The National Institute for the Renewal of the Priesthood

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Sunday Sermon

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

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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)

Fr. Gene interviewed on Relevant Radio about Multi-Culturism

This is the time of year when hope is in abundance -- Father Gene thinks so too, and shares some ideas about hope on Relevant Radio

November 12 interview with Father Gene about the lessons to be learned from "Homespun Wisdom"

Interesting interview with Fr. Gene about the changes we see all around us dealing with security -- our own and that of others

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

January 25, 2015

In this edition:
1. The parts and whole of seminary theology.
2. Learning from families about communicating.
3. Current quotes to ponder:
a) An untold story about immigration.
b) Reconciliation and readiness to forgive.
c) Synods 2014 and 2015: the difference.
4. Junipero Serra's coming canonization.
5. After the terrorism in France: a challenge.

January 12, 2015

In this edition:
1. Church leaders on Paris terrorism.
2. What "spiritual discernment" means.
3. Participating in synod discernment period.
4. Current quotes to ponder:
a) Archbishop Romero, martyr.
b) Epiphany: Traveling strangers of 2015.
5. Pope lists diseases harmful for curia.
6. Diseases from backbiting to indifference.
7. Watching for the human slavery nearby.

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

Here's What We're Reading!

Then Comes Baby: The Catholic Guide to Surviving and Thriving in the First Three Years of Parenthood, Authors: Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak

Ring Bell Walk in: Been There All Along, Author: Tracy O'Sullivan, O. Carm.

The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss, David Bentley Hart

The Catholic Labyrinth: Power, Apathy, And A Passion for Reform in the American Church, By Peter McDonough

John Paul II: The Saint who conquered the heart of the world, Valentina Alazraki and Msgr. Slawomir Oder

The Ancient Path: Old Lessons from the Church Fathers for a New Life Today, Author: John Michael Talbot with Mike Aquilina

It's in the News!

Fr. Richard McBrien, theologian, has died

NCR Staff | Jan. 25, 2015

Fr. Richard McBrien, who as a scholar brought distinction to a university theology department and who as an author and often-interviewed popular expert explained the Catholic church to the wider world, died early Sunday morning. He was 78.

McBrien had been seriously ill for several years and had moved recently from South Bend, Ind., to his native Connecticut.

It would be difficult to find a figure comparable in making understandable to a broad public the basic beliefs and traditions of the Roman Catholic church.

For more than three decades, he was the star of the theology faculty at the University of Notre Dame and the go-to voice on all matters Catholic in the popular press. His books, particularly Catholicism, Lives of the Popes and Lives of the Saints, were staples of libraries, Catholic and non-Catholic alike.

At his peak in the 1980s and '90s, it is arguable that McBrien had a higher media profile than anyone in the Catholic church other than Pope John Paul II. He was the ideal interview: knowledgeable, able to express complex ideas in digestible sound bites, and utterly unafraid of controversy.

"I don't hold things back," McBrien said in a 1990 profile by the Chicago Tribune, adding in a rare moment of understatement: "I'm outspoken."

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Vincentian's work teaches him, 'There but for the grace of God go I'

Sr. Camille D'Arienzo
Conversations with Sr. Camille
Taken from The National Catholic Reporter

Henry Louis D'Arienzo
Age: 90
Who he is: Sister Camille's cousin, member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society
Lives in: Leesburg, Va.

Sr. Camille: Lou, your last name reveals you as my relative. I've long been proud to claim you as a cousin and now would like our readers to know why. I'd like to start by asking you to explain how we are related.

D'Arienzo: We are related through our fathers, who were brothers.

Please tell us about the family in which you group up. How many were in it?

As I remember, there were four of us for some time, but it varied over time. At first, there was my mother, father, a sister and a brother, Anthony. My oldest brother, John, was out of the house. My mother, Filomena D'Arienzo, died when I was young, in 1931. My father was Anthony, who died in 1955. My stepmother was Meta Fisher. My oldest brother was John (1907-1998). There was 17 years difference in our ages. Next was another brother, Louis (1908-1919, born Luigi), who died when he was young, before I was born. My next sibling was my sister, Joann, known as Ann (1915-1966). Next came my brother Anthony (1918-2013)

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What if Pope Francis gave the State of the Union address?

John Gehring
Taken from the National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis is arguably the most compelling leader in the world today. Unless you're one of those hyperventilating Fox News pundits [1]or a certain American cardinal [2] pining for the good old days of pray-pay-and-obey Catholicism, chances are you stand in awe of how quickly Francis has resuscitated an ancient institution nearly on life support after decades of clergy abuse scandals and the first resignation of a pope in six centuries.

The pope isn't a traditional politician, but he is a savvy global leader who understands optics and the art of diplomacy. Simply put, this is a man with political and moral capital to burn. His decisive role [3] in helping President Barack Obama strike a historic rapprochement with Cuba was the latest signal that the Vatican is back as a formidable geopolitical player. The Catholic church, of course, began navigating political currents, both secular and ecclesiastical, centuries before our American republic was a glimmer in the eye of Thomas Jefferson and Co. In traditional Catholic teaching, "responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation," the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops explains [4]. Or, as Pope Francis phrased it [5] a bit more colorfully in one morning homily: "A good Catholic

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Looking for the One God Inside Our Denominational and Faith Divisions

Ron Rolheiser

Christian de Cherge, the Trappist Abbott who was martyred in Algeria in 1996, was fond of sharing this story: He had a very close Muslim friend, Mohammed, and the two of them used to pray together, even as they remained aware of their differences, as Muslim and Christian. Aware too that certain schools of thought, both Muslim and Christian, warn against this type of prayer, fearing that the various faiths are not praying to the same God, the two of them didn't call their sessions together prayer. Rather they imagined themselves as "digging a well together". One day Christian asked Mohammed: "When we get to the bottom of our well, what will we find? Muslim water or Christian water?" Mohammed, half-amused but still deadly serious, replied: "Come on now, we've spent all this time walking together, and you're still asking me this question. You know well that at the bottom of that well, what we'll find is God's water."

There are important religious truths couched inside that story. First off, all religions worthy of the name believe that the first thing we need to affirm about God is that God is ineffable, that is, God is beyond all human imagination, conceptualization, and language. Everything we think and say about God, even within scripture and our defined dogmas, is more inadequate than adequate. It reveals some truth, but, this side of eternity, never the complete truth.

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On "Strangers No Longer" : Perspectives on the Historic U.S.-Mexican Catholic Bishops' Pastoral Letter on Migration

Edited by Todd Scribner and J. Kevin Appleby
Paulist Press. New York. 2015. Pp. 358

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

On "Strangers No Longer" is a collection of essays by Americans and Mexicans who offer their own perspectives on the difficult and controversial subject of migration.

An Excerpt from the Book:

Writing in support of the Student Adjustment Act of 2001, an immediate predecessor of the DREAM Act, Bishop DiMarzio, then chairman of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Migration, said,

HR. 1918 is much needed to assist young persons who have completed high school but, because of their lack of immigration status, are unable to access certain educational benefits which would allow them to attend college. These young people are bright and eager to receive a college education, yet often are unable to reach their full potential because they cannot obtain in-state tuition or federal tuition

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Francis strongly defends criticisms of capitalism

Joshua J. McElwee | Jan. 11, 2015


Pope Francis strongly defends his repeated criticisms of the global market economy in a new interview released Sunday, rebutting those who accuse him of "pauperism" by saying he is only repeating Jesus' message of caring for the poor.

"Jesus affirms that you cannot serve two masters, God and wealth," Francis states in the interview, bluntly asking: "Is it pauperism?"

"Jesus tells us that it is the 'protocol' on the basis of which we will be judged, it is what we read in Chapter 25 of Matthew: I had hunger, I had thirst, I was in prison, I was sick, I was naked and you helped me: dressed me, visited me, you took care of me," the pontiff continues.

"This is the touchstone," he states, asking again: "Is it pauperism? No, it is the Gospel."

"The Gospel message is a message open to all," the pope continues. "The Gospel does not condemn the rich but idolatry of wealth, that idolatry that renders [us] insensitive to the cries of the poor."

Francis makes his remarks in an interview [1] published Sunday by the Italian daily La Stampa.

The latest in several explosive interviews given by the pontiff since his March 2013 election,

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The Joyful Spirit of Padre Pio: Stories, Letters, and Prayers

Author: Patricia Treece
Servant Books. Cincinnati, OH. 2014. Pp. 246

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

One of the most popular and beloved saints of the twentieth century, Padre Pio was a man of contrasts. His supernatural joy existed mysteriously alongside periods of spiritual desolation. This collection of inspirational stories includes excerpts from his letters to his spiritual director, notes to those who wrote seeking his guidance, some of his own prayers, and some new prayers to help you understand and imitate the joyful spirit of Padre Pio.

An Excerpt from the Book:

The Know-It-All

[Padre Pellegrino, who lived with Padre Pio for years, recalls:] The sun had already set behind the dark mountain. In the friary orchard, Padre Pio, sitting on a little wall, was surrounded by new and old friends. These were spread out, some sitting, some standing, in the farmyard, [where they threshed] . . .the grain gathered by the mendicant friars.

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My Top Ten Books for 2014

Ron Rolheiser

The pressures of work and ministry, unfortunately, limit the time I have available to read as widely as I would like. Still, addicted as I am to books and knowing that without the insight and stimulation that I draw from them I would forever stagnate spiritually and creatively, I scrupulously carve out some time most days to read. As well, given my ministry and personality, I like to read various genres of books: novels, biography, critical essays, and, not least, books on scripture, theology, and spirituality.

Here's my bias apposite reading: In my freshman year at University, I was introduced to good novels. I realized then how impoverished I'd been without good literature in my life. Since that time, more than 40 years ago, I've never been without a novel lying open somewhere within my reach. Good novelists often have insights that psychologists and spiritual writers can only envy, firing the imagination and the emotional intelligence in a way that academic books often cannot. As well, always lying open somewhere within reach too will be a good biography or a book of essays. These serve to stretch my horizons, as these perennially constrict both my imagination and my heart. Finally, there are theological and spirituality books which, given both my temperament

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A Life of Daring Simplicity: Daily Meditations on the Priesthood

Editor: Michael A. Becker
Liturgical Press. Collegeville, Minnesota. 2014. Pp. 384

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

If priests want the people entrusted to their care to develop a meaningful spiritual life, they must provide a living example of what that is.

In A Life of Daring Simplicity: Daily Meditations on the Priesthood Michael Becker helps priests provide that example. Monsignor Becker has gathered a powerful collection of reflections drawn from an impressively wide array of great spiritual guides. Pope Saint John Paul II is well represented here and so are Karl Rahner and Pope Francis. We also hear from Catherine de Hueck Doherty and Adrian Von Speyr, Pedro Arrupe and Columba Marmion, and many more. Each passage challenges priests to reflect on their own vocation. Every page is filled with holy wisdom that will nourish priestly ministry and invite readers to embrace "a life of daring simplicity" --- words used by Pope Saint John

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Saints and Social Justice: A Guide to Changing the World

Author: Brandon Vogt
Our Sunday Visitor, Huntington, IN. 2014. Pp. 160

An Excerpt from the Jacket:
The value of human life. The call to family and community. Serving the poor. The rights of workers. Care for creation.

The Church has always taught certain undeniable truths that can and should affect our society. But over the years, these teachings have been distorted, misunderstood, and forgotten.

With the help of fourteen saints, it's time we reclaim Catholic social teaching and rediscover it through the lives of those who best lived it out. Follow in the saints' footsteps, learn from their example, and become the

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For some, the Christmas season is a time of joy, while for others it's a time of sadness or stress. For most of us, it never quite measures up to the white Christmas of our dreams or the one we think we should be having. Could it be that we don't know where to capture its real spirit?

An excellent means for changing this can be found in Father John Dunne's book "Dark Light of Love." In it, he quotes Nicolas Malebranche, who writes, "Attention is the natural prayer of the soul."

Father Dunne explains that "attention can be a relation with God and with others and with all living beings. It is by way of attention that we walk the road of union and reunion. Attention

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An Excerpt from The Heart of Henri Nouwen: His Words of Blessing

Edited by Rebecca Laird and Michael J. Christensen

The emphasis in this collection of excerpts from the books of Henri Nouwen is upon this Christian teacher's manifold understandings of heart. Here is an excerpt from Here and Now about the spiritual practice of joy.

"Joy is essential to spiritual life. Whatever we may think or say about God, when we are not joyful, our thoughts and words cannot bear fruit. Jesus reveals to us God's love so that his joy may become ours and that our joy may become complete. Joy is the experience of knowing that you are unconditionally loved and that nothing -- sickness, failure, emotional distress, oppression, war, or

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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 January 26, 2015