by Joe Bollig
MOUND CITY — “Why us?” was the surprised reaction of Sister Susan Pieper, AVI, when she learned the Apostles of the Interior Life would receive the St. Rose Philippine Duchesne Award.
But on further reflection, the selection made a lot of sense.
Since 2006, the award has been given annually to individuals and groups who promote Catholic education, vocations to the priesthood and religious life, or devotion to St. Rose Philippine Duchesne.
The award is given on or near the solemnity of Christ the King at Sacred Heart Parish in Mound City, which is also a shrine to St. Rose. St. Rose, a French missionary to the Potawatomi tribe, ministered only a year, but earned the name “Woman Who Prays Always” from the tribe.
“There were two reasons the Sisters got the award,” said Father Regie Saldanha, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, St. Philip Neri Parish in Osawatomie, and Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in LaCygne.
“One is that last year on Dec. 8, we began the Year of Consecrated Life and we had the Sisters of the Community of the Lamb,” said Father Saldanha. “And we want to close this Year of Consecrated Life by honoring another religious community.”
“The second reason,” he continued, “is that the Apostles of the Interior Life are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the founding of their congregation. We decided this was a fitting occasion to honor them.”
The community of the Apostles of the Interior Life was formed by Father Salvatore Scorza, an Italian priest who ministered for a time in California. Gradually, a small group of friends formed around his vision of a new religious community, and the group officially became a community on April 12, 1990.
The order is a private association of the faithful, approved by the Diocese of Rome and the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas. The Apostles have male and female branches in two provinces — one in Italy and the other in the United States. The female branch has 16 members, with nine Sisters in the North American Province. The male branch has five men ordained priests.
The Apostles have also established two affiliated lay groups: the Collaborators of Your Joy and a group called “the Family.”
The Apostles and the Holy Family School of Faith are providing spiritual formation for the permanent deacons of the archdiocese. They also run the archdiocesan Catholic Spiritual Mentorship program.
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann presented the award to the Sisters during a Mass on Nov. 22 at Sacred Heart Church. Representing the Sisters were Sister Susan, the provincial; Sister Michela Brugnoli; and Sister Loredana Mazzei. Also present were members of the male branch of the Apostles, represented by Father Vince Huber and by Zachary Harris, who is currently in formation.
In preparation for the Year of Mercy, Archbishop Naumann also sealed a door that will be opened at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 12, the Third Sunday of Advent. The church and shrine is one of six archdiocesan churches that have been designated a pilgrimage site for the jubilee year. Passing through the door and praying for the Holy Father’s intentions at the Mass fulfills three of the four conditions for a plenary indulgence for the jubilee year.
A reception and dinner in honor of the Sisters was held in the parish hall following the Mass.