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Rev. Mother Marie Joseph Butler, RSHM

Mother Marie Joseph Butler, original name Johanna Butler (born July 22, 1860, Ballynunnery, County Kilkenny, Ire.—died April 23, 1940, Tarrytown, N.Y., U.S.), Roman Catholic nun who founded the Marymount schools in Europe and the United States.

 

In 1876 Butler became a novice in the Congregation of the Sacred Heart of Mary in Béziers, France. She took the name Marie Joseph. In 1879 she was sent as a teacher to the order’s convent school in Oporto, Portugal, where in 1880 she entered into full membership in the order. In 1881 she was transferred to a convent school in Braga, Portugal, where she became superior in 1893.

 

In 1903 Butler was directed to take charge of the order’s school in Sag Harbor, Long Island, New York. She also had responsibility for expanding the work of the order in the United States, and to that end, in 1907, she opened Marymount School in Tarrytown, New York. By 1919 the school had developed into a college for Roman Catholic women, and under her guidance it became a leader in Catholic higher education for the modern world. Other Marymount schools were established to spread the work of the original: in 1923 Marymount Academy of Los Angeles (now Marymount College in Palos Verdes Estates), in 1923 Mariemont in Paris, in 1930 Mariamonte in Rome, and in 1936 the two-year Marymount Manhattan College in New York City, which became a four-year liberal arts college in 1948. Marymount in Los Angeles merged with Loyola University to form Loyola Marymount University.

 

In all, Butler was responsible for the opening of 14 schools, 3 of them colleges, in the United States and 23 schools, novitiates, and other institutions of the order in other countries. She promoted in the Marymount schools an educational policy that emphasized social and physical training, along with religious and intellectual pursuits, and she established courses in political science and law to help train her students to become active and informed citizens.

 

In 1926 Butler was elected Mother General of the Congregation of the Sacred Heart of Mary, making her the first American head of a European-based Catholic order. In 1927 she became a naturalized U.S. citizen. In addition to educational institutions she founded the Mother Butler Mission Guilds for social service and instituted the retreat movement for laywomen. In 1948 her cause for canonization was opened.

 

Encyclopedia Britannica


Clara O. Corpus: A Woman of Faith

 

“Ask the Good Lord. He does it all.” This was how Clara O. Corpus would answer when asked about the tremendous growth of the Mother Butler Mission Guilds. This was typical Clara O. Corpus – a woman of faith.

 

What faith to bring over to the Philippines a new apostolate especially for women. What faith to call on seven friends to share her vision. What faith to go all over the country, gathering women to be “missionaries.”

 

Mrs. Corpus, Tita Clara, Clara – these marked the stages of my personal connection with this great lady. When I first joined the MBMG, I was in awe at how this soft-spoken, shy, simple woman became a “founder.” I had to address her as Mrs. Corpus in the few times our paths crossed. After some years, I became a unit officer and after several meetings and activities, I began to call her Tita Clara. After some more years, I became a National Officer. These meant frequent meetings, close consultations, a deeper personal relationship, and she insisted I call her simply Clara.

 

She wrote simple words to express her feelings about the MBMG apostolate: “The challenge was posed to us – we dared to face it, trusting, as always, in God to do the rest.”

 

Having known her through all those years, and through all those names, I can truly say she was “simply Clara” = simple and clear in her vision, simple and clear in what she felt was her mission, simple and clear in her faith!

 

Mary-lou P. Albert
Chapter President 1984-87; 1994-95
National President 2001-2004


Mother Butler and the Holy Mass

 

 

A great devotion of Mother Marie Joseph Butler – indeed, one might say, the source of her extraordinary spiritual vitality – is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. All the events of her life are tied up with this Holy Mystery.

 

As a child, she is recalled to be tramping down the road, even on a rainy day, to the village church to attend Holy Mass. For a little girl just past the First Communion age, the sacrifice this involves – and the love for the Eucharistic Sacrifice it implies – are remarkable.

 

As a young girl, she took special delight in preparing the sacristy for Sunday Mass. She would make ready the chasuble and altar linen, and she would gather flowers from her family garden with which to adorn the altar. She particularly loved to refill and light the sanctuary lamp, evidently an indication of her longing to be very close to the Tabernacle.

 

As a religious, she fostered devotion to the Holy Sacrifice among her students by teaching them to sew church vestments and linen for the missions. The impact of this devotion was such that to this day, organizations carrying her name are found in all continents to perpetuate her apostolate for the Altar of Sacrifice.

 

Finally, as a Superior General, her first action was to focus attention on the immensity of the Sacrifice of Calvary as a source of grace. It is in her first Circular Letter that she expresses this view. She says:

 

“What the Sun, King of Stars, is to our material universe, which it illuminates, beautifies and renders fruitful – all that, and much more, is the Holy Mass in the Spiritual World of souls.

“All Grace flows from this great Sacrifice. It is the focus of all spiritual acts; the culmination of our Holy Religion. It is Calvary re-enacted and from It flows all Grace on the entire Universe.”

 

We all know this to be a truth, but how well we appreciate it is another matter again. There is, therefore, one thing Mother Butler would have us consider in connection with our attendance in the Bloodless Sacrifice. It touches our faith. She says:

 

“If our faith were sufficiently vivid, we could see with spiritual vision, at the solemn moment of the Consecration, the Word of God become again Incarnate in the hands of the Priest, to restrain the anger of God against a world steeped in wickedness.”

 

If! Mother Butler knew how hard it is for us to have a faith that is alive at Holy Mass to make of our participation it It really fruitful. Would that we could meet the challenge which that little word suggests in relation to the ritual of the Re-Incarnation.


Clara O. Corpus, 1964


Mary, Our Model

 

 

Our apostolic pledge, as members of the Mother Butler Mission Guilds, concludes with the adoption of Mary as our Model. A better one will never be found. For Mary is the Queen of the Apostles.

 

The contemplation of Mary as our Model in our apostolate will find an appropriate focus in the seamless garment which Our Lord used while He walked upon the face of the earth. St. John the Evangelist relates in the Holy Gospels that, after Our Lord was crucified, the soldiers divided His garments among themselves. As for His tunic which “was without seam, woven in one piece from the top” (John 19:23), they cast lots to find out whose it shall be. It must have been a tunic of great value. It was too good to be divided into parts. “Let us not tear it,” (John 19:24), the soldiers decided. The very concept must have been irreverent to them even as they crucified Him.

 

We have every reason to believe that Our Blessed Lady wove, with her own hands, the garments that Christ wore. We are inclined to believe too that those garments were made of the most delicate, yet strong, workmanship, and that they were woven of the finest material. Our Lady never lost sight of Who was to use them. And, should they not have been of the best quality raiment, would the soldiers have cared at all to divide the spoils and cast lots for the tunic?

 

With this picture in focus, many thoughts come to mind. We figure that Our Lady would never have thought of delegating to anyone else the task of weaving clothes for her Son. The honor was not a trifle to give to someone else. She was not selfish. Not in any way. But the duty was hers – a mother’s. And the privilege – would she waive the extraordinary opportunity to clothe the King of the Universe?

 

We tend to think too that Mary worked in the privacy of her home without fanfare. Just quietly, as becomes a simple woman of the house. There was nothing spectacular in her job. Perhaps she sat by a window to get more light, all the better to see how well the warp went. Maybe she had a good view of the neighborhood while she sat weaving by the window. But as for others to see her, what need was there? All that mattered to her was that she was busy for Him Whom she believed to be God.

 

While she was busy with her hands, however, we imagine that her mind was occupied with thoughts of Christ and that those thoughts would sometimes be sad. It is not hard to figure why. For the prophecy of Simeon, at the Presentation at the Temple, would come back to her, as it were, a shadow of the Cross: “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and for the rise of many in Israel, and for a sign that shall be contradicted. Any thy own soul a sword shall pierce…” (Luke 2:34-35). What could this sorrow be? What suffering lies in store for her Son, so meek and so gentle, Himself so compassionate with suffering?

 

These are little thoughts that pass through the mind in the contemplation of Mary our Model. Do not all of them have a bearing on ourselves as apostles in the Mother Butler Mission Guilds?

 

Clara O. Corpus, 1964

 

MBMG Timeline

Date Event
22-July-1860 Johanna Butler born in Ballynunnery, Ireland
1907 Mother Butler established Marymount College in New York
23-April-1940 Mother Butler passed away
1955 Clara Corpus met Marion Dolan
8-September-1955 1st Chapter Archdiocese of Manila
20-April-1956 Chapter in Diocese of Baguio-Benguet
8-February-1958 Chapter in Archdiocese of Caceres
4-March-1958 Chapter in Diocese of Calbayog
26-April-1958 Chapter in Archdiocese of Lipa
29-Jun-1958 Chapter in Archdiocese of Palo
June 1959 Chapter in Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia
22-July-1959 Mother Butler Foundation
15-May-1960 Chapter in Archdiocese of Jaro
1962 Mother Butler Foundation Baguio Chapter
May 1962 Chapter in Archdiocese of Cebu
15-May-1962 National Organization of MBMG formed
June 1962 Chapter in Diocese of Borongan
September 1962 Chapter in Diocese of Imus
Oct 1963 Chapter in Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro
October 1965 Chapter in Diocese of Maasin
24-October-1965 1st National Convention Manila
1966 Chapter in Archdiocese of Davao
1967 Chapter in Archdiocese of San Fernando Pampanga
20-Oct-1968 2nd National Convention Manila
April 1971 Chapter in Diocese of Cabanatuan
24-Oct-1971 3rd National Convention Baguio
10-June-1973 Chapter in Diocese of Tarlac
1974 Chapter in Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan
1974; Chapter in Diocese of San Fernando, La Union
1974 Chapter in Archdiocese of Cotabato
28-June-1974 Chapter in Diocese of Malolos
20-October-1974 4th National Convention Lipa City
1975 Chapter in Archdiocese of Zamboanga City
1976 Chapter in Diocese of Bacolod
24-October-1976 5th National Convention, Vigan
May 1977 Chapter in Diocese of Tagbilaran
1978 Chapter in Military Ordinariate of Lipa
1978 Chapter in Archdiocese of Tuguegarao
19-March-1978 Chapter in Diocese of Virac
21-October-1978 6th National Convention, Tacloban
1980 Chapter in Prelature of Ipil
18-October-1980 7th National Convention, Manila
July 1981 Reactivation of Chapter in Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro
1982 Chapter in Diocese of Bangued
1982 Chapter in Diocese of Iba
1982 Chapter in Diocese of Laoag
18-January-1982 Chapter in Diocese of Ilagan
14-May-1982 Chapter in Apostolic Vicariate of Calapan
24-July-1982 Chapter in Diocese of Daet
16-October-1982 8th National Convention, Cebu City
1983 Chapter in Diocese of Digos
23-March-1984 Chapter in Diocese of Mati
Oct 1984 Chapter in Diocese of Balanga
20-October-1984 9th National Convention, San Fernando La Union
December 1984 Chapter in Diocese of Iligan
6-June-1985 Chapter in Diocese of Tagum
September 1985 Chapter in Diocese of San Jose de Antique
1986 Chapter in Diocese of Butuan
22-May-1986 Marion Dolan passed away in Pearl River, New York
September 1986 Chapter in Diocese of Naval
4-October-1986 10th National Convention, San Fernando Pampanga
Sept 1987 Chapter in Prelature of Isabela de Basilan
1988 Chapter in Diocese of Kidapawan
May 1988 Chapter in Diocese of Dipolog
24-May-1988 Chapter in Diocese of Pagadian
15-Oct-1988 11th National Convention, Davao City
1990 Chapter in Diocese of San Carlos
26-October-1990 12th National Convention, Malolos Bulacan
23-October-1992 13th National Convention, Zamboanga City
7-October-1994 14th National Convention, Laoag City
14-October-1995 40th Anniversary, Archdiocese of Manila
September 1996 Chapter in Diocese of Kabankalan
27-September-1996 15th National Convention, Bacolod City
12-September-1997 Chapter in Diocese of Malaybalay
10-Oct-1998 16th National Convention, Davao City
8-August-1999 Chapter in Diocese of Masbate
13-May-2000 Chapter in La Trinidad, Benguet
22-May-2000 Clara Corpus passed away
1-September-2000 17th National Convention, Manila
26-October-2002 18th National Convention, Cagayan de Oro
2-October-2004 19th National Convention, Angeles City, Pampanga
27-Aug-2005 Golden Jubilee, Manila
2006 20th National Convention, Cebu City
2008 21st National Convention, Davao City
March 2010 Reactivation of Chapter in Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan
27-July-2010 55th Anniversary, Manila