On October 11, 1898 Father Bernard Pennings, O.Praem. taught a Latin class to Francis Vandyke, the first student at Saint Norbert College; the second and third students arrived on October 18 and 25, 1898. All three became Norbertines and teachers. The first gym at Saint Norbert College was named for Father VanDyke who became athletic director of the college in 1910. Today marks the beginning of the Norbertine education apostolate in North America.
On October 11, 1962 the Second Vatican Council opened in Rome; it lasted for four sessions over four years, concluding on December 8, 1965. Participating in the Council were 3,058 bishops and religious superiors, including 416 from North America.
Pope John XXIII told the Council ‘s delegates on this day in 1962: “Divine Providence is leading us to a new order of human relations.” Pope John XXIII was canonized on April 27, 2014 and today is his feast day.
In today’s Gospel Jesus says, “All things are possible for God”. Father Pennings and Pope John XXIII believed those words of Jesus.
On May 12, 1915, Roger Schutz was born in Switzerland. In 1940, as Word War II overtook Europe, Roger, by then a minister of the Swiss reformed Church, settled in the village of Taize in France where he and some companions were soon sheltering Jewish refugees.
After the war they cared for orphaned children and German prisoners of war. On Easter Sunday in 1949, Roger and six members of his community made a formal commitment to live a life of community, celibacy, and simplicity, devoted to peace and justice. Pope John XXIII invited Brother Roger and his community to attend Vatican Council II. Brother Roger died on August 16, 2005 at age 90, killed during a prayer service at Taize.
Brother Roger lived today’s psalm response: “Your right hand saves me, O Lord”.
Pope John XXIII (1881-1963) convened Vatican Council II in 1962, setting in motion “a broad new vision and set of reforms for the Roman Catholic Church.” Pope John Paul II attended Vatican II, having been ordained a bishop in 1958, one month prior to the election of Pope John XXIII.
Pope John Paul II.
Pope John Paul II (1920-2005) had “a vision of the Church as a bulwark against totalitarian forces,” no doubt shaped by his experiences of communism in his native Poland.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus appeared to the disciples on Easter night, saying, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” Today, we thank God for sending us Saint John XXIII and Saint John Paul II.