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Postings by Joel Schorn

Brother Paul Quenon, Trappist monk and poet

Posted by: Joel Schorn   🕔 Monday 09, May 2011 Categories: 
Brother Paul
BROTHER PAUL, O.C.S.O. at Gethsemani Abbey
Brother Paul Quenon, a Trappist monk of the Abbey of Gethsemani in northern Kentucky and a poet who was inspired to write by his mentor and fellow monk Thomas Merton, says, “The purpose of the monastic life in the modern world is to show that we don’t need a purpose. The purpose of life is life.” See a profile of Brother Paul at Religion & Ethics Newsweekly.

Project launched to address vocations and educational debt

Posted by: Joel Schorn   🕔 Friday 06, May 2011 Categories: Vocation and Discernment

The first meeting of the working group of the National Religious Vocation Conference (NRVC) Educational Debt and Vocations Project took place at the provincial office of the Franciscan Friars, Holy Name Province, in New York City. (The NRVC is a copublisher of the VISION Vocation Guide and VISION website.)

The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation has awarded a $50,000 grant to the NRVC for the study. The goals of the project are:

• To assess the extent educational debt is hindering vocations to religious life; and

• To produce resources that will help address the problem of educational debt as it relates to vocations for various constituencies, including religious congregations, support organizations for vocations and religious communities, philanthropic organizations, and those considering life as a religious sister, brother, or priest.

NRVC Debt Study
A main impetus for the debt study was the finding in the 2009 NRVC/Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) Study on Recent Vocations to Religious Life in the United States that the average age of those entering religious life is 30 and that most entrants are college educated. In addition, feedback provided in the NRVC’s regular vocation trends surveys on indicates that debt has played a role in candidates’ readiness or eligibility for religious life. This project is timely also because the secular press is increasingly reporting on the growing issue of the overwhelming debt today’s college graduates face.

NRVC will contract with CARA to survey religious institutes regarding their policies, practices, and experience of working with candidates with student loan issues. After the survey results NRVC will develop resources for religious institutes, their treasurers and vocation directors, as well as for those who are discerning religious life.

Holy Cross Brother Paul Bednarczyk, C.S.C., NRVC executive director, is hopeful that the “study will better equip religious congregations to work with candidates who have student loans so that student loan debt isn’t an obstacle to religious vocations and the call to consecrated life.”

13 Polish Dominicans make solemn profession

Posted by: Joel Schorn   🕔 Wednesday 04, May 2011 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy

The Dominican Order of Preachers Vocations blog reports that the growth of vocations in the Dominicans extends to Poland, where 13 friars took their solemn vows in Krakow. Their priory was founded by the early Dominican Saint Hyacinth and has been in continual use since the beginning of the order in the 13th century.
Polish Dominicans
THE POLISH DOMINICAN friars who recently made their solemn profession of vows.

Stepping Up the Call Pilgrimage for Vocations

Posted by: Joel Schorn   🕔 Monday 02, May 2011 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life

This Saturday, May 7, the 8th annual “Stepping Up the Call: Pilgrimage for Vocations” will step off at 8:30 a.m. from the Maria Stein Center of the Sisters of the Precious Blood, 2291 St. John's Rd., Maria Stein, OH. The event is a fun and healthy spiritually-based day that has drawn hundreds of participants of all ages from a multistate area who walk (or ride) to area churches and shrines, prayer, talks, benediction, snacks and lunch, and closing Mass, finishing at 4 p.m.
Stepping Up
Missionaries and Sisters of the Precious Blood
and the Archdiocese of Cincinnati organize
an annual eight-mile vocation pilgrimage.
(Look for an article on “Stepping Up the Call” and other pilgrimages in the upcoming [out in August] issue of the VISION Catholic Religious Vocation Discernment Guide.)

For more information, contact Sr. Carolyn Hoying, C.P.P.S., 937-231-1244, or Fr. Vince Wirtner, C.P.P.S,

Learn more about the Sisters of the Precious Blood and the Missionaries of the Precious Blood

Survey of new priests in U.S. affirms the value of Catholic education and service

Posted by: Joel Schorn   🕔 Wednesday 27, April 2011 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy

A new survey of those ordained to the priesthood in 2011 in the U.S. show they are younger and influenced by parish priests, Catholic education, service as altar boys, and social and church environments.

The Class of 2011: Survey of Ordinands to the Priesthood is an annual national survey of men being ordained priests for U.S. dioceses and religious communities. The study also includes information on the ages, education, ethnicity and country of origin, and other characteristics of the newly ordained’s backgrounds.

Fake nuns help real nuns make a movie

Posted by: Joel Schorn   🕔 Tuesday 26, April 2011 Categories: 

Late Nite Catechism
The Daughters of St. Paul will benefit from a special Late Nite Catechism performance.

The funds raised will be used to make a film about the Daughters founder, Blessed James Alberione, S.S.P.

Learn more about the Daughters of St. Paul.

Spare some time for the 20-Minute Novitiate

Posted by: Joel Schorn   🕔 Thursday 21, April 2011 Categories: Clergy

Saint Meinrad Abbey

The novitiate is the period of time when new members of religious orders learn the spirit and work of their community, its history, and way of life.

Father Harry Hagan, O.S.B. of Saint Meinrad Archabbey in St. Meinrad, Indiana has put together an online 20-Minute Novitiate in which he talks about six hallmarks of the monastic life in order to present an overview of the life:

1. The Rule and the Tradition;
2. Stability;
3. Fidelity to the Monastic Life;
4. Obedience;
5. Prayer and Work;
6. Hospitality.

Learn more about the Benedictine Monks of Saint Meinrad Archabbey.

Brother Luke's paintings show the depth of his talent

Posted by: Joel Schorn   🕔 Wednesday 13, April 2011 Categories: Vocation and Discernment

an acrylic in the Byzantine style
commissioned by a Philadelphia parish
On the VISION Vocation-Network and in VISION magazine we frequently talk about the various talents and life experiences people bring to religious life—and continue to cultivate once there. Recently I came across the story of Brother Luke (Pape) of the Benedictine Monastery of Mount Saviour in Pine City, New York, who passed away at the age of 92 last summer.

In the 1930's, before becoming a monk, Brother Luke earned a living as a bookkeeper and took dance classes in the evening at the wonderfully named Boris Volkoff School, which performed at a festival in Berlin in 1936 in conjunction with the Olympics. He served in the Canadian army medical corps in Europe in World War II and after the war studied art at the Central School of Art in London and then became an interior designer, helping the National Ballet of Canada as a costume designer. In 1952 he entered Mount Saviour and among other activities continued his art studies and painting, taking up subjects like portraits, landscapes, farm scenes, buildings, and flowers.

A PAINTING Brother Luke completed at the age of 90.

Learn more about the Benedictine Monks of Mount Savior Monastery.

Monk's children's book wins Christopher Award

Posted by: Joel Schorn   🕔 Monday 04, April 2011 Categories: Clergy

Known for his cookbooks and public television cooking shows, Benedictine Father Dominic Garramone is now an award-winning children's author. His Brother Jerome and the Angels in the Bakery, which tells the story of a monk who struggles to make a success out of a new bakery and relies on faith in God to see him through, won a Christopher Award in the "Books for Young People" category.

The Christopher Awards recognize TV programming, feature films, and books for adults and children that "affirm the highest values of the human spirit."

Father Garramone is a priest and monk of St, Bede Abbey in Peru, Illinois.

The "Word is God" at Shakespeare's theatre

Posted by: Joel Schorn   🕔 Tuesday 29, March 2011 Categories: 

King James
William Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London is calling its 2011 season "The Word is God" and will mark the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible with a cover-to-cover reading between Palm Sunday, April 17 and Easter Monday, April 25, reports Ecumenical News International. That's a total of about 3.5 million words.

The King James Version of the Bible, named after King James I of England, who called for a new translation of scripture from the original Greek and Hebrew, was first published in 1611 and underwent major revisions in in the 18th and 19th centuries. The 1885 "Revised Edition" was the basis of the 1901 American Standard Version which in turn became the Revised and New Revised Standard version, one of the most widely used Bibles in the English-speaking world.

Obama visits Oscar Romero's tomb

Posted by: Joel Schorn   🕔 Friday 25, March 2011 Categories: 
A story that flew under the radar—at least for me—was President Obama's visit to the tomb of slain El Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero during his recent Latin American trip. Here's an item from the Catholic News Service blog.
PRESIDENT OBAMA with Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes
and San Salvador Archbishop Jose Escobar
in the San Salvador cathedral crypt
where Archbishop Romero is buried (photo: CNS).

Brothers of Charity: 47 new Nairobi novices

Posted by: Joel Schorn   🕔 Wednesday 23, March 2011 Categories: Vocation and Discernment

Last month the Congregation of the Brothers of Charity accepted no fewer than 47 postulants from 11 different African countries into its international novitiate in Nairobi, Kenya. The event comes on the centenary of the departure of the first Belgian Brothers of Charity missionaries for the then Belgian Congo, beginning the Brothers' presence in Africa.
Brothers of Charity
AFRICAN BROTHERS of Charity enter novitiate
on February 26, 2011
The Brothers of Charity serve in 30 countries, where in addition to education they care for the mentally ill and persons with disabilities.

Parish vocation committees encourage local culture of vocation

Posted by: Joel Schorn   🕔 Tuesday 22, March 2011 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy,Consecrated Life

In 2010 Father Andrew Torma, M.S.C., vocation director for the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, formed two parish vocation committees in parishes the M.S.C.’s serve. The purpose of these committees is to reach out to parents and others in the local church to assume the responsibility of supporting young men and women who hear a call to serve God, the church, and others by becoming a religious brother or sister or through ordained ministry.

The process includes asking the pastor to identify and encourage 12-15 people who would have an interest in learning about the need for a vocation committee. Father Torma makes a presentation to them explaining the importance of forming a “culture of vocation” in the parish to inspire young men and women to consider consecrated life. The committee brainstorms possible parish activities to promote a vocation culture and chooses two or three activities to be implemented in the parish immediately.

Finally Torma asks three people to be the committee for three years, with a chairperson for two years. This committee can add members as they are able to recruit others from their parish. After the meeting Torma sends the committee ideas and keeps in contact with them to encourage their work.

Sister brings natural healing to Brazilians

Posted by: Joel Schorn   🕔 Thursday 17, March 2011 Categories: Consecrated Life
Sister Elma Barbara Klafke of the Bernardine Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis, Reading, Pennsylvania works in Brazil and belongs to the Health Pastoral Group in Dom Feliciano, Brazil. The group cultivates medicinal herbs which they offer to sick people during visits.

Online visit to the Sistine Chapel

Posted by: Joel Schorn   🕔 Thursday 10, March 2011 Categories: 


In this blog (9/13/10) we posted an item about the effect the tons of visitors have on the Sistine Chapel. With the post was a video by a tourist who described the place as "gorgeous but  . . . . they pack in tons of people and it is very loud and very hot.”

Here are, then, for you digital tourists, from the hopefully climate-controlled comfort of wherever you are, the Vatican's interactive views of the Chapel - no people, high resolution, and ethereal background choir music to boot. (Warning: Navigating the image may make you a little woozy.)

Boerne Benedictines open House of Prayer

Posted by: Joel Schorn   🕔 Wednesday 09, March 2011 Categories: Consecrated Life

The Benedictine Sisters of St. Scholastica Monastery in Boerne, Texas recently completed their new House of Prayer near the existing Omega Retreat Center on their grounds in Boerne. This spiritual haven is already being used for private and directed retreats.

For more information about retreats at the House of Prayer, please contact Sister Frances Briseño, O.S.B., Omega Outreach Director, at 830-816-8470. Sister Kathleen Higgins, O.S.B. is the community’s director of vocations, 830-816-8504.

A (church) sign of the times

Posted by: Joel Schorn   🕔 Monday 07, March 2011 Categories: 

When the “Blizzard of ’11” hit the Chicago area in early February, Father Chris Gustafson, pastor of Our Lady of Ransom in suburban Niles, was ready. He changed the message on the church's outdoor sign to read: “Whoever is praying for snow, please stop.”

Earlier this month, reports Katie Drews in the Chicago Sun-Times, the message was: “Under same management for 2,000 years.” He next plans to run: “Stop, drop, and roll doesn’t work in hell.”

ANOTHER SIGN—this one more permanent—
at Our Lady of Ransom

“My experience in life is that little things like that can be enough,” Gustafson said. “If somebody’s having a hard time . . . it’s a little tool that can hopefully reach them.”

And apparently it does. According to Donald Seitz, who has authored three books on church signs in the U.S., “Usually in 10 words or less, they are communicating a very powerful message to someone who, at the most, has 10 seconds to read it and drive by,” he said. “But those messages seem to have an impact for a long duration. They encourage us to live better lives and to pray more often.”

Sister helps in Haiti

Posted by: Joel Schorn   🕔 Thursday 03, March 2011 Categories: Consecrated Life

Sister Lorraine Malo, a Sister of St. Joseph of Toronto, is in Haiti working with children injured by the earthquake and also helping in other ways. She was interviewed on a recent edition of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio program Tapestry.

"And the Oscar goes to . . . ."

Posted by: Joel Schorn   🕔 Monday 28, February 2011 Categories: 
Three movie-watchers discuss the moral, ethical, religious, and spiritual themes they saw in some of this year’s Academy Award nominees, on Religion & Ethics Newsweekly.

National Vocation Plan ready

Posted by: Joel Schorn   🕔 Sunday 27, February 2011 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy,Consecrated Life
Last September the Moving Forward in Hope Project, initiated by National Religious Vocation Conference and funded by the GHR Foundation, met to study in depth the NRVC/CARA study on recent vocations to consecrated life, and to develop a strategic plan of concrete action steps to promote new membership in religious communities. The resulting National Vocation Plan is now available. To see both the plan and the original study, go to


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