Thursday, September 27, 2007

Updates from 32,000 feet

Typed on my notebook computer while in the air.

It is 6:50 AM and we’re already in the air heading back to the Queen City of the Midwest. The shuttle van picked us up at 4:00 this morning, so I am quite groggy as I type this. Why did I book the early flight, again?

First off, Brad Watkins has some updates and pictures from the NCDVD conference posted over on his blog, so please check that out. To prove that I actually exist, there is a picture of me, Brad, and Fr. Benedict Groeschel posted. It was great to meet Brad and to share some initial stories on how things are going between our two dioceses. I wish we had more time to connect, but there is always next year!

In comparison to last year’s conference in Minneapolis, this one seemed much busier. They schlepped us all over the state of Maryland, it seemed like, as we visited both seminaries: St. Mary’s in Roland Park and Mount St. Mary’s in Emmitsburg, which is not to be confused with the Mount St. Mary’s in Cincinnati, my alma mater. I believe it was (Arch)Bishop Purcell who attended the Mount in Emmitsburg and renamed the seminary in Cinci after his alma mater, so there is a connection.

Highlights of the week included hearing Cardinal McCarrick twice, as he delivered the opening keynote, in which he gave a list of about ten things for bishops to do to promote vocations (I’ll have to make an appointment with the Archbishop). The retiring Cardinal also presided and preached at the closing Mass last night at the renovated Basilica, which is gorgeous! He gave a short synopsis of the history of the building and why it was built in the style that it was: Neo-Classical. Much like Cincinnati’s famed Cathedral (well, at least famed to me!) it was built in a particularly American style of architecture to show that we Catholics belonged in the new found Republic.

Interestingly, as he talked about the renovation of the nation’s first cathedral, he mentioned his primary purpose was to restore the place to the original architect’s plans. (The original architect was Latrobe, who designed the Capitol Building in DC.) He mentioned that to fully accomplish the task, they had to know what the author of the building intended. He made the very easy connection that in the field of Vocation work, we have to also know what our Author (God) intends, not just personally, but also with those we direct. He is a very inspiring man and has given his life in dedication to the One he loves. What more could we ask of leader?
Wednesday afternoon is taken up with two smaller workshop presentations, from which I chose the session on ministry to youth and young adults and a workshop on pornography and seminarians. The young adult ministry session highlighted the need to have good, solid, catechetically sound priests at campus ministries. If they do their job, vocations will flourish. (Cardinal McCarrick quipped that when he first arrived in Baltimore, he asked a university chaplain how many vocations he had from the college. When the answer came back ‘none,’ the Cardinal challenged him to get some or he would be in a new position shortly!) I don’t have my notes in front of me, but the priest who gave the workshop really pulled no punches in going after those who on highlight one vocation, or denigrate another. The church needs ALL vocations, how do we promote them all as complimentary to one another?

The workshop on pornography was rapid fire, as the psychologist was trying to turn an 8 hour workshop into 75 minutes. While it was all good, it was too much too quick (ever try to get a drink from a full on fire hose?) I hope they bring her back to Denver next year to do a pre-convention workshop.

A few final thoughts as the plane starts the approach into CVG (Which was very rough with the morning thunderstorms, I think the plane bounced once after landing!). I had quite a few of the fellows say that they read this little blog endeavor of mine. It is humbling for them to actually comment on what I write, which I still contend isn’t my strongest suit. (I like preaching better.) So, to the other Directors of Vocations out there, it doesn’t take a whole lot to start one of these things, and the software is free (music to our ears!) Start your own!

It was great to see guys that I connected with last year, as well as to meet new guys this year. Good luck to our new officers, and see you all in Denver!

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