Praising the Press: On Chapel Veils

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For this edition of “Praising the Press“, an article from the fashion website: While so far this series (for a reminder on its purpose, read this post) has focused on articles published by local newspapers, I also would like to include national and digital secular news sources.


I love the decision of the author to begin with quotes and perspective from Leah Darrow. Why? She is a sort of bridge between the two most likely audiences reading this article, fashionistas and Catholics. Furthermore, she has a reputation, and therefore some sort of authority in both camps. By building this bridge with Darrow, the author opens up dialogue to build upon.

In crossing this bridge the author moves on to interview a variety of other young Catholic women. One point to be made here is the value of getting the perspective of these various women on their experience of veiling, faith, and theology. It is a very good thing that the voices of these women are heard. This is much better than say, interviewing some priest as a theological expert.

Furthermore, in listening to the voices of these women, the author establishes a fair dialectic between their perspective and what might be the perspective of someone approaching this practice from afar. The value here is in the fairness of considering both perspectives instead of dismissing the experience, opinion or perspective of the women.

Lastly, the author is fair in recognizing some of the demographic limitations of this practice. This is important because it prevents the article from painting with too broad of a brush stroke and therefore giving a false impression of the reality of practice of veiling within the Church.

If you see any other well done articles about the Catholic Church in secular news sources, please send them my way for future editions of “Praising the Press.

Praising the Press: On Seminary and Ordinations

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Earlier this week I finally decided to try a project I’d thought about for many years. It’s what I’m calling, “Praising the Press.” Looking at well done stories by secular press about the Catholic Church.

This edition comes from the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel:

Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend’s large priest ordination class part of a growing interest by young people in religious life

In my reading, there two parts to this article. The first on the state of vocations, why young people are joining the priesthood today. The second speaks to the seminary process by which one becomes a priest.

As regards the first point what I appreciate about the article is that the reporter takes time to listen to the arguments made by the priest regarding some of the factors leading to an increase in vocations. There have been other examples, this very week of reporters who rather chose to stick to their own storyline or narrative regarding the vocations crisis, instead of listening to those on the front lines.

To the second part of the article about the formation process, I believe there are a few points worth commending. The first is just the fact that the process is outlined and explained. So many reporters seem to skip over this as if priests just fell from the sky. Furthermore, the depth of explaining the process particularly in regards to the scrutinies and evaluations is valuable information to be included. Those kinds of details show some of the steps the Church is taking towards developing a healthier, holier next generation of priests.

If you see any other good articles in the secular press about the Catholic Church, please send them my way.

Praising the Press: On the Diaconate

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Back when I started this little site I was attempting to launch my career in journalism, instead of the priesthood. I was pursuing two potential avenues, Catholic press, or secular press coverage of religion. While obviously in the end, God had other plans, my love of journalism and writing has never died.

The Press and the Catholic Church

For many years while I was in seminary I always talked about and envisioned reusing this space to share come comments regarding the intersection of journalism and Catholicism. Instead, as the tides have turned, I’ve mostly continued to use it as a portfolio kind of site, linking to my various content around the web, reflections, media appearances etc..

One of the web sites that I have always admired from afar when it comes to promoting religious literacy is GetReligion. As a Catholic theologian, specifically of fundamental theology, yes, I may at times disagree with particular nuances or points in their coverage. However, on the whole I find their work to be fair, thorough and balanced.

Furthermore, outside of the journalism bubble and deep, or even not so deep, within Catholic confines, it can be quite popular to bash, “the media,” “the press,” or “journalists.” Claims of Anti-Catholicism and an antagonist lack of trust can be strong at times.

Certainly at times there are instances where I read a secular article about the Church, that as a priest, theologian, and former journalist, make me want to throw my laptop through the wall. However, on the whole I attribute such mistakes what is known as religious illiteracy. I’m not saying there aren’t cases of Anti-Catholic bias, I am saying that religious illiteracy amongst journalists, and society as a whole is the far more prevalent problem. It’s also not a problem exclusive to Catholicism.

With all that being said, I’d like to start attempting to realize that vision I had of how to use my love of journalism and the Church. The other day I was talking with friends about it at lunch and realized that I had no excuse as to why I’ve waited nearly three years since leaving seminary.

Instead of contributing to the laments and critiques, cultivating a culture of division and pessimism, I’d prefer to take a more positive approach. There are plenty of other spaces for one to satisfy their cravings for that kind of material. Instead, I’d like to focus on some of the times when secular press does a particularly good job. To give praise when and where praise is due. Not to say to that all of the pieces featured are perfect, but to provide compliments when they are well-earned. Hence the title, “Praising the Press.” For now I make no commitments as to how frequently or infrequently such posts might appear, it’s just another project I’d like to try.

With that being said let’s look at the first entry from the Jefferson City News Tribune:

Jefferson City bishop examines role of deacons

One of the things that I like about this piece is the manner in which it combines the historical context, the teaching of the Church (i.e. what is the diaconate?), and various local individuals involved. Furthermore, the writer appeals to both figures of authority, the bishop, as well as the human interest side of those who are living the reality of the diaconate. All together this provides a thorough background and foundation of some aspect of the Church (the diaconate), along with a contemporary, personal, and local connection. The depth of the explanations are a good example of the opposite of religious illiteracy, but instead, actual religious literacy and comprehension. Lastly, the author addresses some of the concerns going forward into the future as well in a fair and realistic manner.

Again, the point of these pieces will be to briefly highlight good work. There is already enough negative noise on the internet. If you see any other good stories about the Catholic Church in secular religion journalism, please send them my way.




Appearance on “The Catholic Guy” with Lino Rulli

Last Tuesday I sat down for a half-hour interview with Lino Rulli of “The Catholic Guy” radio show on SiriusXM’s Catholic Channel 129. All week-long Rulli stayed at the NAC while interviewing seminarians about our lives. In the pre-interivew meeting he said he didn’t want to necessarily sit around and talk about theology and Church issues, but rather about us and our lives as seminarians and our lives before entering seminary to show that we are in many respects just regular guys trying to live out our vocation, which just might be the priesthood.

My interview touched on quite a few topics from my life. As in the past, it was a little different being the one being questioned as opposed to the one asking questions. My experience in journalism was one of the things we discussed, in addition to Albania, seminary life, and of course, BBQ!

Since SiriusXM is a subscription service it is hard to find the interview, if you’re already a subscriber you can go to the SiriusXM web site and go through the on-line player to find the show from May 8, 2014. It is also possible to sign up for a free trial in order to hear the piece as well, at least, that’s what I had to do.

For more on some of the topics discussed in the interview see the following posts. If you can’t listen, reading these posts will in some instances give much more detail than in the half-hour interview.

Roman Echoes and other notes

One thing I’ve learned this year among many is that the 3rd year of theology is definitely the most challenging year in seminary. Insofar as this is the last year before, God-willing, ordination to the diaconate, our responsibilities in the community are considerably increased.

One of the things that has been keeping me quite occupied this year is serving as the Editor-in-Chief of our magazine, Roman Echoes. Working on this magazine the past two years has given me the opportunity to put to use some of the skills I learned and developed in while working as a journalist and studying at the university.

So far this year we have published two issues. They are available at the following links:

Roman Echoes 5

Roman Echoes 6

I’m already hard at work on the next issue which will be published later in the spring.

Roman Echoes #4

As previously mentioned in various posts, last year I served the College by working as the managing editor of our student magazine, Roman Echoes.

We finished the fourth edition over the summer and it is now available online by clicking here.

This year I will be serving as the editor-in-chief, so look for more links in the future.

Working on the magazine has a been a fun way to use my journalism experience in the seminary.

Roman Echoes #3 – Conclave Edition

The third issue of Roman Echoes, previously known as the NAC Magazine is now available to view online.

This issue focuses on everything related to the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, the Conclave and the election of Pope Francis.

I wrote one article in this issue in addition to overseeing the editing process. The issue contains the thoughts and reflections of many seminarians.

For more of my take on these historic moments, click here.

Following up on St. Peter’s Tours

A few days ago I wrote about leading tours of St. Peter’s Basilica and what a joy it for me.

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of hosting a journalist from the New York Post on one of our public tours.

Today one of my fellow former journalists turned seminarian sent me this article. It’s a very nice endorsement and affirmation of our hard work.

Sacrifice and Sports

Continuing a series of reflecting on old articles and how certain aspects of their content holds true four years later, I’d like to reflect a little on sports.

The shortest version of my vocation story is that I wanted to be a sports journalist, thought about the priesthood, didn’t want to be a priest, tried religion journalism, entered the seminary.

All of that never meant that my love of sports disappeared. It does however mean that I have able to step back and evaluate my priorities. This doesn’t mean no sports, but rather, sports when I can, but other things must come first.

Since coming to Rome this sacrifice has taken on a different tone. While we are still able to play sports, such as softball on our wonderful field. Most American sports take place during the night, while we are asleep.

Sometimes when the games start really late in the U.S., then they will be finishing as we wake up for prayer. The most memorable such moment was without a doubt Game 6 of the 2011 World Series.

That morning when I woke up the Cards were down in the bottom of the ninth, and so I began to go about my normal morning routine of getting ready for prayer. I kept the “Gamecast” up on my computer screen and checked again when I saw that they had tied the game in the bottom of the 9th. Then as the game went into extra-innings, the Cards fell behind again. By then it was time for Morning Prayer. So I grabbed my breviary and headed down to the Chapel.

After prayer I got back to my room to learn that the Cardinals had pulled off one of the greatest comebacks of all time.

I was reminded of all this when I came across the following article I wrote on March Madness and the Eucharist. Once again there is a great continuity throughout my seminary experience.

March Madness and the Eucharist

March 22, 2010 by Geoffrey A. Brooke Jr.
The other day I blogged about a great message from Archbishop Dolan of New York who wrote about the need to attend Sunday Mass. The last four days I’ve spent a rather unmentionable amount of time watching college basketball, I absolutely love March Madness, and the Mizzou Tigers.

However, as I was reflecting back on the past couple of days, and all the fun I had sitting in the TV lounge with 20 other seminarians for hours watching basketball, I was left with a definitive conclusion. The best part of the last four days was not any of the amazing buzzer beaters, Cinderella stories, or even Kansas losing to the University of Northern Iowa (although this is probably moment #2). The best part of the last four days was being able to attend Mass each of those days and receive the sacrament of the Eucharist.

As fun as sports and the camaraderie surrounding them can be, they can’t even come close to the Eucharist. So if you’ve got something on your mind, or you are struggling with your faith, or maybe you’re good with your faith but are having trouble with discerning God’s call in your life, go to Mass, receive this blessed sacrament, your life will be changed. If you think everything is great, then, go to Mass, and receive this sacrament in thanksgiving for the many gifts God has given you.

Sometimes it really is a small world after all

Last Saturday I attended the Easter Vigil Mass celebrated by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Basilica. I’ve already shared about the experience in relation to the last several weeks.

I’d like to add a little more, this time focusing on the experience of waiting in line. Given that this Mass is such a “hot ticket” every year I went down to the square six hours before Mass. I was fortunate enough to attend with two other NAC seminarians who were also journalists before entering seminary.

When you must wait in line that long it’s always good to make friends with those around you.

Behind us was a very nice man who a professor from Providence College and is here teaching in Rome for the semester, he was joined by two of his children. They sat with us for the Mass as well. We parted ways and my parting thought was simply that it had been a pleasure to meet such a nice family.

The next day when I arrived in the square, it was packed. So I made my way into the closest open section and then looked for American college students studying abroad as I thought I’d be able to help them understand everything that was going on.

After Mass people started shuffling around to get close to the Pope as he drove by in the Popemobile. As this was winding down I ended up chatting with a family from Philadelphia. Then I saw on the screen the Holy Father embracing a special needs child. The family then noted that this child was on the other side of our section.

As for the many thousands who were then there, and the millions who have now seen on tv, I was exceptionally moved by Pope Francis’ embrace of this child.

Today I came across this beautiful blog post by the father of that child, as I was reading the post something clicked, I knew this man. I had met him just the night before. I had gone to the Easter Vigil with him and two of his other children.

Sometimes it really is a small world. You meet people, and seemingly life goes on, you just never know what grace the Holy Spirit will pour forth next.