Evansville, Ind., Jul 3, 2010 (CNA) -
". . . then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, 'Drink from it all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant . . .'" Matthew 26:27
“For most priests, the chalice is the most significant vessel that they use. Of all the vestments and vessels we use, it’s the most significant because it’s the one we use the most often, and because the Eucharist is at the heart of what we do as priests as far as being nourished ourselves and nourishing the people of God.
“The chalice is very significant.”
That’s how Father Alex Zenthoefer understands the importance of the chalice. He’s the assistant pastor at Holy Rosary Church and chaplain at Memorial High School, both in Evansville, Indiana, and diocesan director of Vocations.
His own chalice has added significance, because it connects him to two other diocesan priests, linking them all the way back to 1911.
He was ordained to the priesthood on June 4, 2005. Before his ordination, he was given a chalice which had belonged to Father Eugene Dewig, who died in 2002. Father Dewig had been his pastor at Sacred Heart Church in Evansville, and he had used the chalice during his 50-plus years of priesthood.
Father Dewig had served as Father Alex’s mentor, and the two men often talked about the priesthood. “Before he died, we sat down. He wanted me to ask him questions about the priesthood, and that was helpful for me. During our last conversation, we sat down, and he asked, ‘Do you have any questions?’ Then he pulled out a sheet he had prepared of things he thought I needed to know. He went through the list of things, which was wonderful. Then he hinted that he wanted me to have his chalice.”
Father Alex’s mom, Mary Ann, was the parish DRE at the time. “He told my mom he wanted me to have it. It was fitting, because the two biggest influences on my vocation were Father Dewig and my parents.
“She told me, and she said they were going to get it replated.”
Then in December of 2009, while he was doing a wedding someone asked where he had gotten his chalice. When he answered “from Father Dewig,” he was told that Father Dewig had received the chalice on June 3, 1950, on his ordination from Father Bernard Reidford.
Father Reidford had received the chalice from his parents on the occasion of his own ordination on June 10, 1911.
“So this June, I am celebrating the ninety-ninth birthday of my chalice,” Father Alex said.
“It’s amazing,” he said, “when I use it. It’s so much more clear to me that what I do as a priest is so much bigger than myself. Jesus handed his ministry to the apostles, and I think I am in line. I’m doing my part for the Church.”
Father Alex is 31 years old, and retirement is years away, but he says “when I start getting up in years, I hope I have some awareness — as Father Dewig — that this has to come to an end. I hope there is a young man considering the priesthood that I can pass this on to.”
Having this chalice — with its years of tradition — is a “great reminder to me that I’ve been chosen for this. You can never plan for this. We are chosen for this, and it’s a great gift.”
Printed with permission from The Message, newspaper for the Diocese of Evansville, Ind.
Rome, Italy, Jul 3, 2010 (CNA) - Recently created metropolitan archbishops from around the world descended on Rome for the conferral of the pallium on June 29 at St. Peter's Basilica. Among them was Archbishop Thomas Wenski, whom CNA was able to ask about the ceremony, his archdiocese and the reconciliation process with Cuba.
On receiving the pallium, a band of wool placed on the the archbishops' shoulders to symbolize their role as shepherds and union with the Pope, Archbishop Wenski said that, for him, it was not only personally "moving," but "it was also a very significant moment in the life of the archdiocese of Miami.” The bestowal of the pallium, he explained, represents “the transition to a new archbishop and a new chapter in our ecclesial history."
Speaking about his new archdiocese, Archbishop Wenski said it is one of great diversity, uniting people from a variety of continents into a "mosaic of diversity."
Asked specifically about the Cuban-American contingent and the part they play in the reconciliation process with the island of Cuba, he said that the Cuban people, "are divided by the Florida straights, but they are also divided by ideology and history of some political divisions that run very deep." Nevertheless, they are a part of the reconciliation process with the island.
"So," he continued, "Cuba needs to undergo a transition and I believe a transition of some sorts is already in process, but what we pray and hope for is a 'soft landing' in this transition. And if there is going to be a soft landing, then we need to assure that the Cubans on both sides of the Florida strait, because they remain the same people, that they achieve some sort of a reconciliation so that Cuba can have a future of hope."
The Miami archbishop found hope specifically in the "new and unprecedented dialogue" taking place between the Church and Cuban authorities which could lead to the release of dozens of political prisoners in the country. "It's an important step," he explained, "because it represents the Church acting within the society in which it exists, acting not along a political agenda or influenced by any ideology, but acting as an agent of the Gospel and for Gospel values."
Most recently, the Vatican's Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, was in Cuba from June 16-20 to mark the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the Caribbean nation. Many saw the visit as a hopeful step towards the release of the nearly 200 political prisoners.
Following the archbishop's visit, the president of Cuban bishops, Archbishop of Santiago Dionisio García, told Reuters that "the fact of speaking with the authorities is going to consolidate this process (of the release of political prisoners) that all of us want to continue, because it will echo for the good of the country."
As for Archbishop Wenski, he pledged his own assistance in the process, saying that he would be willing to return to the island at any time and continue to provide assistance along with his "brothers in the Cuban episcopate."
Madison, Wis., Jul 3, 2010 (CNA) - A lawsuit challenging a Wisconsin constitutional amendment which protected the definition of marriage failed to persuade the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which unanimously rejected its arguments. Supporters of the amendment said the challenge was “baseless.”
The suit had challenged the amendment on the grounds it violated a Wisconsin requirement that amendments deal with only one issue. In a 7-0 opinion issued Wednesday, the court judged that the two propositions contained in the amendment’s text “plainly relate to the subject of marriage.”
More than 59 percent of Wisconsin voters approved the amendment in November 2006, the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) reports in a June 30 press release. University of Wisconsin professor William McConkey filed suit in July 2007.
The ADF filed an amicus brief in the case. Its litigation counsel Jim Campbell said in a statement that voters adopted the measure “for one clear and simple reason: to protect the institution of marriage.”
“We should be strengthening--not undermining--marriage, which is one man and one woman. Once again, activists tried to use the courts to force something on the people that they have repeatedly and overwhelmingly rejected.”
Wisconsin Family Council president Julaine K. Appling said the claim that the amendment addresses multiple subjects was “just a sneaky attempt to tear down what the voters clearly wanted.”
“The court was right to reject this baseless lawsuit. Judges and politicians should never toss aside the will of the people in order to impose a system that intentionally deprives children of a mom and dad. Which parent doesn’t matter: a mom or a dad?”
In May 2008 a Dane County Circuit judge also ruled in favor of the amendment, agreeing that its sole purpose is “the preservation of the unique and historical status of marriage.”
L'Aquila, Italy, Jul 3, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - During his pastoral visit to Sulmona, Italy on Sunday, in addition to events on the official program, the Holy Father will also meet with a delegation from the local prison. According to their chaplain, the event will serve to communicate the hope found in Christ for inmates' "interior freedom."
Pope Benedict XVI, visiting the city in celebration of the 800th anniversary of the birth of St. Celestine, will meet with a representation composed of five inmates, security personnel and the director of the prison after he blesses a new home for elderly and sick priests.
Looking forward to the event, prison chaplain Fr. Franco Messori told Vatican Radio on Friday that the encounter with the Pope is valuable because it serves as an "announcement of a salvation that is for everyone and that freedom is Jesus Christ.
"In the end," he said, "the chaplain's task is announcing to him who seeks freedom that it is Jesus Christ who gives (it), even if one is in jail, even if justice sees fit that he or she must stay there."
In such a way, Fr. Messori continued, they still remain captive, "but in interior freedom."
Vatican City, Jul 3, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI’s “exquisitely evangelical witness” this week show his "personal and direct commitment" to creating communion in the Church, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi has said, citing the Holy Father’s launch of a new evangelization of the West and his action to reconcile disputes and to renew the Church.
During his "Octava Dies" editorial aired on Vatican Television on Saturday morning, Fr. Lombardi remarked that in recent days the words and actions of the Pope have been “exceptionally intense and determinant for the life of the Church community."
The activity of the Pope, he continued, has been made more meaningful due to its proximity to the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul. This is a feast which brings our attention back to the mission "entrusted by Christ to Peter and his successors" to support and guide the faith of believers, he explained.
For Fr. Lombardi, the announcement of the new Vatican department for renewed evangelization of areas subject to secularization stands out among the Pope's activities this week. However, he particularly wanted to highlight the pontiff’s “personal and direct commitment to the union of the Church community.”
"The Pope has repeated many times that the dangers and the gravest temptations for the Church come from within," pointed out Fr. Lombardi. "In difficult times, such as those that we are living, the tensions induced from the outside make it easier also for tensions to emerge inside and these combine and increase confusion and uncertainty."
Papal audiences this week included two meant to bring about healing within the Church. Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Christoph Schonborn who has spoken out against the actions of Cardinal Angelo Sodano in the past was brought together with him and Pope Benedict on Monday. Also, on Thursday, ex-Bishop of Augsburg, Walter Mixa, who resigned this year reportedly for embezzling and physically abusing children in an orphanage, met with the Pope in the Vatican.
These events, Fr. Lombardi indicated, "demonstrate that (the Pope) is working himself ... to heal the tensions and incomprehensions that afflict the community."
The Vatican spokesman quoted the Holy Father's words from the communique reporting the content of Benedict XVI's audience with Bishop Mixa: "In a time of contrasts and uncertainties, the world expects from Christians the harmonious witness that they, based on their encounter with the risen Lord, are able to offer and in which they help each other as also in all of society to find the right way towards the future."
Fr. Lombardi concluded by saying that "These are the sentiments of the Pope; his exquisitely evangelical witness is clear. We should follow it."