April 25, 2013
Written By: James Chester
by James Chester
As I look back my time at Conception Seminary is spotted with moments that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. When I am proposed with the question would I do it again, I don’t hesitate when I say yes. It has been an extraordinary time from being a freshman to being a senior on the verge of graduation.
When I first came here, I was twenty three years old. I had just quit a construction job that I really enjoyed and moved onto a dorm floor with a bunch of guys that had just graduated high school the previous year. They had all been living together for a semester already. There are fish out of water and then there was that situation. I thought that I had made one of the biggest mistakes of my life.
I remember having the colored set of breviaries and thinking that everyone else was going to have all black and I was going to be the only guy with that kind. I know that this sounds very trivial now, but in that moment I was ready to bolt. The next morning I showed up to Office of Readings and everyone that I saw had the colored set. It was through little affirmations like the breviaries that things began to get better. I started to meet new friends and figure out which class room I was supposed to be in and at what time everything was. The schedule here is very much routine. The Benedictines kind of like it that way.
The thing about this routine is that you get what you put into it. What I am trying to say is that the amount you grow in self-knowledge and interior spiritual life is directly related to what you offer yourself for that growth. Luckily, when I was an underclassman there were a lot of great upperclassmen that where encouraging all of us to dive into what was being offered. It did take some time to trust people to that personal interior life. This was something that was completely new to me. When I was working construction I never started a conversation with “Why do you think that at the core level of myself I acted that way to that situation.” Once I let go of my fear of knowing myself, I was all in and it has been a fantastic experience.
These men that where strangers four years ago are now more than just classmates. We are now truly brothers. There has been countless times where a group of us have just been lost in conversation and not realize that hours have past and we have to be up in a few hours for prayer. These moments have gone by in a flash, but this flash has lit an enormous fire that fuels me to keep me going, to keep me looking forward to what wonderful things God has in store for me next.
~James Chester will graduate Saturday, May 11, 2013 from Conception Seminary. With James the Office of Vocations thanks his dear parents, family members, future brother priests, and all those who support him by their love and prayers. He plans to receive the Rite of Candiancy on Sunday, June 16, 2013 at Christ the King in Des Moines at the 11 AM Mass. All are invited. ~
August 1, 2012
Written By: Deacon Troy Thompson, Our Lady of the Americas
When a man responds to God’s call to be a permanent deacon he must have trust. That trust is especially important when Hispanic men in the United States hear the call.
I caught up with Deacon Felix Hernandez on a 90 degree day. He’s a permanent deacon at St. Mary Catholic Church in Marshalltown. He also works full-time in construction and roofing. We shared lunch at the job site. He shared how God sustained his family the past three years.
Before ordination in 2009 Hernandez’ wife, Cynthia, an employee at Swift & Company, was detained and deported back to Mexico. He was left a single father and provider for their four children.
Archbishop Jerome Hanus still ordained Hernandez, who along with Cynthia, had completed several years of formation classes. He shared how important community support is for candidates and their wives. “They allowed us to bring our children on formation weekends in Waterloo,” he said, but added, “Prayers are most important.”
Hernandez continues to work for Cynthia’s return. He visits her, but he and his U.S.- born children stay here. “We have two children that are in high school with the opportunity to study in Iowa,” he said. “Their education here would be better and we cannot leave them.”
Deacon Felix explained how ministry relates to family life. “To unite with Jesus gives one life,” he said, “But you have a spouse, you have children and work every day. You continue being a man.”
Hernandez plays guitar and reads history books. He preaches at Mass and enjoys presiding at Holy Hours of healing. On trips to Mexico he’s preached over the radio.
“Everything is done with the help of God. Without God we can do nothing,” he reminded me, “God has helped me, leading me in the hope that my wife will be reunited with us again.”
July 27, 2012
Written By: Laura Downey
A Vocation Story by Laura Downey
“I am answering what I believe to be a call from God to the religious life.”
This past February I went on a discernment retreat in Ann Arbor, Michigan hosted by the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist. While there, after spending a night in Adoration with the Blessed Sacrament, I decided to talk with the Vocations directress in order to possibly come home with papers in my bag (side note: “papers” is the code for “an application to enter to the convent”).
It was no small feat to make it into the Vocations directress’s office. There was A LINE of girls waiting to talk with her, although she had already met one-on-one with each of us—almost 160 women within the last 36 hours. I waited for 4 hours in that line to talk with her on the last day of the retreat because there were so many others who wanted to do the same thing, either to receive spiritual direction or their own applications. The waiting surprisingly felt natural, normal, and peaceful.
Thoughts of religious life captured my heart when I was about seven years old, but I entered into more serious discernment of religious life about five years ago when I went to college and attended my first “nun run.” I did not always desire the path towards which it seemed God was leading me. I think I’ve been a pretty slow mover in this regard, even after it became clear to me a couple of years ago that Jesus does want me for Himself.
Looking back on my journey and on the work I had to let God do in my heart before I said Yes, I am convinced that prayers (of those whom I know, of those whom I don’t know, of those who don’t know me, such as those around the world who pray during every Mass for an increase in religious Vocations) played a part in bringing me to a point where it seemed like the most natural thing in the world for me to apply to enter a convent. I did not do that in my own heart. That openness, those moments of clarity, and those Yes’s along the way were purely grace. Prayers for Vocations in this diocese have played a part in priming my heart for all the construction God has to do in there and in asking for those graces on my behalf.
Vocations to the priesthood, the religious life, to consecrated life of some sort . . . they are alive and well. There are 21 young women who are planning to enter the Dominicans Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist in Ann Arbor, Michigan with me in August. That community has grown from 4 sisters to more than 100 in a matter of 15 years. The average age of the sisters is 28. Sarah Nesbit, now Sr. Mary Ignatius, who graduated from Dowling Catholic High School the year before me, entered this same community about four years ago.
I have about 11 friends currently in formation in religious orders. In addition, two friends are in formation to become consecrated lay women. Two friends plan to enter religious orders either this Fall or when their college debts are paid off. These are primarily young women I met at Benedictine College in Kansas. Many left after their sophomore year to enter convents because they heard a call to religious life so strongly that they felt they were not supposed to wait. The same is true of a lot of young men I met at college. There are groups of men and women “dropping out” of college every year in order to begin formation in seminaries or convents. I also know of high school students who have experienced a draw towards the religious life or who are considering the seminary.
In my own family, this past year, I have seen the joy, fullness, and growth my younger brother James is experiencing in the seminary for this diocese. On a much broader level, there is an immense number of young people who strive after Christ, love the Church, and desire to follow whatever good plan God has for them. God seems to be growing a remnant for His Church who would much rather be faithful, radical, humble, and generous, than merely comfortable.
Please continue your prayers. Thank you for continuing your ongoing support for Vocations in this diocese. God is using them. He is using you. Thanks for allowing Him to produce all of this good fruit through you—I’d guess this is just the beginning of that fruit. Thank you.~ Laura
April 4, 2012
Written By: Joseph Wright
Saint John Vianney Seminary: College Sophomore
Jesus has been teaching me at seminary how to have a relationship with Him and to love Him. This relationship is developed through daily mass, adoration, scripture reading, spiritual reading, and other devotions. Upon entering seminary I knew many of my shortcomings as a person, but now entering seminary Christ has brought to light more of them. But, that is a wonderful thing. Jesus cannot heal us of our imperfections unless we allow him to live in us and to cooperate with His grace. For me at least that is what has gone on this year, healing and growth. All of this is designed to help us to become the holy men that Jesus wants us to be.
In this process of formation seminarians do not journey alone. There is a brotherhood of men going through the same experiences that you are. There is a community of support and fraternity there that is unlike any other I have experienced. Your fellow seminarians challenge you to grow. The priests in charge of formation provide the example and directions in which you should go down upon. The academics challenge you, but they are extremely rewarding. The outreach programs we participate in also give us a chance to serve others around us. All of these things are put together to help us grow in the four pillars of priestly formation, which are spiritual, human, intellectual, and pastoral.
March 20, 2012
Written By: Lauren Steinkoenig
The Vocations Office is happy to announce that you can now read our newsletter, the Vocations Vibe, online on our website! This is just one of a few new resources now available under our Multimedia tab at the top of our website. Also available is our Poster for the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Follow the links below to check out these new resources for yourself!
Vocations Vibe Newsletter
World Day of Prayer for Vocations
March 15, 2012
Written By: Fr. Scott Kallal
Discerning? Putting to Bed the 'You Need a Spiritual Director' Myth
As a friend of Tim Staples, I used to write on the Catholic Answers forum in the vocations category. It amazed me how often young people would pour their hearts out there only to hear back - even from priests! - "Get a spiritual director." That's it?! How does that help?
Now as a priest who gives spiritual direction I agree that a good director can be a huge help for knowing the will of God, but he or she is not indispensable. I know lots of young people who have discerned without having a human spiritual director.
Could it be that this myth has stuck around for so long because young people don't know any better, so they ask the "experts"? But what happens when the experts get it wrong? God does have a plan for your life, and a spiritual director can help you discover it, but he's no magician or mind-reader. He's definitely not God.
The truth is that the two irreplaceable elements in vocational discernment are you and your Creator. God is the only one who knows who He made you to be and for what purpose He created you, and He is going to reveal His plans to one other person... you.
A spiritual director is like a good friend. He
- confirms you when you're right,
- corrects you when you get something wrong,
- moderates exaggerated excitement,
- encourages you when times are tough,
- and helps you anticipate obstacles
He's like a good basketball coach. Yes, a good coach can teach you mechanics and strategy. Yes, a great coach is necessary if you want to be world-class. But he can't do it for you. You are the one who has to get out there and practice: dribbling, passing, shooting, defending. You are the one who has to execute. And guess what? Can you get better without the coach if you go through the right exercises? You bet you can!
So what sort of "spiritual exercises" would you need to do to be able to discern the will of God for your life?
HOW TO BECOME A CHAMPION DISCERNER
What you need to do - what any spiritual director worth his salt would tell you to do - is to create a spiritual parthenon so you can embrace the freedom of heart and the intimacy with God that together make discernment possible. Concretely that means:
- daily meditation of at least 20 minutes with a concrete resolution
- Sunday Mass
- monthly confession
- eliminate distractions: TV, video games, iPod, texting, etc.
- live balance: sleep, prayer, family, work/school, friends/hobbies, etc.
- live virtue, especially purity of heart
- go on a dating fast (or break up if you're already dating)
Do that, and I guarantee you'll be light years ahead of anyone who has an outstanding spiritual director but doesn't actually put in the work. God bless. Live from your heart.
Fr. Scott Kallal is one of the founding members of the Apostles of the Interior Life and the originator of Strategic Discernment, helping young people to learn if God is calling you to be a priest or a nun faster, easier, and with more joy than you ever imagined. If you'd like personal assistance in your discernment, you can contact Fr. Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you found this article useful, please join me in the New Evangelization by sharing it with your friends and family.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Scott_Kallal
March 7, 2012
Written By: Matthew Krastel
Mundelein Seminary: Theology I
I am currently in my first year of theological study at the University of St. Mary of the Lake Mundelein Seminary which is northwest of downtown Chicago. The transition from college seminary to major seminary has, thus far, been rather smooth, though it has not come without challenges. The atmosphere at Mundelein is very peaceful, quite contrary to what one may assume for being in the suburbs of Chicago. For me, such a setting is very beneficial for maintaining a prayerful attitude throughout my formation.
Perhaps an aspect that surprises many people looking at entering the seminary is how 'normal' or common seminarians are compared with the preconception. Aside from the fact that we are studying to be ordained to the priesthood, God willing, we live typical lives: we play sports, watch television, play video games, etc... Seminarians do not belong to some "Holier-than-thou" cult that hides away from the rest of the world!
Not a day goes by that I do not thank God for my calling- it has truly been an undeserved blessing in my life, and by the will of God, I look forward to serving the Diocese of Des Moines as a priest.
February 29, 2012
Written By: Catholic News Agency
.- Mother Dolores Hart, O.S.B., a former actress turned cloistered nun, will attend her first Academy Awards show since 1959 to show support for “God is the Bigger Elvis,” an Oscar-nominated documentary about her and her abbey.
Mother Dolores, 73, was an award-winning actress who performed in two Elvis Presley movies. In 1963, she was about to sign a seven-figure contract and was engaged to a Los Angeles businessman when she decided to join the Benedictine Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, Conn, where she is now prioress.
The 37-minute documentary talks about Mother Dolores’ story and about life at the abbey. It is an Oscar nominee for best documentary short category and will premiere April 5 on HBO.
“I adored Hollywood. I didn't leave because it was a place of sin,” she told USA Today.
"I left Hollywood at the urging of a mysterious thing called vocation. It's a call that comes from another place that we call God because we don't have any other way to say it. It's a call of love. Why do you climb a mountain?"
The nun said she allowed cameras to access the abbey to help those who are soul-searching.
“We wanted to invite the world into another order of life that might give some hope,” she said.
The documentary interviews Mother Dolores and other nuns like Sister John Mary, 44, a former Oxford-educated advertising executive who came to the abbey after a period of addiction.
It also covers the last meeting of Mother Dolores and her ex-fiancé Don Robinson, who never married. He continued to visit and help the abbey until his death in December 2011.
The documentary’s director Rebecca Cammisa said she made the film to explore what makes someone with Mother Dolores’ level of success choose the religious life. Cammisa was previously nominated for the Oscar for the feature documentary “Which Way Home,” about Mexican migrant children.
Mother Dolores was a presenter at the 1959 Academy Awards. She remains a voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In January, she made a rare speaking appearance at the Central California Marian Eucharistic Conference.
February 14, 2012
Written By: Ryan Andrew
Saint Paul Seminary: Pre-Theology I
As a first year pre-theology seminarian, I have found my first semester of seminary life to be a great opportunity to grow as a whole human being as well as a great opportunity to continue discerning my call to the priesthood. In my first semester of seminary, I have had great formation. I have learned more about my Catholic faith through the classes I have taken, built great friendships with my brother seminarians through events that build camaraderie such as flag football games, pick-up basketball games, going to Minnesota Wild hockey games etc., and, most importantly, I have grown closer to Jesus Christ through daily individual prayer and communal prayer with my brother seminarians as well as the staff and faculty at St. Paul Seminary.
My first semester at seminary has brought me to a deeper love of Jesus Christ and His Church. I hope to continue to allow Christ's grace to intensify my love for Him as I continue on my journey at seminary.
January 25, 2012
Written By: Trevor Chicoine
Loras College: Junior
My name is Trevor Chicoine, and I’m a Seminarian for the Diocese of Des Moines. I entered seminary in the fall of 2009, fresh out of high school. I’m currently in my third (junior) year at St. Pius X Seminary at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa. The past three years have been the most challenging and rewarding of my life! I am majoring in philosophy with a minor in liturgical music. Seminary formation is an experience like none other! It is truly a process that forms and shapes the whole person. So often, it is easy to think of seminary as only ‘classes’ and academic learning, when in fact that is only ¼ of what we’re about at the seminary!
In addition to academic formation, while in college seminary we also engage heavily in the formation our human person-attempting to model ourselves after Jesus Christ the High Priest and model for all priests. We attempt to make our own humanity, weak as it is, a bridge and not an obstacle to Christ. Seminarians also engage in pastoral formation, a sort of practicum experience in ministry. Forming our spiritual life is an important part of the seminary, with daily Mass, praying the Liturgy of the Hours, spiritual readings, and devotions especially those to the Blessed Mother. All that being said, there’s also a lot of fun to be had at the seminary! The friendships I’ve made here are some of the best of my life. It’s not uncommon to find Seminarians playing cards, watching a movie or TV, or going for ice cream on the weekends or in the evenings. There are athletic guys, computer guys, music guys, and even a few NASCAR fans at the seminary! There are many good men at the seminary and it is a pleasure to live with them and grow with them.
January 18, 2012
Written By: Vatican Information Services
THE SEMINARY: A PLACE FOR DISCERNMENT AND STUDY
VATICAN CITY, 27 SEP 2011 (VIS) - On Saturday 24 September, during the course of his apostolic visit to Germany, the Holy Father met with seminarians in the city of Freiburg im Breisgau, whom he addressed off-the-cuff in German. Extracts of his remarks are given below.
The Pope dwelt upon the significance of the years spent in the seminary, and he reflected on the passage from the Gospel of St. Mark which narrates the foundation of the community of the Apostles: "The Lord appoints twelve", said the Holy Father. "He makes something, He does something, it is a creative act. He makes them, 'to be with Him, and to be sent out to preach'. ... They have to be with Him in order to come to know Him, ... but at the same time they have to be envoys who go out, who take with them what they have learnt, who bring it to others, ... even into places far removed from Him. ... This combination of, on the one hand, going out on mission, and on the other hand being with Him, remaining with Him, is - I believe - precisely what we have to learn in the seminary".
"The seminary is therefore a time for training. Also, of course, it is a time for discernment, for learning. ... The mission must be tested, and this includes being in community with others and also, of course, speaking with your spiritual directors". It involves "learning to trust: if He truly wants this, then I may entrust myself to Him. In today's world ... in which everything is in a constant state of flux, in which human ties are breaking down, ... it is becoming more and more difficult to believe that I will hold firm for the whole of my life". But, "if He wants me, then He will also hold me, He will be there in the hour of temptation, in the hour of need, and He will send people to me, He will show me the path. ... Faithfulness is possible, because He is always there, because He exists yesterday, today and tomorrow".
Apart from being a time for discernment, learning and vocation, the seminary is also a time for prayer, "for listening to Him", said Benedict XVI, "listening, truly learning to listen to Him - in the word of Sacred Scripture, in the faith of the Church, in the liturgy of the Church - and learning to understand the present time in His word. In exegesis we learn much about the past: what happened, what sources there are, what communities there were, and so on. This is also important. But more important still is that from the past we should learn about the present, we should learn that He is speaking these words now, and that they all carry their present within them, and that over and above the historical circumstances in which they arose, they contain a fullness which speaks to all times".
"Faith comes from hearing", said the Holy Father referring to the words of St. Paul. That is to say, faith needs "the living word, addressed to me by the other, whom I can hear, addressed to me by the Church throughout the ages" by "priests, bishops and my fellow believers. Faith must include a 'you' and it must include a 'we'".
In this context the Pope highlighted the importance of accepting other people in their individuality, while remaining aware that they too must accept us in our individuality. Only in this way, he explained, can the community of faithful become a "'we', journeying together towards the living God. ... The 'we' is the whole community of believers, today and in all times and places. ... We are Church: let us be Church, let us be Church precisely by opening ourselves and stepping outside ourselves and being Church with others".
In closing, Benedict XVI reminded the seminarians of the importance of study. "We all know that St. Peter said: 'Always be prepared to make a defence to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you'. Our world today is a rationalist and thoroughly scientific world, albeit often somewhat pseudo-scientific. ... The faith is not a parallel world of feelings that we can still afford to hold on to, rather it is the key that encompasses everything, gives it meaning, interprets it and also provides its inner ethical orientation: making clear that it is to be understood and lived as tending towards God and proceeding from God. Therefore it is important to be informed and to understand, to have an open mind, to learn. ... Study is essential: only thus can we stand firm in these times and proclaim within them the reason for our faith".
PV-GERMANY/ VIS 20110927 (810)
January 13, 2012
Written By: Lauren Steinkoenig
With the end of National Vocation Awareness Week coming up, the Vocations Office wanted to share this great outlook on the beauty and gift of vocations. We ask that you continue to pray for an increase in young people answering God's call, his great gift and invitation to the priesthood and religious life throughout the year.
"I always look forward to National Vocation Awareness Week. You know why? Not because I think it’s important to pray for priestly and religious vocations (which I do), and not because I think people in general aren’t “aware” of the fact that the numbers of individuals following a call to priesthood and religious life are low (which they are). I love this week primarily because it draws attention to the beauty of the vocation given us by God. A vocation is a gift, and it’s God’s idea for the way we are to follow him to become ever closer to his heart. Praying for vocations isn’t going to convince God to call more people to be priests and religious. Praying for vocations isn’t even going to convince those called to actually follow-through and commit to the life. Praying for vocations—I hope and pray—is going to open my heart and the hearts of all people to the voice of God that calls each one of us by name, drawing us all to a deeper love of him who calls…and thus helping us make the commitment to follow him in the path he has marked out for us."
January 4, 2012
Written By: Andrew Windschitl
Saint Paul Seminary
Seminary is like college in many ways. For example, we live in a dorm-like setting, attend classes, and eat at a cafeteria. However, unlike college, intellectual development is just one of the many parts of a person that is focused upon. Our pastoral, spiritual, and human aspects are developed as well. By doing so we aim to become better men overall, not just intellectuals or pastors. In other words, a man's willingness to accept the call from God entails a true surrendering of mind, body, and soul such that the man is built up to be a priest in whom the people of God can see the person of Christ.
This has become more and more clear to me this year in seminary. At the St. Paul Seminary we are assigned to what are called teaching parishes. They are real parishes with real people. While we still have classes several days a week, we usually visit these parishes once a week for activities and one weekend a month for Masses. This opportunity allows us to take what we have learned in the classroom and put it to use in the parishes. Even better is when we learn something entirely new at the parish that we did not learn in the classroom. It is heartening to both work with and learn from the faithful as it is a true representation of what priesthood will be like.
October 19, 2011
Written By: Fr. David Muenchrath
I often say that seminary is a place that will challenge a
young man mentally, spiritually, and physically, but most
people look at me as if I am crazy when I say that seminary
will challenge you physically. Yes, seminary is a place where
men enter more deeply into their relationship with Jesus
Christ, and rigorously study both philosophy and theology,
but most people are surprised that seminary is also a place
where they want you to be physically fit for eternal life.
This was made abundantly clear to me the past two weekends while I visited St. Paul Seminary, in St. Paul Minnesota and St. Gregory Seminary in Seward, Nebraska. While visiting St. Gregory Seminary I found out that most of the men were away at Conception Seminary, where two of our seminarians currently attend, to compete on the pitch at Conception’s Annual Seminary Soccer tournament. Sadly I didn’t see this year’s contest, but I know for previous experience that this tournament is always a hotly contested contest.
A different type of football was being played the week before at St. Paul Seminary. The University of St. Thomas hosted the 11th annual Rector’s Bowl between St. John Vianney College Seminary and St. Paul Theological Seminary. To be honest I was torn as whom to root for at that the game because the Diocese of Des Moines was represented on both teams, but after a back and forth game the men of St. Paul Seminary pulled ahead for victory, breaking a three year losing streak.
Seminary is indeed a place that will challenge you mentally, spiritually, and physically. If you want to see for yourself what seminary life is life don’t hesitate to contact the Office of Vocations, and check out our news stream for upcoming seminary visits.
December 7, 2010
Written By: Joseph McAuliff
“Do you love Me? Can all things be done through Me and My Sacred Heart?” This is what I heard Christ tell me at the retreat that I had attended last winter to help further discern God’s calling for me to love Him. I went to Reconciliation, where the priest told me to go out and to pray in the chapel and look at the picture of Jesus and His Sacred Heart and just listen to whatever Jesus tells me, and that is what I heard. The Sacred Heart of Jesus is and always has been a huge devotion of mine. Ever since I can remember, I have always been fascinated with The Sacred Heart of Jesus. It started out as me drawing pictures of the Sacred Heart but it has since then developed into so much more, to praying and giving all of my joys and anxieties to take into His Sacred Heart, to the Sacred Heart leading me to my vocation that God has for me to love Him and serve Him to the best of my ability. The first words of this paragraph I initially heard from my Dad, with the point being that I need to trust in God and put all of my trust in Him and believe that all things can be done through Him. Once I did that, which was not a quick thing but rather a process that took some time, I was able to actually hear God’s Voice and not harden my heart. A lot of it came through the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. In these meditations I was able to discern that I was trying so hard to love God out of fear, that I was not letting God love me. I was not accepting His love and therefore how could I hear His voice or truly love Him? This is all perfectly laid out in 1 John 4: 10-11 where God says through John’s hand, “In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as expiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another.” Once I read this, a light went on in my head, and a fire began to burn within my soul.
My spiritual director Msgr. Bognanno once told me that God does in fact want what you want, but what you really want has to be for God and His love and to ultimately draw ourselves closer to Him. This helped me further strengthen my discernment and allowed me to completely just give it all to God, and in that love for God and realization of how much He loves me, I was able to hear His call for me, and see it through the gifts He has given me to share with the rest of the world, from the gift of prayer, to the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, to my education, to my family and friends. All of these gifts helped me to hear God’s voice and His calling me to serve Him through a vocation to marriage. I am still open to anything God calls me to, and if God should somehow lead me down a different path I am open to it. It is all about serving God and loving Him to the fullest, and just by being open to anything that God calls you too, it is amazing how much is revealed to you and how much of it is right under your nose. By being open to anything that God may be calling you to, you allow Him to completely manifest Himself in your soul and it is only then one truly realizes that indeed, all things are possible with God.
The retreat was a great way for anyone discerning a vocation to the priesthood, or any vocation for that matter, for it helped lead me to discern my vocation to marriage. Ultimately, the retreat was a great way to grow closer to God. It helped me to discern my vocation to marriage, and to lead other people to God by raising a good Catholic family, leading my future spouse and children to God. Today we have so many distractions, so many voices coming at us from all sides through the radio, iPod, TV, Internet, Facebook, and cellphone. Yet, in this retreat you put all of that aside and it really becomes just you, and God. It allowed me not only the ability to hear God a little better, but also the ability to listen. The Creighton Retreat Center was a great place to have the retreat being that it was with God’s creation in nature, which is a great way to physically see God’s love in the work of His Hands. During the time I took the retreat I was going through the 19th Annotation of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. It was very fitting to be at the Creighton Retreat Center since Creighton is a Jesuit School and the Jesuit Order was founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola. A great deal of my discernment was done in these spiritual exercises, and the retreat center was a great place for deep meditation and solitude which everyone needs from time to time to really understand God and listen to His Voice. Elijah heard the voice of God, and it was in the form of a tiny whisper. In order to hear and even more so to listen to and understand a whisper one must be silent. In the same way we must silence ourselves both externally and internally to hear, listen to and understand the Voice of God. Once we do that we realize that truly all things are possible with God, and we see not only how much He loves us but how much we actually love Him despite all of our imperfections. It is only then that we can truly realize and allow God to love us and therefore be able to hear His Voice, harden not our hearts, and follow Him using all of the gifts that He has given us, for His greater glory and therefore our greater good.
November 1, 2010
Written By: Fr David Muenchrath
Recently Pope Benedict the XVI addressed all the seminarians around the world, and his words of challenge and encouragement and something we should all take some time to reflect on.
- Fr. David Muenchrath
When in December 1944 I was drafted for military service, the company commander asked each of us what we planned to do in the future. I answered that I wanted to become a Catholic priest. The lieutenant replied: “Then you ought to look for something else. In the new Germany priests are no longer needed”. I knew that this “new Germany” was already coming to an end, and that, after the enormous devastation which that madness had brought upon the country, priests would be needed more than ever. Today the situation is completely changed. In different ways, though, many people nowadays also think that the Catholic priesthood is not a “job” for the future, but one that belongs more to the past. You, dear friends, have decided to enter the seminary and to prepare for priestly ministry in the Catholic Church in spite of such opinions and objections. You have done a good thing. Because people will always have need of God, even in an age marked by technical mastery of the world and globalization: they will always need the God who has revealed himself in Jesus Christ, the God who gathers us together in the universal Church in order to learn with him and through him life’s true meaning and in order to uphold and apply the standards of true humanity. Where people no longer perceive God, life grows empty; nothing is ever enough. People then seek escape in euphoria and violence; these are the very things that increasingly threaten young people. God is alive. He has created every one of us and he knows us all. He is so great that he has time for the little things in our lives: “Every hair of your head is numbered”. God is alive, and he needs people to serve him and bring him to others. It does makes sense to become a priest: the world needs priests, pastors, today, tomorrow and always, until the end of time.
The seminary is a community journeying towards priestly ministry. I have said something very important here: one does not become a priest on one’s own. The “community of disciples” is essential, the fellowship of those who desire to serve the greater Church. In this letter I would like to point out – thinking back to my own time in the seminary – several elements which I consider important for these years of your journeying.
1. Anyone who wishes to become a priest must be first and foremost a “man of God”, to use the expression of Saint Paul (1 Tim 6:11). For us God is not some abstract hypothesis; he is not some stranger who left the scene after the “big bang”. God has revealed himself in Jesus Christ. In the face of Jesus Christ we see the face of God. In his words we hear God himself speaking to us. It follows that the most important thing in our path towards priesthood and during the whole of our priestly lives is our personal relationship with God in Jesus Christ. The priest is not the leader of a sort of association whose membership he tries to maintain and expand. He is God’s messenger to his people. He wants to lead them to God and in this way to foster authentic communion between all men and women. That is why it is so important, dear friends, that you learn to live in constant intimacy with God. When the Lord tells us to “pray constantly”, he is obviously not asking us to recite endless prayers, but urging us never to lose our inner closeness to God. Praying means growing in this intimacy. So it is important that our day should begin and end with prayer; that we listen to God as the Scriptures are read; that we share with him our desires and our hopes, our joys and our troubles, our failures and our thanks for all his blessings, and thus keep him ever before us as the point of reference for our lives. In this way we grow aware of our failings and learn to improve, but we also come to appreciate all the beauty and goodness which we daily take for granted and so we grow in gratitude. With gratitude comes joy for the fact that God is close to us and that we can serve him.
2. For us God is not simply Word. In the sacraments he gives himself to us in person, through physical realities. At the heart of our relationship with God and our way of life is the Eucharist. Celebrating it devoutly, and thus encountering Christ personally, should be the centre of all our days. In Saint Cyprian’s interpretation of the Gospel prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread”, he says among other things that “our” bread – the bread which we receive as Christians in the Church – is the Eucharistic Lord himself. In this petition of the Our Father, then, we pray that he may daily give us “our” bread; and that it may always nourish our lives; that the Risen Christ, who gives himself to us in the Eucharist, may truly shape the whole of our lives by the radiance of his divine love. The proper celebration of the Eucharist involves knowing, understanding and loving the Church’s liturgy in its concrete form. In the liturgy we pray with the faithful of every age – the past, the present and the future are joined in one great chorus of prayer. As I can state from personal experience, it is inspiring to learn how it all developed, what a great experience of faith is reflected in the structure of the Mass, and how it has been shaped by the prayer of many generations.
3. The sacrament of Penance is also important. It teaches me to see myself as God sees me, and it forces me to be honest with myself. It leads me to humility. The Curé of Ars once said: “You think it makes no sense to be absolved today, because you know that tomorrow you will commit the same sins over again. Yet,” he continues, “God instantly forgets tomorrow’s sins in order to give you his grace today.” Even when we have to struggle continually with the same failings, it is important to resist the coarsening of our souls and the indifference which would simply accept that this is the way we are. It is important to keep pressing forward, without scrupulosity, in the grateful awareness that God forgives us ever anew – yet also without the indifference that might lead us to abandon altogether the struggle for holiness and self-improvement. Moreover, by letting myself be forgiven, I learn to forgive others. In recognizing my own weakness, I grow more tolerant and understanding of the failings of my neighbour.
4. I urge you to retain an appreciation for popular piety, which is different in every culture yet always remains very similar, for the human heart is ultimately one and the same. Certainly, popular piety tends towards the irrational, and can at times be somewhat superficial. Yet it would be quite wrong to dismiss it. Through that piety, the faith has entered human hearts and become part of the common patrimony of sentiments and customs, shaping the life and emotions of the community. Popular piety is thus one of the Church’s great treasures. The faith has taken on flesh and blood. Certainly popular piety always needs to be purified and refocused, yet it is worthy of our love and it truly makes us into the “People of God”.
5. Above all, your time in the seminary is also a time of study. The Christian faith has an essentially rational and intellectual dimension. Were it to lack that dimension, it would not be itself. Paul speaks of a “standard of teaching” to which we were entrusted in Baptism (Rom 6:17). All of you know the words of Saint Peter which the medieval theologians saw as the justification for a rational and scientific theology: “Always be ready to make your defence to anyone who demands from you an ‘accounting’ (logos) for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet 3:15). Learning how to make such a defence is one of the primary responsibilities of your years in the seminary. I can only plead with you: Be committed to your studies! Take advantage of your years of study! You will not regret it. Certainly, the subjects which you are studying can often seem far removed from the practice of the Christian life and the pastoral ministry. Yet it is completely mistaken to start questioning their practical value by asking: Will this be helpful to me in the future? Will it be practically or pastorally useful? The point is not simply to learn evidently useful things, but to understand and appreciate the internal structure of the faith as a whole, so that it can become a response to people’s questions, which on the surface change from one generation to another yet ultimately remain the same. For this reason it is important to move beyond the changing questions of the moment in order to grasp the real questions, and so to understand how the answers are real answers. It is important to have a thorough knowledge of sacred Scripture as a whole, in its unity as the Old and the New Testaments: the shaping of texts, their literary characteristics, the process by which they came to form the canon of sacred books, their dynamic inner unity, a unity which may not be immediately apparent but which in fact gives the individual texts their full meaning. It is important to be familiar with the Fathers and the great Councils in which the Church appropriated, through faith-filled reflection, the essential statements of Scripture. I could easily go on. What we call dogmatic theology is the understanding of the individual contents of the faith in their unity, indeed, in their ultimate simplicity: each single element is, in the end, only an unfolding of our faith in the one God who has revealed himself to us and continues to do so. I do not need to point out the importance of knowing the essential issues of moral theology and Catholic social teaching. The importance nowadays of ecumenical theology, and of a knowledge of the different Christian communities, is obvious; as is the need for a basic introduction to the great religions, to say nothing of philosophy: the understanding of that human process of questioning and searching to which faith seeks to respond. But you should also learn to understand and – dare I say it – to love canon law, appreciating how necessary it is and valuing its practical applications: a society without law would be a society without rights. Law is the condition of love. I will not go on with this list, but I simply say once more: love the study of theology and carry it out in the clear realization that theology is anchored in the living community of the Church, which, with her authority, is not the antithesis of theological science but its presupposition. Cut off from the believing Church, theology would cease to be itself and instead it would become a medley of different disciplines lacking inner unity.
6. Your years in the seminary should also be a time of growth towards human maturity. It is important for the priest, who is called to accompany others through the journey of life up to the threshold of death, to have the right balance of heart and mind, reason and feeling, body and soul, and to be humanly integrated. To the theological virtues the Christian tradition has always joined the cardinal virtues derived from human experience and philosophy, and, more generally, from the sound ethical tradition of humanity. Paul makes this point this very clearly to the Philippians: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (4:8). This also involves the integration of sexuality into the whole personality. Sexuality is a gift of the Creator yet it is also a task which relates to a person’s growth towards human maturity. When it is not integrated within the person, sexuality becomes banal and destructive. Today we can see many examples of this in our society. Recently we have seen with great dismay that some priests disfigured their ministry by sexually abusing children and young people. Instead of guiding people to greater human maturity and setting them an example, their abusive behaviour caused great damage for which we feel profound shame and regret. As a result of all this, many people, perhaps even some of you, might ask whether it is good to become a priest; whether the choice of celibacy makes any sense as a truly human way of life. Yet even the most reprehensible abuse cannot discredit the priestly mission, which remains great and pure. Thank God, all of us know exemplary priests, men shaped by their faith, who bear witness that one can attain to an authentic, pure and mature humanity in this state and specifically in the life of celibacy. Admittedly, what has happened should make us all the more watchful and attentive, precisely in order to examine ourselves earnestly, before God, as we make our way towards priesthood, so as to understand whether this is his will for me. It is the responsibility of your confessor and your superiors to accompany you and help you along this path of discernment. It is an essential part of your journey to practise the fundamental human virtues, with your gaze fixed on the God who has revealed himself in Christ, and to let yourselves be purified by him ever anew.
7. The origins of a priestly vocation are nowadays more varied and disparate than in the past. Today the decision to become a priest often takes shape after one has already entered upon a secular profession. Often it grows within the Communities, particularly within the Movements, which favour a communal encounter with Christ and his Church, spiritual experiences and joy in the service of the faith. It also matures in very personal encounters with the nobility and the wretchedness of human existence. As a result, candidates for the priesthood often live on very different spiritual continents. It can be difficult to recognize the common elements of one’s future mandate and its spiritual path. For this very reason, the seminary is important as a community which advances above and beyond differences of spirituality. The Movements are a magnificent thing. You know how much I esteem them and love them as a gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church. Yet they must be evaluated by their openness to what is truly Catholic, to the life of the whole Church of Christ, which for all her variety still remains one. The seminary is a time when you learn with one another and from one another. In community life, which can at times be difficult, you should learn generosity and tolerance, not only bearing with, but also enriching one another, so that each of you will be able to contribute his own gifts to the whole, even as all serve the same Church, the same Lord. This school of tolerance, indeed, of mutual acceptance and mutual understanding in the unity of Christ’s Body, is an important part of your years in the seminary.
Dear seminarians, with these few lines I have wanted to let you know how often I think of you, especially in these difficult times, and how close I am to you in prayer. Please pray for me, that I may exercise my ministry well, as long as the Lord may wish. I entrust your journey of preparation for priesthood to the maternal protection of Mary Most Holy, whose home was a school of goodness and of grace. May Almighty God bless you all, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
From the Vatican, 18 October 2010, the Feast of Saint Luke the Evangelist.
September 9, 2010
Written By: Fr. David Muenchrath
As many of you know I love to run and a friend of mine sent me this great article from Catholic News Agency about two Bishops running in the Denver marathon. I hope you enjoy it.
Two Catholic bishops will take part in a Denver marathon in October. One is running to raise funds to pay off the $2.07 million debt on his diocese’s cathedral, while the other is joining local Catholics to increase prayers for and awareness of vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
Bishop of Springfield, Ill. Thomas J. Paprocki, a longtime marathon runner, has announced he is training for the Oct. 17 event. In a statement from the Diocese of Springfield, the 58-year-old prelate said he enjoys running and has participated in 16 marathons.
“This year I have decided to dedicate my marathon effort to help pay off the debt of the recent restoration of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield,” said the bishop, who took over the diocese in June.
“Catholics in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois can take rightful pride in our beautiful mother church, especially the many people who have already contributed generously to help pay the restoration costs,” he commented.
However, he explained that “unexpected expenses” had caused the debt and he would like to “retire this debt completely.”
He invited tax-deductible pledge donations and asked for prayer intentions for him to include while he is running and praying.
“As sacred Scripture says, ‘Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us’ (Hebrews 12:1). Your support will be greatly appreciated by me and all Catholics who gather and pray at our magnificent Cathedral,” Bishop Paprocki wrote.
The “Rock ‘n’ Roll Denver Marathon” website says that the time limit for the full marathon is six hours, a pace of 13:45 minutes per mile.
Auxiliary Bishop of Denver James Conley will also take part in the event.
Natalia Fletcher, executive assistant in the office of priestly vocations, responded to a CNA inquiry about the bishop’s participation. She reported that Bishop Conley and Bishop Paprocki attended graduate school together in Rome. Conley later told CNA in an e-mail that the two had run together in Rome, but not in a marathon.
The Denver auxiliary bishop will join archdiocesan vocations director Fr. Jim Crisman and two St. John Vianney seminarians as part of a relay team to increase support for and awareness of vocations. He will run 8.9 miles of the course and is following a training regimen of 15 miles per week.
In the past he has run in the Colfax 1/2 Marathon, the Chicago Marathon, the Rome Marathon, the Monte Carlo Marathon, the Pikes Peak Ascent and the Rome-Ostca 1/2 Marathon.
According to Fletcher, the archdiocese asks other runners and teams of runners to sign up for the event. Rather than seeking financial donations, the archdiocese asks that runners seek pledges of prayers for vocations to holy orders and to the consecrated life within the Archdiocese of Denver.
“There is a great need in the Church and world today for men and women who are willing to lay down their lives in service to others,” Fr. Crisman commented in a press release. “Please pray for an increase in vocations to Holy Orders and Consecrated Life, and pray for those already living these heroic vocations.”
He encouraged participants to form their teams as soon as possible so they have time to train and to pray.
The Office of Priestly Vocations has set up a section for the marathon in the “Run” section of its website http://www.priest4christ.com/
July 26, 2010
Written By: Fr. David Muenchrath
"Women & Spirit" offers history museums across the country an opportunity to display artifacts and images that have rarely been seen by the general public. With a balanced approach that draws upon first-hand narratives, visitors will discover an untold story in American history about the impact of Catholic Sisters on the United States. The exhibit will be coming to The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium in Dubuque, Iowa February 2011 - April 2011. We invite all Catholic faithful and those interested in history to come and learn about this fascinating story.
From the time the Ursulines arrived in New Orleans in 1727 up to today, women religious have made an incalculable contribution to this nation. Running schools, hospitals and orphanages from America's earliest days, these women helped foster a culture of social service that has permeated our society. Over the centuries these courageous women overcame many obstacles--both physical and cultural--to bring their civilizing and caring influence to every corner of the country. Understanding and celebrating the history of women religious is essential to understanding and celebrating the history of America.
—Cokie Roberts, news analyst and author
June 15, 2010
Written By: Laura Downey
DES MOINES NUN RUN 2010: A VOCATIONS ROAD TRIP
On Thursday, June 3rd, seven young women of the Diocese of Des Moines piled into a Ford Expedition and hit the road, driving together to visit three religious communities and returning to the diocese on Sunday, the 6th. This year’s “nun run” is the first that the diocese has offered, and hopes are that it will become an annual event. The nun run serves as a new opportunity for young women who are interested in learning more about the religious life to meet those who live it and to receive insight into how they can better discern their own vocations, whatever those vocations may be.
For clarification, a nun run is a vocations road trip meant to provide young women with the opportunity to be exposed to a sampling of different religious orders in the United States. Participants of such a trip travel by car and go from one convent to another, learning about the life of the sisters, their service to the Church, and their spirituality. Along the way, they get to pray, eat, and play with the sisters, Four students from Dowling Catholic High School and three women in their twenties attended this year’s nun run. Their first two destinations landed them in Lincoln, Nebraska. The participants spent a couple of hours visiting with a cloistered contemplative order called the Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters, affectionately known by many as the “Pink Sisters” because of the carnation pink habits that they wear. It was here that the girls began the first stop of their journey in the Adoration chapel with the Lord.
Following this visit, during which the young women were able to talk with a few of the sisters in a visiting room and to ask them questions about their lifestyle, the participants made their way to the School Sisters of Christ the King, a young order with which the group stayed until the morning of the 5th. The girls were kept busy during their visit, rising early in the morning to pray the Liturgy of the Hours with the sisters and to participate in daily Mass. Between community prayers, the girls’ activities with the sisters included a bonfire, talks about vocational discernment, pulling weeds, playing softball, asking questions, and having time for personal prayer in the chapel.
The last leg of the journey took the Des Moines group to Kansas City, Missouri, where they spent much of June 5th and 6th with the Little Sisters of the Poor, an order whose apostolate is to serve in homes for the elderly poor and whose foundress (St. Jeanne Jugan) was one of the five new saints canonized in October of 2009. While there, the young women were able to take part in the sisters’ apostolate by visiting with the elderly residents of the home, helping to feed them at meal times, and taking them for walks outside. The participants were also able to visit with and eat with the sisters. Their journey ended as it had begun—in Adoration of the Lord (the last day of the trip being Corpus Christi Sunday).
Praise God for the success of this trip and the blessing it has been in the lives of those young women who attended it! They return to Des Moines with new insight into the beautiful part of the Church that the religious life is. They also return with guidance for the discernment of their own vocations from God and for growth in holiness and in love as all Christians are to do. May He bless the young women of our diocese with many more opportunities such as these!
May 12, 2010
Written By: Fr David Muenchrath and Melody Taninies
The month of May is full of great opportunities for both women and men to discern how God is calling them in their lives. There will be a Women's Religious Vocation Discernment Day, two Quo Vadis meetings for young men in high school (Sunday, May 16th at 5:30 p.m. at the Dowling Priests Residence in West Des Moines and Sunday, May 23rd at Queen of Apostles Rectory in Council Bluffs at 5:30 p.m.). If you are a young woman in high school or college interested in learning more about religious life don't forget to sign up for the Nun Run by the end of May--and that's not all.
On this Sunday, May 16th, there is a great opportunity for all lay men and women who feel God is calling them to a little something more in their life. If you have ever felt God was calling you to something more, but family or other obligations kept you from pursuing this idea, then I invite you to attend a "Come and See" event that the Secular Fransican Order will be hosting at 12:00 p.m. at the Basilica of St. John. The event will take place in the old school building next to the Basilica, and is open to any lay men or women who want to learn more about Third Orders and how to be part of a religious order as a lay person.
If you know nothing about Third Orders in our Catholic Church I invite you to check out the article below written by Melody Taninies and join her and others at the Basilica of St. John this Sunday. As always, if you have any questions about this and any other vocational discernment, please feel free to contact the Office of Vocations.
Peace and Blessings,
Fr. David Muenchrath
The term Third Order
designates persons who live according to the Third Rule of a Roman Catholic religious order
. Their members, known as Tertiaries (Latin tertiarii
, from tertius
, third), are generally lay members of religious orders, i.e. men and women who do not necessarily live in a religious community and yet can claim to wear the habit
and participate in the good works of some great order.
A "Secular Order" (also called a "Third Order Secular") is defined according to Canon Law (1983) of the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church
in the following way:
Associations whose members share in the spirit of some religious institute while in secular life, lead an apostolic life, and strive for Christian perfection under the higher direction of the same institute are called third orders or some other appropriate name.". (Can. 303) Code of Canon Law of the Roman Catholic Church.
The general idea of lay people affiliated to religious orders, as seen in the Benedictine Oblates
or confraters is too natural for there to be any need to seek its origin. Founders and benefactors of monasteries were received in life into spiritual fellowship, and were clothed in death in some religious habit. A Benedictine Oblate is a lay or clerical, single or married, person formally associated to a particular monastery
. Since the sixth century Oblate have sought to live a life in harmony with the spirit of Saint Benedict
as revealed in the Rule of Saint Benedict
and its contemporary expression.
Also among Religious Orders born of the 12th-13th centuries it is often said that there was the first order
or the Male Religious who were first in establishment, then the second order
or the "Nuns or Sisters" who were often established second, and then the third order
of laity who were established third. Saint Francis of Assisi
, for example, is said to have established the Friars Minor
, the Poor Clares
, and the Secular Franciscans
In some cases the members of a third order, wished their order to become regular, meaning that they wanted to live in a more monastic and regulated way of life. Thus one finds the term Third Order Regular.
2. Third Order of St. Francis --
The Third Order of St. Francis in the Roman Catholic Church
is part of the Franciscan
family of religious orders. It is the best known and most widely distributed of the third orders, and has both regular and secular branches. The Franciscan Third Order has always been the principal one, and it received a great impetus and a renewed vogue from Pope Leo XIII
in 1883, in his approval of a new Rule
for the seculars. Pope Paul VI
in 1978 caused the separate Rules for both regulars and seculars to be recast and made more suitable for the requirements of devout men and women at the present day. The secular wing of the Order was renamed as the Secular Franciscan Order
3. Third Order of St. Dominic
-- This was one of the earliest developments of St. Dominic's Ordo de Poenitentia
. It was not indeed the primal organism from which the Friars Preachers
evolved, but rather represents that portion of the Order of Penance which came under Dominican influence. At first vaguely constituted and living without system or form, its members gradually grew more and more dependent on their spiritual guides. 3op.org/
4. The Third Order of Servites
-- The Servite Order
has had both a secular and regular Third Order. The secular Third Order was established in the United States in 1893. The Sisters of the Third Order of Servites was founded by St. Juliana Falconieri
of Florence, who received the habit ca. 1385 from Philip Benizi
, then Prior
General of the Servite friars. newadvent.org/cathen/13736a.htm
- Third Order of the Holy Trinity – Men and women who follow in the footsteps of founder St. John De Matha and Patron St. Benedict Joseph Labre. lay-trinitarians-md.org/index.html
With the advent of the Second Vatican Council came an elaboration of the lay vocation. The lay vocation is a vocation distinct from that of the consecrated state. It involves the sanctification of ordinary life, of ones work, of family life, of all the various secular occupations. It is the leaven in the midst of the world to order the temporal world to God. See Christifedelis Laici (by Pope John Paul II)
As the various third orders secular began to look at each of their houses after the Council they began to revise their Rules and Statutes. This has been a long and fruitful process. The Orders, as they felt they were ready, often after drafts and experimentations, have submitted one by one their new Statutes or Rules or Constitutions to the Holy See for review and approbation. Thus the new Statutes etc. are steeped in the doctrine of the Council regarding the universal call to holiness and the theology of the lay vocation including the secular character of the laity. Interestingly the various Orders have opted to change the name from "Third Order Secular" to "Secular Order" (or add least add it to usage) to emphasize the secular nature of the Order or they used the term "Lay or Laity" to the same effect. Of course "third order" and "tertiary" is still used but other names were added or used in a formal sense. The various documents show how the laity of the various Orders are part of the Order (or family etc) but fully within their particular lay and secular state. They show how tertiaries are to live fully their Christian lay vocation, as well as how they are to live the charism of the Order they belong to within secular life. They also provide various means to tending towards holiness in the midst of the world, which very much is part of the vocation of the tertiary—to strive for Christian perfection (CIC 303).
Mostly established in the 19th Centry, members of secular institutes are "in the world and not of the world, but for the world." They live in whatever providential circumstances God gives them, but they wholly consecrate their lives to God through the evangelical counsels of poverty, obedience, and chastity. They are the newest vocation in the Catholic Church, and many say they are the vocation of the new millennium. See United States Conference of Secular Institutes secularinstitutes.org/directory.htm
One of the more widely known secular institutes is Opus Dei
, formally known as The Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei
, an organization of the Catholic Church
that teaches that everyone is called to holiness and that ordinary life is a path to sanctity
. The majority of its membership are lay people, with secular priests
under the governance of a prelate
(bishop) appointed by the pope. Opus Dei is Latin
for "Work of God", hence the organization is often referred to by members and supporters as "the Work".
April 20, 2010
Written By: By Sr. Ramona Kaalberg, CHM
Inviting and Empowering Others to Use their Gifts
Who might you invite to consider a call to religious life? One quality we might look for is the ability to exercise leadership which invites and empowers others to use their gifts.
This quality indicates that one is not wrapped up in oneself, but is able to be attentive to others and to recognize their gifts as well as ways these might be called forth. It means realizing that every person has gifts to be shared.
As Jesus called his disciples this was a quality that appeared to be important to him. There was a great amount of diversity among his followers, but he touched individuals in a way that invited them to develop and share the gifts they had.
Several years ago, Sarah visited a woman who seldom joined others for experiences of any type. She simply stayed home, seemingly preferring to exist by herself. She seldom showed signs of experiencing happiness. After several visits she was invited to help organize some recreational experiences for people at a nearby senior center and she decided to give it a try. Her experience was a positive one, for the attentive Sarah had noticed her gifts and her needs and kept them in mind. It wasn’t long before the woman began to change. No longer content to have an isolated existence, she began to reach out to the people at the center and to enjoy being with them.
This quality of leadership is often found in people who are quiet and non-threatening, as well as in others who are extroverts. It challenges one to call forth the best in others, rather than seeking to be Number One. It means emphasizing, “We,” rather than “Me,” and being comfortable with one’s own gifts and limitations as well as the gifts and limitations of others.
We might look for women with the ability to invite and empower others to share their gifts as we encourage people to think about religious life.
April 6, 2010
Written By: Fr David Muenchrath
Yesterday was one of my favorite days of the year, Opening Day. After we celebrate the great joy of Easter nothing reminds more that Spring has finally arrived than enjoying a beautiful day of baseball with good friends. Now I love baseball because I believe that it helps us to learn the virtue of courage. As you stand in the batters box with a baseball coming at you 80 or 90 miles per hour, you know the only way for you to succeed is to take a swing. If you are afraid to swing at the ball you will strike out, and go no where, but if you have the courage to swing eventually you will land on base and follow the path to home plate.
In our lives as Christians, God is constantly throwing balls in our direction, calling us to be not afraid, and to have the courage to swing at the baseball of his grace. Once you get on base and start to follow the path home, you may discover that you can't make it home on the path that you are following. You might get called out and have to start all over again, but if you have the courage to to keep swinging you will find the path that leads you home. Maybe that path is priesthood, maybe its marriage, maybe its consecrated life, or maybe it's the deaconate. Whatever God's path for you is, as long as you are true to it and follow it God will lead to the true home plate, Heaven.
This year we saw a great story about a young man named Grant Desmse. A young man who was playing baseball professionally, but he had the courage to leave that profession when he felt that God was calling him down the path of priesthood. We all need to pray for Grant as he discerns if this truly is the path God has called him down. (I hope this is his true path, because I think he will make a great priest.) Of course Grant is not the only person to leave baseball to find their true path in the priesthood. Fr. Burke Masters, the Current Director of Vocations for the Diocese of Joliet, IL and a classmate of mine at Mundelein Seminary, was himself a baseball standout at Mississippi State University. I encourage you to read their stories of how they found their path to God's home plate, and I encourage you to keep swinging until you God's path for you.
Peace and Blessings,
Fr. David Muenchrath
March 31, 2010
Written By: Fr David Muenchrath
NUN RUN !! What?!? yes - a NUN RUN !!
Laura Downey (DCHS grad '07) and Fr. David Muenchrath will be at Dowling Catholic High School on Thursday, April 1 to speak to any girls who are interested in exploring God's call to the religious life. They are planning a fun trip they call a Nun Run - which is a trip with a group of young women to visit several religious communities and pray with the sisters there. If you are interested in this trip or talking casually with Laura and Fr. David about the religious life please contact the Office of Vocations.
March 31, 2010
Written By: Fr David Muenchrath
For almost every seminarian a part of our formation is serving as Pastoral Intern at a parish very different than the one we grew up in. For me that meant serving with Fr. Paul Strittmatter at the parishes of St. Patrick in Dunlap, IA and Sacred Heart in Woodbine, IA.
I will never forget the lessons that Fr. Paul taught me about being a priest. Like all of us he was imperfect, and had his idiosyncrasies, like getting two haircuts a year one for Christmas, one for Easter, but he strove to bring Christ to all people.
Often we would travel together in his Geo Metro down the dirt and gravel roads of rural Iowa to visit someone far off the beaten path. There was one woman in particular who you could tell rarely got any visitors expect for Fr. Paul. Her house was a mess, and the cats seemed to have taken over, but none of that bothered Fr. Paul. All he cared about was bringing Christ, in the Holy Eucharist, to this one woman who so many others had forgotten about.
That is one lesson about the priesthood that will never leave my heart. Much like Jesus himself, we as priests are not here for the righteous, but we are here to seek out the broken, the forgotten, those who are suffering, those who are struggling with their sinfulness, and we are to bring the love, the healing, the heart of Jesus Christ.
In his life Fr. Paul strove to do just that. At this time of great sorrow our prayers go out to Fr. Paul and to his immediate and church families. We pray that he will now know for all eternity the love he shared here on earth.