Sunday, January 27, 2008

Interest in the Priesthood is on the Upswing

By George P. Matysek Jr.
The Catholic Review

When Father Gerard Francik recently interviewed a 19-year-old man who was thinking about becoming a priest, the archdiocesan vocations director asked him to talk about his prayer life.

The former high school football player told Father Francik how he faithfully makes a holy hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament, attends Mass or Communion services, prays the rosary and observes the liturgy of the hours – every day.

“I was just blown away,” said Father Francik. “He was very dedicated to his faith.”

That young man is typical of the kind of people who are stepping forward to become priests these days, according to Father Francik. Many are still in their teens, and they show unbridled enthusiasm for living out their religious convictions, he said.

“This generation has a different view,” said Father Francik. “They’re much more service-oriented. They’re selfless, and they want to give their all.”

The vocations director said there are more young men inquiring about becoming priests than in previous years.

“We have 16- and 17-year-olds just beating down the door,” said Father Francik. “It gives me encouragement to see so many young people on fire for their faith. It gives us hope for the future.”

There are currently 26 men studying to become priests for the Archdiocese of Baltimore. They come from all parts of the archdiocese, and they include several international seminarians from Central and South America and one from Nigeria.

Last year’s incoming seminarian class stood at 13 – the biggest class in nearly two decades, according to Father Francik. He expects that this year’s class will also hit double digits.

The vocations director believes new archdiocesan efforts have helped renew interest in the religious life. They include programs like “Operation Genesis” and “Dare to Dream” – two daylong priesthood vocations camps for boys and teens. Cardinal William H. Keeler has also been very supportive, holding vocation suppers for young men considering the priesthood and serving as retreat master at annual discernment retreats – programs continued by Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien.

Although parishes and schools have become more proactive about encouraging Catholics to consider becoming priests, sisters, brothers or deacons, Father Francik said there are still some that need to do more.

“Some of our parishes have three or four guys who are in the seminary and many have zero,” said Father Francik, noting that there are about 20 parishes represented among the men currently preparing for the priesthood.

He observed that if every parish could encourage just one man to consider the priesthood, more than 150 new priests might be ordained in the next several years.

“The pastor really sets the tone,” said Father Francik, noting that personal invitations to consider the religious life are critical. “If you talk about vocations and pray for vocations, it makes a difference.”

It’s important for parents to be open about the possibility of their sons becoming priests, Father Francik said. And it’s up to everyone to show their support to those in the discernment process, he said.


There is hope. Please continue to pray for vocations.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

San Francisco's Planned Parenthood Censoring Ad's

It seems that the Planned Parenthood Golden Gate is complaining about a series of radio ads promoting life. Jill Stanek fills us in on the details at her blog site.

A hint of Celtic Culture

Every once in a while I get on a kick where I have to get my Celtic blood flowing

Enjoy two songs from the Brobdingnagian Bards

Friday, January 25, 2008

Forcing our religion on others

I often find that when I am reading the local newspaper online the comments complain about the Catholic Church imposing it's faith upon others. In Wisconsin, others are attempting to force their beliefs upon us. This is from the Catholic News Agency

Wisconsin mandates Catholic hospitals provide “emergency contraception” to rape victims

Madison, WI, Jan 25, 2008 / 04:23 am (CNA).- The Wisconsin State Assembly has passed legislation mandating that all Wisconsin hospitals, including religiously-affiliated hospitals, must inform any self-described victim of sexual assault of “emergency contraception” and must provide it upon her request.

Emergency contraception, as defined by the bill, includes both the morning-after pill and the intrauterine device (IUD). The morning-after pill can alter the lining of the uterus so that a newly conceived embryo cannot implant in the womb, leading to its death. The IUD always blocks implantation, also causing the death of any newly conceived human being.

“It is a sad day for Wisconsin,” said Peggy Hammil, state director of Pro-life Wisconsin. “The state Assembly has shamefully ignored the fate of embryonic children by forcing Wisconsin hospitals to dispense a known abortion-causing drug to vulnerable women. In so doing, they have trampled upon the conscience rights of hospitals and hospital workers in blatant disregard of our federal and state constitutions which guarantee freedom of religious expression and liberty of conscience.”

Pro-life Wisconsin, which represents 30,000 families in the state, commended the 34 Republican legislators and the one Democrat legislator who voted against the bill.

Bishops Robert Morlino and Jerome Listecki have spoken out forcefully against the legislation in the past few months. Efforts to pass the bill included a letter sent by Catholics for a Free Choice which claimed to represent the Catholic position on abortion and contraception.

Sadly, it appears that groups who claim to be Catholic carry more weight than groups that the leaders of the Catholic Church. Faithful Catholics need to rally around those bishops who are willing to stand up for the fullness of our faith.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Religious Distribution

Have you ever wondered about the distribution of the various denominations in the United States. It is interesting to see the number of counties where Catholics are the largest group, and also Baptist counties. Here in Montana, most of the counties have 15-20% Catholic. Lutherans are the second largest denomination in most of the counties. The exception are the counties that have a large LDS population.

The new bishop is installed

Catholic Diocese of Great Falls-Billings installs new bishop

Of the Gazette Staff
GREAT FALLS - More than 1,000 people filled Holy Spirit Catholic Church on Wednesday afternoon to see the Rev. Michael Warfel installed as bishop of the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings.

About 20 bishops and archbishops and more than 70 priests joined the throngs of adults and children at the installation ceremony and Mass that lasted two hours.

Warfel came to Montana from Alaska, where he served in ministry for more than 30 years, first as parish priest and then for the past 11 years as bishop of the Diocese of Juneau.

Billings Gazette


It is interesting the comments that people make after such a joyous celebration (see the end of the article for comments). Please keep praying for our diocese and our wonderful new bishop.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Prayers needed for Priests

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 8, 2008 ( Priests aren't perfect, and they need help to live their vocation and mission in today's world, says the prefect of the Congregation for Clergy.

Cardinal Cláudio Hummes said this in comments to L'Osservatore Romano about the initiative launched by his dicastery Dec. 8 to promote perpetual Eucharistic adoration and spiritual motherhood to support priests.

Cardinal Hummes said in Saturday's edition of the Vatican newspaper that priests have never been perfect "because we are all sinners,” but that “recently, very serious facts have been reported.” But, he affirmed, less than 1% of priests are unfaithful to their commitment of celibacy.

Still, he said, all priests need “spiritual help in order to live their own vocation and mission in today’s world.”

Check out the full article at Zenit

Monday, January 7, 2008

A Time to Remember

I found this at

I spent three years at the college seminary at Mount Angel. Father Nathan, the current abbot, was still just Brother Nathan when I first arrived. I hope you enjoy this slice of history.

Da Pacem Domine - Monastic Gregorian Chant

There is nothing like a little Gregorian Chant to get the day moving :)

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Building a Church

I wrote this in the middle of October and thought I'd share it here with you.

As I write this article, we are getting ready for a busy week at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Jordan. We have a large funeral and a wedding this week and the dedication of our new church building on Monday. We've been working for over a year building our addition and making our renovations. The planning process began many years earlier. The new facility will get a real workout as is evident by the activity that is taking place this week. We will be celebrating life and death. We will be celebrating new beginnings. We will recognize the need for the new building as it will be filled for funerals and weddings, for baptisms and weekly celebrations of the Mass. It is a wonderful building that will be used for many things.

However, we often forget about the domestic church. What do I mean by that? I mean the church that should exist in each of our homes. The Second Vatican Council talked about the "Church" as the People of God. Each of us is a part of the church in our own families. While we may have a beautiful building in which to celebrate our faith and worship God, the primary foundations of the church begin at home. It is the faith we celebrate each day of our lives that make a celebration with in the church building more meaningful. Our regular life of prayer and our learning to trust in God is what leads us through the transitions in life. It gives us the ability to overcome the anxieties that may develop as we experience the loss of a loved one. It gives us the reason to be filled with joy as we see new life in Christ at baptism, or the beginning of a transformed relationship with God that take place at marriage where the two become one flesh and together look to God as their strength and source of hope.

The building of the domestic church is as important, or even more important, as the building of a church building. Prayer is an important part of building our domestic church. Sharing of our faith within the family is an important part of building our domestic church. Remembering, as a domestic church, to tie in with the larger community helps us to grow in hope as we realize that we are not making our journey alone, but as a pilgrim people.

As you reflect upon the goodness of God, may He bless your building project as you build your own church. May He make it a beautiful church which will attract others to the faith through your words and example. May God bless you.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Looking forward to a new bishop

It's been about a year and a half since Bishop Milone announced his resignation from our diocese. On Jan 15th we will have Solemn Vespers and on the 16th we will install our new bishop, Bishop Michael Warfel from Juneau, Alaska. It will be nice to have a bishop again. It will be interesting to see the course our diocese will take under his leadership. We currently have 5 seminarians. If they all stay through ordination, we should ordain one each of the next five summers. We will have many more priests than that eligible to retire and I'm sure many will. It could mean a lot of disruption in the diocese as we try to serve the people in our remote state.

Please pray for our new bishop, our priests and our people as we prepare for whatever changes might await us.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Prayers for a priest

I'm requesting prayers for Father Francis McInnis, "Fr. Mac". I just received word that he had a minor stroke on New Year's Eve. It sounds like he'll make a full recovery. Fr. Mac was a chaplain for the Montana Air National Guard. He swore me in when I was appointed as a chaplain in the Air Force Reserve.

Starting out busy

Well, the new year is off to a busy start. Just as I was thinking about driving from Jordan over to Circle yesterday afternoon the pager went off for an ambulance transfer from Jordan to Miles City (85 miles away and the closest real hospital). I went on that run last night. We ate in Miles City before returning home. We got home about 8 and I quickly packed up my laptop and headed the hour to Circle. I had Mass this morning and I have a couple of our seminarians stopping for a visit. I'm busy trying to put together my dinner for tonight (Deep fried turkey, roasted potatoes, instant salad [bagged], and some sort of other finger food - I have a parishioner making two pies)

It is always great to have seminarians visit. They get to see what the real rural part of the diocese is like and the parishioners get to see the faces of the seminarians that we are supporting with our prayer and in some cases $$. I had invited all of the seminarians, but one couldn't make it from Rome. The other two from our diocese ended up with other things going on. They'll be missed.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year

As we begin a new year, I'm off on a new adventure of trying to follow through on hosting a blog. My plan is to share a little about what is going on in the parish and some of the other activities with which I am involved. These include being a chaplain in the Air Force Reserve, serving as an EMT on the local ambulance service and as a volunteer wildland firefighter with Garfield County in the summer. Of course, the ambulance and firefighting take place when I don't have Mass or other parish obligations.

Living as I do in a rural area, I don't have a lot of people constantly knocking at my door. Garfield county, which makes up most of the area of my parish, has a population density of .24 people per square mile. That's about 4 square miles to a person. If you take the town of Jordan out of the picture, the other people are even further apart. It creates some unique opportunities for ministry and also some challenges as one tries to be where they are needed when they are needed.

Pray for me and my endeavors as I strive to serve the Church in Eastern Montana.