I Remember Mama THE

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T H E E U D I S T S E R VA N T S O F T H E 11 T H H O U R
THE
Mother Antonia Brenner, Founder
SPECIAL EDITION
A Beloved Tribute to Mother Antonia Brenner
I Remember Mama
by Sister Kathleen Marie Todora
Donations can be made payable to E.S.E.H. (Eudist Servants of the
11th Hour) and send to the address shown in the above left corner.
– Editor and Superior General, Mother Judith of Our Lady
of Divine Mercy
I would love to come and speak to your group so that we can continue
where Mother left off.
We thank the Lord for Mother Antonia and for her heartfelt talks, inspiring calls, encouraging notes, endless prayers and merciful love. She
left a bold imprint in our hearts and I’m sure she took us with her in
her own heart. We are forever grateful to her wonderful family for the
magnanimous sacrifice they gave to humankind through their Mom.
We have been advised to begin the process of preparation for Mother’s
Beatification which has already started. Daily we hear stories that
bring us to tears – where someone is telling us how Mother helped
them. I’m sure that she must have sat up at nights pondering who she
could help next.
Some of you are hearing for the first time that our beloved
Mother Antonia peacefully went to be with the Lord on Oct. 17,
2014. She leaves behind a legacy that would stagger one’s imagination.
How could one person accomplish so much? She was a trailblazer,
anointed for a unique mission. She laid all the groundwork and we get
the hugs. Her stories go on through her twenty-two Sisters who continue works of mercy to the poor, homeless, prisoners, sick and the
needy.
From the Desk of Mother Judith
Servants of the 11th Hour, SJE
c/o Pat Smith
3542 Governor Drive
San Diego, CA 92122-1130
When a mother has, say, fifteen children,
each one will remember her in a different
way. I remember the first day I met Mother
Antonia, she was busy at her desk at Casa
Campos. It was June 17, 2002, and she was
expecting me. She extended both of her hands in a loving gesture of
welcome. And I will never forget that beautiful smile.
n
Servant, Sr. Judith of Our Lady of
Divine Mercy - General Superior
•
December 1, 1926 – October 17, 2013
commandment could have affected her more. She broke
into tears. Mother embraced her and later said to me,
"She won't be back," and I knew it was true.
Did Mother have favorites? Absolutely. She was the
mother of seven, and I know each time she gave birth, that
e article in the Reader's Digest had not been written yet, and
neither had her biography, "e Prison Angel." e thing that drew
me to Mother was the original proposal she wrote to the Sisters of
Our Lady of Charity, "e Heart and Spirit of the Servants" nineteen pages that describe the depth of her own heart and spirit.
e things I remember most about Mother, are little things. She rose
early every morning and washed in cold water, and prayed
"is is the day the Lord has made! Let us rejoice
and be glad in it!" And I know she loved dark
coffee in a demitasse cup, and cottage cheese with
fruit. She seldom ate much more than that.
She was the most naturally charming woman I have ever known.
She could hold an audience of two or two-hundred and every word
she said had meaning. She was also the kindest person I have ever
known. She always said you need three things to get into heaven,
"kindness, kindness, and kindness." And the thing she hated most
was gossip.
I remember one instance where I was with Mother in a cell when she
was counseling a young woman who was in prison for stealing. at
day, the woman was leaving the prison. Mother paid her fine, and
was saying goodbye. She took the young woman's hands in hers, as
she did mine the day she welcomed me. She looked in her eyes and
said, "Cannot these hands find work?" No sermon about the seventh
Mother's Antonio's final resting place. Well done, good
and faithful servant.
child was her favorite. It was the same in her community.
Every new candidate was her favorite, until the next one
came along. She loved each one of us separately and
equally at the same time.
Riding in a car with Mother was also quite the experience.
She always sat on the passenger side front seat. When we
were in line crossing the border, there was always a wait,
and people lined up at her window to get a blessing. When
she smiled at them - the good, the bad and the ugly - it
was with great love. Only God knows how many souls
were touched by her smile, her touch, and her kindness.
Many of the poor in Mexico have never been to a dentist.
I think that was Mother's favorite mission, providing a
dentist to repair their teeth. And at the last count there
continued on page 3)
SUMMER 2014
Intimacy With God
by Sister Martine
“Our wish, our object, our chief preoccupation must
be to form Jesus in ourselves, to make His Spirit, His
devotion, His affections, His desires and disposition live
and reign there. All our religious exercises should be directed to this end.
It is the work which God has given us to do unceasingly.”
– St. John Eudes
Hello, my name is Sr. Martine Nancy and I am the newest member of
the community, Mother Antonia’s Eudist Servants of the 11th Hour. I
professed vows on March 25, 2014.
Born and raised in Conway, Arkansas, I moved to Michigan, graduated
from Michigan State University, married and had two children who gave
us four beautiful grandsons.
My formation in Tijuana was an amazing journey. I learned so much
about the beautiful people and culture of Mexico. eir needs are great,
the resources limited and I was constantly in awe at the kindness and
grace of God that was sustaining us and providing for the ESEH mission.
e Sisters who live in Tijuana and the people we served, prepared me for
consecrated life after vows in ways that will always live in my heart.
Mother Antonia and St. John Eudes’ spirituality continue to guide my
never-ending formation into religious life.
As I advanced through formation, my prayer life matured beyond my
belief. Living in community did wonders for the structure I needed to
obtain a fuller prayer life intertwined with daily mass and the missions we
are called to perform. is balance between prayer and service in daily life
is a lesson I will always strive to maintain.
What was it like to take vows? It is a deeply personal decision that is both
profound and joyful. I trust that this is a new beginning of a new and
wonderful life. Jesus promised His followers that whatever they gave up
for the sake of the Kingdom they would receive back one-hundredfold. If
I live the vows well, there will be boomerangs of grace that will backfire
with blessings. Each of the three vows is a gateway to tremendous
freedom. is way of life is a witness to the world that God is alive,
active, and interested. It is not about me; it’s about God. It’s about
helping the poor, reaching out to those in prison, and serving the
poorest of my brothers and sisters with love.
Reflection
Newly Elected
General Superior
Reprinted from the August 2012 Newsletter
Mother Judith was elected General Superior on March 26th,
2014, and comes as a widow from Tarentum, Pennsylvania.
by Mother Antonio
My Beloved Sisters,
“May the Lord make your life a window for the light to
shine through and a mirror to reflect His love to all
whom you meet.”
Born in 1926, I have been so blessed when I reflect
back over my lifetime and I think of the great things
that have happened. It would take me pages and
pages to tell about even one day. Please allow me to
look back somewhat on the past and look forward
with hope for the future. I can only reflect on God's
amazing grace.
I must constantly be in awe at the kindness and grace
of God that has sustained us. We are servants of the
Lord in the disguise of the prisoner, the sick, the poor
and those children of God most oen excluded from
the comforts and even a little of the security that we
take for granted so oen - shelter, clothing, food,
medicine and the hand of a friend.
In your hands is this ordinary piece of paper; but in
God's hands are all the good works, sacrifices and
prayers that have made life brighter and more hopeful
for so many.
And so in agreement with little Anne Frank at this
near closing chapter of my life - knowing them, knowing you, and knowing the unknown, I believe I know,
MAN IS GOOD.
Peace, love & mercy,
– Mother Antonia
Vows: Poverty, Chastity, Obedience
Aims: Simplicity, Reverence, Surrender
As the founder of the nationally known, vibrant three-day
prison retreat called, “MercyFire,” she says, “the mercy of
God and the Fire of His Spirit can’t be separated. It’s all one
and available to all.”
Besides her loving family, grandchildren, Sister describes the next
hardest thing to leave behind were the
prisoners at Laurel Highlands Prison
in Somerset, PA where she served as a
Catholic Chaplain for the last five
years. Prior to being a Chaplain she was active in prison
ministry for over twenty years and led prison retreats for
sixteen of those years.
Mother Judith is grateful to have periodically spent time
with Mother Antonia as she did her formation time in
Tijuana. She adds, “We were truly honored to have been
loved by Mother Antonia and to live with and to see a Saint
in action who up to the day of her death served all those in
need. Truly, we were blest by the best. ank you Madre!”
St. John Eudes has left us his
way of praying. It consists in
four movements:
ADORING: Contemplating,
marveling, admiring.
GIVING THANKS: Recognizing God’s gifts,
showing appreciation for them.
I love being a Sister! What a blessing to be a part of Mother Antonia’s
ESEH.
ASKING FOR FORGIVENESS: Recognizing the
distance that exists between one’s life and the marvels
of God’s Love.
Much Love & God Bless,
Sr. Martine
“Our ideal is that we shall strive to help in the construction of a more
beautiful world, transformed by the Spirit of the Beatitudes that we
will use as a text of contemplation and practice for our formation
and service.”
– Mother Antonio
Along with her simplicity, music and humor, God has gifted
her with a spark of His Spirit that brings hope, healing and
love to the prisoners that she has served since 1988.
We thank Sr. Viola Ramirez who tirelessly worked the last
three years as our Superior General. As Sr. Judith replaces
her, we wish the very best to Sr. Viola in her transition to
serve in our Tijuana mission in various and helpful ways.
ey both welcome your prayers.
GIVING ONESELF TO JESUS: Give oneself to
bear witness, give oneself for the Mission.
e Feast of St. John Eudes is Celebrated
August 19th.
Friday, November 21, 2014 • 6:30pm
Sheraton Carlsbad Resort & Spa
5480 Grand Pacific Dr. • Carlsbad, CA 92008
Please join together in this fine tribute to
Mother Antonia in celebration of her ongoing
mission to help those in need of compassion.
$55 Per Person • Includes Full Gourmet Buffet
For more information, call 619-292-8220
or madresfiesta.org
I Remember Mama (continued)
were more than 3,000 with new smiles in Tijuana. I saw the
before and after pictures and it touched my heart.
It is said that Our Lord hides himself in the poor. I believe that.
And my favorite mission was to answer the bell at the gate at
Casa Campos, to bring a glass of water, a bean sandwich and
milk for little ones. When people came to Casa Campos for
food, shelter, money or clothes, we were directed to always treat
them with dignity, as Mother said, "is is not our money, these
are not our things. We are God's bankers, we are giving them
what belongs to them." And no one ever left empty-handed.
She was my Mother. She recognized the good in everyone, and
she never spoke ill of anyone. She was human, and had lots of
human tendencies. She was just as precious in her weaknesses as
she was in her strengths. She was a dandelion, with a beautiful,
courageous and tenacious spirit. I loved her dearly, and I know
if one embraces her writing, the "Heart and Spirit of the
Servants," the community will grow and thrive in the charism
of St. John Eudes, as have our big sisters, Our Lady of Charity,
e Good Shepherds, and Little Sisters of the Poor have for
more than 400 years.
I wish to thank Mother for her understanding and concern these
past ten years. She called me two weeks before she died to tell
me she loved me, and to offer me the means to
attend the 2014 vows ceremony, which I had to
decline. She promised she would always
be with me and she always kept her promises.
I miss you, Mother!
– Sister Kathleen Marie Todora
Resigned in 2011 due to health reasons
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