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.

Monterey priest to receive Lumen Christi award

Fr. Enrique Herrera. Photo courtesy of the Catholic Extension Society

Father Enrique Herrera, a priest of the Diocese of Monterey and pastor of Holy Trinity Church in Greenfield, Calif. will received the Catholic Extension Society’s 40th anniversary Lumen Christi Award. He will receive the award at a Mass at his parish on Dec. 10.

In announcing the award, Father Jack Wall, president of Catholic Extension, said, “The Lumen Christi Award shines brightly to honor and give recognition to people who are great missionaries in our country. Father Herrera is a great example. He has stood up as a shepherd for his flock and raised them up. He is a ‘voice for the voiceless,’ but he is also helping people to find their own voice, helping them to aspire and to dream. He is a true missionary.”

According to the National Catholic Reporter (Sept. 13, 2017), since arriving at Holy Trinity in the Salinas Valley, Father Herrera saw that parishioners were struggling to feed their families and had few opportunities for a brighter future, he decided that his parish would become a beacon of hope.

Together with his parishioners, he started new programs focused on strengthening faith, education and community.

“Hearts were opened. Individuals started changing. Families started changing. Neighborhoods started changing. Classrooms started changing. The Police Department, Fire Department, school officials, City Council and mayor all got on board.”

A city of 16,000, Greenfield is in the heart of the Salinas Valley. It is comprised mainly of immigrants who come to harvest lettuce, broccoli, grapes and strawberries. Half of the city’s population is under age 21. The average income there is almost 40 percent below the national poverty level.

Fr. Herrera is a member of the Monterey Presbyteral Council.

For the Catholic Extension Society posting on the Lumen Christi Award, click here.

For the NCR report, click here.

Father Ron Rolheiser writes annual column on suicide

Every year Father Ron Rolheiser, OMI writes a column on suicide, “hoping it might help produce more understanding around the issue and, in a small way perhaps, offer some consolation to those who have lost a loved one in this way.”

In this year’s essay he begins by reflecting on the death in 2016 of Father Virgilio Elizondo.  Fr. Elizondo was not only “just a very gifted, pioneering theologian, he was also a beloved priest and a warm, trusted friend to countless people,” Fr. Rolheiser writes. “Sadly,” he continues, “and this is generally the case when anyone dies by suicide, the manner of that death becomes a prism through which his or her life and work are now seen, colored, and permanently tainted.”

Father Ron then lists a number of points that need to be said again and again about suicide. A link to his very informative column is below. As ministers his words are important to heed.

Father Rolheiser is president of Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio. He received NFPC’s 2016 Touchstone Award. Fr. Elizondo received NFPCs Touchstone Award in 1992.

For Fr. Rolheiser’s entire column, click here.

Richmond Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo dead at 75

Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo. Photo courtesy of the Diocese of Honolulu

The Diocese of Richmond has reported that Most Rev. Francis X. DiLorenzo, its episcopal leader since 2004, died late on Thursday, Aug. 17. He was 75.

A statement from Monsignor Mark Lane, vicar general and moderator of the curia, states in part, “With great sadness, I announce The Most Rev. Francis X. DiLorenzo, Bishop of Richmond, died at St. Mary’s Hospital, late last night. He was 75. He was a faithful servant of the Church for 49 years and a Shepherd of the Diocese of Richmond for 13 years.”

A native of Philadelphia, Monsignor DiLorenzo was appointed auxiliary bishop of Scranton, PA in 1988. In 1993 he was named apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Honolulu and appointed Bishop of Honolulu in 1994.

In 2004, the Pope John Paul II named him Bishop of Richmond to succeed Bishop Walter Sullivan.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

For the Diocese of Richmond statement, click here.

For more on Bishop DiLorenzo, click here.

Capuchin Father Michael Crosby dead at 77

Fr. Michael Crosby, OFM Cap. Photo courtesy of The Compass, Diocese of Green Bay, Wisc.

Capuchin Franciscan Father Michael Crosby, a longtime advocate of social justice issues died on August 5. He had been diagnosed with cancer in December.

According to Crux (Aug. 7, 2017), Fr. Crosby underwent surgery in April and after a course in radiation and chemotherapy, the cancer returned in June and he entered hospice.

Fr. Crosby was founder of the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility in 1971. According to The Compass (Aug. 8, 2017), the Green Bay diocesan newspaper, he was often in the forefront of efforts to introduce shareholder resolutions on behalf of religious orders that covered a wide range of concerns including climate change, sourcing of materials and fair treatment of employees.

A native of Fond du Lac, Wisc., Fr. Crosby joined the Capuchins in 1959 and professed his vows in 1963. He was ordained in 1966.

He belonged to the Midwest Province of the Capuchin Franciscans, and although he was a popular speaker and retreat master, he continued to live with his fellow Capuchins in a mission serving the poor of Milwaukee.

The late Capuchin priest wrote more than 20 books including “Bearing Witness: The Place of the Franciscan Family in the Church,” “Thy Will be Done: Praying the Our Father as Subversive Activity,” “Spirituality of the Beatitudes: Matthews Challenge for First World Christians,” and “Repair My House: Becoming a ‘Kindom’ Catholic.”

Visitation will take place Thursday, August 10, 2017 from 5-8pm with a service at 7pm at St. Bonaventure Monastery, Detroit, MI and on Friday, August 11, 2017 from 5-8pm with a service at 7pm at St. Francis Parish, Milwaukee, WI. The Liturgy of Christian Burial funeral Mass will take place on August 12, 2017 at 10:30am at St. Lawrence Seminary, Mt. Calvary, WI. Burial in Capuchin Cemetery, Mt. Calvary, WI.

For The Compass report, click here.

For the Crux report, click here.

For the National Catholic Reporter (Aug. 9, 2017) summary, click here.

Pastoring a multicultural parish: Can the pastor make everybody happy?

Connie Awrey, NFPC’s communication director, came across a US Catholic (August 2017) magazine article on pastoring in a multicultural parish and shared it with our staff.

Father Bill Barman is pastor of La Purisima Church in Orange, Calif.  The first three lines of his essay begin: “A wet knot on a pair of sneakers is hard to untie—even harder when they’re on your feet. As the pastor of a multigenerational, multicultural, and multilingual (Spanish, Vietnamese, and English) parish, I at times feel responsible for untying a lot of wet knots.” The remainder of the article is worth the read.

For Fr. Barman’s entire essay, click here.

590 new priests for the US Catholic Church in 2017

Rev. Dennis Lewandowski

The number of seminarians scheduled for ordination in 2017 is up! According to the Ordination Class Of 2017 Report priestly ordinations are up by 50 men over last year. This annual report from the Georgetown University Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), presents the findings from the National Survey of Seminarians scheduled for ordination to the Priesthood every year. The survey is conducted in collaboration with the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Secretariat for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations and CARA.

For several years, people in our country and around the world have read, or heard about, the declining number of Catholic priests.  So, it is certainly encouraging to see the number of seminarians and prepared ordinands go up.

Church statistics are important. CARA gathers data from several sources including The Official Catholic Directory (OCD), the Vatican’s Annuarium Statisticum Ecclesiae (ASE), and other CARA research and databases and makes it readily available.

I have been a diocesan priest since September 1985. That year 533 new priests were ordained in the United States, the total number of priests then, was 57,317 (35,052 diocesan priests, and 22,265 religious priests). Fast forward to 2016, the number of newly ordained priests was 548 for a total of 37,192 priests in the US (25,760 diocesan priests and 11,432 religious priests).

While the number of parishes without a resident pastor has continued to increase from 1,051 parishes in 1985 to 3,499 parishes in 2016, there is a silver lining. The Catholic population has grown from 59.5 Million to 74.2 million during the same time frame. Therefore, it’s time to get creative with the resources we have.

Newly ordained diocesan priests will most likely have to hit the ground running. Most of them will not have the benefit of “on the job training” for their role of pastor of a parish community.

Seminaries by design are equipped to prepare men for priesthood, but not necessarily for being pastors. Yes, candidates receive Academic, Human, Spiritual and Pastoral Formation for their ministry. However, ministry experiences in the field and academic courses together allow students to grow as they learn.

To be a pastor is a complex function with many responsibilities. The best way for a priest to learn how to be a pastor is through hands-on experience. Getting to know the people he serves is essential to his ministry for a pastor wears many hats. He is first a shepherd to the People of God, as Pope Francis calls us to be. And he must also be a good steward of the gifts received, a good manager of the time and talent of the parish pastoral council, deacons, parish staff and the lay ministers in his community.

The role of parish administrator, personnel manager and developing leadership are all functions that most priests have little to no experience in. For this reason, spending time working side by side with a seasoned pastor offers new priests the opportunity to learn and gain experience.

In the past, priests had the opportunity to spend several years effectively training as a parochial vicar before receiving their first assignment as pastor. However, it has become increasingly necessary for current pastors to reach out and offer support to newly appointed pastors in neighboring communities.

Throughout my priestly life, I have been the pastor of three very different parish communities. Each parish has offered me opportunities to grow in my love of Jesus, my commitment to shepherd the People of God, and enabled me to nurture the desire to serve the Church and make a difference.

Though today’s number of priest per parish may not be conducive to effective hands-on training, I encourage new priests to reach out to veteran pastors. Many of us will make time to share our experiences and offer guidance to you.

Father Dennis Lewandowski is a priest of the Diocese of Joliet, IL. Currently the pastor of a large corporate parish in Naperville, IL, he is known for facilitating a positive working environment and empowering others to grow. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Lewis University; a Master’s in Divinity from Catholic Theological Union, Chicago, and a Masters in Organizational Development from Loyola University Chicago.

Chicago priest, Father Ronald Lewinski dies suddenly at 71

Fr. Ronald J. Lewinski. Photo courtesy of University of St. Mary of the Lake

Father Ronald J. Lewinski, who as a parish priest served in many leadership roles in the Archdiocese of Chicago, died unexpectedly on July 19 at St. Theresa Rectory in Palatine, IL. He was 71.

A native of Hammond, IN, Father Lewinski graduated from the University of St. Mary of the Lake / Mundelein Seminary with Baccalaureate of Arts and Master of Arts degrees. After completing his theological studies at Mundelein Seminary and the Faculté Catholique in Lyon, France, Rev. Lewinski was ordained into the priesthood on May 10, 1972 by John Cardinal Cody, Archbishop of Chicago. Rev. Lewinski celebrated his first Solemn Mass at the Assumption B.V.M. Parish on May 14, 1972.

Rev. Lewinski served in the archdiocese in a number of different roles. He was Assistant Pastor of St. Frances of Rome Parish in Cicero (1972-78), Associate Pastor of St. Hilary Parish on California Avenue (1978), St. Marcelline Parish in Schaumburg (1979-84) and St. Joan of Arc Parish in Evanston (1984-95). Over the years of his ministry, Rev. Lewinski served as Director of the Office for Divine Worship (1984-94), the Director of the Cardinal Stritch Retreat House (1995) and became Pastor of St. Mary of Annunciation-Fremont Center (1996-2014). He was also the Archbishop’s Delegate for the Parish Transformation program (2013-16) before becoming Co-Director of the Department of Parish Vitality and Mission in 2016 along with Rev. Peter Wojcik.

While esteemed for his pastoral ministry, Father Ron was instrumental in building up the catechumenate and implementing the revised Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. He addressed the 2014 National meeting of the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions [FDLC] reflecting on the pastoral issues raised in a 2014 Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate [CARA] survey on initiation practices.

In April, Father Ron received the Celebration of Mundelein, As Those Who Serve Award.  In his acceptance remarks, Father Ron said, “We need imaginative priests and parishioners. We need risk takers. We need priests and laity with a passion for mission.”

For the obituary from the Archdiocese of Chicago, click here.

For the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary reflection, click here.

Fr. Fr. Lewinski’s remarks upon receiving the As Those Who Serve Award, click here.

Pope names bishops for Cleveland and Juneau dioceses

On Tuesday, July 11, Pope Francis appointed bishops for the dioceses of Cleveland, Ohio and Juneau, Alaska.

Bishop Nelson Perez. Photo courtesy of the Diocese of Rockville Centre

He named Auxiliary Bishop Nelson Perez, Auxiliary Bishop of Rockville Centre, NY to be bishop Of Cleveland. He succeeds Bishop Richard G. Lennon, who resigned in December at age 70 citing health reasons.

Bishop Perez, 56, a native of Miami, Fla. was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 1989. He graduated from Montclair State University in New Jersey with a bachelor degree in psychology. He taught for a year at Colegio la Piedad, a Catholic elementary school in Puerto Rico, before entering St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia to study for the priesthood.

In 2012, he was appointed auxiliary bishop of the Rockville Centre Diocese. There, he was a member of the Corporate Board of Directors for Catholic Health Services, vice chair of Catholic Charities, and served on the Priests Personnel Board, Presbyteral Council and Diocesan Advisory Committee for Hispanic Ministry. He is currently  a member of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church and is also chairman  of the Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs.

His installation will take place on Sept. 5.

Bishop-designate Andrew Bellisario, CM. Photo ctionsourtesy of the Diocese of Juneau

In addition, Pope Francis appointed Vincentian Father Andrew E. Bellisario as sixth bishop of Juneau. He succeeds Bishop Edward Burns who now heads the Diocese of Dallas since November 2016.

Bishop-designate Bellisario, 60, a native of Los Angeles, has served for the past two years as the Superior of the International Mission of the Vincentians in Alaska and as pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Co-cathedral in Anchorage. He graduated from Saint Vincent’s Seminary High School in Montebello, CA in 1975, and entered the Congregation of the Mission in the summer of the same year.  After completing his novitiate in Santa Barbara, CA in 1976, he attended and graduated from Saint Mary’s of the Barrens Seminary College in Perryville, MO with a B.A. degree in Philosophy, and four years later he received his Master of Divinity degree from De Andreis Institute of Theology in Lemont, IL. He was ordained a priest for the Vincentians, Province of the West, on June 16, 1984.

Father Bellisario has served as Parochial Vicar and Administrator of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Church in Montebello, CA; the Pastor of Saint Vincent de Paul Church in Huntington Beach, CA; the Pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Patterson, CA; and the Director of De Paul Evangelization Center in Montebello, CA.  He also served as the Provincial Superior of the Vincentians, Province of the West, and as the Director of the Daughters of Charity, Province of Los Altos Hills.

His episcopal ordination and installation will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 10.

For the USCCB News Release (July 11, 2017), click here.

For the Catholic News Service (July 11, 2017) report, click here.

Atlanta auxiliary bishop named bishop of Raleigh

Bishop Luis Zarama. Photo courtesy of the Archdiocese of Atlanta

Pope Francis named Atlanta Auxiliary Bishop Luis Zarama as Bishop of Raleigh, NC. He succeeds Bishop Michael Burbidge who was appointed Bishop of Arlington in Oct. 2016.

Bishop Zarama, 58, a native of Pasto, Columbia, was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Atlanta in 1993. He holds degrees in philosophy and theology from the Marian University in Pasto, and a degree in Canon Law from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia.

Besides serving in a variety of pastoral posts, he served on the Vocations Committee he then served as a member of the Vocations Committee. He was named vicar general of the Archdiocese in April of 2006 and in 2008 he was appointed to serve as the judicial vicar for the Archdiocese’s Metropolitan Tribunal. He is also a member of the Archdiocesan Personnel Review Board. He was named auxiliary bishop of Atlanta on July 27, 2009.

Bishop Zarama’s installation is to take place at the Cathedral of the Holy name of Jesus on Aug. 29.

For the USCCB News Release, click here.

For the Diocese of Raleigh (July 5, 2017 report, click here.