May 30, 2008

From the Editor Emeritus / John F. Fink

Possible saints: On the road to canonization

John F. Fink(First in a new series)

During the 24 years I have been writing this column, I have written frequently about saints, hoping that their lives will inspire some readers to be inspired by them enough to try to emulate their spiritual qualities.

Besides numerous columns about the Blessed Virgin Mary, I have written about married saints and the doctors of the Church—both of which later were published in book form.

Back in 2000, I wrote a series of columns about American saints. I had written a book called American Saints about those who were either canonized or beatified in all the countries of the Americas, but I limited the columns to those in the United States, condensing the chapters in the book to fit the space in the columns.

The U.S. saints at that time were Isaac Jogues, Jean de Lalande, and Rene Goupil (the North American Jesuits who were martyred by the Mohawk Indians in what is now part of the United States; five others were martyred in what is now Canada), Elizabeth Ann Seton, Rose Philippine Duchesne, John Neumann, Frances Xavier Cabrini, and Katharine Drexel.

Since then, of course, Mother Theodore Guérin has been canonized as St. Theodora, but she was Blessed Mother Theodore when I wrote that series.

The others who have been beatified are Kateri Tekakwitha, Junipero Serra, Francis Xavier Seelos and Damien de Veuster.

I now plan to write about some other holy men and women from the United States whose causes for sainthood have been introduced. You will probably be surprised to learn that I have identified 55 of them in various stages of the canonization process.

There won’t, however, be 55 columns. The martyrs of Virginia and the martyrs of Georgia will be considered together as will Maryknoll Fathers Thomas Price and James A. Walsh.

Others won’t be included because I have already written columns about them at one time or another. They are Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, Holy Cross Father Patrick Peyton, Capuchin Father Solanus Casey, Isaac Hecker and Father Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin.

Then, of course, there is also Bishop Simon Bruté, the first bishop of the Diocese of Vincennes who eventually became the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. Not only have I already written about him, but so has Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein.

There’s no way of knowing how many, if any, of those 55 individuals will someday be canonized. The process of canonization is deliberately lengthy because it requires the careful study of the life of a candidate, his or her writings, eyewitness testimony if possible, and the careful study of any miracles attributed to his or her intercession.

All of those I will write about have been declared either a “Servant of God” or “Venerable.”

“Servant of God” is the declaration by the local Church that began the process that the person possessed a “reputation for sanctity” and a documented history of “heroic virtues or martyrdom.

“Venerable” is the titled bestowed by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of the Saints after it decrees that the candidate truly practiced heroic virtues.

I will start the columns next week. †

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