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.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Being Exposed to the Idea of Vocations

This is a picture of three of our kids from a couple of years ago. The occasion? All Holy's Eve and All Saints. Isaac is dressed as his namesake, St. Isaac Jogues (he had a plastic hatchet, but that wasn't the best idea). Liliane is Bl. Kateri Tekakwitha (Lily of the Mohawks) and Therese is obviously St. Therese of Lisieux. It was amazing how memorable dressing up like their saints was to them - and how often they did it. On a side note, let me say that Therese was the show stopper trick or treating that year. Let's face it, almost every kid is dressed as a super hero or a princess, but not many come in a full habit as a Carmelite. I can't tell you the number of excited reactions when she showed up at the door. At one house the woman answering the door, obviously from up North, called several other women to the door and several of them were (no lie) crying. They immediately began to recall sisters they new from childhood.

This is a picture of our girls with Sr. Charlotte and Sr. Monica from the Sisters of Life, and Sr. Marie Rose and Sr. Maria Kolbe from the Nashville Dominicans. They hung this picture in there room near pictures they have of St. Therese and Bl. Kateri. What is nice about it, is that it serves as a visual reminder (in a Diocese without fully habitted women's religious orders) that young, joyful, habit wearing sisters are still out there (and God willing may come to our Diocese someday). It is not our idea to force the issue of religious or priestly vocations, but in a culture that promotes anything but, it is perhaps even more necessary to expose our children to the idea of discerning vocations at a young age.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Old buildings are great, but...

they are not without their problems. Like for instance pulling up the tile and realizing there is a hole in the floor from old water damage. It doesn't show it in the picture, but there is a hole to the basement - it took very little pushing from my hand to break through the wood floor and the sub-flooring. Not what you want to find at 8:00pm when you're thinking your part of the job is almost over. More carpentry in the morning. St. Joseph - pray for us.

Sorry for the construction posts, but they're all I've got at the moment. God willing I'll be back to regular posting soon!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

One of My Former Students is Entering the Sisters of Life

It is with great joy that I write this post. A former student of mine, and Godmother to our youngest son Samuel, will be entering the Sisters of Life in the fall! Stephanie (center in photo above) graduated from Cardinal Gibbons High School in 2003, and graduated this year from the University of Dallas (Magna Cum Laude/Theology).

It has been a blessing for me to be a small part of her discernment process throughout these years. In fact I can say that I was there when it began. In 2002 I took a group of students down to the Trappist Monastery in South Carolina, Mepkin Abbey, for an annual retreat. While there, one of the monks (Fr. Christian Kerr, OCSO for those who might know him) asked if any of the girls had considered becoming nuns. They all responded in the negative, but perhaps none more vehemently than Stephanie. And that was it. That was the beginning. Stephanie says she would hear that question everyday from then on.

In time she would speak to the vocations director for the Sisters of Life, Sr. Mary Gabriel, SV. Let me just say that Sr. Mary Gabriel (in the picture immediately to the right of Stephanie) is a force of JOY to be reckoned with. No matter my state of being going into a conversation with her, I come away feeling great. But I digress. By the end of Stephanie's first conversation with Sr. Mary Gabriel, her journey toward the Sisters of Life had begun. After four years, several visits and retreats, Stephanie applied and was accepted to enter on September 1st with as many as 15 other young women - Deo Gratias! She will be yet another incredible sister in this amazing young order dedicated to the Gospel of Life. May Almighty God bless them, and Our Lady keep them.

Please keep Stephanie, and the other women entering in your prayers!

Monday, June 25, 2007

New Job - Old Work

In one of my former careers I was a carpenter/contractor. That background is coming in handy these days as we renovate/remodel the space that will become the new Office of Vocations for the Diocese of Raleigh. Since last Monday I have returned full time to the contstruction world in an attempt to flip the space we are moving into - in two weeks. Things are going well, and the space will be very nice, but it has significantly limited my blog time. Once we are moved in, and I actually have an office, I should be able to squeeze in more blog time. In the mean time how about some photos...

The soon to be Office of Vocations (origionally a doctor's office in 1942). Two doors down on the right is the Cathedral.

Tearing out a wall that was a recent addition to the building and restoring it back to the original size room...

The same room after demolition. This was originally the waiting room in the doctor's office.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Support A Vocation - Buy Art

Annie Heyne is an graduate of the University of Dallas, and a MFA graduate from the New York Academy of Art that will be entering a semi-cloistered community in Florence, Italy (her vocation story can be found under "Artist's Bio"). To help reduce her student loan debt she is selling some of her beautiful art work. Please check out her website, and if you are inspired buy something, just remember the cost helps to get her into religious life. Think of it this way, it will be like having a piece of artwork by a modern day Bl. Fra Angelico!

A final painting of St. Tarcisius...

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Diocese of Raleigh Vocations Holy Hour Homily

The following video is of Fr. Paul Parkerson's homily from the June 2007 Vocations Holy Hour. It's 19 minutes long, but worth the time spent watching it. I will be uploading more of the Vocations Holy Hour homilies on to YouTube soon, but you can watch them now on the Diocese of Raleigh website here. In the meantime, check out Fr. Parkerson's inspiring homily about the priesthood below...

Monday, June 18, 2007

Seminarians For the Diocese of Raleigh - 2007

Pictured above are the Seminarians, and those applying, for the Diocese of Raleigh, along with Fr. Shlesinger (Director of Vocations) on the left, recently ordained Fr. DeCandia in middle back row, and His Excellency Bishop Burbidge in the front. The photo was taken during the annual seminarians beach retreat. God willing all these young men, as well as three others will be in seminary in the fall. This will be the first year that most of our seminarians will be attending the same seminary - and the first year that any of our seminarians will be attending St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia. Please keep them all in your prayers!

Not bad for a "mission" Diocese.

Photo credit: Jeff Bobby

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Beautiful Ordination Slideshow

The Franciscan Friars of the Renewal have a beautiful flash slideshow up on their website of the recent Archdiocese of New York priestly ordinations. It is well worth your time to watch it.

One of the priests ordained, Fr. Juan Diego, CFR (pictured below with Cardinal Egan), was in Honduras last summer when I was there. What a blessing it was for me to pray with him, work with him, and get to meet him - he is truly a blessing to the Church!

Beautiful Ordination Slideshow

The Franciscan Friars of the Renewal have a beautiful slideshow on their website of the recent priestly ordinations for the Archdiocese of New York it is well worth the watching.

One of the priests, Fr. Juan Diego, CFR, was is Honduras last summer when I was there - it was a privilege getting to meet him and work with him - what a blessing he is to the Church! The picture below is of Fr. Juan Diego with Cardinal Egan...

Happy Father's Day!

A very happy Father's Day to all our priests - thank you for your yes to God's call, and for your fatherhood to us all. We may not always say it, but we are eternally thankful for the sacrifices you have made for us. May Almighty God bless you this day, and everyday, in your spiritual fatherhood, and in all you do for the Church - AMDG!

A happy Father's Day as well to all our married permanent deacons and for your public witness to the world of the sanctity of married life in your primary vocation AND service to the Church. By your inspiration may more fathers answer their call to be holy husbands and fathers, but also understand their obligation to serve the needs of the Church, especially the least among us.

On that note I had a wonderful father's day, that began with a last walk on the beach early this morning with my kids before heading home at the end of our vacation. I thank God everyday for the four blessings he has bestowed upon us - they are an almost constant source of joy. We often think how boring life was without them when all we thought about was ourselves. They do however bring challenges - travelling with four kids is like moving a small army, and gone are the days of liesurly book reading on the beach. Small sacrifices for the blessings that come with doing God's will. Thankfully things will be returning to normal now, and I will be back to posting regularly. In the meantime, here's a picture of the family with our very good family friend and priest, Fr. Tighe, after our youngest's baptism...

Vocations Ad

Great vocations ad from the Diocese of St. Augustine Office of Vocations in a recent St. Augustine Catholic Magazine.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Ordination and Marriage

Fr. Toborowsky postsed this on his blog "Young Fogeys"

Today, May 31st, is the Feast of the Visitation. But nine years ago May 31st was Pentecost Sunday. Yesterday was the anniversary of my ordination, and today is the ninth anniversary of my first Mass as the main celebrant (technically, of course, my "first Mass" as a Priest was at the Cathedral, concelebrating with my Bishop at the ordination Mass itself). What's a newly ordained Priest's first Mass like? It's our wedding night. Let me explain.

Making the decision to ask to be accepted as a seminarian is kind of like getting up the courage asking someone out on a date. The Church accepts the candidate (the girl says "yes"), and we spend years in the seminary (in my case six years) deciding if this life is for us (in other words, deciding if this girl is "the one").

Here the smartalecks amongst you are dying to challenge me, saying the seminarian is, so to speak, "living with his girlfriend". This is not the case. While at the seminary, the seminarian is not pretending to be something he's not. He's not acting like he's ordained when he knows he's not. Every day I went to Mass and sat in the pews as a layman; I didn't presume to walk into the sacristy and put on Mass vestments, saying that I've already made enough of a commitment and that I plan on getting ordained eventually, so I might as well get used to saying Mass. Cohabitation is when a couple acts like their married even when they know they aren't. But I digressed a bit.

All the while, we can decide this isn't for us and walk away, and hopefully remain "friends". I've got more than a few friends who were seminarians with me who made such a decision and are very content living their Catholic faith as lay persons.

But if we persevere (and both the dater -the seminarian- and the datee -the Church- consent) and the relationship continues, then it's time to take it to the next level. That's our ordination to Diaconate. In my analogy, that would be akin to the proposal of marriage, the giving of the ring, etc. After that, everything points to ordination in a more urgent sense. Invitations are sent out. A party is planned.

Ordination to the Priesthood is the wedding day. Though I didn't literally say, "I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life", to a physical bride, I conveyed those same feelings to my supernatural bride (the Church) in answering "I am" to the questions asked to me by my Bishop: Will I care for my bride (God's flock) as a conscientious co-worker of the bishops?; Will I celebrate the mysteries of Christ religiously and faithfully as they have been handed down by the Church for the glory of God and the sanctification of my bride?; Will I preach the Gospel and teach my bride worthily and wisely?; Will I consecrate my life to God for the salvation of my bride? Though I hadn't met them yet, I said it to my future parishioners: not only the ones I've already met in my nine years of Priestly service, but the ones I still have yet to meet.

A Priest's "first Mass"? That, my friends, brings us back to my original point: It's the wedding night. It's what he's been waiting years to do with anticipation. It's when he gets to say "This is my body, given for you" to his spouse, the Church. He's spent more than a few hours worried about his "performance", and he's probably asked for some advice from more than a few "bridegrooms" who've gone through the wedding-night jitters years before. The only difference is that a Priest's wedding night is done in the presence of his family and friends. Talk about "performance anxiety"!!! Any married couples out there had their parents watching their wedding night from front-row seats, and with a photographer and videographer looming about???

And that brings me to where I am today, nine years later. After the wedding day, the reception, and even the honeymoon, comes the tough part: actually living the vocation day-in and day-out. The same dangers are there for Priests as for married couples: We can stop communicating with our spouse (lack of prayer). We can complain we don't have enough "me-time". We can become strangers to each other. We can sometimes find our spouse asks us for things we don't necessarily want to do. And, yes, even the nuptuals can creep into routine. In either vocations, Holy Orders or Matrimony, it takes work and deliberate will to keep it new. Those can only be fed by love. Not a fleeting lust that goes away when the bride & bridegroom aren't skinny & beautiful anymore. But a deep love, like a bank account, that continually gets deposited into so that it can be withdrawn from when the need presents itself, all the while growing while gaining interest.

OK, enough rambling. Go back to your lives.

2007 Ordinations - Some Numbers

Archdiocese of Los Angeles/4,100,000 Catholics - 5 newly ordained priests

Archdiocese of St. Louis/550,000 Catholics - 4 newly ordained priests

Diocese of Raleigh/207,000 Catholics - 2 newly ordained priests

Diocese of Knoxville/50,000 Catholics - 3 newly ordained priests

Sounds like they're doing something right in Knoxville. Don't worry though, the Diocese of Raleigh will be coming on strong in a few years. God willing we'll have at least 21 seminarians in the fall!

Monday, June 11, 2007

A MUST READ Post on Adam's Ale

Well it turns out I will have internet access this week. More posts to come.

If you are discerning a vocation to religious life or the priesthood there is a must read post over at Adam's Ale from Bridget who was featured on the MTV video about the Sisters of Life.

Hat tip to Stephanie for bringing it to my attention!

Saturday, June 9, 2007

I Have a New Job...

Once again I offer my apologies for the precipitous drop off of posts over the last weeks. As a teacher at the Diocesan High School, I was busy finishing up the school year. It was unusually busy this year, as it will be my last at the school. Beginning July 2nd I will start my new position as Assistant to the Director of Vocations for the Diocese of Raleigh. I can't tell you the joy this brings me, as it seems to be both God's will and an answer to years of prayers. I would like to post in greater detail about it, but I still don't have the time at the moment. We have two Deacons being ordained to the priesthood today, and I'll be out of town for the coming week (with little to no internet access). I pray that when I get back, I will be able to post again on a daily basis.

Please keep Deacons Marco and Anthony in your prayers today.