Monday, May 31, 2010

The Great Expectations of Archbishop Schnurr

Yesterday's Cincinnati Enquirer featured a lengthy report by Dan Horn on Mount St. Mary's Seminary of the West to recruit and attract more men to the priesthood. One of the finer pieces I have read regarding our efforts, and not just because of the lede:

The Rev. Kyle Schnippel was excited last year when he told his boss, Archbishop Dennis Schnurr, that he had recruited 10 young men to become priests in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

The new class of seminarians was double the size of the one two years earlier and Schnippel saw the 10 recruits as proof the church was ending a long, downward trend.

But Schnurr seemed unimpressed.

"Well," he said. "Why not 20?"

The conversation reminded Schnippel - and anyone else who has watched the new archbishop work - that Schnurr has great expectations when it comes to finding, training and ordaining more priests.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Two Men to be Ordained to the Priesthood

ARCHDIOCESE — God calls men to the priesthood at different times in their lives. Some begin discerning the call while still in their teens. Others embark on different careers before they begin priestly formation.

This year two men are being ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. One heard God’s call early and entered college seminary straight out of high school. The other spent a year in medical school before following his true vocation.

They will be ordained by Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr May 20, 11 a.m. at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains.

Deacon Robert Muhlenkamp

Growing up the third of six boys in a Catholic family on a dairy farm in Coldwater, Deacon Robert Muhlenkamp thought he would someday be married with a family of his own.

"All through high school I always looked up to my parents, my aunts and uncles, so I thought the best way to serve God is to raise a family and bring them up in the faith and teach them to love God," he said. "It wasn't until my sophomore year of college that I started thinking about the priesthood."

Deacon Timothy Ralston

Timothy Ralston was a ninth-grade Mass server at St. George Parish in Georgetown when the pastor at the time, Father Earl Metz, first suggested that he should think about becoming a priest.

A religious formation teacher at the parish made a similar suggestion, but the high school student didn't embrace the idea.

"I don’t remember really saying much in response to it," Deacon Ralston said. "It was something that I decided I didn’t want for myself, and I definitely didn’t want to talk about it with anybody.

“I basically said, ‘If you want me to do this, Lord, I’ll do it but only because you want me to do it. I don’t want it for myself. I want you to give me something else.’

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Note to friends

If you are receiving emails from my old yahoo account, please disregard as they are spam. Looks like the account was compromised. It is now deactivated.

Two Links

First, in the Catholic department:

50 of the greatest Catholic Saint quotes of all time.

(Clip, save, post to your bulletin board.)

Secondly, in the 'Sports Geek who is also a Catholic Priest from Cincinnati' department, I really enjoyed the two headlines in this article. The fact that it includes my two favorite teams, bonus! (Favorite Teams: one by location, one by vocation):

Noble Cincinnatus and Mendicant Orders

(I have a feeling that this second article is in a category all by its lonesome self.)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Ordinations this weekend

This weekend, at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains in Cincinnati, Ohio, two men will be ordained to the Priesthood of Jesus Christ for service to the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Please keep Deacon Rob Muhlenkamp and Deacon Tim Ralston in your prayers in the lead up for their ordination, they are finishing their retreat as we speak.

Soon to be Father Muhlenkamp will be stationed as a faculty member at Hamilton Badin High School.

Soon to be Father Ralston will be parochial vicar at St. Charles Borromeo in Kettering, Ohio.

Me, as Emoticon!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Hope for All Second Stringers

I had Mass today at a local Catholic High School for the volleyball team. I thought it fit right in with the Feast we celebrate today in St. Matthias, the original second stringer.

As I started the homily, I asked who started on the bench, that they might find in St. Matthias a good example.

First, think of the criteria used to chose Matthias: he was with them the whole time of the public ministry of Jesus, beginning with the Baptism and right up through the end. What went through his mind when Jesus chose the Twelve? HIM!?!? Seriously, Lord? Do you know what he's really like? How often we might think the same thing when we get passed over for something: starting line-up, cut from the team, passed over for a job promotion, etc. We might blame everyone: the coach, our boss, the person who got MY spot, maybe even ourselves for not being good enough to be 'picked.' I wonder if St. Matthias ever went through that.... Did he ever think about leaving because he wasn't 'good enough' to get picked to be part of the Twelve?

Rather, he stayed, listened, prayed, came to know our Lord in a deep and personal way. I wonder what kind of conversation he ever had with Jesus during the Public ministry.

Then, when his name was called, when he was put forward as a potential replacement, low and behold the lot came to him.

It is so tempting to sulk in our disappointments, in our defeats, in 'not measuring up' to whatever we think we should measure up; rather we should always be ready. One never knows when the star player will come down wrong on an ankle, pop a knee, betray Our Lord and be turned away from His forgiveness; and He calls when the time is right for that particular person.

I entered seminary at the age of 19, a classmate of mine (with whom I am having dinner tonight) entered seminary at 37. Does that mean I am somehow 1st string and he's 2nd? That I am somehow better because I responded quicker? By no means! God called him at the right time for him, and me for the right time for me; but we were both ready that when He called, our response: Here I am Lord, I come to do your will!

Always be ready and prepared to give account for your faith, you never know when the 'star' in front of you will go down and you will be called off the bench to step into a starring role.

Walking for Life

Issued by Cincinnati Right to Life, for whom I am a 'spiritual advisor:'

May 13, 2010 - For the fifth year, thousands of people from the tri-state area will gather Sunday, June 6th, 2010 for the annual Cross the Bridge for Life across the Purple People Bridge in celebration of the sanctity of human life, from conception to natural death. A coalition of over 20 area pro-life organizations presents this positive event for the community.

Cross the Bridge for Life will take place Sunday, June 6th from 2:00-4:00 p.m. All participants first meet at the World Peace Bell Center at 421 Monmouth St. in Newport, KY, by Newport On-the-Levee.

The event will begin with a brief program conducted by Honorary Event Chairman, Brian Patrick, host of the Son Rise Morning Show, Sacred Heart Radio/EWTN 740AM. Diocese of Covington Bishop Roger Foys will offer the welcoming prayer; Rev. Arnold Culbreath, Urban Director, Protecting Black Life, brief remarks; and Archdiocese of Cincinnati Archbishop Dennis Schnurr will offer the event blessing.

JTM Food Group owners Tony & Barb Maas and their daughter Michelle will kick off the event by ringing the World Peace Bell. Bagpipers from the Ancient Order of Hibernians will once again lead walkers across the bridge.

The event will end back at the World Peace Bell with a picnic by JTM Food Group, and music featuring The Lee Roessler Band (

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ultimately where God was calling me...

Cincinnati Seminarian Deacon Dan Hess was featured on a news report on Fox's Dayton, Ohio, affiliate last night. Tremendous, as always:

Dayton's News Source :: Top Stories

(be aware there is a teaser that plays prior to the feature on Dan)

(I really despise not being able to embed the video here, grrrr.)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Most Effective Instruments of Personal Growth

Join host Brian Patrick and me tomorrow morning at 8:40 AM on 740 AM Sacred Heart Radio as we continue our discussions on Pope John Paul's Holy Thursday Letters to Preists. We have arrived at 2002, on the interplay between the Sacrament of the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Penance.

A snippet:

9. In the light of what has been said, it is all the more evident why the personal encounter between confessor and penitent is the ordinary form of sacramental Reconciliation, while the practice of general absolution is only for exceptional circumstances. It is well known that the practice of the Church moved gradually to the private celebration of penance, after centuries in which public penance had been the dominant form. Not only did this development not change the substance of the sacrament – and how could it be otherwise! – but it actually expressed this substance more clearly and made it more effective. This happened not without the aid of the Holy Spirit, who here too fulfilled the mission of leading the Church “into all truth” (Jn 16:13).

The ordinary form of Reconciliation not only expresses well the truth of divine mercy and the forgiveness which springs from it, but also sheds light on the truth of man in one of its most fundamental aspects. Although human beings live through a network of relationships and communities, the uniqueness of each person can never be lost in a shapeless mass. This explains the deep echo in our souls when we hear ourselves called by name. When we realize that we are known and accepted as we are, with our most individual traits, we feel truly alive. Pastoral practice needs to take this into greater account, in order to strike a wise balance between gatherings which emphasize the communion of the Church and other moments which attend to the needs of the individual. People ordinarily want to be recognized and looked after, and it is precisely this nearness to them that allows them to experience God's love more strongly.

Seen in these terms, the Sacrament of Reconciliation is one of the most effective instruments of personal growth. Here the Good Shepherd, through the presence and voice of the priest, approaches each man and woman, entering into a personal dialogue which involves listening, counsel, comfort and forgiveness. The love of God is such that it can focus upon each individual without overlooking the rest. All who receive sacramental absolution ought to be able to feel the warmth of this personal attention. They should experience the intensity of the fatherly embrace offered to the prodigal son: “His father ... embraced him and kissed him” (Lk 15:20). They should be able to hear that warm and friendly voice that spoke to the tax collector Zacchaeus, calling him by name to new life (cf. Lk 19:5).


First, Rocco's on the scene with the back-story of this morning's announcement.

Secondly, Cincinnati Seminarian Andrew C. must be tired of studying for exams this week and has been posting some things over at the long dormant 'Cincinnati Seminarian Blog.' His post on 'common obstacles' is very good, couldn't have said it better myself.

Chosen from Among Sinners

Last week, the Catholic Telegraph ran my latest article on the Priesthood:

In his 2001 Holy Thursday Letter to Priests, Pope John Paul II highlighted the call and mission of Sts. Peter and Paul as examples for priests of today. These two great Apostles were chosen by Christ to be missionaries to the world, Jew and Gentile alike, and ultimately were to give their lives for Christ and the Church. In a few short months, a delegation from Cincinnati will accompany Archbishop Schnurr to the tombs of these two pillars of the faith as he receives the pallium from Pope Benedict XVI.
These two great pillars, however, were not always perfect. During the proclamation of the Passion during Holy Week, we hear Peter denying that he even knows Our Lord. During the early parts of the Easter Season, the Church calls to mind the election and then martyrdom of St. Stephan as one of the first deacons. As Stephan is being martyred, those who were complicit in the crime were ‘laying their cloaks at the feet of one Saul of Tarsus,’ who is presiding over this initial persecution of the Church.
It is easy to wonder why Christ chose these two to be the initial leaders of His Church after the Ascension. After all, they did not have the greatest track record prior!
Yet, God still called them. And He still calls sinners to be in a particular relationship with Him as priest and/or consecrated. Pope John Paul II writes in the above mentioned letter: ‘The witness of Peter and Paul contains valuable pointers for us. Their lives invite us to live the gift of the ministry with a sense of endless thanksgiving: nothing is due to our merits, all is grace! The experience of the two Apostles prompts us to abandon ourselves to the mercy of God, to give over to him in sincere repentance our frailties, and with his grace to set out again on our journey to holiness. (10)’
So many of the young men I work with who are discerning the priesthood, even many priests who have labored long in the Lord’s vineyards, continue to have this deep tension. We know we are sinners, yet God has called us to something great and extraordinary. Why me and why not my high school classmate who was always more pious? Simply, we can never fully know the mind of God, but trust that He will lead me to where He wants me to go. That is perhaps the most difficult. A man entering the seminary never truly knows where he will end up. A priest being ordained puts his life completely into the hands of Our Lord, and pledges to follow wherever the bishop will send him.
In a few short weeks, two men from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati will be ordained to the priesthood of Jesus Christ. Are they perfect? Certainly not, for only two who have ever walked this world can claim that. However, I do know that they both strive for perfection, they both strive for holiness, they both have a deep love for Our Lord and a desire to lay down their life for the salvation of souls.
Pray for them. Pray for all of our seminarians: the ones we have, the ones we need. Pray that despite their weaknesses, God might strengthen them, like Sts. Peter and Paul, to be His witnesses to the ends of the world.


The Daily Bulletino brings word that Fr. Eduardo Nevares, priest of the Diocese of Tyler, Texas, has been named Auxiliary Bishop of Phoenix to work with and under Bishop Thomas Olmstead.

What unites these two? Both have served at the Pontifical College Josephinum.

Bishop Olmstead was rector during my time there as a Collegian.

Bishop-elect Nevares has served since 2007 as Vice-Rector of the College of Liberal Arts.

Pray for Bishop-elect Nevares, the people of Phoenix, and the Josephinum as they now search for a new vice-rector for the College.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Male Spirituality (Vocation Office of the Diocese of Columbus, Ohio) continues to produce and release great videos on male spirituality and how it relates both to men seeking the priesthood and men living in the lay state. This one was particularly good:

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Matrimonial Life as Sacramentem/Oath

This past weekend, I was invited to deliver the Homily for the wedding of two dear friends of mine, I wanted to share my remarks here; afterall, isn't that why one has a blog?

Wedding for Theresa and Eric
May 1, 2010
Old St. Mary’s Catholic Church

Genesis 2: Creation of Eve
1 Corinthians 12-13: Love
John 2: Wedding Feast of Cana

To begin, a few notes:
Communion is distributed along the Communion Rail, and on the tongue only. If you are able to receive Communion today, we ask you to remain in your seats and make a ‘spiritual communion.’

‘Sacrament’ = Oath, a Sacred Oath before God and Men. Derives from the Ancient Roman practices, as well as Jewish customs.

Not just a juridical act, but a Sacred Act, something which God does through the one who confects the Sacrament.

We see this ‘two-fold’ nature of Oaths (both Sacred and Juridical) throughout the Old Testament and into the New, when, for example, Moses initiates the Old Covenant on Sinai, in is instituted by a Sacred Oath in a liturgical assembly. When Ezra the priest re-consecrates Israel after the Babylonian exile, he does so by a Sacred Oath in a liturgical act. Into the New Testament, the One Great Sacrament (The Holy Eucharist) is instituted as both a Sacred and Juridical Act by the Great Oath of Christ at the Last Supper: Do this in Memory of Me.

Every time we celebrate the Eucharistic Banquet, we celebrate a renewal of the Sacred Oath between God and men confected by the self-offering of Christ upon the Cross.

All the other Sacraments are ordered to and channels from this Great Sacrament, including the Sacrament we celebrate here today: the Matrimonial Union between Theresa and Eric.

The Sacrament of Matrimony is that which elevates and enriches marriage, making it a living sign of the union between Christ and the Church. It is a permanent and exclusive bond between husband and wife, a bond which pours forth in life, not just in children, but for all who come into contact with this sacred and holy bond, sealed by Christ.

Eric and Theresa, to truly live out this vocation in the world, to truly become a living image of Christ’s love for his Church, a mutual exchange of self, you certainly will need help, for the Church expects great things not only from you, but from every married couple.

Luckily, we do not send you forth alone. You have your friends and family who are here to support you, this why the Church encourages a Bridal Party: you are not here just to make the picture look nice, you are here to encourage and pray for this newly married couple. You are here to support them in trial, to encourage them in blessings, and to help them wade through these first years of marriage. Take your responsibility seriously.

However, it is not just human support that we count on for a successful marriage.

To truly become a ‘mini Christ’ for one another, you certainly need the grace of Christ in abundance! The Gospel reading you have chosen for today’s ceremony, luckily, outlines for you how this grace is available to those who seek it out.

First, importantly, is to invite Christ to the wedding! He is the one who completes the bond between the two of you, and he must always remain at the center of your relationship. This is not always the case, even in Catholic weddings, where the couple is more enthralled with the outward trappings of the day rather than the inner, deeper spiritual reality. Eric and Theresa, I know this is not the case for the two of you, for you have taken your preparation for this day seriously and prayerfully.

Secondly, Our Blessed Mother, Jesus’ own Mother, provides us direction on how to follow her Son. In this very passage, we here her only two statements throughout the Gospel of John: ‘Son, they have no wine,’ and to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’

As with all things, Mary provides us the perfect example of discipleship. First, she brings the needs of his children, her children, to her son. We must not be shy in presenting our prayers before them, she is our advocate in heaven, pleading before her son, and which son can ever neglect the pleadings of his mother?

Secondly, it is not enough to bring our needs before Him, we must also react, respond. Her instruction ‘Do whatever He tells you’ remains in force to us today. Christ continues to speak to us, through the Scriptures, through the Teaching office of the Church, through the promptings of the Spirit. To follow Christ with our whole heart and mind and soul is to know Him deeply, to love Him, and to desire Him before all else. Sticking close to Mary, especially in married life, will always serve you well.

But there is someone else to whom we turn, someone who is usually content to stick to the sidelines and not share the spotlight, but who claims honor on this day, one of two in the Church’s calendar that honors the foster father of Jesus: St. Joseph, today under the title: the Worker.

Theresa and Eric, he has a particular mark on you, after all you met through the Sisters of St. Joseph, the Worker in Walton, and your wedding date falls now on his feast date.

What can St. Joseph teach us? First, his great charism is one of humility. He humbly stays at the side of Mary, he raises the Christ child as his own, yet we hardly hear his voice coming to us through the Scriptures.

He is the protector and guardian of the Church, he provides us the example that true holiness in life is not found in the bold and dramatic, but in the day to day living out of our faith, in the quiet times of toiling at work, of protecting and providing for our family, of raising children to know, love and serve God; to help them ‘grow in wisdom, age and grace before God and men.’

Does this mean, Eric and Theresa, that every day will be bliss and sunshine? Absolutely not. However, staying close to Our Lord, Mary and St. Joseph will help you in your married life to cherish every day together, not just in this life, but in the life to come as well.

Three takeaways:
- Marriage: Sacred Vow before God and Men
- Mary points us closer to her Son so that we might ‘do whatever he tells us.
- St. Joseph, quiet model of faith.