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!

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.

Quick Lessons from the Catechism: The Sacrament of Holy Orders

Today at 10:00 a.m., Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted will ordain three men to the Catholic Priesthood at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral here in the Diocese of Phoenix. The three men are Deacon Keith Kenney, Deacon Scott Sperry, and Deacon Kevin Grimditch. It will be a joyous day here in the Diocese of Phoenix as three more men are added to the ranks of the Holy Priesthood.

A vocation boom is beginning to happen in the United States – many young men are hearing God’s call again. It’s not as if God stopped calling men to the Priesthood, but many 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. If you can’t attend the Ordination itself today in Phoenix, please continue to pray for an increase to vocations to the Priesthood. For more on the Catholic Priesthood, click here.

The ordination of Fr. Chris Axline and Fr. Kurt Perea (June 2013).

The Diocese of Phoenix Ordination – Fr. Chris Axline and Fr. Kurt Perea (June 2013).

With today’s major liturgical celebration in the particular church of Phoenix, I thought a quick lesson from the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the Sacrament of Holy Orders was the perfect blog post.

So what does the Catechism teach on the Sacrament of Holy Orders?

CCC 1590: St. Paul said to his disciple Timothy: “I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands” (2 Tim 1:6), and “If any one aspires to the office of bishop, he desires a noble task.” (1 Tim 3:1). To Titus he said: This why I left you in Crete, that you amend what was defective, and appoint presbyters in every town, as I directed you” (Titus 1:5).

CCC 1591: The whole Church is a priestly people. Through Baptism all the faithful share in the priesthood of Christ. This participation is called the “common priesthood of the faithful.” Based on this common priesthood and ordered to its service, there exists another participation in the mission of Christ: the ministry conferred by the sacrament of Holy Orders, where the task is to serve in the name and in the person of Christ the Head in the midst of the community.

CCC 1592: The ministerial priesthood differs in essence from the common priesthood of the faithful because it confers a sacred power for the service of the faithful. The ordained ministers exercise their service for the People of God by teaching (munus docendi), divine worship (munus liturgicum) and pastoral governance (munus regendi).

CCC 1593: Since the beginning, the ordained ministry has been conferred and exercised in three degrees: that of bishops, that of presbyters, and that of deacons. The ministries conferred by ordination are irreplaceable for the organic structure of the Church: without the bishop, presbyters, and deacons, one cannot speak of the Church (cf. St. Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Trall. 3,1).

CCC 1594: The bishop receives the fullness of the sacrament of Holy Orders, which integrates him into the episcopal college and makes him the visible head of the particular Church entrusted to him. As successors of the apostles and members of the college, the bishops share in the apostolic responsibility and mission of the whole Church under the authority of the Pope, successor of St. Peter.

CCC 1595: Priests are united with the bishops in sacerdotal dignity and at the same time depend on them in the exercise of their pastoral functions; they are called to be the bishops’ prudent co-workers. They form around their bishop the presbyterium which bears responsibility with him for the particular Church. They receive from the bishop the charge of a parish community or a determinate ecclesial office.

CCC 1596: Deacons are ministers ordained for tasks of service of the Church; they do not receive the ministerial priesthood, but ordination confers on them important functions in the ministry of the word, divine worship, pastoral governance, and the service of charity, tasks which they must carry out under the pastoral authority of their bishop.

CCC 1597: The sacrament of Holy Orders is conferred by the laying on of hands followed by a solemn prayer of consecration asking God to grant the ordinand the graces of the Holy Spirit required for his ministry. Ordination imprints an indelible sacramental character [emphasis added – Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation as well].

CCC 1598: The Church confers the sacrament of Holy Orders only on baptized men (viri), whose suitability for the exercise of the ministry has been duly recognized. Church authority alone has the responsibility and right to call someone to receive the sacrament of Holy Orders.

CCC 1599: In the Latin Church the sacrament of Holy Orders for the presbyterate is normally conferred only on candidates who are ready to embrace celibacy freely and who publicly manifest their intention of staying celibate for the love of God’s kingdom and the service of men.

CCC 1600: It is bishops who confer the sacrament of Holy Orders in the three degrees.

If you want to read even more than this brief teaching on the Sacrament of Holy Orders, I would encourage you to read CCC 1536-1589.

This past week, Pope Francis met with the priests in the Italian town of Cassano all’Jonio and spoke on the beauty and brotherhood of the priesthood. The Holy Father said,

“I would first of all like to share with you the joy of being priests. The ever new surprise of having been called by the Lord Jesus… When we priests are in front of the tabernacle, and we stop there for a moment, in silence, then we feel the gaze of Jesus upon us once again, and this gaze renews us, revives us… following the Lord not on our own, one-on-one, but together, despite the wide variety of gifts and personalities…May we go forward, animated by our common love for the Lord and for the Holy Mother Church” he prayed, and “may the Virgin Mary protect and accompany you. May we remain united in prayer.”

Saint John Vianney, Patron of Parish Priests…Pray for all priests, seminarians, and those who care for our spiritual fathers.

Happy 5th Anniversary to the Catholic Priesthood!

I want to wish a very Happy 5th Anniversary to the Catholic Priesthood to my boss and Pastor, Fr. Will Schmid. Celebrating this same anniversary with him is Fr. Robert Bolding and Fr. Thielo Ramirez. The three of them are pictured below with the Bishop of the Diocese of Phoenix, Thomas J. Olmsted and the Bishop of the Diocese of Gallup (N.M.), James S. Wall on the day they were ordained – June 6, 2009.

Phx Ordination

From left to right: Fr. Thielo Ramirez, Fr. Will Schmid, Bishop James S. Wall, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, and Fr. Robert Bolding.

Being in the Diocese of Phoenix is truly a blessing since we have some of the youngest and most gifted priests of the Catholic Church in the United States. From this year’s vocations poster, I will tell that the future of the particular church in Phoenix is blessed. The Holy Spirit is calling fine, young, and holy men to the Catholic Priesthood. There is a serious Vocation Boom beginning to occur here in Phoenix, around the United States, and it’s continuing to ripple throughout the rest of the world in places like Africa and Asia, as it has been for years now.

If you know of any young men in your parishes that might make good priests, I would encourage you to ask them to check out their local diocesan vocations website or the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website. Since I am from the Diocese of Phoenix, here is our page. For more posts on the Catholic Priesthood, check out this page.

Also want to give a shout-out to my Parochial Vicar, and soon-to-be Chaplain and Theology Teacher at Seton Catholic Prep, Fr. Chris Axline. Fr. Chris celebrated his 1st Year Anniversary this past Sunday, June 1.

St. John Vianney, Patron of Parish Priests…Pray for our priests, those training to be priests, and those who will be ministered by these priests.

10 Words from St. John Vianney to the 21st Century on the True Presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament

Although today is the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, in the Church’s Roman Liturgical Calendar it’s also the memorial for Saint John Vianney. He is known as the Cure D’Ars, the Priest of Ars. He converted thousands to the Catholic faith during this lifetime as a priest. Pope Pius XI declared him the “Patron of Parish Priests” in 1929.

As a good priest should, he loved celebrating Holy Mass and had a profound devotion to the True Presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. He spent countless hours in the Confessional for he loved the souls under his care.  He received grace and strength from the Blessed Sacrament.

Below are 10 words from St. John Vianney to the 21st century on the True Presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.

Holy Eucharist in Monstrance

  1. “How pleasing to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament is the short quarter of an hour that we steal from our occupations, from something of no use, to come and pray to Him, to visit Him, to console him.”
  2. “Do not be afraid of people saying that going to Mass on a weekday is only for those who have nothing to do…Are you ashamed to serve God for fear of being despised?”
  3. Our Lord is hidden in the Blessed Sacrament, waiting for us to come and visit Him.”
  4. “After the reception of the Sacraments, when we feel the love God growing cold, let us instantly make a Spiritual Communion.”
  5. “What happiness do we not feel in the Presence of God, when we are alone at His feet before the Sacred Tabernacle!…Redouble your fervor, you are alone to adore your God; His eyes rest upon you alone.”
  6. “When we want to obtain anything of the good God, let us, after Holy Communion, offer Him His well-beloved Son, with all the merits of His Death and Passion; He will be able to refuse us nothing.”
  7. When a soul has received the Sacrament of the Eucharist worthily, it is humble, mortified, charitable, and is capable of the most sublime sacrifices. In short, it is no longer the same.”
  8. “When we come from our Communions, if anyone said to us: “What are you taking home with you?” we should be able to reply: “I am carrying away Heaven!
  9. “To what outrages does Our Lord expose Himself in the Blessed Sacrament that He may remain in the midst of us! He is there to console us, and therefore we ought often to visit Him.”
  10. “Happier than those who lived during His mortal life, when He was only in one place, we find Jesus Christ today in every corner of the world, in the Blessed Sacrament.”

Let us pray: Heavenly Father, you gave us the great parish priest, St. John Vianney, who was full of pastoral zeal and grace. Through his intercession, help us to win more souls for Jesus Christ so that we all may attain Heavenly and eternal glory with you. Amen. 

This post is dedicated to Bishop James S. Wall, Bishop of Gallup, New Mexico; Rev. Chad King, Parochial Vicar of Saint Gabriel the Archangel in Phoenix, AZ; Rev. Daniel Liu, Campus Minister at Saint Peter Catholic Student at Baylor University, Texas; and Rev. Daniel Pattee, TOR, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio.

Thank you for all you do as PRIEST.