Marie du jour 2023, 16 May: Gervase Toelle, O.Carm.

Lady, my window looks across this city
And weeps with you,
Weeps with unthinkable pity.
Nobody calls you
Mother now; nobody heeds.

Your son and gilded daughters
Tell secrets (by night their dreams) to the rumorous bambino,
Play on the beach of shoreless waters,
Mourning and weeping in this vale of tears.

Something is dead (they know)
On the earth
Which will not rise again;
Something is drowned
In the deep waters of the world.

Come, Lady, to this watery grave, this world;
Come from above:
The wide world weeps for you, Lady,
With your waterspears of love.
Nobody calls you Mother now;
Nobody calls you, Mother.

Father Gervase Toelle, O.Carm.

To the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Rain

Note: Father Gervase Toelle, O.Carm. was born Robert Toelle on 31 December 1921 in Chicago, Illinois. After two years of high school at Mount Carmel in Chicago, he entered the Carmelite Seminary at Niagara Falls, Ontario in 1938. His vocation as a poet was discovered not long after beginning his seminary studies. On 20 September 1940, he received the tunic and scapular and the religious name Gervase; he began his novitiate formation on 14 August 1941 in New Baltimore, Pennsylvania. One year later, he made his simple religious profession, on 15 August 1942. His return to studies at Niagara, then to major seminary at Whitefriars Hall in Washington DC moved quickly; on 7 October 1945, he made his solemn profession. Gervase was ordained a Carmelite priest in Chicago on 5 June 1948 by the same bishop who confirmed him. After his first religious profession, Gervase joined the Catholic Poetry Society of America, and his life-long love affair with literature never ceased. He continued as a teacher, author, and editor until his life was tragically cut short after a traffic accident near Springfield, Illinois on 9 May 1966 that left him with a traumatic brain injury; he never regained consciousness. Father Gervase Toelle, O.Carm. died at a nursing home in metropolitan Chicago on 22 January 1967 at the age of 45. He is still remembered by his confreres in Niagara Falls; a photo of him for the library dedication in his name at the Carmelite Seminary is hanging proudly in the Mount Carmel Spiritual Centre, successor to the seminary.

Featured image: Stella Maris icon in Trastevere (2011) by Roman street artist Mr. Klevra is a tissue paper canvas mural. Image credit: _pek_ / Flickr (Some rights reserved)

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