Category Archives: Vocations

Taking the Oath of Fidelity at St Joseph’s Seminary

Profession of Faith and Oath of Office.JPGThe Church asks those who are to be ordained and those who take an office of leadership to take an Oath of Fidelity. Pope John Paul II outlined the Church’s expectations her ministers in a 1998 motu proprio Ad Tuendam Fidem, and concretely expressed in the “Profession of Faith and The Oath of Fidelity on Assuming An Office to be Exercised in the Name of the Church.”

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s commentary notes that the Church’s profession of faith has been received by the faithful, ordained and laity, as a P5130045[1].JPGline of continuity of what is authentically believed about the Blessed Trinity and the Church’s share in the life of the Trinity through the ages. The profession of faith and the propositions contained therein are testimonies of the Christian faith handed down through the millennia.

Essentially, the deacons who made their profession of faith and the oath of office tonight are witnesses of the truth of the resurrection of Christ not only as baptized Christians but very soon to be more closely connected to the work of Christ with their souls changed at the deepest part and signing the profession of faith and oath of office.JPGrecognized in heaven by the laying on of hands and the prayer of the bishop, as priests. The mandate of the profession and the oath recognizes that these deacons are called to serve humanity enlightened by Christ as missionaries of Christ to the City and the world for the express purpose of growth and life in Christ. Further, taking the oath tells us that they no longer teach their own word but THE Word, Jesus Christ.

Acknowledged this evening is the life-long desire to conform life to Christ crucified and risen guided by the teaching of the Church.All this is CFRs sign profession and oath.JPGmade possible by listening attentively to the Word of God and to tasting Him in the Eucharist, thus satisfying the sure yearnings of the human heart.

Here they begin to be more and more serious in preparing to make an account of the hope that they have known.


We are grateful for the photos taken by Esteban Sanchez, a second year theologian at Saint Joseph’s Seminary.

Monastic Family of Bethlehem and of the Assumption of the Virgin, Livingston Manor, NY

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Back in February I received two extraordinary gifts from Brother John Paul, CFR: a weekend spent in a hermitage used by the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal and Brother John Paul’s introduction to a groups of cloistered nuns who live not far away, The Monastic Family of Bethlehem, Livingston Manor, NY. I had for several years appreciated the artwork of the nuns and this was a prime opportunity to meet Bethlehem, as it were, and to experience the sacred Liturgy and to drink in, for a very short time, the beautiful monastic atmosphere.


The nuns in Livingston Manor, New York, call themselves officially, “The Monastic Family of Bethlehem and of the Assumption of the Virgin” founded on November 1, 1950, at Saint Peter’s Square in Rome when Pope Pius XII proclaimed the dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The inspiration of French pilgrims was described in this way:

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That throughout the world there may exist religious communities devoted to silent adoration, striving to live in continual reference to what the Virgin Mary lives in heaven where she has been taken up with her soul and her body, into the glory of the Three Divine Persons, hidden for ever with Christ in God.


The monks and nuns of the Bethlehem communities, live the scriptural exhortation to seek the face of Christ by living in the school of Mary. From the Mary, the Mother of God, we learn not to set limits on our love of God and neighbor. This seeking of Christ’s face is discerned in the daily work of community living alone and together, in fraternal and liturgical love, and in the sacred Scriptures. In his letter approving the Monastic Family of Bethlehem, Eduardo Cardinal Martinez Somalo said: “The devote themselves to listening assiduously to the Word of God and to prayer of the heart in a life of solitude, silence liturgical and fraternal communion and humble manual work. In order to be faith to this vocation they receive the twofold monastic tradition of East and West. They are disciples of Saint Bruno, receiving his spiritual fatherhood and wisdom of life. With him they are trained in the school of “Divine Philosophy,” which is Jesus Himself, the eternal Wisdom of the Father. They keep a holy watch awaiting the return of their Lord. Their life, then, is entirely ordered to divine contemplation and the greatest possible love for the Divine Persons and for all human persons.” The point, therefore, is to be progressively likened unto Christ Himself.

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Seeking that pearl of great price the monks and nuns of this order seek to live with all their heart the evangelical life, though hidden from the world. Life in the Bethlehem Family is life in an eremitical monastery, meaning each nun (or monk depending on the monastery) lives in a hermitage and the hermitages are connected by a cloister leading the to church, the sign of fraternal and liturgical communion. This vocation, from my one experience of being present at the monastery in New York, is lived intently as it is drawn from what Saint Luke observed in his Gospel “and Jesus withdrew to the mountains and prayed” (5:16). The Monasteries of Bethlehem take Saint Bruno’s Rule and his wisdom of life but they are not Carthusians but are affiliated to them in a bond of charity.

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The first community of sisters began in 1951 and the monks’ community was founded in 1976, in the Massif of Chartreuse. In 2007, the Bethlehem Family consisted in 650 members from 33 monasteries through out the world.


Work is essential in this life. You quickly learn that the monastic life -or any other style of life for that matter–is not meant for those who want to rest and relax while supervising the work of others. Each nun or monk is expected to contribute to the shared life. For example, when a new monastery is founded the nuns and monks first build their oratory where the Sacrifice of the Mass is celebrated and the Divine Office is sung. Daily bread is earned, not an entitlement that one sees in other orders. Similar to the average working class family in the world today, the monks and nuns work to sustain their life and glorify God. From something to be avoided or disdained, nuns and monks engage their entire being into the work assigned so that the love of God might be expressed, a sign of trust in the “God the creator of heaven and earth.” Here in New York, the Sisters of Bethlehem earn their living by working with their hands. Through their artwork, they seek to convey something of God’s beauty and truth. Their work itself is accomplished in prayer, praise to the Creator of all things and intercession for all those to whom these items are destined.

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The Monastic Sisters arrived in Livingston Manor, New York, in May 1987. The monastery is about 2.5 to 3 hours north of New York City. In this monastery, they earn their living by making medallions, icons and chinaware. They also sell dolomite statues, crèches, crucifixes, and bas reliefs made in the monastery of Mougeres France.


My brothers keep a holy and persevering watch awaiting the return of their Master in order to open to Him at once when he knocks, said Saint Bruno.


As Saint Isaac of Nineve said, “When the Spirit makes his dwelling in someone, this person cannot stop praying, for the Spirit does not cease to pray within him.”

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In the solitude of the cell, the monk and nun of Bethlehem has this schedule each day:

1 hour of the liturgical hours

45 min of lectio divina (Bible reading)

1.5 hours of personal prayer

1.5 hours of biblical and theological study

c. 2 hours for 2 daily meals and free time

4-5 hours of work

8 hours of sleep


In the church

1.5 hours for Matins and Lauds

1 hour for Mass

30 min of Eucharistic thanksgiving

45 min for Vespers

Monday is a day of complete solitude and on Sunday there is a meal together with a gathering for a chapter meeting and spiritual conversation.

The nuns can be contacted at:
Monastery of Our Lady in Beatitude
393 Our Lady of Lourdes Road
Livingston Manor, NY 12758 USA
tel: 845-439-4300


Monastère Sainte Marie Reine des Cœurs
3095, chemin Marie Reine des Cœurs
Chertsey, Québec, J0K 3K0 Canada


Monastère Notre Dame de Mongères
F-34720 Caux France

Tel: 33-04-67-98-4486

The motherhouse:
Monastère de l’Assomption Notre-Dame
F-38380 Saint Laurent du Pont France

Monks tel: 33-04-76-1497
Nuns tel: 33-04-76-4055

World Day of Vocations 2010

In his 2010 message for World Day of Vocations, celebrated
today on Good Shepherd Sunday, Pope Benedict names three elements for someone
willing to follow a call to priesthood and/or religious life:
friendship with
Jesus, total self-gift to God and a life of communion with all people
. All of this situated in the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross and our relationship to that very cross. Read the
three essential paragraphs from the Pope’s message below.

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A fundamental
element, one which can be seen in every vocation to the priesthood and the
consecrated life, is friendship with Christ. Jesus lived in constant union with
the Father and this is what made the disciples eager to have the same
experience; from him they learned to live in communion and unceasing dialogue
with God. If the priest is a “man of God”, one who belongs to God and helps others
to know and love him, he cannot fail to cultivate a deep intimacy with God,
abiding in his love and making space to hear his Word. Prayer is the first form
of witness which awakens vocations. Like the Apostle Andrew, who tells his
brother that he has come to know the Master, so too anyone who wants to be a
disciple and witness of Christ must have “seen” him personally, come to know
him, and learned to love him and to abide with him.

Another aspect of the
consecration belonging to the priesthood and the religious life is the complete
gift of oneself to God
. The Apostle John writes: “By this we know love, that he
laid down his life for us; and therefore we ought to lay down our lives for the
brethren” (1 Jn 3:16). With these words, he invites the disciples to enter into
the very mind of Jesus who in his entire life did the will of the Father, even
to the ultimate gift of himself on the Cross. Here, the mercy of God is shown
in all its 

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fullness; a merciful love that has overcome the darkness of evil,
sin and death. The figure of Jesus who at the Last Supper, rises from the
table, lays aside his garments, takes a towel, girds himself with it and stoops
to wash the feet of the Apostles, expresses the sense of service and gift
manifested in his entire existence, in obedience to the will of the Father (cf.
Jn 13:3-15). In following Jesus, everyone called to a life of special
consecration must do his utmost to testify that he has given himself completely
to God. This is the source of his ability to give himself in turn to those whom
Providence entrusts to him in his pastoral ministry with complete, constant and
faithful devotion, and with the joy of becoming a companion on the journey to
so many brothers and sisters, enabling them too to become open to meeting Christ,
so that his Word may become a light to their footsteps
. The story of every
vocation is almost always intertwined with the testimony of a priest who
joyfully lives the gift of himself to his brothers and sisters for the sake of
the Kingdom of God. This is because the presence and words of a priest have the
ability to raise questions and to lead even to definitive decisions (cf. John
Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo
, 39).


A third aspect which necessarily characterizes the
priest and the consecrated person is a life of communion. Jesus showed that the
mark of those who wish to be his disciples is profound communion in love
: “By
this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one
another” (Jn 13:35). In a particular way the priest must be a man of communion,
open to all, capable of gathering into one the pilgrim flock which the goodness
of the Lord has entrusted to him
, helping to overcome divisions, to heal rifts,
to settle conflicts and misunderstandings, and to forgive offences. In July 2005,
speaking to the clergy of Aosta
, I noted that if young people see
priests who appear distant and sad, they will hardly feel encouraged to follow
their example. They will remain hesitant if they are led to think that this is
the life of a priest. Instead, they need to see the example of a communion of
life which can reveal to them the beauty of being a priest. Only then will a
young man say, “Yes, this could be my future; I can live like this” (Insegnamenti
I, [2005], 354). The Second
Vatican Council
, in speaking of the witness that awakens vocations,
emphasizes the example of charity and of fraternal cooperation which priests
must offer (cf. Decree Optatam
, 2).

Friars of the Renewal profess vows today

May the Lord grant you His peace!

Great news echoes in the heavenly courts: 16 Franciscan Friars of the Renewal novices professed temporary vows (poverty, chastity and obedience) today at Saint Antoninus Church (Newark, NJ). Newly elected Community Servant (Fr. Provincial) Father Mariusz Koch received the vows. A reception followed at the novitiate of the Most Blessed Sacrament Friary also in Newark, NJ. Bishop Emmanuel Cruz, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Newark was present. Here are some pics of the community.

CFR novices 2010.jpg

The Friars also invested 10 new men as novices on Saturday. Names are always fun, especially when you think, “where did they get that name from?” Read the new names:
Br Frantisek Marie Chloupek, Br Vittorio Maria Pesce, Br Jude Thaddeus Boyden, Br. Tobias Marie Redfield, Br Simeon Mary Lewis, Fr. Maximillian Mary McGoldrick, Br Seamus Mary Laracy, Br Mark-Mary Maximilian Ames, Br Angelus Immaculata Montgomery, Fr Felipe Immaculee Casadia.
May Saints Francis and Clare bless the new friars abundantly!

Is a Strong Priesthood In the World’s Future? asks Massimo Camisasca

Massimo Camisasca.jpgOn February 26th Zenit published an article by Father Massimo Camisasca looking at what he considers to be the pillars (prayer & Liturgy) of priestly reform in the Catholic Church. Reading a bit of Church history recently there’s been a lot to consider when thinking about the state of the Catholic Church viz. the rise of Portestantism and then the decline of the Christian religion in some parts of the US and the world. Father Massimo Camisasca is the founder and superior general of the Priestly Fraternity of the Missionaries of St. Charles Borromeo. The Fraternity was founded in 1985 and recognized as a Society of Apostolic Life in 1999.


Statistical data of the past 30 years reveals an increase of 5% more diocesan priests worldwide, compared with an increase of 48% more baptized persons.
This alone could explain the question in the title of my latest book, “Padre ci saranno ancora sacerdoti nel futuro della Chiesa?” (Father, Will There Still Be Priests in the Future of the Church?) — a theme that underlies the entire text.
However, even more than the number of priests, the Church is interested in the truth of their experience. For reasons connected with my work as superior of a fraternity of missionaries, I travel throughout the world and am in contact with the most diverse realities. And, meeting with priests of different regions, I note that many of them experience difficulties not so much of an ideological type as of an emotional order.
Why is it that today the priestly life — which has made thousands of men happy and contributed enormously to the spiritual growth of humanity — is going through such a profound qualitative crisis?
My [Italian-language] book stems from this question. It is an attempt to rethink the life of a priest from its roots.

The regeneration of priestly life is one of the conditions for the new flowering of Christianity in Europe, and more generally, in our jaded West (Asia and Africa merit separate treatment).
I have attempted to trace the path for a rebirth returning to the fundamentals of the priesthood. I find one of those fundamentals in prayer.
Today many priests lose themselves in action, in the infinite number of activities and preoccupations that entrap them. For the action of each one of us to always be a source of nourishment, it must be constantly redirected to our relationship with Christ. And the place of our relationship with Christ is prayer, inseparable from silence.
Silence, prayer, reflection and study are the answer to one of the evils that afflict the figure of the priest: activism, which remains on the surface of things and absorbs the time of our energies and our feelings. Instead, action that stems from charity introduces us in the work of God, who precedes and exceeds us.

Another pillar of the renewal of priestly life is the liturgy. I say this following the teaching of the Pope. I am not ruled by the desire to accommodate myself to a current, but by a profound conviction that is born from experience.
If the priest does not rediscover the true meaning of the liturgy in his life, he cannot find himself.
Surmounting the process of trivialization, which we have witnesses in the last 30 years, it is necessary to return to that “fons et origo” that the Second Vatican Council identifies in the liturgy.
When it is faithful to the one who instituted it, when it is lived in all its rigorous totality and is attentive to the tradition of the Church, the liturgy is the place of education to communion.
The protagonist of the liturgy is Christ. By living the liturgy, we can enter into the life of God, and only thus can we priests be an effective company of men.
In the third place, the emotional question is central in the life of a priest. Loneliness is the other great evil that today afflicts thousands of priests.
Only by discovering himself a son can the priest be a father.

Friendship is a positive experience in a person’s emotional life. In the Church there is still much fear of friendship. Pathologies are not channeled if one is not helped to develop a healthy life.
Unhealthy and negative friendships, which because of this are not proper friendships, must not close us off from the essential value of these bonds of preference that open us to the love of others and help us to understand who God is.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]
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