Posts Tagged ‘Year of the Priest’

An evangelical worship leader visits his brother, the seminarian and writes of what he found at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary.  Read it here:  A Visit to Heaven.

Interestingly, Mount St. Mary’s undergraduate college was recently the topic of on of Msg. Pope‘s articles in the ADW blog, which I commented on when it was posted.

Just a reminder to pray for vocations, for our priests, seminarians and religious.  Also, pray for Christian unity.

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St. Benedict by Herman Nigg

Fr. Tom, showing his love for his sheep, had parts of the Rule of St. Benedict published in today’s bulletin.  I think it is edifying for my parish and me.  In this Year of the Priest, I pass it on for your edification, too.  :-)    

  • Help those who are in trouble.
  • Console the afflicted.  
  • Prefer nothing to the love of Christ.
  • Speak the truth from your heart as from your mouth.    
  • Attribute the good that you find in yourself to God, and not to yourself.    
  • Desire eternal life with all the ardor of your soul.    
  • Listen willingly to the Holy Scriptures.    
  • Daily confess your past faults to God in your prayers with tears and groans, and in the future correct them.    
  • In all things obey the instructions of the Abbot even if, God forbid, he should go astray in his works, remembering this precept of the Lord: Do what they say, but not what they do.    
  • The struggler must be patient, enduring all things that come to him.    
  • We should not seek to be different from others; we should do only what is needful, following the example of the saints.    
  • Our words to others should be few and covered with gentleness.    
  • Honor those who are old.    
  • Love those who are younger.    
  • Pray for your enemies in the love of Christ.    
  • Make peace, before the setting of the sun, with those from whom you have been separated by discord.    
  • And never despair of the mercy of God.    

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I know I’ve been posting alot of news stories as of late.  I’m sorry about that.  But here is another gem that you may have missed, and is a good Year of the Priest story.  It’s a tale of a false accusation, leading to a conviction for rape, four years of prison for an innocent man, and finally, the truth emerges when the accuser admits that she made the whole thing up to stop her friends from beating her.  After reading the story, it sounds to me like this woman was in some sort of woman’s gang because they were slapping her around.  Years later she does the right thing, with the help of a good confessor and the prodding of DNA evidence.  The truth will set you free, and though this woman will be spending time in prison, I can’t help thinking that she feels somewhat liberated after carrying the knowledge of her guilt.  I’m praying that this goes a long way toward the salvation of this woman.

Again, keep all of those involved in your prayers, especially the unnamed priest who is the real hero of the story.  (note to self: I really need to finish my post on Reconciliation.)

From the New York Post:

A young mother who falsely cried rape, sending an innocent man to prison for nearly four years, will experience firsthand what he suffered — she’ll spend one to three years behind bars for perjury.

“I wish her the best of luck,” said William McCaffrey last night of Biurny Peguero Gonzalez.

“Jail isn’t easy.”

McCaffrey, 33, of The Bronx, was locked up after Gonzalez accused him of raping her at knifepoint on a Bronx street back in 2005.

It was a lie she repeated to doctors, cops, prosecutors, a grand jury and the jury that convicted McCaffrey.


Gonzalez was taken away after making a tearful apology to McCaffrey, who was not in court.

She also begged for mercy on behalf of her two sons, ages 3 months and 7 years.

“To Mr. McCaffrey, I am aware that nothing I do or say to him can bring back the years he spent in jail,” she said. “I want him to know I will carry this guilt for the rest of my life.”

Gonzalez, 27, had recanted her story last year after new DNA evidence proved she’d been lying and a priest to whom she’d confessed urged her to come clean.

God, bless your servant in the Bronx.

full story here.


I found another article on this story from WPIX which names the priest, the parish and specifically mentions that the accuser had returned to her faith.  The reporter, Stephanie Barash does a good job of covering this.

A woman – who accused a man of sexually attacking her more than four years ago – has confessed to her priest, that the attack never happened, police said.

Biurny Peguero Gonzalez, 26, who recently tied the knot and has a baby on the way, said she found renewed faith in the Catholic Church and couldn’t go on living with the burden of the lie.

She admitted to her priest, Rev. Zelijko Guverovic of St. Anthony’s in Union City, that she had not been raped by William McCafferey, despite what she told her friends, law enforcement officials, and even a jury.

McCafferey, who was later convicted of the crime, is currently in prison and has already completed 4 years of a 20-year sentence.Guberovic urged Gonzalez to speak with her lawyer, Paul Callen, who then brought her to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, where she reportedly recanted her testimony.

During the trial, Gonzalez told jurors she had met McCaffrey after a night of heavy drinking in September 2005. She said she had been in a car parked in front of an upper Manhattan eatery on Dyckman Street when he picked her up to go to a party. Some of her friends remained inside the restaurant when she left.

Realizing they were both too intoxicated to get behind the wheel, Gonzalez said they parked in a garage and got a ride with his friends to the party. When they realized the party was over, McCaffrey took her back to the garage. When he left, she told her friends – who were still inside the restaurant – that she had been raped.

Gonzalez said she went to Christ Hospital in Jersey City the following morning and showed nurses bite marks on her shoulder and arm, apparently from McCaffrey. The nurses, however, found no physical evidence that showed that she had been raped.

Gonzalez said she concocted the outrageous story because her friend became infuriated with her after she abandoned them without a ride from the restaurant – and said they even began physically abusing her.

According to the New York Post, the District Attorney’s office is now considering charging Gonzalez with perjury.

An attorney for McCafferey asked a judge Wednesday to vacate his conviction and to release his client.

Pray for Mr. McCaffery as he rebuilds his life, Mrs. Gonzalez who is taking the fearful road of following the Lord despite personal suffering, and the faithful servant Fr. Zelijko Guberovic.  This story highlights the importance of Reconciliation, and how God acts through his priest to enact His will. 

It’s Lent.  Go to confession.  Go tomorrow.  (for more reasons to go Confession)

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From the Big League Stew blog, an awesome story unfolding:

Well, here’s a story you don’t see every day.

Grant Desme, a 23-year-old minor league outfielder in Oakland’s system, is retiring from baseball to follow a calling into the Catholic priesthood.

The story was first reported by Fox Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi — perhaps appropriately with that first name of his — and this isn’t a case of a struggling player going through an early-life crisis. Desme was ranked the A’s eighth-best prospect by Baseball America after hitting .288 with 31 home runs and 89 RBIs in A ball in 2009 and he was just named MVP of the Arizona Fall League.

Desme might have even been a late-season callup to the big league club in 2010. Our Y! Sports 2010 fantasy guide has him ranked the 40th-best minor-league prospect for near-term fantasy purpose. However, ESPN’s Rob Neyer disagrees, saying that he didn’t see Desme as a future star by the Bay.

Susan Slusser has more on Desme’s decision to leave playing against the Padres and Cardinals so he can start praying with other padres and cardinals at a Catholic seminary in Orange County. He said the news came as bit of a shock to Billy Beane, but that the Oakland GM and entire A’s system have been supportive of his decision.

Said Desme on a Friday afternoon conference call: 

“I’m doing well in baseball. But I had to get down to the bottom of things, to what was good in my life, what I wanted to do with my life. Baseball is a good thing, but that felt selfish of me when I felt that God was calling me more. It took awhile to trust that and open up to it and aim full steam toward him … I love the game, but I’m going to aspire to higher things.”

Desme spoke with Baseball America last year about baseball being only “a game” and we wish him success on his spiritual path. In a selfish age when churches struggle to recruit young male Americans, his sacrifice of possible riches is a very admirable thing.



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Our awesome Pope Benedict is reminding the faithful of the teachings of JPII on suffering.  How gracious and wise are his words.  From the Catholic News Agency:

Vatican City, Dec 3, 2009 / 10:26 am (CNA).- Benedict XVI has announced that the World Day of the Sick will be celebrated this liturgical year on February 11, the 25th anniversary of the institution of  the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Health Care Workers.  The Pontiff drew attention to the essential nature of pastoral service for the sick and asked those who are ill “to pray and offer up their sufferings for priests” in this Year of the Priest.

For February 11, the Pope said, the Church would like to “raise awareness in the ecclesial community of the importance of pastoral service in the vast world of health…”  It’s a service, that plays an integral part in healthcare’s mission following  “the same saving mission of Christ.”

“Through the mystery of his passion, death and resurrection, human suffering obtains sense and fullness of light.”

Benedict quoted the words of his predecessor to “illuminate” this mystery.  John Paul II wrote that in Christ’s death, human suffering reached it’s culmination and also entered into a new dimension of love, obtained through suffering.

“The Cross of Christ became a spring, from which gush rivers of living water.”

The Pontiff also highlighted the necessity for a “logic of love” practiced with the little ones and the needy as witnessed in Christ’s washing of the apostles’ feet  and called for every Christian to relive the parable of the Good Samaritan.

“Go and do the same,” says Jesus at the end of the parable.

“With these words he turns also to us,” indicated the Pope.  He calls us to see that “the experience of sickness and suffering can become a lesson of hope.”

It’s not “resting from the suffering or running from the pain that cures man, but it is his capacity to accept tribulation and to mature in it, to find sense through the union with Christ, who suffered with infinite love.”

Pope Benedict called particular attention to the institutions that provide humanitarian and spiritual healing to the sick and suffering, saying there has never been more need for them in the world.  He recognized the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Health Care Workers specifically.  The council will celebrate its 25th anniversary of service this coming year.

The Holy Father concluded with a message directed to priests and the sick.  To the priests, as “ministers of the sick,” he said, “not to hold back in giving care and comfort to the sick.”  To the sick, he implored, “I ask you to pray and offer your sufferings for priests, that they may remain faithful to their vocations and that their ministry be rich in spiritual fruits, to the benefit of the entire church.”

Though we may not be ill, each of us suffers in some way, at some point in our lives.  As modern folks, we don’t expect to suffer.  We don’t like it and we run from it.  So it is good to be reminded that suffering is universal, it is inescapable and furthermore, it is not necessarily bad:  it can be a conduit to God.  By turning our suffering into an offering for others, we participate in a beautiful sacrifice, pleasing to God and edifying for ourselves.  The mere contemplation of such offerings fills my soul with awe and joy.

How great is our God!

Pope Benedict asks sick to offer up suffering for priests.

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I think it is a very historical event in many ways because the language that was used — the language of Jesus, which ties us more directly to Jesus.”  —  Army Col. Teresa A. Gallagher, Commander 28th Combat Aviation Brigade 

Indeed!  Col. Gallagher speaks the truth, the language of Jesus WAS indeed used…and I’m not talking about the Aramaic used in the Mass.  ;-)

From The Boston Pilot (official newspaper of the Boston Diocese) (and the oldest Catholic newspaper in the country!) comes this wonderful Year of the Priest story  from Iraq.  There, at the site of Father Abraham’s hometown, the head of Chaldean Rite Catholic community celebrated mass with the chaplains, men and women of Contingency Operating Base Adder.  From the well-written article by Sgt. Neil W. McCabe, it is clear that God’s Providence was working on many levels:  national, international, denominational and personal.  I would love for a follow-up story in 10 years but for now, I’m sure that God is working on something good.

A short walk from the Ziggurat of Ur, the massive Sumerian stone edifice that dominates the site of Abraham’s hometown, the leader of southern Iraq’s Chaldean Rite Catholic community celebrated Mass Nov. 7 at the camp’s chapel.

“Today, as we gather in the Land of Abraham, the father of all nations, I dedicate this Mass to all of you — and I also dedicate the Mass for the peace, which is the wish of children and every people on earth, especially the peace in our beloved country, Iraq,” said Msgr. Imad Al Banna, who, as the vicar of the country’s Chaldean patriarch, is the prelate of Basra, a diocese erected in the fifth century.

“I further dedicate this Mass to those working for peace, especially for those who offered the ultimate sacrifice, who died in Iraq for the sake of peace at the Altar of Freedom,” the prelate said.

The official host of the liturgy was the 28th Combat Aviation Brigade, a unit of the Pennsylvania National Guard, said Army Col. Teresa A. Gallagher, the brigade’s commander.

The invitation was worked out between the colonel and Army Lt. Col. John C. Morris, chief of chaplains for the 34th Infantry Division Command Group, whose area of operations is Iraq’s southern nine provinces, she said. Chaplain Morris and his staff coordinated the event.

The ordinary flew 45 minutes north to Camp Adder with Morris and the commander of the 34th, Army Maj. Gen. Richard C. Nash, from the general’s Multi-National Division South headquarters at Camp Basra. In his homily, the prelate said he has a great working relationship with Nash, whom he called a great friend of the Iraqi people.

Nash, whose 34th Division is part of the Minnesota National Guard, said the ordinary’s visit to Camp Adder was a fantastic opportunity for the prelate to spread the Word of God to soldiers in other parts of Multi-National Division South.

After the Mass, the Chaldean cleric sat with soldiers and other congregants in a reserved room at the nearby dining facility, posing for pictures and answering questions from curious Americans and sharing moments of affinity with Iraqis from his community. At the end of the luncheon, Gallagher presented him with her personal coin and a commemorative Liberty Bell, which he gamely held up and rang playfully for everyone.

“This is the second time I have met him in person,” said Army Maj. Gary K. DeRouchey, a Catholic chaplain assigned to MND South from South Dakota, about the prelate. Father DeRouchey concelebrated the Mass with the ordinary along with three other Catholic chaplains, Air Force Maj. Richard M. Fitzgerald, Air Force Captain Richard J. Allen and Army Capt. Frantisek Halka.

“Each time, he has shown himself to be a man of great compassion and love for the people of his parishes as well as the American people,” Father DeRouchey said. “He sees the importance of cooperation between our nations, but not so much on the political side, but mostly on being instruments of God’s mercy. You can see the love of Christ in him.”

Father DeRouchey added, “He truly lives out his faith. He has nothing but a smile on his face. He is forever praising God for the blessings he has received. He lives with much less than most of us ever dreamed of living and he celebrates that.”

Among the Iraqis at the Mass, was Deacon Bassam Toma Kajo, a native of Basra, who assisted the monsignor at the Mass both as an altar server and as second voice, joining in chants and making responses.

Kajo, who travelled with the prelate, said he was ordained a permanent deacon in 2005, one year after he lost sight in his right eye when an Islamic militia in his city destroyed his store with rocket propelled grenades.

Today, Kajo is the director of a private agency, Brothers Loving Human Charity, which focuses on helping children of all backgrounds with extreme medical conditions, he said. Because of a freak house fire, he lives with his wife and daughter in a one-room apartment.

On the tarmac at Camp Basra before boarding his helicopter, the prelate told Father DeRouchey, that his community has suffered terribly during the struggle to establish a new Iraq. “There are 14 churches, six are open and eight are closed. There were 1,050 families, now there are 500.”

Despite the challenges, the ordinary said he continues to send seminarians to the Chaldean seminary in Baghdad and he operates a school open to all children and other charitable services with the help of religious sisters.

There is a hope that this Mass is just another step towards a fuller interaction between the local and military Christian communities, said Father DeRouchey.

Events such as this Mass are a chance to reach outside the military boundaries, he said. In fact, the chaplain broached the idea with the ordinary of partnering with the local Chaldean community in acts of charity as a Church, to reach the hearts of the people of Iraq.

He also discussed with the ordinary the possibility of inviting members of his community to come onto Camp Basra to celebrate Mass during the Christmas season.

“It was an East meets West opportunity,” said Father Fitzgerald. “I teach a class here where Western Christians are trying to learn about Eastern Christianity, so my whole class was actually at the Mass–Catholic and Protestant, by the way, and they are trying to integrate this whole experience as to how we can build bridges between East and West and a lot of it comes through knowledge.”

The Chaldean Mass is celebrated in Aramaic, an ancient Semitic language spoken in Palestine in the time of Jesus. The celebrant chants the liturgy in a rhythm unfamiliar to soldiers who are accustomed to how the Roman Rite is celebrated in the United States.

“I think it is a very historical event in many ways because the language that was used — the language of Jesus, which ties us more directly to Jesus,” Gallagher said.

Sgt. Miguel Pastrana, a soldier deployed with the Army Reserve’s Chicago-based 16th Psychological Operations Battalion, stationed at Camp Adder, said the Mass was a very powerful spiritual experience. Pastrana attended the Mass with two other soldiers from the 16th POB; Spec. Martin P. Nolan and Cpl. Richard M. Kostro.

All three soldiers said they followed the cues from Father Fitzgerald from the stage, where he led the choir.

Participation is the key, Father Fitzgerald said. “The Mass has an international predictability, and although the Mass was celebrated in Aramaic, there were moments when we could vaguely indentify the moment and jump in with song.”

Sgt. Neil W. McCabe is a Pilot reporter currently serving with the 311st Military History Detachment in Iraq.

There aren’t many good news stories from the Christians of the Middle East.  The persecutions there are terrible.  Pray for our Christian brethren there.  Pray for the Chaldean peoples and rite.  Pray for our American troops and pray for the writer of this article, a staff reporter for The Boston Pilot who is serving in Iraq.

May God bring to fruition all the many seeds that were planted in this dusty, temporary camp.   Blessed be God forever!



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Creighton‘s Institute for Priestly Formations is doing God’s work, as you can see in this wonderful video.   Pope Benedict has come back time and again to the centrality of prayer within the life of priests.   That is what the Institute for Priestly Formations does:  teaches priests how to pray.  (If you scoff at that, then congratulations on being a better pray-er than me;  indeed, than most all of us.  Praying is a lifelong learning process of giving oneself over to God.  Even the great saints struggled with prayer.)

Watching this video, I was reminded how difficult the life of priesthood is.  Difficult and sometimes lonely.  I think those of us who are in the flock forget how much work our priests do.  How much responsibility they carry.  Yet, every single parishioner expects their pastor to be available for their needs, have time to chat, always be friendly and cheerful and be absolutely saintly all the time.   An example of this type of self-absorbed thinking would be a grandmother I met at a Catholic bookstore last month.  (I was getting my St. Terese book finally!)  She was picking out a Confirmation gift for her grandson, whose parents had switched to an Episcopalian Church because the father was vehemently anti-Catholic.  Although she started off bemoaning the loss of her daughter’s faith, she ended up berating her own priest for his lack of time, saying that she could not remember the last time her parish priest just visited her at home.  I interrupted (respectfully!) and said, “Ma’am, do you realize how many responsibilities your pastor has?  IF he only has one parish to tend, then he’s the preacher, the director of the RCIA, the teacher of the RCIA, the Superintendent of the parochial school, the eulogist, the celebrant, the CFO, the COO and the CEO of your church.  Oh, and probably the chief bottle washer, too.”  I stopped short of asking her when was the last time she volunteered around the parish office, but I did say that I stop in every couple of weeks to see if Father needs any odd errands run, and then joked that if we didn’t shop for him, our priest would wear pants with holes in the knees.  I am 100% positive that finding time in the day for personal prayer is very very hard for my priest.  I know that is why he rises at 5am to walk the park, because it is some of the only time he has to give to the Lord  in prayer.

So readers:  Pray for your priest.  Pray for your bishop and other leadership.  Theirs is a difficult life and having chosen it for themselves does not make it any easier a burden to bear. 

Also, please lift up the people of this Institute in prayer, their leaders, teachers and students, that through the work of IPF, we might receive more laborers for our vineyards tend to those laborers we have and grow God’s people here on earth.  May God continue to bless the work happening in Nebraska, and may the grace flowing through the newly acquired prayer lives of these  men sustain them in their ministries.

(I couldn’t embed the video.  Sorry).

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National Catholic Reporter mentions two developments in Hollywood for us Catholics.

First, Fr. Eric Andrews is the new head of Paulist Productions, which works with big production companies to make mainstream movies that are ‘good and good for you.’  NCR highlights Fr. Andrews “unique background”:

Eric started out his career not in a seminary, but at a first-rate production company: Jim Henson Productions out of New York. There, he worked on a number of TV shows and films — but he soon felt the call and joined up with the Paulists.After nine years as chaplain on the University of Tennessee campus at Knoxville, Fr. Eric is now in Hollywood — looking to increase outreach by increasing production.

Second, NCR mentions the outreach happening at Family Theater Productions

Today, Family Theater still produces shorts, films and documentaries — but under the direction of Holy Cross Fr. Willy Raymond has geared up its outreach program to Hollywood Catholics, and those interested in becoming Catholics. The theater now sponsors a monthly gathering called “Hollywood Prays,” a prayer group that includes music, singing, pasta, and — of course — some pretty decent red wine. It draws a growing crowd of younger actors, writers, etc. — artists who are new to Hollywood and looking for a place to be themselves.

….Artists like Catholic convert/actor Matthew Marsden whom I wrote about before.   Family Theater Productions is the same company that is bringing us Rosary Stars which I mentioned here.

Hat tip to  Inside Catholic.

Full article at Changes afoot in Catholic Hollywood | National Catholic Reporter.

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In this Year of the Priest, it is fitting that I should stumble upon these amazingly charming videos from Eskyguard on YouTube.   I don’t know who “Eskyguard” is but the videos were made by seminarians at Creighton a few years ago.  They’re great!  Here’s what the YouTube info space says about the series, as posted by Eskyguard:

Short commercial comparing NFP and Contraception directed, written, acted, and edited by Catholic seminarians at the Institute for Priestly Formation in Omaha.
We actually shot this on the 39th anniversary of Humanae Vitae without knowing it! That’s Providence!
There are seven videos in the series (hmm, very theologically sound number, gentlemen!), and although the production values are a little low, the script, actors, presentation and awesomeness of their witnessing more than make up for it!

Video 1


Video 2


Video 3


 Video 4



(Posting the last three in the next entry.)

 Since these seminarians posted these videos over 2 years ago (on the anniversary of Humanae Vitae!), it’s completely possible that some of these young men have been ordained now and are out serving the Catholic faithful.  I don’t know why, but thinking that makes me very, very happy.  They are young but full of faith and energy.  The Church here in America need both the faithfulness and the energy!  It reminds me again that in my youth and for my siblings, we were failed by our local parish and diocese and by our parents, both in formal catechism and in life lessons.  I’ll do a post on that sometime but in the meantime,–as I was saying…these young seminarians sure gladden my heart and I’m  happy that they are out there, somewhere, fighting the good fight.  Bless them, and bless their parents.

 Oh!  And don’t forget to pray for them!  The path of a priest is a lonely path, they need all the prayers we can give them.  Try this prayer, which I got from St. Vincent Ministry for Priests:

Lord Jesus, you have chosen your priests from among us and sent them out to proclaim your word and to act in your name. For so great a gift to your Church, we give you praise and thanksgiving. We ask you to fill them with the fire of your love, that their ministry may reveal your presence in the Church. Since they are earthen vessels, we pray that your power shine out throught their weakness. In their afflictions let them never be crushed; in their doubts never despair; in temptation never be destroyed; in persecution never abandoned. Inspire them through prayer to live each day the mystery of your dying and rising. In times of weakness send them your Spirit, and help them to praise your heavenly Father and pray for poor sinners. By the same Holy Spirit put your words on their lips and your love in their hearts, to bring good news to the poor and healing to the brokenhearted. And may the gift of Mary your mother, to the disciple whom you loved, be your gift to every priest. Grant that she who formed you in her human image, may form them in your divinee image, by the power of your Spirit, to the glory of God the Father.  Amen.

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And here are “rounds” 5, 6 and 7 of the epic match-up, NFP v. Contraceptive.  


Video 5


Video 6


Video 7



…And the winner is…

Natural Family Planning!

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