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The National Institute for the Renewal of the Priesthood

Christ and the Rich Young Ruler

by Heinrich Hofmann, 1889

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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

June 13, 2016

In this edition:
1. The "thrown-away" people.
2. What "solidarity" means.
3. Guns for the hungry?
4. Current quotes to ponder:
a) Orlando's terrorist killings.
b) Message for gay community.
c) After Orlando: The healing.
5. Women and church leadership.
6. Parameters of diaconal service.
7. Demands of Christian service.

May 27, 2016

In this edition:
1. Beyond the blogosphere.
2. Anger in the blogosphere.
3. Civility and political discourse.
4. Current quotes to ponder:
a) Tip for praying.
b) Understanding human unity.
c) Caring for the mentally ill.
5. New dreams for new priests.
6. A grand imam meets the pope.

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

Here's What We're Reading!

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

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

We Have Found Mercy: The Mystery of God's Merciful Love Christoph Cardinal Schonborn

It's in the News!

Reconciliation in Chicago: A bit of this and a dash of that

David Kelly | Jun. 20, 2016 NCR Today

In 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. As we kick off "Reconciliation in Chicago," blog series "Take and Read" will be on a summer hiatus.

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

The Back of the Yards neighborhood, located in the South Side of Chicago, is a community that suffers from high unemployment and a lack of adequate resources, including education and mental health services. Like so many communities that are suffer economic inequities, young people often grow up in the

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Of Guns and Pacifism

Ron Rolheiser

The Gospels tell us that after King Herod died, an angel appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, telling him: "Get up! Take the Child and His Mother and go to the land of Israel, for those seeking the Child's life are now dead." (Matthew 2, 19-20). The angel, it would seem, spoke prematurely, the Child, the Infant-Christ, was still in danger, is still in danger, is still mortally threatened, and is still being tracked down, right to this day.

God still lies vulnerable and helpless in our world and is forever under attack. All forms of violence, of aggression, of intimidation, of bullying, of ego-parading, of seeking advantage, are still trying to kill the child. And the Child is threatened too in less-overt ways, namely, whenever we turn a blind eye on those who lie helpless and exposed in war, poverty, and economic injustice, we are still killing the Child. Herod may be dead, but he has many friends. The child is forever threatened.

Many of us are familiar with the story of the Trappist monks in Algeria who were martyred by terrorists in 1996. Some months before being taken captive and executed, they had been visited by the terrorists; ironically on Christmas Eve, just as they were preparing to celebrate the Christmas Eve Eucharist. The

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Acceptance: A Lesson in the Virtue of Realism

"Serenity comes when you trade expectations for acceptance" Author unknown By Eugene Hemrick

As we come to our last chapter, what does acceptance have to do with the previous chapters? It goes without saying that acceptance prompts us to be realistic and authentic: two essential qualities behind every friendship and community spirit. Moreover, acceptance complements patience, stillness, and deeper understanding generated by reading body language and research; it opens us up and makes us more receptive, all of which is part of the good life. As we will see, it especially fulfills a critical role in enabling us to be the true person we should be.

It was my first encounter with death as my grandfather took my hand and walked me into the funeral home. Viewing Uncle George DiSylvester's lifeless body was difficult to comprehend as a child. He was a feisty Italian immigrant who was always arguing with Jim Vacco, the proprietor of the corner grocery store; how Uncle George loved a good fight.

My grandfather turned to me and said, "Gini, Uncle George has finished his journey on earth, now it's time for him to

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Parish leadership program turns ideas into actions

Peter Feuerherd | June 16, 2016 NCR Today

Taken from the National Catholic Reporter
The Field Hospital

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).

Parish Catalyst wants to help the best Catholic parishes get better.

That is the guiding philosophy behind the Los Angeles-based organization, which sponsors management education for pastors and parish teams.

Why start with the best, when there are so many Catholic parishes struggling to maintain footing in difficult times?

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Prayer During Tragedy

Published Jun 14, 2016 in In the News, Spirituality

Taken from the Jesuit Post

Events in our national life are often sadly familiar. That is certainly true of the Orlando shootings this past weekend. Mass violence. Contentious claims about Islam and domestic terrorism. The nation briefly rallying in solidarity. Prayers, anguish, and calls for change. Probable failure to address the root causes. An almost inevitable repetition in the near future.

What is also becoming familiar, however, is a certain reaction to this reaction, especially the prayer. Within hours of the attack, I saw memes on Facebook like the phrase "Pray for America" with the "Pray" crossed out and the words "Policy Change" written beneath.

This is not a wholly new phenomenon. "Prayer shaming" was a prominent element of the reaction to the San Bernardino shootings in December 2015.1 Of all the things to capture our national attention in the wake of disaster, it was prayer and its efficacy.

Many said that messages for "thoughts and prayers" were at best useless, and at worst destructive. At the time, I was

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Reason and violence

By Bernie Glos

Having done much study in the field of violence risk assessment and done quite a few violence risk assessments myself, I would like to bring some rationality to the discussion in light of the attack in Orlando on Sunday. Predicting anyone's future behavior is sketchy at best; predicting violent behavior even moreso.

Violence is a very infrequent event. Very infrequent events are statiscally difficult if not impossible to predict accurately. Violence is not a single dimension; there are various dimensions of violence. Some individuals are more at risk for frequent small outbursts; a very few have little history until a serious event occurs. For some, the liklihood is obvious (e.g. Jared Loughner who injured Rep. Gabby Giffords and killed others or James Holmes, who shot up the movie theater in Colorado). Both of these events may have been prevented based on available information. For others, like Dylan Klebold of Columbine, there was no information that would have led to the predicted shootings. He kept things very tight to himself, in an era before social media was prominent.

Even in the area of

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The Power of Personality

By Romano Guardini

The power of personality becomes stronger in proportion to the absence of interests. It is something quite different from that energy by which a man subordinates another to his will, and which is really a very external thing in spite of its "dynamic" quality.

The power of personality stems from the genuineness of life, the truth of thought, the pure will to work, and the sincerity of one's disposition.

The Field Hospital: Covering parish life

Dan Morris-Young | Jun. 10, 2016 NCR Today

Taken from National Catholic Reporter
The Field Hospital

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).

The NCR family extends deepest sympathies and prayers to the families of five bicyclists killed June 7 when a pickup crashed into a group of nine riders nearing Kalamazoo, Mich.

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The World Needs More Fist Bumps

Published Jun 3, 2016 in Pop Culture, Sports
Taken from The Jesuit Post

When trying to make the world a better place, we often think about volunteering, donating to charity, taking care of the environment, or advocating for political change. And we need all those activities.

Perhaps, however, we need to add another item to our to-do list: giving more fist bumps.

That, at least, is one piece of advice in a recent Time article that highlights simple ways to improve one's relationships, work, happiness, and motivation.

Any piece of clickbait promising to make your life better in a few simple steps should be taken with a massive grain of salt, but the tips are backed up by serious research. Plus, what do you have to lose? Unhappiness?


In thinking about my work with brother Jesuits on The Jesuit Post, I was particularly intrigued by the research on how groups can work together more effectively. And, as a basketball fan currently addicted to the NBA Playoffs, I loved that they looked at basketball teams to learn about group effectiveness.

A Berkeley study found that basketball teams that used more congratulatory touch were more likely to cooperate - and more likely to win. The Time Article cites a passage from Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior describing the study:

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RENEW International inspires parishioners through small groups

Peter Feuerherd | Jun. 9, 2016 NCR Today

The Field Hospital
Plainfield, N.J.

In the early, heady days post-Vatican II, enthused Catholics flocked to movements such as Cursillo, Marriage Encounter, and the Christian Family Movement, often spending weekends away to return home with a zeal to spread the Gospel and transform the church and the world.

Msgrs. Tom Kleissler and Tom Ivory, two New Jersey priests, wondered: Why not bring that energy to parishes? And so was born RENEW, now RENEW International, [1] begun 38 years ago and still active decades later, through small groups designed to energize parishes around the U.S. and in Canada, South Africa, Australia, Venezuela, El Salvador and Guatemala, among other countries.

RENEW, said Dominican Sr. Theresa Rickard, RENEW president, was "a movement organized in the parish, not outside. Movements are great, but there is something about a parish which means 'here comes everybody.'" In that, she echoed Irish writer James Joyce's statement about the reach of the Catholic church.

Begun here in the Newark archdiocese, where participation reached 40,000 in its early years, RENEW relies on small groups, where Catholics come together, pray, reflect on the Scriptures, and, it

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Sensitivity and Suffering

Ron Rolheiser

Daniel Berrigan, in one of his famous quips, once wrote: Before you get serious about Jesus, first consider carefully how good you are going to look on wood! In saying this, he was trying to highlight something that's often radically misunderstood from almost every side, namely, how and why authentic religion brings suffering into our lives.

On the one hand, all too common is the idea that if you welcome God into your life you will have an easier walk through life; God will spare you from many of the illnesses and sufferings that afflict others. Conversely, many others nurse the feeling, if not explicit belief, that God means for us to suffer, that there's an intrinsic connection between suffering and depth, and that the more painful something is the better it is for you spiritually. There is, of course, some deep truth in this, spiritual depth is inextricably connected to suffering, as the Cross of Jesus reveals; and scripture does say that God chastises those who draw close to Him. But there are countless ways to misunderstand this.

Jesus did say that we must take up our cross daily and follow him and that following him means precisely accepting a special suffering. But we might ask: Why? Why should suffering enter into our lives more deeply because we take Jesus seriously? Shouldn't the opposite be true? Does true religion somehow stand against our natural exuberance? Is suffering deep and joy superficial? And, what does this say about God? Is God masochistic? Does God want and demand our suffering? Why is a certain inflow of pain necessarily concomitant with taking God seriously?

Pain will flow into us more

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The Field Hospital: Covering parish life

Dan Morris-Young | Jun. 3, 2016
National Catholic Reporter NCR Today

The Field Hospital

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).

The working motto of a ministry to the chronically homeless [1] in South Orange County, Calif., is "We give a hand up, not a hand out." Established in 2014 on the "principles of the spiritual and corporal works of mercy," Our Father's Table [2] has "no paid staff, consultants or expensive office space," organizers note in its website. "We come together as friends and family," emphasizes founder and CEO Gina Seriel, a member of Mission Basilica Parish [3] in San Juan Capistrano. The group has helped many "of our homeless brothers and sisters" into long-term housing, Seriel told NCR, noting that Pope Francis' call to minister to the marginalized has greatly inspired the organization.

Is there money to be made on Catholic values? A New York-based provider of exchange-trade funds [4] (ETFs) has rolled out the "Global X S&P 500 Catholic Values" index (Nasdaq: CATH), which claims

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The Joys and Travails of Travel!

"I joined the Navy to see the world, and what did I see, water, water, water"

By Gene Hemrick

Why is distant travel so important to our well-being? Wherein is its virtue leading to goodness? The following lesson by a rabbi gives us one answer. Looking at his students, the rabbi asks what criterion should be used to determine when night has ended.

"When there is enough light to tell a goat from a sheep," answers one student.

Another student answers, "When you can distinguish an apple tree from a fig tree."

"This might be true", says the rabbi, "but truer is a new day arrives when you can look at a human face, and see a brother or sister. If you are unable to see a brother or sister in every human face, you are still in the darkness of night."

One of the virtues of travel is to experience firsthand those who are distant from us as brothers and sisters. Pope John Paul II says that once we realize we are brother and sisters in the world, we possess the virtue of solidarity: humanity united to humanity as one! As we will now see, travel accomplishes this and much more.

His sermons were long and bombastic, but oh how the people enjoyed them because they were like a beautiful travelogue. Our pastor of St. Petronille Parish in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, Monsignor Eugene Luke loved to visit the Holy Land and the shrines of saints. He would then build a homily around their significance for the Sunday gospel. Thanks to his colorful imagery, the same gospel stories we usually heard

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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.

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Last updated June 22, 2016