most especially, to pray for the workers trying to protect us, noting the special contributions of contemplative communities and of elderly religious whose daily prayer accompanies the ministry and apostolic work of active members.
Cardinal de Aviz also calls upon religious to “give a sign of hope and trust,” writing, “Dear Sisters and Brothers, through modern means of communication we have the opportunity to participate in celebrations and formative moments; we have the opportunity to feel less alone and isolated and to make our voice reach the most distant communities! Let us give a sign of hope and trust to all and while living these days with anxiety and apprehension, be convinced that by doing our part well, we can help the community emerge from the present hour of darkness.”
See news coverage by Crux here.
Abbot Lorenzo Elias, OSB, president of American Cassinese Congregation of Benedictine monasteries, was named Auxiliary Bishop of Newark by Pope Francis on Feb. 27, 2020, along with two Newark priests, Reverend Michael A. Saporito, and Reverend Monsignor Gregory J. Studerus. Once ordained a bishop, he will be the only U.S. bishop in active ministry who is a Benedictine.
Abbot Elias has been an active member of CMSM and was a presenter at our 2019 National Assembly on the present and future of religious life (“Back to the Future”). CMSM congratulates Bishop-elect Elias, and offers prayers and support as he takes on this new challenge and responsibility to serve the people of Newark.
About Bishop-elect Elias
Bishop-elect Elias Lorenzo, OSB, entered Saint Mary’s Abbey, Morristown, NJ, in 1983. He made his first monastic profession in 1985 and was ordained in 1989. He holds master’s degrees in liturgical theology and counseling psychology, and a licentiate in canon law. He has 30+ years of experience in secondary school education and administration. For the Abbey, he served director of liturgy, prior, and rector of church.
He was Vicar for Religious in the Diocese of Metuchen, and canonical counsel for Praesidium, Inc., during development of the National Standards, and serves on Praesidium’s advisory board.
For the global Benedictine Confederation, he served as prior of the college at Sant’Anselmo in Rome, and as Procurator General for the Order. He is a founding member and president of the International Commission for Benedictine Education. In 2016, he was elected Abbot President of American Cassinese Congregation, which includes 25 monasteries in 6 countries, sponsoring 9 colleges and universities and 14 secondary schools in North and South America.
The Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM) congratulates Reverend John Connor, LC, on his election as superior general of the Legionaries of Christ.
“Father Connor has been actively engaged with the Conference of Major Superiors of Men for many years, including two terms as the Board representative for the southern United States. CMSM has benefited from his love for Christ, his leadership skills, and his commitment to strengthening religious life in the United States. As he takes on this challenging international assignment, we offer him our prayers and support,” said Reverend Adam Gregory Gonzales, O.C.D., president of CMSM.
Fr. Mark Padrez, OP, executive director of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men:
“As tensions between the United States and Iran grow, this is a time of intense prayer for our world leaders, and of deep reflection, especially in this Christmas season, on the Prince of Peace. We are committed to continue to pray, advocate, and teach the way of peace. As men religious dedicated to living out the Gospel, we do not believe that violence is a deterrent to violence. Rather, we call for our leaders to model nonviolent engagement. As Pope Francis has reminded us in the past: ‘Peacemaking calls for courage, much more so than warfare.’”
Fr. Mark Padrez, OP
Dominican Father Mark Padrez, executive director of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, has been appointed the Socius for Fraternal Life and Formation for the Order of Preachers worldwide. His new position will be based at the General Curia offices in Rome, and will start in early 2020.
Father Adam Gregory Gonzales, O.C.D., president of CMSM, noted in a message to our members, “It is with heavy hearts that the Board of Directors received this news, yet we understand why the Order would call someone with Mark’s gifts to serve the Dominicans worldwide. He has been both a strong president and executive director for CMSM and we are confident he will serve his Dominican brothers well in this new capacity … Please join me in congratulating Mark and in prayer as we begin the search for a new executive director.”
The CMSM Board of Directors will oversee the process for a new Executive Director and will work closely with the CMSM staff through the transition.
Over 400 Catholics, including a number of men religious – Franciscan, Columban, Jesuit, de la Salle Christian Brother, and others – participated in a Sept. 4 Day of Action in Newark, New Jersey, to protest federal government policies and practices that traumatize immigrant children, particularly the policy of child and family detention.
Cardinal Joseph Tobin, CSsR, Archbishop of Newark, offered a prayer for the group. Learn more on the campaign page here, and see photos posted by the Franciscan Action Network here.
Please feel free to reach out to the CMSM Justice and Peace office for more information.
Rev. Adam Gonzales, O.C.D.
Reverend Adam Gregory Gonzales, O.C.D., was elected president of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men at the CMSM National Assembly, held Aug. 6-8, in San Antonio, Texas. Brother Patrick McNamara, FMS, was elected vice-president, and Rev. Jeffrey Kirch, CPPS, and Rev. Eric Andrews, CSP, were elected at-large board members.
A Discalced Carmelite friar, Fr. Gonzales is provincial superior of the California-Arizona Province of St. Joseph. He previously served on the provincial council, as director of the Carmelite Directors of Formation Program, which serves formation directors for all Carmelite friars and nuns in the United States, and as superior of El Carmelo Retreat House in Redlands, California. He has been an at-large board member of CMSM since 2016.
Br. McNamara is provincial for the Marist Brothers in the United States. In addition to four terms as provincial (in the 1990s and currently), he has held a number of positions, including campus minister, vocation director, and principal. Br. Pat has been a member of the CMSM board as the Region 2 representative since 2016.
Fr. Kirch is provincial director of the Cincinnati Province of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood and Fr. Andrews is president of the Paulist Fathers. Both are new to the Board of Directors.
Hundreds of Catholic leaders, including representatives of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, gathered at the US Capitol in mid-July to demand an end to detention of immigrant children. Later, in an act of nonviolent civil disobedience, scores were arrested in the Russell Senate Office Building Rotunda while praying, singing, and chanting. CMSM member Fr. Mike Barth, ST, offered a blessing.
The campaign page is here. Please feel free to reach out to the CMSM Justice and Peace office for more information.