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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

September 13, 2016

In this edition:
1. Mercy in action: The canonization.
2. Volunteers: Crafters of mercy.
3. Do our images of God block mercy?
4. Current quotes to ponder:
a) Formed on the peripheries.
b) Mother Teresa's footprint.
c) Someone who out-loved others.
5. New institutions for a new era.
6. Laudato Si': new Rerum Novarum.



August 23, 2016

In this edition:
1. Poverty this Labor Day.
2. Exploiting the poor politically.
3. Current quotes to ponder:
a) Violence and communication.
b) The world's uncertainty.
4. When violence is commonplace.
5. Ignoring the reality of violence.
6. U.S. bishop heads new Vatican office.
7. Roles of the new Vatican office.






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




Here's What We're Reading!

The Way of Trust and Love: A Retreat Guided by St. Therese of Lisieux, Fr. Jacques Philippe

What Would Pope Francis Do? Bringing the Good News to People in Need, Sean Salai, S.J.

Book of Saints, Amy Welborn

Freedom, Truth, and Human Dignity

Embracing the Icon of Love, Br. Daniel Korn, CSsR

Messy & Foolish: How to Make a Mess, Be a Fool, and Evangelize the World, Matthew Warner

It's in the News!

Software, Moral Formatting, and Living in Sin

Ron Rolheiser

While I was doing graduate studies in Belgium, I lived at the American College in Leuven. On staff there at the time, in the housekeeping and maintenance department, was a wonderfully colorful woman whose energy brought oxygen into a room but whose history of marriage somewhat paralleled that of the Samaritan woman in John’s Gospel. None of us knew for sure how often she’d been married and the man she was living with at the time was not her husband.

One day an Archbishop was visiting the College and there was a formal reception line of which she was part. The Archbishop would shake each person’s hand and engage him or her in a brief exchange. When he came to her, she gave him her name and told him what she did at the college. He shook her hand and, by way of greeting and conversation, asked her: “Are you married?” She wasn’t quite prepared for that question. She stammered a bit and replied: “Yes, no, well, kind of.” Then, breaking into a grin, said: “Actually, your Grace, I’m living in sin!” To his credit, the Archbishop grinned as well. He got what she was saying, not just her words, but too the nuance that her grin conveyed.

Living in sin. Acts that are inherently disordered. What’s Catholic moral theology trying to say with this kind of concept when so many people today, including many Roman Catholics, find such concepts unintelligible and offensive?

To the credit of classical Roman Catholic moral teaching, these concepts have an intelligibility and a palatability inside a



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Finances Differ From Parish to Parish

October 7, 2015 By Dennis Sadowski

From The Tablet
Fourth in a series


SOUTH PLAINFIELD, N.J. (CNS) - Where to get enough money to keep the place and its programs running is a perennial problem for every parish, although the scale of the amount of money involved can be dramatically different.

At the Church of the Sacred Heart in South Plainfield, N.J., finances have stabilized after a period of declining Sunday collections. Father John Alvarado, pastor since 2000, said the parish has learned to make do with fewer dollars by tightening expenditures and delaying some maintenance work.

As part of a look at how different types of parishes handle contemporary challenges, Catholic News Service reporters visited churches around the U.S. over the past few years. This package of stories, American Parish, presents a glance at some of the kinds of communities Pope Francis might have seen if he had had the time to visit a variety of parishes on his visit to the U.S. and learn about how they handle some challenges facing them.

In South Plainfield, Sacred Heart's tight financial situation was attributed to the region's slow recovery from the recession and declining membership as longtime parishioners, especially retirees, moved to less expensive communities.

But things have improved financially at the parish in the Metuchen Diocese; Sunday collections increased after the parish Finance Council implemented two changes.



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On Patriotism, Protest, and Prayer

The Jesuit Post

Colin Kaepernick sat, then took a knee. Megan Rapinoe and dozens of other athletes joined the protest, sparking a national conversation about appropriate behavior during the national anthem. But the athletes' protests have also raised this question: What does the national anthem have to do with sports in the first place?

Apparently, the anthem became a sports ritual during the 1918 World Series, where war-wearied spectators found more joy in "The Star-Spangled Banner than baseball. Nearly 100 years later, sports and the anthem remain hitched. Eric Liu, who co-authored a book on patriotism, suggests one reason why: "We are united by a creed, and in a creedal society, the outsize rituals -- like the anthem -- just carry a lot more weight.

"Creed is a touchy subject in this country. We debate whether "God has any place in the Pledge of Allegiance. We go nuts if a public official puts up a Nativity scene. We have a presidential candidate who might block immigrants based on their beliefs. Yet, almost in spite of ourselves, we have a creed: All men and women are created equal.

Like any creed, ours comes with rituals. Indeed, singing the anthem at sporting events is about as close as we come to regular, national prayer.

A video shows high school students singing in a hotel atrium. But it feels more like they're in church, singing a beautiful hymn. 1 The same can happen in any stadium where, like a prayer, the anthem demands reverence: We pause, remove our caps, and assume an appropriate posture. And as we sing or listen to the words of our anthem, we recommit ourselves



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Church Going Solar


Taken from the National Catholic Reporter

St. Stephen Roman Catholic Church is one of the latest churches in San Diego County to go solar with the installation of a 64.83kW solar system. The church has gone solar in partnership with Sullivan Solar Power, who have a Catholic Solar Program.

The goal of the Catholic Solar Program is to help parishes and parishioners in the Catholic Diocese of San Diego save money, fundraise for the parish and create a healthier and safer environment.

"St. Stephen Roman Catholic Church has demonstrated its environmental stewardship by generating clean solar energy," said Daniel Sullivan, founder and president of Sullivan Solar Power. "The savings from this system will help the church further invest its resources into serving the people of Valley Center and Pauma Valley."

St. Stephens serves the community with a parish membership of over 1,300 families. The new solar system will offset over 164,000 pounds of CO2 emissions each year, which is equivalent to the carbon sequestered from 70 acres of U.S. forests in one year. The financial savings the solar system generates will assist the work of the church in supporting its parishioners, community and local area.

"We are thankful for Sullivan Solar Power for helping push this project through," said Father Elmer Mandac, pastor at St. Stephen Roman Catholic Church. "The cost savings from this project will support the efforts of the church within our community."

The system is comprised of 220 SunPower modules, with an



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Editorial: Make action on poverty a national priority

NCR Editorial Staff | Sep. 7, 2016

Taken from the National Catholic Reporter

"Poverty is an issue in the [2016 presidential] campaign, it's just not being talked about. It's certainly driving a lot of the things in the campaign. It's certainly driving a lot of the anger."

These insightful words from Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski, chair of the U.S. bishop's Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, strike at the heart of the problem of poverty today in the United States. Nobody wants to talk about it.

Twenty years after President Bill Clinton ushered in a new era of welfare reform, we are reminded of the scriptural truth that the poor are with us always. Instead of seeing that as a challenge, our society has taken it as an inevitability, and seemingly candidates running for elected office either don't want to touch the issue or don't know what to do about it.

Major political parties focus on rhetoric that aims at soothing the middle class: promises of high-tech manufacturing jobs or restoring steel and coal jobs. Work in these fields makes up just 10 percent of the labor force. What about the vast majority of workers who toil in the service industry, most often at below a living wage? The lack of opportunity and the acute fear among working-class folks of losing what they have, a loss that is often one illness or one recession away, fuel the anger that fuels the current presidential campaign.

Since 2011, faith-based organizations like Catholic



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Fat Like Me


Taken from the Jesuit Post

What do you see when you look?

"Look how fat she is!" The loud whisper was intentional as the woman passed their table in the Chicago restaurant. "I bet she'll order a large Diet Coke -- they all do!" The girls giggle, drop their cash on the table and leave. My heart sinks.

I look over at the woman who is sitting uncomfortably in a booth. She is a large woman, sure, but when she walked in, it was her beautiful brown hair and fashion sense that caught my attention. She looks amazing. Fierce, actually. But I notice her eyes. She heard the loud whisper. She's trying to shake it off.

The woman orders from the waiter with a great smile: tea and a salad. She gazes out the window with each bite. She's hurting. I can tell, I've been in her shoes too many times.

I've held a posture that feigns confidence as if to say, "I will not let them get to me." Deep breaths, holding back frustrated tears, wondering if this fat body is the only truth I will ever know. Then the wave of loneliness starts to set in. Their mean words, another validation why you feel so alone most of the time. Because fat isn't attractive, it's ugly. There's a desire to shout, "I'm the smallest I've been in a long time!!" And on the day you feel your best, glancing in the mirror, saying to yourself, I look damn good today, strangers stab right through you with disparaging words.

***

A few months back a friend suggested, "put exercise in your calendar, do it the same time everyday." Believe me, if it



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Indulgences Revisited

By Ron Rolheiser

When Pope Francis launched the Holy Year of Mercy, he promised that Christians could gain a special indulgence during this year. That left a lot of present-day Roman Catholics, and even more Protestants and Evangelicals, scratching their heads and asking some hard questions: Is Roman Catholicism still dealing in indulgences? Didn't we learn anything from Luther and the Reformation? Do we really believe that certain ritual practices, like passing through designated church doors, will ease our way into heaven?

These are valid questions that need to be asked. What, indeed, is an indulgence?

Pope Francis in his decree, The Face of Mercy, (Misericordiae Vultus), says this about indulgences: "A Jubilee also entails the granting of indulgences. This practice will acquire an even more important meaning in the Holy Year of Mercy. God's forgiveness knows no bounds. In the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God makes even more evident his love and its power to destroy all human sin. Reconciliation with God is made possible through the paschal mystery and the mediation of the Church. Thus God is always ready to forgive, and he never tires of forgiving in ways that are continually new and surprising. Nevertheless, all of us know well the experience of sin. We know that we are called to perfection (Mt. 5, 48), yet we feel the heavy burden of sin. Though we feel



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From Paranoia to Metanoia


September 12, 2016

Sometimes we're a mystery to ourselves, or, perhaps more accurately, sometimes we don't realize how much paranoia we carry within ourselves. A lot of things tend to ruin our day.

I went to a meeting recently and for most of it felt warm, friendly towards my colleagues, and positive about all that was happening. I was in good spirits, generative, and looking for places to be helpful. Then, shortly before the meeting ended, one of my colleagues made a biting comment which struck me as bitter and unfair. Immediately a series of doors began to close inside me. My warmth and empathy quickly turned into hardness and anger and I struggled not to obsess about the incident. Moreover the feelings didn't pass quickly. For several days a coldness and paranoia lingered inside me and I avoided any contact with the man who had made the negative comments while I stewed in my negativity.

Time and prayer eventually did their healing, a healthier perspective returned, and the doors that had slammed shut at that meeting opened again and metanoia replaced my paranoia.

It's significant that the first word out of Jesus' mouth in the Synoptic Gospels is the word, metanoia. Jesus begins his ministry with these words: "Repent [metanoia] and believe in the good news" and that, in capsule, is a summary of his entire message. But how does one repent?



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Pairing parishes yields understanding, advances mission

Peter Feuerherd | Sep. 21, 2016 NCR Today

The Field Hospital
Taken from the National Catholic Reporter


Editor's note: "The Field Hospital" blog series covers life in U.S. and Canadian Catholic parishes. The title comes from Pope Francis' words: "I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. . . . . "

If you have a story suggestion, send it to Dan Morris-Young (dmyoung@ncronline.org [1]) or Peter Feuerherd (pfeuerherd@ncronline.org [2]).

A national mission conference [3] in Cincinnati scheduled for Oct. 28-30 will explore the role of twinning U.S. parishes with overseas mission churches.

The twinning concept provides for congregations to share resources, prayer, visits, knowledge and friendships in a two-way exchange.

Among them is Immaculate Conception Church in Celina, Ohio, which twins with parishes in the La Labor region of Guatemala.

Mark R. Giesige, a member of the parish, is also in charge of mission advancement for the Missionaries of the Precious Blood in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, which supports



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Maintaining Our Zest in Challenging Times

Eugene Hemrick

"We live in a time of no room, which is the time of the end. The time when everyone is obsessed with lack of time, lack of space, with saving time, conquering space, projecting into time and space the anguish produced within them by the technological furies of size, volume, quantity, speed, number, price, power, and acceleration."

"The primordial blessing, 'increase and multiply,' has suddenly become a hemorrhage of terror. We are numbered in billions and massed together, marshaled, numbered, marched here and there, taxed, drilled, armed, worked to the point of insensibility, dazed by information, drugged by entertainment, surfeited with everything, nauseated with the human race, and with ourselves, nauseated with life.

. . . The time of the end is the time when men call upon the mountains to fall upon them, because they wish they did not exist."

Why? Because they are part of a proliferation of life that is not fully alive, it is programmed for death. A life that has not been chosen, and can hardly be accepted, has no more room for hope. Yet it must pretend to go on hoping. It is haunted by the demon of emptiness. And out of this unutterable void come the armies, the missiles, the weapons, the bombs, the concentration camps, the race riots, the racist murders, and all the other crimes of mass society." "Is this pessimism? Is this the unforgivable sin



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You want to be a leader, then listen

Eugene Hemrick

"To whom would you point as real leaders among our bishops?"

This question arises every time people learn I worked for the Bishops' Conference in Washington, D.C. When they discover that I also live a block from the U.S. Capitol, they inevitably ask, "Who among our senators, congressmen and congresswomen can we consider respected leaders?"

Leadership has been and always will be a major topic of discussion. Why is this so? Because it is at the center of power. Abraham Lincoln once said, "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."

What one quality more than others must priests possess to be revered leaders?

On a visit to St. Vincent's Archabbey in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, I interviewed several monks on the Rule of St. Benedict as it applies to leadership. [These interviews are on our website: The National Institute for the Renewal of the Priesthood www.jknirp.com]. In my interview with Archabbot Douglas Nowicki, O.S.B. I asked him, "What is the one quality most an abbot must possess according to St. Benedict?" Without hesitation, he replied, "listening!"

In the book Listen With Your Heart, Fr. Basil Pennington OCSO, echoes Archabbot Nowicki in pointing us



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Pope Francis Meets With Rome's parishes


During a Q&A session with Rome's pastoral congress, Pope Francis said, "We live in a culture of the provisional," which causes many couples getting married to say "yes, for the rest of my life!" without knowing what they're committing to, and for that reason "the great majority of sacramental marriages are null".

Pope Francis said Thursday that the great majority of sacramental marriages today are not valid, because couples do not enter into them with a proper understanding of permanence and commitment.

"We live in a culture of the provisional," the Pope said in impromptu remarks June 16. After addressing the Diocese of Rome's pastoral congress, he held a question-and-answer session.

A layman asked about the "crisis of marriage" and how Catholics can help educate youth in love, help them learn about sacramental marriage, and help them overcome "their resistance, delusions and fears."

The Pope answered from his own experience.

"I heard a bishop say some months ago that he met a boy that had finished his university studies, and said 'I want to become a priest, but only for 10 years.' It's the culture of the provisional. And this happens everywhere, also in priestly life, in religious life," he said.

"It's provisional, and because of this the great majority of our sacramental marriages are null.



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The Fainthearted Need Not Apply to the Priesthood

Eugene Hemrick

Compared to other vocations, the priesthood would seem to be an idyllic calling to a life that is devoted to heavenly pursuits. Rarely is the strict discipline and enormous physical stamina a priest needs to possess discussed.

The ancient Greeks believed that a sound mind requires a sound body. This applies doubly for those in today's priesthood.

A number of priests I know are like well trained athlete when it comes to keeping up their spirituality. Even though they may stay up late attending to parish duties, they rise early in the morning to pray their breviary and meditate. They consider this their most sacred time for being alone with God, and where they receive their greatest energy to carry out their work.

Although maintaining one's spiritual life may not sound physically taxing, it is, requiring enormous will power and physical strength it takes to make it work. It is often very tempting to sleep in, justifying to yourself the need for rest, or to put off prayer to later which often leads to never doing it.

Once a priest's day begins, more often than not it goes in unexpected directions. Someone might happen into the sacristy after Mass with a problem needing immediate attention. Listening to personal problems is extremely taxing because to fully appreciate a person's pain requires entering into it. To shoulder pain is to shoulder its weight and the fatigue it generates.

When a priest is not handling personal problems, he most likely will find himself facing everyday mundane problems. They come at the most unwelcomed times, like the janitor announcing a major crisis in a parish building requiring immediate inspection, a quick evaluation of available parish funds, and finding an honest and reasonable person for making repairs.

Responding to the unexpected



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Hospitality demands patience, persistence

David Kelly | Aug. 15, 2016 NCR Today

National Catholic Reporter
Reconciliation in Chicago


Editor's note: "Reconciliation in Chicago" is NCRonline's newest blog series [1], a weekly blog from the Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation [2], a ministry of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood based in Chicago's Back of the Yards neighborhood. Each post will feature hopeful reflections from the ministry's staff and volunteers, as they share their stories about working with youth and families affected by violence and incarceration.

"Reconciliation in Chicago" is published Mondays at the feature series page Reconciliation in Chicago. [3]

"And that I make it through the summer," he interrupted. "Pray that me and my family don't have no violence done to us." Even though he was locked up in Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center, he was aware of the dangers that seem to increase during the summer months. "My neighborhood is messed up," he said. "My best friend was killed a month ago, and I saw what that did to his family. I don't want my momma to go through that."

As youth (13-18 years of age) await trial, they are held at times for months or longer in Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center. One young man who was waiting for his day in court, stopped me as I made my rounds on his living pod. As chaplain, I try to get onto the living pods of the detention center. This 16-year-old young man asked to speak with me so we could say a prayer for his family.

At our Precious Blood Center in Chicago, we are toward the end of our summer program. This year's program has had two tracks in which youth in two separate cohorts gather four times a week, five hours a day. The program has had an educational track that supports and motivates youth toward a stronger participation in school, and a vocational track that exposes and prepares those that are not necessarily college



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Put yourself in the shoes of a refugee

Tony Magliano | Aug. 15, 2016 Making a Difference

Taken from The National Catholic Reporter

Imagine, right now at this very moment you and your loved ones need to run for your lives!

With hardly more than the clothes on your backs, you and your family must flee from an invading armed force.

Or imagine your quick exodus is due to the fact that gang members have threatened to kill your family because your teenage son or grandson has refused to join their murderous drug gang.

Or imagine that because of your religion, race, nationality, political belief or membership in a particular social group you and your family are being persecuted.

So, you decide that despite the very dangerous risks involved, the only reasonable hope you and your family have is to move as quickly as possible towards somewhere, anywhere, where life is safer than where you're at now.

That's exactly what more than 65 million desperate people have done.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees' (UNHCR) recent Global Trends 2015 [1] report, 65.3 million people were displaced by the end of 2015 -- greater than the combined population of Canada, New Zealand and Australia. On average 34,000 people per day were forced to flee from their homes in 2015, that's four times more than a decade earlier. And there appears to be no end in sight to this nightmare.

Last year well over 3 million fellow human beings sought emergency asylum in foreign countries, while more than 40 million people were displaced within their own country -- the highest number of asylum seekers and internally displaced people in history, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (You can view the Global Trends 2015 video here.



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6 Spiritual Lessons Learned from Watching Michael Phelps

Published Aug 15, 2016 in
In the News, Pope Francis, Spirituality, Sports

Taken from The Jesuit Post

Soon before the Olympic Games in Rio started, Pope Francis expressed his hope that they would inspire all to "fight the good fight."

I have been inspired thoroughly. The Games have even taught me a number of spiritual lessons.

Lesson #1: You can't always get what you want.

I live in Beirut. Due to the time zone differences, I figured that setting my internet browser favorites to follow Rio 2016 was the most feasible way to follow the Olympics games. I have an unlimited internet connection, and if one could win gold medals for consuming YouTube videos, I would be the next Michael Phelps.

Early in these Olympics, I saw on the news that Phelps won a gold medal. I then searched



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A Happy Death

By Ron Rolheiser

In the Roman Catholic culture within which I grew up, we were taught to pray for a happy death. For many Catholics at the time, this was a standard petition within their daily prayer: "I pray for a happy death."

But how can one die happy? Isn't the death-process itself excruciating? What about the pain involved in dying, in letting go of this life, in saying our last goodbyes? Can one die happy?

But the vision here, of course, was religious. A happy death meant that one died in good moral and religious circumstances. That meant that you didn't die in some morally-compromised situation, you didn't die alienated from your church, you didn't die bitter or angry at your family, and, not least, you didn't die from suicide, drug or alcohol overdose, or engaged in some criminal activity.

The catechetical picture of a happy death most often was an anecdotal story of some person who grows up in a good Christian family, is an honest



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The Cross, Our Only Hope: Daily Reflections in the Holy Cross Tradition


Edited by Andrew Gawrych, C.S.C. and Kevin Grove, C.S.C
Ave Maria Press, Notre Dame, IN. 2010

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

Priests and brothers of the Congregation of Holy Cross offer an introduction to the rich, vibrant spiritual of the Congregation through a series of daily reflections on the themes of Holy Cross spirituality: trust in God, zeal, compassion, hope in the Cross, discipleship, and education in the faith. This revised edition includes a new foreward; new contributors; and quotations from St. Andre Bessette, the Holy Cross brother who was canonized in 2010.

An Excerpt from the Book:

December 12

Mary's praise went up to heaven like incense because her heart was humble and filled with gratitude and love. What love in Mary, who became the mediator of the grace of her divine son. Blessed Basil Moreau



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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.

Dedicated to energizing the spiritual and intellectual life of the priesthood
through an ongoing dialogue via the Internet.






This Web page was created and is maintained by the National Institute for the Renewal of the Priesthood.

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Last updated September 14, 2016