Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Vocation Gathering

This past week I invited our seminarians and several potential seminarians to gather with me in Circle for a few days of prayer and reflection, and more importantly, to get to know a little bit about each other. One of our current seminarians was able to gather with us. I did not expect the two from Rome to come home. We also had four potential seminarians attend. One is applying to the college seminary this coming year. Two are looking at possibly entering the seminary after college and the last has finished college and is discerning where God is calling him to serve Him. Please continue to pray for vocations, especially for vocations to priesthood and to religious life.

Happy New Year

I just wanted to take a moment to wish everyone a very happy New Year

Fr. Leo

Restoring a Catholic Culture: Where do we start?

I got the following from the Catholic Culture website.

I've been a follower of Catholic World News for years. This fall they merged their website into the Catholic Culture website. Please take time to read the whole article on their webpage. This commentary if from Phil Lawler

Shortly after the US presidential elections I wrote a column in our "Commentary" space lamenting the failure of Catholic Americans to join in a strong political bloc supporting a culture of life. Many readers responded enthusiastically to that column, and especially to these words:

To repair the damage, we must recognize that the problem is not restricted to abortion, nor to defense-of-life issues. Indeed it is not, strictly speaking, a political problem. To restore the integrity of the Catholic vote, we must first restore the integrity of the Catholic faith, and rebuild the foundations of a Catholic culture.

What can we do, you and I, to restore our Christian culture and protect our Catholic faith?

Over the years I have been involved in several different efforts to promote Catholic teachings in the political arena. Although I still applaud those efforts, and happily join them whenever I can, I have come to believe that they are not, and cannot be, the answer to our problem. Whenever a Catholic group rises up to support pro-life candidates, another group, claiming to be equally Catholic, counters by defending candidates who support abortion. You and I may agree that no genuine Catholic could support legal abortion. But the media disagree, and sympathetic reporters will always give an edge to the "pro-choice" Catholics. As long as Catholics are not unified in their beliefs, we cannot expect to form a solid political bloc.

But what if some of us were conspicuously unified in our beliefs and in our behavior? What if there were enough of us striving to live an authentically Catholic life so that our neighbors couldn't help but notice? Inevitably they would notice, too, if there was something a bit different about the way we lived: something distinctive, something attractive, something clearly in keeping with the teachings of the Church. We need to bear witness to the power of Christian principles, to act as the yeast within our society.

We can't expect instant results. I'd love to be able to suggest some strategy that would turn things around in a matter of weeks, and replace secular hedonism with Christian humanism. (To be perfectly honest, I think the prospect of a quick victory lures many people into political campaigns.) But let's be honest with ourselves. Our society's problems did not crop up overnight, and they won't be resolved overnight, either. We're in this battle for the long haul.

Quite a few readers, responding to my post-election analysis, argued that the American bishops should do more to unify the faithful, by clearly enunciating the teachings of the Church and rebuking those Catholics who flout them. I wholeheartedly agree with that argument. At every opportunity I encourage bishops to carry out their teaching responsibilities. But in the end I'm not a bishop; I can't control their actions.

I can control my own actions, however. When I am called to give an account for my life, I don't expect to be asked what the American bishops did or said about a particular problem; I'll be asked to explain what I did or said. Moreover, it is the duty of the Catholic laity, not the clergy, to transform the social order with the power of the faith. [Fr. Leo's emphasis]

So let's get to work. What can we do?
The rest of the article goes into detail.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

I just want to take a quick moment to wish all of those who are following my blog a Blessed and Merry Christmas

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Vocation Team

I submitted the following to our diocesan newspaper for the Jan edition. Vocation work truly is a team activity.

As most of you are aware, in October, Bishop Warfel appointed me to the vocation team for the diocese as the main point of contact for recruiting potential seminarians and helping those who are discerning a call to religious life. Fr. Jay Peterson will remain as a member of the team responsible for the formation of our seminarians once they enter the seminary.

I am excited about this new role in my ministry, but I realize that it truly is a team effort. While Fr. Jay, myself and a few others make up the formal vocation team, each of us is a member of the informal vocation team. Whether we are a priest, religious sister or religious brother, or another member of the laity, we each are responsible for promoting and recruiting vocations.

I'd like to use my story as an example of how the total team works. I grew up in a family that really did not practice its faith. My dad was Catholic and my mother was not. Even though we (I have a twin) were baptized at a young age, we only went to church when Grandma was visiting, or we were visiting her. There was not a lot of religious formation taking place, but I can remember a prayer that was said after every Mass in my grandmother's parish. It was a prayer for vocations encouraged by the Knights of Columbus and both bishops of South Dakota. It sparked a seed. As a matter of fact, we use that same prayer today in my parishes at the end of Mass. The people joining in prayer were part of the team that lead me to the priesthood.

The summer before entering high school, my family and I moved to Forsyth. I got involved with the local Boy Scout troop. One of the other families in the troop had a strong Catholic faith. They invited my brothers and me to join them for Mass each weekend. Being true members of the team, the encouragement from families in the parish to practice the faith feed into my formation and helped to water the seeds that had been planted through prayer. While in high school I received the other sacraments of initiation. Fr. McTague was an important part of the life of the parish while I was in high school.

I started college at MSU in Bozeman. My first year there, my mother passed away. That next summer, Fr. McTague, having retired the year before, was doing supply work while the local pastor was on vacation. He invited me to lunch one day and, while we were enjoying the meal, asked if I'd ever considered being a priest. I told him I had, but gave a litany of excuses as to why that would never happen. He told me to keep thinking about it. Here was another member of the vocation team opening my eyes to the call God was trying to send me in life.

There are other priests, religious and laity who also had an impact in helping me hear the call that was before me. Truly they all make up the team.

This month we will be celebrating National Vocations Awareness week from Jan 11th, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, through Jan 17th. The Office for Vocations has sent out to the pastors a set of bulletin announcements to help people reflect more fully on God's call for them in life. We will be working on some new programs that we hope to implement within the diocese to make encouraging and supporting vocations to religious life and priesthood central to our parish life.

God bless all of those who make up the vocation team.

The Catholic Truth – Reaching out to Catholics over the Internet

I just became aware of the following. It looks like a great place to start learning, or re-learning, about the Catholic faith.

Cinnaminson, New Jersey (November 20, 2008) – For many years, Gary Zimak of Cinnaminson, NJ attended Sunday Mass, but knew very little about his Catholic faith. Five years ago he felt the need to learn more about what the Church teaches and began exploring the Internet for answers. “What I found was a lot of information, but much of it didn’t represent the true teaching of the Catholic Church. Some websites were radically conservative and some terribly liberal”, says Zimak. He continues, “After much research I was able to discover several websites that accurately stated the Magisterial teaching of the Church. These websites opened the door to Catholic books, magazines, newspapers and radio/tv programs, all of which assisted me in learning more about what the Church teaches”.

This quest inspired him to found the Catholic Truth lay apostolate, a group dedicated to helping Catholics learn about their faith. The mission of the apostolate is carried out over the Internet, using their website ( as the main vehicle of evangelization. Contained on their website is a simple 10-step plan that is “guaranteed to bring you closer to Christ”, according to Zimak. These steps involve traditional Church practices such as the Mass, Confession, the Rosary, Catholic reading, prayer and Bible reading. Recommendations are also made for reading material and Internet sites. Additionally a daily blog is provided that features inspirational thoughts and news. All of their services are provided free of charge.

“The techniques that we present are based on methods that have worked in my life and in the lives of other Catholics that I’ve known. It’s a great tragedy that many Catholics are not aware of the great treasure that they have in their Faith. We want to reach out to those folks and let them know that Jesus Christ is still alive in His Church today. Knowing more about your faith will allow you to get closer to Him and bring you greater peace.” says Zimak.

For further information visit the Catholic Truth website ( or e-mail them at (

Let me know what you think of the site.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The American Airman Anthem ( Airman's Creed)

The Airman's creed is a statement of what it means to be an American Airman. In this video link, two of the Airmen I was honored to deploy with in the summer of 2008, put the creed to music. Here it is accompanying a slide so so things can be put into perspective.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Sad Day in Montana

The following is found in today's Billings Gazette.

Montana judge: man has right to assisted suicide

By The Associated Press
HELENA, Mont. (AP) A state district judge has ruled Montana residents have the right to doctor-assisted suicide.

The ruling issued late Friday by Judge Dorothy McCarter makes Montana the third state in which doctor-assisted suicide is legal.

"The Montana constitutional rights of individual privacy and human dignity, taken together, encompass the right of a competent terminally (ill) patient to die with dignity," McCarter wrote.

McCarter ruled in a lawsuit filed by a terminally ill Billings man, four physicians who treat terminally ill patients and a nonprofit patients' rights group, Compassion & Choices.

McCarter's ruling holds that mentally competent terminally ill Montanans have a right to obtain medications that can be self-administered to bring about a peaceful death if they find their suffering to be unbearable.

"The patient's right to die with dignity includes protection of the patient's physician from liability under the state's homicide statutes," the judge wrote.

Please pray for all of those who are involved :( You can read the whole story at the link above