Missionaries of the Precious Blood celebrate 200 years
By Sarah Anne Carter
For The Catholic Telegraph
In 1815, a man named Gaspar joined with a few other priests to devote themselves to the Most Precious Blood of Jesus and their legacy has spread through the entire world, with one of their headquarters set in Dayton.
St. Gaspar Melchior Balthazar del Bufalo was named after the three magi who visited Jesus. He great up in Rome and became a priest in 1808. After Napoleon’s conquest of the Papal States, St. Gaspar spent time in prison and in exile. It was after that time that he established the missionary group.
“His purpose was to renew a church that had been battered and bruised in the years of war and turmoil,” said Jean Giesige, Missionaries of the Precious Blood director of communications and a lay associate, or Companion, with the community. “He felt that only the Precious Blood of Jesus could bring redemption and healing to a troubled world.”
The missionaries traveled through Europe and in 1844, they came to the United States, led by Father Francis de Sales Brunner. They came to Ohio to serve the German-speaking Catholics.
“The Missionaries arrived in New Orleans and came up the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers to southern Ohio,” Giesige said. “They traveled by wagon then on foot to northwest Ohio, where Father Brunner founded the Sorrowful Mother Shrine (in Bellevue) and established a number of mission houses. Precious Blood priests served — and continue to serve — at many parishes in the archdiocese and beyond. Along with Precious Blood brothers, they are also teachers, preachers, chaplains and perform many other ministries.”
Fr. Brunner’s mother, Mother Maria Anna Brunner, established the Sisters of the Precious Blood in Dayton.
Today, there are more than 500 Precious Blood priests and religious brothers serving in 20 countries. In the local Cincinnati Province, there are 181 priests, brothers and candidates serving the eastern United States, Chile, Peru, Guatemala and Columbia. There is also a Kansas City Province that focuses on the western U.S. and other countries.
“Our Missionaries are often described as down to earth and ministers who humbly witness and live among God’s people in every day life,” said Father Ken Schnipke, pastor of Immaculate Conception in Celina and St. Teresa in Rockford and the vice provincial and personnel director for the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. “Our Missionaries serve as bridges of healing in communities torn by racial divides. They serve as reconcilers and peace builders in families that have experienced divisions and hurt and they serve as conduits of God’s grace in everyday pastoral encounters, whether at a youth sporting event, a community civic event, a sacramental celebration, or a Mass in the local church.”
“While serving as pastor of a large suburban parish in Longwood, Fla., I would annually volunteer for the garbage detail at our parish festival,” added Father Schnipke, who was baptized by a Precious Blood priest, raised in a Precious Blood parish and went to college seminary at St. Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Ind. “It was always interesting to see the reactions of people when the pastor of the parish was removing the trash. Most often other volunteers would spring into action and take over my duties.”
“I wish more people knew about all the ways that our missionaries serve the people of God as pastors in parishes, chaplains in hospitals, campus ministers and educators at colleges and other schools, in retreat and renewal ministry and in foreign missions,” Father Schnipke said. “And I wish more people could see the joy and fulfillment that comes from a life of service in the church. It is worth giving your life for. The Missionaries of the Precious Blood influence the community sometimes in obvious ways and sometimes more subtle ways, but often with profound and lasting effects. Some are very pastoral with youth and young adults affirming and valuing them as the church of today. Some are very pastoral in sickness and death, in the midst of family dysfunction and other community strife. Some are pioneers in peace building internationally and in our own back yard, and some are agents of change for something better. Some are builders, some healers, some preachers and all witnesses of the love and mercy of God. Most of all, we witness the reconciling love of God in everyday life.”
To celebrate the community’s 200th anniversary, there will be two events open to the public. A day of praise and service for youth and their families — “Jubilation!” is Aug. 9 at the Spiritual Center of Maria Stein and Maria Stein Shrine of the Holy Relics. It begins at 1 p.m. and includes games, live music, service projects, Eucharistic adoration and more. An outdoor Mass will be celebrated at 7:30 p.m., with Auxiliary Bishop Joseph R. Binzer presiding. Fireworks will follow the Mass. This event is free.
The second event is a bicentennial celebration Aug. 15 at the St. Charles Center in Carthagena. The day begins with a Celebration of the CPPS Missionary Spirit at 1 p.m. in the St. Charles auditorium. Precious Blood Father Barry Fischer, former moderator general, will be the keynote speaker. The day will also include witness talks from local parishes about their missionary work. There will be an outdoor vigil Mass on St. Charles’ front lawn at 4:30 p.m., with Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr presiding. A picnic will follow. Registration is required for the meal and seating is limited to 1,000 people. Visit cpps-preciousblood.org for details and to register.
“We hope that both events will be unique and enjoyable,” Giesige said. “We want to share in the celebration of our bicentennial because the congregation could never have made it to 200 years without God’s help, and also the help and support of our people in parishes and other ministry sites who have been so kind and welcoming during our years of ministry in the archdiocese. These celebrations are the Missionaries’ way of saying ‘thank you’ to the people of the archdiocese. And of course, all the praise and glory go to God!”
The Missionaries share this greeting: “Glory to the Blood of Jesus!” The people respond, “Now and forever!”
This story originally appeared in the August 2015 print edition of The Catholic Telegraph.