If you are actively discerning a vocation to the Priesthood, Diaconate, Consecrated Life, or Marriage and you are looking for information to help in your discernment, BE SURE TO CHECK the section at the bottom of the right sidebar for the "labels" on all posts. By clicking on one of these labels it will take you to a page with all posts containing that subject. You will also find many links for suggested reading near the bottom of the right sidebar. Best wishes and be assured of my daily prayers for your discernment.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

"Conception Abbey blessed with vocations"

From the Catholic Key
By Jarrod Thome

Photo at left - from left, Brothers Paul Sheller, Victor Schinstock, Guerric Letter, Pachomius Meade, Anselm Broom, Abbot Gregory Polan, Brothers David Wilding, Placid Dale, Macario Martinez, Bernard Montgomery, and Novice Adam Burkhart. Photo courtesy of Jarrod Thome.

CONCEPTION - The Rule of St. Benedict isn't always an easy thing to follow. In fact, some early monks who entreated St. Benedict to become their abbot eventually tried to poison him. Nevertheless, there has been a great need for monasticism in our world and St. Benedict's words have served as a guide for this vocation for 1,500 years. Today, with nine young monks in formation at Conception Abbey, it is evident that there is still a great need for the witness of Benedictine monasticism in the world.
St. Benedict begins his Rule with the words, "Listen carefully, my son, to the master's instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart." Last month at Conception, four young men expressed their desire to heed the master's instructions-two through the profession of solemn, perpetual vows, one through the profession of simple vows, and one by beginning a novitiate year.

The two solemnly professed, Brother Victor Schinstock and Brother David Wilding, are now full-fledged members of the community, making them voting members of the monastic chapter which makes major community decisions.

Brother Victor, 26, is the son of Gene and Jeanne Schinstock of Hutchinson, Kan. Originally from the rural setting of Kinsley, Kan., Conception has been a good fit for Brother Victor. His faith, knowledge and prayer life have all grown in the peace the Abbey affords. For the past two years, Brother Victor has served as the Director of Admissions and Vocation Promotion for Conception Seminary College- a title he relinquished shortly before his solemn profession. Since his profession, he has entered the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., to pursue graduate work in Biblical Studies.

Brother David, 33, grew up in Union, Mo., the last of three children of Thomas and Mary Jo Wilding. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music, specializing in the organ, from Southwest Missouri State University. Not only an asset to the community, Brother David's talent for music was actually responsible for his first visit to Conception. Before discovering his monastic vocation, Brother David was involved in the Lay Ministry program of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. One of his friends from the program e-mailed him and encouraged him to visit Conception and see the organ that resides in the basilica. This trip sparked others and kindled the fire of his eventual monastic vocation. Today Brother David serves the community through his talent at the organ and his work with the seminary liturgy program and the Printery House's computer and website department.

Born Isaac Dale, the middle of 3 sons born to Paul and Deaonna Dale, Brother Placid, 25, grew up in Salem, Mo. The family was always very active in their parish as Brother Placid was growing up, and as he got older, he became involved with several different youth conferences. This involvement gave him opportunities to grow deeper in his faith, which otherwise might have been difficult in the predominantly Southern Baptist community. Brother Placid's father is an alumnus of Conception Seminary College and, after the tragic shootings of 2002, the family made a visit to the Abbey. Impressed by the prayer and peace of the place, the experience of this visit would stay with Brother Placid through his time at Missouri State University in Springfield where he majored in vocal music education. After a friend gave him a copy of the Rule of St. Benedict, Brother Placid's inclination toward a monastic vocation grew and he returned to Conception four different times, each time expressing more interest. Finally he began to work here as a volunteer, which lasted seven months before entering the postulancy in April of 2007. Novice Isaac became Brother Placid on the feast of the Assumption, August 15, 2008.

At age 21, Novice Adam Burkhart is the youngest member of the monastic community. He is the oldest of four children born to Bruce and Debbie Burkhart. A graduate of Bishop Miege High School, he also had his first exposure to Conception Abbey after the shootings in 2002, upon his father's meeting of Conception's own Father Regis at a doctor's office. From then on, the family would come up to visit Conception. At one point, Novice Adam attended one of the seminary's Encounter With God's Call vocation weekends but became more inclined to monastic life than the seminary. After graduating from high school and spending a year at Longview Community College, Novice Adam joined Conception Abbey as a postulant and entered the novitiate on August 14. He currently helps out in the Printery House and is taking some courses through the seminary.

The heirs of western civilization owe a great deal to the contributions of monasticism. With a steady stream of young vocations, Conception Abbey is living proof that this way of life still has plenty of contributions left to make. If you would like more information on Conception Abbey, please visit http://www.conceptionabbey.org/ or call 660-944-2823.

Off to the Diocesan Vocation Directors Conference

We take off later today for the National Conference of Diocesan Vocations Directors Convention in Denver. To the extent that I can I will be blogging from the convention.

Other posts will probably have to be on hold for a few days.

This will be several days of prayer and reflection on vocations along with presentations and discussions of relevant topics to the sometimes difficult work we do. It is a great time to hear from others about the work they are doing and the successes they are having with regards to helping men answer God's call. Please keep all of the Vocations Directors in your prayers this week!

"Fr. Pavone Scraps Plans to Form Dedicated Society"

From the Washington Post

An outspoken Catholic priest has scrapped plans to build a religious society of priests dedicated solely to fighting abortion, just two years after its founding.

The Rev. Frank Pavone said the religious community he founded in 2006, the Missionaries of the Gospel of Life, was diverting attention and resources from his primary goal: ending abortion.

Nine seminarians were studying to join the society, based in Amarillo, Tex., Pavone said, but he was its only member. The goal was to ordain and train an army of priests free from diocesan duties and dedicated to fighting abortion across the country. The nine will return to their home dioceses.

Priests for Life, founded by Pavone in 1991 and one of the largest anti-abortion groups in the United States, will continue as a "private association of the faithful." Pavone's strident style of anti-abortion activism has at times vexed the Catholic hierarchy. In 2001, Cardinal Edward Egan of New York, where Pavone was living, forced him to step down as head of Priests for Life and accept a parish position. Egan eventually allowed Pavone to transfer to Amarillo.

"Carnegie native monk is 'regular' guy with lofty goals"

From Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
By Becky Shelter

He might not have realized it at the time, but the seeds of Carnegie native Andrew Kurzawski's vocation were planted in him more than a decade ago.

"I was so fortunate when I was growing up at SS. Simon and Jude. It was the largest Catholic school in the diocese," Kurzawski said. "There were young, vibrant priests, and they played sports with us. They were guys you could relate to. I didn't see them as just priests."

"They were regular men living an exemplary life, guys trying to do the will of God in their lives. They chose to follow Christ as priests."

With nearly 175 monks in the community, St. Vincent Archabbey in Latrobe is Kurzawski's home now.

Known by the religious name Brother Gabriel Myriam, Kurzawski joined St. Vincent -- the first Benedictine monastery in North America -- 13 months ago.

Kurzawski professed his first vows during vespers for the feast of St. Benedict on July 10. The ceremony marked his first year in monastic life.

During the past year, Kurzawski studied the rule of St. Benedict, learned to pray and sing the psalms and studied church and St. Vincent history.

In July, he plans to renew his vows, and then after three to five years, he will take his final vows. He is studying to be ordained to the priesthood.

"Overall, I'm extremely happy," Kurzawski said. "I haven't found this type of joy in anything else I've done."
He explains that God calls people in different ways.

"It's important to see if you are called to be a married man or woman or a brother sister or deacon," Kurzawski says.

"God calls Catholic visionaries to all different vocations. As Catholics, we need to support and nurture young people, whether they are a brother, sister or friend. Help with their calling -- whether it is to be a priest or to get married -- it's important that we do that."

While at Carlynton, Kurzawski was the captain of the basketball team and he originally thought his future would be on the basketball court.

"When I was done with high school, my main focal point was that I wanted to play college basketball and teach high school," he said.

Upon graduating in 2003, he thought long and hard about his options.

The Rev. John Dinello, a Catholic priest at Immaculate Conception-St. Joseph in Bloomfield, is Kurzawski's godfather, and his influence made him see those called to religious life as regular people with an exemplary calling.

He also credits his vocation to the Rev. Carmen D'Amico, pastor of St. Benedict the Moor in the Hill District.

"I thought about the priesthood, and I thought about family. My parents probably dreamed of grandchildren. It took a while to grow on them," he said.

"They really respect (my choice), and they are extremely proud of me. They see that I'd be helping people. It's very rewarding."
Congratulations to Br. Gabriel Myriam! As Assistant Director of Vocations for St. Vincent's Archabbey, Br. Gabriel is responsible for moderating their community's excellent vocations blog - check it out HERE.

An Interview with Mother Dolores Hart

From Catholic Exchange.com
By Barbara Middleton

Once an in-demand Hollywood actress, Dolores Hart shocked the entertainment industry when she gave up everything to become a cloistered Benedictine Roman Catholic nun. She left her career, broke off her engagement to Los Angeles businessman Don Robinson, and pursued her vocation as a nun.

Mother Dolores’ career started in 1956 at the age of 18 years. Early on, her career took off as she played the love interest to Elvis Presley in the 1957 release Loving You. After this appearance, Dolores found herself in frequent demand, and she made two more films before playing with Presley again in 1958’s King Creole. She then debuted on Broadway, winning a 1959 Theatre World Award as well as a Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actress for her role in The Pleasure of His Company. In 1960, Dolores starred in Where the Boys Are, a teenage comedy about college students on spring break which developed a near cult-like following.

Dolores Hart went on to star in four more films, including the lead role in Lisa which was based a novel by Jan de Hartog and nominated for a Golden Globe for “Best Picture - Drama”. She was considered one of Hollywood’s rising stars and was cast for roles in Wild is the Wind, The Plunderers, Francis of Assisi, Sail a Crooked Ship and Lonelyhearts, with Montgomery Clift. Her last role was opposite Hugh O’Brian in 1963’s Come Fly with Me.

Barbara Middleton: When did you receive the call from Paramount Studios?

Mother Dolores: In the middle of charm class, at Marymount, I received a call from Paramount studios! It was the associate producer of Hal Wallis and he wanted me to come to Paramount for a meeting. The teacher didn’t want me to take the call — she thought it was a sham. I took the call.

They wanted to meet me that afternoon, maybe in a half hour, at Paramount. Indeed, I wanted to meet them, too. My friend, Don Barbeau, came to pick me up in a 1938 hearse. I had on my letter sweater and socks and went to see Mr. Hal Wallis. He asked me, “What do you want to do with your life?”

I responded quickly and said, “I want to be an actress.”

“We’re doing a picture with Mr. Presley and we want you to start next week.” I didn’t even know who Elvis Presley was but the next week were the final tests at school. I said, “Does it have to be next week?” His reply, “Yes, it does!”

Mother Gabriel, the Dean of girls, came to see me and told me, “Kids in the drama school want an opportunity like what you’re going for. Dolores this is the big one. Go for it!” I said, “Okay, okay!” I took her advice, did the screen test and got the part.

The cameraman asked, “Miss Hart, who taught you technique on film? Where did you go to school?”

“I never went to school for such.”

“You certainly know what to do.”

Finally the call came and I would start filming with Mr. Presley. I met with Wallie Westmore for make up and Edith Head to design my wardrobe for the movie Loving You.

Barbara Middleton: I know you play the clarinet. Did you play the clarinet for Elvis?

Mother Dolores: Well, two years later, I did another picture with Elvis Presley. Jan Shepherd played Elvis’ sister in the film. It was her birthday and we had a party for her at my house. Elvis came to the birthday party. I played the clarinet and Elvis sat down and played the piano. We played a few tunes for Jan’s birthday. He was quite a gentleman — a quality of simplicity, humor, and shyness about him. It was very much his persona at that time.

When we were making King Creole, he had so many people after him — you couldn’t walk through the streets in New Orleans. It was like a circus. You would not believe the crowds. Policemen were everywhere. We had to go to hotel rooms to wait in between scenes. When we finally got to the site, we were ushered into the elevator, [and] in the hotel rooms. There would be boards built from one hotel to another. We crossed over to another hotel and would go down the elevator and enter another room. They’d bring us sandwiches. Elvis would open the Gideon Bible, as that was the version placed in the hotel rooms. Whatever passage he’d open it to, we would talk about it. He would ask me, “What do you think of this passage?”

Barbara Middleton: How did you happen to come to visit the Abbey?

Mother Dolores: In 1959, I was in a play in New York, The Pleasure of His Company. A friend invited me to meet some nuns and she said, “They are very special. I exclaimed, “NUNS! No, I don’t want to meet nuns.”

But my friend said, “Did I ever steer you wrong?” and I said, “No.” So, I came to Regina Laudis — after a few hours here, it has a definite call. You feel you’re in a special place. Well, after the first visit, I kept coming back in between shows. Eventually, I asked the Reverend Mother if she thought I had a vocation. She said, “No, no; go back and do your movie thing. You’re too young.”

I did, and then did some more films: Where the Boys Are and St. Francis of Assisi which took me to Rome. I met Pope John XXIII and he was very instrumental in helping me form my ideas about a vocation. When I was introduced to the Pope, I said, “I am Dolores Hart, the actress playing Clara.” He said, “NO, you are Clara! (”Tu sei Chiara” — in Italian). Thinking he had misunderstood me, I said, “No, I am Dolores Hart, an actress portraying Clara.” Pope John XXIII looked me square in the eye and stated, “NO. You are Clara!” His statement stayed with me and rang in my ears many times.

Barbara Middleton: Reverend Mother, would you please tell us about your engagement before entering the Abbey?

Mother Dolores: A very wonderful experience for Don Robison and [me]. He had a feeling that I might have a “calling.” He wanted to try the engagement: “Let’s give this a try.” Several days went by and we were driving down the road when he stopped the car. Don said, “Something isn’t right. Do you love me?”

“Of course, Don, I love you.” He asked again, and then said, “Something in you is not with me.”

When I returned home at 1 a.m., I called and got a flight for 6 a.m. to Regina Laudis. God is far from all of us until we get into the reality of ourselves. I finally came to say — in my heart more than anything and then openly to myself: “My search for God was a marital search.”

When I spoke to Don again — he knew, because a man knows — every human being knows when something is real. We were at supper and I didn’t have my ring on. Don said, “I know…I’ve known it. This is what you’ve got to do and I’ve got to do this with you. We’ve got to do this together.”

That was an amazing gift — and all these years he’s been like that. Don says, “Every love doesn’t have to wind up at the altar.”

Many relationships can wind up a lot worse. He never married. Don comes every year at Christmas and Easter. He wants to do whatever he can for the community.

Barbara Middleton: If you had to do it again, would you do it?

Mother Dolores: I would hope I would have the courage to do it again. My vocation has been most fulfilling and gratifying.”

Barbara Middleton: You walked away from Hollywood. Why?

Mother Dolores: I never considered my decision as “walking away from Hollywood,” Barbara. I felt it was more — walking into something more significant and by that, I took Hollywood with me. I really loved my work and the people I worked with. [Mother Dolores is still a voting member of the Academy.]

"Considering the Call of the Permanent Diaconate"

From The Herald News
By John J. Oliveira

In June of 1967, Pope Paul VI restored the order of deacon as a permanent ministry in the Church. In August of the following year, the American bishops obtained permission to restore this ministry in our own Country.


Deacons are ordained to assist the bishop wherever the need exists in the Diocese at that time. Consideration in an assignment is given to the location of the deacon, his family and his occupation. An applicant must be willing and able to balance his commitment to his family, his work and the diaconate. After a period of discernment called Aspirancy, a period of information and deliberation, candidates will be required to attend four years of study with two semesters each year. Candidates are expected to have, as a minimum, a high school diploma. While applicants to the permanent diaconate can be married, if their spouse dies, they cannot remarry.

The ministry of a deacon is usually considered to be threefold. There is the Ministry of the Word, the Ministry of Liturgy and the Ministry of Service. Briefly, the Ministry of the Word includes proclaiming the gospel and preaching, catechetical instruction and evangelization.

The Ministry of the Liturgy entails specific liturgical roles such as preaching, baptizing, witnessing at marriages, distributing communion and officiating at wakes, funerals and burials.
The Ministry of Service is exemplified in varying ways, such as visiting the sick, helping in homeless shelters, distributing food to the hungry, assisting those in prison, etc. Many of our deacons are involved in these ministries here in our Diocese.

The permanent diaconate is different from the transitional deacon. The transitional deacon is in transit from diaconate to priesthood. A permanent deacon is one who will always remain a deacon. Both share in the same sacrament of Holy Orders.

The permanent diaconate is not for men who wanted to be priests and got married. It is not for men who want to be seen on the altar on Sunday in their own parish. It is not a call to prestige or acknowledgement by others; it is a call to ministry — to be ordered to the service of the church and of others.

In essence, it is a call from God. It is sensing that God is calling you to be more of a witness to the love of God in your life. It is a call that, of its very nature, demands sacrifice on your part; generosity of time, talent and hours of study to prepare you to serve others.

The call to ministry is a special call that must be accepted by your wife and family if you are married. One is unable to do this alone. Others must be willing to help and accept what you sense God is calling you to be.

Friday, September 26, 2008

"America's Future in Rome"

North American College Nears Capacity

By Elizabeth Lev

ROME, SEPT. 25, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The return of the seminarians invariably signals the arrival of Roman fall. Nowhere else in the world does the Church seem as vibrant, youthful and energetic than Rome at the end of September, when fresh faces in Roman collars fill the streets, striding purposefully across town toward their classes.

A large number of these future priests are Americans hailing from dioceses across the 50 states. This stronghold of the hope for the Church in America sits above the right shoulder of St. Peter's Basilica, the Pontifical North American college.

This fall, the North American College seems to stand even taller as it welcomes a record number of first-year seminarians, 61 "new men." The total number of 208 students will bring the seminary close to its capacity.

The students live on the premises although they walk into town every day to attend classes at the Jesuit Gregorian University or the Dominican University of the Angelicum.

The College is situated on the Janiculum Hill just a step away from the Bambin Gesu, Italy's foremost children's hospital. Also next door is the Vatican bus park, a bustling tourist hub constructed during the Great Jubilee 2000. In the midst of all this hubbub, the NAC offers a pleasant oasis of tranquility, prayer and study.

Blessed Pius IX, despite his many domestic hardships during the unification of Italy, demonstrated his pastoral concern for the Church in the United States when he proposed the idea of a seminary in Rome for the formation of American priests.

Rome, the Holy Father felt, could teach these young men about the universality of the Church, the long history and tradition of Christianity and the magisterium of the successor of St. Peter. To expedite this plan, the Pope donated the first piece of land for the college.

On Dec. 8, 1859, the first home of the North American College was inaugurated in Casa Santa Maria on Via Dell'Umiltà, near the Trevi fountain, and dedicated to the Immaculate Conception.

After the unification of Italy, the Italian state attempted to confiscate the Casa Santa Maria as it had done with all the other Church holdings. Only the intervention of the U.S. president Chester Arthur at the instigation of the American bishops saved the property.

By the end of World War II, vocations in the United States had increased to the point where the Casa Santa Maria could not accommodate the seminarians, so the North American College moved into the Villa Gabrielli park. The new premises, which enjoy the status of being extra-territorial property of Vatican City State, were inaugurated on Dec. 8, 1952, by Pope Pius XII in person.

Oasis in the city

The NAC's building structure was designed by Count Enrico Pietro Galeazzi in a refreshingly modern style intended to exploit the qualities of clean air and nature on the site. While simple and austere, wide corridors and large windows allow for light and fresh breezes and courtyards offer the serenity of nature for prayer.

The core of the structure was a series of chapels placed one on top of the other. The lowest level contained the crypt chapel, while the second was arranged with a score of little side altars where the priests would learn to celebrate their first Masses. Count Galeazzi chose to be buried in this chapel where he would be surrounded by the prayers of the young seminarians.

The uppermost chapel is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception. The lofty space boasts a mélange of modern styles, a sort of universality in artistic expression.

From stone reliefs illustrating the sacraments framing the altar in an updated Romanesque to the stained glass windows and expressionistic renderings of Old and New Testament stories along the nave, the chapel encompasses traditional church decoration in contemporary style.

The chapel is dominated by a mosaic of the Immaculate Conception designed by Count Galeazzi. He featured the Blessed Mother standing upon a crescent moon with her right hand raised in blessing and her left holding a globe surmounting the cross. Angels fly above her raising lilies and a crown, while below her stand Sts. Gregory the Great, Francis de Paul, Jean-Baptiste-Marie Vianney and Pius X.

Like the art of the chapel, the saints represent faith and devotion over the centuries of the Church.

Leaving a mark

I visited the College with a priest who had lived there as a seminarian in his youth and was now participating the in the Continuing Theological Education program, which is also based in the same building.

His love for the place of his priestly formation and his vivid memory of the art and architecture of the building show what an impact a seminary can have in a priest's life.

The first thing he brought me to see was a stunning mosaic, which had once graced the entryway to the complex. Designed for the inauguration of the new premises in 1953, the work represents the former residence of the seminarians, the Casa Santa Maria.

The work was deigned by Nello Ena, a successful Italian architect, and executed by Vatican Mosiac laboratory. Composed of bright and colorful tiles and enlivened by splashes of gold, the mosaic superimposes the myriad of buildings that made up the Casa Santa Maria in a sort of collage.

A pretty medieval brick bell tower flecked with shimmering bells hovers above a classical shrine with an image of the Virgin. Arcaded porticos, honorific columns and ancient ruins all patterned together give an idea of the dense layers of history that make up Rome and the Church.

This lovely work of art was a gift of Claire Boothe Luce, herself a remarkable mosaic of gifts and accomplishments. She started as a model/actress before turning to writing. A brilliant author, several of her plays won critical acclaim.

Upon her marriage to Henry Luce, publisher of Time and Life magazine, Claire Boothe Luce turned to journalism. From there it was a short step to politics.

Claire Boothe Luce famously converted to Catholicism in 1946 and wrote of her conversion in a series of articles for McCall magazine. In 1953, she became the U.S. Ambassador to Italy. One her first acts upon her arrival was to commission the mosaic as a gift to seminarians for their new residence.

Through the bright faces of our future priests, the modern engagement with ancient tradition and the myriad of backgrounds and histories of the people, the North American College presents all the good that the United States has to offer.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Diocese of Raleigh launches new vocations poster

Several months ago we began thinking about a theme for our new vocations poster. Providentially the process ended with the above poster. After many hours spent going through archives and cleaning up old pictures in photoshop and getting photos of our seminarians from Paul Tomas, I sent the images over to John D'Amelio with Fabrik Agency and we began crafting this year's poster. We're pretty thrilled with the outcome with the possible exception of the fact that we could certainly use more seminarians - but who couldn't? A slightly edited version of a forthcoming article which will explain the poster in the NC Catholics Magazine is below:

Tomorrow, the Diocese of Raleigh Office of Vocations will be mailing the 2008-2009 Diocesan Seminarians vocation poster to Parish Vocation Liaisons in parishes, missions and schools of the Diocese. This year’s poster, entitled “In the Footsteps of the Tarheel Apostles,” highlights not only the 16 men in formation for the Priesthood in the Diocese of Raleigh, but also the men in whose footsteps they follow. Most prominent on the poster is the Servant of God, Fr. Thomas Frederick Price, as a young seminarian for what was then the Apostolic Vicariate of North Carolina. Fr. Price was the first native North Carolinian ordained to the Priesthood and later became widely known as “The Tarheel Apostle” for his extraordinary missionary zeal. The handwritten text making up the background of the poster is from an actual letter Fr. Price wrote to Bishop Haid, O.S.B., the third Vicar Apostolic of North Carolina, reporting his missionary activities in Eastern North Carolina and mentioning his correspondence with St. Katharine Drexel and her spiritual and financial support of several parishes and schools in the State.

Also featured on the poster is the Apostolic succession of Bishops who have shepherded Catholics in Eastern North Carolina, from Cardinal Gibbons, the First Vicar Apostolic of North Carolina, to Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, the Fifth and current Bishop of Raleigh. Among the Bishops is a photo of a young Fr. Mark Gross, one of the first resident priests in Eastern North Carolina. Fr. Gross was personally responsible for bringing hundreds of people to the faith, and nurturing the faith and vocation of an even younger Thomas Frederick Price.

In the lower left of the poster is a group photo of the seminarians of the Diocese in 1954. The photo highlights not only the men whom today’s seminarians follow, but two prominent African American priests from the Diocese. Msgr. Thomas Hadden was the first black seminarian to attend the North American College in Rome and was the first African American ordained in Rome for the Priesthood in North Carolina in 1958. The following year, Bishop Joseph Lawson Howze was the second African American ordained to the Priesthood in the Diocese of Raleigh and later became the second black priest ordained a Bishop in the United States.

The Office of Vocations hopes the new poster will serve not only as a tool to promote more vocations to the Diocesan Priesthood, but also as an aid to begin teaching the rich history of Religious, Priests and Bishops serving Catholics in the State of North Carolina and the Diocese of Raleigh dating back to the early 1800’s.

Also available upon request is a poster version of a vocations ad that recently ran on the back of the NC Catholics magazine. The “No One is Born a Priest” ad features a young boy from St. Peter’s Church in Greenville, NC, who frequently pretends to celebrate Mass for family and friends. The photo used in the ad was actually taken by his mother on one of these occasions and serves to highlight the words of Pope Benedict XVI on the poster to the effect that religious or priestly vocations are a matter that should be explored and encouraged in families today.

Additionally, new vocations prayer cards with the names and pictures of Raleigh’s Seminarians will be distributed throughout the Diocese via Parish Vocations Liaisons. These too will be available upon request from the Office of Vocations.

"Army chaplain who had served in Kuwait dies at Walter Reed"

From Stars and Stripes
By Joseph Giordono

An Army chaplain who ministered to troops for decades died earlier this month after being medically evacuated from Kuwait to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the Pentagon announced late Tuesday.

Chaplain (Col.) Sidney J. Marceaux, a Catholic priest, died Sept. 14 at Walter Reed "from a noncombat related illness," according to a news release. He had been serving at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, before being transferred to the Warrior Transition Brigade at Walter Reed, officials said.
A memorial service was held Wednesday in Kuwait, a spokeswoman for U.S. Army Central said.

According to the Web site CatholicMil.Org, "during what was to be his final tour in Kuwait, the 69-year-old priest took sick and was sent to Walter Reed, where he died peacefully in his sleep."

The site quoted another Army chaplain in Iraq, who knew Marceaux, as saying, "It can accurately be said that he died with his boots on. He will truly be missed."

In an August 2007 interview with Stars and Stripes, Marceaux — who was then serving in the Benelux — said, "I loved dropping in on a FOB [forward operating base] where there were just a few guys, armed, tired, dirty and waiting for you."

"If something happens to them," he added, "they want to be reconciled with their creator."

Marceaux was raised in the rice fields of southwest Louisiana, and the Pentagon listed Beaumont, Texas, as his hometown in its news release. He had been set for retirement at the end of 2007, but because of a shortage of Catholic priests in the Army, requested one more active-duty tour.

The assignment that lured him back was ministering to troops in combat.

"I was able to exercise my priesthood in a way I couldn’t in a diocese," Marceaux told Stripes. "I was able to help them face death daily. They knew they had to go out and they knew they may not come back."

Marceaux joined the Army at age 17. As a member of the Texas National Guard from 1955 to 1963, he served as a rifleman, truck driver and radio operator.

He left the Army, finished college and taught social studies at a public high school. Then, in the mid-1970s, a weekend training stint that was part of his seminary studies brought him back to military service. That training was attending to wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Appreciation for our Priests and Seminarians

From The Catholic Key
By The Most Reverend Robert W. Finn
Bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph

"From the Bishop's Desk"


Over my first four and a half years in the Diocese, I have heard so many testimonies of the dedication and holy service of my brother priests: hours spent in every kind of ministry and the care of souls. "Father took care of my mother as she was dying." "He was there for us when we were going through some real tough times." "Father's prayerfulness at Mass is an inspiration." "He is a good teacher." "When Father was transferred, my kids cried - he meant so much to all of us."

As bishop I am privileged to hear a lot; and yes, I know our human shortcomings as well. But I know this above all: These men - your priests - love God and they love YOU! Years ago, when each of them first heard God's call, they were moved in generosity to say yes. Even when times get rough, they don't look back. Day after day, they give of their "blood, sweat, and tears": being constantly present and available for us.

You may be aware that over the last year or so we have had a number of deaths among our priests. Most of them were retired - but not all. They were wonderful priests - every one of them! And when I had the occasion and privilege of being at their wakes and funerals, I saw what they meant to you. Of course, the complete tally of their good works is known only to God. The spiritual fruits of their Masses and hours in the confessional would be beyond our comprehension. Don't ever stop praying for their eternal peace - just as we pray for our parishioners at every Mass.

How blessed we are. In addition to our diocesan priests, we have many Religious Order priests who serve in parishes and many other ministries. Thanks be to God for them all.

We are also full of hope because of the steady increase in seminarians. Today we have 27 men in various stages of formation. They are answering a call deep within their heart from God - to do something spectacular with their life; to give themselves. Please pray for them, and pray for more and more vocations. We will need many more such vocations to provide for the growing needs of the faithful of our Diocese. Every day - in accord with our Lord's words in the Gospel - I beg the Lord of the harvest to send more workers for priestly ministry, and for consecrated life. I promise God that, if He sends them, I will do everything possible to take care of them very well: to see they have good seminary formation and their legitimate needs are provided for. Help me fulfill my promise.

I want to say on behalf of my brother priests: we are grateful to you for being so generous, so faithful, such an inspiration of faith to us! It is for you and your salvation that God has called us and given us such a great privilege - a share in the priesthood of Jesus Christ. Let us continue to pray for each other.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

"Sisters in Solitude"

From Fort Collins Now
By Erin Frustaci

About 35 miles northwest of Fort Collins, life is quiet, peaceful and contemplative—a contrast from the fast-paced consumer-driven lifestyle found in other parts of the world. Tucked among rocky foothills and fresh country air, the tiny town of Virginia Dale is all but forgotten.

And yet, there is a certain timelessness for those who call it home. The natural landscape, free of distractions, serves as the perfect backdrop for a community of about 20 Benedictine nuns of the Roman Catholic Church whose life work and mission is prayer.

“The focus is not on all life’s accessories, but on life itself,” Mother Maria-Michael Newe said.

Despite the complexity of the modern world where people are attached to their Blackberries, email and iPods, Maria-Michael believes there is still a need for simplicity and peacefulness in society.

“I think people are seeking this, they are just afraid of it,” she said. “They are so used to being busy that they are not used to sitting still in the quietness.”

The nuns, who range from 23 to 93 years old and come from all over the world, build their days around the seven-day services which make up what is called the Divine Office or the Liturgy of the Hours. Maria-Michael said the premise is to be prepared at all times to praise God. And if the volume of mail, email and phone calls for prayer requests is any indication, their work is greatly appreciated.

Throughout the day a chorus of voices chanting prayers can be heard from the chapel. At other times the stillness and deep quietness reverberates all around. Then there are also more unconventional sounds of the Abbey: An 89-year old nun weeding her flower gardens, an industrial mixer blending cookie dough for fresh homemade cookies, a green Gator’s engine starting as three young nuns prepare to heard cattle to a different barn.

The nuns work within the monastery and valley to support themselves. They divide up daily housekeeping tasks including cooking, cleaning, laundry and maintenance, as well as operate a gift shop that sells religious books and handmade cards and craft items. They also run a small online altar bread distributing business.

As a cloistered community, they only go outside for necessary business purposes such as grocery shopping or doctor appointments. Tuesdays are usually the days when select nuns make a trip down to Fort Collins to run errands.

“Work is a blessing,” Newe said. “It’s such a joy when you can bring home the gifts of God and help sustain the table.”

Following in the footsteps of their pioneer sisters, the nuns also are active ranchers. They run a herd of beef cattle, grow hay, collect eggs from the chickens, milk the cows and tend to the vegetable gardens.

The Abbey of St. Walburga relocated to Virginia Dale in 1997 after outgrowing its former location in Boulder. When the abbey first came to Boulder in the 1930s, the area was spacious and open. But as the city built out with busy highways and new subdivisions, an expansion of the abbey became problematic. The nuns spent several years looking for a new home. A Denver businessman and his wife eventually donated the land in Virginia Dale to them.

It’s a much different way of life, but one that is rewarding for those who are meant to live it, the nuns said. Contrary to misconceptions and pop-culture movies like Sister Act, Newe said the community is not a shelter for people who are running away from their problems. In fact, she said the women who join monasteries do it because they are called in that direction.

“You have to be mature enough to live in a community and yet be alone,” Newe said.
A typical day begins promptly at 4:50 a.m. with Matins, or vigils. More prayer sessions, including Lauds, follow. From 9-11:30 a.m. the women are dispersed throughout the property for the first work session of the day.

Many of them change into denim overalls to work on the farm, though they still wear the traditional veils. On Tuesday this week Sister Maria Gertrude Read, 23, and Sister Maria Josepha Hombrebueno, 30, spent the morning painting the fence by the farm a vivid red. The fall is busy time for maintenance in preparation for winter.

“We’ve been painting it bit by bit,” Read said. “We’ve been doing it for a couple weeks.”

Read just made her temporary vows two weeks ago. She has been in the Abbey for three years.

“I felt called to some kind of religious life,” she said.

She grew up in Boulder and was raised Catholic. However, she said it wasn’t as meaningful to her when she was younger. When she was 14 years old, she had a specific experience while at a church summer camp when she knew she wanted to become a nun. Before that, she said she had pictured nuns as scary.

“It was this push,” she said. “It was a transforming moment. My whole life changed after that.”

She began looking at different monasteries and then decided to look closer to home. She admits that she could have gotten married and had a “normal job,” but it wouldn’t have been the same.

“I don’t think it’s fair to say I wouldn’t have been happy somewhere else, but I wouldn’t have had the same fullness and joy.”

At 11:30 a.m. Sister Maria Gertrude and Sister Maria Josepha quickly cleaned up from their painting project and slipped back into their black habits, the traditional religious costumes or robes. After another prayer session in the chapel, the nuns gather for their formal meal at noon.

“When you live in a community, you really have to serve each other. You have to,” Newe said.

During that time, scripture is also read aloud. After the meal, the nuns have quiet time, where they can rest, go for a walk or spend private time praying. The afternoon is dedicated to classes for the younger women and another session of work before afternoon and evening prayers.

Most women begin their quest by visiting a monastery. Once they decide it is something they want to pursue, they become a candidate for about the first three months. After that, she will receive a postulant veil and remain a postulant for about nine months. During that time, the woman studies the Benedictine rule, traditions and ways of prayer. From there, she will become a novice for two years. At the end of that period she will make her first vows of obedience, stability and fidelity to the monastic life. After another three years, she will make her solemn perpetual vows.

Sister Raisa Avila, 22, is in the earlier stages of discernment, having only been at the abbey for about a year. She is a postulant.

“It’s a lifelong commitment, so you want to make sure,” she said.

Avila is originally from Vancouver, B.C., in Canada. She was born and raised catholic but didn’t take it seriously until she was faced with challenges. She was in school and had a different life, but she knew there was more out there for her.

“My love for God drew me here,” she said.

She attended a monastic living weekend at an abbey in Canada and was hooked. But Avila admits the path wasn’t always smooth. The transition into the lifestyle at the abbey has been challenging, Avila admits.

“I’m still human,” she said. “I cried when I left home. I missed my family, but at the same time, you have to make sacrifices.”

She said God has brought her through the tough times. She said she eagerly looks forward to the next stages of the process. Avila has also learned more about farming than she could have ever imagined. Though she did not grow up on a farm, she now greets the cows and llamas as if it were second nature.

During her afternoon work last Tuesday, she helped two other sisters heard the cattle to get them ready to be sold in an auction in Centennial. With a smile on her face, she then headed back into the chapel.

The abbey has become a place for prayer for the nuns as well as volunteers and people outside of the community.

“Our place really is a house of prayer. You don’t have to be catholic to pray here,” Mother Maria-Michael Newe said.

And while there are areas of the abbey that are cloistered such as the dining and living quarters, the public is invited to visit much of the property. In fact, the nuns run a retreat house on the property where groups and individuals can spend some time away for a set fee. The retreat house, which can fit about 23 people, is designed to offer quiet withdrawal from the busy noise of the ordinary home and work world.

Newe said prayer can be a hefty job at times, but it is also extremely rewarding. She said she often receives prayer requests for troubled relationships, illnesses and financial struggles. She is happy to take the requests because she said it is part of her duty.

“Somewhere in the world someone is needing that prayer,” Newe said. “And we take them and their cause to heart. It’s a work of love.”

Priest in Australia Disarms Man with Knife

From The Australian
By Adam Bennett

An elderly Sydney priest who disarmed an intruder says he thought it was either "me or him" when he confronted the man in the church presbytery.

Father John Mello, 72, was stabbed in the arm while taking a knife from a robber less than half his age at St Kevin's Catholic Church at Dee Why, on Sydney's northern beaches.

The priest was having dinner and reading the paper about 7.20pm (AEST) yesterday when he heard something and disturbed the intruder, aged between 25-30.

Fr Mello said when he confronted the man, wearing a balaclava and armed with a knife about 25 to 30cm long, he was "vividly conscious" he could be "horizontal in one second", and acted automatically to disarm his attacker.

"I was walking out of the dining room and on my right hand side there is a little corridor, and there was a man with a balaclava and I said `What are you doing here?'

"I saw the dangers, I thought it could be me or him now, I was so conscious vividly that I could be horizontal in one second.

"I acted almost automatically, but there was also the clear idea that it could be final. I said, so be it."

Fr Mello received a stab wound to his arm while disarming his attacker and needed a number of stitches when he was later taken to Manly Hospital.

But once he had hold of the knife, Fr Mello did not panic.

Instead, he led his assailant out of the church, but not before giving him a lecture.

He believes the man, who had broken into the church property by climbing onto the roof and slipping in through a window, had become trapped in the presbytery.

"When I got the knife in my hand I pointed to him and said `What are you doing here?'," said the Italian-born priest, who emigrated to Australia in 1962.

"And he said `Let me out, let me out'. He was trapped in because with safety locks you need the key.

"So I opened the door and let him out and then he turned around and said, `I only wanted some money ... you're a priest, you should help.

"And I said `Blimey, you intrude, you come with a balaclava and a knife, and you want money. It is not the way to do things'."

He said his attacker, who he described as a small man, was not violent or aggressive during the confrontation.

"When I went for the knife he didn't resist," he said.

"He was like a lamb."

Officers including the dog squad canvassed the surrounding streets last night for the young man.

He is described as having a dark complexion and dark eyes. He was wearing dark-coloured clothing and had a grey jumper wrapped around his head.

A number of elderly Catholic priests reside at the presbytery, which is part of the Broken Bay Diocese.

Fr Mello, who returned to work today, said the church no longer felt like "home, sweet, home" due to the attack.

He said it was not the first time the church had been targeted by thieves.

"A couple of years ago they broke in and stole $6000," he said.

"Luckily that time they did everything without disturbing me."

Pope Lauds Benedictines for Helping World Find God


Urges Them to Found More Monasteries

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 22, 2008 (Zenit.org).- In an age marked by worry and absurdity, the Benedictines can teach people how to recognize the God whom they seek, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope thus encouraged the monks and nuns to found new monasteries, also outside of Europe, when he spoke with them Saturday at Castel Gandolfo.

"In many parts of the world, especially in Asia and Africa, there is a great need of vital spaces to encounter the Lord," the Holy Father explained to the abbots and abbesses. "Hence, do not fail to meet with an open heart the hopes of all those, including those outside of Europe, who express a true desire for your presence and apostolate."

The witness of the Benedictine vocation is particularly important, added the Pontiff, "in a de-sacralized world and an age marked by the worrying culture of the void and the absurd."

"This is the reason why your monasteries are places where men and women, also in our age, run to seek God and to learn to recognize the signs of the presence of Christ, of his charity and of his mercy," he said.

The Pope appealed to Benedictines to "allow themselves to be led by the profound desire to serve all men with charity, without distinctions of race or religion," and to found new monasteries "there, where Providence calls you to establish them."

Moreover, the Holy Father also called their attention to the evangelizing, formative and cultural work that the Benedictines can carry out in Europe, "especially in favor of the new generations."

"Dedicate yourselves to young people with renewed apostolic ardor, as they are the future of the Church and of humanity," he encouraged. "To build a 'new' Europe, it is necessary to begin with the new generations, offering them the possibility to profoundly approach the spiritual riches of the liturgy, of meditation and of lectio divina."

Vocational crisis

The Holy Father also had words of encouragement especially for Benedictine abbesses, whose communities are suffering at present from a lack of vocations.

Benedict XVI asked them "not to be discouraged" and especially to avoid "the weakening of their spiritual devotion to the Lord and to their own vocation and mission."

"By persevering faithfully in it, you confess, instead, with great effectiveness in face of the world, your own firm trust in the Lord of history, in whose hands are the times and destinies of persons, institutions, peoples; to him we entrust all that touches upon the historical fulfillment of his gifts," he continued.

Finally, the Pontiff praised traditional Benedictine hospitality, through which one can transmit many spiritual goods to those who go to monasteries.

"This is a peculiar vocation of yours, a fully spiritual, human and cultural experience," he affirmed, which allows you "to offer the men and women of our time the possibility of reflecting more profoundly on the meaning of existence in the infinite horizon of Christian hope."

"Number of Deacons Among Us Grows"

From The Florida Catholic

By Linda Reeves

Left: Deacon William Ferguson is vested with his stole by an attending priest and deacon during his ordination Sept. 6. The retired software engineer is a member of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Boca Raton. Photo by Jason Collins

The number of permanent deacons serving Catholics in the Diocese of Palm Beach continues to grow. What does this mean for the future of the local church?

“The more deacons we have the better,” said Ana Daza-Jaller, coordinator of the Permanent Diaconate Formation Office, who pointed out that permanent deacons have a vital role helping parish priests, who have extremely busy jobs and large flocks that continue to increase here.

Eight men joined the ranks of the clergy as deacons Sept. 6 at the Cathedral of St. Ignatius Loyola during an ordination Mass with Bishop Gerald M. Barbarito presiding. The cathedral was packed.


In the south end of the diocese in Boca Raton, Deacon William Ferguson serves at St. John the Evangelist and Deacon Lon Phillips is at Ascension.

Out west in Wellington, Deacon William Jacobs is at St. Thérèse de Lisieux and Deacon Joseph O’Connell assists at St. Rita.

The central diocese has Deacon Richard Lyles at St. Francis of Assisi in Riviera Beach, Deacon Miguel Munoz is at St. Ignatius Loyola, Deacon Stephen Scienzo serves at St. Peter in Jupiter and Deacon Martin Serraes is at Holy Name of Jesus in West Palm Beach.

“Each of the eight men has exhibited the necessary qualities we seek in men serving in the diaconate and has demonstrated continued growth in all of the areas concerned,” said Deacon Dennis Demes, program director. “In addition to their duties in their respective parishes, each new deacon indicates an area of service to (take on in) the Diocese of Palm Beach as well, since a deacon is ordained primarily as a minister of the greater church.”

A deacon is to be “a servant in a servant-church,” according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

In 1967, the Catholic Church restored the diaconate as a permanent order of ministry, returning to the practice of the early church. Prior to the directive from Pope Paul VI, the diaconate was only a transitional stage as men prepared to be priests.

The clergy member has specific duties including proclaiming Scripture, preaching and performing charity for others. Deacons also assist at marriages, preside at funerals and burial rites, and lead Communion and prayer services.

There are more than 14,000 permanent deacons in the United States, according to the bishops’ conference.

Here the diocesan formation program, in its seventh year, has graduated 25 permanent deacons, bringing the population of “active deacons serving locally” to 86, according to Daza-Jaller.

The four-year diaconate program has attracted faithful men from all walks of life and professional careers. Deacon Demes pointed to projections that if the brotherhood continues to grow, deacons might outnumber priests one day.

At this point, the priesthood is strong in the diocese. According to the chancellor’s office, 110 priests have official assignments in the diocese with 53 parishes and missions. This figure includes diocesan, religious and extern priests. Another 65 active and retired priests have faculties in the diocese and help in parishes and ministries.

At the present time, the diocesan formation program has 22 participants.

“We have five in the first year, eight in the second year, five in the third year and four in the fourth year,” said Daza-Jaller.

Deacon Lee Levenson of St. Vincent Ferrer Parish in Delray Beach completed the diocesan program and studies required at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach. He was ordained with 11 other men September 2006 during ceremonies at St. Patrick in Palm Beach Gardens.

“I recall quite vividly that all of us were very excited,” he said. “I personally felt very happy, but not at all sure that I was worthy of this wonderful sacrament. I expressed my concerns to a priest I was visiting in North Carolina just weeks before my ordination and he replied, ‘Lee, none of us are worthy to receive the sacrament of holy orders, but that being said, we must simply open our hearts to the Holy Spirit and let the Triune God fill us and guide us.’”

Called From the Crowd

Video of Seminarians, Priests and Bishops from the Archdiocese of Melbourne speaking on vocations.

H/t to Paul at Holy Vocations

Monday, September 22, 2008

Interview with Mother Teresa

This is an excerpt of one of the last interviews with Mother Teresa conducted by Edward W. Desmond in 1989 for Time magazine. Excerpts from the interview appeared in Time magazine and the full text of the interview appeared in The National Catholic Register.

Time: What did you do this morning?

Mother Teresa: Pray.

Time: When did you start?

Mother Teresa: Half-past four

Time: And after prayer

Mother Teresa: We try to pray through our work by doing it with Jesus, for Jesus, to Jesus. That helps us to put our whole heart and soul into doing it. The dying, the cripple, the mental, the unwanted, the unloved they are Jesus in disguise.

Time: People know you as a sort of religious social worker. Do they understand the spiritual basis of your work?

Mother Teresa: I don’t know. But I give them a chance to come and touch the poor. Everybody has to experience that. So many young people give up everything to do just that. This is something so completely unbelievable in the world, no? And yet it is wonderful. Our volunteers go back different people.

Time: Does the fact that you are a woman make your message more understandable?

Mother Teresa: I never think like that.

Time: But don’t you think the world responds better to a mother?

Mother Teresa: People are responding not because of me, but because of what we’re doing. Before, people were speaking much about the poor, but now more and more people are speaking to the poor. That’s the great difference. The work has created this. The presence of the poor is known now, especially the poorest of the poor, the unwanted, the loved, the uncared-for. Before, nobody bothered about the people in the street. We have picked up from the streets of Calcutta 54,000 people, and 23,000 something have died in that one room [at Kalighat].

Time: Why have you been so successful?

Mother Teresa: Jesus made Himself the bread of life to give us life. That’s where we begin the day, with Mass. And we end the day with Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. I don’t think that I could do this work for even one week if I didn’t have four hours of prayer every day.

Time: Humble as you are, it must be an extraordinary thing to be a vehicle of God’s grace in the world.

Mother Teresa: But it is His work. I think God wants to show His greatness by using nothingness.

Time: You are nothingness?

Mother Teresa: I’m very sure of that.

Time: You feel you have no special qualities?

Mother Teresa: I don’t think so. I don’t claim anything of the work. It’s His work. I’m like a little pencil in His hand. That’s all. He does the thinking. He does the writing. The pencil has nothing to do it. The pencil has only to be allowed to be used. In human terms, the success of our work should not have happened, no? That is a sign that it’s His work, and that He is using others as instruments - all our Sisters. None of us could produce this. Yet see what He has done.

Time: What is God’s greatest gift to you?

Mother Teresa: The poor people.

Time: How are they a gift?

Mother Teresa: I have an opportunity to be with Jesus 24 hours a day.

Time: Here in Calcutta, have you created a real change?

Mother Teresa: I think so. People are aware of the presence and also many, many, many Hindu people share with us. They come and feed the people and they serve the people. Now we never see a person lying there in the street dying. It has created a worldwide awareness of the poor.

Time: Beyond showing the poor to the world, have you conveyed any message about how to work with the poor?

Mother Teresa: You must make them feel loved and wanted. They are Jesus for me. I believe in that much more than doing big things for them.

Time: What’s your greatest hope here in India?

Mother Teresa: To give Jesus to all.

Time: But you do not evangelize in the conventional sense of the term.

Mother Teresa: I’m evangelizing by my works of love.

Time: Is that the best way?

Mother Teresa: For us, yes. For somebody else, something else. I’m evangelizing the way God wants me to. Jesus said go and preach to all the nations. We are now in so many nations preaching the Gospel by our works of love. “By the love that you have for one another will they know you are my disciples.” That’s the preaching that we are doing, and I think that is more real.

Time: Friends of yours say that you are disappointed that your work has not brought more conversions in this great Hindu nation.

Mother Teresa: Missionaries don’t think of that. They only want to proclaim the Word of God. Numbers have nothing to do with it. But the people are putting prayer into action by coming and serving the people. Continually people are coming to feed and serve, so many, you go and see. Everywhere people are helping. We don’t know the future. But the door is already open to Christ. There may not be a big conversion like that, but we don’t know what is happening in the soul.

Time: What do you think of Hinduism?

Mother Teresa: I love all religions, but I am in love with my own. No discussion. That’s what we have to prove to them. Seeing what I do, they realize that I am in love with Jesus.

Time: And they should love Jesus too?

Mother Teresa: Naturally, if they want peace, if they want joy, let them find Jesus. If people become better Hindus, better Moslems, better Buddhists by our acts of love, then there is something else growing there. They come closer and closer to God. When they come closer, they have to choose.

Time: You and John Paul II, among other Church leaders, have spoken out against certain lifestyles in the West, against materialism and abortion. How alarmed are you?

Mother Teresa: I always say one thing: If a mother can kill her own child, then what is left of the West to be destroyed? It is difficult to explain , but it is just that.

Time: When you spoke at Harvard University a few years ago, you said abortion was a great evil and people booed. What did you think when people booed you?

Mother Teresa: I offered it to our Lord. It’s all for Him, no? I let Him say what He wants.

Time: But these people who booed you would say that they also only want the best for women?

Mother Teresa: That may be. But we must tell the truth.

Time: And that is?

Mother Teresa: We have no right to kill. Thou shalt not kill, a commandment of God. And still should we kill the helpless one, the little one? You see we get so excited because people are throwing bombs and so many are being killed. For the grown ups, there is so much excitement in the world. But that little one in the womb, not even a sound? He cannot even escape. That child is the poorest of the poor.

Time: Is materialism in the West an equally serious problem?

Mother Teresa: I don’t know. I have so many things to think about. I pray lots about that, but I am not occupied by that. Take our congregation for example, we have very little, so we have nothing to be preoccupied with. The more you have, the more you are occupied, the less you give. But the less you have the more free you are. Poverty for us is a freedom. It is not a mortification, a penance. It is joyful freedom. There is no television here, no this, no that. This is the only fan in the whole house. It doesn’t matter how hot it is, and it is for the guests. But we are perfectly happy.

Time: How do you find rich people then?

Mother Teresa: I find the rich much poorer. Sometimes they are more lonely inside. They are never satisfied. They always need something more. I don’t say all of them are like that. Everybody is not the same. I find that poverty hard to remove. The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.

Time: What is the saddest place you’ve ever visited?

Mother Teresa: I don’t know. I can’t remember. It’s a sad thing to see people suffer., especially the broken family, unloved, uncared for. It’s a big sadness; it’s always the children who suffer most when there is no love in the family. That’s a terrible suffering. Very difficult because you can do nothing. That is the great poverty. You feel helpless. But if you pick up a person dying of hunger, you give him food and it is finished.

Time: Why has your order grown so quickly?

Mother Teresa: When I as young people why they want to join us, they say they want the life of prayer, the life of poverty and the life of service to the poorest of the poor. One very rich girl wrote to me and said for a very long time she had been longing to become a nun. When she met us, she said I won’t have to give up anything even if I give up everything. You see, that is the mentality of the young today. We have many vocations.

Time: There’s been some criticism of the very severe regimen under which you and your Sisters live.

Mother Teresa: We chose that. That is the difference between us and the poor. Because what will bring us closer to our poor people? How can we be truthful to them if we lead a different life? If we have everything possible that money can give, that the world can give, then what is our connection to the poor? What language will I speak to them? Now if the people tell me it is so hot, I can say you come and see my room.

Time: Just as hot?

Mother Teresa: Much hotter even, because there is a kitchen underneath. A man came and stayed here as a cook at the children’s home. He was rich before and became very poor. Lost everything. He came and said, “Mother Teresa, I cannot eat that food.” I said, “I am eating it every day.” He looked at me and said, “You eat it too? All right, I will eat it also.” And he left perfectly happy. Now if I could not tell him the truth, that man would have remained bitter. He would never have accepted his poverty. He would never have accepted to have that food when he was used to other kinds of food. That helped him to forgive, to forget.

Time: What’s the most joyful place that you have ever visited?

Mother Teresa: Kalighat. When the people die in peace, in the love of God, it is a wonderful thing. To see our poor people happy together with their families, these are beautiful things. The real poor know what is joy.

Time: There are people who would say that it’s an illusion to think of the poor as joyous, that they must be given housing, raised up.

Mother Teresa: The material is not the only thing that gives joy. Something greater than that, the deep sense of peace in the heart. They are content. That is the great difference between rich and poor.

Time: But what about those people who are oppressed? Who are taken advantage of?

Mother Teresa: There will always be people like that. That is why we must come and share the joy of loving with them.

Time: Should the Church’s role be just to make the poor as joyous in Christ as they can be made?

Mother Teresa: You and I, we are the Church, no? We have to share with our people. Suffering today is because people are hoarding, not giving, not sharing. Jesus made it very clear. Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do it to me. Give a glass of water, you give it to me. Receive a little child, you receive me. Clear.

Time: If you speak to a political leader who could do more for his people, do you tell him that he must do better?

Mother Teresa: I don’t say it like that. I say share the joy of loving with your people. Because a politician maybe cannot do the feeding as I do. But he should be clear in his mind to give proper rules and proper regulations to help his people.

Time: It is my job to keep politicians honest, and your job to share joy with the poor.

Mother Teresa: Exactly. And it is to be for the good of the people and the glory of God. This will be really fruitful. Like a man says to me that you are spoiling the people by giving them fish to eat. You have to give them a rod to catch the fish. And I said my people cannot even stand, still less hold a rod. But I will give them the fish to eat, and when they are strong enough, I will hand them over to you. And you give them the rod to catch the fish. That is a beautiful combination, no?

Time: Feminist Catholic nuns sometimes say that you should pour your energy into getting the Vatican to ordain women.

Mother Teresa: That does not touch me.

Time: What do you think of the feminist movement among nuns in the West?

Mother Teresa: I think we should be more busy with our Lord than with all that, more busy with Jesus and proclaiming His Word. What a woman can give, no man can give. That is why God has created them separately. Nuns, women, any woman. Woman is created to be the heart of the family, the heart of love. If we miss that, we miss everything. They give that love in the family or they give it in service, that is what their creation is for.

Time: The world wants to know more about you.

Mother Teresa: No, no. Let them come to know the poor. I want them to love the poor. I want them to try to find the poor in their own families first, to bring peace and joy and love in the family first.

Time: Malcolm Muggeridge once said that if you had not become a Sister and not found Christ’s love, you would be a very hard woman. Do you think that is true?

Mother Teresa: I don’t know. I have no time to think about these things.

Time: People who work with you say that you are unstoppable. You always get what you want.

Mother Teresa: That’s right. All for Jesus.

Time: And if they have a problem with that?

Mother Teresa: For example, I went to a person recently who would not give me what I needed. I said God bless you, and I went on. He called me back and said what would you say if I give you that thing. I said I will give you a “God bless you” and a big smile. That is all. So he said then come, I will give it to you. We must live the simplicity of the Gospel.

Time: You once met Haile Mariam Mengistu, the much feared communist leader of Ethiopia and an avowed atheist. You asked him if he said his prayers. Why did you risk that?

Mother Teresa: He is one more child of God. When I went to China, one of the top officials asked me, “What is a communist to you?” I said, “A child of God.” Then the next morning the newspapers reported that Mother Teresa said communists are children of God. I was happy because after a long, long time the name God was printed in the papers in China. Beautiful.

Time: Are you ever been afraid?

Mother Teresa: No, I am only afraid of offending God. We are all human beings, that is our weakness, no? The devil would do anything to destroy us, to take us away from Jesus.

Time: Where do you see the devil at work?

Mother Teresa: Everywhere. When a person is longing to come closer to God he puts temptation in the way to destroy the desire. Sin comes everywhere, in the best of places.

Time: What is your greatest fear?

Mother Teresa: I have Jesus, I have no fear.

Time: What is your greatest disappointment?

Mother Teresa: I do the will of God, no? In doing the will of God there is no disappointment.

Time: Do your work and spiritual life become easier with time?

Mother Teresa: Yes, the closer we come to Jesus, the more we become the work. Because you know to whom you are doing it, with whom you are doing it and for whom you are doing it. That is very clear. That is why we need a clean heart to see God.

Time: What are your plans for the future?

Mother Teresa: I just take one day. Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not come. We have only today to love Jesus.

Time: And the future of the order?

Mother Teresa: It is His concern.

Encountering our First Love for Priesthood

By Fr. Jeffrey Steel
From his blog De Cura Animarum

The great challenge for priests today is falling into the 'performance trap' of looking for 'results' in our ministries that in the end does nothing but put an emphasis on ourselves. Priesthood is not a buisiness of building the self. This means that priests must be men who know Jesus intimately and who encounter him in real ways in his life where great love and devotion to Christ are the spiritual substance behind his service. This challenge is for anyone really who has put their hand to the plough in full-time Christian service. Pope Benedict XVI rightly reminds us that:

"Without a strong spiritual substance, a priest cannot endure in his ministry. Christ must also teach him that the main purpose of his life is not self-realization and success. He must learn that he is not in the business of building himself an interesting or comfortable life, or of setting up for himself a community of admirers and devotees, but is working for another and that it is he who truly matters. This is initially opposed to the natural emphasis of our existence, but with time it proves that precisely this process in which the self becomes inconsequential is what truly liberates.

He who acts on Christ's behalf knows that it is always the case that one sows and another reaps. He does not need to bother incessantly about himself; he leaves the outcome to the Lord and does his own part without anxiety, free and cheerful because he is hidden within the whole. If priests today so often feel overworked, tired and frustrated, the blame lies with the a strained purpose of results. Faith becomes a burdensome piece of baggage that the priest just barely manages to keep dragging along, whereas it should be a wing that bears us aloft."

I have been reading Pope Benedict XVI book Called to Communion of late and have about finished it. The Holy Father reminds priests that the central core of labour is foundationally an intimacy with Christ and love for him. Out of which will flow rivers of life and love. Without which the tongue will dry up and will not be able to water a parched earth as quoted from Gregory the Great. May God give his priests the desire to drink from the well of love in order to be able to replenish the parched earth after having returned from the inner sactuary and teach who they learn to love by their living!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Great Vocations Video from the Franciscans of the Immaculate

If you have about four minutes to watch a great vocations video from the Franciscans of the Immaculate, you won't be disappointed...

"Fledging Mongolia Church Cautious About Vocations"

From The Indian Catholic

ULAANBAATAR (UCAN) -- Enkh-Baatar is the first Mongolian Catholic to join a seminary, but the local Catholic Church, five years his junior, is not actively promoting vocations.

"It is too early to have this, as those young people, both boys and girls, have still to deepen their faith and practice their Christian living," explains Bishop Wenceslao Padilla, apostolic prefect of Ulaanbaatar.

Nevertheless, Enkh-Baatar, whose baptismal name is Joseph, left the capital on Aug. 28 for Daejeon diocese in South Korea, where he will first study the Korean language for six months and then begin classes at Daejeon Seminary.

The 21-year-old parishioner of Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Ulaanbaatar, who is preparing to become a diocesan priest for the prefecture, uses only one name, like most people in Mongolia. He recently graduated in biochemistry from Mongolian International University, which Korean Protestants run in Ulaanbaatar.

"I wanted to go to the seminary right after finishing school, but my family and everybody in the mission, including the bishop, advised me to go to university first. I was very disappointed," Enkh-Baatar told UCA News.

"I later saw that my elders were wise," he admitted. "Science brought me to a closer understanding of God's creation."

Despite Bishop Padilla's reservations about rushing into vocation promotion, the local Church leader eventually approved Enkh-Baatar's application, the first. The Philippine missioner also clarified that initial signs of interest to the priesthood or Religious life are encouraged.

The bishop pointed out that St. Mary's Parish in the capital has a group of boys and young men living there for "intensive immersion in Catholic life," even though not all plan to be priests. They attend Mass and engage in other spiritual practices daily, and learn to live by Catholic principles.

Vocation promotion is an open possibility for each of the nine congregations that work in Mongolia, Bishop Padilla affirmed. But if vocations are to be encouraged, they should be for the local diocese, "and not to be members of the Religious congregations," the Immaculate Heart of Mary missioner said. "We have to build up the local Church in Mongolia."

Enkh-Baatar agrees: "If I join a congregation, they may send me to another country. I see myself as a priest in my own land. I am sure this is what Mongolia needs." He pointed out that all priests and nuns in the Mongolian Church are foreigners.

Similarly, Ganzayaa, 24 said she has wanted to become a Missionaries of Charity nun ever since she became a Catholic in 2003, with the baptismal name Susanna. "But then I thought I might be sent to some other country. I want to serve my own people," she continued. The young woman has dedicated her life to serving her St. Mary's Parish.

One of the 12 boys and young men who began the immersion program at the parish last year said he is studying Korean and helps around the parish. "My parish priest told me I need several years more preparation before I can go to the seminary," added Peter, now 22.

The parish priest, Father Stephen Kim, belongs to Daejeon diocese, as do the other two Fidei Donum priests serving in Mongolia. Their presence shows the special relation Daejeon diocese has with the local Church, according to Sister Lieve Stragier, treasurer for the prefecture. Fidei Donum missioners are sent from one mission diocese to another, as Pope Pius XII proposed in his 1957 encyclical Fidei Donum (gift of faith).

Additionally, for 10 years running Daejeon diocese has sent its seminarians to Mongolia for mission work during the summer months, and Bishop Lazarro You Heung-sik of Daejeon has visited three times. Meanwhile, volunteer Catholic groups from Korea -- doctors, priests and nuns, medical and nursing students -- have also been visiting Mongolia during the past decade to serve the poor.

"We do not ask for anything -- no priests or support -- the Koreans just like to give it," Sister Stragier said. The Belgian missioner added that Daejeon diocese will take care of all Enkh-Baatar's expenses at the seminary.

The modern presence of the Catholic Church in Mongolia began with the arrival of then-Father Padilla and two confreres in July 1992. Today it counts 520 baptized Catholics.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

"Men becoming priests at mid-life"

From the Pantagraph.com

By Bob Holliday

BLOOMINGTON -- In what he calls his past life, the Rev. Geoffrey Horton worked at a Bloomington-Normal insurance company, coached a women’s softball team, owned a home and invested in a 401K.

Although life was good, Horton, 43, felt something was missing. In May, he found his calling as a newly ordained Roman Catholic priest.

“I became a priest for the only reason anyone should ever become a priest, because I felt that’s what God was asking of me,” said Horton, currently assigned at a church in Peoria.

The Rev. Michael Bies heard the same call, but before he did, he worked 20 years as a machinist in his native Chicago and even considered marriage. Ordained about four years ago, Bies, 52, is associate pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Pontiac.

The two Central Illinois men aren’t alone in making such monumental mid-life career changes.

Paul Sullins, a professor at the Catholic University of America, said the average age at ordination has risen by 10 to 15 years since the 1970s — part of a national trend toward increased education and later-life commitments.

“An increasing proportion of priests today are entering their second or third careers,” said Sullins, adding the trend may help relieve the shortage of priests in the U.S.

Monsignor Paul Showalter, vicar general of the Peoria Diocese, agreed. Showalter said, in general, the trend toward older priests is beneficial.

It all comes down to “when they get the calling,” he said.

Horton and Bies both agreed their life experience can help them be better priests.

Bies, for instance, can identify first-hand with parishioners who are out of work

because he was without a job several times as a machinist.

Horton, likewise, hopes his experience in the corporate world gives him more empathy for parishioners stressed out by everyday business life.

Horton is unique in another way, having been an Episcopalian until he was 36.

The switch in religions together with his mid-life career switch doesn’t bother Horton’s mother, Johanna Horton of Jacksonville. “It seems right,” she said, adding her son has always had deep religious feelings.

However, there can be aspects of the mid-life switch that aren’t easy.

Hardest for Bies was giving up some of his independence. As a priest, he’s bound to his parish and that “takes a bit of getting used to,” he said.

Knowing that “God is using you to bring solace and peace,” helps him cope, he said.

The celibacy requirement is actually a gift, said Bies, because it “frees you up to see all people as part of your family.”

Bies has adapted to the St. Mary’s family well, said Monsignor Thomas Mack, the pastor there.

“People like him a lot. I’m not sure if it’s his maturity or just that he’s a nice guy,” said Mack, 57, who came to the priesthood the more traditional way: He was ordained in his mid-20s.

“It all comes down to when you get the call,” said Mack, agreeing that priests ordained later in life bring with them a maturity that helps them better relate to people.

John Steffen, 36, who worked this summer with Bies and Mack at St. Mary’s, may become another mid-life priest.

Steffen has four more years of seminary in Ohio and hopes his background in teaching and law will help him. He taught English for five years at Streator Township High School and worked at the Pontiac law firm of Caughey, Legner and Freehill.

He converted to Catholicism from Apostolic Christian as an adult. His new religion, he said, struck a chord he couldn’t ignore.

He, too, thinks older priests, because of their life experience, may have more to offer.

It’s that maturity that leads Horton to realize there’s no going back.

“It (being a priest) is not just your job, it’s your personal identity,” said Horton, who surprised at least one former co-worker by his mid-life switch.

“That switch (from actuarial work to priesthood) is like a 180-degree turn,” said Lisa Mullen, who played on the softball team Horton coached at Country Financial.