Since our last update (November 2013), three of our groups have been formally installed. First, our El Camino Real group in Oceanside, California was installed by our founder and general commissioner Paul Ritchi in February.
If you are in the South Jersey/Central Jersey/Philadelphia area and are interested in starting a new FNE unit, please contact Deputy Group Leader David Smith at bagheera(at)northstarexplorers.org.
Isidore was born in 1070 in Madrid, Spain. He was named after St. Isidore of Seville. His parents were poor, but very devout. When Isidore was old enough to work, he hired himself out to wealthy land owner, where he worked for the rest of his life. He married a young lady as humble and pious as himself, who also became a saint, Maria de la Cabeza.
On his holidays, Isidore was know to visit various churches around Madrid, making mini pilgrimages as he was able. On work days, he would get up early and go to Mass every day before work. Once, the other hands on the farm complained that he was spending too much time going to Mass and taking breaks for prayers. When his master headed out to the chapel to reprimand Isidore for not working, he saw an angel in the field pushing Isidore’s plow. At other times, when he was plowing, there would be an angel on either side of him plowing too, so that in the time he spent plowing, he got three times as much work done. Even though he always put God first, his regular duties on the farm never went neglected.
Isidore was well known for his simple hearted kindness towards men and beasts. Once when he was hauling a sack of corn to the mill to be ground up, he saw a flock of hungry birds pecking at the barren ground. Moved with pity for them, he emptied half his sack of corn for them. The other workers laughed at him, but when he got to the mill, his corn produced twice as much flour as expected!
Isidore also took great pity on those even less fortunate than himself. He shared his meals with any poor man he met, and often brought hungry people back to his house. There is a story that on one occasion he brought back an unusually large number of people. The stew his wife made was not enough for everyone. Isidore urged her to check again. Maria scraped out the pot, and enough stew came out to fill the rest of the bowls.
St. Isidore teaches us that holiness is not only for those with exceptional careers, but also for those who lead ordinary lives. He shows us how to love God by his piety, by tending to his duties with simplicity and straightforwardness, by the kindness he showed to his fellow men, and by his care for animals and all of God’s creation.
The feast of St. Isidore the Farmer is on May 15th. He is the Patron saint of farmers, laborers, Madrid Spain, and the United States Bishop’s National Rural Conference among other things.
Please read about our brothers and sisters in the Sooner State!
Group Leader: Bob Brown, morningstarfne(at)gmail(dot)com
Group Name: Morning Star FNE Group
Group Colors: Gold on Navy Blue
Please read about our brothers in West Virginia!
Group Leader: Terry Schau, schauterry(at)gmail.com
Group Name: Our Lady of the Annunciation FNE Group
Group Colors: Royal Blue and Gold
Born in Portugal in 1495, John was separated from his parents at the age of 8. He found himself an orphan on the streets of town near Toledo, Spain. He was eventually taken in, and given work as shepherd. Even at his young age he impressed his master with his hard work and piety. When John grew up into a man, the farmer offered him is daughter in marriage. But John did not want to get married, so one day he enlisted with group of soldiers who were passing by on their way to fight the Turks.
John spent most of the next twenty years as a soldier, but also went back to shepherding for a time, then traveled to Africa. After being advised by his confessor that being in Africa was not good for his spiritual growth, he headed back to Spain. He received a vision from God that he should go to Granada, which he promptly did. There he sold religious books for a short time after the printing press was invented.
On day, after he heard the preaching of St. John of Avila, he was so impressed, that he gave away all his worldly goods and did public penance for his past life. He had not been especially attentive to his religious duties during his days as a soldier. He was so vehement in his penances that people thought he had gone mad, and he was put in a mental hospital. John of Avila came to see him, and convinced him that he should spend his time helping the poor, instead of punishing himself. John gained peace of heart from this, and soon left the hospital.
He rented a modest house. He then went about the city looking for the poorest, and most infirm people he could find. He brought them back to his house to care for them, sometimes even carrying them on his own shoulders. At first he was alone in his work, caring for the poor and sick by day, and begging for the supplies he needed at night. Eventually he gained the help of charitable priests and physicians, and others who followed his lead.
After thirteen years of mortification, prayer, and devotion to his patients, he died on March 8, 1550. He succumbed to an illness he contracted after trying to rescue a young man from drowning.
St. John of God’s followers established a religious institute called the Brothers Hospitallers of St. John of God. The order quickly spread and they founded many hospitals and other institutions to help the poor and sick. This order is still around today, all over the world, including right here in South Jersey where they run St. John of God school for the mentally disabled.
Among other things, he is the patron saint of hospitals and sick people.