Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Jesus Caritas movement fosters spirituality of diocesan priests

Story and photo by Mitch Finley, Inland Register staff

(From the Aug. 18, 2005 edition of the Inland Register)

The national assembly of the Jesus Caritas fraternity for diocesan priests met last month at Immaculate Heart Retreat Center, Spokane. (IR photo)

During the week of July 31, 21 priests from as far away as Chile and as nearby as Spokane met at Immaculate Heart Retreat Center for a national assembly of the Jesus Caritas fraternity of priests that takes place every three years.

Priests attended from Idaho, Colorado, Minnesota, Saskatche-wan and Alberta (Canada), Louisiana, New York, Utah, Georgia, New Mexico, California, Florida, Ohio, Texas, Nebraska, Kansas, South Dakota, Oregon, Connecticut, and Washington.

Father Mariano Puga, a Chilean priest who is a missionary in Chile, as well, arrived from Chiloé Island, south of Chile and the second largest island in South America. His journey to Spokane included both hitchhiking and travel by bus to Santiago, Chile. From there he could travel to the U.S. by air. “The whole trip took a total of 50 hours,” Father Puga said with a big smile. But the long journey was worth the effort. “Such a wonderful thing is the brotherhood within this Fraternity.”

Jesus Caritas is a fraternity of priests that takes its inspiration from the spirituality of Charles de Foucauld (1858-1916), whose beatification will take place Nov. 13 in Rome. Brother Charles was a former French army officer who, in 1886, experienced a profound religious conversion and eventually became a priest and missionary among the Taureg people of Algeria. He was killed Dec. 1, 1916, during an anti-French uprising, by some who believed that Brother Charles’s goodness fueled positive feelings toward the French.

Father Richard Reiser, from Omaho, Neb., is the Fraternity’s current national coordinator, or “Responsible.”

“Jesus Caritas is an association of diocesan priests,” Father Reiser said. “We promote a spirituality for diocesan priests that covers the charisms of Brother Charles de Foucauld, which support us in our priesthood. These include a Eucharistic charism, support of one another in our ministry, and the living of a simple life. Also, our spirituality is Scriptural, so we try to keep Scripture alive in our lives, on a daily basis.”

In the United States today there are about 1,500 members of Jesus Caritas. Worldwide, there are some 4,000 members, with a presence on every continent.

In the Diocese of Spokane there are 13 Jesus Caritas groups with four or five priests in each group. The diocesan Responsible is Father Al Grasher, pastor of St. Mary Presentation Parish in Deer Park. In the state of Washington, there are about 30 Jesus Caritas groups which meet regularly for prayer and discussion of the spirituality of Jesus Caritas.

At the national assembly held at Immaculate Heart Retreat Center, a featured speaker was Little Sister Anne Boucher, a Little Sister of Jesus from Patterson, N.J., whose community of four Sisters lives and works among Muslim people in Patterson. She spoke about the need for Catholics to cultivate positive relationships with Muslims in the U.S. today.

The Little Brothers of Jesus and the Little Sisters of Jesus are Religious communities founded by Father Renée Voillaume, in the 1930s, in the spirit of Charles de Foucauld.

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