Catholic Missourian Profile

In anticipation of ordination our diocesan newspaper, The Catholic Missourian, publishes a profile piece on every ordinand to the diaconate and priesthood.

Given that this week is the week I will be ordained to the diaconate, they ran a profile on me in their most recent issue.

For those that don’t live in the diocese and get the paper edition, I thought I’d pass on the link to the story on the diocesan website. 

Look for more posts later in the week as the big day approaches.

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.

Reaction to the Resignation of Pope Benedict XVI

By now everyone should have received the Catholic Missourian dated March 1, 2013. In that issue there is an article containing the reaction from Rev. Mr. Jason Doke and myself to Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to resign.

I was asked by the editor of the paper to e-mail some of my gut reactions to the announcement. When he wrote the e-mail I was traveling during our break after finals. Nonetheless, I wanted to send in some thoughts. The editor then worked my some of my comments into a wonderful piece about the reactions of both myself, and Rev. Mr. Doke. Below you can read the entirety of my reaction.

By no means was this a complete set of thoughts, nor do I feel that they fully expressed my emotions at the time. Please excuse any grammatical errors or incompleteness, as I mentioned these were sent in a somewhat rushed fashion.

Ever since the Holy Father announced his resignation last Monday I have constantly been reflecting and praying about my own emotions and reactions to such news, as well as those emotions and reactions of the whole Church. Obviously, the emotions have been many and varied. But in short I can summarize them with two words, sadness, yes, but also gratitude and hope.

Ever since arriving here in Rome in July 2011, I have attended many Papal Masses, audiences, Angelus’ etc. I remember most especially during our orientation when we attended an Angelus at Castel Gandolfo, and the Holy Father spoke directly to us, the New Men at the Pontifical North American College in the middle of his address.

The past few weeks have been our “exam period” and this past week I was done with exams and enjoying a little bit of a break. Thus, I was able to attend both the Wednesday Audience and Ash Wednesday Mass. The audience was the Holy Father’s first public appearance after the announcement of his intention to resign. The Mass, later in the evening, was his last public Mass.

At the audience when the Holy Father entered the Paul VI Audience Hall, everyone erupted with applause. Later when he began to speak we all began to clap once again, to thank him for his many years of love and service to the Church. Hearing him speak of his resignation from his own mouth really solidified the reality of what was undoubtedly a somewhat surprising announcement.

Later in the day, I attended Mass for Ash Wednesday. The Mass was moved to St. Peter’s Basilica to accommodate the crowds. I arrived even earlier than usual, the line was much longer than usual. Thankfully, I was able to get in and get a seat. As I waited in line I reflected a lot on all the other times I had waited in line for other events, and now, this was the last one. I felt a certain amount of sadness, but also gratitude that I would have the opportunity to see him celebrate Mass one last time. At the end of Mass, Cardinal Bertone got up to thank the Holy Father on behalf of the College of Cardinals and the whole Church. After his words, everyone broke out in applause. An applause that seemed to last forever, the moment was one again, of sadness and gratitude. After Mass, after a long day I ran into some nuns who are my friends and we all just kind of stood there. They asked how I was and I just kind of smiled without saying many words, when I asked them, they did the same. We didn’t have a lot to say because it had been such a powerful, emotional day, yet we were able to smile because of our gratitude and our hope that the Church continues under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

This is just the first week of what will undoubtedly be a strange few weeks, first there will be the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, then the excitement of the Conclave, followed by the joy and gratitude of a new Holy Father. Whoever the new Pope will be I look forward to getting to “know” him by going to many more Masses and prayers with him. Though I will never forget the impact of Pope Benedict XVI on these first two years of my time in Rome. While many priests of the last few decades might refer to themselves as “JPII Priests,” I am a part of an even younger generation. While active in the faith my whole life, it was not until after JPII that I began to really get more into my faith. Thus for the entirety of my more mature faith life, Pope Benedict has been the leader of the Church, and as a student of theology, he is a man whom I admire quite a bit. It is for this reason I feel more sadness now, but I also have gratitude for his gift to the Church and great hope in the future of the Church, a hope which he has embodied and taught me as well.

Original text composed on February 16, 2013

March For Life testimonies

On the way back from the March for Life in Washington D.C. All of the pilgrims, including seminarians had the opportunity to reflect upon and share their experiences with those on their buses. Thanks to the hard work of Jay Nies, editor of the Catholic Missourian. Transcripts of these testimonies have been made available.

Here are the testimonies given by some of the seminarians:

Nicholas J. Reid, Theology III, Theological College at the Catholic University of America

(Why is this important?)

The pro-life movement and this march is important because it shows that there are so many people concerned about DOING something to promote our cause when it seems that we’re stagnant. It’s beautiful for me to see so many Midwestern faces and all the people who make the EFFORT to come out to D.C.

For many people in Missouri, the federal government seems so distant. 12 or 14 hours away. So it’s great to see so many people from Jeff. City come out.

(What should we pray for?)

An end to abortion and for people’s hearts to be opened to not only giving birth and being open to life but to supporting life in making the small decisions to support life, as well. The many ‘yesses.’

Colin Franklin, Theology II, Theological College at the Catholic University of America

I’m just impressed with the diversity of the groups that are here and just the sheer numbers. It’s great to see it. Particularly given that abortion is legal as it is, someone who believes that abortion is wrong but doesn’t say anything only helps them maintain the status quo. So the more voices we can get out there and the more presence we can get out there, the better we’ll do.

(What was your impression of the Mass?)

It’s very moving. For one thing, it’s much longer than a normal Mass is. But during the whole thing, there was a very prayerful attitude. And to see that many people come together after traveling, after being exhausted, and they’re willing to stand in a group like that, and just to pray that long and just with that many of our fellow Catholics was just a very great, moving experience.

Geoff Brooke, College III, Conception Seminary College

I went to the University of Missouri for the last two years. So I’m with the St. Thomas More Newman Center in Columbia.

This was my first opportunity to ever attend the march.

I heard about it but never had a chance to go. So when the time came, I sent in my sign-up form as soon as I could.

Two weeks ago, I was in a pretty nasty car wreck. I wasn’t sure I was going to go. And some people thought I shouldn’t go, some thought I should.

Well, thanks be to God, I was okay and I was able to make it out and come here, and I was very grateful for that opportunity.

I have lived in a lot of places. I have family that lives all over the country. So I randomly happen to know a lot of people. And one of the most beautiful experiences for me when I go to things like this and to NCYC is to experience the universality if the Church. Getting to run into friends I haven’t seen for months from New Orleans or for years from St. Louis, all of them standing there marching.

There was a group that came up praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet behind me, and I heard a voice I kind of recognized, and I turned around and saw a friend I hadn’t seen for over a year.

The opportunity like that to grow as a community, as the Body of Christ, as we marched together and stood up for something that we all believe in was a very powerful experience for me.

Also, the Mass the night before. I’ve had many friends say they’ve been to the Mass and it was a very overwhelming experience spiritually. I thought that was a beautiful way to begin the trip, to remember that in the celebration of the Sacrifice of the Mass, that we use that to begin this pilgrimage, not only in Jefferson City but also as we got to Washington, D.C. before we took off to march.

I did a retreat in high school for eighth grade confirmation students. The theme of the retreat was talk the talk and Walk the walk. And I believe our prayers offered up during the Sacrifice of the Mass the night before, we were able to get the strength, even though we were tired and exhausted, to get the strength from the receiving of the Body of Christ in the Eucharist to walk the walk the next day. And I’m very grateful for that opportunity.

And I’m very grateful to have met a lot of you, because I haven’t lived year-round in the diocese very long. So it’s very nice to get to meet more and more people when I go to things like this.

David Bauer, College III, Conception Seminary College

This is the third march for Life that I’ve been on. And I used to … before this school year, I used to work at a pregnancy resource center in Rolla.

I saw how young people were who came in there who were expecting it to be a place where they can get an abortion. And I saw the young people who came in there without the knowledge of what they had inside of them.

And I just want to say that this trip always really gives me hope about the future because I’m able to see the wide variety of age groups that are here at the march, especially the young people, to see that they’re here fighting for what they believe in, and they’re doing it in such a way that they are suffering. They have physical pains and they’re tired and they want some sleep. But they have a smile on their face because they know what they’re fighting for.

It’s really hopeful to see what our future is, with the people at the parish.

Chris Aubuchon, College IV, Conception Seminary College

These experiences are always very profound for me.

The pro-life march, when you hear that, what thought comes to your mind?

I always think of God’s children. When I think of pro-life, I think of God’s children and what a blessing they are for each of us, and how much God loves each of His children, each of us — the unborn and each of those who are unborn.

And all of those who die. And how unfathomable his love is for each of us. And how we need to be an advocate of that love by partaking in events such as the pro-life march.

At school, we have a pro-life committee that a student from the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese started. This is the third year of it. And I got involved fairly quickly in that. I had a leadership position that I handed over because it’s my last year there.

And I was part of the pro-life prayer group. And one of the profound experiences we would have is, once a month on Saturday, we would go to Planned Parenthood and pray a full rosary, once a month on Saturdays.

We’d get up at 4:30 in the morning. We’d drive to Kansas City, about two hours and get there at about 6:30. It was still fairly dark. And we start praying the rosary. There’s usually about 10 of us that go. There are two shifts. The second shift is usually about 5:30 when they leave.

But when we get there, it’s amazing the number of people that pour in there on Saturday morning. A lot of the appointments are at like 7 or 8. And people are getting there very early in the morning. And it’s a lot of young people.

And it hits you right in the heart, how they think this is their only option. Or they think that this is what’s best for them. Or more times than not, they’re pressured into it, or they’re scared.

And you just see people go in there. And while we’re standing there praying, it can bring tears to your eyes, just how powerful that experience is, seeing that, and they look, at times, they’ll look over us if they’re brave, and they have to question in their hearts why people would be praying outside this place.

Why is that? We don’t see people outside Walmart praying like that, or other places. Why are they here, praying outside this place?

And there are also people there, adults, that give out information, pro-life information while we’re standing there praying. Or they try to. They reach out and every once in a while, someone will take that and they will read that.

And by the grace of God, every now and then, they will turn around and won’t go in.

That doesn’t happen super-often. They take the stuff more than they turn around. But at least that much is happening. But that experience is always very profound. And it’s kind of like the pro-life march. It’s somewhat sacrificial. This is more sacrificial. It’s longer and more involved and things. But it’s always a very profound experience to imagine what we’re doing, and to think how important this really is — the impact we can make on lives.

Another big thing for me is, when we’re marching, how huge the number of people who are there. 400 or 500,000 people.

Sometimes you feel alone in this battle. I know at school a lot of times, especially in the pro-life group, we feel alone at times in the battle, like we’re the only ones praying for this.

We obviously know that’s not true, but it feels like that sometimes.

But when you go there and you see 400 or 500 thousand people standing up for this cause, especially the young people, how amazing that truly is to see that impact. It’s a beautiful gift from God, and people recognize that.

People talk about how priests touch people’s lives, seminarians touch people’s lives. Well you all touch our lives just as much if not more. Any priest and any seminarian will tell you that. You have remember that you all give back to us. And that’s what keeps us going, that’s what keeps fueling us.