The Year of Faith saints: Guide us through the year

January 15, 2013

In years past I have broken half of my New Year’s resolutions by the first week. Last week I broke one the first day, so much for no more soft drinks. It always happens that way. Most of them focus on personal or financial health for us or our family. But do we make any resolutions for our spiritual life? In this Year of Faith, I have a New Year’s Resolution challenge that can easily be followed. In the Year of Faith, Pope Benedict XVI has asked us to focus on the lives of the saints so that we may use them as examples in our own faith journey. As a result, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, (USCCB) have picked 10 saints that we should learn more about and how their lives have helped to renew and evangelize the American Church. 

Let’s look at these great examples of living the faith as written on the USCCB website. Take time to encourage your family to pick a saint for each month and research their story in more detail. Some ideas of how you and your family can follow their examples of evangelization have been added. 

1. St. Isaac Jogues, SJ, a missionary and one of the North American martyrs, traveled from France and was captured by the Iroquois, who tortured and killed most of them. (Many of our Native American communities churches struggle with funds for religious education. You, your family and community could adopt one of these mission churches and provide them with school supplies for their religious education programs.)

2. St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, MSC, the first U.S. citizen to be canonized and founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. She started six institutions for the poor, the abandoned, the uneducated and the sick. (Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston has a great refugee resettlement program which offers assistance to immigrant families. Gather items to donate to the program or volunteer at their warehouse.)

3. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, SC, the first native-born U.S. citizen to be canonized, was left poor and widowed with five children. She was co-founder of the first free Catholic school in America and is considered the founder of the Catholic school system in the United States. (Volunteer at one of the Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese or support Steps for Students, which will be Feb. 2, 2013.)
4. St. John Neumann, CSsR, a Redemptorist priest and later bishop. A native of Bohemia, he followed his vocation to New York City and, at the time of his ordination, was one of only 36 priests serving 200,000 Catholics. He founded the first diocesan Catholic school system in the United States. (The Neumann Centers support Campus Ministry at many colleges and Universities throughout the United States. Volunteer to help out at one of our local Neumann Centers. Contact the Office of Young Adult and Campus Ministry for information.)

5. St. Katharine Drexel, SBS, a wealthy, educated young woman from Philadelphia with a deep sympathy for the poor, gave up everything to become a missionary to the Indians and African Americans. She founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and started numerous schools and missions for Native and African Americans. (Follow St. Katharine’s example and see if you can give up something you love for the whole month. Donate money or volunteer time to your St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry or Houston Food Bank.) 

6. St. Mother Théodore Guérin, SP, founder of the Sisters of Providence of St. Mary-of-the-Woods, was asked to leave France and lead a small band of missionary sisters to Indiana. When the sisters arrived, there was only a log cabin with a porch that served as a chapel. (St. Mother Guerin was not afraid to bring the word of Christ to others. Become involve in a Bible study at your parish or start a family Bible study time. You can find an at-home study on the Archdiocesan Word of God web page.)

7. St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, RSCJ, a missionary to Native Americans, traveled to the Louisiana Territory from France in 1818, where she and other members of the Society of the Sacred Heart carried out their missionary work. She opened the first free school for girls west of the Mississippi River, as well as the first Catholic school for Native Americans. She was known among the Pottowami Indians as the “Woman Who Prays Always.” (St. Rose Duchesne had a strong devotion for Mary, for this month; take the time as a family to pray the Rosary.)

8. St. Damien de Veuster of Molokai, SSCC, missionary to the lepers of Molokai, Hawaii, was born in Belgium. His older brother, also a priest in the congregation, had offered to minister to the lepers on the island of Molokai but fell ill and couldn’t go. Damien volunteered to take his place and offered to stay in the leper colony permanently, building schools, churches, hospitals and coffins. He contracted leprosy himself but continued to serve the mission until his death in 1889. (This month volunteer with your parish social ministry and maybe visit homebound parishioners and share the Gospel with them.)

9. St. Marianne Cope, OSF, another missionary to the lepers of Molokai, joined the Sisters of the Third Order of Saint Francis in her teens and served in leadership roles including novice mistress of her congregation and superior of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse. She became a leader in the field of health care, often caring for those considered outcasts. (A great idea to celebrate the life of St. Marianne would be to visit a local nursing or retirement community.)

10. St. Kateri Tekakwitha, also known as the Lily of the Mohawks, converted at the age of 19, heedless of the anger of her relatives. Because she refused to work on Sundays, she was denied meals that day in the Mohawk village. Finally, a missionary encouraged her to run away to Montreal, where she practiced her faith freely and lived a life of extreme prayer and penance, taking a vow of virginity. (St. Kateri devoted her life to penance and prayer. As a family make an effort to take time to participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation at your parish.)
For more information about the saints, go to 

Randy Adams is an associate director with the Archdiocesan Office of Adolescent Catechesis and Evangelization.