Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Serving those who serve (Part I)

It's been an amazing experience so far, and I've only been at Manas Air Base less than a week. It is so easy in Eastern Montana to get a sense that most Catholics look, act and talk like us. Here, one quickly realizes that is not the case.

As the only Catholic priest serving the international force gathered at Manas Air Base here in Kyrgyzstan I've had to put my communication skills to the test. The Spanish contingent here has a group which attends Mass regularly, including one member who attends Mass daily. While many of the Spaniards speak and understand some English, this daily communicant does not. I may have to practice my Spanish enough to allow me to say Mass in Spanish once a week or so. I've already been invited over to visit the Spanish crew for a dish they call "Paella" which is made in a skillet that is about four or five feet in diameter. This meal, made with rice as the main ingredient, and chicken and sea food added was a real experience.

My first Saturday evening, just before Mass, a group of soldiers from Poland were milling about outside of the chapel. I tried to invite them to Mass, but they had a difficult time understanding me. A different group from Poland stopped by for daily Mass one evening just after that. They understand and speak English much better than I could ever speak Polish. The only Polish word I could think of was "Pierogi" which is something like a pasty from Butte. I could not even work that word into the conversation.

I've seen military members here from Poland, Spain, France, Lithuania, and Kyrgyzstan. By the time I leave I'm sure I'll see even more. The languages, the food and cultures are much different than Eastern Montana. I've heard people back home comment from time to time that they stopped going to Mass when "Father So-and-so" was there because they could not understand him. I think some of these Catholics have missed the real point of our Eucharistic celebrations. We gather for Mass. We unite to offer the greatest prayer possible. These military members from these other countries who stop by to attend Mass have that deeper understanding. They know the prayer. They have it so ingrained into them that they hear it beyond the difficulties that may exist from lack of a common language, or a strange accent. Some people say going back to Latin is the answer. Others want all Masses celebrated in English with an eastern Montana accent. Neither is likely to happen everywhere throughout the diocese, but if we really appreciate the sacrifice of Calvary, we'll make our own sacrifices to be a part of Mass each Sunday, no matter which language is used for the celebration, or how hard the celebrant is to understand.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Another touch of history

Some are willing to risk a lot to show the mercy of God.

"Jesus, I trust in You"

Monday, May 12, 2008

Archbishop asks Kansas governor to refrain from Communion for abortion support, awaits response

Kansas City, May 12, 2008 / 06:07 pm (CNA).- Saying her support for legal abortion conveys the erroneous message that the Church’s teaching on abortion is optional, Archbishop of Kansas City Joseph F. Naumann has publicly admonished Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius for her veto of an abortion law reform bill passed by the Kansas legislature.

Sebelius, a Catholic, is considered a possible vice-presidential candidate for the Democratic Party. Her campaign has reportedly accepted donations from Dr. George Tiller, an abortionist who performs late-term abortions and is the subject of a Kansas Supreme Court case for allegedly violating the state’s laws on late-term abortions.

Writing in the May 9 issue of The Leaven, the Archdiocese of Kansas City’s newspaper, Archbishop Naumann said that because of the governor’s support for legalized abortion, he had asked her to refrain from receiving Holy Communion until she makes a worthy confession and publicly repudiates her stand on abortion.

The archbishop said that the Comprehensive Abortion Reform Act had been passed by “significant majorities” in both chambers of the Kansas legislature.

Check out the whole article at the Catholic News Agency

Monday, May 5, 2008


I got the following from the Vatican Information Service

VATICAN CITY, 3 MAY 2008 (VIS) - This evening Benedict XVI presided at the praying of the Rosary in the Roman basilica of St. Mary Major, "Marian temple par excellence" in which, as the Holy Father recalled, the image of Mary "Salus Populi Romani" is venerated.

"In the experience of my generation", he said, "May evenings evoke pleasant memories of vespertine appointments to pay homage to the Virgin Mary. ... Today we together confirm that the holy Rosary is not some pious practice relegated to the past, a prayer of distant times to be thought of nostalgically. Indeed, the Rosary is experiencing what is almost a new springtime".

"In the modern world which is so dispersive, this prayer helps us to place Christ at the centre, as did the Virgin who meditated upon everything that was said about her Son and upon what He Himself did and said. When we recite the Rosary we relive important monuments of the history of salvation, we again go over the various stages of Christ's mission. With Mary we turn our hearts to the mystery of Jesus".

"May Mary help us to welcome within ourselves the grace that emanates from these mysteries, so that through us this grace can 'irrigate' society, starting with our everyday relationships, purifying it from many negative forces and opening it to the novelty of God.

"The Rosary", the Pope added, "when it is prayed in an authentic manner - not mechanically and superficially, but profoundly - brings peace and reconciliation. It contains the healing power of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, invoked with faith and love at the heart of each Hail Mary".

Benedict XVI then called on those present to ensure they remained united to Mary during these days leading up to Pentecost, "invoking a renewed effusion of the Holy Spirit for the Church". He also entrusted them with "the most urgent intentions" of his ministry: "the needs of the Church, the great problems of humanity, peace in the world, the unity of Christians, and dialogue between cultures", as well as the pastoral objectives of the diocese of Rome, and the "solidary development" of Italy.


Saturday, May 3, 2008


Catholics like babies. No, scratch that – Catholics love babies. It’s not that Catholics love babies more than other religious denominations, it’s that they like having as many babies as possible in accordance to the number that God is willing to bestow upon the family. Though the US average of babies per household is 2.1, it is not uncommon to find Catholic families whose number of babies in their home supersedes the national average.

This, being better than average, Catholic mentality towards babies can be troublesome for some Catholics in the US as it is deemed acceptable in America to have 1,2, or 3 babies. The ideal for Americans is to reproduce themselves in their baby making efforts where one baby is female and the other is male. Thus modeling their babies after themselves: one for the husband and one for the wife. The 2-baby US mentality is illustrated in the common phrase that comes from the mouths of married couples everywhere: “We want an Adam and Eve.”

Though it is not looked down upon if a family has a third baby, it is normally not encouraged. A fourth baby is acceptable for Catholics in that Catholics, with their anti-contraceptive and pro-life views, are seen as unenlightened and uninformed to the ways of modern people. So a fourth child is considered forgivable based on the Catholic’s ignorance to modern ways and behaviors.

However, if a Catholic family has 5, 6, 7 or more babies, it is seen as a crime against nature and a sin against humanity. In fact, countless Catholic mothers, who have 5 or more babies, have often received flabbergasted looks after having responded “yes” to the question “Are all these yours?” This encounter normally occurs in public places such as supermarkets, department stores, malls, or any other place that makes it difficult for the mother to keep track of every behavioral happening of her babies. The question “Are all these yours?” commonly follows when another person sees a Catholic mother who, with two shopping carts spilling over with groceries, without makeup on, and hair is tied in a pony tail, has one baby in her arms, another in the shopping cart, a third gripped tightly in one hand, the fourth baby clinging dearly to his mother’s dress, while the fifth baby has just knocked an entire shelf of canned peas onto the floor, which by chance startled the baby in the mother’s arms causing him or her to wail like a banshee. She will unjustly be labeled a ‘bad mother’ by outsiders for not having the grace of being born with 5 arms.

Check out the rest of the story :)

Friday, May 2, 2008

Room to Live

I'd like to encourage you to check out this video.

It has a message that I think really needs to be heard

Fr. Leo

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Face of Defense: Chaplain’s Journey Leads to Meeting Pope

The following is from the DefenseLink News

By Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Meghan McNabb
Special to American Forces Press Service

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. , May 1, 2008 – At just 16 years old, Jose A. Bautista-Rojas left his hometown of Guadalajara, Mexico, for Los Angeles in hopes of creating a better life for himself and the parents he left behind.

At the time, he had no idea his journey would lead him into the priesthood, the military or the opportunity to shake the pope’s hand.

The road from Guadalajara was not short, and life in Los Angeles was not easy, Bautista said. Living with friends, working all day and attending English-as-a-second-language classes at Evans Community Adult School at night, Bautista focused on the chance to bring his family to the United States.

“There wasn’t much time for fun,” Bautista said. “I worked carpentry from 7:30 to 3:30; from 5 to 7, I worked at a car wash; and from 7:30 to 9, I went to ESL classes.”

After four years, Bautista’s family was able to join him, and he was able to turn his attention to new goals.

Because he worked so much, Bautista hadn’t focused on graduating from high school until he decided to enter the priesthood, a journey that would take 11 years to complete.

Bautista started attending church with a girl he liked, but ended up finding much more.

“I had stopped going to church,” Bautista said. “I had to fight off the pressure and temptations that come to young men. I wasn’t always perfect, but I had to get back on track. I enjoyed church and the sermons, and before I knew it, I was getting involved.”

Bautista’s interest coincided with a new initiative by then-Archbishop of Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Michael Mahoney. The cardinal established Casa Reina de Los Angeles, or House of our Lady Queen of Angels, as a place for young men who wanted to enter the priesthood but either didn’t have their high school diploma or needed to perfect their English.

Bautista studied hard for two years to earn his high school diploma and perfect his English. He spent a year studying for college-level classes, four years earning his college degree, and four years earning his divinity master’s degree.

On June 5, 1999, Bautista was ordained a priest and was assigned to St. Elizabeth of Hungary parish in Van Nuys, Calif. In 2001, Bautista was assigned to his next church, St. John of God in Norwalk, Calif. Two of his parishioners, a Marine and soldier, died in Iraq.

At their memorial service, busloads of Marines came from Camp Pendleton, Calif., to attend. Some of them told Bautista how they didn’t always have access to attend Mass when they were deployed in Iraq.

“I’m saying Mass, and I look up and thought of them serving without Mass,” Bautista said. “I thought to myself, ‘I need to put my words into action.’ I would always say, ‘Let’s pray for those serving,’ but it was time to act.”

Bautista received an endorsement from the Los Angeles archdiocese and was released to the Archdiocese for the Military. In January 2006, he entered the Chaplain Corps with the Navy.

Then a lieutenant, Bautista served as the Combat Logistics Regiment 27, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, chaplain for 13 months in Iraq’s Anbar province. Bautista was the only priest stationed at his unit’s base at Taqaddum, but said what mattered most was finally being able to minister to those he had prayed so long for.

“One of the most memorable times in Iraq was when a sergeant was going into surgery,” Bautista recalled. “He asked me to hold his hand until he went under, and I knew this is what ministry is about.”

Bautista said he doesn’t consider the priesthood a job, but rather, his vocation and what he is dedicated to.

“A job is something you are hired to do,” Bautista explained. “A vocation is love for God and what you’ve been called to do.”

Bautista said Marines and sailors can tell when a chaplain is acting only as an officer and isn’t ministering.

“You have to be an officer as well as a chaplain,” Bautista said. “But it’d be sad if they only recognize you as an officer. A ship that doesn’t float isn’t living up to what it’s supposed to be, just as a minister that doesn’t minister isn’t living up to their potential. You have the title, but you’re not living up to it. Marines can see through that.”

While ministering in Iraq, Bautista received an early invitation from the military archdiocese to attend Mass during Pope Benedict XVI’s recent visit to the United States. Amid shouts of “Viva la Papa,” Bautista watched as the pope arrived at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

“It was my oasis,” Bautista said. “It was nice to go from the desert to a sea of clergy, faithful people and peace.”

The next day, the chaplain attended the pope’s Mass at Nationals Park in Washington and heard the leader of the world’s Roman Catholics talk about being a witness of faith.

“[The pope] said those of hope must live different lives,” Bautista said. “We must point the way for others. Being seen as different is how people will recognize you as a person of faith.”

After the pope’s historical Mass, Bautista took meeting the pope into his own hands. He walked up past the security lines as the pope was walking off the stage. With outstretched arms, the pope grabbed his hand and shook it.

“I felt like a teenage kid. I was giggling and so emotional,” Bautista said. “The effect this man has on people is unreal.”

The pope reached out to Bautista not only physically, but also spiritually, the chaplain said, and even gave a message in Bautista’s native tongue. He said, “Paz a ustedes,” or “Peace be with you.”

“What made it so emotional was that he was reaching out to you,” Bautista said. “I felt like he was speaking directly to me, like he was reaching out to me personally.”

Bautista said it was a beautiful gift to meet the pope and be surrounded by clergy.

Although Bautista has appreciated every minute of his time as a chaplain, he said he eventually will be called back to serve in Los Angeles. He said he wants Marines and sailors never to think their dreams are too high or far away.

“I want them to know that every step they take, even the littlest step, is one step closer,” Bautista explained. “I am an immigrant from Mexico who didn’t speak English, and I never thought I’d become an officer in the Navy.”

(Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Meghan McNabb serves with 2nd Marine Logistics Group.)