The National Institute for the Renewal of the Priesthood

Do you ever sit under the stars and take a long look at the sky?
Artist Greg Olsen shows us our Lord doing exactly that.
It's important to pause now and then and give thanks as we admire God's creation.

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Sunday Sermon

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

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Father Gene reflects on Chaplains and our nation's veterans on Veterans Day

Father Gene shares his thoughts about procrastination

Father Gene visits Relevant Radio to discuss the lessons learned from the events of September 11

Can something as simple as a garden make a difference in your life? -- Father Gene explains how it's done -- August 12, 2014

Father Gene Hemrick shares his thoughts about the virtue of understanding (May 13, 2014)

Fr. Gene interviewed on Relevant Radio about Multi-Culturism

This is the time of year when hope is in abundance -- Father Gene thinks so too, and shares some ideas about hope on Relevant Radio

November 12 interview with Father Gene about the lessons to be learned from "Homespun Wisdom"

Interesting interview with Fr. Gene about the changes we see all around us dealing with security -- our own and that of others

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

November 12, 2014

In this edition:
1. Road to 2015 synod.
2. A central principle for pastoral care.
3. Synod's reflection on same-sex attraction.
4. Quotes from 2014 synod's final report.
5. Dialogue, five decades after Vatican II.
6. Ecumenical conversation and action.
7. Charity: Values that create generosity.

October 26, 2014

In this edition:
1. Ministry when someone suffers.
2. On baptism into Christ's body.
3. Diocese houses Ebola victim's fiancee.
4. Current quotes to ponder:
a) Church's support for families.
b) Violence against children worldwide.
5. Archbishop meets parents of gay children.
6. All are welcome in God's family.
7. Development where money rules.

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

Here's What We're Reading!

The Hope of the Family: A Dialogue with Gerhard Cardinal Muller, Edited by Carlos Grandos

Dark Light of Love, John S. Dunne

God Where Are You? Practical Answers to Spiritual Questions, Enzo Bianchi

Prayer and Poetry: Helen C. White, Editor: Rene Kollar, O.S.B.

John Paul II: The Saint who conquered the heart of the world, Valentina Alazraki and Msgr. Slawomir Oder

Eclipse of Man: Human Extinction and the Meaning of Progress, Charles T. Rubin

In This Life: Spiritual Growth and Aging, Leo E. Missinne

St. Peter's Bones: How the relics of the first pope were lost and found, Thomas J. Craughwell

Moments of the Day, Author: Christopher S. Collins, S.J.

A Eucharistic Christmas: Advent meditations on the presence of Christ

Becoming Catholic: Finding Rome in the American Religious Landscape, David Yamane

Growing in Faith: A Bible Study Guide for Catholics, Author: Fr. Mitch Pacwa, S.J.

It's in the News!

Being in the World: A quotable Maritain Reader

Edited by Mario O. D'Souza, with Jonathan R. Seiling
The University of Notre Dame Press. Notre Dame, IN. 2014. Pp. 314

An Excerpt from the Introduction:

I have long admired the lyrical beauty of Maritain's writings; many passages have moved me deeply and have led me to prayer. Many are included among the quotations in this reader. The length of the selected quotations varies greatly: some are a single line, others run into paragraphs. In all of them, however, there is a distinctly sand-alone quality, which is remarkable, given the sophistication and the complexity of Maritain's thought.

This reader is not an introduction to Maritain's thought. The quotations stand independently of each other. Some require no special knowledge of philosophy or the history of philosophy, but others

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Cupich offers meditation on leadership

Dennis Coday | Nov. 17, 2014
National Catholic Reporter

Cupich to Chicago

Preaching at the first of three public ceremonies Monday evening that mark his installation as the ninth archbishop of Chicago, Blase Cupich offered a meditation on leadership.

For the Rite of Reception, during which he is formally welcomed into Chicago's Holy Name Cathedral after ritually knocking on the church's front doors, Cupich reflected on the image of "dry bones strewn carelessly to rot in an abandoned field under the scorching sun" used by the Prophet Ezekiel and the poetry of T.S. Elliot.

He also pledged to work with parish and civic groups to combat gangs and youth violence and to work for comprehensive immigration reform.

The people to whom Ezekiel preached, he said, "have suffered the humiliating defeat by Babylon and the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. The people are scattered and disconnected, with hopes broken and barren."

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Excerpts from Origins VOLUME: 44 ISSUE: 25

Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations in the Mind and Heart of Pope Francis

Father Thomas Rosica, CSB

Pope Francis has begun articulating a new approach to ecumenical and interreligious relations based on building bridges and walking together, according to a Basilian priest who has served as an English-language Vatican spokesman. Father Thomas Rosica, who also is CEO of Salt and Light Television, Canada's national Catholic network, told a Nov. 9 workshop for U.S. bishops in Baltimore that the pope's views have been outlined in four of his daily homilies over the past 19 months. "For Francis, it is not about waiting for others to catch up with us," he said. "It is about everyone continuing to walk with and toward the Lord, supporting and learning from the brothers and sisters whom God places on the same path."

Father Rosica noted that Pope Francis has reached out to Orthodox Christians, evangelicals, Pentecostals, charismatics and Jews in ways that have captivated many but others have found "disconcerting." He recalled a conversation between the pope and evangelical Episcopal

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Challenges identified in feeding, thinking about the world's hungry

Mark Pattison Catholic News Service

St. Paul, Minn.

With projections putting the planet's population at 9 billion by 2050, the question of how to feed them is taking on ever-greater importance.

But at the "Faith, Food & the Environment" symposium Nov. 5-7 in St. Paul, Minn., held at the University of St. Thomas and sponsored by more than a dozen Catholic and agricultural organizations, some speakers suggested the question may need to be asked differently.

"It's the wrong question," said Fred Kirschenmann, a distinguished fellow at the Leopold Center of Iowa State University, giving people "a moral justification to continue doing more of what they've been doing."

Kirschenmann said enough food is being grown today to feed 10 billion people, yet 1 billion people remain chronically hungry. "It's a problem of poverty, it's a problem of entitlement, it's a problem of inequality," he said. "It's also a

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Spiritual Warfare

Ron Rolheiser

Spiritual literature has always highlighted the primordial struggle between good and evil, and this has generally been conceived of as a war, a spiritual battle. Thus, as Christians, we have been warned that we must be vigilant against the powers of Satan and various other forces of evil. And we've fought these powers not just with prayer and private moral vigilance but with everything from Holy Water, to exorcisms, to a dogmatic avoidance of everything to do with the occult, the paranormal, alchemy, astrology, spiritualism, seances, witchcraft, sorcery, and Ouija boards. For Christians these were seen as dangerous venues through which malevolent spirits could enter our lives and do us harm.

And scripture does, seemingly, warn us about these things. It tells us that for our world to come to its completion and its fulfillment Christ must first triumph over all the powers that oppose God. And for that to happen, Christ has to first vanquish and destroy death, darkness, evil, the powers of hell, the powers of Satan, and various "thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers."

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Cardinal Kasper: Pope Francis 'does not represent a liberal position, but a radical position'

Vinnie Rotondaro
National Catholic Reporter

On Thursday, Cardinal Walter Kasper, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, received the Johannes Quasten Medal for Excellence in Scholarship and Leadership in Religious Studies at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

Kasper, the German theologian best known for his writings on the role of mercy in church teaching, gave a 50-minute lecture on the meaning and significance of Pope Francis.

What follows are some highlights from that speech, titled "Theological Background of the Ecclesiological and Ecumenical Vision of Pope Francis."

Kasper, nicknamed the "pope's theologian," began by calling Francis "a pope of surprises."

"Not the least surprising," he said, remarking on the early days of Francis' papacy, "was

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Carrying Our Cross

Ron Rolheiser

Among Jesus' many teachings we find this, rather harsh-sounding, invitation: Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

I suspect that each of us has a gut-sense of what this means and what it will cost us; but, I suspect too that many of us misunderstand that Jesus is asking here and struggle unhealthily with this invitation. What, concretely, does Jesus mean by this?

To answer that, I would like to lean on some insights offered by James Martin in his book, Jesus, A Pilgrimage. He suggests that taking up our cross daily and giving up life in order to find deeper life means six interpenetrating things:

First, it means accepting that suffering is a part of our lives. Accepting our cross and giving up our lives means that, at some point, we have to make peace with the unalterable fact that frustration, disappointment, pain, misfortune, illness, unfairness, sadness, and death are a part of our lives and they must ultimately be accepted without bitterness. As long as we nurse the notion that pain in our lives is something we need not accept, we will habitually find ourselves bitter - bitter for not having accepted the cross.

Second, taking up our cross and giving up our lives, means that we may not, in our suffering, pass on any bitterness to those around us. We have a strong inclination, almost as part of our natural instincts, to make others suffer when we are suffering: If I'm unhappy, I will make sure that others around me are unhappy too! This does not mean, as Martin points out, that we cannot share our pain with

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Why doesn't poverty play a bigger role in US politics?

Vinnie Rotondaro | Nov. 3, 2014


What is at stake for the poor on Tuesday?

It is not a question that was asked much in the lead-up to Election Day.

With 46 million people currently living in poverty and close to 90 million hovering just above it, the absence of a more frank discussion about America's poverty problem remains a mystery in our national political discourse. Who are "the poor"? Who represents them?

Asked these questions, politicians, activists and academics repeatedly made two points: One, talk of poverty has largely been replaced by talk of inequality in American life with an emphasis on the middle class, and two, nobody wants to say that they are "poor."

"Referring to income-challenged individuals as 'the poor' came from a moral or religious underpinning that used to be a very profound part of American politics, as late as maybe 30 years ago," said Brenda Jones, a longtime congressional staffer. "Now, people have moved away from morality as a primary motivation or an overriding sense of what is good, and so it's harder to discuss the idea of what is 'right' in American politics today. It does not resonate the way it used to."

Today, "young people have consumer-influenced value systems that de-emphasize the intrinsic worth of human beings and highlight their connection to what they consume," Jones said. And beginning in the Reagan era, "misinformation about poverty became part of mainstream political rhetoric.

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Rockhurst, NCR examine Francis' sense of mercy

Thomas C. Fox | Nov. 2, 2014 NCR Today

Kansas City, Mo.

In a daylong gathering, Rockhurst University educators and National Catholic Reporter journalists dissected the theological and pastoral implications and challenges of the still-emerging Pope Francis pontificate.

The event, promoted as a "conversation," used the theme "Becoming a Church of Mercy," drawing 200 locals and students who filled a Rockhurst campus auditorium Saturday on a chilly autumn morning here.

It was the first time the two institutions joined forces to bring their vantages and insights to the Catholic scene and came just days after NCR began to celebrate its 50th anniversary as a company.

Speakers concurred that Pope Francis is taking contemporary Catholicism into uncharted waters, not because his message is fundamentally new, but rather because of his unique style and pastoral emphasis following decades of pontificates that stressed strict orthodoxy.

Each offered a unique window into the Francis outlook.

"Francis comes out of experience," said Rockhurst president Jesuit Fr. Thomas Curran, who said the pontiff's theology has been shaped by his experiences in Latin America and by his time as a pastor among the poor. Curran said Francis witnessed the lives of ordinary people, absorbing their hopes and, at times, brokenness.

This has led Francis to a theology of mercy and forgiveness, Curran said.

Curran said he sees Francis' view of church and mission

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Three Kinds of Spiritualities

Ron Rolheiser

All of us struggle, and we struggle in three ways. First, sometimes we struggle simply to maintain ourselves, to stay healthy and stable, to stay normal, to not fall apart, to not have our lives unravel into chaos and depression. It takes real effort just to maintain our ordinary health, stability, and happiness.

But, even as this is going on, another part of us is forever reaching upwards, struggling to grow, to achieve higher things, to not waste our riches and gifts, to live a life that is more admirable, noble, and altruistic.

Then, at another level, we struggle with a threatening darkness that surrounds and undergirds us. The complexities of life can overwhelm us leaving us feeling threatened, small, excluded, and insignificant. For this reason, a part of us is forever conscious that we stand one season, one breakdown, one lost relationship, one lost job, one death of a loved one, or one thing that we cannot even foresee, away from a descent into paralyzing depression, an

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The number of U.S. Catholics has grown, so why are there fewer parishes?

By Michael Lipka

The recent decision by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York to effectively close dozens of churches in the coming months falls in line with a larger nationwide trend of Catholic parish closures.

The downsizing in New York was described by The New York Times as the largest reorganization in the diocese's history. The archdiocese, which stretches from Staten Island, Manhattan and the Bronx through the seven suburban counties in the state that are immediately north of New York City, will merge 112 of its parishes into 55 new parishes.

In 1988, there were 19,705 parishes in the U.S., while there are now 17,483, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University. The current number of parishes is about equal to the number that existed in 1965, even as the number of self-identified U.S. Catholics has risen in the past half-century, from 48.5 million to 76.7 million between 1965

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UN report: As climate warms, poverty will grow

Brian Roewe | Nov. 4, 2014 Eco Catholic

The expected effects of increased climate change during the next century will disproportionately affect the poor and other vulnerable communities.

That conclusion came not from Pope Francis or an environmentally focused religious community, but from the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on Sunday. In its fifth assessment report [1] (the first published in 1990), the U.N. panel outlined what is known about climate change to date, including what has happened, what is anticipated to come if countries collectively fail to ratchet up mitigation and adaptation efforts, and who will face the brunt of a warming planet.

"Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems," said

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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
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Last updated November 21, 2014