Saturday, January 31, 2015

Admission to Candidacy

"From this day on, you must cultivate more fully your vocation
 . . . 
trusting in the Lord, we will assist you with our love and prayer" 

On this great festival of Saint John Bosco, my heart rejoices and by the grace of God, Brad and I, along with our sixteen classmates from around the globe, were able to profess our intent before God and His Holy Church our intent to complete preparation for Holy Orders. The beautiful Memorial Mass with the Rite of Admission of Seminarians to Candiday was celebrated by His Excellency, Frederick Campbell, Bishop of Columbus.

This simple, yet profound sep towards priesthood by being admitted as a candidate for holy orders took my breath away, and even brought me, at moments, to tears. In our society where commitment seems to be only temporary, now I was standing: before a bishop, before her priests and deacons, and before her people, and Holy Mother Church was asking me for my own commitment. Over the past four years, I have watched and listened to the Theology II classes before me, state their intent before the Church, and now here I am, with my seventeen brothers, saying, "Yes to the Lord," a moment which I have thought about and prayed about was here and I was declaring my intent to intensify my formation.

Each of us were called by name and presented one by one before the bishop and once in place, Bishop Campbell asked these two questions:

"In response to the Lord's call, do you resolve to complete your preparation so that in due time through Holy Orders you will be prepared to assume ministry within the Church?"  

The Candidates from The Pontifical College Josephinum
"Do you resolve to prepare yourselves in mind and spirit to give faithful service to Christ the Lord and his Body, the Church?"

And it was an extreme heartfelt and intense response to two questions each responding with an "I do" from her sons. The second I do was louder than the first, and my own heart began to rejoice in my intent and then the bishop stated at the end of the rite, "The Church accepts your resolve with joy. May God who have begun the good work in you bring it to fulfillment." I was filled with joy and my emotion rolled through me bringing me to tears [of joy] for today, I, along with my brother, Brad, are one step closer to the altar of God, and for that I am grateful. My heart truly radiated the prophet words, "Here I am, send me!"

To celebrate the occasion all the Gaylord seminarians went out for a little lunch at Der Dutchman Restaurant in Plain City and then they went over the top and treaded Brad and I with a Coconut Creme Pie.

Please pray for us seminarians, and know that the diocese is in our prayers and in our hearts. May our patroness, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Congratulations to Nick Cooper and Brad Nursey

Congratulations to Nick Cooper and Brad Nursey, who received their Candidacy today. One step closer to the priesthood.  

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

NHL ALL STAR Weekend in Columbus, Ohio

A more detailed, photographic, record of time in the Holy Land: Part 1

 I want to make a multi-part post about my pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  It really was an amazing experience that I have yet to fully assimilate, but I apologize for failing to share more sooner; one of the souvenirs that I brought back from the Holy Land is a nasty case of the flu.

Two weeks in the footsteps of the Apostles and the Lord means that you are going to see an awful lot.  Even in one day, the things that you see and the places you go can bring forth emotions from the sorrowful to the sublime.  But whatever it brings out emotionally because of a subjective experience, I can say that without a doubt it is objectively amazing what God has accomplished in these places.

We spent almost the first day of our traveling, with an early wake-up in Columbus, a flight to Newark, and then from Newark to Tel-Aviv and then from there we got on a tour bus, our normal mode of transport while in the Holy Land, and went down to Jaffa.  It is here that we had our first encounter with a scriptural story; one which any fan of hotdogs or bacon or a cheeseburger can be very grateful for, Acts 10:9-16.

It is also the place where Peter raised a woman, Tabitha, from the dead.  Acts 9:36-43.  This was an amazing beginning to an amazing pilgrimage.  Last year I had visited Rome, where Peter ended his ministry, but it was here in Jaffa that I felt like I really started to understand what the Apostles accomplished following God's call.

The picture above and right are the modern Franciscan church.  This will be a common phrase you will read over the next few posts, as the Franciscans have custody of most Catholic shrines in the Holy Land, and have had for the last 700+ years.  But not all of the shrines are modern like the pictures above.

In this picture to the left you see the remains of a Crusade era church.
This is representative of what the Crusaders did during there time in the Holy Land.  They built or rebuilt churches over the sites of great miracles.  Simple places, sometimes small, sometimes quite grand, they would have very thick walls so that they would protect the pilgrims that came from Europe to see with their own eyes the sites of the miracles that they heard about in the pulpit.  It was a tangible connection with the past and was a great reminder of the faith of past Catholics and their willingness to bear up under a great deal of danger. I knew that I would be much safer, that the Holy Land was safer today, than I would have been at the time of the Crusades.

For example I could just stand outside and enjoy this beautiful view of the Mediterranean (below) and meditate on why God chose to make his revelation here.  What is it about this place made it ideal.  I began to suspect very soon that it was the great beauty of the place and its position as a natural crossroads was one reason why and even after one day, I was quite thankful for it.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Gaylordian Get Away

 A little bit of home.   This past weekend the guys from the diocese of Gaylord who live in Rome got away for a little R&R before exams start this coming week.  Msgr. Gallagher, Father Matthew Cowan, Deacon Tyler Bischoff and myself (now the only non-cleric here in Rome) headed up to a small town tucked in the mountains of central Italy called Campo di Giove. (Picture to the left). . It is a ski town in the winter and a place for Italians to escape the heat in the summer.  As you can see below the land lord of the complex we stayed at was busy blowing snow most of the day.  It gave a great sense of home at a much needed time.  That is Msgr. Gallagher's car covered in snow in the background.

 We didn't get out skiing but that was not our purpose this weekend.  We just needed to have some time to relax, cook and have some fraternity, so that is just what we did.  As you can see in the pictures we had a fireplace and a small kitchen which did the trick.  We even did some of the cooking on the open fire as you can see below.  To the right is a picture of Msgr. Gallagher standing next to a statue of Ovid a famous Roman poet who was born in the area around 43 BC.  
Here is a picture of the hermitage which was the original place where Celestine V (a medieval pope) lived before he was taken out of seclusion and placed on the chair of Peter because of his great holiness.  Click the link and read about him.  Interesting to note, he is one of the only other popes to ever have abdicated the Papacy other than Pope Benedict XVI.

Tyler cooking!!

Potatoes on the fire.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Easter at Christmas

For the last two weeks I have been privileged to be on pilgrimage in the Holy Land. Beginning in Netanya at the church marking the spot where St Peter had a vision which made all things clean and fit for us to eat (e.g. bacon) to Mt Carmel and the place where God showed his power over the false prophets of Baal through His own prophet Elijah. 

From there we went down to Nazareth and the rest of Galilee where we commemorated so much of the Lord's life and ministry; healings and the walking on water and the multiplication of loaves and fish and the Sermon on the Mount.

After that we crossed the Jordan River and visited many places in the life of John the Baptist including the Baptism of the Lord and the site of John's martyrdom, the mountain palace of Mukawer.

But it is here in Jerusalem that we have reached the pinnacle of our journey. We have climbed Calvary and this morning we had mass at the tomb of the Lord.

This day I have been privileged to see with my own eyes.

The tomb is empty.

He is risen!

He is risen indeed!

(I apologize for the lack of photos. I can't seem to add them from my phone. I will do a photo laden post once I return to the states.)

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Christmas and New Years in England

Seminarians studying at the North American College in Rome are not able to go to their homes for Christmas until they are ordained a deacon or a priest.  So, I began thinking about where I would feel the closest to home.  The first place that came to mind was somewhere which had family, english speaking people, and snow.  Well, I was able to experience all of these in a greater or lesser amount this Christmas in England.  
Some of you may remember meeting an English seminarian friend of mine studying in Rome who came to visit Michigan this past summer, his name: David Irwin.  He is directly to the Bishop's right in the first picture below.  He kindly hosted myself and another Michigan seminarian Jeff Hanley of the diocese of Kalamazoo.  The stay in England ended up being full of wonderful blessings of which one of the first was serving midnight Mass at the Shrewsbury Cathedral for David's bishop, His Excellency Bishop Marc Davies.   Bishop Davies was an amazingly generous host and a holy and humble man.  I will save the rest of the comments for the captions under the pictures.  But first I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  May the Lord bless you abundantly through the intercession of our patron, Our Lady of Mount Carmel.  Know of my prayers always, please continue to pray for us men in formation.  We count on them.  Ave Maria! 

This is right after Midnight Mass.  From left to right: (Stephen [seminarian for the diocese of Shrewsbury] David Irwin [my friend from Rome and seminarian of Shrewsbury] Bishop Marc Davies, Canon Jonathan Mitchel [Rector of Cathedral] Me.
Back row: Jeff Hanley [Seminarian diocese of Kalamazoo Michigan] Robert [Shrewsbury seminarian]
The really cool thing about this Mass was that it was streamed live on the internet so family and friends were able to watch it from 4000 miles away.

This was a plate on the mantle in the room I stayed in in Shrewsbury at the Cathedral which commemorated the visiting of Pope JPII to Shrewsbury in 1982.  I took the picture because I have a special devotion to him and he seems to always be watching out for me.  My Mom always puts him to the task in doing so as well.  The interesting thing was that I was born in 1982.  JPII, Prayfor us!

 This is a picture of the sanctuary of the Cathedral there in Shrewsbury.  It was done by a popular archetect in the mid 1800's named Augustus Pugin who is remembered for having brought in the Gothic revival style in the Church.  During his time the Catholic Church was just coming out of a long persecution by the Protestant rulers following King Henery VIII.  Pugin's idea was to help Catholics pick up the pieces of their faith in England by building Churches and designing vestments and other sacred things in the Gothic style to help them remember their roots.  He is responsible for many religious buildings and secular structures including much of the work on the Palace of Westminster which he was asked to do by Sir Charles Barry another architect.  The palace is pictured below along with a couple other pictures of the inside of Shrewsbury Cathedral.

Shrewsbury Cathedral:  Mary and Joseph by Pugin

Just had to add this one for any of those out there wanting a modern speed fix.  That is a Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse. The fastest and most expensive car in the world.  I saw some of the sweetest cars ever in England, they like their wheels.   The Bugatti was our rental for the week.  haha, I wish.  Our actual rental is below.  Fiat 500.  I think it had a weed whacker motor in it. 

This is a shot of the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace.  I have never seen so many people in one place in my life.  As it turned out, we made a wrong turn the next day and ended up driving through the changing of the guard in our red Fiat 500.

Here is a shot of me and another seminarian from Denver who we met up with at the place we were staying at in London.   Behind us is the parliament building. 

This is the entrance to the Churchill War Rooms which were fantastic.  They were the secret rooms under a building in London where Winston Churchill conducted the British forces during WWII.  After the war ended in the late 40's the lights were pretty much turned off and it was left as it was so we really got a look into the past.  Below is a picture of one of the rooms in the bunker.

This is a picture of 4 of us seminarians before the Altar at Westminster Cathedral in London.  Pope Benedict XVI said Mass there when he visited in 2010.

This is all that remains to mark the spot where hundreds if not thousands of English Catholics were hung, drawn and quartered just for being Catholic by the protestant hierarchy who took power after the reformation between 1534 and 1680.  It was not legal to be Catholic in England until the 1800's.
As you can see the spot says, "The site of Tyburn tree."  It was on Tyburn hill where the huge gallows stood in which so many died for their faith.  All you English Martyrs, Pray for us!

Picture of us driving on the wrong side of the road... oh wait, the right side... oh wait, the left side which is the correct side.  Wow, so confusing. 

This is a picture in the small chapel in Welsingham.  It was one of the biggest pilgrimage spots in all of Europe in the late 11th century up until the 1500's when the Catholics began to be persecuted.  This spot was taken over by King Henry VIII, the religious were either told to convert or taken to London for trial and martyred, and the buildings where either destroyed along with everything in them or given to non-Catholics.  The original statue of our Lady of Welsingham was taken to London and publicly burned.   The one you see behind me in the picture was commissioned in the late 1800's when the Catholic hierarchy was re-instated and the persecution ended.  The Catholics of England suffered much for their faith.  They are an inspiration for us.