NFPC This Week, #726 – 9/17-9/23/2017

Of Note This Week –  

Irish priest group’s bid to suspend permanent deacon ordinations receives pushback in the US   

Two weeks ago NFPC This Week reported on the Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland’s proposal to call a halt to introducing new permanent deacons into their dioceses until the papal commission on women deacons reports its findings.

The report noted that Father Roy Donovan of the association’s leadership team said that introducing new deacons without women is “extending patriarchy.”

Peter Feuerherd, a reporter on parish life for the National Catholic Reporter wrote about the priests’ group proposal on Sept. 5 [link below].

In the recent posting, Feuerherd reports that the call to halt new permanent deacon classes received a cool reception in the US.

On of the respondents was NFPC president Father Tony Cutcher, who said that while he agrees with Pope Francis that more women need to be brought in fuller roles in church decision-making, the action to suspend permanent deacon ordination “would make access to the sacraments a little harder in the interim.”

For the entire NCR (Sept. 19, 2017) posting, click here.

For the initial NCR posting, click here.


Change and Transition

We came across an essay by Capuchin Franciscan Father David Songy, a clinical psychologist and president of St. Luke Institute in Silver Spring, MD.

The title of the essay is titled “Adapting to Transitions” and appears on the Our Sunday Visitor website (May 20, 2017). The link is below. In it Fr. Songy distinguishes between change and transition. Change he states “is an external event that affects our outward behavior and might occur suddenly. Transition is internal — the psychological, emotional and spiritual process of adapting to a change. A transition may take place over weeks, months or even years.”

Especially in changes of assignments and other changes in ministerial life and life itself, it is helpful to keep these distinctions in mind.

For Father Songy’s entire essay, click here.


Update on the Theology of the Presbyterate

In the latest issue of The Priest magazine (online Sept. 20, 2017), Father Ron Knott, a priest of the archdiocese of Louisville, writes about his experiences in conducting over 100 presbyteral unity convocations, retreats and other priest gatherings over the past 13 years and to give an update on the theology of the Presbyterate.

His essay draws heavily of the Basic Plan for Ongoing Formation of Priests (USCCB, 2001), Presbyterorum Ordinis, the Vatican II document on the Life and Ministry of Priests, and Pastores Dabo Vobis, Pope John Paul II’s 1992 Apostolic Exhortation on priestly formation.

He writes that the most effective way for priests to work, especially in light of today’s numbers, is as a team. We are used to seeing the bishop as a sign of unity, but what we need to see is the bishop as an instrument of unity, directing the presbyterate to its singular purpose. Presbyteral unity fundamentally is about delivering high quality, unified and coherent ministry, even during a priest shortage, Fr. Knot writes.

For the entire essay, click here.


Pope set to strengthen marriage and family institute

In order to better prepare priests and pastoral workers to deal with the challenges families face today, Pope Francis is expanding the educational curriculum of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family and changing its name to the Pontifical John Paul II Theological Institute for the Sciences of Marriage and Family.

The Catholic News Service (Sept. 19, 2017) report notes that the re-foundation of the institute was issued though a motu proprio titled “Summa Familiae Cura” (“Great Care for the Family”). It was dated Sept. 8; the feast of the Nativity of Mary, the letter was released at the Vatican Sept. 19.

The report notes that by amplifying the institute’s scope in making it a “theological” institute it is also dedicated to human “sciences.” The institute’s work will study — in a “deeper and more rigorous way — the truth of revelation and the wisdom of the tradition of faith,” the pope said.

The anthropological and cultural changes underway affect every aspect of human life, he wrote, and that calls for a new approach that is not limited to pastoral practices and mission “that reflect forms and models of the past.”

For the CNS report posted on the National Catholic Reporter website, click here.

For the Crux (Sept. 19, 2017) report, click here.

For the motu proprio, click here.



Pope promises “zero tolerance” in sex abuse cases

Pope promises “zero tolerance” in sex abuse cases

In an address to his advisory commission for the Protection of Minors on Thursday, Sept. 19, Pope Francis acknowledged that the church was “late” in facing and, therefore, properly addressing the sin of sexual abuse by its members. Because of this the commission, which he established in 2014, has had to “swim against the tide” because of a lack of awareness or understanding of the seriousness of the problem.

The Catholic News Service (Sept. 22, 2017) report notes the pontiff put aside his prepared text to speak more informally to the members, who include lay and religious experts in the fields of psychology, sociology, theology and law in relation to abuse and protection.

Francis also addressed the way the Vatican was handling appeals of canonical sentences, saying he wanted to add more diocesan bishops to an appeals commission that is currently dominated by canon lawyers. He said lawyers “tend to want to lower sentences” and that he wanted the influence of diocesan bishops with experience of the problem in the field to balance it out.

“I decided to balance out this commission and also say that if abuse of a minor is proven, it’s sufficient and there’s no need for recourse. If there is proof, period. It’s definitive. Why? Not because of revulsion, but simply because the person who did this, man or woman, is sick. It’s a sickness.”

For the CNS report, click here.

For the Religion News Service (Sept. 21, 2017) report, click here.


40 Penances for Spiritual Exercise: Living the Great Gift of Mercy

40 Penances for Spiritual Exercise: Living the Great Gift of Mercy, by Father Stephen J. Wolf is a collection of popular penances of a parish priest  for faith-sharing groups meeting over six weeks, or for an individual reader seeking more creative ways to pray. They include 10 psalms, 22 other scripture passages. The 40 penances are outlined to loosely follow the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, with opening songs and simple suggestions for faith sharing: a seed planted, a memory provoked, a question raised, or an action prompted. Available for $6.95 from St. Mary’s Bookstore, 1909 West End Ave., Nashville, TN 37041. Website: Or go to: Available as an e-book for $2.99.

NFPC This Week, #725 – 9/10-9/16/2017

Of Note This Week –

Council Notes from Monterey (August 2017)

Bishop Garcia announced that two Scalabrini priests will begin ministry as pastoral administrators in the diocese.

– The Priests Retreat is scheduled for Oct. 2-6. Bishop Gordon Bennett will be the retreat director.

– Plans for celebrating the diocese’s Golden Jubilee were discussed. The Anniversary Mass will take place on Dec. 14. The diocese was established on Dec. 14, 1967.

– The new Director of Finance was introduced.

– Active plan with a committee was formed to establish a parish council in each parish.

– Nominees are being sought for the Pro-Ecclesia Award.

– An extensive discussion took place in regard to training for priests to conduct the Rite of Exorcism and Deliverance Prayer.

–  The Safe Environment Audit was positive. A suggestion was made to diocese’s charter.

– Minutes note the diocese has 27 seminarians in various phases of Formation. Suggestions were made citing ways to encourage more local vocations.

– Teams from the Faith Formation Dept. and Catholic Charities are listing resource fairs throughout the diocese to interact with parish staffs. Minutes note a focus on developing potential lay leadership and type of training/education needed.

– A follow up discussion took place about the July Convocation of Catholic Leaders in Orlando. Minutes note ways of reaching out as missionary disciples to those on the margins. A concern was raised about V Encuentro and the Priests Summit happening at the same time. Possibility of combining events was suggested.

– A conversation took place concerning the spiritual needs of the Latino community. Minutes note as group Latinos seem especially hungry for more and varied experiences. Discussion on this will continue.

– Finally, minutes note an increase in those who kneel to receive Holy Communion. Consensus formed that clarification from Bishop Garcia is needed on this issue.

Father Stanley Rother – reflections from those who knew him

Fr. Stanley Rother. Photo courtesy of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City

A story on the Catholic News Agency (Sept. 13, 2013) website tells of the family history and recollections of Father Stanley Rother by two close relatives. Fr. Rother will be beatified on Sept. 23 in Oklahoma City.

One of the storytellers is Sister Marita, Fr. Rother’s sister and the other, Father Don Wolf, his second cousin.

Fr. Rother was martyred on July 28, 1981 in Guatemala.  It is the story about an unlikely priest, from an unlikely place, to take on an unlikely task, and die an unlikely death, now on an unlikely path to become a canonized saint.

Sr. Marita is a religious sister of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ. Fr. Don is a priest of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City and pastor of St. Eugene Parish in Oklahoma City. He is past-president of NFPC (1997-2000).

For the entire CNA report, click here.