In April 1861, the bloody American Civil War shattered the peace and quiet of the Redemptorist Seminary in Cumberland, Maryland. In 1863 President Lincoln signed the Conscription Act, which stipulated that all men ages 20-45 could be drafted. After the Battle of Gettysburg in July, Fr. Francis Seelos announced that he was going to Washington to see President Lincoln. “If I do not obtain release from this unjust injunction, we will rather go to prison than take up arms.”
Fr. Seelos did meet with Lincoln. He reported that Lincoln received him kindly, but gave no assurance that clerics and priests would be exempted. However, while Redemptorists served as chaplains and medics, they never were required to take up arms. (Br. Leo Patin, C.Ss.R.)
Today, the Denver Province is privileged to know him as Blessed Francis X. Seelos, a shining beacon of holiness and zeal. We celebrate his feast day on October 5th.
Fr. Seelos possessed great mystical gifts due to his intense prayer life, dedication to ministry, and “cheerful holiness.” As an itinerant preacher and lifelong friend of the poor and destitute, Seelos was a spiritual father to tens of thousands. So profound was his missionary zeal that sickness, persecution, and even the upheaval caused by a civil war could not stop him.
Fr. Seelos was Formation Director in Cumberland, working to install that passion for the poor and abandoned in those he trained. His Feast Day especially has meaning today for our seminarians in Theology School. Their home, Seelos House, was christened in 1996 in prophetic anticipation of Seelos’s 2000 beatification.
Bl. Seelos’ canonization process continues under the direction of Fr. Marazzo in Rome. Fr. Gil Enderle assists by promoting Bl. Seelos within the Denver Province, meeting with people and prayer groups devoted to Bl. Seelos. An important development is a reported miracle through the intercession of Bl. Seelos, the healing of a young child born with a severe brain malformation. This case has been sent to Rome and hopefully will be verified as the miracle to advance Seelos to sainthood.
You help form Redemptorists after the heart of Bl. Seelos, and they need your support every day. Please keep both the cause of Bl. Seelos and the young men in our formation program in your prayers. Thank you for sending your gifts to us.
In Christ the Redeemer,
Father John K. Schmidt,
Director, Co-Redemptorist Association
P.S. Please send a gift today to support the formation of your seminarians, and please pray for them.