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Pope Addresses New York’s Bishops

Here at An Undivided Heart, we will be examining the statements of the Holy Father as he concludes his ad limina meetings with the U.S. bishops at the Vatican with an eye toward capturing the Pope’s thoughts on the subject of vocations.

Unlike the first ad limina address, Pope Benedict did not explicitly address the subject of vocations in his address to the bishops of region II, which includes the Catholic dioceses of New York.  However, he did discuss the need for re-evangelization and interior conversion, as well as the importance of engaging college students. Here are some excerpts from his address:

“[T]he seriousness of the challenges which the Church in America, under your leadership, is called to confront in the near future cannot be underestimated. The obstacles to Christian faith and practice raised by a secularized culture also affect the lives of believers, leading at times to that “quiet attrition” from the Church which you raised with me during my Pastoral Visit. Immersed in this culture, believers are daily beset by the objections, the troubling questions and the cynicism of a society which seems to have lost its roots, by a world in which the love of God has grown cold in so many hearts. Evangelization thus appears not simply a task to be undertaken ad extra; we ourselves are the first to need re-evangelization. As with all spiritual crises, whether of individuals or communities, we know that the ultimate answer can only be born of a searching, critical and ongoing self-assessment and conversion in the light of Christ’s truth. Only through such interior renewal will we be able to discern and meet the spiritual needs of our age with the ageless truth of the Gospel. . . .

“In the end, however, the renewal of the Church’s witness to the Gospel in your country is essentially linked to the recovery of a shared vision and sense of mission by the entire Catholic community. I know that this is a concern close to your own heart, as reflected in your efforts to encourage communication, discussion, and consistent witness at every level of the life of your local Churches. I think in particular of the importance of Catholic universities and the signs of a renewed sense of their ecclesial mission, as attested by the discussions marking the tenth anniversary of the Apostolic Constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae, and such inititiatives as the symposium recently held at Catholic University of America on the intellectual tasks of the new evangelization. Young people have a right to hear clearly the Church’s teaching and, most importantly, to be inspired by the coherence and beauty of the Christian message, so that they in turn can instill in their peers a deep love of Christ and his Church.

For the complete text, click here.

Vocations Awareness Day

On October 14, 2011, Franciscan University of Steubenville will host nearly 100 national and international religious communities and dioceses at its annual Religious Vocations Awareness Day, the largest vocations fair in the country.

“Vocation Awareness Day is a great time to connect with Catholics from different traditions and to see the many ways it is possible to follow Jesus,” says Father Rick Martignetti, O.F.M., director of Franciscan University’s Priestly Discernment Program. “Our students always find it inspiring to participate and the vocation directors are renewed by witnessing the active faith life on our campus.”

Religious Vocations Awareness Day will take place in Finnegan Fieldhouse from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. It features religious orders from eight major spiritualities, including Franciscan, Benedictine, Ignatian, Salesian, and Carmelite. Among the many dioceses to be represented are Arlington, Chicago, New York, Greensburg, Pittsburgh, and Wheeling-Charleston. Some vocation directors will come from as far away as Spain and Canada.

Attendees can stroll among the displays while learning more about the charism and apostolic mission of each order.

For more information, contact the Priestly Discernment Program at 740-283-6495 or e-mail vocationsday@franciscan.edu.

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.

Steubenville Vocations

Terry Mattingly, author of the syndicated “On Religion” column for the Scripps Howard News Service, posted an interesting piece last week entitled, “Future nuns, priests face big questions.”

By “big questions,” Mattingly is really talking about the perennial questions surrounding the discernment of one’s vocation, but with the added complications of today’s landscape, including the dramatic decline (and graying) of religious vocations in America in recent decades.

The primary focus of the piece, however, concerns the response to these “big questions” by students at Franciscan University of Steubenville, where vocations have been flourishing. For example, Mattingly points out that the Priestly Formation Program on campus has produced 400 priests (with many more still in formation) over the past 25 years.

He also mentions that “many of America’s 244 Catholic colleges and universities offer similar programs.” Of course, if there were 244 Steubenvilles, we wouldn’t be wondering about tomorrow’s vocations (except maybe about where to put them all!). As it is, very few colleges have fostered vocations the way Franciscan University has.

Mattingly gives several reasons why Franciscan University enjoys such success. Clearly the vibrancy, or what the school at times calls its “dynamic orthodoxy,” is very attractive.

Yet, I think Fr. Richard Davis, T.O.R., whom Mattingly quotes in the article, does well to stress the fact that there are three male and four female religious orders that maintain houses near the campus. Fr. Davis also pointed out that many other orders regularly send younger members to visit the campus or study there.

“Our students are very sensitive to this,” said Davis. “New styles of habits and robes keep appearing here all the time. The students see that and it makes them curious. . . . This campus produces a large number of priests, but I believe even more of our young women become sisters and nuns.”

Click here for more information on this summer’s youth conferences sponsored by Franciscan University of Steubenville.