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.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 26 MAY 2010 (VIS) - In today's general audience, celebrated in St. Peter's Square, the Pope focused his remarks on the duty of the priest to "govern and guide - with the authority of Christ, not with his own - that portion of the people which God has entrusted to his care".

In the last of three catechesis on the essential tasks of priestly ministry, the Holy Father asked: "how, within contemporary culture, can we understand this dimension which implicates the concept of authority and has its origin in the Lord's command to feed His sheep?"

"The regimes which spread death and terror last century are a powerful reminder that authority, in all fields, when exercised without reference to the transcendent, when it ignores the supreme authority that is God Himself, inevitably ends up by turning against man. It is important, then, to recognise that human authority is never an end but always and only a means, and that, necessarily and at all times, the end is always the person".

"In order to be pastors after God's heart, we need to be profoundly rooted in a living friendship with Christ (not only of our minds, but also of our freedom and will), clearly aware of the identity we received at priestly ordination, and unconditionally ready to lead our flock where the Lord wills, not in the direction which seems most convenient and easy. This requires, first and foremost, a continuous and progressive willingness to allow Christ Himself to govern the priestly lives of clergy. No-one, in fact, is truly capable of feeding the flock if they do not live in profound and authentic obedience to Christ and the Church; and the docility of the people towards their priests depends on the docility of priests towards Christ".

Referring then to the concept of "hierarchy" in the Church, the Pope noted how a prevalent idea among the public is of "an element of subordination, ... and for many people this contrasts with the flexibility and vitality of pastoral service. ... This is an erroneous interpretation which has its origins in the abuses of history", he explained. "The true meaning is of a sacred origin, it is an authority that comes from another, and subjects the person to the mystery of Christ, making him His servant. Only as His servant can he govern and guide, for Christ and with Christ".

Thus "the Pope, who is a point of reference for the communion of all the pastors of the Church, cannot do as he pleases; quite the contrary, he is the custodian of obedience to Christ and His word".

"Without this clear and explicit supernatural vision, priests' duty to govern cannot be understood. It is however, when supported by true concern for the salvation of each member of the faithful, a particularly important and necessary duty, also in our own time".

"Where", the Pope asked, "can a priest today draw the strength to exercise his ministry in complete faithfulness to Christ and to the Church, with total dedication to his flock? There is", he said, "only one answer: in Christ the Lord".

Benedict XVI told priests: "Do not be afraid to guide to Christ each of the brothers and sisters He has entrusted to you, certain that each word, each action, if they come from obedience to God's will, will bear fruit. Appreciate the advantages and recognise the limits of the culture in which we live, in the firm certainty that announcing the Gospel is the greatest service we can do mankind. In fact, there is no greater good in this earthly life than to lead man to God, to reawaken the faith, to raise mankind from inertia and desperation, and infuse the hope that God is close and guides the history of individuals and of the world. This is the profound and ultimate meaning of the task of government the Lord has entrusted to us".

The Pope concluded by inviting priests to participate in the closing celebrations of the Year for Priests, due to take place in Rome from 9 to 11 June when, he said, "we will meditate on conversion and mission, on the gift of the Holy Spirit and on our relationship with the Blessed Virgin; and we will renew our priestly promises, supported by the entire People of God".

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

"Higher Calling Leads Cartwright From Georgetown"

From CollegeSwimming.com

Georgetown University Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Lee Reed announced today that Men's & Women's Swimming and Diving Head Coach Steve Cartwright will step down from his position at the end of June.

Cartwright is resigning and returning to the seminary in the fall at St. Charles Borromeo in Philadelphia, Pa., studying for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Raleigh, N.C.

"I am very happy for Steve and we wish him the very best as he pursues something that is very close to his heart," Reed said. "This decision was a very difficult one, but Steve has done a great job with our program here and he leaves it in great shape."

Cartwright has coached at Georgetown for six years, serving as the head coach of the program for the last three. He had previously served as the interim head coach since December 2006. He had been an assistant coach for the prior two-plus seasons.

During Cartwright's tenure at Georgetown, the Hoyas experienced tremendous success both in the pool and in the classroom. Since his arrival on the Hilltop, 34 school records have been broken and more than 50 percent of the times listed in the all-time top-10 list were recorded. The Collegiate Swimming Association of America has awarded academic All-American honors to team members for 36consecutive semesters. In addition, they named the Hoyas one of the top All-Academic Teams in the nation for the spring semester of 2006, the same semester the women's team recorded the highest grade-point average in the nation. For the spring semester of 2007, the men's team had the highest GPA of all Division I swimming and diving programs in the country.

This year, the women's team went 10-2, posting the best dual-meet record in school history and broke nine school records. The men's team broke five school records and placed seven swimmers in the top-16 in their individual events at the BIG EAST Championship.

A search for a successor to lead the program will begin immediately.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

"New York Franciscan monks battle crime in Irish projects"

From Irish Central
Picture at left: Brother Shawn O'Connor, CFR
Since the beginning of the decade the Moyross estate in Limerick City has been a battle-ground for vicious gangland criminals.

Violent crime stalked the streets, making everyday life a nightmare.

But now, the estate is being turned around by a group of Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, from the Bronx, New York.

The Moyross estate was built in the late 1970s and is home to 5,500 residents. The vast majority of householders are local authority tenants.

Back in 2006, crime in Moyross was at its peak. The most famous incident took place when two innocent children who were sitting in their mother’s car were nearly burnt to death when three teenagers petrol bombed the vehicle. Violence was an everyday threat on the estate.

In 2007, the monks opened the friary in the troubled estate and over the past four years they have seen a vast improvement in the standard of living in the people living in the surrounding area.

Brother Shawn O’Connor said the monks' "primary purpose" was to "take care of the spiritual and material needs of the people, to give them a real sense of hope and a sense of knowledge that God cares for them and loves them."

Brother O’Connor is impressed by the changes that he has witnessed.

"We have seen quite a few changes. The biggest we have seen is with the people and the way they live their daily lives," said Brother O'Connor.

"Neighbors told us when we first moved in there, that (their) kids wouldn't play on the street very much or else with great caution. Now they are out there almost every day. I don't think anyone thinks anything of it to let their kids go out and safely play in the streets. That is one change, I don't know if that has anything specifically to do with us.

"It's gotten quieter there certainly, I know that. Obviously there are still things going on that everybody knows aren't so good. But there haven't been big violent events or things of that nature.

“If we can inspire people just to make that difference, no matter how small it might be, then you have made a difference. That is what we are trying to do at a tangible level."

The Franciscan Friars of the Renewal have now opened a second friary in Derry City.

"We won't go anyplace unless we get invited by a bishop,” said Brother O’Connor. “The two places we got invited to were Limerick and Derry and we accepted both of those. They are good places to be."

Monday, May 17, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI to Priests, Deacons, Religious and Seminarians




Church of the Most Holy Trinity, Fátima
Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

“When the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son born of woman, […] so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Gal 4:4,5). The fullness of time came when the Eternal broke into time; by the grace of the Holy Spirit the Son of the Most High was conceived and became man in the womb of a woman, the Virgin Mary, type and lofty model of the believing Church. The Church does not cease to beget new sons in the Son, whom the Father willed to be the first-born of many brothers. Each one of us is called to be with Mary and like Mary, a humble and simple sign of the Church who offers herself constantly as a spouse into the hands of her Lord.

To all of you who have given your life to Christ I wish to express this evening the Church’s appreciation and recognition. Thank you for your witness, often silent and certainly not easy; thank you for your fidelity to the Gospel and to the Church. In Jesus, present in the Eucharist, I embrace my brothers in the priesthood and the deacons, the consecrated women and men, the seminarians and the members of the movements and new ecclesial communities present. May the Lord reward, as he alone can and does, all those who have made it possible for us to gather together before the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. I mention especially the Episcopal Commission for Vocations and Ministries, with its President, Bishop António Santos, whom I thank for his greeting, full of collegial and fraternal affection, at the beginning of Vespers. In this “upper room” of faith which is Fatima, the Virgin Mother shows us the way to place our pure and holy offering into the hands of the Father.

Let me open my heart and tell you that the greatest concern of every Christian, especially of every consecrated person or minister of the altar, must be fidelity, loyalty to one’s own vocation, as a disciple who wishes to follow the Lord. Faithfulness over time is the name of love, of a consistent, true and profound love for Christ the Priest. “Since Baptism is a true entry into the holiness of God through incorporation into Christ and the indwelling of his Spirit, it would be a contradiction to settle for a life of mediocrity, marked by a minimalistic ethic and a shallow religiosity” (John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, 31). In this Year for Priests which is drawing to its close, may grace in abundance come down upon you that you may live joyfully your consecration and bear witness to your priestly fidelity grounded in the fidelity of Christ. This evidently supposes true intimacy with Christ in prayer, since it is the powerful and intense experience of the Lord’s love that brings priests and consecrated persons to respond to his love in way that is exclusive and spousal.

This life of special consecration was born to keep the Gospel always before the People of God, as a reminder which manifests, certifies and proclaims to the whole Church the radical nature of the Gospel and the coming of the Kingdom. Dear consecrated men and women, by your dedication to prayer, asceticism and growth in the spiritual life, to apostolic action and mission, you are progressing towards the heavenly Jerusalem, you are a foretaste of the eschatological Church, solid in her possession and loving contemplation of God who is love. How much we need this witness today! Many of our brothers and sisters live as if there were nothing beyond this life, and without concern for their eternal salvation. Men and women are called to know and love God, and the Church has the mission to assist them in this calling. We know well that God is the master of his gifts and that conversion is a grace. But we are responsible for proclaiming the faith, the whole faith, with all its demands. Dear friends, let us imitate the Curé of Ars who prayed to the Lord in the following words: “Grant me the conversion of my parish, and I accept to suffer all that you wish for the rest of my life”. And he did everything to pull people away from their own lukewarm attitude in order to lead them back to love.

There exists a deep solidarity among all the members of the Body of Christ. It is not possible to love Christ without loving his brothers and sisters. For their salvation John Mary Vianney decided to become a priest: “to win souls for the good God”, as he said when, at eighteen years of age, he announced his vocation, just as Paul had said: “to win as many as I could” (1 Cor 9:19). The Vicar General had told him: “there is not much love of God in the parish; you will bring it there”. In his priestly passion, this holy parish priest was merciful like Jesus in meeting each sinner. He preferred to insist on the attractive aspect of virtue, on God’s mercy, in comparison to which our sins are like “grains of sand”. He pointed to the merciful love of God which had been offended. He feared that priests would become “insensitive” and accustomed to the indifference of their faithful: “Woe to the Pastor – he would warn – who remains silent while God is offended and souls are lost”.

Dear brother priests, in this place, which Mary has made special, keep before your eyes her vocation as a faithful disciple of her Son Jesus from the moment of his conception to the Cross, and then beyond, along the path of the nascent Church, and consider the unheard-of grace of your priesthood. Fidelity to one’s vocation requires courage and trust, but the Lord also wishes that you join forces: that you be concerned for one another and support one another fraternally. Moments of common prayer and study, and sharing in the demands of the priestly life and work, are a necessary part of your life. It is a fine thing when you welcome one another into your homes with the peace of Christ in your hearts! It is important to assist one another with prayer, helpful advice and discernment! Be especially attentive to those situations where there is a certain weakening of priestly ideals or dedication to activities not fully consonant with what is proper for a minister of Jesus Christ. Then is the time to take a firm stand, with an attitude of warm fraternal love, as brother assisting his brother to “remain on his feet”.

The priesthood of Christ is eternal (cf. Heb 5:6), but the life of priests is limited. Christ has willed that others continue in time the priestly ministry that he instituted. Keep alive in your hearts, and in others around you, the desire to raise up – in cooperation with the grace of the Holy Spirit – new priestly vocations among the faithful. Trustful and persevering prayer, joyful love of one’s own vocation and commitment to the work of spiritual direction will allow you to discern the charism of vocation in those whom God calls.

Dear seminarians, who have taken the first step towards the priesthood and are preparing in the major seminary or in houses of formation, the Pope encourages you to be conscious of the great responsibility which you will have to assume. Carefully examine your intentions and your motivations. Devote yourselves with a steadfast heart and a generous spirit to your training. The Eucharist, which is the centre of Christian life and the school of humility and service, should be your first love. Adoration, piety and care for the Most Holy Sacrament during these years of preparation will lead you one day to celebrate the Sacrifice of the Altar in an edifying and devout manner.

Along this path of fidelity, beloved priests and deacons, consecrated men and women, seminarians and committed lay persons, may the Blessed Virgin Mary guide us. With her and like her, we are free so as to be saints; free so as to be poor, chaste and obedient; free for all because detached from all, free from self so that others may grow in Christ, the true Holy One of the Father and the Shepherd to whom priests, as his presence, lend their voice and their gestures; free to bring to today’s world Jesus who died and rose again, Jesus who remains with us until the end of time and who gives himself to all in the Most Holy Eucharist.

"Seminaries see no 'hard times' uptick"

From time to time I try to post articles that give a perspective on how other denominations and seminaries are doing with regard to vocations/enrollment. With the frequent call by some within the Church to allow married priests, or change the Church's understanding of the priesthood and allow women to be ordained, it is interesting to see that those denominations with married men and women as ministers are experiencing a decline in vocations.

Seminaries see no "hard times" uptick
From The Christian Century
by John Dart

The notion that enrollments at theological schools rise in tough economic times did not hold true for Protestant and Catholic seminaries in North America this academic year. In fact, over the past three years, the total student population slipped about 6 percent—down to 75,500 from a three-year plateau in mid-decade when more than 80,000 students were studying theology.

"The idea of going back to school seems to have worked for U.S. education in general," said Daniel Aleshire, executive director of the Association of Theological Schools, but not for seminaries, whose enrollment slid again in the past year about 2 percent, according to ATS data released in April.

Mainline Protestant schools have seen enrollments rise and fall over the past decade. Between the fall of 2000, when student bodies totaled 22,651, and last fall, when they had 22,068, mainline seminaries had peak years of 24,133 in 2002 and 24,024 in 2005.

Aleshire said in an interview that he has not heard convincing reasons for the fluctuations in enrollment.

Some speculation, at least for mainline Protestants, suggests that with the number of congregations able to afford a full-time pastor gradually declining, prospective students are asking, "Why go to seminary?" For prospective students with a sense of "call" or commitment to ministry, added Aleshire, such theories will not hold water.

Evangelical seminaries have increased enrollment at their satellite centers or extension campuses—going from 7,598 students in 2000 to 11,025 in 2007—but slipping the past two years down to 9,734. By contrast, enrollment at mainline seminary extension centers rose from 620 in 2000 to 1,401 by 2004, but only about 480 students now study at those centers.

"The drop in enrollment away from the main campuses may reflect the number of extension centers that have closed for financial reasons," said Aleshire.

One statistical trend shown in new ATS figures is that large schools are enrolling a higher percentage of students. About 30 seminaries with at least 500 students—12 percent of ATS schools—account for half of the 75,500 seminarians. In 2001, schools exceeding 500 students accounted for 47 percent.

Evangelical seminaries have grown larger in size and more numerous in the past decade, according to Eliza Smith Brown, director of communications for ATS. They now have more than twice the enrollment of seminaries with mainline Protestant ties.

The 13 largest schools (with enrollments above 1,000) are all known for their theologically conservative perspective. The largest is Fuller Theological Seminary (4,038), followed by two Southern Baptist schools—Southwestern in Fort Worth, Texas (2,591), and Southern Baptist in Louisville, Kentucky (2,585). Dallas Theological Seminary and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary are fourth and fifth largest in size at 1,974 and 1,892 students respectively.

Fuller has steadily added what its officials call "regional campuses." Its newest is in Houston, the seventh satellite of the original campus in Pasadena, California.

The ATS annual enrollment report did not include figures on courses taught online. But that option—at least at Fuller—has grown in popularity with students and some faculty members, said Kevin Osborn, Fuller's executive director for distributed learning.

When ATS leaders hold their biennial meeting this June in Montreal, Aleshire said, seminary leaders will begin what "is going to be a complex and, I anticipate, tough conversation" over the percentage of course work done on the main campus and about the length of time needed to earn a degree. "Already it's taking an average of over four years to get through a three-year program," he said. "At Catholic and Evangelical Lutheran Church in America schools you can't earn it in less than four years." The discussions in Montreal will inform a task force that will report back in two years.

"We have schools deeply divided on this. We've got schools that think that we've got to have more course work, not less, and it's got to be all residency," Aleshire said. "But others are committed to make it with shorter duration and [through more] options than [are] currently available."

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Solemn Profession of the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, in Kansas City

Kansas Catholic has FANTASTIC pictures of the Solemn Profession of Vows of the
Click on Kansas Catholic above to see all of the pictures, and make sure to see all four parts.
Below are just of few of the incredible photos...

Friday, May 14, 2010

Women of Mystery Women of Hope

Hat tip to Emily.

"Budding priests in a time of crisis: Seminarians enter scandal-scarred vocation"

From The Washington Post

By William Wan
Photo by Michael S. Williamson

From behind his desk and wire-rimmed glasses, Monsignor Steven Rohlfs surveyed the class of 24 men. For almost six years, he had led them on the long, difficult path to priesthood, and now, as they stood on the cusp of reaching that goal, he worried.

He knew his seminarians would be entering an institution under fire over clergy sex abuse cases around the world. And he had seen the devastation a single bad priest could cause.

He had often told them about the job he'd held before becoming the seminary's rector -- the one that sent him to bed many nights a broken man. For seven years, he had investigated priests accused of sex abuse in Illinois.

And it was a darkness he was determined to keep out of their lives.

So, as Rohlfs began his last class with them at his rural seminary in Western Maryland, the 59-year-old monsignor raced through his notes, cramming in a long list of last-minute advice. In quick succession, he reviewed everything from the nitty-gritty of administering the holy sacraments to the common pitfalls of first-year priests.

At the end of the hour-long lecture, he paused and looked up from his notes.

He had come to know and love each of the students graduating from his class: the aspiring park ranger, the former Starbucks manager, the Air Force veteran, the newcomer from Nigeria. Many of them had confided their deepest doubts to him.

And in return, Rohlfs had shared the lessons he'd learned from 34 years as a priest. From the outside world, he warned them, they would encounter suspicion and, at times, outright disdain. From within, they would encounter something even more sinister: temptation.

"If you remember nothing else from today, I would boil down all this advice to one thing," he said as the class came to an end. "Fall in love with the Lord, and it will change everything. Fall out of love with Him, and it will change everything."

Sacrifices and suspicion

This year, 440 men will be ordained in the United States. They will enter the Catholic Church at a time of need, amid a decades-long shortage of priests. Two dozen of them will come from Mount St. Mary's in Emmitsburg, a town so rural it only recently acquired a second stoplight.

Six years ago, when most of this year's class arrived, the church was reeling from hundreds of abuse cases emerging across the United States. Now, just as they were preparing to leave for ordination, the church was once again mired in scandal.

They'd already experienced some of the far-reaching consequences of the sex abuse crisis. Getting into seminary had required a battery of psychological tests, long interviews and background checks.

"In the last six years alone, I've been fingerprinted four times," said out Mick Kelly, a 32-year-old former philosophy student who will be ordained next month in the Arlington Diocese. "That's more than some criminals out there get."

After he entered the seminary, one of Kelly's friends asked him: "How can you join an institution as corrupt as the Catholic Church?"

When he began wearing a clerical black robe and white collar four years ago, he noticed the stares he'd get from people. Some would look away.

"You try not to be defensive, to explain as best you can," he said. "It hurts. The world sees these abuse cases and judges the church as a whole, all its priests and all its work by the action of these few people. But it's not the priesthood I grew up with. The one I know and love."

For some seminarians, the abuse crisis only made them want to be priests more.

"It invoked that almost boyhood drive to be a hero," said Matt Rolling, 27, a soft-spoken student from Nebraska. "You want to help the church restore its name. You want to be an example of what the priesthood really represents."

To be a priest, Rolling said, means sacrifice. For him, answering God's call meant abandoning all his careful plans -- a career as a forest ranger, the girlfriend he'd been dating for three years at the University of Nebraska, the prospect of marriage and children.

Even now, he said, there are times when he feels a desire for a wife and family. And, of course, there is the issue of sex.

"It's not like when you become a deacon or priest, the hormones somehow shut off," he said. "There are temptations. There are doubts. How do you deal with that? You try to realize that temptation comes from the devil and salvation comes from God. You pray for that salvation. You build up the spiritual strength to look past the distraction. . . . When I see a girl, I try to think, 'If this were my daughter, how would I feel if someone looked at her that way, if someone mistreated her?' You try to move into that role of a father, which is what you're supposed to be, in a sense, as a priest."

Embracing celibacy at Mount St. Mary's is complicated by the fact that the seminary is housed on the same campus as a college, with a student body that includes plenty of young women.

Strolling through a lush garden dedicated to the Virgin Mary, Dave Wells, one of Rolling's close friends, put it this way: "I don't want to sound like it's the only thing we think about, but, yes, it can be tough."

Midway through the conversation, two girls in tight running clothes jogged by. Wells's eyes, however, remained fixed on a statue of Mary.

"It's good practice for us," he said later, "because in the parishes, we'll be surrounded and ministering to women, too. You may as well get used to it now."

Not everyone, however, can. About 15 percent of the seminarians leave without finishing. In the past year alone, Wells has attended two weddings for former seminarians in his class.

"Some of us are called to be fathers in the natural sense," he said. "Some are called in the spiritual sense."

Loving God

Such open talk of sex and the official dissection of temptations are things that have changed in the wake of the abuse scandals. Since Rohlfs arrived at Mount St. Mary's five years ago, he has made extensive teaching on celibacy a priority. Seminarians spend an entire year examining its history, theological roots and practical challenges. And they pore over reports on the abuse scandals, looking for clues.

It is a deliberately open approach for a man who, when asked to talk about the problem of abusive priests, takes off his glasses and rubs his face. A weariness creeps into Rohlfs' voice.

From 1998 to 2005, he was responsible for investigating accused priests as vicar general of the Peoria diocese. He was the one who had to hear the heart-wrenching accounts from abuse victims, who had to delve into the private lives of more than a dozen accused priests and confront them with his findings.

"It was the most painful time of my life," he said. "I had known a lot of these same priests growing up. But even worse was meeting the victims. You don't know what to say to them. The pain they've felt. There's nothing you can say that will change that."

He likened himself to a garbage man and woke up depressed every morning. It got so bad that he eventually made a new vow -- to watch a half-hour sitcom every night before he fell asleep just to make himself laugh. "I Love Lucy." "Everybody Loves Raymond." "Frazier."

Most of the priests he investigated had come from an era when celibacy was not taught at seminaries in a pragmatic, thorough way. Another thing the fallen priests had in common, he said, was that not one had kept up his daily prayers.

So at Mount St. Mary's, he has urged seminarians to pray at least one hour every day. If they don't, he demands to know what they could possibly be doing that's more important than talking to God?

But not even prayer can substitute for love. That's what stuck out most to Rohlfs in the wreckage of the fallen priests' lives. "We can teach them everything we know, but, in the end, duty cannot do it," he said. "It must be love -- loving God more than you love sin."

The crucial lesson

In his last class with them, Rohlfs watched as his seminarians dutifully wrote down this last piece of advice on love. But did they understand how crucial it was, he wondered. Would they remember?

The Class of 2010 is the first he has overseen from start to finish, and he confessed that he felt at times like a nervous parent on the first day of kindergarten -- eager to see his children succeed but, having seen the dangers in this world, scared of what they will encounter.

Sitting in his office last week -- with the year officially over and his seminarians packing up -- Rohlfs couldn't help picking through all the lessons he had given during the past six years. He asked himself whether he should have done anything different, whether he had missed something important.

He had taught them everything he knew, he said at last with a sigh. Now it was up to God.

View slideshow that goes with this story HERE.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

"New US bishop was one of nation’s most successful vocation directors"

From CatholicCulture.org

Pope Benedict XVI has named Father Eduardo Nevares, the vice-rector of the Pontifical College Josephinum, as Auxiliary Bishop of Phoenix. Father Nevares served as co-vocations director of the Diocese of Tyler (Texas) from 2001 to 2008.

A 2007 Catholic World Report analysis found that in three of the previous four years, the Diocese of Tyler was one of the nation’s dozen most vocation-rich dioceses-- that is, dioceses with the highest ratios of seminarians to Catholics. Father Nevares attributed the diocese’s success in attracting seminarians to Bishop Alvaro Corrada del Rio, SJ, who, he said,

"has called all of the pastors to follow the newest directives from Rome concerning the renewal of the liturgy so that our faithful Catholics may enjoy the beauty of the Catholic liturgy in all of its fullness. He has called all of the faithful to be as faithful to their individual vocation . . . Bishop Corrada hopes that this new awareness and love for the truths and beauty of our Catholic faith will lead to a new evangelization . . . showing forth the splendor of truth found in the Catholic Church."

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI entrusts and consecrates the worlds priests the Immaculate Heart of Mary




Church of the Most Holy Trinity - Fátima
Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Immaculate Mother,
in this place of grace,
called together by the love of your Son Jesus
the Eternal High Priest, we,
sons in the Son and his priests,
consecrate ourselves to your maternal Heart,
in order to carry out faithfully the Father’s Will.

We are mindful that, without Jesus,
we can do nothing good (cf. Jn 15:5)
and that only through him, with him and in him,
will we be instruments of salvation
for the world.

Bride of the Holy Spirit,
obtain for us the inestimable gift
of transformation in Christ.
Through the same power of the Spirit that
overshadowed you,
making you the Mother of the Saviour,
help us to bring Christ your Son
to birth in ourselves too.
May the Church
be thus renewed by priests who are holy,
priests transfigured by the grace of him
who makes all things new.

Mother of Mercy,
it was your Son Jesus who called us
to become like him:
light of the world and salt of the earth
(cf. Mt 5:13-14).

Help us,
through your powerful intercession,
never to fall short of this sublime vocation,
nor to give way to our selfishness,
to the allurements of the world
and to the wiles of the Evil One.

Preserve us with your purity,
guard us with your humility
and enfold us with your maternal love
that is reflected in so many souls
consecrated to you,
who have become for us
true spiritual mothers.

Mother of the Church,
we priests want to be pastors
who do not feed themselves
but rather give themselves to God for their brethren,
finding their happiness in this.
Not only with words, but with our lives,
we want to repeat humbly,
day after day,
Our “here I am”.

Guided by you,
we want to be Apostles
of Divine Mercy,
glad to celebrate every day
the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar
and to offer to those who request it
the sacrament of Reconciliation.

Advocate and Mediatrix of grace,
you who are fully immersed
in the one universal mediation of Christ,
invoke upon us, from God,
a heart completely renewed
that loves God with all its strength
and serves mankind as you did.

Repeat to the Lord
your efficacious word:
“They have no wine” (Jn 2:3),
so that the Father and the Son will send upon us
a new outpouring of
the Holy Spirit.
Full of wonder and gratitude
at your continuing presence in our midst,
in the name of all priests
I too want to cry out:
“Why is this granted me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Lk 1:43).

Our Mother for all time,
do not tire of “visiting us”,
consoling us, sustaining us.
Come to our aid
and deliver us from every danger
that threatens us.
With this act of entrustment and consecration,
we wish to welcome you
more deeply, more radically,
for ever and totally
into our human and priestly lives.

Let your presence cause new blooms to burst forth
in the desert of our loneliness,
let it cause the sun to shine on our darkness,
let it restore calm after the tempest,
so that all mankind shall see the salvation
of the Lord,
who has the name and the face of Jesus,
who is reflected in our hearts,
for ever united to yours!


Father Peter Whelan

CLICK Image above to order a copy of the DVD.

"Seminarians, Inspired by Pioneer Priest, Pray for Black Vocations"

From American Catholic

WASHINGTON (CNS)—In his breviary, seminarian Christopher S. Rhodes carries a special holy card depicting Father Augustine Tolton, the first recognized black priest in the United States. In 2012, Rhodes hopes to be ordained as the first African-American priest of the Archdiocese of Louisville, Ky., in more than two decades.

"I use that (holy card) always as a source of encouragement. If he could do it as the first, I could do it," said Rhodes, who is the only African-American seminarian now studying at Theological College, the national seminary of The Catholic University of America.

Rhodes now serves as the president of the National Black Catholic Seminarians Association, and he organized and sang as a cantor at an April 24 Mass at the Theological College Chapel to mark the National Day of Prayer for Vocations in the Black Community.

Washington Auxiliary Bishop Martin D. Holley, one of 16 African-American bishops, celebrated the Mass, which was held on the 124th anniversary of Father Tolton's ordination to the priesthood.

"I would not be standing here as a priest and a bishop if not for Father Augustine Tolton," said Bishop Holley. "The odds were stacked against him. He persevered because of faith and the grace of God."

Born into slavery in 1854 and baptized a Catholic, Father Tolton was encouraged by an Irish-American priest to pursue a vocation, but no U.S. seminary would accept him because of his race. He was ordained to the priesthood in Rome on April 24, 1886, and sent back to serve as a missionary in his own country. Despite the racism he endured, he became renowned as a preacher, and founded St. Monica Parish, the mother church for black Catholics in Chicago. He died in 1897 at age 43.

The Archdiocese of Chicago announced in March that it was beginning the sainthood process for Father Tolton.

According to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, about 75 seminarians of African descent, most of whom are immigrants from Africa, are studying to be priests in the United States. About 250 African-American priests, 400 African-American sisters and 50 black religious brothers are now serving in the United States, which has 3 million African-American Catholics.

At the Mass, Bishop Holley noted that Father Tolton had been encouraged in his vocation by his pastor, and the bishop said that happened in the case of his own family, when a German-American priest inspired his parents and older siblings to become Catholic, and he was given the name Martin after that priest.

"As a first-grader I watched my namesake" celebrate Mass, and "I wanted to do the same thing," the bishop said.

The bishop encouraged the seminarians to likewise serve their people with love and help lift up vocations. He noted that in today's world, there are "so many obstacles to hearing the voice of the Lord," and he pointed out how the African-American community faces challenges like high rates of abortion, AIDS, drug addiction and incarceration. "It's going to take good people like you to reach out. ... Evangelize, reach out to them."

Seventy-five seminarians and 10 graduate-student priests from 39 dioceses are now studying at Theological College.

During his homily, Bishop Holley prayed that through the intercession of Father Tolton, "the Lord will allow many young men in the African-American community to hear the call of God, through the example of you, (through) the way you live your life."

Benedictine Father Cyprian Davis, the author of "The History of Black Catholics in the United States," once said that "for black Catholics, he (Father Tolton) is the father of us all." After the Mass, Bishop Holley said he agreed with that assessment of the pioneer black priest. "He's the one who forged the path, who paved the way for us. He did what Christ did, he embraced the cross. The message of his life is one of love."

Bishop Holley said vocations can be lifted up in the African-American community by prayer, by people encouraging and talking about vocations, and by young people getting connected with supportive groups such as the Knights of Peter Claver.

"We've always been a people of prayer, you have to start with that," he said, adding that people need to share stories of faith and perseverance, like the life of Father Tolton. "They need to tell their story and hear the story of others."

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate: A Portrait of the Permanent Diaconate

"Benedict XVI urges Belgian bishops to promote vocations, highlights St. Damien"

From Catholic News Agency

Vatican City, May 10, 2010 / 02:45 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Benedict underlined the irreplaceable role of priests to the Church during his address to the bishops of Belgium this past weekend. He urged support for the priesthood and a renewed impetus for vocations, saying that the decrease in the number of priests is not inevitable.

The Holy Father met with the Belgian Bishops at the conclusion of their "ad Limina" visit on Saturday morning.

Noting the Vatican II conclusion that the Church cannot do without its priests, he said that "it is therefore necessary and urgent to confer upon them their right place and recognize their irreplaceable sacramental character." Pope Benedict also addressed the trend of a decreasing number of Catholic priests in the country, telling them that it should not be seen as an inevitable process.

A "broad and serious" vocations ministry is needed to confront the situation, said the Pope. This ministry, he continued, must place great significance of the holiness of priests, on attention to the presence of the first signs of vocations in youth and on "assiduous and trusting prayer, according to Jesus' recommendation."

Benedict XVI went on to recognize and greet all priests and consecrated people from Belgium, asking that they and the faithful "not forget that only Christ can silence every storm," and that He gives them strength and courage "to lead holy lives in full fidelity to their ministry, consecration to God and Christian testimony."

He pointed to recently canonized St. Damien of Molokai as an exemplary priest and missionary, whose greatness "resided in his interior wealth, in his constant prayer and in his union with Christ which he saw present in his brothers and to whom ... he donated himself without reserve."

Pope Benedict encouraged the bishops to continue in their efforts to promote Christian formation, "especially with the younger generations" on respect for life, the institution of marriage and the family.

Speaking to journalists after the audience, Archbishop Andre Joseph Leonard, primate of Belgian Catholics, said that there is full understanding between the Holy Father and the episcopate as to the line that is being taken on sexual abuses. He also said that the Pope's words were encouraging for priests in the country who are suffering from stereotypes due to the news coverage of sexual abuse.

"Priest loses life saving three from drowning at Goa beach"

From The Time of India

PANAJI: A 38-year-old Catholic priest lost his life after he rescued three youths, swept away by high currents at the Galjibag sea shore, 60 kms from here.

The incident took place yesterday when Fr Thomas Fernandes as a part of the group of parishioners from Nuvem village, had gone picnicking on the beach.

Eye witnesses reveal that a bunch of youngsters had ventured into the sea. As they were dragged in by the under current, the priest ran for rescue when the group cried for help.

The priest was rushed to the district hospital at Margao after he saved two young girls and a boy from the watery grave, but was pronounced dead by doctors on arrival.

"He collapsed after rescuing the youngsters. Desperate attempts were made to resurrect him but we failed," Savio Moniz, part of 56-member-group that went for annual picnic, told reporters outside the hospital here.

Monday, May 10, 2010

"Pontiff Thanks Priests in Stormy Times"


VATICAN CITY, MAY 9, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI expressed his gratitude for the dedication of the vast majority of priests, despite the sins of a few, when receiving the bishops of Belgium on their five-yearly "ad limina" visit.

At the same time, the Pope encouraged the members of the episcopal conference to promote vocations to the priesthood and to consecrated life, amid the difficulties that the Church has gone through in this country in the past weeks.

Last month, Bishop Roger Joseph Vangheluwe of Bruges resigned after admitting to sexually abusing a minor over a period of time during his priesthood and at the beginning of his episcopate.

For the Holy Father, the visit of the Belgian prelates (both Flemish as well as French-speaking) to Rome is an occasion to reinforce "communion in mutual listening, in common prayer and in the charity of Christ above all in this time in which your Church has been tested by sin."

Great sons

However, the Bishop of Rome asked that the focus not be only on sin but also on the great sons of the Church, as is the case of Father Damien De Veuster (1840-1889), a Belgian missionary of the Congregation of the Sacred Heart.

Father Damien, also known as the apostle of the lepers, went to the island of Molokai, Hawaii, where lepers were sent and lived in isolation. He was canonized by Benedict XVI in 2009.

"This new saint speaks to Belgians' conscience. Has he not been designated the most illustrious son of the nation of all times?" asked the Pope, referring to a popular consultation carried out on Dec. 1, 2005 by Flemish open television (VRT).

"His greatness," the Pontiff continued, "lived in the total gift of himself to his leprous brothers to the point of being infected and dying, lies in his interior wealth, his constant prayer, his union with Christ, whom he saw in his brothers and who, like him, gave himself without reservations."

"In this Year for Priests, it is necessary to propose his priestly and missionary example, in particular to priests and religious. The decrease in the number of priests must not be perceived as an inevitable process," the Holy Father stressed.

Benedict XVI said forcefully "that the Church cannot do without the ministry of priests. Hence, it is necessary and urgent to give them their appropriate place and to acknowledge their irreplaceable sacramental character."

"From this stems the need for an ample and serious pastoral care of vocations, based on the exemplary character of the holiness of priests, in attention to the seeds of vocation present in many young men and in assiduous and confident prayer, in keeping with Jesus' recommendation (cf. Matthew 9:37)," he added.

"May all priests, men and women religious, and laity of Belgium receive my encouragement and gratitude and not forget that only Christ calms every storm and gives strength and courage to lead a holy life in full fidelity to their ministry, to their consecration to God and to their Christian witness," said the Pontiff.


During the audience, Benedict XVI was greeted by Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard of Malines-Brussels and president of the Belgian episcopal conference, who presented to the Holy Father a "grieving" Church, "after the serious scandal caused by the forced resignation of one of her bishops."

"Grieving, but determined to address this problem with clarity," the prelate added in reference to the sexual abuse crisis. "A Church determined to continue on her path with transparency, as attested above all by the creation of a commission in charge of examining the denunciations in the matter of sexual abuse that take place in the pastoral context. Determined also to carry out with humility and courage her role in the intensely secularized society in which she carries out her mission."

Archbishop Léonard also mentioned the lack of vocations the Church in Belgium is experiencing: "For the next period we will adopt a series of measure capable of reinforcing the places of formation, in order to re-group a sufficient number of seminarians, so that they are given quality education and project themselves in the world of young people."

Thursday, May 6, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 5 MAY 2010 (VIS) - In today's general audience, which was celebrated in St. Peter's Square, the Pope focused his remarks on the priest's mission to sanctify humankind.

"Sanctifying a person means putting that person in contact with God", said the Pope, noting how "an essential part of a priest's grace is his gift, his task to establish such contact. This comes about through the announcement of the Word of God, ... and particularly intensely in the Sacraments".

"Over recent decades", he went on, "various schools of thought have tried to make the aspect of announcement prevail in the priest's mission and identity, separating it from sanctification. It has often been affirmed that there is a need to go beyond merely sacramental pastoral care".

"Ordained ministers", the Pope explained, "represent Christ, God's envoy, they ... continue His mission through the 'Word' and the 'Sacrament', which are the two main pillars of priestly service". In this context he identified the need "to reflect whether, in certain cases, having undervalued the faithful exercise of 'munus sanctificandi' has not perhaps led to a weakening of faith in the salvific effectiveness of the Sacraments and, in the final analysis, in the real action of Christ and His Spirit, through the Church, in the world".

"It is, therefore, important to promote appropriate catechesis in order to help the faithful understand the value of the Sacraments. But it is equally necessary, following the example of the saintly 'Cure of Ars', to be willing, generous and attentive in giving the faithful the treasures of grace that God has placed in our hands, treasures of which we are not masters but custodians and administrators. Especially in our own time - in which on the one hand, the faith seems to be weakening and, on the other, there is a profound need and widespread search for spirituality - it is necessary for each priest to remember that ... missionary announcement and worship are never separate, and that he must promote a healthy sacramental pastoral care in order to form the People of God and help them to fully experience the liturgy ... and the Sacraments as gratuitous gifts of God, free and effective aspects of His action of salvation".

The Pope went on to highlight how "each priest knows he is a tool necessary for God's salvific action, but nonetheless just a tool. This awareness must make him humble and generous in administering the Sacraments, respecting the canonical norms but also profoundly convinced that his mission is to ensure that mankind, united to Christ, can offer itself to God as a living and holy sacrifice acceptable to Him".

Addressing himself directly to priests the Holy Father encouraged them "to practice liturgy and worship with joy and love". He also renewed his call "to return to the confessional, as a place in which to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation, but also as a place in which 'to dwell' more frequently, that the faithful may find mercy, counsel and comfort, feel themselves to be loved and understood by God, and experience the presence of Divine Mercy alongside the real presence in the Eucharist".

"I would also like to invite each priest to celebrate and to live the Eucharist intensely", said Benedict XVI. Priests "are called to be ministers of this great Mystery, in the Sacrament and in life".

Likewise, "it is indispensable to strive after the moral perfection which must dwell in each authentically priestly heart", because "there is an example of faith and a witness of sanctity that the People of God expect from their pastors".

Pope Benedict concluded by calling on the faithful "to be aware of the great gift that priests represent for the Church and the world. Through their ministry the Lord continues to save mankind, to make Himself present, to sanctify. Give thanks to God and above all remain close to your priests with prayer and support, especially in moments of difficulty, that they may increasingly become pastors in keeping with God's heart".
AG/ VIS 20100505 (680)
Pubblished by VIS - Holy See Press Office - Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Pope Urges Parents: Pray for Children's Vocations Exhorts Priests to Stronger Evangelical Witness


VATICAN CITY, APRIL 25, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is encouraging parents to pray that their children have open hearts to listen to God so they can find vocational fulfillment and bear good fruit in the world. The Pope stated this today in a public address before praying the midday Regina Caeli with the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

He spoke about today's celebration of the 2010 World Day of Prayer for Vocations, which has as its theme "Witness Awakens Vocations."

"The first form of witness that awakens vocations is prayer," the Pontiff affirmed, "as is shown to us by the example of St. Monica, who, supplicating God with humility and persistence, obtained the grace of seeing her son Augustine become Christian."

The Holy Father recalled the words of St. Augustine, who wrote of his mother, "Without a doubt I believe and affirm that through her prayers, God granted me the intention not to propose, not to want, not to think, not to love anything else but the attainment of truth."

Therefore, Benedict XVI continued, "I invite parents to pray that the heart of their children open to listening to the Good Shepherd."

He encouraged them to pray that "each tiny seed of a vocation grow into a mature tree, bearing much good fruit for the Church and for all humanity."

The Pope added, "How can we hear the voice of the Lord and recognize it?"

"In the preaching of the Apostles and their successors," he responded, "resounds the voice of Christ, who calls us to communion with God and to the fullness of life."

"Only the Good Shepherd leads his flock with immense tenderness and defends them from evil, and only in him can the faithful place absolute confidence," the Pontiff affirmed.


He continued, "On this special day of prayer for vocations I especially exhort the ordained ministers, so that, inspired by the Year for Priests, they are moved to a stronger and more incisive witness to the Gospel in today's world."

Referencing his letter written at the beginning of the Year for Priests, the Holy Father said: "May they remember that the priest continues the work of the Redemption on earth.

"May they know how to stop frequently before the tabernacle. May they remain completely faithful to their own vocation and mission through the practice of an austere asceticism.

"May they be available to listen and forgive. May they form the people entrusted to them in a Christian way.

"May they cultivate with care priestly fraternity."

"As we rejoice in the new life that the Risen Lord has won for us," Benedict XVI said, "let us ask him to inspire many young people to center their hearts on the things of Heaven and to offer themselves joyfully in the service of Christ our Good Shepherd in the priesthood and religious life."

Benedict XVI Praises Sacrament of Marriage


Notes How Human Love Is Foretaste of Heaven

VATICAN CITY, MAY 5, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI today praised the sacrament of marriage, saying it is "truly an instrument of salvation," not only for the couple, but also for society.

The Pope affirmed this during his English-language message at the end of the general audience, when he greeted participants in a family conference to be held in Sweden this month.

"Your message to the world is truly a message of joy, because God's gift to us of marriage and family life enables us to experience something of the infinite love that unites the three divine persons -- Father, Son and Holy Spirit," he said.

The Holy Father noted how human beings are made for love: "Indeed at the core of our being, we long to love and to be loved in return."

He continued, "Only God's love can fully satisfy our deepest needs, and yet through the love of husband and wife, the love of parents and children, the love of siblings for one another, we are offered a foretaste of the boundless love that awaits us in the life to come."

Worthwhile goal

Benedict XVI affirmed that marriage is an "instrument of salvation, not only for married people but for the whole of society."

And like any "worthwhile goal," he said, "it places demands upon us, it challenges us, it calls us to be prepared to sacrifice our own interests for the good of the other. It requires us to exercise tolerance and to offer forgiveness. It invites us to nurture and protect the gift of new life."

He reflected on those "fortunate enough to be born into a stable family," saying they "discover there the first and most fundamental school for virtuous living and the qualities of good citizenship."

The Pontiff concluded by encouraging "all of you in your efforts to promote a proper understanding and appreciation of the inestimable good that marriage and family life offer to human society."

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Updating the blog/finding dead links - reader help

As I try to get back to regular posting on the blog, I'm in hopes readers could assist me in checking links on the sidebar and let me know if there are any dead links. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated, but I will also begin to try and work my way through everything as well. If you find anything, please just comment on this post and let me know. Thanks!

Back to posting?

After a considerable hiatus, it would appear that I might, and I should stress might, be able to start posting again to this blog. I am hopeful about it, especially since "Roman Catholic Vocations" is now linked as one of the top ten vocations sites on the USCCB's new "For Your Vocation" website (I should note however, this blog is not an official blog of the Diocese of Raleigh). Sadly, I've missed the better part of the Year for Priests, which has produced countless great articles and stories, but I couldn't have changed the timing. God willing, I'll be back at this on a more consistent basis - I certainly want to be.

Ordination to the Priesthood – The Church’s Physical Link to Christ and the Apostles is “Hands On”

By Msgr. Charles Pope
From the Archdiocese of Washington

We are entering the season for ordinations. And perhaps a worthy reflection is to recall that one of the great glories of the Catholic Church is her historical link to Christ and the Apostles. The Catholic link to Christ himself and the apostles is not merely some moral unity, or a kind of invisible union, it is not merely a knowledge through books and historical data, precious those these things are. No indeed, there is more at work here. There is also an actual physical union through the Sacrament of Holy Orders. In this sacrament, there is a laying on of hands that stretches right back to the Apostles and Jesus.

Unique to the Catholic and Orthodox Churches – Only the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches can make the claim that they historically go back right to Christ and the Apostles. Every other Christian (Protestant) denomination lacks this antiquity. They were all founded less than 500 years ago, some even less than 100 years ago. Further, they literally severed the physical, hands on connection to Christ by casting aside the ministerial priesthood and hence the laying on of hands that signifies this sacrament. They have ministers, but not priests. The Anglicans are an exception, in that they consider their ministers to be priests. Yet they are not considered by the Catholic Church to have valid orders since they went through a long period wherein they did explicitly abandon the intent to hand on the priesthood, hence the link was severed.

Biblical and Patristic roots – It is clear in the Acts of the Apostles that when the apostles chose successors and co-workers to share in their apostolic ministry they “laid hands” on them. Paul and Barnabas had hands laid on them for their work as Apostles (Acts 13:3, 1 Tim 4:14 etc.). Paul later counsels Timothy to be careful on whom he “lays hands” when appointing bishops and deacons (1 Tim 5:22 etc). All the earliest documents of the Church such as the Letters of Ignatius of Antioch make it clear that this laying on of hands continued. This laying on of hands came to be known as “ordination.”

Every valid priest has “connections” – The Catholic Church through this laying on of hands actually preserves a physical link to Jesus himself and the Apostles he chose. History for us is a “hands-0n” kind of history, a “hands-on” link going back 2000 years. Every validly ordained Catholic bishop has this physical as well as spiritual link to the apostles. Every Bishop is a successor to the apostles. The priests share in this office and this link (though not in its fullness) for they too have hands laid on them by the bishop. I am often humbled to think of the “connections” I have with the early Church.

The Faith is literally handed on – So fellow Catholics, “stay connected” and rejoice in our “hands on” historical heritage. Now you know why it is said that the faith is “handed on.”