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

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A priest's purpose: Guiding flock to God

As the Year for Priests nears its conclusion next month, Pope Benedict XVI took the opportunity at his May 26 general audience to discuss the duty of priests to shepherd their flocks closer to the Lord:

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

Check out the video below to hear more of what the pontiff said.

Welcoming new priests ... and showing potential priests the way

We wanted to point you in the direction of two stories in the June 6 issue of Our Sunday Visitor that provide a glimpse into the future of the Catholic priesthood.

First, in our In Focus section, regular contributor Maryann Gogniat Eidemiller introduces readers to eight men who are among the 440 seminarians being ordained to the priesthood this year. They are an eclectic bunch — among them are former Navy officer trained who spent time on a nuclear attack submarine, a former firefighter, and a one-time Baptist minister who acknowledges he was once "mildly anti-Catholic."

Whatever their backgrounds, these men are eager to serve the Church.

“One of the things I want to do as a priest is to go out and find people my age and younger and bring them back to the Church,” Father Paul Makar, who was ordained May 15 as a Ukrainian Catholic priest, told Eidemiller. “I know that many of our churches have a distinct lack of young people, and I want to reach out to them and tell them that we have a very rich and wonderful spiritual and liturgical tradition. I want to tell them to come home.”

Click HERE to read all eight profiles, and to see some interesting stats about the Class of 2010.

Also in the June 6 issue, Eddie O'Neill introduces readers to Quo Vadis Days, summer camp programs for young men, usually high schoolers, who are discerning a call to the priesthood.

One of best parts of the camps, Deacon Joe Altenhofen, a former camper who will be ordained a priest next month, told O'Neill, is the opportunity for the boys to get to know priests outside of their official parish duties.

“It helped me see myself as a worker in Christ in these normal settings. The priest is not one who just works in the office, or does sacramental things. It was good to see people that were like me out there and just doing ‘guy things.’”

Click HERE to read more about Quo Vadis Days.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Remembering priestly martyrs

Sometimes when we hear the word "martyr," it may be tempting to envision early Christians being thrown to the lions, but, as we know, Christians continue to be killed for their faith.

The Catholic News Service reminds us of this with a profile of Father Jerzy Popieluszko, a Polish Catholic priest who was murdered in 1984 by communist agents for his sermons defending human rights and his courage to stand up to communist oppression. Father Popieluszko will be beatified June 6 in Warsaw.

Here's what Archbishop Henryk Muszynski of Gniezno, Poland, told CNS in the story:

"Though everyone is different and must find their own path to God, we are all called to lead a Christian life of holiness," the archbishop said. "For the whole Catholic Church, (Father Popieluszko) represents the Gospel for the normal, mundane conditions of everyday life and work, showing how we can be loyal to others and follow our consciences."

Click HERE to read the entire piece.

Today, the Catholic Church also commemorates the lives of St. Christopher Magallanes and his companions — 21 priests and three laymen — who were victims of the Mexican government's oppression of the Church. Check out the video about the martyrs below:

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Priest-Homeboy founder interviewed on NPR

Jesuit Father Greg Boyle has earned praise for his efforts to curb gang violence in Los Angeles. He is the founder of Homeboy Industries, a much-admired organization that offers job-skills training for recovering gang members.

The priest recounts his efforts in a new memoir, "Tattoos on the Heart."

Unfortunately, all of the praise Homeboy has received has not translated into financial support needed to keep the operation going at full capacity, so earlier this month, Homeboy laid off 300 workers, and Father Boyle has stopped taking a paycheck.

In a 40-minute interview on NPR's "Fresh Air" program today, Father Boyle talks with show host Terry Gross about Homeboy, his memoir and his calling to help gang members.

Click HERE to listen to the interview and to read an excerpt of the book.

Seminarians honor K of C founder

Seminarians at St. Mary's in Baltimore recently honored one of the many great men who studied at the Baltimore institution — Venerable Michael J. McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus.

A group of students raised money for a life-size bronze bust of the priest, who studied at St. Mary's, the country's oldest Catholic seminary, in the 1870s.

Click HERE for pictures of the statue's blessing and more information.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Entering the priesthood in troubling times

This spring and summer, 440 men are scheduled to receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders and become priests. What should be a joyous time has been marred somewhat by the ongoing coverage of the clergy sex abuse crisis.

The Washington Post recently published a story about seminarians at Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md. After six years of study, 24 will join the ranks of priests this year. Here's an excerpt from the May 14 story:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click HERE to read the entire story.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Pope entrusts world's priests to Mary

In this Month of Mary and Year for Priests, there could not be a better time for Pope Benedict XVI to consecrate all of the world's priests to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which he did yesterday at Fatima, Portugal.

Here is part of what the pontiff said:

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

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

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

Click HERE to read the pontiff's entire prayer.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Testimonial: Why I chose to be a priest

Deacon John J. Eckert, who will be ordained a priest of the Diocese of Charlotte, N.C., early next month, wrote an account of his decision to become a priest in the June issue of The Priest magazine. Here's how he starts his piece:

Seven of us in my class at the Pontifical College Josephinum will be ordained this year. For our small class, timing has seemed to work out in our favor. During our first year of seminary, we were fortunate to experience together the monumental passing of our mutual role model, our Holy Father (for some of us the only one we had known), Pope John Paul II. Then we rejoiced together as we heard the words “ Habemus papam ,” and witnessed Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger become Pope Benedict XVI.

Last year, during the Year of St. Paul, we had an opportunely-timed class on the writings of the Apostle to the Gentiles and also had the good fortune to take a class trip to Rome where we visited inspiring Pauline sites such as the magnificent Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. The most fortuitous bit of good timing for the seven of us, as well as for all men called to the Sacred Order of Presbyter this year, is to be ordained during this “Year for Priests.”

With the excitement of ordination quickly approaching and time in seminary coming to an end, it is valuable to reflect on the fundamental reasons of why I am at this point and, mainly, why I chose to say yes to this vocation. I am sure my brother deacons share with me the common experience of being asked several times during our years of formation, “Why do you want to be a priest?”

Click HERE to get the answer in the rest of his article.

Papal appreciation for priests

Pope Benedict XVI his expressed gratitude for priests during a recent visit with Belgian bishops at the Vatican and reminded the bishops of a great priestly example who came from their home country — St. Damien of Molokai, whose feast day is today.

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

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

Click HERE to read more.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A powerful video — and a call to action

In this moving video, young Spanish-speaking Catholics — don't worry, there are subtitles! — testify to the loving sacrifice priests have made for their flocks and encourage Catholics to pray the Rosary for priests this month. H/T to the Deacon's Bench.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Illustrating the priesthood

A recently released book commemorating the Year for Priests uses 560 masterpieces from the likes of Raphael to show the importance of the Catholic priest over the centuries.

See more about "The Priest: Images of Christ through Centuries of Art" from this video from Rome Reports: