Thursday, March 31, 2011

Prayer, the Heart of a Vocation

My latest runs this week in the Catholic Telegraph: I was raised in a very small town, roughly 1,000 people all together, even including the surrounding countryside. To say everyone knew everyone would be an understatement! Despite the small size, and the fact that only 50% of the town is Catholic (Lutherans and Methodists make up the rest), my home parish has sent five sons to the seminary in the last 20 years. Two of us have been ordained, two were in the seminary and left, one is currently in the college seminary. A remarkable feat, which continues to stun me, even seven years after my own ordination. Whenever I mention this fact, people always wonder how this happened. ‘What’s the secret?’ There is no secret, but just a vibrant prayer life within the parish and it is based in two areas. First, my hometown has been blessed with excellent priests, who each brought his own gift to the parish. I vaguely remember Fr. Bastian, from whom I received my First Holy Communion. Fr. O’Connor brought about some changes introduced at the Second Vatican Council, taught me how to serve in the fifth grade, and was a constant, steady presence in the parish. Fr. Trick brought a vitality and joy to the parish, a quick wit and an ability to laugh with the best of them. Fr. Sloneker turned the focus of the parish to youth and the energy they bring to the parish. Fr. Lee has just recently joined up and has the enthusiasm of the newly ordained. But this is only part of the success. Even though my home parish is so small, there is a dedicated army of ‘adorers’ who spend at least an hour a week in front of Our Eucharistic Lord, present in the monstrance. From the close of the last Mass on Sunday at noon through Friday evening, at least one person (and usually two) is scheduled to spend an hour to watch and pray with Our Lord. In no mere coincidence, this dedication to prayer started roughly as this little vocation wave started to take shape. Because it is such a small community, everyone feels an obligation to keep Our Lord company: from the elderly who cover some of the early morning hours while everyone else is home asleep or the midday hours as others work, to students from school who walk over after school to spend an hour with He who created them. Moms and dads of young families take the late evening shift, after the kids have been tucked safely away. Others fill in as they can and are able. From the time this started when I was in high school to today, I know not to call my mother on Tuesday evenings, for she has to keep her hour at Church. As we continue our journey through Lent, we can use the discipline fostered in our prayer life to continue on into the future, instead of sliding back into old habits. Especially in periods of Adoration, we see Christ face to face, as it were, and encounter Him at a deeper level. During these times, are hearts are opened to experience the great love of Christ who came that we might have life through Him. In these moments, the initial stirrings of a vocation are heard, the longing of the heart is kindled, and the soul is strengthened to follow where ever God calls. For this, and so much more, whenever someone asks what they can do to support vocations, I urge them first and foremost to prayer before Our Lord during Adoration. It is a prayer time unlike any other. For a listing of times and locations of Adoration in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, see the ‘Resources’ tab at

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Creating a Culture of Vocations in Catholic Schools

This morning, I was asked to address the Catholic school principals of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati on the topic of how to build a culture of vocations within our schools. I posted my remarks at the Vocation Office page.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Quick update

While stopping in my office to clean out emails and grab materials for this weekend....

The Teacher Retreat went very well, thanks for the prayers.

Registrations for Welcome Weekend went from 3 on Tuesday to I think 9 now.

You all are prayer WARRIORS!


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Prayer Bleg

Starting tonight and running through Friday, I'm helping with a retreat for Catholic Grade School teachers here in the Archdiocese. Please keep the participants in your prayers, and send one up for me, too. One of hte team leaders came down ill and had to withdraw, so I get to step up and deliver a talk in his place. Theme is on God's love, so I should have that down pretty well, but don't really have the time to put it all together concisely. Help a Padre out!

I get back on Friday just in time for our annual Welcome Weekend out at Mount St. Mary's Seminary, where prospective guys are invited to visit the seminary for the weekend to see if this is where they are being called. The list is a bit short right now, but pray that those who do attend might be open to wherever God is leading them.

A reminder

from the Curt Jester

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Hope Springs Eternal

Here it is, 4 short weeks till OPENING DAY! My latest missive runs in this week's Telegraph:

As a long, hard winter comes to a close, four words can always elevate my spirits: ‘Pitchers and Catchers Report!’ This simple phrase indicates the boys of summer are heading to the sunny paradise of either Florida or Arizona to work out the kinks that settled in during the long winter months. Pitchers are stretching out their shoulders, catchers hone the throw to second, and position players come into camp a few days later to adjust the timing on the swing and relay throws, practice fielding the slow bunt roller, and generally get into shape so that as April rolls around, Opening Day will dawn with the Local 9 in tip-top shape.

It is a hopeful time as off-season roster moves are analyzed, new players fit into the regular rotation, and the prospects of a playoff run are discussed by more talking heads than we care to acknowledge! As Spring Training winds down and the season heats up, some of that hope starts to be tempered by reality of a long and grinding baseball season.

As I was getting excited about the start of the baseball season and looking forward to another (hopefully) run by the Reds through the National League Central, I began to wonder about how this longing for a successful season parallels our longing for God.

Throughout our life of faith, we have a multitude of options in following God. During Lent, we have times to hone our mechanics, as baseball players do during Spring Training. We have that long drawn out season of Ordinary Time, in which if we get left behind by the front runners, it is easy to slide into temptations of backing off, taking it easy, waiting for next season, so to speak, instead of striving for excellence here and now.

As we turn to once again enter into the great season of Lent, perhaps it is time to ramp up our spiritual training regimen, so that we might be prepared for the long haul of our pilgrimage of faith. The three distinctive elements of Lent help give us the frame work of how to do so:
First: fasting, not just from sweets point of view, but from all those things that keep us from growing closer to God. What are those particular sins that you have confessed time and time again, yet might not want to really give up? How do they keep you from living to your fullest in God? These are things to offer to Him so that we might be a living sacrifice of praise before God in all things.

Secondly: prayer, as a priest, I notice that the attendance at Daily Mass during Lent increases, and what a wonderful thing that is! But do not let it stop just there, but rather use times of personal, private prayer; prayer as a family; or times of Adoration as ways to increase your involvement at Sunday Mass. To help enter into Mass more fully, preview the Readings that will be proclaimed, if possible, look at the unique prayers for the Priest on that Sunday, as well. What do these prayers say about what we celebrate during Lent?

Finally: almsgiving, as a natural outgrowth from our relationship with God. We do not give because the recipient is Catholic, but because we are. We give because we are thankful of the many gifts God has given to us, and we simply return them to Him.

Like the baseball player honing his skills for the long haul of the season ahead, training our hearts and wills through these practices in Lent helps to follow through with a successful season and summer ahead. Let us prepare so that we might hit Easter in fine spiritual shape so that we might also enjoy our pilgrimage through life to the promised land of heaven.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

not a bad idea

After the Year for Priests, now it's time for a Year for Consecrated!

Something tells me....

I shouldn't reply to the following email received in the Vocation Office inbox this morning:

Dear Webmail User,

This message is from the Webmail Support team to all email users. We are currently carrying out an upgrade on our system, hence it has come to our notice that one of our subscribers Infected our Network with a worm like virus and it is affecting Our database.

We are also having congestions due to the anonymous registration of email accounts, so we are shutting down email accounts deemed to be inactive. Your email account is listed among those requiring update.

To resolve this problem, simply click to reply this message and enter your User Name here
(_____________) And Password Here (___________) to have your email account Cleared against this virus.

Failure to comply will lead to the termination of your Email Account.

Hoping to serve you better.

(Unknown Name)
Webmail Support