We have just finished up a wonderful 10 days of training with this year’s Duc in Altum Teams. These 13 young people come from four different universities and three states. But they came together over the course of the ten days to form a cohesive, positive and supportive group.
Over the course of the summer, we will have three teams in twenty parishes across the Diocese. Each team brings with them enthusiasm, joy and a desire to bring Christ’s message of salvation to the youth and families they will serve. They also have a few silly songs, games and skits packed away in their hip pockets as well. In the Office of Vocations, we are so grateful for their generous service, their love of the Lord and their desire to give their best to this endeavor. We truly are sending you a great treasure in these young people.
A word of thanks as well to all of the catechists who have helped us this past week – Susan Safford, Amy Julian, Marlon Leneaugh, Craig Dyke, Fr. Tyler Dennis, Fr. Jonathan Dillon, Fr. Adam Hofer, Denise McCormick, Mary Helen Olson, Elizabeth Hofer, Angie King, Robert Kinyon, Andrew Sullivan, Jenny Scherr, and Fr. Tim Hoag. You all brought so much wisdom with you. Thanks to all of you, these young people leave here well prepared for the work they will do.
Lastly, we are grateful as always to the staff here at Terra Sancta for their generous hospitality! The food was great and the patient and kind service in the midst of so many details is always such a blessing.
We look forward to hearing from you, please share your experiences with the Duc in Altum team in your parish this summer!
Last week, Adam Johnson, a first-year theologian at St. Paul Seminary, was installed as a lector. As reader and bearer of God’s Word, Adam will proclaim God’s Word in the liturgical assembly, instruct children and adults in the faith, and bring the message of salvation to those who have not yet received it. (From the Rite of Institution of Lector)
Andrew Sullivan, who also is a first-year theologian, at Kenrick Glennon Seminary in St. Louis, will be installed as a lector in April with our Bishop Gruss presiding.
Adam’s pastor, Fr. Brian Lane from Blessed Sacrament Church in Rapid City, along with Adam’s parents, Mike and Kathy, were able to attend this celebration of the Ministry of Lector. After the celebration, I sent a text to Adam, his parents and Fr. Lane congratulating Adam and asking them to send pictures from the installation, which they did.
Fr. Lane also texted a picture of the seminarian poster for the Archdiocese of Minneapolis-St. Paul — 59 in all! A true vocation boom. I smiled as I read Fr. Lane’s text: “Why is our poster so small?”
“More work to be done. More invitations to be extended,” I replied.
One of the goals in our Diocesan Priority Plan calls for the formation of a vocation committee in each parish or parish grouping to encourage and promote a culture of vocations.
This year’s Pastoral Ministry Days, is on creating a vibrant culture of vocations in our parishes. This year we have two great speakers: Fr. James Mason, President and Rector of Kenrick Glennon Seminary in St. Louis and a priest from the Diocese of Sioux Falls, and Sr. Joseph Andrew Bogdanowicz, OP, Vocation Director for the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist out of Ann Arbor, MI.
The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist is one of the fastest growing religious orders in our country. A relatively new order that was founded in 1997 with four sisters, the order now has 96 members. The average age is 26, and more than 20 postulants are expected to enter next year; the largest group ever.
Our theme for this year’s PMD is Harvest: The Harvest is Plentiful but Laborers are Few, taken from Matthew 9:37. PMD is coming up very soon, March 18-20 but there is still time to sign up! You can register online: www.PMD2018.com
This should be a great PMD and one that will give some concrete tools, ideas and suggestions to help all of our parishes and families build and create a vibrant culture of vocations in our diocese.
Last evening I was able to be part of the Rite of Admission to Candidacy for Holy Orders for Andrew Sullivan, who is a first year theologian for our diocese and studying at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis. Bishop Walter Nickless of the diocese of Sioux City, Iowa was the presider. As part of his homily he read the instructions for the Rite of Candidacy itself:
“Dear brethren in Christ, our brothers, stand here today in the presence of the Church, recommended to us and to you for admission among the candidates for holy orders.
Christ gave this command: “Ask the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into his harvest.” Our brothers know the Lord’s concern for his flock, they see the needs of the Church and they feel ready to respond generously to the Lord in the words of the prophet: “Here I am, send me forth.” They put their hope in the Lord, trusting that they may answer his call faithfully.
This call from the Lord should be recognized and understood from the daily signs which reveal God’s will to discerning people. When God chooses people to share in the ordained priesthood of Christ, he moves and helps them by his grace. At the same time, he entrusts us with the task of calling suitable and approved candidates and of consecrating them by a special seal of the Holy Spirit to the ministry of God and of the Church. By the sacrament of holy orders, they will be given part in our ministry of service to the Church, and build up by word and sacrament the Christian communities to which they will be sent.
Our brothers have already begun their preparation so that later they may be called to ordination by the bishop. Day by day, they will learn to live the life of the Gospel and deepen their faith, hope, love, and compassion. In the practice of these virtues, they will gain the spirit of prayer and grow in zeal to win the world to Christ.
Urged by his love and strengthened by the Holy Spirit, they have come here to declare their desire to bind, themselves to the service of God and of humankind.”
I saw theses instructions come alive several times in the last several days as the seminarians prayed as a group, Lectio Divina, on this Sunday’s gospel from Mark (1:40-45, the cleansing of the leper). It was in the spirit of fellowship and trust, that not only the seminarians, but also the priests on staff, including the Rector, Fr. Mason and Vice Rector, Msgr. Mikesch shared the fruits they experienced while praying with this gospel text.
One of the seminarians shared that during his prayer with this gospel passage he asked the Lord to heal the leprosy of his own heart. What he heard from the Lord was, “I choose not to heal this particular part of your leprosy, but instead invite you remain with me in it.” He recalled an experience he had this past summer while working in a parish in Omaha visiting with a woman dying from cancer. They both prayed fervently that the Lord would heal her and restore her completely from cancer. However, this past fall she died. The great grace he received from this experience was that, even though the Lord didn’t heal her of her cancer, she is a woman of such great faith that he witnessed how she was able to remain in and with the Lord in her suffering. This is truly and inspiration and gift to him. Father Mason shared that in his own life he also has begged the Lord to remove the leprosy of his own heart.
This experience of group Lectio Divina, which the seminarians do several times throughout the week, calls to my mind the importance of, not only praying the Word by myself, but also with others. As the Church proclaims in the Rite of Candidacy, “Day by day, they will learn to live the life of the Gospel and deepen their faith, hope, love, and compassion. In the practice of these virtues they will gain the spirit of prayer and grow in zeal to win the world to Christ.”
As we approach the season of Lent, I encourage you to pray with the Sunday gospel with a group of people, perhaps it’s around your kitchen table with your family, or a group of friends in your neighborhood, or parish.
The Office of Stewardship which promotes and encourages the Catholic way of life, by living a life of generous hospitality, lively faith and dedicated discipleship can help you with a very simple format that we learned several years ago at Pastoral Ministry Days from Msgr. Richter. I am more than willing to send this simple prayer card to you if it is not already available at your parish. Then all you have to do is to invite your family or others to your house, reserve a room in your parish hall or go to a local coffee house and pull people together to reflect on the Sunday Gospels of Lent. Let your heart be set on fire this Lent, letting Jesus speak His word to you, as I have seen it speak to the seminarians and faculty at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary.