Who Am I?

Identity Mask Disguise Mindset PixabayA classic parlour game, with a Leonie’s Longing twist! Answers below.

a) My parents refused me permission to enter the convent because they could not give me a dowry. Several religious communities rejected my application to enter because I was poor and had little formal education.

b) I made three attempts to enter the religious life in active communities of sisters, none successful. Finally, I accepted my spiritual director’s advice to enter the Capuchin Poor Clares, a community to which I felt no attraction at all.

c) I entered the Sisters of Mercy in my early twenties, but my health collapsed and I returned home after eighteen months of religious life. I was unwell for nearly two years afterward. During this time of illness I began to feel called found my own religious community, but my spiritual director told me that this idea was a deception to be rejected.

d) As a young woman with poor health, I applied to the Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul and was turned away. My sister was accepted by the Visitandines. I decided that, if I could not be a religious sister, I would raise a large family and dedicate my children to the Lord.

e) When I applied to the Passionists, the superior sent back a letter saying, “We will not have the convent contaminated by her.”

f) All of my sisters became nuns. My own first attempt at living the religious life lasted eight weeks; I made two more unsuccessful tries before persevering.

g) After years of struggling to keep up academically in my studies for the priesthood, I was dismissed from the seminary. I was re-admitted, and failed my examinations again. It took me eleven years to complete my studies and become a diocesan priest.

h) At the age of twenty-two, I applied to the Augustinian Canons of the Great Saint Bernard Hospice in the Swiss Alps, famous for rescuing pilgrims lost in the snow or endangered by the treacherous conditions. However, in order to be accepted I was ordered to learn Latin, a language which I found impossible; finally, I admitted defeat and accepted, to my great disappointment, that I did not truly have a religious vocation.

i) My spiritual director told me to put the idea of a religious vocation out of my head; I was poorly educated, and considered slow-witted. A few days later, however, he came back and asked me whether I really did believe that Jesus was calling me to religious life. When I said that I did, he asked me whether I could at least peel potatoes. Yes, I said, I can peel potatoes. So he told me to go to the convent to peel the potatoes, and I did!

j) I was enclosed in a church as an anchoress, and was resolved to stay there forever. There was fierce opposition when God called me out of my anchorhold to reform the Poor Clares; it was considered a betrayal of my vocation.

k) I applied to enter the Franciscans and was initially accepted, but later turned away after I confessed the details of my past life to one of the friars. I was devastated, and broke down in tears during my next Confession.

l) I was accepted as a novice by the Third Order Dominicans, and I made my first vows in the community; however, I found out that my true vocation lay in the cloistered life, and I left the Dominicans to become a Carmelite.

m) I was rejected by seven monasteries before I realised I was not called to religious life.

n) As a young seminarian, I felt a deep attraction to the life of a Carmelite friar, but my bishop told me to finish what I started, and would not permit me to transfer to the monastery. I finished my studies and became a diocesan priest instead.

 

And the answers…

a) Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, mystic and Secretary of the Divine Mercy, canonized April 30th, 2000.

b) Servant of God Sister Consolata Betrone, mystic and victim soul.

c) Venerable Mary Potter, foundress of the Little Company of Mary.

d) Saint Zélie Martin, mother of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux.

e) Saint Gemma Galgani, mystic and victim soul, canonized May 2nd, 1940.

f) Servant of God Sister Françoise Thérèse (Léonie) Martin, sister of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux.

g) Saint John Marie Vianney, Patron Saint of priests, canonised 1925.

h) Saint Louis Martin, father of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux.

i) Saint Maria Bertrilla Boscardin, Dorothean Sister and nurse during the First World War, canonised June 8th, 1952.

j) Saint Colette of Corbie, foundress of the reformed branch of Poor Clares which bears her name, Colettine.

k) Father Thomas Merton, Trappist monk, priest and spiritual writer.

l) Blessed Elia of Saint Clement, spiritual writer.

m) Saint Benedict Joseph Labré, the pilgrim Saint, French mendicant and Franciscan tertiary, canonised December 8th, 1881.

n) Pope Saint John Paul II, canonised April 27th (Divine Mercy Sunday), 2014. Yes, really!

Can you add any others?

Video Blog Post: Finding Community Away From Community

Here it is, folks!

 

Bonus: blooper reel and out-takes at the end!

 

A Guest Post for the Feast of Saint Dominic

Feast of St Dominic Benlliure WMCBy Father Dominic McManus OP.

There is an ancient tradition that Saint Francis and Saint Dominic, the fathers of the mendicant reform of religious life in the 13th century, met while at Cardinal Ugolino’s while awaiting approval for their respective Rules. There’s a lot of the history to be legitimately doubted: that we swapped belts, for instance, or changed Constitutions. Whatever did or didn’t happen in the Cardinal’s garden that day, however, a longstanding tradition was born. On the Feast of St. Dominic a Franciscan is invited to preach at the Dominican priory; likewise, on the Feast of Saint Francis, a Dominican is invited to the Franciscans. I am not a Franciscan, but in honor of the tradition I want to begin with cinematic anecdote of Holy Father Francis.

Brother Sun, Sister Moon has its critics, and rightly so. It’s a pretty pastel version of a very peculiar saint whose life more closely resembled an action adventure than a holy card. But even a campy movie can get some things right. Oddly enough, one of the things that Brother Sun, Sister Moon manages very well is vocation: why people come, why some leave, and why others stay.

My favorite scene opens up on the friars begging in the streets. Some people offer them food, others throw garbage their way, but most simply jeer and shout. Francis predictably breaks out in a spontFeast of St Dominic Brother Sunaneous sermon which he closes with a song; a kind of litany to the joys of Lady Poverty and Sister Want. One of the brothers, however, hangs back. We find him peering in the window of a house at one of Assisi’s local lovelies, her blouse having come open as she kneads a loaf of bread. It’s unclear whether the brother is taken with this portrait of domesticity, or just the expanse of cleavage open to his view, but in any case he’s caught by one of the other brothers and brought to Francis, who gives a rather profound if not very technical exhortation on vocation. “We’re not all meant to be monks,” he tells the wayward friar. “If celibacy tempts you more than marriage, then leave, marry, and be happy for it!” Francis ruffles the brother’s hair and the one departing realizes a moment of prophesy: Francis had never tonsured him alongside the others. The scene closes with the friars taking up their joyful song again, this time to joys of Sister Chastity.

As silly as it sounds, there’s deep insight in this scene. Besides the obvious fact that not everyone is called to religious life, Francis’ exhortation is dead-on. If the observances of the life make it harder for you to be a good Christian, then you really ought to leave, and be happy for having figured it out. This is true whether the observances in question are fundamental to religious life as a whole, like poverty, chastity, or obedience, or if they’re more particular to the community in question, like whether they let you wax or bleach your mustache, or whether you occasionally can have a beer or an ice cream.

What I think is even more profound in the movie’s portrayal of vocation here, is more implicit than explicit. If one is bound to leave because the structures of the life militate against your own growth in virtue and holiness, then why would one ever enter to begin with? Here the film is precisely right: because it’s meant to make the Christian life easier. Religious life lived aright is nothing other than the Christian call to holiness, organized and institutionalized to serve the needs of particular people in a particular place and at a particular time.

Feast of St Dominic Benlliure 2 WMCI didn’t really understand this until long after I’d entered religious life. I started in a class of nine, of which I am now the sole survivor. Each time another brother would leave, we who remained would be faced with a two-headed monster. Why is he being called to leave? And more importantly (at least for me), why am I being called to stay? But as life has gone on and my classmates have discovered other vocations: to diocesan priesthood, to marriage and family life, to other religious communities, and to service as single men in the Church, they’ve all reported that the transition out of the life was not so different than the transition into it.

We were all drawn to Dominican life, under some description, because of what the Order these days calls the Four Pillars: prayer, common life, study, and ministry. But of course, long before we entered we were all men of prayer; if not the Divine Office, at least regular daily prayer, the rosary, Adoration, and obviously Mass. We all were part of various intentional communities, whether among our own families, or close-knit groups of friends, various confraternities, or the KCs, or even the Boy Scouts. We were all men of study, especially concerning the Faith, otherwise we wouldn’t have been drawn to the Dominicans to start. And we were all men of action, who at the very least volunteered, if not actually worked, in some ministry or apostolate. And as my brothers have moved on with their lives they have remained men of prayer, of study, of common life, and of ministry. And we in the Order would expect nothing less.

Saint Dominic, whose feast we celebrate, would have a special care for the women of Leonie’s Longing. First of all, he was a failed vocation, at least in the sense that he started as a priest in one place under one bishop and felt dissatisfied. The life of a canon regular ceased be an aid to his salvation and became a liability. And since there was yet no way of life in the Church designed for the work which did give him life, he had to invent it. And together, wittingly or not, Saint Dominic and Saint Francis changed the way the Church thinks about religious life altogether.

One feature of this new way of life that Saint Dominic proposed that I imagine can be of good use here Feast of St Dominic Patres Dominicani WMCat Leonie’s Longing, is the principle of dispensation. This doesn’t mean that Saint Dominic let the brethren get away with murder; far from it, he was kind of a hard-ass, but he deliberately crafted our Rule and Constitutions such that they would not bind under pain of sin. Why? First, because he wanted all of the brothers and sisters of the Order, both superiors and subjects, to keep the end in mind all of the time. He didn’t want me, as a priest, to have to scroup over Confessions going past time and me missing Vespers, though he would expect me to make it up later. Why? Because the reason for Vespers is for the sake of the penitent in the confessional! But there was a deeper, more profound meaning to Saint Dominic’s take on the law. He wanted the observances and discipline of the life to be undertaken freely, so that they could best dispose the spirit of the individual to the graces necessary, not only for their own salvation, but for the salvation of all souls.

Dominic spent ten years in southern France trying to get the Order started, with nothing but a handful of nuns and his own brother for company. How often during that decade of waiting do you think he thought himself a failure? If he was anything like me, it’d be six times before breakfast. And yet God turned that work into a tradition now 800 years old! You might feel like a failure today, and maybe your transition out of the life was due to something you did, or something they did, or more likely, a bunch of things both of you did. What matters now is how God is going to turn this seeming failure into a success, how He longs to make a saint out of the sinner you see in the mirror.

Feast of St Dominic Dormition of Mary Ritzos WMCSo when you’re tempted to dream about what once was, or to return internally to long-dashed hopes, or to groan in frustration because the baby’s cry won’t let you whisper Compline to yourself, think on Dominic and Francis. And think not so much on the life they lived as on the motivations, the desires, and the intentionality with which they lived it. Don’t dwell on why you left, but give thanks for why you came. And be happy, as Francis exhorts the brother with the unshorn head, that you’ve learned something new about the God who loves you, and about how He longs to bring you home.

 

Father Dominic McManus is currently Adjunct Instructor of Liturgical and Sacramental Theology at Aquinas Institute of Theology in Missouri. His major areas of interest are liturgical theology, especially cross-ritual studies, and preaching, and he recently published the book, The Mission of LOVE – A Sacramental Journey to Marital Success.

How I Found Peace With God’s Will

How I Found Peace 1How to deal with anxiety, from the pen of a paranoid schizophrenic.

By Stephanie Grace Cesare.

Jeremiah 29:11: Yes, I know what plans I have in mind for you, Yahweh declares: plans for peace, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

Trust has been a major problem in my past, but if we believe in God’s goodness, how can we not trust in Him completely? Every second of our life God knows and allows to happen to us. “There is a spiritual world all around us, can you not see it?” – Jane Eyre.

Because of my condition I am always worried that the worst thing possible is going to happen at any second. The only way I could overcome that was to believe in God’s loving providence: to actually live second to second How I Found Peace 2 Ivan Aivazovskywith a great belief that everything was in some kind of play book for my life. It is when the waves start crashing in on us, when we think we are alone and will drown, that God says, “O you of little faith”. In that moment the Apostle Peter cried, “Lord, we are going to drown, don’t you care?” Whenever we take our eyes away from God, that is when we become anxious, scared, feeling we are on our own and will drown in worries: that is when we need to cry, “LORD!”

This is where suffering must be understood.

Luke 11:11-15 says, “What father among you, if his son asked for a fish, would hand him a snake? Or if he asked for an egg, hand him a scorpion?” Suffering as the saints know it has infinite worth. God allows suffering to come upon us for this reason, that we may fill up what is lacking in the wounds of Christ, and that we may actually participate in God’s salvific mission for the world. God works through us when we accept life’s difficulties

2 Cor 12:7-10: “Wherefore so that I should not get above myself I was given a thorn in the flesh, a messenger from Satan to batter me and prevent me from getting above myself about this. I have three times pleaded with the Lord that it might leave me but he has answered me, “My grace is enough for you.” For power is at full strength in weakness. It is then about my weaknesses that I am happiest of all to boast, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me, and that is why I am glad of weaknesses, insults, constraints, persecutions and distress for Christ’s sake, for it is when I am weak that I am strong.”

Some examples in my life… God is in the details. To let go and realize every detail of the day is God’s will, will give you an extreme amount of peace. One day I realized I wasn’t going to be able to have a job because it was so stressful How I Found Peace 3 Pixabayso I gave it up to God. I am a cosmetologist and I am supposed to take the next person on the computer list no matter what they want done, so I said, “Lord, please send me the people that I would be able to handle.” This went really well. Every time I went to the list I had the confidence that the Lord would help me with the next customer. He must really want me to have this job so I trusted.

I was in a religious community when I was having signs of schizophrenia and had decided to leave. I went into an extreme depression that landed me in the hospital several times. I didn’t know how a good God could push me away from him and not want a girl who dreamed all her life since the age of reason to be his spouse; to be incapable of it! How could a good God abandon me like that? “And I will dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life” – that just wasn’t true – or, “She has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her” – hmm, what about that one? I was telling God how to make me holy rather than trusting that he knew the best way. Then one day, I read that God sent the man who had asked to be his disciple to go home and be a witness to his family and home town – “How can I do that?” I thought. Well, I have had the chance to help those in the world with me more than I ever had in the convent with mHow I Found Peace 4 Pixabayy peers, family and customers. I am planning on volunteering at a nursing home so I can talk to the infirm about God while doing their hair. I never had this in the convent…the chance to get close to people and love them. To get to know them, unlike I would ever have in the convent. That’s when I realized I was called to the single life and so be a witness.

One night I was crying hysterically over the fact I left the convent when my parents came home from Louisville with a note from a homeless person on the street to me. It said, “I have chosen you to bear fruit.” That was the quote at my clothing in the convent on my card. It made me realize that I have a mission greater than I could ever imagine as long as I did God’s will.

I was chosen, but how and for what? The most anxiety you go through is not knowing your calling in life and the second is not trusting and giving up your will to God. Mother Teresa said, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans”.

The teenager days are usually the most arrogant. I’m going to be rich, I’m going to change the world, I’m going to be famous. There is nothing wrong with having these goals, as long as we give our will to God, but many do not and go into despair when they do not accomplish what they desire. This has caused many college-age students to commit suicide because their goals are so high. Many people come out of religious life and this can be devastating to live a humble life of a lay person or the married state. In Abandonment to Divine Providence, Fr. Caussade explains that it is not in seeking holy things or circumstances, but seeking holiness in all our circumstances, that makes saints.

How I Found Peace 5 PixabayWe will never have peace unless we trust that doing what is in front of us is God’s will and that doing it well (little detail by little detail) will take away the anxieties of life and will lead to greater, wonderful things. Think, when you offer your life to God in your daily duties, of how much more God in his generosity will give you to accomplish in your life. He is all goodness, so do you not believe he will give you a grand adventure – one that will bring you to heaven?

In living each moment the way God calls (the little details) God will give greater things for you to do. I love St. Therese because she taught the little way to heaven. Doing every little thing because it is most humbling and therefore more meritorious in the eyes of God. Once we realize the great worth of these small details, the more at peace we will be. Believe in PROVIDENCE! Just realize that our daily duties are so important when done with love – how much more at peace. God will always outdo us with love, and the more we offer up these small things, the greater the things he will call us to, and we will be at peace in his love.

Psalm 131, song of quiet trust: “O Lord my heart is not lifted up, my eyes are not raised too high. I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvellous for me, but I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a child that is quieted at its mother’s breast; like a child that is quieted is my soul.”

Our Lady of Guadalupe to Juan Diego: “Listen, put it into your heart, my youngest and dearest son, that the thing OL Guadalupethat disturbs you, the thing that afflicts you, is nothing. Do not let your countenance, your heart be disturbed. Do not fear this sickness of your uncle or any other sickness, nor anything that is sharp or hurtful. Am I not here, I, who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not the source of your joy? Are you not in the hollow of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Do you need anything more? Let nothing else worry you, disturb you.”

World Day of Prayer for – YOU

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAby Petra Stella

Are you one of the many former religious who will sit in Mass this Sunday hearing Father mention that it is the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, and immediately feel that painful twinge in your heart? It probably feels like yet another painful reminder of the “Year Of Not Me” all over again!

It’s easy to fall into that trap… thinking this is not about you.
After all – this is the Year of Consecrated Life, and it’s the World Day of Prayer for Vocations.

But if you think this isn’t about you, you aren’t paying attention! You – and I – and all the women in our situation: we need the graces and guidance that will come of the World Day of Prayer for Vocations as much as anyone else… perhaps more than anyone else!

About 2 weeks before I returned back to the world, I was sick in bed with influenza, and remained in my cell for a few days. During that time, I re-read Christifideles Laici. At this stage I already knew I’d be approaching my superior about returning home when I was well and she was back from her retreat… and so I read it with very much a searching mindset. And with a great deal of hope and excitement, not yet tinged by the grief of loss that was to come after actually leaving.

As I read this beautiful gem from among the legacy of St John Paul the Great, I was struck by the important reminder that ALL of us are consecrated. Our Baptism is a consecration, and religious life is one very beautiful way of deepening that consecration. It is not the only way.

So how do I live out MY consecration? I may one day be called to marriage, or I may be called back to religious life down the track… but if I’m consecrated by virtue of my Baptism, then I need to be living out this consecration NOW… not just waiting to deepen it some way in the future. Christifideles Laici reminds us that there are many different kinds of workers in the Vineyard of the Lord, and there is much work to be done. How can I bear fruit if I stand around idle all day? I want to bear fruit for Him!!

I gave my “yes” once upon a time to the Lord when He asked. This “yes” hasn’t changed, and every so often on special occasions, I renew this “yes” to Him. Wrapped up in this response was a realisation that even though I thought I was assenting to religious life, I didn’t really know what the future would hold, but I said “yes” to it all – everything He asked of me, no matter how little, how big, how crazy. I meant it then. I mean it now. Like Therese, I choose all. My “now” is part of this all. I’m out in the world again because He asked me to be. He has a purpose in this, and He wants me to be fruitful. Yes, Lord. I choose and embrace this “now” in which I find myself. Bless the work I undertake out here in Your Vineyard. May You bring this work that You have begun in me to completion!

I would really recommend following the link above to the Vatican website and reading Christifideles Laici prayerfully, if you are seeking guidance as to how to live your “now” fruitfully. I’d also prayerfully read – and take comfort in – Chapter 15 of John’s Gospel. This advice was given to me by a wise friend last year, and it brought me much comfort and guidance in my own situation.

And so I exhort each of you – as you lend your voice to the many that are praying for vocations today… realise that YOUR vocation, whatever that is, is every bit as much the target of any resulting grace. 🙂 Today is a World Day of Prayer for YOU.

Leonie! The Movie

Leonie Film Poster

Did you know there’s a film based on the life of our patroness, Leonie Martin?

http://www.leoniefilm.com

 

It’s a 90-minute movie filmed in Michigan, released in 2010, and distributed by Ignatius Press. Reverend Mother Dolores Hart called it a “totally heartwarming story.”

The founder of Holy Trinity Productions and executive producer of Leonie!, Barbara Middleton, has kindly agreed to answer our questions about the film and the woman who inspired it.

What was it that first interested you about Leonie?

Fr. Jacques Daley suggested I make a movie on St. Therese and in my research of St. Therese I discovered Leonie Martin. Primarily, I chose her because she’s a part of the Martin Family.  Leonie’s association to her sister Therese and their close relationship drew me to her. I was struck by the difficult childhood she had and the hope she could bring to others.

Can you tell us about the research you did in preparation for the film? Did you learn anything that surprised you?

Discovering the house in which to film the movie Leonie! I spent the day traveling around the town of Romeo, Michigan looking for a location to film. I toured many homes in the town but one caught my eye as we drove passed it. I had visited Leonie’s home in Lisieux and this house looked like a replica of the Martin home. I had a sense of St. Therese at that moment. After all day looking at houses I asked the driver to take me back to that house. She Leonie Film 5graciously did and I was praying to St. Therese all the way back to the house. Upon entering the driveway the owner (Diane Jesmore) came out to bring her dog in. I got out of the car and introduced myself and she welcomed me into her home. I told her I wanted to make a movie on Leonie Martin, sister of Saint Therese. She was not Catholic but knew about St. Therese. They opened their home for weeks of filming and could not have been more receptive to us. Ron Jesmore had a clock collection throughout the house and Mr. Martin himself was a clock maker. They had a camera on a tri-pod identical to the one I saw in a book on St. Therese. I knew that Leonie and Therese guided me to that house.

You discovered Mary Rose Maher, who plays Leonie, in a stage play two years before the beginningLeonie Film 3 of filming. What were you looking for most of all in your choice of an actress for the part?

My pastor gave me tickets to a stage play in Detroit at Assumption Grotto parish. Watching the play I noticed an actress and thought she’d make a good Leonie Martin. I asked Joe Maher who also was at the play, to meet with me about a project I was working on. I did not know at that time that Mary Rose was his daughter. I wanted to see if he was interested in directing the film. He was enthusiastic and excited about the project.

In a unique privilege, you were permitted to film some scenes of the film in the cloister of the Visitation Monastery in Toledo. Can you tell us about filming in the monastery, and the Sisters’ response to your work?

I already knew the nuns at the Visitation Monastery in Toledo, Ohio. I contacted them and asked if I could film in the enclosure of the Monastery. They told me I had to get permission from (then) Bishop Leonard P. Blair. I knew Bishop Blair (now Archbishop Blair)and he gave us his blessing on the project. I can’t begin to tell you about the joy I received filming in the cloister. The openness of the sisters was beyond words. You could hear them singing throughout the day and sometimes I would sit in the back of their chapel and enjoy the prayer time with them. They were gracious, kind and helpful throughout the filming. We invaded their quiet world andLeonie Film 1 they adapted beautifully. It was such a privilege to be in their monastery. I’m told we’re the only Production Company in the US to film in a cloister. The Visitation cloister in Toledo, Ohio is breathtaking. All the doorways had verses of Saints over them. The doors had medals of Guardian angels on them. It completely leaves you in the Presence of God.

Were there any moments during filming where you realized that something special was being captured?

We filmed the death scene of Leonie in the infirmary. It was a moving scene and all the time we were filming a Sister in the room next door was dying.

Can you describe the relationship between Leonie and St. Therese?

St. Therese loved Leonie very much. Therese told Leonie after I am gone you will enter the Visitation order and persevere. Mrs. Martin’s sister, Leonie’s aunt was a Visitation nun. Even though they were cloistered they ran a school behind the Monastery which all the Martin girls attended. Three times Leonie entered the Visitation order and on the last try she persevered. St. Therese taught Leonie her little way of spiritual childhood and Leonie was faithful to it. To follow Leonie’s spiritual journey is to see the little way at work. The Visitation sisters see it as very Salesian. Leonie had mLeonie Film 2any limitations in her life. She was not an attractive figure. She was slow academically and was always sick. She suffered from eczema along with other physical ailments and was very different from her sisters. As a child she thought she has been adopted since she was so unlike the rest of the family. Therese and the other Martin sisters continually encouraged Leonie and never gave up on her.

One of the nuns depicted in the film is Sister Jeanne Marguerite, who supported Leonie in her vocation. Can you tell us about this friendship and its effect on Leonie? Were there others who helped her, too?

Paige Pilarski played the part in the movie on Sister Jeanne Marguerite. It is actually a composite of several superiors and the sisters of the community. Mother Jeanne Marguerite was superior when Leonie received the habit. When she heard Leonie had asked to reenter, she had no problem with it for she knew Leonie’s soul to be a very obedient one. The sisters loved Leonie and Leonie loved them. On the eve of her profession Leonie asked God to do with her as He wished and she added: Let me be good and charitable, even to excess, so that I may follow my Therese’s example in following Your new commandment. And she asked Him to act in and for her as she realized her own weakness and inability to accomplish it. Paige had the gentleness and simplicity to capture the part perfectly, portraying the love of the community for Leonie.

What can we learn from Leonie?

This is a very important question!

LeonieIt shows that no matter how many problems we have and struggles the Lord never gives up on us. Leonie teaches us that even though she was less gifted than her sisters her struggle to be a good religious pleased Jesus tremendously. She has given hope to many people. Leonie shows what trust in God and perseverance can do. As a child she said she wanted to be a religious and she never gave up: she relied entirely on Him. All of us are called to holiness and Leonie shows there are no excuses. God will work it in us when we open ourselves to His action and are willing to do our part. She also gives hope to children experiencing difficulties and to parents who have a difficult child. God is with us. In this context we can understand why God is elevating Leonie after Therese to become a Saint.

Barbara Middleton, executive proLeonie Film Barbara Middleton Photoducer of Leonie! with the Superior of the Visitation Monastery in Toledo, Sister Mary Bernard Grote.