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!
More than a year ago we in the Vocation Office became aware of a new resource for all parishes to help them in creating a culture of vocations in their parishes and encouraging their young men and women to discern God’s will for their lives. This resource is a book called Hundredfold (also now available in Spanish!). It is a how-to guide for creating and maintaining a vocation ministry in any parish. Today, the author of the book and founder of VocationMinistry.com, Rhonda Gruenewald, released a new video that explains more completely the benefits of this book and the importance of creating a vocation ministry in every parish across the nation. Take a few minutes right now and be inspired!
If you would like to order copies of the book for your parish, go to our Vocation Materials order form and we will ship them to you absolutely free of charge. Once they arrive, let us know and we will meet with you to help you take the first steps in establishing your own vocation ministry.
Starting next week, our seminarians will be returning to school for another year of studies and formation as they discern more deeply their call to the priesthood. This year we are excited to announce that 19 new men will be entering seminary which raises our total to 60 men in formation for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati!!
Of those 60 men, 10 of them will be in minor (i.e. college) seminary earning their bachelor’s degree and 44 more will be at Mount St. Mary’s of the West major seminary. The remaining 6 men will be on internships this year as they take a year to work alongside a parish priest and experience a year of work in a parish to help them to see first-hand what really happens in the daily life of a priest.
Please pray for the all our seminarians but especially for these new men:
- Nicholas Emmerling – First College, Pontifical College Josephinum
- Augustine (Gus) Franer – First College, Bishop Simon Brute
- Eduardo Sanchez-Guerrero – First College, St. John Vianney (Miami, FL)
- Jose Daniel Sanchez-Guerrero – First College, St. John Vianney (Miami, FL)
- Benjamin Packer – First College, Bishop Simon Brute
- Gregory Romer – Second College, Bishop Simon Brute
- Maximilian (Max) Travis – Second College, Bishop Simon Brute
- Bricer Berger – Pre-Theology I
- John Grusenmeyer – Pre-Theology I
- Stephen Jones – Pre-Theology I
- Jacob Lindle – Pre-Theology I
- Antonio (Tony) Losekamp – Pre-Theology I
- Benjamin Mersch – Pre-Theology I
- Matt Montag – Pre-Theology I
- Anthony (Tony) Sanitato – Pre-Theology I
- Ian Wilson – Pre-Theology I
- Charley Westerhold – Theology I
- Raymond Asiebgulem – Theology I
- Uriel Santos Garcia – Special Pastoral Year
All of our seminarians could use your personal prayers. Please consider spiritually adopting one of our men through your prayers. Feel free to write to him to let him know of your prayers and support.
Mount St. Mary’s Seminary of the West
6616 Beechmont Ave.
Cincinnati, OH 45230
Pontifical College Josephinum
7625 N. High St.
Columbus, OH 43235
Bishop Simon Brute Seminary
2500 Cold Spring Rd.
Indianapolis, IN 46222
St. John Vianney Seminary
2900 SW 87th Ave.
Miami, FL 33165
Also, consider starting in your parish a Spiritual Motherhood of Priests prayer apostolate group that promises to pray for all priests and seminarians. Finally, if you believe that prayers for vocations to the priesthood and religious life is part of who God has made you to be, consider joining in the efforts of our local Serra Club in Cincinnati and in the Sidney/St. Marys area.
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