Archive of January 11, 2009

Cincinnati native heeds call to priesthood in Erie diocese

Cincinnati, Ohio, Jan 11, 2009 (CNA) - By Carmen M. Hubbard


Sometimes hearing God’s call to minister can be difficult to understand. Although Father Johnathan Schmolt’s family knew he had the makings of a priest, it wasn’t always clear to him, he said.


"My family said ‘it was about time.’ Everybody who knows me wasn’t surprised, so I’m the last to figure this out," Father Schmolt said. "In high school and in college, I looked into the religious path as a Jesuit or Dominican. At that time (becoming) a diocesan priest was not particularly appealing. I believed in what I wanted to do and said, ‘Lord, stop bothering me. I tried it and it didn’t work out.’"


Ultimately, the Anderson Township native heeded God’s command and was ordained on June 6, 2008, at St. Peter in Chains Cathedral in the Diocese of Erie in Pennsylvania.


He now serves as the pastor of St. Jude the Apostle Church, ministering to 2,300 families. Father Schmolt is one of three priests in the area who entered the seminary over age 30. Typically, men are in their twenties when they enter the seminary right after college, he said.


As a child, Father Schmolt attended Immaculate Heart of Mary School and is a graduate of Covington Latin High School. Father Schmolt, 36, made his way to Erie seeking volunteer opportunities through the diocese while in college during the early 1990s. He spent summers assisting economically disadvantaged Appalachian residents in the area. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Northern Kentucky University, he moved to northern Pennsylvania to work as a computer programmer and continue volunteering through the Diocese of Erie.


"I thought about the priesthood in the sixth grade," he said. "When I got the calling again, I finally asked God what He wanted me to do. It took six years to re-ask the question. It took two months to answer ‘What am I going to do about it?’" he said.


During the ordination, Father Schmolt’s mother, Jeanine, was presented with her son’s maniturgium — a cloth used to wipe his hands with holy oil. His father, Paul, was given another cloth that Father Schmolt wore when he heard his first confession.


"It’s an honor. God has blessed us. The most powerful thing is when you go to Mass and say, ‘That’s my son,’" Jeanine Schmolt said of her oldest of three children. "He was always interested in the church. I said, ‘God is using you for something.’"


Last summer Father Schmolt returned home to celebrate one of his first Masses at Immaculate Heart of Mary. It was a chance for Father Schmolt’s family members who were unable to attend his ordination in Erie to celebrate with him locally.

"His grandmothers would be so proud," Jeanine Schmolt said.


Father Jan Schmidt, pastor of St. Margaret of York in Loveland, was a longtime pastor at Immaculate Heart of Mary and met Father Schmolt when he returned home for Christmas, Easter and on break from the seminary.


"He’s very likable and very helpful," Father Schmidt said. "He’s been involved in liturgy. He’ll make a fine priest. I’m glad and joyful, but I wish he was a priest for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati."


Father Schmolt said he was never against becoming a priest and enjoys the rewards and challenges it brings. "The priesthood means being full of God and prayer. I get to talk to people who are in trouble. That’s the best part of what you do," he said.


Father Schmolt also leads various staff meetings to "move the organization forward" and "balances the (parish’s) checkbook."


"The whole business component may not have been in the priesthood 50 years ago. I’m very satisfied," he said.


Courtesy of The Catholic Telegraph, January 9, 2009.

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Birth control pill inventor laments demographic ‘catastrophe’

Vienna, Austria, Jan 11, 2009 (CNA) - The chemist who made a key discovery leading to the invention of the birth control pill has written a commentary calling demographic decline in Europe a “horror scenario” and a “catastrophe” brought on in part by the pill’s invention.

Mr. Carl Djerassi, now 85 years old, was one of three researchers whose formulation of the synthetic progestagen Norethisterone marked a key step in the creation of the first oral contraceptive pill, the Guardian reports.

In a personal commentary in the Austrian newspaper Der Standard, Djerassi said his invention is partly to blame for demographic imbalance in Europe. On the continent, he argued, there is now “no connection at all between sexuality and reproduction.”

“This divide in Catholic Austria, a country which has on average 1.4 children per family, is now complete,” he wrote.

Djerassi described families who had decided against reproduction as “wanting to enjoy their schnitzels while leaving the rest of the world to get on with it.”

The fall in the birth rate, he claimed, was an “epidemic” far worse but less highlighted than obesity. In his view, young Austrians who fail to procreate are committing national suicide.

If it is not possible to reverse the demographic decline, an “intelligent immigration policy” will be necessary, Djerassi said.

According to the Guardian, Archbishop of Vienna Cardinal Christoph Schonborn told Austrian TV that Pope Paul VI had predicted the pill would cause a dramatic fall in the birth rate.

“Somebody above suspicion like Carl Djerassi ... is saying that each family has to produce three children to maintain population levels, but we’re far away from that,” the cardinal said.

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Understanding Baptism makes for a life of constant thanks, Pope Benedict says

Vatican City, Jan 11, 2009 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, spoke about the Sacrament of Baptism. Stressing that Jesus’ baptism was Jesus’ first act of public life, he said that if Christians could fully understand the gift of Baptism, our lives would be ones of constant thanks.

At Holy Mass before the Angelus, the pontiff had administered Baptism to a group of children in the Sistine Chapel.

After the conclusion of Mass, he addressed a large crowd in St. Peter’s Square, noting how Jesus' Baptism is narrated in all four Gospels.

“The evangelist Mark writes: On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased,’” the Holy Father remarked.

“In these words: ‘You are my beloved Son,’ is revealed eternal life: the filial relationship with God, as Jesus lived and revealed and gave.

“Dear friends,” he continued, “how great is the gift of Baptism! If we could understand this fully, our life would become a constant 'thank you'.

"What a joy for Christian parents, who have seen a new creature emerge from their love, to bring this to the baptismal font and see it born again from the womb of the Church, into a life that will have no end!”

He added: “This is a gift, a joy, but also a responsibility! Parents, in fact, together with godparents, must educate children according to the Gospel."

Benedict XVI then spoke about the Sixth World Meeting of Families that will be held in Mexico City from January 16-18. This year, the meeting’s theme is "The family, educator of human and Christian values."

Organized by the Pontifical Council for the Family, Pope Benedict explained, the world meeting of families will have three sections: “the first, the theological-pastoral congress, at which the theme will be developed, partly through the sharing of significant experiences; then there will be the moment of celebration and testimony, which will demonstrate the beauty of the coming together of families from every part of the world, united by the same faith and the same commitment; and finally, the solemn Eucharistic celebration, as an act of thanksgiving to the Lord for the gifts of matrimony, the family, and life."

While Pope Benedict has chosen Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, as his legate, the pontiff has said that he wishes to participate by videoconference.

The Holy Father concluded: “Starting now, dear friends, I ask you to implore for this important world meeting of families the abundance of divine grace. Let us do this by invoking the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, Queen of the family."

After the Angelus, the Pope directed these words towards the English-speaking pilgrims:

“To all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims here today, I extend affectionate greetings. On this feast of the Lord’s Baptism, Jesus descends into the waters of the Jordan, taking on himself the weight of our sins. When he rises from the water, the Spirit comes down upon him and the Father’s voice declares: ‘This is my beloved Son.’

“Let us rejoice that the Son of God came to share our human condition, so that we might rise with him to everlasting life. Upon all who are here today, and upon your families and loved ones at home, I invoke God’s abundant blessings.”

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