From the Director

Nine years ago, the Oblate Province Administrative Team told me that when I felt that it was time for me to step down from my role as the VM National Director, I would not

be replaced. In January I turned 74 and because of health and energy reasons, I feel that now is the time to step down. I am hoping my final date as VM Director and the closing of the VM Office will be the end of March. At that time, we will no longer publish the VM newsletter or offer a Retreat or National Conference.

I’m hoping that this does not mean the end of the Victorious Missionaries Chapters. Here are a couple of options:

  • I believe that all the existing chapters are already 501(c)(3) certified and would be able to continue to operate as independent non-profit groups under the title on their certification.

  • It has also been suggested that the chapters could choose to join the Oblate Associates with
    Fr. David Munoz, OMI as current director.

    ° Some introductory formation would be required. ° The website is:

    While I am hoping to step down soon, it will take a while to shut down the office. Bette will continue to work at the Shrine in many capacities.

    I want to thank all the VMs for the many wonderful years together and all the great work all of you did to make the VMs the great organization it has been for the last
    58 years.

Br. Tom Ruhmann, OMI
National Director of the VMs

May you Grow Still Enough

May you grow still enough to hear the small noises earth makes in preparing for the long sleep of winter, so that you yourself may grow calm
and grounded deep within.

May you grow still enough to hear the trickling of water seeping into the ground, so that your soul may be softened and healed, and guided in its flow.

May you grow still enough to hear the splintering of starlight in the winter sky and the roar at earth’s fiery core.

May you grow still enough to hear the stir of a single snowflake in the air, so that your inner silence may turn into hushed expectation.

~ Brother David Steindl-Rast


Donna Michael Recipient of the 2022 Fr. John Maronic Award

Donna Michael has been a member of the Victorious Missionaries Chapter in Buffalo, New York, since

2000. She serves as current President Carol Buchla’s co-partner in decision-making and creative ideas for their VM group, although Donna likes to be the silent partner. She
has lent a helping hand for years with their picnics and especially their huge fundraisers called “Towel Bingo Party” and “Chinese Auction.” The hugely popular “Towel Party” generally made over $1,000. One year when President Carol had to go to the hospital emergency room for kidney stones and severe pain on the day of the event, Donna carried the entire load for the day. That was no small task! On one of Buffalo VMs’ retreat days, she and her son, Christopher, led the group so beautifully in the Divine Mercy Chaplet. Carol says Donna could easily be their chapter’s president. However, she has many other areas of service to people with disabilities.

Donna always offers rides to folks who have no way to get to the VM meetings. She is also their chapter’s recruiter. She has invited more than ten folks to their group, and some have become members. She has reached out to residents of group homes and generated interest in attending their annual Christmas party and outdoor picnics at several large parishes.

Donna was a teacher at a school for children with special needs/disabilities. The state
of New York did not even know how to evaluate the students, so Donna created the assessments. Unfortunately, one day she had to move an adult child by herself and ended up injuring her neck. This led to her early retirement, but her caregiving did not end. She has a son, Christopher (42), who is blind

from birth, and is now living in a group home. Two years ago, her husband had a stroke and her family members ended up living with her. She now helps home school her seven grandchildren from one family, two of which have disabilities.

Despite her family responsibilities, Donna continues her outreach in the Buffalo area community. She is the Social Activities Leader/Coordinator for local groups of individuals with various disabilities. The volunteers at the church hall, who made Christmas and Easter dinners from home, was about to disband. Donna resurrected the program, and it now has over 40 members, who meet monthly. She also coordinates a yearly Weekend Retreat for persons with various disabilities. That alone is a feat in itself since it requires securing speakers, nursing aides, transportation drivers and volunteers, in addition to selecting the yearly theme with the core group and delegating duties. This, too, almost fell by the wayside because the previous leadership was unable to continue. Donna accepted the challenge for all of it, and it continues under her capable leadership.

Donna has tremendous compassion – a heart for the poor, lost and lonely. She supports two local groups: St. Vincent de Paul and
the Ladies of Charity, who provide food, clothing and special needs. Her hobbies include walking, especially enjoying Buffalo’s “Garden Walks.”

Donna Michael is like a bright shining star radiating God’s love!

Congratulations, Donna, on receiving this richly deserved award!
(The ceremony will take place later this year in the Buffalo, New York area.)

“Only by loving and helping others do we complete ourselves.” ~Fr. John Maronic, OMI

A Fond Farewell

by Bette Meyer
VM Ministry Assistant

Once I started working as the VM Ministry Assistant at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville, Illinois, almost 15 years ago, I discovered that I had a prior connection with the VMs. When

I was a high school junior, my friends and I volunteered to push people in wheelchairs from the Shrine Amphitheatre up to the Visitors Center. I realized that long ago event was the VM National Conference!

I want to thank Br. Tom Ruhmann, OMI who has been the VM National Director for the duration of my time in the VM office. He has helped guide me all along the way. Hats off to my predecessor, Billie Munie, who left me copious notes and was always available to help answer my thousand and one questions about how to do this job.

My biggest thank you goes to the VMs themselves. It has been my true pleasure getting to know the members, planning the annual VM events, writing the Uplift newsletters, visiting the VM Chapters
and serving on the VM Advisory Council. Staying in contact with the VMs via phone calls, notes, cards, letters or emails has been such a blessing! I am inspired by this group. They have such a grit about them that helps them to persevere even in times

of struggle. They have compassion for their fellow members, going out of their way to help. But mostly, I stand in awe of their deep-seated joy. When there is a gathering of VMs, you can count on lots of smiles and laughter. They seem to have an unextinguishable light within that shines on, even when life is filled

with pain, grief, loneliness or despair. I salute your courage, your tenacity and your strong faith which prompts your love of neighbor.

Even though the VM National Office is closing, I don’t consider this a “good-by” but more like a “see you later.” Despite a different role at the Shrine, I am sure I will stay in touch with the VMs because you have become not only friends, but family. God bless you all!

“The VMs are a praying people, a serving people, a reflecting and renewing people.” “We are gifts to each other.” ~Fr. John Maronic, OMI

As I Meet a New Day

Another morning broken open by the light of day.
I sit up…gazing into the awakening scene outside my window.
I recognize my brokenness and my wholeness…
my loneliness and my being loved.
This day…a new day…a blessing…
an opening into the infinite…
an invitation to be awake….to not miss the beauty and wonder of it all.
Here I am…broken and beautiful…
scarred and healed…
anxious and calm…
held in an ocean of love.
Can I remember that?
Can I bask in the love that enfolds me before I get up and get busy and forget? May these precious moments carry me through this brand-new day.
May it be so. ~M. Clancy

Please Pray for
All those affected by COVID and natural disasters
Special Intentions

Natalie Adams
Alice Anderson
Nicole Barnett
Pat Barboza
Mary Rita Bauck
Hannah Bergen
Kathie Bomsta
Sharon Bond
Julian Catchings
Sue & David Collins
Doris Drago
Patricia Drisdel
Carol Durand
Orly Elizondo
Chandler Fleischmann
Br. Conrad Fleischmann, OCSO
Jonathan & Angela Fleischmann
Sr. Teresa Ganley
Steve & Lynn Glauber
Pauline Gulash
Dawn Hackman & family
Ron Helgert
Benedict Hermann
Anthony Higgins
Paul Hilbig
Cindy & Jim Hoef

Elaine Hofer
Brenda Johnson
Neil Kielty
Kathleen Koesterer
Betty Kolenda
Jackie Kolenda
Tom Kues
Sean Kuga
Sean Lawlor
Diane & Carol Maertens & family
Michael & Clare Marrinan
Rita Meyer
Terry Meyer
George & Billie Munie
Zion Ratchford
Larry Reid
Celeste Schenkenberg
Bill Skinner
Paul & Helen Starke
The Sweet family
Brenda Tanner
Tim Tanner
Izzy Wade
Vi Whelan
Mary Willett
Norm Zilka
Bern & Charlie Zittel

In Loving Memory

All the VM “Graduates”
Fr. Joe Ferraioli, OMI
Neil Hayden
Jimmy Hoef
Br. Andy Lawlor, OMI
Zion Ratchford
David Woltering


Belleville, IL –
Sue Collins, 618-578-8084  
Buffalo, NY –
Carol Buchla, 716-639-7542
Erie, PA –
Pat Fronzaglia, 814-440-1987 or
Sharon Bond, 814-450-7748
Flint, MI –
Karen Dutil, 810-908-9822
Houston TX –
Barbara Devaraj, 713-981-8376  
Lowell, MA –
Fr. Mike Amesse, OMI,
Maryville/Granite City, IL –
Gary Wilbur, 618-444-9873