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2012 Posts

Holy fruitcake!

Posted by:   🕔 Tuesday 18, December 2012 Categories: Clergy
Last week it was fudge, now it's fruitcake. Just in time for your last-minute holiday shopping: An Associated Press vid about the fruitcake-making Trappist monks of Assumption Abbey in Ava, Missouri. These monks were featured in a VISION article, so once again we were ahead of the curve.

"Oh, fudge! What do I do about my student-loan debt?"

Posted by:   🕔 Friday 07, December 2012 Categories: Clergy,Consecrated Life
With the holiday season revving up—and I've already had my annual viewing of the stop-action-animation version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer so Christmastime has officially begun as far as I'm concerned ("Why weren't you at elf practice?!")—thoughts turn to both sweet eats and gifts, and we here at VISION know of a perfect way to combine them: fudge—particularly fudge made by people in religious communities. But first a question: What do fudge, student-loan debt, and a religious vocation have in common?
SOME OF Kendall Ketterlin's fudge.
I've tried it and it's darned good.
Kendall Ketterlin knows the answer. He's using one to take care of another and get him to the third: selling his holiday fudge to help pay his student loans and allow him to enter the Order of the Carmelites, Province of the Most Pure Heart of Mary—where he is currently in the pre-novitiate—debt-free. (BTW, Kendall is featured in the 2013 issue of the VISION Catholic Religious Vocation Discernment Guide as someone who used VISION's VocationMatch to help him discern his vocation.) (Another BTW: According to a recent Pew Research Center study, almost 20 percent of U.S. households carry college debt.)

He's not the only person connected to religious life who's making and selling fudge these days. While the Hermits of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel in Christoval, Texas don't make carmels, they do make fudge. So do the Brigittine Monks of the Priory of Our Lady of Consolation in Amity, Oregon. Also doing fudge are a number of Trappist men's and women's communities: the sisters of Mount Saint Mary’s Abbey in Wrentham, Mass. as well as the men of the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky and of Holy Spirit Monastery in Conyers, GA. Note: Lots of communities make sweets and many other good things to eat, and if I've left out any other fudge-makers, my apologies, and please let me know (like in a comment to this post)!

Look Who's Tweeting Now

Posted by:   🕔 Monday 03, December 2012 Categories:

The secret’s out. Recently, Pope Benedict XVI joined the Tweeting bandwagon and has created his own personal Twitter account @pontifex. If you have ever wondered what it would be like to tweet at the Pope now is your chance.  Reuters reports that Pope Benedict already has 1.2 billion "followers" but next week he will have another type when he enters what for any 85-year old is the brave new world of Twitter.

The Vatican said on Monday that the pope will start tweeting officially on December 12.

"The Pope’s twitter name is a good one. It means 'pope' and it also means 'bridge builder'," said Greg Burke, senior media advisor to the Vatican.

According to the Vatican, the pope’s tweets won’t be about which sports team he wants to see win or how his day is going, rather their focus is to be spiritual and offer his “followers” the opportunity to connect with Christ on a deeper level.

The first papal tweets will be answers to questions sent to #askpontifex and these tweets will be going out in Spanish, English, Italian, Portuguese, German, Polish, Arabic and French.

Primarily the tweets will come from the contents of his weekly general audience, Sunday blessings and homilies on major Church holidays. They will also include reaction to major world events. Benedict will be pushing the button on his first tweet on December 12 but in the future most will be written by aides and he will sign off on them.

First Native American saint honored in California

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Thursday 29, November 2012 Categories: Consecrated Life,Mission & Evangelization

On Oct.21, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI canonized seven saints, including the first Native American to be so honored, Kateri Tekakwitha, known as the "Lily of the Mohawks." Many grateful attendees witnessed the long-awaited canonization ceremony in St. Peter's Square.

According to a report in Southern California weekly newspaper The Tidings, St. Francis Xavier Church in Burbank honored the new saint with a Mass and post-liturgy mini powwow. The City of the Angels Kateri Circle organized the event and continues (since 1980) to promote Native American evangelization and the mission of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha.

Members of the Daughters of St. Paul were present at the celebration in Burbank with a copy of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha: Courageous Faith, their new book dedicated to the life of the first Native American saint--a gift they gave to Pope Benedict XVI at the canonization ceremony.

Carmelite community resources online

Posted by:   🕔 Friday 16, November 2012 Categories: Clergy,Consecrated Life

The current issue of VISION Magazine has an article on "What does it mean to be a Carmelite?", available here and here. Author Pat Morrison has provided some addtional Carmelite resources.

Individual monasteries of Discalced Carmelite nuns listed under their respective associations:
Carmelite Communities Associated
Mary Queen of Carmel Association
St. Teresa Association

Communities of friars located under their province listings:
Washington Province
Oklahoma Province
Western Province
Order of Carmelites (Friars)

Social Media used to help Catholic teachings come alive for youths

Posted by:   🕔 Tuesday 16, October 2012 Categories:

God must have a few tricks up his sleeve it seems these days. Last week we had some wonderful news about an increase in vocations and vocational awareness and now this week we have added young people into that mix. I came across another interesting and amazing article about using social media to reach out to teens and young people. Recently, the diocese of Wheeling-Charleston in West Virginia has launched “Video Catechism for Teens”—a free online resource for youths and young adults. The site ( became available Oct. 11 to coincide with the start of the Year of Faith, instituted by Pope Benedict XVI. The yearlong program of worship, catechesis and evangelization runs to Nov. 24, 2013.

While reading this article found on CNS, I was actually quite excited to see that the Church, in general, is trying to do more for young people. I know that often (myself included in this mix) can struggle with understanding some of the things the Church puts forth. I have that the more questions I ask and the more information I gather, I have come to the conclusion that I have the ability to determine the right choices for me and my faith.

Bob Perron, executive director of the diocese's Department of Youth Ministry stated that, "We wanted to do something where we could help our kids become better catechized, but we knew we had to do it in a different, new kind of format." That format offers young people a four-minute video each month on the site that provides a dramatization of teachings from the "Catechism of the Catholic Church," presented in a way that is relevant to them and will help them understand how they may apply the teachings in their own lives. The dramatizations illustrate experiences and issues that young people face in their own lives and how they can find God in today's culture.

­­I know sometimes young people have felt pushed aside by the Church or felt that they Church doesn’t seem to relate well to what our generation is going through, and my hope is that this new resource will help us (teens and young adults) see how important we are in the Church.

Vocations are trending

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Wednesday 10, October 2012 Categories:


FIRST, a story put out by Catholic News Service on how religious communities are using social networking in their vocation promotion.

Highlights from the article include this VISION mention:

Trinitarian Brother Josh Warshak of Baltimore credited Vision with giving him the information he needed in deciding what type of religious life was for him, and he would recommend it to any "discerner."

"I tell people Vision is kind of like eHarmony for those who have a religious vocation, it matches up your personality with the order that fits you best," he said.

Before finding Vision, Brother Josh was focused on becoming a priest but didn't have access to much advice about the topic. "Vision showed me that there are so many other things," he said, which led him to his community, the Order of the Most Holy Trinity.

Thanks, Br. Josh, for that great endorsement!

SECOND, the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) recently published Consideration of Priesthood and Religious Life Among Never-Married U.S. Catholics, a study on potential candidates to religious life, which extrapolates from the study findings that roughly 350,000 never-married men and 250,000 never married women have seriously considered religious life.That's good news!

Here, according to the CARA study--and regular VISION trend surveys--are some areas that are fertile grounds for religous vocations:
  • Catholic schools--primary schools for women; secondary schools for men
  • Participation in parish youth groups
  • Encouragement from others
Hmm... parents, parishes, directors of religious education, youth ministers, campus ministers . . . we're counting on you. Please let us know what more we can do to help you help the church promote and encourage Catholic vocations.

THIRD, in a follow up to the CARA study, VISION and the NRVC got a nice mention in the National Catholic Register.

One thing about religious vocations is for certain: The past decade has seen a resurgence of interest in religious life.
“Overall, there’s definitely been an increase in inquiries about religious life over the last eight years,” said Patrice Tuohy, executive editor of the Vision vocation guide, a publication of the National Religious Vocation Conference. “The Internet has helped to increase awareness and inquiries.”
Tuohy said that they receive an average of 250,000 unique visitors to their website annually. She estimated that 30,000 of those are seriously considering a religious vocation. And 6,000 annually fill out the website’s “Vocation Match” tool. The majority of those are under the age of 30.
“There are many who continue to be attracted to religious life,” said Tuohy. “There are three things we know, based on the 2009 CARA/NRVC study on religious vocations, about those entering religious life today: We know that they are very interested in communal living, prayer and Catholic identity.”


Posted by:   🕔 Tuesday 02, October 2012 Categories:
I am not sure how many of you remember Pop-Up Videos on MTV or VH1 but here at VISION, we have created our own version of the so called “Pop-Up video.”

For those who visit our page, we now have formed a new “Featured Video” link on our website’s main banner. If you click on this new feature, it will take you to featured VISION Videos. 

We have a whole list of wonderful vocation videos produced by VISION or by participating religious communities who are current sponsors of the VISION Vocation Network. These videos are very informative and great resources if you are discerning a vocation. Our VISION-produced videos feature articles from VISION magazine and the blog “Questions Catholics Ask."

Make sure you check out our YouTube channel as well, and “subscribe” to our page to receive updates on new videos. 

Film documents post-Katrina response of New Orleans sisters

Posted by:   🕔 Friday 28, September 2012 Categories: Church History,Consecrated Life,Mission & Evangelization

WHEN Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, six Catholic communities of religious women lost not only convents, chapels, cars, and motherhouses but also buildings housing ministries that served the people of the city—high schools, daycare sites, community centers, senior nursing home facilities, and others. The story of the dilemma the sisters faced between remaining and rebuilding or ministering elsewhere is told in a new documentary, We Shall Not Be Moved: The Catholic Sisters of New Orleans.

The communities the film profiled (some of whom can be found in VISION)—the Ursuline Sisters, the Congregation of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the Sisters of the Holy Family of New Orleans, the Marianites of Holy Cross, the Congregation of St. Joseph, and the Society of St. Teresa of Jesus (Teresian Sisters)—have served in the New Orleans area for an average of 175 years, the oldest for 285 years.

“This analysis elevates the program . . . to a complex and fascinating journey with religious women who faced an uncertain personal and public future,” said Sister of St. Francis of Sylvania, Ohio Judith Ann Zielinski, O.S.F., the film’s writer and producer for NewGroup Media in South Bend, Indiana. “Their choices were not uniform, simple, or immediate; ultimately, however, all six congregations . . . reconfirmed their commitment to the city and its people,” she said.

The SC Ministry Foundation in Cincinnati coordinated the film project and received funding from the Assembly of Catholic Foundations and other Catholic foundations and congregations of women religious.

“I have had the privilege of witnessing the faith, hope, and love of these women religious in New Orleans since 2005,” said Sister of Charity of Cincinnati Sally Duffy, S.C., president and executive director of the SC Ministry Foundation and an executive producer of the film. “These prophetic sisters transformed the destruction and devastation through the power of the Spirit and through the abiding presence of Christ. They rebuilt high schools, child-care development centers, community centers, and motherhouses, in some cases starting from nothing. In other cases they began programs that responded to the needs they saw around them after Hurricane Katrina.”

The ABC network has been offering the film to its affiliates. To see if a broadcast is scheduled in your area, go online.

Here’s the trailer:

Make 'em laugh: Forty Days of Funny does just that!

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Thursday 27, September 2012 Categories: Clergy
Fr. James Martin, SJ strikes again with a very entertaining video series, Forty Days of Funny, which draws on stories and jokes from his book From Heaven to Mirth.

Here is his Day 14 installment:

Click on these links to learn more about the Jesuits, Dominicans, and Trappists whom Martin mentions in the video.

Pope names women to Synod on Evangelization

Posted by:   🕔 Monday 24, September 2012 Categories:

This year Pope Benedict has named a record 29 women to the Synod on Evangelization that will be held October 7-28th in Vatican City. 

The Pope has chosen men and women from around the world from a variety of different professions to be a part of the Synod of Bishops. Europe accounts for the overwhelming majority of the appointees, followed by North America, with 10 people from the United States, two from Mexico and one from Canada. 

The experts include priests, nuns and laypeople, many of whom are professors, rectors or supervisors of catechetical or pastoral programs. They will serve as resources for the more than 200 synod members as they discuss the theme, "New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith."

To read more about those representing the North America, check out this articles in the National Catholic Reporter.

The joy of Catholicism

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Sunday 16, September 2012 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy

Comedian Stephen Colbert and Cardinal Timothy Dolan were the stars of a gathering on Satruday at Fordham University in the Bronx billed as an opportunity to hear two Catholic celebrities discuss how joy and humor infuse their spiritual lives.

According to a New York Times report by Laurie Goodstein, the audience sent in questions via Twitter and e-mail, which Jesuit Father James Martin, SJ pitched to the two men. Among them: “I am considering the priesthood. Would it be prudent to avoid dating?”

Cardinal Dolan responded that, on the contrary, “it’s good” to date, partly to discern whether the celibate life of a priest is what you want. Then he added, “By the way, let me give you the phone numbers of my nieces.”

Mr. Colbert said, “It’s actually a great pickup line: I’m seriously considering the priesthood. You can change my mind.”

The Huffington Post reported that Colbert, who has taught Sunday school classes to school-age children, said people in comedy often don't understand how he could remain Catholic. But he said he views the church as teaching joy, which he called the "infallible sign of the presence of God."

The official twitter hashtag for the event was #dolancolbert.

Read followup comments from Father Martin at America Magazine.

Click here to learn more about the Jesuits.

Art by by Tim Luecke, Fordham senior.

Maryknoll Sisters to launch website for teens

Posted by:   🕔 Friday 14, September 2012 Categories: Consecrated Life,Mission & Evangelization

October is Mission Month in the Roman Catholic Church, and on October 1 the Maryknoll Sisters will go live with their first website for teens.

Teen4Mission features stories for, about, and by teens who are making mission part of their everyday lives. In October it will have an interactive daily calendar with articles, links to videos, and mission-focused games as well as places where teens themselves can upload their own articles, pictures, and videos about mission and share their thoughts about mission in daily life with other teens.

See a preview of the site.

Support your local religious communities

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Tuesday 11, September 2012 Categories:
Just received the Invisible Beauty 2013 wall calendar in the mail. It was produced by Ministry of the Arts, sponsored by the Sisters of St. Josesph of LaGrange, IL.

Each month features rich and lovely artwork, much of it by religious sisters. It also includes daily inspirational actions steps to help us be "more aware of beauty in ourselves and others."

As you plan for the coming year and for the Christmas holidays ahead, I encourage you to consider purchasing products produced by religious communities. Here is a link to a VISION article showcasing community-made products and a link to religious men and women in the arts also featured in VISION.

Please feel free to ad to the list.

Thank you, Sisters of St. Joseph of LaGrange, for your Invisible--and visible--Beauty!

Remembering 9/11

Posted by:   🕔 Tuesday 11, September 2012 Categories:

Today I am reminded of the horrific events that occurred eleven years ago. The date was September 11, 2001 and our country experienced the worst attack on American soil ever.  We lost many men and women that day and as time goes on we will never forget those who lost their lives to this tragedy. Families lost moms, dads, sisters, brothers, cousins, neighbors, children, friends and parents. We all lost something or someone that day.

As I continue to read articles, look at pictures, and even recall the events that unfolded, I am reminded of the bravery and courage of the fireman, police, medics, religious, and civilians that risked their lives to protect and save others. Out of this tragedy, our nation came together and a sense of patriotism and compassion developed in our hearts and minds. Regardless of race, sex, or religion, we came together and created a community of love and support for one another.

As we reflect on those events of eleven years ago, let us never forget that tragedy that ensued but let us be reminded of the sense of kindness and togetherness that was created.  Let us continue to show sympathy for one another, to be compassionate, and to continue to pray for peace in our world.

I want to thank the men and women that serve our country today and for all those men and women who risked their lives eleven years ago, and for all those who risk their lives today. Let us pray for them, their families, and for each other. 

Sr. Campbell's DNC speech mentions Padua Center

Posted by:   🕔 Friday 07, September 2012 Categories: Consecrated Life
During her speech to the Democratic National Convention last Wednesday, Sr. Simone Campbell, S.S.S., executive director of the NETWORK National Catholic Social Justice Lobby and a member of the Sisters of Social Service, talked about "a few truths" she learned during the recent "Nuns on the Bus" social justice tour. One was that "I am my sister's keeper. I am my brother's keeper," and to illustrate the reality she talked about the Padua Center in Toledo, Ohio—VISION magazine mentioned the center's Padua Possibilities program in the "Religious Sightings" section of the 2012 issue!

"While we were in Toledo," Sr. Campbell said, "I met 10-year-old twins Matt and Mark, who had gotten into trouble at school for fighting. Sister Virginia and the staff at the Padua Center took them in when they were suspended and discovered on a home visit that these 10-year-olds were trying to care for their bedridden mother who has MS and diabetes.

"They were her only caregivers. The sisters got her medical help and are giving the boys some stability. Now the boys are free to claim much of the childhood they were losing. Clearly, we all share responsibility for the Matts and Marks in our nation."

Here's Sr. Campbell's full address:

Diocesan discernment house for women opens

Posted by:   🕔 Wednesday 05, September 2012 Categories: Consecrated Life
ARCHBISHOP Aymond blesses the new
discernment house for women in New Orleans.

The current issue of the VISION Catholic Religious Vocation Discernment Guide has an item on Manresa House at Boston College, where students who are considering life as a sister, brother, or priest in a religious order can gather for talks, prayer, meetings, retreats, and other activities connected to the process of vocational discernment, regardless of which religious communities they may be interested in.

Now the Archdiocese of New Orleans has opened a similar facility for women in addition to the region’s men’s house of discernment that already exists. The idea of Archbishop Gregory Aymond and Sister Sylvia Thibodeaux, S.S.F., director of the archdiocesean office for religious, Magnificat House of Discernment for Women is a full-time home for post-college-age women to live in community while discerning a possible call to religious life. The project is a collaboration between the archdiocese and women’s religious communities in the New Orleans area. For more information about Magnificat House, “like” NOLA Vocations on Facebook.

New documentary on Maryknoll Sisters

Posted by:   🕔 Wednesday 29, August 2012 Categories: Consecrated Life,Church History,Mission & Evangelization

“Trailblazers in Habits,” a 90-minute film documenting the work of the Maryknoll Sisters, the first U.S.-based congregation of Catholic women religious dedicated to foreign missions, will have its New York premiere on Sunday, October 28, 2012, at 2 p.m. at the SVA Theatre, 333 West 23rd St., New York, NY.

A portrait of the Maryknoll Sisters’ endeavors in Hong Kong and elsewhere throughout the world, the documentary tells the story in the sisters’ own words, a chronicle that spans 100 years and several continents. The premiere coincides with the Maryknoll Sisters' Centennial year. Here's the 7-minute trailer:

Irish seminary welcomes 12 new student priests

Posted by:   🕔 Wednesday 29, August 2012 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy
Great news for vocations!  Yesterday at Saint Patrick's College Maynooth, the National Seminary for Ireland, 12 new student priests were welcomed into formation.

President of the College, Monsignor Hugh Connolly, said in his welcoming to the new candidates and their families, "As you begin your formation journey I wish you every blessing during this privileged time for discernment, for learning, for vocation, for praying, for listening and for being especially close to Our Lord in the word of Sacred Scripture, in the faith of the Church, in your participation in the Liturgy and in your service of others."

The Church of Ireland has had quite a memorable year hosting the Eucharistic Conference in June, and later this year will host a 50th anniversary celebration of the opening of the Second Vatican Council.

As Monsignor Connolly concluded his welcoming he also expressed the great need this year is to be reminded of the importance of faith in each of our lives, to continue to deepen our relationship with God, and to be committed to sharing our faith with others. 

Let us continue to pray for those who are considering entering into religious life and for those women and men who already live a religious vocational life.  

*Source: Independent Catholic News

What future religious life may look like

Posted by:   🕔 Thursday 23, August 2012 Categories: Consecrated Life
We've talked about Giving Voice, an organization of younger religious sisters, on this blog before. At the recent Leadership Conference of Women Religious assembly, Sister of Charity of Leavenworth Jennifer Gordon, who has been involved with Giving Voice for a number of years, was part of a panel called "Religious Life in the Future: What Might it Look Like?" An excerpt is below. The full text is on the Giving Voice website. You can find out more about the Sisters of Charity here.

SISTER Jennifer Gordon, S.C.L.
"As a relatively new and relatively young Sister, I am frequently asked what I think the future of religious like will look like, and each time I respond that I really don't know. But I think it will look a lot like the view from the top of Victoria Falls. It looks like standing on the edge.  
  • It looks like safe houses for mothers and their children who are fleeing abusive relationships.
  • It looks like campus ministers chaperoning college students on overnight bus rides to participate in the annual national pro-life march in Washington, D.C.  
  • It looks like teachers who open their students' minds and hearts to the wisdom and the mystery of the universe.
  • It looks like Catholic hospitals and health systems learning to partner with other-than-Catholic care providers to better meet the needs of the communities they serve.
  • It looks like planting school gardens to teach elementary school children how to care for the earth.
  • It looks like retired Sisters spending hours each day in front of the Blessed Sacrament, praying for our communities, for our church and for our world.  
  • It looks like nuns on a bus, pointing out flaws in our federal budget and offering a more just alternative.
  • And it looks like the hospital chaplain who works nights, who journeys with women who have been trafficked, accompanying them as they have tattoos removed, tattoos displaying their pimps' names that the pimps had had etched into the women's inner thighs.
This, I believe, is what it looks like at the edge today.  It is to stories and to relationships like these, and so many others, that we are called as women religious."

Olympic Swimmer and Mary's Intercession

Posted by:   🕔 Tuesday 21, August 2012 Categories:

With the end of the Olympics, comes the end of the games that captivated audiences around the world for 17 days. But for one Olympian, these London games have taken on a whole new meaning. For Mireia Belmonte, her medals are more than just physical reminders of her success in London; they are also offerings to the Blessed Mother for her help throughout the games. 

According to the Catholic News Agency, Spanish swimmer Mireia Belmonte offered her two silver medals from the London Olympics to Our Lady of Monserrat in Barcelona. The 21 year-old swimmer, and the only Spanish swimmer to win two medals, said in a press conference that both medals were of “equal value” to her.  

A devout Catholic, Belmonte is one of many athletes who gave thanks and praise to her faith during the Olympics. To name a few others: Gabby Douglas, Katie Ledecky, Missy Franklin, and Jordyn Wieber.

Belmonte trains almost nine hours a day and is beginning her training to prepare for the world championships next year. The swimmer was born in Badalona, Spain, in 1990 and began swimming at the age of four at the recommendation of doctors to help correct her sclerosis.

What a great way to give thanks to God for the gifts he has bestowed upon each of us. Let us all be reminded of the gifts we have each been given and use our talents as best we can each day. 

“Sister Mary Corita is far out”

Posted by:   🕔 Wednesday 15, August 2012 Categories: Consecrated Life
CORITA KENT in front of some of her work
(Photo courtesy LCWR).

Last month the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) in Washington, D.C. wrapped up an exhibit of prints by Corita Kent, who is mentioned in this year’s VISION magazine article on the “Women of Spirit” exhibit about the history of religious sisters in the United States.

To read more about Corita Kent and the “R(ad)ical Love: Sister Mary Corita” show and see some images from it as well as watch a video, go the NMWA website.

The Mission is simple: Those who give receive more

Posted by:   🕔 Tuesday 14, August 2012 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy,Consecrated Life

Billboards are usually seen along expressways trying to grab our attention and get us to stop along the way. Often, we glance at these signs and continue driving to get to our destination. But what if a billboard was calling you towards religious life? Would you simply just read the sign and continue driving or would you answer the call?

Seeking to repopulate its thinning religious ranks, the Roman Catholic diocese of Austria's largest province launched a province-wide billboard campaign to recruit priests, nuns, and other laypeople. The requirements are simple: a sense of religious mission and a commitment to celibacy. Benefits: a possible inside track to Heaven. With over 80 large billboards and 300 small electric placards being placed around the provinces, the message is simple, “The Mission. Those who give all receive more.”

While unemployment is growing in Vienna, these billboards are a way to encourage men and women to consider entering into religious life. The billboard campaign has created some serious stir because mass advertisement for religious life is rare. Austria, which is overwhelmingly Catholic, is finding that is mostly in name rather than practice.

Like elsewhere in many parts of Europe, Masses are poorly populated in Vienna and other bigger cities and the number of declared Catholics is shrinking – in Austria by 13 percent since 1960 – as former believers fed up with church scandals and a perceived sense of the Vatican's disconnect with the world.

At the same time, however, the number of priests has declined rapidly – in Austria by 26 percent. In St. Poelten, Lower Austria's provincial capital, 244 priests are administering to the needs of 423 parishes. Country-wide, the overwhelming majority of priests are over 60, and young replacements are scarce.

The hope is that this billboard campaign will get people interested in religious life and service and to show people the importance of working with the Church. To read more about the billboard campaign check out the piece in the Huffington Post

Bishop to LCWR sisters: Yes, let's talk

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Sunday 12, August 2012 Categories: Consecrated Life

In response to the Leadership Conference of Women Religious statement regarding their commitment to dialogue, Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain, who is one of three bishops recently commissioned to oversee the LCWR, responded with the following statement:

The Holy See and the Bishops of the United States are deeply proud of the historic and continuing contribution of women religious to our country through social, pastoral and spiritual ministries; Catholic health care; Catholic education; and many other areas where they reach out to those on the margins of society.
As an association of women religious, the LCWR brings unique gifts to its members and to the Church at large. This uniqueness includes sensitivity to suffering, whether in Latin America or the inner-city; whether in the life of an unborn child or the victim of human trafficking.
Religious women have made a lasting contribution to the well-being of our country and continue to do so today. For that they deserve our respect, our support, our thanks and our prayers.
Along with the members of the LCWR, I remain committed to working to address the issues raised by the Doctrinal Assessment in an atmosphere of prayer and respectful dialogue. We must also work toward clearing up any misunderstandings, and I remain truly hopeful that we will work together without compromising Church teaching or the important role of the LCWR. I look forward to our continued discussions as we collaborate in promoting consecrated life in the United States.

Hmm…  The sisters’ and bishops’ commitment to respectful dialogue coincides perfectly with today’s second reading from St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians:

All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice.
[And] be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ (4:31-32).

May the peace of Christ be with you all.

U.S. Catholic sisters commit to continued dialogue with Vatican delegation

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Sunday 12, August 2012 Categories: Consecrated Life

This past week the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) expressed their commitment to continued prayerful and open diaglogue with the Vatican delegation charged with oversight of their organization.

According to a statement issued from LCWR, the assembly of 900 women religious leaders who had gathered in St. Louis articulated their "belief that religious life, as it is lived by the women religious who comprise LCWR [nearly 80 percent of all women religious], is an authentic expression of this life that must not be compromised. The theology, ecclesiology, and spirituality of the Second Vatican Council serve as the foundation of this form of religious life – and while those who live it must always be open to conversion – this life form should not be discounted.

"The members reiterated the importance and value of LCWR’s mission to its members and its role as a voice for justice in the world."

Tools for navigating change in the church and the world were suggested by outgoing LCWR president Sister Pat Farrell, OSF: "Contemplation, use of the prophetic voice, solidarity with the marginalized, community, nonviolent responses, and the capacity to live in joyful hope."

Those are certianly tools we can all use as we make our way in the world and find our place in the church.

Irish brother trains Kenyan runners

Posted by:   🕔 Friday 10, August 2012 Categories:
BR. O'CONNELL works out his runners
at the Iten Athletics Camp.
With the Summer Olympic games entering their final days, here's a story about Brother Colm O’Connell, a member of the Brothers of St. Patrick missionaries of Ireland. A retired geography teacher, he has had a part in training many Kenyan middle- and long-distance runners. 8,500 feet up in the Rift Valley, the Iten Athletics Camp at the brother's St. Patrick's high school consists of a dirt track and the school's spartan housing and has produced many champions from the local Kalenjin tribe.

A story on Br. O'Connell from Outside magazine; an article in The Telegraph (U.K.) from earlier this year; and NYTimes blog post from the Beijing Summer Olympics 4 years ago.

Campers in U.K. work on historic church buildings

Posted by:   🕔 Friday 03, August 2012 Categories:

London (Ecumenical News International). While many young people in the U.K. are gearing up for a summer of backpacking or the beach, one group is choosing to stay home and spend their holidays in a more unusual way—doing voluntary conservation work in ancient cathedrals, chapels, and churches. Cathedral Camps, run by the U.K. charity Community Service Volunteers, is seeing about 150 young people from ages 16 to 25 painting walls, polishing spires, ringing bells, surveying tombstones, and cleaning graveyards during the day and sleeping overnight in gardens, presbyteries [church houses], or cloisters. "The experience is a chance to see the hidden corners of some of the nation's most iconic religious buildings in England, Scotland and Wales," said Hannah Foxon, a seasoned camper.

A video about the campers' experiences:

Shooting for Gold

Posted by:   🕔 Tuesday 24, July 2012 Categories:

With the opening ceremonies just days away, it got me thinking about what it would be like to be an Olympian. I thought about how awesome of an experience it would be to compete in front of millions of people, representing our country, playing for a medal, inspiring people to come together and for a moment have the world waiting and watching for what might happen next.

However, for most of us we probably will spend our lives being Olympic spectators but for Sgt. 1st Class Jason Parker, he gets a shot to be on the world’s stage during the London Olympic Games.

Competing this year with his air rifle, Sgt. 1st Class Jason Parker told Catholic News Service in a phone interview from Fort Benning, Ga. “I'm a little bit more relaxed going into this. I know how to deal with some of the extra things the games bring now."

A Nebraska native, Parker grew up around sport shooting. His dad, Dale Parker, was a competitive shooter for much of his early life. At age 13, Jason Parker's parents bought him a competition air rifle, and he used it to climb the ranks in local and state competitions.

He said his real breakthrough came when he attended Jesuit-run Xavier University in Cincinnati. The university had "just a great atmosphere. It was exactly what I needed during my life," he said. Not only did Parker end up making his first international team in 1994 as a junior at Xavier, but he also met his wife, Andrea.

Parker is very skilled in the 10-meter air rifle competition and the 50-meter three-position competition which has led him to a successful career in the military.  Sgt. 1st Class Jason Parker won the Men's Three-Position Rifle match, to secure his fourth trip to the Olympics and will be competing on the US Men’s Shooting Team.

Parker, a Methodist, said his faith helps him tremendously: on the range, with his family, and in Afghanistan. 

Let us pray this week for all the athletes participating in the Olympics and ask God to watch over them. Good luck to all the Olympians! 

Oral histories tell of sisters' "Habits of Change"

Posted by:   🕔 Wednesday 18, July 2012 Categories: Consecrated Life
Sister Julie Vieira, I.H.M. at brought to our attention the publication last spring of oral historian and poet Carole Garibaldi Rogers’ book Habits of Change: An Oral History of American Nuns (Oxford University Press, 2011).

Habits of Change is a collection of oral histories that brings together the stories of women religious from more than 40 different communities, most of whom entered religious life before Vatican II. Sr. Julie has a podcast interview with Garibaldi Rogers on her site.
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Pope's recommended summer reading: The documents of Vatican II

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Tuesday 17, July 2012 Categories:

Pope Benedict XVI has urged Catholics to re-read the documents of the Second Vatican Council, saying they "contain an enormous wealth for the formation of a new generation of Christians and for the formation of our consciences" according to The Tablet.

Speaking on Sunday at a Mass in Frascati near his summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, the 85-year-old Pope said going back to the work produced by the Council 50 years after it began in 1962 was essential to the New Evangelization. "Therefore, read it and read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and in this way rediscover the beauty of being Christians, of being Church and living the great ‘we' that Jesus formed around himself in order to evangelize the world."

Edgar Allan Poe and the Jesuits

Posted by:   🕔 Thursday 12, July 2012 Categories: Clergy
E. A. POE, friend of the
early Fordham Jesuits
Dr. Pat McNamara, professor of church history at St. Joseph's Seminary in Dunwoodie, New York, blogs on American Catholic history at McNamara's Blog, and a few months ago had an item about a little-known connection between the American writer Edgar Allan Poe and the early Jesuit community at Fordham University.

"In the summer of 1846," Dr. McNamara writes, "Poe, along with his young wife Virginia and her mother, had rented a home in what is now the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx. The area was still predominantly rural, numbering a handful of farms at most, offering some hope of comfort and stability. But within a few months Virginia, whom locals remembered as frail and beautiful, died. The grief-stricken widower found some solace in visiting her grave and in long walks.

"Sometimes these walks took him by the Jesuit's St. John's College [later Fordham]. Between Poe's home and the college (formerly a colonial manor) were nothing but woods. One early twentieth century author commented:Fordham is still so charming and rural a locality that we can imagine it to have been a poet's true home before the first encroachments of a rapidly advancing city had broken its quiet.

"[Poe] liked [the] Jesuits, he wrote friend, because they were 'highly cultivated gentlemen and scholars, they smoked and they drank and they played cards, and they never said a word about religion.' " The Jesuits had a similar impression of him, McNamara says. "One young Jesuit, the Canadian-born Edward Doucet, became quite close to Poe. Later the college president . . .   Doucet recalled the poet as 'extremely refined . . . a gentleman by nature and by instinct.' He became almost a confessor to the troubled artist. On their walks around the campus, Poe poured out his numerous troubles to the young priest as they conversed in French.

Another early Fordham Jesuit "remembered Poe as a 'familiar figure at the college . . . It seemed to soothe his mind to wander at will about the lawn and the beautiful grounds back of the college buildings.' Another wrote: 'It was one of Poe's greatest gifts that he could make friends wherever he went. To know him was to love him. . . . It was a pleasure to see him and still more to listen to him.'

"A recent biographer," McNamara says, "notes that Poe 'found intellectual and spiritual companionship' with the Jesuits at the college. In this sparsely populated community, there weren't many people with whom Poe could discuss literature. The Jesuits, who sympathized with this starving artist, invited him to dinner many an evening, and gave him the use of their library. After dinner, he would peruse the library  or play cards with the Jesuits (the majority of whom were French-born).Usually he went home feeling better, but sometimes he couldn't bear going back. On those occasions, when his grief was too palpable, one of the Jesuits would walk him home. Occasionally he stayed overnight at the college."

Dr. McNamara's blog is on Patheos, which has the full story.

Wise words from the Sisters

Posted by:   🕔 Thursday 05, July 2012 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life
Last week I received an email from our friends over at a Nun's Life , in which they were answering a question from a blogger about what motiviates a person to become a nun. After reading the answer, I was amazed at how honest and important it was to really think about where we are each being called to by God in our own lives.   

The message was so powerful and so thoughtful that I would like to share it with you today: 

Hi Sister, what motivation did you have to become a nun? Why did you choose that type of career/life??

You asked what my motivation was for becoming a nun. Well, I didn’t really plan on becoming a nun. My motivation was to live my life the best way I could as a young, single, Catholic woman. I knew my options were single life, married life, and religious life. I figured that I was destined for married life. I always wanted to be married and to be a mom. But, I decided I’d check out the religious thing just to say “been there, done that” … so I wouldn’t have any doubts about that NOT being my call. Well, that didn’t happen.

It turns out it was my call. I think deep down, I recognized that I was most fully myself when I was in tune with God. It just so happened that for me, that meant living the lifestyle of a religious. For others, it may mean living a married life, being a parent, becoming ordained or choosing single life. Whatever lifestyle God calls us to is IT, the best one for us. I realized that to be true to myself meant that I had to let go of something and let God do the driving. I still am quite a back seat driver, but more and
more I am able to say “not my will, but yours be done.”

Being a nun is more of a way of life than it is a career. I think of a career as something that at the end of the day or week, I can come home and do my ordinary stuff. I’m “off duty” so to speak. Just like being married is not a career, being a nun is not really a career because being a nun is part of who I am. It’s like I’ve got this IHM “DNA” now that is as much a part of me as my family is. As with married life, our vows are for life — in good times and in bad.

In a way, I wasn’t the one who first chose this life of being a nun. It’s like it chose me. I know that sounds kinda weird, but it’s true. It’s not something I ever would have thought would “fit” me. Yet, by golly, it does. Once I realized that this is what God was calling me to, I had to take the time and space to choose it for myself, to make God’s call my own, to embrace it freely. After some major resisting, running, and denial, I was able to freely choose this life, knowing that it is the best way I can be me and serve God and the world.

Please pray for all those who are discerning a vocation and take some time today to really listen to where God is calling you.

Book tunes into discernment

Posted by:   🕔 Wednesday 27, June 2012 Categories: Vocation and Discernment

FATHER ANDREW CARL Wisdom, O.P., VISION Vocation Guide author and promoter of vocations and vicar for mission advancement for the Dominicans’ St. Albert the Great Province, has followed up on his award-winning Preaching to a Multi-Generational Assembly (Liturgical Press, 2004) with a book on discernment, coauthored with Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Sister Christine Kiley, A.S.C.J.: Tuning into God’s Call, published last July by Liguori Publications.


“Through a series of practical reflections,” the publisher says, “this book introduces you to five stages of the discernment process. Though our life purpose may not be understood all at once as doubts and fears may still persist, this book will assist you in making time to discern God's direction. The process of discernment has many facets. If you are wondering what God has in store for you, then this is just the book to help you pray and actively move through your discernment process. It will help you find peace in your prayer and inspire you.”

NRVC recevies half-million-dollar-plus grant

Posted by:   🕔 Monday 11, June 2012 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life

Congratulations to the National Religious Vocation Conference (NRVC) - on whose behalf VISION is published - for being awarded a $650,000 grant by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. The purpose of this “capacity building” grant is to strengthen and enhance the organizational systems, structures, management, publications, communications, and governance of the NRVC. It is the largest grant ever received by the NRVC.

The Hilton Foundation has identified the NRVC as a key organization with whom they would like to
partner in the future in the promotion of one of their foundation’s priorities, namely, support of Catholic sisters.
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100 Days of Peace to prepare for the 2012 Olympics

Posted by:   🕔 Friday 08, June 2012 Categories:
Are you prepared for the beginning of the 100 Days of Peace which begins tonight at 11 pm?

A follow up to an earlier blog I wrote, today throughout the world and particularly in London, marks the start of the 100 daylong celebration to promote peace. The 100 days of peace was started as a way to prayerfully prepare for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in London this summer.

The goal is to create a culture of respect and dignity among different cultures during the games and for the continued development of international art, culture, and music throughout the world.

In an effort to showcase global cooperation and respect, everyone throughout the world can participate in these 100 days of peace. The goal is to make sure that the 2012 London games will hosted in an atmosphere of peace to allow those participating and watching safety and security.

To join in the 100 days of peace you can offer intentions and prayers each and every day. You can pray for the athletes, spectators, and those representing each country, that they remain safe and unharmed throughout the entirety of the games. To read more about the 100 days of peace check out the website

College student's "Providential" pilgrimage

Posted by:   🕔 Wednesday 06, June 2012 Categories: Consecrated Life
ANDREW Domini wasn’t the only one at St. Mary-of-the-Woods
who wore out his shoes. Mother Guerin and her sister-companions
wore wooden shoes, or sabots, when working outside. 

Last April Wabash College student Andrew Domini came across a CNN Presents documentary on Mother Theodore Guerin, the French nun and now canonized saint who founded the Sisters of Providence of St. Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana in 1840. The program talked about a miraculous healing that had been part of Mother Guerin’s canonization process, Domini was reminded of an aging friend who had been diagnosed with stage IV cancer six months earlier. “He wasn’t doing well, and he’s the kind of guy who gives so much and doesn’t expect anything in return,” Domini told CNN’s Jen Christensen. “I wanted to do something for him.”

So Domini decided to make a pilgrimage to the shrine of Mother Guerin to pray for his friend, who didn't know abvout the trip beforehand. He could have driven but said he “wanted to walk. . . . I wanted it to be a sacrifice.” With a handful of supplies in a backpack, he left his fraternity house around 5 a.m. The first night “I asked for sanctuary at a couple of churches, but they told me they couldn’t do that,” Domini said. He slept on couch at a student union building, on a park bench, and inside an abandoned building. Twelve miles into the next day's walk his feet were blistered and bleeding, and a couple gave him a ride for about 10 miles. He walked the remaining two miles to St. Mary-of-the-Woods and crawled the last 90 feet to Mother Guerin’s shrine in the chapel.

After praying at the shrine for his friend, he visited the Sisters of Providence’s welcome center. At the museum there, Sister of Providence Jan Craven, who manages the shrine, approached him. “I swooped him under my wing to find out what brought him here,” Craven said. Since CNN’s program on Mother Guerin had run last month, Craven said her workload had tripled as she’d received hundreds of calls, emails, and letters.

After having something to eat with the sisters in the dining hall, Domini was offered a room in the men’s wing of the facility. He spent two days with the sisters, who talked with him about what Mother Saint Theodore meant to them and about their work. “We’ve been told by a lot of people that when they come onto the grounds, they feel a real sense of peace that we are this oasis in this modern jungle,” Sister Craven said. “We feel this, but because we live here sometimes we need a reminder. Andrew did just that.”

“I’ve been inspired,” Domini said. “I trusted in Providence to get me through this just like [Mother Guerin] did with her journey. We are here to make the world a better place, just like the sisters do every day.”

Read the complete CNN story.

Read more about the Sisters of Providence, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, IN.

Dublin's Pilgrim Walk

Posted by:   🕔 Thursday 31, May 2012 Categories:
Dublin know for Guinness beer, being home to Trinity College and the Irish Tenors will now be known for its “Camino” or pilgrim walk which has been launched in an effort to celebrate the upcoming International Eucharistic Congress.

Prayerful pilgrims have the opportunity to visit 7 of Dublin’s most historic churches both Catholic and Anglican. The “Camino” was inspired by the famous pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Unlike its Spanish counterpart, the “Camino” can be completed in 4 hours and has no set route. Open from June 2-16, patrons will be given a “Pilgrim Passport” which can be stamped at each church between the hours of 8:00 am- 8:00 pm.

At 5:45 pm daily, mass will be celebrated at St. Mary’s Pro-Cathedral church and pilgrims will be given a certificate of completion. Fr. Damien O’Reilly administrator and organizer of this pilgrimage is very excited for the parishes involved. According to Fr. Damien, "There is great excitement in each of the parishes, where there will be volunteer pilgrimage ambassadors to greet the pilgrims and stamp their passport.  The volunteers see it as a way of showcasing both their churches and their parishes—there is a great pride of place.”

The Churches involved include: St. James; Our Lady of Mount Carmel; John's Lane; St. Ann's, Dawson Street; St. Mary of the Angels; St. Michan's, Halston Street; and St Mary's Pro-Cathedral --and each are notable in their own right.

For more information on the pilgrimage “Camino” or to read about each of historic churches check out the entire article at American Catholic

Euro Pop Band Releases Soundtrack for Vocations

Posted by:   🕔 Tuesday 29, May 2012 Categories: Vocation and Discernment

Ooberfuse, a European electro-pop band released a single in support of the English and Welsh Church’s new vocations drive, according to the U.K. Catholic Herald.

Worth Abbey Benedictine Fr. Christopher Jamison OSB, director of the National Office for Vocation, commissioned the band to write the soundtrack to help promote vocations. Their song, “Call my name,” can be heard here and comes from their forthcoming album Seventh Wave, to be released in August.

Fr Jamison described the single as a “wonderful gift given to the Church. The words are poetic and inspired, worthy of the psalms.”

Their previous single, Heart’s Cry, was the youth anthem for the Pope’s visit to Britain in September 2010.

Band member Hal St. John described the task as a challenge: “When God speaks to us he does so in a strange and other worldly language that it is sometimes hard if not altogether impossible to render into intelligible words. His gentle yet persistent call cuts through the clamour and roar of contemporary life treading as softly as dove’s footsteps. For some, pop music is part of the noise that drowns out the sound of divinity, desensitising us to the transcendent. On the face of it, it seems incongruous that pop music, especially dub-step, should be used to heighten our awareness of God’s call to each one of us.” 

Fransican Friar signs major recording contract

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Thursday 24, May 2012 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy


Franciscan tenor Alessandro Brustenghi on Abbey Road in London.

Alessandro Brustenghi, a tenor from Assisi, Italy, who also happens to be a Franciscan Friar, just signed a major recording contract with Decca Records--the first ever Franciscan to do so. The album deal will showcase his voice to millions of opera fans.

The 34-year-old friar flew to London earlier this week for the recording at Abbey Road studios (made famous by the Beatles) and to give his first performance outside Italy at the 2012 International Decca Conference today.

Brustenghi intends to donate all proceeds from record sales to the Order of Friars Minor for charitable work..

His first album, made up of a mixture of traditional and modern sacred songs, will be released in October.

"I’m a bit nervous," said Brustenghi in an interview in the Telegraph, "but I understand this is necessary as it is a good opportunity to unleash this beautiful music to everybody. I feel excited, very excited because it’s realized my vocation."

"Music for me is a direct line with God. It’s the way to communicate with him, and it’s the way God uses to communicate with us. It’s the way to spread the gospel, to everybody, to the world.

"The story of St. Francis of Assisi is very similar to mine. Francis was a humble man, and he decided to spread the gospel with music, dance and joy.”

Learn more about the Franciscan Friars (O.F.M.):

Knights of Columbus vocations support on the rise

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Wednesday 23, May 2012 Categories:

The Knights of Columbus report in their April newsletter that support for vocations is up among their membership. "Specifically, Knights raised and disbursed more than $3 million to 2,628 seminarians and postulants in 2011 through their Refund Support Vocations Program (RSVP)." That is up from $2.9 million to help 2,697 students in 2010.

The RSVP program, sponsored by the Supreme Council, encourages local Knights of Columbus offices to provide financial and moral support to people studying to become priests, brothers, or religious sisters by offering these local units $100 rebate on every $500 they donate to a student for his or her personal use.

In 2011, refunds totaled nearly $600,000. In addition to the Supreme Council refund, qualifying units receive a plaque honoring them for the moral support they provided, which includes e-mailing and writing letters to students and inviting them to K of C functions.

According to the Knights, since the start of the RSVP, nearly $53 million has been donated to seminarians and postulants and the Supreme Council has refunded local K of C units $9.7 million.

Sr. Irene McCormack--Australia's next saint?

Posted by:   🕔 Monday 21, May 2012 Categories: Consecrated Life

Today marks the 21st anniversary of the death ofJosephite Sr. Irene McCormack, RSJ, at the hands of Shining Path terrorists in Peru. Born in Western Australia in 1938, Irene grew up on a sheep farm and was educated by the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart.

In 1957, Irene entered into the community of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart and began teaching. At an early age Irene knew she wanted to serve God and educate young people. After 30 years of teaching, she was asked to do missionary work in Peru.

 She arrived in Peru in 1987 for missionary work. McCormack's first assignment was in El Pacifico, a low income suburb in San Juan de Miraflores.

On June 26 1989, McCormack left to serve in Huasahuasi. McCormack, with her companion, Sister Dorothy Stevenson, were asked to supervise the distribution of emergency goods by Caritas, a charitable food organization in Peru.

McCormack continued her ministry of providing library facilities to poor children, who had no chance of obtaining books to aide in their school homework. She wanted the village children to know how to read and write. She also focused on training the village people how to be extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, so they could serve other parishioners in outlying districts.

On December 17, 1989, the priests of Huasahuasi were warned that they were in danger from Sendero Luminoso, so they and the two sisters left the village for Lima. McCormack and Stevenson, however, felt that the church could not abandon the villagers at this time and returned on January 14, 1990. For 12 months Huasahuasi was without a resident priest. During this time McCormack and Stevenson served the people, led the communion services, and provided leadership.

On the evening of May 21, 1991, McCormack was captured by the terrorist group named Shining Path. Following a mock trial, she was found guilty of being an imperialist and working for the Peruvian government by distributing food for the poor. She was then killed by the terrorist group.

McCormack was buried in Peru on May 23. McCormack believed the Holy Spirit motivated her to work in Peru once stating: "This overwhelming experience of the unconditional gratuitous love of God became a reality in my life—not just a conviction.

Below is the morning offering of Sister Irene. As you reflect on this prayer, pray for Sr. Irene McCormack and all those who are involved in missionary work.  

God, my Father, you love and forgive me so TODAY I accept all as gift - and ask to find you Lord the Giver in the gift. I choose to face life without fear and to live wholeheartedly in each present moment. May my heart sing today a song of grateful thanks and praise. I am God's work of art! I am precious in His sight.

Read more about the life of Sr. Irene McCormack and other modern-day martyrs and saints here.

Hildegard Von Bingen Saintly Status

Posted by:   🕔 Wednesday 16, May 2012 Categories:
Hildegard von Bingen, a 12th-century German nun, was the first woman to be officially recognized as a "prophetess" by the Roman Catholic Church. And now Pope Benedict XVI has ordered that Hildegard, who died in 1179, be inscribed "in the catalogue of saints," and thus extend her cult "to the universal church."

In 2010, when he delivered a series of talks on the great thinkers who have shaped the thought of the Church, Pope Benedict devoted two consecutive public audiences to the writings of St. Hildegard of Bingen, noting that her vision was unusually “rich in theological content.”

The Pope said that the German mystic’s keen interest in the sciences was a natural outgrowth of her spirituality, since in her eyes “all of creation was a symphony of the Holy Spirit, Who is in Himself joy and contentment.”

Here is one of St. Hildegard's many poems. Like St. Hildegard let us be inspired and let God work through us each day. St. Hildegard, please pray for us!

Father, great is our need and we beg, we beg with a word that was fullness within us: look again. It is fitting--let your word look again that we fail not, that your name be not darkened within us. Tell us your name again lest we forget. 

"The future will be different if we make the present different"

Posted by:   🕔 Wednesday 09, May 2012 Categories:

Peter Maurin and St. Therese of Lisieux were very strong influences on the work of Dorothy Day. Born on this day in 1877, Peter was a peasant farmer from southern France who immigrated to New York in 1909. For 10 years of Peter’s life he was not Catholic citing his reason for not living as a Catholic should. While tutoring in the mid 1920’s, Peter had a conversion and was inspired by St. Francis of Assisi. He began tutoring for free and like St. Francis, viewed labor as a gift to the greater community.

Peter had a keen mind and he devised a Catholic social philosophy that brought together a multitude of different interest, like sociology, politics, and economics and placed them at the service of the Gospel message. He proposed a social and religious program that was designed to improve social order and to create a society that made it easier for people to be good.

Peter first met Dorothy Day in 1932, when she has just returned home from DC after covering the Hunger March for America and Commonweal. While in DC, Day had prayed to God for inspiration and when she arrived at her apartment in New York, Peter was waiting for her at the kitchen table. For four months Peter worked with Day and together they began a newspaper to inform people about Catholic social teaching. The Catholic Worker began on May 1st, 1933 by Day and Maurin. Along with the newspaper, they also established a hospitality house to welcome and feed the poor and initiated weekly meetings for people who were dedicated to social justice.

Their efforts developed into the Catholic Worker Movement as we know it today. After Maurin left Day he lived out the remainder of his life in Pennsylvania where he worked on the first Catholic Worker owned farming commune known as Mary Farm. Maurin died on May 15th, 1949 on the feast day of St. Dympha, patroness of mental illness.

As evidenced by Day in The Long Loneliness, Day said she would never have begun the Catholic Worker without him. "Peter was a revelation to me, I do know this--that when people came into contact with Peter...they changed, they awoke, they began to see, things became as new, they looked at life in the light of the Gospels. They admitted to the truth he possessed and lived by, and though they themselves may have failed to go the whole way, their faces were turned at least towards the light."

Blessed John Paul II

Posted by:   🕔 Tuesday 01, May 2012 Categories:

On this day last year, Pope John Paul II was beatified. The ceremony occurred 5 years after his death because Pope Benedict XVI waived the normal five year waiting period before the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, so they could investigate the life of John Paul II.

The late pontiff had been declared venerable on December 21, 2009. It was after that, that the Vatican began planning the pope’s beatification, after Pope Benedict XVI approved a miracle attributed to Blessed Pope John Paul II. May 1 was chosen for the ceremony, because, last year it was Divine Mercy Sunday, a feast that was very significant for John Paul II.

Blessed John Paul II needs to have one more miracle in order to be canonized a saint. Let us pray today for Blessed John Paul II and his work as pope. Let us remember all those lives he touched and helped throughout his time as pope. 

Here is a quick read from the National Catholic Register about Blessed John Paul II. Below is Prayer for the intercession of Blessed John Paul II.

O Blessed Trinity, We thank You for having graced the Church with Pope John Paul II and for allowing the tenderness of your Fatherly care, the glory of the cross of Christ, and the splendor of the Holy Spirit, to shine through him. Trusting fully in Your infinite mercy and in the maternal intercession of Mary, he has given us a living image of Jesus the Good Shepherd and has shown us that holiness is the necessary measure of ordinary Christian life and is the way of achieving eternal communion with you. Grant us, by his intercession, and according to Your will, the graces we implore, hoping that he will soon be numbered among your saints. Amen

Happy World Day of Prayer for Vocations (April 29)!

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Thursday 26, April 2012 Categories: Clergy,Consecrated Life
A quick reminder that Sunday, April 29 is World Day of Prayer for Vocations.

In his World Day of Prayer for Vocations message, Pope Benedict XVI asks us to meditate on the theme: Vocations, the gift of the love of God: "It is my hope that the local Churches and all the various groups within them, will become places where vocations are carefully discerned and their authenticity tested, places where young men and women are offered wise and strong spiritual direction. In this way, the Christian community itself becomes a manifestation of the Love of God in which every calling is contained."

Please ensure that your parishes and ministry offices have vocation resources handy, most especially VISION Vocation Guide!

Here are some additional downloadable vocation resources to use or share with others:

Articles galore on prayer, discernment, religious life, and stories about sisters, brothers,
priests, and others in consecrated life.

And check out this new VISION Vocation Network video on vocation discernment:

Finally, please don't forget to encourage others to go through Vocation Match or check out the upcoming discernment events on VISION Vocation Network's Events calendar.


Modern Day Martyr

Posted by:   🕔 Thursday 26, April 2012 Categories: Clergy

Juan Gerardi Conedera was born on December 27, 1922, in Guatemala. As a young man he entered into the seminary and was ordained in 1946. After becoming a bishop of Verapaz, Guatemala, Juan worked diligently for official recognition of native Mayan language and helped to create a variety of broadcasts in those languages in 1967.

These were considered to be rough times in Guatemala. Violence rang throughout the country and deadly warfare grew between the army and guerrillas. Many Catholics and Church leaders were murdered. In 1974, after a few years of ongoing violence, Bishop Gerardi was named head of the Diocese of Santa Cruz, right in the heart of the worst killings.

Bishop Gerardi was an advocated to stop the terrorism and work for peace. In 1980, as President of the Guatemalan Conference of Bishops, he traveled to the Vatican to speak on the matter and how it had affected Guatemala. Because of his mission, he was refused re-entry into Guatemala and had to seek refuge in El Salvador. In 1982, Guatemala’s military president was overthrown and Bishop Gerardi returned home where he was then appointed to auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Guatemala City.

As auxiliary bishop, he became very active in human rights and was a part of the human rights commission which chronicled the abuses that were happening in Guatemala during its 36 year civil war. Two days after this commission’s findings were published, Bishop Gerardi was bludgeoned to death in his garage at the age of 75 on this day in 1998. In 2001, three military officers were convicted of the murder of Bishop Gerardi and were each sentenced to 30 year prison terms.

Bishop Gerardi is considered to be a modern-day martyr. As an advocate of human rights, Bishop Gerardi believed in protecting the innocent and treating people with respect and love. Bishop Gerardi worked for peace and justice of those being harmed and he is a great example to all of us by his work and his actions.

So today, let us be inspired to spread peace to each other. Let us pray for peace in the world, like Bishop Gerardi. I would like to share a small prayer for you asking God for peace among the world:

O Almighty God, the Father of all humanity, we pray, the hearts of all peoples and their rulers, that by the power of your Holy Spirit peace may be established among the nations on the foundation of justice, righteousness and truth; through him who was lifted up on the cross to draw all people to himself, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
 --- William Temple (1881-1944)


Pasque Flower

Posted by:   🕔 Monday 23, April 2012 Categories:

As we continue to celebrate the Easter season and the start of spring, I can't help but make mention of all the new life that is growing all around us. Today as I was driving I was noticing all the beautiful flowers that are starting to bloom, and it got me thinking about what kinds of plants we are going to have in our garden this year.

One really interesting flower is the Pasque flower which is a part of the buttercup family. Known and recognized as the Easter flower, its name comes from the French word for Easter. The Pasque flower blooms from April till June with beautiful purple or red flowers.

Legend says that these flowers grew alongside the tomb of Jesus and were a part of his magnificent Resurrection. Interestingly, the Pasque plant is used to help those who have trouble seeing. Maybe by planting a few Pasque flowers, it will help us see Christ more clearly in the world around us. 



Papal milestones

Posted by:   🕔 Wednesday 18, April 2012 Categories:

With Pope Benedict XVI reaching both his 85th birthday and the seventh anniversary of his election as pope within days of one another, I got to thinking about things papal. Benedict is already older than John Paul II was at his death in 2005 and is now the oldest reigning pope since Leo XIII, who died at age 93 in 1903 after reigning for 25 years. Though he seems to be going along pretty strong, Benedict is also the only pope in living memory to discuss publicly the possibility of resignation. In a book in 2010 he said he would not hesitate to resign if he felt no longer able "physically, psychologically, and spiritually" to govern the Catholic Church. The last pope to resign willingly was Celestine V in 1294 after reigning for only five months.

POPE Gregory XVI,
O.S.B. Cam.

On a marginally related note, I did a little digging to settle a question I have had for a while about who was the last member of a religious order to be pope. A number of popes, going back to the 13th century and also including all the popes from Pius IX, who began his reign in 1846, to and including John XXIII, who died in 1963, were members of the Order of Franciscans Secular, which while officially an order is different from the communities you can find out more about here on VISION (for more info on the Secular Franciscans, go to Anyway, the last pope to be a member of an order other than the Seculars was Gregory XVI, who reigned from 1831 to 1846 and was a member of the Camaldolese order of Benedictine monks founded by Saint Romuald in the 11th century (New Camaldoli Hermitage in Big Sur, CA is a contemporary Camaldolese community in the U.S.) (BTW, Gregory was also the last pope to be elected who was not a bishop—he was consecrated one only after his election.)

VISION author ordained!

Posted by:   🕔 Tuesday 17, April 2012 Categories: Clergy
Matthew Kuczora, C.S.C., a VISION 2012 author, was ordained to the priesthood on Easter Sunday at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. Congratulations, Fr. Matt!

Bishops Offer Resources to Re-energize our Faith

Posted by:   🕔 Tuesday 17, April 2012 Categories: Clergy

WASHINGTON—the U.S. bishops want to provide an opportunity for all Catholics to deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ, according to a new document from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Disciples Called to Witness: The New Evangelization focuses on reaching out to Catholics, practicing or not, who have lost a sense of the faith in an effort to re-energize them.

“Every Catholic has a role in the Church, and every Catholic is called to spread the Gospel,” said Bishop David L. Ricken of Green Bay, Wisconsin, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis. “But in order to evangelize, a person must first be evangelized. This is really the heart of the New Evangelization.”

The document examines what the New Evangelization is, its focus, its importance for the Church and how dioceses and parishes can promote it.

“The New Evangelization is a call to each person to deepen his or her own faith, have confidence in the Gospel, and possess a willingness to share the Gospel,” the document states. “It is a personal encounter with the person of Jesus, which brings peace and joy. The New Evangelization provides the lens through which people experience the Church and the world around them.”

The document highlights the call of Pope Benedict XVI to pursue the New Evangelization with renewed vigor and joy. It also provides dioceses and parishes with resources to assist Catholics in renewing their faith and sharing it with others.

The full text of the document is available online: click link

Source: US Conference of Catholic Bishops

Peace Be with You: Monastic Wisdom for a Terror-Filled World

Posted by:   🕔 Friday 13, April 2012 Categories:

One of our editors Dan Grippo found this interesting book that focuses on the tensions between Catholics and Muslims. Below is a brief description of the book and a link to its page on Amazon.

Peace Be with You: Monastic Wisdom for a Terror-Filled World

 David Carlson Ph.D. (Author) 

"If revenge and retaliation are the best responses that our nation could muster after 9/11, then Jesus did not have to come, live among us, and preach a radical understanding of 'neighbor' that includes the enemy."

In the wake of the ten-year anniversary of 9/11, as tensions rise between Christians and Muslims, author and religious studies professor David Carlson seeks guidance in the modern-day deserts of monastic communities across America. Are Christianity and Islam destined to confront one other as clashing civilizations? Peace Be with You: Monastic Wisdom for a Terror-Filled World clearly answers "No."

Peace Be With You is the result of more than thirty interviews with abbots, nuns, monks, and other seekers at monasteries and retreat centers. Carlson reveals the untapped wisdom of these men and women in their own words as they speak with hope to a suffering world. Follow the author on this personal, moving, and at times difficult journey, and discover a new yet ancient basis for genuine peace between Christianity and other religions-especially Islam.

"It is time for Christians to use their power to change the conversation," Carlson says, "to ponder Jesus' command to treat the stranger as our neighbor and to treat our neighbor not only as ourselves, but as God in our midst."

Amazon Page

Service Surplus

Posted by:   🕔 Thursday 12, April 2012 Categories:
CU's President John Garvey helps paint with students

Can you imagine how many days of service 352,627 hours is? Well, it is roughly around 14,610 days of service. Hard to imagine, but members of Catholic University were able to take the challenge and run with it. A total of 3100 members of Catholic University completed these hours of service, far surpassing their goal of 125,000 hours to mark the school’s 125th anniversary.

President John Garvey noted in his speech the virtues behind this incredible challenge and its ability to connect the University to the community as well as to those who founded the school.  He mentioned, “Love and wisdom go together and how we live shapes our pursuit of knowledge.” Garvey also mentioned that these ideas are central to Catholic education.

The original goal of 125,000 was reached on January 24th, 2012. Since this turning point the challenge has reached other milestones. In March the students alone exceeded 125,000 hours of service and over 63,060 hours of service were contributed to the Catholic Church and affiliated organizations.

Catholic University isn’t the first school to take on this challenge. In 2009, first lady Michelle Obama challenged George Washington University students to complete at least 100,000 hours of service in exchange for her to speak at graduation. When the first lady took the stage in May 2010, GWU’s 25,000 students and other campus members had logged 163,980 hours.

Jesus called each of us to help those in need and to care for each other and these examples of service can be examples to each of us. Let us be guided by virtues, a spirit of generosity and the love for God that we all can continue to grow in understanding and wisdom.

Season of Life

Posted by:   🕔 Monday 09, April 2012 Categories:

Today marks the end of the Easter Triduum and the beginning of the Easter Season, which lasts for seven weeks ending on Pentecost Sunday.

This is a season full of life! Spring time is emerging and all the flowers are in bloom. Birds are filling the air with sweet hymns and new leaves are sprouting on the trees.

From here until Pentecost Sunday, the calendar is full with First Communions, Mother’s Day, Graduations and more. The Church tells us, “This is the perfect time of the year to celebrate life.”

So Enjoy this season of life and goodness. Let the Paschal candle burn brightly in your hearts throughout this season and let it remind you of the Holy Spirit that works within you.

Happy Easter Season! 

Holy Thursday Reflection

Posted by:   🕔 Thursday 05, April 2012 Categories:

Today marks Maundy Thursday or as we know it Holy Thursday. It was written in the Gospel of John; Jesus washes the feet of his disciples on Holy Thursday, the day before his crucifixion.

As we look forward to Easter and the Resurrection of the Lord, we begin to prepare ourselves for his death. Wherever in the world Catholics may be preparing to celebrate Easter, their thoughts and prayers are sent to the Holy Land, the land of Christ’s birth. In order to help us get ready for this season’s mysteries, what better place to go than to Jerusalem – the city of the Lord’s Passion, death and Resurrection.

Fr. David Neuhaus, the Patriarchal Vicar for Hebrew speaking Catholics reflects on Holy Thursday and its importance in our own lives. Take a listen to his reflection and try to spend some quiet time with the Lord today. For more reflections on Holy Week or news about the Church, please check out Vatican Radio

Reflection of Holy Thursday.  

Raise your Voice

Posted by:   🕔 Tuesday 03, April 2012 Categories:
Recently, it seems like our society has been engrossed on competition and games. From the Hunger Games (check out the Spiritual Popcorn blog) to the World Choir games, we have been inspired to “rise” to the challenge and fight to the death (not literally).

Located just outside of Los Angeles, Immaculate Heart of Mary children’s choir thoughtfully practices for their upcoming appearance at the World Choir Games. Practicing for around 2 hours every day, this 35 member group which ranges from grades 2nd thru 8th is preparing for one of the greatest choir competitions in the world.  

The World Choir Games which is dubbed as “Olympics of Choral Music” is being held for the first time ever on American soil, in Cincinnati July 4th thru July 14th. Immaculate Heart of Mary is the only US Catholic School that is competing at these games.

Around 2 years ago the children’s choir was singing just once a month at Mass, that was until Christopher “Pete” Avendano took over. He not only upped their mass commitment but began to develop a truly amazing choir. “My vision, my dream was to form a more serious children’s choir” Pete stated. Taking from his own experiences as a boy, he wanted the same for this IHM choir.

The competition itself is quite an expense (roughly $50,000+) but the goal is to unify people through the power of music. As of January 2012 over 325 choirs have registered with over 12,000 participants, which is truly amazing.

So if you are in Cincinnati area in July, stop in and check out the IHM’s Children’s Choir and let us keep these students in our prayers as the practice and compete. May their voices inspire others to sing and celebrate life. Remember those who sing, pray twice.

To read more about the choir and the history behind it check out Maureen Platt’s article in St. Anthony’s Messenger. 

Film on U.S. Catholic sisters nears completion

Posted by:   🕔 Friday 30, March 2012 Categories: Consecrated Life
The past few years have seen the development of some great resources on the history, lives, and work of Catholic sisters in United States. The travelling exhibit "Women & Spirit: Catholic Sisters in America" has been touring the country and is currently at the California Museum of History, Women & the Arts in Sacramento. Now, Band of Sisters, a feature-length independent documentary film about Catholic sisters in the U.S., their response to Vatican II and the great social movements of the 1960s, and their work for social justice, is on track to be completed in April. Here's the trailer:

Pope says use Church's social doctrine to create just policies

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Wednesday 28, March 2012 Categories:

During an in-flight press conference on his way to Mexico last week, Hispanically Speaking News reports that the pope answered a question about the church's varied responses to the great social inequalities in Latin America in this way:

“The Church must of course ask if she does enough for social justice . . . It is a question of conscience which we must always pose ourselves. ... What must the Church do? . . .  What must she not do? The Church is not a political power, she is not a party but a moral entity, a moral power. ... The Church’s first concern is to educate minds in both individual and public ethics, thus creating the necessary sense of responsibility. Here perhaps there are some shortcomings.

"In Latin America, as elsewhere, no small number of Catholics show a kind of schizophrenia between individual and public morals. ... We must educate people to overcome this schizophrenia, educate them not only in ... individual morality, but also in public morality. This we must seek to do with the social doctrine of the Church because, of course, such public morality must be a reasonable morality, shared and shareable by nonbelievers. We, of course, in the light of faith can better see many things that are also visible to reason, but it is faith which serves to liberate reason from the false interests that cloud it. Thus we must use social doctrine to create fundamental policy models, and so ... overcome these divisions.”

To learn more about the church's social docrine, read the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church or Kevin Clarke and Joel Schorn's article in VISION: "Catholic Social Teaching: A Guide."

Lent in three words

Posted by:   🕔 Wednesday 28, March 2012 Categories: Consecrated Life

Can you think of three words that describe the Season of Lent and what it means to you?

Well, if you are struggling to find three words or ideas, the Sisters of St. Francis might be able to help you out. Seven sisters from the Sisters of St. Francis, Sylvania OH, filmed a short video about the season of Lent, sharing in three words what this holy season means to them.

This short yet powerful film describes all the attitudes and feelings we have as we journey through Lent toward Holy Week and Easter. Lent is considered a time of soul-searching and preparation, but it is also a time of gratitude for the great sacrifice Jesus made for us.

So in three words: Thank you, Lord. 


Year of Women Religious in Covington, KY

Posted by:   🕔 Friday 23, March 2012 Categories: Consecrated Life

The Catholic Diocese of Covington, Kentucky has named 2012 the Year of Women Religious. See the link for videos of messages from religious women's leaders in the diocese.

You shall run and not get weary

Posted by:   🕔 Tuesday 20, March 2012 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life

Three years ago, the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration in Arizona put their minds to raising funds to build a chapel and monastery in the Southwestern desert. They came up with a fun idea - have young and old alike run in an annual fundraiser named the Nun Run.

This year, their 3rd Annual Nun Run on March 10 attracted 1,135 participants at Kiwanis Park in Tempe, Ariz., to compete in a 10K run, 5K run/walk, or opt for a slower-paced 1-mile walk.

"I started off the day full of energy and left with more than I arrived with," said Jill Sciarappo a volunteer and photographer.

The runners wore shirts designed by Sister Fidelis based on the year's motto from Isaiah 40:31 "You shall run and not get weary".

Many people came out for this amazing event from grandparents to young children. The "Nun Run" is trying to raise funds to continue work on building Our Lady of Solitude Monastery. The previous runs all help to fund the chapel and chapel appointments. After the final cosmetic work is completed on the chapel, the main focus will be completion of the Monastery to make rooms for 28 sisters.

Our Lady of Solitude is rising like a vision of medieval beauty on land donated to the sisters in Tonopah, just west of Phoenix. The sisters arrived here in 2005 from Hanceville, Ala., to establish the first Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration monastery in the West and to become the first contemplative community of nuns in the Phoenix Diocese.

The Nun Runs are helping to bring the diocesan community together for this project. "The Lord has inspired a lot of good people to come out and help us," said Sister John-Mark Maria. "A lot of people come together for Our Lord, and I experience that through the Nun Run. I'm very humbled, and I marvel in the Lord's goodness."

So if you see a nun run, go join in and think of the Lord. A young woman was running and wearing a shirt that had a picture of a sister with the words: "Not all habits are bad."

Let's remember to pray for those who are discerning a religious vocation or any vocation and let's continue to pray for the men and women who are priests or sisters, as they continue to inspire and work towards bringing about the Kingdom of God.

Check out more photos of the Nun Run or to get involved. 

Score one for vocations!

Posted by:   🕔 Thursday 15, March 2012 Categories: Clergy,Consecrated Life


With moves from soccer greats like Pelé or Ronaldo, sisters and priests from the Diocese of Biloxi and southern Mississippi participated in a benefit soccer game for St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School. In a girls vs. boys soccer showdown with a bit of religious flare, the sisters proved superior.

Dressed in habits, the sisters from the Community of Charity and Social Services (CCSS), along with help from parishioners and students in disguise, pulled a convincing 6-4 victory over the priests.

"We thought this would be a fun way to bring awareness of holy life," said Ginny Macken, who coordinated the game. "We had about 100 people out for a great afternoon, with proceeds benefiting the Long Beach St. Vincent de Paul Society. It was a fun competition with lots of laughs. Both the kids and adults had a great time."

Check out these great photos from St. Thomas Catholic Church, the parish that supports St. Vincent de Paul School. Including this one of Sr. Martha Troung, CCSS:



My Week in Rochester

Posted by:   🕔 Wednesday 14, March 2012 Categories: Consecrated Life

Well, it seems like forever since I last blogged about something going on in the news but I am happy to report that I am back from my week working with the Sisters of St. Joseph and their volunteer program. 

I cannot go into too much detail about what I did (I am saving that for our magazine-so check it out in July), but it was a great week. I got involved in so many unique ministries that the sisters provide out in Rochester.

The overarching theme is Social Justice and Peace which stems from Catholic Social Teaching. All the ministries of the SSJ focus on these core components to provide the necessary resources people need in their daily lives. I was involved in education, health care, community and environmental ministries throughout the week and I had the opportunity to meet some really amazing people. It was truly an eye-opening experience to see how many lives we were able to touch just by being present and lending a helping hand. 

Some words about Rochester, New York:

  • the city's population was 43.7% White, 41.7% Black or African American, 0.5% American Indian and Alaska Native, 3.1% Asian, 0.0% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, 6.6% from some other race and 4.4% from two or more races. 16.4% of the total population are Hispanic or Latino of any race, mostly made up of Puerto Ricans
  • There were 88,999 households of which 30.0% had children under 18 living with them, 25.1% were married couples living together, 23.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 47.0% were non-families. 37.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.2% had someone living alone 65 or older. The average household size was 2.36 and the average family size was 3.19.
  • The median income for a city household is $27,123, and the median family income is $31,257. Males had a median income of $30,521, versus $25,139 for females. The per capita income for the city is $15,588. About 23.4% of families and 25.9% of the population are below the poverty line, including 37.5% of those under age 18 and 15.4% of those ages 65 or over.
  • The graduation rate for the public schools is about 39%. Based on this statistic, most families have enrolled their children into the Catholic school systems. It is hard because of the cost associated with Catholic education.
  • Rochester has one of the highest rates of refugees per capita. About 1000+ refugee families have settled just outside the downtown area of Rochester. The come from Eastern Europe, Vietnam, the Middle East, and other places.

Rochester does have its areas of poverty and hardship like many cities but there was a feeling of welcome when I arrived. It was a great place to live and work for a week and I hope that others get inspired to participate in this amazing program and get a glimpse into the lives of the Sisters of St. Joseph. 

sources: City of Rochester

Click here for more information about the Sisters of St. Joseph, Rochester, NY.

"The Jesus Discovery": Buyer beware

Posted by:   🕔 Wednesday 07, March 2012 Categories:

The Talpiot ossuaries
(photo from Thomas Verenna's blog,

"There's no such thing as bad publicity," the saying goes, and usually the best way to draw attention to something bad is to tell people not to go anywhere near it—which a large number then go right ahead and do mostly because they heard about it from you first.

With that caution in mind, I pass along a Publishers Weekly item about a new book, The Jesus Discovery: The New Archaeological Find that Reveals the Birth of Christianity by James Tabor and Simcha Jacobovici. PW summarizes: "It argues that evidence from ossuaries (bone boxes) newly excavated from a previously unopened tomb under a Jerusalem condominium—near what has been called 'the Jesus Family Tomb,' first excavated in 1980—revive the possibility they are related to the family of Jesus."

After the book's publication, PW says, "Archaeologists used the blog of the American Schools of Oriental Research to repudiate the new claim. A 2008 book, The Jesus Family Tomb: The Evidence Behind the Discovery No One Wanted to Find by Jacobovici and Charles Pellegrino (HarperOne), got a similar reception from scholars. A film on the new discovery is set to air on the Discovery Channel this spring."

Oh, boy. Now first of all, in the interest of full disclosure, I have not read the book. Second, I do realize that scholars are not always right, and every now and then someone with an unconventional theory proves to be actually onto something. But religion is particularly vulnerable to sensational books that argue for wild, sweeping claims based on faulty interpretations of the evidence or discoveries of "new" evidence that "they"—the establishment—don't want you to know about. It's what I call the "aliens must have built the Egyptian pyramids" argument. For me, if the American Schools of Oriental Research, a mainstream professional organization, feels the need to offer itself as a forum to refute the book's claims, I'm going to put my money on them, not the authors. Follow the searches and links on the Talpiot tombs and you'll find lots of very knowledgeable people who have a bunch of issue with these books.

The double problem is that these kinds of books are put out by major publishers—like Simon & Schuster and HarperOne—and thereby have the big promotional budgets that the books and people who can give you really solid information on the subject rarely get. So these books and films and websites get out there, and most people don't have the critical tools to make up their own minds about whether they're being sold a bill of goods. If people took the time and money they would spend on reading something like The Jesus Discovery and used it instead on a good, accessible introduction to biblical archaeology—like the award-winning Biblical Archaeology: A Very Short Introduction by Eric H. Cline (Oxford University Press, 2009), also available on Kindle—they and the rest of us would be much better served.

Here's the ASOR blog, and the original PW item (BTW, PW has a regular enewsletter and is a good source for news in the religion books area).

Leap for Pope Paul III

Posted by:   🕔 Wednesday 29, February 2012 Categories:

The only leap year baby to become Pope was Paul III, who was born in Italy on this very day in 1468. Known as Alessandro Farnese, he became the Pope in 1534. Pope Paul III, convened the Council of Trent in 1545 and he was a strong advocate of the arts. As Pope, he commissioned Michelangelo to paint the Last Judgement on the wall of the Sistine Chapel. According to many scholars, Nicolaus Copernicus dedicated his work, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of Celestial Spheres) to Pope Paul III because of his contribution to the arts. 

Pope Paul III died in 1549 and is burined in a tomb in which Michelangelo designed. To read more about Pope Paul III click here. Enjoy all the blessings that come with this "leap" day today! 

A Lenten Journey

Posted by:   🕔 Tuesday 28, February 2012 Categories:


We can look upon Lent as a journey. Think about the journeys we take-long journeys that can take days, even weeks to complete. Throughout this journey we experience ups and downs. We don't really expect them to go smoothly but we prepare for those things and deal with them when they come up.

A new movie, called The Way, is a movie about a journey in search of self, understanding and reconciliation. The Way, written and directed by Emilio Estevez and starring his father, Martin Sheen takes us on a journey with characters that we come to care about and relate to. 

The story goes that Tom (Sheen) is a California doctor whose son, Daniel (Estevez), dies in an accident while beginning a 500-mile pilgrimage to the shrine of Santiago de Compostela along the northern coast of Spain. When Tom arrives to claim Daniel's body, he decides to carry Daniel's ashes on to Santiago to complete Daniel's pilgrimage. Along the way, the pilgrimage becomes uniquely his own.

One of the lessons he learns along the way is that we must each walk the journey for ourselves, but we can't do it without others. Along the way he meets up with a diverse group of individuals and they each begin to ask each other, "What makes a real pilgrim?" As they ask this question they begin to unburden themselves of old baggage and barriers. In the end, each arrives at a healing truth about himself or herself and a love for each other.

Sheen, says of the pilgrim experience, "As we go along, we begin to shed some of the excess weight that we're carrying exteriorly, and then something interesting happens: transcendence-the journey inside." What a great message for Lent as we are taking our journeys towards spiritual renewal.

Photobomb of Mother Dolores on Oscars red carpet

Posted by:   🕔 Monday 27, February 2012 Categories: Consecrated Life

We've talk about actress-turned-contemplative sister Mother Dolores Hart, O.S.B., prioress of the of the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, Connecticut, in this blog before. A documentary about her journey to religious life was nominated - but alas did not win - an Academy Award. I for one was hoping Tim Gunn was going to interview her on the red carpet and ask her about her dress, but in a way he did.

Irish citizenship bestowed on Notre Dame's legendary Fr. Hesburgh

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Sunday 26, February 2012 Categories: Clergy

Fr. Theodore Hesburgh, CSC with
Rev. Martin Luther King during Civil Rights
rally in 1964. Click here for more about the
moment captured in this iconic photo.
University of Notre Dame’s former president Holy Cross Father Theodore Hesburgh is to receive Irish citizenship on St. Patrick’s Day (March 17) from Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny who will be on campus, reports

Hesburgh, now 95 years old, was a leading figure in the U.S. civil rights movement and an educator who was considered among the finest of the 20th century.

The citizenship award is very rare, as it is not an honorary award and is given to those who do not qualify through ancestral rules. Previous recipients have included former House Speaker "Tip” O’Neill and former Coca Cola president Donald Keough.

Learn more about the Congregation of Holy Cross.

Give yourself a spiritual workout this Lent

Posted by:   🕔 Thursday 23, February 2012 Categories:

How can we change course and really deepen our faith this Lent?

According to Jeanne Hunt writing in St. Anthony's Messenger, we begin by cleaning out our spiritual closets and getting rid of those spiritual skeletons that are hindering our relationship with God and others.

"We Catholics and other Christians," says Hung "have long put on spiritual ashes to renew our faith and turn back to God wholeheartedly. Yet, our traditional pillars of Lenten practice need to be regularly revisited and tweaked. We may need to leave our comfort zone and give ourselves a genuine spiritual workout. For Lent to really matter, we must take a hard look at the state of our spirits. Then we can respond in a way that establishes deeper connections with God, our families--and even ourselves.

"God invites us to look at all our relationships with a willingness to make changes. Giving up things that mean little to us, such as candy, soda, etc., are good but that cannot impact the state of our souls. We have to begin to look critically at how we spend time in prayer, what we worship in the secular world, or how we spend our money."

Here is what Hunt lists as her Favorite Lenten Fasts:

Proclaim an electronic fast on weekends. That means no iPad, iPod, Blackberry or computer until Monday morning. Then spend the resulting free time visiting people you love and spending quality time with your spouse and children.

Stay out of unnecessary stores during Lent. Anything beyond the grocery store, pharmacy, etc., is off-limits. Instead of adding more stuff during Lent, give away or throw away three things each day before Easter.

Go green in a big way. Every day perform a Lenten “random act of kindness for the earth.” Keep a journal of your green project work, and after Easter do these acts regularly.

Fast from media during Lent. Stop watching TV or Internet news or even listening to the radio. For 40 days, turn your thoughts to God. Choose to spend your time reading a book or magazine that feeds your soul.

Walk everywhere you can. Limit gas usage to a certain amount and make it last all week. Each day, walk with God. Simply imagine that you and Jesus Christ are running or walking side by side. Talk to him and listen to him.

Hunt recommends that we look at our lives objectively, honestly recognize our weaknesses, and then design a fast that responds to those weaknesses. Above all, says Hunt, "Don’t do something that comes easily. Your Lenten workout should hurt a little."

Enjoy your spiritual exercise!

Too poor to take a vow of poverty?

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Wednesday 22, February 2012 Categories:

According to the just released NRVC/CARA Study on Educational Debt and Vocations to Religious Life, seven in ten institutes (69 percent) turned away at least one person because of student loans. In addition, many religious communities ask young people to delay their applications to enter because of educational debt.

“For those entering religious life, the expectation is that they be debt-free,” says Holy Cross Brother Paul Bednarczyk, Executive Director of NRVC, “but for graduates in today’s economy, where education costs have risen by 900 percent since 1978, paying off loans can take years to accomplish. The burden of student debt has become a serious problem for religious communities desirous of welcoming younger members.”

Of approximately 15,000 serious inquiries to men’s and women’s religious institutes in the past 10 years, one in three (32 percent) involved a person with educational debt averaging $28,000, a figure slightly higher than the $25,000 national average.

The practice of assuming debt places a heavy and growing financial burden on religious communities, the study reveals. Those applying to enter religious life during the past 10 years carried $3 million in educational debt, and if national trends continue, that overall student debt load will likely rise by 5 percent annually.

Men and women whose educational debt is delaying their entrance into a religious community often develop creative strategies for paying off their loans, such as online candy sales, marathon runs, or bingo fundraisers.

“Because religious sisters, brothers, and priests are vital to the life of the church and provide great service to society,” says Bednarczyk: “we plan to bring together key stakeholders to develop strategies to ease this significant and growing barrier to religious vocations.” Time for everyone to put their thinking caps . . .

Any ideas?

NOTE: Vocation Match has been tracking this debt trend. In 2011, 40 percent of VISION site visitors who completed a Vocation Match profile said they were not debt-free that was up from 27 percent in 2007. So far in 2012, 38 percent of reader respondents say they are not debt free. Find more VISION reader stats here. Also in a recent Fall 2010 Tiny Snapshot Survey, 49 percent of respondents answered YES to the question: Has debt affected your readiness or eligibility to religious life?

Mardi Gras

Posted by:   🕔 Tuesday 21, February 2012 Categories:

Mardi Gras literally "Fat Tuesday", is the last hurrah before the Catholic season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. The name comes from the tradition of slaughtering and feasting upon a fattened calf on the last day of Carnival.

What most people don't know is that this celebration relates back to the Christmas Season, through the ordinary time interlude known as Carnival. Carnival comes from the Latin, carne vale, which means "farewell to the flesh." Like many holidays and celebrations its roots are found in pre-Christian traditions based on the seasons. The season starts on Epiphany and ends with a huge celebration on "Fat Tuesday" or Mardi Gras.

Epiphany is also traditionally when celebrants serve King's Cake, a custom that began in France in the 12th century. Legend has it that the cakes were made in a circle to represent the circular routes that the Wise Men took to find Jesus. In the early days, a coin or bean was hidden inside the cake, and whoever found the item was said to have good luck in the coming year. In Louisiana, bakers now put a small baby, representing the Christ Child, in the cake; the recipient is then expected to host the next King Cake party.

There are well-known season-long Carnival celebrations in Europe and Latin America, including Nice, France; Cologne, Germany; and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The best-known celebration in the U.S. is in New Orleans and the French-Catholic communities of the Gulf Coast. Mardi Gras came to the New World in 1699, when a French explorer arrived at the Mississippi River, about 60 miles south of present day New Orleans. He named the spot Point du Mardi Gras because he knew the holiday was being celebrated in his native country that day.

The official colors of Mardi Gras, with their roots in Catholicism, were chosen 10 years later: purple, a symbol of justice; green, representing faith; and gold, to signify power. By midnight tonight, all the festivities will be over, but the true challenge lies ahead, when we begin our 40 day Lenten journey which begins on Ash Wednesday.

Happy Mardi Gras!

Sources: American Catholic 

Society of Helpers' VOICES of HOPE

Posted by:   🕔 Monday 20, February 2012 Categories: Consecrated Life

Voices of Hope
is a publication of the Society of Helpers, featuring articles written by friends of the Helpers and others. It includes a section on the history of the Society of Helpers and highlights ministries in which the sisters are involved.

It is published twice yearly and there is no cost to receive it. It focuses on different themes in each issue, and past issues can be found on the website. If you would like to be put on the mailing list for this publication, please send your mailing address to:

Vocation Match tips

Posted by: Dan Grippo   🕔 Friday 17, February 2012 Categories:


Are you looking for a religious community that might be a "good fit" for your interests, spirituality, and personality? Here are a couple of tips on maximizing the Vocation Match program.

Use the “Importance Slider” (found under many questions in Vocation Match) to indicate the relative priority a particular question has for you in your search for potential religious communities. This will help us weigh your answers so you are more likely to match with communities that share your values and interests.

By adjusting the “Importance Slider” you can change the number of communities with which you match. Place higher importance on more questions and you will end up matching with fewer communities (because you are being more selective) but perhaps find a better fit. Lower importance on more questions will likely match you with more communities.

Jesus Fish: Nourishment for our Souls

Posted by:   🕔 Friday 17, February 2012 Categories:

Ichthys, the Greek word meaning fish, is a predominant and powerful Christian symbol. Mentioned in the Gospels several times, the fish is quite symbolic of Jesus Christ. The letters in Ichthys are Greek words which make the Greek phrase, "Jesus Christ, Son of God, and Savior."

The historical meaning of the "Jesus Fish" goes back to after the Resurrection of Jesus. During the years following the Resurrection, the Church grew rapidly and the Christians were being persecuted by the Romans and Jews. Because it was dangerous to be a Christian, strangers that would meet would draw on the ground the upper have of the fish symbol. Upon recognizing the symbol the other would add the bottom and complete the drawing which was a fish. It may have been very simple but it was also easy to erase in case it was not recognized.  

As we enter into Lent, we recall the importance of Jesus in our own lives and we begin to reflect on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, by his death and resurrection. Fr. Greg Friedman O.F.M. with American Catholic gives a great 60 second piece on the importance of the "Jesus Fish" and how this ancient symbol points directly to Jesus. During Lent, we try to realign ourselves with Jesus, by sacrificing something we enjoy. Normally, we give up meat, we fast, we pray, and we give alms to those in need.

Like Jesus, fish have fed thousands of people and nourished them. During Lent, we use the example of Jesus and the Gospels to nourish our souls and get feed by the Eucharist in order to have eternal life. We need the nourishment of Christ in our own lives and as we approach Lent, our nourishment comes in the sacrifice and preparation for the Resurrection of Jesus on Easter. 

Jesus' prayers on Cross inspire Forgiveness

Posted by:   🕔 Wednesday 15, February 2012 Categories: Vocation and Discernment

The final words of Jesus Christ as he died on the cross should prompt Christians to pray for those who have hurt them Pope Benedict XVI said on Feb. 15, the Catholic News Reported.

"Jesus by asking the Father to forgive those who are crucifying him, invites us to the difficult act of praying for those who do us wrong, who have damaged us, knowing always how to forgive," the Pope told over 6,000 pilgrims attending today's general audience in Paul VI Hall.

The Pope urged people to pray that "the light of God may illuminate their hearts, inviting us, that is, to live in our prayers, the same attitude of mercy and love that God has towards us."This attitude, he explained, is summed up in one line from the Our Father - "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."

Over the past several months, the Pope has used his weekly general audiences to explore the issue of prayer. This week he focused on the three last prayers of Jesus from the cross.

Those three final prayers of Jesus are "tragic" for every man but are also "pervaded by the deep calm that comes from trust in the Father and the will to abandon himself totally to him." They are a "supreme act of love" which went "to the limit and beyond the limit."As well as prompting us to pray for our enemies, the final prayers of Jesus should also teach Christians that "no matter how hard the trial, difficult the problem, heavy the suffering, we never fall from the hands of God," Pope Benedict said.

Pope, papal foundation support Algerian basilica restoration

Posted by:   🕔 Wednesday 15, February 2012 Categories:
BASILICA of St. Augustine, Annaba, Algeria.

Pope Benedict XVI has made a personal contribution towards the restoration of the 112-year-old Basilica of St. Augustine in Algeria. The church, located in modern Annaba, overlooks the site of ancient Hippo, where Saint Augustine was bishop. In addition to the pope’s donation, the Papal Foundation has also contributed to the project.

Because authorities in both Algeria and France, as well as a number of institutions, religious orders, and benefactors, are financing the work, Vatican Radio said the restoration is “a symbol of coexistence and fraternity between the two shores of the Mediterranean, between Christians and Muslims, between the West and Islam, between people who seek the truth.”

Two Minutes of Wisdom

Posted by:   🕔 Tuesday 14, February 2012 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy

Since today is Valentine's Day, a day where we express our love for others, I thought it would be neat to post a  video about a program that helps former gang members. Father Greg Boyle is the founder and Executive Director of Homeboy Industries, a non-profit that works with former gang members to help transform their lives, create positive communities and "find the person they are really meant to be." The link below takes you to Fr. Boyle talking about the importance of his work and the importance of helping those that are in need. 

Homeboy Industries started as a jobs program offering alternatives to gang violence in one of the toughest neighborhoods in Los Angeles, Homeboy assists at-risk, recently released, and formerly gang involved youth to become contributing members of their communities through a variety of services in response to their multiple needs. Free programs -- including counseling, education, tattoo removal, substance abuse and addiction assistance, job training and job placement -- enable young people to redirect their lives. Homeboy provides them with hope for their futures and is the nation’s largest gang-intervention and re-entry program – a model to all.

So today as we show our affection for those we love, let's remember to pray for those who need love and support. 

Sources: Homeboy Industries Homepage and Huffington Post

Jesuit posts on "The Jesuit Post"

Posted by:   🕔 Monday 13, February 2012 Categories:

A Jesuit seminarian in the U.S. has created a new site, The Jesuit Post, "about Jesus, politics, and pop-culture . . . the Catholic Church, sports, and Socrates. It’s about making the case for God (better: letting God make the case for Himself) in our secular age." The editor, Patrick Gilger, is a past VISION Vocation Guide author.


World Youth Day Logo Revealed

Posted by:   🕔 Friday 10, February 2012 Categories:

Brazil's coastline, its Sugarloaf Mountain, and the iconic "Christ the Redeemer" statue are all part of the logo for the 2013 World Youth Day  which was unveiled on Feb. 7.

"In the faith of the nations the heart has a major role," World Youth Day said in a note explaining the heart-shaped logo.

"It represents Brazil's welcome to the world as a nation of generous heart and hospitable people, while also conveying the faith of the disciples who carry Jesus in their hearts," according to Archbishop Tempesta.

Excitement surrounded the unveiling of the 2013 World Youth Day logo, which took place at an event hosted by Rio de Janeiro's Archbishop Orani João Tempesta. A 25-year-old Brazilian man, Gustavo Huguenin, submitted the winning logo design in a contest held by organizers of the international Catholic In his design, geographical and religiously-themed elements come together to form a heart, arranged around Christ's image taken from Brazil's internationally-known statue.

The top half incorporates the outline of Sugarloaf Mountain, the peak overlooking Rio de Janeiro. World Youth Day's traditional "pilgrim cross" is superimposed on the mountain.

Meanwhile, the lower right half of the heart shape combines with the right side of Christ's image to form the shape of Brazil's coastline. The logo shares the green, blue, and yellow color scheme of the country's flag

As we prepare for the next World Youth Day. Let us keep the youth and young adults in our prayers. The next World Youth Day takes place July 23-28th 2013 in Rio de Janeiro. 

Sources: Catholic News Agency

Faith that Inspires

Posted by:   🕔 Thursday 09, February 2012 Categories: Consecrated Life

This week the Benedictine Sisters of Erie got a much deserved mention in the Huffington Post being a group that inspires Faith. Each week the post writes about a well deserving person or group that works in bettering communities by faith and love.

The Benedictine Sisters of Erie are doing just that and more. These women offer services to teens, children, families, the elderly, physically challenged, homeless, and broken. While they may not always have the physical room, they always have their hearts open and welcoming to those in need.

The program that is being highlighted is their Neighborhood Inner City Art House. Since its inception this home provides classes in the arts-visual, performing and literary--- for at risk youth in a safe clean environment. There is no cost associated with attending any of these classes. They thrive mainly on donations and volunteers. The home has had over 2000 volunteers and roughly 500 children use this facility each year.  The goal of the art house is to enable children to experience beauty, grow in a positive way, and develop into a fully productive human being.

What motivates this ministry? According to their website: Inspired by the Gospel and the Rule of Benedict we respond to the needs of all God's people. We steward the gifts, talents and skills that have been given to us and extend them through service. Community and non-community ministries alike provide the opportunity for meaningful work that is consistent with our monastic commitment to glorify God in all things.

So if you ever stop by Erie, PA check out this amazing home and see what you can do to help. 

Called to Serve

Posted by:   🕔 Tuesday 07, February 2012 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy

The armed forces don't seem like a place where one would be called to serve the Lord or be a minister to faith. The Huffington Post published a really nice article about hearing your call while serving in the military. According to the Post, there are a number of men who became military chaplains, either by a twist of fate or perhaps divine Providence many they found their calling while on active duty.

Many chaplains enter into the military straight from the seminary but some are called directly while still serving. The article talks about Muslim, Jewish, and Christian's who have all been called while serving to become military chaplains.

Brian Wood, now a Catholic chaplain, wanted to be a priest according to his parents but instead of enrolling into the seminary he went into the Air Force. Several Catholic chaplains told him that he should become a priest, he said, citing his "strength of faith and they thought I had a glow to me, that I looked like a priest."

Today, he is a seminarian at the Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, supported by both his home diocese in Lubbock, Texas, and the Archdiocese for the Military Services. After his expected graduation in June, Wood is scheduled to do three years of pastoral work in Lubbock, where he hopes to remain in the Air Force reserves, before returning to active duty. "I have a strong passion for the military and for my faith," Wood said. "What better way to put those two together than become a military chaplain."

Let us continue to keep the men and women who serve our country in our daily prayers. 

Jesus and Paul

Posted by:   🕔 Monday 06, February 2012 Categories:

What exactly was the influence of Paul the Apostle and Jesus? In a recent article in the Huffington Post, Robert Orlando writes how crucial Paul's role was in developing our Christian faith. As he writes, Jesus was the figure head of the Church and prepared the way while Paul recruited and developed Christianity into what it is today. The influence Jesus had on Paul manifested into our Christian faith today.

According to this article, Jesus' ministry was primarily a message to the Jewish people in preparation for a Messianic kingdom. It was Paul who targeted a larger Greco-Roman community. Gred Ludeman stated, "Without Paul there would be no Church and no Christianity. He is the most decisive person that shaped Christianity as it developed. Without Paul we would have had reformed Judaism....but no Christianity."

Paul's new Gospel broke with the original followers of Jesus, and ultimately gets him almost killed in Jerusalem. However, the central theme fusing the life of Paul in his letters with Jesus from the Gospels was the coming Kingdom of God. This "visitation" was not the Jewish understanding of the general resurrection. When Paul confronted Jesus in his Damascus vision, he also faced a new idea of resurrection -- but there was no kingdom, no destruction of Rome, no end times. In other words, there were no signs of Jewish Messiah.

From this moment forward, the Christian movement pivots from Figurehead to Founder. Paul's interpretation of this vision of the Messiah would determine the meaning of his life, his mission and eventually the Western World.

Still a common argument against Paul as founder of Christianity was the fact that he had a movement to convert to, but again, this is not what is in question. The question is would this original cult of Jewish Christian believers in Judea -- without Paul -- have come to found the Christian church?

History has claimed Jesus "the Christ" as the figurehead, but without Paul the Apostle, the founder, who improvised his message -- free of the Jewish religion -- and broke the resistance of his original followers there would be no church and perhaps not even a Jesus.

So what do you think? Was Paul's role truly this significant? 

Bishops take the Gold

Posted by:   🕔 Thursday 02, February 2012 Categories: Clergy

British bishops plan to use the 2012 London Olympic Games to renew interest in the Catholic faith, with initiatives ranging from fighting human trafficking and homelessness to promoting youth ministry and ecumenical dialogue. Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, president of the bishops' conference, called the Olympics and Paralympics "a moment of great opportunity for us all."

"These great sporting events generate all sorts of good ideas and initiatives, particularly for young people, reminding all of us of the importance of good health, the dignity of our bodies, the care of our physical well-being and its spiritual meaning," the archbishop said in a Jan. 24 statement.

The Catholic Church in Britain has been preparing for three years to seize the opportunity presented by the games to evangelize, said James Parker, the Catholic executive coordinator for the games.According to Parker there will also be 100 days of Peace, which encourages churches and schools to promote peace 50 days before and after the Olympics, through various opportunities and programs. The goal is to try and help combat violence and crime.

What a great initiative and what a creative way to get people active in being spiritually healthy and physically healthy. To read more about what the British Bishops are doing check out this article in the National Catholic Reporter.  

Reducing Poverty will bring about the Kingdom of God

Posted by:   🕔 Wednesday 01, February 2012 Categories:

This week in our parish bulletin our Pastor addressed the issue of poverty and those that are poor. The reason for this was on more than one occasion a woman and her child were begging for money outside our church after mass. While many people suggested she use our Social Services Ministry, she preferred cash. However, the issue of poverty and helping the needy is quite an important one. We are called to take care of those who are poor. The Gospel of Luke is filled with parables and sayings from Jesus telling us that indifference to the poor is unacceptable. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells us that our final judgment will depend on how we feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and welcome the stranger. This is an obligation of all Christians to take care of the poor.

While reading this story in our bulletin, I came across this article in the CNS about Bishop Murry of Ohio writing on this very issue of poverty and taking care of the poor. According to Bishop George Murry in a pastoral letter on poverty, "Jesus said we will always have the poor with us, if each of us stops on our own journey to help a neighbor in need, the kingdom of God will come closer to realization each day". Jesus called upon his followers, he said, "to see and love our neighbors as ourselves. There is a sense that we have lost our historic concern for the poor among us. Sometimes we hear language and share attitudes that deride persons living in poverty," said the bishop, who also is secretary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The pastoral, "Who Is My Neighbor?" was dated January 2012 to coincide with National Poverty Awareness Month. Poverty "is not a simple problem" because it "involves family dynamics, minimal material resources, missed opportunities, personal fears, complex relationships, cultural norms, geographic locations, isolation and lack of understanding," Bishop Murry said. "Some who are poor are embarrassed to admit they have lost their jobs, their homes, and sometimes even their identity.

Most of our parishes or congregations have Social Services that provide the necessary resources for the poor. Our parish ministry helps out people where ever we can. As our Pastor suggested if you want to help the poor donate to a social service ministry, volunteer at a soup kitchen, donate clothing or groceries. These are all things that can help those who are less fortunate and bring about the Kingdom of God.

Here are some words from Blessed Mother Teresa that will help us to really think about the poor: At the end of our lives, we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made or how many great things we have done. We will be judged by "I was hungry and you gave me to eat. I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless and you took me in." Hungry not only for food-but hungry for love. Naked not only for clothing---but naked for human dignity and respect. Homeless not only for a room of bricks-but homeless because of rejection. This is Christ in distressing disguise.


Young lawyer looks at women living gospel values and says, "I want that."

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Tuesday 31, January 2012 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life


This past Sunday's Times Picayune ran an indepth profile on Alison McCrary, a young lawyer who is on her way to becoming a sister. Here are some highlights from reporter Sheila Stroup's story:

“People have such a misconception of what nuns are,”  says McCrary. “We’re supposed to run into the world, not out of it. Our eyes are wide open, and our sleeves are rolled up.”

“My mother is Cherokee,” she says. “She wasn’t welcome at the white school or the black school when she was a girl. She just recently learned to read and write.”

Where McCrary lived, Confederate flags flew on many buildings, and the Ku Klux Klan marched in the square on weekends. “You grow up with something, you think it’s normal,” she says. “But that isn’t normal. . . . There are so many struggles of the poor and oppressed,” she says. “If I’m not engaged in some kind of social change, then something is wrong.”

She entered the Loyola University New Orleans College of Law in August 2007. During her work as a paralegal and volunteer activities as a law student, she met several Sisters of St. Joseph and saw the important work they were doing, and she felt called to become a nun.

“I met Sister Helen Prejean and Sister Lory Schaff and all these incredible women who were living the gospel values, and I thought, ‘I want that,’” she says. She started meeting with a spiritual advisor, and after finishing law school and passing the bar in May, 2010, she took the first step to becoming a Sister of St. Joseph on Aug. 15, 2010.

“I knew I had to find the beauty in the middle of all the struggle,” she says. “My decision is something I feel at peace with. . . . I feel like I’m called to that commitment.”

When her fellowship is over in April, McCrary will begin the second step in becoming a nun. She will go from her busy ministry in criminal justice reform and cultural rights advocacy to a two-year novitiate. “You can’t work or volunteer,” she says. “It’s a time of contemplation, a time to explore your relationship with God.” She will live in Chicago with the other Sister of St. Joseph novices in a house owned by the congregation. “I think it will be really rewarding,” she says. She looks forward to finishing her novitiate and making her first vows in April 2014.

Read more about the Congregation of St. Joseph.

Pope: Authority means service

Posted by:   🕔 Monday 30, January 2012 Categories:


In his Sunday Angelus address, Pope Benedict XVI said Jesus was such an influential man because of his words and deeds, in particular those that were focused on the poor, sick, hungry, and less fortunate.  

For us "authority often means possession, power, control, success," the Pope said to those gathered in St. Peter's Square. "For God, however, authority means service, humility, love. . .  It means entering into the logic of Jesus who stoops to wash the disciples' feet, who seeks the true good of man, who heals wounds, who is capable of a love so great as to give up his life, because he is Love."

Jesus heals us both spiritually and physically with his miracles and teachings, said Benedict, and he suggested that Jesus' use of words immediately opened up most of those listening to "the will of the Father and the truth about themselves." However, the scribes who "struggled to interpret the Holy Scriptures with countless reflections" were not open to his words.

The Pope highlights the idea that Jesus was powerful not for his control over people or the possessions he had; rather had power because of his unconditional love. Imagine if we saw our own power coming from the love we had for others: our relationships with others, how we treated people, and how we served others instead of the amount of money or political influence we had. What an interesting idea? Think how different the world would be?

It is definitely something worth thinking about especially in your own life. How have you treated people? How will you be remembered? These are some heavy things to consider, but that's what the Pope was calling us to do.

Happy Friday with a twist of humor

Posted by:   🕔 Friday 27, January 2012 Categories:

I figured since this is one of the first Sunny days we have had in January (here in Chicago), I would blog about something with a little humor today.

Now I admire and even praise the man in the video below for having the courage to sing in front of all these people, but his rendition of "Looking for a City" will definitely give you a few chuckles.

The performance -- which lasts for nearly three minutes -- might leave you speechless, but the ballad does solicit whistles and applause from a rather brave audience.

Have a great weekend and if you finding yourself wanting to sing, depending on your talents, it might be wise to think twice!

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Trading Cards Promote Religious Vocations

Posted by:   🕔 Thursday 26, January 2012 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy,Consecrated Life

Posted in the Journal Sentinel, a creative and catchy way to approach religious vocations: Religious Trading Cards. These trading cards are unlike the traditional baseball or basketball cards. Rather they feautre highly respected and admired religious leaders in and around the Milwaukee area. Among them is Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki along with a handful of other local Catholic religious leaders featured on a new deck of trading cards circulating near and around Milwaukee. 

The initiative, launched last week by two Catholic parishes — St. Monica’s in Whitefish Bay and St. Eugene’s in Fox Point — is meant to draw interest towards religious vocations.

“The biggest challenge today is indifferent families,” parish pastoral associate Monica Cardenas told the Catholic Herald. “We need families to embrace the idea for their children.” Among the others featured: Bishop Donald Hying; former Cardinal Stritch University President Sister Camille Kleibhan; and Father Paul Fliss, interim pastor at St. Eugene’s.

Cards include mini-bios, nicknames, favorite saints and individuals who influenced their interest in religious life. No word yet on the tradability of the cards but a unique way to get people interested in religious life. 

Catholic Education: a family affair

Posted by:   🕔 Wednesday 25, January 2012 Categories:

In honor of Catholic Schools Week, the National Catholic Reporter spoke on the importance of Catholic education and all its benefits.  Out of Trenton, NJ the Briant Family, which includes, Alison Briant Burley, Ellen Briant Reilly, Susan, and Katelyn Briant have all credited their own Catholic education in becoming Catholic school teachers.

Their parents, Doris and Thomas Briant, both products of Catholic education, made sure their children all had 12 years of Catholic education, despite the prospect of all that tuition. "My motivation was to show (our) commitment to Catholic education," Doris said, in spite of the financial hardships.

Crediting those that influenced the family, Tom and Doris praised two people in particular for having a good influence on their daughters: the late Sr. Juliana Naulty, a Dominican Sister of Hope who was principal of St. Joseph School in Toms River, and the late Fr. William P. Gardner, parochial vicar at their parish, St. Joseph.

"Sister Juliana demonstrated to all the girls that being a Catholic educator went beyond the classroom walls," Doris said. "She celebrated with them in their victories and supported them when they were down, (and) she knew the best way to help her students was to help their families. All four were honored to have known her."

Alison Briant Burley said that it was a wonderful opportunity to attend Catholic school and hoped that she could give her children the same experience she was given--an education of the whole person. "I want them to be encouraged and empowered to be their best selves by nurturing their faith and their minds at the same time."

Ellen Briant Reilly began her teaching career in the second-grade classroom at St. Aloysius School in Jackson. She now teaches at St. Joseph School.

Susan Briant has taught the fifth-graders at St. Dominic School in Brick for four years. S

Katelyn Briant a first-year teacher of Spanish at St. Paul School in Princeton.

Did you have a Catholic education? Take VISION's Tiny Snapshot survey on the homepage that is tracking the number of years our site visitors received formal Catholic education.

A lesson in the art of Confession

Posted by:   🕔 Monday 23, January 2012 Categories:

Today my 2nd Grade Catechesis class makes their First Reconciliation. I stumbled upon an article in The Huffington Post about the art of confession written by verteran Catholic author Paul Wilkes.

As I was reading through the article, it got me thinking of how I addressed to my class what Confession is. To a 2nd grader, the idea of Confession is pretty minuscule. They understand it to be merely a "scary" meeting with the priest explaining why they didn't take care of their pets better or played video games too long. The true art form of confession is missed; however there is something to be said for getting a group of 2nd graders stating the Act of Contrition in unison.

"Small c" confession, says Wilkes, is directed to a higher powe and is a pillar of not only religious belief but also mental health--it demands that we are honest with ourselves.

Confession is realignment--when we sin or betray ourselves, we are unaligned. Until we confess our sins our souls remain confused and out of alignment. This "small c" confession demands self-reflection and change and it's taking an honest look at your true inner self. Confession is not only for those who have committed public or private sin, but also for our daily hurts, neglects, and carelessness that disjoints our soul.d.

Also it seems that confession has lost its  vitality because we have such an antiquated notion of right and wrong in the world. So how can we truly understand what confession is all about if we really don't know right from wrong? According to Wilkes, Confession is an art. It is an attitude and a way to live honestly and consciously that can heal our souls. Confession is a realignment of what is best in us and how we can live a better life. Once we realize this and we acknowledge this, we can truly understand the Art of Confession and obtain all the benefits it has to offer.

When confession becomes a practice, a daily reevaluation of one's actions -- an art -- its power continues to grow, instilling a new sense of confidence, a vision of what life truly can be and hold. It is building upon something strong and sure and ultimately reliable.

Not sure 2nd graders can get all that--it's enough that they remember the Act of Contrition. But with practice of saying I'm sorry, they may eventually come to understand the true art of Confession and its importance in their lives.

Unsure of some of the more formal aspects of the sacrament of Confession? Check out the VISION article "How to Make a Good Confession."

Sisters to make a stand at this year's Super Bowl

Posted by:   🕔 Friday 20, January 2012 Categories: Consecrated Life

Picking up from the previous efforts after the World Cup in 2010, 11 religious orders from Indiana and Michigan are picking up where they left off and are fighting to stop sex-trafficking this year down in Indianapolis at Super Bowl XLVI. According to these congregations, there is an increase in sex-trafficking that is associated with sporting events. Their goal this year is to reduce, if not eliminate, this potential threat at the Super Bowl. 

These orders are members of the Coalition for Corporate Responsibility for Indiana and Michigan which was established in the 1990s. This Coalition is a part of the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility which remains as the pioneer coalition of active shareowners who view the management of their investments as a catalyst to promote justice and sustainability in the world.

When the ICCR held its meeting last June and heard that the Super Bowl was in Indianapolis, "we picked up the ball and started running," said Sr. Ann Oestreich, an IHM sister who is also the justice coordinator for the Sisters of the Holy Cross in South Bend, Indiana.

"In CCRIM, we had done a process in terms of picking one issue that was important to all of our members. Prior to the Super Bowl, the issue of human trafficking came up," Sister Ann told Catholic News Service.

"It's such a broad issue. How do we get at it as investors, as socially responsible investors? So we decided to take a look at the hospitality industry and purchasing stock in their companies so we could get into a conversation with the hotels."

Coalition representatives contacted the federal Department of Health and Human Services for assistance. "We asked for printed copies of brochures on their website, and HHS was kind enough, when they heard what we were doing, to provide 2,000 printed copies of those brochures."

They prepared a fact sheet and their goal was to reach 220 hotels in a 50 mile radius. So far according to Sr. Ann, "the response has been good."

Based on a Jan. 12 conference call with coalition members, "we've got about 50 responses so far for the hotels," she added. About half of the hotels have asked for further info that we're offering them in terms of training, in terms of signing the ECPAT code." ECPAT is an acronym for Ending Child Prostitution and Trafficking, which has developed a code of conduct to deter child sexual exploitation.

Once the hotels get the materials they need, the sisters will leave the hotels be and let them do their work. The hope of the coalition is that these hotels will continue to respond and ask for further information even once the Super Bowl is over. 


Online and Informed: Catholics online is Essential

Posted by:   🕔 Thursday 19, January 2012 Categories:

Monday afternoon, the Catholic News Agency reported that Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, the president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications emphasized that the presence of Catholics on the internet is essential and important. He noted that in 2009, roughly 440 million Catholics went online.

Commenting at Mercy University in Switzerland during a meeting by the Bishops conference of Switzerland and the Swiss Press League, the bishop stated, "Language, understanding of communities and the visibility are great challenges facing those who want to be present in the new digital continent."

Speaking as a part of the 40th anniversary of the pastoral instruction on social communication, Archbishop Celli stated that society has passed from the "era of information" to the "era of conversation" in which the content is itself the object of dialogue.

The Archbishop touches on something that we here at VISION work on each and every day. We are trying to present the most current and legitimate resources for Catholics discerning on the internet. The most important thing, as the Archbishop mentioned, is allowing all these wonderful resources to be available to Catholics everywhere. Here at VISION, our goal is to do just that. Remember if you have any questions or need any information please do not hesitate to contact us.

Please check out our Facebook page and our website for the most current information on discernment. 

Pope stresses the importance of spiritual guidance while discerning vocations

Posted by:   🕔 Tuesday 17, January 2012 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy,Consecrated Life

As we close out Vocation Awareness Week, we reflect on the recent message of Pope Benedict XVI who has emphasized the need for good spiritual counsel for those who are discerning a vocation to the priesthood or religious life. The Catholic News Agency along with ETWN, reported the Pope's very important message on vocations. 

 "I would like to emphasize the critical role of spiritual guidance in the journey of faith and, in particular, in response to the vocation of special consecration for the service of God and his people," the Pope commented this Sunday at his Angelus address.

Also instrumental in the process, he said, are parents "who by their genuine faith and joyful married love, show children that it is beautiful and possible to build all your life on the love of God."

Speaking from the Papal apartments to several thousand pilgrims, the Pope explained his point with references to the Scripture readings at Mass on Sunday.

The Pope concluded his comments by entrusting all educators, "especially religious including priests, sisters, and parents," to the Virgin Mary as they help young people discern their vocation in life.

After speaking on religious vocations the Pope also mentioned the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity will run Jan 18-25. He invited everyone "to join spiritually and, where possible, practically, to ask God for the gift of full unity among the Disciples of Christ."

After survivng Haiti quake, sister returns to painting

Posted by:   🕔 Tuesday 17, January 2012 Categories: Consecrated Life

PAINTING BY Sister Marjorie Raphael, S.S.M.
In 1962 Sr. Marjorie Raphael, S.S.M. established the Foyer Notre Dame in Haiti, a home for elderly people who are alone or whose family is not able to fully care for them. Since then she and other Sisters of St. Margaret have provided spiritual and material support in a safe and loving environment, which includes terminal care and burial.

It was also in Haiti, in a convent on the grounds of the Holy Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in downtown Port-au-Prince, where Sister Marjorie was living when the 2010 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck the country, killing an estimated 300,000 people and destroying or damaging tens of thousands of buildings, including Sister Marjorie’s convent. The sisters have been continuing their work with only one building remaining; the other had to be demolished.

Sister Marjorie has now returned to her community’s motherhouse in Roxbury, Massachusetts. There she will not only resume a longtime personal activity, painting, but will actually have a show at a local gallery. Through February 2012 her exhibit “Under the Skies, Four Seasons," which depicts many of the places where she’s lived or visited, will be at the Helen Bumpus Gallery in Duxbury, south of Boston (where her community is relocating after selling their Roxbury location).

There will be a reception at the gallery this Saturday, January 21, 2012 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Sources: and the Sisters of St. Margaret

Pope explains why the Eucharist is the greatest prayer

Posted by:   🕔 Thursday 12, January 2012 Categories:

As the Pope continues his series of reflections on prayer this week, yesterday he spoke and explained why the Eucharist is the "apex" of all Christian prayers.

EWTN news reported from the Vatican, that over 7000 pilgrims were tuning into the Pope's message about the value of the Eucharist as a prayer. According to Pope Benedict, "By participating in the Eucharist we have an extraordinary experience of the prayer which Jesus made, and continues to make for us all. Jesus offers us this prayer so that the evil we encounter in our lives may not triumph, and that the transforming power of Christ's death and resurrection may act within each of us."

The Pope's reflections on prayer have been a part of his ongoing set of discourses on prayer and its importance. He devoted mass yesterday to the importance of the Last Supper and emphasized how this meal brings us salvation and eternal life. In his reflection the Pope taught the pilgrims that it was here that Jesus reveled himself as the Pascal Lamb for all. It was also Christ's wish that the supper be "something special, different from other gatherings," and so he "gave something completely new: Himself," in anticipation of his cross and resurrection.

The Pope said that in contemplating the words and gestures of Jesus "we can clearly see that it was in his intimate and constant relationship with the Father that he accomplished the gesture of leaving to his followers, and to all of us, the sacrament of love."

As we continue to celebrate the Eucharist, let us continue to remind ourselves what the Eucharist truly means. As the Pope mentioned, Jesus gave us himself and like Jesus we too must give ourselves to fully appreciate this sacrifice. 

Hundreds come to Jordan River to be Baptized

Posted by:   🕔 Tuesday 10, January 2012 Categories:

Pilgrims being baptized in the Jordan River

I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Sound familiar?

For many of us, recalling our baptism is probably pretty hard to do without photos, videos, or stories, since we were so little. However, this weekend hundreds of Pilgrims in Qasr El-Yehud, Israel flocked to the Jordan River to celebrate the Baptism of the Lord reports the Catholic News Service.

Hajeh Mattar and her family made the journey to the Jordan to get baptized and to celebrate Jesus' baptism. According to Hajeh, "I came here to thank God. I came here to thank God for my grandchildren. They have strengthened my faith."

Nearby, mass was celebrated by Franciscan priest Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa. Many, parents were handing their children to him to receive the sacrament of Baptism and many people renewed their baptismal vows by stepping into the river.

This site was reopened in May to the public after many years of planning. Up until this point, people were only allowed by the Jordan River for special circumstances due to the threat of terrorism. Rania Basir, 36, a Palestinian from Jerusalem studying in Cairo, filled empty bottles with water from the river. "This is like a blessing," Basir said.

Baptism is such an important sacrament welcoming each of us into the Church and becoming adopted into God's loving embrace. As we recall our own baptisms, think about how joyous this occasion was and how this first step encouraged us to live a life of faith in God. 


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The Feast of the Epiphany

Posted by:   🕔 Monday 09, January 2012 Categories:

Closing the end of the 12 Days of Christmas as well as the Christmas Season, the Feast of the Epiphany celebrates the Wise men coming from afar to bring gifts to Jesus in Bethlehem.

Traditionally, Epiphany is observed by blessing the home (recalling the Magi's visit to Jesus' family), blessing water (especially the Jordan River, where Jesus was baptized), exchanging gifts, performing "Magi plays" (to tell the story of Jesus' childhood) and feasting.

In my local parish bulletin there was a special section devote to the blessing of the home. You might have to ask your parish if they have blessed chalk. Using the blessed chalk you mark the entrance of your door with the Year (2012) separated by the inscription CMB, the initials for Casper, Melchoir, and Balthasar, the names of the three Magi. The inscription should look something like this: 20+CMB+12 with the Cross of Christ in between. While inscribing this upon the doorway this short prayer may be used to bless your home:

In the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. Bless this house and all who inhabit it. Fill them with the light of Christ, that their concern for others may reflect your love. (With the chalk write the inscription above the door) May your blessing remain always in this home and on those who live here. Through Christ, our Lord. Amen

As we close out the season of Christmas and begin anew, let's celebrate the gifts that we have been given and like the Magi let us offer to live justly, be generous, and offer all we can to God and others. 

The Holy Land now has a Holy Trail

Posted by:   🕔 Friday 06, January 2012 Categories:

The Chicago Sun Times recently reported on a new trail in Northern Israel that gives visitors the chance to walk in the steps of Jesus.

The 39 mile "Gospel Trail" opened officially in December after many years of planning to make sure the most important spots were picked. The trail, which is government funded, starts just outside of Nazareth at Mount Precipice and heads northeast past major sites in Jesus' life. Travelers get a glimpse of the Mount of Beatitudes before the trail ends in Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee.

Along the trail are gas stations, farms and houses so if you need a break there are plenty of places to stop along the way. The Department of Tourism is hoping that this new trail will spark business in Israel. Their hope is that businesses will begin to build hotels and restaurants along the way to help rebuild the tourism industy in Israel. 

If want to learn more about the Gospel Trail or to simply immerse yourself in the culture visit

Techonology FITS Vatican Library's preservation needs

Posted by:   🕔 Thursday 05, January 2012 Categories:

Though the Vatican Library is one of the world’s oldest—founded in 1475—it’s turning to contemporary digital imaging technology to address an ongoing challenge: preserving manuscripts and codices, some of which predate the invention of the printing press and can be up to 1,800 years old.

SCANNING manuscripts at the Vatican Library.
Photo: Vatican Library
Vatican Library archivists have begun scanning texts in the collection to create accurate, flat digital images of them, reports InnovationNewsDaily (12/20/2011). The effort both protects the manuscripts and preserves them for the future. "It's very dangerous for the manuscripts every time someone touches them," said Luciano Ammenti, director of the Vatican's Information Technology Center and head of the new project.

But there’s a possible catch: Will future computers will be able read the digital images? To solve that problem Ammenti turned to the flexible image transport system (FITS) format, designed by NASA and European space scientists in the 1970s to store images taken by satellites and orbital telescopes such as the Hubble Space Telescope.

"If you have a tool that can read FITS today, you can read FITS files from 20 years ago," said Pedro Osuna, head of the European Space Agency's scientific archives. "It's always backwards compatible." FITS’ open-source approach stores all instructions about how to read and process the information in a text header at top of the data. That allows FITS files to be read without conversions to different formats that might be incompatible with future computers, even ones built 100 years from now.

Band of Sisters

Posted by:   🕔 Wednesday 04, January 2012 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life

I am sure many of us had heard of the movie/show "Band of Brothers" which follows a group of paratroopers in WWII featured on HBO, but have you ever heard of Band of Sisters?

Band of Sisters, is a documentary film that tells the "unforgettable story of Catholic nuns in the United States: how they responded wholeheartedly to the call of Vatican II, risked everything in their unwavering commitment to social justice, and made a remarkable transformation from 'daughters of the church' into citizens of the world."

After Vatican II, these congregations searched and re-engaged with their pasts and learned that their true mission was to serve those of the greatest need: the poor. Now on the verge of losing what these sisters fought so hard for, they are fighting to preserve their freedom and to be able to continue to help the world.

Scheduled to be released this March, travel alongside these sisters Nancy Sylvester IHM (Immaculate Heart of Mary), Miriam Therese MacGills OP (Caldwell Dominican), Pat Murphy and JoAnn Persch RSM (Sisters of Mercy) and their congregations as they take you through their journey and struggle to survive to maintain their mission.

For more information check out their website

Pope: Educating and encouraging youth crucial to church's future

Posted by:   🕔 Tuesday 03, January 2012 Categories:

While celebrating New Year's Day Mass, the Pope praised young people for securing the future of the church amid a time of great uncertainty where we see "shadows on the horizon of today's world."

Educating youth is a responsibility of all people, said the Pope; and teaching them knowledge of truth and the importance of faith and values is crucial in the survival to the church.

"Young people must "learn the importance and the art of peaceful coexistence, mutual respect, dialogue and understanding. Young people by their nature are open to these attitudes, but the social reality in which they grow up can lead them to think and act in the opposite way, even to be intolerant and violent. If they are educated properly, they will become builders of peace in the world."

After Mass, in remarks in English from his studio window, Benedict invited all to pray with him "earnestly for peace throughout the world, for reconciliation and forgiveness in areas of conflict, and for a more just and equitable distribution of the world's resources."

Again, turning his attention to young people, Benedict said that they "look today with a certain apprehension toward the future," and their concerns include "the difficulty in starting a family and finding a stable job." For more on the Pope's New Year's day comments, click here.

At the beginning of each New Year, we all hope and pray that this year is going to be better than the last and we work on making that happen (our resolutions). As we look ahead in 2012 let us work on continuing to strive for a more optimistic outcome and work on being compassionate to each other. 



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