Posts Tagged ‘Michael Zelenka’

SUNDAY, SUNDAY

Monday, October 5th, 2015

IMG_1872I left Rome on Saturday to return to the diocese, mostly without interruption at least until the Christmas holidays. The “Roman Holiday” was not much of a holiday as I arrived in the Eternal City at 900 am on Wednesday and left at noon on Saturday – three days and three hours. The purpose of the trip was wonderful in that for the second year in a row one of our seminarians was ordained to the transitional diaconate, meaning that I will have the privilege of ordaining him to the priesthood this coming May. Alex Padilla, like Father Ryan Boyle who was ordained last year, has attended the Pontifical North American College for three years. During that time his studies have been at the Gregorian University (the Jesuits) and his formation at the North American College (NAC hereafter). He is among 270 seminarians enrolled this year at this seminary.

Alex is one of two early vocations coming from the diocese’s newest high school, Bishop McLaughlin in Spring Hill (well, really Hudson for everyone except the Post Office). Rajeev Phillip is the second vocation and he also is studying in Rome but for the Syro-Malabar Rite whose origin and strength is to be found in Southern India. His diocesan headquarters is in Chicago and there are two Syro-Malabar parishes located in Tampa so perhaps good fortune will bring Rajeev back to minister in his home area. Both McLaughlin graduates are outstanding candidates for the priesthood.

Alex was ordained a deacon on Thursday morning at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s Basilica by Timothy Cardinal Dolan along with thirty-eight other men. Twelve of his classmates were ordained deacons during the summer months in their own dioceses and by their own bishops. While his mother and father and brother were able to be present, only one other cousin who lives in Germany, and one other classmate from his days as a college seminarian at St. John Vianney were able to be present as well.

His rector from his days at St. John Vianney in Miami, Monsignor Roberto Garza, vested him in his diaconal robes during the ceremony, and his coach and mentor from Bishop McLaughin, Michael Zelenka, now principal at Incarnation Elementary School in Tampa, and I were able to be present.

Cardinal Dolan gave one of the finest homilies prior to the actual ordination ceremony itself I have ever heard. The ordination was lovely and the opportunity  to spend time with an ordinand and his family was special for myself as well.

On Friday and Saturday, the nine U.S. bishops who will be participating in the Synod on the Family, which began with a prayer service on Saturday night, arrived for their three hard weeks of work on a church event which, save for the Second Vatican Council, has captured the attention of the Catholic world. You may recall that almost two years ago I invited all of my diocesan family to complete a questionnaire on marriage and family life in the Church and world today.

More than 9,000 of you responded with a large majority asking for some type of relief for the divorced and remarried while maintaining the essential teaching on the indissolubility of marriage. You also spoke your minds and hearts in that survey about same-sex marriage, welcoming gay and lesbian Catholics back into the family if they felt estranged, cohabitation and many other matters.

I shared the results of the survey with all of you, even though I think I was not supposed to do that. That survey and its findings were sent to the Synod Office in Rome which prepared the working structure for both last year’s extraordinary Synod which led up to what starts tonight with a prayer vigil with the Pope in St. Peter’s Square and a Mass tomorrow morning. Then the “rubber will hit the road”. My suspicion is that there is sufficient division among the attending Synod members to bring about major change, but the Holy Father might well. He listens carefully and intently to what he hears, both the majority opinions and the minority opinions. If the minority has a point, whereas in the past it would never see the light of day at the conclusion of the Synod, he has minority opinions noted publicly and occasionally as he sees pastorally fit, useful and or necessary he implements some of the things he hears.

This man is not afraid of conflict. He has asked the Synod Fathers to speak the truth of their hearts and minds in love and to bear in mind that there is always “Peter” to make the final decisions. It is going to be an interesting and invigorating three weeks as the Francis wind continues to breeze through the Church and it could get seemingly ugly but I ask you “be not afraid” as the Holy Spirit is guiding us now as we seek to speak to the modern world. Keep your eye on this space during these three weeks for thoughts.

Congratulations Deacon Alex. As wonderful as Thursday was, May 21, 2016 will be even more joyous as a grateful church of St. Petersburg welcomes you, Bradley Reed, Jonathan Stephanz, Kevin Yarnell, and Felipe Gonzalez to the sacred priesthood.

Also, please pray for all your priests who will be spending three days together this week in a special, mandatory convocation to reflect on what we have accomplished as a local church in the last two decades and what we would like to see shape a vision that we can share with the next shepherd of this great diocese.

+RNL

BISHOP’S BEST BLOG BOGS

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

Besides being somewhat in love with alliteration, the title of this post is somewhat tricky. Does it means where one can bog down in the blogs which this bishop follows closely and enjoys immensely or does it mean that I am reviewing my work of the last three years searching for the place where I “bogged” down on an issue or a topic. Actually, it is the former and is in response to perhaps the most often asked question which I receive on my blog. Everyday, without fail, I look at the following three blogs:

Screen shot of Whispers in the Loggia

Whispers in the Loggia

Rocco Palmo, Author of Whispers in the Loggia

Rocco Palmo, Author of Whispers in the Loggia

As I have often pointed out, the mother of all ecclesial blogs and the inspiration for my beginning this effort three years ago is called Whispers in the Loggia. Written by Philadelphian Rocco Palmo, this blog covers the Church incredibly well and very fairly. I suspect and suggest it is clear that the author loves his Church, while realistically understanding that wholeness is an eschatological reality and between here and there, the Church sometimes has aspects that are neither tidy nor perfect. Whispers it seems to me does not get polemical but can sometimes be absolutely poetical in its reflections on saints of today and yesterday, historical moments in the Church’s life and a good spin on what popes, conferences of bishops and individual bishops and others are saying. I used to say that one could be a very learned person on many things if one just took the time to read (in its old format no longer extant) the Wall Street Journal’s three front page articles, the right, left and center stories which would go on for pages illuminating in great detail life on this planet in its various manifestations. In the world of our Church, I think Whispers serves the same purpose – it is at once illuminating, informative, and fair. I suppose it does not hurt that when it comes to appointments of bishops, if that is one’s interest, the author of this blog is often ahead of the curve  by a few hours. Anyway, it was this blog bog that moved me to begin to write this current effort and if you have not acquainted yourself with it, I suggest you try it week after next during the Fall meeting of the nation’s bishops. I will be reading to see if other than elections to Conference office, Rocco Palmo finds many other reasons for our meeting this year. Try it, I think you will like it.

Screen shot of Truth in Love

Truth in Love, Bishop Paul D. Etienne's blog

Most Rev. Paul Etienne, Bishop of Cheyenne

Most Rev. Paul Etienne, Bishop of Cheyenne

In a classic case of the student outshining his mentor, my dear friend Bishop Paul D. Etienne is a faithful blogger since his ordination to the episcopacy last December 9, 2009. I wish I could write so well about things spiritual as this young bishop does. While one has to be patient with more than an occasional picture of a fish hanging at the end of a line, there is good fishing for sound spiritual theology in Bishop Etienne’s reflections, often on the daily readings, saints, and life in the vast Wyoming space. He has agreed to be the spiritual director of our October 2011 Convocation of Priests here in St. Petersburg and that alone should be worth the time my priests take to be with one another. Bishop Etienne’s writings come from his own life in priesthood and from his love of such diverse realities as St. Catherine of Siena about whom he wrote his Licentiate paper in Rome to nature and the outdoors. If one is looking for that thought where you might best connect with God’s loving plan for creation and redemption, a few minutes spent with Truth in Love is a great place to start.

Screen shot of Catholic Education

Catholic Education, Michael Zelenka's blog

Michael Zelenka

Michael Zelenka, Principal of Incarnation Catholic School

Finally, I am not the only person in the diocese of St. Petersburg to spend some time time blogging. There is a new principal of Incarnation School in Tampa who posts something new, timely, reflective, thoughtful and theologically very sound about once a week. In the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that Michael Zelenka came to this diocese as a graduate of Notre Dame and spent two years teaching at St. Petersburg Catholic High School in ND’s Alliance for Catholic Education program (ACE), followed that with five years as the first Athletic Director of the new Bishop McLaughlin High School in Pasco County, then after gaining a second Masters degree, this time in Educational Administration from Notre Dame, he was Assistant Principal at Christ the King School in Tampa before beginning this summer at Incarnation.  I witnessed the marriage of Mike to his wife Emily (herself a teacher at Villa Madonna School in Tampa) and have remained close to them since their marriage. Now having warned you of all my prejudices, I invite you to take a look at Michael’s blog entries. Mike was a “walk-on” in football all four undergraduate years as Notre Dame and his older brother, Joe, is the long snapper for the Atlanta Falcons in the NFL, so he speaks passionately and convincingly on occasion of a spirituality which should infect all sports and athletics. However, you don’t have to know a shuttlecock from a racket to appreciate his thoughtful reflections on the faith formation role of Catholic Education. Try it and you will like it.

Well that it. That’s where you can find me bogged down in my best blogs. And I thought this was going to be a short entry. I am bogged down myself. Watch this site for the next entry which will be entitled and focus upon “pajama parties.”

+RNL