National Pray for a Priest Day

Not until someone sent me something via email did I realize that today was – National Pray for a Priest Day. I am blessed to work with three very good and holy priests that serve our parish daily with sacrificial love. My Pastor, Fr. Will Schmid, is one of the best priests I know and truly has a heart for Jesus Christ and His Catholic Church. His vision when it comes to running a parish and having a sound liturgy is truly unmatched. It’s a blessing to work for such a great man of God.

With Ordinations occurring over the past few weeks and some happening this weekend, such as the Diocese of Phoenix Ordinations tomorrow, it is is good reminder for us all to pray for our Priests. Here is a prayer written by Pope Benedict XVI to pray for priests –

You offered yourself to the Father on the altar of the Cross
and through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit
gave Your priestly people a share in Your redeeming sacrifice.
Hear our prayer for the sanctification of our priests.
Grant that all who are ordained to the ministerial priesthood
may be ever more conformed to You, the Divine Master.
May they preach the Gospel with pure heart and clear conscience.
Let them be shepherds according to Your own Heart,
single-minded in service to You and to the Church
and shining examples of a holy, simple and joyful life.
Through the prayers of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Your Mother and ours,
draw all priests and the flocks entrusted to their care
to the fullness of eternal life where you live and reign
with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever. Amen.

Pope St. John Paul II as a young priest.

To read more about the Priesthood, I encourage you to read articles I have written in the past –

Quick Lessons from the Catechism: The Sacrament of Holy Orders

Phoenix Ordinations and the Catholic Priesthood 

“Mondays with Mary” – Six Quotes on the Importance of Mary to the Catholic Priesthood 

World Day of Prayer for Vocations – The Catholic Priesthood 

An Ordination to the Priesthood, The Saint Ignatius Institute, and True Friendships 

Happy 5th Anniversary to the Catholic Priesthood!  

Vocations Sunday 2013 – The Catholic Priesthood

Pope Benedict XVI: 65 Years as a Catholic Priest 

Saint John Vianney, Patron of Parish Priests…Pray for our Priests 

Phoenix Ordinations and the Catholic Priesthood

Yesterday morning at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in Avondale, AZ, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of the Diocese of Phoenix ordained four men to the Catholic Priesthood – Rev. Mr. Sheunesu Utete Bowora, Rev. Mr. Daniel James Connealy, Rev. Mr. Ryan Christopher Lee, and Rev. Mr. David Michael Loeffler. It was a joyful day here in the diocese as these men were added to the ranks of the Holy Priesthood – “You are a priest for ever, according to the order of Melchizedek” (Heb 7:17).

vocation boom is happening in the Church – many young men are hearing God’s call to discern and eventually enter the Catholic Priesthood. It’s not as if God stopped calling men to the Priesthood, but what seemed to happen was that young men stopped listening to the voice of God. Many dioceses around the country and around the world, especially in Africa and Asia, are seeing an increase of men entering seminary. Please continue to pray for an increase to vocations to the Priesthood, so that we have more workers in the vineyard for the years to come.

The Catholic Priesthood is a topic that I have written on many times over the past 4½ years. When you witness on a daily basis the great example of holy men from different walks of life, and at different times in their priesthood, you want to share that with others in the hopes that they can experience the beauty and sanctity of the Catholic Priesthood that you see frequently. Although completely and totally human, the men I work with truly live their vocation day-by-day, always seeking to serve the parish/diocese and the culture as Jesus Christ. It is an honor to be around such individuals. For more of my writings from the past, I would encourage you to click on the link at the top of this paragraph to read more about the Catholic Priesthood.

To conclude today’s post, below are short testimonies from fellow Catholics speaking on what the Catholic Priesthood means to them. If you would like to add your own short testimony, I encourage you to do so in the comment section at the bottom of this post.

“Priesthood means allowing God to lead you to where he needs you. It means having a strong enough faith and support system to truly trust fully and give yourself to the Lord in service of him and his church. We need more good, holy, strong men for this vocation. I’m proud if those who answer the call!” – Dena

“My first time [yesterday] attending an ordination mass. It was incredible! Like Jesus, they give up everything for us! To serve us and bring Jesus to the world! I think all priests should forever be in our prayers. We should continually give thanks to God for our priests and follow their example and give everything to God.” – Cindy

“The priesthood is the ultimate example of dying to one’s self a vocation whose motto is “I am Third”. For me they stand as a benchmark in my relationship with Christ. Am I being as compassionate in my relations as Father is with those he comes in contact with? Is my prayer life anywhere near where Fathers is? I learn so much about what I should be doing in my vocation of married life from watching Father in his vocation.” – Chris

Diocese of Phoenix Ordinations 2016

Bishops Thomas J. Olmsted and James S. Wall (Diocese of Gallup) with the newly ordained.

“The Catholic priesthood means we have more workers in the vineyard to help us find or way to true happiness.” – Sandy

“Catholic priests give us the blessing of the sacraments and guidance. It makes sense that we call our priests “Father” because they shepherd us on our spiritual journey. I pray that we will always have priests available to say Mass, give us the sacraments, and guide us closer to Jesus.” – Helen

“As a convert I have a profound sense of gratitude for the priesthood, as I know decades of Christianity without a priest. I have both sides of the coin to compare. When I see a priest I see Christ, the visible reality of living out our vocations. In Holy Communion, in confession, in confirmation and the rest of the sacraments there are my brothers in Christ being Christ for me and ministering to me. In laying down their lives for the sake of the flock they not only provide a holy example, but strengthen my resolve in my vocation and my pursuit of holiness.” – Dave

“Catholic Priesthood means that our Catholic tradition will be carried on by good and godly men…who ascribe to be true followers of Christ. In a time when there are so many assailants to our faith.” – Kathy

“No Priests means no Eucharist and no Sacrament of Reconciliation or other Sacraments. Our salvation depends on them.” – David

“I used to be very critical of priests. I have since, through grace, come to see them as super heroes. Not without human faults, but heroically living out a vocation that is countercultural and contains challenges I will never know. I marvel at their gift of self and hope to imitate them through my own vocation of motherhood.” – Amanda

“Through the Catholic priesthood, I am able to receive the Sacraments instituted by Christ, especially the Holy Eucharist and Reconciliation. Catholic priests show an intimate love of Jesus, and through their humanity show that we are all able to have this relationship with our Lord. The priesthood relationship with the members of the church is a living example of the love we should all have for our family.” – Mike

“To me the priesthood means Christ representatives on earth who are able to sanctify the people of God through the power of the sacraments. As our shepherds they radiate the goodness, mercy, and love of God. And they bring us the greatest gift ever Jesus in the Eucharist! I am eternally grateful for all the men who have answered the Lord’s call and have given their Fiat!” – Nicole

St. John Vianney, Patron of Parish Priests…Pray for our Priests.

This blog post is dedicated to Fr. Sheunesu Bowora, Fr. Daniel Connealy, Fr. Ryan Lee, Fr. David Loeffler, and all the other priests who were ordained this year in the Universal Church, including Fr. Mark Bristol. 

Newly ordained, Fr. Ryan Lee, blessing Bishop James Wall of the Diocese of Gallup.

Newly ordained, Fr. Ryan Lee, blessing Bishop James Wall of the Diocese of Gallup.

World Day of Prayer for Vocations – The Catholic Priesthood

Today is World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Let us pray in union with the Universal Church for more young men to hear the call to the Priesthood.

Pope Francis said about the Priesthood, “The pastoral care of vocations is a fundamental part of their (priests) ministry…Priests accompany those who are discerning a vocation, as well as those who have already dedicated their lives to the service of God and of the community.”

Pope St.John Paul II  in Pastores Dabo Vobis (I Will Give You Shepherds), said “…priests in particular, should not be afraid to set forth explicitly and forcefully the priestly vocation as a real possibility for those young people who demonstrate the necessary gifts and talents.”

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said in the 2009 Year of Priests,

“We priests should feel that the following words, which he put on the lips of Christ, are meant for each of us personally: “I will charge my ministers to proclaim to sinners that I am ever ready to welcome them, that my mercy is infinite”. From Saint John Mary Vianney we can learn to put our unfailing trust in the sacrament of Penance, to set it once more at the centre of our pastoral concerns, and to take up the “dialogue of salvation” which it entails”

Below is short but excellent video showing the beauty of the Catholic Priesthood.

St. John Vianney…Pray for Us.

Pray for more Vocations to the Priesthood!

The Episcopal Ordination of my college friend, Steven J. Lopes

On Tuesday night, in Houston, Texas, at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, on the feast of the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple (Candlemas), I attended the Episcopal Ordination of my long time college friend, Steven J. Lopes. I met Bishop Lopes nearly 22 years ago when I transferred into the Saint Ignatius Institute at the University of San Francisco in the Fall of 1994.

Bishop Steven J. Lopes

Although I have been to Ordinations to the Priesthood, this was my first Episcopal Ordination, and it couldn’t have been any better, especially since it was for someone I personally know. It’s very difficult to explain to you through this limited space the pageantry, pomp, beauty, and sacredness that was the Episcopal Ordination Mass of Bishop Steven J. Lopes. The sheer excitement that began during the day at the hotel and then reaching its peak during the Mass is still penetrating my heart and mind. I think the 24 hours I spent in Houston for this occasion will be with me over the next few weeks as I continue to share it with parishioners at my parish as well as with friends who were unable to attend.

Not to make light of the ordination by any means, but as we were making our way to the cathedral from the hotel, which was a very short bus ride, I said to my three other friends, one a Benedictine brother and one a religious sister, “Between the Cardinals, Bishops, Priests, Religious, and so many Lay Faithful, tonight is like Catholic Candy Land.”

There are many things that stood out for me during the course of the three-hour Episcopal Ordination, but if I had to narrow it down to three things, it would be the Liturgy itself, the beautiful sacred music, and the Rite of Ordination of a Bishop. The Mass resembled the structure of the Roman Liturgy, but with some nuances from the Anglican tradition. It was very much a “high mass” which I have come to enjoy as I learn more about the liturgy. The Prayer of Humble Access before Holy Communion and the Prayer of Thanksgiving after Holy Communion, both said by everyone who received Our Lord in the Eucharist, reminded me of the Eastern liturgies I have been to in the past. Both prayers reflect the beauty of the Church’s sacramental theology.

Bishop Lopes and I at the reception following his Episcopal Ordination.

Bishop Lopes and I at the reception following his Episcopal Ordination.

The second aspect of the Mass was the intense and most profound sacred music. I am in my early 40’s, which means I grew up with mundane liturgical music that often contradicted Catholic theology in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Although I have been exposed to beautiful sacred music since, the music at the ordination was beyond superb and spiritually elevated us right into heaven and brought heaven down to us. The choir was composed of three individual choirs – the choir from Our Lady of Walsingham Parish (now the Cathedral), the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart Choir and the Archdiocesan Choir. If you watch the remarks from the Bishop here, you will get a taste of what the choir brought to the liturgy.

The third and final aspect of the Mass that I enjoyed was the Rite of Ordination of a Bishop. This rite began with the Principal Consecrator, His Eminence Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and concluded with Bishop Steven J. Lopes taking the reigns from him and finishing the liturgy. The Rite of Ordination of a Bishop had numerous parts. They are:

  1. Veni Creator Spiritus (Come, Holy Ghost)
  2. Presentation of the Bishop-Elect
  3. Reading of the Apostolic Letter (official document from Pope Francis)
  4. Assent of the People (all responded with – Thanks be to God)
  5. Homily
  6. Examination of the Candidate (asked numerous questions regarding his episcopal ordination)
  7. Invitation to Prayer (all pray for Bishop-elect)
  8. Litany of Supplication (Litany of the Saints)
  9. Laying On of Hands
  10. Prayer of Consecration (Book of the Gospels held above the head of Bishop-elect) and Prayer of Ordination recited (Calling down of the Holy Spirit)
  11. Anointing of the Bishop’s Head (with Oil)
  12. Presentation of the Book of the Gospels (Teaching is a duty of the Bishop; other two duties – Sanctify and Govern).
  13. Investiture with Ring, Mitre, and Pastoral Staff
  14. Seating of the Bishop and Kiss of Peace (from this moment Bishop Lopes became the primary presider of the Liturgy).

There is so much I could say about each part, however, this blog post would end up being 2500 plus words in length and far too long for a reasonable post. If you ever get the chance to attend an Episcopal Ordination, my suggestion is – take it! It’s by far one of the most amazing liturgies I have experienced. With liturgies such as this one, it makes me very glad and blessed to be a Catholic.

Embracing and wishing Bishop Lopes congratulations.

Embracing and wishing Bishop Lopes congratulations.

As I did in my blog post back in November, I implore that you pray for Bishop Steven J. Lopes. Please pray three Hail Mary’s through the intercession of Our Lady of Walsingham as he begins his new ministry as Shepherd of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter.

To learn more about the Ordinariate, please visit their website. I would also encourage you to Like their Facebook page. I did.

Our Lady of Walsingham…Pray for Us.

This blog post is dedicated to the Bishop himself, Steven J. Lopes. Thank you for your friendship, guidance, and overall support these many years. Unfortunately, I never made it to Rome while you were there. I pray that you will be a good Shepherd to your flock.

The John Paul II Classic for Vocations Awareness

On Wednesday, August 5, at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Scottsdale, the first ever JP2 Classic for Vocations Awareness will be played. The seminarians of the Diocese of Phoenix will be taking on the Priests of the Diocese of Phoenix. Admission is free. T-shirts and Concessions will be available. Tip-off is set for 6:30pm.

For those of you who follow my blog consistently, you know how much I appreciate and love the Catholic Priesthood and have written on it many times. To read my previous posts, check out the link above. In recent years, the numbers of seminarians have continued to grow not only here in the Diocese of Phoenix, but throughout the United States. Let us continue to pray that young men will answer the call to give their lives to the Catholic Priesthood. To learn more about the Priesthood in the Diocese of Phoenix, check out the Vocations Page.

If you are in the Phoenix metro area on August 5, I would highly encourage you to attend this game. To get more information, find out who is playing, and to RSVP, check out the Facebook event page here.

I will be there in support of my priests, who are playing in the game – Fr. Will Schmid, Fr. Ishaya Samaila, and Fr. Chris Axline.

My prediction, which you heard here first – Priests Win by 5, even though Ian Wintering is predicting a blow out by the seminarians.

An Ordination to the Priesthood, The Saint Ignatius Institute, and True Friendships

Over this past weekend, it was a great honor to witness not only the Priestly Ordination of my long time friend, now, Fr. Patrick Summerhays, but also his Mass of Thanksgiving. The ordination took place on Saturday, June 6 at The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption through the apostolic authority of Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone. The Mass of Thanksgiving, held on June 7, was at St. Patrick’s Parish in Larkspur, just north of San Francisco in Marin County. To say that Saturday and Sunday were awesome would be the understatement of the year. The joy on Fr. Patrick’s face says it all (see pictures below)!

Source: Catholic San Francisco

Source: Catholic San Francisco

I have known Fr. Patrick since 1994, when I was a first year student (I transferred in as a second semester sophomore) and he was a senior in the St. Ignatius Institute at the University of San Francisco. Along with many others, who were in the Institute at the time, we quickly became friends because of our mutual interest for philosophy, theology, literature, Catholic culture, sports, and the overall enjoyment of being full of life as university students. We, as Henry David Thoreau says in Walden, “wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.”

Fr. Pat and me

The friendships were planted in soil so rich that even 20 years later many returned to witness our friend Pat Summerhays be ordained to the Catholic Priesthood. For many of us, the Catholic Priesthood plays an important and significant role in not only our lives, but also in the lives of our families. As students, we were educated and spiritually advised by some of the most orthodox Jesuit minds in the order. To this day, we are united fraternally through the Communion of Saints to them as not only our spiritual fathers, but also as our brothers in Christ.

Fr. Patrick Summerhays with SII grads - June 6, 2015

For me personally, the weekend was a glimpse into the past, into the city, and into the friendships, where I truly learned about Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church for the first time. It was in the St. Ignatius Institute where my intellectual conversion and spiritual awakening originated. I can remember spending many nights in the library, and in Fr. Pat’s father’s office, a professor at USF, during my first year studying philosophy and sharing the things we were most passionate about at the time. The three years I spent in the St. Ignatius Institute were the best three years of my twenties.

The weekend was not only a glimpse into the past, but a vision of the present and the future. When friendships are planted, watered, and pruned as these friendships have been for 20 years, you may not see them frequently, but when you do you can pick up right where you left off. Since these friendships are rooted in virtue, goodness, and beauty, they are rightly, as Aristotle says, true friendships.

Roommates in 1996-1997

Roommates in 1996-1997

Again, personally, this weekend was the most desired vacation I have this summer. After all that I have endured since January, most devastating being the loss of my father seven weeks ago, the ability to see my long time friend ordained as a priest forever, as well as seeing many true and old friends, who have supported and prayed for me, was simply pure joy.

As I conclude this blog post, I would like you to pray for three things –

First and foremost, please pray for Fr. Patrick Summerhays as he begins his priestly ministry at St. Cecilia Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Being a Catholic priest is never an easy vocation, but since this neo-pagan world is so hostile to Catholicism these days, please pray for strength, courage, and holiness that Fr. Patrick, and really all priests, will stand on the front lines leading us, and giving us Jesus Christ through the Holy Eucharist.

The newly ordained, Fr. Patrick, blessing Fr. Georg.

The newly ordained, Fr. Patrick, blessing Fr. Georg.

Second, pray for the rise and continued growth of good Catholic universities and institutions, like the once great St. Ignatius Institute, that they may provide opportunities for individuals to have a classical education, reading and studying the Great Books as many of us did in the SII. When society implodes, as it as done before, it will be Catholic culture that will save it again.

Finally, pray for good, selfless, self-sacrificial friendships rooted in virtue, goodness, and beauty. Often today, it’s all about the “I” and not the “we.” Let us pray for a strong and Christ centered counter-revolution to the disastrous sexual revolution that is still spawning venom today. Pray for healing among friends, spouses, and families where this venom has been allowed to grow.

This blog post is dedicated to not only Fr. Patrick Summerhays, but to all the administrators, students and professors of the St. Ignatius Institute between the years of 1976-2001.

“Mondays with Mary” – Mary in the Life of the Priest

Yesterday, for the first time, I witnessed the Ordination Mass for Priests in the Diocese of Phoenix. This Holy Mass was at 10:00 a.m. at the Cathedral of Ss. Simon and Jude. To say that the Holy Spirit came upon the cathedral and lite the hierarchy and the lay faithful on fire with God’s grace would be the under statement of the year. It was a joyous liturgical celebration that displayed so many of the beautiful traditions of the Catholic Church. The three new Catholics priests, and whom I dedicate today’s “Mondays with Mary” are, Fr. Kevin Grimditch, Fr. Keith Kenney, and Fr. Scott Sperry.

Fr. Kevin Grimditch, Fr. Scott Sperry, and Fr. Keith Kenney.

Fr. Kevin Grimditch, Fr. Scott Sperry, and Fr. Keith Kenney.

Since I have begun this series on the Blessed Virgin Mary, I have been told as well as witnessed with my own eyes that many priests have a true and deep devotion to the Blessed Mother. For many of them, through the perpetual intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, their priesthood is defined, advanced, and completed. Although their own mothers play an important role in their vocation to the priesthood, it’s Mary as Mother who never leaves their side, as she did not leave the side of Jesus, even as he was crucified on the cross. As Mary stood by the side of Jesus, so too she stands with His priests when they act in persona Christi Capitis by way of their Holy Orders.

To understand Mary’s role in the life of the priest, below are four testimonies from Catholic priests explaining how important the Blessed Virgin Mary is in their vocation –

“Mary points us to Her Son. For me as a priest, I believe that I am called, like Our Lady to bring our loneliness, our littleness to Our Lord in humility. Our Lady shows me how to trust. I also believe Our Blessed Mother brings our awkward utterances that we see as prayer…and She makes them beautiful hymns of praise and thanksgiving before the throne of Our Lord.” – Fr. Don Kline

“I entrusted my discernment and vocation to Mary even before I went to seminary. I try to pray my rosary everyday knowing that Mary will not leave me astray from Jesus. I gaze with her up on our crucified Lord with all my unfulfilled desires, knowing that God will bring all things to completion in the best way possible.” – Fr. Matt Lowery

“When I think of Mary and the priesthood, I am drawn to that classic prayer prayed in preparation for celebration of Holy Mass in which the priest says, Mary “you stood by your Son as he hung dying on the cross. Stand also by me, a poor sinner, and by all the priests who are offering Mass today here and throughout the entire Church.” As the great priest saints have shown us, Mary not only stands by us at the altar, our entire life is lived beside Mary. As her Son lived knowing her motherly love, so we priests are sure of her loving intercession.” – Fr. Paul Sullivan

So quiet and subtle, her Motherly heart finds a way into the heart and life of the priest. She communicates a hidden understanding of the deepest mysteries we celebrate…When I celebrate Him on the altar I hold the Precious Body that He received from her body and that was nurtured and nourished by her body…When I encounter a soul in the confessional I ask her to teach me of His Mercy as she knew it, so Her tenderness may teach me to reach the soul and give away His Mercy properly. – Fr. Anthony Sortino

To conclude this post, I give you the words of our past three Popes who know in a way like no other the importance that Mary plays in the life of a priest.

Mary and Eucharist

Recently, Pope Francis said,

“First of all go [to the Mantle of Mary] and wait until there is a bit of calm…Some of you will tell me…in this time of so many modern goods – psychiatry, psychology – in this time of turbulence, I think it would be better to see a psychiatrist to get help. But – do not dismiss this – but first go to your Mother, because a priest who forgets [the Virgin Mary], especially in times of turbulence, is missing something. He is an orphan priest, the one who forgets his Mother” (Meeting with Pontifical Universities and Colleges in Rome, May 12, 2014).

Pope Benedict XVI said,

“To take Mary with one means to introduce her into the dynamism of one’s own entire existence it is not something external and into all that constitutes the horizon of one’s own apostolate. It seems to me that one can, therefore, understand how the special relationship of motherhood that exists between Mary and priests may constitute the primary source, the fundamental reason for her special love for each one of them” (General Audience, August 12, 2009).

Pope St. John Paul II said,

“Every aspect of priestly formation can be referred to Mary, the human being who has responded better than any other to God’s call. Mary became both the servant and the disciple of the Word to the point of conceiving, in her heart and in her flesh, the Word made man, so as to give him to mankind. Mary was called to educate the one eternal priest, who became docile and subject to her motherly authority. With her example and intercession the Blessed Virgin keeps vigilant watch over the growth of vocations and priestly life in the Church” (Pastores Dabo Vobis, n. 82).

This week as we remember the many priests of the Church in our prayers let us pray to Our Lord Jesus Christ, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and ask that His Holy Catholic Priests are given the grace and strength they need to continue in their vocations on a daily basis. May they represent Him to the world, bring many souls to His Heavenly Kingdom, and may they do it with the Blessed Mother always at their side.