The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
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March 3, 2000 Issue
Saint of the Day

Reconciliation can just mean a new way of looking at a problem

St. John Joseph had two sides look beyond dispute to a new beginning

By Tony Staley
Compass Editor

As this Jubilee Year continues and we prepare to start both Lent and the fourth season of Renew 2000, we are invited to engage in reconciliation.

St. John Joseph of the Cross Calosirto gives us a wonderful example, because he was not only a skilled confessor, he also showed great skills at reconciling differences between peoples.

St. John Joseph was born on Aug. 15, 1654, on Ischia, an island near Naples, Italy. He was baptized as Carlo Gaetano Calosirto and was a devout child.

When he turned 16, he joined Santa Lucia del Monte Convent at Naples, a foundation of the Alcantarine Franciscans. This order was founded in 1555 by St. Peter Alcántara and was devoted to a life of penance and austerity.

Carlo was one of five - out of seven - boys in his family who entered religious life. He took the religious name John Joseph of the Cross and at age 20 was put in charge of starting a monastery at Piedimonte di Alife, where he had separate hermitages built so its members could have ample opportunities for quiet prayer.

Following his ordination in 1677 - he had wanted to follow St. Francis' example and remain a brother, but bowed to his superiors' wishes - he became a popular confessor because of his ability to understand people's problems.

Next, he was called back to the motherhouse to serve as novice master. One practice he insisted on for the novices was a regular schedule of recreation.

Later, he returned to Piedemonte di Alife, where he served three terms as superior and became well-known for his holy, austere life and for performing miracles, including multiplying the order's food supply. He also was said to have visions and ecstasies, the gift of prophecy, and the ability to levitate.

He showed his skills as a reconciler during a dispute between the Italian and Spanish Alcantarines over a papal ruling that the order could have only a Spanish minister provincial. He resolved the issue by convincing the two sides to form a separate Italian province. They were so impressed by his abilities that he was elected minister provincial.

St. John Joseph died on March 1, 1734, at Naples and was buried at Santa Lucie del Monte. Almost immediately, his tomb became a popular pilgrimage site. He was canonized in 1839. We celebrate his feast on March 5.

Throughout this Jubilee Year, but especially during Lent, consider what disputes you might be able to resolve. Also be open to the attempts of others to resolve disputes in which you might be involved.

Sources: Butler's Lives of the Saints, Dictionary of Saints and 365 Saints.

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