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Here are some interesting vocation-related stories I came across last week, in case you missed them:
Catholic Sisters and the American Civil War (Patheos) Dr. Pat McNamara remembers the Catholic religious sisters who served the sick and wounded during the Civil War.
Catholic nun’s gift to blind students (The Standard) Sr. Catherine works to provide textbooks in Braille for visually impaired students in Zimbabwe.
Quiet revolution: New research spotlights role of black Catholic nuns in desegregation (The Commercial Appeal) Doctoral student Shannen Williams brings to light the fascinating history of black Catholic nuns in 20th-century America.
Monks lay foundations where Jesus fed thousands (Scottish Catholic Observer) A Benedictine community living at an important biblical site in the Holy Land will be leaving their earthquake-prone monastery for a new home with help from Aid to the Church in Need.
Famed Kentucky abbey part of Trappists’ effort to promote vocations (Catholic News Service) The home of renowned Trappist monk Thomas Merton is joining forces with other Trappist communities to promote monastic vocations on a broader scale.
Twin friars die on same day of heart failure at age 92 (MSNBC) These brothers stuck together in every way!
Some interesting vocation news items from this past week:
Founder of Vocationists is beatified (Zenit) Don Justino Russolillo formed “a religious family dedicated wholly to the formation and education of vocations to the ecclesiastical-religious state.”
African bishops say they need help forming flourishing vocations (Catholic News Service) We are well aware of the fact that vocations are flourishing in Africa, but they do have a “shortage” when it comes to having people qualified to form them. The African bishops have invited U.S. seminary professors to come teach in Africa. They also would like to send more seminarians to the United States, where some could remain for awhile after graduation, while others would return to Africa to teach.
Fr. Clemente Vismara, “Patriarch of Burma” to be declared blessed (Asia News) This new blessed was a missionary who lived for 64 years in the forests and mountains of Kentung.
KC young adult ministry offers many opportunities to deepen faith (Catholic News Agency/Catholic Key) Kansas City is known not only as the home of world-class barbecue and the AFC West champion Chiefs, but also for its fantastic outreaches to young adults that are making a difference for the good. Examples include City on a Hill, Catholic Challenge Sports, Theology on Tap, Tuesdays at the Boulevard, Reservoir (monthly holy hour for young adults), and Band of Brothers.
Opus Dei: The Good, the Bad, and the Albino (NCRegister blog) Interesting discussion of real-life experiences (as opposed to Da Vinci Code-type caricatures) of Opus Dei, one of the most intriguing organizations in the Church today. By way of full disclosure, while not a member or “cooperator” of Opus Dei, I have benefited greatly from their ministry and everyone I know who is actively involved with it strives the best he or she can to be a faithful Catholic. Can’t ask for much more than that.
Relic of “Blessed” nun to return to Hawaii (Wall Street Journal) This week we celebrated the feast of St. Damien of Molokai, the “Leper Priest.” What many people don’t know is that shortly before his death Mother Marianne Cope and other Franciscan Sisters of Syracuse came to carry on his amazing work in the leper colony. Mother Cope herself was beatified just a couple years ago.
Preserving a way of life (Worcester Telegram) I suppose even Trappists have to make ends meet!
Catholic priest nominated as chaplain of the House of Representatives (Washington Post) Jesuit Father Patrick J. Conroy was recently named to succeed another Catholic chaplain for the House, Fr. Daniel P. Coughlin. What seemed to be a non-partisan process got a little ugly, as Rep. Nancy Pelosi (a Catholic) and others opposed Fr. Conroy’s nomination for a time because his community has paid out a large sex abuse settlement. (Never mind that Fr. Conroy was not personally involved in the activity or any alleged “cover up” and in fact blew the whistle on one of the offending priests!) The issues have been resolved, however, and his nomination now looks secure. One does wonder how Fr. Conroy’s nomination can be opposed on moral grounds by the same people who are actively opposing efforts to cut government subsidies for Planned Parenthood. Mother of God, pray for us!
The Mother of God is the defender of orthodoxy (Catholic Online) Short, well-written article on Mary’s vocation as “Theotokos” by Fr. Dwight Longenecker.
Some interesting vocation-related stories and articles I’ve come across this past week:
Archbishop Dolan on John Paul II priests (Catholic Education Resource Center) The Archbishop and former seminary rector reflects on how Blessed John Paul II inspired an entire generation of bishops, priests, and seminarians.
Sister finds calling for those in need at hospital (St. Petersburg Times) Franciscan sister discerns religious vocation following the 9/11 tragedy.
Baseball’s religious followers (Albany Times Union) Talking baseball with three N.Y. Yankee fans who happen to be Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet.
Vocation to priesthood a life, not a job (Catholic Globe/CNS) Detroit-area priest shares his story, stressing that prayer is the “lifeblood” of priests.
Rally encourages students to listen to God (Catholic Sentinel) “We need people to create a culture of vocations so young people can at least think about it,” says Jim O’Hanlon, who with his wife Terry helped to organize the event. “God will call them, but they need to be able to respond.”
And closer to home, the Topeka Serra Club announced the winners of its vocation essay contest.
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:
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.”
I’ve come across many news stories this past week that relate to the subject of vocations. Here is a sampling:
Nuns say relatives often discourage them from taking religious vows (Religion News Service) We treated this topic in previous posts, especially this one, but author provides interesting commentary.
Sixteenth annual Eucharistic Congress in Atlanta to focus on vocations, including vocations to married life (Georgia Bulletin) I was happy to see that this annual mega-conference is still going strong, and that this year’s event will focus on vocations.
Serrans pilot “Catholic Connection” program in Sioux City (The Catholic Globe) The idea behind this program is to help Catholic students remain connected with the Church as they go off to college. Studies show that young Catholics who practice their faith in college are more likely to attend Mass more often after graduation, become leaders in their parishes, and consider a religious vocation.
Benedict XVI: Priesthood Is a Vocation, Not a Job (Zenit, Catholic Online) Pope Benedict’s reflections on the happy occasion of the 60th anniversary of his ordination.
Transition of leadership in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles (Catholic News Service/St. Louis Review) Archbishop Gomez identifies the promotion of vocations to the priesthood and religious life as one of his “five basic priorities” as he takes the reins in Los Angeles.
From Frat Boy to Priest: A Vocation Story (www.tampabay.com) The story of Fr. David Toups, a dynamic, young priest in Florida. I was drawn to his “survival guide” for parish priests and his refreshing emphasis on the spiritual life.
Courageous religious sisters continue mission in Japan (Catholic News Agency) Uplifting piece on the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception.
Catholic News Agency launches new online resource to affirm men in lay vocations “Catholic Men” column launched this week to strengthen men in their commitments to marriage, fatherhood, and the single life.
Sisters kick off year 125 in Oregon (Catholic Sentinel) I don’t know anything about this community, but I wish them another 125 years of faithful service in the Pacific Northwest. And the young nun in the accompanying photo looks very cheerful and fulfilled.
Bishop Aquila’s keynote address at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary (Diocese of Fargo) Text of excellent, at times hard-hitting talk given on March 18th at the 10th Annual Symposium on the Spirituality and Identity of the Diocesan Priest in Philadelphia, PA. The symposium was co-sponsored by The Institute for Priestly Formation.
Bishop Aquila discussed four ways to develop receptive hearts in seminarians to prepare them to exercise the authority of Christ: practicing lectio divina, focusing on “the school of Nazareth,” regularly celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and having “a deep love for the daily celebration of the Eucharist.” He told the seminarians in attendance, “In the Eucharist we learn to lay down our lives with Jesus and offer them to the Father.”
And of course, Archbishop Dolan on 60 Minutes (CBS) I thought readers might want to view this, as the show aired during the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. (Go Jayhawks!) The program portrayed Archbishop Dolan as a force to be reckoned with in the Catholic Church, as he deftly responded to all the tough questions about the sex-abuse crisis and the influence of the Church in secular society.