Have a happy and blessed New Year! The year 2022 was truly a year of changes. We lost our dear pastor, Bp. Daniel Dolan, but we also had the joy of receiving our new pastor, Bp. Charles McGuire, and of seeing the ordination of two of St. Gertrude’s own boys, Fathers Simpson and Brueggemann, to the holy priesthood.
And of course, we also saw the reception of two of our parish’s own girls, Sr. Eulalia and Sr. Ulrica, as novices of the Oblates of the Holy Face. Though Bishop Dolan did not live to witness this joyous event of the start of our group of Sisters, he had approved the name and the guidelines of the Oblates before he died. It is certain that his and our faithful’s devotion to the Holy Face, as well as our keeping the First Wednesdays in honor of St. Joseph, have been the source of many blessings our parish had in 2022.
Right after Christmas, our parish received the sad news of the death of Mrs. Margaret Kinnett, who died on her 77th birthday, on St. Stephen’s day. She was an actress and a true lady, having graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City. She had been a parish member since 1987, and also directed many plays in the area, most notably Shakespeare in Sharonville. And she was a long-time teacher of literature at our St. Gertrude the Great School. She will be very much missed by our parishioners, school teachers, and former students, among whom is included Sr. Ulrica, who now herself teaches in our school.
In Advent and Christmas, St. Gertrude’s website had a book sale to support the Sisters’ fundraiser. I have happy news that soon there will be another original book release for this purpose. It will continue my book apostolate, which started in 2016, when I published a collection of sermons I gave during the previous year’s Girls Camp. This collection of sermons was later expanded as my first book, The Nail of Jahel. That year I also started to publish books which were printed and sold by St. Jerome Homeschool Library, later called St. Jerome Library Press. My first book sold by SJL was the improved second edition of The Nail of Jahel in 2017, and I also published several other titles with them, including a story collection called The Cold Heart. At the start of the Oblates of the Holy Face, the profits from my book sales went to support them.
The collaboration between SJL and I ended in 2022. To support the fundraiser of the Oblates of the Holy Face, I am now starting my own book publishing apostolate named Vicuna Books. The name comes from the alpaca-type animal which lives in South America, and from heroic Chilean martyr-girl Laura Vicuña, whose biography I published in 2018.
The first book under the Vicuna Books label will be the memoirs of Fr. Thomas Ojeka, who was ordained at St. Gertrude the Great last year. The title of his book is “My Treasured Mistake,” which refers to the moment he left the religious congregation Servants of Charity to begin his studies for the real priesthood under Fr. Nkamuke. This departure was called by his friends a grave mistake, but he thought, “If it is a mistake, then I would like to commit it over and over again.”
Since my own book apostolate is only in its beginning, the book will be published in print-on-demand basis. It will be available after Lent starts. You can check the updates about the project on my website www.fatherlehtoranta.com
Our Oblate Sisters’ titular feast of the Holy Face is on Tuesday, February 21.
Yours in the Charity of Christ and Our Lady of the Sacred Heart,
Fr. Vili Lehtoranta