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07/02/2009

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The year was 1963 and I was in trouble with the police. My folks sent me to talk with our Navy Chaplain Fr. Joseph F. Brennan Cdr USN. He spoke about right and wrong and asked about my interests. I liked music. He sent me home with a tape recorder which I used for many years.

In 1970 I discovered alcohol and later drugs. In short order I was in trouble.

Forward to 1981 I am 30 years old and attending an AA meeting. A man sitting up front taping the speaker asks me If I know anything about recording equipment. That started a journey of recovery that brought me back to my Faith and 29 years of continuous sobriety. Thank You Fr. Joe

I just want to encourage all Priests at this time. I was raised in an abusive family in the 1960s. The only place of santuary for me was the Church. Seldom do I read of stories like mine, but an Irish neighbor family of mine took me under their wing, introducing me to the faith.

No priest ever was inappropriate toward me and they gave me hope in a bad time of my life. I want all priests to know what a precious gift they are to the Church and to individuals. I doubt if I would have survived without their deep influence and compassion at that time in my life!

God Bless all of you!

I was received into the Church this Easter vigil (2010). Prior to my confirmation, I needed to go to confession. First confession for an adult is very daunting! Father Gripshover was kind and compassionate, very patient and helpful, striking a careful balance between making me comfortable and leading me to repentance. He was everything I could have hoped for in the final stages of my journey to the Church.

What Providence led our Holy Father to declare 2010 "The Year for Priests"? It seems this year, again, we must endure anew the scandal of priestly abuses. While our first prayer is for their victims and families, let's never forget to pray for the priests involved. And let's redouble our prayers for all the many many good priests and faithful bishops, and our Holy Father, as well. For they are also enduring a painful Way of the Cross as our Church struggles to reform and renew the barque of St. Peter. We are made one at the table of the Lord and this Eucharist will see us through our latest trials.

It was back during those days of the Second Vatican Council, fall of 1963. I left Cuba when I was sixteen, my native country, for Italy and my tourist visa was about to expire and United States was the place where I had relatives and a permanent legal status.

I badly needed to get my papers in order and to come up with some money to buy the airfare. Monsignor Eduardo Boza Masvidal (representing Cuba in the Exile before the council) promised to help me. As I was talking to him, I noticed a hole on both of his shoes' bottoms. I remarked this to his assistants... They commented back to me ..."He spends all his salary helping the poor..."

A few days later Monsignor Boza handed to me the airfare for New York, USA. Guess where did the money come from?

Fr. Rodger Fleming at St. Joseph's parish in St. Charles, Missouri, is a blessing to us. God led me to this parish for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the spiritual guidance of Fr. Fleming. Although Fr. Fleming is relatively new to the priesthood, his wisdom is far beyond his years. As a Catholic from birth, I had years of spiritual dryness which nearly led me away from the Church. Fr. Fleming has helped me renew with a vengeance, my interest in my faith, prayer and the sacraments. I credit his intervention with my reversion into the Catholic faith. His kindness, genuineness and spirituality are truly a gift from God to me. Growing up, I did not have this type of interest from the priests with whom I was acquainted. That is not a slight to those priests in any way. I just think that God works through him differently and I am blessed that He chose to place Fr. Fleming at a stop on my journey.

I met Fr Jim Tugwood in 1977 at the St Pauls Cursillo Center. I made the Curssilo with him as spiriual director at that time. He was once told by a woman parishioner at his Our Lady of Snows parish in Queens NY that her husband hd passed away on Ascencion Thursday. His remark was "What a beautiful day to die." His faith was that of a true apostle. He himself died on that day, Ascention Thursday in 2005. He had just finished morning mass and suffered a massive heart attack in the sacristy. I once sent him greeting card expressing my love for him just because I was thinking of him that day and how I would still be lost and depressed if he had not taken the time to love me as Christ loves me. When I needed him, he stopped what he was doing and gave me his full attention. I think thats what Christ would do for any of his little lambs and so did Jim. We need more Jim Tugwoods. Oh my card said With much love to the man who saved my soul,Your friend Bert Salerno.

I live in Manor Tx. We have been blessed to have a wonderful priest. He gives retreats in our parish so powerful that many lives have turned around from sinful ways; communities are being form and people care and help each other in a remarkable christian way. Before, mass was over and people left church immediately, today people greet each other and help everyone to grow in love for Christ.

Praise God! for giving us Father Ernesto Elizondo!

My name is Helen & I'm from Belarus. I know one priest. His name is Fr. Tadeusz. He's from Poland and serves in my country. I've known him only a few months but I can tell him everything and he always understands me and gives me wise advise. He's always very happy. He has a soul of child--very sincere. Thank God I know him.

Doctors told me I had one of the most agressive forms of cancer and had slim chances of survival. Almost five years ago I went to my priest and begged for advice.
He told me to receive the Blessed Sacrament as often as I can and when he raised the host to pray "You died for me. Prepare me to die for you. You suffered for me. Prepare me to suffer all even if I must die for you."

Since then I have received nearly every day and while it looks like I'm going to survive cancer, even an all-out miracle won't compare with the grace I have received. Every day, at the advice of my priest, I prepare to suffer and die with him and for him. I couldn't have learned to accept that any other way.

Thank you father for allowing me to share in your passion every day.

Thank God for priests who are here for me during the Sacrament of Confession. This is so important that God wants me to confess and he will do the rest!

My parish priest touched on forgiveness during Lent. During Confession I said I choose to forgive all those who have hurt me. Even though I forgot to mention some names of those I choose to forgive but God does not. He stirred the one who hurt me to come forward to give me a gift and reconcile. Praise God, for what is impossible to man is possible to God!!

Fr. Art Dalupang is a wonderful priest at St. Anthony in Florence S.C. On New Year's Eve my 12-year-old beloved cat died of cancer and I was devastated. I was so upset that I went to talk to Fr. Art about it. Fr. Art told me that everything would be o.k. and another pet soon would take his place. I asked him how he knew that. He said it has been his experience in grief counseling those who have lost a beloved pet that God soon places another pet in need of loving care into the life of the grieving person.

When I told my mother about Fr. Art’s “prophesy,” she said that was exactly how she acquired her beloved cat Buddy. About six weeks later my mother turned 96 and developed a debilitating problem with her knee. She told me she could no longer take care of Buddy, a 15-pound cat, and asked me if I would take him. So Buddy moved into my house with no problem. It wasn’t until he’d been with me for a week that I realized Fr. Art’s prophesy had come true.

Fr. Art has given me hours of wise counsel over the years for many issues in my life. It seems to me that anything that is important to me, even the death of a pet, is important to him. One of his many gifts is being available especially to the sick. We, his sheep, are truly blessed.

My encounter with Father Tommy Hopper changed my life. I was troubled one day when I admitted to a cradle Catholic that I had not been to confession in over 20 years. I was told that I was commiting a mortal sin and I was.

Being a Protestant convert, I felt that I was forgiven by Jesus without the need for anyone else. When I shared this with Father Tommy, he looked at me and said, "Dennis, you know what, you are probably right but Jesus is giving you a gift and you are saying no, thank you." I was stunned to understate it. I later "unloaded" on Tommy at my first true confession and my life has not been the same since as the Eucharist now sings to my soul, the song of heaven.

Such Grace, He, Jesus, gave me through this priest.

I had been away from the Church for about 15 years. I have been living a very sinful life and, spiritually, going bad. I started attending Holy Angels Catholic Church in Portsmouth, VA, in March of 2009 with Fr. Michael Boelinger. He has been such a great mentor for myself, and he has also been such and influence on my Baptist wife that she is getting comfirmed on the upcoming Easter Vigil.

He gives very heart-warming homilies that always make you want to know Jesus more. We also have an assistant pastor in Fr. David Carr. He is also a wonder priest who alway seems to put things in modern terms that makes complete sense to me. Thanks for everything Fr. Mike and Fr. David.

About 25 years ago, I was a young, single Catholic whose life had been radically transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit in the Charismatic Renewal. As a response to the Lord's wonderful blessings in my life, I had felt led to join the Jesuit Volunteer Corps and dedicate a year of my life in service to the poor. Through a series of circumstances, at the last minute it fell through, and I was devastated.

As it happened, I was attending a Bible Institute at St. Mary's University in San Antonio. Despite the amazing community support I received through this time, I was very angry at God, and felt rejected and abandoned by him. One night I went into confession, and poured out my anger, hurt, disappointment and sadness to the priest. I will never forget how he truly was Jesus for me.

He listened, and soon, tears of empathy and compassion were streaming down his face! This was a turning point for me, and brought me the healing I needed to continue to serve the Lord, wherever and however he called me to. I have been doing that ever since.

I only wish I could remember this priest's name; but maybe it was not meant to be, as he truly was Jesus that night.

I'm 14 from San Jose, CA. A year ago, Fr. John Poncini and Fr. Kevin Joyce delivered me from demonic influence I accidentally brought upon myself. Since then, they have helped and are continuing to help me grow in my faith and understanding of Jesus. They've inspired my to run to the darkness, seek out the torn, lost, and confused, and let the them see the light. Words cannot express how much they've done for me, I don't know where I'd be without them. God bless both of them.

I just want to say that the holy Catholic priests are the umbilical cord to God...I love them, their sacrifice, their love for Jesus Christ, their vows, their Holiness, their commitment for God. I love the Holiness of my Catholic faith, the faith established by Jesus as given to St. Peter passed down 265 popes until today. We are the true church and the priests are the Apostles passed down. God Bless them

Fr. Jim Duell is the priest who most influenced me. When I first met Fr. Jim in the early 1980s I was having difficulty with my faith, especially believing that God loved me. I was having problems with depression, and an eating disorder. I did not believe in myself. Fr. Jim helped to realize that I was a good person, and that God loved me. He made me realize that I needed help for the depression, and the eating disorder. So I checked myself into the hospital and got the help I needed to overcome my depression and eating disorder. I began to believe in myself. So through his faith and guidance Fr. Jim helped me to see that I was a loving person, and to accept myself.
Through the years I have seen Fr. Jim face adversity and suffering in his own life. Within a two year period of time he lost his mother, father and brother to cancer. Fr. Jim also faced some difficult hardships in the priesthood. However, I could see how his belief in a loving God, prayer and strong faith helped him come through these difficult times.
Fr. Jim is a dedicated pastor to the people of St. Patrick’s church. And he is a caring person who brings the faith and love of Christ to the people of St. Patrick's church. Fr. Jim is a humble person who gives of himself. Fr. Jim told me that there was a person he knew that needed a recliner chair for their house. So he gave that person his own recliner chair. I know that Fr. Jim is a person who gives to others and helps people in many ways. So Fr. Jim is truly filled with the Spirit of Jesus Christ. God Bless You, Father Jim!

Fr. Gervase Mukuka of St. Anthony Parish in Kitwe, Zambia, is one selfless priest. He inspired me through his homily to start going to confession after a little over 10 years. Through the example of his life, I have renewed my faith and with him every Mass is a healing Mass. I would like to thank him for allowing himself to be used so greatly by God. His reverence for the Holy Eucharist has made Jesus Christ real to me and to believe He is trully present. THANK YOU.

Father Jairo Restrepo is one of the best priests the Boise Diocese ever had. He is very smart and will answer any question you have for him. He is very kind and gives very good advice. He likes to teach people about God and what is means to truly be a Catholic. He is the best priest we've ever had.

He and Father Carlos Velez are equal. They both taught us so much and every one loved them. They are true teachers of the Catholic faith. Their homilies are excellent, so full of life and inspiring! They explain God and the Mass so beautifully and they make you want to go to Mass and visit Jesus more often. THANK GOD FOR THEM!

At the age of 48, I met a saint. I worked for him in the Campus Ministry at Sacred Heart University for three months as his secretary.

I had known many clergy and other religious in the past, plus many good, holy lay people, but I knew very quickly that Fr. Paul Merry was different. I observed at close hand his dealings with others, his total unselfishness, and his commitment to his vocation. He NEVER turned down a request, whether it came from within the University or from the wider community. He was absolutely stretched to the limit. However, all was done with good humor. I'll always remember his smiling face. Most everyone who knew him loved him.

I worked for him for much too short a time as he was called to the Chaplaincy at the Catholic mission in Peru. However, the short time, I did know him lasted me a lifetime (that was 27 years ago). Thanks to Fr. Paul, I know I will never turn away from my Catholic roots.

What amazes me most about Father Francis Mwangi of St. Mary's Parish in Ongata Rongai, Nairobi Kenya, is how he sits half an hour before Mass and after Mass, silently in the corner talking to God, listening to God and meditating before God. When he is doing the sermon you can hear very cleary that the words he speaks are inspired by the spirit. They are not his.

No matter how people praise him, he does not let it get to him. He seems to empty himself before God every day, and he is very humble, treating everyone alike poor or rich, sick or heatlthy. And he fears only God.

I was getting ready to divorce and I was hurting.

Then my friend asked me to talk to a young priest. I was skeptical. But after one hour when he spent his time asking me questions, I was convinced that marriage is a tripartite agreement with God, my spouse and I and that God was eager to help me carry it through.

This changed my mind and I decided to give another chance. We have been together for the last 10 years.

I found faith late in life--I was over 40 years old. When I started attending the Catholic Church in Stockholm, Sweden, there was this one priest who was also responsible for the RCIA. He has been an inspiration to me ever since. He is well-educated, very strong in faith and a true shepherd for all of us in the parish. And he always has time when people need to talk. The climate for Christians in Sweden is pretty harsh, and even worse for Catholics, so we laymen need all the support we can get to be able to truly grow in faith.

With Father Ingvar Fogelqvist, my journey in faith has been a truly inspirational one! God Bless you, Father Ingvar!

Coming from a very conservative evangelical background, I was deeply impressed by the simple and sincere love shown by Father Angelo and the sisters for the AIDS patients in the home where I was a volunteer. I was accepted, never challenged--first in service and then as I began attending Mass--mostly out of curiosity. Years later I joyfully received the Sacraments, in amazement and wonder. It has been like stepping from a black and white photo into real life.

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