The Archdiocese is blessed to be able to present two fantastic opportunities for Catholic parishes looking for activities for the children of the parish to engage in their faith while having a great time this Summer! Many parishes across the Archdiocese currently utilize Vacation Bible School programs that have been professionally produced and distributed by other Christian denominations. Many times these programs are chosen because of the high quality of the product and because of the ease of implementation. However, now there are two new great opportunities that provide these same elements while also being authentically and engagingly Catholic.
The first program is called Totus Tuus. Totus Tuus is Latin for “Totally Yours” which was the motto of the pontificate of Pope St. John Paul II as he gave himself entirely to Mary as her son shortly after the death of his earthly mother. This program is led by four young adult missionaries who are trained in bringing to life the mysteries of the rosary and the sacraments while also engaging the youth with fun activities and challenging them to become disciples of Jesus Christ. Another perk of this program is that it is for grade school, middle school, and high school youth! Last year I sent two of my children through this program and they are still talking about the awesome experience they had last year. They also have shared their enthusiasm with their younger siblings as well. I highly recommend this program to all parishes and the Office for Evangelization and Discipleship only has a few more slots left to fill for this summer. Contact them soon!
The second program, Discovery Mission, is one that more closely resembles the classic Vacation Bible School model. This is a program that can be purchased and run through the parish religious education office and includes all the materials you need to put on your own week long program. What is different about this program is that it is entirely focused on helping young people recognize that they have been given a special mission by God and that living in relationship with Christ we will discover that mission and have the grace to live it out. Check out the materials and order this program today!
If you have been considering your call to the consecrated life, the month of March is going to be a virtual smorgasbord of opportunities for you to take the next step in your discernment. If you haven’t considered your vocation in the past, or are not currently feeling called to the consecrated life, we have a few opportunities for you as well!
March 8 from 8-9pm – CHOSEN: Holy Hour for Your Own Vocation @ Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center in Norwood, OH- The Children of Mary host a monthly holy hour for people who are discerning their vocation and to pray for an increase of consecrated vocations. Come pray with us!
March 11th from 5-9pm– Cast Your Nets: Love Greater@ Sacred Heart of Jesus in McCartyville, OH – This is a high school youth rally/evening of awesomeness that includes a keynote presentation by husband and wife, Bradley and Meghan Barnes, live music by Kevin Schulze, workshops that help you put your faith into action, food, confessions and Eucharistic adoration! Cost for the event is $10 which includes the cost of the event tshirt!
March 14th from 5-8pm– RU Called? Dinner for Young Women@ St. Francis de Sales in Lebanon, OH – This evening dinner for young women discerning the consecrated life (in all its forms) will feature dinner and prayer with Bishop Joseph Binzer as well as the opportunity to speak with and learn from sisters from various communities who minister in and around the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. There is no cost for this event. Register here!
March 15-17 – PCJ Spring College Live-in Retreat in Columbus, OH – This weekend retreat at the Pontifical College Josephinum is for all high school juniors and seniors who are considering their call to the Catholic priesthood. There is no charge for this wonderful weekend opportunity. All who are interested are asked to contact Fr. Schmitmeyer and to fill out the forms available online.
March 17th from 6-8pm– Run for the Call Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser @ St. Remy Hall in Russia, OH – This annual fundraiser organized and run by the Serra Club of Sidney/St. Mary’s will feature homemade sauce by Fr. Martin Fox, pastor of St. Remy, and proceeds all benefit our seminarians who find themselves in need of emergency financial assistance throughout the year.
March 18th from 3-5pm– Sr. Mary Xavier’s Story@ Russia High School in Russia, OH – This fun, family friendly event will feature local Anna native speaking about her experience of going from giving her all on the court at The Ohio State University to giving all of herself to God as a Sister of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George. You don’t want to miss Sr. Mary Xavier join in the friendly basketball competition, too!
March 27th at 7pm – Chrism Mass @ St. Peter in Chains Cathedral in Cincinnati, OH – It is at the Chrism Mass every year when the priests of the Archdiocese gather not only to receive the blessed oils for their parishes, but also to renew the promises they made upon their ordination and to receive encouragement from their shepherd, Archbishop Schnurr. We highly recommend attending this Holy Week Mass to be renewed in your own discernment journey and in the gift of the priesthood.
April 13-14 – Welcome Weekend@ Mount St. Mary’s Seminary of the West in Cincinnati, OH – This weekend retreat is for college age men and older who are discerning their call to the priesthood. This is a great next step in your discernment journey as you start to see just what it would be like to live in the seminary while continuing your discernment. Register for the weekend here.
It is flying around the internet right now! Jim Caviezel shocked about 8000 young adults this past week during the SLS18 Focus Conference by coming on stage as a trailer for his new movie, St. Paul, Apostle of Christ (in which he plays the part of St. Luke), was about to play. And he further shocked them by taking 15 minutes to teach them about vocation and our universal call to holiness and our responsibility to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Enjoy!
Many times throughout my work here at the Archdiocese I have been asked about ways to encourage religious vocations in our children. There are many ways to do this, of course, but the best way I have found is to make priesthood and religious life seem real. The best way to do that is to interact with priests and religious as often as you can, and the best place to do that is in your own home.
Recently, my family had the privilege of hosting our pastor and a couple seminarians for dinner. The evening went about as one would expect in house with 6 small children and three guests – adults attempting to talk between the constant requests for attention coming from each of the children. We made it through the meal and eventually, one toy truly caught the attention of our guests and became the center of our evening’s entertainment.
Yes, Legendary Yoda was teaching Father and our seminarian guests how to use the force and to defeat the Dark Side! And the kids were eating it up! The couldn’t believe that a priest and men studying to be priests would be so entertained by one of their toys! (And to be honest, it is pretty cool!) It was a special experience for them. But the fun didn’t stop with the movements and simple phrases of the mechanical toy.
One of the features of Master Yoda is that he answers “Yes or No” questions asked of him. We asked him several ridiculous questions when suddenly Father had the idea of asking him if each of the seminarians was going to be a priest. Much to the seminarians’ pleasure and relief, Yoda responded with an unequivocal “Yes” for both men. Then Father asked a few more questions which may change the lives of my children:
“May I ask you a question, Master Yoda? Will Henry become a priest?”
“May I ask you a question, Master Yoda? Will Julia become a nun?”
“Yes, is the answer I see.”
Of course it is true that our children know that Yoda is a motorized toy and cannot truly predict the future, but this interaction, although it was out of amusement, was a really important moment for them and you could see it in their faces as they lit up when Father mentioned their names specifically. Here’s why:
- Father is a figure that both their parents love and respect (and by extension so do they)
- this interaction was in their home, a place they associate with safety and comfort: hearing that they could be called to the priesthood or consecrated life now can be associated with safety and comfort
- Yoda did respond negatively to other questions (meaning, Yoda could have said “No” and he didn’t)
- Nobody in the room said that Yoda was crazy: they were affirmed not just by Yoda but by Father, the seminarians, their siblings and their parents
So, if you are looking for ways to encourage your son or daughter to consider the religious life here are a couple of very simple suggestions: pray for your children often; make the religious life seem like something normal, as normal as being a doctor or lawyer or carpenter; treat the priest or religious with love and respect; create opportunities for your children to interact with priests and religious, especially in your home. And if you happen to have a talking Yoda toy available, it can make for a very interesting evening.
Fr. Kyle Schnippel, the former vocation director here at the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, has been working hard as a pastor of a region of three parishes in the Northwest corner of the I-275 loop. So hard, in fact, he realized rather quickly into his assignment that if he didn’t have an outlet to get his mind off his work, he would run himself ragged trying to keep up. So, from his love of brewing his own craft beers, Fr. Kyle’s scientific mind switched gears to the warmth of the oven and the fun of kneading dough.
Father began baking about 6 months into his parish assignment and quickly determined to try the next new recipe he could find. He joined in a King Arthur Flour baking challenge and showed off his successes on his Instagram account.
Quickly he built up quite a local following. One of those followers caught wind that the Great American Baking Show was holding auditions for their next season and strongly encouraged Father to tryout. With a couple of his favorite recipes, Father traveled to Georgia and then to the Northeast where he made it through the auditioning process and was ultimately offered one of 1o spots in “the Tent” in jolly old England.
On December 7th, his journey culminated in
a watch party at one of his parishes (click the link to view pictures and a great write up of the event), St. John Neumann, where he and more than 100 of his parishioners and friends gathered to watch the premier episode of the Great American Baking Show and what a great experience it was. While the result was not what anybody in the room had hoped (Fr. Kyle was kicked off at the end of the second episode), the joyful witness of a priest using his talents outside of the church was one that hopefully will continue to shed light on a vocation far too often seen only at the altar.
With that in mind, at the end of the viewing party, Fr. Kyle announced that another popular priest who’s great in the kitchen, Fr. Leo Patilinghug has agreed to come to St. John Neumann parish for a bake off between the two priests as the parish celebrates its patronal feast on January 20, 2018. More details will be coming from the parish in the coming weeks, but if you can’t wait try some more of Fr. Kyle’s wonderful baked goods, his parish region will be hosting watch parties for the next two weeks of the Great American Baking Show as well. This Thursday from 8-11pm the party will be in Francis Hall at Corpus Christi, 2014 Springdale Rd., Cincinnati, OH and next week’s watch party will be hosted on December 21 from 8-11 at St. John Neumann’s Daniel Hall, 12191 Mill Rd., Cincinnati, OH.
If you missed the first two episodes, you can still view them at abc.go.
Last week was National Vocation Awareness Week and it was full of great opportunities to pray together and to learn more about discerning the vocation to which God has called each of us. And the excitement of that week was peaked by the huge news coming out of our local seminary.
With more and more men responding to the call being placed on their hearts through the grace effected by our continued prayers, Mount St. Mary’s Seminary of the West has run out of room and, with the future looking bright, it was time to expand and make room for 30 more men to study at this historic facility! Here is the coverage of the ground breaking ceremony which happened on November 2nd:
This news of an expanding seminary can be quite a shock to those who are still living with the negative view of the priesthood that has been around for almost 20 years here in the United States and one news station took the time to look much deeper and find the source of this rise in vocations is actually coming from the least likeliest of places – millenials:
In addition to that great news and wonderful news coverage, more than 75 communities from across the state of Ohio prayed together during the Statewide Day of Adoration for Vocations on Wednesday. Religious communities, parishes and even Catholic High Schools joined together to beg the harvest master to send more laborers into the harvest. It was a beautiful experience for many:
We had a beautiful holy hour! We had over 15 people in our small convent. – Sr. Ana, OSC from the Sisters of St. Clare Poor Clares
We had a wonderful experience at St. Augustine in Minster. Parishioners commented how much they enjoyed a dedicated hour focused on praying for vocations… – Barb from St. Augustine, Minster, OH
I had some good time to think about and pray for many of the priests and nuns who’ve been a part of my life, some whom I
haven’t thought about in years, and at least one person (the priest who baptized me) that I’ve never met. I also prayed in a special way for my kids and their vocations, some of which have already been discerned, and some which are still in the process. – Joe from Ascension, Kettering, OH
And finally, the Serra Club of Cincinnati was able to complete their 9 day Bible Reading Novena during which they dedicated nearly 12 hours a day in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and recitation of the scriptures for an increase of vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
These dedicated prayers across the state of Ohio are truly having a great impact on our local church and priestly and religious vocations are seeing a great time of flourishing. May we all continue to pray for our men and women in formation and for each other that we may have the courage to seek God’s will in our lives.
We are now exactly one month away from the start of National Vocation Awareness Week and we are excited to share the many great ways in which you can promote a culture of vocations throughout the week of November 5-11 in your parish, in your school and in your homes.
The greatest way to celebrate during this week is to pray as one Church for more vocations to the consecrated life and the priesthood. There are multiple opportunities to do that:
- November 4-12: Bible Reading Novena with the Serra Club of Cincinnati – The Serra Club will read aloud the entire Bible in 9 days of prayer for vocations. All are welcome to join as a reader or to just sit and receive the Word of God.
- November 8: Statewide Day of Adoration for Vocations – More than 30 local sites and parishes from across the state are joining in to pray for vocations all day!
- November 9: Eucharistic Adoration for Vocations with the Children of Mary and at St. Remy in Russia, OH
In addition to the prayer opportunities, Catechists and teachers (both traditional and home school) have access to great lesson plans throughout the week of Vocation Awareness week to inspire our children to think about the many ways God may call us to live out our universal call to holiness. Visit www.vocationlessons.com and enter access code CinciVocations513 to access the Teacher site and have your children enter code StFrancis513 to access all the student materials.
For pastors and parish staff, there are several high quality resources awaiting you at www.vocationawarenessweek.com to help you to celebrate and emphasize this important week.
Finally, don’t ever forget the importance of personal witness and invitation! Talk to your friends and family about vocations and encourage the young men and women in your life to consider that God might desire for them to serve the world as a priest or religious. Or, do you have a buddy who inspires you in your faith, is he called to be a permanent deacon? Year after year, the statistics are the same: most people consider a consecrated vocation only after having 4 different people encourage them in that call. Be one of those people!
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