Friday, February 29, 2008

A Rise in Inquiries

Catholic News Service reports a rise inquiries among religious communities, here.

(Right now, don't have much time to talk more about this, will get back to it later.)

Vocations and Catholic Schools

My next article for 'The Catholic Moment' appears in this week's edition of the Catholic Telegraph. (I had to make one change, as I missed a few guys who went to Catholic High Schools, much apologies!)

During Catholic Schools Week, I was looking over our files on how many of our seminarians are graduates of Catholic high schools in the Archdiocese. The number surprised me, as I found only nine of 28 of our currents seminarians had done so. I expected a higher number, especially considering we have one of the largest Catholic school systems in the country. Plus, I remember stories of huge numbers of grads from the schools entering the seminary each year, between ten and fifteen every year from Elder High School, alone. Yet now, we have one Elder alumnus in formation. (For the sake of completeness, there is one graduate from each of the following in formation: Alter, Badin, Carroll, Elder, Fenwick, Moeller, LaSalle, Springfield Central Catholic and Summit Country Day.)

To an extent, I can understand the drop off, for I taught in the system the first two years after I was ordained, and I know the pressures first hand that are put on the administrators and teachers by not only the state regulations, but also by the alumni, parents, and even the students. But I still wonder if we might be missing some aspect of education.

I fully admit that when I was teaching, my primary goal was to instruct my students in the ways of the New Testament and the person of Jesus Christ. Yet, there is a further dimension to the process that I missed then, and am only now coming to realize: education, especially in the Catholic sense, is not just about teaching the faith; it is about helping the parents to form their children as disciples of Christ. This is the key, in my understanding, to not only an increase in the number of seminarians, but also the revitalization of the Catholic Schools. It is not enough to teach each student, because the public schools can do that. Rather, each student needs to come to the realization that there is some special path that God is leading him or her down, a path that leads to a unique spot in this world, in the Church, which only this one particular student can do: the mission, (the vocation, in a broader sense) that this student has been given by God to enrich the world. Not a small task, by any means!

Accomplishing this new movement, though, can be done through some easy steps, I believe, and it begins with parental involvement, as they are the ‘first teachers of their children in the way of faith.’ Their witness of discipleship helps to shape their children as disciples. The witness of those who have chosen radical discipleship as a way of life also gives a favorable impression to the next generation. The current class of seminarians are excellent speakers and witnesses of how following Christ as a disciple can lead to a tremendous and wonderful thing. In addition to bringing seminarians to the schools, bring the schools to the seminary or visit convents that in your area. The witness of the aged members of the communities who have served as a religious for 70 years inspires me to want to give even more in my own journey as a disciple.

But even with the witness of those who have given all to following Christ, the next generation will not be able to follow Him if they first do not know Him. Both the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the newer US Catholic Adult Catechism give the basis of the faith, and lead the reader into a deeper relationship with Christ. Both of these wonderful resources are dripping with Scripture citations, highlighting the need to know and read Scripture, for ‘ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ,’ as St. Jerome so wonderfully said.

Finally, a perpetual challenge is to make the connections for the students through the curriculum, especially highlighting how the Church led so many innovations and discoveries throughout history. John Henry Newman stated, in his Apologia Pro Vita Sua, that to be a student of history was to cease being Protestant. His study of history led him from atheism through Anglicanism to the fullness of the Church in Catholicism.

Does the faith highlight and inform everything that happens in our schools? If so, we will be turning out disciples ready to serve Christ in radical ways.

For more information on how to serve Jesus radically as a priest, I invite you to visit

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Affirm the Concern to Discern

In a post title blantantly ripped from Adam's Ale, Fr. V. has a great post on discernment and his love of being a priest:

I believe in what I do. I wake in the morning and I am happy and look forward to doing the things that a priest is called upon to do. Even bad days are not bad days, they are difficult days and I know it has to do with a particular situation and not the priesthood. What a blessing it is to find joy in what you do and how you live life.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Traveling Monstrance Update

Comes from St. Joseph in Dayton:

Dear Wayne,

Cindy and I just wanted you to know what a fantastic
success we had at St. Joseph on Sunday. The
monstrance was beautiful and Father Lou made sure
people got to see it. We had many more people than we
expected with a total of at least 379 adoration hours.
I say at least because we only counted once an hour
and I feel there were many people moving around in and
out of the church during exposition.

Thanks for all your help and this opportunity. Cindy
did a great job getting us on the list in the first
place and then transporting the monstrance (as well as
all the other things she did). I think we are a great
team and all our preparation paid off!

Take care and good luck with the rest of the tour.
Yours truly,

Pew Forum and Catholic Membership

The Enquirer ran the article this morning that has already been linked by numerous other sites, including Rich Leonardi.

I want to shift that focus a bit to the idea of evangelization, and the re-evangelization.

When I see that stat that 10% of the American population considers themselves to be 'ex-Catholic,' I wonder. I wonder what led them to fall away from the Church of their youth, what might bring them back, and how to reach out to them so that they can experience the fullness of Truth that we have.

To this end, I was talking with a friend over the weekend, whose husband is a serious and committed member of the Vineyard movement. (It raises some interesting conversations between the two of them; she the committed Catholic, he the Evangelical Protestant, but I digress.)

He is feeling some pressure from some Catholics to convert, presurre which I try not to give, I would rather just be an open door to him. His frustration is that, from his experience with the Vineyard, he knows a number of ex-Catholics who have joined that community, but yet that never gets the play that say Scott Hahn, Marcus Grodi, or others receive.

In talking with my friend, her response was that you never hear of serious, committed Catholics (number 1's, if you will) of falling away. Rather, you have the ones who have never been 'introduced' to the riches of Catholicism. They've gone through the school system, catechetical instruction (such that it is/was), but the faith is never more than just rote empty symbols. These are the ones that fall away and are inspired by the zeal of our Evangelical brothers and sisters in their love for 'the Sweet Lord Jesus,' and that love makes a difference in their lives.

Yet, in the Catholic world, we have scores of members who come forward every Sunday and receive Jesus Himself, yet there is no zeal, there is no burning desire to share that message of salvation. While I am convinced that there is a faith life present to some degree, the 'zeal' of the Gospel is not present. And as I was just reminded in conversation with a co-worker: "You can't believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist and then go to MegaChurch/Evangelical community."

As I am reminded, catechesis must be about content, content, content. And as a former teacher, and who sees himself as a teacher first and foremost, I certainly agree with that. But as a shepherd/pastor/father, how does that 'content' make a difference in your life?

So, where do I go from here, what are my thoughts:

a) Content, knowing the faith, catechesis. To be Catholic isn't to 'have my needs met,' it isn't to be socially active, it is to be in harmony with the faith of the Church, handed down to us through the Apostles and their successors from Jesus Himself!

b) Formation. The Catherine of Siena Institute, among others, is fostering the idea of the 'Parish as Center for Lay Formation.' Just as seminarians spend five to seven years in formation, not just learning the faith but also learning how to apply it in their life as a priest and father, so must our lay disciples be able to take the rich treasure that is the Church's teaching: social, ecumenical, pastoral, Christological, etc etc., and apply it to their lives. We must make our members disciples of Christ. (Ok, caveat, I know that only Jesus can truly do this, but He has to work through someone!)

c) Mission. To know Jesus, to be formed to be His disciple, is then to 'go and make Disciples!' Traditionally, this was left to the priests and religious. To an extent, rightly so because we had the formation and training and understanding. However, as the laity grow in their understanding, and as we interpret Vatican II, authentically, this is the mission of the laity: to be out in the world and sharing their faith by what they say and do. Rightly, this is called the Apostolate of the Laity, (an 'apostle' is 'one who is sent,' as we are sent at the end of Mass!)

Now, it is easy to be able to sit in my office, removed from life in the parish, and type this out and not have to sweat bullets that this is going to cause me a great deal of work in the parish. But, I hope that as I meet and work with potential candidates for the seminary, that we might begin forming this understanding in the next generation of priests, that the New Evangelization can really begin to take off. And the good news is, it is already happening in the seminary, among the newer priests. The Tide is Turning toward Catholicism!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Surely, you can't be Sirius!?

I am, (and don't call me Shirley!) (Sorry, bad attempt at humor!)

I will be a guest on Sirius Satellite Radio's The Catholic Channel next Monday, March 3rd at 7:30 AM, Eastern, on Sieze the Day with Gus Lloyd. We'll be talking about vocations, the efforts of the office here in Cincinnati, and the development of our website at

I'm not entirely sure if you can listen in online or not here:

If anyone knows, hit the combox, please.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

On Going need for Conversion (Sunday Homily)

A main theme for Lent continues to be our ongoing need for conversion, an ongoing need to recognize the supremacy and authority of Christ in our lives, and the continued tension to give over more of our life to Him, so that he can lead us closer to our Heavenly Home. Certainly, this is not always easy, and very rarely is it ‘fun,’ yet it is profoundly necessary to continue to recognize our great need for Christ to be in our life, to leave behind our sins, and then to spread that message of salvation to those we come into contact with.

In a very descriptive way, this is exactly what we have heard in our Gospel lection for today: first, a recognition of our sinfulness; secondly, a healing encounter with Christ; and finally spreading the Good News of our salvation with all we meet. Our relationship with Christ should make a difference in our lives, a difference that others should be able to see, and come to a similar relationship through our witness to them.

First, the recognition of our own sinfulness. There has been a temptation over the last years to move to a ‘Joel Olsteen’ method of Christianity; the ‘I’m ok, you’re ok’ branch that, unfortunately, does not leave much room for conversion. I do not see this as an authentic interpretation of the Scriptures that the Church presents for us, especially during this great season of Lent.

Going back to the story we have presented to us today. The woman is certainly aware that she is a sinner, for she is an outcast from society, shunned by her own village, for the simple fact that she does not come to draw water with the rest of the village, something that was always a communal event. By the fact that she comes out about noon, a hot and miserable time of day in the Holy Land, and not early in the morning, shows that she is an outcast. The reason for this casting out from the village is that she would be publicly known as a sinner, which we come to find out later is because of her somewhat loose nature of a few too many husbands. (She’s now on her sixth!)

What always strikes me is that Jesus already knows the condition of her heart. He knows why she comes out at such an odd time of day, he is able to read her heart and recognize that she does desire to be healed. And this is the opening. This is the first step in our journey as Christians, in our continuing conversion that began with our Baptism and will continue to the day we die: a constant awareness that we can be healed on our own, but that we need to turn to Christ and ask for that healing, out loud, by pleading for his healing.

Step two: that healing encounter. The Church does not advocate that we wallow in sinfulness, but has given us a wonderful repository of grace to alleviate our suffering and free us from our continued slavery to the power of the Evil One: the Sacrament of Confession, in which we confess our sins and weaknesses to the priest, as if to Christ himself. This is one of the many opportunities we have within the Church to respond to Jesus’ invitation to leave behind our sinful ways and ‘go and sin no more.’ In this wondrous Sacrament, we are able to lay our weaknesses, our faults and failings at the feet of Jesus, and experience his well of great mercy so that we can be healed of what separates us not only from Christ, but also one another.

In this encounter with Christ, through the priest, we come to a greater and deeper awareness that Jesus is the Messiah, the one sent by God to teach, to heal, and to reconcile. Jesus was not just a great teacher and friend, he is Savior. He has a specific mission to return us, not just to a place in an earthly Garden of Eden, but to a spot at the Father’s Heavenly Altar. Even as profound and massive as this altar here is, it is only a small and somewhat insignificant replication of that Altar in heaven. And we can only get there through Christ.
Granted, it is not always fun to come before a priest and admit our weaknesses, for he is just as much of a sinner as the penitent. Yet, if we ignore our sins, if we ignore our need for redemption, freedom; the pain and injury that result will just increase, will fester until it causes severe damage to our soul. I liken Confession, at times, to the pulling of a splinter from your finger. The pain can be severe, it can be uncomfortable, yet the peace that comes afterwards, the relief that comes afterwards, is much worth the momentary discomfort. Plus, if we do not deal with it, it grows, and can affect the whole of the body, not just the one finger that was originally infected.

Step Three, spreading the message: Once we have had this encounter with our Savior, with Christ, we follow the model of this woman at the well. She is not content to just sit at his feet, rather she goes and tells her fellow villagers, even the ones who have shunned her, who is in their midst. Now that she has been healed, she must bring others to the Healer.

This is the dimension that is often, sadly, missing among Catholics. I hear from Protestants who are thinking of conversion, yet they are less than inspired by the lackadaisical attitude of so many Catholics. Do you realize that here, at this very Mass, we are able to receive within the very Lord of Life? This is a life transforming gift, an encounter which should change us to be witnesses of His Gospel, to bring others into His Truth!

Notice, this is what leads the other villagers to faith as they first invite Jesus to stay with them, but shortly ‘no longer believe because of the word of the woman, but because of their own hearing, and know that Jesus is truly the savior of the world.

The question that this all leaves for us: will others know that Jesus is the Savior of the world through your actions in this world?

One final aspect is that we do not have to do this along, thankfully. The Church provides us with a community to support our journey, a community that will both encourage us when we are down, celebrate with us when we are up; but also has the obligation to challenge us if we are wrong.

It is here, at Sunday Mass, that we are unified by Christ to be transformed. It is here that we welcome new members, and receive the strength to live out the Gospel in our own unique way, so that when we come to Easter anew this year, we can have that life changing experience that coming to know Christ more profoundly in our lives, coming to know Him as the Crucified One Resurrected to break the power of sin, we can have that joy which only He provides, a joy which necessarily erupts outwards and invites others to taste that same mystery.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Weekend Update

This weekend, with the Cathedral Rector away, I am covering the four Sunday Masses here at the Mother Church for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati: 4:30 Saturday, 8:30 and 11:00 AM, and 6:00 PM Sunday.

I have to admit, even with as grand as this structure is, it is a bit disappointing after celebrating Mass at Sts. Mary Major, John Lateran, and Peter's Basilicas over the last two weeks. Ho hum.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Wish I wouldn't known this last week

There's a Wiki site on Churches in Rome. Man, wish I wouldn've known last week!

Why is the Chair of Peter Important?

As we celebrate the Feast of the Chair of Peter, it seems like a strange thing to celebrate. It is a chair, afterall. Is this another of those particularly Catholic things that we do? Yes, but why do we do this?

The simpliest answer is that this comes down to authority, that the authority that Jesus passed on to Peter in today's Gospel account has been passed down to his successors over the years. This authority is expressed, then, in two realms: teaching authority and unity.

Teaching Authority
I was struck by reading 'Journey's Home' from the Coming Home Network that so many of the conversion stories revolved around the idea of authority. Who has the authority to interpret Scriptures? Who has the authority to tell me how to live? Moving farther afield, who even has the authority to say which books are in the Scripture?

Protestants have two main tenants that they live by: sola scriptura and sole fidei. The issue is, however, where do they find these tenants? The Bible includes neither, expressly. In fact, 'Faith alone' as two distinct words only appear in the Letter to James where he he blasts those who argue for faith alone, whereas I will show you the faith that underlies my work. Similarly, 'Scripture alone' cannot be held up from the Scriptures; for example the story of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch from the Acts of the Apostles: "How can I understand it unless someone interprets it for me?"

What comes to light, if you study the history of the Church, is that these two positions were only first proposed by the Reformers. When ideas such as these came up in the Early Church, they were soundly condemned. So that claim about the Reformers returning to the faith of the Early Church...

But this authority, while authoratative, is not authoratarian. It is at the service of the Church's unity. The Holy Father has the obligation to help clarify the deposit of faith, specifically when items are challenged. For example, even though the 27 books of the New Testament were first outlined as early as the third/fourth century; they were not officially declared by the Church until the Council of Trent, because the Reformers wanted to dismiss the Letter of James, for example. There was no need to clarify, because things were already held in common.

The Holy Father has the role to say that 'To be Catholic, you must be within these lines.' Outside of this, you cannot be Catholic because your position is contrary to the Deposit of Faith. Sure, we wish that he would come down stronger on some, but I feel there are often communications below the table to give the suspect a chance to recant.

The military analogy works well, here. If an army is clear and concise and has a firm goal to achieve, and all know what their role is, even if they meet a stronger opponent, they can still take the hill. Just so, the Pope is the leader, who shares his authority with his co-workers, the Bishops, who pass along their authority to their priests, who exercise their authority in the field/vineyard of the Lord.

This feast is a vitally important one for the fact that if we did not have this unifying authority within the Church, we end up split and fractured and broken like so many of our Protestant brethren. When the question of authority comes up, they split. How unScriptural, I feel.

One last thing, please do not read this as an attack against Protestantism. I have many dear friends who are firm believers in different Protestant communions. They are sincere followers of Christ. I have disagreements with the idea of Protestantism, and I certainly pray that we all might be one, as Jesus is One with His Heavenly Father.

On the Feast of the Chair of Peter

Where we had Mass last Sunday

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Picture downloads

Mom and Dad in the Forum

Roman Chaos

Mass in one of the Chapels at St. John Lateran

Inside Michaelangelo's Dome at St. Peter's

St. Peter's at night, obviously

I'm gonna be a hood ornament.

If I am not careful, I could well end up a hood ornament. After spending a week walking through Rome, where they lock the brakes up when a pedestrian is in a cross walk, I know I am gonna step out in front of a speeding bus and nearly get plowed!

The good news, though, we made it back in last night and I am currently doing laundry at mom and pop's up north, before heading south for the late afternoon Mass at the Cathedral. It truly was a great trip, although the return journey is always excruciating. We had an 11 hour flight from Rome to Atlanta, taking the ever popular 'over Greenland' route. (We had been back over land for a while, and dad thought we were somewhere over upstate New York. Turns out, we were approaching TORONTO! I do not get the logic on that one.)

When asked, mom and dad came up with the following list for a first timer to Rome:

1) Four major basilicas, non-negotiable, all of them!
2) Forum and Colosseum
3) Vatican Museum
4) Catacombs
5) Scalia Santa, the Holy Steps at St. John Lateran, which was a truly moving experience!

We finished this week with Sunday Mass at St. Peter's, the Sung Mass in Latin with Choir at the Altar of the Chair, very moving, although I forgot about the push forward at Communion time. After the noon Angelus address, we traipsed over the Janiculum and down into Trastevere, with its much different feel than the main side of the river.

Monday brought the Stational Mass at San Clemente near the Coloseum, and luckily near where we were staying. The Stational Masses are a good chance to see and pray in Churches around Rome where you don't normally get a chance. (They have Mass in a different Church every day of Lent.) It was powerful to be one of 40 or so priests in a crowded ancient church celebrating Mass at the Altar of St. Clement, the fourth pope. The connection with history is palpable in Rome, something which this country cannot even begin to grasp.

After a return to the Bed and (little) Breakfast, we hitched a taxi to the Quo Vadis Church, and the catacombs of San Sebastiano. Again, a powerful experience with a strong connection to history. (What would it take to get Mass at the Altar of St. Sebastian in the Catacombs?) Lunch preceded our trip to the final Major Basilica: St. Paul's Outside the Walls. As ornate and overdone (in a good way) St. Peter's is, St. Paul's is grandiose in its vast size and sheer simplicity. There is no great dome, there are not 30 foot statues, just a vast space and a simple (for Rome) baldichino. To that extent, St. Paul's reminds me of the Cathedral in Cincinnati.

After a bit of shopping, we headed for the B and B for our afternoon siesta, and headed out for a nice final dinner, as Tuesday morning brought a 7:30 jaunt to the airport and the beginning of that long day of travel back to the States: 6:00 AM Rome time (midnight here in Ohio) wake-up call, 7:30 transfer to airport, 10:00 departure, 3:30 arrival in Atlanta (some 11.5 hours! in one tin can with a group of about 30 teens just in front of us!), 5:50 departure, 7:00 arrival in Columbus, 7:30 pulling out of airport after collecting car and baggage, 9:00 arrival at Botkins. After 23 hours, three tired world travelers hit the sack shortly thereafter!

Great to be back, can't wait to go again! pics will be posted tonight, hopefully.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Forget what mom taught you

when walking in Rome! Don't look before crossing the street, just charge right out there! That takes some getting used to, but the amazing thing is that the drivers all stop. Wow, in the states you'd be plowed!

We're having a great time, enjoying perfect weather and trying to hit all the Churches. I've said Mass at St. Peter in Chains, St Peter Basilica (at the altar where they normally have daily Mass, to the left of the Papal Altar, talk about intimidating!) and this morning at St. Mary Major in the crypt chapel. WOW!

We've yet to hit John Lateran or St. Paul's, but we have three days yet.

Monday, February 11, 2008

We're off!

Leaving shortly for the airport and the transfer to the Eternal City.

Updates as possible; if not, upon our return next week.


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Really Jealous!

From my brother in Iowa:

And we got nothing, NOTHING! here in Ohio!

Number 1's Unite!

A dear friend of mine (I'm sure she will comment on this article!) has certain rules to live by. Rule #1, especially applying to her son: You are not normal!

Ok, I know it sounds strange and rather like the normal pride that a mother feels towards her son, but let me explain.

He is used to priests coming over for meals, he knows them by name (but is still to call them 'Father'), he knows the rubrics at Mass, the six precepts of the Church, goes to Mass while they are on vacation! (NOT a negotiable). To sum up, #1's are people who 'get it.' Perhaps they are converts, perhaps they are cradle Catholics who did extra reading, praying, converting, growing up.

Last night I had dinner with a couple from Dayton who are supporters of the Vocation Office, and I had to call my friend on the way back to mom and dad's to say: "I've met two more #1's!"

What did this very nice couple do to earn them such a dubious distinction?

When they didn't like their sex education program that was offered at the parish grade school, they took it over. They didn't just complain and make noise, they did something about it. They laughed that the principal called them her friendly agitator to get the idea of vocations in the school (one of the reasons for our dinner meeting), before she enrolled her children in the school, the mother interviewed the principal: "How many of your teachers are Catholic?" plus many other questions I can't quite remember at this point....

They both stated that they wanted the best for their children, whether that be a doctor, lawyer, bomber pilot, or a priest. They want their children to have that option.

The lesson for the rest of us: it is easy to complain about things that we don't like. What do we do to fix it? Pastors and/or principals often hear the complaints, which we learn to deal with (hoepfully). What's greater to hear is: "Father, we don't like this and this is what we are going to do about it (with your permission, of course!)"

One line that sticks out to me from the Fishers of Men DVD: "Where the faith is important, the kids pick it up, just like they do with the language." Make the faith important in your lives, a priority, and it will pass down to your children, whether biological or spiritual.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Camera Dump

Well, I finally got the pictures dumped off of my camera onto my old laptop. Some highlights:

View from the PNAC:

Secondly, my brother uses his head as a hammer to drive his daughter into the ground (It looks like it might hurt):

Things to come

From the saddness of this past week, we look forward to the joys of the week to come. I will be journeying to the Eternal City with Mom and Dad, to visit the sites, to pray at the tomb of Peter and soak up the mystery of Catholicism in her ancient home.

And since Fr. Reichstag didn't bring me back one, I'm gonna go looking for the ever elusive beanie/beretta combination.

We return February 20th.

A review of the week and preview of coming attractions

This is a few days overdue.

First, a very heartfelt and sincere thank you to those who expressed condolonces, offered prayers, and showed some type of sympathy at the death of my grandmother. They were all very much appreciated.

Grandma's funeral was a good celebration of her life. The visitation period was not very busy, as she had been out of the loop for the last few years while she battled with the Alzheimer's, so there was a chance to spend a bit more time with each visitor/caller than some other funerals that I have been to. It was nice to catch up with folks and relatives that I had not seen in quite a while. It seems like these are the only times that we get together, sadly.

For her funeral, Grandma would have been very pleased and honored that there were six priests present, especially one who was her grandson. I firmly believe that most of them would have still been there had I not been a priest, as priests always held a special place for her. I know that there were more who wanted to attend, but were unable to because of other commitments. Thanks to all my brother priests who offered prayers and Masses for her.

The other aspect that was nice, at least for me, was that this was not an automatic canonization funeral, either. It was certainly hope-filled, and the good things that Grandma did in this life were extolled, but there were also discussions about her struggles, her failings, and pleadings that her generosity outshine her human weaknesses. This is what funerals should be.

Fr. Pat's (pastor at my home parish) homily was really quite excellent. He focuses on a key word or two that embody who that person was. He nailed it with 'abundance.' My mother was always mad at the holidays when there would be one dessert per person, and Grandma would cook enough food for 50 people, instead of the 15 or so that would actually show up. Yes, abundant indeed.

Her abundance was not limited to the groaning of the dinner table at the holidays, either. She was very generous to a number of charities, especially the local chapter of St. Vincent dePaul. She was Grandpa's primary care giver as he died of cancer 9 years ago. She rarely met a stranger, and had a huge gathering of friends with whom she would converse often.

Yet, the lasting image I have of Grandma and Grandpa is them, sitting together on their back porch at Indian Lake, watching the water and boats go past, listening to Marty and Joe call the Red's games. For someone who missed the last few years because of her struggle with Alzheimer's, this is a tranquil and peaceful image that will be with me for quite the while. It is a memory of my youth, of the guidance and wisdom that they shared with us, and the joys of keeping a simple life in the midst of a chaotic world.

God Bless, Grandma, may the angels and saints lead you to your heavenly home.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Thoughts on Grandma

I was asked to share some thoughts with the pastor back home on grandma, thought I would post them here as well. It helps with the grieving process as well. But they might be a bit scattered, at best.
Grandma was a magnanimous woman. She was large in personality, large in generosity, large in spirit. She was very quick with a smile and laugh, even in her later days when most things passed her by. The pastor back home remarked that he got her to crack a smile and a laugh just a few short weeks ago.
Grandma certainly loved life, and her dinner table was always well stocked. Mom used to get mad at the holidays at the amount of food that was served, but dad just shrugged. (Mom has now turned into her mother-in-law, but I would never tell her that!) Also, to Grandma, ‘home cooking’ involved making scalloped potatoes from a box: “hey, I mixed it up!” I guess that constitutes home cooking. Also, Grandma wasn’t too keen on that whole ‘no meat on Friday’s’ thing, so chicken didn’t quite constitute meat. (She didn’t much care for feesh, as she said, but you already ‘knowed’ that, in her colloquialism.)
Her generosity was marked in many different ways. She supported several different charities, and supported the local St. Vincent de Paul Society. I think her and Grandpa were the co-presidents for quite the while. From the time I entered the seminary, she was very proud and looked forward to my ordination. (She didn’t quite make it, but over the last few years she recognized that I was the one that did religious type work. In fact, she purchased a white vestment for ordination, which I plan to wear for the funeral Mass. I figure that this is a good tribute and honor for her.)
Grandpa always seemed to me to be the more outgoing of the two, yet her dedication as she cared for him in his last days was very admirable. Her dedication and love allowed him to stay at home to his last days. Unfortunately, we could not provide the same for her. She lovingly cared for Grandpa as he slowly succumbed to cancer. As we’ve come to learn now, it was about this time that she began her downward spiral with Alzheimer’s.
I certainly will miss her. She was a very gregarious person, and her vitality, though diminished over the last years, still shone through. We spent many summers swimming between her place and ours on Indian Lake. She would pull us out of the lake, feed us if necessary, throw us back in the water to swim the four doors back to mom and dad’s. On the times we would walk down, you would hear Marty and Joe calling the Reds game as they sat together watching the water, maybe a fishing pole or two in the water. It was the simple life, and a life that was certainly enjoyed.
God rest, Grandma. We all love you, and will miss you. Pray for us, give us guidance and prepare us a place when we meet our reward.

A good read

as we begin the 40 day journey.

Monday, February 4, 2008


Funeral arrangements are made for Grandma:

Visitation: Wednesday, Feb 6 from 4-8 PM at Bayley and Eley in Wapakoneta, OH, downtown chapel.

Mass of Christian Burial: Thursday, Feb 7 at 10:30 at Immaculate Conception Church in Botkins, OH. I am celebrating the Mass, the pastor is giving the homily and perhaps another priest doing the Rite of Committal.

Parish as Vocation Center

The everly optimistic Sherry W. posts on an article from America magazine on the parish as a center for personal discernment.


Local 12 has video up from Fr. Rob Jack's appearance on their Newsmakers program this past weekend. Topic was the Bodies Exhibition, and Fr. Jack seemed to go it alone, but held up admirably.

No surprise to those of us whom have endured his classes and/or oral final exams!

The "Adventure" of the priesthood is necessary for the world.

Pope Benedict made an appearance at "His seminary" over the weekend, as covered by the Vatican Information Service:

The Holy Father then went on to refer to two aspects that characterise the lives of seminarians. In the first place, that of listening to the voice of the Lord which, he said, "requires an atmosphere of silence. For this reason the seminary offers time and space to daily prayer; it pays great attention to liturgy, to meditation on the Word of God and to Eucharistic adoration. At the same time, it asks you to dedicate long hours to study: by praying and studying, you can create within yourselves the man of God that you must become and that people expect a priest to be".
The Pope went on: "There is also another aspect to your lives: ... the community aspect, which is of great importance. ... Your communion is not limited to the present but also concerns the future. The pastoral activity that awaits you must see you acting together united in a single body, an 'ordo' of priests who, with the bishop, watch over the Christian community".
"All this serves as a reminder that God calls you to be saints, and that sanctity is the secret of real success in your priestly ministry. From this moment on, sanctity must be the final goal of all your choices and decisions. Entrust this desire and this daily commitment to Mary, Mother of Trust".

"Follow your journey at the seminary with your hearts open to truth, to transparency, and to dialogue with those who guide you, and this will enable you to respond simply and humbly to the One Who calls you, freeing yourselves from the risk of pursuing a personal project of your own".

It is finished

This morning, between 4 and 6 AM, Grandma went home to God, she is finally at rest from several years of battling Alzheimer's Disease.

Mom called just a bit ago to let me know. The nurse's checked on her at 4 and she was still breathing, but laboring to do so. They came in a little while later and there was silence, peace at last.

Mom and dad maintained a fairly constant vigil at her side over the last few days, saying rosaries, praying, whispering to her that it was ok to let go, go home, see Gene (her husband), Patty and Paulette (daughters). She was 79 years of age.

Please pray for her (Betty Schnippel) and our family, as these might be trying days, for completely unrelated issues.

Luckily, we planned out most of her funeral liturgy last month, put there are still many details to work out.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Optimistically Pessimistic?

First, read this post at Adam's Ale.

I know a priest in the Columbus Diocese (we were in college seminary together.)

He's a year younger than I, but we were ordained the same year.

Another priest of the Columbus Diocese (mutual friend and mentor) recently gave a retreat for the seminarians at Mount St. Mary's Seminary, and he and I had the chance to speak.

Fr. L. was lamenting the fact that he had no peers among his parishioners. There are very few people his age (circa 30) who are members of his parish. Msgr. L. commented that when he was a young priest, most of his friends (whom he still has) were his age and he has grown with them over the intervening years. They have supported his priesthood, he has supported them in their marriage.

Fr. L and I do not have this luxury. Most often, when I am in a group who 'gets it,' Catholics who realize that there is more to that title than just a Sunday obligation, I am the youngest. (Interesting, I'm still the youngest priest in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.) While it still sometimes stikes me as odd that people much older than I call me 'Father,' I'm starting to get used to it. But, most of these families already have children, already are established. I don't get to experience some of the things that Msgr. got to experience as a young priest. (And Karol Wojtyla (JPII) did as well.)

There is a lost generation in the Church, a generation that does not have any basis and foundation in Catechesis. The Catechism is written in a foreign language to them.

The challenge is how to reach them. Adult education programs are attended by a small dedicated group, but not usually the 25-40 group. Homilies have to be a mixture of catechetical, readings, and relevant. Hard to base a life in Christ on just a 10 minute reflection, no matter how good it is.

One solution that was talked about last night: to reach the parents, first you must reach their children. OK, great, but how to do that? Most teachers in Catholic schools (luckily not all) are products of their environment, and don't see the difference that being a die hard (literally?) believer can make.

We have to rethink things. What we have done over the last 30 years has not worked! (wink, che, wink)

What's next? There are bright lights, for sure. Is it widespread enough to make a difference?

Notice has been served.

Best commercial so far in the Big Game:

I've made the Big Time!

First, there were props at the Curt Jester,

Now I've been Whapped! (Scroll down a bit.)

Friday, February 1, 2008

Old St. George's Church Burns

Local news coverage has broken in to give reports that the dual steeples at Old St. George's Church in Clifton/University Heights/University of Cincinnati area have collapsed in a 3 alarm fire. The church was built in the 1880's I think, and is on the National Register of Historic Places, but had been closed as a parish and was recently used as a reception hall, among other events.

The good news is that there seems to be no injuries nor loss of life.

We've all thought it

maybe we've even said one or two of them,

but Deacon Greg Kandra (of CBS News) posts the thoughts of an anonymous priest regarding certain questions:

Coming to Church:

1. For all of you who come to church and talk and gossip all the way until Mass starts: shut the hell up! Other people are trying to say their damn prayers. Please avail yourself of the modern invention called the "telephone" to do your gossiping. Detraction and gossip are sins you know. Don't even know what "detraction" is? Look it up.

2. You don't have to wear a tie (men) or a fancy hat (women) like we're freakin' baptists, but have some decency. How much money did it cost to air-condition this church? So put on some long pants, you can stand it. Don't wear your favorite tasteless message t-shirt. And ladies, this is not the place to show off your big bosoms.

3. Oh, and all of you with crying babies: God bless you! Everybody is welcome in church, and that's what babies do. Anybody gives you a dirty look, tell them to go shit in their hat. God blessed you with new life, and all they have is a crabby disposition. But for you with noisy teenagers: beat them.

Another update

on my Grandmother.

Mom called this morning, after Hospice had called her. Grandma is not doing well, raspy breathing (fluid in her lungs), non-responsive to stimulus, et al. They gave her 48 hours. They tend to know these things.

The worst part is that this is only a part of the strain on my father's family, as there is some other ongoing family drama with my aunt (Dad's sister) and a cousin. They are also in need of some prayers, but I can't divulge any other details, suffice to say it could be hairy over the next week.