Topic: Fr. Dennis M. Berry, S.T.

Blog de P. Dennis Berry/Lumen Christi #9 “Sean hacedores de la Palabra”: Eventos de hoy: Sabiduría eterna.


La marca fundamental de una fe genuina en Jesús, es el amor en acción.  La Palabra de Dios cuestiona cómo una persona que “posee bienes materiales y ve que su hermano o hermana está pasando necesidad, y no tiene compasión de él, ¿cómo se puede decir que el amor de Dios habita en él?  Queridos hijos, no amemos de palabra ni de labios para afuera, sino con hechos y de verdad”. (1 Juan 3:17-18)

Dos ejemplos claros que vienen a la mente entre muchos otros aquí en el Santuario de San José.

  • Recientemente un grupo de personas, miembros de nuestra comunidad participaron en la marcha por la vida en Washington, DC, buscando poner fin a la tragedia del aborto. Debido, en parte a sus esfuerzos en los últimos 40 años, es que el año pasado en la historia de los Estados Unidos se alcanzó un mínimo número de abortos.
  • Muchos miembros de la comunidad, han trabajado incansablemente en los últimos cuatro meses para proporcionar vivienda transitoria y apoyo para una familia refugiada que huyen de la experiencia traumática de la violencia. Con frecuencia nos preguntan en donde estamos en este proceso y cuando le daremos la bienvenida a esta familia.

Desafortunadamente  la organización de reasentamiento de refugiados, Servicios Mundiales Eclesiales (por sus siglas en inglés CWS) con la cual hemos estado trabajando, nos informó que la nueva administración de los Estados Unidos había suspendido toda la financiación para estos programas.  Los decretos que el Presidente Trump emitió el fin de semana pasado, confirmó la suspensión del programa.  Por el momento continuaremos utilizando el apartamento que habíamos preparado como casa de transición y esperamos el día en que finalmente podamos ofrecer hospitalidad a la familia refugiada huyendo de la violencia. “Porque fui forastero y ustedes me recibieron en su casa” (Mateo 25:35).  Esperamos una vez más, darle la bienvenida a Jesús en medio de nosotros.

Compartimos profundamente los sentimientos  expresados por el Cardenal de Newark Joseph Tobin en referencia a las recientes acciones ejecutivas que “son lo contrario a lo que significa ser Americano.  Cerrar fronteras y construir muros son actos irracionales”.  El Cardenal de Chicago Blase Cupich describe estas acciones como “contrario a los valores Católicos y Americanos”.  Esperamos no repetir las acciones desastrosas del pasado de aquellos que enviaron de vuelta a otras personas huyendo de la violencia, dejando a ciertos grupos étnicos, y a ciertas religiones excluidas y marginadas. (Ver abajo el enlace completo de las declaraciones de los Cardenales)

Mis queridos hermanos y hermanas, continuemos siendo hombres y mujeres de fe y de acción, dispuestos a amar y sacrificarse por el bien de los demás, especialmente los más necesitados y abandonados – seguramente la misión que Jesús nos ha confiado a nosotros.  ¡Gracias por su “Si” generoso a este llamado!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Dennis Berry, S.T.                                                                                                                                                  Director del Santuario de San José

 Para ver las declaraciones completas

Cardinal Tobin:

Cardinal Cupich:

Lumen Christi #9/“Be Doers of the Word”: Today’s Events-Eternal Wisdom.


“Be doers of the Word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1,22). Love in action is a fundamental mark of a genuine faith in Jesus. God’s Word questions how a person who “sees his brother or sister in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in that person? Little children, let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:17-18).

Two examples of this come clearly to mind, among many others here at the Shrine.

Recently, a number of our community members participated in the March for Life in Washington, DC, seeking an end to the tragedy of abortion. In part, due to their concerted efforts over the past 40 years plus, the numbers of abortions in the US reached an all-time low last year.

Many of the community of the Shrine have worked untiringly for the last four months to provide transitional housing and support for a refugee family fleeing the experience of traumatic violence. Frequently people ask where we are in the process and when we might be able to welcome this family.

Unfortunately, Church World Services – the refugee resettlement group with whom we had been working – informed us that the new US administration had suspended all funding for this program. The executive orders of President Trump issued this past weekend confirmed the suspension of the program. For the present we will continue to use the apartment we had prepared for transitional housing and look forward to the day when we can, finally, offer hospitality to a refugee family fleeing violence. For “when I was a stranger, you welcomed me” said Jesus (Matthew 25:35). We look forward to welcoming Jesus once again into our midst.

We share deeply the sentiments expressed by Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark that the recent executive actions “are the opposite of what it means to be an American. Closing borders and building walls are not rational acts.” Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago describes these actions as “contrary to both Catholic and American values. Have we not repeated the disastrous decisions of those in the past who turned away other people fleeing violence, leaving certain ethnicities and religions marginalized and excluded?” (See below for link to full statements.)

Dear sisters and brothers, let us continue to be women and men of faith and action, willing to love and sacrifice for the good of others, especially those most in need and abandoned – surely the mission of Jesus, now confided to us. Thank you for your generous “yes” to this call!

Father Dennis Berry, S.T.

Director, Shrine of St. Joseph

For the complete statements:                                                                                                                                Cardinal Tobin:…’s-executive-actions-immigration                   Cardinal Cupich:…

Lumen Christi#8/An Inauguration, a Birthday, a Prayer

This week Donald Trump becomes our president, we celebrate Dr. King’s birthday and end National Migration Week: seemingly unrelated but perhaps not.

Several weeks ago a young woman went with me to visit a family.   On our way home, my young friend spoke glowingly of the beauty and goodness of this family.    The she continued, “We need more people like them, not these illegal immigrants!”  Trusting in her goodwill, I replied, “The family we just visited: all of them are undocumented.”  After a stunned silence, she spoke softly, “Well, I guess I’ll have to rethink that!”

God’s Word constantly invites us to “rethink” who we are and how we see this world.  For the Jewish people, the world was clearly divided between the Jews (the chosen) and the Gentiles (everyone else).  But Isaiah proclaims that the Messiah will be a “light for the nations,” the hope of all peoples.  Jesus, God’s beloved “Lamb,” will take away the sin of the whole world.  Paul reminds the Corinthians that the church is in – not of – Corinth.  God’s universal (“catholic”) Family is everywhere and for everyone.

Three implications of this:


  • A new moment in history. Social anthropologists suggest we are in a new axial period, a leap in the development of human consciousness.  In 1969 humanity, for the first time, saw the world as God sees it: a radiant blue and white globe hanging in the immense blackness of space, our shared home.  A child, seeing this picture, asked:  “Mommy, when did God put all the lines on the map?”   God didn’t.  We do.
  • A new virtue. This new moment requires a new virtue.  John Paul II called it solidarity:  extending my care to all peoples and the common good of all society and the human community.  Breaking out of my self-contained world, my heart can begin to embrace and care for the world as God does.
  • A new challenge. God asks Cain, who has just killed his brother, “Where is your brother Abel?”   His belligerent response:  “Am I my brother’s keeper?”  And God’s clear answer is “Yes.  You are your brother’s and sister’s keeper.” Your concern must extend to all on this magnificent planet for they are your sister, your brother.
  • The new question. Not “what’s in it for me?” but “how will this affect us?”  – God’s question, God’s concern.

Peace and blessings always!  Fr. Dennis, ST

Fr.Dennis Berry’s Blog/Lumen Christi#07 – Hope…& Have a Happy New Year!

The glorious thing about starting a “new year” is the chance that God gives to us to always “start anew,” “begin again.”

Many worry gravely about 2017 while others call 2016 the “worst year ever!”  (Perhaps perspective is important: in the Middle Ages over half of Europe was wiped out by the Black Death in just a few years!)

Perhaps the virtue most required today is HOPE.   First,  what hope is not:

  • Not desperation: like the person who forgets to put gas into their car and says, “I hope I make it to the next exit!”
  • Not denial: like an embroidered pillow I saw with a cow flat on its back saying,  “Really, I’m perfectly alright!”
  • Not daydreaming: like poor Chevy Chase in the movie, “Christmas Vacation” imagining how “perfect” Christmas will be as things crumble around him!

What then is hope?  Three words might best characterize it beginning with the letters T-S-A (not the Transportation Security Agency!):

  • Trust: God’s blessing and presence never fail. For over 3500 years the Blessing of Aaron the High Priest (Numbers 625f.) has been prayed:  “That the Lord bless and keep you.  May His face shine upon you!” (a Hebrew idiom for “may God smile upon you!”)  Hope rejoices in that promise, God’s delight in me.
  • Security: Jesus called God his “Abba” (“Daddy”), and St. Paul insists that the same intimate relationship is now ours.  Once in the restroom of the New Jersey Turnpike, I suddenly heard this little voice cry out “Abba, abba!”  As I turned, there was a little Jewish boy with his arms wrapped tightly around his Dad’s leg, secure with his “abba”!    Our  “Abba” is here with us every step of the journey.
  • Awe: Nothing turned out for Mary and Joseph the way they expected.  Mary was pregnant before they got married.  She had to give birth in a stable, far from their home, surrounded by animals.  But instead of bitterness,  Mary “pondered,” “wondered” about what was happening and why. Through the years her awe grew, marveling at God’s surprises.  Hope is openness to those divine surprises!

And so, for a truly Happy New Year 2017: trust in God’s promise, be secure in God’s embrace, and with awe await the marvels of that holy Love!  Hope will bring peace and blessing  no matter what.

Fr. Dennis Berry’s Blog/Lumen Christi #6: Faith, Fear and Advent Joy







Recently a friend confided to me that hundreds of people in our area had purchased guns prior to the election: one lady, a gun for each room in her home!  In fact, nationally there are 357 million registered guns in the US and only 317 million people.[i]  Our recently approved US military budget of $600 billion surpasses the combined military budgets of the next 11 nations like China, Russia, and Germany.  The remaining 162 countries on earth spend a combined total of $360 billion[ii].

What is it in peoples’ hearts that creates this reality? Leaving aside weapons for sports and legitimate national security, could this reflect mirror an overwhelming sense of fear and anxiety relative to our safety personally and nationally?  And what does this have to do with Advent?

The Advent prophet Isaiah faced a similar situation.  Prophesying during the reigns of 3 kings –  Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah –  they all felt threatened by the the surrounding nations and sought alliances with pagan Assyria and Egypt.  Isaiah kept insisting God would be enough.

But the kings would not believe him, seeking rather security “horses and chariots” – the WMDs of the time.  Isaiah warned “what sorrow awaits those who trust in their horses, chariots, and charioteers and depend on the strength of human armies” (Isaiah 31:1).  Eventually the kings’ obstinacy led siege, famine, plague, exile and death.

Similarly one wonders whether our weapons are giving us the security we seek. Last year the US had 12,000+ homicides by firearm, ranking just behind Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Congo in the total number of homicides.   More stunning yet is the number of last year’s suicides by firearm – 21,334 – doubling over the past ten years.[iii]

Isaiah Advent message calls us to look to God alone to be our lasting “tower of refuge, protection and shelter” (Isaiah 25:4).  God alone will bring us “an abundance of singing and joy!” (Isaiah 35:2,6).  Faith-filled trust banishes fear and opens our hearts to truly hear the angel’s joyful Christmas proclamation:  “Do not be afraid!  I bring you news of great joy!  A Savior is born!”  (Luke 2:10).  This Savior alone will be our lasting peace.   There “the wolf and the lamb will live together; the leopard will lie down with the baby goat. The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion.” Not fear nor force will achieve this but “a little child will lead them all” (Isaiah 11:6).  A Child will accomplish all this.  Blessed Advent!

Joy and peace to each of you and your families!

[i] Source: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

[ii] Source: International Institute for Strategic Studies

[iii] Source: Center for Disease Control

Fr Dennis Berry’s Blog/Lumen Christi #5: US Elections in the Light of Christ

Dear Sisters and Brothers and Friends of the Shrine of St. Joseph,

 May the grace and peace of the Holy Spirit be with us forever.

 The 2016  elections  are now over.  During the campaigns, many divisive, mean- spirited and hurtful things were said.  These statements have created fear and profound anxiety in the hearts of many.   As Very Reverend Michael Barth, the General Custodian of the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity responsible for the Shrine, wrote in a recent letter to the congregation:  “This rhetoric has, I’m sure, hurt some of our Missionary Servant confreres from Mexico and many of the people whom we serve on our missions: women, Latinos, people of color, Muslims and immigrants to our country, documented or not.”

As we now move forward, I pledge that the Shrine of St. Joseph will be working closely with all peoples of good will both at the Shrine and beyond to seek the common good of all God’s People.  In this we are not guided by any political agenda but rather, as disciples of Jesus, to seek ways that all “may be one … so that the world might believe!” (John 17:21).  This is our Gospel commitment.

To all those anxious and afraid, we want to say in the words of the angel, “Fear not.”  You are not alone.  Rather the Shrine community and the Missionary Servants reaffirm, in the words once again of Father Barth, that we “will continue to proclaim and affirm the dignity of every human person.  We will continue to live out our Gospel values and the values embedded in our charism –  to reach out to those marginalized and hurting, to welcome and serve the immigrant regardless of the cost, to stand up for and hold dear those values that are at our core and to respect every human person.”

Our prayer is that we may always remain “united as one, speaking the truth of the Gospel, acting always in love for all.”  Our most profound desire is that “love burn out the sins and hatreds that sadden and too often divide us.”  The Shrine has always been, is and will be a home and a place of welcome and comfort and care for all God’s People.   That is our mission.

Peace and blessings always!

Your brother in the Trinity,

Father Dennis M. Berry, S.T.

Fr. Dennis Berry’s Blog/Lumen Christi #4: Voting, What Would Jesus Do?

As election day is upon us (Tuesday, 8 November), I would like to propose three simple guidelines that might help us spiritually as both citizens of the US and disciples of Jesus:

• Discover what are the issues and what’s really behind what is being said and proposed. The 30 second TV ads or the snippet on the internet or nightly news are not enough. Take the time to dig deeper, think carefully about these issues in the light of the Gospel and Church’s teaching. An excellent resource for this is “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” at the Bishops’ website
• Discern what is God’s Will. No one party, no one candidate has all the right answers. Our primary obligation as disciples of Jesus is to listen to and understand God’s will for us both nationally and internationally. Pray to the Holy Spirit for wisdom and pay careful attention to the movements in your own heart as you discern. Remember, God is not a god of anger, division, hatred but the God who leads us to ever deepening unity and peace between and among all peoples. Pray also for other people who are trying to discern and choose the best candidates according to their lights and experience.
• Decide and vote. As disciples of Jesus it is our obligation, responsibility and privilege as a citizen of a country which provides us all with this freedom. Since no one party nor candidate has all the answers or solutions, we must dialogue and listen carefully to one another in search of the common good. The “common good” is about all of us together seeking “the sum total of conditions of social living, whereby persons are enabled more fully and readily to achieve their own perfection” (St. John XXIII). God’s grace and God’s gifts are sufficient for everyone. There’s more than enough to go around. There don’t have to be “winners and losers.” No one needs to be left out or cast aside. Rather how together can we can unite our experience and gifts so that all God’s People flourish?

Blessings and peace! Fr. Dennis

Fr. Dennis Berry’s Blog/Lumen Christi #2: Jesus, the Church, the Election and Abortion Revised

Abortion?  For almost two thousand years, the Church’s teaching is clear, unchanging:  “a moral evil,” an “abominable crime.” Every life, from the mother’s womb, is “consecrated” (Jeremiah 1:5), bearing within itself the divine breath (see Genesis 2:7).  Humanity’s “noble mission”? To “safeguard life,” creating societies where “respect and protection” for the “innocent” and “vulnerable” unborn child are the norm (see Catechism of the Catholic Church #2270-75).

The two major political parties on this issue present starkly different views.  The Republicans “assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed.  They “support a human life amendment to the Constitution.”  The Democrats insist that every woman have “access to quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion.”  They oppose “laws and policies that impede a woman’s access to abortion.”

For your prayerful reflection:


  • In my pastoral experience of over 42 years, the lack of access to affordable health care for struggling families and single mothers often weighs heavily in their tragic decision to seek an abortion. For an uninsured family, abortions can cost between $350 and $2,500 while giving birth to a child can be as high as $30-50,000.  The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that US abortions grew and peaked at 1,420,000 in 1990.  US abortions began to decline after that and have reached their lowest numbers since 1973 under the Obama administration.  The generous love and sacrifices of so many pro-life workers have contributed to making this new reality possible.  But continuing to seek viable solutions to abortion’s root causes is essential. Otherwise, Jesus’ warning about “loading people with burdens too heavy to bear” while doing little or nothing to alleviate them might be ours (Luke 11:46).
  • Seeking social policies that honor the sacred nature of every human life, born and unborn, is our solemn mission. But even if Roe v. Wade were reversed, would we want to criminalize abortion again and submit the woman to criminal penalties, jail, etc.?   The woman caught in adultery was alone, her male partner not subject to the same consequences under the Law (see John 8:1-11).  If we recriminalize abortion, would we want to repeat this injustice and, like the Pharisee, be the first to “cast the stone” at her?  Many evil acts – such as nuclear war, the death penalty, adultery – are not also criminal acts.   Our vocation is to show mercy, to look for practical solutions to this human tragedy, to “overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).

Next week’s topic: immigration.  Blessings and peace always!  Fr. Dennis, S.T.

Fr. Dennis Berry’s Blog/Lumen Christi #3: Immigration and Immigrants – what does God think?

Immigrants?  God is decidedly pro-immigrant, accompanying the homeless people of Israel for 40 years in the desert.  God led them finally to a homeland, insisting that they, in turn, “treat the alien who resides with you no differently than the natives born among you.” They are to “have the same love for the alien as for yourself” and remember that they “too were once aliens in the land of Egypt” (Leviticus 19:33-34).


The Holy Family were homeless at Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem and later refugees, fleeing the violence of Herod.  Jesus identified with the immigrant: “the one who welcomes a stranger welcomes me” (Mt 25:35).  In fact, the Scripture reminds us that we are all “sojourners” (“immigrants”) seeking together our true heavenly “homeland” (Heb 11:16).  Our life’s mission is to help one another along the way.

From this Biblical foundation, the Church teaches that “people have the right to migrate to sustain their lives and the lives of their families.”  All have “an equal right to receive from the earth what is necessary for life—food, clothing, shelter” as well as education, medical care, and religious freedom.  These are fundamental human rights denied to countless sisters or brothers living in fear, danger, or dehumanizing poverty.  Clearly, it is not God’s will that some of his children live in luxury while others simply struggle to survive.   The rich man was condemned for living well and ignoring the poor man while he starved at his doorstep (Lk 16:19-31).

For over 40 years I have lived and worked with the immigrant communities here in the US.  Their “peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity” (1 Tim 2:2) have deeply impacted and formed my life.  Overwhelmingly they come not seeking riches or fame or, much less, to do harm.  Their dream is simple and direct and edifying: to work and provide for their families a simple but decent home and an education for their children that they, perhaps, never had the chance to receive.

For your prayerful reflection:

God’s Word warns us about “the anger, wrath, abusive language” currently rampant in our land (Col 3:8).  Scapegoating the most vulnerable is often the tactic of disreputable demagogues in societies suffering economic or cultural upheavals. Hostility toward the immigrant runs in direct contradiction to our deepest held Christian beliefs and our noblest national aspirations:   “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.  Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” (Poem engraved at the base of the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor)

 Peace and blessings!  Fr. Dennis

Fr. Dennis Berry’s Blog/Lumen Christi – The Light of Christ #1 (4 October 2016 – Feast of St. Francis of Assisi)

Faithful Catholics are voters. Our faith demands a personal sense of responsibility for our lives and that of our world. In the US, our vote – individually and collectively – has the power to direct the way our nation and world will go. We honor this sacred charge and precious freedom, secured for us by others often at the cost of their own lives, by being voters.

What and who do we vote for? Bishop Arthur Serratelli of Paterson recently reminded the priests of our pastoral responsibility to offer moral guidance to God’s People dealing with these questions. The US Bishops offer a thoughtful and thorough guide for our reflection entitled Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility at the US Conference of Catholic Bishops webpage,

Over the next several weeks I will be offering some thoughts for your prayerful reflection as we prepare to vote on November 8. To begin, here are a few points for your prayerful reflection:

• Our fundamental question as Catholics and Christians must always be: What would Jesus do, think, say? Sincere prayerful discernment might arrive at different conclusions. But key is making choices founded on knowledge and Gospel light, not on political ads or hype.
• No political party nor candidate fully and accurately represents the thought of Jesus or the teaching of the Church. Faithful Catholics can and do support candidates from all the parties in this election. There is no “Catholic” or “Christian” party.
• God embraced in Jesus the messiness that is our humanity. Often there is no startling clarity nor surety in making our life decisions. Elections are the same. There is no “perfect” choice. But we must choose the best we can. However, not being a voter is a failure of the spirit.