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The National Institute for the Renewal of the Priesthood

The Road to Emmaus
As seen through the eyes of artist Robert Zund (May 3, 1826 -- January 15, 1909)

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Sunday Sermon

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

Fr. Gene reflects on virtuous communication, Pope Francis and the Year of Mercy

Fr Gene Reflects on keeping families healthy, happy and holy

November 12 -- Fr Gene with an Advent "Pre-View"

October 12 -- Fr Gene's reflections on the environment and ecology and our place in the whole puzzle of God's green earth

August 11 -- Fr Gene talks about the Pope's latest encyclical and reflects on his upcoming visit and his thoughts on ecology and the environment

June 8 -- Fr Gene reflects on his days in the Seminary

Father Gene reflects on the missionaries who came to this country, their courage and their commitment to the faith

Father Gene shares his thoughts about an amazing exhibit called "Picturing Mary: Woman, Mother, Idea" and highly recommends it

New Year's Resolutions from a different perspective

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

April 28, 2017

In this edition:
1. The pope visits Egypt.
2. A dialogue for peace.
3. Listening, key to dialogue.
4. Christians and Muslims after 2035.
5. Current quotes to ponder:
a) Syria today.
b) The opioid crisis.
6. How Easter counteracts pessimism.
7. Fear's grip on immigration debate.

April 14, 2017

In this edition:
1. Notes for Easter on eternity.
2. A story for Easter.
3. The Gospel's joy.
4. Current quotes to ponder:
a) Pope's prison foot-washing.
b) Anointed to be healing balm.
c) Easter says, "Look again!"
d) Good Friday's life witnesses.
5. A story of immigration's reality.
6. "Anemic immigration discourse."

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

Here's What We're Reading!

Always Discerning: An Ignatian Spirituality for the New Millennium, Joseph A. Tetlow

Sacred Stress: A radically different approach to using life's challenges for positive change, George R. Faller, MS, LMFT and Rev. Dr. Heather Wright

Roots of Violence: Creating peace through spiritual reconciliation, Krister Stendahl

Vesper Time: The Spiritual Practice of Growing Older, Frank J. Cunningham

Peter: Keys to Following Jesus, Tim Gray

With the Smell of the Sheep: The Pope speaks to priests, bishops, and other shepherds, Editor: Giuseppe Merola

It's in the News!

Becoming A Holy Beggar

April 24, 2017
Ron Rolheisser

With the exception of scripture and a few Christian mystics, Christian spirituality, up to now, has been weak in presenting us with a vision for our retirement years. It's not a mystery as to why. Until recently, the majority of people died shortly after retirement and so there was no need for a highly developed spirituality of generativity after our active years.

What are our retirement years meant for, spiritually? What's our vocation then? What might generativity mean for us, after our work's been done?

Henri Nouwen, one of the first contemporary writers to take up this question, makes this suggestion: There comes a time in our lives when the question is no longer: What can I still do to make a contribution? Rather the question becomes: How can I live now so that my aging and dying will be my final great gift to my family, my community, my church, and my country?

How do I stop writing my resume in order to begin writing my eulogy? Happily, spiritual writers today are beginning to develop a spirituality around these questions and, in doing that, I believe, we can be helped by some rich insights within Hindu spirituality.

In Hinduism, life is understood to have five natural stages: First, you are a Child. As a Child, you are initiated into life, you learn to speak, you learn how to interact with others, and are given time for play.

The second stage is that of being a Student. In Hinduism, you're a Student until you get married

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Pope Francis: The World is Not Round

Published Apr 24, 2017
in Faith & Politics, Global Catholicism, Spirituality

Taken from The Jesuit Post

Globalization has drawn a wide range of cultures into encounter with one another. While this process of globalization affects everyone, it particularly challenges Catholics as they struggle to reconcile this reality into their faith lives. How do such culturally diverse groups of people ascribe to this one, universal Church? Pope Francis provides an image of two contrasting geometric figures to aid in rethinking how we encounter the multicultural Church. It is an image, moreover, from which any person of good will can benefit.

At General Congregation 36, a world-wide meeting of Jesuits, when asked about his thoughts on the effects of globalization and the problems of colonization, Pope Francis spoke about the danger of conceiving this process as a "sphere," that is, as a process of standardization. This standardizing process seeks to impose a single world-view, a homogenous vision for society, economics, politics and culture. In contrast, the polyhedron, a multi-sided geometric figure, better preserves this multicultural richness. "Our image of globalization should not be the sphere," Pope Francis reflects, "but the polyhedron. It expresses how unity is created while preserving the identities of the peoples, the persons, of the cultures."1

For Pope Francis, this geometric metaphor offers a way to shift the individual's disposition when thinking about the issues

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Called and Delayed Response

Taken from The Jesuit Post

"I thought about him every day for eighteen years," she said. "And we may have been a little delayed, but now, it feels just perfect."

My flight was delayed 45 minutes. Moments before the delay was announced, I was sprinting through the Chicago Midway Airport, backpack bouncing wildly across my shoulders. I was all but desperate to be in line at gate B23, but then a tinny loudspeaker voice gave me the gift of time. A long day at work, a stressful standing-room only train ride, traversing moving walkways and dodging little girls dragging pink princess roller bags - all of it stopped. A 45-minute delay. What to do with 45 minutes?

It was St. Patrick's Day. So I made a beeline for a bar and ordered a Guinness.

The bar was awash with weary travelers. As a table opened up, the bartender handed me an overflowing glass. I carefully balanced the full, black pint in hand while I collected my bag and made for a stool. Another couple had the same idea - Jen and Jack. "Let's sit together," they said, smiling.

Jen and Jack were 40 and 39, respectively, and they were engaged to be married. "Destination wedding," they told me. "Cancun. Too old to get married anywhere cold."

"How did you meet?"

They met eighteen years ago at a bar they both frequented. As it turns out, they were engaged

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Five Hundred Years of Misunderstanding

Ron Rolheiser

The heart has its reasons, says Pascal, and sometimes those reasons have a long history.

Recently I signed a card for a friend, a devout Baptist, who was raised to have a suspicion of Roman Catholics. It's something he still struggles with; but, don't we all! History eventually infects our DNA. Who of us is entirely free from suspicion of what's religiously different from us? And what's the cure? Personal contact, friendship, and theological dialogue with those of other denominations and other faiths does help open our minds and hearts, but the fruit of centuries of bitter misunderstanding doesn't disappear so easily, especially when it's institutionally entrenched and nurtured as a prophetic protection of God and truth. And so in regards to Christians of other denominations there remains in most of us an emotional dis-ease, an inability to see the other fully as one of our own.

And so in signing this card for my separated Christian friend, I wrote: "To a fellow Christian, a brother in the Body of Christ, a good friend, from whom I'm separated by 500 years of misunderstanding."

Five hundred years of misunderstanding, of separation, of suspicion, of defensiveness, that's not something that's easily overcome, especially when at its core there sit issues about God, truth, and religion. Granted, there has been much positive progress made in the past fifty years and many of the original, more-blatant misunderstandings

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Remembering Fr. Dan Mallette, legendary Chicago street priest

Michael Leach | Apr. 5, 2017

Taken from The National Catholic Reporter


Pat Reardon was set to replace Fr. Daniel Mallette as assistant pastor of St. Agatha on April 5, 1968, the day after Martin Luther King Jr. was killed. Pat was driving down the Eisenhower Expressway in Chicago and could hardly see for the smoke. "I could smell it through the closed windows," he told me. "The West Side of Chicago was on fire." A tank blocked the entrance to the rectory. Two members of the National Guard sat behind a machine gun on top. "They let me in and wouldn't let me out."

The next days and weeks, Pat walked the streets. "Everywhere I went, people asked about Fa' Mallette. It seemed like everyone everywhere knew and loved him. I took his place but never replaced him. Nobody could."

Mallette - legendary Chicago street priest, voice of the poor, troublemaker and activist for peace, a "living saint" to those he served - will never be replaced now. He died March 27 at age 85. He lived 60 of those years as a priest.

Mallette was ordained at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary May 3, 1957. He made his first bones at St. Agatha from 1957 to 1968. It was a black parish with loyal Catholics who worked hard to hold things together and lived in a part of town that was dangerous

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Good Friday

By Ron Rolheiser

Good Friday was bad long before it was good, at least from outward appearances. God was being crucified by all that can go bad in the world: pride, jealousy, distrust, wound, self-interest, sin. It's no accident the Gospels tell us that, as Jesus was dying, it grew dark in the middle of the day. Few images are more telling. As Jesus hung upon the cross, seemingly, light gave way to darkness, love to hatred, and life to death. How can that be good?

Moreover, as he was dying, Jesus no longer seemed divine, powerful, and in control of things, both in terms of what was happening in the world and in what was happening inside of himself. The world was sinking into distrust and, if the Gospels are to be believed, Jesus, the incarnate God, seemed to be sinking into a personal doubt, one so gripping that it triggered the words: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me!" What's happening here? How can this be good?

To understand what happened on Good Friday we need to separate what was happening on the surface from what was happening at some deeper place.

The surface event was bad and can never by any imaginary be called good. Sincere religious people, good though weak, out of fear and weakness were selling out what was best in them and either helping incite the execution of Jesus or standing passively by and letting it happen. In effect, other than a few strong women who were not succumbing to

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Offering a 'Welcome Home'

Taken from The Jesuit Post

After college I moved to Louisville to attend law school.

With time, I would eventually find a wonderful group of friends.

And with time, I'd be able to navigate the city rather than continually rely upon Garmin's directions.

And, true, eventually with time I'd fall in love with the city's quirky character and charm.

When I first arrived though, it was far from my home.


One of my first Sundays in town, I walked to the church at edge of my street. From my apartment balcony, I could see its towering spires. Daily, I could hear its bells chiming. The church stood before me, a baroque edifice of grey stone decorated with flourishes and statues. I had five minutes until the start of Mass, but I was surprised to see an empty parking lot. Perhaps everyone walks to Mass?

The stone steps, aged and buckling, were uneven as I climbed to the front door of the church. The door towered over me as my hand gripped the handle. Locked? I tried the other door, also locked.

Three minutes till Mass. I looked at the sign in front of the church which listed the mass times. I looked down at my watch, confused. Where was

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Doing Violence in God's Name

Ron Rolheiser
Blaise Pascal once wrote: "Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from a religious conviction." How true! This has been going on since the beginning of time and is showing few signs of disappearing any time soon. We still do violence and evil and justify them in God's name.

We see countless examples of this in history. From the time that we first gained self-consciousness, we've done violence in God name. It began by sacrificing human persons to try to attain God's favor and it led to everything from actively persecuting others for religious reasons, to waging war in God's name, to burning people for heresy at the Inquisition, to practicing capital punishment for religious reasons, and, not least, at one point in history, to handing Jesus over to be crucified out of our misguided religious fervor.

These are some salient historical examples; sadly not much has changed. Today, in its most gross form, we see violence done in God's name by groups like Al-Qaida and Isis who, whatever else might be their motivation, believe that they are serving God and cleansing the world in God's name by brute terrorism and murder. The death of thousands of innocent people can be justified, they believe, by the fact that this is God's cause, so sacred and urgent that it allows for the bracketing of all basic standards of humanity, decency, and normal religion. When it's for God's cause, outright evil is rationalized.

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Finding Treasure

Taken from The Jesuit Post

"Hey, you got a cigarette? No? Okay. God bless you anyways."

Meet Treasure. He's a prostitute. He's standing on a corner in Boystown, Chicago, holding a broken and bent cigarette in his mouth. He found it near the gutter next to him. His nails are long and dirty. His hands, dry and ashy. There's a large open can of beer in one pocket of his coat, another one on deck in a plastic bag.

"T, you gotta light for that cig? Can I get a bite?" This is Fury, a name given to him because he says the word all the time: The fury of the cold makes you tired of fighting it. The fury of the heat just beats you down. Fury is always standing alongside Treasure. "We've been out here for years. We protect each other, with the fury of these streets, boy, you need protection."

"Or at least a friend . . . a fierce friend . . . am I right?" Treasure replies with intermittent yawns and a raspy voice.

"You right, T, you so right." Fury constantly looks like he's hopped up on something. The naive part of me says caffeine. The realistic side of me knows it's something you can't get in a convenience store.

Men in a similar position to Treasure and Fury -- T and F, as they're known -- acknowledge their reputation in this circle as they walk by the duo. Fury is the friendliest between the two, laughing and telling jokes with anyone who stops. Treasure

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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
c/o St Joseph's on Capitol Hill
313 2nd St Northeast
Washington, D.C. 20002

Dedicated to energizing the spiritual and intellectual life of the priesthood
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Last updated April 2, 2017