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.

Monday, August 27, 2007

NHL Stanley Cup Champion - Catholic Priest

(For the sake of full disclosure the following text is from Wikipdedia. My apologies in advance to those who loathe wikipedia, but in this case it provided a succint history of Fr. Costello's life.)
Fr. Les Costello (February 16, 1928-December 10, 2002) was a Canadian ice hockey player and Catholic priest.

He was born in South Porcupine, Ontario, and played hockey as a teenager, eventually joining Toronto's St. Michael's Majors in the 1940s, winning two Memorial Cups with the team in 1945 and 1947. He subsequently played two years in the NHL for the Toronto Maple Leafs, including the 1948 Stanley Cup championship team. His brother Murray was also a professional hockey player.

(Fr. Les Costello's name engraved on the Stanley Cup in 1948)

Costello retired from professional hockey in 1950 to pursue seminary studies, and was ordained in 1957. He took a parish in his hometown of Timmins, where he was widely respected for both his flamboyant, fun-loving demeanor and his tireless commitment to social justice and charity work.

Flying Fathers
In 1963, Costello and colleague Brian McKee founded the Flying Fathers, a group of Catholic priests who played exhibition hockey. Originally intended as a one-time charity event, the Fathers became a phenomenon, regularly touring North America to raise money for charity, and are still active as of 2005.

In 1979, Costello got lost for over 24 hours on a camping trip, and subsequently had several toes amputated due to frostbite. Although his skating ability was significantly impaired by his disability, he continued his involvement with the team, stuffing rolled-up socks into the toes of his skates. The incident also attracted international media attention, including coverage in People magazine and on the television show Real People.

As a result of the media coverage, Francis Ford Coppola offered the Fathers a movie option. He brought Wayne Gretzky to Hollywood to audition for the role of Costello, but the film fell apart when Gretzky's acting ability proved unable to carry a film. (However, it was on that trip that Gretzky first met his future wife, Janet Jones.)

For the 25th anniversary of Costello's ordination in 1982, friends and parishioners took up a collection to buy Costello a truck for use in his charity work. Instead, Costello sold the vehicle and used the money to buy furniture and food for needy families.

At a Flying Fathers game in Kincardine in 2002, Costello was hit in the head by a puck, falling back and hitting his head on the ice. Still feeling unwell the following day, he was admitted to hospital, where he slipped into a coma and died a week later on December 10.
As his parish was unable to accommodate the crowds expected for his funeral, the service was held in Timmins' McIntyre Arena. Thousands from all over the country are reputed to have been at the funeral. Even Timmins native Shania Twain issued a statement of tribute to Costello:

"Father Costello has been there for my family many times over the years. Whether it was to find my grandmother a second-hand fridge; marry my parents; give our family funeral services — including our beloved Mom and Dad; or just plain joining in on a good joke. He's always quick to smile and share his zest for life. The goodness of God is with this very special man and he shares that spirit with everyone around him. We all love him."

Writer and politician Charlie Angus published a biography of Costello, Les Costello: Canada's Flying Father, in 2005. A foundation to raise funds for food banks, homeless shelters and other anti-poverty charities in Northern Ontario was also launched in Costello's memory the same year.

Fr. Les Costello - requiescat in pace

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Beauty and Vocations

I've been meaning to write about how beauty promotes vocations (particularly beautiful liturgies). Until then a hat tip to New Liturgical Movement for finding and posting this video.

Eight young men in a schola (Farther Along Octet) singing Palestrina's "Adoramus Te, Christe" - eight men - and listen to how beautiful it is! You can not tell me that if we heard and saw this in our churches more often that there would not be many more young men hearing God's call to the priesthood. No, music won't in and of itself create priests, but in today's world this is so clearly prayerful and sacred that upon hearing it more young men might incline their ears to something other than the drumbeat of the world. Unfortunately what they get instead is weekly doses of the most banal music possible, or worse. (My not so humble opinion of course.)

Watch, listen, and enjoy! If you like it, watch their other videos on YouTube which will appear at the end of the video.

Update: I had to post one more on here... Palestrina's Sanctus & Benedictus

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Getting back to normal

Sorry for the no posts. After missing several days being the hospital last week, we had a couple of family days, and now it is catch up time at work. Getting our seminarians off to seminary, and handling paper work, etc. has taken a bit of extra time.

Normal posting should resume soon.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Deo Gratias

A big thank you to all of you that offered up prayers for our daughter - we have a diagnosis! After 8 weeks it turns out that she has severe lactose intolerance. Unfortunately one of the gastroenterologists who did the biopsies of her digestive tract four weeks ago, that led to this diagnosis, failed to let anyone else know that her lactaise enzyme numbers were low - a key indicator for lactose intolerance. Thanks be to God that one of the residents noticed it in her charts, after she was admitted on Tuesday, and called for the Hydrogen test today which confirmed her diagnosis. Let's just say that I'm not pleased my daughter suffered for four extra weeks because one doctor decided the findings were inconclusive! I'm glad it wasn't a life threatening disease!

A special thank you to all my priest friends that offered Masses for Liliane - thanks for using the nuclear option of prayer! There were several potential diagnosis that would have been devastating - we feel blessed that everyone's prayers were heard and answered, and that by comparison lactose intolerance is a blessing.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Please Pray for Liliane Again...

If you could, please remember our oldest daughter, Liliane (on the left in green), in your prayers. Unfortunately she is back in the hospital again. What we thought might have been the cause of her abdominal pain (she was diagnosed 4 weeks ago with hypothyroidism) - wasn't. So now after 8 weeks of her having almost constant discomfort with boughts of severe pain, and losing a tenth of her body weight, doctors are working their way through the process of elimination again. The good news is that they have eliminated the really scary things, but the bad news is that they've eliminated most of the easily diagnosed things. But hey it's Duke University Medical Center, and if nothing else, they are good at figuring things like this out. She has a test in the morning which will either comfirm one thing and possibly end this saga, or send us in other directions. God willing it will be the former.

Your prayers that God will use the medical staff as His intruments in treating her, and that the Holy Spirit will guide their discernment of her condition would be most appreciated. Prayers for our patience wouldn't hurt either. As a father, there is nothing more frustrating than seeing one of your children suffering, and not being able to physically do anything about it. A humble reminder that I am not the one in control.

Bl. Kateri Tekakwitha (Lily of the Mowhawks), pray for us.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

NJ Star Ledger Video about CFR's

OK, it's going to seem like this is a Franciscan Friars of the Renewal vocations website, but what can I say? They're all over the place. This is a very brief video that goes with the article I posted yesterday from the New Jersey Star Ledger paper. The video shows the incredibly beautiful friary (former cloistered Dominican convent) that the Friars are restoring. This friary will eventually host retreats which will be a great blessing to the rest of us - especially those of us with Franciscan leanings.

Thanks again to Kathryn for sending me the link!

Great Articles in Crisis Magazine

There are two great articles (among others) in this months issue of Crisis Magazine. This will be the last printed issue as they will be going to an online only format starting next month. The good news is that they will expand the magazine and there will be no subscription fee.

Both of the following articles touch on issues related to vocations. They are definitely worth taking the time to read.

- an excerpt from this article...

Hello, Good Men
In what is certainly a corollary to Christian manhood’s renaissance in family life and among young men, we have also begun to witness a discernible return to masculinity in our seminaries and, consequently, our parishes. Both Monsignor Swetland and his confrere Msgr. Steven Rohlfs, rector for the Mount, see promising signs in the men coming through their seminary doors today.

For one, they are carrying themselves differently: “They take pride in their masculine attributes,” says Monsignor Swetland. “The last couple generations of priests generally weren’t too concerned about taking care of themselves physically,” but these days “they work out, they play sports, they want to look and dress and act like men.” Also in contrast to their predecessors, they’re interested in pursuing “a distinctly masculine spirituality,” says Monsignor Rohlfs—in part, he adds with a laugh, because “there’s a sense of relief that it’s now acceptable to talk that way.”

This didn’t happen by accident, of course. Good seminaries are not simply enjoying a serendipitous influx of manlier applicants; they’re expressly targeting them. In what ought instantly to become the mantra of every rector and vocations director in the country, Monsignor Rohlfs tells how he seeks candidates who “exude a personality of quiet confidence and strength”; who demonstrate “an ability to relate to men and to fathers of families, as well as to children as a spiritual father”; and finally, “a spirituality that brings together the best qualities of a man.”

Those qualities exceed the external trappings of speech and physique. “We’re addressing what it means to talk about ‘maleness,’ beyond just the body,” says Monsignor Swetland. Seminarians who, a generation ago, might have been “knocked down for appearing too aggressive” are now confident in showing initiative—no longer bound by “a false sense of what it means to be pastoral,” these men are “not afraid to be Christ-centered men of action,” not afraid to preach boldly about “God’s ferociousness of heart.”

The change has begun to bear evident fruits in the interactions among younger clergy and seminarians, thanks to a reemphasis on the classical sense of friendship, which helps guard against same-sex attraction while building a lifelong foundation for priestly fellowship and mutual help. Among such men there is virtually no evidence of the affectation of feminine traits and roles that has plagued many seminaries. And the conversations at support groups, Monsignor Swetland adds, “aren’t all psychobabble like they used to be.” Instead, the young men challenge and demand accountability of each other.

Perhaps above all else, this new breed of seminarian has a fundamentally different orientation toward the Church, a posture that is decidedly husbandly. “The priests we’re forming now,” says Monsignor Swetland, “their mission is to love, cherish, and protect their Bride the Church. Whereas so many priests and seminarians of my generation, they wanted to change the Church.” This doesn’t mean that these men are blind to the Church’s faults and failings; however, they view those troubles in the larger context of a “battle to fight on her behalf.” This spirit of spousal fidelity, combined with a healthy accent on God’s transcendence (whereas the feminine approach, Monsignor Rohlfs muses, “tends to accentuate His immanence”), has the added effect of sealing these young priests with a deep and trustworthy orthodoxy.

Despite positive signs, this part of the “battle,” such as it is, remains far from won. In many seminaries, even those that have cleared their staffs of ideologues, who before would give unabashed preference to effeminate candidates while straining out the masculine ones, there are still future priests with a seriously deficient—or skewed—sense of what it means to be a man. Some of these will become deadbeat spiritual fathers; others will have to battle—or will succumb to—homosexual urges. Interestingly, some of these seminarians are the same ones displaying a conspicuously fervent piety or orthodoxy. More than one source mentions the acronym DOT—“Daughter of Trent,” house slang for an effeminate or presumptively gay seminarian who affects (or adopts in a compensatory way) an old-school spirituality or flame-throwing orthodoxy. Nonetheless, there is a definite and promising trend here, the benefits of which we have just begun to reap in parishes nationwide.

In the Steps of St. Francis: How One Community Brought Renewal to Religious Life

This is yet another article about the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal - you can't buy this kind of publicity. It's unbelievable the free press they get, but hey, more power to them. The article has some great quotes about reform in the Church and in religious communities.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Another Great Article About the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal

Thanks to a friend who sent this to me, Kathryn Sharpe, whose brother, Br. Bernadine, is featured in the article in the New Jersey Star-Ledger.

Brothers Find Their Way Among the Impoverished
Newark monastery will open up its space this fall for religious retreats

Sunday, August 05, 2007
Star-Ledger Staff

The thin stream of blood extended the length of the sidewalk running by the Catholic monastery's front door, trickled around the corner and ended midway down the block. The friars who live inside assumed a gunshot victim had collapsed. There, the monks gathered one night last summer and prayed, as residents of 13th Avenue in Newark's West Ward looked on.

Two months later, the friars showed up in religious garb at a funeral for another young area gunshot victim, and they again drew stares.

Last autumn, the friars learned that people liked having them in the neighborhood. A man at the door seeking a sandwich told a friar that area residents thought they were "good guys," recalled the Rev. Richard Roemer, who has lived at the monastery since 2005.

The friars and their order, Franciscans of the Renewal, is an order that has been attracting national attention.

Catholic religious orders worldwide are having trouble recruiting new members. But the Franciscans of Renewal, a young order founded in 1987, have been drawing a steady flow of recruits in their 20s and 30s. Starting with just eight members, the order now has 107 friars.

The Newark priory was purchased for $1.5 million in 2004 by a nonprofit group called Friends of the Newark Monastery. Because the friars take a vow of poverty, they are not permitted to own property.

The priory had been used for years by a group of cloistered Dominican nuns who rarely ventured beyond the walls and who had not let outsiders in except to pray at a chapel.

This fall, the friars will open the European-style courtyard, spacious back lawn and other prayer space for regular religious retreats.

"For years and years, no one has been behind these walls," said the Rev. Glenn Sudano, 54, a founding member of the order and a spiritual director for novices. "People think it's a prison. I want people to come in, and to see how simply we live."

Eight friars, including Sudano, live in the space permanently, and novices live and train there for 12 months. The novices then take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience before they leave for the order's friaries in New York, Texas, Honduras, England, or Ireland. Many eventually become priests.


By the time they left the Newark priory in 2003 for other monasteries, the Dominican nuns who lived there for 121 years had not drawn a new member for more than a decade. Their plight was similar to other Catholic orders. In the last 40 years, the number of Catholic religious priests, brothers and sisters in the United States has decreased from 214,932 to 85,284, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University.

The friars living at the monastery now say the popularity of their order stems from its adherence to religious tradition. The Franciscans of the Renewal, which split from a Capuchin order in 1987, was founded on the belief that other orders had lost their way following liberal church reforms of the 1960s. Unlike some larger orders, the Franciscan friars still live together, pray together, and wear traditional garb. On Saturdays, they pray outside abortion clinics. They do not have a television.

In a 2005 book about the order, "A Drama of Reform," its chief founder, the Rev. Benedict Groeschel, complained most Catholic orders in the English-speaking world were "lost in the woods" and that some are even "filled with dissent from official Church teaching ..."

"The old proverb is relevant here: 'If the trumpeter sounds an uncertain note, who will follow?'" wrote Groeschel, who once was arrested for praying in the driveway of an abortion clinic.
Sudano says he shares these views. His own path to the Newark monastery passed through St. John's University and, 30 years ago, a CBS newsroom.

Working as a CBS desk assistant, he says, he came to believe that the world's problems too often involved people making bad choices. Rather than help a net work report on these bad choices, he wanted to spend his life helping people to stop making them, he said.

After a year teaching at a Catholic school in White Plains, N.Y., he joined the Capuchin religious order. In time, he said he became frustrated that the friars spent too much time running churches and not enough time helping the poor.

Sudano and seven other men, including Groeschel, then founded the Franciscans of the Renewal, to help poor people and to try to stay true to Catholic religious tradition. The flow of novices into the order shows they were on to something, he said.

"People here are looking for a sense of community," Sudano said. "They want to belong to something, but not simply to an organization: They want to belong to a family ... that has identity, parameters, a mission, ideals."


Still, the decision for a young man to live by the order's dictates of celibacy and poverty does not come easy these days. In interviews, the novices in Newark described varied paths to the monastery: a spiritual awakening after an illness; a restless heart after an Army tour in Iraq; a simple decision to live a countercultural life, and, for a former truck driver, a feeling that God wanted him to become a friar rather than a husband.


Still, the decision for a young man to live by the order's dictates of celibacy and poverty does not come easy these days. In interviews, the novices in Newark described varied paths to the monastery: a spiritual awakening after an illness; a restless heart after an Army tour in Iraq; a simple decision to live a countercultural life, and, for a former truck driver, a feeling that God wanted him to become a friar rather than a husband.

Behind the wheel of his big rig, "I had a lot of time to pray and listen to Christian music and Christian radio," said Brother Teresiano, 32, who grew up in Modesto, Calif. "I kept growing in my faith."

Every time I started to go out with a girl, my relationship with God started to become cold," he said. "And little by little, through the Bible and watching movies of the saints, I realized God was calling me not to marry but to live for him alone."

Brother Bernadine, 25, of Old Hickory, Tenn., said he first was attracted to religious life as a Catholic school student, inspired by the works of St. Francis Assisi. A college trip to Brazil affirmed his desire, he said, after he saw "a different type of poverty. I realized how much for granted I take in my life."

Later he visited with Francis cans of the Renewal.

"You could see they believed something special. ... And in everything I was doing in life, I couldn't deny God's call, that he was calling me to this life, and that if I didn't follow it I would have no joy, no peace, no happiness outside of it," he said.


Friars and novices at the monastery, formally called Most Blessed Sacrament Friary, awake at 5:30 a.m. each day. Morning prayer lasts from 6 to 9 a.m., and then novices take classes, do manual labor to help run the facility, or volunteer at a nearby soup kitchen. After night prayer at 9:15 p.m., the novices and friars alike are silent through the morning prayer.

That is not to say quiet prevails.

"We have all the sounds of Newark, the helicopters with the occasional spotlight coming down to the courtyard," said the Rev. Roemer, 37.

Sitting under one of the 28 vaulted arches that surround the monastery's courtyard, Roemer re counted a scene from the order's weekly 2:30 a.m. courtyard vigil on a recent Saturday.

While chanting psalms, "we heard the screech and the crash on the other side of the wall. All the voices were going 'Oh!' -- not in pain, but the voices of young people watching. ... It's definitely a different world."
The not-so-serene surroundings of their monastery do not bother them, the friars and novices say. In deed, the order's constitution essentially dictates that they will live in tough neighborhoods.

"We choose to live in areas noted for poverty," Sudano said. "The South Bronx is noted for poverty. Let's say in 10 years the South Bronx loses that identity. We would leave the community. We need to be identified as living with the poor. The same thing with Harlem. The same thing here."
UPDATE: This is the accompanying video...

Monday, August 13, 2007

A Vocation Film of Sorts

A very good short film by Eric Forrest about a young man becoming a priest in China, and the price he pays. A good reminder for those of us living in freedom not to forget the Church persecuted. In any case it is an inspiring video about heroic priests!

Hat thip to Deacon Kandra

Sunday, August 12, 2007

More About Habits

Habemus Papam posted this over at Adam's Ale...

Have you ever walked down the street and noticed a policeman, fireman, doctor, or even a priest? You probably noticed them because of what they were wearing. What I find most disheartening is what you TYPICALLY don’t see while walking on the streets are habited nuns. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there are some nuns roaming about, however, you would never know. I thought nuns, like priests, are supposed to be a visual representation to the world, show they are married to the Church, and are giving up their life to serve it. It marks their life as a living witness and shows their detachment from vanity and greed. I, along with many others, believe that nuns should wear the full habit.
A while back, at the recommendation of my parish priest, I went on a “Where Are You Going” retreat that the diocese was putting on. The retreat was up at the seminary and I felt very uncertain about going, as this would be a step in the right direction for discernment of a religious vocation. I still went, afraid as I was, and put myself into the unknown. While there, we had the chance to talk to some of the sisters, habited and non-habited. Sitting down at the table, I chatted with some non-habited nuns. They told me they were Dominicans I was excited and let them know that I would be heading off to Nashville to visit the Dominicans there. (The Nashville Dominicans are a habited order.) Once I opened my mouth they got up from the table and vanished. My reaction was one of dismay and hurt. Are you kidding me, because I mentioned the name of another order that wore habits I was unworthy of their attention?
After they vanished, I wanted to run and start questioning them. What made them not want to wear the habit? Were they ashamed? Did they think they were giving up too much of themselves? If so, I guess they didn’t realize what it meant have a religious vocation. I believe if you had this type of vocation you would take pride in the spirit of your order and what you have been called to do and want to make that known to the world. Wearing the habit is a sacrifice, to be recognized as a spouse of Christ, to be connected to tradition, to humility, and to a life centered on Christ.
I had a friend that just received the habit from The Sisters of Life. She had sent a letter and told me about receiving the habit and her experience wearing it. She said receiving the habit was one of the best moments of her life. She exclaimed how beautiful and how much deeper she was drawn into Christ’s warm embrace. AMAZING!! She said the first time she wore the habit while in the Bronx, where her order is located; she received some of the weirdest stares. At first she mentioned that it was a bit uncomfortable, she was not sure how to even move in it and of course it made daily work much different. But what I gathered from her letter was that she embraced the habitat as a new piece of her, a visual piece that gave no questions about what she was doing with her life. She didn’t need to tell people what she believed or what she did; they could see it first hand.
I am a firm believer in the fact that part of the reason younger girls are not joining religious orders is that many of the orders are not wearing a habit. If you take a look at thriving orders, they are all wearing habits, they live in community, and have taken the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. At a time when the entire world is in chaos, young adult women are finding solace in these vows and in an order that upholds a tradition. Most of the new orders springing up do not have a common chrism, they do not live in community, and they do not wear a habit. It angers me when I hear that the Church traditions are not important to these new orders. I often wonder if they feel that by organizing a new order that is more lenient and to their liking they will bring in more vocations. If that is the case, what are they giving up, what does the act of laying ones live down for Christ mean to them? It apparently means little to nothing. Not that these orders aren’t doing good things and helping people, but this is not what an order should be, it should be sacrifice and discipline. Mary, Mother of the Eucharist is a newer order that has girls knocking down their doors to enter. They are a great order that is centered on their vows, wears a habit, lives in community, and cares greatly. However, if you know anything about their history, you will find that they branched off from the Nashville Dominicans who have been around for hundreds of years. This I believe is an exception to the rule of new orders. I feel there is much work to be done with newer orders examining their place in the world and if the Church is really calling for more orders to spring up instead of valuing the orders that we have now.
I hope and pray that with the new Bishop in the Cleveland diocese, he will reaffirm the tradition that the Church upholds and put some focus on women’s religious orders. There are a vast number of girls looking to answer God’s call and would like to stay in the Cleveland diocese, yet they feel they won’t find a home. Please pray for the increase of vocations for orders that are staying close to their roots of poverty, chastity, and obedience.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Message to Permanent Deacons

The Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Claudio Hummes, has written this message on this feast of St Laurence, deacond and martyr. (paragraphs removed - BW)

Dear Permanent Deacons,It is indeed a great joy for me to be able to turn my thoughts to you on the feast of St Laurence deacon and martyr, in this my first year as Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy.You have always occupied a privileged place in my heart. I admire you and wish to say that I see a precious grace of the Lord to His people in the restoration of Permanent Diaconate following Vatican Council II. This ordained ministry has great potential value and is highly topical in the context of the mission of the Church.I thank God for the calling you have received and for your generous response. For the majority of you, who are married, this response has also been made possible by the love, support and cooperation of your wives and children.Concerning deacons, Vatican Council II stated that ‘sustained by the sacramental grace in the ministry of the liturgy, preaching and charity, they are at the service of the people of God’ (LG 29). Your ministry is ‘ministry of the Church in the local Christian community, sign and sacrament of Christ the Lord Himself, who did not come to be served but to serve’ (Paul Ad Pascendum, Introduction). Quite rightly Ignatius of Antioch says that deacons are ‘ministers of the mysteries of Jesus Christ...ministers of the Church of God’ (S. Ignatii Antiocheni, Ad Trallianos, II,3).Vatican Council II also explains that the sacramental grace conferred through the imposition of hands enables you to exercise your service of the word, of the altar and charity with special effectiveness (cf. Ad Gentes, 16).Therefore you have been ordained for the service of the Word of God. This means that all that concerns the preaching of the Gospel, catechesis, spreading of the Bible and explanation to the people is ordinarily entrusted to you, though naturally under the authority of your Bishop. Nowadays the Church calls all Her members, especially ordained ministers, to missionary activity, i.e. to rise and move in an organic way firstly towards our baptised who have drifted away from the practice of their Catholic faith, but also towards those who know little or nothing of Jesus Christ and His message, in order to proclaim the Christian message, the kerygma, for the first time and through this to take them to a real and concrete encounter with the Lord. In this encounter faith is renewed and personal acceptance of Jesus Christ and His message is strengthened. This is the foundation of true faith and faithful witness in the world. We can no longer limit ourselves to waiting for our baptised in our churches. We need to find them where they live and work, through a permanent missionary activity, with special attention towards the poor in the suburbs of our cities. This ministry of the Word requires that you, dear Deacons, develop a constant closeness with the Holy Scriptures, and in particular with the Gospels. May listening, meditating, studying and practising the Word of God become your everyday tasks. In this way you will become more disciples of the Lord and you will feel called and enlightened by the Holy Spirit for your mission.You have been ordained for a liturgical-sacramental service. You have your own liturgical functions in the celebration and giving out of the Eucharist, the centre of the life of the Church and, therefore, also the centre of the life of ordained ministers. Your ministry entrusts a special responsibility to you for what concerns the sacraments of Baptism and Matrimony. The Bishop may entrust to you all that concerns baptismal and matrimonial-family pastoral care.You have been ordained for charity. You have many things to do, to organise, and to animate! The poor, the disenfranchised, the unemployed, the hungry, all that are reduced to extreme misery, an innumerable crowd, raise their hands and their voice to the Church. Deacons play a vital role for them both historically and in view of their ordination. Charity, solidarity towards the poor, social justice, have always been an ambit of extreme urgency that challenges Christians, as Christ said: 'through this everyone will know that you are my disciples, that you have love for one another’ (Jn, 13:35).Dear Permanent Deacons, once again I would like to convey all my affection and gratitude. I greet your wives and your families. Witness the love of God! I entrust you to the Most Holy Mary who continues to proclaim: 'I am the handmaid of the Lord' (Lk 1:38). And following the example of her service, we too serve our brothers and sisters in the great family of humanity and of the Church.
My blessing is upon you all!

From the Vatican, 10th of August 2007Feast of St Laurence, deacon and martyr
Claudio Card. HummesPrefect

Hat tip: South Ashford Priest

Are Religious Sisters Experiencing a Crisis?

Deacon Stucchio posted the following (with a link to this blog) on his blog:

"Are Religious Sisters Experiencing a Crisis?"

From the looks of things, the more progressive orders are in a state of decline.Sometimes you can read a thought provoking article and say, Are you kidding me? Such was my reaction when I read this one on the Catholic News Service. (Highlights italicized below) Recently a group of Women religious gathered at the Women Religious Leadership Conference in Kansas City to discuss the future of their religious organizations.

Dominican Sister Laurie Brink in her keynote address reminded her audience that when religious life first emerged and again after the Second Vatican Council it was directed to the edges of society, "which were in desperate need of our compassionate attention.

So it is to the margins that religious life must again move, in order to be true to its original and renewed impetus toward holiness."

Also during the assembly in Kansas City, the 750 leaders of U.S. religious communities in attendance approved a resolution calling for members to promote legislation to preserve and renew wetlands and coastal regions and strengthen Louisiana's levees.

A second resolution they approved promotes debt cancellation in developing countries, especially through participation in a 40-day "rolling fast" in September and October promoted by the Jubilee USA Network.

I would not argue with their resolutions, but what caught my attention was this the following:
"If there is to be a future for women religious that upholds our dignity as reflections of the divine equal to that of our brothers, respects our baptismal promises and honors our commitment to the mission of Jesus," said Sister Laurie, "we must first be reconciled with the institutional church.

Such an effort will cost us dearly."She said that for the last 30 years women religious have slowly removed themselves from the inner circles of the church, because "we have tired of the condescension and we have opted for ministry outside the church."Women religious are angry, she said, "not about the Eucharist itself -- but about the ecclesial deafness that refuses to hear the call of the Spirit summoning not only celibate males, but married men and women to serve at the table of the Lord." That has helped put religious women's orders "on the verge of extinction," she said.

All I could do is think about Mother Teresa and her response when asked, "Mother, what do you think about women becoming priests? Don't you think you should be allowed to be ordained? Mother, in her usual wisdom answered, "My dear, I have no time to think about that, especially when Christ's poor are dying in the streets."

Mother's order reaches out to the marginalized, the suffering and dying yet remains Eucharistic centered and focused. Sr. Nirmala indicated that her order is not experiencing a vocation crisis. The Sisters spend many hours in the presence of our Lord to further their vocation to holiness and to gain their strength to meet the needs of the world head on.

So much energy, in my opinion is expended on personal agendas. I would like to remind the good Sister to speak to her Protestant and Jewish friends who ordain celibate and married women and men. I have and discovered that enrollment has been down significantly in their theological seminaries as well. They continue to have the same problems as Catholics in staffing their houses of worship.

I recently spoke with a local Rabbi who shared a pretty well known fact. The real issue is that our society (and perhaps some of our religious orders) have gone too far on the secular side. We have removed God totally from our lives.

I would think that women who felt they have a vocation would want to be more than social workers. If that were the case, no need to profess religious vows. Religious orders need to retain an identity and a unique charism. Some of the more traditional orders of women who also desire to minister to those on the edge of society have been experiencing some steady growth. The numbers may not be overwhelming as in the past, but they are in the right direction.

Here's one example: "1400 Percent Growth of Dominican Sisters." You can find others by referring to this Vocation Blog for more interesting links.

(Photo above is taken from the Nasheville Dominican Sister's website)

Posted by Deacon Tony Stucchio at 8:53 PM

Friday, August 10, 2007

Beautiful Order - Beautiful Vestments

Above is a picture of the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles. Thanks to Shrine of the Holy Whapping for posting about this order and the beautiful vestments they make. This is a relatively new order that moved to the Diocese of Kanas City - St. Joseph in Missouri. Seems to be the same old (new) story - faithful to the Magestirium, traditional, habited, and young = vocations. Please check out there site above, or vist their blog here.

Now for those of you clergy reading this who are interested in beatiful vestments, or those of you interested in buying beautiful vestments for your clergy friends - the sisters can help you out.

Please go to the "House of Ephesus" to view some of their incredible handiwork.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

That Catholic Show - You are a Priest Forever

Post title says it all...

The Hero Priest

World War II Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient Captain Joseph Timothy O'Callahan, Chaplain Corps, USNR giving last rites to a sailor after a Japanese air attack on their ship. Described by the ships commander as "the bravest man I've ever seen", Fr. O'Callahan later received the CMH.
All priests are heroic in my mind, but did you know there have been four Roman Catholic Priests awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor since World War II? They are listed below.
Father Vincent R. Capodanno, awared posthumously
Father Angelo J. Liteky
Father Joseph T. O'Callahan
Father Charles Joseph Watters, awarded posthumously
For those of you who may not know the significance of the Congressional Medal of Honor, it is our nations highest military honor for the bravest of the brave. The award brings many honors, distinctions, and privileges. For example in the military the enlisted ranks initiate salutes to officers. However, all members of the United States military (including generals, and all the way up to the Commander in Chief - President of the United States) salute the CMH recipients even if they are the lowest members of the enlisted ranks.
May God call MANY more worthy men to answer His call to the priesthood, ESPECIALLY as chaplains for which there is a CRITICAL need!
For more information about these priests and many others who bravely served our military men and women as chaplains go to this site
For more information on Fr. O'Callahan go to this page on the Congressional Medal of Honor site.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Seminarians Dinner

Last night, Bishop Burbidge hosted a first ever evening for our seminarians, their parents, and the priests of the Diocese. It was wonderful! 16 of our 21 seminarians were able to be there, as well as over 40 of our priests. We began with evening prayer in the Church, then moved over to the hall for appetizers and drinks, before sitting down to an incredible meal. After dinner each seminarian was introduced, along with their family/friends, to the other families and priests. Following that we watched "Fishers of Men" on the big screen - movie theatre big screen complete with big sound! Most of the parents had never seen it, for that matter many of the priests had never seen it, and I feel confident in saying that it was very moving for them. Bishop Burbidge addressed everyone gathered by group - families, seminarians, and priests. His words, as always, were very inspiring. What a blessing the night was.

And in the end it did what we hoped it would, begin to create a family within a family. Parents were exchanging information, priests were meeting seminarians and their families, etc. God willing last night was only the beginning of a life of fraternity amongst brother priests.

We also began to distribute new prayer cards for our seminarians. On one side is the name of every seminarian, and a request that we prayer for each of them by name. On the other side is the following prayr:

O Lord Jesus Christ, great High Priest, I pray
that you call many worthy men to Your holy priesthood.
Enlighten our Bishop in forming our candidates,
our Director of Vocations in guiding them
and their professors in teaching and training them.
Lead the Seminarians in Your unerring footsteps
so they may become Priests who are models of purity,
possessors of wisdom and heroes of sacrifice.
May they be steeped in humility
and aflame with love for God and others.
Mary, Queen of the Clergy, pray for us.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Wearing Habits

No question, wearing a habit, cassock, or clerics for that matter, is a clear witness to the world of a life lived for Christ.

Two stories.

Watching EWTN morning Mass one day, one of the Friars was preaching, in part, about wearing the habit. He talked about visiting a convent of the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration in the Southwestern U.S. with several other Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word (MFVA). He told how they were in a restaurant eating, and as they would, they forgot about the fact that they were dressed a bit differently than the normal customers. He went on to say that at some point their young waitress came out and said, "everyone wants to know, what are you guys?" The friar answered fairly succinctly, satisfying her curiosity as she went back to the kitchen to relay the answer. A little while later she came back and asked more questions like, what is a "Franciscan"? Several rounds of questioning later, she said she didn't "know God". At that moment, one of the lay brothers answered immediately "You may not know Him, but He knows you, and He loves you!" The Friar preaching the homily jokingly said in his homily, "man, why didn't I think of saying that!"

The Friars may never know what will become of that young woman, or the other employees that were asking questions of them, but one thing is for sure - No habits - probably no conversation about the Love of God.

Second story. A few weeks ago a young man came into my office to talk about vocations. What was driving the beginning stages of his discernment? He had been visiting the Grand Canyon, and ran into, all of people, Franciscan Friars of the Renewal (they have a friary in New Mexico). He spoke to them, and it got the wheels turning. Weeks later he's in my office asking all the right questions. Again, no habits, and this story doesn't happen.

Ask any religious that wears a habit and they probably have a dozen stories just like this. I'll never believe the relativist idea that "I don't need to wear a habit, my habit is living my life according the gospel." Maybe, but you'll never be a visible witness, to someone driving by, of a truly counter cultural life. "They're uncomfortable to wear" - I'm glad Christ didn't say the same about "wearing" His humanity when it became "uncomfortable", and give it up for "casual wear".