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The National Institute for the Renewal of the Priesthood

The Stoning of Saint Stephen, 1625

The first painting by Rembrandt, painted at the age of 19


Henri Nouwen on Courage --
"Have courage" we often say to one another.
Courage is a spiritual virtue.
The word courage comes from the Latin word "cor" which means "heart."
A courageous act is an act coming from the heart.
A courageous word is a word arising from the heart.
The heart, however, is not just the place where our emotions are located.
The heart is the centre of all thoughts, feelings, passions and decisions.
A courageous life, therefore, is a life lived from the centre.
It is a deeply rooted life, the opposite of a superficial life.
"Have courage" therefore means "Let your centre speak."


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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


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.



August 5, 2016

In this edition:
1. Call for campaign civility.
2. Life in a diverse world.
3. Breaking down fences.
4. Murder of a French priest.
5. Current quotes to ponder:
a) Pope speaks of terrorists.
b) Parish "green purchasing."
c) What weddings tell us.
6. Brazil: On human slavery.
7. Factors in school excellence.




(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!

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 to a paragraph in the Rule of



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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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Reconciliation in Chicago: Behind the impossible is the grace of God

David Kelly | Aug. 8, 2016 NCR Today

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]

"Hey, Father, can we play the game?" Before I could respond he added, "They shootin' out on 51st and Morgan -- like 11 shots!" Such is Chicago. Tommie had come in with three other young men from the neighborhood who were looking to get off the streets for a while. I agreed that they could play the game (the video game NBA 2K13), but first we needed to sit in a circle. I wanted to check in with them and see how they were doing. While they take the shooting serious, sometimes we don't take the time to talk about it.

Tommie works part time after school here at Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation. He helps with the silk screening project, creating T-shirts as a part of the restorative justice arts program. Lately, the neighborhood has had a number of shootings and Tommie has had a few close calls. Our work, sometimes, is as simple (and difficult) as offering a safe place to just be.

A couple nights ago, a religious sister, who works in the



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Providing legal help is a new parish trend

Dan Morris-Young | Aug. 3, 2016 NCR Today

Taken from The National Catholic Reporter
The Field Hospital


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) or Peter Feuerherd (pfeuerherd@ncronline.org).

Since its "re-inception" as a parish in 1972, Holy Spirit Parish in Carterville, Ill., has not had a resident priest [1]. Currently administered by Servants of the Holy Heart of Mary [2] Sr. Carol Karnitsky [3], the parish is known for its welcoming spirit and community involvement.

For example, young members of Holy Spirit joined with youth of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish [4] in Herrin, Ill., from July 10 to July 16 for volunteer service in Anchorage, Alaska [5]. In all, 52 youth group members accompanied by 14 adults donated nearly 1,200 hours that week doing tasks from pulling weeds and painting to helping at soup kitchens and homeless shelters.

Worshipers at the 7:30 a.m. Mass on July 24 at Our Lady of the Lake Parish in Cooperstown, N.Y., included Mike Piazza, famed Mets catcher [6] who would be inducted later that day into the Baseball Hall of Fame, about a 10-minute walk from the church. Piazza sought a blessing from pastor Fr. John Rosson, posed for some photos and signed autographs. During his



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Days in the life of a pastor

Robert Kus | Aug. 4, 2016 NCR Today

The Field Hospital

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]).

Fr. Robert Kus has been pastor of the Basilica Shrine of St. Mary in Wilmington, N.C., [3] since 2006.

A Cleveland, Ohio, native, Kus earned a degree from the Cleveland Metropolitan General Hospital School of Nursing, a doctorate in sociology from the University of Montana and a post-doctoral degree in psychiatric mental health nursing from the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center. He was a professor at the University of Iowa from 1982-1992.

He studied at the St. Meinrad School of Theology in Indiana and was ordained a priest for the Raleigh, N.C., diocese in 1998. Kus served as parochial vicar in parishes in Wilmington and Wake Forest before being named pastor at the basilica.

During his time at St. Mary's, the parish has adopted a sister parish in the mountains of Honduras, founded the St. Mary Health Center [4] and established The Upper Room 1871, a wedding reception venue. - Peter Feuerherd

Following are selected entries from Kus' journal which give some insight to a day in the life



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Francis makes rousing call for millennials to get off couch and fix world

Joshua J. McElwee | July 30, 2016

Francis in Poland
Krakow, Poland

Taken from The National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis issued a rousing and impassioned call to action to young people around the world Saturday, saying our unsettled times require them to get off the couch and "set out on new and uncharted paths."

In 34-minute remarks to more than a million youths from 187 countries participating in a prayer vigil here for World Youth Day, the pontiff urged them to avoid "confusing happiness with a sofa" and instead put on their shoes and head out to "open up new horizons."

In a sometimes forceful but an often affectionately worded address, the pope in effect outlined a new, hopeful way of life for an entire generation.

"The time we are living in does not call for young couch potatoes but for young people with shoes -- or better -- boots laced," Francis exhorted the youth. "It only takes players on the first string, and it has no room for benchwarmers."

"Today's world demands that you be a protagonist of history," said the pope. "The Lord wants to work one of the greatest miracles we can experience: he wants to turn your hands, my hands, our hands, into signs of reconciliation, of communion, of creation."

"Today, we adults need you to teach us how to live in



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Broken, But Not Giving Up

Published Jul 28, 2016 in Blogs, Spirituality

Taken from The Jesuit Post

Ouch! Without my arm, how will I be me?

On July 16, 1991, I slipped on some wet grass during a water balloon fight. It was the day before my ninth birthday, a quarter-century ago.

As my feet rose and my shoulders dropped, my left arm twisted behind my back. I came down with a sickening crunch. It was the first time I swore in front of my parents.

"Holy s*&% - I broke my arm!"

After a moment's pause, they decided not to chastise me and instead rushed me to the hospital.

My radius and ulna - both bones in my forearm - were snapped clean through. The part of my arm below the break jutted out from my body in a cartoonish sort of way - it looked like I had two elbows, my arm in the shape of a 'Z.' As my dad drove wildly down Webster Avenue, each bump caused shooting pain through my arm, and I wondered through a veil of tears whether some doctor would need to cut it off to save my life.

The pain became more bearable while waiting in the ER. I squeezed the broken bones together; the pressure was relieving. As my mind cleared, I had another troubling thought. The rest of my summer was ruined. I'd have a cast. I wouldn't be able to swim, play soccer in the local rec league, or cross the monkey bars at Green Isle Park. Would I be able to ride a bike? Pump on a swing?



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Our Fear of Hell

Ron Rolheiser

Hell is never a nasty surprise waiting for a basically happy person. Hell can only be the full-flowering of a pride and selfishness that have, through a long time, twisted a heart so thoroughly that it considers happiness as unhappiness and has an arrogant disdain for happy people. If you are essentially warm of heart this side of eternity, you need not fear that a nasty surprise awaits you on the other side because somewhere along the line, unknowingly, you missed the boat and your life went terribly wrong.

Unfortunately for many us, the preaching and catechesis of our youth sometimes schooled us in the idea that you could tragically miss the boat without knowing it and that there was no return. You could live your life sincerely, in essential honesty, relate fairly to others, try your best given your weaknesses, have some bounce and happiness in life, and then die and find that some sin you've committed or mistake you'd made, perhaps even unknowingly, could doom you to hell and there was no further chance for repentance. The second of your death was your last chance to change things, no second chances after death, no matter how badly you might like then to repent. As a tree falls so shall it lie! We were schooled to fear dying and the afterlife.

But, whatever the practical effectiveness of such a concept, because it really could make one hesitate in the face of temptation because of the fear of hell, it is essentially wrong and should not be taught in the name of Christianity. Why? Because it belies the God and the deep truths that Jesus revealed. Jesus



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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.






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Last updated August 21, 2016