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

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Messengers of hope and peace

As priests renew their priestly vows at the Chrism Mass this Holy Week, Pope Benedict XVI emphasized their role as messengers of hope and peace:

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Haitian seminary to reopen

Great news: Haiti's seminary in Port-Au-Prince will reopen after Holy Week. That doesn't mean it won't be tough-going for the seminarians and their teachers. They will be living in tents as the seminary continues to rebuild from January's quake, which killed 30 seminarians, along with bishops, priests and religious.

“Things are now slowly returning to normal, but at the same time everyone knows there is still much work to be done. We are still at the very beginning," Archbishop Louis Kebreau of Cap-Hatien told Aid to the Church in Need.

Click HERE to read the entire story.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Using Web 2.0 to attract vocations

One U.S. diocese is using social media to reach young people and get them to think about vocations, whether to the priesthood, religious life or married life.

The Catholic News Agency has a story today about the Diocese of Columbus' Vocations Office, which recently launched a Facebook application called Face Forward Columbus.

“Our responsibility is to preach the Good News wherever people are gathered. Kids are now gathering out on cyberspace, making it the new town square. We need to be in that town square interacting.” Father Jeff Coning, vocations director for the diocese, told CNA. “Kids are now gathering out on cyberspace, making it the new town square. We need to be in that town square interacting.”

In addition to the Facebook page, the diocese has a Face Forward Columbus blog and its own Face Forward YouTube channel.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Priest who was 'Apostle of Life' dies

Pro-life supporters lost a longtime champion with the passing of Father Paul Marx, 89, at St. John's Abbey in Collegeville, Minn.

Long before the Supreme Court ruled to legalize abortion in 1973, Father Marx spoke out about the evils of abortion. He founded the group Human Life International to advocate on the side of the unborn. His work for the sanctity of life earned him the title "Apostle of Life" from Pope John Paul II.

“If we did not have Father Marx, we would not have an international pro-life movement,” Brian Clowes, a spokesman for Human Life International, told the St. Cloud (Minn.) Times.

Click HERE to read the entire story about Father Marx's remarkable life.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Archbishop: Priests can help recapture Lord's Day

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, the personable and joyful leader of the Archdiocese of New York, took the opportunity in a St. Patrick's Day letter to encourage the faithful in his archdiocese to return to Sunday Mass.

In his informative, yet playful letter, the archbishop explains the history of Sunday Mass and why it is so important. He also succinctly shoots down the many excuses the faithful have for missing Sunday Mass.

The letter is not just addressed to the faithful, but to priests. In it, Archbishop Dolan points out the important role priests play in leading the faithful to honoring the Lord's Day:

In this Year for Priests, we have heard marvellous testimonies from Catholics about how much they love their priests, and how much they appreciate the hard work they do for the sake the Gospel. Too often, the priest’s work is thankless task, but in this year our priests have heard their people thunder thank you! I add my voice to that chorus of gratitude!

If we are to recapture our sense of the Lord’s Day, our priests will lead us. We often hear people tease their priests that they only work one day a week – Sunday! That’s in good fun, for parishioners know that a priest’s work in never done, but there is something to that. For Sunday is the day of our greatest work. It is the Lord’s work, and we are at our most priestly when we consecrate the Lord’s Day by leading the people in the Lord’s own sacrifice. Many priests, who prudently begin preparing their Sunday homilies early in the week, are always thinking about the next Sunday. They live from Sunday to Sunday as it were, their eyes fixed during the week on the Lord’s Day to come. Our priests need to share that sense of Sunday with their parishioners, so that the Church as a whole lives from Sunday to Sunday.

Click HERE to read the entire letter.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Year for Priests — the movie

Well, not exactly, but Catholic News Agency is reporting on a new video released in honor of the special year:

“Alter Christus,” a video on the many aspects of the priesthood, was recently released in Rome. The film focuses on the life of St. John Vianney as well as priestly identity and celibacy.

The film was released by the organization, “Home of the Mother,” its foundation, “EUK Mamie,” and in collaboration with the Congregation for the Clergy. According to Sister Maria Luisa Belmonte of Home of the Mother, the film is “centered on the life of St. John Vianney,” and “the topics covered range from the priestly identity to the Sacraments, from celibacy to the mission.”

Click HERE to read more about the production.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Priests' spiritual role comes first

So said Archbishop Willem Jacobus Eijk of Utrecht in the Netherlands during an address at last week's international gathering for priests in Rome.

Here are excerpts from his speech:

“I don’t want to underestimate the importance of the social role of priests, who although ‘in a certain sense are segregated in the heart of the People of God,’ yet they do not remain ‘separated from this same people or from any man’ with whom they live and for whom they work in a particular age and culture. ..."

"[Nevertheless] “we seek to train future priests and focus on their spiritual identity. Priests are exposed daily to pressure, tension and the disillusionment related to the proclamation of the Gospel in a society that is not very open to the Christian faith.”

Click HERE to see more from Catholic News Agency.

Friday, March 12, 2010

A day in the life of a parish priest

Ever wonder what it's like to be a parish priest? Father Nels Gjengdahl, a priests of the Archdiocese of Minneapolis-St. Paul, gives you a taste in the fun video below. Father Gjengdahl is clearly heeding Pope Benedict XVI's call to use social media. h/t to CNS Blog.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Pope urges priests to promote confession

Pope Benedict XVI today spoke to young priests participating in an Apostolic Penitentiary course on confession, and urged them to follow the example of St. John Vianney, who "encouraged many penitents to come to his confessional.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Romeward bound

Our apologies to Simon & Garfunkel for playing off the title to their classic hit, but it seemed appropriate as hundreds of bishops, priests and seminarians head to Rome for a special Year for Priests international conference.

The "Faithfulness of Christ, Faithfulness of the Priesthood" theological convention takes place Thursday and Friday in Rome with priestly identity, priestly celibacy and priests and contemporary culture to be among the topics.

Click HERE to see the Congregation of the Clergy's schedule of events for the sessions, which will be presided over by Cardinal William J. Levada of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Franc Rode of Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education. The Congregation of the Clergy's Cardinal Claudio Hummes will also be present.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Lessons in confession

Among the many important responsibilities of priests is hearing confessions. A new Vatican course that began Monday aims to help young priests learn how to correctly administer the Sacrament of Penance.

From a Zenit article:

The major penitentiary, Archbishop Fortunato Baldelli, is leading the course, in which "moral and canonical subjects will be discussed related to the ministry of penance, above all that of confession," a communiqué announced.

Complex or difficult situations in the sacrament will be addressed by Bishop Gianfranco Girotti and Jesuit Father Ivan Fucek, regent and theologian of the penitentiary, respectively. Other experts will also address the priests, illustrating "the canonical discipline and its correct application in relation to offenses and punishments and several practical aspects."

Criteria will be given "to treat some cases of conjugal and family morality and confession will be proposed as an instrument for moral education," the communiqué added. The priests will also learn how to redirect appeals to the penitentiary and about the concession and use of indulgences.

The weeklong course will end with an address by Pope Benedict XVI.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Papal preacher: Priests are ministers of New Covenant

In his first Lenten reflection at the Vatican today, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the papal household, spoke of the role of priests, saying they are ministers of the new covenant between God and humanity, through Christ and through grace.

Today's reflection is the first of three, with the theme being "Dispensers of the Mystery of God. The priest, minister of the Word and the sacraments." The remaining two reflections will take place March 12 and 16.

Check out the video below to hear more of what Father Cantalamessa had to say:

Thursday, March 4, 2010

USA Today profiles popular priest-author

Jesuit Father James Martin, the culture editor of America magazine and author of the best-seller "My Life with The Saints," is the subject of a lengthy profile in today's edition of the national newspaper. He has a new book out, "The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: The Spirituality of Real Life."

In the profile, he talks about what drew him to the priesthood from a life as a business executive and what attracted him to Ignatian spirituality:

"Ignatian spirituality is intended for the widest possible audience of believers and seekers," Martin says.

He writes in The Jesuit Guide that "within the Christian tradition, all spiritualities, no matter what their origins, have the same focus — the desire for union with God, an emphasis on love and charity, and a belief in Jesus as the Son of God."

It's about making a God-centered life accessible to the doubtful as well as the devout, he says.

It's about realizing that when you are most vulnerable — sick, out of work, lonely, afraid, "God can move through your defenses, strengthen and accompany you."

And there's a radical simplicity to that, Martin says.

He says Ignatian spirituality "does not ask you to become a half-naked, twig-eating, cave-dwelling hermit. It simply invites you to live simply."

Click HERE to read the full profile.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Sainthood cause for first African-American priest

Earlier this week, the Chicago archdiocese announced it was opening the canonization cause of Father Augustus Tolton, a former slave who made headlines when he was ordained in Rome in 1886, becoming the first African-American priest.

As Cardinal Francis George, archbishop of Chicago, noted in announcing the opening of the cause, Father Tolton had to study in Rome because, sadly, no American seminary would accept him. Father Tolton served in Quincy, Ill., before coming to Chicago to start a parish for black Catholics. (Click HERE to read Catholic News Agency's story on Father Tolton)

In announcing the opening of Father Tolton's cause, Cardinal George wrote, "...during this Year for Priests it would be good to pray to him and to ask the Lord to send us many more priests like him." Well said.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Amazing profile of priest in Haiti

Seven weeks after an earthquake devastated Haiti, news about the Caribbean country and its inhabitants has moved off the front page, but the suffering and painful recovery process continue.

The Weekly Standard's Matt Labash brings the devastation back to the forefront in a long profile of Father Rick Frechette in the magazine's March 1 issue. Father Frechette runs the country's only free pediatric hospital and an orphanage. He also goes to the Port-au-Prince morgue every Thursday — since long before the quake — to bury the unclaimed dead, living out one of the seven corporal works of mercy of the Catholic Church.

Labash's story is very lengthy, and is accompanied by a slide show with many stunning — and sometimes quite disturbing — photographs. But it's worth reading every words of this profile of an amazing man of God, doing good works in a nearly impossible situation:

As we near Frechette’s graveyard, the rumors prove true. There’s a stack of half-plowed earth, atop which lie 30 or so naked bodies, as if a bulldozer driver started to bury them, went on a smoke break, then forgot to come back. Arms and legs jut from the half-dug earth, like some sort of Goya-esque horror, while the bodies on top of the pile are so sun-baked, their skin looks like plum pits. The maggots are feasting.

For a while, we wordlessly survey the disgrace. Then Father Rick looks up to the burning hills. “Just like hell. Isn’t it?” he says. “It always amazes me how nature aligns.” The state has been doing mass burials here since the earthquake. But even before, Frechette explains, “This whole area was known as the place of the dead. For 40 years, since the time of Papa Doc, it’s the place where they dumped the dead. It’s notorious for executions, for emptying the prisons out by bringing them all here, digging a hole, having them stand at the edge, plugging them in the head, then letting them fall right into the grave. We use the same areas to bury the dead in the right way.”

A little ways down the road, sweat-drenched men with pick-axes and shovels stand in huge holes, readying them for tomorrow’s burial. Cows graze in a field of white wooden crosses. Frechette’s had to stop using them, however, since people would steal the crosses to cook with. He’s now switched to smaller crosses made of fish-tins, hiring crossmakers from Cité Soleil. Though even that is getting too expensive with all the newly dead.

Our motorcyclists nervously call for us to leave, before the flames jump the road, and we have to ride out through a tunnel of fire. On the way back up the hill, I step in a sinkhole on a grave, and nearly go down. Father Rick laughs. He says it’s seven years bad luck to step on the dead, seven years good luck to bury them. “I could have a square-dance here,” he says, “and mathematically, I’d still be ahead of the game.”

Click HERE to read the story. h/t to the Deacon's Bench.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Group pushes for Boys Town founder's canonization

Father Edward Flanagan, who founded Boys Town in Omaha, Neb., in 1917 and was immortalized on the big screen in the 1938 Spencer Tracy film about the home for children, was a saint in the eyes of many. And now a group of admirers want to make that designation official.

The Irish priest was born in 1886 and came to the United States in 1904. After completing bachelor's and master's degrees at Mount St. Mary's University in Maryland, he entered St. Joseph's Seminary in Dunwoodie, N.Y. He was ordained in 1912 and moved to Nebraska, first serving in O'Neill, then in Omaha.

The Father Flanagan League was profiled in a recent report on Omaha television station KETV. The group is dedicated to spreading devotion to Father Flanagan and providing information about his sanctity to the Church.

“Each boy that he met, he could see the possibilities in that child,” his biographer, Father Clifford Stevens, told the news station. “He was a pioneer in ecumenism before he even knew the word. He was the first priest to begin work with Jews and Protestants on social issues.”

Click HERE to read more about their efforts.