Building the Church on–and in–the “Rock”

architectural drawing of new House of Formation in Little Rock

The former convent at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Little Rock, Arkansas will once again be a place to support religious vocations.

Last month, Bishop Anthony B. Taylor announced that the Diocese of Little Rock will be establishing a new House of Formation for current and potential seminarians at the Sisters of Mercy convent, which was used for religious education classes and parish offices until 2009. Msgr. Scott Friend, vocations director, said the house, slated to open next year, will have bedrooms for ten seminarians or discerners, two priest apartments, kitchen, meeting room/library, dining room, common area and chapel.
He also said that the House of Formation will have a constant presence in the lives of Catholics in the area, especially at Good Counsel. Instead of being photographs on a vocations poster, the men will be present at parish and diocesan events. He said this will help continue to foster a “culture of vocations” in Little Rock.

Fr. Neuhaus and the Priestly Vocation

Fr. Raymond de Souza offered a fitting tribute to the late Fr. Richard Neuhaus at the First Things blog in honor of the 20th anniversary of Fr. Neuhaus’ ordination as a Catholic priest. His ordination took place at St. Joseph Seminary in Dunwoodie in 1991, a year after his reception into full communion with the Catholic Church.

Fr. de Souza noted that Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York was present at Dunwoodie on the eve of the anniversary to kick off the new academic year, and he drew lessons from Fr. Neuhaus’ remarkable life.

“Few of you will have a life as public at Father Neuhaus had,” Archbishop Dolan said. “But we can all learn from him. The key to his life as a Christian disciple was that he always did his prayers in the morning before reading The New York Times. Prayer before penance, he would say!”

Fr. Neuhaus understood that holiness is an urgent matter for all. Therefore, he stressed that seminary and the priesthood ought to be a pilgrimage toward holiness. The long road of fidelity—of holiness—begins now. Father Neuhaus was fond of saying that the solution to our crises in the Church is fidelity, fidelity, fidelity!

Our first response to the spiritual and moral crises of our time must be our daily pursuit of holiness.

Light of the Nations

This Saturday, September 17, 2011, the Institute on Religious Life is pleased to present a day of recollection for priests, religious, and laity at the Marytown Retreat and Conference Center in Libertyville, IL.

The theme for the day of recollection is “Light of the Nations: The Specific Role of Consecrated Religious in the Life and Mission of the Church.”

Fr. Brian Mullady, O.P. will offer reflections on Vatican II’s rich yet often misunderstood teachings on consecrated life. He will show that Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium) provides the blueprint for the authentic renewal of the Church in general, and of consecrated life in particular.

Only by closely studying and then putting into practice these teachings can consecrated men and women learn to embrace a life of perfect charity after the manner in which Christ practiced it, and thereby allow themselves to serve as eschatological witnesses of the kingdom.

Fr. Mullady is a nationally known Dominican priest, retreat master, and spiritual director, and he serves as the theological consultant to the Institute on Religious Life. Father also teaches at Holy Apostles Seminary, writes for Homiletic and Pastoral Review and Religious Life magazines, and frequently appears on Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN).

To register for the event, or for more information, click here.

Missionaries Find Faith in Vietnam

The September 9, 2011 edition of the Rhode Island Catholic included this uplifting article about Greenville, RI pastor Fr. Francis Santilli and one of his parishioners, Donald Turbitt, who just returned from a missionary trip to Vietnam.

The mission trip was coordinated by Turbitt, the Vietnam coordinator for Renewal Ministries, Inc., an Indiana-based international nonprofit dedicated to fostering renewal and evangelization in the Catholic Church in 25 countries throughout the world.

Father Santilli and Mr. Turbitt were able to minister to seminarians as well as families during their visit, where they found a real hunger for the faith despite government opposition. They also visited convents belonging to the Lovers of the Holy Cross, a community of religious sisters dedicated to working with the poor, handicapped, and children.

The missionaries were even blessed to attend the final profession of eleven sisters during an early morning Mass in Phat Diem.

“Families are deeply honored if one of their children is in religious life or the priesthood,” Father Santilli noted. He added that the church is the “center of life” for the faithful in Vietnam.

Vocation, Anyone?

The New York Times recently ran a feature article on Fr. Paul Arinze, a Nigerian-born priest who serves as vocation director for the Diocese of Madison. In his “spare time,” Fr. Paul serves is a tennis umpire who has worked at Wimbledon and, most recently, at the U.S. Open.

He doesn’t seem to be neglecting his “day job,” though. Madison projects that it will ordain 26 men between 2012 and 2019, and the diocese is welcoming a record ten seminarians for the 2011-12 academic year.

New Video on French Religious Foundress Highlights Virtue in the Face of Family Difficulties

At the age of 28, Jane de Chantal, a French noblewoman, was faced with the difficult task of getting beyond her husband’s accidental death and raising five children. Beyond that, she was compelled to live at her father-in-law’s estate and  put up with his irritations.

A very devout woman, she then met St. Francis de Sales and the two formed a lifelong friendship. Francis confided to Jane his desire to found a religious order that would be welcoming to women who seek a deep relationship with God, but who for one reason or another could not live with the physical rigors of traditional religious life.

In 1610, the two officially established the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary. Before she died, St. Jane de Chantal founded 86 houses of the Visitation.

All of this is recounted in a new video on the life of St. Jane de Chantal, which has been viewed over two thousand times on Gloria.TV in the first week of its debut.

The video was produced by for the Second Federation of the Visitation in the United States and is featured on the website

Canons Regular of St. Augustine

Check out this exclusive interview with Fr. Elias Carr, Fr. Daniel Nash, and Fr. Bruno Semple of the Canons Regular of St. Augustine, courtesy of Catholic Lane.

These priests have just established a new American foundation: the Canonry of St. Leopold, in Long Island, New York. Click here for the second part of the interview and for more information on supporting their mission. You may also check them out on Facebook.

The canons’ blending of community life with diocesan ministry offers new possibilities for U.S.-based priests.

New Video on Redeeming Medieval Captives Goes Viral

Offering one’s life in exchange for another Christian whose faith is in danger is certainly a noble cause. Maybe that’s why a new video on the history of a men’s order founded to do just that is attracting so much attention.

The nine-minute video, “Redeeming Medieval Captives–The Story of The Order of Mercy,” has gone viral on the Catholic video website Gloria.TV, with more than 2,000 views this week.

The nine-minute video explains the origins of the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy, complete with period paintings and drawings depicting 13th century ships, ancient drawings of men captured by Muslims, as well as prayerful modern-day Mercedarian friars.

Quoting the Mercedarians’ official historical record, the video says, “The real risk of captivity for a Christian captive in the power of the Saracens was the danger of renouncing the true faith. . . . The very circumstances of captivity were a real, ongoing and serious temptation for Christians whose faith was not very strong.”

Find out what experience motivated St. Peter Nolasco to found the Order by viewing the video and visiting the  Order of Mercy site.

On the Road Again

The “Running Nuns” of St. Charles Children’s Home in Rochester, New Hampshire are holding their 15th Annual Labor Day 5k Road Race this Labor Day.

The road race fundraiser has helped the sisters provide hundreds of children with the guidance, therapy, and love they need to prepare them for life with new families. All proceeds of the road race go to benefit the children at the St. Charles Children’s Home.

Prayer Intentions

Let’s once again unite our prayers this month with those of Pope Benedict XVI. Here are the Holy Father’s intentions for September 2011, as published by the Apostleship of Prayer:

  • Teachers. That all teachers may know how to communicate the love of truth and instill authentic moral and spiritual values.
  • Church in Asia. That the Christian communities of Asia may proclaim the Gospel with fervor, witnessing to its beauty with the joy of faith.

In addition, as we approach the tenth anniversary of 9/11 this month, may we also pray for a new outpouring of healing, mercy, and peace throughout the world. Check out the USCCB website for resources for parish and diocesan observances of the anniversary.