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

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:

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

'In God's Time'

The Sept. 27 issue of OSV has a great interview with a newly ordained priest who, thanks to a health scare, has learned that life progresses in God's time, and that we have to let go and trust him.

Father Andrew Morkunas was preparing for his June ordination as a priest in the Archdiocese of Washington when a skiing accident revealed the presence of a brain tumor, and he had to wait until after his surgery and recovery to receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders. He was ordained by Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl on Aug. 29.

"'In God's time' is my personal motto," he told OSV contributing editor Valerie Schmalz. "That is the hardest thing in discernment, to live according to his plan, but once you give everything up, things fall the way they are supposed to fall."

Click HERE to read the entire story.

Priests in the 'Spotlight'

Priests and movies. From portrayals of clergy in classic, and not so classic, movies such as "Anything Goes," "On the Waterfront," "The Mission" and last year's "Doubt" to Father Patrick Peyton and his Family Theater Productions, they seem to go together.

Now, two priests — Father Chip Hines and Father Bill Kelly — are joining the tradition with a new show on CatholicTV titled "Spotlight," which will feature movie reviews.

Here's what Father Hines told the Catholic News Agency about it: "I think the show's going to be great. We hope that we will be able to help people come closer to Christ. Father Kelly and I have very good chemistry, and want to help people grow in their faith by looking at universal themes in films such as good and evil.”

Click HERE to read the CNA story.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Father Ricci on the silver screen

Father Matteo Ricci, a Jesuit missionary to China, is enjoying a revival of interest nearly 400 years after his death.

As the Catholic News Agency reported over the weekend, a documentary about the priest was screened at the Venice Film Festival, one of the movie industry's most important events.

Pope Benedict XVI also made mention of him in a letter to the bishop of Marcerata, the Italian town in which Father Ricci was born.

“Matteo Ricci sets an example for our communities of people from different cultures and religions to bloom in the spirit of hospitality and mutual respect,” Pope Benedict wrote.

Click HERE to read CNA's story on the movie screening.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Carmelite prayers for priests

Priests of the world, fear not. A community of cloistered nuns in the Holy Land has your back, at least spiritually. In a recent letter to priests around the world, the Carmelites of the Holy Land, located in Haifa, Israel, renewed their promise to pray for priests, following in the tradition of that great Doctor of the Church, St. Teresa of Avila.

Here is some of what they wrote:

"We are aware of the challenges you have in fully living out your vocation in today's society; being in the world but not of the world, as Saint John states. Ecclesial circumstances have changed much due to the accelerated pace of time but your call remains unchanged: 'You are a priest … and forever... ' (Heb 5.6) Today, we renew our commitment to offer our humble supplication that you may be holy."

Click HERE to read the entire letter. h/t to Zenit.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Straight talk from a seminarian

The latest issue of the Catholic Anchor, the diocesan newspaper of the Archdiocese of Anchorage, has an insightful Q&A with a 41-year-old former businessman who has entered the seminary. In the interview, Arthur Roraff talks about his decision, why so few men consider the priesthood these days and what he would say to those who are discerning such a vocation.

When asked why so few men consider the priesthood, here's an excerpt of how he answered: "People seem to compartmentalize religion and see it as a part of their life but not the center. So when a young man considers even for a moment the priesthood, I think they often quickly dismiss it because they don’t want to see themselves committed to something that is only a little part of their life."

To read more of the interview, click HERE. (You'll have to scroll down a bit past the first story.)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Remembering a priestly practical joker

Priests have a very important duty, but who says that means they have to be serious all the time? 

There is a very nice tribute in today's edition of the LaCrosse Tribune of Father Tom O'Neill, a Wisconsin priest with a strong devotion to his job as the vice president for mission and ministry at Viterbo University who also happened to have a strong liking for practical jokes. Father O'Neill, 61, died Wednesday.

In the story, friends, co-workers and parishioners praised the priest's dedication, especially in serving as an on-call chaplain, showing up whenever needed, even if that meant arriving at emergency rooms in the middle of the night. But they also recalled his penchant for leaving fake parking tickets on campus.

"He would remember the silliest thing that he saw or heard you say and bring it back to haunt you again and again," said the Rev. Tom Lindner, pastor of Newman University Parish in Stevens Point, Wis., told the newspaper.

Click HERE to read the entire story.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Priestly priorities

Celebrating Mass, administering the sacraments, visiting sick parishioners, comforting bereaved family members. These are just a few of the duties of today's priests. How do they stay on top of their responsibilities in what is a 24/7 job? 

Father Kenneth J. Doyle of the Diocese of Albany offers some insights on how he prioritizes his duties in a column on the CNS Blog. One way that he has found is to share some of the workload with his parish staff, so that he can focus on what he considers to be the core responsibilities of priests: celebrating the sacraments, preparing homilies, daily reading and prayer, and answering the ever-present requests to respond to parishioners’ family crises and personal problems.

To read Father Doyle's entire column, click HERE.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

How parishes can celebrate jubilee year

Nearly three months into the Year for Priests, some parishes may need help in making the jubilee year meaningful. Lorene Hanley Duquin, a frequent OSV contributor on adult education issues, has a lot of simple ways parishioners can recognize priests and seminarians. Here are a few of her ideas:
  • Plan an evening of prayer and information about vocations.  Help people understand that a vocation is a call to the single life, the married life, priesthood or religious life. 
  • Ask your priest to share the story of his vocation in a homily or in a bulletin article.
  • Ask your children and grandchildren if they ever thought about becoming a priest.
  • Find ways to support and encourage seminarians in your diocese.
Click HERE to see more of Hanley Duquin's suggestions, or HERE to read more columns on how parishioners of all ages can celebrate the jubilee year.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

'A pure gift from God'

Need a little something to uplift your soul and give you hope for the future of vocations? Check out this cool video from the Archdiocese of New York. The short, slick clip was produced by Grassroots Films