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The National Institute for the Renewal of the Priesthood

The Stoning of Saint Stephen, 1625

The first painting by Rembrandt, painted at the age of 19

Henri Nouwen on Courage --
"Have courage" we often say to one another.
Courage is a spiritual virtue.
The word courage comes from the Latin word "cor" which means "heart."
A courageous act is an act coming from the heart.
A courageous word is a word arising from the heart.
The heart, however, is not just the place where our emotions are located.
The heart is the centre of all thoughts, feelings, passions and decisions.
A courageous life, therefore, is a life lived from the centre.
It is a deeply rooted life, the opposite of a superficial life.
"Have courage" therefore means "Let your centre speak."

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Sunday Sermon

Click here to visit our new page of Sunday Sermons and hear the latest from Saint Vincent's

Fr. Gene reflects on virtuous communication, Pope Francis and the Year of Mercy

Fr Gene Reflects on keeping families healthy, happy and holy

November 12 -- Fr Gene with an Advent "Pre-View"

October 12 -- Fr Gene's reflections on the environment and ecology and our place in the whole puzzle of God's green earth

August 11 -- Fr Gene talks about the Pope's latest encyclical and reflects on his upcoming visit and his thoughts on ecology and the environment

June 8 -- Fr Gene reflects on his days in the Seminary

Father Gene reflects on the missionaries who came to this country, their courage and their commitment to the faith

Father Gene shares his thoughts about an amazing exhibit called "Picturing Mary: Woman, Mother, Idea" and highly recommends it

New Year's Resolutions from a different perspective

Follow this link to our digital Archive
and explore some more of our audio files

July 23, 2016

In this edition:
1. Responding to violence.
2. The faces of violence.
3. All lives matter.
4. Combating terrorism.
5. Current quotes to ponder:
a) Pope to Brownsville youths.
b) The trafficking of children.
6. A stark death-penalty choice.

July 7, 2016

In this edition:
1. Terrorism tests "our humanity."
2. The grace to weep over evil.
3. Dachau, place of human cruelty.
4. Violence, a contagious disease.
5. Current quotes to ponder:
a) After Britain's vote.
b) What Jesus' cross means.
6. Pastoral action: marriage and family.
7. Love is good, but hard.

(Click on the title for the rest of each newsletter)

Here's What We're Reading!

The Way of Trust and Love: A Retreat Guided by St. Therese of Lisieux, Fr. Jacques Philippe

Transformed by God's Word: Discovering the Power of Lectio and Visio Divina, Author: Stephen J. Binz

Joy to the World: How Christ's Coming Changed Everything (and still does), Author: Scott Hahn

Freedom, Truth, and Human Dignity

John of the Cross: Man and Mystic, Author: Richard P. Hardy

Messy & Foolish: How to Make a Mess, Be a Fool, and Evangelize the World, Matthew Warner

It's in the News!

An Honest Anger

Ron Rolheiser

Today, for the main part, most of us live in chronic depression. This is not clinical depression so it's not as if we need professional help or therapy, it's just that there is within our lives precious little in terms of delight.

We live and breathe within a culture and a church that are growing daily in sophistication, adultness and criticalness. This is not always a bad thing, but it is helping to spawn a polarization, anger and despondency that is making it almost unfashionable to be happy.

Much of this despondency has constellated around two centres, women's anger and men's grief.

As women touch gender issues, normally anger follows, much like smoke follows from fire. There is already within the popular mind the stereotype of the angry feminist. It's more than a stereotype. Many women who get in touch with gender issues do, in fact, get angry.

Interestingly, when men today touch their own gender issues, as they are doing today in men's

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'Circling the City with Love' campaign aims to bridge cultural divides

Christine Schenk | Jul. 14, 2016 Simply Spirit

Well, last week was a terrible-awful-no-good-week in Lake Woebegone -- my home country.

We are hurting, hurting, hurting. In St. Paul, Minn., a suburban police officer killed 32-year-old Philando Castile, a black cafeteria worker, during a traffic stop for a broken taillight. Castile's girlfriend witnessed the shooting and posted video footage on Facebook as her 4-year-old daughter sought to comfort her.

Alton Sterling, a black man from Baton Rouge, was summarily shot [1] after two white police officers pinned him down on the pavement. In Dallas, a black U.S. veteran of the Afghanistan war opened fire with his assault rifle as if in some cruel carnie shooting gallery, except that the sitting ducks weren't the revolving yellow plastic kind. They were white police officers, five of whom died, while seven others were wounded.

It is a supreme irony that the Dallas officers were protecting peaceful Black Lives Matter

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Reconciliation in Chicago: A light no one can extinguish

David Kelly | Jul. 11, 2016 NCR Today

Reconciliation in Chicago
Taken from The National Catholic Reporter

Editor's note: "Reconciliation in Chicago" is NCRonline's newest blog series [1], a weekly blog from the Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation [2], a ministry of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood based in Chicago's Back of the Yards neighborhood. Each post will feature hopeful reflections from the ministry's staff and volunteers, as they share their stories about working with youth and families affected by violence and incarceration.

"Reconciliation in Chicago" will be published every Monday at the feature series page Reconciliation in Chicago. [3]

"It is believed," Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago told five youth at the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center, "that wherever the bishop is, there is the church. 2.2 million Catholics are with you at this moment; tonight we are the Catholic Church of Chicago."

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Our Deepest Insecurity

Ron Rolheiser

Why don't we live happier lives? Why are we forever caught up in frustrations, tensions, angers, and resentments?

The reasons of course are too many to name. Each day, as Jesus himself tells us, brings problems enough for the day. We're unhappy for reasons too many to count. And yet it can be helpful to ask ourselves sometimes: Why am I so chronically sitting just outside the gates of happiness?

Our initial answer would probably focus on the tensions in our lives that have to do with tiredness, with our health, with stress in our relationships, stress in our work, and anxieties about security. There's always something! A second reflection would, I suspect, drag up deeper reasons: unacknowledged disappointment with how our lives have turned out, with what our lives have come down to, and with the many dreams we had which were frustrated.

But a still deeper reflection, I believe, would shine a light on something else, something that

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Latino council looks toward next 25 years

Soli Salgado | Jul. 9, 2016


With Latinos making up 60 percent of U.S. Catholics under the age of 30, members of the National Catholic Council for Hispanic Ministry are beginning to think that the last 25 years have been just a prologue to the next 25.

Sixty percent: That figure dominated the Spanglish conversations at the annual conference June 23-26, at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. This year's event marked the 25th anniversary of the council's founding.

The council -- a team of Latino organizations that promotes Hispanic ministry through advocacy, education and networking -- encouraged discussion among the more than 100 people present, representing 34 member organizations. These participants were asked to consider how this demographic can best utilize its newly commanding presence in the U.S. church.

"Given the growth of Latinos in the church, approaching about

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For Your Goodness
A Prayer of Gratitude in Trying Times

Published Jul 12, 2016 in Blogs, In the News, Spirituality
Taken from The Jesuit Post

"We must come to see that God is not so much the cause of moral obligation or the sanction of duty as the very substance of Good." - Henri De Lubac, SJ

Few moments are as wonderful as when you come to know the goodness of a thing. Not your liking it, needing it, wanting it, or not. But rather, the moment you come to recognize its fundamental goodness and come to accept that its goodness is enough.

When this happens you forget yourself and you fall in love with the object of your attention as you adopt a reverent posture of wonder before it. You express only gratitude for having noticed it. You desire only to place yourself in its service, to share, in some small way, in the grace of its presence. It could be anything really, or anyone, because when we recognize goodness, when we are free enough to recognize it, we are actually reverencing God.

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Struggling with Grandiosity

Ron Rolheiser

We live in a world wherein most everything over-stimulates our grandiosity, even as we are handed less and less tools to deal with that.

Several years ago, Robert L. Moore wrote a very significant book entitled, Facing the Dragon. The dragon that most threatens us, he believes, is the dragon of our own grandiosity, that sense inside us that has us believe that we are singularly special and destined for greatness. This condition besets us all. Simply put, each of us, all seven billion of us on this planet, cannot help but feel that we are the center of the universe. And, given that this is mostly unacknowledged and we are generally ill-equipped to deal with it, this makes for a scary situation. This isn't a recipe for peace and harmony, but for jealousy and conflict.

And yet this condition isn't our fault, nor is it in itself a moral flaw in our nature. Our grandiosity comes from the way God made us. We are made in the image and likeness of God. This is the most fundamental, dogmatic truth inside the Judaea-Christian understanding

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Routine Maintenance

Published Jun 28, 2016 in Blogs, Spirituality

Taken from The Jesuit Post

Shaving. Again.

Standing in front of my mirror, I wipe the sleep from my eyes. Contact lenses in, I go through the motions: I brush my teeth and floss (my dentist would be proud), wash my face and slather on shaving lotion. I place the rechargeable batteries into my cheap electric shaver and let it do its thing as it glides along my face. Whrrrrr. A few minutes later I am showered and dressed for the day, my morning routine complete.

I wish I could skip the whole damn thing. Well not everything, perhaps. Running my tongue across my set of squeaky clean chompers is pretty gratifying. And washing the pillow crease lines from my face is OK. But it's shaving that gets me down. I hate shaving.

I said as much to a Jesuit I lived with once, years ago. It didn't go well. "Shaving is what makes you a man!", he insisted. I'm not so sure about his gender theory, but I know what I know: I don't particularly like shaving. Or rather, having to do it every day.

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John Oliver and the Year Of Mercy

Published Jun 29, 2016 in
Humor In the News, Justice, Pop Culture, Pope Francis

Taken from The Jesuit Post

On the June 5th episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, the host John Oliver, took a closer look at the ugly business of debt collection and debt buying. As with most of his investigations, they bring to light in a well researched and comical way, an issue that can sometimes be absurd. This episode was no exception, but it ended with a twist.

In April John Oliver started a debt collection company in Mississippi for $50.00. With that initial investment of $50.00 he was able to buy almost $15 million in medical debt for less than $60 thousand. That's right, for those of you trying to figure that out at home that is "$.004 on the dollar". So what does a TV show host do with $15 million in debt owed by 9,000 people. Legally, he would be allowed to try to collect that money. But in a move that would make Pope Francis very happy in this Year of Mercy, he forgave the debt.

It's gone. For 9,000 people

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Us First!

Ron Rolheiser

I am a citizen, not of Athens or Greece, but of the world." Socrates wrote those words more than twenty-four hundred years ago. Today more than ever these are words which we would need to appropriate because, more and more, our world and we ourselves are sinking into some unhealthy forms of tribalism where we are concerned primarily with taking care of our own.

We see this everywhere today. We tend to think that this lives only in circles of extremism, but it is being advocated with an ever-intensifying moral fervor in virtually every place in the world. It sounds like this: America first! England first! My country first! My state first! My church first! My family first! Me first! More and more, we are making ourselves the priority and defining ourselves in ways that are not just against the Gospel but are also making us meaner in spirit and more miserly of heart. What's to be said about this?

First of all, it's against the Gospel, against most everything Jesus taught. If the Gospels are clear on anything, they are clear that all persons in this word are equal in the sight of God, that all persons in this world are our brothers and sisters, that we are asked to share the goods of this world fairly with everyone, especially the poor, and, most importantly, that we are not to put ourselves first, but are always to consider the needs of others before our own. All slogans that somehow put "me", "us" "my own", "my group", "my country" first, deny this. Moreover, this doesn't just apply at the micro-level, where we graciously step back in politeness to let someone else enter the room before us, it applies, and especially so, to us as whole nations. For us, as

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Pastors under pressure can benefit from 'Amazing Parish' program

Peter Feuerherd | Jun. 30, 2016 NCR Today

The Field Hospital
Taken from The National Catholic Reporter

Editor's note: "The Field Hospital" blog series covers life in U.S. and Canadian Catholic parishes. The title comes from Pope Francis' words: "I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else . . . ."

If you have a story suggestion, send it to Dan Morris-Young (dmyoung@ncronline.org) or Peter Feuerherd (pfeuerherd@ncronline.org).
Are you, or do you know, a pastor feeling the pressures of managing what is in effect a large business while at the same time striving to be a faith leader?

Catholic pastors are under perhaps more pressure than ever. They've been asked to lead merged parishes, often when parishioners want to go their separate ways. They are often lone-ranger clerics, in most parts of the country working on their own with little or no other clerical help. There is the routine grumbling about diocesan directives, often sprung with little or no consultation.

And then the roof is collapsing, or the heating or air conditioning needs a fix.

The good news is a variety of groups have sprung up, many in recent years, promising to assist parishes and pastors. The Field Hospital is taking a look at as many as we can. One such group

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Reconciliation in Chicago: Positive delusion

David Kelly | Jul. 4, 2016
NCR Today

Taken from The National Catholic Reporter
Reconciliation in Chicago

Editor's note: "Reconciliation in Chicago" is NCRonline's newest blog series [1], a weekly blog from the Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation [2], a ministry of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood based in Chicago's Back of the Yards neighborhood. Each post will feature hopeful reflections from the ministry's staff and volunteers, as they share their stories about working with youth and families affected by violence and incarceration.

"Reconciliation in Chicago" will be published every Monday at the feature series page Reconciliation in Chicago. [3]
Recently I was coming back to the Precious Blood Center (where our ministry operates) after a meeting. As I was walking towards our building, I came upon two police officers who had apprehended a young man and were in the process of searching him. The police had the young man with his hands on the hood of their police car. That in itself isn't out of the ordinary in our area. I might have walked on by, but the young man called out my name: "Hey, Father Kelly!"

I recognized him immediately. He was one of the youth who comes to the Center regularly. I walked over to where the police were searching him. They told me that they were sure he had been selling drugs. Of course, the young man said that was not the case. He was looking at me to speak up for him.

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Our inspiration for the National Institute for the Renewal of the Priesthood stems from a longstanding friendship with Father John Klein, a priest of the

Fr. Klein's picture

Archdiocese of Chicago. On the day of his passing in 1999 at the age of 49, Cardinal Francis George said "Father John Klein was a model for seminarians and priests. His joy in his priestly ministry encouraged all of us and was a sign of the Lord's constant presence in his life." May we learn from his example and strive to be the presence of Christ in the lives of all those we touch every day as priests and fellow citizens of the world.

Our work is made possible in part by grants from the Catholic Church Extension Society, the Paluch Family Foundation and Our Sunday Visitor. We are also grateful for the prayers of the Madonna House. In addition, The Arthur J. Schmitt Foundation has generously provided us with a grant in honor of Monsignor Ken Velo, a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago who has been an inspiration to so many for so many years.

If there is any way that I can be of service to you, I hope you will take advantage of the link below to send me an email. I would enjoy hearing from you with any comments or questions you may have.

Father Gene Hemrick
The National Institute for the Renewal of the Priesthood
Washington Theological Union
6896 Laurel Street, Northwest
Washington, D.C.

Dedicated to energizing the spiritual and intellectual life of the priesthood
through an ongoing dialogue via the Internet.

This Web page was created and is maintained by the National Institute for the Renewal of the Priesthood.

Please send comments to Father Hemrick by clicking on his name.

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Last updated July 6, 2016