SARF-Vicariate of the USA Newsletter (May 2020)


May greetings to all of our Secular Augustinian Recollects, Guild members, and the Hispanic Committee!

We are into our third month of trying to survive a world changed by a deadly virus. All of us know family members or friends who have become sick or even died as a result of this illness. We are tired, anxious, and sad. People are hurting from the loss of jobs and the restrictions on school, on family gatherings, and on coming together to pray and celebrate the Sacraments of our Catholic faith. Graduations, Confirmations, First Communion, Marriages: everything is on hold for now. Does anyone remember that old song by Ann Murray: “[We sure could use] a little good news today”? Well, it still applies: the circumstances may have changed since 1983, but unfortunately, not that much. We still need and always will need a little bit of good news. Our Christian faith gives us a future to hope in; a promise that better days are coming. We continue our prayers for all the members of our Tagaste Monastery/Sacred Heart and Augustinian Recollect family, and especially for all of those who are helping others during these difficult days. God bless and keep all of you safe! Please stay connected to us in the Mass we offer at Sacred Heart Church each day, except Saturdays, at 12 pm; and on Sundays in Spanish at 10 am at We have had some technical problems from time to time but things are definitely improving, so stay with us!

Unrecognizable: Patt Chester, secretary at Sacred Heart Parish (l) and Fr. John Gruben, both with protective masks, raise a new flag in front of Tagaste, a gift from Lenny Scarr of Scarr Funeral Home in Suffern [Larry Chester, photographer]

A Deer’s Tale [A remedy for cabin fever!] Last Sunday after Fr. Michael Rafferty and I had finished the 12:00 pm Mass at Sacred Heart Church in Suffern and I had returned to Tagaste, I thought I would be in for a quiet afternoon. I was awaiting the arrival of Connie Montanye (our Guild president) who had kindly made some Sunday lunch for me and Fr. Mike. Just as she was pulling into the monastery by the kitchen door, a mother deer and two fauns, obviously newborns, appeared and were panicked by the approaching car. The doe wheeled around wildly and leaped against one of the windows in the old guild hall, completely shattering it. Apparently unhurt, she escaped along with one of the fauns, leaving the other behind, confused and frightened. I waited to see if mama would come back for her offspring but she did not, at least not then. After several hours had gone by and the faun had not budged, I decided to call our local animal shelter for help. They simply advised me to wait until dusk when they believed the doe would probably return. They also discouraged me from putting out water or milk, advising me that if the deer picked up a human scent on the baby, she would abandon it. Well, it was just getting dark when our security alarm warned me that there was movement in the back yard. When I looked out the window there was the mama deer bravely charging a red fox that, no doubt, had come after her baby, intending to make a meal of it. The fox was persistent but so was the mother; she did not let down her guard for a moment, but kept charging until the fox gave up and left. Then she and her kid ambled off into the darkness. I couldn’t see any more and presumed they were safe, at least for the time being. What a beautiful display of family spirit and bravery in the animal world. That was a great sermon: I got the message!

Faun leans against recycling bin outside kitchen at Tagaste waiting to get rescued by mama deer

Update from the Cardinal. In a message to the priests and people of the Archdiocese of New York on the Solemnity of the Ascension (May 21), Cardinal Timothy Dolan outlined a plan for the gradual reopening of Catholic churches, expressing both the ongoing need to be safe and comply with necessary health regulations, and the need for our people to once again receive the Sacraments of the Church as well as to participate in the educational and pastoral activities that have been on hold for so long. The first step is the reopening of churches for private devotion, which is already in effect at Sacred Heart parish (1-5 pm, daily). More details should be available over the next few weeks.

Please pray for recovery of health for: Elias and Marina del Castillo, Marie Hiltz, Lily Klaver, Marylou Oldfield, and Sr. Mary John of St. Zita’s Villa  

Into eternal life: We recently received word of the deaths of Sr. Ellen Margaret Staiger of the Srs. of Charity, Convent Station, a long friend of Tagaste, as well as Joan Beck and Susan Casasola, friends from St. John Parish in the Bronx where the Recollects worked for many years.

Fr. John Gruben, OAR, prior
Theresa Giampaglia, SAR president
Connie Montanye, Guild president

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SARF-USA Correspondent

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