I was able to celebrate a very unique Mass today with our Sisters here at the monastery. Yesterday, 498 men, women, and children who were killed by the Communists in Spain during their civil war back in the 30’s, were beatified by the Holy See. Five of them were Dominican priests, members of our own religious family. And to make the case even more interesting and closer to us, those five had spent some years here in this country, in Louisiana, just a few miles from where my parents spent the first seven years of their married life and where I spent the first three years of my life. Spain had sent a number of Dominican priests to Louisiana at the invitation of Archbishop Chapelle of New Orleans, in order to establish a house of studies, to learn English, and to staff some of the parishes in the archdiocese.
The men beatified yesterday had been recalled to Spain—and to their death before firing squads because they were Catholic priests—before I was born. But the Spanish Dominican priests were still very much in the area, and my mother, who was a member of the altar society in Hammond, about 14 miles away, came to know the Spanish priests in her parish very well. My father, who attended Mass every day, used to take me when I was just a toddler. He explained to me that at Communion time, the priest was giving Jesus to the people. And it was then and there, at the ripe old age of about 2, that I decided that when I grew up, I wanted to be a priest so that I could give Jesus to people. I have never changed that ambition; I do it every day with very great joy.
The Spanish Dominicans started a cemetery on the grounds of their house of studies, which they called “Rosaryville.” It now belongs to our Southern Dominican Province; it’s a beautiful graveyard out in the country, surrounded by towering pines and oaks. Many of our American Dominicans lie there now, and one day, I expect to be buried there, too. When I have gone there, quite frequently, for funerals, I read the names on the grave markers, and think of the past, and of the future.
So, rejoice with us as we welcome our five new Dominican blesseds to the calendar and ask their help for our ongoing work in America and for the Church in Spain, now very much opposed by liberalism and irreligion. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.
Note: This Message was composed some years ago.