The book opened with the story of Fr. Albert Lauer. Like the other priests profiled in the book, his life story has many twist and turns. If you have a vocation and are leaning towards working with the poor, Fr. Lauer's example can show you how to do it in a secular, material, and relativistic world. Learning about his days at the seminary and how lax he had become with prayer reveals how good works alone cannot suffice. It almost destroyed him. But, his example further shows how a priest or religious can triumph during these times of loose doctrine, loose worship, and loose living. It was only after he went back to basics that his attitude changed and God's graces worked through him to accomplish awesome things for the poor in the ghettos, and through his catechetical ministries. This is a priest who turned a parish from red ink to black through Eucharistic Adoration and unambiguous preaching of the Catholic faith. The very thing that some priests fear will drive more away, actually brought them to Fr. Lauer's parish. The debt was retired far faster than anyone expected, including Fr. Lauer. That aspect of his life story - drawing people through truth and devotion, reminded me of Pope Benedict's words to the Austrian Bishops in their 2005 ad limina:
You, dear brothers in the episcopacy, know this well: there are some topics relating to the truth of the faith, and above all to moral doctrine, which are not present in the catechesis and preaching of your dioceses to a sufficient extent, and which sometimes, for example in pastoral outreach to youth in the parishes or groups, are either not confronted at all or are not addressed in the clear sense understood by the Church. Thanks be to God, it is not like this everywhere. Perhaps those who are responsible for the proclamation [of the Gospel] are afraid that people may draw back if they speak too clearly. However, experience in general demonstrates that it is precisely the opposite that happens. Don’t deceive yourselves! Catholic teaching offered in an incomplete manner is a contradiction of itself and cannot be fruitful in the long term.
Fr. Lauer's story gives us several examples of how material things can interfere with our spiritual development and our faith. He made remarkable choices in dealing with adversity and in return, God graced him with likely saving not only many lives on the street, but with many souls - perhaps for years to come. Those details will have to be read in the chapter on his life which spans some 20 pages.
Unfortunately, Fr. Lauer can only look down and marvel along with God at the many who benefit from his tireless efforts. He passed away in 2001, but not before working right to his last breath. This man made the Energizer Bunny look like a turtle.
Some of his accomplishments can be found on the web. One of those was Presentation Ministries, which I will soon be adding to my sidebar. It has been recognized by the Church as an official Lay Association and it is something you can bring to your parish. I am likely to add a section called "Catechism" and include PM among the many other such sources. His catechesis is very solid. He was on local radio stations and can still be heard on some of them with rebroadcasts just like we so often hear Fr. Corapi. From what I understand in this link, Ave Maria Communications, has added him to their satellite feed, but I am unable to find his program on the programming guide of AveMariaRadio.net. If anyone knows, drop the info into the comment box. Regardless, you can use info in the same link to learn more about bringing his recordings to your area. Consider writing to Ave Maria Radio and Relevant Radio to carry it, as well as the new Catholic Channel on Sirius Satellite Radio if it is not already there.
The Presentation Ministries website also has audio that you can listen to online or as a podcast. They have audio and video tapes, as well, but I don't see DVD's.
Presentation Ministries also has some excellent Catechetics write-ups in the form of brochures you can read online or order for your parish. In particular, I want to draw attention to his section on Marriage and Family Life where his teachings on chastity in marriage, for example, are more in line with that of Fr. John A. Hardon and my own pastor, Fr. Eduard Perrone.
There is much more to explore on the Presentation Ministries website, but I want to shift over to some of his other works with links. For example, he started a private Catholic school for the poor boys in the ghetto. Their tuition depends on donations much of the time as they cannot afford the $4000 tuition. His goal when he began the school a year before he died was to make it both an elementary and a high school by the year 2010. This is not just any school, but a Latin school for boys. They are in need of another Latin instructor after the one they had passed away. They are also in need of a Music teacher. Financially they are struggling, but are determined to make it continue working. The Cincinatti Enquirer discusses the school in greater detail in a November 2006 article entitled, "Priest's vision carries on without him".
There is so much more I could say about Fr. Lauer, but I think you should get the book, curl up on your couch and enjoy reading the twists and turns in his life story all on your own. I've only provided links to those things mentioned in the book, but the details are something you will need to read for yourself. It will be hard to put down, and will leave you with pure hope and a better understanding for how things truly get done in the Church.
For details on how to get the book, go to my original blog-post about the book, "Priest".
Those familiar with Fr. Lauer - either through his media, or personally, please feel free to add your comments - anonymously or otherwise in the comment box below. Also, if you have read the chapter, tell us your thoughts and what you learned from the portrait of this good priest.
The jumbled letters you are asked to type in prevents web-spam from entering the comments section via "robots". Hence, don't be intimidated by it.