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Postings by Dan Grippo

Vocation Match tips

Posted by: Dan Grippo   🕔 Friday 17, February 2012 Categories:


Are you looking for a religious community that might be a "good fit" for your interests, spirituality, and personality? Here are a couple of tips on maximizing the Vocation Match program.

Use the “Importance Slider” (found under many questions in Vocation Match) to indicate the relative priority a particular question has for you in your search for potential religious communities. This will help us weigh your answers so you are more likely to match with communities that share your values and interests.

By adjusting the “Importance Slider” you can change the number of communities with which you match. Place higher importance on more questions and you will end up matching with fewer communities (because you are being more selective) but perhaps find a better fit. Lower importance on more questions will likely match you with more communities.

A day worth celebrating for Cuban Catholics

Posted by: Dan Grippo   🕔 Tuesday 16, November 2010 Categories:

In a ceremony joined by President Raul Castro, Cuba's Catholic bishops recently inaugurated the San Carlos and San Ambrosio Seminary, the country's first major church-related construction in the half century since the Communist revolution.

Joined by Cuba's bishops and representatives of the Vatican and of the Catholic Church in the United States, Mexico, Italy, and the Bahamas,Havana Cardinal Jaime Ortega Alamino noted that the late Pope John Paul II blessed the first stone of the new seminary at a Mass during his January, 1998 visit to the island.

At that point, then-President Fidel Castro pledged his support for the project, the cardinal said. "That promise has been faithfully completed," he said, adding his thanks to the Castros, "that this work was completed properly with the help of the state."

Catholic News Service reports that the opening of San Carlos and San Ambrosio takes place at a time of marked improvement in relations between the Catholic Church and the state, after 50 years of ups and downs.

 Analysts describe the current situation as "more relaxed," since a dialogue process that began with a meeting in May between Raul Castro, Cardinal Ortega and Santiago Archbishop Dionisio Garcia Ibanez, president of the Cuban bishops' conference.


Full time position: No pay but eternal rewards

Posted by: Dan Grippo   🕔 Monday 08, November 2010 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy
Capuchin Friary in Rapperswil,Switzerland. Rapperswill is known
as the Riviera of Upper Lake Zurich.                   


Wanted: Bankers, traders, or lawyers for full-time, lifelong position. No pay.

Associated Press reports that the Capuchin Friars in Switzerland have started an unconventional vocation drive by advertising in a classifieds section normally reserved for high-flying executive roles. Instead of a salary the successful application will enjoy "freedom from personal material wealth" along with time for prayer and contemplation. The accommodations aren't too shabby either!

Legionaries ask, "Why not priest?"

Posted by: Dan Grippo   🕔 Wednesday 13, October 2010 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy

“Today is a marvelous time to be a priest!” These words of John Paul II were the inspiration for a group of Catholic seminarians from the Legionaries of Christ to develop, an innovative website with catchy videos on a range of topics of interest to young men considering priesthood.

One engaging video shows a series of quick clips of priests from around the world responding to the question of “Why Not Priest?” with one-line answers in their native languages (subtitled for viewer comprehension). Take a look and then answer for yourself—Why Not Priest? Why Not Sister? Why Not Brother? … And most importantly, Why not you?!



Fraternal spirit alive and well in religious brotherhood

Posted by: Dan Grippo   🕔 Wednesday 29, September 2010 Categories: Vocation and Discernment

Brother Paul Bednarczyk, C.S.C., executive director of the National Religious Vocation Conference (sponsors of VISION) was featured in a recent National Catholic Reporter (NCR) profile of the state of brotherhood in America, "Despite steep decline, brothers see hope for their vocation's future."

Interviewed by NRC reporter Robert McClory, Holy Cross Brother Bednarczyk spoke openly of how his sense of vocation developed early in life. He briefly considered studying for priesthood but became convinced brotherhood was the right choice for him.

Bednarczyk, 53, studied at Stonehill College in Massachusetts, run by the Holy Cross congregation, and formally entered the order as a novice in 1979. He says he felt comfortable as a brother from the beginning and he likes the fact that brothers are not part of the hierarchal structure in the church.

"We are not above anybody. A brother by definition is on an even level, on the same plane with everyone he encounters," says Bednarczyk, and this fact allows brothers to play a unique role in relating to today's egalitarian minded young people.

Bednarczyk also discussed with journalist McClory the challenge of reaching Catholics who grew up with Vatican II as ancient history. This generation knows Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, he said, and they're not as vehement about fighting church battles as are older generations.

"But they are the signs of these times," he said, and must be taken seriously. He believes religious life as practiced by the brothers can provide a "prophetic dimension" to them and to the larger church, both through its emphasis on community life and in reaching out to the poor and suffering.

Photo of Holy Cross Brother Paul Bednarczyk (Photo Credit: NCR Publishing Company)

Nun makes ultimate contribution to Alzheimer's research

Posted by: Dan Grippo   🕔 Friday 13, August 2010 Categories: Consecrated Life

Catholic nuns are known for their acts of charity, but Sister Adrienne Schmidt has found a way to give beyond the grave: she will donate her brain to science, reports John Biemer in The Chicago Tribune.

First, though, she participates in an annual battery of memory tests administered by Rush University researchers. Schmidt, 82, repeats numbers and stories in exercises designed to provide a history of how her brain is aging.

When the time comes, Schmidt's brain will join hundreds of others in cooling units in a laboratory at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. The study tracks cognitive decline to identify risk factors for Alzheimer's.

Schmidt, of the Congregation of St. Joseph in La Grange Park, Illinois, said some of the other sisters were a bit squeamish about donating their brains. But not her: "You know, what's my brain going to do once I'm gone anyway?" she said. "It's ceased."

The Rush researchers sought members of religious orders, hoping they would be willing to donate and would not have children or spouses interfering with that arrangement at the last minute. More than 1,100 nuns, priests and brothers across the country representing a wide range of ethnic groups take part.

Two halves of a whole: Raphael's designs, tapestries reunited

Posted by: Dan Grippo   🕔 Tuesday 20, July 2010 Categories:

The Vatican Museums and London's Victoria and Albert Museum are bringing together two “long-lost twins,” two halves of an artistic masterpiece conceived by the Renaissance master Raphael, reports Carol Glatz of Catholic News Service.

Some of Raphael's enormous tapestries for the Sistine Chapel and his preparatory paintings, called cartoons in the art world, will be united for the first time in the Sistine Chapel exhibition. Since the Renaissance, "the cartoons and the tapestries have led separate lives" and the Sept 8-Oct. 17 exhibit will bring together "the two halves of the same story," said Mark Evans, senior curator of the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Michelangelo completed the Sistine Chapel ceiling in 1512. When Pope Leo X was elected the following year, he wanted to leave his mark on the chapel, but every surface had already been painted. He decided to commission a special set of tapestries for the chapel's lower walls. Tapestries were a popular art form at the time and the church liked to use them for special liturgical ceremonies.

Because the designs would be sent off to famed tapestry artisans in Belgium, Raphael had to color them exactly like a painting so weavers would know what precise hues to use. That unique kind of detail meant the cartoons eventually became prized works of art in and of themselves.

The tapestries depicted the lives of Sts. Peter and Paul and events from the Acts of the Apostles. They also were designed to specifically correspond to the frescoed images of the lives of Moses and Jesus.

In 1623, before becoming king, Charles I of England bought seven of Raphael cartoons. They became, as they are to this day, the property of the British royal family. Coinciding with Pope Benedict's visit to England in September, the exhibit is meant to be a visible sign of the coming together of the two countries' common cultural heritage, said Arnold Nesselrath, director of the Vatican Museums' Byzantine, medieval, and modern collections.

Seeing the cartoons alongside the final product is considered to be a once-in-a-lifetime event, he said; "it was something not even Raphael ever got to see."

(photo credit: one of Raphael's tapestries hanging from a wall of the Sistine Chapel--CNS)

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Father’s Day comes early for one dad, now priest

Posted by: Dan Grippo   🕔 Tuesday 29, June 2010 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy

A former Protestant pastor who is a married father of eight was ordained a Catholic priest in the Diocese of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania this past June 15. The newly ordained Fr. Paul Shenck was raised Jewish and baptized a Christian when he was 16 years old, Catholic News Agency reports.

In 1994 Shenck left the New Covenant Tabernacle, an evangelical church he founded, and became a pastor in western New York for the Reformed Episcopal Church. He entered the Catholic Church in 2004. He and his wife Rebecca have been married for 33 years.

While Latin-rite Catholic priests are ordinarily required to be celibates, a special provision instituted in 1980 by Pope John Paul II allows the ordination of married men in certain cases.

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Empire State Building turns off to Mother Teresa

Posted by: Dan Grippo   🕔 Tuesday 15, June 2010 Categories: Consecrated Life

New York City's Empire State Building said "yes" to Mariah Carey, dog shows, cancer charities, even the 60th anniversary of communist China. But the landmark skyscraper's owners have declined to illuminate the iconic skyscraper in honor of the late Mother Teresa.

Bill Donohue of the Catholic League said his advocacy group requested that the building be lit on August 26 for the centennial of the late Nobel Peace Prize winner's birth. The request was denied in an unsigned, faxed letter, Donohue said, "and they never gave an explanation."

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn told the Associated Press that she spoke with Empire State Building owner Anthony Malkin. Although the real estate mogul was "very professional" and said he "would reflect on the points I made," she said, he didn't give her a satisfactory answer.

Mother Teresa helped open a pioneering hospice for AIDS patients in Manhattan's Greenwich Village. "Her impact on the world was so much greater than one religious group," Quinn said.

Illuminating the 102-story high-rise on Fifth Avenue in different colors to mark an important date, cause, or personality is a New York tradition. The building is color-decorated for religious holidays such as Christmas and Hanukkah and other special occasions.

For Mother Teresa, the building would glow in blue and white in the New York night--the colors of her Missionaries of Charity order. Mother Teresa died in 1997, at 87, and was beatified by the Roman Catholic Church-- a step toward possible sainthood.

Requesting a lighting display involves filling out an application evaluated by the Empire State Building Co., which is privately owned and considers selection "a privilege, not an entitlement," according to the website with the application form. A decision is made "at the sole discretion of the (company's) ownership and management."

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Some relief for victims of Gulf oil spill

Posted by: Dan Grippo   🕔 Tuesday 01, June 2010 Categories:

As millions of gallons of oil from the offshore rig explosion foul hundreds of square miles in the Gulf of Mexico, at least there is some news to cheer. Catholic News Service reports that well owner BP donated $1 million in emergency relief funds to the Archdiocese of New Orleans. The grant will allow local church relief agencies to provide emergency food, financial and counseling assistance to needy fishing families.

BP earmarked $750,000 to Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New Orleans for direct assistance such as gift cards to local grocery stores, case management and counseling, and $250,000 to Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana for emergency food boxes.

In response to the catastrophe, Catholic Charities has opened five emergency centers at local churches to distribute the financial aid and offer counseling to fishing families. The $1 million grant will help fund outreach services for three months, and the program is likely to be extended if the impact of the oil spill grows.

The reappearing nun

Posted by: Dan Grippo   🕔 Thursday 20, May 2010 Categories: Consecrated Life

Bobby Brasher tells a story of coincidence on an American Public Media radio program called The Story. It involves two of the lowest moments of her life—and a nun who appeared at just the right time, in two different hospitals, years apart. Even though Bobby hasn't seen Sr. Jane Neussendorfer in almost 20 years, to her, their interaction was unforgettable.

Bobby thinks of this odd coincidence often as she does her own work as a nurse.

Tune in to listen to the fascinating story of how a Catholic nun made a real difference—twice—in the life of a woman at the most critical moment.

Maronite Catholic honored by Israel

Posted by: Dan Grippo   🕔 Monday 19, April 2010 Categories:

Yossef Mtanes' decision to be one of the torch lighters at the April 19 opening celebration of Israel's 62 Independence Day commemorations was not an easy one, writes Judith Sudilovsky of Catholic News Service.

An 82-year-old Maronite Catholic, Mtanes was born in the northern village of Biram, which was destroyed during Israel's 1948 war of independence.

Israel wanted to honor Mtanes for his actions as a 19-year-old, when he worked in the offices in the then-British-run refinery. When a riot broke out in November, 1947, Mtanes hid his six Jewish co-workers, protecting them from injury and possible death. Since then, he also has worked to ensure ethnic Jews and Arabs live peacefully together.

Mtanes said his deep religious faith has directed his actions throughout his life. "I believe in God and I believe that it is forbidden to kill an innocent man," he said. "What else could I have done? These were innocent people who had nothing to do with the violence going on outside. I am very proud that they have remembered me after 63 years and want to (show their respect) for me."

Biram, Mtanes' native village, was destroyed by fledgling Israeli forces after the residents left voluntarily when they were promised they would be able to return within a short time.

Although the Israeli Supreme Court has ruled that the villagers were wrongfully removed from their village and many successive Israeli governments have supported the return of Biram's residents, no government has actually taken action to move the case forward

His son, Kamil Mtanes, 52, said his father is a prominent member of the Maronite community in Israel and has been very active preserving its history. "I am very proud to be the son of such a father," he said. "He has always been a guiding light for us."

More new Catholics in Baltimore

Posted by: Dan Grippo   🕔 Monday 05, April 2010 Categories:

William J. Huller has been attending Mass with his wife for more than a half-century. The Catonsville man drove their six children to catechism classes and celebrated as they advanced through the sacraments of the church. On Saturday, at the age of 83, Huller became a Catholic, reports The Baltimore Sun.

"It'll be a change," Huller said before the Easter Vigil Mass at his local parish, where he formally became a member of the church into which he had married and raised his family. "It's kind of a new experience for me."

Huller was one of 1,090 adults who joined the Catholic Church at Masses throughout the Archdiocese of Baltimore this Easter, establishing a new record for the archdiocese for the second straight year.

Photo: Karl Merton Ferron, Baltimore Sun

"We're on a roll, I guess,' said Baltimore Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien. He said while he'd like to give credit for the increase to the archdiocesan staff, he said, "the rubber hits the road in the parishes. It's there where we find the real life of the church."

Many parishes have active evangelism programs run by lay members, which provide an opportunity for people to invest in the life of the church, O'Brien said. "The fact that the church is active and upfront and involved gets people's attention," he said. "We're not being ignored. We're there in every part of the process and very visible and audible, and that creates an interest in people who may have no church community."

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There's an app for that

Posted by: Dan Grippo   🕔 Friday 02, April 2010 Categories:
Ave Maria Press has announced the launch of Stations of the Cross, its first application for the iPhone and iPod Touch, reports Lynn Garrett of Publishers Weekly. The free download is based on John Paul II's Biblical Way of the Cross by Amy Welborn and Michael Dubruiel with full-color station images from paintings by Michael O'Brien (Ave Maria Press, 2009), a popular devotional for Catholics.



Drive-through Stations of the Cross

Posted by: Dan Grippo   🕔 Monday 29, March 2010 Categories:

There's an innovative version of the Stations of the Cross in Margate this weekend, reports the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Photo: Archdiocese of Miami

The U-shaped driveway of St. Vincent Catholic Church will be the pilgrimage route for a drive-through Stations of the Cross, reports James D. Davis, Sun-Sentinel religion writer.

Drivers will see some 80 costumed members of the parish do short dramas on small sets, including a mountain and a street scene. "We have a lot of older members who find it hard to walk," said Robert Ciantelli, who will direct the presentations. "We can also show it to more people this way."

The Vatican all a-twitter

Posted by: Dan Grippo   🕔 Monday 22, March 2010 Categories:

The Vatican this weekend opened six Twitter accounts, including one in English, reports John Thavis of Catholic News Service. The move comes in response to promptings from Catholic media worldwide that the Holy See get up to speed with regard to the use of "new media"—social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

The Twitter presence was launched the day Pope Benedict published his letter to Irish Catholics on priestly sex abuse. As a result, the first nine Vatican tweets were on the sex abuse issue, mainly citing past papal statements. In the future, Twitter will be used by Vatican Radio and other Vatican media outlets when there's particularly important news.

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NY Times columnist wants "to grow up and become a Polish nun"

Posted by: Dan Grippo   🕔 Monday 01, March 2010 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life

New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristoff, who often writes about humanitarian crises around the world, has this engaging paragraph in his February 27, 2010 column on the growing role of faith-based groups in humanitarian relief efforts:

"One of the most inspiring figures I've met while covering Congo's brutal civil war is a determined Polish nun in the terrifying hinterland, feeding orphans, standing up to drunken soldiers and comforting survivors--all in a war zone. I came back and decided: I want to grow up and become a Polish nun."

Keep missionaries and relief workers of all faith traditions in your prayers today. And tell us how YOU are helping alleviate suffering somewhere in the world--through a donation, a volunteer effort, alternative spring break, or the like.

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Catholic higher education provides lifelong lessons

Posted by: Dan Grippo   🕔 Monday 08, February 2010 Categories:

The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University is a nonprofit research center that conducts social scientific studies about the Catholic Church. CARA has conducted a significant amount of research on the long-term effects (throughout life) of attending a Catholic higher education institution, with some interesting results:

Catholics who attended a Catholic college or university are more likely than Catholics who attended a non-Catholic college (public or private) to:

  • Attend Mass every week (34 compared to 19 percent)
  • Register with a parish (75 compared to 55 percent)
  • To agree that "I seriously consider the Church's statements, such as those of the Pope and U.S. Bishops on social, political and moral issues" (55 percent compared to 38 percent)
  • To agree that "all human life, from conception to natural death, is sacred. For this reason, the taking of life-whether through abortion, the death penalty, or assisted suicide-is wrong" (53 percent compared to 35 percent)
  • To oppose the death penalty (51 compared to 33 percent)
  • To disagree that "a woman should have the right whether or not to abort an unwanted pregnancy" (44 percent compared to 24 percent)
  • To oppose "making it legal for a physician to help a dying person commit suicide" (53 compared to 43 percent)
  • To agree that "Catholics have a duty to close the gap between the rich and the poor" (54 percent compared to 38 percent)
  • To agree that "society has a responsibility for helping poor people get out of poverty" (76 compared to 59 percent)
  • To agree that "the United States has a responsibility to take the lead in global peace-building (i.e., non-violent solutions to conflict)" (73 percent compared to 60 percent)
  • To agree that "It is important to me to do what I can do to help poor and needy people in countries outside of the United States" (71 percent compared to 54 percent)
  • To say that, when making political choices, they draw on their Catholic faith either "very much" or "somewhat" (70 compared to 55 percent)
  • Among men, those who have attended a Catholic college are more likely to say they considered becoming a priest or brother (43 compared to 23 percent)
  • Among women, those who have attended Catholic college are more likely to say they considered becoming a sister or nun (39 compared to 20 percent)

"Across the board, Catholics who have attended a Catholic college or university are more likely than those who attended a non-Catholic college to respond in a manner that is more consistent with Church teachings and practice," says CARA in reporting on its research.

What is your own experience? What is your opinion of Catholic colleges and universities and their role in faith development?

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