Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Message to Sidewalk Counsellors

A friend from out of state sent along the following message which appeared in the local parish bulletin. It provides a poignant reminder of why it is important to have folks out front of abortion mills. Have a box of tissues ready, just in case.

Dear Father:

I have struggle with writing this letter. I truly feel called to do it, but at the same time, my heart still breaks every time I think of that day. March 6, 1998 - the fact that I was heading towards an abortion clinic hadn't set in yet. I was too busy begging the boy next to me to turn the car around. This boy was supposed to love me.

We'd been dating for over two years when we found out I was pregnant. The plan had been for us to get engaged in two years when he graduated college and marry the year after when I did. I figured this just moved the plan forward a bit. Neither of us had planned on a child yet, but he knew how I felt. We discussed what we would do if this situation popped up. He knew what I believed. He said he believed in a woman's choice and he would support me no matter what.

How naive I was Father. How I wished I had followed the Church's teaching and not had sex until I was married. You see, planning on marrying someone is not the same as actually marrying them. The support is not the same. I also learned the hard way that when the boy said he supported my right to choose, he really meant he supported my right to have an abortion.

This boy I loved had been slowly becoming a dominant force in my life. He had been sweet in high school, but in college jealousy and stress began to take over. I became something he could control and relieve his stress with. Never did I expect him to cross this line though.

I spent a week crying and begging. He spent a week shutting me out. He shoved, grabbed, yelled, and threatened. Then came March 6th: the day of my appointment at the abortion clinic. I was still trying to change his mind.

I told him I thought it was a boy. His name would be Michael. I told him regardless of what he believed, we could at least agree that the potential for life was inside me. If we did nothing, a beautiful child would grow and be born. For a moment I thought he would turn the car around. He just looked at me and said, "You're not going to let this be easy." Of course I wasn't; I didn't want to do it.

My mother had already told me I couldn't come home. I wasn't even allowed to come home just to give the baby up for adoption. She didn't want my siblings to think she approved. So, all my hopes rested on the boy who said he loved me; the boy who said it was my choice. Abortion was not my choice. I wanted my child, but he didn't care.

The closer we got to the clinic the harder I prayed. I prayed for protesters to be outside the clinic doors. I knew I could run to them. I knew they'd keep my child safe. But no one was there in the parking lot. There were no people holding signs. There was no one praying a rosary across the street, waiting to tell me everything would be alright. I was utterly alone.

When we entered the clinic my whole body was shaking with sobs. The lady at the check-in asked if we wanted to t talk to a counselor. The boy shook his head; I told her if we talked to a counselor I'd probably change my mind. She laughed. I had been trying to reach out, to tell her I needed help and she laughed like I made a joke.

The boy and I made our way to the waiting room and sat down. So many faces in there I'll never forget. I watched them go in one by one. My crying was almost uncontrollable now. My helplessness was engulfing me. I wondered why no one in that office came to check o me. Why didn't they say "You don't look ready to make this decision" or "We can't let you do this today" or "We insist you spend time with the counselor first."

No one did. They did come to tell me it was my turn to come down. I followed the lady down the stairs, changed into a gown and sat down with three other girls waiting my turn. I looked around and realized I couldn't do this. I didn't care if I couldn't go home. I would go somewhere, but not here.

I changed back into my clothes and walked up the stairs. I was about 100 feet from the door when he stopped me. I looked up into his face and told him I couldn't do this, we would figure something out. At that moment he grabbed my arm and asked the nurse if there was a room we could talk in. She sent us in a back room alone. She let him lead me away from that front door. She sent on one in to mediate, no one in to check on us.

I had to endure a half hour of hearing how he regretted ever knowing me. He told me that he would take out his hatred for me on this child. He grabbed my face, shoved me into a wall, looked down at me, and told me I could not leave. When I was allowed to leave that conference room, it was because he was sure I had no more fight left. He was sure I knew no one was going to help me.

I flipped him off as I headed back down the stairs. No one stopped me, but by this point I didn't expect it. I knew they weren't really there to help me. They wanted the same thing he did, to rip my child from my womb, to pretend my Michael never was.

The thing no one tells you about abortion is that you hear it. They give you meds to numb your body, but you are awake. I heard them scrape my baby from my body. I had nightmares about that sound for years.

Then I was moved to a recovery room. It was filled with recliners. I sat in one still crying. There was another girl across from me. I asked her how long she thought it would hurt. She gave me the clinical answer of about 4 weeks. No, I told her. How long do you think our hearts will hurt? The girl began to tell me her story, she began to cry as well. This was where the nurse finally intervened. She came and moved the girl away from me. Apparently it was not okay to show emotion for the loss of the children that never were.

Eventually I left that clinic and left that boy. I have never left that experience though. I have never been able to answer all my questions.

I know that it took about 6 years for me to stop having nightmares. I know that I stayed away from Church for about 4 years because I felt unworthy to be there. I know that I spent many nights after the birth of my children wondering what Michael would have been like. I know that I ask God to take care of my little boy in heaven. I know that God forgives. I know that I have been healed in this Church. I know that the pain in my heart will never go away. The past eleven years have dulled the pain, but it will never disappear.

What I don't why I got so close to that door, but never made it out. Why was no one there to help me? Why did they let him take me alone into that conference room? Why did they let me go back down? Why wasn't I strong enough to keep fighting?

I'm not 18 anymore, Father. I am much stronger. While I cannot fight for Michael, I can fight for other women/girls like me. I can fight for children like Michael that deserve the life he never had. Please use this letter however you see fit. Let this experience become something for God's glory.

Love in Christ,
A member of the parish.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Information Day for Women Religious

On Sunday, February 14, the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles California will be presenting an afternoon of ‘information, discovery, and discernment’ for women, age 18-35, interested in religious life. The Sisters have a ministry which blends the Carmelite traditions of contemplative life with an active ministry in health care, education and retreat work. The event runs from 1:30 to 3:30 at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary on Beechmont Ave. Call Fr. Kyle Schnippel in the Vocation Office (513-421-3131) for more details.

Pregnancy Center East

CityBeat, the local newspaper's 'alternative weekly' paper features an acticle on Cincinnati's Pregnancy Center East and their new location. It is an interesting choice for what is usually a left leaning paper, but they give a fair shrift. As a warning, they do quote and contrast the Pro-Life message and mission of PCE with Planned (un)Parenthood.

I found the article through the Cincinnati Blog, where scribe Brian asks some slanted questions, which I think illustrate the mentality that the Pro-Life Movement is up against.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

'Altared State'

Cincinnati Magazine has posted the article on Sr. Louise Akers online. At nearly 5,000 words, it is quite the tome. I was quoted twice, as was frequent commentator Gail Finke:

As vocations director for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, the Rev. Kyle Schnippel often delivers homilies at local parishes asking members to encourage young men to consider the priesthood. And often, standing outside a church after Mass, someone will come up and say, “You wouldn’t have this problem if you didn’t overlook half the population.”

“I’m in sales, I’m not in management,” Schnippel quips as he settles into answering one of the hardest questions he faces in his job. Even ardent supporters of the Vatican’s position acknowledge it’s not an easy case to make; indeed, surveys show that about 60 percent of American Catholics oppose the Vatican ban on women’s ordination. “This is one of the few areas in the world today where women are told, You can’t take part in this. This isn’t open to you,” Schnippel says. “Even faithful women who love the Church, the first time they hear that it’s like, Whoa.”

The argument in favor of women’s ordination is fairly simple: supporters believe that historical and cultural sexism has kept women out of positions of power, and that ordination is a path to a specific kind of power, akin to running corporations and winning elected office. “I feel no call to become a priest, but if women feel called to the priesthood they should have that path open to them,” Akers says. “Women’s ordination is a justice issue. Its basis is the value, dignity, and equality of women.”

The arguments against the ordination of women are a bit more complicated and require some knowledge of Catholic tradition and teaching. Those who support the Vatican’s position point out that the Church can hardly be accused of turning its back on women: there are more female Catholic saints than male; women hold leadership positions across the church worldwide; and Catholic sisters were creating and managing health-care systems and school districts long before American women could vote. But they also believe that contemporary Catholic priests and bishops are the direct successors of the 12 apostles Jesus chose to carry out his ministry, who in turn replaced the 12 tribes of Israel; because Jesus intentionally chose only men as apostles, the church is not free to change this requirement.

“There have never been women priests in the Catholic Church. It’s a 2,000-year understanding of the Church that priesthood is a sacrament that continues the apostolic tradition,” says Gail Finke, a female student in the lay pastoral ministry program at the Athenaeum of Ohio in Mt. Washington, which also trains the archdiocese’s seminarians. “There’s cultural confusion in our time that says, If I don’t get to do exactly what other people do, I’m not equal. But most men aren’t going to be ordained either. It’s not like the Church is saying, ‘Ha ha ha! You can’t become a priest!’”

Opponents of female ordination stress that the Catholic Church must look at the issue in terms of what Jesus intended and what the Church’s traditions are, rather than what current cultural imperatives call for; and further, that the call of Vatican II to engage in the world didn’t intend for the Church to take its marching orders from contemporary society.

“It’s difficult, especially in American culture, modernist culture, where everything is up for grabs and church is what we decide it to be, and we’re going out and saying, ‘No, the truth is what is established by Christ,’” Schnippel says. It’s not something the Church invented, he insists. “This is what Christ teaches.”

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Thought on the Conversion of St. Paul

Many times, in working with (primarily) young men contemplating a priestly vocation, the big sturggle is with a sense of unworth. 'How could God call me, a sinner?'

Well, let's look at St. Paul's life:

Murderer, of a sorts: (participated in the martyrdom of St. Stephan)
self-righteous (best of the Pharisees)
Rash and brash
with the above, we could surmise an arrogance and a cocky-ness, too.

And he is the Aposlte to the Gentiles

So, if you think your sins are greater than God's call, in simple words: get over it. God still loves you, do you love Him back enough to give it all over and say yes, despite your flaws, sins and weaknesses?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Cincinnati Magazine

is running an article in which I was interviewed.

I don't have it, haven't seen it, looked online, couldn't find it.

However, Greta comments below: "Certainly made you seem hard pressed to give a strong answer as if you really did not agree, but that was the church position."

Just to be clear, that is certainly! not my position, as should be easily gleaned from this site and things I have written in the Telegraph, and was one of the reasons I was somewhat reluctant to do the interview. If someone has it, I would be glad to read it.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Wishing it were here! is reporting that a prospect in the Oakland A's farm system is 'retiring' (at age 23!) to enter seminary. Prayers for him and all sems!

Hope for the Future

I'm still here in Cincinnati, and didn't make the trip to the nation's capital for the March for Life. I had a presentation last night and a few things going today as my lame excuse.

However, my niece, 8th grader in a public school back home, is either currently on the way, or already in DC for the March. She is attending through a group back home that paints the purple hearts with the image of a child in the womb on barns and other large outdoor items.

The fact that she is aware of this at her age is, I think, something that gives hope for the future.

Also, my sister (her mom) reports that children of today are more religiously aware than we were. They talk openly about saying the rosary, about stopping in at the Adoration chapel, the importance of prayer, etc.

All of which, again, I think gives much hope for the future.

Pray for those traveling, pray for the conversion of hearts of those opposed to life, give witness with your life of the joy found in Christ.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

priest and the pastoral care of families

Tomorrow morning sees the continuation of host Brian Patrick and I on Pope John Paul's annual letter to priests. We tackle his 1994 letter on the care of families. Join us after the 8:30 news on 740 AM sacred heart radio.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Special Thanks

If you watch the video featuring Fr. Tony Tozzi, parochial vicar at St. Susanna's in Mason, you'll notice it ends on a particular point: the priest bringing the soul home to God.

I knew the day that Fr. Tozzi was being filmed, but was not planning on being a part of it, after all I had some work to do.

Towards the end of the day, my cell phone rings by Michael Walsh, who filmed and produced the videos for us: "You didn't warn me about this!"

That was a real episode. Michael was interviewing Fr. Tozzi when the call came in that a priest was needed to anoint someone who was in the active stages of dieing. Oils in the car, off they went.

Not wanting to intrude with a camera into a very private moment in life, the question was asked, the point explained: 'This is for a video for the priesthood, but only with your expressed permission.'

They were very generous in response: 'If mom knew that her last act on earth would be used to promote the priesthood, she would be so very pleased.'

With that, they gave the permission and the camera stayed back, but rolled.

My sincere thanks to the family, my prayers for Mrs. Conte's soul, that she may be rewarded for allowing this to happen.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Dolan, as only Dolan could say

Great article on the Year for Priests by Archbishop Dolan.


Not long ago, I got a letter from a group of people in a parish saying that they had decided that their pastor had to go. Why? Because "sometimes he curses." I felt like replying, "Big damn deal. He's staying."

Once, during a visit to a parish, a group cornered me to complain that their pastor was "too conservative," preached too long and "couldn't connect with them." Another parish down the road had a letter-writing campaign because their pastor was "too liberal" and told them to hold hands at the Our Father. Of course, he had to go, they told me. Priests can't seem to win. Either too liberal or too conservative...

It almost seems "open season" on priests. Always has been, I suppose, as St. John Vianney, or, for that matter, Jesus Himself, the Eternal High Priest, would assure us. But the volume seems turned up today. Why? For one, the clergy sex abuse crisis has unfairly damaged every priest, as we are all sadly painted with the same wide brush. Two, in a fractured Church, both sides blast the parish clergy. The far left dismisses them as relics of a patriarchal, oppressive, medieval Church, while the far right castigates priests for selling out to modernism. Priests might as well hang a bull's eye on their clergy shirt! After the scandal, every fault is magnified. I sometimes wonder if the ancient heresy of Donatism—the belief that the validity of the sacraments depends on the virtue of the priest—is making a comeback!

In some ways, I suppose, it is flattering, because people expect a lot from their priests. The difficulty is that often want their priests to be just like them. We're not.

But it does hit on something I have said among friends, and which might get me in trouble among my fellow members of the cloth: people have become too used to mediocrity among the clergy. Now, it seems like, the wick is being turned up.

I don't want to be a mediocre priest. I want to be a saint. Thankfully, I have many friends, both priest and lay alike, who help me on this. I thank them.

I leave with this: is your critique of your priest something that strikes at the core of our beautiful and timeless Faith, or is it something of personal preference? If the former, write the letter. If the latter, deal.

For HMTL code

of the videos below, go here and click on each episode. There is a 'share' link on the bottom right of each page.

We're going to try to upload them to YouTube as well, hopefully that will enable them to run smoother than currently through

Friday, January 15, 2010

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Man Behind the Collar-Episode Four: Fr. Tony Tozzi

This short series follows three priests from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati in their daily priestly duties and offers a glimpse into the diverse ways that priests serve others and relax through their own hobbies. It shows The Man Behind the Collar.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Ten Things for Vocations

by Fr. David Toups

If anyone would like the DVD of the videos linked below, contact the Vocation Office at

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

By the by....

There are three more videos to come.....

Vocations are a Super-Priority

Fr. Z. (whose site is mysteriously down for me this morning) points to an excellent article by Bishop Finn of Kansas City - St. Joseph on the importance of vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Man Behind the Collar-Episode Two: Fr. Martin Fox

This short series follows three priests from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati in their daily priestly duties and offers a glimpse into the diverse ways that priests serve others and relax through their own hobbies. It shows The Man Behind the Collar.

The Man Behind the Collar-Episode One: The Priest

This short series follows three priests from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati in their daily priestly duties and offers a glimpse into the diverse ways that priests serve others and relax through their own hobbies. It shows The Man Behind the Collar.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Vocation Awareness Week NEXT WEEK!

Need materials? Check here!

Media Blitz

My latest runs at Catholic Exchange today.

I will also be appearing on The Gospel Today on Sacred Heart Radio this weekend: 7:30 AM and 11:30 AM on both Saturday and Sunday.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Time to Praise Our Fathers

My latest runs in this week's Telegraph:

Every year, following the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, the Church in the United States celebrates National Vocation Awareness Week, this year from January 10-16. This week is set aside to call to mind that we all have a vocation to fulfill. We all have been given a calling by God, first to holiness, then to a specific vocation to live out our relationship with God in the midst of the world and the Church.

Normally for this week, the Vocation Office publishes materials guided by this ‘Universal Call to Holiness,’ as it was called by the Second Vatican Council. However, this being the ‘Year for Priests,’ as dedicated by Pope Benedict XVI, we have taken the liberty to focus our efforts on the unique call to the ministerial priesthood: those men who have been called by Christ to lay down their lives so that their brothers and sisters in Christ might receive a share in Jesus’ Divine Life.

In the priesthood, we see one way that Jesus fulfills the promise made at the end of the Gospel according to Matthew: “Behold, I am with you always, even until the end of the age. (28:20)” For when we look to the priest, we see not just him, but we see Christ through him: through his leading us in the Sacraments, through his preaching and teaching the ways of faith, and through his governance of a small portion of God’s faithful entrusted to his care. In all these things, the priest acts in persona Christi, and leads the faithful to also be images of Christ, present and active in the world.

Strangely enough, as the world has moved further into a post-Christian mentality, the need for priests is greater than ever before. Echoing St. Augustine’s great line that our hearts are restless until they rest in God, the world cries out for the transcendent. Even the staunchest atheist knows at the depth of the soul that there is more to this world than meets the eye; and the priest, by his mere presence in this world, harkens to this reality.

In fact, this is at least part of the theological reason that our priests are celibate, for celibacy is an eschatological sign of the Kingdom to come. It is a physical representation of what we will all be in heaven: completely dedicated to God.

However, there are many distractions and temptations that can prevent the priest from fulfilling his God-given mandate. Because of what the priest represents, the Evil One can work overtime to get him to lose hope, to despair that God can work through him, a sinner, hence the importance of praying for your priest. He is your father in faith, pray for his guidance, for his holiness, for his leadership that he might lead us all closer to the Kingdom of Heaven.

Finally, it is the responsibility of all the faithful to encourage vocations to the priesthood, to be on the lookout among the upcoming generations for those characteristics and traits that would make for a good priest, and to offer a simple invitation to that young man to consider the possibility of the priesthood.

On January 27, Mount St. Mary’s Seminary is hosting a ‘Vocation Evening,’ inviting young men, college age and older, who think they might have a vocation to the priesthood to join our seminary community for the evening. If you, or someone you know, has thought about the priesthood, what better time to respond than during this Year for Priests!

For more information on the Vocation Night, on the priesthood, or how you might support the priests in your parish, please visit

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

"To guard the deposit of faith"

Tomorrow morning, host Brian Patrick and I continue our series on Pope John Paul's 'Holy Thursday Letters to Priests.' We have arrived at the year 1993, and the publication of the 'new Catechism.' A snippet:

It is fitting to include in our thanksgiving this year a particular element of gratitude for the gift of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This text is a response to the mission which the Lord has entrusted to his Church: to guard the deposit of faith and to hand it down intact, with authority and loving concern, to coming generations.

The result of the fruitful cooperation of the Bishops of the Catholic Church, the Catechism is entrusted above all to us, the Pastors of God's People, in order to strengthen our deep bonds of communion in the same apostolic faith. As a compendium of the one perennial Catholic faith, it constitutes a trustworthy and authoritative means for bearing witness to and ensuring that unity in faith for which Christ himself prayed fervently to the Father as his "hour" drew near (cf. Jn 17:21-23).

The Catechism sets forth once more the fundamental and essential contents of Catholic faith and morality as they are believed, celebrated, lived and prayed by the Church today. It is thus a special means for deepening knowledge of the inexhaustible Christian mystery, for encouraging fresh enthusiasm for prayer intimately united with the prayer of Christ and for strengthening the commitment of a consistent witness of life.

Join us at 8:30 AM on 740 AM Sacred Heart Radio, or online at

Is anyone still following?

So, I realize that this has been sorta quiet since before Christmas. I am still here, just plugging away on numerous things.

The big news is that I am an uncle once again, for the 17th time, this time a niece by name of Quinn Elizabeth, born to my older brother and his wife yesterday morning. Weighing in at 7 lbs, 7 ozs, she must've been in a hurry for Jana was in labor for only 1.5 hours. Luckily, I had an appointment in Sidney yesterday and was able to stop by the hospital to pay a visit, hold her for a bit and give mom and babe a short blessing. I'm honored they've asked me to be Godfather.

Other than that, nothing noteworthy is happening. Next week is Vocation Awareness Week, check out materials here. I've got a slew of presentations and talks and all that fun stuff.

I have an article in this week's Telegraph, so be on the lookout for that in a few days, and the palium trip is being annouced as well.

For those in Cinci, enjoy the snow. My commute was uneventful, except for the guy (I presume) who came flying up on my rear bumper! Thankfully, he didn't hit me.