Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Give Up Yer Aul Sins

Below is a cartoon video made popular in recent years in Ireland. The audio for the cartoon is from actual recording made by a teacher in the 1950's who decided to record her students telling stories. The kids loved it and gave her many beautiful moments. Enjoy this adorable look and listen into lives from the past, and the heart warming rendition of the story of St. John the Baptist.

It reminds me of the time I was teaching in Ireland and the Inner City Dublin accent that many of my students had. In particular it reminds me of one of my favorite students, a little girl named Carla who loved the spot light, telling stories and explaining how she would be a movie star or princess one day. Hope you enjoy.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Class President Photo Shoot

The Listing below is taken from the Seminary website (http://www.stmarys.edu/) .

Photo of Class Presidents

Student Government at St. Mary’s

As part of the Sulpician characteristic of communauté éducatrice, i.e. the community as an agent of formation, St. Mary’s encourages seminarians to take an active part in leadership and community building as training for future priestly ministry.

Last Spring the seminarian community elected Rev. Mr. Christopher Ballard of the Diocese of Syracuse as Student Body President. In that role he acts as student representative to the Rector, serving as the seminarian representative at appropriate public ceremonies, liturgical celebrations, and all meetings of the Board of Trustees.

The House Council has three standing committees. The Liturgy Committee is responsible, under the direction of the Faculty Council and the House Council, for planning and coordinating the liturgical life of the seminary. Last Spring the seminarian community elected Alan Tremblay of the Diocese of Manchester as Chair of the Liturgy Community. Joining him are recently elected representatives from each class.

The Peace and Justice Committee budgets, coordinates, and plans activities which promote peace and justice. Last Spring the seminarian community elected Rev. Mr. Jonathan Goertz of the Diocese of Richmond as its chair.

The Community Life Committee budgets, coordinates, and plans activities to help build morale among members of the seminary community. Last Spring the seminarian community elected Rev. Mr. Michael Hall of the Diocese of Trenton as its chair.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Bocce Ball Tournament

Last night the seminary held its annual Bocce Ball Tournament. The night consisted of 24 teams battling for the title of Bocce Ball Champion. Believe it or not, I got the time wrong and arrived 15 minutes late. Because I was late I did not have a chance to get the team uniforms I had assembled for the evening's event. My teammate, Charlie Pawlowski was relieved. Although our team, the Bocce Bandits, lacked a uniform, we more than made up with it in skill. We crushed our opponents from Virginia, 11-6 in the first game. They barely beat us in the second game 11-6 and then snuck by us with a 11-7 win in third and final game. Disappointed and robbed of our rightful title, we remained at the tournament to support our brother seminarians. As the night went on the battle continued and the tension grew.
Manchester Seminarian Mike Zgonc, in the light colored dress shirt, planning his next shot.

Mike tells me this photo is a blur because he is "fast like a cheetah." I think it is poor photography.

He also assures me this is good Bocce Ball technique. .........

Manchester Seminarian Alan Tremblay, two time returning champion, watches from the sidelines after getting soundly eliminated in the semi-finals.

Despite Alan's stunning lost, the winner's cup was kept within the diocese. Jeff Paveglio from Chichester won the final round. All in all in was a great night and a wonderful opportunity to hang out with the guys.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Return to Normal

Today was the first real day in which life has returned to normal at the seminary. As we have Wednesdays off for pastoral assignments, Tuesday nights have become a chance to let of steam. This evening, after returning from spiritual direction, I headed down to the Donnelly (our Seminary Lounge-Pub) to hang out with the guys. The place was hopping with twenty guys sharing conversation, playing pool and poker, and just enjoying a quiet night. This year we have been blessed to welcome a new guy to the seminary who is out of music school. He is a brilliant musician with a real gift with the piano. All night he played Jazz tunes and turned a normally sleepy watering hole into a happening place.

In celebration of the great night and great company I made triple chocolate brownies and served them fresh out of the oven for everyone. As you can imagine they did not last long.

Yesterday also marked house elections for class presidents and litugy representatives. I was elected president of the 1st Theology class.

All in all tonight was a good night and a welcomed break from a long start of the year. It was also a sign that brighter days are ahead.

On a side note please keep Maria Shibley in your prayers. She is a dear friend's Grandmother and she is in her final stages of life.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Cool video

Check out the latest commercial from the University of Notre Dame. It is about the Alliance for Catholic Education. I am a proud 2002 graduate of the program and University.



I will be posting later this evening. In the meantime Father Tony's home diocese is Guam will be providing live streaming video of his funeral Mass on the diocesean website.

With the time difference, the Mass will be at 9:00pm this evening.


Friday, September 18, 2009

The Homily

Below is Father Barre's homily from yesterday's Mass.

Fr. Michael L. Barré, S.S.
The exchange between Jesus and Martha in the gospel reading (John 11:20-26) is one of the most moving and well-known passages in John’s gospel. To understand it well, it is important to look carefully at what is said. The first part of their conversation is what most Jews of that time would say to each other at the death of a loved one: “Your brother will rise,” “Yes, I know he will rise . . . .” Martha actually says, “I know that he will rise at the resurrection on the last day.” Like
us today, the Jews in Jesus’ day believed that the resurrection was an event that would occur at the end of time. But when Jesus responds to Martha by saying “I am the resurrection,” he is actually saying that all that Martha hoped for in that far-off event called “the resurrection” is already present in Jesus himself.
Jesus words “I am . . . (the) life” express a similar idea. In John’s Gospel “life” always means eternal life, never ordinary human life. So Jesus’ claim to be “life” means that eternal life,which people of that day again thought was something in the distant future, can be experienced in Jesus. And it can be experience in this life. Jesus says in John 5:24: “The one who hears my word and believes in the one who sent me . . . does not come to judgment but has (already) crossed over from death into life” (my translation). John’s gospel is the only book in the Bible to give a definition of eternal life: “And this is eternal life: to know you, the only true God, and the one you have sent, Jesus Christ” (John 17:3). This too shows that “eternal life” is something present to the believer in this life. Although our
knowledge ofGod and Jesus in this life is partial compared to the after-life, it is nonetheless real and is what we might call the first stage of eternal life. In other words, we don’t have to wait till the next life to know Jesus. We can begin to know himin this life, which means we can begin eternal life here and now.
Howdo we “know” Jesus in this life? There are perhaps various answers to this question but surely one could say that we know himbest through the lives of people who radiate Christ in their daily living. To manifest this eternal life in one’s life is the duty of all Christians, but especially of the priest. And we see it perhaps most clearly in very ordinary things, in the simple human virtues
of extraordinarily good priests.

One of the great contributions of our late Holy Father Pope John Paul II’s encyclical on priestly formation, Pastores Dabo Vobis, was to stress what the majority of earlier works on the priesthood had not emphasized: the importance of the human foundations of priesthood (the first of the“four pillars”). “Grace builds on nature” and priestly spirituality builds on basichuman goodness and human virtues.
Fr. Tony’s Christ-like goodness was self-evident to everyone who knew him. Through his simple human goodness he showed us how eternal life truly begins on earth.
I have been a close friend of Tony’s for close to 15 years and I have been the recipient of so much of his goodness. In the last few days I have spoken to a number of seminarians that were close to him who told me what impressed themmost about him. Here are some of these Christ-like human qualities I and they have noticed about him:

With his money:Whenever Tony and I went out to dinner, he always insisted on paying the bill. Several times, on his birthday, I tried to insist on paying, but he wouldn’t let me get the bill! With his time: Students have toldme that if you knockedat Tony’s door he stopped whatever he was doing. His close friend of 30 years, Fr. Leo Larrivee, tells that if he was on the phone with Tony and someonecame to his door, Tonywould immediately attend to the student who came to see him. Students knew that if you were struggling you could come to him at any time for any reason. He never had a “hidden agenda”; he always assumed the best about those he counseled.

Fr.Tony was quick to see when peoplewere in pain or strugglingwith something; when you were with him he was totally focused on your need. At that moment he gave you his
undivided attention. You clearly felt that you were the most important concern in the world to him when you were talking with him. And he would always fit himself into your schedule. Tony was also able to see people’s talents, talents that they themselves didn’t see and helpthem develop them. He always looked for the deep qualities in people and helped them to bring them out.

Fr.Tony always expressed appreciation when anyone did anything for himorwhen students
did some task for St.Mary’s. Recently he went to the door of each student on the orientation team, personally gave them a thank-you card, and told them how much he appreciated what they had done.

True Humility
I believe that true humility is a rare virtue in this world. True humility is not self-conscious.You hardly notice it when you’rewithsomeone who has this virtue. But it is a great gift, and one of the things that helped Fr.Tony relate so well to everyone. He never related to anyone as if hewere above them. He always spoke to people as equals. He was someone you could be completely yourself with in all circumstances.

For example. Tony always got up very early in the morning. I found out in the last few days that he had the practice ofmaking a pot of coffee between 3:00 and 4:00 a.m. every morning and having a cup with Mel, the security guard. A few hours later he would have coffee with Betty Moore, the head of our cleaning staff, in the refectory.

Fr. Tony was a Sulpician who never forgot his native diocese. He flew to Guam every
Christmas vacation and every summer, and not just for relaxing and visiting his family. While he was there he worked for the diocese, giving classes, workshops, retreats, etc.

Sense of Humor
Some peoplemight not think of a sense of humor as a virtue. But without it there is no joy. And if there’s no joy in everlasting life—why bother? Fr. Tony had a great sense of humor—it has been my experience in life that great people always do. He could get you laughing so easily, and he could laugh when the joke was on him. Below I give some examples of his humor. Tony loved to tease me (and others). One thing he would do about once a month took place in the sacristy as wewere vesting for the community liturgy. When I came into the sacristy I would head toward the vesting closet where my alb was kept. From across the room he would say to me, “Doctor! You have the liturgy today!” I would respond, “No, Tony. You must be mistaken.” Then he would say, “Yes! You’re up today!” If I showed any sign of doubt about what I had said, he would break into his famous laugh. Fr. Tony’s car has become a legend at St. Mary’s. Some years ago I was walking the driveways around the property and I came upon one car parked in the back parking lot by itself. It looked like it hadn’t been driven in a long time. I thought someone had just abandoned it there. The car had California license plates. I said to myself, “This can only be Tony’s car, which he drove from San Jose out here 12 years ago.” It was. For some reason Tony never drove it once he got here. But he was sort of self-conscious about his car. People teased him, saying that the tires had melted into the asphalt and trees were growing
up through the hood—which he always vehemently denied! Once when he and Fr. Larrivee
were planning to go out to dinner, he told Tony that he would go on the condition that—for once!—Tonywould drive his car. Tony told himthat he couldn’t because his carwas “in the shop.” Of course, it wasn’t. It was still sitting undriven in the parking lot! The funniest story I ever heard about Tonywas told to meby his dear friend Fr. LeoLarrivee.

Some years back Leo went with Tony to Guam for the summer a number of times, to give
talks and classes on Church History, etc. One summer they planned to fly to Australia for a vacation after they finished their teaching in Guam. But before their plane left, a typhoon hit Guam. Now ask yourself: After liturgy, what did Tony love best in the world — that’s right, AIR-CONDITIONING! The typhoon knocked out all the power on the island — in other words,NO AIR-CONDITIONING! After about a day, Tony told Leo that he couldn’t stand it any longer. He got tickets for a flight to Saipan, where they planned to wait until the typhoon left Guam. But no sooner had they gotten to Saipan that it was hit by a different typhoon! Again, no air-conditioning! Meanwhile the typhoon leftGuam, but because of this second typhoon they couldn’t get back there to catch their flight to Australia! You can just
imagine how put out Tony was about all this!

This funny story has a touching ending. Some years ago Fr. Larrivee had told Tony that although he appreciated being invited to gowith him to Guam in the summer, the 18-flight was getting to be too much for him. So he told Tony that he would fly to Guam with him just once more. Tomorrow Leo will board a plane for Guam, the same plane that will take Fr. Tony’s body back to his homeland. He will fulfill his promise to his best friend, to go to Guam with him one last time.

Fr. Tony, you were never more of a priest to us than when you showed us the way to eternal life by living it yourself while you were among us. As you stand with those saints and angels whom you venerated at liturgy on earth, remember us whom you had to leave behindwhen the Father called you to His home. And from your place in glory intercede for us before the throne of God, whose face, which you sought so earnestly in life, you now behold evermore.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Moment's Rest

The past six days have been an incredibly difficult and emotional time for all of us at St. Mary's. This morning the formal grieving process came to a close with the memorial mass for Father Tony, celebrated by over 112 priests, and the transfer of his body from our Chapel to its final resting place in Guam.

Tomorrow afternoon, after resting my body, mind and soul, I hope to be able to share my thoughts and reflections on Father Tony's final journey and the manner in which we said good bye to God's faithful servant.

Tonight however I cannot share this story with you, as my heart is heavy and my body tired. I can tell you however, that I go to bed renewed and strengthened in my vocation and filled with an incredible thirst for the Lord. Please know that I am forever grateful to all of you who have kept me in your prayers this week and every week. May God continue to bless you and your families.


Monday, September 14, 2009


Today the final arrangements for Father Perez were announced to the entire St. Mary's community. With saddened hearts we now prepare to lay to rest a dear friend, mentor and witness of faith.

Below is the schedule for the services which will take place Wednesday and Thursday of this week.


Wednesday, September 16th:
4:30 Reception of the body of Father Tony Atrium
5:00 Evening Prayer for the Deceased Laubacher Hall
7:00-9:00 Wake Laubacher Hall
7:30 Wake Service Laubacher Hall
9:00p.m. – 8:00 a.m. Vigil Main Chapel

Thursday, September 17th
8:00 Morning Prayer for the Deceased Main Chapel
11:30 Memorial Mass Main Chapel
12:30 Luncheon with guests Laubacher Hall

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Day of Sadness

Today the entire community of St. Mary's Seminary has been struck with great sadness with the sudden loss of our Vice Rector Father Tony Perez, S.S. He was an amazing man and a good friend to all, especially to seminarians. I have some many wonderful memories of a wonderful man. Please keep us all in your prayers as we begin to come to terms with this day. On my own journey to priesthood I can think of few individuals who have been as influential as Father Perez. He was a true example of the call to fall Christ.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A New Job

Yesterday I accepted a job in the Seminary as Assistant Infirmarian. That is right I will be in charge of the health of others,sort of. I am excited because I get paid for 12 hours of work per week! My official responsibilities will include bringing meals to the sick, fetching band aids and refilling hand sanitizer pumps. I guess watching all those episodes of HOUSE are paying off. I wonder if I should get a cane and a lab coat? I have decided I should certainly have a name tag and perhaps a special coat. After all there must be some trappings for the job.

I am enjoying working with the head infirmarian, who is one of my good friends. He was a medic for many years and is very serious. I am enjoying having fun with my new position. Last night I drove him mad talking as if I was a thirty year veteran in the E.R., sharing war stories without actually saying anything. I am not sure if he knows I am serious or not. Either way I continue in my belief that one must embrace the joy of Christ in all things and laugh regularly.

Tomorrow will be a busy day as I have three classes (first day with them), an important meeting (I am meeting with some other guys and a possible major donor for the seminary's program- no pressure!)and evening prayer with the Archbishop of Baltimore.

Please keep in your prayers the health of several people close to me who are in need of intercession!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Paper is done, sort of

In celebration of the house paper being done, sort of.... (draft)... and because I just got back from an amazing day at the US Open and am exhausted.... I have attached my newspaper article for your enjoyment. Tomorrow I will be back up and running on a regular schedule with postings and all. Thank you for your patience.

Above the desk in my room sits a simple frame, in it a poem. The poem called “alphabet” is written by Irish poet laureate Seamus Heaney. It details the very moment a young child begins to write for the first time. I am not sure why I love this poem so much, but I do. I think it is most likely because of the story it tells and the memories it invokes in my own life. After all who can forget their first day of school, even if it was all the way back in 1983. As we begin another year at St. Mary’s, we welcome twenty new men to their first day in the hallowed halls of 5400 Roland Avenue. They join a long tradition of men responding to the call of Christ and His Church.
When I look back over the two hundred plus year history of this place, I cannot help but to be astounded by the impact one school and seminary can have. Through these halls have walked many great men, some who have been remembered in the annals of history for their greatness, like Father Michael McGivney founder of the Knights of Columbus, and others who have not, but who have shared the same zeal for the Church and Her people. No matter what the case may be, the thousands of men who have studied in our classrooms, prayed in the chapel and slept in our rooms, have each brought with them their own story. In fact it is learning these stories, which has been my favorite part of the orientation experience this year. What more interesting and exciting thing can there be, than learning how God is working in the lives of those he called? The journey is different for each of us, yet the story is very much the same. God calls, sometimes we recognize His voice, other times we drown it out or run away in fear. In the end each of us has chosen to respond, and that response has brought us here today.
As I spend a few moments reviewing the mental notes I have made about the stories of the many men who have journeyed to this place to discern their vocations, I am struck by one. It is the story of a young man who loved this country so much that he left his own home to brighten ours. In fact he not only left behind his country, he also left behind his Faith. His name was Demetrius, and he was born and raised as a member of the Greek Orthodox faith. A Russian by birth Demetrius enjoyed a life of great wealth and prestige. In fact at the time, he was heir to one of the largest fortunes in the world, yet somehow that did not matter. Demetrius, moved by the example of his humble and generous neighbors, converted to Catholicism as a teenager. When his father discovered his actions he was scandalized and threatened to disown him. In choosing to become Catholic Demetrius knew full well the grave consequences it would incur as he had seen what had happened to others who had dared to do the same. His decision would lead to the forfeiture of his share in the family fortune. In fact any hope of taking over the family business evaporated the very same moment the oils of confirmation were placed upon his forehead. Unabashed in his faith Demetrius ventured to the United States “to study the culture,” and, unbeknownst to his father, for the priesthood. The diocese of Baltimore as well as St. Mary’s welcomed the young convert with open arms, although privately held great reservations as to whether or not he could hack it. Hack it he did, Father Demetrius went on to quietly and humbly serve the Church for over forty years. He never achieved the fame of Father Michael McGivney. But he did go on to humbly and faithfully serve the poor in western Pennsylvania. The people were Father Demetrius true love and he would stop at nothing to share Christ with them. In sickness and in health he administered the sacraments to the faithful up and down the Allegheny mountain region, even during the final days of his life.
Father Demetrius was never made famous; he was never made a bishop, although he turned the opportunity when Archbishop Marechal, S.S. offered to him, choosing instead to remain in his rural parish. Yet somehow through all of this his name and example continue with us today. Father Demetrius Gallitzin is remembered today because he served Christ and the Church through this example of his life and witness, not because he was a Prince, the Godson of Catherine the Great or because he was the first person called to orders in the United States. Father Demetrius Gallitzin “abandoned his rank and fortune” to follow the same call that each of us has to chosen to respond to. Our fortunes may be smaller and our stories different, but our hearts mustn’t be. Father Demetrius Gallitzin, Servant of God was once a seminarian of St. Mary’s like all of us. His example and witness are profound, yet simple. He loved Christ and eagerly lowered his nets to follow him. As we begin a new year me we be ever reminded of the gentle witness, humble heart and complete surrender we are all called to embrace.

Friday, September 4, 2009

House Paper

Today the silent retreat ended.

I am editor of the House Newspaper.

We are supposed to print the first draft for approval tomorrow.

It is 1:16am and I am exhausted.

I still need to write to articles.


I have been working for seven hours straight.

I have nothing left to give.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Silent Retreat

Now that the entire seminary community is back, we will be kicking off the retreat with an official three day retreat. The retreat began earlier today. However, it really kicks into high gear at 7:30pm when it becomes silent. The retreat will end Thursday afternoon when all of the new guys sign a book and commit to a time of prayer and discernment. The book of covenant as it is known, contains the names of thousands of men who have passed through these halls before them. As the retreat is silent, computers are forbidden. I will accordingly be offline until Thursday at noon. In the meantime please keep me in your prayers, as you will be in mine.

p.s. I am hoping to figure out how to post some funny clips from our orientation video later this week. I will keep you posted of my progress there in.

Important Blog News:

Please note this blog will begin being regularly updated after August 21st (when I arrive in Baltimore).