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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

(Paint)brush with divinity

The AP has a story about Father Bill Moore, a Catholic priest who creates abstract paintings in order to serve God and is head of the Ministry of the Arts for the West Coast branch of his religious order, the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

Father Moore's pieces sell for upwards of $5,000 — the profits go to his order — yet he remains humble about his successes.

''I don't know what it is to be really wealthy, but I feel so rich,'' he told the AP. "I get up in the morning and I do what I love to do.''

Click HERE to read the entire story.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Extension Society gives seminarians a boost

More than 500 seminarians from underfunded U.S. dioceses will get a helping hand, thanks to the Catholic Church Extension Society.

The society has announced that, during this Year for Priests, it will award more than $3 million in education grants to an estimated 15 percent of the country's seminarians from Juneau, Alaska, to Amarillo, Texas, to Fargo, North Dakota.

“Educating the next generation of Catholic leadership is critical, especially for those areas of the country where the Catholic population is growing yet parishes and residential pastoral ministers are few,” said Extension grants director Joseph Boland said in a statement. “Catholic Extension’s contributions will enable our young people to most effectively answer God’s call to service in these poor and isolated areas where the future of the Church is unfolding.”

Poker priest update

In October, we told you about Father Andrew Trapp, a South Carolina priest who won $100,000 during the PokerStars.net Million Dollar Challenge game show. The money was donated to his parish's church building fund.

Well, here's an update: Father Trapp failed to win the $1 million grand prize. He was defeated by New York City firefighter who was among the first responders during the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center. Father Trapp told the Myrtle Beach Sun News: "It's going to be a very emotional show because even after people see Mike knock me out, they are going to start rooting for Mike. He's a Sept. 11 hero. I think we all are going to be cheering him on, everybody across the country."

Click HERE to read the entire story.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Hope for Christmas Mass

The Boston Herald featured a story about a priest whose South Boston parish — the only Lithuanian Catholic church in the region — sustained an estimated $100,000 in fire damage this weekend, possibly because he thinks he might have left an ember burning in the sacristy.

Still, Father Stephen P. Zukas said, he has been supported by his 1,300 parishioners, archdiocesan officials and other priests. He hopes to have the parish open in time for Christmas Eve and Christmas Masses.

“That’s what we’re hoping for. Hope is the key word,” Father Zukas said.

Click HERE to read the entire story.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Two important anniversaries

This week, the universal Church celebrates several high-profile feast days: St. Ambrose (Dec. 7), the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Dec. 8), St. Juan Diego (Dec. 9) and Our Lady of Guadalupe (Dec. 12).

In the Church in America, two important anniversaries are taking place as well, and each one involves a man who exemplifies what it means to be a good and faithful priest.

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the death of Archbishop Fulton Sheen, the beloved Emmy-winning prelate who reached millions through his TV and radio programs. Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York is celebrating a memorial Mass in Archbishop Sheen's honor today at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York.

Yesterday, Archbishop Philip M. Hannan, retired archbishop of New Orleans, celebrated the 70th anniversary of his priestly ordination with a special Mass at St. Louis Cathedral in the Crescent City. (Click HERE to read a November OSV interview with Archbishop Hannan).

Monday, December 7, 2009

An Advent reflection on the priesthood

Here's what Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, Preacher to the Papal Household, had to say about the servant nature of the priesthood during his first Advent reflection for Pope Benedict XVI and members of the Roman Curia:

Friday, December 4, 2009

Glimpse into the life of an Army chaplain

Today's Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has a profile of a Catholic priest who was inspired to become an Army chaplain in Afghanistan after presiding at a fallen soldier's funeral.

Father Matt Foley is one of 14 Catholic priests serving in Afghanistan and spends much of his time traveling around the country to visit soldiers at forward operating bases and smaller combat outposts.

"You have to remember it may be your fourth or fifth Mass of the day but to them it's their first Mass, and to some out in the field it may be their first Mass in four or five weeks. For some it may be their last Mass," the priest told the newspaper.

Click HERE to read the entire story.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The priest and the 'spunky' seminarian

The latest issue of the Arkansas Catholic, the newspaper of the Diocese of Little Rock, has a story about the bond between a seminarian preparing for his priestly ordination next May and the Benedictine priest he rebelled against as a youngster.

As the paper reported, during Jason Sharbaugh's diaconate ordination last month:

"Benedict Father Gregory Pilcher joked with attendees about Sharbaugh's inauspicious start toward the diaconate and priesthood. Sharbaugh grinned sheepishly and nodded in assent when 'Father Gregory,' as parishioners know him, shared that as a former Subiaco Academy dean he struggled to keep the rambunctious young man in line.

'I think it can be a good thing when our priests show a little spunk,' noted Bishop [Anthony B.] Taylor, as the audience erupted in laughter."

Click HERE to read the entire story.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Bishop-elect and fisherman

Jesus told the apostles to follow him, and he would make them "fishers of men." An Archdiocese of Indianapolis priest who will soon become a successor to the apostles is both a "fisher of men" and a fisherman.

Today, the Catholic News Agency has a profile of Father Paul D. Etienne, who is now bishop-elect of Cheyenne, Wyo. An outdoorsman who comes from a faith-filled family with three siblings and an aunt and uncle in religious life, he and his brother, also a priest, have built a retreat in Southern Indiana, complete with a pond where they can fish. He will be ordained a bishop on Dec. 9.

One of his pre-ordination gifts from a friend was a new fly rod for trout fishing. "I can't wait," Father Etienne told the Indianapolis Star.

Click HERE to read the entire story, and check out this Indianapolis Star slide show of Father Etienne below. h/t to New Advent.

View this gallery at The Indianapolis Star: Paul Etienne had no visions of a life as a man of the cloth

Monday, November 30, 2009

Needed: Priests with spiritual muscle

That's what Archbishop Mauro Piacenza, secretary for the Congregation for Clergy, told journalists in Rome last week as he reflected on the fruits of the Year for Priests, which runs until June 2010.

Such interior strength can be obtained through "prayer, the interior life and true motivation."

In his talk, the archbishop gave a couple of examples of people whom priests could use as role models as they do their heavy lifting: St. John Vianney, the Cure D'Ars, and St. Therese of Lisieux.

Click HERE to read more of what Archbishop Piacenza said.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Year for Priests initiatives

The Dec. 6 issue of OSV has a story by Carlos Briceno on ways some dioceses are recognizing their pastors during this jubilee year.

The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, W.Va., for example, has been compiling historical exhibits that have been displayed at the diocesan chancery and are also made available on the diocesan website.

Click HERE to read the entire story. And let us know what your diocese or parish is doing to celebrate the jubilee year.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Priesthood's role in the Mass

Father Mauro Gagliardi, consultor of the Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff, recently wrote about the special role of the priest in celebrating the Mass.

He writes, in part:

As we see, St. John Mary [Vianney] points to the greatness of the priest with the privileged reference to the power that he exercises in the sacraments in the name of the Person of Christ. Benedict XVI brought this light, citing still other words of the Curé d'Ars, which refer in particular to the office of celebrating the Holy Eucharist. The Pope writes that the saint "was convinced that the fervor of a priest's life depended entirely upon the Mass: 'The reason why a priest is lax is that he does not pay attention to the Mass! My God, how we ought to pity a priest who celebrates as if he were engaged in something routine!'"

Click HERE to read the entire piece.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Faith over the airwaves

Intermountain Catholic News — the diocesan newspaper of Salt Lake City — has an interesting story about a priest who is using mass media to reach Catholics. Father Omar Ontiveiros hosts the 15-minute-long Bendiciendo tu día (“Blessing Your Day”), which blends a positive spiritual blessing with the teachings of the Catholic Church.

“We want to do what John Paul II told us” he said, “we were in need of a New Evangelization, with new values and new methods,” Father Ontiveiros said.

Click HERE to read the entire story.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Importance of sexual morality

Catholic News Agency reports on a talk by Bishop John M. D'Arcy, whose retirement as bishop of the Fort Wayne – South Bend, Ind., diocese, was recently announced, in which he spoke on the importance of priests remaining faithful to the Church's teachings on sexual morality.

“Fidelity to the truth for the priest means that he is willing to give the hard saying,” the bishop told priests of the diocese. “Hard for himself, perhaps because he does not believe it strongly enough; because he thinks it it is too hard for the people and they might reject it. Or, a greater temptation, he may worry that they might reject him.”

“I ask this question to you and to myself: have we been faithful to the truth and willing to give people the hard saying? My dear priests, I ask this question to myself in prayer and repentance and in truth, seeking only to know His will and to do it.”

Click HERE to read entire story.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Priest's mosaic art a form of prayer

A Texas priest turns discarded beer and wine bottles into beautiful mosaics that depict both religious and secular topics. Father Jairo Lopez, of Marble Falls, Texas, tells The Austin American-Statesman that creating the art, which he began doing in 1999, is a form of prayer for him:

"It's become part of my prayer life, my spirituality. Sometimes it's best being almost in the dark and looking at something you've created. What can you change to improve it?

"When you meditate, you see the beauty of God in the materials, the colors and the textures."

Click HERE to read the entire story.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Getting a kick out of peace

Colombian and Venezuelan priests will play soccer at a field on the border to promote peace between the two South American countries. This comes after Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez made threats against its neighbor to the west.

Bishop Jaime Prieto Amaya of Cucuta, Colombia said the priests will wear white as a "sign of purity and of the dignity of the children of God, in order to affirm that there is no room for armed confrontation in the hearts of those who love peace.”

Click HERE to read more.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Fr. Edward Matocha helped form diocese

From the Austin (TX) American-Statesman:

"When Edward Matocha came to Austin in 1947, he was the only ordained Catholic priest in the area. Over the next 60 years, he helped start the Austin Diocese, stood in as second in command to its bishops and became, in the eyes of other church leaders, the anchor and the history of the diocese.

"Matocha, 88, died Wednesday....

"Matocha was named chancellor of the Austin Diocese about 1949 and given the duties of witnessing signatures on important documents and acting as the diocese's archivist, according to the diocese. About the same time, he served as the chaplain of Seton Hospitals. He served as secretary to his friend Bishop Louis J. Reicher and was the founding pastor of St. Louis Catholic Church on Burnet Road in North Austin in 1952...."

Read the entire story here»

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Fr. Benedict Groeschel's Jubilee: A video tribute

H/T to American Papist:

Our Sunday Visitor publishes a number of Fr. Groeschel's books. We're donating the net royalties on all his books during November 2009. Read more details and find ordering links here»

Indian priest's film to be featured

According to the pakistanchristian.tv web site, Indian priest Fr. Joseph J. Palacka's documentary film, "Kerala, the Cradle of Christianity in South Asia: The Cultural Interface of Music and Religion," will be shown at the 7th Queens International Film Festival, scheduled for Nov. 12-15, 2009.

The 34-minute filme, a musical, will be shown on Nov. 14.

Six million Christians live in Kerala, located on the southwest coast of India.

According to the web site, "This film explores the historical embeddings of these traditions that came about as a result of the region's commercial, cultural, and religious interactions with the Middle East, Europe, and America."

Read about it here»

Friday, November 6, 2009

Nature-loving fathers

Priests spend so much time tending to their flocks, but that doesn't mean they don't enjoy getting a chance for recreation. For some, that means spending time in the great outdoors hunting and fishing.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune has a profile of a priest, Father Christopher Wenthe of Delano, Minn., who enjoys hunting deer, as well as fishing. Father Wenthe told the newspaper his primary enjoyment is being in the great outdoors, but he also enjoys the challenge of finding his game.

As to the naysayers who oppose hunting, Father Wenthe has this response: Intellectually, obviously, we don't need to hunt. But what does that mean, exactly? We need to eat. Not necessarily animals that we hunt; we obviously don't need to eat those exclusively. But if it's wrong to eat any kind of animal, it would be wrong to hunt. And except for a minority of people who believe it wrong to eat animals, there seems through history not to be an objection." (Click HERE to read entire story.)

Father Wenthe is certainly not the only man of the cloth who is adept at handling a shotgun or fishing rod. In fact, Father Joseph Classen, a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, Mo., has written about his love of the outdoors — and how it has helped him recognize God in the abundance of nature — in books such as "Hunting for God, Fishing for the Lord" and "Tracking Virtue, Conquering Vice." (Click HERE to learn more about his books.)

"Having a fishing rod, a walking stick, or a gun/bow in hand is simply a doorway to the true refreshment that comes from being immersed in the beauty of God's creation," Father Classen writes in "Hunting for God, Fishing for the Lord." "While catching a ice fish or harvesting that big ol' buck is icing on the cake, there are still many lessons one learns while trying to eat that cake."

Monday, November 2, 2009

A 'gentle priest' remembered

Over the weekend, more than a thousand people attended the funeral for Father Edward Hinds, a 61-year-old parish priest at St. Patrick Church in Chatham, N.J., who was slain Oct. 23.

Father Hinds was remembered for his gentleness and for seeing all people as the children of God no matter how high or low they may have been in society.

"[Father Hinds] and I used to have our monthly talk over cookies and tea.I realized how transparent he was, and how pure his soul. … He knew the God who lived at the core of his being," recalled Msgr. Kenneth Lasch, a retired priest who delivered the eulogy.

Click HERE to read more about Father Hinds.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Cancer-surviving priest's lesson on suffering

We first saw this story over at The Deacon's Bench and wanted to pass it along.

Msgr. Marc Trudeau, secretary to Cardinal Roger Mahony of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, recently spoke about his bout with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma to The Tidings archdiocesan newspaper and celebrated a "Pray for a Cure for Cancer" Mass and anointing.

In recounting the grueling treatment for the disease, which was diagnosed in 2008, Msgr. Trudeau talked about the psychological and spiritual effects the disease had on him. And how it is allowing him to better understand the suffering of those to whom he ministers.

"... it was very difficult. But you come to understand a lot better what people are going through," he told The Tidings. "Somebody tells you that their mother has cancer and she's going through treatment. You always would say, 'I'll pray for her.' Well, I know exactly what they're going through, and I know what kind of prayer that they need."

Click HERE to read the entire story.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Archbishop uses media to spread Gospel

As has been widely noted in the blogosphere, Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York has recently started a blog, The Gospel in the Digital Age.

But that's not the only new way he's spreading the Good News in his archdiocese and beyond. As Catholic News Agency reports today, the archbishop recently announced plans to celebrate televised Masses at St. Patrick's Cathedral.

“I’m not doing this to make this a bully pulpit or to attract attention…but I do think it’s probably a valued part of being the Archbishop of New York – that you would recognize, realistically, that you do have a good pulpit and people are going to listen to what you say,” Archbishop Dolan told EWTN's "The World Over Live."

Monday, October 26, 2009

'Alongside of life, always'

An Italian World War II chaplain is among the beati of the Catholic Church after a ceremony yesterday in Milan, Italy.

Father Carlo Gnocchi served as a chaplain during the war, then started a foundation in 1947 to help children who were disabled as a consequence of the war.

During his Sunday Angelus, Pope Benedict XVI described Blessed Gnocchi as having given "all of himself to the very end," and even after his 1956 death in Milan, since his corneas were donated to two blind boys.

Click HERE to read more about Father Gnocchi.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Catholic priest's take on Anglican structure

Father Dwight Longenecker, himself a former Anglican, has offered his insights on Vatican's announcement of a special structure for Anglicans who want to be in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church.

Click HERE to read what he posted on Inside Catholic and HERE to see what he says on his blog Standing on My Head.

h/t to Mark Shea's Catholic and Enjoying It!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Priest's silver to help homeless

Father Guy Blair of Green Bay, Wis., is hoping to turn the silver he inherited from his mother into cash that will aid his parish's homeless shelter.

As reported, he is auctioning off 14 silver items, including five urns that date back to the 1790s, vases, along with coffee and tea pots, that he and his siblings inherited when their mother died over the summer. He hopes the items, which have a minimum total bid of $21,000, bring in $50,000 for St. John the Evangelist shelter.

And while it may be tempting to see this move as some sort of response to comedian Sarah Silverman's admonishment to the pope to sell the Vatican in order to feed the hungry, it should be noted that Father Blair, who is a member of the Sacred Heart Fathers, has long been a champion of the homeless, earning the honor of Person of the Year from the Green Bay Press Gazette for his efforts. (Click HERE to read related story.)

"As a spiritual leader I need to stand up for the people we are praying for," he told the newspaper. "I have to speak and act as a follower of Jesus."

Friday, October 16, 2009

Power and Grace of Saints

An exhibit that recently opened in Rome displays the saints of Europe as depicted some of the finest painters who ever lived ... Caravaggio, El Greco, Tiziano and Van Eyck, just to name a few.

The visionary behind the exhibit "Power and Grace: The Holy Patrons of Europe" is a priest, Father Alessio Geretti, from Illegio, a tiny village in the Carnia region of the Alps.

Father Geretti told Chiesa that one reason for the exhibit is to help contemporary Europe reconnect with its Christian roots. He said: "In the Europe of pluralism and democracy, holiness is the most convincing form that a religion can take. The lives of the saints persuade without constraining. I truly believe that in this age – which, as Paul VI said, does not so much need teachers as witnesses – the saints are still the face of a Church that has the ability to speak to the heart of the people and to bring the dominant culture into crisis, unmasking all of its inhumanity."

Click HERE to read the entire story about Father Geretti and his exhibit. h/t to New Advent.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Posthumous honor for chaplain

Korean War chaplain Father Emil Kapaun, whose canonization cause has been opened, could receive the Medal of Honor for his bravery and dedication to his men. Outgoing Secretary of the Army Pete Geren has recommended the military’s highest decoration.

According to Stars & Stripes newspaper:

"Father Kapaun was captured by the Chinese in the fall of 1950, when Communist forces overran the 1st Cavalry Division in northern Korea near the Chinese border. American commanders had ordered their forces to retreat, but Kapaun, a Catholic priest with the 3rd Battalion, refused and stayed to care for the men who couldn’t flee."

Click HERE to read more about the courageous chaplain and his canonization cause.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

An ace up his sleeve

Last week, we told you about Father Andrew Trapp, a young South Carolina priest who was going to appear on a poker-related TV game show. We're happy to provide an update on Father Trapp, who won a whopping $100,000 playing against some of the top players in the country.

Father Trapp will donate all of his earnings to his parish, St. Michael's Church in Garden City, S.C., and will have the chance to return to the game show to vie for the top prize — $ million.

Click HERE to read the story.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pastoral care of the sick

During this Year For Priests, Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, has asked Catholics who suffer from ailments and health providers who care for them to pray for priests, who represent Christ, "the Divine Physician."

The archbishop's Oct. 1 letter, which was addressed to bishops, priests and "sick and suffering brothers and sisters," reads, in part:

I am near to each one of you and I invite you, dear sick brothers and sisters, to unceasingly address your prayers and the offering up of your sufferings to the Lord of life for the holiness of your well loved priests, so that they can with devotion and pastoral charity perform the ministry that is entrusted to them by Christ, the physician of bodies and souls. I exhort you to rediscover the beauty of the prayer of the Holy Rosary for the spiritual benefit of priests, in a special way during the month of October. In addition to this, every first Thursday and every first Friday of the month, which are respectively dedicated to devotion to the Eucharist and the Sacred Heart of Jesus, are days that are particularly suited to participation in Holy Mass and adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament.

Click HERE to read the entire document

Friday, October 9, 2009

Mourning a 'priest's priest'

People in the Diocese of Wilmington are recalling fondly Bishop Emeritus Michael Salterelli, who succumbed to cancer Thursday at the age of 77.

The Jersey City boy who loved being a parish priest is being remembered for expanding outreach to Hispanic Catholics in his diocese and for his strong pro-life stance — speaking out against embryonic stem-cell research and abortion.

But he was most proud, according to a Delaware paper, of the fact he ordained 23 men to the priesthood during his time as bishop. He also ordained 47 men as permanent deacons.

"Their courage amazes me, inspires me and humbles me," he once said. "Our seminarians are the heroes of the day."

Click HERE to read more about Bishop Salterelli and his legacy.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A reflection on the priesthood

The Catholic University of America has wrapped up a two-day symposium on what it means to be a priest. Part of the university's celebration of the Year for Priests, the event featured five speakers reflecting on the "Ministerial Priesthood in the Third Millennium: Faithfulness of Christ, Faithfulness of Priests."

Topics included the biblical foundations of the priesthood and the priest as evangelizer.

Want to see what was said at the symposium? Click HERE for videos of talks from the event.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A reluctant jubilee

A golden jubilee is a big deal, right? Not to Franciscan Friar of the Renewal Father Benedict J. Groeschel, whose 50th anniversary of his priestly ordination was in June. On Oct. 18, there will be a big celebration Mass to mark the occasion in Nutley, N.J.

As Father Groeschel told writer Tom Hoopes for the Oct. 18 issue of OSV, the celebration wasn't his idea. "I totally dislike the whole thing. I never wanted to have any celebration of my 50th. I don't believe in these things," he said. "Ordained priests should celebrate their anniversary by putting a rope around their neck and ashes on their heads and asking God forgiveness for their sins."

The organizers were able to get his approval by using the event to raise money for Good Counsel Homes for homeless pregnant women and children, which he co-founded.

Click HERE to read the entire story.

'The Medicine of God'

Pope Benedict XVI devoted his Wednesday general audience to St. John Leonardi, the 16th century priest who founded the Clerks Regular of the Mother of God and who is the patron saint of pharmacists.

St. John Leonardi, the pontiff told the audience, "was convinced that Christ is the true measure of man, and so he worked with great realism and zeal to promote holiness and the reform of society. During this Year for Priests, may the figure of this great missionary inspire priests and laity alike to 'start anew from Christ' and embrace their vocation with passionate enthusiasm."

Monday, October 5, 2009

He knows when to hold 'em

Priest, pastor, poker player? A young South Carolina priest is showing off his poker skills on a new game show.

Father Andrew Trapp, 28, has flown to Los Angeles to be on "PokerStars.Net Million Dollar Challenge," a new Fox TV game show in which contestants play the game with Poker Pro Daniel Negreanu.

Father Trapp told the Myrtle Beach Sun News that whatever money he wins will be donated to St. Michael Catholic Church in Garden City Beach, where he is assistant pastor.

"I don't need money myself," he told the paper. "The church pays for all my basic needs."

Click HERE to read the entire story.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Walking the walk (and running the run)

More than 150 priests, seminarians and laypeople are in the final stages training for the Marine Corps Marathon as part of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.'s Run for Vocations program.

The team members will walk or run either in the 26.2-mile marathon, the 13.1-mile half marathon or the 10K race on Oct. 25, all to raise money for a fund that covers unexpected costs for the archdiocese's seminarians. (Click HERE to read OSV's story about the program, and similar ones in Indianapolis and Honolulu.)

But the money is only part of the point, as Msgr. Robert Panke, the archdiocese's vocations director tells OSV. It's also about raising awareness that every Catholic is called to promote and foster vocations.

Participants not only slog through long miles associated with training for long-distance races, they also have meetings where they get to interact with seminarians, such as Nathaniel Hurd.

Hurd, who is in his first year at Theological College at The Catholic University of America, is training for the marathon. He joined the team in 2007 as a layman, then ran the marathon last year as someone who was seriously discerning a call to the priesthood.

"It’s a great opportunity. It open the doors to great conversations," he tells OSV. "It makes it easier to witness to vocation of the priesthood."

Hurd, 32, who joined the Church in 2005, adds that the the most inspiring part of the team is the generosity and commitment of the lay volunteers. "In their love for seminarians and priests, you see their love for Christ."

Hurd says it's especially exciting to be running for his fellow seminarians now, during the Year for Priests. "To be a part of that, as a seminarian, as a runner, as a Catholic, as a convert ... it’s a special time for the Church and priests, and I’m happy to be doing it as well."

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Video message to priests

As we mentioned a couple of days ago, priests from all around the world are gathered in Ars, France, home of their patron, St. John Vianney, for a special Year for Priests retreat.

While he couldn't be with them in person, Pope Benedict XVI sent a video message, saying: "The priest is called to serve human beings and to give them life in God. ... He is a man of the divine Word and of all things holy and, today more than ever, he must be a man of joy and hope. To those who cannot conceive that God is pure Love, he will affirm that life is worthy to be lived and that Christ gives it its full meaning because He loves all humankind."

Calling the priest "the man of the future," the pontiff reminded clergy that what they do in this world "is part of the order of things directed toward the final goal."

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Spreading the Word digitally

Priests are front and center of Pope Benedict XVI's message for the World Day of Social Communications, which will be celebrated Jan. 24. The Vatican released the message's text today.

In the message, appropriately timed for the Year for Priests, priests are urged to use new media as a possible resource for their ministry.

The message, titled "The Priest and Pastoral Ministry in a Digital World: New Media at the Service of the Word," notes that "new communications media, if adequately understood and exploited, can offer priests and all pastoral care workers a wealth of data which was difficult to access before, and facilitate forms of collaboration and increased communion that were previously unthinkable."

What priests do you know of who use digital media effectively to reach the faithful? Two who come quickly to mind are Father Robert Barron of Word on Fire ministry and Father John Zuhlsdorf of What Does the Prayer Really Say.

Monday, September 28, 2009

'The joy of being a priest'

Making a retreat is a time-honored Catholic tradition, and priests around the world are doing just that at a special gathering in Ars, France, home of their patron, St. John Vianney.

More than 1,200 priests from 75 countries are reflecting on the theme “The joy of being a priest: Consecrated for the salvation of the world” through Oct. 6, with Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna giving his reflections during the retreat. Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston will be among the celebrants at daily Mass during the event.

Click HERE to read more about the gathering.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Countdown to Father Damien's canonization

Excitement is growing over the Oct. 11 canonization of Father Damien de Veuster, the Belgian priest who devoted his life to ministering to the lepers on the Hawaiian island of Molokai.

Two special groups are headed to Rome for the big day: Eleven elderly leprosy patients who live in Kalaupapa, the peninsula on Molokai where patients were banished, and nine Boy Scouts from a Hawaiian troop appropriately called the St. Damien Troop. The groups are among the 650 pilgrims from Hawaii expected to attend the canonization.

"They're going to see their personal saint canonized," Dr. Kalani Brady, 53, who treats the leprosy patients, told The Associated Press. It's "incredibly important, incredibly personal for them," he said of the leprosy patients, who will also get a chance to meet with Pope Benedict XVI.

Click HERE to read more about the patients' visit and HERE to read about the Boy Scouts plans for the European adventure.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Father McGivney's sainthood cause

Father Michael McGivney, the parish priest who founded the Knights of Columbus in 1882, moved a step closer to sainthood this week.

Officials from a supplemental tribunal of the Archdiocese of Hartford, Conn., formally sent a new report to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the Catholic News Agency reported.

“Father McGivney’s beatification would be an important event, not only for Knights of Columbus, but for the many thousands of parish priests who quietly do the Lord’s work in parishes each day and regard him as an outstanding example for priests everywhere," Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said at a small ceremony "In this ‘Year for Priests’ it is an especially appropriate step forward.”

Click HERE to read CNA's story.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Priest's gift of self

Father Davis Chiramel, 49, of Kerala, India, was inspired by the Year for Priests to donate one of his kidneys to a complete stranger, who turned out to be a Hindu man suffering from renal failure.

“Christ gives of himself every day for the world’s salvation. In the Mass, priests offer the sacrifice of His body and His blood, but they do it without sharing in our Lord’s pain and suffering,” Father Chiramel told Asia News. “For me the possibility of donating an organ to someone I did not know is a unique and privileged opportunity to share in Christ’s suffering.”

The priest and the kidney recipient will meet Sept. 30. Click HERE to read the entire story.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Help celebrate Father Groeschel's jubilee

As we mentioned in a previous post, Franciscan Friar of the Renewal Father Benedict J. Groeschel, popular author and EWTN host, is celebrating the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood this year.

To help celebrate this special event, Our Sunday Visitor is doubling the net royalty on all of Father Groeschel's titles from now until Nov. 30. The proceeds will go to Good Counsel Homes, which provides shelter to pregnant homeless women.

Click HERE to see Father Groeschel's many OSV titles.

U.S. bishops' new vocations head

Father W. Shawn McKnight of Wichita, Kan., just landed a very important job — head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Secretariat for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations.

“Father McKnight brings extraordinary background to the position,” Msgr. David Malloy, USCCB general secretary, said in a Sept. 21 statement. “In addition to parish work, his experience includes years in seminary formation, education of deacons, college chaplaincy and membership on his diocesan presbyteral council.”

Father McKnight will take over the position in July.

Click HERE to read more about the appointment.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Prayer at heart of pastoral work

Pope Benedict XVI has reminded recently consecrated bishops that one of their "essential tasks" is to support priests as they follow their vocation faithfully. While heavy workloads and administrative duties take up much of priests' time, they must remember that prayer and the love of Christ is at the center of all pastoral work.

Friday, September 18, 2009

A lesson in forgiveness

A priest who was stabbed nearly 20 times last May is teaching his parishioners about the power of forgiveness. Father Shaji Varghese, pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Sinton, Texas, had just celebrated Mass when a man approached him, asking the priest to hear his confession. That's when the attack occurred.

"I don't take this incident as something very bad because this incident taught me so many things," Varghese told Scripps Howard News Service. "It made my vocation more stronger, my loyalty toward God more stronger. I was made more sure that my God is such a caring one. We are not perfect. It made me know that God answers to the prayers and God supports."

One positive outcome of the stabbing is that the parishioners have become closer to their pastor. Father Varghese, a native of India, had only been a pastor for a little more than a year before the stabbing, and his mainly Hispanic congregation at times had trouble understanding him.

"The faith is the same no matter what language you speak or what country you are from," one parishioner said. "It's about adoring and praising God."

Click HERE to read the entire story.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Simply irreplaceable

That's what priests are, Pope Benedict XVI said in his Sept. 17 visit with a group of bishops from Brazil.

Emphasizing the essential difference between priestly ministry and the common priesthood of the faithful, the pontiff told the prelates that "the lack of priests does not justify a more active and abundant participation of the laity. The truth is that the greater the faithful's awareness of their own responsibilities within the Church, the clearer becomes the specific identity and inimitable role of the priest as pastor of the entire community, witness to the authenticity of the faith, and dispenser of the mysteries of salvation in the name of Christ the Head."

"The function of the clergy is essential and irreplaceable in announcing the Word and celebrating the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist," he continued. "For this reason it is vital to ask the Lord to send workers for His harvest; and it is necessary that priests express joy in their faithfulness to their identity."

Here's a clip from his address: