Monday, June 24, 2013

Candidacy of Kevin Leaver and Michael Zimmerman

Kevin Leaver and Michael Zimmerman received Candidacy to Holy Orders from Cardinal O'Malley this evening, prior to their departure for the North American College in the next few weeks.  We were pleased to celebrate over dinner with their families immediately after the ceremony in the presence of three of His Eminence's Capuchin confreres.  Steve Poirier played his violin and all present shared great stories.   

Cardinal O’Malley:
Beloved sons, the pastors and teachers in charge of your formation, and others who know you, have given a favorable account of you, and we have full confidence in their testimony. In response to the Lord’s call, do you resolve to complete your preparation so that in due time through Holy Orders you will be prepared to assume ministry within the Church?
Aspirants: I do.

Cardinal O’Malley:
Do you resolve to prepare yourselves in mind and spirit to give faithful service to Christ the Lord and his Body, the Church?
Aspirants: I do.

Cardinal O’Malley:
The Church accepts your resolve with joy. May God who has begun the good work in you bring it to fulfillment.
All: Amen.

Josh and Michael in Costa Rica!

Josh Wilbur and Michael Lynch have just completed the first week of their Spanish studies in Costa Rica, with five more weeks to go!  Josh writes: "Things are going great.  On top of learning the language, this has also been a wonderful opportunity to experience a different culture, and most especially get a glimpse into the Church of Latin America."

Please keep Josh and Michael and all our Seminarians in your prayers as they work in parishes, study languages and visit foreign lands!

"This is the Iglesia de Santa Teresita in San Jose, where we attended Mass last Sunday."

The Basilica of Our Lady of Los Angeles in Cartago.

Josh writes: "Here are some pictures from our visit to Volcan Irazú, which is a dormant (for now) volcano at over 9,000 feet above sea level.  We were feeling pretty light-headed at the top!"

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Congratulations OLP Class of 1958!

I was honored to celebrate Mass this evening with the Class of 1958 of Our Lady of the Presentation Academy.  Now that OLP Campus is a part of Saint John's Seminary, Saint John's Seminary has become a part of the Our Lady of the Presentation Community, which has been the heart of the Church in Oak Square for the past hundred years!  

I shared with the alumnae the good news that Our Lady of the Presentation Lecture Hall and Library is slated to open for the beginning of September.  Stay tuned...much more to come on the wonderful things God has accomplished in that regard.

Here's the homily I prepared for these great folks:

From the Presentation to the Assumption
Homily to the Fifty-Fifth Anniversary Class
of Our Lady of the Presentation Academy
June 22, 2013

According to an ancient tradition, Joachim and Anna, the aged parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary, brought their three year old child to the Temple in Jerusalem in thanksgiving for her birth and to consecrate her to God.  In doing so they foreshadowed Mary's presentation of her Son Jesus, through whom God would redeem the world.

Fifty-five years ago you graduated from a school which took its name and its mission from that same mystery.  The mystery of God's providence, his goodness to us, as by the ebs and flows we present our lives and our loves to him.

It started for you, as it did for Mary, when your parents first placed you in the care of God in this Holy Place and the sisters who worked there.  As the holy ones in the temple did for Mary, so the sisters sought to plant within your heart a love for Christ and for his Church, and to teach you to live and love like Jesus and his Blessed Mother.

They did this, because they knew that, even as a little child, today’s Psalm was echoing in the depths of your heart: My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.  Thirsting as a child for love and a place in the world, thirsting for a sense of who I am and what I was created to be, thirsting for a security, a safety and peace.  Even as a child, the words of the Psalmist define the desires of our innermost being: “ are my God whom I seek; for you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water.”

So your teachers watered you, with the knowledge of why God made you (“to know him and love him and serve him in this world and be happy with him in the next”) of what he made me.

And then came your First Communion, all decked out in white.  Again, the Psalmist knew the thoughts of your seven year old heart: “Thus have I gazed toward you in the sanctuary to see your power and your glory...”  And from that first day when you received that host which was Jesus, that bread which was God, you have known his strength and his glory in the depths of the sanctuary of your heart.

All through your life, due in no small part to Our Lady of the Presentation Academy, the thirsting of your soul for God has known his kindnesses as “a greater good than life.”  When you were first loved and when first you learned to love.  Perhaps when you were married or when you held your first child in your arms or when you first found what brought true happiness.  Perhaps in the deepest moments of prayer as your lips glorified him you glimpsed the peace the world cannot give and the joy which can only come from his love.

But there have been days of trouble, as well, in the decades since first you played in the school yard on Oak Square.  That cancer, that breakup, that betrayal, that fear, that loss, that death, that panic....  But each time you have been able to turn to him and to the same Cross that hung in the front of each of your classrooms, singing with the Psalmist, “You are my help, and in the shadow of your wings (even in the midst of troubles) I shout for joy.”

In more recent days, when the aches and the pains have become more noticeable, when even more of your classmates have left us since the last reunion, when you find yourself discussing medicines more than reminiscences, you have been called by God to rely on him in your weakness, your frailty, your fear and even your pain.  With the Psalmist you sing, “my soul clings fast to you (O God); your right hand upholds me.” And more certain than any walker and more effective than any drug, God upholds you when you are old just as surely as he did when you were new.

And one day, my friends, at a time unknownst to anyone of us, God will bring an end to this journey and we have been on and will call us home to himself to be judged and recompensed for what we have done.  On that day, first described to us by the sisters, God will simply inquire whether we have blessed him all the days of our life, and whether we have lifted up our hands and called upon his name unceasingly.

Then if we are judged worthy, we will be presented to heaven, to the company of all the Saints, just as the little Virgin was presented at the Temple and her Most Blessed Son was presented to the Priests... and on that day we will know “the riches of a banquet: so sumptuous, that our ‘soul shall be satisfied’ and  ‘with exultant lips our mouths will praise God forever.’

For that is what we were made for, and why Our Lady of the Presentation intercedes for you, that you, good sons and daughters of Our Lady of the Presentation, might this 55th year and on your 60th and on your 70th as well, be worthy of the faith we have received in Christ Jesus and in his Holy Church.

Congratulations and God bless you.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Homily at the Knights of Malta Mass

This morning I was privileged to preach at a Mass in Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Osterville with the Knights and Dames of Malta.  Bishop Coleman was the celebrant for the Mass.  Here's the homily:

It was a different world nine hundred years ago.  Abelard was founding the first of the universities and Middle English was just starting to develop.  The new form of architecture was called Gothic and the new Council being implemented was Lateran I.  

And it was from the Lateran Palace, then the residence of Pope Paschal II that a decree was promulgated, Pie Postulatio Voluntatis creating the “hospitaller fraternity” of Jerusalem, dedicated to Saint John the Baptist.

In your first days as an order you responded to the consecration of Blessed Gérard to the service of those whom everyone else has forgotten.  So you cared for the sick of Jerusalem, and later the pilgrims to that Holy Land.  In the past two centuries, that charism has been transformed to assisting the sick and the poor of the entire world.

All of this springs from your commitment to the model of John the Baptist, who left all in order to radically commit himself to washing away that which brings death and fostering life through the waters of Baptism.  So too, you share in his life through the establishment of hospitals and health-care institutes, an action which, in the words of Pope Benedict XVI, “is not mere philanthropy, but an effective expression and a living testimony of evangelical love.”

This is how you understand your motto: Tuitio fidei et obsequium pauperum (Defense of the faith and assistance to the poor), echoed in the words of the Psalmist today: “When the poor one called out, the LORD heard, and from all his distress he saved him.”

You remind us that we need the poor, and we need the sick.

The sick woman reminds me what is truly important and truly lasting: only faith, only hope, and only love.  That’s hard to convince me of when I’m lecturing in front of a Church full of nice people (I’m in control), or ministering the sick (I’m in control), or going to the bank (I’m in control).  

But the sick remind me that this voice will grow weak in not so many years and this mind will grow dim.  These hands will begin to shake and sometime this heart will cease to beat.  In the end, this body will stop working entirely.  And I, who spend most of my waking moments in denial, need to be with sick people who remind me of the essential or higher things.  Faith, Hope, and Love.  It’s all that really matters.  It’s all that really lasts.

And we need the Order of Malta to remind us of what the Church teaches about sickness and suffering.  For while suffering and illness have always been among the greatest problems that trouble the human spirit and Christians feel and experience pain as do all other people; yet faith helps the sick Christian to grasp more deeply the mystery of suffering and bear his pain with greater courage.  From Christ’s words he knows that sickness has meaning and value for his own salvation and for the salvation of the world.  He also knows that Christ, who during his life often visited and healed the sick, loves them in their illness.

So we stand with the sick person and encourage them, in the words of the Church’s Rites for Pastoral care of the Sick, tofight strenuously against all sickness and carefully seek the blessings of good health, so that we may fulfill our role in human society and in the Church.”  

In other words, while sickness can have meaning, God does not expect us to roll over and die.  Sickness keeps me from going to Church, from feeding the poor, from preaching the Gospel, and from visiting the others who are sick!  Sickness is not something to be enjoyed, but to struggle against.  Like the prisoner locked in a dungeon, the sick person seeks to break the chains of the illness that confines him and keeps him from getting on with life.

So with this Holy Order, the sick person is not alone.  Rather they are accompanied by you in their struggle.  You teach us that the fight against illness is a holy struggle, which sanctifies those who undertake this noble work in extraordinary and unexpected ways.  You’ve seen that, time and time again.  Luke was not the last health care worker to become a saint.

There’s not a single member of the Church who does not have a role to play in this great drama.  Not just as a support to family and friends, but (like Jesus) as a friend of the sick.  As one who seeks them out in hospitals and nursing homes.  As one who does not flee from his own fear and doubts, but through the smells, the sights and the fears goes to the sick man and makes him strong, knowing that Christ will judge him on the last day.  

I was sick and you did not visit me.  Be consigned to the everlasting fire.  Rather strong words.  And a rather clear teaching about our responsibility to fight at the side of the sick man in his mortal struggle.

And here is where your motto meets your charism Tuitio fidei et obsequium pauperum: When faith meets the needs of the poor and the sick, we see their suffering as a participation in the Passion of Christ.  For sometimes the cancer will not remit, the heart will not get stronger, the disease cannot be cured.  On one day, each one of us (even chaplains!) will find that we are sicker and sicker and that soon we will die.

So what do you say on that day ”that we’ve lost the battle?"  Far from it!  For, as the preface for martyrs tells us, God chooses the weak and makes them strong in Christ.  As Saint Francis remind us, it is in our weakness that we are strong, in our littleness that we are great, in our powerlessness that we know true power.  Or in the words of the Rite for Pastoral Care of the Sick: “Christ himself, who is without sin, in fulfilling the words of Isaiah took on all the wounds of his passion and shared in all human pain (see Isaiah 53: 4-5).  Christ is still pained and tormented in his members, made like him.  We should always be prepared to fill up what is lacking in Christ’s sufferings for the salvation of the world...”

It is a noble work you embrace as a Knight of Malta, in faith and love of the poor and the sick.  And standing testimony to it are 900 years of Knights whose hearts and lives have been a home for the poor and the sick, standing testimony to it are those who sit before me today...and standing testimony to it are all the good works which await, all the manifestations of the presence of Christ in the poor and the sick who await your consolation, your presence and your love.

“May the Holy Virgin, Our Lady of Philermos, support your plans and projects with her maternal protection; may your heavenly protectors Saint John the Baptist and Blessed Gérard, as well as the saints and blesseds of the Order, accompany you with their intercession.”  Amen.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A visit to My Brother's Keeper

I was privileged to make a pilgrimage with Sister Jeanne this morning to visit with Jim and Terry and Eric and the rest of the staff of MY BROTHER’S KEEPER in Easton, Massachusetts.

What a wonderful story the thousands of volunteers have to tell, who bring the love of Jesus (along with furniture and food) to over 8,000 people each year.

The Mission Statement of My Brother’s Keeper is simple: "To bring the Love and Hope of Jesus Christ to those we serve." As a result, with each furniture delivery they present the true gift, a crucifix, with the simple written message in several languages: "We're just the delivery people… this is the man who sent you the furniture."  

We witnessed scores of volunteers, young and old, stuffing bags with food, loading furniture on trucks and making box springs (the good women on the second floor made more than 2,000 last year!).  Please keep them in your prayers, or if you’d like to help, click this link.

that we might live and love forever with him...

Patricia "Annie" Scheer, mother of Phil Scheer, one of our seminarians for the Archdiocese of Boston, died suddenly last week of a heart attack.  I was privileged to join his family for the Funeral outside of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania along with two of his seminarian brothers, Kevin Leaver and Will Sexton.  Here's is the homily I preached at the Funeral Mass at Good Shepherd Church.

Dear Peter and Phil, Joseph and Evelyn, and Joanne and Pam,

I wish you peace.  I wish you peace, because, despite all appearances, this is not the end.  The love which your beloved Annie shared with you, Peter, does not end.  The love your mom showered on you, Phil, does not end.  Like the beauty of the paintings which Annie so wondrously crafted, love does not end.

Love does not end because no darkness, no sin, not even death can defeat it.  “Faith, hope, and love,” Saint Paul reminds us, last forever, and the greatest of these is love.

That is because perfect love, the kind of love which gives his life upon the wood of the cross for us, the kind of love which forgives them as they drive the nails into his wrists, the kind of love which is perfect sacrifice given not because we deserve it, but because he loves us...that love rises from the dead and awaits Annie in a place beyond the grave.

It is into the arms of such a love, such a Lord, that we comemnd our sister today.  Just as Joseph and Evelyn carried their little baby into Church sixty years ago and heard the words “if we live with the Lord, we shall die with the Lord,” so we who loved here gather to offer the perfect sacrifice of the Cross, the Mass, begging God to forgive whatever sins she may have comitted and lead her home to a place of perfect refreshment, light and peace.

There were many gifts which Annie gave to each of you in this life, as I know she touched my life and the life of each of our seminarians through the gifts she gave to Phil.  But today she gives each of us the most precious gift, for today she reminds each one of us of the journey we’re on.  It starts in the arms of our parents…it starts at the font of blessed water where we are first joined to Christ and to his cross.  And then it takes all kinds of twists and turns, sometimes bringing us closer to God and sometimes leading us away from him.

But today Annie reminds us where that journey ends.  It ends in the same place it began: before Christ, who will judge each one of us on the last day.  Christ, who calls us to turn away from selfishness and sin, and cling to faithful love.  Christ, who urges us to forgive, even as we ask to be forgiven.  Christ, who laid down his life for the world, and asks us to do the same.  Christ, who loved us faithfully and then commanded: love others as he had loved us.

For the greatest memorial to Annie Scheer will not be the finest monument in Saint John’s Cemetery.  It will not even be the wonderful stories you will tell of her compassion, her art, her virtue, and her love for life.  No, the greatest memorial to Annie, will be the lives of faithful love which you will live in in the years God still gives you to reflect his love and his glory upon this earth, that we might live and love forever with him in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Ordination of Deacon Christopher Micale

 We just received the following great photos from Deacon Chris Micale's Ordination to the Diaconate on June 1st by Bishop Salvatore Matano at Saint Joseph's Co-Cathedral in Burlington, Vermont

Do you resolve to be consecrated for the Church's ministry by the laying on of my hands and the gift of the Holy Spirit? Do you resolve to discharge the office of deacon with humble charity in order to assist the priestly Order and to benefit the Christian people?

My dear people, let us pray that God the all-powerful Father will mercifully pour out the grace of his blessing on this, his servant, whom in his kindness he raises to the sacred Order of the diaconate.
We beseech you, Lord: look with favor on these servants of yours who will minister at your holy altar and whom we now humbly dedicate to the office of deacon.

Blessed are they who dwell in your house, O Lord.  Alleluia.
Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

On this Father's day...

I am reminded of the concluding words from a Rector's Conference I delivered earlier this year.  To all the Priests out there: "Happy Father's day!"

"My father taught me, from the time I was born, to be imitate the holiness of God.  He taught it by his words, but even more by what he did, and most of all by who he was.
We are worthy of the name father only when it is not we whom people see and admire, but Christ Jesus in us.  And it is Christ through whom all things were made, Christ the paschal teacher, and Christ the sanctification and salvation of all mankind who is the model of what we are called to be."

Archbishop Viganò Visits Saint John's Seminary

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States of America, visited Saint John's Seminary this morning.  The Archbishop is in town to receive an award at the Redemptoris Mater Seminary dinner this evening and was accompanied by Father Anthony Medeiros, rector of the Neo-Catechumenal Way Seminary.

I asked the Archbishop if he had a message for our seminarians and he responded "Tell them to continue in their formation, to seek to grow academically and spiritually in the knowledge of Christ and his Church."

Please pray for Archbishop Viganò as he continues in his ministry of service ot the Holy See and to the Church in the United States of America.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Pilgrimage to IPF

Father O’Connor, Father Scorzello and I recently returned from our summer pilgrimage to the Institute of Priestly Formation at Creighton University in Omaha Nebraska.  There eight of our seminarians are spending ten weeks reflecting on spirituality and priestly formation.  In addition, Father Derek Borek, one of our spiritual directors, is performing that same ministry for the IPF.

I very much enjoyed having dinner with Father Rich Gebuzda who was one year behind me in Seminary at the North American College sometime in the last century.  Father Gebuzda is one of the founders of the Institute and has served as its Executive Director for the past nineteen years.  

On the second evening of our visit we dined with all the seminarians at an Omaha Steakhouse, and everything they say about Omaha Prime is to be believed!

Please keep these good men in your prayers that they might draw daily more closely to the Lord who calls them more deeply to the service of his Church every day.

Pictured above are, from left to right (front row): Thomas Sullivan, Matthew Grossi and Matthew Conley.  (back row): Brian Cullen, Father Borek, Jason Giombetti, Michael Coughlin and Michael Solomon.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Cardinal Piacenza's Letter to Seminarians

Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, has written a letter to seminarians to mark the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. The full text follows:

Dearest Seminarians,

On the solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, we celebrate most significantly the day for the sanctification of priests and, as you are in the Seminary to respond in the most fitting way possible to your vocation, it is important for me to send you this letter, with great affection, so that you may feel involved and, as such, remember this important occasion.

We contemplate together today the origin of the divine vocation. The Holy Father has emphasised firmly the love in which those who are Priests of Christ and of the Church must participate. In his homily at his first Chrism Mass (28 March 2013), Pope Francis said “This I ask you: be shepherds, with the ‘odour of the sheep’”. By this striking image, the Successor of Peter invites us to have a strong and solid love for the People of God, a love which – as the same Pontiff has noted – is not fed from purely human sources, nor is it reinforced by techniques of self-persuasion. It is the personal encounter with the Lord; it is keeping alive the knowledge of having been called by Him, who gives the truly greater supernatural strength to be Priests in the image of the Good Shepherd of all, Christ Jesus. But in order to be such tomorrow, you have to prepare yourselves today. In very clear words, Pope Francis has referred to the primacy of grace in the priestly life: “It is not in soul-searching or constant introspection that we encounter the Lord: self-help courses can be useful in life, but to live our priestly life going from one course to another, from one method to another, leads us to become pelagians and to minimise the power of grace” (ibidem).

For the disciple walking with Christ, walking in grace, means taking on with spiritual joy the weight of the priestly cross. We hear again the Holy Father teaching about this: “When we journey without the Cross, when we build without the Cross, when we profess Christ without the Cross, we are not disciples of the Lord, we are worldly” (Homily at the Holy Mass with the Cardinals, 14 March 2013). On the contrary, to live our ministry as a service to Christ crucified, prevents us from understanding the Church as a human organisation “a charitable NGO, but not the Church, the Bride of the Lord” (ibidem).

In the light of these first magisterial teachings of Pope Francis, I invite you to consider your life as a gift of God and, at the same time, a task which has been entrusted to you, not simply by men but – albeit by way of the necessary mediation by the Church – ultimately by the Lord himself, who has a plan for your life and for the lives of the brothers and sisters whom you will be called to serve.It is necessary to view the whole of our life in terms of a divine call, and also of a generous human response. This involves cultivating within ourselves the vocational sense, which interprets life as a continual dialogue with the Lord Jesus, risen and alive. 

In every age, Christ has called and continues to call men to follow him more closely by participating in his priesthood – that implies that, in every period of the history of the Church, the Lord has held a vocational dialogue with the faithful that He has chosen, so that they may be his representatives among the people of God, as well as mediators between heaven and earth, particularly in the celebration of the liturgy and the sacraments. In fact, one can say that the liturgy opens heaven wide here on earth.

On this basis, you are called through ordination – without any merit of your own – to be mediators between God and his people and to make possible the salvific encounter through the celebration of the divine mysteries. Notwithstanding your own limits, you have responded to this call with generosity and joy. It is important that you always keep alive the sense of youthfulness in your hearts: “We must live the faith with a young heart, always: a young heart, even at the age of seventy or eighty. Dear young people! With Christ, the heart never grows old” (Pope Francis, Homily for Palm Sunday, 24 March 2013, no. 3).

The youthfulness of the priestly spirit, firm in its vocation, is guaranteed by prayer, that is the continually maintained attitude of interior silence which favours listening to God every day. This continual opening of the heart happens, naturally, within a stability that – once the fundamental life decisions have been taken – is capable, with the help of grace, to remain faithful to the tasks which have been solemnly accepted, right up to the end of our earthly life. However, this necessary stability does not imply closing our ear to the ongoing call of God, because the Lord, while confirming us every day in our fundamental vocation, is always at the door of our heart knocking (cf. Acts 3:30), waiting for us to open it to Him with the same generosity with which we said to him our first “fiat”, imitating the availability of the Ever Virgin Mother of God (cf. Lk. 1:38). We can, therefore, never place limits on the plan that God has for us and that he will communicate to us day after day, throughout the whole of our life.

This vocational openness also represents the most certain way to live evangelical joy. It is, in fact, the Lord who will make us truly happy. Our joy does not come from mundane satisfaction, which makes us briefly happy and quickly disappears, as St. Ignatius of Loyola noted in his first spiritual discernment (cf. Liturgy of the Hours, Office of Readings of 31 July, II Reading). Our joy is Christ! In the daily dialogue with Him, our spirit is reassured and continually renews our passion and our zeal for the salvation of souls.This prayerful dimension of the priestly vocation reminds us of still more very important aspects. 

First among them is the fact that vocations grow not principally from a pastoral strategy, but above all through prayer. As Jesus taught: “Pray... the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest” (Lk. 10:2). Commenting on these evangelical words, Pope Benedict XVI noted: “We cannot simply ‘produce’ vocations; they must come from God. This is not like other professions; we cannot simply recruit people by using the right kind of publicity or the correct type of strategy. The call which comes from the heart of God must always find its way into the heart of man” (Meeting with Priests and Permanent Deacons of Bavaria. 14 September 2006). 

You, dear Seminarians, have been called by the Lord, but many people spread throughout the world have supported and are supporting your response with their prayers and their sacrifices. Be grateful for this and unite yourselves to these prayers and sacrifices to support other responses to vocations. To the primacy of prayer can then be added, as a channel of this divine grace, the sound, motivated and enthusiastic vocational pastoral action on the part of the Church. With regard to this ecclesial collaboration with the divine work of giving pastors to the People of God and the Mystical Body of Christ, it is appropriate to remember briefly a few matters that mark it out, that is: respect for priestly vocations, the witness of the lives of Priests, the specific work of Seminary formators.

It is first of all necessary that the Church appreciates you for your priestly vocation, considering that the Community of the disciples of Christ cannot exist without the service of the sacred ministers. From this comes the care, attention and reverence for the priesthood. Secondly, vocations are highly favoured, as can be seen from the example and the care that the priests offer them. It would be difficult for an exemplary priest not to stimulate the question in the minds of young people: could I not also be called to a wonderful and happy life like this? 

Particularly in this way, Priests are channels through which God makes the divine call resound in the heart of those He has chosen. Priests then will nurture the seeds of vocation that begin to spring in the souls of the young, by means of sacramental Confession, spiritual direction, preaching and pastoral enthusiasm. I am sure that many of you will be witnesses to and beneficiaries of this.I would, furthermore, like to say a word about the important role of those priests to whom the Bishops entrust your formation. The Seminary formators are called to continue and to deepen the care for priestly vocations, while they provide all the required help for the necessary personal discernment of every candidate. As to this, we must remember the two principles which must guide the evaluation of vocations: the friendly welcome and the just severity. 

While every prejudice as well as every rigorsim should be avoided in the treatment of seminarians, on the other hand it is of the greatest importance to guard carefully against laxism and carelessness in judgment. The Church certainly needs Priests, but not any kind of Priest! The love that welcomes must therefore accompany the truth which judges with clarity whether, for a particular candidate, the signs of a vocation and the human qualities necessary for a trustworthy response to it are present. The pastoral urgency of the Church cannot be permitted to bring about haste in conferring the sacred ministry. On the contrary, where there is doubt, it is better to take the time necessary and carry out appropriate evaluations, which will not exclude the dismissal of those candidates who are not able to offer sufficient guarantees.

My dearest Seminarians, with these brief comments, I have endeavoured to redirect our spiritual attention to the immense gift and to the absolutely free mystery of our special vocation. We entrust to the intercession of our most holy Mother Mary and of St. Joseph the gifts of fidelity and of perseverance in the divine call that, by pure grace, they may be bestowed upon us and that we may seek to respond to the divine generosity, which always sends pastors for the flock with renewed apostolic zeal. Keep persevering, always remembering that we show our love in this world by our fidelity.I remember you each day in prayer with great affection, and I implore the Lord to send down his divine benediction upon you.

Father David Aufiero's First Mass

"Together with us, may he be a faithful steward of your mysteries, so that your people may be renewed in the waters of rebirth and nourished from your altar; so that sinners may be reconciled and the sick raised up. May he be joined with us, Lord, in imploring your mercy for the people entrusted to their care and for all the world."  From the Prayer of Ordination of a Priest

Ordination of Father Scott Carpentier

On June 1st Father Scott Carpentier was ordained to the Priesthood in the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul by Bishop Thomas J. Tobin, Bishop of Providence.  Bishop Tobin's Homily is reprinted here for the enjoyment of our readers:

Along with my brother bishops I am very happy to welcome you to the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul for a beautiful and blessed event – the ordination of our two brothers to the Priesthood of Jesus Christ!

Welcome to the families and friends of Scott and Thomas . . . to our priests, deacons, consecrated religious and seminarians . . . to the members of their home parishes, and the parishes where our deacons have served . . . to the representatives of the seminaries where our ordinandi have received such fine formation for the ministry they are about to assume. All are welcome! Thank you for coming!
A word of profound gratitude to all those to have planned our liturgy today and to those who are assisting in any special way. Thank you so much for your good work and for allowing us to “worship in spirit and truth.”

And to you, Scott and Tom, we offer our very sincere congratulations, prayers and blessings. God has led you here; He has created you for this moment. Your ordination is the culmination of several years of careful discernment, fervent prayer, hard work and of course the generous outpouring of God’s grace.

You come to the Priesthood from rather diverse backgrounds – you come from different parishes, in different parts of the state; you have varied personal and professional backgrounds; you have studied at different seminaries. One is young . . . and the other, even younger!

But what you share is the desire to give yourselves completely and generously to Our Lord Jesus Christ for the service of God’s people in the ministerial priesthood. And for that we commend you and we give thanks and praise to Almighty God!
In St. John’s Gospel, Jesus asked St. Peter three times: “Do you love me?” And St. Peter answered, “Lord you know everything; you know that I love you.” St. Peter would go on to answer that question not only with his words, but with his life – by living and dying for Christ.

My brothers, I suspect that you have heard Jesus ask you the same question: “Do you love me?” And your most definitive answer is found in your very presence today. You have come here to say: “Lord, you know that I love you . . . I am here because I love you, I want to follow you and give my life to you.”

The priesthood is a wonderful gift that Jesus gave to the Church because of His wisdom and love, and because of His thirst for the salvation of every soul. Our faith tells us that the priesthood involves not just a different set of functions, but indeed a brand new identity. In this sacrament a priest is forever and uniquely bound to Jesus Christ, the Eternal High Priest.

It is for that reason that a priest is consecrated, “set apart” from others. Being “set apart,” however, does not mean being “set above.” A priest who thinks that he is “above” his people is unfit for service. But a priest is “set apart” so that he can be more easily identified as a servant, a man ready and willing to respond to the spiritual and pastoral needs of God’s people.

That, of course, is the motive for the sacrifices you make, my brothers – your public commitment to prayer, obedience, and celibacy – so that you can be centered on Christ, and be more readily available to serve the needs of the Church, whatever, wherever they might be.

We have a perfect context for your ordination today, and for your First Mass tomorrow, namely the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, the “Body and Blood of Christ” that the Church celebrates tomorrow. This coincidence of dates highlights for us very nicely the intimate connection between the Holy Eucharist and the Priesthood of Christ.

The Book of Genesis tells us that the priest Melchizedek offered bread and wine to God. And you are ordained “according to the Order of Melchizedek.” Therefore you too offer bread and wine to God – but now transformed by your words and the power of the Holy Spirit into the Body and Blood of Christ as the perfect sacrifice of the New Covenant.

Our Holy Father, Pope Emeritus Benedict, spoke clearly of the spiritual bond between the Priesthood and the Eucharist. In a homily addressed to priests, he said:

The ministerial priesthood entails a profound relationship with Christ who is given to us in the Eucharist. Let the celebration of the Eucharist be truly the center of your priestly lives; in this way it will be also the center of your ecclesial mission.

Pope Benedict spoke of the Eucharist as “the center of your priestly lives and the center of your ecclesial mission.”

In other words, dear brothers, it will be in the Eucharist – celebrated, received and worshipped – that you will find the font of personal spiritual growth, the most important task of every priest.

I urge you to remember always the great dignity of the Holy Priesthood that is conferred upon you today, and in the words of St. Paul “to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness and patience.” The people of God demand and deserve nothing less. How much the world, and our Church, needs the witness of zealous and holy priests!

It is in the Eucharist that you will find the strength and the reason to sacrifice yourself and your personal needs every day, as you unite your sacrifice to the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross.

It is from the Eucharist that you will be motivated to go forth and preach the Gospel in its fullness and richness, whether convenient or inconvenient, as you take up the challenge of the New Evangelization in our time. And be very clear about this, my brothers – in proclaiming the Gospel you will encounter fierce resistance – you will be swimming against the powerful tide of our increasingly secular, pagan, and atheistic world.

It is in the Eucharist that you will experience the love of God, and thus be led to share that love with others, especially the poor, the hungry, the homeless, the immigrant, the unemployed, the imprisoned, the sick, and those who mourn the loss of a loved one.

And it is in the Eucharist that you will find a faithful friend in Jesus, your brother, who will be with you in good times and in bad, in moments of joy and sorrow, success and failure, victory and defeat, and life and death, as the remainder of your life’s story unfolds before you.

My brothers, the great theologian, Karl Rahner, said that “a priest is not an angel sent from heaven.” I suspect that your family and friends who know you well will confirm the truth of that statement – that you are not angels sent from heaven!
But continuing on Rahner says:

The priest is not an angel sent from heaven. He is a man, a member of the Church, a Christian. Remaining man and Christian, he begins to speak to us the Word of God . . .

Perhaps he has not entirely understood it himself. Perhaps he falters and stammers. How else could he speak God’s word, ordinary man that he is? . . . But must not some one of us say           something about God, about eternal life, about the majesty of grace in our sanctified being?

My brothers, in the name of Christ and His Church – we need you to be good, holy and faithful priests. Despite your unworthiness – speak to us the Word of God! Point us to eternal life! And, in your life and ministry, remind us of the majesty of God’s grace! Amen.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The New Priests of Springfield!

Bishop McDonnell is pictured with the newly ordained priests of the Diocese of Springfield, including, from right to left, our own Father David Aufiero and Father Rob Miskell.  

Sunday, June 2, 2013

First Mass of Father Rob Miskell

Saint Margaret Middleton
Monsignor Gosselin, Reverend Fathers and seminarians, dear friends and family and Father Miskell.

Doesn’t that sound good!  Father Miskell!  It sounds so good, Father, because it is so good! And it is good because we need you!

Never have we needed a Father more, a representative of God, our heavenly father, who can care for us, teach us, and sanctify us in the name of Christ Jesus, our great High Priest!

Never have we so needed a man to preach the word of God to us “worthily and wisely,” a man so closely united to Christ that he might offer sacrifice on our behalf for the salvation of the whole world, a man to act in the person of Christ for us.

And look at those people out there, Rob!  Look at your family!  Now they’re supposed to love you and be proud of you.  But look at your friends, and your brother seminarians (see the envy) and those who have come to love and admire your pastoral ministry.  And just imagine the thousands and tens of thousands who God will place into your care as shepherd and teacher and sanctifier in the decades to come.

Good and holy people to whom you will bring Christ and who will inspire you and strengthen you with God’s grace.  People not unlike Margaret Middleton.

Margaret Midleton was born in York, two years before the coronation of Queen Elizabeth I, under whom faithful Catholics like Margaret suffered greatly.  The Mass was outlawed and Priests were executed.  The Catholic Church, the Holy Eucharist and the Priesthood were banned.

At the age of 18, Margaret married John Clitherow in the Protestant Church and they moved into the family home at 26 Shambles Street.  But secretly, three years later, Margaret returned to her Catholic faith and received the Eucharist weekly from an underground priest.  John and Margaret had three children, two of whom would eventually become Catholic priests and one a consecrated religious nun.

Margaret was a good wife, and the only two complaints her husband was heard to utter was that “she fasted too much and would not go with him to [the Protestant] church.”  In fact, while John was at Church, she would open a secret cupboard containing the vestments and altar breads where there was also a “priest’s hole” or hiding place for Father Mush to crawl into should the authorities arrive.

On March 10 1586, however, the authorities did arrive and Margaret was thrown in  prison. She was convicted of treason at Common Hall in York and sentenced to death for ‘harboring and maintaining priests and seminarians, traitors to the Queen’s majesty and her laws.’  Ten days later she was killed, crushed to death by stones.

Yet how Saint Margaret Middleton must be smiling down upon us today, as we celebrate the two great sacraments for which she died: the priesthood and the eucharist.

She died, Father Miskell, because she knew that we needed your hands to join the sacrifices of our lives with the perfect sacrifice offered on the altar of the cross.  She died, Father, so that God could call down the Holy Spirit on simple gifts of bread and wine through your hands and transform them into the Body and Blood of his only Son.

So now, Father, you are our priest.  You will anoint our sick and bury our dead , you will baptize and marry our children.  You will forgive our sins and you will preach the Gospel to us.  You, like Father Mush, and Father Campion, and Father Southwell, and Father Walpole, and Father Vianney, and Father DeSales and Father Borromeo will be our priest. And we thank God for it.

For Saint Francis of Assisi used to say that if he met a saint and a priest walking down the road, he would reverently greet the saint, but he would kiss the hands of the priest, for they bring us the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ

Monsignor James P. Moroney