The Only Vocation I Could Be Satisfied With

fr walkerOn the night of June 11, 2014, Fr. Kenneth Walker, FSSP, age 28, was shot to death in an apparent robbery attempt in his own rectory at Mater Misericordiae Mission in Phoenix, Arizona. The pastor, Fr.  Joseph Terra, FSSP, was severely beaten but thanks be to God, survived the attack.

According to the Vicar General of the Phoenix diocese, Fr. Terra was able to administer the Last Rites to Father Walker. Father Walker’s sister Sasha said that her family is able to smile through their tears because “he had Last Rites, and it gives us so much peace knowing that he was able to have those special graces.”

Who was Father Walker? He was ordained just 2 years ago by His Excellency Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz. Parishoners described Father Walker as a “sweet, gentle man,” “a young bright face almost angelic disposition” with “complete faithfulness to the Church.” The two priests at the Mission were often seen sitting on either side of the altar chanting Latin prayers. They prayed outside abortion clinics every week.

Both Fr. Walker and Fr. Terra were “incredibly devout and focused on their mission as priests of the Church.”

Fr. Walker was born in Poughkeepsie, New York, one of 11 children.His family’s life changed when they came across a book entitled, The Incredible Catholic Mass, which introduced them for the first time to the Latin Mass. On his own initiative, Father taught himself Latin and became an altar server at an FSSP apostolate in Scranton, PA. He attended Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy in Ontario and then entered the FSSP seminary.

The Superior General of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, Very Rev. John Berg, said:

“In an age where we seem so centered upon ‘clerical stars’ and are constantly searching for the ‘newest approach to evangelization,’ the life of our confrere gave witness to one of the greatest priestly virtues, a quiet and consistent strength, which is a mark of the Good Shepherd who watches vigilantly over His flock in season and out of season.”

We should appropriately end with Father Walker’s own words, written on his FSSP application:

God, in His infinite love, desires all men to be saved and so achieve their true end. Along with the Church, then, I am deeply grieved by these errors concerning the nature and dignity of man accepted by so many people in the world, which deviate them from their supernatural end. In full view of the situation in the world, then, the only vocation that I could be satisfied with, as a work, would be one that would be dedicated to bringing people to salvation in whatever way God wills for me to do so.

Mater Misericordiae, Ora pro nobis

Requiescat in Pace, dear Father.



Autobiography of a Hunted Priest

gerardI recently finished reading The Autobiography of a Hunted Priest by Fr. John Gerard, SJ, (Ignatius Press) and happily came across an article in Crisis Magazine that reinforced my opinion that this is one fine book!

John Gerard was ordained a Jesuit priest during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603). During her governance, 87 Catholic priests were executed for treason for not submitting to the Act of Supremacy which declared her head of the Church of England.

Fr. Gerard spent his early priestly years ministering to the remnant of Catholics who remained faithful to the Church in England, hiding in “priest-holes” which devout Catholics built into their stately homes to safeguard the  priests who administered the sacraments to them. John won many converts but was ultimately betrayed by a traitor in one of the households and was subjected to brutal tortures before he finally escaped and then left England for good.

When Fr. James Schall, SJ, first heard about Fr. Gerard, he thought it an interesting adventure story but surely one that could not happen in this country. Now he is not so certain. Practicing Catholics were pursued relentlessly in Elizabethan England and is it so different today?

One of the interesting sidebars in the book is a brief mention of Mary Lady Lovel, a pious woman who devoted her life to good works, gave money to the Jesuits and in Antwerp founded (as benefactress) the first English Carmelite monastery. Young English women throughout the ensuing decades fled to Belgium to take up religious life. It was only at the end of the 18th century that the Carmelites could return home and establish the first English Carmelite monastery on English soil at Lanherne in Cornwall.

lanherneEleven Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate now occupy the monastery, the Carmelites having left the site in 2001. Here, St. Cuthbert Mayne celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (using the altar which is  now in their small choir) and ministered to the faithful. A friend of St. Edmund Campion, St. Cuthbert was  martyred in 1577. For more information on this holy site, please visit Friends of Lanherne. 

Through the intercession of the English martyrs, may God bless England with many holy vocations.


Bl. Paul Giustiniani, Son of Romuald

Remembering today the Camaldolese Monks of Monte Corona of Holy Family Hermitage in Bloomingdale, Ohio, on this Feast Day of St. Romuald. The Monte Corona monks were founded as a Camaldolese reform by Bl. Paul Giustiniani in 1520. The Camaldolese themselves were founded by St. Romuald in 1023. Pray for holy vocations for these dedicated men of God.

Bl. Paul and St. Romuald
Bl. Paul and St. Romuald

O God, Who chose St. Romuald to renew the eremitic life in Your Church, 

give us the strength to  deny ourselves in order to follow Christ in the way of the Cross

and to go up with Him into the glory of Your reign.

Through Jesus  Christ Your Son, Who is God and Who live and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, world without end.


The above picture can be purchased from the monks in Ohio.

Vocational Discernment at Mater Redemptoris

mater redOne of the biggest obstacles a young woman faces as she discerns a religious vocation is finding wise spiritual guidance along the way. The other  factor preventing a flourishing of vocations is the sad truth that most young girls have never seen much less talked to a sister.

Fortunately, in the IRL’s backyard there is a wonderful apostolate whose mission is to assist young women to discern a call to the religious life. Called Mater Redemptoris, the goal of all of the programs is to promote understanding of religious life in the Church and to assist girls and women to find God’s particular call for their lives. It is a joint project with the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George and the Diocese but it is open to women outside the diocese.

They offer long-term live-in opportunities, spiritual mentoring, retreats, and vocational talks. They just completed a vocational pilgrimage where women and their chaperones visited Catholic shrines and religious communities in the Eastern U.S. (It was so popular there was a waiting list!)

For high school girls, there are summer immersion programs (June 22-28 & July 6-12) where they will get a closer look at religious life.

For girls aged 9 – 13, a retreat (July 1-2) gives them an opportunity to interact with the Sisters and to begin learning about religious life.

Private retreats are available for adult women.

What a fabulous resource for young women! Check out their website and blog!

Only a Passionist Vocation WIll Do

cp imageFr. Jude Mead, CP, was a noted author, teacher, retreat master and dear friend of the IRL. He suddenly in 1992 just as he was preparing to attend, once again as Dean, the IRL’s summer school for religious. When he celebrated his Golden Anniversary as a priest, he had these beautiful words to share about his vocation:

If I could be sixteen again I would do exactly as I have done all over again and still savour every moment of it. I always wanted to be a priest. Once I met the Passionists, only the Passionist vocation would do. So when I turn up my toes, still rejoicing in all I have received, I hope another young man will step into my battered sandals, able to enjoy, as I have relished, all the moments of these past fifty years. For what little I have given, for the much I have received, for whatever is to come, I thank the One and Only God. Fr. Jude Mead, CP (1919-1992)

The Passionsist were founded by St. Paul of the Cross in Italy in. The mission of the Passionist men and women is to keep alive in the world the love of Jesus Crucified. For more information, please visit one of their websites.

Fr. Hardon 100th Birthday Memorial Mass

hardonAll are invited to a Memorial Mass and Reception to celebrate the 100th birthday of Servant of God, Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ, and the 67th anniversary of his ordination.Yes, he was ordained on his birthday. It seems he was ordained at the same time of day that he was born into the world, according to his Mother!

The event will take place at the Colombiere Retreat Center in Clarkston, Michigan on June 18th, 2014, at 7:00 pm.

Fr. Hardon, who died in 2000, packed an enormous amount of work into his long life. He never wasted a minute. If he wasn’t writing or teaching or administering the sacraments, he was praying.

In the name of God, I beg you, with all my being, to pray.

Pray every day to our Lord. Pray for priests.

Pray that priests may be priests not only in name, but in reality.

What is a real priest? A real priest is one who loves Jesus crucified.

A real priest is one who loves nothing more — and I mean every syllable — who loves nothing more than to suffer out of love for Jesus, who ordained him.

A real priest is a living martyr. Pray for priests.

D-Day Chaplain Remembered

fr ignatrius
Franciscan Friars Albert Scherer, left, and James McCurry unveil a memorial at Father Ignatius’ grave in Mater Dolorosa Cemetery.

Last week, on June 6th, the Western World remembered all of the soldiers who lost their lives on the D-Day beaches of Normandy, France, in 1944. On this 70th anniversary, one man was remembered in particular, Fr.Ignatius Maternowski, OFM Conv. Fr. Ignatius is believed to be the only Catholic chaplain who was killed on the day of the Allied landings.

Father parachuted in with members of the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division. Father landed safely near Guetteville and sought out a place where the injured could be treated. He then crossed enemy lines to seek out his German counterpart to see if he could set up a common hospital. Clearly displaying his red cross arm band and chaplain insignia, he was nonetheless shot in the back by a German sniper. He was 32 years old.

Father’s body lay where he was shot for 3 days until the Allies could move in. His body was buried in a cemetery near Utah Beach. Later, his  remains were exhumed and reburied in the Franciscans’ Mater Dolorosa Cemetery in South Hadley, Massachusetts. Father was a Holyoke native.

fr igantius“His quiet heroism is the stuff of legend,” said Conventual Franciscan Father James McCurry, minister provincial of Our Lady of Angels province. He exemplified “goodness and self-sacrifice above the call of duty.”

Fr. McCurry was present in Normandy during the ceremonies and told the people of Guetteville, “I stand here today on this hallowed ground, in my role as Father Ignatius’s next of kin – his Franciscan brother. Permit me to thank the good people of Guetteville and Picauville for the loving attention that you continue to show to his memory.”

The marker on his grave reads: “No Greater Love.”

A Family Affair – The Ordinations at St. John Cantius

sjcOn May 27th, 2014, three young men of the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius were ordained priests at St. John Cantius Church in Chicago. Fr. Joshua Caswell, Fr. Nathan Caswell, and Fr. Kevin Mann (read his vocation story) became priests of the Roman Catholic Church at the hands Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I., through the power of the Holy Spirit.

This is a family story par exellence because the Caswells, Fr. Joshua and Fr. Nathan, are blood brothers, while their sister, Sr. Mary Judith, OP, is a member of the community of the Dominican sjcopSisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist! How proud their parents must be!!

Visiting Chicago and sightseeing among the architectural wonders is a great thing to do but don’t miss out on the churches! One such gem is St. John Cantius, rescued from dilapidation and dedicated to St. John Cantius. (Also known as St. John of Kenty or Kanty or Kanti).

Pope John Paul II had a great devotion to this Polish saint (1390-1472) who was born 13 miles from his birthplace. Pope Clement XII  named St. John Cantius the patron of Poland and Lithuania in 1737.

From the SJC website:

Designed by Adolphus Druiding and completed in 1898, St. John Cantius Church took five years to build and is one of the best examples of sacred architecture in the city. The unique baroque interior has remained intact for more than a century and is known for both its opulence and grand scale—reminiscent of the sumptuous art and architecture of 18th century Krakow. The imposing 130 ft. tower is readily seen from the nearby Kennedy Expressway. In 2012, St. John’s completed an ambitious restoration, returning the lavish interior to its original splendor.

Truly, it is a heavenly marvel bearing good fruits!

Now I Begin Again

Jeremy-Paulin4How many men have found their vocation in a McDonald’s? That’s not quite the way it happened for Fr. Jeremy Paulin, OMV, but it was a fortuitous meeting with a OMV seminarian in the fast-food emporium that prompted him to pay a visit to the Order in which he would find his home.

In a beautiful article in The Catholic World Report, Father talked about his vocation and the mission of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary (OMV).

Several points struck home with me.

First, his family upbringing. He was the eighth of ten children and his diligent Father threw out the family TV.  Funny how the more channels there are on television, the less there is to watch. His parents also took him out of the public school because they were concerned about what was being taught. Obviously, they were not concerned about winning a popularity contest at home! Strange how parents seem smarter the older we get!

Secondly, the OMVs. If you are looking to do the Spiritual Exercises, a must for any serious Catholic, go on an OMV retreat. Their founder, Ven. Bruno Lanteri, was taught the spiritual exercises by a Jesuit and concluded that doing the Spiritual Exercises is an excellent way for a nunc coepiperson to become a great saint.

A new biography of this holy man called called Begin Again by Fr. Timothy Gallagher, OMV, is now available. The Oblates’ founder had a favorite saying: Nunc Coepi, “Now I begin.” It is the perfect motto for a community that tries to bring people to understand God’s love for them and His mercy, especially through the sacrament of Reconciliation.

Finally, if you are a young man or know of one who is seriously discerning a vocation, direct him to the OMVs. They are a small order (200 men) but growing. They have 75 men in formation! They teach, offer parish missions and retreats, and spiritually support diocesan clergy.  They are also known for their orthodoxy and fidelity to the Holy Father and the Church.

Donning the Veil Again

Sr-Winifred-LyonsThis is a story of a Sister of Charity who donned the veil again.

She professed her first vows in 1964, donned the habit and tried throughout the years to unite herself to Jesus Christ on the Cross.

Then came the late 60’s and 70’s when so much was questioned: the daily schedules, the authority structures, common prayer and in particular the wearing of the habit. In her own words, this is how the habit was jettisoned.

I would like to say that it was after much prayer that I decided to go into secular clothes. However, I always sensed that my decision was nothing short of caving in to peer pressure and the times….Once I did I responded as any healthy woman would. I loved to dress up and I loved to dress down. I even went so far as to have my ears pierced and my hair dyed. I embraced it all.

While on retreat in the summer of 1995, she was led to a greater understanding of the gift of the Eucharist and a desire to intensify the union of her will with the will of God.  A wise sister wrote to her and said, “Just don’t get in His way.”

Then in the Fall of 1995, Pope John Paul II came to town and sister was never the same again. She was able to shake his hand and felt holiness pass through her body and into her soul. When she left the Cathedral, she told a friend that she was going to return to the wearing of the veil. “The words were not mine. I knew in an instant that this was what God was asking me to do.”

She privately donned the veil on Christmas, her birthday, and officially did so on the feast of her foundress, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, January 4th. As she looked at her veiled image in the mirror, she was shocked. She saw the image of herself as she had looked 23 years earlier.

Being greeted on the street was something I had totally forgotten. Moreover, the witness value has overwhelmed me: I know I cause others to think about God, if only for a few seconds, and I realize afresh the public dimension of the consecrated life and the hunger there is for it in this world.

When she first put on the veil she was frightened, terrified at what God was going to ask of her. Her sister told her that she would never really know God’s plan until she really trusted Him. So once again, she turned her life over to Him.

I am no longer afraid. In fact, I feel fearless….He sent His spirit into this consecrated heart and all I can continue to say is Fiat.


This story appeared in the November 1997 issue of Religious Life. It originally appeared in the summer 1996 issue of Come Follow Me: A Newsletter of Spirituality for Sister and Brother Religious. In 2011, Sister celebrated her Golden Jubilee as a Sister of Charity. God bless her for her faithfulness and her pro-life work.