Pentecost: Sunday Scripture, May 28, 2023

Pentecost: Sunday Scripture, May 28, 2023

A stained glass window at St. Mary Church in Luxemburg, Wis., depicts the Holy Spirit descending upon the Apostles at Pentecost. The feast of Pentecost, often referred to as the birthday of the church, is celebrated on May 28 this year. (OSV News photo/Sam Lucero)

I can’t remember the last time I heard anyone say, “Happy Pentecost.”

We are so eager to send glad tidings at Christmas and Easter, exchanging gifts or food or flowers, but shouldn’t Pentecost be given its due? Shouldn’t we be extending warm wishes—I’d even say, fiery ones!—to mark the feast we consider the “birthday of the Church”?

I think so. We should send cards! Exchange gifts! Make this feast truly festive, for it commemorates an extraordinary moment in salvation history—a moment that’s never really ended.

Scripture never says, “After the tongues of fire landed, they burned out.” There is never a point where we hear that it is over. Considered that way, this beautiful truth reveals itself: Pentecost doesn’t have an expiration date. As a priest friend likes to say, it is still going on.

That alone is worth celebrating. But how? What is a fitting way to spread the joy of the Holy Spirit burning in our hearts?

To pick one obvious way: Strike a match and light a candle. Watch the flame burn and dance. That is how the Spirit works—and the very image of a flickering fire should inspire us to dance, as well.

Ways to Celebrate:

Call a friend. Embrace a loved one. Remind them, every one of them, that they are loved by God. In case they have forgotten—or put it all on a back burner (so to speak)—share the good news that Christ has risen. Hope has prevailed! Death doesn’t have the last word! And don’t let anyone forget it.

This day, give to a charity. Volunteer at a soup kitchen. Take a lonely neighbor to lunch. Pay for a stranger’s meal at a neighborhood diner.

And then sit down, inhale—maybe hearing a vague echo of that mighty wind that blew through the Upper Room—and take an inventory of profound gratitude.

Yes, give thanks! Make a list, check it twice. Thank God for the gift of the Holy Spirit—the Spirit that landed like fire 2,000 years ago and continues to singe our hearts and illuminate our Church.

The Spirit is astoundingly productive, but often shockingly quiet. He likes to whisper, nudge, coax, and prompt; you never hear him yell, which may be why so many of us don’t realize he’s in the room. A friend likes to refer to “The Sneaky Spirit,” and that’s an apt description.

It’s a good time to ask: How has the Spirit been at work in our lives? Have we listened for him lately? Have we found time for silence, to hear what he has to say? Take time this Pentecost to (as one of my favorite hymns puts it) “ponder anew what the Almighty can do.” What has he been doing in your life? You may be amazed to realize how much.

As we look back on the last two Sundays of the liturgical calendar, we see resurrection and mercy, life and renewal. Now, on Pentecost, we see inspiration—a spark catching fire. We see the affirmation of all that has come before. Here is light and fervor and hope.

Every birthday party, in a sense, encapsulates all of that, complete with candles and singing and wishes being made. But the Pentecost celebration is different. We don’t blow out the flame. As my priest friend reminds me, the fire keeps going.

And so do our hopes and aspirations for the lives we want to lead, and the faith we want to share and the Church—the body of Christ, we need to be. Pentecost is about beginnings, about possibility, about carrying the joy of Easter out of the Upper Room and into the world.

So, all things considered, maybe that’s the best way to celebrate this great feast: Make a wish! Ask the Holy Spirit to give us what we need to be the Christians we need to be, now, at a moment when it feels like the fire is about to sputter out.

Come, Holy Spirit, and enkindle in us the fire of your love! Then, let’s keep the fire going—and prayerfully work to make that wish come true. Happy Pentecost!

OSV News: Deacon Greg Kandra is an award-winning author and journalist, and creator of the blog “The Deacon’s Bench.” He serves in the Diocese of Brooklyn, New York


The Rosary & Eucharist: Our ‘Weapons’ Against Fear & Bigotry

The Rosary & Eucharist: Our ‘Weapons’ Against Fear & Bigotry

The April 14, 2022, edition of The Atlantic referred to the rosary as a symbol of extremism, comparing it to the AR-15 rifle. To quote directly from the article, “Just as the AR-15 rifle has become a sacred object for Christian nationalists in general, the rosary has acquired a militaristic meaning for radical Catholics.” The author goes on to say, “Rosary beads have been woven into conspiratorial politics and absolutist gun culture. These armed radical traditionalists have taken up a spiritual notion that the rosary can be a weapon in the fight against evil and have turned it into something dangerously lethal.”

The author of this article unknowingly stated a truth: the rosary can be a weapon in the fight against evil, but it is not “dangerously lethal,” except in the spiritual realm. Padre Pio said, “Love the Madonna and pray the rosary, for her rosary is the weapon against the evils of the world today.” He went on to say, “The rosary is the weapon for these times.” Pope Pius IX said, “Give me an army saying the rosary and I will conquer the world.” Saint Jose Maria Escriva said, “The holy rosary is a powerful weapon. Use it with confidence, and you’ll be amazed at the results.”

The fact that this man would write an article criticizing the rosary as a weapon similar to an assault rifle shows total ignorance of the topic. To his point, we certainly do not want the rosary to be associated with violence. The rosary is just the opposite: it is a weapon for peace.

As an example of encouraging people to rise up and become Church Militants, the author of the article goes on to slam pious phrases like “Deus Vult” (“God wills it”). What would the author say about Our Lady’s response to the Angel Gabriel, “Let it be done unto me?” Does that imply some sort of insurrection as well?

We are the Church Militant, fighting the good fight of faith. That’s not a new image: it comes from St. Paul who said in 1 Timothy 6: 12, “Fight the good fight of faith.” The Church on earth is referred to as the Church Militant; as the Church in heaven is referred to as the Church Triumphant; and the Church Suffering references purgatory. These are older terms, but still valid. Our Lord Himself used military references, especially about going to battle.

I’ve shared many times and all of you who are my age and older remember being confirmed as a “soldier for Christ,” in His army. The motto of Cardinal Ritter, who served as Archbishop of St. Louis from 1946 to 1967, was “Miles Christi Sum (“I am a soldier of Christ”). This imagery is nothing new, it is not radical, nor is it extreme. It is used in a spiritual sense of fighting the battle of faith while immersed in the world.

The author even takes a swipe at the Swiss Guard, when in 2016, it accepted a donation of what is called “combat rosaries,” having the head of the Swiss Guard say that the rosary is “the most powerful weapon that exists on the market.” I guess the author does not know that in the past, the United States government commissioned and issued—upon request—rosaries to soldiers serving in the first World War and WWII. Finally, the article criticized the Swiss Guard for wearing uniforms. That is like criticizing our own military for wearing fatigues. It’s what they wear!

Of course, one of the main reasons the rosary is criticized is because of the Catholic Church’s opposition to abortion. The rosary is often prayed in front of abortion clinics, and as citizens of this country, we are free to do so. That is why abortionists will often carry signs that read, “Keep your rosaries off our ovaries.” The battle continues! Am I being too sensitive? Should I lighten up a bit?

A Jan. 23, 2023, article in The New York Post cited nearly 300 attacks on US Catholic churches since May of 2020: 118 of which occurred since May of 2022, when the Supreme Court Dobbs decision was leaked to the public. These attacks rarely get any coverage in the media. Churches have been vandalized, statues destroyed, front doors of churches spray-painted with vulgarities, tabernacles destroyed, and the Blessed Sacrament desecrated. The FBI and various branches of the judicial system have been slow to investigate these acts. Along with attacking churches, some 60 pregnancy resource centers have been firebombed. Why would people destroy a pregnancy resource center? Is it because these women have chosen life? Or do people really not know what a pregnancy resource center is? If the pro-choice side is truly “pro-choice,” then shouldn’t they support the woman who chooses to have her child? But they don’t. Their “pro-choice” position is a lie and one of manipulation. They are pro-abortion, make no mistake. To add insult to injury, the Justice Department has recommended no jail time for an abortion activist that recently painted obscenities and destroyed property at Saint Louise Catholic Church, Bellevue, WA. The local police said it was an anti-Catholic hate crime, but the Department of Justice put forward a plea agreement—three years probation and no jail time!

It seems as if even the FBI is against us. A recently-leaked FBI memo has targeted Catholics with surveillance which would violate First Amendment rights. Their concern for “radical traditionalist Catholics,” puts Catholics in the company with violent nationalists and supremacists. It seems that if you are pro-life, you now belong to a group that holds a violent extremist position. Even worse, if you carry a rosary! And of course, the ultimate extremist, radicalistic view is to respect life and traditional marriage. Are we extremists for protecting the sanctity of human life or is the abortion movement violent for killing the unborn child? It seems that the FBI is backtracking on its position for now, but what was their motive? They wanted to investigate those who seemed to be dangerous because of how they pray and their fidelity to certain traditional views on sex and marriage? The House Judiciary Chair, Jim Jordan, issued subpoenas to the FBI on April 10, demanding information about the agency’s targeting of Catholic churches. We’ll see where it goes. So far, it has gone nowhere!

Now for the craziest of all issues— Are you ready for this? On May 3—as I write this, just last week—the Saint Francis Health System, a Catholic hospital in Oklahoma, was told by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), that they must extinguish the tabernacle candle in their hospital chapels or lose accreditation. Saint Francis Health System has five hospitals in eastern Oklahoma, treating almost 400,000 patients per year and has provided over $650 million in free medical care over the last five years. The candle, encased in a thick glass globe, within another glass globe, covered by a bronze top, symbolizes the sacramental presence of Christ in the Chapel tabernacle. It has been burning in that Chapel for 15 years. At their main hospital campus, Yale, the largest hospital in the state of Oklahoma, a candle has been burning for 63 years, reminding all who come to the Chapel that Christ is present in the tabernacle, and upon extension, in the hospital. On Fri., May 5, the First Friday of the month, dedicated to the Sacred Heart, HHS backed down and the hospital is now free to keep the sanctuary candle lit! Yes, this is the same HHS that the Little Sisters of the Poor had to sue over the contraceptive mandate. They are certainly not faith-friendly, and I dare say that the HHS is outright hostile to the Catholic Church.

More and more, faithful Catholics will be closed to various positions in government, politics, universities, civil leadership, and health care. Am I beginning to sound paranoid or extreme? Remember the Connecticut school administrator that said he would not hire Catholics or conservatives? This, along with the recent memo-leak from the FBI, coupled with attacks on churches and pregnancy care centers, and even attacks on the rosary itself, when put all together, makes for a perfect storm of outright prejudice against Catholics. Anti-Catholic bigotry is alive and well in our country. It doesn’t get the same press coverage as other current social issues, but it is there: Let’s not forget it.
I remember celebrating a Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of Knock, Ireland. The presiding priest was as old as St. Patrick himself. He looked as if he had one foot in the grave. But when he came up to preach the homily, he was emboldened by the Holy Spirit. He reminded the people of the days of British occupation. He told of how, in his own little village, the British took over the church as a stable for their horses. He posed the question, “What has always seen us through persecutions?” His answer was precious: devotion to Our Lady and the Eucharist. So, let me be clear that this is the best time to be Catholic! Let there be no doubt that we are in a battle. Let there be no doubt that we have the necessary weapons to fight the battle: We have nothing to fear because we have the rosary and the Eucharist. Let us not be afraid!

Published in the May 12, 2023 issue of The Mirror.

Our People are Generous Disciples

Our People are Generous Disciples

SPRINGTIME IN THE OZARKS—The Japanese Stroll Garden, Springfield, MO. (Photo by Bruce Stidham/The Mirror)

A blessed Easter Season to all of you! Now that Lent is over, have you gone back to your normal routine? With all the things that you might have given up, such as television or media or sweets, have you now binged on all of those things to make up for those 40 days? How about having an extraordinary Easter Season? Why not continue one of your Lenten practices throughout the 50 days of the Easter season? Are you able to go to an extra Mass during the week? Can you keep the TV off and pray the rosary as a family? Is there some way that you can mark these 50 days of Easter as a special time to grow in your faith?
As much as we try to make Lent special through prayer, fasting and charity, can we not come up with some Easter activities as well?
During Lent I read the passion narratives in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. How about reading the resurrection narratives in the Gospels? How about Reading from the Acts of the Apostles and the beginnings of the early Church? During the seven weeks leading up to Pentecost (May 28), how about focusing on one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit each week? We are Easter people! Let’s not go back to the same old ways. Let’s build on what we did during Lent, and carry it through the 50 days of Easter.

In a letter dated March 10, 2023, from the Office of National Collections in Washington, DC, I received a thank you for the many donations from our diocese for the national collections taken in the year 2022. First and foremost, $78,302.79 was collected for the 2022 Retirement Fund for Religious. In a note from Sr. Stephanie Still, Executive Director for the Retirement Fund for Religious, was written, “We are very grateful to you and your parishioners for your generous support of our mission.” This annual collection helps to support nearly 30,000 elderly sisters, brothers, and religious order priests each year.

In addition to that amount, in 2022 you contributed $53,392.48 to the Good Friday collection to support the Holy Land. Add to that $44,725.42 for Central and Eastern Europe; $16,578.19 for the Catholic Communications Campaign; $44,054.12 for the Catholic Home Missions appeal; $41,767.50 for the Church in Latin America; $57,340.79 for Catholic Relief Services; and $43,785.64 for the Charities of the Holy Father. If my math is correct, that comes to a total of $326,554.55 donated last year to these various Catholic causes. That does not include your support to the local Diocesan Development Fund (DDF); the second collection each November for Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri; to your local Saint Vincent de Paul Society, or your personal donations to your local parish and other charitable organizations. Your generosity is overwhelming, and as the bishop of the diocese, I thank you.

Of course, when people are not happy with me or some other facet of parish or diocesan life, many immediately withdraw their financial support. I recently received a DDF card which said “no more contributions until you get a priest that cares about our church and our parish…” Another wrote, “we will not contribute this year because of a conflict with the parish council.” Let me be very clear, money does not influence me. I’m a realist, I know we need money to sustain our mission and ministries, but that’s about as far as it goes. Ultimately, people donate to the diocese or to their parish because they believe in our mission. We are “One Church, East to West, loving Jesus, serving Jesus, sharing Jesus.” Throughout our diocese, all our parishes are trying to move from “maintenance to mission,” focusing on holiness, intentional discipleship, and witnessing to the faith.

Yes, some of our priests speak with accents beyond our southern Missouri drawl. Yes, some of our priests may have a different skin color than perhaps do you. Yes, some of our priests might have a big learning curve when it comes to working in a parish in the Church of the United States. But let me say this: without those priests that have accents or different skin color, we would not be able to keep our parishes open. And, as I wrote to one parishioner, “instead of giving me the list of all the things you don’t like about your priest, could you tell me what you’re trying to do to help him?”

At the end of the day, we are all in this together. And if we focus only on our differences, we will find them. Rather, let’s focus on our shared common humanity, our faith, our love of God and Neighbor, and you’ll also discover a great many similarities! You either believe in the mission of the Church, and you support that mission, or you don’t, and this mission is way more than personal or political agendas.

O Sacrament Most Holy
O Sacrament Divine, all praise and all Thanksgiving
be every moment Thine.

Published in the April 28, 2023 issue of The Mirror.

Bike4Vocations: Pedaling to Find the Missing Priests and Nuns

Bike4Vocations: Pedaling to Find the Missing Priests and Nuns

BIKE4VOCATIONS—As planned, Geoffrey and Fern Greenwell arrived safely at St. Mary Cathedral, Cape Girardeau, on May 7. Pictured were Geoffrey Greenwell, The Very Rev. Allan Saunders, Pastor; The Most Rev. Edward M. Rice, Fern Greenwell, and the Greenwells’ nephew, Gregory. The Greenwells are undertaking a 4,000-mile trek across the US to bring awareness to the need for religious vocations in the Church. They began in St. Augustine, FL, and will pass through 13 states and 20 (arch)dioceses, stopping at parishes, holy sites, convents, and monasteries along the way, ending their journey on the Oregon coast. (The Mirror)

Have you ever wanted to bike across the United States? There are a surprising number of people who accomplish this feat, but most people do it for their own enjoyment or sense of accomplishment. But not Fern and Geoffrey Greenwell.
Over the 33 years of their marriage, Fern has wanted to bike across the United States. She and Geoffrey decided that 2023 was the year to do it.
“However, we felt that it was a bit self-indulgent to just undertake the activity without some consecration or deeper objective,” Fern said. “Given the vocation crisis in the Church, we felt called to consecrate the bike trip across the US to raise awareness of the crisis. And it has really been an act of faith since then, a journey within a journey.”
The Bike4Vocations trek began in April in St. Augustine, FL.
“We will symbolically begin at the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche,” Fern said. “The site is where an old Spanish Mission was built and the site of the first Mass offered in North America in 1565.” From April to July, Fern will bike about 4,000 miles from Florida, up through the Midwest, across Montana, and ending on the Oregon Coast. Meanwhile, Geoffrey will drive ahead in their RV to set up camp for the night, then bike back to join Fern for the remainder of the day’s trek. They expect the exposure to the elements will be more challenging than the sheer distance.
“But this exposure may also be the most fruitful part of the journey,” said Geoffrey, “to be out there expending energy to constantly call our attention and prayers to the vocation crisis.”
Passing through 13 states and 22 dioceses, Fern will bike 50 to 90 miles each day, stopping at parishes, holy sites, convents, and monasteries along the way. The Greenwells have received the blessing and endorsement of dioceses along the route. Parishes and religious communities are organizing holy hours “where we will pray quietly for vocations and try to make people aware in a spiritual sense of the problem we face as a community of faithful regarding the real crisis we face in our Catholic Church. We are just pedaling and praying: a spiritual supplication through a physical offering.”

A Stop Planned In The Diocese
Bike4Vocations will pedal through the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau. Fern and Geoffrey will be joining Bishop Edward Rice and The Very Rev. Allan Saunders, pastor, in St. Mary Cathedral, Cape Girardeau, on Sun., May 7, for Adoration 11:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., closing with Benediction; Bishop Rice will hold his “Meet me at the Grotto” Rosary at 6:30 p.m., Sunday evening. On Mon., May 8, there will be 8 a.m. Mass with students of St. Mary Cathedral Catholic School. The Greenwells will spend about 20 minutes in church with the school kids after Mass.
“This bike ride across America will also focus on history and follow a trail of explorers, missionaries, and converts,” the Greenwells said. “It is a discovery of the Catholic faith in America and how communities of faith contributed to the moral fiber of a nation. It is a pedaling pilgrimage looking for missing priests and nuns in our nation.”
By offering up their love for cycling to the Lord, the Greenwells are trusting that the Holy Spirit will work through their passions and pursuits to bring about the good of God’s people.
“We are remaining open and being holy opportunists,” said Geoffrey. “We are seeing how relationships develop and how ‘cause and effect’ will open doors. We have faith that there will be enough receptivity by others to create a widening space of awareness of this crisis. But it really is a lesson in cooperation with God.”
Working in public health and poverty statistics, Fern and Geoffrey have lived all over the world including in Texas, Washington DC, Romania, Rwanda, Switzerland, Moldova, and France. Fern’s parents retired to Tucson in the 1980s, so they were often visiting Arizona. Fern went through RCIA at San Xavier del Bac Mission in 1988 and the Greenwells were married at the Mission in 1990. The Greenwells moved to Arizona in 2017, and now live west of Tucson in Three Points, and are active in St. Mary of the Desert Mission Church there. They are also active at Santa Cruz Parish where Fern is a Third Order Discalced Carmelite.
As a statistician, Geoffrey understands what numbers to look for in statistics. Their fervor for vocations took off after reviewing some staggering data about the reality of vocations in the United States:
• Since 1970, the number of vocations has decreased by 54%.
• 34% of priests are considered inactive (retired or infirmed).
• This leaves about 1,300 souls to which each active priest ministers.
• Since 1970, consecrated women have dropped 78%. “There are about 16,000,000 Catholic men
between the age of 18-40 in the US,” Geoffrey said. “Out of these, we propose that 0.5% or about
80,000 men have vocations to the priesthood. We are looking for the missing 80,000 priests. We
estimate at least 210,000 missing vocations among women.
“Male/female ratios in census data across the world indicate that there are on average 0.5% more men than women in the 20-35 age group,” said Geoffrey. “This is a providential ratio that, if properly tended, represents a reserve of excess men that should be especially sensitive to the Holy Spirit calling and available for service in the Catholic Church.”

Pray For Vocations
Fern and Geoffrey urge each of us to pray for vocations. They suggest this simple addition after your meal prayer: “From this bounty, call our sons and daughters to be gifts of grace offered to nourish the spiritual needs of Our Church, through Christ our Lord.” The Greenwells believe this simple prayer would bring about more vocations. “God is that generous,” they said.
Though they’d been dreaming of this trek for decades, God’s timing is perfect. “The Church has been undergoing a period of reflection called Synodality. The metaphor is that we are journeying together as a Church,” Geoffrey said. “In this sense, this bike trip represents a personal opportunity to understand our Church in this spirit of synodality. Between Florida and Oregon is a continent of wonderful Catholic history and experience. Hopefully we may discover something about what a consecrated life means to different people.”
Fern and Geoffrey are taking a leap of faith, trusting the Lord to work through this 4,000-mile trek to cultivate and inspire men and women to serve the Lord with their whole hearts.
You are invited to follow Fern and Geoffrey on Twitter @canonlaw233.
“We selected that handle in reference to Canon Law 233 which states: ‘The duty of fostering vocations rests with the entire Christian community so that the needs of the sacred ministry in the universal Church are provided for sufficiently. This duty especially binds Christian families, educators, and, in a special way, priests, particularly pastors.’”
You can stay tuned to their blog at https:// or contact Fern and Geoffrey by emailing

Published in the April 28, 2023 issue of The Mirror.

Moved By a Zeal For Souls: The Priesthood

Moved By a Zeal For Souls: The Priesthood

2023 Chrism Mass
Homily by the Most Rev. Edward M. Rice

Next to ordinations, the annual Chrism Mass is one of the most special times for us to gather as the presbyterate (priests) of the Diocese of Springfield Cape Girardeau. It is on this day that we renew our efforts to serve the people of God. And it is on this day, with the blessing of the sacred oils of chrism, catechumens, and the sick, that we renew the Sacramental life of the diocese.

Monsignor William Stanton, who died at the age of 85, on Jan. 18, 2017, was a priest of our diocese for six decades, serving in 10 parishes from Joplin to Cape Girardeau, and places in between. He was a classmate of Bishop John Leibrecht’s, and they were ordained on March 17, 1956, in St. Louis. I don’t know how for sure, but somewhere along the way, I found a copy of his ordination card. I used the prayer/quote from that card for the recent Vocation Masses that I’ve celebrated throughout the diocese. I would like to use it for our reflection and inspiration on this special day as well.

The verse says, “Oh Mary, my mother, to thee I consecrate the years of my priesthood; make them fruitful for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.” I would propose to all of the priests that if, at the end of your life, looking back on your years of priesthood, that you had fulfilled this little prayer, then your priesthood would have been well lived.

In that little verse, we recognize first the role of Our Lady in the life of a priest. She is “Queen of the Clergy.” I am mindful of the words of Our Lady of Guadalupe to St. Juan Diego, “Let not your heart be troubled … am I not here? I, who am your mother?” These words of Our Lady offer priests consolation, especially during these times of societal change, opposition to the Church, and even a hatred for the things of God.

How are we to proceed and carry on with our ministry? We move forward with confidence, knowing that we are not alone. The full quote of Our Lady says, “Am I not here? I, who am your mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not the source of your joy? Are you not in the hollow of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Do you need something more? Let nothing else worry you, disturb you.” With those words of Our Lady, priests have the confidence to continue their calling, with no fear: The call to trust, to place our worries and anxieties into the hands of Our Lady, who in turn will give them to her Son.

That little prayer verse also reminds us that our activities, regardless of any success or failure, be done for the glory of God. Only God knows how our efforts will bear fruit in the lives of our people and in building up the diocese. And in a sense, it is not ours to know. To us belongs the work, a beautiful work, the work of God. John Henry Newman put it this way, “I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told that in the next.” When we consecrate and live out our priesthood for the glory of God, being faithful to our duties, God is glorified regardless of any success or failure. In the midst of sickness, perplexity, or sorrow, God knows what he is about. To us belongs the labor! Of course, all of this is for the salvation of souls.

Let us stop here for a moment to consider this important point: Msgr. Stanton’s little verse was on the holy card for his ordination. He lived out his priesthood for 61 years. When he died in 2017, did he still have that same zeal that expressed in that little verse, to be fruitful for the glory of God and the salvation of souls? His was a life of 61 years of celebrating the sacraments, bringing people into the Church; offering consolation at the loss of a loved one, sanctifying and reconciling people to the sacraments of baptism, reconciliation, and Holy Communion; 61 years of preaching the Incarnation and the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ in good times and in bad times; 61 years of preaching the fullness of the Gospel and passing on the teachings of the Church. I would like to think that Msgr. Stanton was just as zealous for the salvation of souls on the day of his death as he was on the day of his ordination. Hopefully, that could also be said of each of us! That is why the Church, in her wisdom, on this day, the Chrism Mass, invites priests throughout the world to renew their priestly promises. In the mind of holy mother Church, we, brothers gathered as a presbyterate, I, as Bishop gathered with my clergy, we recommit ourselves today to do what we do for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.

Da Mihi Animas,” “Give Me Souls,” was always the cry of the newly-ordained priest. With the smell of Sacred Chrism still on his hands, with all his youth and vigor, he was sent to a parish to begin his priestly work. On this day, whether decades ago or more recently, we, the clergy of this diocese, recommit ourselves to this work. Actually, the full quote of that verse includes “Cetera Tolle,” “Give me souls, take everything else.” There is nothing more important, nothing should ever take precedence over the priestly work that has been given to us. Nothing should ever get in the way of the late night call to go to the hospital, the last-minute request to teach in a classroom, visiting the sick in their homes, or preparing couples for marriage: the whole spectrum of the Sacramental life.

As we anticipate Holy Thursday, with the institution of the priesthood and the Eucharist, let this Mass be a time for the clergy of our diocese to be ever-more resolved to be more closely conformed to Christ, and to follow Christ, the head and shepherd: Let us commit to be moved only by a zeal for souls. Amen.

Published in the April 14, 2023 issue of The Mirror.