Putting Out Friars!

In reading the CARA report this week on the men who will be ordained as priests this year, I noticed that among those responding to the survey, the Dominicans and Jesuits tied for the most ordinations by a religious community this year with nine.

Since my daughter is a postulant with the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, I’ve very familiar with the vocation boom experienced by those sisters as well as by the Nashville Dominicans. However, I wasn’t aware that something similar is happening on the men’s side.

Along those lines, check out this video, courtesy of Creative Minority Report, concerning Dominican vocations in the St. Joseph province, where they had a staggering 21 young men enter novitiate last summer.

2011 Ordinations by the Numbers

This week the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops made public its annual survey of newly ordained priests, conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), a Georgetown University-based research center. The Class of 2011: Survey of Ordinands to the Priesthood surveys the men being ordained priests for U.S. dioceses and religious communities this year.

“One important trend evident in this study is the importance of lifelong formation and engagement in the Catholic faith,” said Archbishop Robert J. Carlson of St. Louis, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations.  “The role of the family, parish priest, friends, and youth ministry are evident in the results.”

Most of the findings weren’t all that surprising or noteworthy to me. However, there are three things that caught my attention:

(1) The new priests are a little younger. The average age of this year’s ordinands is 34. Not only that, but two-thirds of all the ordinands are 34 or younger. The religious order priests raise the average a little bit, as they also typically go through their postulancy and novitiate before beginning their seminary studies.

(2) Vocations come from larger families. Families with at least three kids are now considered “large families.” Seventy-seven percent of the new priests come from families with three or more children. In fact, 37% come from families with five or more children. It’s by no means a “cause and effect” thing, but the numbers here do not lie: Large, intact, faithful Catholic families provide the best possible soil for priestly and religious vocations.

(3) Websites help. Twenty three percent of all respondents to the survey said that their discernment was influenced by websites. Even more, 37% of religious order priests were so influenced. I realize this is a little self-serving, but the survey nonetheless suggests that vocation websites and blogs can be most helpful tools in fostering vocations.

For the complete report, click here.

The Road to Emmaus

Every year at Easter Wednesday Mass we hear St. Luke’s account of Our Lord’s appearance to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus.

This Gospel passage brings to mind the Eucharistic “amazement” that Pope John Paul II sought to rekindle in the faithful through his final encyclical letter, Ecclesia de Eucharistia: Continue reading The Road to Emmaus

Thank You, Fr. Mike!

The Franciscan University of Steubenville has announced that its chancellor and past president Father Michael Scanlan, T.O.R. will be retiring on June 30, 2011. As most of our readers know, Fr. Mike–with the powerful assistance of the Holy Spirit–was the driving force behind the incredible renewal of Franciscan University, making it an internationally recognized center of  “dynamic orthodoxy” in recent decades.

As a graduate theology student at Franciscan University in the 1990s, I’m personally grateful for Fr. Mike’s leadership and the friendship he showed me and so many other people who have stepped on the Steubenville campus.

While he deserves some well-deserved rest from his labor, I am sure he’s especially gratified that the torch has been successfully passed to Fr. Terence Henry, T.O.R. and the rest of the current administration. Catholic families are still able to count on the university’s fidelity to its Catholic–and Franciscan–principles.

For more, see this article, courtesy of Catholic News Agency.

How to Build God’s House

I just came across a story on Catholic News Service on Domus Dei, a company owned by the Sister Disciples of the Divine Master. With more than 30 artisans and specialists in architecture, mosaics, stained glass, sculpture and liturgical objects and furnishings under one roof, “[Domus Dei] can do a complete church from the building itself to the chalice on the altar.”

The company is especially busy these days, as many churches and communities are wanting statues as well as chapels and monuments to honor the soon-to-be-beatified John Paul II. Before that, they created the bronze statues for this year’s Stations of the Cross with the Holy Father in Rome.

What struck me Continue reading How to Build God’s House

Meditation for Good Friday

Here is a translation of the sermon delivered by Father Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M. Cap., preacher of the Pontifical Household, at the Good Friday liturgy in St. Peter’s Basilica in 2008.

* * *

“When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four shares, a share for each soldier. They also took his tunic, but the tunic was without seam, woven in one piece from the top down. So they said to one another, ‘Let’s not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it will be,’ in order that the passage of Scripture might be fulfilled that says: ‘They divided my garments among them, and for my vesture they cast lots'” (John 19:23-24).

It has always been asked what the evangelist John wanted to say with the importance that he gives to this particular detail of the Passion. One relatively recent explanation Continue reading Meditation for Good Friday

Spiritual Fatherhood

Today, as we celebrate Christ’s institution of the New Covenant priesthood at the Last Supper, I thought I would share with our readers this brief video on the spiritual fatherhood of priests by Dr. Scott Hahn and Fr. C. Eugene Morris.

This is just one of a host of engaging, vocation-related videos at the For Your Vocation website, an initiative of the United States Conference of the Catholic Bishops.

For further reading on the subject of priests as “fathers,” check out Scott Hahn’s article “The Paternal Order of Priests.”

A Blessed Affair

Pope Benedict presiding at 2010 beatification of Card. Newman

Only weeks before the beatification of Pope John Paul II, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints issued some new procedures for beatification ceremonies that will help distinguish them from canonizations, in which the Pope infallibly declares a Servant of God to be a “saint.”

During the first Christian millennium, the cult of martyrs and other holy men and women was regulated by local Church authorities. In the 11th century, however, the principle that as universal Pastor of the Church the Roman Pontiff alone has the authority to prescribe a public devotion began to gain prominence. With a Letter to the King and Bishops of Sweden, Alexander III asserted the Pope’s authority to confer the title of Saint and the relevant public cult. This norm became a universal law with Gregory IX in 1234.

In the 1300s, the Holy See began to authorize devotions limited to specific places and to certain Servants of God whose cause for canonization had not yet been initiated or had not yet reached its conclusion. This concession, with a view to future canonization, led to the preliminary stage known as beatification, in which a holy man or woman is declared a “Blessed.”

The Vatican document highlights the essential differences between a canonization and beatification: Continue reading A Blessed Affair

Uplifting Catholic News

Tired of all the bad news on TV and the Internet? If so, I have something just for you! Check out the following vocation-related stories from the past week:

Monastic Chic (St. Louis Today) EWTN’s Colleen Carroll Campbell reviews Of Gods and Men. A fascinating take on the appeal of movies about the monastic life.

Inspiration to teach came from English nuns, says Utah educator portrayed in Hallmark movie  (Intermountain Catholic)

Vietnamese nuns build a community in Houston (Houston Chronicle) Heartwarming story of group of sisters from the Mary Immaculate Province of the Vietnamese Dominican Sisters who, despite a devastating hurricane and fire, continue to provide preschool education to 1,500 low-income children.

After decades of struggle, Ohio priest overcomes stutter to celebrate Mass (The Republic)  Msgr. John Cody has served as a parish priest for 38 years and apparently now is an eloquent, confident homilist.

Students step forward to join Catholic Church  (Catholic Star Herald) Thirteen students from St. Mary Magdalen Regional School in Millville, New Jersey have entered the Church this academic year.

Free conference for pastors, religious, and communications office personnel  (Benedictine College) NFP Outreach Summer Institute to pastors, religious, lay leaders, and communications personnel to be held Wednesday, July 13, 2011, at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. Presenters include Archbishop Joseph Naumann, former National Catholic Register editor Tom Hoopes, and Fr. Matthew Habiger, O.S.B., among others.

The Priest who became the Pope’s secretary  (Sunday Catholic Weekly) Here’s what Msgr. Georg Ganswein, secretary to Pope Benedict, had to say about the role of his family in discovering his vocation:

“I am the oldest of five children. Our house did not differ much from other houses in the town. My parents, like my grandparents, were practicing Catholics, people of faith. So we were growing up in an atmosphere of faith and trust in God. We celebrated all ecclesiastical feasts with great internal and external involvement.”

Merry Chrism Mass!

On Holy Thursday, or more likely one day earlier this week, the bishop of each respective Catholic diocese throughout the world, in the company of his priests, will celebrate the Chrism Mass. This Mass typically takes place at the cathedral or some other central location that will accommodate a large number of concelebrants. At this Mass, the bishop blesses the oil of the sick, the oil of catechumens, and most notably the chrism that will be used throughout the diocese in the coming year.

Our family likes to attend this Mass when possible. Not only does it prepare us for the rest of the Holy Week liturgies, but it is a singularly beautiful manifestation of the local Church in all its splendor and richness.

If you are unable to attend this year, it still might be fruitful to privately contemplate some of the prayers and blessings used at this Mass. Just to give you a taste, here is just one of the forms of the consecratory prayer used in blessing the chrism:  Continue reading Merry Chrism Mass!