Archive of July 4, 2009

Annual conference offers encouragement to priests during times of struggle

Steubenville, Ohio, Jul 4, 2009 (CNA) - A five-day conference held at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio earlier this month brought together over 180 priests from across the country to receive support and practical help in order to be "Strengthened in Hope."

The 35th annual Priests, Deacons, and Seminarians Conference was held from June 15 to 19. Participants spent time with other priests, deacons, and seminarians, while finding renewal in the sacraments and attending talks and workshops helping them learn how to turn obstacles and challenges into opportunities for hope and witness.

The conference was co-hosted by Father Michael Scanlan and Father David Pivonka, TOR, director of Post-novitiate Formation for the Sacred Heart Province of the Third Order Regular and superior at St. Louis Friary in Washington, D.C.

Bishop Robert Baker of Birmingham, Alabama received Franciscan University’s Shepherd’s Award at the conference. The award was given to Bishop Baker "in recognition of the ways he has helped God strengthen and raise up faithful loving shepherds for his flock."

University Chancellor Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, presented the award in front of an enthusiastic crowd, saying, "Bishop Baker has a real heart for the people and a great pastoral care for his priests, and places a priority on the promotion of vocations to the priesthood and religious life."

Baker was appointed as bishop of Charleston in 1999 and then as bishop of Birmingham in 2007. He is the author of the recent book, The Questioner’s Prayer, and also worked with Father Benedict J. Groeshel, CFR, to write When Did We See you, Lord?

Addressing the gathered crowd, Bishop Baker encouraged his fellow priests to offer their intentions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus every day and consecrate themselves to the Sacred Heart of Jesus every month. In addition, he strongly recommended that they never miss daily Mass and that they schedule a holy hour at least once a week, if not once a day.

The bishop expressed his hope that during this newly-begun Year for Priests, the lay faithful would "engage themselves in prayer and action for our priests," helping to renew the love and devotion of priests around the world. "The priesthood is the love, the heart, of Jesus," he said.

In addition to the award ceremony, other highlights of the conference included enriching talks and workshops on a variety of theological and pastoral topics, as well as testimonies and opportunities for confession, Eucharistic adoration, daily Mass, and praise and worship.

Father David Toups, associate director for the U.S. Bishops’ Office of Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations celebrated the 12th anniversary of his vows during the conference. Father Toups conducted a workshop, "Character Produces Hope," in which he called on fellow priests to live moral lives of virtue, striving to "be credible witnesses so the people may believe in Jesus Christ."

Encouraging annual retreats and spiritual direction, Father Toups emphasized the dangers that come from priests failing to comprehend their identity. "The future of the Church is jeopardized when we don’t live in accordance with the great calling we have received," he said. Toups suggested prayers for both priests and laity in support of the priesthood.

Another of the workshops, "Mary: Star of Hope," emphasized the importance of Mary in today’s world as a guiding "Star" pointing towards Christ. Father Leo Patalinghug, director of Pastoral Field Education at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, conducted the workshop, saying, "The Blessed Mother is more than a statue and more to us than a simple set of prayers we say on a bunch of beads." Explaining that every saint had a devotion to the Blessed Mother, he continued, "Mary is the great sign of hope. She points to our salvation at the foot of the cross."

Father Patalinghug urged priests to make their everyday lives a reflection of Marian virtues, including humility, obedience, and compassion. "We’re in an age where disobedience is popular and obedience is irrelevant," he said. Yet despite these obstacles, he encouraged priests to persist in the spiritual works of mercy. "Be proud of your Catholic identity," he said.

The final talk, "A Royal Priesthood: Hope for the Church and the World," featured University trustee Diane Brown explaining that without priests, there would be no sacraments, no Church, and no salvation. Brown expressed her gratitude to priests, who are "of more value to mankind than the entire material universe."

Brown spoke about the importance of prayer and seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit in order to preach the truth faithfully. "Pray and don’t stop praying," she said, encouraging the gathered priests to boldly carry out their missions on earth. "A world without God is a world without hope. You, my brother priests, are what the world needs."

The Priests, Deacons, Seminarians Conference is one of six summer conferences for adults offered at Franciscan University. Those interested in upcoming conferences can find information at

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Realfaith TV prepares for 10th season

Trenton, N.J., Jul 4, 2009 (CNA) - On location in two different places along the Jersey shore this week, members of the Realfaith TV talent team took part in taping segments for the faith-based teen talk show’s 10th season, set to open this fall.


A crew of teen interviewers and a camera person hit the boardwalk at Seaside Heights June 21 to conduct the “teen-on-the-street” interviews that are a feature of each episode in the 26-week season.


The following day, eight brave teens awoke in the early morning hours to be part of a sunrise taping on the beach at Stella Maris Retreat House in Elberon. Later that day, several dozen more RFTV team members joined the group for extended taping that will be used for the opening segment of each episode.


Armed with only a microphone, clipboard and warm smiles, teen interviewers Annie McMahon of St. Mary of the Lakes Parish, Medford, and Julianne Carson of St. David the King Parish, Princeton Junction, took advantage of the weekend’s brief window of good weather to gather footage under the direction of cameraperson Loretta McLaughlin. Their mission was difficult – get teen passersby to stop and answer questions about faith-related topics. It is a process that is repeated about a half dozen times through the spring and early summer in order to gather enough “teen-on-the-street” footage for the entire season.


The impromptu, somewhat untreated footage of teens answering questions on the boardwalk has been a staple of the show for many of its 10 seasons, explained Marianne Hartman, director of the diocesan Office of Radio and Television and executive producer of RFTV. In addition to the interviews, each episode also includes in-studio discussions and spotlight interviews based on the subject.


Some of the topics that have garnered national recognition for the diocesan-produced program have included “Companioning a Pregnant Teen” and “Overcoming Eating Disorders.”


“These interviews can be a lot of fun; (you) never know what they can say,” McLaughlin said. She is the senior television producer and director at the County College of Morris, Randolph, and was filling in for a colleague who usually films the interviews.


“I give them (the RFTV interviewers) a lot of credit,” she said. “The rejection factor is high.”


“It’s surprising how many people don’t want to be on television,” McMahon said, adding with a chuckle, “we’re used to it.”


Carson added that the interviewers had to work through their own hesitations and nerves when approaching complete strangers, which was a daunting task on their first shoot.


However, the combination of challenges seemed to make the interviewing experiences they did have all the more enjoyable.


“It’s really interesting to hear different people’s opinions,” Carson said. “It really makes you think about the topics in relation to your faith.”


For each teen, Carson and McMahon focused on two of their prepared topics for an on-camera interview that lasted around five minutes each. This week, the crew was charged with asking questions on the topics of text messaging, hypocrisy, holding a job and using profane language.


Even those who agreed to go on camera were still battling apprehensions. “I was kind of nervous,” Mikaela Polchak, 16, said after her interview. “I don’t usually do stuff like that.”


“I learn a lot from other people’s opinions,” McMahon said. This was her third time interviewing for this portion of the program.


According to Hartman, video and still shots were captured at Stella Maris Retreat House which will be used for the opening of each week’s show, as well as images for the website, the DVDs that are produced each year and other promotional needs. The teens were taped and photographed praying in the chapel, playing on the beach and just spending time with each other.


To learn more about RealFaith TV, visit


Printed with permission from The Monitor, newspaper of the Diocese of Trenton, N.J.

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Pope's new encyclical asks us to re-examine foundation of the economy

New Haven, Conn., Jul 4, 2009 (CNA) - With the release of Pope Benedict XVI's encyclical just days away, the head of the Knights of Columbus is warning people not to ask how the Pope's teaching will validate their world view but how their views should change in response to the document.

The Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, Carl Anderson, states that those in positions of economic influence shold take notice of "Caritas in Veritate", the Holy Father's forthcoming encyclical, to be released on July 7th.

"Commentators," Anderson says, "should avoid trying to analyze the pope’s document from their own perspectives or through a political lens. Pope Benedict XVI's comments in this encyclical, like his writing on the economy previously, concern the need for an ethical underpinning in order for any economic system to be sustainable. An ethical underpinning to economic systems must transcend politics."

Another reaction that Anderson warns against is reading the encyclical and then "asking not how it validates our worldview." Instead, he suggests asking how one's worldview should change in response to the document.

"The world deserves a market economy with a conscience. We should bear in mind that Pope Benedict XVI in a 1985 paper criticized Marxism heavily for being too 'deterministic' and warned that market economies risked collapse if they too excluded or ignored the ethical component of individual decision making. Certainly, he has been proven correct, and thus all of us, and especially those in position of economic leadership, should certainly take notice of this encyclical," the Supreme Knight recommends.

The Pope's newest teaching document asks the world to re-examine the economic crisis by looking at "the very foundation of our system – and to build on the bedrock of ethics rather than the sand of determinism," he explains.

"We could sum up the pope’s thinking on the economy this way: Each of us must answer Christ’s question, “Who do you say that I am?” If we, with Peter, answer “The Messiah,” then that should direct the axis of our life. Our most important reality must be the truth of our relationships. In this, we understand how the law and prophets could be summed up in Christ’s two commandments: that we love God totally, and love our neighbors as ourselves. Thus we are able to speak of 'caritas in veritate.'"

"If we accept this, we can no longer ask Cain’s question: 'Am I my brother’s keeper?'" notes Anderson.

"Accepting this premise, we must realize that our exercise of freedom cannot take the form of simply amassing the most wealth that we can."

"Rather, all that we do in freedom must reflect that reality and all our actions must take into account the effects of those actions on others. A Christian must be a person for others. In America, most people are Christian, so it is easy to see why they intuitively understand that greed is at the root of our economic crisis, and that one can be ethical and successful. This is the message we have seen already from Pope Benedict XVI, in his writings before he became pope, and specifically in Spe Salvi and Deus Caritas Est –his two previous encyclicals," the leader of the Knights says.

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