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April 17, 2014
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Priests must anoint others with oil of gladness, Pope reflects

Vatican City, April 17 (CNA/EWTN News) .- In his homily given during the Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday, Pope Francis spoke on the joy of the priestly vocation, saying a cleric “is useless” unless his happiness is found in the grace of God.
FULL STORY »



Vatican

Priests must anoint others with oil of gladness, Pope reflects
John XXIII, John Paul II linked by love of dialogue with world
Pope is bringing human trafficking into public eye, ambassador says

US

Radical abortion bill dies in Colo. Senate after call to prayer, action
Colo. parish looks to John Paul II in family-focused initiative
Denver archbishop rallies Coloradans against 'extreme' abortion bill

Europe

New English discernment house hopes to help vocations flourish



Vatican

Priests must anoint others with oil of gladness, Pope reflects

VATICAN CITY, April 17 (CNA/EWTN News) .- In his homily given during the Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday, Pope Francis spoke on the joy of the priestly vocation, saying a cleric “is useless” unless his happiness is found in the grace of God.

“Anointed with the oil of gladness so as to anoint others with the oil of gladness,” the pontiff said April 17, noting that priestly joy “is a priceless treasure, not only for the priest himself but for the entire faithful people of God.”

Pope Francis made his remarks on the priesthood during the morning's Chrism Mass, which takes place in the Catholic Church each year on Holy Thursday and involves the blessing of oils used for the sacraments of Confirmation, Holy Orders and the Anointing of the Sick.

Highlighting how priestly joy has its source in the Father's love, Pope Francis said that “I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that (the) priest is very little indeed: the incomparable grandeur of the gift granted us for the ministry sets us among the least of men.”

“The priest is the poorest of men unless Jesus enriches him by his poverty, the most useless of servants unless Jesus calls him his friend, the most ignorant of men unless Jesus patiently teaches him as he did Peter, the frailest of Christians unless the Good Shepherd strengthens him in the midst of the flock,” the Pope continued, adding that “No one is more ‘little’ than a priest left to his own devices.”

Encouraging priests to seek the protection of Mary and to echo her words in the Gospel, saying “I am a priest because he has regarded my littleness,” he explained that “in that littleness we find our joy.”

Drawing attention to three important characteristics of this joy, the pontiff observed that it is a gladness that anoints, is imperishable and is also missionary.

On the anointing, the Pope reflected that this joy “has penetrated deep within our hearts, it has shaped them and strengthened them sacramentally.”

Through all the signs and actions performed during the rite of ordination, he added, “Grace fills us to the brim and overflows, fully, abundantly and entirely in each priest.”

“We are anointed down to our very bones…and our joy, which wells up from deep within, is the echo of this anointing.”

Turning to the imperishable quality of this gladness, the Pope explained that the fullness of this gift is something “which no one can take away or increase,” and “is an unfailing source of joy.”

“It can lie dormant, or be clogged by sin or by life’s troubles, yet deep down it remains intact, like the embers of a burnt log beneath the ashes, and it can always be renewed,” he continued.

Highlighting the missionary quality of priestly joy, Pope Francis emphasized that it “is deeply bound up with God’s holy and faithful people, for it is an eminently missionary joy,” adding that “Our anointing is meant for anointing God’s holy and faithful people,” to baptize, bless, comfort and evangelize them.

The Bishop of Rome pointed out that since this joy “only springs up when the shepherd is in the midst of his flock,” it is a “guarded joy” which is “watched over by the flock itself.”

“Even in those gloomy moments when everything looks dark and a feeling of isolation takes hold of us, in those moments of listlessness and boredom which at times overcome us in our priestly life (and which I too have experienced), even in those moments God’s people are able to ‘guard’ that joy,” he stated.

Pope Francis then alluded to three “sisters” of this guarded joy who “surround it, tend it and defend it,” revealing that they are “sister poverty, sister fidelity and sister obedience.”

“Priestly joy is a joy which is sister to poverty,” he observed, noting that “the priest is poor in terms of purely human joy. He has given up so much! And because he is poor, he, who gives so much to others, has to seek his joy from the Lord and from God’s faithful people.”

On how the priest does not need to create this joy for himself, the pontiff expressed that it is found in his belonging to God and to his holy people.

“The priest who tries to find his priestly identity by soul-searching and introspection may well encounter nothing more than 'exit' signs,” the Pope continued, “signs that say: exit from yourself, exit to seek God in adoration, go out and give your people what was entrusted to you.”

“Unless you 'exit' from yourself, the oil grows rancid and the anointing cannot be fruitful,” he explained, stating that “going out from ourselves presupposes self-denial; it means poverty.”

Moving on to the theme of fidelity, the Pope highlighted that priestly joy is also a “sister to fidelity,” but “Not primarily in the sense that we are all 'immaculate,' for we are sinners, but in the sense of an ever renewed fidelity to the one Bride, to the Church.”

Whenever the priest “does all that he has to do and lets go of everything that he has to let go of, as long as he stands firm amid the flock which the Lord has entrusted to him,” his mission will bring him joy.

Calling attention to obedience as a sister to this priestly joy, Pope Francis stated that it is “An obedience to the Church in the hierarchy which gives us, as it were, not simply the external framework for our obedience…but also union with God the Father, the source of all fatherhood.”

“It is likewise an obedience to the Church in service: in availability and readiness to serve everyone, always and as best I can,” he went on to say, noting that through obedience “Wherever God’s people have desires or needs, there is the priest, who knows how to listen and feels a loving mandate from Christ who sends him to relieve that need with mercy.”

“All who are called should know that genuine and complete joy does exist in this world,” he added, highlighting that “it is the joy of being taken from the people we love and then being sent back to them as dispensers of the gifts and counsels of Jesus” that is true.

Pope Francis then prayed that “on this priestly Thursday” Jesus would enable “many young people to discover that burning zeal which joy kindles in our hearts as soon as we have the stroke of boldness needed to respond willingly to his call.”

He also prayed that the Lord would preserve the joy “sparkling in the eyes of the recently ordained who go forth to devour the world,” and to confirm the joy “of those who have already ministered for some years,” especially those who “bear the burden of the ministry” and who “having experienced the labors of the apostolate, gather their strength and rearm themselves.”

Concluding his homily, the Roman Pontiff also prayed that Jesus “make better known the joy of elderly priests, whether healthy or infirm,” adding that “It is the joy of the Cross, which springs from the knowledge that we possess an imperishable treasure in perishable earthen vessels.”

“May these priests find happiness wherever they are; may they experience already, in the passage of the years, a taste of eternity,” he asked.

And “may they know the joy of handing on the torch, the joy of seeing new generations of their spiritual children, and of hailing the promises from afar, smiling and at peace, in that hope which does not disappoint.”




John XXIII, John Paul II linked by love of dialogue with world

VATICAN CITY, April 17 (CNA/EWTN News) .- John XXIII and John Paul II, who will be canonized April 27, are “bound together” by their love for addressing the world in conversation, a cardinal who worked with them both has said.

“Before John XXIII, the Pope was perceived as one who made pronouncements from on high; John XXIII was the first Pope speaking off the cuff, and he paved the way for a new style,” said Cardinal Paul Poupard, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Culture, in an April 15 interview with CNA.

“And of course we all remember the spontaneous meetings John Paul II had, especially with young people.”

Cardinal Poupard worked at the Secretariat of State beginning in 1959, the second year of Angelo Roncalli’s papacy.

John Paul II appointed him head of the Secretariat for Non-Believers in 1980, and he was president of the Pontifical Council for Culture from 1988 to 2007.

Cardinal Poupard had the opportunity to spend time with both Popes, and saw that “during their meetings, both of them turned into, in a sense, who they had been before their election.”

He recalled his first meeting with John XXIII, when he, a 29-year-old priest of Paris, presented the Roman Pontiff with the book he published after his doctoral dissertation, about the appointments of bishops in France.

“The appointment of bishops! You wanted to work hard!,” John XXIII told Fr. Poupard, reminded of his own efforts in French bishop appointments.

Roncalli had been apostolic nuncio to France from 1944 to 1953.

“In the conversation, he turned into the apostolic nuncio again,” Cardinal Poupard reflected.

He then recounted that “when John Paul II spoke about the situation in Poland, he spoke such that he turned back to being the Bishop of Krakow, mentioning the Primate, Stefan Wyszynski.”

Cardinal Poupard said that “John XXIII was the first Pope ‘speaking off the cuff’”, and he also “introduced into the style of encyclicals, the reading of the signs of times.”

This style is peculiarly evident, he said, in Pacem in terris, John XXIII’s last encyclical and “his spiritual legacy, I would say, since he died some weeks after the encyclical had been issued.”

Cardinal Poupard explained that “every chapter of the encyclical starts with a statement dealing with an aspiration of men … to peace, to freedom, to dignity.”

This style of Pacem in terris was an inspiration for the Second Vatican Council’s Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes, which was something “new in the history of ecumenical councils.”

“Conciliar documents had always been based on God, on revelation … Gaudium et spes inaugurated a new way of addressing the world, an inductive method which began from the aspirations of the human being instead of a deductive method with a basis in revelation.”

He said John XXIII paved the way to a more spontaneous way of being Pope, upon which John Paul II built, citing in particular the Pole’s institution of World Youth Day.

John Paul II frequently engaged in conversation with the world through his trips to 129 countries, and his dialogue with other Christians and with the followers of other religions.




Pope is bringing human trafficking into public eye, ambassador says

VATICAN CITY, April 16 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Pope Francis is contributing to the fight against human trafficking by making the matter a frequent point of public discourse, says a U.S. ambassador who specializes in the subject.
 
Luis CdeBaca, U.S. Ambassador in the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, shared with CNA April 12 his impressions about the Pope Francis’ commitment against modern day slavery.
 
“I do see Pope Francis working to insert the issue of human trafficking in informal comments. The idea is to institutionalize the issue as part of the normal public discourse,” the ambassador said.

He underscored that when Pope Francis “talks about freedom and mentions modern slavery, the latter becomes the normal part of the conversation– it is very exciting.”

He emphasized that “Popes in the past have issued writings and statements, but writings and statements don’t necessarily have the same impact as the spoken word and what people may hear. For instance, I was struck that at the Mass we had here in Washington for the St. Josephine Bakita feast, the priest talked in the sermon very extensively about what Pope Benedict XVI wrote on human trafficking. Just a few people knew it, and policy makers have not really heard it.”

Pope Francis had fierce words against human trafficking during the first year of his pontificate.

In a speech to a new group of ambassadors accredited to the Holy See Dec. 12, the pontiff said that human trafficking is “an issue that worries me very much and today is threatening people’s dignity.”

On March 5, Pope Francis sent a message to the faithful in Brazil on the occasion of the annual Lenten “Fraternity Campaign,” exclaiming that “it is not possible to remain indifferent before the knowledge that human beings are bought and sold like goods!”
 
Pope Francis also backed a workshop on “Trafficking in Human Beings: Modern Slavery” organized by the Pontifical Academy for Sciences and held last November.
 
The conference organizers issued a joint statement based on the suggestions presented by the participants, which included proposals for media, religious institutions, civil organizations and business sectors to work together in order to combat human trafficking.
 
Ambassador CdeBeca took part in that workshop.
 
He told CNA that “the final document laying out the 42 points was very well thought-out, and represents the Vatican’s cutting edge work on human trafficking. It is evident that the Vatican is putting itself into the lead on human trafficking, making sure that it is not just religious, but also ‘secular.’”
 
The ambassador stressed that “human trafficking is modern slavery and impacts people across the globe. It’s vital to focus on the victims as survivors and incorporate their voices into anti-trafficking policies and programs.”  
 
“Part of our goal is to encourage NGOs we work with to think outside-the-box,” he explained. “For example, many NGOs do a great job addressing the child sex trafficking or migration issue; however, we encourage these organizations to take a hard look at issues facing adults or people in their own countries, rather than only children or migrants. It’s important to look at the issue of human trafficking holistically.”

A holistic approach to the issue was also experienced in a conference on human trafficking organized by the Bishops Conference of England and Wales April 9-10, hosted by the Pontifical Academy for the Sciences, in the Vatican City State.
 
The conference gathered police chiefs from 20 different nations around the world, and both law enforcement and Vatican officials exchanged ideas on how to collaborate in combating the issue and caring for victims.
 
In a message sent to the conference, Pope Francis encouraged the participants all to “combine our efforts” with the desire for “our strategies and areas of expertise to be accompanied and reinforced by the mercy of the Gospel” and “by closeness to the men and women who are victims of this crime.”




US

Radical abortion bill dies in Colo. Senate after call to prayer, action

DENVER, COLO., April 16 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Amid growing protests led in large part by the Catholic Church, the Colorado Senate on April 16 killed a controversial bill that could have banned all pro-life laws in the state.

“Lift up your hearts in gratitude to God,” said Denver Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila in a post on Twitter. “Blessings on everyone who prayed and contacted legislators! Stay involved!”

The legislation had passed committee on a party line vote. While the floor debate and vote were initially scheduled for April 15, they were delayed until the following day after Democratic State Sen. John Kefalas of Fort Collins went home sick. The Democrats control the Senate in the state by a single vote.

On April 16, however, Denver NBC affiliate 9 News reported that Kefalas – after voting in favor of the bill in committee – was saying that he was undecided about whether he would vote for it in the full Senate vote.

The leadership of the Colorado Senate subsequently spiked the legislation – setting it aside until May 8, while the legislative session ends May 7, so that the bill is effectively dead.  

Originally introduced March 31, the controversial bill – S.B. 175 – only gained wide publicity last week. It sought to ban all new pro-life laws and regulations, including requirements for pre-abortion ultrasounds and restrictions on the RU-486 abortion drug.

Pro-abortion rights group NARAL Pro-Choice America, which backed the bill, had said that if it became law, it would have been the first of its kind in the country.

The legislation would have created a “fundamental right” to anything defined as “reproductive health care.” It would have barred state agencies and local government from having any policy that “denies or interferes with an individual’s reproductive health care decisions.”

Opponents had argued that the bill was vaguely worded and could have had far-reaching effects. They said it could have affected laws requiring parental involvement or notification for a minor who is seeking an abortion, as well as conscience protection laws and requirements that only licensed physicians can perform abortions.

It could also have prevented abortion regulations aimed at protecting the health and safety of women and children, opponents said. The legislation could have affected government programs and facilities that pay for or promote childbirth without subsidizing abortion, they warned. School health clinic policies and abstinence education policies could also have been impacted.

Archbishop Aquila helped lead opposition to the bill, calling together hundreds of people at a prayer vigil and assembly outside the state capitol on the afternoon of April 15, when the measure was originally scheduled to be debated.

The archbishop defended the need to restrict abortion, calling the bill “extreme and dangerously ambiguous.”

“Coloradans are not against common sense regulations on abortions, and they should have the opportunity to be able to debate and pass those regulations,” he said at the gathering.

Opposition to the bill grew quickly and prompted many Coloradans to call their legislators.

Archbishop Aquila stressed the need for further action, noting the importance of voting and lay involvement in the political process.

“Too many times we have taken a back seat. Catholics, Christians and people of good will can no longer take a back seat. We are called to work for the good and for the true,” he said at the prayer vigil Tuesday.

The Colorado Catholic Conference released a statement on the evening of April 16 thanking everyone who prayed and spoke up about the legislation.

“It was your witness that made it possible to kill this horrible piece of legislation,” the conference said. “It is because of your willingness to engage the public square that we were able to defeat SB 175.”

“Your voices matter and are needed in the public square now more than ever; please remember what we were able to accomplish and continue to be involved and make your voices heard!”

The conference cited the words of Pope Francis, who said last September: “A good Catholic meddles in politics, offering the best of himself, so that those who govern can govern.”




Colo. parish looks to John Paul II in family-focused initiative

DENVER, COLO., April 16 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Blessed John Paul II’s life and teachings on family and marriage are still bearing fruit, say members of one Colorado parish that has launched a family-friendly initiative inspired by the late Pope's example.

Pope John Paul II taught that “the Christian family is a ‘locus theologicus,’ a place where we can understand the mystery of God,” Father Luis Granados of Saint Mary Parish in Littleton, Colo., explained in a recent interview with CNA.

“As a priest, I look at spouses loving each other and loving their children and I understand a lot about God’s mercy, God’s faithfulness, God’s sacrifice,” he said. “The families are better than many books of philosophy and theology.”

Saint Mary’s is in the middle of a 12-month initiative titled “Toward a Family-Friendly Parish,” which launched in October 2013.

The program is divided into 12 monthly topics that delve into God’s plan for the family. On the first weekend of each month, the priest at each Mass introduces the topic, and parishioners receive a guide to exploring the topic at home during the weeks to follow. The guide includes a visual image, a proposed family project, and a song and psalm for weekly family prayer.

Parishioner Julie Hecker told CNA that February's topic of “Fruitfulness” particularly affected her. The month's challenges included creating a photo slideshow of your family.

Hecker says many of the family pictures she rediscovered for the project showed her family's involvement in the sacraments and the parish.

“(The project) revealed just how important the Church has been in our lives,” she reflected.

Her husband, Michael, says the first month's theme of “Family Tree” had a special impact on him. That month's activities included a short song called “Magnificat,” which he sang together with his wife and their children.

“I can’t help but smile when I hear my 6-year-old and 3-year-old singing it when they think no one is listening,” he reflected. “It is a song that connects my high school kids, middle school child, grade school kids and toddler together.”

During that first month, the Heckers also sang that song with their parish. Michael says the experience taught him to consider his fellow parishioners as extended family.

“Over the past few months my concept of family has changed,” Hecker said. “I still have my nucleus family, but I have grown to look at and love all in our parish as part of my ‘extended’ family.”

Longtime parishioner Thomas Buelt says he has also noticed this transformation of the parish community into a family – even in the early months of the program.

“The real change, I have noticed, in those who participate, is the desire and action to incorporate the extended family to the program,” Buelt said. “It inspires the entire St. Mary Community to view your fellow parishioner as a family member, and in turn allows each member to transfigure their relationships.”

Specific community-building efforts include Family Movie Nights and Discipleship Nights, where parishioners share their testimonies and receive catechesis.

Fr. Granados says the initiative also aims to build relationships between priests and families, an effort he says is at the core of the new evangelization.

“The new evangelization will come through the personal relationship between the priest and the spouses: the reciprocal gratitude for their fidelity: 'Thank you for your priesthood.' 'Thank you for your marriage',” Fr. Granados explained.

“This is not a matter of programs, plans, theories - even family-friendly theories. The point of our 'program' is to foster this relationship and connection between the priests and the families that will help both parts to grow in the faithfulness of their vocation.”

He added that John Paul II is the model of this goal, pointing to a parish in St. Florian, Poland, as one of the first implementations of this family-based concept.

“There was no explicit ‘program,’ but there was the life of the priest and the lives of the young adults and families,” he said.

The image for St. Mary's entire “Toward a Family-Friendly Parish” initiative is an icon of Christ sharing a meal with Lazarus, Martha and Mary. Parishioners were invited to hang the icon of Bethany in their homes. The image is part of the parish's efforts to emphasize the inclusion of all members, even those who may not currently be married or raising children.

“We needed to remember that not only do the family members have an age, but the family as a whole unit has an age as well,” Fr. Granados explained. “Every family experiences very different stages of life and progress in the path of holiness accordingly.”

He said the initiative aims to include widowed parishioners as well as single people and those who are divorced.

“When we touch the family, we touch every person at every time of life: the child, the young adult, the widow, the sick, the poor, the divorced, or the priest,” he said.

In this way, the program does not detract from or compete with other programs at the parish.

“If the family is the path of the Church, then it is the path of the parish, the center of its mission,” Fr. Granados said. “Any department in the parish should be family oriented. If we help the sick, we will try to heal his or her relationships with the family. If we have a wonderful food bank, we need to consider the poverty of being without relationships – loneliness.”

“To consider the family as (simply) another ‘sector’ of the ministry is to forget the way God has chosen to come to us,” Fr. Granados said. “God came to us in the Holy Family of Nazareth and comes to us through the sacrament of marriage.”

During one month of the initiative, parishioners were invited to reflect on outreach, specifically to widows and orphans.

Parishioners Tim and Angela Urban say this challenge particularly affected them.

“(It) challenged us to look outside our family, to treat all members of the parish as family and to be more attentive to who might be needing our family's help,” they said. “We realize what a gift family is and sharing it with others has been a blessing for us and our children.”

Fr. Granados' Spain-based community, the Disciples of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, also has a parish in Virginia, but Saint Mary’s is the first to host the “Towards a Family-Friendly Parish” program. Fr. Granados says the order hopes to spread the program to its school in Madrid next year.




Denver archbishop rallies Coloradans against 'extreme' abortion bill

DENVER, COLO., April 16 (CNA/EWTN News) .- The Archbishop of Denver on April 15 rallied opposition to a Colorado bill he says is “both extreme and dangerously ambiguous” in its ban on all abortion regulations and other pro-life laws.

“Coloradans are not against common sense regulations on abortions, and they should have the opportunity to be able to debate and pass those regulations,” Archbishop Aquila Samuel J. Aquila said to a crowd of hundreds at an assembly and prayer vigil at the Colorado State Capitol.

The large crowd was a sign of the rapid buildup of opposition to the bill, which had been introduced late in the legislative session.

“Some of the senators have said they have shut off their phones. Some of them have said they have never been contacted by so many,” the archbishop told the crowd. “You can make a difference.”

The vote on the bill was originally scheduled for April 15, but a Democratic senator fell ill and left before the debate could take place. It will now receive a vote at 5 p.m. local time April 16.

Democratic Sen. John Kefalas of Fort Collins, who voted for the bill in committee, has told reporters he is now unsure whether he will vote for the bill, 9 News reports.

His statement puts the bill’s future in doubt. Democrats control the State Senate by only one vote, though they control Colorado’s House of Representatives by a wider margin.

If bill S.B. 175 becomes law, it would create a “fundamental right” to anything defined as “reproductive health care.” The bill would bar state agencies and local government from having a policy that “denies or interferes with an individual’s reproductive health care decisions.”

The pro-abortion rights group NARAL Pro-Choice America said that if the bill becomes law it will be the first of its kind in the country.

Opponents including the Colorado Catholic Conference say the bill could affect parental notification or involvement laws, conscience protection laws, and requirements that only licensed physicians can perform abortions. It could prevent abortion regulations aimed at protecting the health and safety of women and children.

In addition, the legislation could affect government programs and facilities that pay for or promote childbirth without subsidizing abortion. School health clinic policies and abstinence education policies could also be affected.

The bill aims to ban all new pro-life laws and regulations, though its effect on current laws and rules is debated.

Archbishop Aquila noted that lawyers and legal experts who testified before the Senate Health and Human Services Committee April 10 were “split” on whether the bill would impact existing laws.

“It was extremely telling to hear the drafter of the bill say that he did not know with 100 percent certainty that S.B. 175 wouldn’t affect current policies,” the archbishop said. “He told one reporter that he was ‘pretty sure’, but ‘pretty sure’ does not work.”

A staff attorney for the legislature told the committee hearing that the bill would likely not affect current law related to reproductive health, but it would bar changes to existing laws. Some critics of the bill have warned that local governments, including school boards, may be led to change their existing policies for fear of lawsuits.

Archbishop Aquila said that the legislation would open the door to challenges to existing regulations, especially through the court system.

“Anyone who claims that this law will have no material effect is either naïve or disingenuous,” he said.

“The fact is that there is nothing in the bill that says this law won’t affect current regulations in place,” he said. “If the intent of the bill is not to change current law, then it should state that explicitly in its language.”

Archbishop Aquila said it was “even more troubling” that the bill would make the enactment of laws like pre-abortion ultrasound requirements “extraordinarily difficult if not impossible.”

The archbishop told the April 15 prayer vigil to pray “that the truth will triumph” and to pray for “the conversion of hearts.”

He stressed the need for further action, noting the importance of voting and involvement in the political process.

“Too many times we have taken a back seat. Catholics, Christians and people of good will can no longer take a back seat. We are called to work for the good and for the true.”

The political party assemblies that choose major party candidates for the Colorado legislature have already met and designated candidates for the ballot. The delegates to these assemblies were chosen at neighborhood precinct caucuses across Colorado on March 4.




Europe

New English discernment house hopes to help vocations flourish

MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM, April 16 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury, England, has announced plans for a house of discernment for potential priests, emphasizing the need for “a renewed love for the priesthood.”

“If we truly open our hearts in prayer within our families and parishes, I have no doubt this gift of new vocations will be given us,” the bishop said in his homily during the April 16 Chrism Mass at St. Anthony’s Church in the Wythenshawe district of Manchester.

The new discernment house will be based at the Shrewsbury Cathedral and is set to open in September 2015, the Diocese of Shrewsbury reports.

Bishop Davies said the house will create “a community at the heart of our diocese where the vocation to priesthood can be actively discerned and supported.” The house will be a year-long program.

He told the congregation that Catholics must recognize their role in caring for “the supernatural environment of faith and love within which each new generation grows.”

“Each of us has a part in making an environment where vocations can flourish,” he said.

The bishop lamented that some young people have told him that they were discouraged from their vocation, not by “hostile influences” outside the Church, but by Catholics.

Bishop Davies compared concerns for the vocations environment to concerns about the natural environment. He noted that problems in the natural environment turn people’s attention to the state of the water, soil and air.

“Likewise in the supernatural order if these vital signs of life in the vocations of marriage, consecrated life and the priesthood die away in a local church we also must be alert to the environment,” he said.

“This crisis of vocation is neither inexplicable nor irreversible,” the bishop continued. He encouraged prayer and a “renewed love for priestly vocation” to resolve the vocations crisis.

Bishop Davies noted that Jesus teaches Christians to pray “not as a last resort but as the first and irreplaceable means towards receiving this gift from God.”

He also announced prayer cards for vocations, which bear a prayer he wrote himself. These cards will be sent to all his diocese’s parishes.

The bishop also voiced gratitude for priests.

“Today we give thanks for every priest who has faithfully accompanied us along the path of our Christian lives bringing us the word of truth, the grace of the Sacraments and, above all, the supreme gift of the Holy Eucharist,” he said.

This love for the priesthood is not “human adulation” but rather “a faith-filled appreciation of the gift God gives in every man called to share in Christ’s priesthood.”

The priesthood is a life and ministry in which a man seeks “to draw all eyes to Christ the Lord,” Bishop Davies explained.

The Diocese of Shrewsbury presently has eight seminarians and 111 priests, including 28 retired priests, who are serving 98 parishes with 121 churches.





Daily Catholic
First Reading: Ex 12:1-8, 11-14
Second Reading: 1 Cor 11:23-26
Gospel: Jn 13:1-15
Saint of the day: St. Stephen Harding
Homily of the day: Jn 13:1-15


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