• Fr. Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R., celebrated fifty years of priesthood on June 20, 2009. From an article (with lots of great photos, such as the one shown on the right) on the website of the Franciscan Friars of Renewal:
It was the summer of 1959. Dwight D. Eisenhower was in the third year of his second term as President of the United States. The jovial Pope, John XXIII, reigned as Supreme Pontiff. The Second Vatican Council was announced as a mere year-long gathering of bishops expecting to discuss some minor changes to the liturgy. Seminaries and Religious Houses of Studies were bursting with vocations. The Catholic Church appeared triumphant to many.Definitely read the entire piece. Also visit Fr. Groeschel's Ignatius Insight author's page. Congratulations to Fr. Groeschel—may God grant him many more happy years!
It was in this era of prospective change that a young, slender, red-bearded Capuchin cleric approached the high altar of Sacred Heart Church, Yonkers, New York. He knelt before the Most Rev. James H. Griffiths, Titular Bishop of Gaza, Auxiliary Bishop of New York, to be ordained a Roman Catholic priest in the Order of Friars Minor, Capuchins. His name to his confreres was Brother Benedict Joseph; to his intimates, “BJ”; to his family, Peter; but to those who know the full story, Robert. (You will need to ask a family member to get the full story.) The day was June 20, 1959, when Fr. Benedict Joseph Groeschel began his ministry of selfless service to those most in need as a priest of Jesus Christ.
Fr. Benedict Joseph was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, on July 23, 1933. He was the oldest of six children born to Edward and Marjule (Smith) Groeschel. His Franciscan vocation had an early start when he was baptized on August 6, 1933, at the Church of St. Joseph in East Rutherford, New Jersey, by the Franciscan priest, Fr. Edgar Barrett, OFM.
Young “Fr. Benedict” completed his grammar school years at St. Aloysius School in Caldwell, New Jersey. Upon completion of high school in Montclair, he entered the Capuchin Order. Being a Jersey boy, Father first approached the Friars of the Stigmata Province (New Jersey). He was quickly advised to consider the Province of St. Mary (New York), since the New Jersey province was known as the Italian province. There was fear the young Alsatian applicant might starve to death for his lack of appreciation for Italian cooking.
Br. Benedict Joseph was solemnly professed as a Capuchin friar on September 1, 1955. His studies continued at Mary Immaculate Monastery in Garrison, New York, until this day of grace, his priestly ordination, June 20, 1959.
• Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J., has been busy with astrophysics and atheism:
Contemporary astrophysics hold the scientific key to prove the existence of God, but unfortunately very few know the scientific facts, said Fr. Robert J. Spitzer, S.J, PhD, during a conference delivered on Sunday at the John Paul II Center for the New Evangelization in Denver, Colorado.
The Honolulu-born Jesuit is the past president of Gonzaga University and is also well-known philosopher and physicist who is involved in bringing science and theology together.
Fr. Spitzer is currently engaged in an ambitious project to explain the metaphysical consequences of the latest astrophysical discoveries, mainly, the existence of a Creator.
The conference in Denver was sponsored by John and Carol Saeman as well as the California Catholic philanthropist Timothy Busch.
“The arguments of Fr. Spitzer are addressed to every honest human being who is trying to reach to God through science,” said Mr. Busch, during the introduction.
“Atheism and pop culture have had a significant impact on Theism and it has to be confronted especially because Secularism and the negation of God are becoming pervasive,” began the 57 year-old priest.
“Theism, in fact, can be better explained by contemporary science and modern philosophy better than ever before, but particularly interesting is what is happening in the field of astrophysics ... to the point that I can't imagine why agnosticism and Atheism are still popular,” Fr. Spitzer said.
“That is why we need contemporary ‘translators’ that are capable of bringing today's science to regular people, and especially, to bring the astrophysical response to atheism,” he added.
Fr. Spitzer explained that, since science is based on a empirical model, it can change at any time. Nevertheless, as science develops and the so called “Big Bang” theory of the origin and existence of the universe becomes more refined, “it becomes less and less possible for other explanations (of the universe) to be scientifically viable.”
Read the entire Catholic News Agency article. Fr. Spitzer, who has authored Five Pillars of
the Spiritual Life and Healing the Culture for Ignatius Press, is working on or has finished several new books, including Jesus-Emmanuel: Evidence of the Divinity of Christ and the Unconditional Love of God (Ignatius 2010), Suffering and the Unconditional Love of God (submitted to Ignatius for possible 2010 publication), and New Proofs for the Existence of God: Contributions of Contemporary Physics and Philosophy (Eerdmans 2009).
• Fr. Robert Barron was recently interviewed by The Catholic Herald:
He surveys the contemporary scene from Barack Obama or Christopher Hitchens to the latest papal encyclical, The Sopranos - "Tony Soprano is sort of an Augustinian figure" - or the music of Bob Dylan, which he says is deeply biblical. He's very clever and it does no harm that he seems solid. There's nothing weird about him; neither is he a trendy try-hard.
The key thing for him is that Catholics should engage with the culture unapologetically. He's fond of "John Paul Two", as he calls him. "I think he was a very good example of this unapologetic but very genial Catholicism, not scolding and belligerent, but he was trying to show how attractive Catholicism was on its own terms."
Not that he isn't full of praise for the present Pope, especially for the "élan" of his literary style, but the Williamson affair, he says, showed a "lack of basic competence" in the Roman Curia. The Vatican should not have been unaware of information that could be found on Google. "Maybe the communications department has to be improved a tad," he says.
He's prepared to make such gentle criticisms because, as he says: "I'm with Cardinal Newman. He would say the Pope's infallibility has nothing to do with his pragmatic judgments." He has absolutely no time, however, for what he calls the "anti-Roman feeling".
"If you go into a bookstore you'll see all kinds of evangelical books with very confident titles and then a lot of the Catholic books are 'Why I'm not a Catholic', 'Why I'm mad at the Pope'. Are we surprised that we're not very effective in getting our message across?"
Of course, not everybody thinks evangelising is an appropriate thing for Catholics to be doing these days. "Evangelising gets a bad name because of bad evangelists, certainly on the evangelical side. That shouldn't prevent us from doing the basic task of the Church, which is to bring people to Christ in his body the Church. Our goal is to preach to all nations. If we stop doing that we've lost our soul. You do it in a way that leads with the positives, but by God you do it."
Is there any risk you might offend people who hold different beliefs?
"Paul at the Areopagus in the Acts of the Apostles is doing things with evangelisation. He was talking to a very multi-cultural crowd, making no apology but doing it in a non-violent way, proposing not imposing."
If that's the case, then, shouldn't more priests be doing what you're doing?
"Yah, I think so. There's a dearth of priests who are trained in use of the media.
I think a lot of our bishops sort of get it but they didn't come of age with all this technology."
Read the entire piece. Visit Fr. Barron the web at WordonFire.org.
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