Ken and Flora Wilsker
Shalom Havurim (Friends),
We have delayed this newsletter due to circumstances that are very exciting indeed. We are being relocated for our jobs,and for other reasons that only God knows, to St. Louis!!! We will be moving the end of July and will be about 10 minutes from the AHC headquarters. We are praising and thanking God for leading us to St. Louis. Ken has a new job with the same firm and will be promoted, and once we arrive, Flora will be looking for work as well. We also hope to be more intimately involved with in the work of the AHC and the St. Edith Stein Havurah once we are settled. Please pray for our safe travels and a smooth transition. Baruch haShem, Praise the Lord!
Why an AHC Havurah, continued:
We would like to continue our conversation about the work of the AHC Havurot as outlined in the Havurah brochure. David Moss, President of the AHC, writes in the brochure that the work of the AHC Havurot is a work of hope for all Catholics and especially for Hebrew Catholics. The AHC Havurot will provide a place where people can meet:
*to attract Hebrew Catholics who are scattered among approximately 19,000 parishes in the U.S. and in parishes throughout the world.
*to begin rekindling the Hebrew Catholic identity, spirituality, and culture that has been dormant since approximately the third century.
To put it quite succinctly, we are called to be witnesses. We are called to be a beacon of light and hope for our Hebrew Catholic brothers and sisters who have assimilated into Catholicism without preserving their Jewish legacy. Sometimes, it is just easier to blend in due to misunderstanding or even animosity by some. In other instances, Hebrew Catholics don’t understand the significance of maintaining their identification with their Jewish roots.
To be open, it is difficult for many Hebrew Catholics to stand up and be counted in the midst of incredible odds in our Church as well as in our Jewish families. So our havurot can be a place where other Hebrew Catholics can feel comfortable about sharing their heritage. Even though our havurot are made up mostly of non-Hebrew Catholics, it remains a safe haven because of the welcoming spirit of all Catholics involved in the havurot. We are very grateful for all of our Catholic brothers and sisters involved in the AHC.
As many Hebrew Catholics have had to cover up or bury their Jewish heritage, or in some cases this has occurred for generations, it is critical that our havurot encourage Hebrew Catholics in their Hebrew identity, spirituality, and culture. There is a common and shared experience that most Jewish people share just because of our upbringing and families. It is unique from the rest of Catholic culture, and it is vital that those of us of Hebrew heritage have an opportunity to develop this special connection with our other brothers and sisters who also made it home to the Catholic Church.
This is a work in progress, and in many cases we are trail blazers. The work is sometimes tough and treacherous, and we fight a spiritual battle. The havurot are a safe haven for those of us who are feeling our way in this work. With the help of the Holy Spirit and each other, we are encouraged to live out the calling as physical descendants of Israel within the larger Church community. Just as Italian, Polish, and Irish Catholics have their unique cultural identity as Catholics, so we too, as Hebrew Catholics can develop and maintain our unique identities.
It is part of this mission that we identify with the very first Hebrew Catholics in the Church, the Apostles, and very first Hebrew Catholic community. Some of them walked closely with our Lord, Yeshua, and with the first members of the original Hebrew Catholic community. We are also spiritual descendants of this community in a unique way and we can be a great blessing to the Church at large. So often we hear that Jews rejected Jesus, but we are living proof that not all Jews rejected Jesus. In fact, it is important to note that just a small band of our people took the Gospel to all Gentiles (nations). Not too shabby for a small band of Hebrew Catholics in the first century, and maybe we deserve some credit?
In the next edition of the newsletter, we will continue to look over the Havurah brochure and unpack the vision that was laid out by our President, David Moss, under the direction of our founder, Father Elias Friedman, OCD.
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Reports from the Havurah Diaspora
NEW HAVURAH IN HOUSTON, Texas!!! LIGHT TO THE NATIONS HAVURAH! HERE IS THE STORY OF HOW IT ALL STARTED AND WHAT HAS BEEN HAPPENING IN THE FIRST COUPLE OF MEETINGS FROM JORGE GUZMAN. THANK YOU, JORGE!
Jorge Guzman on the left and Nick, another member of the havurah. Picture included with permission.
Shalom Ken and Flora,
Here’s a summary of how the Light to the Nations havurah came about. Feel free to include in the newsletter and edit if necessary.
The “Light to the Nations” havurah resulted from my interest in joining a Houston area havurah. I had offered my contact info to the AHC in the event other individuals shared a similar interest in joining a havurah in Houston. While reading the latest issue of the AHC newsletter, a thought came to mind: perhaps I could be more pro-active and start one. After all, I had nothing to lose. I let the thought rest in the back of my mind. During the following days, I realized my parish, St. Vincent de Paul, could serve as a platform for a havurah. My thought was that because the parish has a very dynamic spiritual life, it would be the optimal place for starting a havurah. I decided to contact Nick LaRocca, the adult faith formation director at St. Vincent’s, about starting a havurah.
Nick and I have known each other for a few years now. We met while St. Vincent’s was in the initial stages of implementing the ACTS retreat program at the parish. We later teamed on the first ACTS retreat for men in 2013 and regularly see each other at the parish. I emailed Nick the idea of starting a havurah at St. Vincent’s and included information about what a havurah is. He expressed strong interest in his response (God is Good All the Time!). In our subsequent communications, we determined it was best to meet in person and discuss the implementation of the havurah. We met over lunch on May 2 at a restaurant across from St. Vincent’s and exchanged thoughts.
During our meeting, we discussed how the havurah could be set up and also glanced over the latest issue of the AHC newsletter. Nick suggested one option could be to host a kick-off meeting that included watching one of the various videos listed in the newsletter. Following our discussion of the video, we would explain that the parish is interested in hosting a havurah and that future meetings would be anticipated. We would inform attendees that the havurah is to serve as a gathering where the Jewish origins of Catholicism are explored, but also as a place where Hebrew Catholics can feel truly welcomed.
After lunch, we headed back to the parish offices. While continuing our discussion of the havurah, we determined that our parish deacon, Dan Pagnano, could serve as a spiritual advisor. We checked his office to see if he was there. He was. We informed him of our havurah plans and asked if he’d be willing to assist as the havurah’s spiritual advisor. He agreed. By the time I left St. Vincent’s, the groundwork for starting the havurah was complete. Somehow I had also come up with the name “Light to the Nations”. I believe it was the Holy Spirit who was responsible for putting that name in my mind.
As of the writing of this summary, Nick and I have reserved a room in the parish for our first meeting on June 3rd. An announcement will be published in the upcoming Sunday bulletins. We intend to show a portion of Dr. Brant Pitre’s video on the Jewish origins of the Eucharist and break for discussion.
I believe Our Lady, the Blessed Mother; our Lord, Jesus Christ; and the Holy Spirit have been at work in this process. However, it is truly the prayers of the AHC that have set this in motion. We will keep you posted on how the Light to the Nations Havurah develops.
God Bless, Jorge
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Our first meeting went well. A total of seven of us were present. We watched the first half hour of “Jewish Roots of the Eucharist” and broke for discussion. The participants received copies of the literature David Moss provided. I closed the meeting by suggesting we meet every other Tuesday. This day worked out for the majority of the group. I’m hopeful the group will bond and grow spiritually as we continue meeting.
Interestingly enough, an ad for the havurah ran in this week’s bulletin. It was not supposed to. The ad incorrectly stated we were meeting this past Tuesday. It seems four new folks showed up. I was informed that luckily, they concluded the wrong meeting date had been published. Unfortunately, no one was able to tell me who these people were. On that note, more accurate havurah ads will start running the week of June 22nd.
Light to the Nations havurah will meet this coming Tuesday and discuss the remaining portion of the “Jewish Roots of the Eucharist” video. I am also figuring out what video or audio to present next.
God Bless, Jorge
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Good to hear from you. We actually had our second meeting yesterday. We discussed Dr. Pitre’s video over gourmet pizza and calamari. Afterwards, we listened to a segment of Dr. Feingold’s lecture on the suffering Messiah. We will listen to the rest on our own time in the coming weeks and discuss when we reconvene. We might keep this format going for sometime, at least until the group becomes a little more established.
It seems the group supports the idea of meeting every other Tuesday. We’ll see if more people come in the future. My hopes are that eventually a Jewish Catholic(s) will join us. I’ll continue to keep you posted on how the havurah pans out. In the meantime, I pray our Lord bless you and your family with this move to St. Louis. From what I hear, it’s a nice city to live in.
God Bless, Jorge
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Report from the Miriam, Our Lady of the Miracle Havurah in Louisville, KY Ken and Flora Wilsker
On March 22, we were blessed to have Roy Schoeman come to town and do a Seder in the light of Christ presentation. We had over 120 attendees. We had some friends from Arkansas and St. Louis attend. Many folks from our Parish and all over Louisville were blessed this evening with this presentation.
We enjoyed a full Seder meal that was prepared using some traditional Passover recipes. The entire weekend was filled with joy and was a slice of heaven for all who attended. The havurah here in Louisville was instrumental in setting up, serving, and cleaning up.
Roy actually stayed after the Seder presentation and shared his incredible Journey Home testimonial, and it was a great blessing to all of us. Roy’s books and tapes were a big hit, and everyone left that Seder with a better understanding of the Jewish roots of our Catholic faith.
Since the Seder, we have been studying Dr. Brant Pitre’s Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist. We continue to meet once a month at St. Louis Bertrand Catholic Church near downtown Louisville. This parish is administered by the Eastern Province of the Dominican Friars. Our Pastor has been incredibly supportive, and so has the entire parish. We continue to see new members coming at each meeting.
Left to right: Roy Schoeman, Ken Wilsker, Flora Wilsker
As we prepare to move to St. Louis, this havurah is making plans to continue under the shared leadership of Deacon Franco Cottrell, his wife Ellie, and several of the other current members of this havurah. We are confident that this will continue, as this is the work of the Holy Spirit in Louisville, KY. We have been blessed to be a part of this incredible group.
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An AHC Passover Seder in St. Louis David and Kathleen Moss
For health reasons, over the last few years we have celebrated our Passover Seder in Christ privately, with just the two of us along with my son and his colleague. This year, we returned to a larger Seder, inviting local friends and parishioners. As the day approached, sickness caused a few to cancel, so we had a family of ten people. It was warm and spiritually uplifting, and everyone contributed a dish. And as before, those who had not previously attended a Seder found the experience edifying and inspiring. We held the Seder, as before, on Saturday evening, the beginning of Palm Sunday. The Seder is a wonderful prelude to Holy Week, providing the prayerful context and experience for all that would take place the following week.
Before the Seder began, I quickly took a picture of the participants. Kathleen is busy making last minute preparations.
From left to right, clockwise are:
Joe Miller, Frank Belanger, Michael Bradley, Linus Pottebaum,
Paul and Lynette Raidt, Lindsay Stocker, Matthew Moss.
Another blessing: Matthew (our son) and Lindsay are engaged to be married this December, 2014.
We hope to produce the AHC Haggadah in a booklet-sized format for next year’s Seder. If you have used this Haggadah and have any corrections or suggestions, please send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. For those who have not seen this Haggadah, it can be printed off of the AHC web site at: https://www.hebrewcatholic.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/AHCHaggadah-Draft4.pdf
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The St. Edith Stein Havurah, May 2014 David Moss
The St. Edith Stein Havurah had been meeting at the home of John and Therese Noecker in St. Louis. Due to changes in family circumstances, our Havurah has returned to the home of David and Kathleen Moss. We are grateful for the warm hospitality provided by the Noeckers over the last few years, and now they come to our house again.
The St. Edith Stein Havurah will meet one more time in May and then take a summer break until September. In our first meeting on May 9, we tried two experiments.
Following our potluck supper from 6 to 7 pm, we began our study with Evening Prayer. This was the first experiment, beginning the study with Evening prayer. Linus Pottebaum was able to bring 10 copies of the prayer from ebreviary.com, printed courtesy of a Cathedral parish staff member. Let me add that we are grateful to Ken and Flora Wilsker for the suggestion of this prayer, as they have included it in their havurah meetings for a number of years. We’re just catching up with them.
The second experiment was to use an audio recording for the study rather than to read a book. We had previously watched the Heritage DVD series, Civilization and the Jews. Each of the 9 DVDs in that series was about an hour long, and each was very edifying. In this case, we were able to print out a study guide put together by Brant Pitre which is to be used while listening to his talk. The first study was: The Jewish Roots of the Liturgy of the Hours. Our next study on March 23 will be Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Papacy.
The Brant Pitre CDs are available for purchase from the AHC web store at: http://store.hebrewcatholic.net/product-category/catholic-jewish-themes/jewish-roots/
In the web store, when you click on the description of each Jewish Roots CD, you will find a link to the study guide that accompanies that CD. You are free to print copies of that guide for your havurah at no cost.
As a general note regarding costs: All material produced by the AHC or The Miriam Press (publishing arm of the AHC) is available to a havurah in any quantity for a 50% discount. All material produced by other publishers is available to a havurah in any quantity for a 25% discount. When ordering, simply indicate the havurah for which the material is being purchased.
When we begin in the fall, we will be studying Brant Pitre’s new book: Jesus the Bridegroom, the Greatest Love Story Ever Told.
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Light of Prayer Havurah, Winona, Minnesota
Hi Ken and Flora,
We have had some wonderful meetings with good discussions. We have been continuing to read and discuss Dr. Brant Pitre’s book, Jesus, and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist. We learn something new every time we meet.
We also have added some new people to the group. They were interested to start, and after their first meeting with us, they can’t wait to come back and learn more.
In March, we celebrated Purim, which started an interesting discussion on the book of Esther. That was the only book not in the Dead Sea Scrolls. It raised a lot of interest and would be a good book to study on its own.
In April, we celebrated Passover in a small way, but it was meaningful within the group. We hope in the future that we are able to do a Seder. We also listened to a Brant Pitre CD, The Biblical Basis for the Mass. There again, we learned many things that we weren’t aware of in the Mass.
In May, we will continue with the book and will have some discussion on Holocaust Remembrance Day and St. John XXIII. After the canonization of Pope John XXIII, we read more on his role in Catholic/Jewish relations and what he did to help Jews during WWII. We have discussed having St. John XXIII as Patron of our Havurah.
We have quite a studious group, and many of us study and read outside of the group. We have been truly blessed by starting the havurah, and am grateful to the AHC for this undertaking of these study groups.
Blessings to all, and especially the new group in Houston, TX.
Tammy Palubicki Light of Prayer Havurah, Winona, MN
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Almond Blossom Havurah- BC-Canada.
For the first time, this year we held our Seder Meal in the evening at Our Lady of the Valley,Coldstream, on the Wednesday of Holy Week.
In previous years, we have held it on Holy Thursday in the late morning. We thought we would try the evening to give people who work the opportunity to attend. So for the first time, there were people who had never been before. This was encouraging.
Our parish priest had double-booked for that night, so the priest from 30 minutes away came and led us. Thank you, Fr. Tony. Last year 3 people came froma few hours away to join us and this year held their own. Father Dale is always very good about doing an explanation of the Seder Meal in the weeks before-hand to encourage attendance. We set up the day before with blue and white as the main colours, and the event is always enjoyable.
A lady in Alberta has been given the relevant info and is going to try and start something in her area.
Prior to Easter, a few of us attended a week-end seminar on becoming a Watchman on the Wall, placing praying for Israel as a priority in our prayer lives.It was very intense but extremely well done, and we were glad we went.
We now have weekly prayer meetings listed in the bulletin as Ps. 122 Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem.They are just an hour and take place in people’s homes, alternating in the evening and day-time. The format is simple.
We pray the Scriptures and then use our own words. We include praying for the Church, and also for Muslim conversion, as they represent a large portion of the Gentile worldwho do not acknowledge Jesus as their Saviour.
Recently as a parish event, we showed the documentary The Embrace, the record of the movement of Christian Churches across Canada to repent and ask forgiveness from the survivors of the ship, St. Louis, that was turned away, forcing the Jews to return to Europe. The Catholic Church was represented by the Archbishop of Ottawa. Kathleen and David have a copy if anyone wants to show it to their group. Very inspiring
At the end of this month a few of us will be visiting the Jewish Center in Kelowna, about 30 minutes away, as they are having a presentation from 3 teachers on ideas of how to teach and present the holocaust to middle- and high-school students.
That same week, we are hosting a presentation from the ICEJ Western Canada Director on the Christian Celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem.
For the first time, there will be a Catholic group going with Fr. Augustine Obiwumma as the Spiritual Director. This will be in October. The US and Canada travel together.If anyone is interested in getting info, they can contact me at email@example.com. Connections will be from Vancouver, Toronto, or join up at Tel Aviv if Vancouver and Toronto are not viable options.
Some of us will also be joining with others at the end of the month for a Shabbat Meal. The couple hosting are not Catholic but welcome us at their Jewish/Israel-related events.
They went with a group of Catholics to Rome a few years ago and braved the huge crowds in St Peter’ Square. Recently, a couple from Jews for Jesus who live in Israel shared their experiences.
We always come away being a little more aware of the big picture, which I think is healthy, and it informs our prayers for the people and the land.
Resources are constantly doing the rounds: At present, the deacon has my Hebrew Catholic magazine, and Father has my set of Hebrew Catholic conference CDs.
We break for the summer.In October, I will be in Israel for Tabernacles, but the prayer groups will continue.In November, we always have a weekly programme of some sort,and in December we celebrate Hannukah, and then we re-group in the new year.
We are very flexible and try to follow as the Holy Spirit leads.It’s been an interesting ride.
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The Fellowship of St. Joseph – 2013-2014 Report, Toronto, Ontario
For our third year, we decided to present several episodes of Fr. Robert Barron’s Catholicism series disbursed throughout the year. This beautiful and deeply insightful series presents our faith in a fresh new way and encourages us to view the Catholic faith from a new perspective. With each episode, we brought a Jewish connection to the topic viewed. There was also time for discussion after each video.
In September of 2013, we showed the first DVD: The Revelation of God Become Man.
Because our October meeting fell on the Feast of St. Teresa of Avila, we showed the video on “The Communion of Saints”. Of special interest is the fact that both St. Teresa and St. John of the Cross have Jewish family connections. Mark introduced the topic with a PowerPoint on the life and ministry of St. Teresa.
In November, our friend, Fr. Eric Rodrigues, told us about his trip to India. While there, he worked with the Sisters of Charity as a volunteer. A beautiful PowerPoint presentation helped us to see the experience more vividly. Fr. Eric also brought in the Marian aspect of the work of the sisters in a very meaningful way,
With the coming of December, we had the great privilege of hosting Peter Herbeck, from Catholic Renewal Ministries, and co-host of “The Choices We Face” and “Crossing the Goal” television shows. His theme was “An Advent and Hanukkah Reflection,” and he also spoke about the new Apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium.
Following the Christmas break, in January, Fr. Dominic again brought us an insightful and interesting talk on “Saints in Scripture: Get to Know Who is in the Bible.”
In February, we showed another of Fr. Barron’s videos – The Beatitudes: Happy are We: The Teachings of Jesus.
The March talk was a beautiful presentation of the life of St. Edith Stein, the Jewish Discalced Carmelite Nun who perished in the concentration camp of Auschwitz. This was a very personal topic for Mark, as his father is a survivor of that particular camp. St. Edith Stein was also instrumental in Mark’s journey into the Catholic Church in 2009. Mark also presented this talk to his Discalced Carmelite community.
In April, following Holy Week, we presented the video in the Catholicism series on the Eucharist; Word Made Flesh: True Bread of Heaven. This is probably one of the best presentations on the Eucharist we have ever seen. Deeply moving and thought provoking, Fr. Barron shows us both the diversity and uniformity of the celebration of the Mass throughout the world.
After an exceptionally long winter which included a Christmas ice storm, May finally brought us some warmer weather. At our group we had the great privilege of hosting Msgr. Robert Nusca, currently rector and president of St. Augustine’s Seminary here in Toronto. He spoke on “The Faces of Messiah in the Book of Revelation”. We were treated to an “unpacking” of the Book of Revelation that none of us will soon forget! The magnificent images on the PowerPoint presentation and the many quotes from ancient writers, together with Msgr. Nusca’s passionate explanations, were a feast for us all.
Mark has had many opportunities to speak in various churches and prayer groups throughout the year. There was a group at St. Pascal Baylon, and an Anglican home fellowship; a Sri Lankan Pentecostal Church as well as several meetings with Intercession for Israel, a monthly prayer gathering at a large Evangelical church in Toronto. We were also privileged to again be with our dear friends, The Servants of God’s Love in Ann Arbor, MI. It has been a year of many opportunities to speak about the Jewish Roots of the Faith in diverse places within the Body of Messiah. Upcoming talks include one on the Canadian (North American) Martyrs and one on Israel.
Our current fundraising project is to purchase a new laptop to go with our wonderful projector!
Another successful year will come to an end next month in June. We will be having a farewell evening with our beloved pastor, Msgr. Sheehy, who is moving into a well-deserved sabbatical year. He will be our guest speaker. Special music will be provided by Susan Hookong-Taylor.
We could not do any of this without the unconditional love and support of our pastor, Msgr. Ambrose Sheehy, and he will be greatly missed by all. We also thank the staff of Blessed Trinity for their help in providing and setting up the refreshments for our meetings.
As always, we appreciate your prayers and input. We can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and we would love to hear from you.
May the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob bless you. In Yeshua our Messiah and Miriam our mother, Sue and Mark Neugebauer Havurat Yosef HaTzaddik
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Miriam Mystical Rose Havurah
Our Miriam Mystical Rose Havurah had its annual Seder on April 12, with 8 people in attendance, at the Larsens’. We did the 30-minute Seder, without the full meal, but all agreed that it was a blessed time. We enjoyed Passover salads and desserts afterward.
As our monthly studies, we currently are discussing the individual chapters of Honey From the Rock, gleaning insights from the inspiring biographical sketches of these converts.
We hope this note finds you and Flora well and flourishing in all your activities. Your prayers are appreciated and reciprocated.
Laurel and Joe
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Missionary Havurah, Burnt Hills, NY
Dearest Flora and Ken,
A brief update on our havurah. We now have 12 in members, with members from New York, New Jersey, California, and South Africa! Several months ago a member from the north country (upstate New York) met us at Temple Sinai in Saratoga Springs for morning prayers! Rabbi Jonathan and Rabbi Linda were most kind and hospitable, and we were invited to stay for oneg. Our havurah presented the Rabbis with the Holocaust Survivors Cookbook, and hopefully this weekend, each of them will receive the holocaust survivors pin.
We continue to volunteer in the community, serving meals at St. Edward’s Roman Catholic Church. We’re also on the the Jewish team of volunteers from Beth Shalom synagogue.
We are also blessed to report that we hear from our sisters and brothers from Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, Canada, South Africa, and other parts of the USA. What an awesome God we have! May we continue to go from blessing to blessing.
Shalom, Joanie and Arnold Bellmer
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Thanks to all of you who contributed to this issue of the Newsletter. We hope to hear from all of you again in the next newsletter. Please feel free to contact us at our email address to contribute stories or ideas for future articles. We are very open to your suggestions and ideas. We hope that these Newsletters will continue to be a source of encouragement for all of us involved in the havurah movement and the AHC. Enjoy your summers in the northern hemisphere and winters in the southern hemisphere! We recall the last words of our Seder with a twist…next time from St. Louis!
Shalom b’Yeshua v’Miriam (Peace in Jesus and Mary), Ken and Flora Wilsker,