t JKNIRP Home Page

The National Institute for the Renewal of the Priesthood

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

As seen through the eyes of the painter Alexander Ivanov (1806 - 1858)

Mission Statistics Quotes Links Success Stories Resources Lighter Side Search Authors Home

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

April 28, 2016

Second look at pope's new apostolic exhortation - Divorced-remarried couples and a process of discernment - Marriage, a lifelong project

1. New era in family ministry?
2. Times of crisis in families.
3. Marriage preparation.
4. Accompanying married couples.
5. Quoting the exhortation:
a) Marriage and time together.
b) Marriage as salvation history.
c) Spousal craftsmanship.
6. Divorced-remarried Catholics.
7. Pastoral discernment.
8. The process of discernment.

April 16, 2016

In this edition:
1. New apostolic exhortation.
2. The tenderness of love.
3. Advice for couples, families.
4. Quoting the exhortation:
a) Wedding planning.
b) Families and socialization.
c) Problems are challenges.
5. Dialogue in marriage.
6. Spirituality for the family.

(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!

The Joys and Travails of Travel!

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

Taken from the book: Homespun Wisdom by Eugene 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 repeatedly beamed with newness and vitality.

Later I had a history teacher who traveled to Europe during

(Click title to read more)

Popularity of fish fries has remained steadfast for decades

By Samantha Johnson, Special to the Journal Sentinel

Editor's note: History in the Eating is a monthly feature that digs back into the flavors of Wisconsin, exploring how the foods we know and love have found their place in our state's heritage.

Ah, the Friday night fish fry.

(You just felt a little surge of anticipation, didn't you?)

In Wisconsin, a fish fry conjures up warm feelings of family memories, continuity and tradition, in addition to the warm feeling that a hearty meal provides in its own right. While there are fish fries in states other than Wisconsin, no other state is synonymous with fish fries in the deep-down, deep-fried way Wisconsin is.

But how did the tradition of Friday fish fries become so ingrained in Wisconsin culture?

Wisconsin's proximity to lakes and abundant fish has played a big part, but our cultural heritage has also had an impact.

A tradition takes hold

Thousands of Roman Catholic families emigrated from Europe to Wisconsin in the 1800s, and the Catholic tradition of abstaining from meat on Fridays made fish a popular (and economical) Friday dinner choice.

The fish fry "really started during the early 20th century when Lake Michigan-caught perch was abundant and very cheap to serve," said Ron Faiola, who produced the 2009 documentary "Fish Fry Night Milwaukee," which chronicles the fish fry's enduring popularity in Wisconsin. "Some places would even offer free fried fish with a purchase of a beer."

During the Prohibition era of the 1920s and early 1930s, sales of fish on Fridays helped taverns to stay afloat.

(Click title to read more)

Yes, I Belong Here: Dan Berrigan, SJ

Published May 4, 2016 in Faith & Politics, In the News, Justice
Taken from The Jesuit Post

A great Jesuit once said of Dorothy Day 1 that she lived "as though the truth were true." The same could be said of the speaker, Father Daniel Berrigan.

A priest, poet and peace activist, Berrigan died in the Bronx on April 30 at age 94. He was a Jesuit for 76 years and a priest for 63 years.

Dan believed in a consistent ethic of life and opposed every form of violence: war, nuclear weapons, poverty, abortion, racism, and ecological destruction. He took the Gospel seriously and let it shape his life.

When U.S. bombs killed children in Vietnam, and U.S. soldiers returned home in caskets, Dan opposed that war with poetry and daring action. In 1965, he traveled to Hanoi, then the capital of North Vietnam, to receive the release of three captured American pilots. Later that year, after Dan frustrated church authorities by speaking at a service for a young man who set himself on fire to protest the war, he was effectively exiled to South America.

Undaunted, Dan returned a few months later and continued his resistance to the Vietnam War. He also upped the ante. In May 1968, Dan, his brother Phil and seven other Catholics entered the selective service office in Catonsville, Maryland. They rounded up hundreds of draft files, and burned them in the parking lot with homemade napalm. Their goal was to disrupt the machinery of war.

Dan and Luke meet in 2007.

Nearly forty years later, I wrote to Dan as a Jesuit novice. I wanted to know what helped him to persevere in religious life for the long haul, knowing that he experienced many ups and downs, consolations and desolations, and varying degrees of support and resistance from his brother Jesuits. I was delighted to read his response:

(Click title to read more)

7 Practices the Catholic Church Can Learn from Ikea

Published May 5, 2016 in Global Catholicism, Pope Francis

Taken from The Jesuit Post

Whenever I told someone I was a double major in theology and economics, the response was almost always the same: "Oh, that's an interesting combination."

Of course, businesses are interested in profits, not prophets; the Church is concerned with souls, not sales. Still, with due respect for the obvious differences, the Church and the business world actually have much in common.

Emerging from a ragtag group of disciples in a backwater of the Roman Empire, the Catholic Church currently constitutes 17% of the world's population. Since its humble Swedish beginnings, Ikea has grown into the world's largest furniture retailer, operating in and adapting to diverse cultural contexts.

As fellow multinational operations, they can learn from each. With that in mind, I submit seven practices the Catholic Church can learn from Ikea:

1. Always focus on the mission.

Ikea has a guiding vision

(Click title to read more)

Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor

by Leonardo Boff Orbis Books, 1997

Leonardo Boff"s Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor appeared in English in 1997. It defined what are now primary pillars of Catholic ecotheology and environmental ethics -- justice for the poor and justice for the Earth. It followed the first United Nations Stockholm conference on the environment (1972), and the Rio Earth Summit (1992), which first conceptualized "sustainable development." Already, a corpus of Catholic social teaching on ecological ethics was emerging from Catholic bishops" conferences and Pope John Paul II's 1990 World Day of Peace address.

Those that cry out

Boff"s landmark work broadened liberation theology's gaze to include the natural environment, and closed breaches between and within liberation theology and environmentalism. It reasserted people"s place within creation and their moral obligation to be its guardian.

Boff stressed foundational biblical and doctrinal sources for Christian perspectives on ecological issues, and linkages to social, political, economic or ecclesial structures. He drew deeply from the Franciscan classics (Incarnation, Trinity, poverty, Holy Spirit), constructing a revolutionary

(Click title to read more)

The Field Hospital: Covering parish life

Dan Morris-Young | Apr. 29, 2016 NCR Today

The Field Hospital
Taken from the Catholic National Reporter [Excellent success stories in serving others!!]

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).


St. Margaret's Center in Lennox, CA [1], was founded in 1987 as a collaborative project between two parishes - St. John Chrysostom in Inglewood [2] and St. Joseph Parish in Hawthorne [3] -- and Catholic Charities of Los Angeles to serve the low-income and homeless. Still supported by those two congregations, St. Margaret's today helps some 12,000 individuals annually [4] on a myriad of fronts -- nutrition, health care, immigration counseling, English

(Click title to read more)

Three popes and life 'on the job' form Dominican

Peter Feuerherd | Apr. 28, 2016 NCR Today

The Field Hospital
Taken from The National Catholic Reporter

Ever since October of last year, when we began soliciting stories about parishes, especially those with thriving ministries to the poor and marginalized in the spirit of Pope Francis' famous metaphor that the church should bind the wounds of the injured, we have been inundated with upbeat, positive stories.

We've also encountered scores of other story suggestions: namely, complaints about newly ordained pastors, in particular, who come with an agenda seemingly to turn back the clock on practices that have been well-established in typical post-Vatican II parishes. This especially is evident in the liturgical realm, as the newly ordained frequently suggest chant over contemporary hymns, and curtail lay eucharistic ministers, the role of women, and girls serving as altar servers.

We wanted to find out about these newly ordained priests (many of whom, by the way, do not embrace what's been called a quiet "restorationist" movement among younger clergy). Nurtured in a seminary system

(Click title to read more)

What Can The World of Research Teach Us?

Research is creating new knowledge -- Neil Armstrong By Eugene Hemrick

As body language deepens our understanding of one and another, so too, does research deepen our understanding of each other and the world in which we live. How does research achieve this increase in understanding? Its main purpose is to raise essential questions like what, why, how, when, and where. Without sounding too philosophical, research is inquisitiveness and discernment in pursuit of knowledge and truth. It is a mentality that desires to cut below the surface and learn what is causing what.

For those who have no vested interest in research, there may be the temptation to skip this chapter. To skip its value deprives us of one of the best means we possess for coping with our challenging times.

In Latin, the word science means knowledge. It is no exaggeration to say greater knowledge is needed in a transitory age that is moving us from simple life styles into a complex existence.

In his book The End of the Modern World, Guardini was

(Click title to read more)

Take and Read: The Interior Castle

Gillian T. W. Ahlgren

Take and Read

Editor's note: "Take and Read" is a weekly blog that features a different contributor's reflections on a specific book that changed their lives. Good books, as blog co-editors Congregation of St. Agnes Sr. Dianne Bergant and Michael Daley say, "can inspire, affirm, challenge, change, even disturb."

Today's Take and Read entry coincides with the 501st birthday of St. Teresa of Avila.

The Interior Castle
by Teresa of Avila, tran. by Kieran Kavanaugh and Otilio Rodriguez
(Paulist Press, 1979)

My "Take and Read" came from the hands of a favorite professor, just after I had finished my first course in church history. "Gillian," Grover Zinn said, placing a book in my hands, "you have to read this."

I was 19 years old, and I had been led to Grover soon after my first trip to Europe. That trip had been unexpected: a wonderful and thoroughly surprising odyssey that had

(Click title to read more)

Francis: Spirit works in laypeople, 'is not property of the hierarchy'

Joshua J. McElwee | Apr. 26, 2016

Vatican City
Taken from The National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis has again sharply denounced the culture of clericalism among priests in the Catholic church, calling it "one of the greatest deformations" that must be confronted by the global faith community and saying it helps "diminish and undervalue" the contributions that laypeople make.

The pontiff has also strongly reaffirmed the right of laypeople to make decisions in their lives, saying that priests must trust that the Holy Spirit is working in them and that the Spirit "is not only the 'property' of the ecclesial hierarchy."

In a letter to Cardinal Marc Ouellet in his role as the head of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, released by the Vatican Tuesday, Francis says he wants to speak to the members of the commission about how to better serve what he terms "the Holy Faithful People of God."

"Evoking the Holy Faithful People of God is to evoke that horizon which we are invited to look at and reflect upon," states the pope. "It is the Holy Faithful People of God that as pastors we are continually invited to look to, to protect, to accompany, to sustain and to serve."

"A father cannot imagine himself without his children," he continues. "He can be a great worker, professional, spouse, friend but what makes him a father has a face: they are his children."

"The same happens to us," states Francis. "We are pastors. A pastor cannot imagine himself without his flock, which he is called to serve. The pastor is a pastor of a people, and he serves

(Click title to read more)

More Joy, Washing Dishes and Witnessing the Resurrection

Taken from the Jesuit Post

My grandparents would speak in Polish when they didn't want us to understand what they were saying, mostly when they were fighting about something. When my grandmother, Babci, wanted to get under my grandfather's skin she would translate for us: "Dziadzi doesn't think I should be over-feeding you." He'd grumble something in Polish and then she'd smile at us and deliver the final punch: "And now he's upset with me." He'd roll his eyes, frustrated by her refusal to keep things between them, get up from the table, and walk to the kitchen sink to start washing dishes.

I wondered sometimes if this was her goal from the beginning. If so, it was a winning strategy. She'd spoon another meatball onto our plates and he'd get started on the pots and pans. In the end, I think everyone was happy. She could over-feed her grandkids and he could gaze out the window at his grapefruit tree, remembering again the quiet goodness of peace and productivity.

They died many years ago now, but their love continues to help me make sense of the strange joy of Easter, the consoling joy of the resurrected Christ, the complicated joy of a life and love that carries on long after the feasting and the flowers. We easily forget it, but the Easter season stretches on for a full fifty days after Holy Week. And Easter joy, like any true love, is not all chocolate and bunnies, but something more like the humble fidelity of washing dishes or the small triumph of an extra meatball for your grandkids.


When I was a novice our community hosted a group of Jesuits preparing to take their

(Click title to read more)

Take and Read: Hearers of the Word

William Madges | Apr. 25, 2016 NCR Today
Taken from the National Catholic Reporter

Take and Read

Editor's note: "Take and Read" is a weekly blog that features a different contributor's reflections on a specific book that changed their lives. Good books, as blog co-editors Congregation of St. Agnes Sr. Dianne Bergant and Michael Daley say, "can inspire, affirm, challenge, change, even disturb."

Hearers of the Word
by Karl Rahner
(Herder & Herder, 1969)

The first edition of Jesuit Fr. Karl Rahner's Horer des Wortes appeared in 1941. It was the compilation of 15 lectures that Rahner (1904-84) delivered at the Salzburg Summer School in 1937 concerning the "Foundations of a Philosophy of Religion." The 1941 text was revised, with Rahner's approval, by Johannes Baptist Metz; the revision was published in German in 1963 and in English, as Hearers of the Word, in 1969. As Metz observed in his preface to the revised edition, the book's original publication during the early years of World War II was a major reason that its contribution to the philosophy of religion did not receive the attention it deserved until decades later.

I encountered Rahner and this work in the year before my graduation from college, four years after its publication in English.

Hearers of the Word is a work of fundamental-theological anthropology. In it, Rahner presents the human person as the possible hearer of the possible, free revelation of God in history. As with his previous major philosophical work, Geist in Welt (Spirit in the World)

(Click title to read more)

Seattle cathedral parish a model for 'field hospital' ministries

Dan Morris-Young | Apr. 21, 2016 NCR Today

The Field Hospital

"The embrace of any cathedral should be wide," says Fr. Michael Ryan, pastor of Seattle's St. James Cathedral [1]. He clearly means it.

Spiritual home to nearly 2,400 households (more than 5,000 individuals), the Seattle cathedral serves as ground zero for archdiocesan events from ordinations and high school graduation Masses to civic, cultural, inter-religious and artistic gatherings.

It also enlists upwards of 1,000 volunteers who bring to life a jaw-dropping array of outreach ministries:

Each weekday the parish feeds up to 180 persons an early and elegant dinner as part of its Cathedral Kitchen ministry [2];

Augmenting the Cathedral Kitchen, Cathedral Kitchen Garden [3] was launched two years ago; a weedy lot owned by the parish was transformed into an abundant vegetable garden;

A Mental Health and Wellness Ministry [4] employs a full-time mental health nurse, and through volunteers provides a broad ministry of "accompaniment, presence, encouragement, safety, hospitality, acceptance and support";

St. James' Immigrant Assistance [5] reaches out to new U.S. arrivals -- from 37 countries so

(Click title to read more)

Caring for Creation

Written by Louis McGill
Published in NW Stories

Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Seattle
Pope Francis' words from Rome reinforce the efforts of local Catholics

When parishioners at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish decided in 2009 to build a parish hall/gym, there was no question it should be environmentally friendly.

"We felt it was incumbent upon us to build the building as green as cost would allow," said Frank Handler, who was parish administrator at the time. "Being responsible as Catholics, that's what we had to do."

Long before Pope Francis issued his environmental encyclical Laudato Si' in June 2015 - urging all people to "protect our common home" - parishioners at Our Lady of Guadalupe in West Seattle were being good stewards of their patch of God's creation.

Solar panels that help power the parish campus, an organic garden to benefit local food banks, "green" construction projects and less reliance on disposable goods are all ways the OLG community works to reduce its environmental footprint.

"We're definitely committed that whatever we do will include care of creation," said Helen Oesterle, pastoral associate at the parish.

Other local Catholics also heard the pope's words as a familiar call.

(Click title to read more)

My Back is Killing Me

Taken from The Jesuit Post

Sitting anywhere lately for any amount of time has become bothersome. Variously these days I am hunched over my keyboard typing out theological missives, or cradled in the plush armchair of my room reading from the required course listing. No matter where I am, though, I find I am only able to remain in these positions for a short period of time. Pain shoots across my upper back, from shoulder blade to shoulder blade, a dull ache follows, and I gingerly move about, trying to shake the general creakiness I feel in my bones. This is a pattern that I first noticed in the fall, and presumed it was connected to my recent return to studies and of an older student's poor posture.

But the pain remains, for months now, and so I have been seeing a chiropractor. It's not constant, but it's regular enough that I have to go every now and then for an adjustment. I like my chiropractor. She's a triathlete with more medals on her walls than are stored in my parents garage. She's a manipulator -- but in a good way -- turning me, pushing me, stretching me, trying to put everything back where it belongs, where every vertebrae should be.

In our first appointment, she asked lots of questions about how I hurt myself. Ostensibly, it was from working out: poor form on the rowing machine here in the community's simple gym. But she seemed confident that mine was an older injury, aggravated again now.

(Click title to read more)

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.

email us!.

free counters

Last updated May 3, 2016