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After 27 years in military as chaplain, Father John Mink retires



Father John J. Mink, pastor of St. Ann’s Parish in Wilmington, recently retired after 27 years of military service in the Delaware National Guard. The first 14 were in the Army National Guard and the last 13 in the Air National Guard at the New Castle County airport, a mere three minutes from his assignment at the time as pastor of Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Wilmington Manor.

The close proximity allowed him to respond to deployments and crises involving airmen and their families quickly. Read more »

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Called to do something special for God


Dialog reporter


Students take advantage of opportunity to interact with those who have discerned their vocation


DOVER — Sixth-graders who have just gotten off a bus after a drive of an up to an hour sometimes need a few minutes to regain their energy. But even that little bit of time wasn’t necessary at the Diocese of Wilmington’s annual Vocations Awareness Day, held Nov. 8 at Holy Cross Parish in Dover.

Nearly 600 students from Catholic schools throughout the diocese got a dose of Father Richard Jasper, who delivered an energetic keynote address, before dispersing in smaller groups for other activities. Father Jasper, the newest priest of the diocese, told the crowd that they were called to do something special for God. Read more »

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‘Quo vadis?’ A ‘discerning’ question



A Christian legend has it that St. Peter was encouraged to leave Rome during a persecution of Christians. But in doing so, he saw Christ entering a gate of the city. Peter asked Christ, “Where are you going? (“Quo vadis?”)” and Christ responded he was entering Rome to be crucified again.

St. Peter, struck by the vision, remained in Rome and met his martyrdom by crucifixion.

“Quo vadis?” was the theme of a three-day retreat for young men from the Diocese of Wilmington considering the priesthood, July 27-29, at Malvern Retreat Center in Malvern, Pa. Read more »

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‘Encuentro’ process begins — Planning more involvement for Latinos in church in U.S.


Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — In Spanish, the word “encuentro” means encounter and in the modern church in the U.S., it refers to a series of meetings that will take place over the next four years aimed at getting to know Latinos and producing more involvement in the church of its second largest and fastest growing community.

“The intent is for Latinos to have an encounter with the entire church and for the church to have an encounter with Latinos, understanding who they are, how they think, how they live their faith, so we can work together and move together and build a church together,” said Mar Munoz-Visoso, executive director of the Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Members of Our Holy Redeemer Church in Freeport, N.Y., pass a sponge soaked in water during a team competition at the annual Encuentro gathering in 2016 at Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington, N.Y. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz, Long Island Catholic)

Members of Our Holy Redeemer Church in Freeport, N.Y., pass a sponge soaked in water during a team competition at the annual Encuentro gathering in 2016 at Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington, N.Y. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz, Long Island Catholic)

A recent report by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University commissioned by the U.S. bishops shows that more than half of millennial-generation Catholics born in 1982 or later are Hispanic or Latino. Those numbers alone call for the church to have a plan of how it will bring Latinos in the U.S. into the church’s leaderships roles, its vocations and their role in society, Munoz-Visoso said.

“You cannot plan the future of the church without having an important conversation about this population,” she told Catholic News Service. “This effort is very important.”

While the numbers of Latinos in the church are growing, “there is a gap between the numbers of Latinos in the pews, and the numbers of Latinos in leadership, and the numbers of vocations, or (Latino students) in Catholic schools,” Munoz-Visoso said.

The first part of encuentro, as the process is called, started in early 2017 and it’s the fifth such process of its kind. Encuentros in the U.S. church took place in 1972, 1977, 1985 and 2000, but the Fifth National Encuentro, also known as “V Encuentro,” is expected to be the biggest one of its kind in terms of attendance.

Participants first meet in small Christian communities at the local level to discern, dialogue, reflect about faith and the baptismal call, Munoz-Visoso said. Later in the year, parishes will hold parish encuentros of their own, which will later lead to diocesan, regional and finally a nationwide encuentro, set for Sept. 20-23, 2018, in Grapevine, Texas, in the Diocese of Fort Worth. The final part is a “post-national encuentro” that will include publishing a national working document about ways to implement what was learned during the process.

Encuentro organizers hope the process will yield an increase in vocations of Latinos to the priesthood, religious life, permanent diaconate, an increase in the percentage of Latino students enrolling at Catholic schools, and create a group of Latino leaders for the church, as well as an increase Latinos’ sense of belonging and stewardship in the U.S. church.

At the fall 2016 meeting of U.S. bishops in Baltimore, Boston Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley expressed concern that the younger generations of Latinos “is a demographic that is slipping away from the church and I think we have a window of opportunity and the window of opportunity is closing.”

Many Latinos are “joining the ranks of ‘nones,’” said Cardinal O’Malley, referring to the growing number of Americans who are choosing to be unaffiliated with any organized religion.

“We have very few, relatively, Hispanics in our Catholic schools. They’re underrepresented in our religious education programs, and I’m hoping that the outreach that is going to be done as part of the preparation for this ‘encuentro’ will make a difference,” he said.

Munoz-Visoso said Latinos are being courted by all kinds of groups, not just other church denominations.

“And we are at this juncture in history where we have this dilemma, where the majority of the Catholic Church in the country is becoming Latino, but at the same time, more Latinos than ever are leaving the church,” she said. “So, we have to address this situation because we have to really engage them, re-enamor them, their faith and make sure they’re committed to their faith.”

For those wanting to become involved, they can contact their local parish to see if the parish is involved in the process. More than 5,000 parishes have signed up to participate, said Munoz-Visoso.

Parish-level encuentros take place this May and June. Diocesan encuentros will take place in the fall in more than 150 dioceses with a total of 200,000 participants. The regional encuentros are slated for March-June 2018, with 10,000 delegates expected to attend. The regions conform to the U.S. bishops’ 14 episcopal regions. Then comes the Fifth National Encuentro in Texas, which will have as its theme “Missionary Disciples: Witnesses of God’s Love.” This is then followed by the post-encuentro working document.

Alejandro Aquilera-Ttitus, assistant director of Hispanic affairs in the diversity secretariat, is national coordinator of the Fifth National Encuentro.

The materials for the encuentro meetings were designed so they could be used by small and large groups, Munoz-Visoso told CNS, and there are dioceses that plan to use them with migrant workers in the fields, among prison populations, on university campuses, in prison ministry and in military services so that U.S. service men and women who want to participate can do so anywhere in the world.

“The intent is for Latinos … but we’re inviting everybody (to participate), if they want to have it in their community,” Munoz-Visoso said, adding that the website www.vencuentro.org has information about getting started.

Follow Guidos on Twitter: @CNS_Rhina.

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Priesthood is never a job, it’s a calling, a vocation


Dialog Editor

Time was, young people could contemplate their future by thinking about a single job — blue collar, white collar or professional — and know they could depend on keeping it when they found it. Not anymore.

“I think young people today are so aware, they know that our society is not giving that option,” said Father Norman Carroll, director of the diocesan Office of Priestly and Religious Vocations. “They know, these days, that they will have multiple professions. They think about ‘what I want to do with the rest of my life,’ but our culture is not offering that.” Read more »

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U.S. bishops OK four-year 740-things-to-do list


Catholic News Service

BALTIMORE — A new strategic plan adopted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Nov. 15 during its fall general assembly reflects the efforts of Pope Francis to establish a more merciful and accompanying church, said the archbishop who led the planning process.

Bishop George V. Murry of Youngstown, Ohio, listens to a speaker Nov. 15 during the annual fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

Bishop George V. Murry of Youngstown, Ohio, listens to a speaker Nov. 15 during the annual fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

The plan, adopted by a vote of 199-4 with two abstentions, will govern the work of the conference and its committees from 2017 through 2020. It takes effect in January.

“We have adapted these priorities to coincide with the priorities of Pope Francis,” Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond of New Orleans and chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Priorities and Plans, told the assembled bishops before their vote.

The plan incorporates the theme “Encountering the Mercy of Christ and Accompanying His People With Joy” in setting five priorities: evangelization, marriage and family life, human life and dignity, vocations, and religious freedom. In total, the five priorities identify more than 740 individual projects to accomplish during the next four years.

Cardinal-designate Joseph W. Tobin of Indianapolis, who recently was appointed archbishop of Newark, N.J., asked where in the plan might be concern for the environment and people who are experiencing the negative effects of climate change.

“It is more urgent than ever given the possibility that the new (presidential) administration is not going to be interested in the issues Pope Francis is interested in,” Cardinal-designate Tobin said.

Archbishop Aymond responded that the plan’s work on the environment, climate change and a response to the needs of people on the margins of society worldwide falls under the human life and dignity priority.

In that section, one of the areas addressed includes teaching and advocating about what the pope has described as integral ecology, “emphasizing environmental degradation and its impact on the lives of the most vulnerable.”

The plan also calls for the U.S. church to move from a “silo approach” to ministry as expressed through the USCCB committees to deeper collaboration and cooperation in service of each bishops’ ministry.

“Committee chairmen and committee members will need to make sure we stay on track,” Archbishop Aymond told the assembly.

The plan, more than a year under discussion by the bishops through their committees, subcommittees and an ad hoc committee, stems in large part from Pope Francis’ message to the bishops when he visited the U.S. in 2015.

The 28-page document offers an overview of the plan and outlines several specific areas to address under each priority. Much of the plan was developed to support individuals of all ages as well as families as people go through daily life and to encourage actions that carry out what is described as “missionary discipleship.”

Another passage in the plan stresses that it charts “a path of hope for the people in need of a loving embrace as they face the challenges of the world.”

      Further, the document states, “The USCCB strategic plan exists to serve the mission of evangelization entrusted in a particular way to each bishop; it is the tool the U.S. bishops rely upon to prioritize, organize, optimize and resource good works which will allow the conference to fulfill its mission.”

      Two major events are expected to help achieve the priorities including the national Convocation of Catholic Leaders scheduled for July 1-4, 2017, in Orlando, Florida, and the V Encuentro for Hispanic Latino Ministry in 2018.

      Thousands of Catholics are expected at each event to discuss, learn, pray and act on ideas to strengthen the church at the local level and inspire new leaders to take on the challenges posed by modern society.

      The strategic plan also mentions that the early projects being undertaken will help the bishops as they prepare a pastoral letter on race relations that is planned for the 50th anniversary of the death of civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in 2018.

      In his presentation Nov. 14, Atlanta Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, as chairman of the the USCCB Task Force to Promote Peace in Our Communities, urged his brother bishops to issue the statement on racism sooner than scheduled, because of the racial turmoil that has affected many of the nation’s communities after police shootings of African-Americans. The archbishop also said such a statement would help address postelection tensions across the country.

 Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski.

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For vocations, one must go out, listen, call, pope says



Catholic News Service


VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In its ministry to young people, and especially in vocations promotion work, church workers must step out of the sacristy and take seriously the questions and concerns of the young, Pope Francis said.

Young people are searching for meaning, and the best response is to go out to where they are, stop and listen to them and then call them to follow Jesus, the pope said Oct. 21. Read more »

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Viewpoint: Pray for those who answer the call



Bishop Malooly and Father Norman P. Carroll, director of the Office of Priestly and Religious Vocations and pastor of St. Elizabeth Church, met with the five current seminarians for the Diocese of Wilmington at St. E’s rectory July 21 for dinner. Read more »

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High school girls see different faces of vocations


Dialog reporter


BEAR – A group of approximately 25 girls from three Catholic high schools met March 1 at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Bear to hear about vocations from six women comprised of two religious sisters, three married women and one single woman.

After Mass with Father Roger DiBuo, pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the girls heard from Franciscan Sister Ann David Strohminger, the diocesan delegate for religious. She shared her vocation story and encouraged the girls to visit religious communities or volunteer with them if they had an interest in religious life. She told them there should be no rush. Read more »

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‘What would the church be like if there were no sisters?’ pope asks


Catholic Ne ws Service

VATICAN CITY — Respond to the crisis of vocations with intensified prayer, not despair or a lax admissions process, Pope Francis told women and men religious.

Pope Francis leaves an audience with religious from around the world in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Sept. 17. The pope praised women religious for always heading to the "front lines" to bring the church's tenderness and motherly love to those most in need. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis leaves an audience with religious from around the world in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Sept. 17. The pope praised women religious for always heading to the “front lines” to bring the church’s tenderness and motherly love to those most in need. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

He said he is tempted to lose hope, too, asking God, “What is happening? Why is the womb of consecrated life sterile?”

But he warned against fast fixes, saying some religious “congregations experiment with ‘artificial insemination,’” in which they accept anybody, leading to a host of problems.

The vocations process must be done “with seriousness, and one must discern well that this is a true vocation and help it grow,” he told members of religious orders, secular institutes and consecrated virgins Feb. 1 in the Vatican audience hall.

The pope met with some 5,000 men and women taking part in events in Rome to mark the close of the Year for Consecrated life, which began Nov. 30, 2014, and was to end Feb. 2, the feast of the Presentation of the Lord and the Jubilee of Consecrated Life.

Handing his written text over to Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Congregation for Consecrated Life and Institutes for Apostolic Life, Pope Francis said he preferred to speak from his heart “because it’s a bit boring to read” a prepared talk.

Both his prepared text and his impromptu talk highlighted the three most important “pillars” of consecrated life: being prophetic; being near all people; and having hope.

It is important to be obedient while being prophetic, which is always about following God and reflecting his divine love, he told his audience.

Obedience for a religious is not the same as “military obedience,” he said; it’s about giving one’s heart and seeking to discern what is being asked.

If the rules or requirements are not clear, then one must speak with one’s superior and always obey the final word, he said. “This is prophecy — against the seeds of anarchy, which is sown by the devil.”

Just doing whatever one feels like is “anarchy of the will,” which is “the child of the devil, not God.”

Jesus wasn’t an anarchist, the pope said; he didn’t round up his disciples to fight against his enemies. While he pleaded that God “take this cup from me,” he still requested his father’s will be done.

Likewise, the pope said, if members of a religious community are asked to obey something that doesn’t sit well, then, he gestured taking a big pill and gulping it down. “Since my Italian is so poor I have to speak sign language,” he smiled, adding that “one must stomach that obedience.”

Being prophetic is telling and showing the world that “there is something truer, more beautiful, greater and better that we are all called to,” he said.

Consecrated men and women are called “not to distance myself from the people and live in comfort,” but to be close to Christians and non-Christians in order to understand their problems and needs, he said.

However, when it comes to offering love and attention, the sisters and brothers who live in one’s community get priority, he said, especially elderly members who may be isolated in an infirmary.

“I know that you never gossip in your communities. Never, ever,” the pope said smiling.

Backstabbing and gossip are a danger to religious life, he said.

“Whoever gossips is a terrorist,” he said, because they drop harmful words like bombs against others, leaving behind destruction while the attacker walks away unscathed.

“If you feel like saying something against a brother or sister,” he said, “bite your tongue. Hard. No terrorism in your communities.”

Resolve differences or problems face-to-face with the person in question, he said. But when it’s time for general chapters or other forums involving community life, then people need to be forthright in voicing concerns openly and frankly.

He said, “In public, you have to say everything you feel because there is the temptation to not say things during the chapter” meetings, which then leads to resentment afterward.

“During this Year of Mercy, if each one of you were able to never be a gossip-terrorist it would be a success for the church, a success of great holiness. Be brave,” he said.

The pope thanked religious men and women for their work, especially consecrated women. “What would the church be if there were no sisters?” he asked, recalling their presence in Catholic hospitals, schools, parishes and missions around the world.

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