Category Archives: Columns

Faithful Food: Family Far and Wide

by Kim Long

“Teach us to number our days, that we might gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

I enjoy my work as a DRE and many of us who share this title, along with its joys and challenges, will jokingly say those letters stand for “directly responsible for everything.” Like many people, we change hats multiple times a day.

Recently I was tasked with explaining baptism to a 10-year-old child who had not been “raised up in church,” as my grandmother would have stated it. I was amazed when, during the course of our lesson, the following statement “issued forth from my mouth:” So you have a family at home, and a family here in PSR classes, then once you are baptized you have the Church family at St. Mary’s and another really big family – all the Catholics in the whole world are part of your family. I realized later that it was one of those golden moments when I stepped aside and let God speak!

Lately that has been driven home in the form of a series of events occurring in rapid succession.

The tug to deepen my prayer life has become undeniable. I kept First Friday and Saturday devotions for many years and then, for no particular reason, stopped. I decided to give it another try. I promised myself I would begin in February. As life goes, I was visiting out of town family and realized it was a First Friday. I found a church nearby offering a First Friday Mass and at 5:19 p.m., with only moments to spare, I dashed into the pew, my hurried breathing slowing, falling into the rosary’s rhythm. I felt at home.

Saturday found me in another town along the northeastern side of our state with a slightly smaller First Saturday crowd. Again, falling into the rosary prayers, I relaxed breathing into the moment.

After Mass I visited an elderly relative. Stepping into her home it was as though we had visited yesterday even though it had been a while since I darkened her door. With old time gospel music playing, we reminisced, shared biscuits and tomato gravy, and I left more keenly aware of the passage of time.

Once home, I was asked to read at two funerals, one for a family I knew through church, the other extended family. Two sets of readings, each perfect for the families gathered. They were also perfect for me, connected by God, through time, space and place. A pattern was unfolding.

Currently, our parish awaits news of a neighbor’s health. Suffering a bad fall in the early morning, she phoned me and I rushed over, bathrobe flying and heart pounding. After EMS took her to the hospital a network of care was invoked. Now we pray and wait, believing in God’s best for her, and by extension for us.

Several of us gathered one night recently amid 50 pounds of flour and sugar and a case of eggs as we baked St. Joseph Altar cookies. Laughter, prayer, and work combined to fill us with God’s goodness. Sister Sledge’s 70’s anthem echoed in my head “We are family. I got all my sisters with me.”

We are enveloped in our big Catholic family wherever we are, whether we always like it or not. We keep the peace, hold the line, smile, cry, love. We are bossy and jockey for a favored spot; we reconcile and begin anew.

As I enter the Holy Season of Lent with my big Catholic family, I am liking this extended group, my family at home and in life, very much.

Irish Hash

•  1 Sweet potato, peeled, grated
•  1 bag broccoli and cauliflower slaw (found in the produce section, if not available substitute cauliflower and broccoli florets)
•  1 onion peeled and diced
•  1 teaspoon of minced garlic
•  ½ cup vegetable broth
•  Olive oil to cover bottom of skillet
•   Salt and pepper to taste

1) Sauté onion and garlic in the olive oil on low flame. You don’t want them to brown (no crispy bits please).

2) When soft and the fragrance has been released, add the vegetables all at once and stir, coating the vegetables in the oily onions and garlic.

3) Add some vegetable broth and cover, simmering on a low flame, stirring often to combine and to make sure it doesn’t stick.

This dish is one I “made up” because I needed a vegetable/starch and didn’t have enough of either, so I combined them. We enjoy it served with pork chops or chicken, but during Lent it’s a faithful companion to Tuna Casserole! Enjoy!

Mike’s Meditations: Desiring Our Own Transfiguration

by Mike Van Vranken

When we read the story of the Transfiguration of Jesus, we sometimes talk about the awe of this miracle. And, it is awesome. Jesus’ face and clothing turn white as snow while Elijah and Moses are talking with him. It is a scene too difficult to really imagine. But how do we use this scene in our daily lives? Or, asked another way: “Am I living the Christian life with such oneness with the Spirit of the Risen Christ within me, that I am transfigured like Jesus?” When people look at me, do I look different than others around me? By living the gospel of Jesus, have I become so transfigured that others will see that I am set apart, and they therefore desire to have what I have? Here’s how Jesus put it: “This is how they will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” John 13:35. In other words, when we truly love one another, we will look different to others – transfigured!

It might be useful to determine how we are to love one another. St. Paul writes: “Love is patient . . .” 1 Cor 13:4. Have you ever prayed for patience? According to Paul, patience is one of the characteristics of love. In his letter to the Galatians, he lists patience as a fruit of the Spirit that begins with love. How will I know if I love all of God’s children? I just ask myself: “Am I patient with all of God’s children?” If not, according to Paul, I don’t love them all. I need to take this to prayer and ask God to reveal to me all of the people in this world that I do not have patience with. Without patience, I’m not being loving and, consequently, I’m not transfigured. Oh, and one more thing, if I say I love God, I must have patience with Him too!

“Love is kind” 1 Cor 13:4. What does kind mean? Indulgent, considerate, helpful, humane, respectful, thoughtful, having a desire to help others, and charitable are just a few of the definitions of being kind. If I gossip, I’m not very kind. If I criticize or degrade or demean someone’s dignity, I’m not very kind. In other words, I’m not loving. There is certainly no transfiguration for me if I’m not kind.

Paul goes on to say that love is not jealous, or pompous or inflated or rude. It doesn’t seek its own interests and is not quick tempered, nor does it brood over injury (doesn’t hold grudges) 1 Cor 13:4-7. If I want people to see I’m a disciple of Jesus, I cannot be any of these.

And this is the part I really like. Paul says: “if there is knowledge, it will be brought to nothing” 1 Cor 13:8. He is about to make his point that love will last eternally but knowledge will not. What does that mean to me? If I have all of knowledge but do not practice love, I am nothing 1 Cor 13:2.

Finally, “love never fails” 1 Cor 13:8. I really like those odds! But, how can something never fail? The answer comes from the First Letter of John: “God is love” (1 John 4:8,16). “God is love and whoever loves remains in God and God in him” (1 John 4:16).

Let’s summarize: The only way someone will see us transfigured – as disciples of Christ, is by our love for one another. Paul has given some examples of what this love looks like. (For more of his explanation of love, consider studying all of 1 Cor 13). And how can we love like this? By allowing the God who lives in us to live through us.

As always, I suggest you take all of this to God and get His deeper perspective on how His love is showing in your life to the point that people can see and experience it in you. Then, when you hear the Transfiguration story proclaimed at Sunday Mass on March 17th, remember this is not just another miracle story. Instead, experience this gospel story as Jesus calling you to be his disciple; a disciple who will be transfigured and known as his disciple by your love for every human being on the face of the earth. Once we exhibit God’s love through us, we look different. That is the reality they will experience in us because they experience God’s love through us. How awesome is that miracle? •

Navigating the Faith: Liturgy

by Dianne Rachal

The liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the fount from which all her power flows.” Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, 10
December 4, 2018 marked the 55th anniversary of the promulgation of Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. This was the first of the 16 documents to be ratified by the bishops of the Second Vatican Council, illustrating the importance of liturgy to the Council and to the Church. The Church experiences and shows forth its true identity in the liturgy, strengthening the faithful to go forth and carry out the mission and message of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit into the world.

When we attend Mass each Sunday, do we just go through the motions and mindlessly say the words—getting our Sunday obligation out of the way so we can get back to the really important busy-ness of our lives?

• Do we enter the mystery of Divine Encounter and relationship with the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit?

• Do we join the daily struggles and joys of our lives to the Paschal Mystery: the dying and rising of our Lord, Jesus Christ?

• Do we understand that liturgy is communal, and that the very meaning of liturgy, leitourgia, is “the work of the people”?

• In the liturgy do we comprehend that we are the Church, that we comprise the Body of Christ?

• Do we experience, encounter Jesus Christ in His Word, in the priest, in the assembly, and especially in the Real Presence of the Eucharistic elements of his Body and Blood?

• Do we fully appreciate the great gift it is to be nourished by Christ’s Body and Blood?

• Do we join our voices with our brothers and sisters, with the Communion of saints, and with the angels to offer praise and thanksgiving to God the Father?

• Do we know that past, present, and future all coalesce in the liturgy—the “already” and the “not yet”: salvation history, God acting now in our lives, and anticipation of the heavenly kingdom?

• Do we genuinely profess our faith in the Creed, letting the words of the liturgy be the words of our belief?

• Do we allow God’s grace to permeate and strengthen us to become ambassadors and evangelists to others?

• Do we acknowledge that our participation in the liturgy sanctifies not only us, but all creation as well?

A covenant people called by God, and gathered together in faith, we offer to God an act of thanksgiving for the great things he has done. We are a pilgrim people on a journey, showing our solidarity with one another in grace, in our need for forgiveness, in our belief. In the richness of our diversity we try to be united ‘with one heart, and with one soul.’
According to Pope Francis, “The Mass is the very ‘heart’ of the Church and the source of her life… At every celebration of Mass, our lives, offered in union with Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, become, in him, an offering of praise and thanksgiving pleasing to the Father, for the salvation of the world.” (—Pope Francis, Libreria Editrice Vaticana) •

Lenten Devotion & 2nd Collections for March

by Fr. Rothell Price

Announcement Dates: February 24th & March 3rd  
Collection Dates: Ash Wednesday, March 6th

The need for participating in the Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe may seem far removed from our day-to-day Catholic life. It is not! Our Catholic brothers and sisters in Central and Eastern Europe greatly need our help. The religious liberty and vitality we are working to hold on to in the U.S. is being lost in Central Europe and slowly recovering in Eastern Europe. Our financial ability to support the Gospel and pastoral mission of our parish churches is far ahead of what is possible elsewhere. I encourage you to willingly participate in the Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe for their good and our own.
This collection supports the Church in 25 countries that are still struggling to recover from the aftermath of communist rule. Your support restores the Church and rebuilds the future in this region. Funds from this collection support pastoral care, catechesis, building renovations and seminary formation. Please be generous in your sacrificial gift to the Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe.

Announcement Dates: February 24th & March 3rd  
Participation Dates: March 6th – April 21st

Operation Rice Bowl is a Lenten devotion of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) that runs from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. This annual Lenten devotion intentionally unites us with the Lord Jesus and the least of his brothers and sisters. The Rice Bowl devotion offers each of us the opportunity to practice the spiritual pillars of Lent: prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Through Operation Rice Bowl we advance in the way of Christian love as we feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, visit the sick and care for the imprisoned (Matthew 25).

Each year the CRS Rice Bowl appears on our parish information tables and classrooms, beckoning us to do something for Jesus Christ and the least of His people. Each year I take mine home, read each side of the bowl as I put it together, and begin to place my daily offering in it. Every now and then I miss a day or two, but I am motivated to make up for those missed days before the next week begins.

I thank you for participating in the 2019 Operation Rice Bowl. I hope it is as special to you as it is to me to present your CRS Rice Bowl in church on Easter Sunday. Check out the downloadable CRS Rice Bowl apps on the bottom of the Rice Bowl at Thank you for your Lenten devotion.

Announcement Dates: February 24th & March 3rd  
Collection Dates: March 9th & 10th  

The Black and Indian Missions Collection embodies the Church’s concern for evangelizing the Black and Indian people of the United States. The Catholic Church still has a great desire to reach the African American, Native American and Alaska Native communities. Your donation is used to support and strengthen evangelization efforts across our nation to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ as faithfully proclaimed by the Catholic Church. Your gracious participation in the Black and Indian Missions Collection allows our U.S. bishops to provide grants to dioceses across the country to operate schools, parishes and other missionary services that build the Body of Christ in Native American, Alaska Native and Black Catholic communities.

The Black and Indian Missions Collection secures good teachers, forms lay ministers and catechists, and encourages young African Americans and Native Americans to give their lives to the Lord as priests, brothers or sisters. In Alaska and the Arctic regions, your donation makes it possible for priests, deacons and catechists to reach remote communities that are cut off from the world. Please, make it possible for the Light of Jesus Christ to shine in Alaska, the Arctic and among African Americans in rural and urban North America. Give generously to this work of the Church. Thank you for participating in the Black and Indian Missions Collection.

Domestic Church: Invite the Lord into Our Dreams and Hopes

by Katie Sciba

My dear readers, I have to share with you news and plans I am just over the moon about. After spending way too long believing it could never happen, I am going to Iceland. It’s happening; granted, I won’t be there until a year or so from now, but my future excursion is so real that it might as well be next week. I’ve been saving every month, selling stuff on eBay and I have going with me a dear friend who’s an experienced world traveler. Our proverbial sails are set and soon I’ll live what, until recently, was just a sweet, unreachable fantasy.

I fell for Iceland watching The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. It feels a little superficial that this Bucket List item came from a little-known movie, but inspiration can strike from any direction, right? The film features stunning shots of long, winding roads, waterfalls and seascapes along the Icelandic coast; this coupled with the thrill of adventure and the unknown drew me in and held on tight. I’ve always been drawn to travel and all things nautical, but either life or, quite honestly, a lack of planning prevented me from taking steps to make it happen. Plus I had Iceland totally written off as impossible because I have a family – a young one at that – and I assumed my husband wouldn’t like the idea of handling the kids solo while I skip across fields half a world away.

So my dream stayed just that – a dream; but I grew up learning that desires in our hearts, the deeply set ones that nearly cause pain because we want them so much, are planted by the Lord; after all who else can make the impossible possible? At the very least, Jesus Himself cares about the hopes that we have and the things that we’re drawn to experience. He’s not a distant Savior passively granting and refusing wishes; He’s here and ready to be involved in every detail of life. What does Jesus have to do with my plans to go to Iceland? Everything. In fact, I should have realized He was part of the whole scheme from the beginning.

He soon showed me that He alone could and would turn Iceland from a wouldn’t-it-be-nice idea to a concrete plan. In a moment of grace, I voiced my long shot wishes to my husband who responded not with the hesitation I anticipated, but with encouragement. Giddy with excitement, I shared my plans with my traveler-friend who volunteered to go with me. God also threw in plenty of time before my trip happens so I can adequately save.

And so, though I was eager to share news of my trip with you, the bigger news is this: Jesus cares. What is it that seems like just a nice idea to you, a far-fetched wish? What’s your Iceland – a thing that seems out of reach because it’s not practical or priority? Give it to Jesus. Let Him in on it. Even a simple, “Jesus I really wish I could…” or a “I want this, God.” Once we invite the Lord into our dreams and hopes, we’ll be able to see more clearly how He’ll make them happen, or if they’re not part of His plan. Confident in Jesus, the King of Impossible, we can move forward with faith and trust.

Faithful Food: A Love Note from the Almighty

by Kim Long

February guides us into the season of Ordinary Time. We find ourselves counting, marking time, and more or less going from one week to another, one lesson to the next, a time when Christ, the Lamb of God, walks among us and transforms our lives. Each calendar month and liturgical season has its challenges and opportunities. February is no exception.

In my elementary school days, February’s standard practice involved decorating a shoebox with hearts and cupids. Our mothers’ ironclad instructions that every classmate receive a card were obeyed, and the next day during the school party we reveled in the fact that we had mail… and lots of it! Amid pink iced cupcakes and candy hearts, we enjoyed the love of friends, the innocence of childhood, and the caring touch of parents providing treats. With petty playground disputes momentarily cast aside, we were transformed.

One way my family showed their love for us was through food and its glorious presentation. When they quietly created an involved dish and brought it forth to the table, they were showering us with love. My mother’s homemade beef stroganoff was a nice companion to my grandmother’s flaming desserts, but it was my Aunt Carolyn who took this to a different level. She had the patience to take things at a slower pace, and through the years brought to our table a series of real show-stoppers.

One of these show-stopping desserts was a plate of simple cream puffs piled high with drama and spun sugar, which tasted heavenly. Later I learned its formal name, Croquembouche.
As Valentine’s Day falls in the season of Ordinary Time and I reflected on the element of transformation, I was led to the scriptures, and surprisingly it was not the Song of Songs with its unapologetic and exuberant celebration of love I turned to, rather a passage from the Revelation of St. John: “For I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the former heaven and the former earth had passed away.” (Revelation 21:1). A bit later the writer assures us “that God is making all things new.” This passage seemed a natural sequel to the madness of a January filled with its resolutions. Transformation is defined as a thorough or a dramatic change in form or experience. I crave that with a hunger that no candy, flowers or cards can satisfy. And in this passage, which is usually read at funerals, I find a love note from the Almighty. If we are open, they are abundant, they are everywhere; in a smile, a beautiful sunset, the food we serve, and even at a long-ago classroom party. I pray to be open in February and beyond.

Mrs. Redditt’s Cream Puff Recipe

•  ¼ cup of butter (unsalted)
•  ½ cup boiling water
•  ½ cup flour (plain)
•  2 eggs, unbeaten

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2) In pan over medium heat, add butter to water and heat until butter melts.

3) Add flour all at once and stir vigorously until ball forms in the center of the pan.

4) Remove from fire and let cool slightly.

5) Add eggs one at a time beating after each addition.

6) Drop by spoonfuls on a parchment covered baking sheet. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown. When cool, fill with pudding or cream.

I used Godiva instant pudding mix, dark chocolate and white chocolate in two batches. The box called for two cups of milk, but I used one cup of milk and one cup of heavy whipping cream. Chill until ready to fill puffs. When ready, spoon pudding into a pastry bag fitted with a piping tip.

•  2 cups sugar
•  ⅔ cup water
•  2 tablespoons corn syrup

1) Add all ingredients to a heavy pot. Bring to a boil and do not stir.

2) Cover pan with lid for 2-3 minutes, the steam will dissolve any sugar crystals.

3) Uncover and boil for about five minutes, or until syrup turns amber.
Remove from heat.

1) You will need to work quickly. Dip the bottom of each puff into the syrup and place on a cake stand. You are making a tower of puffs so I used a smaller diameter plate so my puffs would stack taller. Continue dipping and stacking until all puffs are used.

2) Take a fork or a metal whisk with the end snipped off and the whisk opened up to resemble a cage. Dip fork or whisk into syrup and twirl it over the tower of puffs to form a sugar web around it. This has to be done quickly, as the syrup cools it hardens.

Mike’s Meditations: Are You Being Held Captive?

by Mike Van Vranken

Last month, we considered how Jesus explained the purpose of his ministry in Luke’s gospel. He said: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord” (Luke 4:18-19).

We pondered his first reason for being anointed – that he came to bring glad tidings to the poor. Consequently, we contemplated how we might be poor in our desires to help the needy, forgive those who have hurt us, poor in our compassion to help the elderly, and how Jesus liberates us from all of this poverty with God’s loving grace. Hopefully, your daily prayers with this scripture helped transform your beginnings of 2019. This month, let’s consider the next reason for his ministry.

Proclaim Liberty to the Captives. Who are the captives here Jesus is talking about? Is he talking about you? As always, these are not questions to only casually consider. These are words of Jesus we want to take to God, and ask Him for His perspective about them. Sit quietly in total knowledge that God is with you. Slowly read again the passage quoted above: Luke 4:18-19. Now, say out loud: “Jesus came ‘to proclaim liberty to the captives.’” Say it again. Pay attention to your feelings inside you as you say it. Does it make you curious, anxious, joyful or sad? Whatever your feelings, take them to God and ask for His perspective on them and if they are coming from Him. And if so, ask Him to explain them. Listen quietly for His response, whether it comes as a thought, or an image or a memory of something. And remember, His response may be more quietness.

As you dialogue with God, ask Him to reveal to you where you are being held captive. And, be open to hear His response, even if it shocks you. Sometimes, we can be held captive to our long-time prejudiced thoughts about other people. Am I captive to a thought that people on government assistance are lazy or freeloaders? Am I captive to an idea that people with same sex attractions are all sinners? Am I confined to a prejudice against Muslims or Jews? Am I held back because of fear that someone in need might be faking it or taking advantage of others? Am I trapped in a cage believing that anyone in the other political party is always wrong and sometimes evil? Am I locked up in some form of dualistic thinking that causes me to feel superior or elite because of my beliefs? Am I confined to the thought that it is wonderful for Christians to travel to Central America on a missionary trip to bless those poor souls living there in crime-ridden fear and poverty, and at the same time, am I firmly convinced we should build a wall to make sure those same poor, scared people cannot come into my country? Is my thinking so restricted that I believe the sins of others are much more serious than the sins I commit? Do I think my own way of praying is better than the way others pray? Am I somehow held captive to all of these narrow and inhibiting ways of seeing the world and those around me?

Well, rejoice! Jesus came to proclaim liberty to us captives. And yes, we are all held captive to these kinds of beliefs at one time or another. But, God became human in Jesus of Nazareth and because of this incarnation, he showed us how to live in His created world. He demonstrated to us how “to love one another as” he has loved us (John 13:34, John 15:12). We cannot do it on our own. But, with his love and grace, “all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).

Graciously allow God to show you all the ways you are held captive, and then faithfully ask Him for the grace to give you liberty from your captivities. Then, sit back and receive all of His gifts and graces. Be patient as they continue to unfold long after your prayer time is over. His graces will never run out; they are “new every morning” (Lamentations 3:23). And one by one, you will be freed from all of your captive thoughts, words and actions. And, as we are transformed into this new liberty of freedom, we are now able to pray for and be incarnation to and for all the others who are held captive as well.

Kids’ Connection: Epiphany

Click to download and print this month’s Kids’ Connection.

Vocations View: Why I Want to Become a Priest


by Seminarian Nicholas Duncan

I am going to let you all in on a little secret: I never wanted to become a priest. When I was a kid, I didn’t dream about wearing brightly colored vestments, preaching homilies, hoisting chalices or blessing pets. I wanted to become a professional athlete, win a gold medal or two, and have lots of money and a beautiful wife. I was told to dream big. I could become whatever I wanted to be. Consequently, these were the goals I pursued in my youth.

Eventually, I had to lower my goals from my childhood fantasies to what was a bit more attainable. I became a good athlete – not “Olympic” level – but pretty good. I realized that happiness does not come from money, so I tossed that goal aside, and I had a beautiful girlfriend. I seemed to be doing well for myself, but I did not feel fulfilled. My focus was on myself and what I wanted: my dreams, my goals, my desires – everything was about me. Never did I stop to ask the Lord what He had planned for me.

I wouldn’t even let the thought of becoming a priest enter my mind until I was 26-years-old. And once I did, I did not tell anyone for over a year. The first person I told was a priest. We told some other priests, and eventually I let my parents know. This small group of people were the only ones who knew for another year.

When I decided I was going to seminary, I was forced to tell people. I had to give them an explanation because I was quitting my job and moving out of my apartment. This secret discernment of priesthood is an obstacle many men face. Part of the problem stems from fear of talking about the priesthood. It is something that is rarely discussed in our churches. When I started to tell people I was thinking about becoming a priest, a feeling of relief came upon me.

Another reason for this fear is that when you tell someone you are planning on becoming a priest, inevitable questions follow. “Why would you want to become a priest?” “You mean the Catholic kind of priest?” “You do know they don’t let you have sex?” “That means you won’t get to have a wife and kids.”

Sex and children are always everyone’s immediate response. I want to shout at them, “Of course I know priests are celibate!” I didn’t know how to respond to these questions. The reaction people have is a product of our sexualized culture and misplaced values.

On a deeper level, this concern stems from the fact that God has designed man and woman for each other. It is natural for a man and a woman to leave their families to unite as one flesh and create a new family. Today the family is under attack. Young adults are rejecting marriage or postponing it. Even worse are those who want to redefine marriage according to the whims of men instead of by the eternal order of God. But I think it is a positive sign that people’s immediate gut response to celibacy is that you won’t get to have a family. Even those who do not believe have this response, showing their natural inclination to the plan God has for them, despite their actions to the contrary.

I, like many people, desired to have a family. All I knew at the time was that I believed it was “possible” for me to become a priest, and that through will power and self-control I could be celibate. Additionally, I had a sense that perhaps I was not called to marriage, but to something else. This feeling is even harder to explain.

I have come to realize that this “something else” is still a type of marriage. This supernatural marriage of the priesthood is in union with Christ, the Bridegroom, and his union through his sacrifice on the cross to his bride the Church. This supernatural union is REAL; this marriage is not a meager metaphor attempting to explain Christ’s love for us. It is an eschatological reality.

This is the marriage I now feel called to. Dating is forbidden at seminary because we are already in a relationship with another: the Holy Mother Church, the Bride of Christ. We are discerning if we are called to this supernatural relationship, and She, “the Church,” is deciding if we are fit to be her spouse.

When I am ordained (God willing) I will not be called reverend or pastor or minister, I will be called father. This name is not an honorary title or a salutation. This spiritual fatherhood is real. Yes, I would like to marry and have children, but I feel an even stronger pull to become a father to young and old alike. This is why I want to become a priest.  •

Navigating the Faith: St. Elizabeth Ann Seton – Wife, Mother, Saint

by Dianne Rachal

The gate of heaven is very low; only the humble can enter it.”  – St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

Elizabeth Ann Seton is the first native-born American to be proclaimed a saint in the Roman Catholic Church. Elizabeth lived every role possible for a woman: daughter, debutante, wife, mother, widow, convert, grieving parent and founder of the first congregation of women in America – the Sisters of Charity.

Elizabeth was born on August 28, 1774, in New York City to Dr. Richard and Catherine Bayley. Elizabeth’s mother died when Elizabeth was three. A year later, her sister Kitty died. As a child and teenager, Elizabeth was left with family members while her father was gone for long periods. Elizabeth was 16 when she met the 22-year-old William Magee Seton; they married four years later. Elizabeth and William had five children: Anna Maria, William, Richard, Catherine and Rebecca. Elizabeth was a devout member of the Episcopal Church, joining with other young matrons in service to the poor, especially to widows and orphans. She established an organization in New York City called the Widows’ Society.

The Seton family’s shipping business went bankrupt when many ships were lost at sea during wars. Elizabeth’s husband William contracted tuberculosis, and a voyage to Italy was proposed in hopes of restoring his health. Elizabeth left four of her children behind, including baby Rebecca, and with eight-year-old Anna Maria, sailed with her husband to Italy. Upon arrival in Italy, the Setons were quarantined at Lazaretto due to Yellow Fever. Business associates of William, the Filicchi brothers and their wives, brought the Setons food and blankets during the quarantine. William died, leaving Elizabeth a widow at age 29 with five children.

The Filicchis welcomed Elizabeth and Anna Maria into their home, and it was there that Elizabeth was introduced to Catholicism. Elizabeth was impressed with Catholic piety and the Real Presence in the Eucharist. One year after her return to America, Elizabeth was received into the Catholic Church at St. Peter’s Church on Barclay Street in New York City. Alienated from her family and friends, and trying to support her five children, Elizabeth started an academy for young ladies. Rumors were spread that the academy was a Catholic school, and the venture failed.

In 1808 Elizabeth was invited by priests to start a school for girls in Baltimore on Paca Street. Within a year Elizabeth took vows as a religious. Soon other young women joined her. In 1809 the small group of religious moved to Emmitsburg, MD, to become the first American Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph. Elizabeth became Mother Superior for 12 years. The order opened St. Joseph’s Academy and Free School—the first free Catholic school in America, and the beginning of the parochial school system. Revenue from the academy enabled the sisters to educate poor country children. Mother Elizabeth oversaw all aspects of the school: teachers, curriculum, discipline and taught French and religion.

The order adopted the habit of an Italian widow, and continued to grow. Mother Seton wrote textbooks, translated books from French into English, trained teachers and wrote articles on the spiritual life. During her years in Emmitsburg, Elizabeth suffered the loss of two of her daughters to tuberculosis: Anna Maria in 1812 and Rebecca in 1816. Elizabeth herself was weak from the effects of the disease. She spent the last years of her life directing St. Joseph’s Academy and her growing community. She died January 4, 1821, not yet 47-years-old.

Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton was declared Venerable in 1959 and beatified on March 17, 1963, by St. Pope John XXIII. She was canonized on September 14, 1975, by Pope Paul VI. Her feast day is January 4. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton is the patron saint of seafarers, bakers, death of children, the homeless, nursing services, widows and young brides.  •