Tag Archives: vocation

Paying down debt to follow Christ


You wouldn’t believe it, but young people discerning a
vocation to the consecrated life and/or priesthood in the USA, today, face the
problem of debt.

Personal debt is one thing and we all have to watch our
spending. And we are the ones who to repay the credit card companies, not someone else. It is a very true experience to say that consumerism often replaces Christ as the focus of our lives.

BUT the
significant problem at hand is the amount of education debts young people have to pay
off before following the vocation given to them. Many young people went to the university, received a good education and now felt called to serve the Lord and the Church as a priest or sister and can’t because they have repay their college loans. It is the responsible thing to do. It is also the thing that will prevent someone from actually fulfilling their calling. Large college debts make a
person ineligible from entering a religious order or a diocesan formation
. Some religious orders will make some arrangement if the debt is “reasonable”
especially if the candidate is “worthy.” Many will not because their own income is not capable to lend that kind of assistance. Again, personal debts are the responsibility
of the person. The video on the Mater Ecclesiae website (see below) speaks of grants and the tough call made in discerning who gets help, who doesn’t. These grants assist in paying off
those college debts.

Perhaps as an act of charity we could make a charitable offering
to one of the agencies helping these young men and women deal with their
educational debts. Christmas is a time for giving with love.

This article, “Debt, the Vocation Killer” gives some perspective on the matter. Plus, there are worthy organizations that help in dealing with the educational debt like the Laboure Society and Mater Ecclesiae Fund for Vocations.

The JOY of living…in Christ as a Poor Clare nun

Look at these beautiful young women following Christ as Poor Clare nuns of Lerma (Burgos), Spain! I can’t believe my eyes!!! They’re happy. They’re alive. They’re infectious.

You’ve gotta read the CNA story (in English) here but the video in the story is in Italian with English subtitles. Also, watch another video about these same Poor Clares. Sorry, these videos are subtitled but watching them you get the point: the heart is attracted by love and joy.

I want to know: do we have anything like these nuns in the USA?

Dolan’s 4 step recipe for priestly vocations

Speaking to the Serra Club dinner, renown for fostering vocations to
the priesthood, diocesan and religious orders, Archbishop Timothy Dolan
outlined 4 priorities:

Dolan & Estban 09.jpg

Emphasize the vocation of marriage and family:”Taking care of the first crisis
will take care of the second,” said Archbishop Dolan. “Vocations to the
priesthood and religious life come from lifelong, life-giving faithful

2. Re-create a culture
of vocations: “There were no good old days in the Church. Every era in Church
history has its horrors and difficulties. We need to recapture the
climate/tenor/tone/ambiance in the Church where a boy or man isn’t afraid to
publicly say, ‘I want to be a priest,’ and where his family, relatives,
neighbors, parish, priest, sisters, teachers and even non-Catholics are
robustly supportive.”

3. The laity need to not be afraid to ask their priests
to help them be holy: “For a faithful Catholic, a priest is essential for
growth in holiness because he gives us the sacraments, and without the
sacraments we can’t be holy. When you ask us to help you be holy, we realize
that we must be holy, and you remind us that there is something unique in the
Church that only a priest can do.”

4. Priests must be reminded that they are here to help the laity
get to heaven: “A priest is an icon of the beyond, the eternal, the transcendent.
Heaven gives us hope and meaning in life.”

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.

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.

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]yahoo.com.
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