The National Institute for the Renewal of the Priesthood

Morning has broken like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird.
Praise for the singing, Praise for the morning
Praise for them springing fresh from the world.

Sweet the rain's new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dewfall on the first grass.
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where his feet pass.

Mine is the sunlight, Mine is the morning
Born of the one light Eden saw play.
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God's recreation of the new day. -- Eleanor Farjeon

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Sunday Sermon

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

(Please give them a moment or two to download to your PC)

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

Father Gene's thoughts on the Immaculate Conception and the Holy Family

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)

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

July 28, 2015

1. Evangelizing: No situation is Godless.
2. Catholic children and their parents.
3. Study of Catholic parents.
4. Current quotes to ponder:
a) Vatican on Iran nuclear accord.
b) On not really knowing Jesus.
c) Strength of Latin American church.
5. Reacting to same-sex marriage ruling.
6. Death penalty and Gospel of mercy.
7. Growing old in these times.

July 8, 2015

In this edition:
1. Synod 2015 approaches.
2. One synod leads to another.
3. Pastoral action and the family.
4. Quotes from the working paper:
a) Financial pressure on families.
b) Families that migrate.
c) Couples and youth catechesis.
d) Homosexual persons.
5. Families as agents of care.
6. Civilly remarried Catholics.
7. When couples separate.

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

Here's What We're Reading!

Give Us This Day Our Daily Love: Pope Francis on the Family, Compilers: Theresa Aletheia Noble

Finding True Happiness: Satisfying Our Restless Hearts, Author: Robert Spitzer, S.J.

Change and Conflict in your Congregation: How to implement conscious choices, mange emotions & build a thriving Christian community, Rev. Anita L. Bradshaw

The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic: How Engaging 1% of Catholics Could Change the World, Matthew Kelly

The Catholic Church and the Bible, Peter M.J. Stravinskas

Fly While You Still Have Wings: and other lessons my resilient mother taught me, Joyce Rupp

Catholic and Married: Leaning into Love, Art and Laraine Bennett

Created to Relate: God's Design for Peace and Joy, Kelly M. Wahlquist

It's in the News!

Children of Both Heaven and Earth

Ron Rolheiser

"Because, my God, though I lack the soul-zeal and the sublime integrity of your saints, I yet have received from you an overwhelming sympathy for all that stirs within the dark mass of matter; because I know myself to be irremediably less a child of heaven and a son of earth."

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin wrote those words and they, like St. Augustine's famous opening in his Confessions, not only describe a life-long tension inside its author, they name as well the foundational pieces for an entire spirituality. For everyone who is emotionally healthy and honest, there will be a life-long tension between the seductive attractions of this world and the lure of God. The earth, with its beauties, its pleasures, and its physicality can take our breath away and have us believe that this world is all there is, and that this world is all that needs to be. Who needs anything further? Isn't life here on earth enough? Besides, what proof is there for any reality and meaning beyond our lives here?

But even as we are so powerfully, and rightly, drawn to the world and what if offers, another part of us finds itself also caught in the embrace and the grip of another reality, the divine, which though more inchoate is not-less unrelenting. It too tells us that it is real, that its reality ultimately offers life, that it also should be honored, and that it also may not be ignored. And, just like the

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Eat, Pray, Doubt: Temptation and the Call to Love

Published Jul 14, 2015 in Blogs, Spirituality


I do, at times, consider leaving the Society of Jesus. Like when I hear a baby cry right at the end of the Eucharistic prayer, or unlock the doors of a neglected community car that isn't mine, or wake up alone.

I was reading Eat, Pray, Love. I am not ashamed to admit reading the book, nor to enjoying it, nor to finding within its pages a beautiful tale of discernment and discovery. Early in the book the author, Elizabeth Gilbert, describes her experience of family reunions, confused by the process everyone around her is engaged in. Everyone is seemingly on the same path. She says, "First, you are a child, then you are a teenager, then you are a young married person, then you are a parent, then you are retired, then you are a grandparent - at every stage you know who you are."

I recreated that same list for myself. "First, you were a child, then you were a teenager, then you were a young, confused, unmarried person, then you were a young Jesuit, then you were a middle-aged Jesuit, then you were an old Jesuit." There, in my lumpy twin bed, pillow clutched between my legs, headlamp on high beam, reading a pop-culture contemporary classic, I began to cry. Something about my life story felt empty and fleeting. It felt like my life was already over. There was no, 'what next?'

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Editorial: Pope Francis' exhortation to walk on the margins makes us squirm

NCR Editorial Staff | Jul. 27, 2015


In the growing corpus of Pope Francis pronouncements -- in homilies and speeches and encyclicals -- an eloquence adheres that might safely be characterized as singular in quality in the long history of papal literature. It is an eloquence eminently accessible, born of personal experience and shaped primarily by his love of the poor.

It is not a distant love or a romanticized notion out of which he speaks. He doesn't make heroes of poor people or conjure some noble purpose out of poverty that will somehow be fully realized in the next life.

Quite the opposite. Transcendence is not reserved for some other reality. For Francis, the Christ we worship in the quiet of the sanctuary is the Christ of the streets. Francis is about real here-and-now situations in very plain language, and that language at times is disarmingly undiplomatic.

Indeed, in the United States, the eloquence is difficult to discern. The words make us squirm.

During his speech in Bolivia to members of popular movements, he said: "When we look into the eyes of the suffering, when we see the faces of the endangered campesino, the poor laborer, the downtrodden native, the

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Transforming a Crisis into Hope

Published Jul 16, 2015 in In the News, Pope Francis

As the crisis over debt in Greece comes to a head, Pope Francis' address to the Second World Meeting of Popular Movements could not be more relevant. His comments are a reminder that there is "a globalization of exclusion and indifference" that can lead to despair, but can also give way to a globalization of hope. It is a reminder that any Christian approach to change must be focused on real people. But what does this have to do with Greece?

The Pope firsts asks that we always listen to the people affected when considering how to resolve the many issues facing our world. In a world where the majority of the news we get is sprinkled with figures and dollar signs, Francis' call to listen to the experiences of real people challenges us to dig deeper. This great article in the Guardian outlines all of the reasons why so many young Greeks voted against bailout terms and highlights the pain felt by so many people affected by the proposed austerity measures. One young Greek voter said of the current state of affairs, "This situation was caused by the administration mechanisms in Europe who favour finances and not humans." That sounds just like Pope Francis! "The first task is to put the economy at the service of peoples. Human beings and nature must not be at the service of money." Both the experience of the Greek people and the words of Pope Francis call us to move toward an

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Volunteer changes the world by lending a hand to the less fortunate

Sr. Camille D'Arienzo | Jul. 21, 2015 Conversations with Sr. Camille

Linda Livornese Wilkie
Age: 63
Who she is: Vice president of What About the Children Inc., Catholic Charities volunteer
Lives in: Manhattan, N.Y.

Sr. Camille: Linda, Sr. Pat Wolf alerted me to the contributions you make to many lives. Since your retirement as a managing director in investments at New York Life Investment Management, you devote a considerable amount of time to Catholic Charities. What do you do for that organization?

Wilkie: On a weekly basis, I am a volunteer with Catholic Charities in its Feeding Our Neighbors program. Each Tuesday, I'm part of a two-person team that brings food to hungry residents in Staten Island. Through the Rusty Staub Foundation's mobile food pantry [1], we deliver food to three locations -- Immaculate Conception Church, St. Peter's Church, and the CYO at Anderson Ave -- and feed more than 100 families. When needed, I also assist the Catholic Charities team at the food pantry in the Kennedy Center in Harlem.

You are also very much involved in the Brooklyn-based What About The Children Inc. What is this and how did it come about?

I have been involved in

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Philippine church takes lead on Francis' environmental encyclical

Brian Roewe | Jul. 25, 2015 Eco Catholic

Francis: The Environment Encyclical
Taken from the National Catholic Reporter

One of the nations most vulnerable to climate change has become one of the first to mobilize in response to Pope Francis' environmental encyclical "Laudato Si', on Care for Our Common Home."

On July 4, Cardinal Luis Tagle of Manila, Philippines, along with more than 1,000 priests, religious and lay leaders, launched a campaign in the archdiocese to collect 1 million signatures on a global petition to be delivered to world leaders gathering in Paris in December.

In addition, the archipelago's bishops have pledged to lead conversations and actions around issues raised in the encyclical and likely to arise at the Paris climate talks. The petition is part of a campaign began in March [1] by the Global Catholic Climate Movement. Two months later, several members met with the pope, who endorsed their efforts [2]. As of Wednesday, more than 31,000 people had signed the petition.

"This will be huge. When Filipinos commit to mobilize, they really mean it," said Lou Arsenio, coordinator of the Manila archdiocese's ecology ministry, a founding Global Catholic Climate Movement organization. She described the ecological crisis as a top issue

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The Healing Place of Silence

Ron Rolheiser

A recent book, by Robyn Cadwallander, The Anchoress, tells the story of young woman, Sarah, who chooses to shut herself off from the world and lives as an Anchoress (like Julian of Norwich). It's not an easy life and she soon finds herself struggling with her choice. Her confessor is a young, inexperienced, monk named Father Ranaulf. Their relationship isn't easy. Ranaulf is a shy man, of few words, and so Sarah is often frustrated with him, wanting him to say more, to be more empathic, and simply to be more present to her. They often argue, or, at least, Sarah tries to coax more words and sympathy out of Ranaulf. But whenever she does this he cuts short the visit and leaves.

One day, after a particularly frustrating meeting that leaves Ranaulf tongue-tied and Sarah in hot anger, Ranaulf is just about to close the shutter-window between them and leave, his normal response to tension, when something inside him stops him from leaving. He knows that he must offer Sarah something, but he has no words. And so, having nothing to say but feeling obliged to not leave, he simply sits there in silence. Paradoxically his mute helplessness achieves something that his words don't, a breakthrough. Sarah, for the first time, feels his concern and sympathy and he, for his part, finally feels present to her.

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Shopping into a Brighter Future

Published Jul 17, 2015 in In the News, Justice
Taken from the Jesuit Post

Have you seen the new piece from Huffington Post Highline, The Myth of the Ethical Shopper? It's a pretty fierce condemnation of the way we try to make social change happen in the world. For years, our model of creating social change, especially as it relates to consumer products, has been name-and-shame. It has been somewhat effective, but not nearly to the level we hoped it would.

We've scolded Nike, Walmart, H&M, Coca-Cola, and plenty more for their absolutely abysmal human and labor rights violations. In April, John Oliver looked at the horrifying history of workplace abuse in several of these companies. It would be nice if we could pretend that these issues were a problem of the 90s. After all, that's when we all took great offense at the clothes we were wearing. But it's an issue that has not only persisted, but has become worse.

While we would like to think that our shift in shopping habits has drastically changed the market, it hasn't. We have instead become aware of increasingly horrific circumstances. Many of the countries that make our consumer products also have high rates of slavery and human trafficking. People seeking to escape poverty instead find

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Francis: Mining industry in need of 'a radical paradigm change'

Brian Roewe | Jul. 17, 2015 Eco Catholic

Francis: The Environment Encyclical
Taken from the National Catholic Reporter

The global mining sector is called to "a radical paradigm change" to make improvements in how the industry impacts the planet and the poor, said Pope Francis ahead of a Vatican meeting on the topic.

The pope's message was sent Friday to representatives from Africa, Asia and the Americas gathering at the Vatican this weekend to discuss their experiences living within mining communities.

"You come from difficult situations and in various ways you experience the repercussions of mining activities, whether they be conducted by large industrial companies, small enterprises or informal operators," he said.

Francis described minerals as "a precious gift from God" that humanity has used for thousands of years and that are fundamental to many aspects of human life and activity. He then repeated an appeal from his environmental encyclical, "Laudato Si': on Care for Our Common Home," that people collaboratively work toward "countering the dramatic consequences of environmental degradation in the life of the.

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The Lord hears the cry of the bourgeoisie

Michael Sean Winters | July 20, 2015 Distinctly Catholic
Taken from the National Catholic Reporter

On the plane ride back to Rome, Pope Francis said he had been told that he needs to spend some time talking about the middle class and not just the poor, especially in the context of his forthcoming visit to the United States. It will be interesting to see what he comes up with because it always is, but also because the very concept of the middle class seems to be losing its usefulness.

The middle class has always been a relative concept. I remember in the 1980s, a friend who had a job in the government making about $100,000 per year was thinking of moving to New York City. But, he explained, to live in New York the way he did in Washington, he would need to make more than twice that amount because everything was more expensive there, and some

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Healing -- A Theory

Ron Rolheiser

All of us live with some wounds, bad habits, addictions, and temperamental flaws that are so deeply engrained and long-standing that it seems like they are part of our genetic make-up. And so we tend to give into a certain quiet despair in terms of ever being healed of them.

Experience teaches us this. There's the realization at some point in our lives that the wounds and flaws which pull us down cannot be simply be turned off like a water-tap. Willpower and good resolutions alone are not up to the task. What good is it to make a resolution never to be angry again? Our anger will invariably return. What good is it to make a resolution to give up some addictive habit, however small or big? We will soon enough again be overcome by its lure. And what good does it do to try to change some temperamental flaw we've inherited in our genes or inhaled in the air of our

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Hearts in Need: Practicing Presence & Embracing Reality

Published Jul 22, 2015 in Justice, Pop Culture, Spirituality

So after reading Jason Downer's great piece about the movie, Inside Out, I had to go see it. Not only am I a huge fan of Pixar, but I admit that I'm also always in the mood for something that will pluck at my heartstrings. You can take the nodding of my friends' heads with a slight grin as proof.

The story finds eleven-year-old, Riley, moving from the Midwest to San Francisco, and shows how her anthropomorphized emotions - led by Joy, but also include Sadness, Anger, Disgust, and Fear - are trying to cooperate in order to help young Riley be a joyful kid again as she moves through this difficult transition in her life (and notice what happens when both Joy and Sadness are missing from Headquarters…you're just left with Fear, Disgust, and Anger - not a great combo!).

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Between Laudato Si' and Black Lives Matter

by Jason Welle, SJ on June 18, 2015
From the Jesuit Post

Laudato Si'. Praise be.

In his new encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si', Pope Francis draws a connection between praising the God of creation and recognizing our duty to care for each other by caring for the planet, "our common home." But the core of Francis's message is even more challenging. He argues that praising the God of creation includes being willing to challenge and transform systems, institutions, and our own patterns of comfort and consumption that fail to respect our duty to care for the planet and for each other. "Human life is itself a gift," he says, "which must be defended from various forms of debasement." (5) Quoting Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, he writes, "As Christians, we are called 'to accept the world as a sacrament of communion, as a way of

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Should we care about what happens to displaced parish communities?

Christine Schenk | Jul. 16, 2015 Simply Spirit
Printed in the National Catholic Reporter

A recent NCR feature article [1] about the skilled researchers at the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University discussed changing demographics in U.S. Catholicism that are affecting church mergers and closures.

Written by a respected colleague, Tom Roberts, the article gave me food for thought since I have actively supported many parishioners in the Northeast and Midwest who worked -- sometimes successfully and sometimes not -- to preserve their parish homes via canonical appeals to Rome.

Among other things, the folks at CARA rightly point out that enhanced media attention to church closings in the Northeast

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Editorial: In encyclical, Pope Francis issues a challenge to the rich

NCR Editorial Staff

Francis: The Environment Encyclical

One measure of the significance and potential influence of Pope Francis' encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si', is the range of reaction against it that surfaced in the United States, and the swiftness with which the pushback occurred, some of it pre-emptively. This encyclical, more than any in recent decades, strikes at the heart of where and how we in the developed world live upon and relate to the rest of the planet.

The sound-bite reactions of politicians like Jeb Bush (he doesn't take his instructions in politics and economics from the pope) and Rick Santorum (the pope should avoid subjects like the environment) made for saucy, in-your-papal-face attention-grabbers in the early news cycles. But those

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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.

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Last updated July 25, 2015