Archives for July 2014

NFPC This Week: #575, 7/20-7/26/2014

Of Note This Week –

Jefferson City

The Vocation Report from the June meeting of the Jefferson City Council noted two ordinations to the transitional diaconate took place in May.

  • There was one ordination to the priesthood in June.
  • Two applicants are in the interviewing process for the upcoming seminary semester.
  • 7 students attended the Encounter with God’s Call event in April at Conception Abbey.
  • The 6th grade Vocation Day in May gathered 600 students and 175 adults.
  • The Cheers, Ears, and Root Beers celebration of Priests and Seminarians in June was very well attended.
  • Finally, the report concluded with a list of summer events with a request they be promoted in parishes and deaneries.
  • The Ministry to Priests report noted a recommendation about video conferencing via Skype.
  • Discussion of a manual for international priests focusing on “What does it mean to be in the Diocese of Jefferson City?”
  • Discussed the Diocesan Pastoral Plan.
  • Fr. Ronald Knott has accepted the invitation to speak at the 2014 Priests Institute.
  • Minutes contained an attachment on the diocese’s updated Clergy Compensation Policy. The policy contained a provision for a 3% per-year base salary increase, an increase to $200 for the 403b retirement contributions, as well as a Comparison of Missouri Diocesan Priest Compensation. A motion was made, seconded and carried to recommend to Bishop Gaydos the revised compensation policy proposal be approved.
  • A discussion ensued about parish fundraising activities. Minutes note a conversation with the diocesan attorney about acceptable ways to raise funds by games of chance.
  • Council elections for two-year terms will begin the 3rd week of August in four deaneries.
  • In the Varia section of the minutes, a member asked if the Council could meet quarterly instead of every other month. Another member asked if the use of the council should be reviewed. After a brief discussion, minutes note both matters would require a constitutional change to established procedures.
  • A motion was made, seconded and approved to have the Ministry to Priests Committee develop a Pastoral Day on the topic of ministry to individuals with same-sex attraction and marriage.
  • Finally, a discussion took place regarding financial matters related to publication of the diocesan newspaper and the diocesan Communications Office. A part of the conversation centered on the pros and cons of digital versus print publication.

US Father Ronald Witherup elected to 2nd term as superior general of the Sulpicians

Fr. Ronald Witherup, SS. Photo courtesy of the Society of St. Sulpice

Fr. Ronald Witherup, SS. Photo courtesy of the Society of St. Sulpice

Sulpician Father Ronald Witherup was reelected to a second six-year term as superior general of the Society of the Priests of St. Sulpice, as the Sulpicians are formally known. Fr. Witherup, 64 was reelected during the society’s general assembly, which took place at Issy-Moulineaux, France.

The Priests of St. Sulpice is society of diocesan priests focused on the education and formation of priests and future priests. They operate three seminaries in the US and one in Zambia. They are also involved in seminary formation and continuing education at Assumption Seminary in San Antonio, Tex.

A Scripture scholar and author; Father Witherup was a former rector, academic dean and professor at St. Patrick’s Seminary and University in Menlo Park, Calif. He served for more than a decade as provincial of the society’s US province. He is a frequent retreat master, lecturer on biblical and theological topics, and celebrated author whose works cover multiple areas of the Bible. He possesses a Licentiate in Sacred Theology from St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore, MD and a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies from Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, VA.

Among his titles are, Gold Tested in Fire: A New Pentecost for the Catholic Priesthood (Liturgical Press, 2011), New Testament editor for Little Rock Catholic Study Bible (Liturgical Press, 2011), Scripture: Dei Verbum – Rediscovering Vatican II (Paulist Press, 2006).

In addition to Fr. Witherup, others elected from various countries representing Sulpician provinces, include: first consultor, Father David D. Thayer, United States; second consultor, Father Argiro Restrepo, Canada; third consultor, Father Joseph Ho Thu, Vietnam; and fourth consultor, Father Pierre de Martin de Vivies, France.

For the Catholic News Service (July 18, 2014) summary, go to:

Trenton priest takes vow as a Trappist

Fr. Joe Tedesco. Stock photo from the Internet

Fr. Joe Tedesco. Stock photo from the Internet

Father Joe Tedesco always felt he was called to religious life. At 16 he served at Mepkin Abbey in Moncks Corner, SC for a year as a lay brother. In a reflection for The Catholic Miscellany (July 3, 2014), the Charleston diocesan newspaper, he said, “It obviously didn’t work out then, but I had felt a call to religious life since the beginning of high school, so I went on to become a diocesan priest.”

Fast-forward to 2006––Father Joe was looking toward retirement when two words changed his life. “I had come to Mepkin Abbey for a retreat on the way back from vacation, and by the third day it was clear that there was something happening. Then I got the two words, ‘You’re home.’ It was pretty scary what God’s plan was.”

In 2008 Father Tedesco returned to the abbey to begin the six-year process to become a permanent member of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, other known as the Trappists. He took his solemn vows before Abbot Stanislaus Gumula on June 28.

Father Tedesco, now 70, attended St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore and was ordained for the Diocese of Trenton in 1979. His years in Trenton were joyful, but what he discovered on the retreat was an answer to a deep spiritual longing. “I was happy as a diocesan priest. The ministry life was wonderful, but there was always something missing in my spiritual journey and this fills the gap.”

He advises, “Really keep looking at God, and look at what gives you joy. I don’t mean what makes you happy, or what you like, but what really gives joy, makes you feel fulfillment and real freedom. When you begin to feel some freedom, freed up from stuff, you can begin to identify where the real joy is, and that will probably tell you where God is nudging you to go.”

Good advice for everyone.

Dioceses, US bishops’ conference, stepping up to plate in plight of migrant Central American children

Catholic dioceses and organizations are stepping in and offering housing, legal help and other types of assistance for the refugee Central American children flooding to he US southern border.

In Dallas, Bishop Kevin Farrell and Forth Worth Bishop Michael Olson called on lawyers Monday to assist thousands of Central American migrant children who entered the US unlawfully and are now facing immigration judges alone in deportation hearings.

In Chicago, Cardinal Francis George recently had offered facilities to house the children temporarily. Archdiocesan spokeswoman Colleen Dolan said, “The archdiocese is definitely reaching out and trying to be helpful. We are offering to assist the (government) and we have applied to be an organization that they will use to work with the children.”

In New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan sat down and drafted a blog post detailing his shame at the episode in Murietta, Calif. a few weeks ago after protesters shouted “Go home” turned back busloads of immigrant mothers and their children. Dolan wrote, “It was un-American; it was unbiblical; it was inhumane.”

Kevin Appleby, director of migration policy and public affairs for the US bishops’ conference said, “We tell other countries to protect human rights and accept refugees, but when we get a crisis on our border, we don’t know how to respond.”
Click here for a PDF of Migration and Refuge Services bulletin, “Providing Safe Passage to Unaccompanied Children form Central America.”

For the NY Times (July 23, 2014) summary, click here.

For a National Catholic Reporter (July 21, 2014) summary on what Catholic leaders are doing in response to the influx of Central American children to the US, click here.

For a Catholic News Agency (July 23, 2014) report on the refugee crisis and the pro-life movement, click here.

“Spiritual but Not Religious”

SBNR is now added to the alphabet soup of acronyms. Standing for “Spiritual but Not Religious” this notion is examined by New York Times “Beliefs” columnist Mark Oppenheimer.

In his recent column (July 18, 2014), Oppenheimer harkens to a 2012 Pew Religion and Public Life Project survey indicating that nearly 37 percent of survey respondents said they were “spiritual” but not “religious.” So what does this actually mean and why is it?

For Rev. Lillian Daniel, a Congregationalist minister, people who are spiritual but not religious do not interest her. Of this group she states, “On airplanes, I dread the conversation with the person who finds out I am a minister and wants to use the flight time to explain to me that he is ‘spiritual but not religious.’ Such a person will always share this as if it is some kind of daring insight, unique to him, bold in its rebellion against the religious status quo.” Before you know it, “he’s telling me that he finds God in the sunsets.”

Dr. Linda A. Mercadante, an ordained Presbyterian minister teaches at the Methodist Theological School in Ohio. Her book, “Beliefs Without Borders: Inside the Minds of the Spiritual but Not Religious” (Oxford), published in March, makes the case that spiritual people can be quite deep theologically.” Many of these folks would fit into the progressive Christian context “They reject heaven and hell, but they do believe in an afterlife,” she states. Because they dislike institutions, the spiritual but not religious also recoil from the deities such institutions are built around. “They may like Jesus, he might be their guru, he might be one of their many bodhisattvas, but Jesus as God is not on their radar screen,” Dr. Mercadante said.

Courtney Bender described her findings in a “The New Metaphysicals: Spirituality and the American Religious Imagination” (Chicago, 2010). This group “participated in everything from mystical discussion groups to drumming circles to yoga classes.” They often focus on ideas of the divine usually through the medium of the arts including painting and dance. In her study she often found this group in “alternative and complementary medicine” including going to a shiatsu message clinic, or going to an acupuncturist.

For Thomas More, who wrote Care of the Soul, one of the most best selling self-help books ever, spirituality can be whatever one makes it. In his guide to developing a custom spirituality, he encourages people to draw on religion, anti religion — whatever works for them. His new volume is titled “A Religion of One’s Own: A Guide to Creating Personal Spirituality in a Secular World.”

For Oppenheimer’s entire column, click here.

US bishops, Catholic Charities urge fixing non-violent drug sentencing guidelines

USCCB_Logo1The chairman of the US bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development and president of Catholic Charities USA wrote a letter recently to the head of the US Sentencing Commission urging the commission to fix the flawed federal sentencing guidelines retroactively for federal non-violent crimes.

The letter signed by Archbishop Thomas Wenski, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development and Archbishop of Miami, and Father Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA said that “Rigid sentences for non-violent offenses are not only costly and ineffective but can be detrimental to the good of persons, families, and communities.”

Cath_Char_USAThey added, “The justice system should promote healing and restoration. Our Catholic tradition supports the community’s right to establish and enforce laws that protect people and advance the common good. But our faith teaches us that both victims and offenders have a God-given dignity that calls for justice and restoration, not vengeance.”

The $80 billion spent annually for approximately 7 million persons under some sort of correctional control disproportionately impacts poor people and minorities resulting in great financial cost to society and more importantly, a cost in broken lives.

For the USCCB Media Release, go to:

Bishops on the Border: Pastoral Responses to Immigration

Bishops_BorderBishops on the Border: Pastoral Responses to Immigration. This unusual volume is the product of collaborative writing project by a group of Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran, and United Methodist bishops who are based along the US-Mexico border. The inspiration for the project developed out of a conversation between one of the book’s contributors, Bishop Kirk Smith of the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona and author and religious historian, Diana Butler Bass. During the conversation, Butler Bass asks Smith, “You know, those of us in the pews are really curious about what you bishops are thinking. We only see official (and boring) policy papers. What we would like to know is what shapes your faith? What makes you tick?” The writing is personal and could be called a “spiritual autobiography.” Contributors include:

  • Mark Adams, Presbyterian Church, minister with Frontera de Cristo,
  • Minerva G. Carcaño, first woman to be elected to the episcopacy of the United Methodist Church,
  • Most Rev. Gerald Kicanas, Roman Catholic Bishop of Tucson, Board Chair, Catholic Relief Services,
  • Bishop Kirk Smith, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona,
  • Bishop Stephan Talmadge, Bishop of the Grand Canyon Synod of the ELCA.

A timely and cogent read. Available for $18.00 from Church Publishing, an imprint of Morehouse Publishing. Tel: (800) 672-1789. Web site:

Prayer Works! Getting a Grip on Catholic Spirituality

Pray_WorksPrayer Works! Getting a Grip on Catholic Spirituality, by Matthew Leonard is basically a primer on prayer. Leonard uses Catholic tradition, theology, and humorous stories from his own life to bring the concepts and actual practice of prayer into sharper focus for readers. He leads readers through prayer from the beginning––what it is, why pray, how prayer works––then into classic stages of the spiritual life that lead to a deeper relationship with God. The volume contains 13 chapters with an introduction by Scott Hahn. Available to $14.95 from Our Sunday Visitor Publications, 200 Noll Plaza, Huntington, IN 46750. Tel: (800) 348-2440. Fax: (800) 498-6709. E-mail: [email protected]. Web site: