The New Media’s Effect on Vocations

At the 2011 National Meeting, Sr. Marysia Weber, R.S.M., a Religious Sister of Mercy, gave a very popular talk on the effect of the new forms of media on priestly and religious vocations.

Sister made the point that studies have shown that people today are more narcissistic, hardly a good foundation for religious life. There is also more of a blurring between fantasy and reality. One example was that of a youngish priest who spent hours on a social networking site after 11:00 pm each night. As a result, he was late for Mass, lost his prayer life, and could not fulfill his pastoral duties.

And how do people hear the voice of the Lord when they are glued to technology 24 hours a day? Can they really give it up for, say, monastic life?

“The internet is a useful tool, but it can be harmful if not used with discretion or excessively,” she said.

If you want a very thoughtful and insightful perspective on these questions and issues, please visit our website to order Sister’s talks. Three topics are covered: The Church and Electronic Media, Unanticipated Effects of Regular Internet Use, and The Interface of Virtual Reality with Actual Reality. They are available on CD and also in MP3 format.

Servants of Mary Visit Thomas Aquinas College

On Friday, April 20th, twenty members of the Servants of Mary, Ministers to the Sick, visited Thomas Aquinas College (TAC). In town for their annual provincial meeting, the sisters were given a tour of the campus and plan to return for a vocations talk to interested women in the fall. The Director of College Relations, Anne S. Forsyth, said that roughly 10% of Thomas Aquinas alumni enter the priesthood or religious life (Wow).

The Servants of Mary care for the dying and gravely sick in their own homes, at night, free of charge, in addition to their work with hospitals, orphanages, hospices and nursing homes. Their foundress was St. Maria Soledad, canonized in 1970 and they, along with TAC, are IRL Affiliates.

I pray that one of those young women who will hear the sisters speak later this year may have a vocation to their beautiful life and so needed charism.

The Attractiveness of Truth

When Pope Benedict XVI visited Great Britain in 2010, the Press had their pens poised to write stories about the dismal failure of his trip. You didn’t read any stores of the kind because guess what, it was a big success. The crowds were big (even in Protestant Scotland over 100,000 people lined the streets to wish him well) and the critics seemed to disappear in light of the outpouring of love for the Holy Father.

Now comes an article in The Times of London which indicates that the number of women entering religious orders has almost tripled since the Holy Father’s visit.

Laura Adshead, the former girlfriend of the current Prime Minister David Cameron,  entered Regina Laudis Abbey in the USA. A congregation in York, after years of no activity, has six solid inquiries. In another order, three women are entering their novitiate in the fall. Still another has had no novices for twelve years but now has one with two more coming.

Father Christopher Jamison, National Office for Vocation, said, “In the last few years, the number of people applying to seminaries has been gradually increasing and, in more recent years, just in the last couple of years, ever since the Papal visit, the number of women approaching women’s congregations has also been increasing.”

Also, 1 in 5 new vocations are converts. The Lord calls. And women are responding.

Tomb of St. Philip the Apostle Found

On May 2, Zenit conducted an interview with Professor Francesco D’Andria, director of the archaeological mission that located the tomb of St. Philip in Hierapolis, Phrygia (Turkey) in 2010/2011. The search was based upon a letter that Polycrates, the bishop of Ephesus, wrote to Pope Victor I (c. 190) stating that Philip “was one of the twelve Apostles and died in Hierapolis, as did two of his daughters who grew old in virginity.”

The discovery was the culmination of 50 years worth of archaeological work and strangely enough was confirmed by a bronze seal located in a museum in Richmond, Virginia which showed the complex of buildings then existing around St. Philip’s tomb. On the border of the seal is a phrase in Greek: Agios o Theos, agios ischyros, agios athanatos, eleison imas (Holy God, strong Holy One, immortal Holy One, have mercy on us).

It is very touching to see the evidence of the devotion of the pilgrims. The surface of a marble staircase leading to and from the tomb was “completely consumed by the steps of thousands upon thousands of people. Hence, the tomb received an extraordinary tribute of veneration.”

Read all the exciting details in the Zenit article.

Where Would We be Without EWTN?

I once told a priest from Germany that I thought that EWTN had saved Catholicism in America. He looked surprised and startled at my pronouncement.  But where on the TV waves was (and is)  authentic Catholicism being taught? How many Catholic and non-Catholic lives have been transformed through the network?

Congratulations to EWTN which celebrated its 25th anniversary on May 2, 2012.

“There is significance that Mother Angelica started EWTN to defend Jesus Christ, and we were founded on the feast of St. Athanasius, a doctor of the Church, defender of the divinity of Jesus Christ and the ‘Father of Orthodoxy,’” said Father Joseph Wolfe, MFVA, the first priest ordained for the new Public Clerical Association of the Faithful in 1993. “Mother Angelica wanted us to be a spiritual support for the television network.”  He uses the analogy that their cloistered nuns are to be the heart of the mission and the friars and EWTN are to be the voice of the mission.

Today, there are 17 Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word (MFVA) friars who are priests or brothers. Twelve are in perpetual profession. On June 2, two men will be ordained to the transitional deaconate and two to the priesthood, increasing MFVA priests’ numbers to seven.

May the friars continue to be true to the their motto: The lost I will seek out; the strays I will bring back  (Ezekiel 34:16).

Catholic Chaplains

Did you know that four Catholic chaplains have been awarded the US Medal of Honor? The one pictured to the right was  Fr.  Joseph T. O’Callahan, USNR, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism on board the USS Franklin (CV-13), off Japan on March 19, 1945. Seventy Catholic chaplains died during World War II.

I bring this up because Kansas politicians are petitioning to award of Fr. Emil Kapaun, a US Army Chaplain who died in a prisoner-of-war camp during the Korean War, a posthumous Congressional Medal of  Honor. On the Father Kapaun website it states: 

In the seven months in prison, Father Kapaun spent himself in heroic service to his fellow prisoners without regard for race, color or creed.  To this there is testimony of men of all faiths.  Ignoring his own ill health, he nursed the sick and wounded until a blood clot in his leg prevented his daily rounds.  Moved to a so-called hospital, but denied medical assistance, his death soon followed on May 23, 1951. 

The Diocese of Wichita officially opened the cause for his beatification on June 29, 2008.




St. Damian and Bl. Marianne Cope

Two weeks ago, at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, a three-foot statue of St. Damian of Molokai was blessed by Bishop Clarence Silva of Honolulu, Hawaii, while he was in Rome for his ad limina visit. A second copy, blessed by Pope Benedict XVI, will become part of the Vatican collections. The artist, Dale Zarrella, said that the sculpture portrays Saint Damian “surveying all the pain and suffering.” At his side is a child whose face is covered by a blanket, hiding the disfigurement caused by leprosy.

This is an exciting time for Hawaii. On October 21, 2012,  Bl. Marianne Cope will be canonized. As superior of the  Sisters of St. Francis in Syracuse, New York, Bl. Marianne was the only one who responded to the King of Hawaii’s appeal for sisters to come and help the leprosy patients. Neither she nor any of the other sisters ever contracted the dreaded disease.

In 1885, King Kalakaua gave her a medal in gratitude for the work she had done for the islanders. Robert Louis Stevenson honored her with a poetic tribute in 1889. After her death, her leprosy patients themselves raised money to erect a fitting statue in her honor over her burial place

Recruiting More Chaplains!

I have two nephews in the navy who have both been deployed to the Middle East and and now a nephew-in-law back in the same arena. In one case, they did not see a Catholic priest for 9 months!

Please pray for more priests who serve our young men and women in the military. It is a very  fertile vineyard for vocations. This prayer comes from  Bishop Richard Moth, Catholic Bishop of the Forces in the United Kingdom.


O Lord Jesus Christ, instill in the hearts of priests

the desire to dedicate their lives to you as chaplains to our Armed Services.

Give them wisdom and strength, to hear your call.

Give courage and compassion to those who serve you as Forces Chaplains.

May their hearts be filled with zeal and love of you so that your name may be better known and loved,

for you live and reign for ever and ever.


St. Joseph the Worker

Today, the Sisters of St. Joseph the Worker of Walton, Kentucky, will celebrate their patronal feast day. They have a special devotion to St. Joseph observing with joy all of his feast days and offering a special weekly votive mass in his honor.

The Sisters chose the title “Sisters of St. Joseph the Worker” because the Church had instituted the feast of St. Joseph the Worker just a few years before, in 1955, during the pontificate of Pius XII.

Their apostolate is prayer and through their union with Christ pours forth their ministry to the elderly and to children. At Taylor Manor, they prepare their residents for eternal life, upholding the dignity of human life and the unique witness the elderly have to offer. At St. Joseph Academy, they provide an authentically Catholic education for grades Preschool-8th, cultivating not only the intellectual well-being of their students, but their appreciation for and knowledge of the Catholic faith.

My Sisters, I exhort you to continuously recall God’s goodness to us, to take full responsibility for the holiness of the Church and the Community, by being ourselves holy.  Let us never rest on our laurels and feel that we have done enough in the pursuit of holiness.  We will have all eternity to rest and to realize that no hardship or sacrifice was too great to obtain the ‘pearl of great price.’” Mother Ellen Curran (d. 2008), Foundress