This summer, from August 8-9, Catholics on Call will be presenting its annual Young Adult Conference at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. This retreat-like experience is designed to help people think deeply about the possibility of ministry in the Church, and it’s also a lot of fun!  This is a great  opportunity to meet other men and women who are on a similar path as you are on, and there is no pressure to join anything.

Interested?  For more information please call us at 773.371.5431, and check out the Catholics on
Call website:
www.catholicsoncall.org
http://www.catholicsoncall.org/young-adult-conference

2014-07-05 Vatican Radio
Pope Francis emphasized the dignity of the human person in the realm of work and the call of all members of the Church to service, both to God and to others, in his homily during Mass in Campobasso on Saturday morning.

Thousands of people gathered for the outdoor papal mass, one of the highlights of the Pope’s daylong trip to the city, located in the southern Italian region of Molise.

“The Church is a people who serves God; the Church is a people who lives in the freedom that he gives,” he told the assembly. And this service, he continued, is realized through prayer, adoration, the proclamation of the Gospel and charity in the ordinary of everyday life.

There is much need for commitment in the service of others “in the face of situations of material and spiritual precariousness, especially in the face of unemployment, a plague that requires every effort and much courage on everyone’s part,” he said.

The challenges of work, he said, calls upon the particular responsibility of institutions and of the business and financial world.

“It is necessary to place the dignity of the human person at the centre of every prospect and every action. Other interests, even if legitimate, are secondary,” he said to applause. “At the centre is the dignity of the human person. Why? Because the human person is in the image of God, he was created in the image of God and we are all in the image of God!”

Read the Vatican Radio translation of Pope Francis’ homily below:

2014-06-30 Vatican Radio
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass for the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul on Sunday, in the Basilica of Saint Peter. During the Mass, he conferred the pallium on Archbishops from around the world who had been appointed within the past year.

Among those present for the celebration was an Ecumenical Delegation from the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

Pope Francis’ homily focused on the importance for pastors of placing their entire confidence in the Lord.

Below, please find the complete text of Pope Francis’ homily for the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul.

On this Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, the principal patrons of Rome, we welcome with joy and gratitude the Delegation sent by the Ecumenical Patriarch, our venerable and beloved brother Bartholomaios, and led by Metropolitan Ioannis. Let us ask the Lord that this visit too may strengthen our fraternal bonds as we journey toward that full communion between the two sister Churches which we so greatly desire.

“Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod” (Acts 12:11). When Peter began his ministry to the Christian community of Jerusalem, great fear was still in the air because of Herod’s persecution of members of the Church. There had been the killing of James, and then the imprisonment of Peter himself, in order to placate the people. While Peter was imprisoned and in chains, he heard the voice of the angel telling him, “Get up quickly… dress yourself and put on your sandals… Put on your mantle and follow me!” (Acts 12:7-8). The chains fell from him and the door of the prison opened before him. Peter realized that the Lord had “rescued him from the hand of Herod”; he realized that the Lord had freed him from fear and from chains. Yes, the Lord liberates us from every fear and from all that enslaves us, so that we can be truly free. Today’s liturgical celebration expresses this truth well in the refrain of the Responsorial Psalm: “The Lord has freed me from all my fears”.

The problem for us, then, is fear and looking for refuge in our pastoral responsibilities.

2014-06-30 Vatican Radio
(Vatican Radio) On Saturday evening, in the Grotto of Lourdes in the Vatican Gardens, Pope Francis with a group of young people from the Diocese of Rome who are involved in vocational discernment.

The meeting with the Pope on the Vigil of the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul is a tradition begun by Pope Benedict XVI which has been continued by Pope Francis.

Greeting the young people, the Holy Father apologized for being late, saying punctuality is important.

He then proceeded to speak about the importance of the Blessed Virgin Mary in our lives. “I thank you for this visit, this visit to the Madonna who is so important in our lives. And she accompanies even in the definitive choice, the vocational choice, because she accompanied her Son in his vocational path, which was so hard, so sorrowful. She accompanies us always.”

Pope Francis said he feels sad when he hears Christians say they do not seek the Mary or pray to Mary. He recalled a conversation with two young catechists in the seventies, a couple with young children, who spoke beautifully about Jesus:

“At one point I said, ‘And devotion to the Madonna?’ ‘But we have passed that stage. We know Jesus Christ so well, that we have no need of the Madonna.’ And what came into my heart and my mind was ‘Oh… poor orphans!’ … because a Christian without the Madonna is an orphan. And a Christian without the Church is an orphan. A Christian needs these two women, these two women who are mothers, two women who are virgins: the Church and the Madonna. And to make a ‘test’ of a good Christian vocation, you need to ask yourself: ‘How is my relationship with these two mothers going?’ with mother Church and with mother Mary. This is not a question of ‘piety,’ no, it’s pure theology. This is theology. How is my relationship with the Church going, with my mother the Church, with the holy mother the hierarchic Church? And how is my relationship going with the Madonna, who is my Mamma, my Mother?”

2014-06-23 Vatican Radio
(Vatican Radio) “I have very much desired this meeting with you who bear the daily burden of parish work” Pope Francis said on Saturday, greeting the priests of the Diocese of Cassano all’Jonio.

In his address, the Holy Father spoke to the assembled clerics about “the joy of being a priest.” There is nothing more beautiful for a man than to be called to the priesthood, he said… called to follow Jesus, to be with Him, to bring Jesus to others, to bring them His Word and His forgiveness. Although the work of a priest is not always easy, drawing near to Jesus in the tabernacle can renew and re-animate priestly zeal. Stopping for a moment before the tabernacle can also lead priests to examine their consciences: “In the silence of prayer Jesus make us see if we are working as good workers, or if we have become a little like ‘employees;’ if we are open, generous ‘channels,’ through which His love, His grace can flow abundantly; or if instead we place ourselves at the centre, and so instead of being channels we become screens that do not help the encounter with God, with the light and the strength of the Gospel.”

Pope Francis also spoke about “the beauty of fraternity.” Priests especially do not follow the Lord just as individuals, but as members of a community, with “a great variety of gifts and personalities” which enrich the priesthood when they are lived “in communion and fraternity.” Even priests, however, “are immersed in a subjectivist culture that exalts the ‘I’ even to the point of idolizing it.” Pope Francis warned of “a certain pastoral individualism that unfortunately is diffused in our dioceses.” Priestly fraternity, then, is a conscious choice that must be cultivated, sought “in communion in Christ in the presbyterate gathered around the Bishop.”

Finally, the Holy Father encouraged the priests in their work “with families and for the family.” It is a difficult time, he said, both for the family as an institution and for individual families that struggle in the crises they face. Priests, he said, “are called to be witnesses and mediators” of God’s “nearness to families, and of the prophetic force” of God’s Word “for the family.”

http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-francis-the-joy-of-priesthood-and-the-beauty


(From archive of Vatican Radio)

2014-06-06 Vatican Radio
(Vatican Radio) Priests must be pastors first, scholars second, and they should never forget Christ, their "first love". This was Pope Francis’ message to all men consecrated to God in the priesthood, at Friday morning Mass in Casa Santa Marta.

"How is your first love?". That is, are they still as in love with you as the first day? Are they happy with you or so they ignore you? These are universal questions which we should all ask ourselves regularly, says Pope Francis. And not just couples, but priests, bishops too, in front of Jesus. Because He asks us just as he one day asked Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love me?".

The Pope began his homily reflecting on the this dialogue in the Gospel where Christ asks the first of the Apostles three times if he loves Him more than others: "This is the question I ask myself, my brother bishops and priests: how is your love today, the love of Jesus? Is it like first love? Am I as in love today as on the first day? Or does work and worries lead me to look at other things, and forget love a little? There are arguments in marriage. That's normal. When there is no love, there are no arguments: it breaks. Do I argue, with the Lord? This is a sign of love. This question that Jesus asks of Peter brings him to first love. Never forget your first love. Never".

2014-05-27 Vatican Radio
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met with the priests, religious men and women, and seminarians of the Holy Land on Monday afternoon, in the church of Gethsemane, which is built around a slab of bedrock on which tradition says that Our Lord knelt and prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane before He was arrested. Below, please find the full English text of the Holy Father's remarks.
**************************************
Address of His Holiness Pope Francis Meeting with Priests, Religious and Seminarians
Church of the Nations, Garden of Gethsemane- Jerusalem, 26 May 2014

“He came out and went… to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples followed him” (Lk 22:39).

At the hour which God had appointed to save humanity from its enslavement to sin, Jesus came here, to Gethsemane, to the foot of the Mount of Olives. We now find ourselves in this holy place, a place sanctified by the prayer of Jesus, by his agony, by his sweating of blood, and above all by his “yes” to the loving will of the Father. We dread in some sense to approach what Jesus went through at that hour; we tread softly as we enter that inner space where the destiny of the world was decided.

In that hour, Jesus felt the need to pray and to have with him his disciples, his friends, those who had followed him and shared most closely in his mission. But here, at Gethsemane, following him became difficult and uncertain; they were overcome by doubt, weariness and fright. As the events of Jesus’ passion rapidly unfolded, the disciples would adopt different attitudes before the Master: attitudes of closeness, distance, hesitation.

Here, in this place, each of us – bishops, priests, consecrated persons, and seminarians – might do well to ask: Who am I, before the sufferings of my Lord?

Am I among those who, when Jesus asks them to keep watch with him, fall asleep instead, and rather than praying, seek to escape, refusing to face reality?

Or do I see myself in those who fled out of fear, who abandoned the Master at the most tragic hour in his earthly life?

Is there perhaps duplicity in me, like that of the one who sold our Lord for thirty pieces of silver, who was once called Jesus’ “friend”, and yet ended up by betraying him?

Do I see myself in those who drew back and denied him, like Peter? Shortly before, he had promised Jesus that he would follow him even unto death (cf. Lk 22:33); but then, put to the test and assailed by fear, he swore he did not know him.

2014-05-27 Vatican Radio
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass in the Upper Room - the cenacle - in Jerusalem on Monday afternoon, on the final day of the three-day pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Below, please find the full text of the Holy Father's homily.
*****************************************
Address of His Holiness Pope Francis Meeting with Ordinaries of the Holy Land
Upper Room, Jerusalem, 26 May 2014

Dear Brothers,
It is a great gift that the Lord has given us by bringing us together here in the Upper Room for the celebration of the Eucharist. Here, where Jesus shared the Last Supper with the apostles; where, after his resurrection, he appeared in their midst; where the Holy Spirit descended with power upon Mary and the disciples. Here the Church was born, and was born to go forth. From here she set out, with the broken bread in her hands, the wounds of Christ before her eyes, and the Spirit of love in her heart.

In the Upper Room, the risen Jesus, sent by the Father, bestowed upon the apostles his own Spirit and with this power he sent them forth to renew the face of the earth (cf. Ps 104:30).

To go forth, to set out, does not mean to forget. The Church, in her going forth, preserves the memory of what took place here; the Spirit, the Paraclete, reminds her of every word and every action, and reveals their true meaning.

The Upper Room speaks to us of service, of Jesus giving the disciples an example by washing their feet. Washing one another’s feet signifies welcoming, accepting, loving and serving one another. It means serving the poor, the sick and the outcast.

The Upper Room reminds us, through the Eucharist, of sacrifice. In every Eucharistic celebration Jesus offers himself for us to the Father, so that we too can be united with him, offering to God our lives, our work, our joys and our sorrows… offering everything as a spiritual sacrifice.

Top Row: Juan Luis Andrade, Connor Danstrom, Dan Folwaczny, Derek Ho, Matthew Jamesson and Isaac Lara.  Bottom Row: Grzegorz Lorens, Francisco Luna, Jamie Mueller, Marek Smolka, Michael Wyrzykpwski and Bradley Zamora,

Please pray for our Mundelein Seminarians who will be ordained Priests at Holy Name Cathedral on Saturday, May 17. 

Top Row:  Pawel Adamus, Matthew Alexander, Adam Blatt, Jose Careaga, Nicholas Cavallari, Michael Grzesik, Matthew Heinrich. 

Bottom Row: Nicholas Kostyk, Julio Lam, Jaroslaw  Maciejewski, Michael Olson, Jerry Ortiz, Lukas Ouda, Robert Regan, Piotr Samborski.

Please pray for our Mundelein Seminarians who were ordained as Transitional Deacons on May 10, 2014.  This is the last step before Priesthood.

Theo grew up and received his Sacraments at Our Lady of the Ridge, which he still considers his home parish. His current pastor is Fr. Wayne Svida.  He attended high school at Brother Rice.

The best advice he received while discerning was from a priest, who told him to relax and be patient with himself and with God; let go and let God.  As a seminarian, Theo would advise anyone who is discerning to keep praying, realize that all things work for good for those who love God, and place your trust in Him.  Also, find good, holy people you can confide in and talk to about the possibility of becoming a priest.

2014-04-15 L’Osservatore Romano
Nigeria, Pakistan, Indonesia, Iraq, Kenya, Tanzania, the Central African Republic. There is a long list of areas where Christians still today are enduring persecution, discrimination, privation of religious liberty and martyrdom. It was no accident that, during the Holy Mass he celebrated on 6 April at Santa Marta, Pope Francis recalled that “today, in the 21st century, our Church is a Church of martyrs”. It is within this context that the Community of Sant'Egidio gathers each year in prayer during Holy Week, in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere, to remember the new Christian martyrs. Today, Tuesday 15 April, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State, led the community in prayer for these men and women who were ready to offer their lives for the Gospel. Also present at the gathering were representatives from the various Churches and Christian communities that have been marked by the blood of martyrs.

Commenting on the passage from the Gospel of Mark proclaimed in the liturgy of the Word, Cardinal Parolin pointed to the union of the loving witness borne by Christians who do not flee derision and the prospect of death for their fidelity to God, and Christ himself who out of love for the Father endured derision from those who passed beneath the Cross.“Today's prayer keeps their memory alive, because their legacy is alive. This legacy flows from lives that were often humble and frail, but that were steeped in love”.

Still today “in various contexts many of our brothers and sisters remain the object of anti-Christian hatred. They are not being persecuted not because they are vying for worldly, political, economic or military power, but precisely because they are tenacious witnesses of another vision of life, one of abasement, service, freedom, which is based on faith”. In their weakness, the Secretary of State said, “they are close to us, they show us that strength comes from God and that it is always possible to go forth and reach out to those who are far off, even those who see you as an enemy”. The Cardinal then emphasized the point by quoting the profound certainty expressed by Pope Francis in the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium: “The disciple is ready to put his or her whole life on the line, even to accepting martyrdom, in bearing witness to Jesus Christ, yet the goal is not to make enemies but to see God's word accepted and its capacity for liberation and renewal revealed”.
http://www.news.va/en/news/cardinal-parolin-celebrates-the-memory-of-the-new

 

2014-04-14 Vatican Radio
Pope Francis on Monday met with members of the Pontifical Leonine College of Anagni, a regional seminary for several of the Diocese around the city of Rome. The College was founded by Pope Leo XIII in 1897. 

In his address, Pope Francis spoke about the importance of forming seminarians in “a climate of prayer and fraternity.” This atmosphere, he said, allows seminarians to grow closer to “the sentiments of Jesus Christ, His love for the Father and for the Church,” and His dedication to the people of God.

The Pope warned the seminarians that they are not preparing to be functionaries, but true shepherds in the image of Jesus the Good Shepherd. Being a “good shepherd” in His image is something no one can achieve on his own – but Pope Francis reminded the seminarians that “it is not our work… It is the work of the Holy Spirit.” Only by allowing oneself to be shaped – as clay is shaped by the potter — will seminarians be able “to shepherd the people of God and guide them “along the Way that is Jesus.”

This, the Holy Father said, “means meditating every day on the Gospel… experiencing the mercy of God in the Sacrament of Reconciliation… eating the Eucharist with faith and with love… being men of prayer.”  “If you are not disposed to follow along this street,” the Pope said, “it would be better for you to have the courage to seek another path.”

Pope Francis concluded his address by calling on the seminarians to take seriously the words of the Prophets: “Woe to the wicked Shepherds who pasture themselves and not their flocks.” “May this ‘woe,’” he said, make you reflect seriously on your future.”

Listen to Christopher Wells' report: 

http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-to-seminarians-be-shepherds-like-the-good-she

Israel grew up and received his Sacraments at his home parish in Mexico.  He now considers St. Joseph in Round Lake his home parish. His current pastor is Fr. Timothy O’Malley.

The best advice he received while discerning was from a priest, who told him to not be afraid of saying yes to his vocation.  As a seminarian, Israel would give that same advice to anyone who is discerning.

Stephen grew up and received his Sacraments at St. Leonard, which he still considers his home parish. His current pastor is Fr. Roger Corrales-Diaz.  He attended high school at Nazareth Academy.

The best advice he received while discerning was, “Don’t be anxious about discerning. Just continue to allow God to bring you into a deeper relationship with Him.”  As a seminarian, Stephen would give that same advice to anyone who is discerning.

"How hard it is, in our time, to make the ultimate decisions. The temporary seduces us. We are victims of a trend that pushes us to the temporary. We should not be afraid of commitments that involve and affect the whole life! In this way, our lives will be fruitful!"

Pope Francis
May 4, 2013

Michael grew up and received his Sacraments at St. Vincent de Paul in Detroit, MI.  He now considers St. Benedict (Irving Park) his home parish. His current pastor is Fr. Jason Malave. 

The best advice he received while discerning was “Don’t be afraid. Just give the priesthood a chance.”  As a seminarian, Michael would advise anyone who is discerning to be open to the spirit and trust that God will give you the strength to answer His call.

Timothy grew up and received his Sacraments at Santa Maria del Popolo, which he still considers his home parish. His current pastor is Fr. David Arcila. Timothy attended high school at Carmel Catholic High School in Mundelein.

The best advice he received while discerning was “Timothy! Don't be afraid! No matter what has happened in your past, no matter what you are struggling with now, Our Lord Jesus Christ loves you FIERCELY! Ask HIM to love you in those moments when you failed Him and He will give you PEACE and JOY.”  As a seminarian, Timothy would tell anyone who is discerning: “I asked a priest once, ‘What is your favorite part about priesthood?’ He said WITHOUT HESITATION, ‘Tim, to confect the Eucharist, to absolve sins, to live a radical life for Christ is the JOY in the heart of every priest.’ You must immerse yourself in the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist! JPII said that the Eucharist is the source of all vocations, and in Him, in the Eucharist, you will discover what has been written on your heart.”

Julio grew up and received his Sacraments at the Cathedral of St. Rosendo, Pinar del Rio, Cuba. He now considers St. Alphonsus Liguori his home parish. His current pastor is Fr. Michael O’Connell.

The best advice he received while discerning was, “Trust the Lord at all times.”  As a seminarian, Julio would advise anyone who is discerning to take your time to think and pray about it, but don’t postpone it.

FR. FRANCIS BITTERMAN, VOCATION DIRECTOR, ARCHDIOCESE OF CHICAGO, 312-534-8298
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