The month of March is National Women’s History Month and two years ago a group of women religious had the fantastic idea to take some of that month to highlight the great history and influence of consecrated women in the history of our nation and of the Church! This year, on March 8-14, 2016, please celebrate with us and your parish National Catholic Sisters Week!
At www.nationalcatholicsistersweek.org you will find the history and purpose of the week, you will find resources to help you get involved in the week, and links to events that are happening across the nation to honor religious sisters.
For more inspiration and bulletin materials, go to www.sisterstories.org. There you can share your own note of gratitude for a religious woman who impacted your life, you can read the vocation stories of several women who have found their joy in following God’s will to give everything as a religious woman, or you can read more about sisters who have had great influence over the years.
If you are a young man who has lately (or for a very long time) felt a tugging at your heart toward the vocation of the Holy Priesthood, then it is well worth your time to check out the opportunites that are fast approaching to visit a seminary or religious community for a weekend with no strings attached. These opportunities cost nothing but time and your own travel expenses and give you unmeasurable benefits: a small taste of seminary life, interaction with seminarians (with whom you may one day be studying), discussions on discernment and practical tips on how to discern your vocation, and answers to all the practical questions you might have. Check out the details and flyers below and plan to attend.
Friday and Saturday, March 4-5, 2016: Welcome Weekend at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary of the West – This weekend takes place at the seminary of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Mount St. Mary’s Seminary of the West is currently housing the highest number of seminarians it has seen in more than 35 years and is looking to increase that number with the help of God’s grace. Fr. Benedict O’Cinnsealaigh, Rector and Fr. Anthony Brausch, Vice Rector along with Frs. Earl Fernandes, David Endres, Paul Ruwe and Tom McQuillen provide the leadership for the seminary and set the tone for both a rigorous and pastoral formation environment in which all seminarians become better men while being formed to be holy priests.
Thursday-Saturday, March 10-12, 2016: College Live-in at Pontifical College Josephinum – This extended weekend takes place at the only Pontifical Seminary outside of Italy. The Josephinum has a long proud history of forming men to become great priests and the tradition has continued under the leadership of Rector Msgr. Christopher Schreck and College Vice-rector Fr. John Rozembajgier. In addition to the typical visit to a seminary which always includes the daily horarium of prayer, this visit also gives guests the opportunity to sit in on seminary classes to get a feel for the level of education our seminarians undergo. Register for the Live-in here.
Friday-Sunday, March 18-20, 2016: Come Away weekend at New Melleray Abbey in Peosta, Iowa. From the informational brochure: Would you like to learn more about religious life? Do you have questions about discerning your vocation? You are invited to share in our monastic celebration of the Liturgy of Hours, joining with us to pray together in the simplicity and beauty of our church. There will be time to talk about your personal story and to hear how we discerned our vocations. You will be able to share with others participating in the weekend, your experiences, hopes, and concerns about making life decisions. “Come Away” is offered as a retreat experience for single Catholic men between the ages of 23 and 45 who are discerning the possibility of a call to monastic life.
All three of these opportunities provide much for a person who is discerning a call to the consecrated life! Please prayerfully consider attending and giving God the opportunity to speak more clearly to your heart in a place where He is currently forming the hearts of men to be more united to His.
Today we added to our website a new resource for all parish vocation ministries across the Archdiocese. Initiated by a group of women from Immaculate Heart of Mary in Anderson Township and passed along to our office, the Spiritual Motherhood of Priests prayer apostolate.
This movement comes out of a recommendation by the Congregration for the Clergy when they published a document back in 2007 entitled Eucharistic Adoration for the Sanctification of Priests and Spiritual Maternity. In this document we read, “Pope St. Pius X rightfully confirms his experience that, ‘Every vocation to the priesthood comes from the heart of God, but it goes through the heart of a mother!'” And in this statement he does not mean to limit motherhood to those who are physical mothers, but, along with Pope St. John Paul II, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, he extends that meaning to all women who commit their lives to holiness and to prayer for priests. Children, mothers, widows, religious sisters, all can be spiritual mothers and the world needs them to become just that!
Please, take the time to read the documents found on our resource page, be inspired by the power of a mother’s prayers, look into the other great information on Spiritual Motherhood and pray about becoming a spiritual mother yourself and bringing a Spiritual Motherhood Sodality to your parish.
The Year for Consecrated Life is soon coming to a close but it is not too late to celebrate the great work that men and women religious do in our Church and across the world. The example they provide to all the world of living for Christ and seeking the face of Christ in those most in need is one from which we can all draw great inspiration. Here in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati there are two great ways in which you can celebrate the closing of this special year:
January 17th @ 3 p.m., there will be a free concert at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains. The choir will be comprised of some 120 women and men religious as well as religious women and men instrumentalists. The concert will be approximately one hour in length and will be followed by a reception where vocation materials will be available. This concert was the inspiration of Fr. Jeff Scheeler, OFM, Provincial of the Franciscan Friars, and put in the capable hands of Fr. Fred Link, OFM.
January 31st @ 11 a.m., Archbishop Dennis Schnurr will celebrate the closing mass for the Year for Consecrated Life. All are welcome and encouraged to attend and spend the last moments of this special year in prayers of thanksgiving and asking the Lord to continue to bless the great works these consecrated men and women are doing.
Merry Christmas!! What joy it is to know that the Savior of the world has come and will come again that we may be with him in Heaven for all eternity! And yet, as many of us have realized throughout the Advent season, there are things that we still need to do to remain ready for the second coming.
The beginning of John’s gospel contains these two verses: “In the beginning was the word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1), and “And the word was made flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only son, full of grace and truth” (John 1: 14). These two verses point to a reality that so many of us either have taken for granted much of our lives or have just not realized: Jesus is the Word. God is truly present in the Word and, in fact, God IS the Word.
I was at Mass with my wife and five young children a few weeks ago and when it came time for the Gospel Acclamation, our youngest, who was in my arms at the time and had previously been squirming around me like one of those little chinchillas, turned and watched as the Deacon began making his way to the altar and slowly processing to the ambo with the book of the Gospels held high. During this whole time, my son was mesmerized. He began pointing at the book and reaching for it. What could have made him change so quickly from a South American rodent into a focused young boy in such a short time?
There are, of course, so many factors that could have drawn my son’s attention at that moment. The fact that we had all stood up at that moment, or the fact that the Deacon had moved from his place by the priest, or the fact that two young men were carrying candles, or perhaps it was the first time he noticed the big shiny book on top of the altar, or maybe it was that he noticed the book but, since it was in someone’s hands he knew this was his chance to get it. All of those could easily explain his sudden change in behavior, but those are not what made me reflect that day. To me, there was something special about that book that my son noticed, there was something that was drawing my son to that book at that moment and I knew that I should be drawn to it as well.
In Psalm 63 we read, “O God, you are my God—it is you I seek! For you my body yearns; for you my soul thirsts, in a land parched, lifeless, and without water.” In that moment, my son’s body was pining to be near to God. Perhaps it was the shiny book cover or the candles, or whatever other explanation, but he was reaching for God in that moment and he was reaching in the right place. Jesus gives himself to us in two ways at every Mass. He gives himself to us in his Word and he feeds us with his body and blood in the Eucharist. So often times we nod off, or don’t pay attention to the first half of the Mass because it is just a bunch of words. “Perhaps they are special words because they are in the Bible,” we say to ourselves, but do we realize that not only are they special words, but they are truly a gift of God, from God?!
As we enter into this new calendar year and celebrate the coming of Jesus as savior of the world at Christmas, let’s make a resolution to be attentive to the Gift of God in the word each and every time we go to Mass and to spend time daily seeking that gift as well. It is in doing so that He will begin to truly reveal to us the person he has created to be.
If you would like to make a commitment during 2016 to read the Bible everyday, here is a good place to start for advice and a plan to read just 10 minutes a day and make your way through the entire Bible!
Vocation Awareness Week is coming in just three weeks! During the first week of November, the entire nation will be celebrating the gift of priestly and religious vocations to the Church as well as remembering the great need and gift the vocation to marriage is to raising saints. During this year for Consecrated Life it is a great idea for young people to see what it means to be a religious brother or sister and some of the religious communities that serve our Archdiocese have made it possible. At this link you will find videos of various lengths for many religious communities that serve both in and around the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Check out the descriptions and find a couple videos that will work for your classroom, prayer group, or youth ministry.
Another series of videos has just come to our attention and they are well worth your time: Consecrated in Cleveland. This series of videos explores the many different aspects of the life of one who is called to the consecrated vocation. The videos feature two women from orders present here in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and the would make a very nice study for Vocation Awareness Week or any other week of the year that fits your home or classroom schedule.
For more Vocation Awareness Week information, click here.
For the second year in a row, every diocese in the state of Ohio will be joining together in Eucharistic Adoration for Vocations on Wednesday, November 4, 2015! This effort will have the great effect of blanketing the entire state with prayer for priestly and religious vocations and give all those who participate the great opportunity to take part in one of the largest prayer efforts many will experience in the local church!
In the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, we once again have more than 20 parishes participating as hosts for the 7:00-8:00 pm time of adoration and a few others will be offering special opportunities for prayers for vocations on other days during the upcoming National Vocation Awareness Week. To get all the details, click here. There you will find a list and a map of all the participating parishes, the times they are offering adoration (or special prayers for vocations) and how to contact that parish.
If you do not see your parish on the list and would like to see it there, please contact your pastor or contact me, Wayne Topp at 513-421-3131 x.2891.
For other activities happening during National Vocation Awareness Week, November 1-7, click here.
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