Father Son Diaconal Duos!

July 29, 2007

Father and son ordained to diaconate together!

John & Christopher Riehl, father and son, received holy orders together May 18, 2007!

Talk about keeping it in the family!

This father-son pair came before the Rt. Rev. Joseph E. Kurtz, Bishop of Knoxville, TN to recieve the sacrament of Holy Orders as deacons.

Christopher is preparing for the priesthood. John, the father of seven, was ordained a little earlier (by a month) than the rest of his class of 29 diaconal candidates so that this momentous event could take place side by side.

As it turns out, these two would not be the only father-son(-to-be-turned-Father)-diaconal duo (ordained at the same time) for long. 24 hours later, 1200 miles away, they were joined by Paul Lara, 38, and Rafael Lara, 64 who were two of 28 men ordained to the Diaconate by Archbishop José Gomez of San Antonio, TX.

Paul, a member of the Legionaries of Christ, was given special permission to leave the LC seminary in Rome to join his father to recieve ordination apart from his class. He returned to Rome to join the rest of his classmates who had been ordained to the diaconate in Rome. He is to be ordained a priest in December.

What come’s first, the father’s vocation or the sons? For the Lara’s, the son had already been in formation with the Legion of Christ for some 5 years when the dad began formation for the diaconate.

But sometimes it happens the other way…As it turns out, this is not even the first time that a father and son have both been deacons. In the Diocese of Trenton, Deacon Gregory Wallack (ordained in 1984) served as a deacon at his son’s own diaconal and priestly ordinations in May and December of 2004 respectively. That is pretty cool.

Of course neither of these duos are the first families to have two generations in Holy Orders side by side. The two Greek Catholic priests shown here are Frs. Mikhail & Vitalii Shelemba. They are shown carrying the remains of martyred Soviet-era bishop, Bl. Theodore Romzha when his relics were transported to a new place of repose in Ukraine.


Remember all of these great men in your prayers – that they are give the strength for many faithful years of service, and in doing so inspire others to do likewise.


Not Too Shabby Greek Catholics!

July 28, 2007


The following are vocations from the Eparchy of Van Nuys – A Byzantine Catholic Diocese covering over 15 States from Anchorage to Las Vegas. At last count 20 parishes…

1 seminarian, 1 postulant, and 6 oridnations to the diaconate this year.

Keep them in your prayers!

* Ms. Melissa Morrow from Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, Albuquerque, entered Holy Annunciation Monastery of the Byzantine Carmelite Nuns in Sugarloaf as a postulant on July 16.

* Mr. Diodoro Mendoza of Our Lady of Wisdom Church, Las Vegas, has been accepted as a candidate to study for the holy priesthood at SS. Cyril and Methodius Seminary for the Fall Semester of the 2007–2008 Academic Year.

* Mr. Brian D. Escobedo was ordained to the Minor Orders, Subdiaconate and the Diaconate on July 22 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Albuquerque.

* Mr. John Bradley will be ordained to the Minor Orders, Subdiaconate and the Diaconate July 29 at Saint Anne Church, San Luis Obispo.

* Mr. Michael Mandelas will be ordained to the Minor Orders, Subdiaconate and the Diaconate on August 19, 2007, at Saint John Chrysostom Church, Seattle.

* Mr. James Danovich and Mr. Michael Hanafin will be ordained to Minor Orders, Subdiaconate and Diaconate on August 25 at St. Stephen’s Pro-Cathedral, Phoenix.

* Mr. Michael Sullivan will be ordained to the Minor Orders, Subdiaconate and the Diaconate on August 26 at Saint Thomas the Apostle Church, Gilbert, Arizona.

Hat tip to Sophia Wannabe from the Byzantine Forum for the info.

His Grace, +JOHN (The Eparchy of Parma, OH) already ordained 5 men to the diaconate this year:

* Fr. Dcn. William Frederick (St. Joseph Byzantine Catholic Church Brecksville, OH)

* Fr. Dcn. Paul Latcha (St. Basil Byzantine Catholic Church Sterling Heights, MI)

* Fr. Dcn. Jeffrey Martin (St. John Chrysostom Church Columbus, OH)

* Fr. Dcn. Daniel Surniak (St. Mary Magdalene Church Fairview Park, OH)

* Fr. Dcn. Nicholas Szilagye (St. Luke Church Sugar Creek, MO)

Recent ordinations by Bishop Andrew to the diaconate for the Eparchy of Passaic (Covering most of the Eastern searboard down to Florida):

June 23, 2007 at St. Mary Church, Wilkes-Barre, PA.

* Fr. Dcn. Edward Frey
* Fr. Dcn. Soroka
* Fr. Dcn. Lawrence Worlinsky

July 1, 2007 at St. Thomas the Apostle Church, Rahway, NJ.

* Fr. Dcn. Mark Koscinski
* Fr. Dcn. Charles Laskowski

Please understand that the largest two or three Roman parishes in the US have more members tha all of the Byzantine Catholic Church in America put together. Most of our parishes are so small they would not have full time priests in most Latin Diocese. At the last training period at the Byzantine Catholic Seminary there were 16 candidates from 3 of the 4 eparchies in the Metropolia present.

16 men ordained across the country from a population of some 30,000 or so just this summer. As a Greek Catholic, to me that is very special, and encouraging. We are a little flock in the great sea of America that did not even ordain married men deacons ten years ago.

Even a flock that is small in numbers yet large in faith can offer much fruit. Sometimes we look around at the low Mass attendance in churches built to hold much more and we think to ourselves “There should be more!” and despair. Well there in fact SHOULD be more, but there is no room for despair!

Many faithful years to them all! Keep them in your prayers!


The Pope On Vacation

July 22, 2007

Papal retreat video.

What the Pope does on vacation…

Take a look at this video clip to see how the Pope started out on his summer papal retreat.


Byzantine Carmelite Sisters

July 16, 2007

(On the Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, 2007) In the city I grew up in, there was a monastery for women located in the inner city. Well, more accurately, it was nestled into a cemetary.

Located at the end of a long drive in an old brick building with vines creeping all over the façade, I had figured it was yet one more empty old church building that had seen better days. One more testament to more active days, with more vocations. I had assumed the grounds were kept due to its location on a cemetary where folks are regularly still interred for their period of physical repose before the Second Coming.

I was wrong.

Home to 15 nuns who engage in contemplative life, without active apostalate into the world but rather for the world in prayer, there were still quite active. And, blessedly, attracting every few years, a young member to keep their median age rather lower than a good deal of the orders out there.

Good for them. Better for us!

What is it about the monastic cloistered life and the pursuit of Christian perfection that calls some to – against all impulses instilled in our fallen nature and fallen culture – to leave the world and pursue such a vocation? My best guess would be pure Love.

The image at the start of this post is Bl. Mary of Mary of Jesus Crucified. An Eastern Catholic Carmelite of the the Melkite Greek Catholic Church in Palestine of the 1800s and a stigmatist at that she achieved much sanctity even in the context of a belagured and persecuted culture among Catholic Christians in withdrawing to contemplative life. She did not less that participate in the establishment of a missionary Carmel in India. All this in an age where travel was not easy, Christians were especially persecuted in these places, and women traveling abroad were definately targets.

Now I have come to find out that here in America a Carmel has just established its 25th Jubilee in the Byzantine Catholic Church. In Sugarloaf, PA, it has not only been going strong for 25 years, it now has established a daughter Carmel back in Europe after the collapse of Communism, it is now the home of 5 Carmelites from India of the Syro Malabar Church!

So what do these sisters do? They pray. For you. For me. That is what they do.

On the side they do some baking and raise mini-horses…. Yea, I don’t get the mini-horses thing either. (Maybe they get better MPG?) But their true apostalate and goal is prayer.

Folks interested in learning more about the good Byzantine Sisters may visit their website (http://www.byzantinediscalcedcarmelites.com/) or write them at:

Holy Annunciation Monastery
Byzantine Carmelite Nuns
403 West County Road
Sugarloaf, PA 18249

If you could happen to find some extra change between your couch cushions or in the bottom of the washing machine, I am sure they could use it.

Folks interested in hearing the good sisters in prayer and seeing video of their chapel should check out: http://www.byzantinediscalcedcarmelites.com/page17.html The recording was made some several years ago (Pope John Paul II is commemorated in the opening litany) when the community was slightly smaller. I would rather love to hear recordings of them today. I am not sure if any are available.

But what can these folks teach those of us who are not called to monastic life? In a word faith. In two words, hope & faith.

Remember, no matter how over-grown the façade of the Catholic Church becomes in some areas, how abandoned it looks, how quiet it seems, worthy prayers are being offered therein, with total faith and hope.

Pray for this simple sinner.


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