Have you ever considered a vocation to the priesthood or the religious life?

Monday, August 31, 2009

Sowing seeds of vocations

Pope Benedict XVI took advantage of the recent feast days of St. Augustine and St. Monica at Sunday's Angelus message to emphasize the importance of family in encouraging young men to discern the call to priesthood.

St. Monica, whose feast day was Aug. 27, prayed unceasingly for the conversion of her son, St. Augustine, away from his life of sin to Christianity.

"God heard the prayers of this saintly mother, to whom the Bishop of Tagaste had said: 'It is impossible that the son of so many tears will be lost,'" the pontiff told the crowd gathered at Castel Gandolfo.
Likewise, mothers and fathers today can prepare "fertile spiritual soil" from which vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life can grow and flourish.

"Christian families may become small churches in which all the vocations and charisms given by the Holy Spirit will be welcomed and valued," he said.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Call to prayer and sacrifice

Have you said a prayer for priests lately? If so, good for you. If not, maybe you should start now. (Click HERE to see a few examples to get you started.)

Why is it important for parishioners to pray for their priests, especially in this jubilee year? Bishop Robert F. Vasa Baker, Ore., provides the answer in a thought-provoking column for the Aug. 20 issue of the Catholic Sentinel diocesan newspaper. He writes:

"We all want our priests to be holy, prayerful, devoted, pious, available, good administrators, good preachers, personable, affable, patient, accommodating, zealous, on time, to be all we want them to be and we want them to be all of these things all of the time. We sometimes forget that a man with great administrative skills may not be a good preacher. A man who is very pious may be more aloof and thus less personable. A man who is entirely affable may be, shall we say, administratively challenged. A man who is too available may frequently be late. A man who excels in patience may seem to lack zeal. It is good and necessary to hold very high standards for our priests and the Year for Priests affords us an opportunity to pray and work to help them achieve those high standards." 

Click HERE to read Bishop Vasa's entire column.

Monday, August 24, 2009

'Patriarch' of the seminary

In yet another reminder that it's never too late, Jerry Wetovick of Cozad, Neb., is headed back to seminary this fall for his final year of classes. Wetovick, 73, received his call to the priestly life after the death of his wife three years ago.

Now studying at Sacred Heart School of Theology in Wisconsin, the retired dentist will be ordained to be a priest in the Diocese of Grand Island, Neb., next year. He's earned the title "patriarch of the seminary" because of his relatively advanced age, yet he's confident he can serve the Church quite ably.

“I think it is a blessing. My whole life has been blessed, I have been so blessed.," the grandfather of 14 told KNOP-TV in North Platte, Neb.  "I realize I am at the end of the spectrum of my life. I know that but who knows. We have priests that are 95 and still saying mass. There are still some good years left.”

Click HERE to read Wetovick's story.

From Southern Baptist to Catholic priest

We came across these on YouTube and thought it was worth sharing. In a series of recently posted videos, Father D. Paul Sullins, an associate professor of sociology at The Catholic University of America, tells his journey from growing up as a Southern Baptist to joining the Episcopal Church to becoming a married Roman Catholic priest. 

As Father Sullins explains, it was Church teaching on abortion and contraception that drew him and his wife to the Catholic faith. 

Warning: The audio isn't great on these videos, so you may want to turn the volume up a bit.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Video prayer for priests

We found this beautifully produced video prayer from Catholic News Agency and thought we'd pass it along. The musical accompaniment is just gorgeous.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Priest lends ear to troubled teens

Troubled students at a South Los Angeles school have found a friend in a Catholic priest. Missionary Servant Father Stan Bosch, who lives next door to the school at St. Michael Catholic Church's rectory, offers group therapy to the teens, who rarely get a chance to share their pain within their communities.

As a story in the Los Angeles Times explains: 

The idea was met with surprise, even derision; Bosch had to acknowledge that next to the profound problems in the neighborhood, touchy-feely therapy seemed like a silly luxury. But Bosch was determined that he could make the biggest difference by asking the kids the simplest questions: "How are you? How do you feel?"

"No one asks them stuff like that," Bosch said. "Not parents. Not teachers. No one."

Bosch had also been asked to supervise the city's gang-reduction programs in two pockets of South L.A. His therapy idea dovetailed with what City Hall views as the future: "wrap-around" services that envelop the toughest cases like a blanket. That means adding new services to a gang-reduction program that has historically careened from one crisis to the next -- all triage, no healing.

Though the shift is still in its infancy, there are proposals to add a host of services that would seem related only peripherally to troubles with gangs and the law: anger management, parenting classes, sex education, arts programs and mental health therapy like what Bosch offers.

"This is a systemic way of looking at health and healing -- not treating symptoms but looking at root causes," Bosch said. "You can't deal with one area of life without asking: Why? Why do kids join gangs? What are the realities of the streets?"

The students can tell Father Bosch anything. His only request? That they don't call him "homie."

Click HERE to read the entire story.

The pontiff and priestly formation

In his weekly general audience, Pope Benedict XVI urged priests and seminarians to "enter into the heart of Jesus" and become men of true love, humility and patience.

In addition to the topic of ongoing formation for clergy, the pontiff spoke of St. John Eudes, a 17th-century parish priest who founded a congregation dedicated to the formation of priests.

“The path of holiness, which was his path and which he proposed his disciples, had a solid foundation in trust in the love that God revealed to humanity in the priestly heart of Christ, and the maternal heart of Mary,” the pope told the faithful gathered at Castel Gandolfo.

Click HERE to read Catholic News Agency's story on the audience or view a clip of the pontiff's address below.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Memorial Mass for 'Grunt Padre'

Servant of God Father Vincent Capodanno wasn't one to shy away from danger. The Vietnam War Navy chaplain risked his life tending to the wounded on the battlefield, receiving shrapnel to his face and hands. His heroism earned him the nickname "grunt padre" before his Sept. 4, 1967 death, when he used his body as a shield to protect a soldier during Operation Swift.

On Sept. 3, just one day before the 42nd anniversary of his death, a Mass for Father Capodanno will be offered at the Crypt Church at the National Shrine of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese for Military Services, USA, will be the celebrant.  

Click HERE to read Catholic News Agency's story on Father Capodanno.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Closing celebration

Pope Benedict XVI is inviting all of the world's priests to Rome June 9-11 for the closing celebration of the Year for Priests. The Congregation for the Clergy announced the program of the three-day event on Friday, Aug. 14.

On June 9, clergy will meet at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Wall for prayer, meetings, adoration and Mass based on the theme "Conversion and Mission." 

On June 10, they'll gather at the Basilica of St. Mary Major to address "The Cenacle: The Invocation of the Holy Spirit in Union with Mary and in Fraternal Communion" in the morning, then head to St. Peter's Square for sacred music, testimonies, adoration and a greeting from Pope Benedict.

The celebration — and the jubilee year — closes June 11 with holy Mass presided over by Pope Benedict. The theme for that day is "With Peter, in Ecclesial Communion."

Higher calling in the mile-high city

For 35 years, Ron Cattany of Denver has worked in state government, protecting Colorado's land, water and natural resources. Now, the state's director of Colorado's Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety is retiring and taking on a new challenging — shepherding souls as a Catholic priest.

Cattany, 55, will begin seminary later this month, according to a Denver Post story. Here's what he told the Post about his calling:

"I had a really strong sense the Lord was drawing me to him," Cattany said.

Last December he began a formal discernment process, wherein a spiritual adviser helps a potential seminarian consider his calling to the priesthood. It involved months of study, contemplation and prayer.

Cattany said his advisers were so maddeningly neutral about his decision that he nicknamed them the "Mount Rushmores."

"The thing that's startling is that there is no booming voice," Cattany said. "There are many small, subtle things that are profound, that touch your heart and give you consolation. At the end of the day, it's between you and God."

Click HERE to read the entire story.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Priest's program in peril

Father Greg Boyle's Homeboy Industries, one of the largest anti-gang programs in the United States, has rehabilitated hard-core criminals in the Los Angeles area for two decades now. But an Associated Press story reports that after Friday, Homeboy Industries could be no more. It seems the priest's program is yet another victim of the economic recession.

Here's an excerpt from the story:

Homeboy is one of few agencies that have proven success with a population traditionally difficult to reach, said Beatriz Solis, director of healthy communities for The California Endowment, which recently gave Homeboy $500,000 for mental health programs and has donated to the nonprofit since 1999.

But this year Homeboy started to run into financial trouble — contributions from foundations and corporations dried up, government contracts were slashed in half, and state budget woes made collecting bills for past contracts impossible, including a $310,000 tab owed by the Division of Juvenile Justice for mentoring young parolees, said Mona Hobson, director of development.

The nonprofit, which carries a top, four-star ranking from nonprofit analyst Charity Navigator, has lost about 40 percent of its $9 million annual budget.

Boyle, who is fighting leukemia, has managed to push Homeboy from payroll to payroll the last few months — $350,000 every two weeks for salaries and bills. He's gathered $200,000 through Web site donations, put Homeboy merchandise online to ramp up sales, frozen new hiring and extended cafe hours to serve dinner on weekends.

Hobson has reached out to foundations and corporations she hasn't tapped before and that's resulted in a trickle of contributions.

But Homeboy is now hitting a dead end.

Click HERE to read the entire piece or HERE to learn more about Homeboy Industries.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Blessed Virgin and the priesthood

As the feast of the Assumption nears, Pope Benedict XVI used today's general audience to explore the relationship between Mary and priests.

 "The CurĂ© d'Ars, who we think of this year especially, loved to repeat that after Jesus Christ gave us everything he could give, he wanted to make us heirs of what was most precious to him, his holy mother,” the pontiff said. “This applies to all Christians, but especially for priests. Every priest can and should truly feel himself to be the son of this most holy and most humble mother."

Click HERE to see more of what the Holy Father said.

Father Groeschel's golden jubilee

One of America's best-loved and most recognizable priests, Father Benedict Groeschel, CFR, is celebrating his 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood.

Father Groeschel, a noted psychologist and founding member of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, is host of the popular EWTN program "Sunday Night Live" and a popular author. We at Our Sunday Visitor have special affection for the friar, who was written or edited OSV several books.

He's also co-founder and chairman of Good Counsel Homes, which provides homes and long-term support for new and expectant mothers and their babies in Hoboken, N.J.

There will be a special Mass to celebrate Father Groeschel's golden jubilee on Oct. 18 at Holy Family Church in Nutley, N.J. It will be open to the public.

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

'What we lack is peace'

Imagine trying to bring the light of Christ to people as drug cartels fight a vicious war around you. That's the reality many priests in Mexico face.

The Washington Post profiles one priest, Father Miguel Lopez, who's brutally honest about what it's like to serve people at great personal risk. 

"To me, the worst thing would be that out of naivete, or out of stupidity, or out of fear, you didn't know when to speak or you didn't know what to say," he told the Post. "What I ask from God is that He illuminate me so that I can do what I need to do." 

Click HERE to read all about Father Lopez.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

New Orleans priest headed to Sundance?

The Sundance Film Festival is famous for its starry array of attendees each year, all there to pitch their latest independent films. Films such as "Little Miss Sunshine" got their start at the annual festival in Park City, Utah, where stargazers can see A-listers like Ben Affleck and Steve Carrell wonder the snow-lined streets in parkas.

One filmmaker is hoping to join in the fun this year with a documentary on Father Tony Ricard, pastor of Our Lady of the Sea Catholic Church in New Orleans. Filmmaker Cynthia Capen of Redlands, Calif., was visiting Father Ricard when Hurricane Katrina struck in August 2005. She has spent the past four years documenting his work in the aftermath of the devastating storm. 

"My film is vocational — it's a documentary about a 'cradle priest' who loves being a priest," she told the Contra Costa Times. "There are a lot of things out there slamming Catholic priests. Catholics deserve to see something like this."

Click HERE to read about Capen's film.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Profiling a pilgrimage priest

Catholic News Services' Cindy Wooden has a nice profile of Father Cesare Atuire, a 42-year-old Ghanaian who heads Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi, the Vatican-related pilgrimage agency that assists pilgrims visiting Rome and organizes pilgrimages to sites such as the Holy Land and Lourdes.

Click HERE to read the story.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Christian witness in time of tragedy

Relatives of victims and survivors of Tuesday's senseless shooting at a suburban Pittsburgh fitness club were comforted by priests of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, who were sent out by Bishop David Zubik. The bishop himself visited the wounded and their families, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

 Here's some of what the paper had to say:

"We're here so we can help, perhaps, some with their spiritual needs," Father Kim Schreck explained.

The priests listened to, counseled and prayed with more than a dozen people inside the fire hall "whether they were traumatized by the incident or here for a loved one," he said.

Asked what he told people in such situations, he said, "Evil is real. For whatever reason, this man acted in a horrible way, and we suffered because of it. Some people blame God, but He is here in us. The Lord is with us in our suffering."

 H/T to the American Papist.

Year for Priests special offer

In honor of the Year for Priests, Catholic Church Supply.com is offering a special deal on clergy shirts. Click HERE to check out the offer.

'Foreclosure-fighting father'

One role of priests is to take good care of the spiritual home of parishioners — the church. A Los Angeles Country priest is also trying to make sure his parishioners are safe and secure in their own dwellings. 

As The Associated Press reports in a story today, Father John Lasseigne of Mary Immaculate Catholic Church in Pacoima, Calif. — where one in nine homes is in default — is doing what he can to help his parishioners keep their homes in the face of foreclosures. He's gone so far as to negotiate with lenders on their behalf.

"Works of justice are an integral part of the priesthood," Father Lasseigne told the AP. "We have to take stands in aiding the needy and denouncing the injustices of society. The financial entrapment that was part of this was unbelievable."

Parishioners are appreciative of his efforts on their behalf. "I never heard of a priest doing so much to help people," parishioner Juana Rodriguez said. "He's always out there in front of us, leading us. I don't get frightened anymore."

Click HERE to read the AP story.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Blogging priests

Last week, we came across a list of 100 Incredibly Inspiring Christian Blogs, which was compiled by Online Bible Colleges.  Among the categories was a listing of what the organization considers to be the best priest blogs (although not all of them are specifically about priests).

Here's a list of blogs that made the cut:

What do you think of this list? Are there any blogs you'd add to it? If so, let us know in the comments section.

St. John Vianney's feast day

We have reached the ninth and final day of the St. John Vianney novena. Here is today's prayer:

O Holy Priest of Ars, your precious remains are contained in a magnificent reliquary, the donation from the priests of France. But this earthly glory is only a very pale image of the unspeakable glory which you are enjoying with God. During the time you were on earth, you used to repeat in your dejected hours, 'one will rest in the other life." It is done, you are in eternal peace, and eternal happiness. 
I desire to follow you one day. Until then, I hear you saying to me: 
"You should work and fight as long as you are in the world." 
Teach me then to work for the salvation of my soul, to spread the good news and good example and to do good towards those around me in order that I will receive the happiness of the Elect with you. 
Holy Priest of Ars, I have confidence in your intercession. Pray for me during this novena especially for ... (
mention silently your special intentions). 
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.

O St John Vianney, Patron of Priests, pray for us and for all priests!

Click HERE to see the entire novena.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Saintly inspiration

Tomorrow is a big day in the Year for Priests — the feast day of St. John Vianney, the patron of the world's priests. 

But as Pope Benedict XVI pointed out in his Angelus on Sunday, the humble Cure of Ars is not the only holy person with an August feast day who can serve as a model to today's priests. The pontiff mentioned St. Alphonsus Liguori (Aug. 1),  St. Cajetan of Thiena (Aug. 7) and St. Dominic (Aug. 8). 

Giving a more recent model, Pope Benedict noted the anniversary of Pope Paul VI's death on Aug. 6. "His life, so profoundly priestly and so rich in humanity, remains in the Church a gift for which to thank God," the pope said. "May the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, aid priests to be totally in love with Christ, following the examples of these models of priestly holiness.”  

Click HERE to read the Catholic News Agency's story about the angelus.

Day 8 of St. John Vianney Novena

O Holy Priest of Ars, a witness of your life made this magnificent praise of you:
'We would have taken him for an angel in a mortal body." 
You so edified others: the modesty and the exquisite purity radiated from your body. With such charm and with such enthusiasm you preached to others about these beautiful virtues which you said resembled the perfume of a vineyard in bloom.
Please I beg you to join your entreaties to those of 
Mary Immaculate and Saint Philomena in order that I guard always, as God asks me, the purity of my heart. You, who have directed so many souls towards the heights of virtue, defend me in temptations and obtain for me the strength to conquer them. 
Holy Priest of Ars, I have confidence in your intercession. Pray for me during this novena especially for ... (
mention silently your special intentions). 
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.

Click HERE to see entire novena.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Day 7 of St. John Vianney novena

O Holy Priest of Ars, the infamous attacks of the devil which you had to suffer and the trials which disheartened you by fatigue would not make you give up the sublime task of converting souls. The devil came to you for many years to disturb your short rest but you won because of mortification and prayers.
Powerful protector, you know the temptor's desire to harm my baptized and believing soul. He would have me sin, by rejecting the Holy Sacraments and the life of virtue. But good Saint of Ars dispel from me the traces of the enemy.
Holy Priest of Ars, I have confidence in your intercession. Pray for me during this novena especially for ... (mention silently your special intentions).
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Day 6 of St. John Vianney Novena

O Holy Priest of Ars, whose only comfort in this world was the real presence of Jesus in the tabernacle, was it not your great joy to distribute the Eucharist to the pilgrims who visited you? You refused Communion to the souls who refused to reform but to souls of goodwill you opened wide the doors of the Eucharistic Feast.
You, who each day at Holy Mass received Holy Communion with great loves, give me some of your fervor. With freedom from mortal sin, obtain for me a sincere desire to profit from receiving Holy Communion.
Holy Priest of Ars, I have confidence in your intercession. Pray for me during this novena especially for... (mention silently your special intentions).
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.