Archive of August 18, 2005

Pope expresses affection to Cologne, and reminds spiritual heritage

Cologne, Germany, Aug 18, 2005 (CNA) - Continuing his way through the city and finally arriving at the Domplatz, the square in front of the Cathedral,  he gave his third speech, referring more specifically to the city of Cologne, host of the youth gathering.

After a brief moment of meditation in front of the famous Magi relics, in improvised words, and in a vivid tone, he expressed his attachment to the city and the emotion of being welcomed by such a joyful crowd.

“A city that I love for the many memories which it evokes for me,” the Pope said with a lot of emotion, reminding the many friends he has in the city, such as Cardinal Joseph Frings, the late Archbishop of Cologne, who invited him the participate at the Vatican II council, as his theologian, as well as present Archbishop Cardinal Joachim Meisner. 

He extended his greetings to all the people involved in the preparation of the event, the Diocese and local communities. He referred to the event as an “invasion”, while apologizing to the city’s inhabitants for the presence of thousands of youth in their city.

Referring to the long spiritual and historical heritage of Cologne with the presence of the relics of the Magi, brought from Milan in 1164 by the Archbishop of Cologne,  the Cathedral before which he speaks stands as one of the most important pilgrimage site along with Jerusalem, Rome and Santiago de Compostella. He mentioned the numerous illustrious people that are part of the city’s heritage,  namely Saint Boniface, Apostle of Germany, Archbishop of Cologne in 745, and more recently Edith Stein, a Carmelite nun, declared saint with the name Saint Benedicta of the Cross, that died in the concentration camp at Auschwitz.

Again greeting representatives of other Christian denominations and other religions, he expressed his wishes for unity and reconciliation. He stressed the openness of the message delivered in Cologne through the Magi,  as a universal message. One that has been made real and consistent through charitable initiatives mentioning German groups such as Misereor, Adveniat, Missio and Renovabis, all originating in Cologne.

“Today it is your task to live and breathe the Church’s universality. Let yourselves be inflamed by the fire of the Spirit, so that a new Pentecost will renew your hearts,” he concluded, before heading with the now famous “Papamobile” to the residence of the Archbishop were he will stay in Cologne.

To read the complete speech go to:

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Pope Benedict's first speech to youth “ Let yourselves be surprised by Christ!”

Cologne, Germany, Aug 18, 2005 (CNA) - Welcomed by a cheering crowd along the banks of the Rhine river, Pope Benedict spoke for the first time to the youth describing himself as a pilgrim, along with the thousands of young people coming from around the world.

After a brief welcome by representatives of the youth, present on the boat, he then greeted all those gathered underlining their common path towards Christ, and extending this greeting to “those among you who have not been baptized, and those of you who do not yet know Christ or have not yet found a home in his Church”, extending his call to non-believers.

Surrounded by an attentive audience, Pope Benedict expressed the importance of the Church “as the place where God's merciful love reaches out to all people. In the Church and through the Church you will meet Christ, who is waiting for you.”

Honoring the memory and the legacy of the founder of these youth gatherings, Pope John Paul II “who had the inspired idea of calling young people from all over the world to join in celebrating Christ, the one Redeemer of the human race.” Pope Benedict invited them to put his teaching into practice.

The example of the Magi on their journey to Bethlehem was set forth by the Pope, for “they withstood hardships and sacrifices, and never yielded to discouragement or the temptation to give up and go home”. Enumerating a list of essential questions on the meaning of life and its goal, he reminded, that it is in the Eucharist, center and core of the Christian life that we find Christ, the answer to these questions.

The Pope again wished to underline the essential character of the encounter with Christ, bringing us back to his first homily on St. Peter's Square. (April, 24 th ) “Christ takes from you nothing that is beautiful and great, but brings everything to perfection for the glory of God, the happiness of men and women, and the salvation of the world,” he added to this “! Let yourselves be surprised by Christ!”

He concluded this first speech, acknowledging the importance of the pilgrimage to venerate the relics, defining them as “traces of that invisible but real presence which sheds light upon the shadows of the world and reveals the Kingdom of Heaven in our midst” before inviting the crowd for his next appearance during the vigil that should take place on Saturday.

Pope Benedict then went then from the boat, walking to the Cathedral, amid an enthused crowd, to address the people waiting there, and to make his personal pilgrimage.

Read the complete speech at:

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Assassination of a Colombian priest while teaching a class in rural school

, Aug 18, 2005 (CNA) - The President of the Colombian Bishop´s conference (CEC), Msgr Luis Augusto Castro denounced the assassination of a priest that was teaching a class in the town of Chaparral, in the province of Tolima. Fr. Jesus Adrián Sánchez became the third priest assassinated this week in the country.

According to Msgr. Castro, the priest was the Pastor of El Limón ( Municipality of Chaparral-Tolima) He was teaching a class when he was dragged out of the class and “shot in the most cruel and brutal manner”. Father Sánchez was forced to exit the school to be shot dead.

“As we learn about this criminal and sacrilegious act, we implore forgiveness and conversion for the authors of such horrendous crime, whoever they may be.

May our condolences  reach the Bishop of the Diocese of Espinal, Msgr. Abraham Escudero Montoya, the Priests and faithful of the Parish of El Limón, as well as his loved ones, family and friends” indicated the communiqué.

In the name of the bishops, Msgr. Castro asked the Colombian  People to “reject this type of violent acts, and to ask the Lord, Prince of Peace, to help us overcome the culture of violence and death, that doesn’t respect the lives of those who strive to build peace, witnesses of truth and life in the midst of a people that cannot bear anymore violence or blood.”

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Pope Benedict arrives for WYD 2005

Cologne, Germany, Aug 18, 2005 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI arrived in his native Germany today to celebrate World Youth Day 2005 with about 405,000 young people.

The Holy Father landed at the Cologne/Bonn International Airport today at noon (GMT). Several hundred WYD pilgrims, staff and Catholic faithful welcomed the Pope with cheers and applause.

As he stepped off of the Alitalia plane, a strong wind blew off his zucchetto (skull cap). He turned around briefly to try to retrieve it but soon changed his mind and quickly walked down the steps to greet German President Horst Köhler and his wife.

In his welcoming address, Köhler noted that this is the first foreign trip for the new Pope. “Welcome home! Welcome to Germany!” the president said in his opening remarks. “We are delighted that your first official visit abroad has brought you here to Germany.”

The president, who professes the Protestant Christian faith, spoke about how Pope Benedict’s pontificate is a sign of reconciliation for the world.

“Following the Pope from Poland, the first country to be invaded by Germany during the Second World War, a member of the so-called flak helper generation has now been chosen as St Peter's successor,” he said. “This is for me a source of confidence – 60 years after the end of the inhuman and ungodly ideology, which prevailed in Germany.”

“Let me share a secret with you,” Köhler continued, “only a few minutes after your election, the Polish President Kwasniewski was the first to phone me and congratulate us.”

The president also spoke of the important work that Christian churches and movements are doing in Germany to support and educate young people.

Pope Benedict thanked WYD organizers, and the people’s warm welcome.

“With deep emotion I thank God who has enabled me to begin my pastoral visits outside Italy with this visit to the nation of my birth,” he said. “I am sincerely grateful to all present for the warm welcome given to me”

He greeted the young people and said their presence in Cologne is “a sign of the Church’s vitality.”

“I am happy to be with them, to confirm their faith and to enliven their hope,” he said. “At the same time, I am sure that I will also receive something from them, especially from their enthusiasm, their sensitivity and their readiness to face the challenges of the future.”

“These meetings are important steps along the journey of dialogue and cooperation in our shared commitment to building a more just and fraternal future, a future which is truly more human,” he said.

After his address, the Pope shook hands with some of the young people who had come to greet him, some of them were in wheelchairs, and he lingered to hear the young people sing. He then left for the archbishop’s residence in Cologne, led by a motorcade of police officers, for a short rest.

At 4:45 p.m., Pope Benedict is expected to take a one-hour cruise ride along the Rhine River and address the young people, gathered on the Poll Rhine Meadows, from his boat.

The Pope spoke of his scheduled visit to a Jewish synagogue, which was rebuilt after being destroyed during the Second World War, and meeting with the Muslim community.

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WYD pilgrims eager to see, and hear Pope

Cologne, Germany, Aug 18, 2005 (CNA) - World Youth Day pilgrims are eager to see Pope Benedict XVI and hear his first message to them for the international gathering.

“I’m happy that he has arrived” said Maria Ida Maroni. The 21 year-old Italian pilgrim is participating in her third World Youth Day. “Now that the Pope is here, I feel like we’re closer to living the World Youth Day experience.”

The Pope arrived in Cologne at noon today. He is expected to spend the late afternoon greeting the young pilgrims and the people of Cologne.

The Pope’s route is quite unique. He is expected to board a cruise ship close to the Rodenkirchener Bridge in the southern part of the city and sail north on the Rhine River for about two kilometers to the Zoobrücke Bridge.

WYD pilgrims have lined the shores of the Rhine since 10 a.m. this morning. At about 5 p.m., the Pope’s boat is expected to arrive in front of the Poll Rhine Meadows, where he will give his first address to the young people.

The boat will then continue to sail north. It will dock at 6 p.m., and the Pope will make his way to the Cologne Cathedral, where he will again address the youth from Roncalli Square. He is expected to return to his residence at 7 p.m.

Frederic Arnaud from the diocese of Lyon, France, said he and his five fellow pilgrims gave up on the idea of heading to the shores of the Rhine to catch a glimpse of the Pope.

“There are too many people there already,” said fellow pilgrim Marie Dechesne, 24. Instead, they decided to watch it all on the big screen in the Mediapark behind the Cologne Exhibition Stadium. It is one of five big screens set up in parks and plazas around the city.

Security for the Pope’s tour of the city is tight. All of the bridges to and from the city, except for two, are closed to motor and pedestrian traffic from 2 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Twenty-four armored limousines will accompany the Pope on his tour through the streets of the city. All passengers and journalists in the small press pool that will accompany the Pope on his cruise have undergone thorough security checks.

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Bishop Aquila: ‘We are at WYD because of our deep love of Christ and of the Eucharist’

Cologne, Germany, Aug 18, 2005 (CNA) - As almost 1 million young people from around the world gather in Cologne, Germany this week to see Pope Benedict XVI and celebrate their Catholic faith, a hearty group from the Diocese of Fargo, North Dakota has joined them in what many are calling the experience of a lifetime. 

Fargo’s Bishop Samuel J. Aquila, is one of over 70 bishops from the U.S. who have made the trek to the 20th World Youth Day, an event established in 1985 by the late Pope John Paul II.

Bishop Aquila told the youth from his diocese gathered in Cologne that he hopes that WYD “will be a deep experience of faith for you in which you will be able to see visibly the universality of our faith.”

He recalled that yesterday afternoon, when he “was having lunch, I overheard one of the workers state to one of the people who was there that this was the most multicultural event he had ever experienced in his life. Then he said, ‘I can’t believe how these young people get along with each other and speak to each other. It is like they are all friends.’”

“That says a tremendous amount for the gift of our Catholic faith,” the bishop said. “The only reason that we are here is because of our Catholic faith and our deep love of Christ and of the Eucharist"

“Most of all,” he told the young people, “I pray that you will discover the depth of God’s love for you and especially the love of Christ and the Church for you.”

Caitlin Loney, one of the attendees from West Fargo, ND, told the diocese that “It was just an overwhelming feeling to walk in there to the opening ceremonies yesterday and to hear them singing and it was like I was just back at home again at World Youth Day.”

Jessica Bittner of Devil’s Lake, ND agrees. She said that “One of my favorite parts so far has been the Mass that was said in all the different languages ‘cause it’s neat to see how the Mass is the same all the way around the world.  Even if you can’t understand what they’re saying, you know what’s going on.”

The over 100 young people from North Dakota are part of 24,000 youth from the U.S. taking part in the week-long celebration.

Chaperone Kristi Shypkowski, of Fargo, said that she “really liked it [Tuesday] night when, on the screens they were showing in the other Mass, in the stadium, when they were bringing in the picture of the Madonna and the cross, and the crowd was just cheering.  It just was really inspiring to see all the young people just cheering and celebrating their Catholic faith like that.”

Sean Zimprich from Aneta, ND expressed awe at the universality of the Church that he has experienced.

“I have seen so many different cultures and they all speak different languages. Even though we’re different, we still understand everybody just because we’re the same faith. It’s quite an experience,” he said. “Awesome!”

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Publisher, papal friend says Pope’s new book focuses on beauty, personal relationship with Christ

Naples, Fla., Aug 18, 2005 (CNA) - In an interview with CNA yesterday, Fr. Joseph Fessio, founder of Ignatius Press and personal friend of Pope Benedict XVI offered insights into the Holy Father’s soon-to-be-released On the Way to Jesus Christ--his first book to be released in English since his election.

In the new book, which is slated to hit bookshelves in October, the pope takes a hard look at the distinction between the pop-culture Jesus who has become tremendously popular in recent years--from t-shirts to movies and T.V. shows--and the authentic Jesus of the Gospels, whom the pope says is “quite different, demanding bold.”

Fr. Fessio said that he thinks, and believes the Pope would say, that the pop-culture Jesus phenomenon is both good and bad--“a mixed phenomenon.”

“The figure of Christ”, he said, “has drawn people even when just a piece of Him is presented” or distorted and incomplete.

Fr. Fessio noted that the new book is actually a compilation of talks and articles written by then Cardinal Ratzinger in his position as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, prior to becoming Pope.

In On the Way to Jesus Christ, the Pope makes knowledge of the person of Christ profoundly personal, an act which Fr. Fessio calls markedly unique for a theologian. “It’s particularly interesting for the Pope to be talking about a personal relationship with Christ,” he said.

On this topic, the Pope writes that, “As long as we have not tasted an essence, we do not love the thing to the extent that it is a worthy object of love.”

“Being overcome”, he continues, “by the beauty of Christ is a more real, more profound knowledge than mere rational deduction…We must rediscover this form of knowledge--it is an urgent demand of the present hour.”

At the heart of the book, the Holy Father stresses the idea of evangelization of our modern world by coming in contact with the face of Christ through means of the Church.

Fr. Fessio told CNA that he was particularly impressed with Benedict’s stress on the “importance of beauty in terms of drawing people to Christianity.”

He cited the Pope who wrote that, “I am convinced that the true apologetics for the Christian message, the most persuasive proof of its truth, offsetting everything that may appear negative, are the saints, on the one hand, and the beauty that the faith has generated, on the other.”

“For faith to grow today,” Benedict writes, “we must lead ourselves and the persons we meet to encounter the saints and to come in contact with the beautiful.”

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Viacom CEO defends slam on Mother Theresa, Catholic League calls response ‘arrogant’

, Aug 18, 2005 (CNA) - The CEO of media giant Viacom has defended the airing of a T.V. special which attacks Mother Theresa and the Catholic Church saying that the episode is an example of the organization’s commitment to “artistic freedom.”

In May, the New York-based Catholic League launched a campaign against the CBS subsidiary, over program, “Holier than thou”, starring magician entertainers Penn and Teller, who paint Mother Theresa and her Sisters of Charity as “cruel, exploitative, self-serving nun[s] who ripped off the poor.”

Donahue said, “we mobilized Catholic bishops, priests, nuns, religious and lay persons to protest.  And not without success: the vile episode of ‘Penn and Teller’ that we objected to, ‘Holier Than Thou,’ will never air again.”

Recently however, a hand-delivered letter from Viacom CEO Sumner Redstone has sparked renewed conflict.

“Redstone’s letter”, Donahue said, “reeks with arrogance.  Showtime, he says, ‘frequently airs programs with controversial, differing points of view.’  So we are supposed to believe that calling nuns ‘f---ing c---s’ is just a ‘differing point of view.’  When he says that ‘we as an organization are committed to artistic freedom,’ Redstone is being deceitful.”

The letter also noted that ‘it is tolerance for that which may be uncomfortable, unpopular and perhaps even offensive to some that defines and protects the liberties that all of our society enjoys.” 

“In other words,” Donahue said, “Viacom’s intolerance of Catholics is really a demonstration of its commitment to tolerance.  And by beating up on Mother Teresa and the Catholic Church, Viacom is defending the liberties of all Americans.  Just like the Marines.”

The Catholic League also pointed out what they see as a double standard in Viacom’s policies. Noting a new gay and lesbian channel that the company has launched, Donahue said, “Now if only Viacom treated Catholics the way it treats gays, we could all enjoy ‘differing points of view,’ ‘artistic freedom’ and ‘tolerance’ without ever being the target of its hate speech.”

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Albany Bishop will not defrock priests; ‘Formal and public removal from ministry is sufficient punishment’

Albany, N.Y., Aug 18, 2005 (CNA) - Bishop Howard Hubbard of the Catholic Diocese of Albany, NY has decided that he will not laicize 13 priests in the diocese who were involved in the Church’s priestly sexual abuse scandal, saying that public removal from ministry is a just punishment.

"I believe, he said, according to the Times-Union newspaper that, “after reflection and consultation with the misconduct board and my canonical advisers, that the formal and public removal from ministry is sufficient punishment for the priest and adequate protection for the community."

The bishop’s decision means that the priests can live out the remainder of their lives with diocesan pensions and health insurance in place.

Although some have criticized the bishop’s stance, he clarified that, "that's the route I have taken…in accordance with the charter [of the U.S. Bishops] and canonical laws of the church."

Bishop Hubbard, who has said he has reservations about certain aspects of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop’s zero tolerance, one-strike-you’re-out policy, said that, "If I found that anyone who had received this punishment had presented himself as a priest, publicly, then I still have the step of laicization. I haven't ruled out that option, and it is still available.”

So far, 20 priests of the Albany Diocese have been removed from public ministry and nine others are currently under investigation.

Fr. John Patrick Bertolucci is one of the 13 priests who had been publicly removed from ministry. Now living a life of what he calls prayer and reflection in his family home in New York’s Catskill mountains, he told the Times-Union that, "The most powerful form of penance I can do is to pray for the healing and reconciliation of any person I have sinned against and any person I have misled by my misconduct.”

"I believe that my bishop is wise in keeping open a line of communication with priests who have engaged in misconduct, rather than removing any canonical, jurisdictional oversight, which laicization would do."

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Former Methodist minister seeks the Roman collar

Gary, Ind., Aug 18, 2005 (CNA) - In 2002, Mark Kurowski, in what he calls the hardest move of his life, left the United Methodist church he’d served for 12 years as pastor, thirsty for the truth of the Catholic faith.

Now, 40-year old Kurowski, who is married with five children is seeking to become a Catholic priest--a position usually reserved for the celibate.

The year after his conversion, and frustrated with the lack of ministry jobs for lay Catholics in his area, the former pastor enlisted the help of the Bishop of the Diocese of Gary to help him petition the Vatican for a dispensation of the priestly celibacy requirement.

This fall, Kurowski is scheduled to enter north Chicago’s Mundelien Seminary.

Kurowski told the Chicago Sun-Times that his heart was changed while presiding at a communion service at Marquette Park United Methodist Church in Gary, Indiana.

He had read accounts of the early fathers of the Church who spoke of the bread and wine used in communion as the literal Body and Blood of Christ, something the Methodist church views as merely symbolic.

It was then, he said, that he “felt like he hit a brick wall with Methodism.”

"If it was just a memorial or a remembrance, that wasn't good enough for me," he told the Sun-Times. "I hungered and thirsted for more."

Kurowski has three years of seminary ahead of him before he has the opportunity to join 100 other married Catholic priests around the country.

The Catholic Church teaches that married people can pursue the priesthood, mainly in cases of clergy from other denominations who become Catholic. Throughout history, there have been numerous married priests, including the apostle James, who was one of the 12 archetypes for the modern priesthood.

Distinct from doctrines like male priesthood which have no exceptions, celibate priesthood is a Church discipline which is practiced by the Church in the west and can have legitimate exceptions.

Despite personal and family struggles that have come along with following his new path, Kurowski is convinced that his call is from God.

"It's not an easy thing to follow Christ when he asks you to give it all up," he told the Sun-Times. But "it isn't about Mark Kurowski. It's about Jesus."

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Mexican bishop calls for life without parole for kidnappers

Mexico City, Mexico, Aug 18, 2005 (CNA) - The president of the Bishops’ Conference of Mexico, Bishop Jose Guadalupe Martin Rabago of Leon, has called on the Mexican government for “life without parole” for kidnappers.

Mexico does not allow the death penalty, and therefore the bishop indicated that “the most severe sentence that can be handed down for kidnapping is life in prison.”

In response to the wave of kidnappings that has swept across Mexico, Bishop Martin Rabago commented that for “such a grave attack against someone as depriving him or her of liberty, there must be tough justice that punishes these kinds of offenses, so that in some way the tendency to obtain easy money is hindered.”

He added that the bishops consider it more important that the structural causes that provoke kidnapping be determined, and thus the bishops of western Mexico decided against excommunicating kidnappers and instead opted for appealing to the government for tougher prison sentences in order to deter such crimes.

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Argentine archbishop: protect the family from harmful foreign influences

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Aug 18, 2005 (CNA) - The president of the Committee on the Family of the Bishops’ Conference of Argentina, Archbishop Carlos Nañez of Cordoba, exhorted the country’s leaders this week to avoid using “foreign models, whether moral or economic,” that would submerge “the Argentine family in poverty and material and spiritual marginalization.”

At the conclusion of the National Gathering for Family Ministry, the archbishop recalled that political leaders have the duty to make it possible for families to have dignified life and to help them out of poverty, instead of “creating health plans that do not correspond to our way of life.”

Likewise, Archbishop Nañez expressed his profound regret at “the loss of our country’s own identity,” but he acknowledge that “we have all contributed” to this problem either directly or indirectly.

A final statement prepared by participants in the event underscored that the media, “as a reflection and as a creator of culture, often contradicts family values.”  Therefore, the participants committed themselves to promoting such values as “the protection of life” and marital fidelity, which strengthen the family.

Although the statement notes that family and marriage ministry is “increasingly more difficult,” it also reaffirms the beauty of the vocation to this sacrament, through which “one can be fulfilled despite today’s difficulties.”

During the gathering, participants reflected on the needs of those who have divorced and remarried and on the efforts some are making to force the country to accept abortion.

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Small Bible-belt diocese sees increase in seminarians

Shreveport, La., Aug 18, 2005 (CNA) - Bishop William Friend has been praying for years that God would give the Diocese of Shreveport, in northwest Louisiana, just six seminarians. Now, he recently told the Shreveport Times, he thinks that God just may be listening.

Four new seminarians have recently begun studies for active service in the Church and will hopefully join 43 priests in the diocese currently serving at 50 parishes.

"It takes a vocations culture of asking people to think about their lives and what they might do for God," Rev. Pike Thomas of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parish told the Times. "The more (seminarians) we have, the more we're going to have as long as we keep up the invitations."

Many credit the increased interest in vocations to changing times in the diocese and the culture at large.

John Mark Wilcox, vocations director for the diocese told the Times that "The millennials --unlike Gen Xers -- they are completely unafraid of commitment."

Added Bishop Friend: “[the increase] is indicative of the goodness of young people and their relationships with God…It also indicates some new revitalization of the faith community."

Garrett Tiller, who just graduated from High School, has four years of college and then four more of theology training ahead of him on his road to the priesthood. He told the Times that he is pursuing this vocation--somewhat unusual for the strongly Protestant south--because of his love of the Church and to help people grow in their relationships with God.

 "You can help one person on so many levels -- spiritual, with marriages, baptisms, funerals -- in good times and bad," he said.

Garrett’s Grandfather, Randy Tiller, president of the local chapter of the Serra Club, a lay organization aimed at promoting priestly vocations, said that some of his grandson’s friends have already started asking him questions.

"We've got some visible presence," he said. "They will go a long way to keeping the idea alive and in the forefront."

He added, according to the Times, that it was his grandson’s vocation that inspired him to start the Serra club chapter.

According to the diocese, the new seminarians range in backgrounds from Tiller, who just graduated from high school, to a 20-year veteran of the casino industry.

Added Wilcox: "Every time I see a spark, I travel and pour some gasoline on it."

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