Saturday, January 27, 2007

Convert's Faith Blooms into Religious Vocation

From the Gergia Bulletin, paper of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, comes a nice story on a young woman following God's will in her life. Her story is like so many others, the trials that she feels, the concerns, but once opening up to where God is, there is joy. I also liked how she opened up to the Church first by philosophy, another 'Oxford Movement' convert, so to speak.

After all, this “inveterate extrovert” was very outgoing, had lots of
friends and was just “too loud” to fit the reserved stereotype of a nun and make
religious vows.
“I didn’t think people even do this anymore. I’m too bossy. I
liked to party,” she recalls thinking.
And she dated, too, always assuming
she would get married, but when she became Catholic she ended a two-year
relationship with a man because of their disparate views on religion. When she
called her mother and told her she had joined the Catholic Church, the first
question she asked her was, “are you going to become a nun?” But she somehow
couldn’t say no and responded that she didn’t know where God would call


She began going to adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, as “eucharistic
adoration was so central to my life already.” She spoke with her spiritual
director, Handmaid of the Sacred Heart Sister Margarita Martin, and, knowing
that one doesn’t don’t marry the first man one dates, she began investigating
other religious orders but was attracted to the Handmaids’ charism of reparation
of broken hearts of the world combined with their core focus on the Eucharist.
Her director encouraged her to listen to what her heart was telling her when
considering this possibility. When she did that “every logical thought in my
head said this is crazy,” yet in her heart “I felt such joy and peace and
excitement. I thought, ‘yes, I think I’ll give it a try.’

What draws people to the vocation? Christ present in the Eucharist, and the prayer for clarity of knowing what God's call is for your life. God is still giving the call, listen in the heart to know where He calls you.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Last Few Days

Over the last two days, we had the "New Priest Semi-annual Gathering," this time at the Spiritual Center in Maria Stein, Ohio. As I grew up only about 30 minutes from there, I usually take the opportunity to see Mom and Dad, which we had lunch yesterday.

Anyway, the gathering is a great time to connect with the guys that were in the seminary together. Nothing too dramatic happens, we complain about harsh pastors, long schedules and generally make fun of each other as we play Euchre long into the night. After the two days, I come back refreshed and encouraged. I see the guys I knew from our time together now serving as pastors, associates, campus ministers at college and high school, a few are pastors of several parishes already. There is a good friendship and support, and it is fun to just relax. Thanks for the good times, my brothers.

Making a deal with God

The Sunday Catholic Weekly out of Poland has a wonderful article about life in a hermitage, following the lives of some of the novices.

I found a couple of sections pertinent to anyone discerning the call to follow:

Adrian graduated from history. He has been interested in religious life for
a long time, but he wanted to wear a Benedictine habit. 'One day I looked at web
pages to find information about vocational retreats, and it turned out that a
vocational retreat organised by the Pauline Order was to be held in the period
that suited me most. I went there but after the retreat I gave up the thought of
religious life. In November 2005 I was in the Jasna Gora Shrine because I wanted
to pray, and suddenly I felt such a strong inner order to join this community
that I became frightened. I asked the monks for advise and they proposed to
begin postulate at Jasna Gora. Actually my main motivation was to prove God that
he was wrong since I did not have any vocation. Now I am in the novitiate and
day by day I like religious life more and more; my hesitations and dilemmas

I loved the section about trying to prove God wrong, I felt the same thing!


'On the first days I heard the sentence: if you do not experience a crisis in the novitiate this means that Lord God has forgotten about you', says one of the novices. The reasons behind psychological crises vary: longing for family and friends, work they cannot do, small misunderstandings fear of the future. 'God often gives crises to help us understand and change something', says Adam. 'Once it seemed to me that if someone had a vocation and entered an order he would follow an ideal way where all things would be fine. The testimonies of brothers and fathers have convinced me that all of us experience similar problems in the beginning and crises are necessary since they give inner strength'.

God will test you at some point, either before you enter or after you have
entered. He is refining the call that you have responded to, cleansing
the impurities to make you stronger. In my experience, many guys
bolt at this time because they think God isn't with them, when it is
exactly the opposite.

Saturday, January 20, 2007


As I have mentioned here, Sean Tierney, religion teacher at Elder High School, was in dire need of a heart transplant. I received word last night that one became available and he received the new heart! From last reports, he is responding well to the new heart. Please keep the prayers coming for a speedy recovery and for his continued good spirits and the health of his un-born child as well.

God is gracious and hears our prayers!

We also lift up in prayer the one who gave Sean such a great gift, for another family is mourning the loss of a loved one. May they take solace that their loved one is giving the gift of life to another, that he may live.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Mary's role in Vocations

I preached this weekend at Immaculate Heart of Mary parish in Anderson Township, here in Cincinnati. After the Vigil Mass, a parishioner came up to me to say that I had missed a big point in my homily: Jesus began his public ministry at the insistence and prompting of his Mother. Reworking the homily for the next day: "Mothers (and fathers) have a particular role in helping their children to find their vocation in life, not just their job or career, their vocation; how God is calling each child to live out his or her Christian Life." For the moms out there, pray for the guidance to help find where God is leading your children, and what gifts God is asking you to help develop in your children so that they can follow His path.

Image Source

Weekend with Family

I spent the first half of the weekend with the family, as my twin brother was able to make it in from Iowa for our Christmas celebration. He, Peggy and Kayla spent the night Thursday at the Cathedral, and I have to think it has been a while since the pitter patter of little feet were heard in these hallowed halls. (She wasn't too happy at being waken up to go to 7:00 AM Mass on Friday, tho!) It is always great to spend time with the family, which I unfortunately don't get to do enough. I have 5 siblings, who are all married, with 11 nieces and 3 nephews (with another nephew on the way!) Seeing as how the oldest niece is in 8th grade, there is a LOT of energy at Mom and Dad's when everyone is able to make it home.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Prayer Request Updates

Dear Friends,

Sean Tierney, a teacher in Elder's Religion Department, is in need of your
prayers. Sean received word from his physicians at the Cleveland Clinic
that he needs to be placed on the national heart transplant list. For the
past couple of months Sean has been in and out of hospitals in Cincinnati,
with the doctors trying to determine the cause of his deteriorating heart
function. Around the first of the new year he was transported to the
Cleveland Clinic by ambulance and has been undergoing tests since his

Sean is 31 years old, married to Robyn (Wittich) just over a year, and they
are expecting their first child in April. Cleveland doctors believe the
cause may be a genetic disease/disorder that has recently activated and
attacked his heart. Sean's doctors are hopeful--his blood type is common,
and his body type is good for the standards required for the transplant
list. Sean's application for admittance to the transplant list goes to that
board either today or Wednesday. Once on the list, Sean said, there are no
guarantees. He might catch a break, and the transplant may be available

When asked what we could do for him and Robyn, his reply was prayers. And
this is my request--for your prayers, and to pass this request along to
others for theirs.

In addition, there already is an announced prayer service scheduled for this
Thursday evening (January 11) at St. Teresa of Avila Church (Price Hill).
7:30 pm - Praying of the Rosary
8:00 pm - Prayer Service of Healing
All are welcome to come and pray with us for Sean and Robyn and their families.

Thank You,

Thomas Otten
Elder High School
3900 Vincent Avenue
Cincinnati, OH 45205

Vocation Issue of Catholic Telegraph

This week's Catholic Telegraph is the annual Vocations issue. Within, there are two 'personal journey' stories, one on Dan Hess, a First Year Seminarian for the Archdiocese, and the other on Sr. Rebecca Marie, who is with the Sisters of St. Joseph.

I also have an article included in respose to letters in last week's Telegraph, which follows:

The question of who has a ‘right’ to the priesthood has been a hot topic of late. According to the theology of the Church, however, no one has a ‘right’ to be ordained; it is an individual’s response to an invitation by Christ to serve His Church. Therefore, the Church has the obligation to define who is eligible for this Sacrament, which must be done in a consistent manner with the Church’s Tradition. This teaching has been concretely defined, in a consistent manner with the Tradition, over the last thirty years.

In 1976, Paul VI published the official teaching in Inter Insigniores. He explains that female ordination only occurred with early Gnostic heretics and Church Fathers condemned it, that Christ didn’t call women to the Twelve, though He often broke traditions of the time regarding women, and that the Apostles reserved many Church roles to men. He acknowledges some traditions, like requiring women wear veils, have been lifted. But, just as the Church cannot change from using bread and wine at Mass, restricting priesthood to men has sacramental sign-value and is unchangeable: "This norm, based on Christ's example, has been and is still observed because it is considered to conform to God's plan."

In 1994’s Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, John Paul II further clarifies "in order that all doubt may be removed, ...I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful. (4)"

Finally, it is to be noted that Vatican II, in Lumen Gentium, calls for the faithful to submit to the teachings of the Church on faith and morals, which is spoken through the voice of the pope, in union with the College of Bishops. Pope John Paul II and (then) Cardinal Ratzinger were clear that this issue was in such a category.

If you are a man who feels called to the priesthood, I invite you to call me at 513-421-3131, or visit The documents cited in this article, as well as an extended discussion of this topic, can also be found at the same address.

Is it hard being a priest?

An email question to the Vocation Office:

Is it hard being a priest?

My response:

It is like any other vocation within the Church, there are days when itis amazingly simple to be a priest, everything falls in to place, theday, even if chaotic, is one of peace and a sense of community with God.However, there are also days when it is extremely difficult. I think oftimes when I have been called to the bedside of someone who was dyingand I have to offer some type of comfort to the family. It is not easy,but it is humbling to know that people look to you to lead them to God.

I think a better question to ask is: "Is it rewarding to be a priest?"To that, I can say firmly: 'YES!' Everyday you get to journey withpeople on their journey of faith. In confession, you free people fromtheir sins, you get to be with a couple as they prepare for marriage,and help youngsters prepare to receive Christ for the first time. It isa truly wonderful life.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Vocation Awareness Week

Nest week is National Vocation Awareness Week, which always follows after the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. (This year, it starts with epiphany b/c the Baptism is on a Monday.) If you need some ideas about what to do either at home, school, or parish, the Vocation Office recently published a ton of great material and it is available here. I know it is a shameless plug, but I really think it is great stuff!

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Prayer Request

Sean, a dear friend of mine, and a fellow teacher of mine at Elder High School, is in need of prayers. He is having trouble with his heart, and they is not sure what is causing it, possibly a virus that he caught while taking students to Honduras this past summer. To make matters worse, his wife of just a year is six months pregnant with their first child. She is a teacher as well, and trying to get loose ends tied up to join him at the Cleveland Clinic, where he was transfered today. There is a good need to storm heaven with prayers for Sean, he has a great spiritual heart, now we just need his physical heart to catch up.


From emails received earlier today, Sean's wife Robyn has made it up to the Cleveland Clinic from Cincinnati, which eased both of their souls. Sean seems to be responding to some of the treatments, as his heart rate has slowed, but blood pressure is still way too low. Keep the prayers coming, please!

The Musical Newsman

Bill Tonnis, he of News fame on 700 wlw, is also an accomplished Catholic Musician, and trying to launch a new CD. He is having a pre-release party this Saturday, January 6th, from 7:30 - 10:00 pm at the Schott Pavilion at the Jesuit Spiritual Center at Milford.

I've known Bill for several years through a mutual friend, and he is a wonderful man and also a gifted musician. He puts his faith into his music, and hopes to bring others into a deeper relationship with Christ. Tickets are $20 at the door ($30 with your own copy of his new CD).

Happy New Year!

I would have posted this yesterday, but I (along with many others, it seems) was under the weather and content with watching football.

We had an alternative New Year Celebration at the Cathedral again this year. As in past years, we had Adoration from the last Mass of the day (6:00 this year) through to Benediction at Midnight. However, we added a new twist this year and celebrated Mass for the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God, with the specific intention of an increase in Vocations to the priesthood and religious life. As I told some friends, there were more people there than I feared might, but less than I hoped would make it.

In all, I think around 50 stayed to welcome the New Year in the greatest way possible, praying the prayer of Christ Himself. In a first for me, I had two deacons assisting me, with two other seminarians serving as minor ministers (acolyte and lector).

All in all, it was a nice celebration and we look forward to doing it again next year. One nice thing that happened, is as the permanent deacon here at the Cathedral and I were getting ready for dinner, he prayed for more people to show up, as there were only two or three others at that time. No more than five minutes later, a (I think) Mexican family came in totalling about 14. The knelt and prayed together and sang the Gloria together out loud. Deacon David says is was quite stunning, and I'm sorry I was on the pizza run!

God Bless during the New Year!