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, January 24, 2010

"Top Baseball Prospect Retires to Enter Priesthood"

From Foxnews.com

As a top prospect for the Oakland Athletics, outfielder Grant Desme might've gotten the call every minor leaguer wants this spring.

Instead, he believed he had another, higher calling.

Desme announced Friday that he was leaving baseball to enter the priesthood, walking away after a breakout season in which he became MVP of the Arizona Fall League.

"I was doing well at ball. But I really had to get down to the bottom of things," the 23-year-old Desme said. "I wasn't at peace with where I was at."

A lifelong Catholic, Desme thought about becoming a priest for about a year and a half. He kept his path quiet within the sports world, and his plan to enter a seminary this summer startled the A's when he told them Thursday night.

General manager Billy Beane "was understanding and supportive," Desme said, but the decision "sort of knocked him off his horse." After the talk, Desme felt "a great amount of peace."

"I love the game, but I aspire to higher things," he said. "I know I have no regrets."

In a statement, Beane said: "We respect Grant's decision and wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors."

Athletes and the priesthood have overlapped, albeit rarely.

Al Travers, who gave up 24 runs during a one-game career for a makeshift Detroit Tigers team in 1912, became a Catholic priest. More recently, Chase Hilgenbrinck of the New England Revolution left Major League Soccer in 2008 to enter a seminary.

Desme spoke on a conference call for about 10 minutes in a quiet, even tone, hardly sounding like many gung-ho, on-the-rise ballplayers. As for his success in the minors, he said "all of it is very undeserving."

The Athletics picked Desme in the second round of the 2007 amateur draft and he was starting to blossom. He was the only player in the entire minors with 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases last season.

Desme batted .288 with 31 homers, 89 RBIs and 40 steals in 131 games at Class-A Kane County and high Class-A Stockton last year. He hit .315 with a league-leading 11 home runs and 27 RBIs in 27 games this fall in Arizona, a league filled with young talent.

Desme went into the AFL championship game well aware it might be the last time he ever played. "There was no sad feeling," he said. He homered and struck out twice, which "defines my career a bit."

The Big West Player of the Year at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Desme was ranked as Oakland's No. 8 prospect by Baseball America. There was speculation the Athletics might invite Desme to big league spring training next month.

Rather, Desme intends to enter a seminary in Silverado, California, in August. He said abbey members didn't seem surprised someone who would "define myself as a baseball player" was changing his life so dramatically.

Desme said he didn't consider pursuing his spiritual studies while also trying to play ball. His family backed his decision and he said the positive reaction to his future goal — the surprising news spread quickly over the Internet — was "inspiring."

"It's about a 10-year process," he said. "I desire and hope I become a priest." In a way, he added, it's like "re-entering the minor leagues."

Desme's first two years in the minors were beset by shoulder and wrist problems. He said his days off the field gave him time to think about what was most important to him, to read and study the Bible and to talk to teammates about his faith.

In retrospect, he said, those injuries were "the biggest blessings God ever gave me."

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Pope to priests: Go forth and blog

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI has a new commandment for priests struggling to get their message across: Go forth and blog.

The pope, whose own presence on the Web has heavily grown in recent years, urged priests on Saturday to use all multimedia tools at their disposal to preach the Gospel and engage in dialogue with people of other religions and cultures.

And just using e-mail or surfing the Web is often not enough: Priests should use cutting-edge technologies to express themselves and lead their communities, Benedict said in a message released by the Vatican.

"The spread of multimedia communications and its rich 'menu of options' might make us think it sufficient simply to be present on the Web," but priests are "challenged to proclaim the Gospel by employing the latest generation of audiovisual resources," he said.

The message, prepared for the World Day of Communications, suggests such possibilities as images, videos, animated features, blogs, and Web sites.

Benedict said young priests should become familiar with new media while still in seminary, though he stressed that the use of new technologies must reflect theological and spiritual principles.

"Priests present in the world of digital communications should be less notable for their media savvy than for their priestly heart, their closeness to Christ," he said.

The 82-year-old pope has often been wary of new media, warning about what he has called the tendency of entertainment media, in particular, to trivialize sex and promote violence, while lamenting that the endless stream of news can make people insensitive to tragedies.

But Benedict has also praised new ways of communicating as a "gift to humanity" when used to foster friendship and understanding.

The Vatican has tried hard to keep up to speed with the rapidly changing field.

Last year it opened a YouTube channel as well as a portal dedicated to the pope. The Pope2You site gives news on the pontiff's trips and speeches and features a Facebook application that allows users to send postcards with photos of Benedict and excerpts from his messages to their friends.

Many priests and top prelates already interact with the faithful online. One of Benedict's advisers, Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, the archbishop of Naples, has his own Facebook profile and so does Cardinal Roger Mahony, archbishop of Los Angeles.

In Saturday's message - titled "The priest and pastoral ministry in a digital world: new media at the service of the Word" - Benedict urged special care in contacts with other cultures and beliefs.

A presence on the Web, "precisely because it brings us into contact with the followers of other religions, nonbelievers and people of every culture, requires sensitivity to those who do not believe, the disheartened and those who have a deep, unarticulated desire for enduring truth and the absolute," he said.

Monsignor Claudio Maria Celli, who heads the Vatican's social communications office, said that Benedict's words aimed to encourage reflection in the church on the positive uses of new media.

"That doesn't mean that (every priest) must open a blog or a Web site. It means that the church and the faithful must engage in this ministry in a digital world," Celli told reporters. "At some point, a balance will be found."

Celli, 68, said that young priests would have no trouble following the pope's message, but, he joked, "those who have a certain age will struggle a bit more."

Thursday, January 14, 2010

"Vocations are Still a “Super-Priority”"

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

In my first months as bishop of the diocese I said Vocations were a “Super Priority.” While we have had a meaningful increase in vocations to priesthood, the diaconate, and some new vocations to consecrated life, I still offer this intention for more vocations to priesthood and Consecrated Life with fervor in my daily prayer. I hope you do also.

We are reaching the midpoint of the Year for Priests, inaugurated by Pope Benedict XVI last June. How proud I am of our priests who do so much for you, God’s people. Still, they need more help, particularly as the pastoral needs seem always to increase. This year, please God, we will ordain four new priests; and it remains possible that in 2012 we could celebrate the ordination of eight or nine new priests at once. I haven’t figured out how we will get everyone in the Cathedral; a pleasing dilemma!

Am I greedy to suggest that we need more priests? I believe that God is calling more men to this wonderful vocation, and we have to listen carefully and prepare well so that your sons can hear and answer that call.

What kind of life awaits the priest? To be sure, there are many joys, and also challenges. The priest is helped by God to give himself to many people. He shares in the greatest joys of people’s lives and is with them in times of hardship and sorrow. He is a pastor, a shepherd, a teacher, and spiritual father. He stands in the place of Jesus Christ, particularly in the Sacrifice of the Mass and in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

How does a man discern a possible vocation to priesthood? The healthy man (healthy in body, mind and soul), as he matures, wants to give himself in an honest and generous way. It is important and normal that he sees the beauty of marriage, and its central meaning and purpose in society. At the same time, he realizes he has a spiritual dimension to his life and he wants to listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and follow God’s call wherever it may take him. He works hard at every task before him, and finds joy in generously reaching out to others. He studies with zeal. He prays. He establishes caring friendships, and determines to live a moral life, growing in the frequent reception of the sacraments, particularly of Confession and Holy Eucharist.

As a man experiences this spiritual depth to his life, he does not seek a vocation that makes him materially rich or famous. Instead, having realized something of the cost and demands of authentic human love, he is ready to trust God and give himself to others out of love for God. He realizes that the Father in heaven has loved him a lot, and the awareness of this love and mercy makes him want to follow God’s plan in his life. Our seminarians are responding to this vocation to the priesthood. Our priests are living this out with dedication. Keep praying for them to persevere.

The role and support of parents is very important to those who are discerning God’s call. Your sons (and daughters) look up to you for approval. They should. Your love for them is unconditional and unselfish. I do not suggest that you should urge your sons to go to seminary, but pray for them, that they do whatever God wants for them. Support them in their search. I pledge once again to our parents that if we receive their sons as our seminarians we will do all in our power to see they get good formation.

Over the course of my priesthood, I have also had occasion to meet many outstanding men and women Religious. I was taught by and have worked closely with several Orders of Religious Women. There is a real renewal taking place in these vocations today. I have established an office for Consecrated Life, and we stand ready to direct young women and men who may be drawn to Religious life as priests, sisters or brothers.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Family the Focus of US Vocations Week

Click HERE to visit Vatican Radio website and listen to audio file of an interview with Fr. David Toups, director of the Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations at the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, discuss obstacles to the promotion of vocations in the US. (look for small speaker icon at the end of the paragraph)

'Responsible, family-focused and vocation-oriented -- meet Generation XD"

While the article below is not an article about Catholic Vocations, it is an interesting article none the less...

From The Independent (UK)

Today's 8-14-year-olds will embrace their digital culture to create a financially responsible, ambitious and environmentally-aware generation, according to the largest poll of its kind in Europe.

Nicknamed "Generation XD" by entertainment giant and the survey's commissioner Disney, the digitally-aware European adults of the future will be fundamentally different from today's Generation X, the report suggests. Disney predicts that today's young people will eschew their celebrity-dominated upbringing to focus on traditional family values and traditional vocations. In every country surveyed, "Mum" and "Dad" were the two people most admired in the world, whilst the top five future professions overall were vet, teacher, footballer, doctor and police officer.

"As the kids of Generation X, who embraced all mod cons in their twenties, you'd expect Generation XD to be fully versed in how the internet can help them." said Tom Dunmore, consulting editor of technology magazine Stuff. "What's interesting though, is how they are embracing both cutting edge technology and traditional family values in their approach to life."

"While David Beckham does inevitably get a mention, fame and celebrity are secondary to family and they aspire to be vets and teachers rather than singers and celebrities, which is both surprising and encouraging."

Disney also believes that the credit-crunched environment today's 8-14-year-olds have grown up in has had a profound effect on their attitude to finances. The survey revealed that 70 percent save their pocket money instead of spending it immediately, and 64 percent would rather work for themselves than for somebody else. An impressive 97 percent of Generation XD believed that it was important to care for the planet, with 74 percent already recycling regularly.
Disney interviewed over 3,000 8-14-year-olds in six countries (UK, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain) to compile the study, the largest pan-European survey of the age group. Despite the fact that children born between 1995 and 2001 have witnessed more technological developments during their youth than any other generation, respondents overwhelmingly used technology to improve face-to-face interaction - face-to-face contact is still the most preferable way to meet up with friends (30 percent) beating texting (15 percent), online chat (14 percent) and mobile (8 percent).

A Look at the State of Vocations in France

From Lifesite News
By Hilary White

ROME, January 12, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Catholic Church in France, among the places where the fashionable “liberalism” of the 1960s and ‘70s has most taken hold, is dying out, with Mass attendance, priestly vocations and seminarians at record lows. At the same time, the growth of the doctrinally and liturgically “traditional” movements, who tend to be strongly pro-life and pro-family, is continuing.

The Institut français d'opinion publique (IFOP Institute) has just issued its survey on the situation of the Church in France and reports that the French Catholic Church is in freefall. Between1965 and 2009, the number of French identifying themselves as Catholics fell from 81 per cent to 64 per cent. The number attending Mass once a week or more fell from 27 per cent to 4.5 per cent in the same period.

The statistics, published in the Catholic weekly La Croix, show the effects of institutionalized “liberalism” in Catholic teaching. Sixty-three per cent of those who still consider themselves Catholic believe that all religions are the same; 75 per cent asked for an “aggiornamento” in the Church to reconsider Catholic teaching forbidding artificial contraception, while 68 per cent said the same thing for abortion.

According to official Catholic Church statistics, the total number of Catholic marriages (-28.4%), baptisms (-19.1%), confirmations (-35.3%), as well as priests (-26.1%), and religious sisters (-23.4%), has continued to fall between 1996 and 2006.

Statistics compiled by the traditionalist Catholic group Paix Liturgique show that the decline is sharpest in the most doctrinally “liberal” dioceses with regard to priests and future ordinations. Due to the critical shortage of vocations to the priesthood, it is estimated that up to a third of the dioceses of the Catholic Church in France - some dating to the second century AD - will be forced to close or amalgamate by 2025.

In November last year, Paix Liturgique reported that only 9000 priests are serving the Catholic faithful in France. In 1990, the total number of ordinations in the country was 90. Paris had 10, with two for a local independent religious order. Seven are predicted for 2010, and four for 2011.
There are fewer than 750 seminarians currently studying for the priesthood, with about a hundred of these being for religious orders, not dioceses. The diocese of Pamiers, Belfort, Agen and Perpignan have no seminarians. The drop in vocations to the priesthood will result, the group said, in at least one third of French dioceses either effectively ceasing to exist or being forced to amalgamate over the next 15 years.

But in small pockets where traditional liturgical practice, combined with traditional moral doctrine, is encouraged, French Catholicism is flourishing. Two years ago, Pope Benedict issued the document “Summorum Pontificum,” allowing the use of the pre-Vatican II Mass in Latin. Despite it remaining a “taboo” subject to the liberal faction of the French episcopate, the older rite, what is now being called the Extraordinary Form, is acting as a catalyst for growth in the few areas where it has been accepted by bishops.

More than 14 per cent of ordinations in France were for the Extraordinary Form in 2009, according to Paix Liturgique, with 15 French priests ordained for it. Almost 20 per cent of seminarians, 160, are destined for the Extraordinary Form. The group notes that if the current trends continue, in a few more years more than a quarter of all French seminarians will be studying for the older form of the liturgy, a rite that naturally selects against doctrinal and moral “liberalism.”

According to a CSA poll taken in September 2008, a third of practicing Catholics in France said they would willingly attend a traditional Mass if it were available.

In September, Archbishop Dominique Rey of the southern diocese of Fréjus-Toulon, ordained two priests to his diocese in what is now being called the “Extraordinary Form.”
This move, though heavily criticized by many in the liberal factions of the French Church, followed the ordination of 14 priests and 11 deacons in the newer “Novus Ordo” form in June, demonstrating that the two forms can live side by side.

Paix Liturgique reports that the diocese of Fréjus-Toulon has about 80 seminarians in the only seminary in the world that trains priests in both the pre-Vatican II and the newer rite.

In July, Paix Liturgique reported significant growth in Mass attendance in areas that have allowed the use of the older form. In addition to the existing 132 “authorized” places of worship and 184 served by the canonically irregular Society of Saint Pius X, an additional 72 new chapels and churches have been allowed for the use of the Extraordinary Form. This represents an increase from 55 per cent in two years, compared to an increase of between 2 and 5 per cent between 1988 and 2007.

Even more unexpectedly, the requests to dioceses from the laity for the celebration of the Extraordinary Form, have also dramatically increased. Paix Liturgique reports that more than 350 groups of French Catholic families have formally requested the older form of the Mass from their dioceses all over France and more than 600 groups have formed to promote the older form and have asked for it informally, making direct requests to parish priests.