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Characteristics of the newest religious sisters, brothers, priests, and nuns

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Thursday 16, February 2023 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy,Consecrated Life
Recent Vocations Study and Report
Courtesy of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon

The NRVC's Catalyst newsletter has alerted us that the USCCB published their annual report with the characteristics of the women and men making perpetual profession in 2022. Here are some of the characteristics the NRVC on review of the report: 

  • On average, respondents report having known the members of their religious institute for three years before they entered.
  • On average, respondents report that they were 18 years old when they first considered a vocation to religious life, with half being 18 or younger when they first did so.
  • Respondents who reported educational debt paid down an average of $34,000 in educational debt before admission.
  • 84% had work experience prior to entering their religious institute. The main work fields are business, education, and healthcare. 14% were Catholic school teachers.
  • 12% report being raised by their grandparents during the most formative part of their childhood.
  • 36% attended a Catholic high school, compared to 8% of U.S. adult Catholics.
  • 93% report that someone encouraged them to consider a vocation to religious life.
  • Women are more likely than men to report being discouraged from discerning a religious vocation (64% compared with 37% of men religious)
  • 30% report having a relative who is a priest or a religious.

Read other studies on vocations to religious life here.

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Sisters and priests make beautiful music together

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Thursday 01, March 2018 Categories: Consecrated Life,Mission & Evangelization,Clergy,Catholic culture

Daughters of Charity Sister Liz Sjoberg and Sister Brenda Fritz love making music together. They've enjoyed themselves so much that they decided to invite other musicians to join in on the fun. Thus, after one week-end long session and lots of laughs, "Music Inspires: Beautiful Name" was born.


Musicans at Flatlander Studios (clockwise): Sr. Brenda Fritz, D.C.; Sr. Liz Sjoberg, D.C.; Sr. Stephanie Spandl, S.S.N.D.; Sr. Danielle Jacob, C.S.F.N.; Friar Thomas Fetz, O.F.M.Conv.; Bill Creamers, Diocesan Seminarian; Sr. Krystal Funk, A.S.C. (not shown).

The documentary video attests to the joy and inspiration that went into this faith-filled work of art.

Sister Liz said in an interview that she "would love for other groups of religious sisters, brothers, and priests and young people to carry on the spirit of artistic collaboration." Consider this your invitation to let the music inspire you to act. 

Friars lead Muslim-Catholic prayer at airport in wake of travel ban

Posted by: Carol Schuck Scheiber   🕔 Friday 10, February 2017 Categories: Clergy,Consecrated Life,Prayer and Spirituality,Mission & Evangelization

Carmelite friars conducted a “ministry of presence” at Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 29, the day that protests erupted around the country over President Trump’s travel ban targeting seven majority-Muslim countries. The friars’ action segued into a spontaneous interfaith prayer service with a Muslim imam.

Brothers Matthew Gummess, Mikhail Woodruff, and Kevin Keller "wandered through the crowd to hear stories, share hope, and offer a friendly prayerful presence,” reports the Order of Carmelites blog. “Brother Mikhail was a voice of kindness and impartiality in conversation with reporters. Brother Matthew offered moral support and chocolates to travelers, airport staff, security, lawyers, and anybody who might need a little boost.”

After they met Imam Yahya Hendi, the Muslim chaplain at Georgetown University, who was also at the airport, the four agreed to hold an immediate joint prayer service.

“Together with the Imam, those present were called to prayer by Brother Matthew with some verses of 'Amazing Grace.' Brother Mikhail invoked the presence of God in a warm and hospitable prayer. Then Imam Hendi passionately prayed on behalf of the gathering—roughly 50 people from diverse faiths—offering words of peace, justice, and integrity,” the Carmelites report.

Hearing- and sight-impaired Redemptorist priest advocates for special-needs catechesis

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Tuesday 14, June 2016 Categories: Sacraments,Clergy,Vocation and Discernment
Redemptorist Father Cyril Axelrod, who was born unable to hear and who lost his sight 16 years ago, travels the world to minister and advocate for catechesis "for all people of all ages and all abilities."

Originally from South Africa and a Jewish convert, Axelrod shares with Catholic News Service that he was called by God to spread the gospel to all and that his vocation as a Catholic priest "is to help deaf people open their hearts to see how powerful God is in their lives.” Through his ministry, he encourages parishes and parents of hearing-impaired children to learn advanced sign language so they can help kids grow and express their understanding of faith in a deeper way. He says that sign language, tactile sign language, and body language are "gifts of the Holy Spirit."

Read more here.

Military priest commemorates Memorial Day

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Monday 30, May 2016 Categories: Clergy

As reported by Crux, Father Samuel Giese is a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington who serves as a senior Army chaplain for the D.C. National Guard, with the rank of colonel. During the Memorial Day weekend, he honors veterans who’ve given their lives for their country during Mass. 

Father Giese has a special relationship with those who serve in the armed forces. He served in Iraq with the 155th Brigade Combat Team of the Mississippi National Guard, during a time when those soldiers not only faced the anxiety of war in that country but also worries about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in their communities back home.

“I think as Catholics, particularly as priests, we often talk about sacrifice. In situations like war, you have the opportunity to see people sacrifice for others, so it puts a lot of things in perspective, including Jesus’s sacrifice,” Giese said.

"Friars on Foot" pilgrimage in U.S. to promote vocations

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Tuesday 24, May 2016 Categories: Clergy,Vocation and Discernment

Inspired by the movie, "The Way," starring Martin Sheen, about a man who completes the 450-mile Camino de Santiago, the "Way of St. James," pilgrimage, Dominican Fathers Francis Orozco and Thomas Shaefgen decided to do their own "Friars on Foot" pilgrimage in the United States to promote vocations while commemorating the 800th anniversary of their congregation.

According to Catholic News Service, the 478-mile pilgrimage will begin May 29 in New Orleans and end on June 29 in Memphis. Orozco and Shaefgen will average 16 miles per day and encourage people to join them on the walk for an hour or two that roughly follows Highway 51 north to Memphis.

"We will not carry any money and we will sort of beg. We hope people will provide us with apples and granola bars. We don't plan to use any money. We will carry ID cards and medical insurance cards in case that's needed. We've compromised with our superior that we will have somebody update the website every time we reach a destination," Father Orozco said.

The Dominicans plan to stay overnight with Catholic families and churches, celebrate Mass, and give vocation talks about the Order of Preachers, whose earliest members were itinerant.

Learn more about the Order of Preachers here.

'The Friar App' calls for prayer intentions

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Thursday 07, April 2016 Categories: Catholic culture,Clergy

As part of their 800-year tradition, Franciscan friars pray for the intentions of those who ask and now continue to with the help of technology. The U.S. Franciscans have developed "The Friar App", available in both the Apple App and Google Play stores, for the faithful to send prayer intentions to Franciscan friars across the United States and for followers of the app to lift up those prayers as one community of faith.

Followers of the app can join in the prayers of others in addition to posting their own prayer requests. It's free to download and post and follow prayers, but for a small fee, you may have a real candle lit in a Franciscan church for a particular intention. 

Discover more about the many provinces of Franciscan Friars serving both domestic and foreign missions in a variety of ministries.

Deacon brings Jesus behind bars

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Saturday 02, April 2016 Categories: Pope Francis,Clergy

The Catholic New World recently profiled Deacon Pablo Perez of Chicago. Perez is the assistant director of the Kolbe House, a ministry that trains male and female volunteers to visit inmates in Chicago-area jails. They offer bilingual Bible studies, Mass, and Communion services to those in jail. Kolbe House also ministers to families of the incarcerated, families of victims, and those released from jail or prison.

Perez was once a member of a gang and overdosed on drugs. He credits God with helping him get his life back and uses his story to help minister to inmates, saying, “He [God] did it with me. He could do it with you."

Jail ministry was not what Perez originally saw himself doing, but he could not escape God's plan for him. He says, “...I saw the power of the Holy Spirit moving in the church in jail. Part of me stays in the jail now, because their suffering has become my suffering.”

Priest nominated for Aurora Prize for work with refugees in Africa

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Sunday 27, March 2016 Categories: Catholic culture,Clergy

FoxNews reports that Father Bernard Kinvi, of the Order of St. Camillus, has been nominated for the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity, an annual international peace prize that honors those who put their lives at risk to serve others.

Father Kinvi was nominated because of his heroic rescue of more than 1,500 Muslims in the Central African Republic. He started a church and mission hospital three years ago in the northwestern town of Bossemptee, where fighting between Muslim and Christian extremists escalated in 2013. Despite being threatened for his actions, he has helped Muslims who were targeted find refuge in neighboring Cameroon.

He said, “I did not check their religion before helping them. I had in front of me human beings whose lives were in danger. It is my duty as a Camilian priest who has dedicated his life to the service of those who are ill and those who are suffering, even if it meant risking my own life.”

If he wins the prize, Father Kinvi plans to use the money to continue his work is Bossemptee. He was honored to be recognized, saying, “There are many priests and nuns who carry out the same type of work as I do. Just like me, they work quietly and do not seek recognition."

The winner of the Aurora Prize receives $100,000, and $1 million goes to the charity of their choice.

Priest to perform rock-gospel for Pope Francis

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Sunday 20, March 2016 Categories: Consecrated Life,Clergy

The Press of Atlantic City reports that Father Krzysztof Wtorek brings together God and music with his rock-gospel choir at Epiphany Church in Longport, New Jersey. With six women singers, he transforms traditional hymns into rockin’ beats with programmed bass and drum sounds. He also uses a keyboard and a Fender Stratocaster to move parishioners and touch their hearts with music.

Father Wtorek was a musician as a teen, but when he came to the United States in 1988 and entered the seminary, he thought his life as a musician was over. Instead, he has found himself creating updated arrangements of hymns, using a variety of instruments and computer software.

He will lead an international rock-gospel group of singers and musicians from the United States, Germany, and Poland this summer. The group will perform for Pope Francis at World Youth Day, which will be held July 25-31, 2016.

"This is really evangelization," he said of his music. "You can be happy. You can be peaceful. You can be meditative. I believe in that. I put my life into that."

Trappist monk's calligraphy inspired Apple

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Tuesday 15, March 2016 Categories: Catholic culture,Prayer and Spirituality,Clergy

According to The New York Times, Father Robert Palladino, former Trappist monk and world-renowned master calligrapher, died on Feb. 26 at age 83 in Sandy, Oregon. Palladino is credited with influencing the onscreen fonts and overall physical design of the Apple computers that Steve Jobs would create after auditing Palladino's calligraphy class at Reed College in 1972, four years before founding the company. 

Palladino's vocation to religious life began in 1950 at age 17 when he joined the Trappist order in Pecos, New Mexico, where he first received his calligraphic training, in silence, and later became the principal scribe in 1955. When the monastery moved to the Willamette Valley in Oregon in 1958, Palladino was ordained a priest. However, the reforms of Vatican II led him to leave the monastery in 1968 and settle in Portland where he joined Reed College a year later and was able to continue his advance study in calligraphy. Ironically Palladino never used an Apple computer.

Learn more about Palladino's career and return to religious life as a diocesan priest in Portland here as well as the life of Trappists here

Louisiana priest reaches lapsed Catholics with mobile confessional

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Sunday 21, February 2016 Categories: Mission & Evangelization,Clergy
CBS News interviewed Father Michael Champagne of Louisiana about his mobile confessional, a renovated ambulance. He wants to put Pope Francis's words into action and welcome back with open arms those who have left the church. Watch the full interview below. 

Pope to send forth 'missionaries of mercy' on Ash Wednesday

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Tuesday 09, February 2016 Categories: Mission & Evangelization,Clergy

In celebration of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, Pope Francis has chosen more than 1,000 priests to be "missionaries of mercy" and preach and teach about God's mercy during this holy year. According to Catholic News Service, 700 of the 1,071 missionaries chosen by Francis will be in Rome on Ash Wednesday (Feb. 10) to concelebrate the liturgy and receive their special mandate at St. Peter's Basilica.

The Jubilee of Mercy website explains the various functions and characteristics of the missionaries in detail. Diocesan bishops nominated these priests to apply and the Holy Father chose the missionaries personally. The missionaries will be able to pardon, during the Sacrament of Reconciliation, types of sins usually reserved for the Holy See. 

The missionaries are to be:

1. A living sign of the Father’s welcome to all those in search of his forgiveness.

2. Facilitators for all, with no one excluded, of a truly human encounter, a source of liberation, rich with responsibility for overcoming obstacles and taking up the new life of Baptism again.

3. Guided by the words: “For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy upon all; inspiring preachers of Mercy."

4. Heralds of the joy of forgiveness.

5. Welcoming, loving, and compassionate confessors, who are most especially attentive to the difficult situations of each person.

Read about two Franciscans of the Province of St. John the Baptist who will serve as missionaries of mercy here.

Read more profiles of Dominican, Jesuit, Holy Cross, and diocesan priests commissioned to be missionaries here

Former gang member-turned-brother makes final vows

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Thursday 07, January 2016 Categories: Consecrated Life,Clergy,Vocation and Discernment

In December, former gang member Brother Cesar John Paul Galan made his perpetual profession of vows as a member of the Friars of the Sick Poor of Los Angeles at St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood, California, surrounded by his proud family and friends, according to the Tidings. St. Francis Medical Center is also where, in 2001, his brother Hector died from gun violence and Galan himself was left a paraplegic. 

Because of this tragedy, Galan experienced an 'aha' moment of realizing what God intended for him: consecrated life. A few months later during a journey to Lourdes, France, he asked people there, “Am I ever going to get out of this wheelchair? Am I going to go back home walking?” He started praying for that miracle to happen but received an unexpected blessing instead: forgiveness of the person who killed his brother and hurt him, and he left the gang life of his adolescence behind.

Brother Galan will continue studying to become a priest at St. John's Seminary and preparing to serve in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Biography of American priest martyred in Guatemala released

Posted by: Jennifer Tomshack   🕔 Thursday 17, December 2015 Categories: Mission & Evangelization,Church History,Mary and the Saints,Clergy

“The shepherd cannot run at the first sign of danger,” wrote American priest Father Stanley Rother in 1980 in his last Christmas letter to Catholics in his native Oklahoma. He remained true to his word and was martyred the following year in Guatemala.

The first biography of the late priest, The Shepherd Who Didn’t Run: Fr. Stanley Rother, Martyr from Oklahoma, by Maria Ruiz Scaperlanda, was released in November. The cause for beatification of Father Rother is now being considered by the Vatican.

Five years after his ordination, in 1968, Father Rother arrived in Guatemala and served as a parish priest to Tz’utujil Mayan Indians in the farming community of Santiago Atitlan. He learned their languages, cared for their needs, and prepared them for the sacraments. Even after the violence of the Guatemalan civil war reached their village and kidnappings and killings became routine, Father Rother continued his work of building a farmers’ co-op, a school, a hospital, and a Catholic radio station.

When his name was put on a death list, he returned to Oklahoma in 1981 for three months, but decided not to abandon his people in Guatemala. The 46-year-old priest was shot to death shortly upon his return. He was among 10 priests killed in the country that year.

Scaperlanda is an award-winning author and journalist, published in both the Catholic and secular press. The Oklahoma-based writer blogs at

The book is available on Amazon and Our Sunday Visitor.

'Mercy on the Mall' initiative to mark Holy Year of Mercy in Ireland

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Tuesday 01, December 2015 Categories: Mission & Evangelization,Clergy

The Irish Catholic reports that priests will hear confessions at shopping malls around the country on Dec. 8, 2015, including as many as 16 priests at Skycourt Shopping Centre in County Clare. The "Mercy on the Mall" initiative will mark the opening of the Holy Year of Mercy.

Shannon parish priest Father Tom Ryan shares that these Irish priests are carrying the pope's message and answering his call "to go out to the market place and proclaim the Gospel."

Capuchin Friar Father Dan Joe O’Mahony, who runs a popular oratory in the Blanchardstown Centre in Dublin, said ministering in large shopping malls is about “meeting people where they are at. It’s all about getting the Church into the market place which is where the Lord worked himself."

The Year of Mercy will begin on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Dec. 8, 2015, and will conclude on the Feast of Christ the King, Nov. 20, 2016. 

Sister to compete for charity on Food Network’s "Chopped"

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Sunday 08, November 2015 Categories: Catholic culture,Clergy

According to Crux, Sister Alicia Torres, a member of the Franciscans of the Eucharist in Chicago, is set to compete against three other cooks in a Thanksgiving episode of the Food Network’s Chopped, set to air Monday, Nov. 9.

The four contestants are part of the “Thanksgiving Soup-er Stars” episode and were chosen because of their work in soup kitchens. On the show, they are given a basket of mystery ingredients from which they must create a unique and stylish dish. There are three rounds: appetizer, entrée, and dessert. A chef is eliminated after each round and the winner will receive $10,000 to donate to charity.

Be sure to tune in and cheer on Sister Alicia this Monday! 

'Francis Effect' enlivens vocations to priesthood

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Tuesday 29, September 2015 Categories: Clergy,Vocation and Discernment

Prior to Pope Francis' recent visit to the United States, the first Jesuit pope sparked attention and interest in the Society of Jesus, the Franciscans, and the priesthood in general. According to Newsday, the Jesuits have experienced a surge in the number of men considering the priesthood, which vocation directors are calling the "Francis Effect."

The number of men inquiring with the Northeast Province of the Jesuits has jumped from one or two a week to as many as seven weekly since Francis was elected, according to the head of vocations for the province. Although only 10 percent of those seriously consider entering the order, the increase is cause for hope.

Jesuits live in community, with the core of their Ignatian spirituality being to "find God in all things." They are known for their work with the poor and living a life of simplicity.

In choosing the name Francis, the pope's commitment to peace and love of creation is clear. Father James Martin, S.J. said: "He's a Jesuit who took a Franciscan name, which is the perfect combination. The choice of Francis telescoped early on his desire to speak out for the poor, to care for the poor, and to encourage a church that is poor."

Discover more about the Jesuits, Society of Jesus and the Franciscans today.

Abbot captures power of psalms in revised translation

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Monday 20, July 2015 Categories: Scripture,Clergy
    “The Psalms have that very close proximity to the human experiences of longing,
need, thanksgiving, and praise of God,” Abbot Gregory Polan said.

When the U.S. Catholic bishops wanted a new translation of the psalms that captured their musicality while hewing closely to the original Hebrew, they turned to Abbot Gregory Polan, a musical prodigy and scripture scholar who teaches Hebrew.

Polan is also the leader of Conception Abbey, a Benedictine monastery in Missouri that dates to 1873. He teaches at Conception Seminary College.

In America magazine, Polan calls the psalms “the heartbeat of the Bible.”

“Jesus himself prayed the Psalms,” Polan said. “They were the prayers, if I can say, that he learned on his mother’s knee.”

His revised translation of the psalms was approved by the bishops’ conference in 2010.

Iraqi nun asks U.S. to help refugees in ISIS territories

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Monday 18, May 2015 Categories: Catholic culture,Clergy
Sister Diana Momeka speaks at a congressional committee hearing,
asking for U.S. support for religious minorities uprooted by ISIS.

Sister Diana Momeka, a Dominican Sister of St. Catherine of Siena in Mosul, Iraq, spoke at a congressional committee hearing on Wednesday. She was one of four women who addressed the importance of protecting religious minorities in the region as well as religious sites.

Momeka recounted her personal story of being displaced after a bomb exploded at her convent in Mosul in 2009. The sisters were unharmed, but forced to move to Qaraqosh in Iraq’s Ninevah Plain. Last year, ISIS invaded the region telling them that they had three options: convert to Islam, pay a tribute to ISIS, or leave with nothing but the clothes on their backs. The sisters left and joined more than 120,000 people displaced in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.

She shared how hopeless and fearful the displaced feel and urged that they be helped to return to their homes. She said that while they are struggling, the refugees have not lost faith. “We were displaced, yet the hand of God is still with us. In the midst of darkness we see God holding us," she said.

Read more here.

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Priest translates popular children's book into Latin

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Monday 11, May 2015 Categories: Catholic culture,Clergy
Diary of a Wimpy Kid became Commentarii de Inepto Puero, thanks to Father Gallagher's Latin translation.

Monsignor Daniel B. Gallagher, an American who works at the Vatican’s Office of Latin Letters, recently helped translate the best-selling children’s book Diary of a Wimpy Kid into Latin, which remains the official language of the Roman Catholic Church.

This new edition of the book was published by Milan-based Il Castoro, which teamed up with Gallagher to help with the translation.

Gallagher said he was inclined to translate “a great story” that many of his English-speaking nieces and nephews had already read, saying, “It’s a story of a kid who has a kind of conversation when he has to make a choice on whether to be faithful to his friends or not. He makes the right choice ... For me that’s not just a Christian teaching, but a human teaching.”

Although he is a skilled translator, Gallagher did admit that there were some difficulties in translating some modern concepts such as ‘wow’ or ‘heavy metal’ (which became “musica metallica gravis”).

The publishers and Gallagher are hoping that this newly translated text will help students learning Latin. He explained, “It is important for all students to see that Latin is not a dead or outdated language; you can still express today’s thoughts in Latin.”

Read more here

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Pope says "no more boring homilies"

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Sunday 10, May 2015 Categories: Consecrated Life,Clergy
Pope Francis speaks to newly ordained priests about connecting with the faithful.

During the ordination of 19 priests, Pope Francis told them to make their homilies interesting and to speak from the heart in order to reach the hearts of the faithful.

Pope Francis said that priests are called to help members of the church through their homilies. He urged them to ensure “that your homilies are not boring, that your homilies arrive directly in people’s hearts because they flow from your heart, because what you tell them is what you have in your heart.”

During Mass on the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, the pope used the prepared homily in the ritual book for ordinations, but added his own reflections as well, giving the newly ordained priests advice on celebrating the sacraments and reaching out to the church community.

The pope emphasized the depth of God’s love and the true role of priests: “We must follow the Good Shepherd. In particular, those who have the mission of guiding in the church—priests, bishops, popes—are called to not assume the mentality of a manager, but that of a servant in imitation of Jesus.”

Read more here.

Diary of Irish priest in World War I trenches available online

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Monday 04, May 2015 Categories: Catholic culture,Church History,Clergy
A page from Father Francis Gleeson's diary during World War I.

The diary of Father Francis A. Gleeson, an Irish priest who became a World War I chaplain, is now available to read online. Father Gleeson traveled with the Second Battalio Royal Munster Fusiliers and kept a detailed diary while he was ministering to the soldiers. The diary came into the possession of the Dublin Diocesan Archives, which put it online for the public to read.

Noelle Dowling and Peter Sobolewski of the Dublin Diocesan Archives worked for about nine months transcribing Gleeson's items, including his diary, letters he wrote to families of men missing or killed in action, and letters he received in return. The diary includes accounts of several incredible days on the front line, with Gleeson describing everything from coming under fire and thinking death was imminent to the excitement of having bacon to eat.

Dowling said it is the soldiers’ faith during this difficult time that he finds most interesting in Gleeson’s accounts of daily life in the trenches. “They all would have had rosary beads, or holy pictures. There were stories of a bullet hitting a holy medal,” he said.

Read more here.

Priest who helped Jews during Holocaust honored

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Sunday 26, April 2015 Categories: Catholic culture,Clergy
Father Joaquim Carreira of Portugal risked his life to save dozens of Jews during the Holocaust.

Father Joaquim Carreira, a Catholic priest from Portugal, has been honored by Israel for hiding Jews during the Holocaust while he was living in Rome as a member of the Pontifical College.

The actions of Carreira, who died in 1981, remained largely unknown until Portuguese journalist Antonio Marujo began researching his story.

This investigation led to the priest’s inclusion last year in Yad Vashem’s list of the Righteous Among the Nations, which is Israel’s honorary title for non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust, making him the third Portuguese citizen on the list.

In April, Father Carreira’s nephew accepted a medal from Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in recognition of his late uncle’s actions at a ceremony held at Lisbon’s main synagogue.

Read more here.

Nuns seek to take negativity out of Tax Day

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Monday 20, April 2015 Categories: Catholic culture,Clergy
Sister Marge Clark has #TaxPayerPride for the beauty of the Capitol grounds in Washington, D.C.

The nuns behind NETWORK, a national Catholic social justice lobby, are trying to take the anger and stress out of Tax Day. The nuns promoted the hashtag “TaxPayerPride” to remind people of the good services that taxes provide for society.

They have asked people to post a photo with goods or services for which their tax dollars pay on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram with #TaxPayerPride.

Sister Simone Campbell, NETWORK’s executive director, says that too many politicians have been focusing on cutting taxes and in turn many services that help better the community. She wants to celebrate how taxes support healthcare, education, food, and transportation and make America a “stronger, more humane country.”

She said, “Caring for one another is a faith issue. We are all children of God, and government is meant to serve the common good. It’s that simple."

Read more here.

Bishop urges Congress to approve nuclear agreement with Iran

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Monday 20, April 2015 Categories: Catholic culture,Clergy
The U.S. bishops are encouraging Congress to support the draft of a nuclear agreement with Iran.

The head of the U.S. bishops’ international peace committee supports the new guidelines for Iran’s nuclear program and is urging Congress not to “undermine” the deal.

Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico said, “We welcome the most recent step the United States and its international partners have taken with Iran and encourage our nation to continue down this path.”

The plan is the result of negotiations between the Islamic Republic of Iran, the European Union, and the P5+1 countries (United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, and China), who are set to reach a final agreement on June 30.

The plan reduces the number of Iran’s centrifuges and limits the level of uranium that can be enriched and the amount of low-enriched uranium that may be stockpiled. It also states that Iran would not be allowed to construct new enrichment facilities for 15 years and that the underground nuclear facility at Fordow must be turned into a research facility.

The sanctions related to the nuclear aspect of Iran’s policies will be lifted while those placed upon the country due to human rights violations, terrorism, and ballistic missiles will remain in place.

Pope Francis also praised the plan in his “Urbi et Orbi” blessing on Easter Sunday saying, “In hope we entrust to the merciful Lord the framework recently agreed to in Lausanne, that it may be a definitive step toward a more secure and fraternal world.”

Read more here.

Priest to open new type of Catholic school

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Monday 13, April 2015 Categories: Catholic culture,Clergy
 Michael Keelan (left) and Father David Simonetti are set to open a unique high school in Chicago.

A priest in Chicago is establishing a college prep high school that some are calling unprecedented.

Father David J. Simonetti has financed the Pope Benedict XVI Academy of Excellence, which he plans to open in suburban Chicago in the fall, with his own money. While it is not affiliated with the Archdiocese of Chicago, it needs archdiocesan approval to rent six classrooms at St. Paul Catholic Church in Chicago Heights, Ill. Tuition and private donations are going to fund the school after its opening.

So far, 10 students are enrolled and 35 are in the application process. The school will start with only a freshman class in the first year and continue to add new classes each year thereafter. Michael Keelan, who has been in education for 12 years, will be the school president.

The students will study traditional subjects such as language arts and mathematics, with a modern twist. Some of the coursework will incorporate Illinois Virtual School, a supplementary online teaching tool, and the classrooms will be wired with smart boards, according to Keelan.

Simonetti added that students will study art, music, philosophy, and theology, and the school will "incorporate teaching the faith across the curriculum.”

"They will be doing community service where they're at," Simonetti said. "What kids do matters. Their lives matter. They have something to contribute to society, and they have something to receive from society. I want to help them grow in charity. I want them to understand that their lives matter, but it only matters when one gives one's life away.”

Chicago Heights already has a Catholic high school, but the new academy’s tuition of about $5,900 would be about half of what other Catholic schools charge, and class sizes would be smaller.

Graziano Marcheschi, Saint Xavier University's vice president of university ministry, said there are other non-archdiocesan Catholic high schools in the Chicago area, but they are usually funded by established religious orders. He noted that the smaller, more affordable option that this new school would provide would likely appeal to many people.

Read more here.

Priest ordination increases in U.S.

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Sunday 12, April 2015 Categories: Consecrated Life,Clergy
This year, 595 priests will be ordained in the United States, up 25 percent from the 477 who were ordained in 2014.

Nearly 600 men will be ordained Catholic priests in the United States in 2015, more than 100 men more than last year.

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, head of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, said the increase is “encouraging” and he noted that those who will be ordained spoke about “very high” support from their families, parish priests, and Catholic schools.

A survey from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University received responses from 411 of the men and of these, 317 are prospective ordinands in 120 different dioceses and 94 are vowed religious. The median age of the priests-to-be is 31, which is a slight decrease from past years.

Father W. Shawn McKnight, executive director of the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, did express one concern about the increase in young priests: student loan debt. “Considering the high percentage of the men ordained already having earned an undergraduate degree, it will be important to find ways to assist in debt reduction in the future,” McKnight said.

Read more here.

Pope Francis’ Easter address calls for peace

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Sunday 05, April 2015 Categories: Catholic culture,Clergy

Pope Francis celebrated Easter mass with members of the faithful who stood in the rain to see the pontiff. In his Easter message, he urged peace in countries around the world and specifically mentioned Syria and Iraq, along with the Holy Land, Ukraine, Libya, Yemen, Nigeria, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

To the crowd in St. Peter’s Square he said, "We ask Jesus, the victor over death, to lighten the sufferings of our many brothers and sisters who are persecuted for his name, and of all those who suffer injustice as a result of ongoing conflicts and violence. We ask for peace, above all, for Syria and Iraq, that the roar of arms may cease and that peaceful relations may be restored among the various groups, which make up those beloved countries. May the international community not stand by before the immense humanitarian tragedy unfolding in these countries and the drama of the numerous refugees.”

The pope gave the traditional Urbi et Orbi from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Square. These remarks come after those that he gave on Good Friday, in which he criticized the international community for its “complicit silence” regarding the persecution of Christians.

Read more here.

Worship from a priest’s point of view

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Wednesday 25, March 2015 Categories: Clergy
View from the altar of the Church of Santissimo Redentore in Seriate, Italy on Sunday.

Many people often wonder what priests see when standing on the altar. Now, with the help of remote-controlled cameras set up behind church altars in Italy, photographer Giorgio Barrera and Niccolò Rastrelli captured this view.

Their project, "Andate in pace” (Go in peace), is a portrait of the Catholic communities in Rome, Milan, Turin, Florence, Naples, Potenza, Avezzano, Taranto, and Pescara.

The photographers explain, “The images in this photographic inquiry attempt to achieve a synthesis, to show viewers the church as an architectural, corporeal space. The human element is essential to our work: the word chiesa [church] derives from the Greek ekklesìa, and means community. Therefore the ecclesiastical edifice should be understood as a space built of people in flesh and blood, of 'living stone' as Saint Paul affirms.”

The result of their work is 23 photographs and a video installation, curated by Daniele De Luigi and produced by the Istituto Centrale per il Catalogo e la Documentazione (Central Institute for Cataloguing and Documentation) of the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities. The exhibit will be on display through April 30 at the Fondazione Studio Maragoni in Florence, Italy.

See some of their photos here.

Catholics in Texas attend Catholic Advocacy Day

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Wednesday 25, March 2015 Categories: Catholic culture,Clergy
Catholics attend Catholic Advocacy Day in Austin, Tex.

Catholics from around Texas traveled to the state’s capital, Austin, for “Catholic Faith in Action Advocacy Day.” The event was organized by the Texas Catholic Conference, which is known as the public-policy voice of Catholic bishops in Texas.

Fox 26 reports that the participants, known as Archangels, gathered with other Catholics from dioceses across the state for a rally on the steps of the state capitol before meeting with legislators.

The faithful met with lawmakers to promote legislation that would support the most vulnerable members of society.

Watch the full news report here.

Hashtag '#ashtag' popular on social media

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Sunday 22, February 2015 Categories: Catholic culture,Clergy
Religious tweet pictures with their ashes using the hashtag '#ashtag'.

This last Ash Wednesday, a new trend emerged on the social media platform Twitter. Many religious tweeted pictures of themselves with ashes using the hashtag ‘#ashtag.’ The trend started last year, but gained even more traction this year.

While some feel this trend is a great way for the church to be present on social media, others are not so fond of this display of faith. Greg Hills, an associate professor of theology at Bellarmine University, is not completely on board, but said, "I don't at all want to detract from something that may, for some, make for an even more meaningful Lent."

Perhaps the #ashtag is here to stay.

Read more here.

Pope Francis to address U.S. Congress

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Thursday 12, February 2015 Categories: Catholic culture,Clergy
Pope Francis is welcomed by fans during his weekly general audience.

On September 24, 2015, Pope Francis will become the first pope to address both chambers of Congress. House speaker John Boehner invited Pope Francis to address Congress during his visit to Washington D.C., New York, and Philadelphia later this year.

“In a time of global upheaval, the Holy Father’s message of compassion and human dignity has moved people of all faiths and backgrounds. His teachings, prayers, and very example bring us back to the blessings of simple things and our obligations to one another. We look forward to warmly welcoming His Holiness to our Capitol and hearing his address on behalf of the American people,” Boehner said.

While Pope Francis could touch on a wide range of topics during his address, many hope that he will continue to champion things such as immigration and climate change and encourage Congress to take action on these important issues.

After Pope Francis’ instrumental involvement in improving relations between the United States and Congress, Pope Francis is also expected to visit the White House while in Washington D.C. President Obama expressed his welcome, saying, “Like so many people around the world, I’ve been touched by his call to relieve suffering, and to show justice and mercy and compassion to the most vulnerable. He challenges us to press on in what he calls our ‘march of living hope’.”

Read more here.

YouTube’s ‘singing priest’ releasing album in the United States

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Tuesday 03, February 2015 Categories: Catholic culture,Clergy
Father Ray Kelly, famous on YouTube, will release his album in March.

Father Ray Kelly became an Internet sensation after his version of Leonard Cohen’s "Hallelujah" went viral on YouTube. Now, he has released albums in both Ireland and Germany, and his U.S. album is set to be released on March 10.

Kelly understands how lucky he is, saying, "Ninety percent of people don’t get a break and now, at this stage of my life, it is happening for me. Dreams do come true."

The priest’s album is entitled “Where I Belong" and will feature his famous version of “Hallelujah” along with some other modern songs, three Irish folk songs, two traditional hymns, and two original tracks.

Kelly reassured fans that this newfound success will not draw him away from his most important job. "I'm fairly grounded at this stage in life. I'm happy with the job that I have, the music is going to be a fantastic sideline, and I'm going to enjoy it as much as possible. As long as I enjoy it I would keep doing it."

Read more here.
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Father Joshua Johnson, Baton Rouge’s youngest priest

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Sunday 01, February 2015 Categories: Catholic culture,Clergy,Vocation and Discernment
Father Josh Johnson speaks about his vocational journey.

Father Joshua Johnson, 27, is a priest at Christ the King Catholic Church at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. He is the youngest priest in the diocese, and uses his gifts of rapping and storytelling to connect with young Catholics.

Johnson explains that he was not initially open to his calling, revealing, “I was raised Catholic, but I just never liked the Catholic Church growing up. I thought it was boring, and I didn’t understand it.”

He first encountered Christ through Eucharistic adoration during a retreat, but even after he understood his calling, he was not ready to accept it. Still, he went on to earn his master's degree in theology from Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans.

Johnson used to rap to entertain other seminarians; now he raps to witness for Christ. He said, “Whenever I got to seminary, I continued to do it for fun and people started hearing me, and the next thing you know I’m doing it at festivals and youth conferences.”

While some do not condone his religious rapping, Johnson believes it is a way to connect with young people and help them find Christ, explaining, “Rap in and of itself is not evil; it’s not a sin. It’s part of the culture. We can use that. We’re not called to reject the culture; we’re called to go into the culture and promote what’s good. And there’s a lot of good that can come from this kind of music.”

Read more here.

Farm work part of religious life for nuns

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Wednesday 14, January 2015 Categories: Catholic culture,Clergy
Benedictine nuns at the Abbey of St. Walburga raise cattle, water buffalo, llamas, chickens, and bees.
A few miles south of the Colorado-Wyoming boarder, Benedictine nuns at the Abbey of St. Walburga raise cattle, water buffalo, llamas, chickens, and bees. Sister Maria Walburga Schortemeyer runs the abbey’s ranch, while other nuns volunteer their time to feed and milk the various animals.

The nuns sell the natural beef—mostly to those looking for organic, cruelty-free food. “We have kind of a corner on the market," Schortemeyer says. "People just kind of believe in it."

They have sold their all-natural beef for about seven years, and sell out of their product regularly. "We always have a waiting list for the beef," Schortemeyer says.

While this may seem like an unusual way of life for nuns, the bond between agriculture and religious orders dates back centuries, when monasteries were self-sustaining. While they have received their fair share of criticism, the nuns feel that the farm connects them to the outside world.

Schortemeyer, especially, feels the farm work is invaluable to the religious work of her fellow sisters. “[The ranch shows] we're not above and beyond," she says. "It's good to be at the mercy of the environment, and so that other people know we don't live some ethereal life.”

Read more here.
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Priest rides to advocate for victims of climate change

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Sunday 14, December 2014 Categories: Clergy
Super-typhoons caused by climate change have devastated many areas of the Philippines.

Father Amado Picardal will ride his bike from Manila to Mindanao in the Philippines to raise awareness about climate change and its victims. Recently, super-typhoons have devastated many areas of the country, forcing citizens to rebuild.

Picardal wants to draw attention to the problem and will be advocating for change while biking through sites where the typhoons hit.

On his blog, he writes, “This covers approximately 1,800 km which I am doing in two weeks. I will be doing this alone most of the time, but along the way, there will be some local cyclists in major cities who will accompany me for a few hours. I will be staying overnight in parishes and will concelebrate in the Aguinaldo masses and preach.”

Picardal has done advocacy rides before, when he was younger, but the recent changes in climate inspired him to ride once more.

“The super-typhoons that have hit our country every year and other calamities such as floods and droughts have spurred me to ride my bike across the country once again. I am aware that these are not 'acts of God' or mere natural occurrences. These are manifestations of climate change.”

Read more here.

Nun promotes healthy habits

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Sunday 23, November 2014 Categories: Clergy
Sister Jean Marie Craig teaches fitness to her college students.

Sister Jean Marie Craig believes nourishing both the spirit and the mind are important to living a healthy life. That’s why this 80-year-old Sister of the Blessed Sacrament is still teaching aerobics classes at Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans.

An alumnus of Xavier herself, Sister Craig has been teaching physical education and CPR/First Aid for 32 years. While some may think taking an aerobics class from a nun is easy, her students say otherwise. “She challenges us every class and she wants us to do our best. She’s definitely hard-core for a nun,” junior Leticia McDaniel said.

Sister Craig understands the importance of physical fitness and what a blessing it is to be able to move. She wants to instill healthy habits in her students. “If you stop exercising, it’s a lot harder to get it back," she said.

As for being called “hardcore,” Sister Craig agrees. “Students say I’m tough. I expect them to come to class and earn their A-grade.”

Read more here.

Spanish nun promotes Catalan independence

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Wednesday 12, November 2014 Categories: Clergy
Sr. Teresa Forcades promotes Catalan independence.

The Catalan region of Spain is moving toward voting on independence, and Sr. Teresa Forcades has been active in the political discourse surrounding the issue. She is an intellectual, doctor, political activist, but most importantly, a nun, saying, "That’s clearly my primary identity, because that gives me the sense of belonging, the sense of stability."

Over the past few years, Forcades has become one of the leading intellectuals in Europe, commenting on everything from independence to feminism to capitalism, while also working in the medical field, but her views have not been without controversy. Many believe that she is too outspoken on certain issues, but this has not stopped Forcades from sharing her opinions, and as the vote on independence nears, she has been a key activist for Catalan independence.

On Sunday, voters will decide two issues: Catalan statehood and whether that state should be independent from Spain. Forcades says she will vote yes to both and challenges the government’s opposition to the referendum, saying, “It’s an attempt to prevent the people of Catalonia from expressing themselves and I think it’s a fear of ascertaining that in Catalonia today a majority wants independence."

Read more.

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New Jersey nun to be beatified

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Monday 22, September 2014 Categories: Mary and the Saints,Clergy

Thanks to today’s reality TV, New Jersey is not always associated with holiness, but one of its own is on the way to sainthood. 

Sr. Miriam Teresa Demjanovich will be beatified in Newark next month, putting her one step closer to canonization.

Her beatification is set to take place in the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, N.J. Cardinal Angelo Amato, who heads the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints, will say the mass.

Demjanovich was born in 1901 in Bayonne, N.J. After earning a degree in literature from the College of St. Elizabeth in New Jersey, she entered the Sisters of Charity in 1925. She died just two years later, but she left behind 26 letters on prayer and spiritual life, written while preparing to take her vows, which were later published as a book that became popular in the 1930’s.

She is being beatified after a miracle was attributed to her intercession. A third-grade boy suffered from macular degeneration and lost his vision. His school, run by the Sisters of Charity, prayed for Demjanovich to help the student. The boy regained his sight without treatment after the school’s prayers.

The cure was deemed a miracle by the Vatican. Demjanovich needs another miracle attributed to her in order to be canonized. If that happens, she would be only the second American-born person, after Saint Katherine of Drexel, to be named a saint.

Retired nun brings loving touch to NICU

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Sunday 21, September 2014 Categories: Clergy,Vocation and Discernment

Sr. Loretta Mann, 85, a Sister of St. Francis of Assisi since 1948, retired from education in 2008, but not from service, and she joined the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of St. Francis Hospital in Hartford, Conn., as a "cuddler," where she volunteers three times a week.

"Mothers who have grown kids or have other responsibilities, they can't be here, but I can," Mann says. As a cuddler, she rocks the babies and keeps them company, often reading books and singing to them.

Mann joined the convent when she was 19, knowing she wanted to work with children. She taught in Pennsylvania for two decades and was then sent to The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., to get a master’s degree in administration. While she was not happy about the transition at first, she understood that it was part of God's plan. "I always believe that God puts you where he wants you," she says.

After working as a principal in Media, Penn., she was placed in the Hartford area as the curriculum coordinator for the archdiocese and later became superintendent, a post she held until she retired.

"Did I want to retire? No. But I knew it was time. And do you know what? I was at the St. Francis NICU the very next day as a cuddler," she says.

Her services are appreciated by many at the hospital, including Dr. Jose Arias-Camison, the director of the NICU, who says Mann's loving touch helps the infants recover.

"As we know, for many years when the mothers come and touch and hold their babies, their vital signs improve. Sister is not their Mom, but it has the same effect," Arias-Camison says.

Mann's kind spirit and willingness to help spreads throughout the NICU, and she loves making sure the infants know someone is there.

"I have loved every job, every ministry I have been in," she says. "When I gave up teaching, I thought that was the best job in the world, but then I came here."
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Nuns back on the bus

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Thursday 18, September 2014 Categories: Mission & Evangelization,Clergy

NETWORKS’s Nuns on the Bus are back at it. Starting Sept. 17, the nuns will travel through 10 states. This year, the group’s stated goal is to “encourage candidates to commit to policies that benefit the 100 percent.”

NETWORK is a national Catholic social justice lobby, founded in 1971, in Washington, D.C. It advocates for issues in education, healthcare, immigration, housing, fair trade, peace through economic development, wage equity, and food security.

NETWORK sponsors Nuns on the Bus, a small group of nuns who travel on a dedicated bus in the United States to publicize different issues. The campaign first hit the road in 2012, fighting against budget cuts that would leave many on the margin without assistance. In 2013, the nuns spread the word about the need for immigration reform.

“‘We will call on ‘We, the People’ to stand up against big money and inequality in the upcoming November election,” Sr. Simone Campbell, NETWORK executive director, wrote in an email sent to supporters.

The tour will end Oct. 17, after visiting Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, and West Virginia.

For more information about Nuns on the Bus, visit their Website.

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European Jesuits and women religious story told through museum exhibition

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Wednesday 20, August 2014 Categories: Catholic culture,Mission & Evangelization,Consecrated Life,Clergy
This 19th-Century gold dalmatic worn by deacons during special occasions such as Christmas and Easter is one of many items on display at "Crossings and Dwellings."
Loyola University Museum of Art (Chicago) exhibition: “Crossings and Dwellings: Restored Jesuits, Women Religious, American Experience, 1814–2014,” which opened on July 19 and runs through Oct. 19- is using historical maps, books, objects, and textiles, to tell the story of European Jesuits and women religious who arrived in America's borderlands to serve indigenous and immigrant populations.

According to Catholic New World, curator Jesuit Father Stephen Schloesser, a professor of French history: "Hopes the exhibit helps people realize that the Jesuits and the other religious who came to the United States were immigrants, some serving immigrant populations and others going out to evangelize among the Native Americans.

“In a way, it make totals sense for a European historian to do this,” Schloesser said. “It gets at the idea that this is the American story, a story of immigration.”"

"The exhibit, mounted in honor of the 200th anniversary of the second Jesuit restoration, starts by telling the story of the Jesuit presence in the American Midwest and their travels across North America. It also looks at the contributions of religious women to the development of Chicago and other parts of the United States, particularly the Religious of the Sacred Heart and the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary."
A 1930 photo of Sister Mary Justitia Coffey, BVM, the first president of Mundelein College, and her desk also on display at the LUMA exhibit.

Heroes and the human faces of immigration

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Wednesday 09, July 2014 Categories: Mission & Evangelization,Scripture,Clergy
A sign of peace is offered at at all Souls Mass at the US-Mexico border.

Sisters of Charity of Cincinatti novice Tracy Kemme writes a touching account of how she "encountered the human face of immigration" in "No Fences," a blog featured on the Global Sisters Report. "Every year on All Souls Day," she writes, "people gather at the border fence to celebrate a binational Mass in memory of all those who have died crossing the border. In 2010, I attended the Mass on the Mexico side with some of the families from Proyecto Santo Niño...How unsettling that the fence prevented us from embracing or shaking hands! We were reduced to touching our fingertips together through the chain links of the fence."

But, says Mercy Sister Mary Ann Walsh, R.S.M., director of media relations for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Conference, in the crisis at the border "heroes are emerging." In her blog post "Birmingham, Vietnam and Murrieta," Walsh highlights those who rate heroe status in her book: "First might be [Missionaries of Jesus] Sister Norma Pimentel, M.J., executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley... Another is Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville. He gets the problem. On his social media blog, he notes: 'What we are seeing unfold in front of our eyes is a humanitarian and refuge reality, not an immigration problem.' He adds that 'the Church must respond in the best way we can to the human need' and says 'at the same time we ask our government to act responsibly to address the reality of migrant refugees. A hemispheric response is needed, not a simple border response. And we ask the government to protect the church’s freedom to serve people.'”

Click on these links to participating VISION communities to find more about the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati and the Sisters of Mercy.

S.J. Fr. "selfie" from famous Titanic photographer

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Tuesday 24, June 2014 Categories: Clergy
        FATHER FRANCIS Browne, S.J. took photographs from 1897 until his death in 1960.
's question, "Did the Irish priest on board the Titanic take a “selfie”?" sparked my interest into the life and photographic work of Jesuit priest Father Francis Browne, S.J. According to the report, Father Eddie O'Donnell found a tin trunk containing 42,000 negatives of the life's work of Father Browne. This "selfie" of Father Browne is the cover of O'Donnell's latest work: “The Life and Lens of Father Browne.”

The Jesuits of the Wisconsin Province had a blog post, "Get off that ship!", that includes what I found to be the most amazing part of Browne's story: Upon arriving in Queenstown (Cobh), Ireland from Southampton aboard the Titanic, Browne received a small envelope that contained an importantant directive from the Jesuit provincial: "GET OFF THAT SHIP!" That message saved Browne's life, according to the Jesuits, "and set him on the course to becoming a master photographer."

Click here to learn more about the Jesuits.

Two Michigan towns are neck and neck in vocations

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Thursday 19, June 2014 Categories: Consecrated Life,Clergy,Vocation and Discernment
Twins, Todd (left) and Gary Koenigsknecht, are among the Class of 2014 newly ordained priests.
The New York Times recently profiled newly ordained identical twin priests Todd and Gary Koenigsknecht from Fowler, Michigan who are "among 22 [priests] from their hometown, Fowler, Mich., population 1,224. They officially tie up the leader board with the neighboring village of Westphalia, population 938, which has also produced 22 priests, making for a robust rivalry in both football and Roman collars."

But that is not all...

"The elevation of religious life here has also had an effect on young women: Westphalia has produced 37 Catholic nuns over the decades, according to diocesan data, while Fowler claims 43. Marita Wohlfert, who is 20, is in the running to make it 44, having professed her first vows last year with the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará and taking the name Sister Mary of the Holy Family."

Is grass-fed beef the culprit? What's in the water of Westphalia and Fowler, Michigan? Please share it with the rest of us!

The wedding singer priest wows the world

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Thursday 10, April 2014 Categories: Clergy

Fr. Ray Kelly of County Meath, Ireland, surprised an out-of-town couple who didn't know of his singing prowess with an absolutely beautiful rendition of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, replete with verses specific to the bride and groom.  

Several things to love about this story:

  1. That the priest sang to delight his congregation: "I enjoy singing but I wouldn't want to do it full time - I love what I'm doing as a priest." 
  2. That his efforts were so well received: by the wedding goers, who gave him a standing ovation, and by the world: with nearly 5.4 million views so far on youtube.
  3. That he presented such a joyful and loving image of priesthood. 

Thank you, Father Ray.

Here is more from a BBC story:

The parish priest of Oldcastle, County Meath, told BBC Radio Ulster's Talkback programme  that the couple had no idea what was going to happen.
"Normally local people know I sing at weddings, funerals or when I'm asked, but they didn't know - the bride Leah is from Dublin and the groom Chris is from Cookstown in County Tyrone," he said.
"They were having their reception at a hotel about 10 miles away and chose our church.
"We had the rehearsal on Thursday evening and at the end I said, 'sure maybe I'll sing an aul song for you myself' - Leah grinned and said 'OK sure' but I don't think she was taking it too seriously."
Fr Kelly changed the original lyrics to be more suitable for a wedding. It begins: "We join together here today, to help two people on their way."
Fr Kelly is a trained singer who is currently working on his third album.
"The way I look at it is, it's a gift one has, and if you have a gift you use it."

Jimmy Fallon thought he "had the calling"

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Wednesday 19, March 2014 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy
"It’s my first experience on stage is as an altar boy. You’re on stage next to the priest, I’m a co-star," Jimmy Fallon on growing up Catholic and wanting to be a priest.

Deacon Greg Kandra reminded us on his blog that in the wake of Jimmy Fallon's succesful debut as the new host of "The Tonight Show," Fallon wanted to be a priest.

Deacon Greg recalls Jimmy Fallon's 2012 interview with NPR about his Catholic upbringing in Brooklyn, NY.

Fallon  shared: "I just, I loved the church. I loved the idea of it. I loved the smell of the incense. I loved the feeling you get when you left church. I loved like how this priest can make people feel this good. I just thought it was – I loved the whole idea of it. My grandfather was very religious, so I used to go to Mass with him at like 6:45 in the morning, serve Mass. And then you made money, too, if you did weddings and funerals. You’d get like five bucks. And so I go ‘Okay, I can make money too.’ I go, ‘This could be a good deal for me.’ I thought I had the calling... It’s my first experience on stage is as an altar boy. You’re on stage next to the priest, I’m a co-star."

Read the full 2012 NPR transcript here.

Initial plans for the Year of Consecrated Life revealed

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Saturday 01, February 2014 Categories: Clergy,Consecrated Life

In a press conference on Friday, the Vatican prefect for consecrated life, Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, outlined the three objectives for the Year of Consecrated Life, which will commence in the fall of 2014 and conclude in November of 2015:

1) The first objective: “We believe that the [Second Vatican] Council has been a breath of the Spirit not only for the whole Church but, perhaps especially, for the consecrated life. . . .  For this reason, he said, the first objective of the Year of Consecrated Life would be to “make a grateful remembrance of the recent past.”
2)     With this positive outlook on the past, he continued, “we want to ‘embrace the future with hope’— the second objective.
3)    This hope cannot keep us from “living the present with passion” — and this is the third objective of the coming Year. . . . In this regard, the Year of Consecrated Life will have an evangelical focus, helping people to realize “the beauty of following Christ” in the various types of religious vocations.

The Year of Consecrated Life is expected to begin in October of 2014, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Lumen gentium, the Second Vatican Council’s constitution on the Church, which has a specific chapter dealing with consecrated life. The anniversary of the publication of Perfectae caritatis, the Council’s decree on the renewal of consecrated life, will be the occasion of the close of the Year in November 2015.

Learn more here. Be sure to look to the VISION Vocation Network for resources and information on consecrated throughout the year.

Priests work the inner city

Posted by:   🕔 Saturday 18, January 2014 Categories: Clergy
FATHER PETER Banks in Los Angeles.
The PBS program Religion & Ethics Newsweekly recently ran a story on Father Michael Doyle, a diocesan priest who has worked for 40 years in Camden, New Jersey, which the FBI considers the most dangerous city in America. The item also has a link to R&EN's 2009 segment on Irish Franciscan Father Peter Banks, who had also worked for nearly 40 years in another difficult urban setting, the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles.

Pope Francis first religious to be named TIME's Person of the Year

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Thursday 12, December 2013 Categories: Clergy,Consecrated Life,Mission & Evangelization
FIRST Religious and third pope named TIME's Person of the Year.

Pope Francis, TIME's 2013 Person of the Year, is the first member of the Jesuits and the first member of a religious community to receive this award. TIME previously gave the honor to Blessed Pope John Paul II in 1994 and to Blessed Pope John XXIII in 1963.

"What makes this Pope so important is the speed with which he has captured the imaginations of millions who had given up on hoping for the church at all," TIME said in its cover story.

"In a matter of months, Francis has elevated the healing mission of the church—the church as servant and comforter of hurting people in an often harsh world — above the doctrinal police work so important to his recent predecessors" (Reuters reports).

Searching the TIME Person of the Year list and cover archives, I stumbled upon a few other Catholic priests and sisters who have made the cover but not the prestigious Person of the Year issue.

POPES John XXIII and John Paul II
Person of the Year covers from 1963 and 1994.
Left top: Maryknoll's Mother Mary Columba,
Mother General at a critical time of growth and expansion; Below: 1975 Mother Teresa
of Calcutta, bringer of an "extraordinary message of love and hope."
Right top: 1971 Antiwar protestor priests Father Philip Berrigan, a Josephite, and his Jesuit brother Daniel; Right bottom: Sister Ada, 91, of the convent on Good Counsel Hill in Minnesota participates in medical study for Alzheimers in 2001 issue.

If you had say or sway with TIME, which Catholic sister, brother, or priest in your lifetime would you have advocated for Person of the Year?

Before they took vows they were...

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Thursday 05, December 2013 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy,Consecrated Life
WHO WAS SEEN on the big screen and who was a bouncer?

You've heard about Pope Francis' prior work sweeping floors and as a bouncer right? If not, you can read the Catholic News Service report here.

Surely, you've seen the Huff Post article of the Pope joining his Almoner at night giving alms to the poor of Rome no doubt, correct? Read more on this rumor that is "probably true" from "a knowledgeable source in Rome [that] told The Huffington Post that "Swiss guards confirmed that the pope has ventured out at night, dressed as a regular priest, to meet with homeless men and women,"" here.

Perhaps you haven't heard of Mother Dolores Hart, OSB who before becoming a cloistered nun, played opposite to Elvis Presley in "Loving You." Relish in Mother Dolores Hart's journey toward her true vocation as she reflects that "The extravagance of my Hollywood career only mirrored the extravagance of God’s creative love expressed through His Son." Read the full USCCB blog here.

 Discover more about the Benedictine communities here.

#popefrancis #hollywoodtoholyvows

Bruce Lee helped archbishop find his vocation

Posted by:   🕔 Monday 02, December 2013 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy
BRUCE LEE: Vocation promoter.
It was a quote from action-movie star Bruce Lee which helped inspire Philippine Archbishop Socrates Villegas to enter the priesthood.

A life-long fan of the Hong Kong martial artist and actor, Villegas, the newly-installed president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, remembers coming across these words from Lee: “He said: ‘The cup realizes itself only by being empty.’ For me,” Villegas said, “it’s a call for sacrifice or for something greater than what I have been doing.”

Source: Sun.Star (Philippines)

Religious orders in Philippines help Haiyan victims

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Monday 18, November 2013 Categories: Clergy,Consecrated Life
AUGUSTINIAN Father Charlie Orobia blesses bodies
waiting to be buried after a storm surge from Super
Typhoon Haiyan. Photo: NCR

Ten days after the devastating Typhoon Haiyan killed thousands of people, the relief efforts continue to pour in to care for those displaced near Tacloban City, eastern Leyte, and Samar Island. National Catholic Reporter details the stories of endurance and aid provided by religious communities, including the Carmelites of Cebu and Ormoc, a Claretian novitiate compound, and the Religious of the Sacred Heart. Read the full article here.

HGTV open casting call for those entering religious life

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Friday 27, September 2013 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy,Consecrated Life
NOVICES! SHARE YOUR STORY with HGTV's new show new house, new life.
HGTV’s, latest series, new house, new life seeks fun, high-energy, people who have or are in the process of changing their current status for a lifelong passion. In particular, they are looking for novices preparing for religious life.

Casting applications are being accepted now and production will continue through the fall. Ideal candidates will be outgoing people who would love to share their life-changing vocational and discerning experience with HGTV’s audience, inspiring others to pursue their dreams of religious life or spiritual fulfillment and service.

For more information please contact:, 720-259-1546.

#callingallnovices #shareyourjourney #inspireothers

Which form of religious life is most popular and other fun facts . . .

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Wednesday 25, September 2013 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy,Consecrated Life

Have you ever wondered who is considering a vocation to consecrated life? Who is answering THE CALL? Well, you are in luck!

In the past year nearly 5,000 people completed a Vocation Match profile. How old are they? What kind of community interests them? Where do they live? Check out our cool new infographic below (click here for a larger version of the graphic).
   Results compiled from completed
          Vocation Match profiles.

Bishops bring their dancing shoes to Brazil

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Tuesday 17, September 2013 Categories: Clergy,Mission & Evangelization
In what has been billed as the "world's largest flash mob” to welcome Pope Francis to World Youth Day, a host of bishops in attendance danced along with the 3.5 million young people gathered on Copacabana Beach in Rio. Writing in the National Catholic Reporter, Sr. Martha Ann Kirk, C.C.V.I., a Sister of Charity of the Incarnate Word and a professor at the University of the Incarnatate Word, speculated: “Perhaps the bishops were displaying more than ever that they follow Jesus, the person who reached out to all in friendship, compassion and joy.”
BISHOPS REHEARSE a dance for the opening ceremony welcoming
Pope Francis at
World Youth Day Rio 2013.
Said Jessica Abejar, a New York performance artist and dancer: "I was there on Copacabana Beach! There & throughout the activities at World Youth Day, dance is much alive in the church! I saw it at morning catechesis with my Brazilian brothers & sisters, with the South Africans during offertory at our catechesis Mass, throughout all the main events, & even in the streets of Rio as young pilgrims from all over the world danced 'samba para Cristo!' The Catholic Church is alive! Dance is a part of the new evangelization! There is a song in our hearts and the Holy Spirit that moves us! I am glad to have been a part of this amazing experience! And I am glad that I was also able to share in the new evangelization as a performer in their youth festival -- one of the largest religious art festivals in the world! What a blessing!"

Others, however, were not as enthusiastic about this new rhythm in the church. According to Kirk, some bloggers are "angrily attacking the bishops who were dancing at World Youth Day as not displaying their position of power and solemnity."

What is your take on the dancing bishops?

#dancingbishops #worldyouthday #newevanglization

Sundays are for . . .

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Thursday 12, September 2013 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy
“AFTER 17 YEARS of being a priest,
Sunday mornings still never get old for me,”
says Father John Herman, C.S.C.
For this throwback Thursday I think it is fitting to throw a “Hail Mary” here and remember the true purpose of Sunday mornings. While we are in the second week of the NFL season, let’s set our fantasy football teams to the best combination of players we have and then leave it and head to Mass.

Father John Herman, C.S.C., touched upon the importance of Sundays Eucharist this last October (2012), in his blog piece: Nothing Better than Sunday Mornings. Heshares  his love and gratitude for God calling him to become a Holy Cross priest aswell as a glimpse into his life of blessings and challenges as pastor of La Luz Parish in México.

Fr. Herman says: “One of the things that helps me feel very grounded in celebrating the Eucharist here is the connection that I’m developing with the people after being here for a little more than a year. I see Imelda out there and know that she’s suffering greatly from the tragic and violent death of her daughter. I see Pablo and Carla who are expectantly awaiting the birth of their first child. I see Arturo and know how he and his family are struggling to keep their family business going. I see Edgar who is discerning a possible vocation to religious life and priesthood in Holy Cross.

“I love Sunday’s, not because it’s the day for NFL football. I love Sundays because we all get to come together for our celebration of the Eucharist. Does it get any better than this?”

Learn more about the Congregation of the Holy Cross.

#throwbackthursday #sundaymornings #celebration #eucharist

From brother to priest

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Thursday 02, May 2013 Categories: Clergy
FATHER PHAM with his mother after his
ordination in May of last year.

On May 5th 2012 Ducanh Pham was one of three Franciscan Friars from the Sacred Heart Province to be ordained to the priesthood. Happy one year anniversary, Father Pham, O.F.M.! Here is a look at the celebration of the ordinations at St. Peter’s Church in Chicago, IL. 

Perhaps you remember Father Duc Pham as Brother Duc Pham as VISION featured him in this article that described his journey to the Franciscans as being “tricked” into it by God.

Father Pham reflects on his ordination in 2012 by saYing, “As I begin my priestly ministry, my heart is joyous at the opportunity to return the blessing and kindness which I have receivedto be an instrument of God’s grace, peace and reconciliation in the world following the examples of so many kindhearted people who have given of themselves to help others. May the God of mercy bless us all!”

50th Anniversary of World Day of Prayer for Vocations

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Wednesday 24, April 2013 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy
50th anniversary; instituted by
Pope Paul VI during the
Second Vatican Council.

This past fourth Sunday of Easter (April 21st), also known as Good Shepherd Sunday, marked the 50th Anniversary of the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Pope Francis’ celebration included the ordinations of 10 new priests in the Diocese of Rome.

Catholic News Service shares moving highlights of Pope Francis' homily. “The voice of Jesus is unique,” Pope Francis said. “If we learn to distinguish it, he will guide us on the path of life, a path that leads us even beyond the abyss of death.”

The USCCB encourages us to “pray that young men and women hear and respond generously to the Lord's call to the priesthood, diaconate, religious life, societies of apostolic life or secular institutes.” 

Pope Francis: Lowly but chosen

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Monday 18, March 2013 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy

From a story by Veronica Scarisbrick on Vatican Radio: Pope Francis has chosen the motto Miserando atque eligendo, meaning "lowly but chosen," which in Latin means "by having mercy, by choosing him."

The motto is one the pope had already chosen as a bishop. It is taken from the homilies of the Venerable Bede on Saint Matthew's gospel relating to his vocation: "Jesus saw the tax collector and by having mercy chose him as an Apostle saying to him: Follow me."

This homily, which focuses on divine mercy and is reproduced in the Liturgy of the Hours on the Feast of Saint Matthew, has taken on special significance in the Pope's life and spiritual journey.

It was on the Feast of Saint Matthew in 1953 that a young 17 year-old Jorge Bergoglio was touched by the mercy of God and felt the call to religious life in the footsteps of Saint Ignatius of Loyola and entered the Jesuit order.

Beyond the motto, the coat of arms has a blue field and is surmounted by the mitre and the papal keys. On the crest itself at the centre is the symbol of the Jesuits, a flaming sun with the three letters recalling the name and the salvific mission of Jesus. Underneath we have two more symbols: to the right the star representing Mary and to the left the nard flower representing Joseph.

Pope Francis among 34 popes from religious communities

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Wednesday 13, March 2013 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy

In being a member of a religious order and the first Jesuit elected pope, Pope Francis joins 33 other pontiffs who came from religious communities: Here is the list, thanks to a Wikipedia entry on popes:

  • Benedictines (17):-
    • Gregory I, Boniface IV, Adeodatus II, Leo IV, John IX, Leo VII, Stephen IX, Gregory VII, Victor III, Urban II, Paschal II, Gelasius II, Celestine V, Clement VI, Urban V, Pius VII
  • and including Camaldolese (1):-
    • Gregory XVI
  • Augustinians (6):-
    • Eugene IV
  • and including Canons Regular (5):-
    • Honorius II, Innocent II, Lucius II, Gregory VIII, Adrian IV
  • Dominicans (4):-
    • Innocent V, Benedict XI, Pius V, Benedict XIII
  • Franciscans (4):-
    • Nicholas IV, Sixtus IV
  • and including Conventual Franciscans (2):-
    • Sixtus V, Clement XIV
  • Cistercians (2):-
    • Eugene III, Benedict XII
  • Jesuits (1):-
    • Francis I

    Learn more about these communities in VISION's Community Search.

"White Monks" exhibit shows Trappist life

Posted by:   🕔 Thursday 14, February 2013 Categories: Clergy
"White Monks: A Life in Shadows" - Photographs of life within three Trappist monasteries in Spain by photographer Francesca Phillips.
PHOTO from "White Monks" exhibition.
© 2013 Guardian News and Media.
Some samples. The exhibition can be seen at Holy Trinity Church, Sloane Street, London until March 9.

The remains of Richard III: The Franciscan connection

Posted by:   🕔 Monday 04, February 2013 Categories: Clergy,Church History
A footnote to the discovery-of-the-bones-of-King-Richard-III story: He was buried by the Franciscan Grey Friars at their church in Leicester, 100 miles north of London. The church was closed and demolished after King Henry VIII dissolved English monasteries in 1538.

The Mary contest: Let the games begin

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Wednesday 30, January 2013 Categories: Consecrated Life,Clergy,Mary and the Saints
A short film inspires Mary to become a nun. 


Have you ever been asked to consider religious life? Was there a period of time in your life where you thought about becoming a sister, nun, brother, or priest? Writer and director Teresa McGee recounts this period of time in her own life as the inspiration for a short film, The Mary Contest.

An 11-year-old, Mary Kelly, struggles to fit in and finds comfort in Sister Adelia, who invites her to join The Legion of Mary prayer group. It is in the prayer group where the contest to find the most names for the Virgin Mary ensues.

How many names can you think of for the Virgin Mary off the top of your head? What about Marian religious communities? With help from the VISION search tab, here's my "short" list of communities with Mary--or some form of Mary--in their name:


Religious of Jesus and Mary (RJM)

Let me know what communities I've missed!

Franciscan friars now accepting texted prayer requests

Posted by:   🕔 Thursday 17, January 2013 Categories: Clergy,Prayer and Spirituality

The Franciscan Friars of the Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, who staff 40 parishes, colleges, soup kitchens, and food centers along the Eastern seaboard as well as supporting groups in Peru and Tokyo, are among a small but growing number of religious groups accepting text-message prayer requests, reports this week’s Preaching the News via an article by Patricia Reaney for Reuters.

TEXT the Franciscans: They'll pray for you.

Their “Text a Prayer Intention to a Franciscan Friar” initiative, described as “faith at your fingertips,” offers a novel way for Catholics to connect with those in religious life. “People are always saying to friars, ‘Can you say a prayer for me?’ or ‘can you remember my mother who has cancer?’ ” said Father David Convertino, the New York-based executive director of development for the Franciscan Friars of the Holy Name Province.

"A lot of people text everything now, even more than email, so why not have people have the ability to ask us to pray for them by texting," Convertino said. The intentions are received on a website and are included collectively in the friars' prayers twice a day and at Mass.

Most of the 325 friars, whose average age is about 60, are comfortable with the technology, said Convertino. "If the pope can tweet, friars can text. We have a friar who is 80 who was texting today.”

A number of communities accept prayer requests on their websites. Are there more out there who accept texted requests?

It's National Vocation Awareness Week and Vocations are Thriving!

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Wednesday 16, January 2013 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy,Consecrated Life

This week is National Vocation Awareness week and a lot of parishes are doing their part to encourage parishioners to pray for young men and women to consider becoming a priest, deacon and religious brother and sister.

SISTERS of the Visitation, Tyringham, Mass.

Actually, the USCCB are having guest blog posts by young priests and religious on their pursuit to the vocation and how they were prayed for and encouraged by God and others to live the consecrated life.

Additionally, the newest members of the Sisters of the Visitation of Holy Mary in Tyringham, Massachusetts come from very different life experiences and are a variety of ages but have all been drawn to the life of a cloistered nun. Peggy Weber of Catholic News Service shares the thoughts of each of the four new members as well as the director of novices’ Sister Mary Emmanuel’s goal for the community. Sister Mary Emmanuel says, "We're looking for someone with enthusiasm, someone's who's very interested in the religious life, someone who is a deep, faithful Catholic. She said that anyone considering religious life has to be open, willing to take a risk, and be someone who dares to be different.”


Thankfully, in the spirit of vocations, the Congregation of Holy Cross in the United States is thriving! Deacon Greg Kandra shares on his blog The Deacon’s Bench, “with more than 50 men in formation,” their congregation, “is among the healthiest for Catholic religious orders in the United States.” The key to their success is shared by Vocations Director Holy Cross Father James T. Gallagher is simple: “We use social media as a way to make ourselves known to those young men discerning a call to religious life. But the personal interaction still comes first. Our social media outlets are just tools we use to help make Holy Cross known, share discernment tips and help deepen a man’s prayer life.”    

Let the beautiful words of Archbishop José H. Gomez be our prayer during this National Vocation Awareness week; "Every priest is a sacrament — a sign and instrument that brings men and women to the encounter with the living God. So in this Year of Faith, we need to refocus ourselves, especially in our families, on helping men to hear this beautiful and noble calling from Jesus.” (Shared from his November 2012 Tidings article).

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)!

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)

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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.):

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)


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

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:



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.

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

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. 

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.  

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. 

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."

A look at the hidden life of St. Joseph

Posted by:   🕔 Wednesday 21, December 2011 Categories: Consecrated Life,Clergy

Jesuit Fr. James Martin, S.J. recently published a brilliant piece about the hidden life of St. Joseph and his thoughtful ministry of raising Jesus and being a humble servent of the Lord. 

In this short film, Martin highlights and examines the life of Joseph and how important he was in Jesus's life as well as ours. St. Joseph is someone we should try to emulate. He was a great example of someone who lived a truly devotional life to his family and to the Lord. Take a couple minutes and check out this wonderful short film. In this season of Christmas, Martin urges us to remember St. Joseph.


The "first" vocation app?

Posted by:   🕔 Tuesday 06, December 2011 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy
In an item on the CCN Belief Blog, the Catholic Church in Ireland claimed to have the "world first" religious vocation-related app. That was in October. We applaud their effort, but we think VISION got in ahead of them, both for iPhone/iPad and Android.

Sisters give Wall Street a few tips

Posted by:   🕔 Tuesday 29, November 2011 Categories: Clergy,Consecrated Life

The resentment between Occupy Wall Street protestors and corporate America has certainly grown in the past couple of weeks. Each day we learn new information about what the protestors want and what Wall Street has no intention of doing.

It turns out Wall Street is also getting an earful from its investors, including the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia. Sister Nora Nash, OSF, head of the community's Corporate Social Responsibility mission, recently featured in an article in the business section of the New York Times, actively weighs in on corporate America's practices. A soft-spoken woman, Nash has been quite vocal in offering suggestions to some of the world's largest corporations.

”We want social returns, as well as financial ones,” says Nash. “When you look at the major financial institutions, you have to realize there is greed involved.”

Nash and her community formed a corporate responsibility committee beck in the 1980s after they had lost some of their retirement in the market. They wanted to vocalize the importance of wise investments and fiscal responsibility not only within their own community but also within some of Wall Street's major corporations. Their goal as a committee was to buy the minimum number of shares that would allow them to submit resolutions at a company's annual shareholder meeting. 

The group advises executives to protect consumers, rein in executive pay, increase transparency within corporations, and remember the poor.

The Sisters of St. Francis are not going it alone. They have teamed up with the Sisters of Charity Saint Elizabeth and Sisters of St. Dominic (Caldwell Dominicans), both in New Jersey, and many other Christian denominations and religious faiths. They are active in the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility.

“Companies have learned over time that the issues we’re bringing are not frivolous,” says Fr. Seamus P. Finn, a Washington-based priest with the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate and a board member of the Interfaith Center. “At the end of every transaction, there are people that are either positively or negatively impacted, and we try to explain that to them.”

The goal of the group is not to bring corporations down, but to get these companies to become more responsible for their actions and be held accountable for their practices. Although success has been sporadic, the sisters believe in their mission.

Click here to read more about the Sisters of Philadelphia's corporate engagement.

NRVC receives National Vocation plan grant

Posted by:   🕔 Tuesday 08, November 2011 Categories: Clergy,Consecrated Life

The National Religious Vocation Conference (NRVC), copublishers of VISION magazine and the VISION Vocation Network website, has been awarded a $281,000 grant by the GHR Foundation of Minnetonka, Minnesota to implement two major objectives of the NRVC’s National Vocation Plan—the largest single grant the NRVC has ever received. A previous grant from the GHR Foundation helped fund the NRVC’s Moving Forward in Hope vocation symposium in September 2010. The two new projects are intended to enhance and strengthen religious life in the United States and prepare religious communities to welcome new members.

In one the NRVC will develop a conversational tool to enable religious institutes to engage in a deeper exchange about the findings of the landmark 2009 NRVC/CARA study on recent vocations to religious life and their implications for apostolic life with respect to community, visibility, communal prayer, and celebration of Eucharist.

The second project will convene three gatherings for women religious in the eastern, middle, and western regions of the U.S. The purpose of these unprecedented gatherings will be for women religious to study the research regarding recent vocations and discuss and reflect on the combined implications of this information for religious sisters as they work together to increase their membership both individually and collaboratively.

Getting to know the ordinary folks who choose religious life

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Friday 28, October 2011 Categories: Clergy,Consecrated Life

The Baltimore Sun reports that a panel of Roman Catholic priests, brothers, sisters, and deacons faced an audience of lively fifth graders Thursday (Oct 27), offering snippets of their personal history histories and the motivation for their career choices. But many children were so unfamiliar with a nun's habit and veil that several directed remarks to "the lady in the blue dress."

"We have regular teachers, not nuns," said Craig Kelly, a student at St. Ursula School in Parkville who attended a conference Thursday at Notre Dame of Maryland University. Classmate Cathyrose Odoh added, "They are not the ordinary people we see every day."

In Maryland and across the country, the Roman Catholic Church is looking to inspire younger students with a zeal for religious life and help stem decades of decline in the ranks of nuns and priests. National research suggests that students start to consider the priesthood or sisterhood at as young as 11. But overcoming students' unfamiliarity — even at Catholic schools — can be a challenge.

Sister Patricia Dowling, CBS vocation director for the Sisters of Bon Secours and co-chair of the event, helped organize the first Focus 11 in Maryland and is planning several others. It drew students from Catholic elementary schools throughout the area. Focus 11 includes activities like a quiz game between the children and panelists, who included a priest, a brother, a deacon and two nuns. The back and forth showed the children that vocations come from people leading ordinary lives.

"Nobody is born a priest or nun," said Sister Fran Gorsuch, CBS, who played emcee for the game. "God called them to that life. And, that life is anything but boring."

When she asked which panelist was a Phillies baseball fan and a motorcyclist who worked in the Dominican Republic, the children chose one of the men — not the correct answer (it was Sister Mary Beth Antonelli, OSF). They erred about who had mastered fencing. It was the "lady in blue," Sister Mary Grace Dateno, FSP. Emma Crowhurst, a student at Our Lady of Grace School in Parkton, said, "It is interesting how these ordinary people became priests and sisters."

More coverage on Baltimore TV:


Catholicism Video Series to appear on PBS

Posted by:   🕔 Thursday 13, October 2011 Categories: Clergy

Fr. Robert Barron of the Chicago Archdiocese is launching a video series in hopes of "lifting" the Catholic spirit. In a recent Tribune article, Fr. Barron describes his series "Catholicism" airing October 13, 2011, as " a walk through Catholicism from the viewpoint of faith." 

This faith series reflects on the life of Jesus, the Catholic vision of God as the Trinity, the missionary movement that began with Peter and Paul, and the reverence of Mary. Airing on PBS will be the first four parts of the "Catholicism" series. The additional six episodes will air on ETWN starting in November.  

According to Fr. Barron, this series is about creating a "vivid sense of the concrete reality of Jesus," that will hopefully provide a modern approach to the Catholic faith. 

Catholicism Series Trailer


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The "Transitus" of Saint Francis

Posted by:   🕔 Tuesday 04, October 2011 Categories: Clergy

Today is the feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi, father of the Franciscan order and patron of all Franciscans. Many Franciscan communities celebrate a devotion recalling stories of the Transitus, or passing, of the saint from earthly life. For more on this ritual, visit the The Transitus: An Introduction which includes accounts of Francis' death from the Franciscans Thomas of Celano and Saint Bonaventure.

The VISION Vocation Netwok has many listing for both men's and women's Franciscan communities (here and here).

Jesuits seek new ground to help disadvantaged youth in NYC

Posted by:   🕔 Wednesday 03, August 2011 Categories: Clergy

In the 1960s on New York City’s Lower East Side, Father Walter Janer, S.J., a Puerto Rican-born Jesuit, started what would become the Nativity Mission School by setting up study halls and recreational activities for local youth as well as opening a summer camp in upstate New York. “We saw how much they had changed over the summer,” said Father Jack Podsiadlo, S.J. current president, of the young people who came through the door. “The idea was to see how many of our kids we could prepare for admission to Jesuit high schools.”

After formally opening in 1971, Nativity Mission Center and its middle school relied on priests, volunteers, and young teachers and welcomed young people whose parents could not afford parochial school tuition. Teachers were always there throughout the school day and during evening study hall. Since then Nativity has sent scores of young men to New York Jesuit high schools like Fordham Prep, Regis, and Xavier.

THE LOWER EAST SIDE at Delancey St. and the Bowery.
The Lower East Side, however, once home to legions of Jewish, Italian, and later Puerto Rican immigrants, has become on the city’s hottest boutique neighborhoods. Rapid gentrification, which forced many of the area’s lower-income Latino families to move out, coupled with a slow-down in donations from many of the center’s Wall Street benefactors, led Nativity’s board to vote to relocate.

That decision sent Father Podsiadlo, in the spirit of generations of Jesuit missionaries, on a journey to find an area of New York that the center could better serve, like the South Bronx and Brooklyn, where it plans to relocate in 2012. “We serve the poor,” said Father Podsiadlo, who has worked at the Lower East Side school since 1973. “If they’re not here, then we’ll move to where they are.”

Read the full New York Times article.

Editor’s note: With World Youth Day beginning shortly in Madrid, remember to check out the article on “Pilgrimage: The adventure of walking with God,” which mentions Father Podsiadlo and his walk of Spain’s historic Camino de Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route, in the upcoming 2012 issue of the VISION Catholic Religious Vocation Discernment Guide, available now in print and soon in a digital edition on this site.

The Jesuits are on VISION.

Vatican liaison to religious communities talks about his job

Posted by:   🕔 Thursday 21, July 2011 Categories: Clergy,Consecrated Life

BRAZILIAN Archbishop João Bráz de Aviz, 64, was appointed in January as the new prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, the Vatican body responsible for overseeing Roman Catholic religious life.

Bráz de Aviz
In a recent interview with the Italian journal 30 Giorni, Archbishop Bráz de Aviz was asked what kind of start his work in the congregation had gotten off to. "We’ve had to confront many difficulties," he said. "There was little trust on the part of the religious, on account of some positions taken previously. Now, the focal point of the work is precisely that of rebuilding a relationship of trust. I work together with the secretary of the congregation, Archbishop Joseph Tobin. We talk a lot, so that decisions are taken in common."

Commenting on the Vatican visitation of of women’s religious congregations in the United States, the archibishop said: "That, too, has not been an easy matter. There was mistrust and opposition. We’ve spoken with them, and their representatives have come here to Rome. We’ve started to listen again. That’s not to say there aren’t problems, but we have to deal with them in a different way, without preemptive condemnations and by listening to people’s concerns. By now, we’ve received many reports which we have to work through. There’s also the relationship with Mother Clare Millea [the Vatican-appointed head of the visitation], which will be important."

From John L. Allen, Jr.'s report on the NCROnline blog.

Jesuit volunteers help garbage-dump familes

Posted by:   🕔 Monday 18, July 2011 Categories: Clergy

THE SECTION of Guatemala City known as Zone 3 is not a place many outsiders go. In it is a huge garbage dump where hundreds of people live and scavenge for plastic, glass, metal, and other materials they can sell to recyclers in order to get by. Animals also live and feed there, and fires spread smoke everywhere in the tropical heat.

In the summer of 1994 a group of students from St. John's Jesuit High School in Toledo, Ohio, led by the school's then-president Father Don Vettese, S.J., were on a service trip to an orphanage in Guatemala City. Because of an accident and the resulting traffic jam and detour, they got stuck in traffic for about 20 minutes near the dump in Zone 3. The sight left them speechless. Children banged on the van, begging for food, money, and help.

PART OF the massive garbage dump
in Guatemala City's "Zone 3."
Afterward the students talked with Fr. Vettese and wanted to know what they could do. Their first concern was to help the children, but they eventually looked for other ways to improve the lives of the dump workers and others living in Zone 3. With the approval of the Jesuits, a year later Fr. Vettese established a nonprofit organization in Toledo, originally calling it Central American Ministries but renaming it International Samaritan in 2009 to reflect its growing global outreach.

In the 16 years since then the ministry has started programs to alleviate severe poverty in seven countries—Guatemala, Egypt, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, and Haiti—and is studying the possibility of expanding to Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, and the Philippines. It serves about 13,000 extremely poor people each year. Fr. Vettese would like to extend the program to every garbage dump in every developing country in the world, he told David Yonke of the Toledo Blade.

The plan in each community is to start with a nursery to get the children out of the dump. The next step is to provide education as a key to breaking the cycle of poverty. To that end International Samaritan first builds a grade school, then a middle school.

BRENDA LOPEZ and three of her children in their
International Samaritan-built home.
The organization also builds concrete-block houses to replace the plastic, cardboard, and tin shacks where dump workers live. The concrete-block houses have running water, a bathroom, and electricity and provide a sense of pride and safety.

Teams of high school and college students from the Toledo area and around the country have traveled to different International Samaritan sites to help in a variety of ways. Some trips focus on construction and renovation while others teach English to dump workers' children.

"We're not trying to convert people to Catholicism, but the fact of the matter is they know we are Catholic. They know we are Christians,” Vettese said. “We're evangelizing through example."

The Jesuits on VISION.

One fifth of ordained in 2011 attended a World Youth Day

Posted by:   🕔 Tuesday 12, July 2011 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy

LAST APRIL we mentioned a new survey profiling those ordained to the priesthood in the U.S. in 2011. With World Youth Day (WYD) coming up next month in Madrid, it’s interesting to note that according to that study over 20 percent of the men ordained in 2011 have attended a WYD.

Do you know any priests, brothers, or sisters who have participated in a WYD? Do you think going to WYD would have an impact on discerning your life's vocation?

Visit VISION's special page devoted to this year's WYD, LikesGod.

Holy Cross merges Eastern and Indiana Provinces

Posted by:   🕔 Friday 01, July 2011 Categories: Clergy

ON FRIDAY July 1, 2011 the former Eastern Province of Holy Cross Priests and Brothers officially merges into the Indiana Province to form the new Congregation of Holy Cross, United States Province of Priests and Brothers.

The merger was approved at the Congregation of Holy Cross’ general chapter meeting in Rome in the summer of 2010. In December the two provinces agreed that the merger should place on July 1, 2011, the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

“This merger is a union and an act of God,” said U.S. Provincial Superior Father David T. Tyson, C.S.C. “Holy Cross has trusted in God’s divine providence from the beginning. Today with this union, He continues to bless us. With more than 100 seminarians, we are now more than 500 strong. We are men of different ages, cultures, and ministries, but we are united in the common mission of Holy Cross: to make God known, loved, and served!”
Nearly 400 Holy Cross religious from the Indiana
and Eastern Provinces gathered in a joint assembly June 13-16
on the campus of the University of Notre Dame.

The ministries of the new U.S. Province include four colleges and universities: the University of Notre Dame (Notre Dame, Ind., 1842); University of Portland (Portland, Ore., 1901); King’s College (Wilkes-Barre, Pa., 1946); and Stonehill College (Easton, Mass., 1948).

Other ministries include 15 parishes in the U.S. and Mexico; André House in Phoenix; the Downtown Chapel in Portland; Ave Maria Press in Notre Dame; Holy Cross Mission Center, serving people around the world; and Holy Cross Family Ministries in North Easton, Mass. The United States Province is also present in Mexico, Chile, Peru, and East Africa (Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania).

And don’t forget: VISION will be at World Youth Day in August in Madrid at the Holy Cross Family Ministries booth.

Holy Cross on VISION.

The Dominicans? There's an app for that

Posted by:   🕔 Tuesday 17, May 2011 Categories: Clergy

The Dominican Friars from the St. Joseph Province in the U.S. and the Province of Ireland have created the iDoms Reader app. Those with an iPhone/iTouch or iPad can download the app to get access to articles and videos aggregated from the various websites of the Dominican Order. Future updates of the application will provide access to a wider variety of content and introduce extra functionality.

The Dominicans on VISION.

13 Polish Dominicans make solemn profession

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spare some time for the 20-Minute Novitiate

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

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

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

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

Learn more about the Benedictine Monks of Saint Meinrad Archabbey.

Monk's children's book wins Christopher Award

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

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

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

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

Parish vocation committees encourage local culture of vocation

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

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

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

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

National Vocation Plan ready

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

What's to love about being a priest?

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Wednesday 16, February 2011 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy

"I love being a priest," says Fr. Charles B. Gordon, CSC, in an essay in the March issue of U.S. Catholic, "because right now there are more than a billion people in the world for whom I'm not only a priest but also their priest. On the off chance that we ever meet, they will know what to make of me, and I will have a way to be with them.

Gordon, a Holy Cross priest, who teaches theology and literature at the University of Portand in Oregon, lists a number of other reasons he loves being a priest, including "because I hear about miracles. That's because people tend not to tell each other about their miracles. But they'll tell a priest.

"I know a woman whose beloved father died when she was barely out of her teens. When it happened, she turned to scripture for solace. She opened her Bible at random and read, "In place of your fathers will be your sons." She was single then. Now she is married and has four children, all of them boys. That is her miracle.

"...I've spoken to a Chinese physicist who converted from atheism to Christianity because ice floats. He told me that every other liquid sinks when it freezes. If water sank when it froze, he assured me, the earth would be entirely lifeless. We exist because water behaves in this odd way. That, he said, cannot be a coincidence and so he believes in our Creator God."

For the entire article go to U.S. For more information about the Holy Cross Fathers and Brothers, click here and type in Congregation of Holy Cross or key in code 097.

U.S. Catholic group escapes Egyptian chaos

Posted by:   🕔 Wednesday 02, February 2011 Categories: Clergy

For years Father Don Senior, C.P. has traveled all over the Middle East without a major incident—until recently, that is, when he and the group he was leading from the Catholic Theological Union (CTU) in Chicago found themselves in the middle of what looks awfully like a revolution in Egypt.

They were in Giza, about 20 kilometers outside Cairo and home of the famed ancient pyramids, when the violent demonstrations against the Egyptian government reached that city. “At night we started to hear a lot of gunfire,” said Senior, a Passionist priest, president of CTU, and a member of the Vatican's Pontifical Biblical Commission. “We could smell the burning of the Giza police station. On Sunday it became clear to me that we . . . could not just go anywhere, and you sense the anxiety.”

on one of his many travels
They had arrived on January 26 but due to disruptions in cell phone and email access were able to send home only minimal news about their status until the morning of Jan. 31, when in a message Senior described how they were able to get out. “Through the help of our long-time friend and travel agent in Israel we were able to secure places for all on an emergency El Al flight sent to Egypt on Sunday night. After a harrowing trip to the airport and a ten-hour struggle in the utter chaos of the Cairo airport, the whole group is now in Jerusalem. We arrived at 5:00 am this morning. . . . and our travel agent is arranging for us to resume our return on February 5 more or less as planned!”

Senior noted the kindness Egyptians showed them and asked to “remember the Egyptian people in your prayers at this moment of great danger and hope.”

CTU is the largest Catholic graduate school of theology in the U.S. and is sponsored by a number of Catholic religious orders.

Read the full report from Carol Marin of the NBC TV affiliate in Chicago.

Award-winning film about Trappist monks fails to make Oscar cut

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Monday 31, January 2011 Categories: Clergy

The French, and no doubt some Trappist monks, are disappointed that the second-place winner at last year's Cannes Film Festival, Of Gods and Men ("Des hommes et des dieux"), failed to make the 2011 list of Oscar nominees in the Best Foreign Language Film category.

The film, which has enjoyed wide critical and commercial success, is based on the true story of French Trappist monks living in an Algerian village in the 1990s who must decide whether or not to remain in their monastery despite a wave of Islamic extremism. In the process of making their final decision, they are forced to examine their consciences and the nature of their vocations, writes Philip French in the Guardian. "In a beautifully staged walk through the countryside, passing an emblematic flock of sheep, and sitting beside a lake, Christian [the abbot] appears to be examining himself in the light of Christ's teaching. We inevitably think of Thomas Beckett's self-questioning in T. S. Eliot's Murder in the Cathedral and those key lines: 'The last temptation is the greatest treason/ To do the right thing for the wrong reason.' . . . The subject matter is urgently topical, the themes raised eternal and universal."

Salesian Missions launches Haiti recovery website

Posted by:   🕔 Friday 21, January 2011 Categories: Clergy,Consecrated Life

A year after the earthquake in Haiti, Salesian Missions has launched a news site that focuses on disaster recovery efforts in the area of Port-au-Prince. With so much media attention focusing on the negative aspects of the post-earthquake situation, hopes to provide information and insight about programs and progress in Haiti related to Salesian Missions activities and those of partner organizations as well as overall issues in the country.

Through a new Salesian University Network, for example, hundreds of university students who had been unable to return to school following the Jan. 12, 2010 quake will have a chance to continue their education through 13 computer labs or cybercafés throughout Haiti.

In the aftermath of the earthquake, Salesian Missions provided disaster relief to victims—many of them their own students and teachers. Early efforts focused on the basic human needs of food, water, medical supplies, survival kits, and tents for shelter. Thousands of refugees were housed within the confines of those facilities which were not destroyed, and thousands more were provided meals.

In addition to getting news, people can visit to make donations for recovery work. To date about $2.5 million have been spent by Salesian Missions on relief efforts for the Haitian people, along with additional in-kind donations. More than 23,000 students and 1,200 teachers have returned to classes at 10 Salesian Missions educational facilities.

Salesian Missions "What's your mission?" video”:

The Salesians also have a YouTube channel.

Dominicans see increase in vocations, need for expansion

Posted by:   🕔 Wednesday 19, January 2011 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy

While recent decades have seen declines in the numbers of members of religious orders—and the resulting closure of facilities—the recent upward trend in membership has produced the opposite challenge: not enough space.

DOMINICAN student brothers gather
at Aquinas Institute Spirit Week 2010.
For example, the Dominican friars in the central and southern U.S. welcomed 10 men last fall, their largest class in more than 20 years. Dominican Father David Wright, master of students in St. Louis, said two provinces have priesthood candidates living in St. Louis who attend Aquinas Institute, a graduate school of theology next to St. Louis University. In 2007, he said, “We had 18 students and this year we’re up to 25. Next year, if all those presently in the novitiate come in, we could have an increase of up to 30. It was time to expand.”

The Dominicans recently purchased the former Loretto Academy building in St. Louis. The renovated space will open in the fall as a Dominican priory, a residential community for men preparing to become priests in the order. The men will live in the house for five years while they study at Aquinas, which also educates laypeople to serve in ministerial roles. Those considering entering the order also go to the order's retirement community in Chicago where they experience the older members' life of prayer and living in community.

The building that will house the priory was designed by an architectural firm begun by George I. Barnett, who also designed the Missouri governor's mansion, the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, and several of the earliest buildings at the Missouri Botanical Garden. It includes 32,000 feet of living space and an additional 16,000 feet of chapel, corridor, and storage space. Living quarters will undergo extensive renovation but much of the common space will be untouched. Features include a tile fireplace with carved wooden mantle and a chapel with stained-glass windows by artist Emil Frei. A new addition will include other common spaces and a fully accessible main entrance.

“We have a wonderful appeal both as a community and as an apostolate,” Father Wright said. “Preaching the word of God is what we're all about. And that can be done in hundreds of ways. Men don't join just to be in teaching, mission work, or whatever.” Continuing the work of their founder, Saint Dominic (1170-1221), the mission of the Dominicans includes preaching, teaching, and doing works of justice in a variety of settings--campus ministry, parish work, high schools, colleges, and retreat centers, full-time preaching, service in health care as chaplains and ethicists, the arts, and more. Community life, Father Wright said, involves not only living together under one roof but also the willingness to share one’s life with one another, being “of one mind and one heart in God.” The four pillars of Dominican life are prayer, common life, study, and ministry.

Twice a year the Dominicans have a “come and see” event for young men considering a vocation to experience that life, with the next one scheduled for the weekend of February 26-28, 2011 in Dallas.

French Augustinians serve river community

Posted by:   🕔 Friday 14, January 2011 Categories: Clergy

Since 1988 the Augustinians of the Assumption have been working with the riverboat community on the River Seine in the northeast Paris suburb of Conflans-Sainte Honorine. One of the things making their ministry different from other parishes, however, is its location. Like the people it serves, it is on a barge, or rather a group of barges.

THE COMMUNITY chapel on Le Je Sers
Established by Father Arthur Hervet and now staffed by four other Assumptionists, the barge-chapel, named Le Je Sers (“I serve”), is one of two “river parishes” in France. The parish does everything a landlubbing parish does, like celebrating the sacraments and conducting catechism classes for the children of residents of the barge community and children in the immediate surroundings. The chapel is open 24/7, and all are invited to share the community's times of prayer.

The community’s ministry also functions as a place for emergency shelter. It welcomes former prisoners and streetwalkers and currently offers temporary housing to about 40 persons looking to get back on their feet. The office at the rear of the barge community, called La Pierre Blanche (“White Rock”), takes in a dozen or so people every day who are living at life's edge. Volunteers help those temporarily housed in the community with navigating government bureaucracy, searching for work or permanent housing, or learning French. The barges also house the headquarters for six social agencies.

Every morning after breakfast two teams leave to pick up food donations from various agencies and stores for the community’s cooks to prepare. Other residents or volunteers are responsible for the upkeep and repair of the barges.

Though the riverboat population is smaller than it was at the beginning of the 20th century, there is still plenty to do on Je Sers. The community has 6 employees, 20 regular volunteers, and over 100 other volunteers. Its nine barges—six owned by the community and three on loan from the Voies Navigables de France (Navigable Waterways of France)—include houses and apartments and have 50 residents. The community owns vans and cars and also uses vehicles on loan.

PLAN of the four main barges making up
the community's living quarters
In addition to the 100 meals served onboard daily, the parish distributes 100 food baskets to the needy every day and makes gifts to various groups in need, such as the Roma people (Gypsies), immigrants, and other soup kitchens or food pantries. Each week it gathers, recycles, and distributes one ton of clothes. About half its budget of €800,000 ($1,000,000) comes from gifts and the other half from subsidized rents.

“Figuring out my call”

Posted by:   🕔 Wednesday 05, January 2011 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy,Consecrated Life

Torma, M.S.C.
In his recent Vocation Corner online column, Father Andrew Torma, M.S.C., vocation director for the U.S.A. Province of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, offered some reflections on “Figuring Out My Call”:

“Am I to live the sacrament of marriage? If so, when? Am I to live the single life? Live as a chaste single person? Am I to be a priest? Am I to be a lay minister? Part time? Full time? Am I to be a religious brother? A religious sister? Am I to be a consecrated lay person? Is it time to make a first step toward commitment? To this person? To the church? To this religious order? To this organization?

“When discerning about something, it is important to be a person of faith. Believe that God has a plan for you. Each of us does the hard work of dating, inquiring, studying, volunteer activities, prayer, and searching. We must be engaged in the process. Passivity is not discernment. God will not spoon-feed us into a life commitment. Yet, when we turn our action over to guidance from God, situations, persons, and circumstances will be tools to illuminate the direction. Prayer is necessary. In prayer, mention the person or the actions or the circumstances around the process of one’s search.

“Talk with people. The gospel uses the image of the lamp on the lamp stand which illuminates the entire room. We cast light onto our experience when we talk about it. Parish marriage preparation or Engaged Encounter helps a person to see clearly that this person is choosing me as her or his life partner. Sharing our spiritual journey with a mentor helps to clarify God’s will for our lives. A trusted friend or an experienced person can help clarify confusing experiences. Searching for a call to serve as a priest or a consecrated person is nourished by the lives of the saints, involvement in ministries, making sacrifices, and living with sisters, brothers, or priests for a short time."

Surge in young men entering U.K. seminaries

Posted by:   🕔 Friday 10, December 2010 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy

Father Stephen Langridge, chairman of the vocations directors of England and Wales, saw the number of men entering English seminaries to become Catholic priests rise to its highest level in a decade. According to Langridge, 56 men began their journey to priesthood this year. "The number of people responding to the call of Christ to be priests and religious has been rising slowly but surely, and may rise further as people respond to the visit of Pope Benedict."

At their annual conference held recently at Oscott seminary in Birmingham, the vocation directors discussed the approaches to vocations work that have contributed to this increase. Many dioceses and religious orders now run discernment groups for young men and women, where all vocations are discussed. Such groups encourage lay, religious, and priestly vocations.

Father Christopher Jamison, director of the National Office of Vocation, said: “When everybody in the church takes seriously [Blessed John Henry] Newman's insight that 'God has created me to do him some definite service,' then a greater number discover their call to the priesthood and religious life."

Vocations directors also discussed new ways to promote a culture of vocation. Some 300 young people attended the "Invocation"  festival held in Birmingham in July 2010 for Catholics aged 16-35 who are discerning their vocation. This event was so popular that it is being held again on the weekend of June 17-19, 2011.

Schools are now being provided with high-quality online materials, and youth ministers are developing new approaches to bringing the gospel to life for the young. Attending events such as World Youth Day is an important experience that opens the eyes of many people to the richness of life in church service, and plans for English and Welsh participation in such convocations have been developed.

These British vocation leaders recommend the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops video Fishers of Men (also available with lots of other resources on the a vocation to be priest? website):

Part 1 . . .

. . . and Part 2:

Military archbishop asks for more chaplains

Posted by:   🕔 Wednesday 24, November 2010 Categories: Clergy

Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services made an appeal to fellow bishops to allow more of their priests to serve as military chaplains.

In a brief talk on the opening day of the U.S. bishops' November 15-18 fall meeting, Broglio said his flock—which includes Catholics serving in all branches of the military, their families, and those at Veterans Affairs hospitals nationwide—is ministered to by only 275 priests, a number that will decline in coming years.

Broglio said that most people serving in the military are between the ages of 18 and 28, and studies have shown that most of those who abandon the faith they were raised in do so before the age of 24.

After their service, members of the military and their families will return to the U.S. dioceses and archdioceses from which they came, "and I would like to be able to return them to you as Catholics," Broglio said.

A CATHOLIC chaplain presides
at a Mass for military personnel
Unlike a Catholic family in the U.S. who does not have a priest in their parish, the archbishop said, "military personnel cannot drive to another parish."

He also appealed to the pragmatic side of his fellow bishops, noting that about 10 percent of all priests ordained in the United States in an average year have prior service in the military and another 10 percent belong to families in which someone was in the military.

"More priest chaplains [to nurture vocations in the military] will mean more candidates for the priesthood," he said.

See one and another related posts on the military and vocations.

Full time position: No pay but eternal rewards

Posted by: Dan Grippo   🕔 Monday 08, November 2010 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy
Capuchin Friary in Rapperswil,Switzerland. Rapperswill is known
as the Riviera of Upper Lake Zurich.                   


Wanted: Bankers, traders, or lawyers for full-time, lifelong position. No pay.

Associated Press reports that the Capuchin Friars in Switzerland have started an unconventional vocation drive by advertising in a classifieds section normally reserved for high-flying executive roles. Instead of a salary the successful application will enjoy "freedom from personal material wealth" along with time for prayer and contemplation. The accommodations aren't too shabby either!

New book profiles activist priest Michael Pfleger

Posted by:   🕔 Monday 25, October 2010 Categories: Clergy

Veteran Chicago author and journalist Robert McClory has a new book available from Chicago Review Press: Radical Disciple: Father Pfleger, St. Sabina Church, and the Fight for Social Justice.

During the past 26 years Reverend Michael Pfleger, a white Catholic priest who pastors a black Chicago parish, has never been far from the spotlight. His aggressive, innovative leadership has empowered thousands, making St. Sabina church one of the largest and most active black Catholic congregations in the country. At the same time, Pfleger has been continually criticized as a trouble-making maverick, a renegade cleric, and a publicity hound.

This biography concentrates on Father Pfleger’s work at St. Sabina from his earliest days there and covers his efforts to build up the parish, his activism, his work to rejuvenate the community, his battles with church leaders, and his strong relationship with his parishioners. It provides a fascinating look at the inner workings of the Catholic Church, the traditions of the black pulpit, and what it takes to change laws in a major American city.

On Facebook.

Washington runs for vocations to the priesthood

Posted by:   🕔 Friday 22, October 2010 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy

Running and vocations seem to be a hot topic on this blog (see previous item below). The latest installment: About 200 men and women from the Archdiocese of Washington will participate in the Marine Corps Marathon and 10K run to raise money for seminarians.

The archdiocese’s “Run for Vocations” team will seek to heighten awareness of the need for priestly vocations as well as bring in funds for seminarians. The marathon is slated for October 31 in Arlington, Virginia. The Marine Corps Marathon, now in its 35th year, claims to be the fourth largest marathon in the United States.

Among the archdiocesan runners, 49 are running the full 26.2-mile marathon while 138 are participating in the 10K. Funds raised through the team will help cover unexpected expenses for seminarians, including medical costs, travel expenses for family emergencies, and spiritual enrichment.

Follow the Marine Corps Marathon on Facebook and Twitter. For donations and registration information, visit the Run for Vocations website.

Meet the ordination class of 2009

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Friday 01, May 2009 Categories: Clergy

The U.S. Catholic bishops have posted their annual survey of the newly ordained. The 2009 survey, commissioned by the U.S. bishops and conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), had a response rate of approximately 70 percent of the 465 potential ordinands.They included 239 men being ordained for dioceses and 71 for religious orders. Among the survey's findings:

  • The average age for the Class of 2009 is 36.
  • One quarter of ordinands were born outside the United States, with the largest numbers coming from Mexico, Vietnam, Poland and the Philippines.
  • Most ordinands have been Catholic since birth, although one in ten (10 percent) became Catholic later in life, on average at 21.
  • Before entering the seminary, two in three ordinands completed college (65 percent), and one in five of those had a graduate degree (19 percent).
  • Half of responding ordinands (51 percent) attended a Catholic elementary school, which is a slightly higher rate than that for all U.S. Catholic adults. Ordinands also are more likely than other U.S. Catholic adults to have attended a Catholic high school and are much more likely to have attended a Catholic college. .
  • Whether or not they ever attended a Catholic elementary or high school, 57 percent (65 percent of diocesan ordinands and 54 percent of religious ordinands) participated in a religious education program in their parish.
  • Ordinands have been active in parish ministries, with between about half and three-quarters indicating they served as an altar server, lector, and/or Eucharistic minister.
  • About two-thirds of ordinands report having full-time work experience before entering the seminary, most often in education.
  • Responding ordinands represent 112 dioceses/eparchies and 46 religious congregations.

The National Religious Vocation Conference hopes to work with the USCCB Bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations on a similar project highlighting the newly professed men and women in religious institutes.

Number of priests increasing worldwide

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Tuesday 03, March 2009 Categories: Clergy

The Vatican's official yearbook, the Annuario Pontificio, formally presented to Pope Benedict XVI on Feb. 28, shows a gradual increase in the number of Catholic priests worldwide. There are now more than 408,000 priests in the world (up from 405,178 in 2000), and more than 115,000 seminarians training for priestly ministry.

The number of priests has grown by over 20 percent in Africa and Asia and is holding steady in the Americas. Europe and Oceania experience a slight decline, the Vatican said.

An uptick in those interested in and entering religious life is noted in's annual surveys on vocation trends. Click here for more information on VISION's statistics and recent vocation surveys.

VISION gets busted

Posted by:   🕔 Monday 30, July 2007 Categories: Clergy

Tuesdays are Vocation Night on "The Busted Halo Show" with host Paulist Father Dave Dwyer. Last night Father Dave interviewed VISION Executive Editor Patrice Tuohy (hey, that's me!) about VISION and its highly successful new online feature I was impressed with how well Father Dave prepared for our interview. He was up on all the trends in religious vocations and how young adults and vocation directors are using new technology and media to find each other.

Understanding the power of media is nothing new for Dwyer, who produced and directed television for MTV and Comedy Central before entering the priesthood. He now serves as the publisher of, the Paulist website for young adult seekers, and hosts his weekday call-in radio show, which began last December. "The move to satellite radio is a natural progression of sorts," says Dwyer in an interview by Bill McGarvey posted on "I feel proud to stand on the shoulders of Paulists of years past who were pioneers in Catholic book publishing, radio, film and television." Dwyer is confident that if "St. Paul were alive today, trying to get the message of the Gospel out, he’d have a website, a blog, a podcast, and a channel on satellite radio." Not to mention, a webcast, vodcast, and vlog. Thanks, Father Dave, for your help in promoting vocations and creating a culture of discerment.

“The Busted Halo Show” airs live every weekday between 7-9 pm EST on Sirius channel 159.

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Update: Father Tolton's sainthood cause opened

Posted by:   🕔 Wednesday 24, March 2010 Categories: Clergy

   Father Augustus Tolton
We ran an item in this blog last January 5 on the life of Father Augustus Tolton (1854-1897), the first African American Roman Catholic priest in the United States. On March 18 the Archdiocese of Chicago announced it was taking the preliminary steps in making Father Tolton a candidate for official sainthood.

The Chicago Sun-Times story on the move had an interesting quote from Tolton: "It was said that I would be the only priest of race in America and would not likely succeed," he wrote. But an Italian cardinal told him, "'America has been called the most enlightened nation; we'll see if it deserves that honor. If America has never seen a black priest, it has to see one now.' "

French church reaches out for more priests

Posted by:   🕔 Friday 11, June 2010 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy

There are around 24,000 priests in France today, down from 42,000 in 1975. But vocation ministers are responding by launching a campaign to reach out to the public with newspaper inserts and brochures that showcase real priests and their passion for people and humanity, says a National Public Radio story. The campaign is also distributing 50,000 postcards aimed at 16- to 22-year-olds—depicting a Catholic priest's garb with a button reading "Jesus is my Boss" pinned to the lapel and the slogan "Why not?"—in cafes, bars, and cinemas and on college campuses.

“Priests suffer from a low social status, so we're trying to change that by showing what being a priest really means,” says Frederic Fonfroide de Lafon, the head of the firm the church has hired to run the campaign. “A priest has extensive training in philosophy and the humanities. He is not someone who lives apart from society in his own world, but someone who participates. A priest accompanies people in the most important moments of their lives." Church officials say they are pleased with the campaign's reception; its Facebook page has had 40,000 visitors already, and vocation ministers say they are receiving more than 100 emails a day since the campaign began in April.

Listen to the full National Public Radio story.

Father’s Day comes early for one dad, now priest

Posted by: Dan Grippo   🕔 Tuesday 29, June 2010 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy

A former Protestant pastor who is a married father of eight was ordained a Catholic priest in the Diocese of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania this past June 15. The newly ordained Fr. Paul Shenck was raised Jewish and baptized a Christian when he was 16 years old, Catholic News Agency reports.

In 1994 Shenck left the New Covenant Tabernacle, an evangelical church he founded, and became a pastor in western New York for the Reformed Episcopal Church. He entered the Catholic Church in 2004. He and his wife Rebecca have been married for 33 years.

While Latin-rite Catholic priests are ordinarily required to be celibates, a special provision instituted in 1980 by Pope John Paul II allows the ordination of married men in certain cases.

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Attorney-turned-Dominican on national legal aid board

Posted by:   🕔 Thursday 08, July 2010 Categories: Clergy

Father Pius Pietrzk, O.P.
On Friday, June 25, President Barack Obama announced the appointment of Father Pius Pietrzyk, O.P. as a member of the board of directors of the Legal Services Corporation, reports Father Brian Mulcahy, O.P., prior provincial of the Dominican Province of St. Joseph.

The Legal Services Corporation was established in 1974 and operates as an independent nonprofit corporation to promote equal access to justice and provide grants for high-quality civil legal assistance to low-income Americans. It is the single largest provider of civil legal aid for the poor in the nation. The corporation is headed by a bipartisan board of directors whose 11 members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Before becoming a Dominicans, Pietrzyk attended the University of Chicago law school and after graduation worked in corporate and securities law for the Chicago-based law firm of Sidley & Austin. In that time he discerned a vocation to the priesthood and left the practice of law to enter religious life. He entered the Province of St. Joseph as a novice in 2002 and was ordained to the priesthood in 2008. He currently serves as parochial vicar in St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Zanesville, Ohio.

I'll trade you two Father Johns for a Father Bill

Posted by:   🕔 Wednesday 11, August 2010 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy

FATHER DAVE Korth, executive director
of St. Augustine Indian Mission
in Winnebago, Nebraska, and senior associate pastor
of four parishes in the Winnebago area,
with his Priesthood Trading Card.
Photo by Lisa Maxson and Shannon R.A. Tarvin/staff
of the Omaha Catholic Voice.
Four mothers from Omaha are taking a unique approach to promoting vocations to the priesthood: collectible priest trading cards. Diane Anderson, one of the moms involved with the project, said, "We wanted to take something secular and put a holy twist to it. We wanted to make it personal, something fun, but something holy as well."

The cards will feature photos and statistics of priests serving in the Archdiocese of Omaha. Anderson, along with Lori Mellender, Cathy Hula, and Melia Vankat, said they thought the cards were a fun way for children, especially boys, to participate in a popular hobby and at the same time learn about local priests and possibly gain interest in the priesthood.

Both active and retired priests have been asked to provide information for the cards. The information includes ordination date, hobbies, favorite prayers and patron saints, and desired charism (blessing or talent the priest has to offer). Cards are published only with the permission of the priest. is printing and packaging the cards, which are being sold in packs of eight at local Catholic bookstores and through card-project coordinators. Packs sell for $1.Each pack includes a card with a picture of St. John Vianney, patron saint of priests, and a prayer for priests.

According to Mellender, the project's goal is to encourage children to collect every priest's card, as well as open their hearts to the call to the priesthood.” We want them to understand that God calls ordinary men to do something extraordinary," she said.

Anderson added that the idea of a vocation is somewhat philosophical, so making note of the humanity of each priest may help boys relate and aspire to be a priest. "We need more vocations within our archdiocese, and I personally think that the younger you start to talk to boys about the possibility of a vocation to the priesthood, the more open they are to it," Anderson said.

There is no word yet on what a complete set of the cards might be worth in 20 years.

Diocesan priest to hit the small screen

Posted by:   🕔 Friday 24, September 2010 Categories: Clergy

For those who hoped to become a media star only to watch their dreams go unrealized when they pursued a religious vocation, there may now be hope. Father Robert Barron, a professor at the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary outside Chicago, will begin broadcasting a weekly national television show on WGN America to reach Catholics and others searching for faith and meaning in their lives. He will be the first Catholic priest since Archbishop Fulton Sheen in the 1950s and 60s to have a regular, national program on a commercial television network.

Barron runs a global media ministry called Word on Fire. His WGN America show will be called Word on Fire with Father Barron. It will premier at 8:30 a.m. Central on Sunday, October 3. It will also run on WGN Chicago at 9:30 a.m.

“Now is the time to reach out to Catholics and others who are searching for meaning in their lives or who have left the church because they are disillusioned,” Barron said. “In each episode, our mission will be to encourage believers to bring the transformative power of the gospel to the culture.”

The priest, who was ordained in 1986, has also been producing a ten-part documentary titled Catholicism, telling the story of the church through travels to 16 countries. He will preview highlights of the series in his weekly broadcasts.

“The faith of the church is our strength,” Barron said. “Our program will strive to show viewers the richness of the Catholic faith and how it is a treasure to be shared now and with future generations. The faith imbues our life with meaning and imparts to all a renewed sense of purpose.”

Funds for the WGN America program were raised through private donations. See the website for Word On Fire.

Here’s Father Barron from Word in Fire talking about the question, “Why do we believe in God?”

Legionaries ask, "Why not priest?"

Posted by: Dan Grippo   🕔 Wednesday 13, October 2010 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy

“Today is a marvelous time to be a priest!” These words of John Paul II were the inspiration for a group of Catholic seminarians from the Legionaries of Christ to develop, an innovative website with catchy videos on a range of topics of interest to young men considering priesthood.

One engaging video shows a series of quick clips of priests from around the world responding to the question of “Why Not Priest?” with one-line answers in their native languages (subtitled for viewer comprehension). Take a look and then answer for yourself—Why Not Priest? Why Not Sister? Why Not Brother? … And most importantly, Why not you?!



Now you can call him Archbishop Gustavo

Posted by:   🕔 Friday 15, October 2010 Categories: Clergy

Bishop Gustavo
Garcia-Siller, M.Sp.S.
Chicago Auxiliary Bishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller—featured in a VISION article—has been appointed to lead the archdiocese of San Antonio, Texas. He is succeeding Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, who was named archbishop of Los Angeles in April. Garcia-Siller will be installed as San Antonio’s archbishop on November 23.

Born in San Luis Potosi in central Mexico and the eldest of 15 children, he has served as the Chicago archdiocese’s liaison for Hispanic ministry and is a member of the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit.



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