Monday, April 30, 2007

Call to Holiness 2007: Marcus Grodi at OLMC

Tomorrow I will post some photos from the St. Rene Goupil site that fellow Grotto photographer Jeff Williams has sent me. For now, I leave you with some shots of Marcus Grodi at the OLMC site.

As many of you already know, Marcus - a former Protestant minister - is host of The Journey Home on EWTN, and he is responsible for The Coming Home Network where he helps ministers with their transition into the Catholic Faith. In the first talk following Mass, Marcus talked on the Biblical Defense of Catholicism.

A Scene from Call to Holiness
I couldn't resist photographing two dads cradling their baby girls in the back of OLMC during the talk given by Marcus. I bring to you photos of our youngest CTH attendees: Maria (in the foreground), and Margaret - posted with permission of their parents.

Go ahead, say it: Awwwwwwwwwwww.....

The slight blur is the result of rocking daddies, dim environment, and no use of flash.


Te Deum Laudamus! Home

April 30th News Roundup

I simply don't have time to cover all Catholic News, but I can provide links using headlines of some interesting things floating the Catholic and secular media. I don't actually read all of these, but I skim them.

No motu proprio yet. In other news....

Recall the other day that Archbishop Burke stepped down from the chairmanship of the Cardinal Glennon Foundation over it's persistence in having known abortion activist Sheryl Crow. This morning, I see that Archbishop Burke takes it on the chin over his decision.

Bishops with Backbone...

Other News and Blogposts...

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Call to Holiness 2007 - Photo Post 1: Bishop Daniel Flores at OLMC

Since Call to Holiness 2007 was at two locations this year, we were fortunate to have more than one volunteer photographer working the sites. When I get photos from the St. Rene location, I will make posts featuring those. There will also be several more posts during the week of other speakers, which included Marcus Grodi, Dr. Alice von Hildebrand, Bishop Bruskewitz, Fr. Neil Roy, and Dr. Robert Fastiggi.

For those who could not make it, or were too far away to come, I will be posting info on how to get video, CD's or an MP3 CD of the talks.

This morning, I would like to share a few shots of Detroit Auxiliary Bishop, Daniel Flores, who recently came to us from Texas, and was ordained on November 29, 2006 by Cardinal Adam Maida.

What little I heard of the Bishop's homily was profound (I explain below an interesting side story for the day, which had me running a tad late for the Mass).

As I looked through the 300mm camera lens, I saw a man who was not reading a written homily, even though it appeared as such because he periodically looked down. Rather, he was in very deep reflection and he was conveying that reflection on the fly. He looked up; he looked down; he looked to the side - often pausing in between. His deep voice cut through the echo of the old Church, making his words very clear even with the 50% hereditary hearing loss I have in both ears.

If anyone would like to offer their thoughts on the homily - from either site, or talk about key points, please feel free to do so in the combox.

I headed up to the balcony for the rest of Mass so that I would not disturb anyone during their worship. The environment was very dim - more dim than Assumption Grotto, but the natural lighting gave off a beautiful golden glow. The Paschal Candle in the center made it challenging and I went as far to the right as I could go.

Below, from left to right, we have the pastor of OLMC - Fr. Walter J. Ptak and behind him Deacon Richard Bloomfield, with Bishop Daniel Flores in the center. Perhaps someone can email me at or make a note in the combox for the remaining two, whose names I do not know. I believe the fourth person is a priest of Miles Christi.

After Mass, the Bishop noted that it was the feast day of St. Louis de Montfort, who is responsible for the Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary, which profoundly guided Pope John Paul II. Bishop Flores, the deacons and concelebrants, and the altar boys all knelt in the sanctuary before the Blessed Sacrament and led us through a renewal of the consecration prayer which was on the back cover of the CTH booklet. This photo taken during the consecration prayer is a little dark, but you get an idea of OLMC's beauty.


Fr. John Corapi on the Total Consecration (6 talks on CD)
The Writings of St. Louis de Montfort (
Pope John Paul II and Totus Tuus (The Work of God)


I made the mistake of accidentally leaving at home (50 minutes away) a little 1-inch square piece which connects the camera to the tripod. As I set up my camera just minutes before the morning Mass at OLMC (Our Lady of Mt. Carmel - Wyandotte), I realized I was in BIG trouble. There is simply no way to take photos without flash in the dim lighting of a church without having the camera mounted (that is, without very expensive stabilizing lenses). I flew out the door (God bless the men who saved my parking space), and ran to a nearby Meier where I bought a new tripod. I made it back mid-homily and in time to get some shots off from the floor before heading up to the balcony for the rest of Mass.

I used the 400 ISO setting and kept playing with the exposure meter. The camera was mounted on a tripod that was a little different than my original one and, I found that it would shake for up to 10-15 seconds after I finished moving it. It was not robust. This accounts for some slight lack of clarity in some photos. In addition, most of the speakers were in constant motion. I had the aperature at the lowest setting for a given lens and strength and there was only so much I could do without a better stabilizer lens - as far as I know.

For further photostories of the 2007 CTH, and other Catholic discussions, visit the Te Deum homepage

Deo Gratias!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Requiescat in Pace: Bishop Walter J. Schoenherr

Bishop Walter J. Schoenherr - a retired auxiliary for Detroit, passed away of natural causes. Many who are involved in the Helpers of God's Precious Infants of Michigan prayer vigils will remember Bishop Schoenherr who was involved in those vigils. He was 87.

The American Papist has many links to statements and articles on his blog. I must get ready to leave for the Call to Holiness so I refer you to the details on Thomas' blog.

Friday, April 27, 2007

More on Co-Adjutor Archbishop Nienstedt

The Pioneer Press has an article on Archbishop Nienstedt which reveals more about the man. We like it when certain newspapers call such folks "hardliners" because that usually means they have their head on straight and aren't disoriented when it comes to Catholic doctrine. Archbishop Burke is probably considered a "hardliner". We simply call it Bishops with backbones!

Here are some excerpts from the article at Pioneer Press via Free Republic with my emphases in bold, comments in red brackets.

Conservative bishop to succeed Flynn
A lauded liturgist, administrator, New Ulm conservative also is known for controversy
Pioneer Press

Roman Catholic Bishop John Nienstedt of New Ulm, Minn., a theological conservative who has taken on Hollywood, stem-cell research and people who make too much noise in church, was named Tuesday to succeed Archbishop Harry Flynn.

The announcement by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis that Nienstedt, 60, had been named "coadjutor archbishop" ended months of speculation over who would succeed Flynn, who will step down when he turns 75 next year.

Flynn, who has been archbishop since 1996, introduced Nienstedt at the archdiocese's chancery in St. Paul. He called Nienstedt "such a capable bishop" and said he had "broad experience that will serve him well."

But Nienstedt's time as bishop of the Diocese of New Ulm has not been without controversy. While Flynn and others lauded him as an able administrator and liturgist, some of his actions have rankled his own priests and parishioners in the diocese he has led since August 2001.

Soon after being named bishop in New Ulm, he condemned some of the theological views of the man who had held the post before him for 25 years, Bishop Raymond Lucker, a noted progressive clergyman who died in 2001. Denouncing his predecessor's views was an "extraordinary step," the National Catholic Reporter noted in an article on the incident. [Bishop Lucker was a proud member of Call to Action, and if you want to understand his "theology" you can click through the google list and get an idea, and see what kind of groups enjoyed it]

As bishop in New Ulm, Nienstedt prohibited cohabitating couples from being married in Catholic churches. He barred female pastoral administrators from leading prayers at a semiannual leadership event. He once disciplined a priest for holding joint ecumenical services with a Lutheran congregation after the Catholic church had been destroyed by a tornado. [Keep in mind that an ecumenical service is fine outside the context of holy Mass, but it cannot be held in place of Mass]

Kenneth Irrgang, a retired priest who clashed with Nienstedt when he was bishop in New Ulm, predicted that Nienstedt will meet resistance among the 654 active priests in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

"I expect disaster there. I don't think those priests are going to accept him," said Irrgang, who now lives in St. Cloud. "He's a micromanager. He has to control everything. He hews the line from the Vatican without any question whatsoever. He's not a very good people person." [The sky is falling! The sky is falling! A highly educated man who understands basic Catechism is taking the helm]

But the Rev. Philip M. Schotzko of the Church of St. Peter in St. Peter, Minn., praised Nienstedt's abilities.

"Bishop Nienstedt is a consummate man of the church," said Schotzko. "He thinks with, prays with and loves the church with everything he's got. He just follows very carefully the teachings and all aspects of church theology and moral teachings. You'll get a very committed man in that way."

He said Nienstedt is "gifted in many ways as a liturgist" and considers him "a good organizer and planner and administrator."

According to his church biography, Nienstedt was born in Detroit, the second of six children. He completed his theological education at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit and the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, and was ordained into the priesthood in July 1974.


Nienstedt called on government and people to "curb the scientist's thirst for novelty" by ending the research. In a later column on the subject, he called legislation allowing stem-cell research "a very misguided, political attack on human life," and said, "there have been no medical cures resulting from the use of embryonic stem cells."

He also used his column to air his views on homosexuality, saying people became gay or lesbian as a "result of psychological trauma" when a child is between the ages of 18 months and 3. Homosexuality, he wrote, "must be understood in the context of other human disorders: envy, malice, greed, etc."

Nienstedt also advised parishioners to avoid the movies "Brokeback Mountain" - "a story of lust gone bad," he wrote - and "The Da Vinci Code." He said Dan Brown's best-selling novel, later turned into a movie starring Tom Hanks, was "pure Evil in its intent" and "seeks to confuse the young, whose faith may be weak, and lead them astray."

In a column from June with the headline "Silence," Nienstedt complained about people talking while he prepared for weekend liturgies, saying it was a "din of noise ... not unlike that of a sports arena."

"I have tried to overhear what is so important that people need to speak in church," he wrote. "Normally comments range from one's view of the weather, to a recent sports event, to how old Uncle Henry is looking. None of it is essential. None of it has to be spoken at that time."

Well, there you have it. This is more proof that there is a shift in attitude at the episcopal level. This generation of bishops will work with a good understanding of basic catechism, basic theology and morality, and basic liturgy. It doesn't take ten university degrees to understand the Catholic faith, and for a bishop, to act on it.

We will add Archbishop Nienstedt to our Bishops with Backbone tag. Scroll down to see more and I'll be sifting through old posts to put some other posts within this new tag.

See my introductory post on Archbishop Nienstedt

Catholic Blogger heads to Seminary

Someone within the Catholic blogging circle is heading off to the seminary after being accepted by his bishop. Please keep "Seminarian Matthew" in your prayers. While out of state, he has expressed much fondness for Assumption Grottto as he has seen Catholic life there through this blog. Hopefully, our priests who inspire us, have somehow inspired other young Catholics with faith and fidelity. Perhaps Matthew will someday visit Grotto on one of his breaks. He joins a seminarian from Grotto, Louis Lapyere, at St. John Vianney in Minnesota.

He is responsible for his well-known primary blog, A Catholic Life, which is truly one of the class-acts of Catholic blogging. It's value is in the spiritual quality of his content. Seminarian Matthew and several other people have maintained a blog called Holy Vocations where they discuss their discernment process for others to see. I highly recommend it for discerning readers - male and female. In addition, he was maintaining the Holy Rosary blog, which he says is being consolidated into his primary blog. Thus, it will be removed from my blogroll.

His blogging will likely wane at seminary for obvious reasons. He will not only have his head into his studies, but blogging can be a risk for any seminarian in more ways than one. But we look forward to those few posts he will be able to make until he is ordained.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Archbishop Burke - An Ordinary with Backbone!

Wow! Watch this video on YouTube of Archbishop Burke who explains his reason for resigning from the chairmanship of the Cardinal Glennon Children's Foundation in St. Louis. This came after he objected to singer Sheryl Crow's participation. She is a known proponent of abortion, among other culture of death issues.

There is an excellent write-up on this, with links, by Ed Peters, JD, JCD, at his blog, In Light of the Law

H/T to Thomas at American Papist In fact, thanks to Thomas, I've added a new category called, "Bishops with Backbone" to collect these kinds of posts.

I say we send Archbishop Burke a spiritual bouquet - if only on our own, by offering Mass intentions for him, a Rosary, adoration time, etc. In fact, we need to be doing this for all of our bishops - that they do what they must to make clear what Our Lord has revealed, not just by words, but through their actions and teachings.

The Archbishop lauded the work of the foundation, as well as that of the workers. His problem was with the board which did not want to back down on having a notorious pro-abortion advocate involved in fund raising.

Watch the video. If for some reason you cannot watch it on your PC, you can read the text of his message at the Archdiocese of St. Louis website.

I'm so glad to see bishops making use of video this way.


This weekend is Call to Holiness weekend. While my mother is still in the hospital undergoing tests, I am tentatively planning on attending.

Call to Holiness began in 1996 in Detroit, with over 2000 priests and laity attending the first conference in November of that year. There have been yearly, weekend conferences since the beginning, with the exception of last year when the format was being reconsidered to make it more accessible to others.

What emerged is a one day format, held in two locations on the same day, with the same speakers. They will be commuting from one side of town to the other.

Bishop Fabian Bruskewicz, one of several advisors to the Board, will be the keynote speaker, and will also appear at both locations. Other speakers include:

  • Robert Fastiggi, PhD, currently teaching at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, "Can the Church err in what she teaches?"
  • Marcus Grodi of EWTN and Coming Home Network, "A Biblical Defense of Catholicism"
  • Alice von Hildebrand, PhD, Catholic philosopher, theologian, author and lecturer, "Women & the Priesthood"
  • Fr. Neil Roy, STL, PhD, a priest of the Diocese of Peterborough, Canada, editor of Antiphon: A Journal for Liturgical Renewal and president of The Research Institute for Catholic Liturgy, "Liturgy, Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow"

Cost: $40 per person; $20 per student; coffee, muffins and box lunch included. You will be admitted without having reserved tickets for an extra charge of $5.00

The two locations are St. Rene Goupil on the East side in Sterling Heights, and in Wyandotte at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel on the West side. Registration begins at 7:00am.


PDF File of poster with details

Call to Holiness website

Excellent Article in Archdiocese of Detroit newspaper, The Michigan Catholic on the Call to Holiness Conference.

Interview with Archbishop Ranjith on Sacramentum Caritatis

There is an interesting interview floating around the web. Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith - a native of Sri Lanka - is the Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, and lately is quoted almost as much as the head of the CDW - Cardinal Arinze. Like his boss, Archbishop Ranjith is quite frank and quotable.

This interview comes via Union of Catholic Asia News (UCAN). Fr. Zuhlsdorf has it in its entirety, with his emphases.

Here is a sample from the interview on the recent exhortation, Sacramentum Caritatis

Some negative aspects have been the quasi total abandonment of the Latin language, tradition and chant; a far too facile interpretation of what could be absorbed from local cultures into the Liturgy; a sense of misunderstanding of the true nature, content and meaning of the Roman rite and its norms and rubrics, which led to an attitude of free experimentation; a certain anti-Roman "feeling," and an uncritical acceptance of all kinds of "novelties" resulting from a secularizing and humanistic theological and liturgical mindset overtaking the West.

These novelties were often introduced, perhaps unknowingly, by some foreign missionaries who brought them from their own mother countries or by locals who had been to those countries on visits or for studies and had let themselves be uncritically absorbed into a kind of "free spirit" that some circles had created around the Council.

The abandonment of the spheres of the Sacred, the Mystical and the Spiritual, and their replacement by a kind of empiricist horizontalism was most harmful to the spirit of what truly constituted Liturgy.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

New Bishop for the Twin Cities: Nienstedt

I don't have much time for blogging with my mother in the hospital and my current work schedule, but I wanted to get this off to you.

Rumor has been circulating for some time now, that a string of bishops would be appointed and long-time vacancies would finally be filled. This includes the vacancy Birmingham, Alabama - home town to EWTN. For now, the Twin Cities - St. Paul and Minneapolis, have themselves a new Co-Adjutor, who will work alongside Archbishop Flynn until he reaches mandatory retirement age in about a year.

John Clayton Nienstedt was an auxiliary bishop in Detroit before he was appointed the Ordinary of New Ulm. Reportedly, the bishop was turning things around in that diocese, which will now be vacant. He has a very impressive Curriculum Vitae

Clicking through some of his statements will reveal a man who is not disoriented when it comes to Catholic doctrine and morality. He took a stand on Terri Schiavo

Diocese's new leadership style sparks discontent (National Catholic Reporter). This one is well worth reading through if you want to learn something about the man. In it, he is disappointing some of the right people. Also, consider the source. If the National Catholic Reporter is holding a negative article about a bishop, it's probably a good thing. I start to worry when the Reporter is all giddy about a particular bishop.

Now, some made issue with a Tridentine "controversy and wondered if he was not open to it, but we need to understand the situation in which he denied a Tridentine liturgy - in context. In this letter, Bishop Nienstedt explains his reasoning for denying a man a Tridentine funeral. The entire letter should be read and he comes across to me as hardly anti-Tridentine. In fact, I found it good to see a bishop acknowledge the use of Latin in the Novus Ordo.

Fr. Zuhlsdorf has coverage and the comment box may be worth reading. I suggest reading that article on the Tridentine funeral first - in its entirety.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Please Pray for my Mother....

I humbly request prayers for my mother, Rose, who is in the hospital once again receiving a transfusion. She goes through bouts of severe anemia, and her bloodcount had slipped too far again.

We are getting some signals it may be a little more serious this time, but she is in good spirits. I hope to know more tomorrow.

God Bless!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Gonzalez vs. the Porn Industry?

Interesting article over at Catholic Online, which raises the question as to whether the firings of eight US Attorneys had something to do with a crackdown on porn.

Here is an excerpt:

“In a move popular with anti-porn groups and the religious right, Gonzales had made a renewed war on porn one of the top priorities of the Department of Justice,” wrote Mark Follman, in a article that blames the firing of U.S. attorneys on a new federal crusade against porn.

But lax obscenity enforcement, said a former porn prosecutor for the Reagan administration, has resulted in unbridled availability of porn – on cell phones, computers, cable television and in hotel rooms everywhere – that’s fundamentally changing American culture.

“Our children and our college students are consuming a steady diet of obscene material,” said Patrick Truman, an assistant attorney general under Ronald Reagan who headed the Child Exploitation and Obscenity section of the Department of Justice.

“The mainstream porn industry has been left to do pretty much whatever it wants,” he said. “Porn is now so pervasive that our college students don’t even know how to date, because pornography has conditioned young men to believe that they’re entitled to sexual services from women without the need for relationship. They’re on such a steady diet of porn that they can’t distinguish between love and sexual desire.”

I couldn't agree more. It was, indeed, an appropriate time for Pope Benedict to give us the encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, in which he explores true love and contrasts that with false love. This will someday be looked upon as one of the greatest documents ever written once younger generations begin to absorb the beauty of it.

The entire article was well worth reading.

Go read Critics suggest U.S. attorney firings were linked to anti-porn crackdown at Catholic Online (note that there are two pages to the article)


I am still working on the draft version of the Altar Boy Program - Post 3, and will publish it in the coming days. I'm taking my time with it.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Awwww - New addition to the "Grotto family"

Congrats to Jeff Williams, who is one of our volunteer photographers at Grotto, and his wife Julie, on the birth of their daughter. From the email I received, along with the photos (and permission to post).....

Angelina Marie Williams was born on April 19 at 12:58pm weighing in at
7lbs. 8 ounces. Mother and baby are doing well and we hope to be home
tomorrow or Sunday at the latest.

If any other Grotto members want such announcements shared, please email me the info, and photos if possible, at Be sure to express permission to publish these things on the internet. Let me know if you want just first names used, or full names.

Welcome to the world, "Sweet Pea"

Hey look, I think we have a future choir member here!

Vatican Report on Limbo Published

Fresh in from Zenit and landing on the front page of many secular media resources.....

Code: ZE07042008

Date: 2007-04-20

Panel Backs Hopes for Unbaptized Infants Who Die

Pope OKs Publication of Report on Limbo

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 20, 2007 ( Benedict XVI authorized the publication of a report that expresses the hope that babies who die without baptism are able to get to heaven.

The report by the International Theological Commission, published today, concluded that there are serious theological and liturgical grounds for the hope that such babies are saved and enjoy the beatific vision.

The commission says the theological hypothesis of "limbo" appeared to be based on an unduly restrictive view of salvation.

The 41-page document noted this is an "urgent pastoral problem," especially because of the large number of unbaptized babies who die as victims of abortion.

The commission's documents are not considered official expressions of the magisterium. But the commission does help the Holy See to examine important doctrinal issues.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church in No. 1261 explains: "As regards children who have died without baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them.

"Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus' tenderness toward children which caused him to say: 'Let the children come to me, do not hinder them,' allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without baptism.

"All the more urgent is the Church's call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy baptism."

This hope the commission speaks of, is a big deal to certain people. I know women who still get tears in their eyes over a miscarriage and they always say the same thing, "But he wasn't baptized", or "I did my best to baptize her". Let these people have more reasonably hope in the mercy God will have for the innocents.

Deo Gratias!

Requiescat in Pace - Msgr Richard J. Schuler

If you know about St. Agnes Parish in Minnesota, you probably know about Msgr. Schuler, who just passed away.

On the St. Agnes Homepage, is the following:

Monsignor Richard J. Schuler, Pastor Emeritus of The Church of Saint Agnes, died peacefully in his sleep on Friday April 20, 2007. We at Saint Agnes join countless others throughout the world in offering our prayers for the repose of his soul, and in gratitude to Almighty God for the gift of his life.

Monsignor was in residence at the North Memorial Residential Hospice in Brooklyn Center at the time of his death. Monsignor Schuler served as Pastor at Saint Agnes for thirty-two years, from 1969-2001, and was the founding director of The Twin Cities Catholic Chorale in 1956.

All details for the wake and funeral are pending. Please check back to the website for updates, as we will make them available as soon as possible.

Requiescat in Pace, good shepherd.

Their music program at St. Agnes is much like Grotto's - complete with symphony masses, as is their orthodoxy.

To see just a little of the legacy he leaves behind, follow the links below:

Spiritual Impact of Msgr Schuler's Priestly Leadership and Example (by Fr. John T. Zuhlsdorf - originally printed in The Wanderer, now carried online by AD2000). Here is an excerpt from that article:

Priestly vocations
Together with his work as a church musician in a parochial setting, Msgr Schuler is also distinguished for the many vocations to the priesthood he has fostered and, on many occasions, defended from attack.

In the last three decades, there have been some 30 first Masses at St Agnes Parish. Year after year, in attending ordinations of priests, I have seen Msgr Schuler step forward to help a new priest put on his chasuble for the first time. Many of these men are now in charge of their own parishes and, as one might expect, they are beginning to produce vocations as well.


Msgr. Richard J. Schuler by John Janaro (via EWTN)
Sacred Music at St. Agnes (click the links in the sidebar for online recordings)
Photos (desktop images)
Fr. Zuhlsdorf's blogpost (see the comment box)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Upheld in US Supreme Court

In a 5-4 decision, the US Supreme Court upheld the federal ban on partial-birth abortion. This means that states which have a ban, may keep the ban and it cannot be considered unconstitutional.

Some states have passed bans, while others allow this brand of human butcherism to continue.

An excerpt rom LifeNews:

The Supreme Court has reversed a decision it handed down in 2000 and upheld a Congressional ban on the gruesome partial-birth abortion procedure. The ruling indicated that the federal ban on the abortion procedure did not violate the so-called right to abortion established under Roe v. Wade.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion for the Supreme Court and indicated that the abortion advocates who sued to overturn the ban "have not demonstrated that the Act would be unconstitutional in a large fraction of relevant cases."

More from Priests for Life on partial-birth abortion (for those who feel compelled to defend the butchery, or are on the fence about it, please feel free to click the link within the first paragraph of the linked document and view the photos. You gotta know exactly what you are defending).

PDF File of the Decision via Priests for Life

Diogenes at CWNews talks more about the decision. Is it open to future challenges? It seems so, unfortunately.

It's no wonder more and more doctors are refusing to participate in abortions. And, I have much hope in young people who are in greater numbers for life and see abortion as immoral. I have less confidence in our court systems with prevailing hippy-era attitudes, and more faith in the younger generation which dares to be counter-cultural in this regard. Here are some recent stats:

Opinion Polls Show Undeniable Pro-Life Swing Among Young People.

COPYRIGHT 2007 National Right to Life Committee, Inc.

Poll of teens ages 1317, August 2003:

72% said that abortion is morally

32% think abortion should be illegal in all circumstances.

47% said that abortion should be legal only under certain circumstances.

Only 19% believe abortion should be legal in all circumstances.

The Gallup Poll concludes that "[t]he young people are significantly
more pro-life than adults."


Photographer Michael Clancy captured some of the greatest photos illustrating the miracle of life. A doctor was performing corrective surgery for spina bifida on "Samuel" who was still in his mother's womb. After the womb was opened, Samuel reached out and grabbed the finger of the doctor, as shown in the photo. You can also view a slideshow using Quicktime to see the series of how it all transpired. It looks like a video and it is so inspiring for life.

This was the subject of a recent TV program here in the US called House MD in which a rather TV personality - "House" seems to have a cold heart towards a baby when he must treat a pregnant woman and the baby is considered a risk to her life. Hollywood apparently has changed it's tune because the episode featured this Clancy-like moment when the baby reaches out and grabs his finger. How quickly a man can soften his position.

I was an avid fan of the program. But, I don't watch it any longer because I just don't have time. I have also left prime time TV to the world. The immorality of it all was just too much for me. I just couldn't justify investing my time in things that I know where offensive to my Lord and God. Lets face it, many of these programs promote things like sex outside of marriage - to the point that even Catholics and other God-loving Christians have become immune to the sight of it on TV.

How many babies have lost their lives on account of the lifestyles promoted through Hollywood?

Go to Michael Clancy's site to view the amazing shots!

Deo Gratias!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Filipino Bishops Conference Releases Catechetical Videos on YouTube

An increasing number of priests and bishops have been meeting people where they are at through blogging and videos on YouTube. Some examples:

Cardinal Sean O'Malley has been blogging for some time now, and even allows comments.

Cardinal Justin Rigali has been publishing short video clips on YouTube

And, many of you know about the Cardinal Arinze Podcasts, now called Webcasts, brought to us by Family Land Europe.

Now, the Filipino Bishops Conference (CBCP) brings us Catechetical videos on a regular basis (see one example below). You can subscribe at their homepage on YouTube (free), so that you get notification of new videos, or bookmark that link so you can browse. From their homepage you will find other Catholic videos on YouTube, including those by Cardinal Rigali.

Sidenote: I have several more posts to make, but not the time to invest in them. This includes a continuation of my series on the Altar Boy Program at Assumption Grotto and some interesting news about the Paul Paray Mass to be recorded in a closed session next week (with photos from the recent dress rehearsal). I also have not finished going through all of my Easter and Divine Mercy Sunday photos. There are few liturgical photos left, but many still shots outside of Mass well worth showing. Being in the choir, it is not possible to catch everything.

Fr. Edward McNamara on Divine Mercy Sunday

Adoration on Divine Mercy Sunday took place at Grotto as priests heard confessions until the last was heard. Adoration ended with Fr. Perrone leading the Divine Mercy Chaplet at 3:00pm, followed by Benediction. See Photo Post 1 - Divine Mercy Sunday 2007

Fr. Edward McNamara, whose answers are posted in the Liturgy section of Zenit, answers the question of what's so special about Divine Mercy Sunday.

This is an excellent, comprehensive article with brief and concise history. It talks about the plenary indulgences and iterates the need for priests to be generous with confession time, and to lead the faithful in prayers.

Go read Fr. McNamara's response on Zenit...

The response names two documents related to Divine Mercy, found below.

Dives in Misericordia (Encyclical - Pope John Paul II)

Misericors et Miserator (May 5, 2000 Decree)

Monday, April 16, 2007

Petition to restore Holy Days of Obligation to Appropriate Days

H/T to Catholic bloggers Mac McLernon at Mulier-Fortis and Fr. Tim Finigan - both in the UK, for drawing attention to this petition asking Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor and The Bishops' Conference of England and Wales to restore certain holy days back to their rightful place with regards to when they are celebrated. It pains me all the more when Assumption is shifted to Sunday as that is our feast day. We still celebrate it on the 15th of August each year.

I've been saying for some time that instead of our bishops enabling us to fluff-off these things, they should be challenging us to unbusy ourselves for them. This kind of pampering is one of many factors which has led many to place God second, third, fourth, or wherever.

Perhaps we should start out own petition here in the US. We could use the same form for the letter they are in the UK.

Here is the letter they are suggesting for use....

It might be wise to CC your own Ordinary if you send one to the USCCB.

ABC NEWS: New Bishop Appointments Forthcoming

In case you are wondering how I am making posts, I happen to be home nursing a not-so-happy stomach.

Hat-tip to the Man with Black Hat, for this news clip out of ABC News which talks about some sweeping changes forthcoming by Pope Benedict, including new bishop appointments in key dioceses. Here is an excerpt:

Key appointments are expected in New York, Baltimore and Detroit, where cardinals have reached retirement age 75. And retirements or appointments are likely in at least seven other dioceses and archdioceses: Seattle; Minneapolis-St. Paul; Pittsburgh; New Orleans; Louisville, Ky.; Omaha, Neb.; and Mobile, Ala.

Go read Pope Set to Make Mark on U.S. Church at ABC News

This will be interesting.

Worst Mass Shooting in US History Today: Virginia Tech - 32 Dead as of 2:30pm EST

Please pray for the students killed in the massacre at Virginia Tech where two separate shooting sprees, two hours apart, have already cost 32 students their lives. They are warning the number will likely go higher. The gunman, a heavily armed Asian man, is dead. Last week, bomb threats closed the campus.

It is already considered the worst massacre in US history and, as already stated, they are expecting the death toll to climb.

President Bush will address the nation at 4:15PM today.

How sad - life is just a video game to some.


REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.

Teresa Tomeo Blogs Issues about Media

For those who listen to Ave Maria Radio locally (or on the web), or to EWTN Radio via satellite or internet in the AM, you probably know Teresa Tomeo as host of Catholic Connection.

Teresa has finally made it to blog-dom with her new blog, "Noise". In it, she takes on media-related issues. While she may be looking at them from a Catholic perspective, the points she raises should be the concern of anyone in a decent, civilized society.

Do me a favor and go visit her blog - give it the traffic it needs and let others know about it. There are only a few posts up as it is new, so I'll lead you right into the the home page. Right now she has an excellent post about the Don Imus mess, she calls the I-mess.

Noise (Catholic Media Alert) - Blog of Teresa Tomeo

Statue of the Assumption of Mary at Grotto

I have been trying to capture the beauty of this statue, as it appears in real life, for some time now. I'm getting closer, but need a quiet session one day when sun is bright outside, and lights indoor are optimized.

These are well worth sharing, as is. There is something about walking the corridor on the right, along the confessionals, and seeing this beautiful statue of the Assumption. It is especially true when the candles are all aglow.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Divine Mercy Sunday at Grotto

I could not take photos during the Orchestra Mass because I was in the choir. However, I did get a few photos off near the end of Exposition, and during Benediction. I also took some still shots after the church cleared. Click on them to enlarge.

Deacon Jim Wilder hands off the Monstrance to Grotto's Pastor, Fr. Eduard Perrone for Benediction

The look of serenity on Father's face during Benediction says it all.

Grotto's Divine Mercy Display

Eucharistic Procession at Notre Dame U on April 22, 2007

Getting to Notre Dame University is pretty much a one tank drive. They are having their 3rd annual Eucharistic Procession on April 22, 2007.

If you have nothing going on that weekend, get a carload and BE THERE. If someone has photos, send me a few in an email (and provide info so I may give proper credit for them) and I will post some. Lord knows, we love news of Eucharistic Processions taking place and we should give them our support and visibility.


On Sunday April 22nd, 2007 the University of Notre Dame will hold its 3rd annual Eucharistic Procession. All are welcome to join the Most Reverend John M. D'Arcy, Bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend and the Notre Dame community as they celebrate and give witness to Christ's prensence in the Eucharist. Co-sponsored by many different groups from Notre Dame, St. Mary's, and Holy Cross College, the procession is a revival of an old tradition at the University.

Join us for the 11:45 Mass at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the campus of the University of Notre Dame followed immediately by the procession and a picnic lunch provided by the campus Knights of Columbus. If you intend on participating, please visit the Sign-up page to register.

EDIT: Signup is not needed if you are not taking advantage of lunch. Obviously, they need a count ahead of time for such thing so if you are getting this late, pick up lunch on campus or around campus and leave lunch for those who signed up.

Deo Gratias!!!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Great Translation News...Consubstantial...Dew....and more!

Some really good news on the ICEL translation front. There is a draft floating around out there, with some excellent changes. Fr. Z writes on several of them in these posts.


"Consubstantial" is now in the latest draft, and rightly so.

You may recall a rather interesting and enlightening debate between bishops on the matter. I provided a link to this dialogue, found on the Adoremus website, last year. On one side were several members of the USCCB asking that the literal translation for "consubstantialem" be used. On the other side, were Bishops Donald Trautman and Sklystad, pushing through the "Mr. Rogers Neighborhood" version - one we are more familiar with from memory, " in being with the Father"

To my mind, the word consubstantial is far better as it provides an opportunity to discuss this from the pulpit to catechize people on the meaning. While the words "one in being", each in isolation, may be easy to understand, it is a concept which must be grasped.

Go read Fr. Z's post on consubstantial


Fr. Z writes on the change he sees in the draft to EP-2, in which the word "dew" has rightly made this round.

There are also changes to EP-1 - several that Fr. Z discusses in a more lengthy post.


"...enter under my roof...."

"...through my most grevious fault...


Fr. Tim Finigan

New ICEL - First Reactions
Full Text of this Draft (NEW)


The Next Great Threshold of the Liturgical Renewal (a lecture given by members of the ICEL committee working on the new missal – Archbishop Coleridge of Canberra (Benedict’s first Australian appointment) and Monsignor Bruce Harbert, Executive Director of the ICEL Secretariatz)

Uh-oh!!! Something's up!?!

When the Pope calls an unannounced meeting with the Curia, we can only imagine what may be coming........

Stay tuned!

Divine Mercy Sunday.....and the Paray Mass.... and CTH reminder

Just a reminder to anyone within driving distance that the Noon Mass will be an Orchestra Mass, featuring the Mass by Paul Paray. Also , the ushers are hosting their pancake breakfast so don't miss it! Support our ushers and their fundraising event!!!

There will be confessions after the Noon Mass until the last one has been heard. I'm sure there will be confessions between Masses as usual. Grotto confessors are awesome!!!

It is Divine Mercy Sunday! Seek God's forgiveness and his compassion. Good links:

The Divine Mercy Message

Divine Mercy Sunday website

Fr. LW Gonzalez blogs Divine Mercy & St. Faustina


I also want to give you a reminder of the annual Call to Holiness Conference taking place on Saturday, April 28 in two locations!

Reserve your space today. Hundreds of tickets have already been sold and there are many more available in both locations.

Great here for more details

Friday, April 13, 2007

Altar Boy Program - Post 2

We continue with our discussion of the altar boy program at Assumption Grotto, and my theories for why it enjoys significant participation. In yesterday's introductory post to this series, I provided a list along with some necessary background information (click the first link in the list for that post).

I apologize for the length of these posts, but there is truly much to be said about each of these areas. I'll try to slow posting to allow you time to disgest what is here - barring breaking news. I also have more Easter photos to go through, but a glitch in my computer is holding me up.

I invited participation in the comment boxes of these posts - but asked that those comments go in the related posts - some not yet written.

I've jumbled the order a little, as I began to see that one subject will lead into the next.

  1. All Male Program.
  2. Masculinity of Discipline and Precision Required
  3. Headed by the pastor; priestly involvement
  4. Liturgically traditional parish with orthodoxy in doctrine
  5. Strong Catholic identity within the family
  6. Large homeschooling population

2) Masculinity of Discipline and Precision Required

While the pictures I take show interesting formations by the altar boys, there are many things that cannot be conveyed in photos. There is an air of discipline to what they do and there is a high level of precision. When you realize that some of these boys are just 7 or 8 years of age and see them exercise this discipline and precision for an hour or hour-and-a-half, as in the Latin Novus Ordo, it's all the more amazing. It also goes to show that such an age is not too young to learn discipline and precision.

Example of a Poorly Catechized & Trained Altar Server

I was recently at another parish in which there was a single, male altar server. In the processional, he walked with a hip strut, his head bobbing around as he nodded and winked at people he knew along the way. Throughout the readings he looked up and around, visibly distant from what was taking place. Just before heading into the Eucharistic Prayer, he turned to look at his family behind him and began to giggle and shrug his shoulders, as they too laughed. After the great Amen, he rose from his knees and continued to look back a few more times. It must have been an inside joke because no one else was laughing.

The only reason I noticed this activity is that it was distracting since he was right at the center of action. The boy was about 16. I wasn't upset with him, but pitied the young man because he was not taught properly. He was also functioning in a parish where people - the assembly, is still central. This boy did not understand that in the presence of the Holy of Holies, all things should point to His centrality, not ours. This means, removing any action that would take people's focus from Our Lord during the Mass to humans - be it the priest or anyone else in the Sanctuary. I humbly offered my Communion for him, the pastor, and the people of the parish and asked the Lord to "forgive the boy as he knows not what he does".

Discipline and Focus in Assumption Grotto's Atlar Boys

The first thing I noticed two years ago about the altar boys with regards to discipline is that they are focused. This means, they do not look detached from what is going on (the very young may not look as focused, but I had no idea a 7 or 8 year old could even look that attentive during the Mass).

The young men look straight ahead when walking and when sitting for the most part. They do not stare at the ceiling. They do not look at or acknowledge people they know in the pews, or other such behavior. Their demeanor mimics that of the priest who is intensely focused and seriously prayerful as the Mass, and procession begin. It's a reminder of where we should be - in deep prayer, not in a greeting mode. That belongs in the social hall following Mass for those who love their neighbor enough to do so.

Visible in Display of Reverence

The walk of experienced altar boys is slow and dignified, especially when walking around the sanctuary. They have been taught before Whom they walk and it shows in how they carry themselves. Once again, the exception is some of the very young who might dart kind of fast, which always catches the eye. The experienced ones often pass unnoticed with their slow movements. In just two years, I've seen young boys mature in this regard.

They do not pass the Tabernacle without genuflecting before Our Lord, even if this means many genuflections in a matter of minutes, such as when preparing the altar or lighting candles. There are no exceptions, other than when they are carrying something which makes it too difficult or awkward to genuflect, at which time they offer a profound bow.

When the altar boys depart from helping the priest, they step back (in unison if more than one), and they make a profound bow before the priest and he returns a slight bow. Incense, used weekly at the Latin Novus Ordo, also provides an opportunity to see the slow, disciplined cadence of the altar boys at work. Even as they incense the congregation, they bow and the people bow back (thought lately, the congregation seems to be "off" by rising before the young men actually get to the opening in the rail). They incense and bow again and the people return the bow.

Discipline in Behavior

Being an altar boy at Assumption Grotto takes serious self-discipline and self-control. They are there early - at least 15 minutes. But I've seen many getting there 30-45 minutes before Mass prepping things, and sitting or kneeling out in the Sanctuary - doing pre-Mass prayers, etc.

Self-discipline includes being worthy to receive Communion and honoring the 1 hour fast. It is not uncommon to see some lined up taking advantage of pre-Mass Confession. Priests at my parish, like the CCC, encourage everyone, but especially altar boys, to make frequent confessions even in the absence of serious sin. It builds holiness in life.

I hope I have not misrepresented our altar boys as less than human. I do not intend to make them appear as saints. Parishioners have told me "stories" - leaving out names of course, of just how serious discipline is at the altar. The boys are convinced our beloved pastor, Fr. Perrone, has eyes in the back of his head, but consider that he is sometimes in the loft chanting during masses he does not celebrate (and being in the loft with him - shooting photos or singing with the choir, I can assure you he doesn't go out of his way to "catch" anything as he is usually praying). But, if an altar boy is caught laughing and giggling during Mass, he may very well earn himself a suspension. With most of the parish's boys in the program, getting suspended is the equivalent of a ball player getting benched. However, I have never gotten the impression that there is fear in any of the young men. Rather, they know this is serious business and it's most visible in the more seasoned and mature. Some go on to serve in adulthood.

Is all of this too rigid? Hardly! There is a time for laughter and goofing around (Fr. Perrone is not some stern figure, incapable of laughs and games. Rather, they are meant for the church hall and not for the church). It is on the altar that the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ is confected. At any one time, the boys are just mere feet from Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. They are taught to respect the Real Presence in ways I never was. Now, these disciplined boys teach me about discipline and reverence. Their actions had me "see" my sloppy stance (yeah, I was once the lady with my arms suspended on the back of the pew like it was a park bench). Their genuflecting had me looking closer at my own irreverence. In the end, what I discovered about my behavior in Church led me to realize that I myself did not get it before I came to Grotto. It is OUR LORD up there. The disciplined behavior of these fine young men teaches us this.

When there is interior reverence, it is manifested in exterior reverence! That reverence stems from knowing before Whom we stand, walk, and kneel.

Precision in Execution

The boys are very knowledgeable about tools of the trade and of actions that need to be performed. Dressed in cassock and surplice, they line up from smallest to tallest. Cross and candles are carried in the opening procession, as is incense when it is being used.

Formations are a real site to see. As the Sanctus is being sung, 5 boys enter the Sanctuary - 3 from one side - 2 from the other, and they cross paths in a beautifully choreographed manner. One will be handling the thurible with incense. There's no thinking involved, it is just second nature to them, but from afar - oh so beautiful. It signifies the grace of the moment. The smaller boys come out holding red-glass candle holders suspended on poles (see the photo at top). As the bells are rung signaling the entry into the most sacred part of the Eucharistic Prayer, one of the older 5 boys will rise, genuflect, then proceed up the steps to take hold chasuble from behind. As the Body and Blood of Christ are elevated, the chasuble is lifted as the thurifer swings the thurible. Elevation is prolonged as bells ring out and incense rises upward with the smell of sweetness reminding us that our worship is pleasing to God.

In processions - including those outdoors - there are often two thurifers. As they process, one will be turned towards the Blessed Sacrament, walking backwards, while swinging the thurible three times. He then turns forward, and the other thurifer turns around, walks backward, and does the same. This process repeats itself over and again.

Corpus Christi 2006

The Masculinity of it All

This kind of discipline - self and group discipline, as well as the precision, is masculine. It's not only manly for the young men who participate, but for the men who come to Mass. As a female, I am also more comfortable with the power, the strength, the majesty and the awe of it all.

I have read articles about how men are largely absent in the pews in contrast to females these days. I recall all too vividly when, in my childhood parish, the Stations of the Cross were taken down, and in their place were hung these paganistic, metal "pansies". Potpourri took the place of candles and felt banners adorned every corner. Gold, silver and brass was ousted in favor of wood, wicker and clay. Thankfully, the current pastor of that parish fixed those things quickly when he came into the parish (along with several other things which needed fixing). Is it any wonder why there are fewer men involved at church when all things liturgical have been emasculated?!?

The actions of the boys is much like what we would see in sports or in military exercises (but, there is no "marching" and movements are more humble in nature). This, I believe, is one factor making it appealing to boys. As I've said before, this is their "baby". They own it!

While they are at the center of action, they know they are not to be the center of attention. In the beginning when you first come to Grotto, it is so unusual to witness their activity that it does initially become a distraction. But something happens after being around it for awhile. Their disciplined, cadenced motions cause them to fade from our awareness, unlike the actions of the young man who was seen giggling at the service of the altar in the opening of my post.

For me, it is this unchanging element that allows them to fade into the backdrop of the liturgy. During the Elevation, they enhance my experience by silently gracing the scene with their profound display of adoration. The "wall" and near pyramid-like formation they make at solemn events reminds me that Our Lord is not only the Source of our life, but the Summit!

Witnessing the altar boys at work at Assumption Grotto lifts my soul to grasp what is taking place. It all says, "Holy, Holy, Holy!"

Reminder: Helpers of God's Precious Infants Prayer Vigil Saturday

This is a reminder for those who live within driving distance of Assumption Grotto.

Helpers of God's Precious Infants is holding their first outdoor prayer vigil tomorow morning. The Mass will be right at Assumption Grotto this time. Bishop John M. Quinn - one of Detroit's auxiliary bishops will be celebrating the 7:30am Mass and joining us.

Just watching the weather a few minutes ago, rain is not expected until evening. The high will be around 47, so it will be more nippy in the AM. Just dress warm.

For those unable to make the vigil, please pray for it's success and visit the adoration chapel if possible. Many young women have an opportunity to learn about alternatives, and to get help through these events and prayers are important.


If you take digital photos of the event, please email me some of your best shots and they will be added to the Helpers of God's Precious Infants of Michigan blog. Broad crowd and procession shots are most favored.

I am hoping to make the event, but may not be able to. In the future, keep in mind, photos are always desired.

Please click here to get more details at the Helpers of God's Precious Infants of Michigan blog.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Requiescat in Pace: Anthony Benkovic

Please pray for the repose of the soul of Tony Benkovic and for the Blessed Mother and Our Lord to give comfort to his family.

For those who listen to Catholic radio or watch Catholic television, you may be familiar with Johnette Benkovic who hosts Women of Grace, among other good programs.

Tony had been battling a brain tumor. Yet, he still came on air occasionally and for me, was an inspiration.

Johnette is one of the finest hosts I've heard on radio and she has had some very good shows that dispel some of the myths about Catholicism. Her and Fr. Ed Sylvia have done a great job of explaining what the Church really teaches.

She is also involved with Living His Life Abundantly, with website containing articles and good info. It is there that you can make a donation in Tony's memory.

At the same time, I would like to ask for prayers for the repose of the soul of the woman named Marie who had gone to visit my sick aunt and had fallen outside the house. She passed away 10:30pm the same day she apparently fell. She died of a cerebral hemorrhage. My aunt had seen her pull up and went to open the door, only to find her laying there on the ground. It's not known if she suffered some event which caused her to fall, or if the fall itself caused her demise. Marie was 91 and didn't look a day over 75. However, her family has told us that she had been falling frequently at home and they had warned her not to go out driving, especially all the way out to my aunts some 15 miles away.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Altar Boy Program - Post 1

I could not surpass the beauty of this Good Friday 2006 Photo in 2007! It remains my lead photo when discussing altar boys at Grotto.

In the comment box of the linked post, Andrew St. Hilaire asks about the Assumption Grotto altar boy program and how we managed to get so many involved. It's a frequent question. It's a good opportunity to explore this question more openly. I'll invite others to offer thoughts via the combox. I ask everyone to remember: Charity in all things.

This will have to be broken up into multiple posts made over time. If you choose to comment, try to keep it within the context of each post I make, which will be based on the list below. If you think my list could be expanded, please let me know in the combox and I'll consider adding it as another point of discussion in a future post. For now, lets keep discussion confined up to Point-1.

Approximate number of families at Assumption Grotto: ~800
Approximate number of altar servers: ~65

Anyone who has seen the average family at Assumption Grotto knows that 700 or 800 families at this parish is like 2000+ families at some other parishes. Why? Come to the 9:30am Latin Novus Ordo, and the Noon Mass on one Sunday and look at the families. While you are at it follow the crowds to the social that takes place weekly and buy a hamburger or hot dog. It is a parish which has heeded the sermons of it's pastor and priests to be open to life. Contraception is considered a sin not something to fluff off (and for those who do not know - things like the pill are actually abortifacients!). While the culture at Grotto can be very open to life, Our Lord may only bless a couple with one or two children. I've seen some of those couples adopt more children who were in need of loving families.

What is above answers the first part of Andrew's question of how many families we have. As you can see, with many large families, there is a very large pool of young men.

I have no scientific data to back up my beliefs in why so many young men serve at the altar at Assumption Grotto. Therefore, I can only offer my theories, based on observations over a 2 year period. I may edit this over time with additional thoughts, or I may simply add them into the combox. Here is a brief list, which I will be expanding on.

  1. All Male Program.
  2. Masculinity of Discipline and Precision Required
  3. Liturgically traditional parish with orthodoxy in doctrine.
  4. Strong Catholic identity within the family
  5. Headed by the pastor; priestly involvment.
  6. Large homeschooling population

Now, let me tackle these one at a time.

1) All Male Altar Server Program

I know this will ruffle some feathers, especially from parents whose daughters faithfully serve each week in parishes across the US. In no way do I want to diminish or criticize the work that they do. In no way do I want to say that girls are incapable of serving as this would be silly. Some have a weak argument of girls fluffing their hair during Mass, but I've seen boys at other parishes staring at the ceiling and cracking grins at people they know in the congregation. So, the hairfluffing thing isn't the reason for me. Rather, it comes back to two simple principles in my mind: A) All male priesthood and, B) boys and girls develop differently and I believe opportunities for male bonding are beneficial.

For the record, I consider myself a feminist - a new kind of feminist and I know I'm not alone. I am the kind of feminist who asserts my right to a feminine identity and who believes that God made man and woman with unique and distinct gifts which compliment each other. I have no desire to do all that a man can do because I am a female. I am the kind of feminist who was taught by popular Catholic culture in the 70's and 80's to shun all things Marian, but who now asserts my right to have the Blessed Mother as a model. I am a Marian Feminist!

Let's get a few other things out of the way.....

All Male Altar-Server Programs are the Norm

Many mistakenly believe that having girls serve at the altar during Holy Mass is the norm. It may be common, but it is not the norm. This is easy to understand given the vast number of dioceses and parishes which use them. In March of 1994, a letter was issued from the Congregation of Divine Worship, giving bishops permission to authorize the use of female altar servers in their dioceses. In July of 2001, Prot. N.2451/00/L was issued by former Prefect of the CDW, Jorge Cardinal Medina Estevez, further clarifiying that 1994 letter. In it, he explains that a bishop may "permit service at the altar by women within the boundaries of the territory entrusted to his care." I don't know about anyone else who reads this document, but it seems to me to convey that female altar servers should be the exception, not the rule.

Furthermore, Cardinal Medina Estevez states that priests cannot be "required" to admit women to serve and that men and boys should not be in any way exluded. He goes on to discuss the link between noble sevice at the altar and priestly vocations. Recall that this all began with the March 1994 letter - a time when I have vague recollection of feminists rejoicing over an apparent opening of a door. However, my next background point in this discussion is the sound of that door slamming shut - for good. It came only two months later.

All Male Priesthood

In May 1994, Pope John Paul II released the Apostolic Letter to the Bishops, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis (on reserving priestly ordination to men alone). In that letter, the Pope explains very eloquently, that not even he, nor the Church, has the ability to authorize women to the priesthood. In a 1995 Responsum ad Dubium letter, Prefect of the CDF, Cardinal Ratzinger - now Pope Benedict XVI - clarified that the Pope's letter belongs to the Deposit of Faith and requires definitive assent (in other words, it's no longer open for "dialogue").

Why do I raise this point? Because I believe that some who were promoting the notion of women priests long before that apostolic letter was issued may have saw the altar girl issue as a stepping stone from the bottom up. Why? Because serving at the altar had always been considered a place where young men could discern if God was calling them to the priesthood.

Back to the Point

This makes point 1 of 5 in my list easy to explain now. While the Archdiocese of Detroit permits the use of altar girls, Fr. Perrone - exercising his right as pastor of the place - chooses to use only males in his program. In the two years that I have been there, I have never heard one girl complain or even express a desire to serve.

I can't speak for any other parishioner or priest at my parish, but I believe very strongly, that if girls were admitted, the boys would lose interest very quickly. Why? It's not because they are prejudiced or biased. It just is. This thing is their baby and they command control of it in a highly disciplined way with precision (which I'll discuss in more detail in my next post). There is male bonding going on and only a fool would suggest otherwise. Furthermore, "Father" is not some distant guy "up there" on the altar, but someone they get to know. It is here that they get a closer look at priestly prayer and liturgical life and where the seeds of vocation can first begin to grow if it is the will of God.

As Cardinal Medina Estevez rightly pointed out in that 2001 letter, "it is perhaps helpful to recall that the non-ordained faithful do not have a right to service at the altar, rather they are capable of being admitted to such service by the Sacred Pastors"


And, what about vocations? Grotto is yielding vocations - male and female. There are young men in various stages of the path to ordination - diocesan and religious order. There are young men - not yet old enough to depart who are discerning. But, there are also young women discerning religious life. So, an all male altar boy program can't possibly discourage male and female vocations. Rather, I think it is one factor out of many enhancing it. I think other items in our list have as much to do with a steady vocation rate as they do with significant involvement in the altar boy program.

In another nearby parish which uses male-only servers - Sts Cyril & Methodius - they too have a very large program involving over 100 boys and they have a solid vocation rate. I can't speak about their numbers, but someone can offer that in the combox - without getting into personal info of these young men.

I would also like to hear from others who are aware of parishes with large all male altar server programs. Are there vocations coming from those involved?

I'll continue in a subsequent post with my second point in the list.