Q’s from HS
Q from HS: Can priests choose their parish?
June 15th, 2011 by vocations

Another question from a high school student: Can priests choose their parish?

This question reflects not only on the nature of the priesthood, but also on the nature of the Church.  Ultimately, priests do not ‘choose’ their own assignments, but rather trust that God directs him where to go upon assignment by the Bishop.  In other words, we hear God’s voice when the Bishop asks us to do something.

This reflects the very nature of the priesthood, in union with the Bishop.  As a priest, I do not have authority on my own, but rather my authority comes from my connection with my bishop.  I work in his name.  Hence, he has the power to suspend my faculities if I am doing something against what he wishes me to do.  (In my case, at this time, I work for Archbishop Schnurr as Vocation Director.)

However, the process of assigning priests to various positions and appointments is not as whimsical as this sounds.  In the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, we go through two or three rounds of ‘open lists’ where parishes that are available for priests are circulated among all the priests.  We can either be nominated for a position, or even nominate ourselves for a position, to the priest personnel board, who makes recommendations to Archbishop about who should go where.  Usually, priests that are in the midst of an assignment are safe where they are, unless the needs of the diocese warrant a change in plans.

Often, when a priest knows his term is up (either after 6 or 12 years), he can request his top three positions and give reasons why he might want those particular parishes.  But ultimately, it is the Archbishop’s call as to who goes where.

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Q from HS: Is the food good at the seminary?
June 13th, 2011 by vocations

Continuing our series of questions submitted by high school students during various presentations comes this frequently asked question: Is the food food at the seminary?

There are a couple of different ways to answer this, maybe I should let one of the seminarians weigh in?

On one level, the food at the seminary has to be mass produced, in that 50 or more all have to eat within a relatively short amount of time, so there is a certain ‘home cooking’ aspect that is missing from the Refectory (as we call the dining room) fare.

However, the cooks that are present at the seminaries we support all take their responsibility seriously and strive to provide meals that are cost-effective, healthy and appetizing.  There is also a variety of meals provided throughout the week, so that it is not just the same thing over and over.  This all helps to keep the menu fresh and changing, and I have to admit that I never went hungry when I was in the seminary.  However, an occasional trip out to a local restaurant or home for Mom’s cooking was always appreicated!

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Q from HS: Do you have to be a certain age to be a priest?
May 31st, 2011 by vocations

A continuing series, answering questions submitted by high school students from around the Archdiocese of Cincinnati: Do you have to be a certain age to be a priest?

Yes.  Accoring to Canon Law, the official law code of the Catholic Church, one must be in his 25th year prior to ordination to the priesthood.

However, this usually is not too difficult, as in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, the minimum amount of time required in the seminary covers this age range: 4 years of undergraduate (18-22), plus five years of Major Semimary, brings most guys to around 27 at the time of ordination, if they enter out of (or just out of) high school, which is where I was when I was ordained.

Got a question you’d like to submit, click here.

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Catholic high school students ask tough questions of Archbishop Schnurr at videoconference
February 17th, 2011 by vocations

Catholic Schools Week usually brings many unique opportunities to highlight the unique contribution that Catholic Schools make to our Church and our world.

Archbishop Schnurr took the opportunity to once again meet with students at various high schools across the diocese in a videoconference, allowing them to ask him questions, and vice versa.  The Catholic Telegraph provides the following article.

Catholic high school students ask tough questions of Archbishop Schnurr at videoconference.

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Q from HS: What is your daily schedule like?
February 16th, 2011 by vocations

I am in residence at a parish on the westside of Cincinnati with the full-time pastor of that parish.  Either in the morning as we catch up on local and national news while sipping coffee or in the evening as we wind down, the conversation turns: ‘What’s up for your next 24 huors?’

Yep, the old cliche comes out: no two days are the same.

For me, and while my situation is somewhat unique in that I am not in a regular parish assignment, I think the principals guiding my day are fairly standard for priests:

1) Mass and other Sacraments.  Is there a regularly scheduled parish Mass that day, am I covering somewhere, other needs for Sacraments: Confessions or Anointings, particularly.  These are things we obviously can’t hand off to someone else, so they form the core or our day.  As part of this, my own personal prayer: Liturgy of the Hours and Holy Hour came to pass, which I usually try to accomplish in the morning prior to starting the day.

2) Meetings and/or appointments: Who am I meeting with that day, either one on one or as a group, what do I need to do in preparation for that meeting yet?  How much time will that take?  What will potential follow-up things be afterwards, etc?  I try to frame things around these questions.

3) What’s coming up?  Are there presentations/homilies/lectures, etc. coming up that I need to read and prepare for?  These fit into the ‘other’ spaces of my day.  In fact, this is what is coming next….

4) meals and whatnot  Everything else fits in later.

By the end of the day, I am usually pretty tired, but always have more than enough to keep me going for the next few days at least.

For priests in a parish, things added to the above: usual days to visit the sick and/or homebound, homily prep, visits to school/CCD/PREP, etc.  It is certainly not a boring life!

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Q from HS: How often do priests get to travel?
February 7th, 2011 by vocations

Continuing our series, comes the following: “How often do priests get to travel?”

I guess it depends, really, on the priest’s interests, but on the whole I think priests tend to travel somewhat frequently.  One of the perks of being a pastor is that there are tour companies that specialize in organizing pilgrimages to various sites around the world: Rome, Israel, Lourdes, Fatima, Ireland, etc.  Often for these parish trips, the priest/pastor is invited to attend to bring a spiritual dimension to the journey, to make it more than just a vacation.

Here in Cincinnati, priests get a fair amount of vacation time, but there is a limited amount of time that the pastor is allowed to miss from his parish on weekends, which I think should be obvious.

As part of his yearly requirements, every priest is required by canon law to make a yearly retreat.  I’ve used this opportunity to visit different monasteries or retreat houses in surrounding states, which has been a plus for me spiritually.  We also get a week’s time for ‘professional development,’ which this year has been very much focused on the new missal implementation.

As Vocation Director, I likely travel a bit more than most of my brother priests.  In two years, I put roughly 40,000 miles on my car, mostly in western Ohio.  That’s quite a few trips up and back on I-75!

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Q’s from HS: ‘Do priests drink?’
February 2nd, 2011 by vocations

A return after a brief hiatus of the ‘Q’s from HS’ segment: questions collected from high school students on the priesthood, religious life, or just plain questions submitted to this humble scribe.  Today’s take:

Do priests drink?

In short, yes, not universally and hopefully in moderation, but simply there is not ecclesiastical law that prevents a priest from enjoying an alcoholic beverage.

However, some cautions should be issued.  For a priest without a healthy grasp of celibacy, it is easy to ‘medicate’ on alcohol and turn there instead of to Christ for his sustenance, just as it can be easy for a person in a struggling marriage to turn to alcohol instead of truly trying to fix the problems that exist in the marriage.

Frankly, it takes maturity and self awareness.  There are priests I know who do not drink at all (besides the Precious Blood consumed at Mass) because there is a history of alcoholism in his family.  Most priests, I think, tend to be on the social side: enjoying a glass of wine with a special dinner, or when sitting down in a relaxed conversation with friends, etc.  This is not just a model for priests, but for any who are of legal age to consume alcohol.  The Church does not condemn, but urges moderation.

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