Category Archives: Vocations

New Haven natives preparing for priesthood

Baptist 041.jpgOver the years New Haven area Catholics have nurtured the vocations of many men to the priesthood or religious life. In the coming days I am hoping to write more about those who have said “yes” to the Lord in His call to religious life and priesthood. But for the moment let me note here those from the New Haven area that are studying for a religious order or a diocese:

Ken Dagliere, Archdiocese of Hartford, Holy Apostles Seminary, Cromwell, CT
James Onofrio, Archdiocese of Hartford, Neumann House, St Joseph Seminary, Yonkers, NY
Gabriel Scasino, Conventual Franciscans, Forestville, MD
Paul Zalonski, Diocese of Bridgeport, St Joseph Seminary, Yonkers, NY
In the last few years Capuchin Father Charles Sammons and Fathers John Lavorgna and David Manna (priests for the Archdiocese of Hartford) were ordained priests and all from the greater New Haven area.
If there are others let me know.

New vocation video: Ordination 2009

NY Ordination 2009.jpg… the character of the Good Shepherd is branded on your hearts.. at ordination. 

A powerful video of the 2009 priesthood ordination rites in the Archdiocese of New York is link here.

The video is bone-chillingly beautiful.
The video was produced by Grassroots Films.
Contact Father Luke Sweeney, the NY vocation director, fr. luke.sweeney

American “nun” controversy?

Not sure about you but I am getting a bit annoyed by some of the oxygen being sucked out of the “Catholic newsroom” by the multiplicity of stories of how unhappy the many sisters’ congregations are that there is a Vatican sponsored visitation of active religious sisters which is focussed on the charism of the particular order and the living the charism today AND a second visitation being done to know what the sisters are teaching and practicing in their convents and schools when it comes to the Catholic faith. The apostolic visitation wants to see what needs to be done to help the active religious order (vs the monastic ones) so that they live their vocation and thrive. The second visitation is to see what Catholic character of the orders; that is, what content is being adhered to. Some religious orders of sisters don’t teach the Catholic faith as it is proposed by the Church especially when it comes to sotieriology & Christology, and ecclesiology & sacraments. So, what do the sisters follow in terms of the path set out by Christ and the Church when it comes to unicity of Jesus Christ, the Church as a sacrament unto salvation and the ordination of men to Order? Do they hold so rigidly to their own opinions so as to reject any fidelity to the faith as it has passed down from the Apostles? Some will undoubtedly see doctrinal questions interference and dealing too much with money, power and fame and not to the “true nature of what Christ wanted” or what the Vatican 2 Fathers wanted.

As one of the sisters whose group is suspicious of the Vatican investigation says, “I can’t believe where this doctrinal visitation is coming from.”
Read the accounts of what these sisters think about Vatican II, the sacred Liturgy, social justice, the ordination of women, faith and reason, contraception & abortion, etc. Many of the advocate dissent from the Magisterium, feminist liturgies, questionable ethics in the fields of sexuality and medicine, ordained women, and a Protestant ecclesiology, etc. The doctrinal visitation has nothing to do with whether Sister Mary John is wearing the habit or living in community; it has little to do with the great work the sisters did for education, hospitals and parish life. There are plenty of good examples of sisters’ groups who follow the Gospel, the Church and their Order’s charism and who have a solid sentire cum ecclesiae but don’t wear habits or live in large convents for very good reasons approved of by the Church. The categories of “liberal” vs “conservative” are neither accurate nor useful here. Likewise, it is not about a power struggle of right-thinking bishops over left-leaning sisters. It is about the fidelity to the teachings of Christ and the objectivity of the Church.
Like the Jesuits who often see themselves as the loyal opposition to the Church, and by holding this ideology even privately, the numbers of men entering the least Society are dwindling. So too, the women religious who want to remake the Catholic Church in their own image and likeness will sooner than later die a horrible death–their charism will be dead. But what I don’t understand is why forfeit the charism over these matters. Why allow the charism of Mother McAuley and countless others die because of false thinking?

The NPR story “American Nuns Question Vatican Scrutiny” is the latest in a series articles that are in my opinion pure pablum about the perceived confusion over what the various groups of sisters believe and how they act. It’s true that we live in a very secular society and post-Christian attitudes reign, but a new synthesis of our faith which dismisses some key elements of doctrine seems out of control. When key elements of the belief system are absent you start rejecting core Catholic belief and you have little to hold ship together. Vatican II didn’t ask the people of God to re-think the Catholic faith to make it relevant to today’s standards, it asked the people to allow the Catholic faith to re-think who they are and how to act as disciples of Christ in preaching His Good News. A vastly different stance.

A vocation means growth in love

It is about a growth in love, in your life and in the
Church. A calling in the Church is never a call to a job or function, but a
call to a person. A vocation is an appeal to grow into a relation, a relation
with God’s love. A call to the three evangelical counsels is a journey of
growing in love. This journey begins of course with less of His love, so that
more of His love can be given to me. The One, who is more than everything else
in this world, must grow in me.

(Homily at the investiture of novices “The
Work,” Familia Spiritualis Opus, Gregor Maria Hanke, OSB, Bishop of Eichstätt)

Recipe for a thriving religious order

Cist nun.jpgRecently, the National Catholic Register published an
article on the life of nuns at the Valley of Our Lady Monastery, located on 112
acres in Prairie du Sac, outside of Madison, Wisconsin. The author brings out
some salient points that contribute to the “success” of this particular
monastery. Let’s be clear, success is not defined here in terms of secularity but ways that allow for a vocation to thrive according to the Divine
Plan. Let me draw your attention to two things that struck me. Mind you, these
items (see below) are not new at all but they do spell out what is needed to help contribute to
the resurgence of religious life if it’s God’s will. Sadly groups like the Sisters of Mercy, the Sisters of St Joseph, the various Franciscan and Dominican sisters’ congregations to name a few, would think these comments are inaccurate, too shrill and not relevant for the “modern world.” Truthfully, I think these groups want to die because they are too “relevant” matter. BUT when you see women attracted to congregations like this monastery, the Alma Mercy Sisters and the Franciscan Sisters of the Martyr Saint George and not to the secular-looking groups, then one has to ask the hard questions. Having defend the general thesis of the article, let it be known I am not totally in
agreement with Father Mullady’s acceptance of BlackBerries but I can’t have


1. When asked what she thought was attracting young women to this
ancient contemplative order, Sister Bernarda replied, “To begin with, God.” She
added, “Then, perhaps, the desire for a life of prayer, solitude, simplicity,
with an ancient liturgy in Latin and Gregorian chant, and a simple, traditional
habit. Also, we follow the directives of our order and the Church.” Sister Mary
Bede boiled it down to this: “When you’re looking for a traditional,
habit-wearing, Divine Office-saying order, it narrows down your choices a bit.”
She preferred the Cistercians to some of the newer orders, explaining,
“Definitely, it’s a comfort knowing that the Rule of St. Benedict has
sanctified hundreds of thousands of men and women throughout the ages. It helps
to live a life in faith — that God will work through our superiors and rule to
bring about our sanctification.” When asked what keeps her order so grounded in
its ancient origins and traditions, Sister Mary Dolores responded, “There is a
preservation of identity; progress comes not from something entirely new, but a
returning to the charism of the founders. In tradition, the past is present but

2. Dominican Father Brian Mullady has seen many traditional orders
survive the decades after Vatican II. Theological consultant for the Institute
on Religious Life
in Libertyville, Ill. — a collaborative effort of Catholic
bishops, priests, religious and laity to foster and strengthen vocations to the
consecrated life — Father Mullady said: “Mostly they weathered the changes by
adapting the things that needed to be adapted for young people — there are
sisters on the Internet and carrying BlackBerries — but preserving the habit,
the cloister, silence, reading at table, living in community

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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