Monday, March 23, 2009

Get Ready for "FLANAGAN'S WAKE"

Let's get the word out about the upcoming showing of "Flanagan's Wake."

The "Wake" will be here at St. Anselm on Friday, April 3 at 7:00 p.m. There will be a light dinner available starting at 6:00 p.m. The $30 ticket includes two drinks and snacks during and after the "Wake."

The "Wake" involves some singing, much laughter, and audience-interaction. Get ready for a very fun evening.

We can use help in advertising this event. If you can put up some flyers, or sell some tickets, you can get both from Kayde in the Parish Office.

We're hoping to sell 400 tickets, which will fill the church. Let's get ready to wake Flanagan, and have some fun and a few "pints"

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Well, the Pope is travelling today, the feast of St. Patrick to the continent of Africa. His first stop is Cameroon. It just so happens that his visit comes in the midst of a controversy over the implementation of the new translations of the Roman Missal.

It seems that the Bishops of South Africa have given permission to use the new translations of the Roman Missal to their parishes. This, despite the fact that the new translations haven't been officially approved by Rome and other English-speaking Bishops' conferences...and those approvals are still about two or three years off.

The reaction from the South African priests and parishioners has been universally negative. In fact, it can be described as total rejection. Once again, the Vatican and the Bishops are not listening to their people. Here's an article about the situation in South Africa that Pope Benedict is walking into today:

SAfrica protest over new Catholic Mass translation
By MICHELLE FAUL – 18 hours ago

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — A new translation of the Roman Catholic Mass that is to be introduced worldwide in a few years is getting an accidental trial run in South Africa, where some parishioners are complaining it's too hard to understand.

The controversy comes as Pope Benedict XVI travels Tuesday to Cameroon on his first papal pilgrimage to the continent that has the fastest growing congregation of Catholics.

Critics say the new, more literal word-for-word translation is part of an attempt to roll back the progress made decades ago when the church halted its insistence on Latin.

Before Communion, for example, the prayer "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you" becomes "Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof." "One in being with the Father" becomes "consubstantial with the Father" in the Nicene creed.

And the congregation's response to the greeting that opens Mass with the priest saying "The Lord be with you," changes from "And also with you" to "And with your spirit."

In a misunderstanding, some South African church leaders started using the new version prematurely in some parishes, even though the English-language prayers won't be approved for global use for at least a couple of years. But instead of pulling back in the face of their mistake, they are continuing to use the liturgy.

Distribution of the prayers has fueled debate over whether the new translation — meant to more closely follow the original Latin text — will help deepen parishioners' prayer life or alienate them from the church.

"I think the church has been very lucky that the South Africans jumped the gun because it's showing the Vatican that there is going to be a worldwide problem when these new translations are put into effect," said Thomas Reese, a Jesuit priest and senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University.

"Once again the Vatican isn't listening to the critics, and we're going to have another major embarrassment to the pope when these translations are put into effect and are forced on the people in the pews," he said.

Vatican II, the 1962-1965 meetings that inspired liberalizing reforms of the Roman Catholic Church, led to changes such as Mass being celebrated in local languages. Reese said prior to that, Mass was said in Latin and parishioners followed along in a missile that had an English translation.

The new Mass translation now is being used in some parishes of the Southern African Church, which also includes Botswana and Swaziland and serves some 3.2 million Catholics. The premature use, which began in late November, is being blamed on a misplaced letter advising that the texts weren't to be used immediately.

Bishop Edward Risi, in charge of the local bishops' liturgical department, said the new translation is "a more faithful rendering ... an echo of the scriptures. What the original Latin has done uses the scriptures and English must also reflect that."

The debate over translating the latest edition of the Roman Missal, the ritual text for celebrating Mass, began years ago.

In 2000, Pope John Paul II issued a third edition of the "Missale Romanum," followed by a Vatican document a year later that insisted translations should stay close to the Latin and adhere to church doctrine. An international panel representing English-speaking bishops began tackling the job of translating the new liturgy.

But Clement Armstrong of Bryanston, South Africa, said some of the changes in wording are "simply nonsense." While his home parish has not yet adopted the changes, a church where he attended Mass over the holidays has.

"I am resistant to change and I think the older community in my parish will feel the same," he said. "I can accept change when there is a good reason but I cannot see one."

His daughter-in-law, Anne Armstrong agrees: "We are all familiar with the liturgy we have used since we were children. Why is there the need to say Mass differently?"

The Rev. Efrem Tresoldi warned in The Southern Cross, a regional Catholic weekly: "I've heard it said that younger people are leaving the Church because, among other things, the language used in our liturgy sounds foreign to them. I think this new version of the order of the Mass is even more alienating."

Lay leader Paddy Kearney also points to the theological implications in the "mea culpa." The new translation reverts to repeated pronunciations of guilt emphasized by beatings on the breast reflected in the Latin Mass: "Through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault."

Under Vatican II, the breast-beating was abandoned and people pronounced only once on grievous sinning.

"I think this is because some feel we need to have more emphasis on our guiltiness and sinfulness, because the feeling is that we have lost our sense of guilt," Kearney said.

There's a feeling, Kearney said, "that Vatican II was a mistake, that a lot has gone wrong as a result of its decrees and that we need to get back in line, get knocked into shape, that we need to inch back to where we were before."

In an article in The Southern Cross, Bishop Kevin Dowling agreed.

"I am concerned that this latest decision from the Vatican may be interpreted as another example of what is perceived to be a systematic and well-managed dismantling of the vision, theology and ecclesiology of Vatican II."

The Rev. Russell Pollitt also questioned whether nonnative English speakers in South Africa, where there are 11 official languages, would understand the more abstract concepts.

"The new text seems almost to imply that there is something inherently holy about Latin and inherently unholy about proper English," English Professor Colin Gardner said.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A taste of the future?

This recent article from "America" magazine was very thought-provoking. I studied with several women at the University of Notre Dame, who all obtained the same Master of Divinity degree as I and my fellow seminarians. Several of these women have been involved in pastoral ministry in parishes in the Midwest. So I thought of them as I read this wonderful article.

Exceptional Pastoring
Women in parish leadership
Mary M. Foley | MARCH 9, 2009

I am one of the few people I know who have been able to do what they most wanted to do in life. For the last four years, I have had the rare, joyful and privileged opportunity to pastor a Catholic parish as a laywoman. This ministry is rare; fewer than 500 men and women currently serve as pastoral leaders of parishes that do not have a resident priest pastor, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate. Those who serve have titles like parish/pastoral life coordinator, parish director or pastoral administrator. My service in this ministry ended when a new bishop decided to appoint only resident priest pastors in parishes. I am not sure how he will be able to maintain this practice over time, but the action is certainly within his rights as bishop. I look back on recent events with sadness and great disappointment, but with no animosity and with my bishop’s letter of recommendation in hand.

With all my heart I hope to serve once again in this ministry for our church. Looking for a new placement has given me some time to write and reflect. A couple of midwestern dioceses invited me to begin the application process, but it is lengthy and there are no concrete opportunities on the horizon yet. I interviewed in two dioceses in California. Neither diocese currently appoints anyone but priests to pastor parishes, but both dioceses talked with me about possibilities for ministry. I had a great time. We talked about the “parish life coordinator” model of ministry, as well as different configurations for parish pastoral teams. We discussed the church’s challenges today in terms of parish leadership, especially given the shortage of priests. Reflecting on these meetings, I realize that not only do I love parish ministry; I love talking about it. It is valuable to converse with different people around the country because our ideas and our imaginations can grow as a result.

I decided to put some thoughts to paper while I remain temporarily free of responsibilities and episcopal oversight. In saying the latter, I intend no slight toward any bishop I have ever worked with, for they have all been good men and I have loved them all. I wish only to acknowledge that I now feel freer than usual to speak publicly. As a woman serving in a very unusual ministry in the church, I am accustomed to being watched as though under a microscope, especially by people who would write to the bishop (or even the apostolic nuncio to the United States) if they thought anything I did was suspicious. At least for now, I do not have to worry about anyone sending letters of complaint to my supervising bishop.

My last assignment in ministry was especially challenging, because I was the only person serving in such a role within four dioceses in the state, and people were generally unprepared for such a change. In spite of the challenges, this was a ministry full of joy and one in which I felt most fully alive. In a word, it is a ministry for which I was made. Pastoring is my vocation. I deeply love my church, and I am thankful for every ministry opportunity I have had; but I am especially grateful for having had the opportunity to serve the church as a pastoral life coordinator.

What Is a Parish Life Coordinator?
For now, talking about the ministry may be a form of service to the church. What does it mean for the church to have women (or deacons or laymen) pastoring parishes? Note that I use “pastor” and “pastoring” as a verb. According to canon law, the title “pastor” always belongs to a priest. Yet canon law includes a special provision that allows a diocesan bishop to appoint a qualified person other than a priest to share in the pastoral care of a parish when there is a shortage of priests (Canon 517.2). In this case, a priest is named canonical pastor. This canonical pastor, or priest moderator, as the position is often called, is responsible for general oversight of the parish, but he is most often not involved in the daily pastoral care of parishioners or in parish administration. These responsibilities are entrusted to the one who is appointed parish life coordinator. The bishop also assigns a sacramental minister (a second priest), who comes into the parish for Sunday Mass and other sacramental celebrations.

The parish life coordinator is appointed to be the pastoral leader of the parish and the one responsible for its administration. While pastoring is ordinarily associated only with priesthood, it is good that this provision exists in canon law, because at this time in U.S. history, we do not have enough priests who can become pastors, and we will have more parishes in need of pastoring. I also know that God has entrusted gifts for pastoring to others like myself.

I do not know what the future holds for ecclesial structures and roles in ministry. I believe that the power of death cannot prevail against the church (Mt 16:18), and I trust that God will always make a way for people to receive the sacraments. The richness of the tradition of the Catholic Church is beyond comparison, yet I fear that fear itself will prevent us from adequately passing on this tradition from generation to generation. This is not something sentimental; it concerns the salvation of people and our mission as church.

Overcoming Fears
I have served in a ministry that is feared by some, who see it as devaluing priesthood. The only need we have, they would say, is to promote vocations to priesthood and religious life. Some fear that by encouraging lay ecclesial ministry, especially when it comes to leadership of parishes, we discourage these other vocations. This I do not believe. Religious vocations are God-given, and it is the task of anyone pastoring within the church (bishop, priest or parish life coordinator) to recognize, affirm, encourage, nurture and support all the gifts God has given to the community of faith. To me, this is an essential part of what it means to pastor. In the last four years, in a parish of 935 families, I encouraged two young men who may have vocations to priesthood, and I helped another man enter formation for the permanent diaconate. I gave vocation talks in our religious education classes and spoke about bishops, priests, deacons, brothers and monks, sisters and nuns and lay ecclesial ministers. I encouraged each child who thought that God may be calling him or her to one of these ministries and wrote letters to their parents, asking them to give encouragement as well. I also invited four laypeople to begin formation in a diocesan lay ministry program.

We are not the givers of religious vocations, nor can we choose what gifts will be given. Our proper task is to recognize all the gifts God has given to the church, especially in these challenging times. If we need vocations to the priesthood, and we do, then we must have pastors in parishes who will encourage them, whoever is doing the pastoring.

In the ministry of pastoring, I have also discovered that another concern compounds the fears of some: female leadership of parishes. When I was originally appointed, the bishop let me know that he expected me to attend cluster meetings with the priests. When the priests found out, some staged a minor revolt and protest to the presbyteral council. I avoided meetings until the matter was finally resolved. Then, over time, collegial relationships developed with some of the same priests who had originally objected to my presence.

At the parish level, I was informed by someone when I arrived that my coming was disruptive to the psyche of some of the people: “You have to understand that we have had this tradition for 2,000 years. Now, not only do we not have a priest pastor, but we have a woman on top of it!” Should such challenges prevent the consideration of women as leaders of parishes? In truth, I was never fully accepted by some people. Most, however, came around in their thinking. Our parish grew from 750 to 935 families, and our religious education enrollment of 535 students reflected a 25 percent increase over a few years. Many people said that I was able to minister with them in ways that some priests never could. Does this comment devalue priesthood? On the contrary, effective ministry does not diminish anyone. Rather, it helps our entire church.

The important task at hand for all pastors is to recognize the gifts that God has freely given for the benefit of the church. Then we must also educate the lay faithful about the state of the priest shortage in our country. Denial is another form of fear. Alternate models of ministry may be needed in particular times and places. We should help people understand the situation by providing them thorough orientation on new forms of ministry. Laypeople love the church, and they can learn, adapt and flourish under various models of pastoral leadership. God will provide priests for the church in the future, and God will provide what we need so that viable parishes can remain active communities of faith and local centers for evangelization. Consider starting a conversation about these things in your parish or diocese. Be not afraid.

Mary M. Foley has served in a variety of parish ministries for more than 20 years, most recently as pastoral life coordinator for a suburban parish of 935 families. She lives in the Midwest.
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Thursday, March 12, 2009

This wonderful image of St. Anselm helps me to focus in these confusing days.

Over the last week, I've been on retreat with kids from a Catholic High School, I've presided at weekend liturgies at our parish, and most recently, I've represented our Diocese at a meeting of regional Liturgical Commissions wrestling with the important issues of how best to prepare our diocese for the soon-to-be-released Roman Missal. Along the way, I've had to preside at several funerals, visit the sick in the hospitals, and helped our Bishop to institute deacon-candidates for their upcoming ministries.

When I look at this image, I'm reminded of the patron of our parish....St. Anselm of Caterbury. Anselm was a monk, an intellectual, a liturgical innovator, and a scholar who helped to renew his community and other communities which looked to his for leadership and inspiration.

I believe that our parish of St. Anselm can continue this necessary ministry. We can continue to help our own people, and those of the local area, toward a more realistic living of the Gospel in our day.

It requires a vision of service, prayer, and ongoing openess to new and innovative ways of doing traditional things.

Some people may find this scary and confusing....others may find it heretical....

I think people like Anselm, and John XXIII, and Oscar Romero, and other leaders in a time of radical change, sought to bring folks around to a vision of living this life in the light of the Resurrection of Jesus, and in the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

I look to this image of Anselm, and I seek to follow his the Gospel of Life!!!!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Letter from Pope Benedict

Tomorrow, you'll be able to read the full text of a letter from Pope Benedict to all of the world's bishops, discussing, and apologizing for, some recent events that have caused much confusion in the Catholic Church.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Papal Letter about the Lifting of the SSPX Excommunications - the Letter Itself
by Gregor Kollmorgen

Here, now, is the full text of the Pope's letter regarding the lifting of the SSPX excommunications itself, which has already been published in the most prestigious and reliable German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, in an NLM translation:

Dear brethren in the Episcopal ministry!

The lifting of the excommunication of the four bishops ordained by Archbishop Lefebvre in 1988 without a mandate of the Holy See has led, both within and outside the Catholic Church, for a variety of reasons, to a discussion of such vehemence as we had not experienced for a long time. Many bishops felt at a loss before an event which came unexpectedly and could barely be integrated positively among the questions and tasks of the Church of today. Although many pastors and faithful were willing in principle to value positively the Pope's desire for reconciliation, against this was the question of the appropriateness of such a gesture, given the real urgency of a believing life in our time. Several groups, however, accused the Pope openly of wanting to return behind the Council. An avalanche of protests was set into motion, the bitterness of which made injuries visible which transcended the moment. Therefore I feel pressed to address to you, dear brethren, a clarifying word, which is meant to help to understand the intentions which have guided me and the competent organs of the Holy See in this step. I hope in this way to contribute to peace in the Church.

One mishap for me unforeseeable, was the fact that the Williamson case has superimposed itself on the remission of the excommunication. The discreet gesture of mercy towards the four bishops ordained validly but not legitimately, suddenly appeared as something entirely different: as a disavowal of the reconciliation between Christians and Jews, and therefore as the revocation of what in this area the Council had clarified for the way for the Church. The invitation to reconciliation with an ecclesial group separating itself had thus become the opposite: an apparent way back behind all the steps of reconciliation between Christians and Jews which had been made since the Council and which to make and further had been from the outset a goal of my theological work. The fact that this superposition of two opposing processes has occurred and has disturbed for a moment the peace between Christians and Jews as well as the peace in the Church I can only deeply regret. I hear that closely following the news available on the internet would have made it possible to obtain knowledge of the problem in time. I learn from this that we at the Holy See have to pay more careful attention to this news source in the future. It has saddened me that even Catholics who could actually have known better have thought it necessary to strike at me with a hostility ready to jump. Even more therefore I thank the Jewish friends who have helped to quickly clear away the misunderstanding and to restore the atmosphere of friendship and trust, which - as in the time of Pope John Paul II - also during the entire time of my pontificate had existed and God be praised continues to exist.

Another mishap which I sincerely regret, is that the scope and limits of the measure of 21 January 2009 have not been set out clearly enough at the time of the publication of the procedure. The excommunication affects persons, not institutions. Episcopal consecration without papal mandate means the danger of a schism, because it calls into question the unity of the Bishops' College with the Pope. The Church must, therefore, react with the harshest punishment, excommunication, and that is to call back the persons thus punished to repentance and into unity. 20 years after the ordinations this goal has unfortunately still not been achieved. The withdrawal of the excommunication serves the same purpose as the punishment itself: once more to invite the four bishops to return. This gesture was possible after the affected had expressed their fundamental recognition of the pope and his pastoral authority, albeit with reservations as far as obedience to his magisterial authority and that of the Council is concerned. This brings me back to the distinction between person and institution. The releasing of the excommunication was a measure in the field of ecclesial discipline: the persons were freed of the burden of conscience of the heaviest ecclesial censure. From this disciplinary level one has to distinguish the doctrinal area. That the Fraternity of Saint Pius X does not possess a canonical position in the Church is not based ultimately on disciplinary grounds but on doctrinal ones. As long as the Fraternity does not possess a canonical position in the Church, its officials do not exercise legitimate offices in the Church. One has therefore to distinguish between disciplinary level affecting the persons as persons, and the level of doctrine, at which office and institution are concerned. To say it once again: As long as the doctrinal issues are not resolved, the Fraternity has no canonical status in the Church and its ministers, even if they are free from ecclesiastical censure, do not exercise in a legitimate way any ministry in the Church.

Given this situation, I intend to connect the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei", which since 1988 is responsible for those communities and individuals who, coming from the Fraternity of Pius X or similar groups, want to return into full communion with the Pope, in the future with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. This shall make it clear that the problems now being treated are essentially doctrinal in nature, especially those concerning the acceptance of the Second Vatican Council and the postconciliar Magisterium of the Popes. The collegial organs through which the Congregation works on the questions arising (especially the regular assembly of the Cardinals on Wednesday and the General Assembly every one or two years) guarantee the involvement of the prefects of various Roman congregations and of the worldwide episcopate in the decisions to be made. One cannot freeze the magisterial authority of the Church in 1962 and - this must be quite clear to the Fraternity. But to some of those who show off as great defenders of the Council it must also be recalled to memory that Vatican II contains within itself the whole doctrinal history of the Church. Who wants to be obedient to it [sc. the Council] must accept the faith of the centuries and must not cut the roots of which the tree lives.

I hope, dear brethren, that with this both the positive meaning as well as the limit of the measure of 21 January 2009 is clarified. But now the question remains: Was this necessary? Was this really a priority? Are there not much more important things? Of course, there are more important and urgent things. I think that I have made clear the priorities of the pontificate in my speeches at the beginning of it. What I said then remains my guideline unchangedly. The first priority for the successor of Peter, the Lord has unequivocally fixed in the Room of the Last Supper: "You, however, strengthen your brethren" (Lk 22, 32). Peter himself rephrased this priority in his first letter: "Be ready always to satisfy every one that asketh you a reason of that hope which is in you." (1 Peter 3, 15). In our time, in which the faith in large parts of the world threatens to go out like a flame which can no longer find food, the first priority is to make God present in this world and to open to men the access to God. Not to just any god, but to the God who spoke on Mount Sinai, that God whose face we recognize in the love unto the end (John 13, 1)- in the crucified and risen Jesus Christ. The real problem of our historic hour is that God is disappearing from the horizon of men and that with the extinguishing of the light coming from God disorientation befalls mankind, the destructive effects of which we are seeing ever more.

To lead men to God, to the God speaking in the Bible, is the supreme and fundamental priority of the Church and the successor of Peter in this time. From it then it follows on its own that we have to be concerned for the unity of believers. For their strife, their internal dissent, calls their talking about God into question. Therefore, the effort for the common witness of faith of the Christians - for ecumenism -is included in the highest priority. Then there is also the necessity that all who believe in God seeking peace with each other, trying to become closer to each other, in order to walk, in the different-ness of their image of God, yet together towards the source of light - inter-religious dialogue. Those who proclaim God as love unto the end, must give the witness of love: devoted to the suffering in love, fending off hatred and enmity - the social dimension of the Christian Faith, of which I have spoken in the encyclical "Deus caritas est".

If then the struggle for Faith, hope and love in the world is the true priority for the Church in this hour (and in different forms always), then still the small and medium-sized reconciliations also belong to it. That the quiet gesture of a hand stretched out has become a great noise and thus the opposite of reconciliation, we have to take note of. But now I have to wonder: Was and is it really wrong, also in this case, to go to meet the brother, who "hath any thing against thee" and to try for reconciliation (cf. Mt 5, 23f)? Does not civil society, too, have to try to prevent radicalizations, to bind their possible supporters - if possible - back into the major creative forces of social life to avoid isolation and all its consequences? Can it be entirely wrong to strive for the lessening of tensions and constrictions and to give room to the positive which can be found and integrated into the whole? I myself, in the years after 1988, have experienced how by the return of communities previously separating themselves from Rome the interior climate there has changed, how the return to the great, wide and common Church overcame onesided-ness and lessened tensions, so that now they have become positive forces for the whole. Can a community leave us totally indifferent in which there are 491 priests, 215 seminarians, 6 seminaries, 88 schools, 2 university institutes, 117 brothers, 164 sisters? Should we really calmly leave them to drift away from the Church? I am thinking, for example, of the 491 priests. The plaited fabric of their motivations we cannot know. But I think that they would not have made their decision for the priesthood, if next to some askew or sick elements there hot not been there the love of Christ and the will to proclaim Him and with Him the living God. Should we simply exclude them, as representatives of a radical marginal group, from the search for reconciliation and unity? What will then be?

Certainly, we have long and have again on this occasion heard many dissonances from representatives of this community - pride and a patronizing know-it-all attitude, fixation into onesidedness etc. For the love of truth I must add that I have also received a series of moving testimonials of gratitude, in which was made perceptible an opening of hearts. But should the great Church not also be able to be magnanimous [in German its a play on words: "great Church - great of heart"] in the knowledge of the long wind she has; in the knowledge of the promise which she has been given? Should we not, like good educators, also be able not to hear some bad things and strive to calmly lead out of the narrowness? And must we not admit that also from ecclesial circles there have come dissonances? Sometimes one has the impression that our society needs at least one group for which there need not be any tolerance; which one can unperturbedly set upon with hatred. And who dared to touch them - in this case the Pope - lost himself the right to tolerance and was allowed without fear and restraint to be treated with hatred, too.

Dear brethren, in the days in which it came into my mind to write this letter, it so happened that in the seminary of Rome I had to interpret and comment the passage of Gal 5, 13-15. I was surprised at how directly it speaks of the present of this hour: "Do not make liberty an occasion to the flesh, but by charity of the spirit serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. But if you bite and devour one another; take heed you be not consumed one of another." I was always inclined to regard this sentence as one of the rhetorical hyperbole which occasionally there are with St. Paul. In some respects it may be so. But unfortunately, the "biting and devouring" is there in the Church even today as an expression of a poorly understood freedom. Is it surprising that we are not better than the Galatians? That we at least are threatened by the same temptations? That we have always to learn anew the right use of freedom? And that we have always to learn anew the first priority: love? On the day on which I had to speak about this in the seminary, in Rome the feast of the Madonna della Fiducia - our Lady of Trust - was celebrated. Indeed - Mary teaches us trust. She leads us to the Son, in Whom we all may trust. He will guide us - even in turbulent times. So at the end I would like to thank from my heart all the many bishops who have given me in this time moving signs of trust and affection, but above all the gift of their prayers. This thank I extend to all the faithful who have shown me during this time their unchanged fidelity to the successor of St. Peter. The Lord preserve us all and lead us on the path of peace. This is a wish that spontaneously rises from my heart, especially now at the beginning of Lent, a liturgical time particularly propitious to inner purification, and which invites us all to look with new hope towards the radiant goal of Easter.

With a special Apostolic Blessing, I remain

Yours in the Lord

Benedictus Pp. XVI

From the Vatican, on 10 March 2009

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Back from a KAIROS

Back from another KAIROS retreat, which officially ends tomorrow afternoon.

This retreat was a very unique experience...with some very unique situations and retreatants and leaders.

Overall, I think that we need to take a "good, long, hard look at the KAIROS retreat program" for the near future, and in light of the current bad economy, evaluate the value of the program for the future.

Our new school administration also needs to reevaluate the place of retreats in the entire "Catholic character" of the high school community.

Wish I had better news about my experiences these past few days....

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Jonah, a Reluctant Prophet

Today's first reading at Mass is the story of Jonah, a most reluctant prophet. I thought that this image would help us reflect on the call to be prophets today...and the demands of being open to God's often-surprising ways.

Later today, I'm off to Bucks County for another KAIROS retreat with the students from St. John Vianney High School. I'm praying that this will be a powerful time for them, when the Lord will touch them with love, grace, and peace.

Pray for me too!

Another KAIROS retreat for SJV

Later today, St. John Vianney High School will begin another KAIROS retreat, and I'm pleased to announce that once again I've been asked to be the priest on the retreat. I'm really very excited about the next 4 days, and for all of the retreatants and the retreat-leaders!

While I'll miss the regular activities of parish ministry, I think that being on a KAIROS retreat will envigorate me for many new initiatives in the parish. So, thank you, people of St. Anselm, for letting me take off for a couple of days to "hang" with the students at St. John Vianney High School.

Let's all pray that we can come back from our Lenten experiences renewed in the One who gives Eternal Life through His Passion, Death, and Resurrection.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Big Chill

A lot of snow today! Here at St. Anselm, we have over 12" of snow on the ground. It's going to take a while to get it all plowed and cleaned up, so please be patient.

And be careful out there!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Rite of Election: Welcome to the Family!

This afternoon, at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption, in Trenton, the Diocese celebrated the annual Rite of Election. Close to 700 people filled the Cathedral for a beautiful liturgy recognizing the "election" of the candidates for the sacraments of initiation at the Easter Vigil.

The Elect were joined by their families, friends, and the RCIA teams from their parishes, who have been bringing them to this point in their spiritual journeys. During the next few weeks of Lent, they will continue their intensive study, and preparation for the celebration of the Easter Sacraments.

Together, we welcome these newest "sisters and brothers" in the faith.!

Thanks for the Bishop's Annual Appeal 2009

Thanks to everybody for your generosity toward this year's Bishop's Annual Appeal. If you would like printed information about this year's Appeal, we have fliers available near all of the doors of the church, along with pledge cards in both English and Spanish.

A new aspect of this year's Appeal is the opportunity to donate online. Please be sure to mark "St. Anselm" as your parish if you choose this option.

There are many worthy opportunities to donate to charities in our area. Your donation toward the Bishop's Annual Appeal will help to fund the formation of seminarians and priests, and lay ecclesial ministers for service in our diocese.

Once again, THANK YOU!