US bishops sending delegation to opening of Cuban seminary

October 26, 2010

Washington D.C. (CNA) — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops announced that it is sending a delegation to attend the opening of a new seminary in Havana, Cuba – the country’s first facility of its kind in more than 50 years.

The USCCB Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America will travel to Cuba November 3-6, for the opening of the new seminary located 30 miles outside of Havana. The building will be able to house 100 candidates for the priesthood.

John Paul II blessed the cornerstone of the seminary during his visit to Cuba in 1998. The construction has been financed by numerous international institutions, including the Knights of Columbus.

The USCCB delegation will be led by subcommittee member Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, as well as Fr. Andrew Small, National Collections Office director for the Church Latin America, and local clergy from the Archdiocese of Miami.

In addition to the inauguration of the seminary, the group will visit parishes and missions in Havana supported by the Collection for the Church in Latin America.

Vocations Fair Promotes Priesthood, Religious Life

September 21, 2010

STEUBENVILLE, OH (MetroCatholic) - Franciscan University of Steubenville’s Annual Religious Vocation Awareness Day will be held on Friday, October 8, 2010. Nearly 100 religious orders and dioceses will be represented from all over the United States and Europe, making the event one of the largest of its kind.

“This event is a time of great blessing for the campus and an occasion for our students to see first hand the opportunities of religious life in the Church,” said Father Rick Martignetti, director of Franciscan University’s Pre-Theologate Program.

The day includes the Vocations Fair from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in Finnegan Fieldhouse at the center of campus and a Mass for vocations at 12:05 p.m. in Christ the King Chapel, concelebrated by Baltimore Archbishop Edwin O’Brien and Steubenville Bishop R. Daniel Conlon. Archbishop O’Brien will also deliver an address on the priesthood at 7:30 p.m. in Christ the King Chapel on October 7, the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.

Orders attending the vocations fair in Finnegan Fieldhouse will include the Third Order Regular (TOR) Franciscans who operate Franciscan University, Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, the Benedictines, Carmelites, and Dominicans. The Archdioceses of Philadelphia, Chicago, and the Military Services will also be among the participants.

For more information, e-mail [email protected] or call the Pre-Theologate Program Office at 740-283-6495.

PAPAL INTERVIEW DURING THE FLIGHT TO THE UNITED KINGDOM

September 17, 2010

VATICAN CITY (VIS) - As is the tradition on his apostolic trips abroad, during his flight to the United Kingdom the Holy Father answered questions from the journalists accompanying him on the papal aircraft.

One journalist asked the Pope if he was worried about the discussions and contrasting opinions that have marked preparations for his trip. “The tradition of the country has included strong anti-Catholic views. Are you concerned about how you will be received?”

Benedict XVI replied: “I must say that I am not worried because when I went to France it was said that it was the most anti-clerical of countries, with strong anti-clerical currents and a minimum number of faithful, and when I went to the Czech Republic it was also said that it was the most irreligious and anticlerical country of Europe. … Of course, Great Britain has its own history of anti-Catholicism, that much is obvious, but it is also a country with a great history of tolerance. Thus I am certain that there will be a generally positive welcome from Catholics and believers, attention from those from those who seek to progress in our time, and mutual respect and tolerance where there is anti-Catholicism. I hope to carry on courageously and joyfully”.

The second question was: “The United Kingdom, like many other Western countries, is considered to be a secular State. There is a strong culturally-motivated atheist movement. Nonetheless, there are also signs that religious faith - particularly faith in Jesus Christ - remains alive at a personal level. What does this mean for Catholics and Anglicans? Can anything be done to make the Church a more credible and attractive institution?”

“In my view”, the Pope replied, “a Church which seeks above all to be attractive is already on the wrong path, because the Church does not work for herself, she does not work to increase her numbers and her power. The Church is at the service of Another. She serves not herself, not to become strong; rather, she serves to make the announcement of Jesus Christ more accessible: the great truths, the great powers of love and reconciliation which appeared in Him and which always come from the presence of Jesus Christ. … In this sense its seems to me that Anglicans and Catholics have a simple task, the same task, the same direction to follow. If Anglicans and Catholics see that neither is an end unto themselves, but that they are both instruments of Christ (’friend of the bridegroom’ as St. John says); if both follow Christ’s priorities and not their own, then they come together because those priorities unite them. They are no longer rivals, each searching for more followers, they are joined in their commitment to the truth of Christ which comes into this world. Thus do they also reciprocally discover authentic and fruitful ecumenism”.

The third question put to the Pope focused on how to restore trust among the faithful following the sex abuse scandals.

“In the first place, I have to say that these revelations were a shock to me, a source of great sadness. It is difficult to understand how this perversion of the priestly ministry was possible. The priest at the moment of ordination, having prepared for years for that moment, says yes to Christ, becoming His voice, His mouth, His hand, and serving Him with all his life so that the Good Shepherd Who loves, helps and leads us to truth may be present in the world. It is difficult to understand how a man who has done and said these things can fall into this perversion. It is very sad. It is also sad that the Church authorities were not sufficiently vigilant, not quick and decisive enough in taking the necessary measures. For all these reasons we are now in a time of penance, humility and renewed sincerity. … As concerns the victims, I would like to make three important points. … How can we make reparation, what can we do to help these people overcome their trauma, rediscover life and faith in the message of Christ? Concern and commitment to the victims is the first priority, with material psychological and spiritual assistance. The second question is the problem of the guilty, ensuring they receive just punishment, that they have no possibility of approaching young people, because we know that this is a disease and free will cannot function where the disease exists. Thus we must protect these people from themselves, find ways to help them and protect them from themselves, excluding them from all access to young people. The third point concerns prevention through education and the selection of candidates to the priesthood; vigilance so that as far as humanly possible future cases are avoided. I would also like to take this moment to thank British bishops for their attention and collaboration, both with the See of St. Peter and with the public authorities, and for their concern towards the victims. I feel the British episcopate has done and continues to do a great job, and I am very grateful to them”.

“The figure of Cardinal Newman”, noted another journalist, “is very important for you, to the extent that you are taking the exceptional step of presiding at his beatification. Do you feel that his memory can help to overcome divisions between Anglicans and Catholics? What aspects of his personality do you wish to emphasise most?”

“Cardinal Newman is above all”, the Holy Father said, “a modern man who experienced all the problems of modernity, who also lived the problem of agnosticism, the impossibility of knowing God and believing. … I would also highlight these three elements: The modernity of his life, with all the doubts and problems of our lives today. His immense culture; his knowledge of the great treasures of human culture and his permanent readiness to study and renew that knowledge. His spirituality; his spiritual life and his life with God. These things make him an exceptional man of our time. Thus his figure appears as a doctor of the Church for us and for everyone, as well as being a bridge between Anglicans and Catholics”.

The final question was: “This visit is considered as being a ‘State visit’. Are there important points of agreement with the UK authorities, particularly in view of the great challenges facing the world today?”

The Pope replied: “I am very grateful to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II who wished to give this visit the rank of State visit, thus expressing its public nature as well as the joint responsibility of politics and religion for the future of the continent and the future of humanity. [We have] a great and joint responsibility to ensure that the values that create justice and politics - values that come from religion - proceed together in our time. Of course, the fact that this is a State visit does not make it a political event, because if the Pope is a head of State this is only a tool to guarantee the independence of his announcement and the public nature of his work as pastor, In this sense, a State visit always remains, substantially and essentially, a pastoral visit”.

Bishop Kevin Farrell: A surge of Cistercian vocations

September 7, 2010

From Bishop Kevin Farrell ’s blog

Last month I had the privilege of ordaining two young men to the priesthood and three to the transitional diaconate at the Cistercian Abbey. The five ordinations reflect a surge of new vocations being experienced by the Irving community.

In August I ordained Father Augustine Hoelke and Father Philip Neri Lastimosa. Last year I ordained Cistercian Father Joseph Van House, the first monk to be ordained for the Abbey community since 1998. The three deacons ordained in August will be ordained to the priesthood next year. Five other young men are in formation either in Irving or in Rome.

Read the full article.

Vocations increase in India despite religious persecution, Catholic bishop reports

July 27, 2010

New Dehli, India (CNA) — Despite increased persecution, vocations to the priesthood in the north region of India are continuing to grow. Bishop Anthony Chirayath of Sagar Diocese in the state of Madhya Pradesh reported that the number of candidates to the priesthood in his diocese has been on the rise for the past decade.

“When the diocese started in 1968 as an exarchate there were only 600 Catholics and three priests – now we are (at) 35,” he told the news agency for the pastoral charity, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

India’s Minister for International Affairs reports that Madhya Pradesh had 654 religious-related violent incidents in 2009, the second-highest in the country.

Bishop Chirayath noted that it has taken courage for young people to step forward to serve in the Church in the face of violence and family circumstances. “They know, after (violence in) Orissa, that there are persecutions and these incidents – the killing of priests and sisters – are all known to every young man or woman.

“But in spite of that they come forward to be priests or sisters.”

“In some cases only - children come forward – it takes courage to proclaim Jesus to the non-Christian world, it is a challenge,” the bishop continued.

He noted that although many religious sisters have been attacked, sexually assaulted, or killed, young women too are answering their vocational calls.

“There are still plenty of vocations, God has blessed us,” commented Bishop Chirayath.

The bishop heads a diocese in the Syro-Malabar Church, an Eastern church in full communion with the Pope. Many vocations come from the southwestern state of Kerala where the Syro-Malabar community is particularly strong, ACN News reports.

“We are sons of Saint Thomas – part of a tradition of faith stretching back 2,000 years,” the bishop said. He credited both the prevalence of family devotions like the Rosary and youth involvement in social and religious activity as factors which encourage vocations.

Bishop Chirayath said that when he became bishop four years ago, the diocese lacked a minor seminary and students were placed under the parish priest.

The new St. Mary’s Minor Seminary, built a few miles from the bishop’s residence, can accommodate 15 students but currently has 25 minor seminarians living there. It has four classrooms, a library and small offices for teachers but still needs a chapel and a dining room.

The bishop called the minor seminary “an essential element in the formation of future priests.”

Prospective priests enter the minor seminary for three years after high school, before going through one year of intense spiritual formation at centers in neighboring dioceses. They then spend three years at the major seminary, where they receive intensive training in Hindi, English and basic theology. They also study to enter university so they can secure a philosophy degree.

ACN is providing more than $23,000 for the construction of the seminary chapel, which will be able to accommodate 60 people.

“In a proper chapel we can give them a proper liturgical formation – in a chapel where there is the Blessed Sacrament, a crucifix and so on,” Bishop Chirayath told ACN News, deeming a place of prayer to be “central.”

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“Pro-Choice” Quebec Priest Slams LifeSiteNews in Major Media Outlets

July 13, 2010

Editorial by John-Henry Westen

(LifeSiteNews.com) - Fr. Raymond Gravel, Canada’s infamous priest/politician who was ordered out of politics by Vatican pressure, has issued an open letter in Quebec’s daily Le Devoir in which he accuses LifeSiteNews of embarking on “an organized witch hunt” against him.  Today CBC French television interviewed me on the matter. I explained that at LifeSiteNews we have indeed been concerned with Fr. Gravel’s actions and statements, and that we care enough about him to voice objections to the harm he is causing, most seriously the harm to himself.

Fr. Gravel is an ordained Roman Catholic priest, and as such is duty-bound to teach and represent the faith which he professes.  Throughout his priesthood, however, he has decided instead to be a vocal critic of the Catholic Church’s teachings on homosexuality and abortion.  In pointing out these irregularities LifeSiteNews hoped and still hopes that Fr. Gravel may be corrected for his own good and for the good of the faithful who are scandalized and, more grievously, misled by his false teachings.

We should all live authentically, to represent faithfully what we profess. Although we may at times fall, failing in our resolve to uphold the high standards of Christianity, at least we can then acknowledge our faults and try to mend our ways, always maintaining the truth of the principles despite our weaknesses.

However, it is quite another thing to profess a religion and be ordained a representative of it and then misrepresent its teachings: to decide that a Church should be different, more to your personal tastes, and then to try to subversively change it from within.  It would be much better to be true to oneself and to reject the hypocrisy of claiming one reality and teaching another.  Either call yourself a Catholic and embrace the teachings of the Catholic Church or else join another community of faith and be true to its tenets.  There is honor in being true to one’s conscience in that way.

Fr. Gravel says LSN has taken it as a mission to have him condemned by Church authorities, and to this end “is unafraid of using lies and half-truths.”  Specifically, he accuses LSN of distorting his words and taking them out of context.

I can see that from Fr. Gravel’s perspective there could be a misunderstanding about what he reads on LifeSiteNews.  Fr. Gravel does not consider himself pro-abortion, but has said many times he is “pro-choice.” But for pro-life persons, there is no such thing as being “pro-choice,” since the “choice” being supported is the choice for abortion - the choice to murder an innocent unborn child.  That can never be an acceptable choice and is certainly not the choice of the child. Thus the pro-life movement recognizes the term “pro-choice” as the propaganda it truly is - propaganda invented by abortion advocates to mislead and to further their cause.

So, much like President Bill Clinton, who also claimed that he did not like abortion but wanted to keep it “safe, legal, and rare,” Fr. Gravel is at times referred to on LifeSiteNews as “pro-abortion”

But in Fr. Gravel’s eyes “pro-choice” is a ‘moderate’ position, where he neither likes abortion nor ever wishes to see it criminalized.  He says, in fact, in some of his articles, that he does not favour abortion - but he also defended the award of the Order of Canada to arch-abortionist Henry Morgentaler, which is a curious paradox.

As an example of LSN’s “biased analysis,” he cites a June 1st article treating an op-ed he wrote, in which he criticized Cardinal Ouellet after the prelate insisted that unborn life be protected by law, even in cases such as rape. In what he may see as a middle-ground approach, Fr. Gravel advocated ending the division between those who want all abortions banned and those who would treat abortion as a form of contraception.  He writes that men and women are meant “to give life, and abortion is certainly not the expression of this shared responsibility.”

But at the same time, he slams Cardinal Ouellet’s public defence of life by painting him as an extremist out of touch with Quebec society.  “As a Church, we ought not to impose our conception of life under penalty of excommunication or of exclusion,” he wrote.

In an interview with Radio-Canada about the cardinal’s stance on abortion in cases of rape, Fr. Gravel said of the Quebec City archbishop: “I find it deplorable that a man who is a cardinal, archbishop of Quebec, would hold views like these. It’s as if women were nothing and what is important is to save their fetus, however it was conceived. We are dealing with rape here.” (see the interview in French)

During the CBC interview this afternoon I learned that Fr. Gravel sees LSN as warring against him.  He is outraged at insulting emails which have come his way from those who have read our coverage.  To be fair, we should note that we deplore hostilely worded emails.  We deplore not only those sent to us, but also those sent to the likes of Fr. Gravel and pro-abortion politicians, since they do more harm than good.  An honest and charitable challenge to accept the truth is what will move hearts and minds, and we have encouraged such effective communications frequently on LSN.

But while Fr. Gravel professes outrage at nasty emails, he has issued a few of those himself.  A professor friend who wrote Fr. Gravel in French urging him to reform and also promising prayers, received a reply from Fr. Gravel.  “I do not accept being judged by idiots of your temper,” wrote the priest from the diocese of Jolliet.  As to the promise of prayers, Fr. Gravel replied: “You can keep your prayers for yourself. …  Pray for yourself; you need more than anyone…I pity you!”

On my part, I honestly do not feel any anger or hatred for Fr. Gravel. I also know that I’m not the one to mete out any discipline that he might merit because of his views. However, in the apparent absence of parents, sometimes younger siblings must sound the alarm that mayhem has broken out in the household.

So yes, LSN has followed closely the ecclesiastical career of Fr. Gravel.  Most bishops would have long-ago taken action to silence a publicly dissenting priest, particularly one who publicly denounces the nation’s leading prelate, as well the Vatican itself.   But there has never been a public correction of Fr. Gravel. Even after he was forced out of politics by direct Vatican pressure, he continued to hold prominence in his diocese.  Just recently he was appointed to train teachers of the faith (catechists) at the Cathedral.  That sessions begin August 28. This is concerning and inexplicable.

I have to wonder if Fr. Gravel would not come to see the truth of the Church’s teaching if he was authoritatively informed of it by his superiors.  For Bishop Gilles Lussier of the diocese of Joliette, it would be an act of love to correct the priest, and if he does not listen, then to remove him from office. After receiving the post of teacher of the faith at the Cathedral, is it any wonder Fr. Gravel should remain confused?
Contact Information:

Most Rev. Gilles Lussier
Bishop of Joliette
2, rue Saint-Charles-Borromée Nord
C.P. 470
Joliette, Québec J6E 6H6
Tel: (450) 753-7596
Fax: (450) 759-0929
E-mail: [email protected]

Archbishop Pedro López Quintana, Apostolic Nuncio to Canada
724 Manor Avenue
Ottawa, ON
KIM OE3,
Phone: (613) 746-4914
Fax: (613) 746-4786

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WNY Activist, Married Father of Eight Becomes Catholic Priest

June 14, 2010

HARRISBURG, PA (MetroCatholic) - Rev. Paul Schenck, pro-life activist and former Western New York pastor, was made a Roman Catholic priest on Saturday, June 12. Schenck was a pastor in the Reformed Episcopal Church after leaving the New Covenant Tabernacle, the Town of Tonawanda evangelical Church he founded, in 1994.
Paul and Rebecca Schenck have been married for 33 years and have 8 children. He was ordained a Catholic priest under a provision begun in 1980 by Pope John Paul II that allowed married men with families to be admitted to the priesthood. He is the first married priest for the central Pennsylvania Diocese. 
After leaving Western New York Schenck became the Executive Vice President of the American Center for Law and Justice, a Washington based public interest law firm with more than a dozen Supreme Court cases, including Schenck’s, to its credit.  In 1997 he moved to Baltimore and opened the National Pro-Life Center on Capitol Hill in Washington, and joined the Catholic Church in 2004. 
Today he is Director of the Respect Life Office for the Diocese of Harrisburg, PA and Chairman of the National Pro-Life Center.  He conducts pro-life work in Washington, DC, Annapolis, MD and Harrisburg, PA. Schenck celebrated his first Mass with his mother at St. Francis Home in Williamsville.

PRIESTS: ACCOMPANY HUMAN BEINGS ON THEIR JOURNEY

June 11, 2010

VATICAN CITY, 11 JUN 2010 (VIS) - Today, Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Holy Father presided at a Eucharistic concelebration in St. Peter’s Square to mark the close of the Year for Priests which was called to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the death of St. John Mary Vianney, the holy “Cure of Ars”.

The Eucharist was concelebrated by cardinals and bishops of the Roman Curia, as well as by more than fifteen thousand priests from all over the world. The Holy Father consecrated the wine in the same chalice as that used by St. John Mary Vianney, which is conserved in Ars.

In his homily the Pope noted how the Year for Priests was celebrated to ensure “a renewed appreciation of the grandeur and beauty of the priestly ministry. The priest is not a mere office-holder. … Rather, he does something which no human being can do of his own power: in Christ’s name he speaks the words which absolve us of our sins and in this way he changes, starting with God, our entire life. Over the offerings of bread and wine he speaks Christ’s words of thanksgiving, … which open the world to God and unite it to Him. The priesthood, then, is not simply ‘office’ but Sacrament”.

“This audacity of God Who entrusts Himself to human beings (Who, conscious of our weaknesses, nonetheless considers men capable of acting and being present in His stead) this audacity of God is the true grandeur concealed in the word ‘priesthood’. …This is what we wanted to reflect upon and appreciate anew over the course of the past year. We wanted to reawaken our joy at how close God is to us, … we also wanted to demonstrate once again to young people that this vocation, this fellowship of service for God and with God, does exist”.

“It was to be expected that this new radiance of the priesthood would not be pleasing to the ‘enemy’; he would have rather preferred to see it disappear, so that God would ultimately be driven out of the world. And so it happened that, in this very year of joy for the Sacrament of the priesthood, the sins of priests came to light - particularly the abuse of the little ones. … We too insistently beg forgiveness from God and from the persons involved, while promising to do everything possible to ensure that such abuse will never occur again; and that in admitting men to priestly ministry and in their formation we will do everything we can to weigh the authenticity of their vocation and make every effort to accompany priests along their journey”.

“Had the Year for Priests been a glorification of our individual human performance, it would have been ruined by these events. But for us what happened was precisely the opposite: we grew in gratitude for God’s gift, a gift concealed in ‘earthen vessels’ which ever anew, even amid human weakness, makes His love concretely present in this world. So let us look upon all that happened as a summons to purification, as a task which we bring to the future and which makes us acknowledge and love all the more the great gift we have received from God. In this way, His gift becomes a commitment to respond to God’s courage and humility by our own courage and our own humility”.

The Pope continued his homily by commenting on Psalm 23 - “The Lord is my shepherd” - which forms part of today’s liturgy. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want”, said Benedict XVI. “God personally looks after me, after us, after all mankind. I am not abandoned, adrift in the universe and in a society which leaves me ever more lost and bewildered. … The world’s religions, as far as we can see, have always known that in the end there is only one God. But this God was distant. … There was still a recognition that the world presupposes a Creator. Yet this God, after making the world, had evidently withdrawn from it. The world itself had a certain set of laws by which it ran, and God did not, could not, intervene in them”. However, “wherever God’s loving concern is perceived as getting in the way, human beings go awry. … God wants us, as priests, in one tiny moment of history, to share His concern about people. As priests, we want to be persons who share His concern for men and women, who take care of them and provide them with a concrete experience of God’s concern”.

“We should strive to ‘know’ men and women as God does and for God’s sake; we should strive to walk with them along the path of friendship with God. … The shepherd points out the right path to those entrusted to him. He goes before them and leads them. Let us put it differently: the Lord shows us the right way to be human. He teaches us the art of being a person. What must I do in order not to fall, not to squander my life in meaninglessness? This is precisely the question which every man and woman must ask, and one which remains valid at every moment of one’s life. How much darkness surrounds this question in our own day! We are constantly reminded of the words of Jesus, Who felt compassion for the crowds because they were like a flock without a shepherd”.

“The people of Israel continue to be grateful to God because in the Commandments He pointed out the way of life. … God has shown us the way and how to walk aright. The message of the Commandments was synthesised in the life of Jesus and became a living model. Thus we understand that these rules from God are not chains, but the way which He is pointing out to us. … By walking with Christ, we experience the joy of Revelation, and as priests we need to communicate to others our own joy at the fact that we have been shown the right way”.

Explaining the Psalm’s reference to the “darkest valley”, Benedict XVI pointed out that this can refer to death where, however, the Lord will not abandon us. Yet, “when speaking of the darkest valley, we can also think of the dark valleys of temptation, discouragement and trial through which everyone has to pass. Even in these dark valleys of life He is there. … Help us priests, so that we can remain beside the persons entrusted to us in these dark nights. So that we can show them your own light”, he said.

“‘Your rod and your staff - they comfort me’: the shepherd needs the rod as protection against savage beasts ready to pounce on the flock; against robbers looking for prey. Along with the rod there is the staff which gives support and helps to make difficult crossings. … The Church too must use the shepherd’s rod, the rod with which she protects the faith against those who falsify it, against currents which lead the flock astray. The use of the rod can actually be a service of love. Today we can see that it has nothing to do with love when conduct unworthy of the priestly life is tolerated. Nor is it love if heresy is allowed to spread and the faith twisted and chipped away, as if it were something that we ourselves had invented. As if it were no longer God’s gift, the precious pearl which we cannot let be taken from us. Even so, the rod must always become once again the shepherd’s staff - a staff which helps men and women to tread difficult paths and to follow the Lord”.

The Psalm closes with a reference to the “table set”, to “dwelling in the house of the Lord”. In these words, said the Holy Father, “we see a kind of prophetic foreshadowing of the mystery of the Eucharist, in which God Himself makes us His guests and offers Himself to us as food - as that bread and fine wine which alone can definitively sate man’s hunger and thirst. How can we not rejoice that one day we will be guests at the very table of God? … How can we not rejoice that He has enabled us to set God’s table for men and women, to give them His Body and His Blood, to offer them the precious gift of His very presence”.

Finally, the Pope commented on the two communion antiphons which recount the lance thrust in Jesus’ side which caused blood and water to come out. This, the Pope explained, recalls “the two fundamental Sacraments by which the Church lives: Baptism and the Eucharist. From the Lord’s pierced side, from His open heart, there springs the living fountain which continues to well up over the centuries and which makes the Church. The open heart is the source of a new stream of life”.

“Every Christian and every priest should become, starting from Christ, a wellspring which gives life to others. We ought to be offering life-giving water to a parched and thirsty world. Lord”, the Holy Father concluded, “we thank you because for our sake you opened your heart; because in your death and in your resurrection you became the source of life. Give us life, make us live from you as our source, and grant that we too may be sources, wellsprings capable of bestowing the water of life in our time. We thank you for the grace of the priestly ministry. Lord bless us, and bless all those who in our time are thirsty and continue to seek”.

Actor of VIANNEY Drama Rejoices at News of Pope Benedict’s Proclamation

June 10, 2010

VANCOUVER, Wash. (MetroCatholic) — There are likely few people who can confidently state that they have experienced the Year for Priests more intensely than most. Perhaps most surprisingly, it was not a priest. Acclaimed actor Leonardo Defilippis of Saint Luke Productions ( http://stlukeproductions.com/) is that man, the star of the theatrical one-man, live drama VIANNEY (http://vianneydrama.com/) which has been on a successful nationwide tour since August of 2009. An actor, husband and family man, Defilippis clearly understands why Pope Benedict XVI will proclaim St. John Vianney as the patron of all priests at the ceremonies marking the finale to the Year for Priests in Rome.

In just ten short months, Defilippis brought the riveting story of John Vianney, the priest who valiantly battled the devil to save souls, face-to-face with audiences which now total 80,000 — making it one of the most popular plays in the country. And in theatrical numbers, that is something to note. Not only did church goers turn out in record numbers, but bishops, priests, seminarians and religious orders did so as well, which was unprecedented. Beyond the numbers and the focus on priests, there was another undercurrent moving - Defilippis witnessed the fruits of the Year for Priests firsthand, and what he experienced was unexpected.

When Defilippis would routinely offer a few remarks following the show which included asking audiences to be grateful for and to pray for their priests, the people cheered in long, standing ovations. “They were cheering for their priests and they were cheering for John Vianney. At times, it was difficult to get them to settle down,” Defilippis added. When they saw this example of a priest through the portrayal of VIANNEY, it touched on a hunger deep inside — the bottom line is that they want that kind of priest. People want to have a pastor who will truly sacrifice his life — beyond all comfort and concern for himself.

The itinerant actor who also spent himself, often working 18 hours days with traveling and performing, got a taste of that sacrifice, but it was worth it. He believes that this infusion of fervor and zeal which he witnessed firsthand is exactly what is lacking today and, this may just prove to be the proverbial ’shot in the arm’ which the priesthood needs. “Pope Benedict XVI knows the root of the solution to the problems of the priesthood — it can be found in John Vianney himself. He is the boldest defense of the priesthood.” In fact, many do not realize that upon proclaiming the Year for Priests, the Pope clearly stated that he chose this year in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the death of this beloved saint “to deepen the commitment of all priests to interior renewal for the sake of a more forceful and incisive witness to the Gospel in today’s world.”

It turned out that St. John Vianney was not very well known to many in the pews, pulpit or press, so the timing of the live drama was right on target. VIANNEY became an inspiration to priests who were deeply moved, some to tears. Parishioners discovered a new appreciation for the priesthood and felt a renewed sense of importance to earnestly pray for their priests. In many locations, the VIANNEY drama became tied to a larger spiritual event, incorporating the Sacraments of Eucharistic Adoration and Confession, a unique phenomenon never witnessed before in association with a drama.

This fast-paced production also had a tremendous attraction for the youth. Young people loved the story of a true hero willing to sacrifice for a cause worth fighting, especially against the terrifying image of the devil, a real satanic presence that appeared consistently to provoke Vianney. Young ladies were also quite drawn to the major character of St. Philomena who represents hope and purity to counterbalance the evil in the world.

VIANNEY ( http://vianneydrama.com/) also became a tool for vocations. Defilippis states, “It became almost routine to expect a young man to approach me afterwards and indicate that he felt the calling to discern the priesthood.” Father Jerry Vinke, Director of Vocations in the Diocese of Lansing called the production “a great boost for vocations.” He added, “As some young man told me afterward, ‘how could you not think about the priesthood after watching (the play).’”

Defilippis is grateful to have made a unique contribution to this jubilee year. “Bringing sanctity to the performing arts is so important for our times and this moving production has the real potential to strengthen and convert the people — that’s the beauty of live drama. So let us pray as thousands of priests gather from all points across the globe at the Vatican to offer solidarity to the Catholic priesthood with Pope Benedict XVI. This will be a sight to long remember, when a simple and once unlikely-to succeed pastor of the past will be held up forever for his holiness, his sacrifice and his perseverance against all odds. St. John Vianney truly speaks to our modern world.”

VIANNEY ( http://vianneydrama.com/) will continue on tour in the U.S., Canada, and internationally for another year. There has even been interest from Rome to perform at several venues in the future, and for the Holy Father himself. For a complete list of performance locations, and for information on bringing this professional production to your church or community, visit www.vianneydrama.com or call 1-800-683-2998.

Catholic Clergy Thank Pope for Year of Priests

June 10, 2010

HARRISBURG, Penn., (MetroCatholic) — As the Year for Priests comes to a close, the members of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy wish to express our deepest thanks and gratitude to Pope Benedict XVI. His decision to dedicate these past twelve months to those of us in Holy Orders has been an enormous blessing for clergy and laity alike, both in the local and in the universal church. Despite the aftermath of public scandals and private disappointments, priests around the world have been affirmed and encouraged by the love and affection the faithful still show for their beloved clergy.

The priests and deacons of the CCC enthusiastically renew our consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of the Clergy and renew our pledge of total fidelity to the Magisterium and filial obedience to the Roman Pontiff, our beloved Supreme Pastor and Universal Shepherd. We furthermore, pledge our total commitment to ongoing spiritual, theological, pastoral and human formation in fraternal support of one another so we may better serve the people under our care. We invite all priests and deacons to join and participate in national and diocesan associations of the clergy specifically created to help and encourage its members to seek personal holiness and improve their ministry to others.

We ask all our ordained brothers around the world to join us in giving thanks for the person and the Petrine Ministry of Our Holy Father. He has endured many trials and obstacles yet has never tired in his zeal for souls or in his intense love of the Church.

We promise to support our bishops in their service to the local church by assisting them in their apostolic call to teach, sanctify and shepherd the People of God.

We ask our colleagues to join us in thanking Almighty God for the awesome gift of Holy Orders and for the invaluable and precious treasure of the people whose souls we are commissioned to protect, nourish, enlighten and uplift on this pilgrimage of life. We ask that Catholics everywhere, as faithful sons and daughters of God, will continue to pray for vocations to the priesthood and diaconate and that the clergy they are sent will always act and be their very best since they deserve nothing less.

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