Thursday, July 30, 2015


My friend Dawn Eden has talked to me about having a blog and she has offered to assist me. For what it’s worth, it would be a joy to share my reflections with anyone interested. Here is a brief account of my preparation and my mission as a priest:

I was born May 6, 1929, and baptized on the 26th. That means my conception was around August 6, 1928. Our family was small: mother Irene, Dad Leo, older sister Jeanne, younger brother Jack. We belonged to Sacred Heart Parish, Rock Island, Illinois, and I was educated at the grammar school there from first through eighth grade.

Postcard of Sacred Heart Church
via Rock Island Preservation Society
My confirmation was November 22, 1936; I took Joseph as my confirmation name. The next major event in my personal history was a tragic one. On January 5, 1939, when I was nine years old, my family was in a car accident near Pampa, Texas. Mother was killed. I suffered a severe fracture to my right hip, leaving me disabled.

On November 21, 1941, my father married Ethel, who had been a close friend of my mother and him. Ethel became a second mom to me. She and my father gave us a sister, Jo Ann.

After completing grammar school, I spent one year at Rock Island's St. Joseph High School before discerning a vocation to the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. From age 15, onward, the remainder of my high-school years and my first two college years were at Our Lady of the Ozarks, Carthage, Missouri, an OMI minor seminary.

Photo of St. John Lateran by Tango7174, via Wikipedia.
My OMI novitiate began August 14, 1949 and finished with my first oblation (vows) August 15, 1950, at Godfrey, Illinois, near Alton. Then the OMIs sent me to study at the Jesuit-run Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, where I had three years of philosophy and four years of theology. My oblation for life was August 15, 1953, at Roviano, Italy, our summer home. My diaconal ordination was December 22, 1956, and I was ordained a priest for life on April 6, 1957, both at St. John Lateran (St. Savior) in Rome.

Being a priest has toned my relation as brother and father and friend with our brothers and sisters of the human family and our brothers and sisters of the Catholic family of Jesus. For the priestly people, my call is to be a servant priest with the deacons, presbyters, bishops, and the bishop of Rome.

My mission as a priest so far has been as a theology teacher for twenty-five years and as a parish priest for twenty-five years. As a teacher, I served at schools of theology in Pass Christian, Mississippi; San Antonio; St. Paul; and Washington, D.C. As a parish priest, I shepherded in the dioceses of Stockholm, Sweden; Yakima, Washington; Birmingham, Alabama, and Chicago. For these last years, I have served as a chaplain for contemplative nuns and as an assistant to parishes, especially in Spanish-speaking ministry. Along the way, Paul VI named me a theological expert (peritus) at Vatican II, and the Dominican-run Pontifical University of St. Thomas in Rome made me a doctor of sacred theology (S.T.D.).

My special concern everywhere has been youth, children, and families. Central to my preaching and teaching are Jesus our merciful Savior, His beloved friends Mary and Joseph, and His love—the fire of his passionate offering of Himself for His Father and us His brothers and sisters through His Holy Spirit. Aging makes me more thankful for His many blessings, more sorrowful for my many sins, and more hopeful for my ongoing conversion. Please keep me in your prayers.

Father Don

The Catholic Spirituality of Jesus

Trail at the Serra dos Órgãos via Wikimedia Commons
Today many people feel a need for spirituality. Our hearts matter most, not material things.

Our spirituality is following Jesus as a Catholic. This means an ongoing conversion and an ongoing mission to flourish humanly this best way.

Teresa of Jesus plays with images of water and of a castle. John of the Cross plays with images of mountain and night, of song and flame. These images are open and dynamic, not closed and static. They describe an adventure.

The adventure of life and history together and singly is like playing a game, traveling a road, waging a battle. This adventure involves dying to our sinful selves and rising to our graced selves for, with, like, and through Jesus. We do this in secular, monastic, and apostolic settings, in a hidden and public life, as He did with Mary and Joseph, with Peter and the other apostles, with Mary Magdalene, and with Martha and Mary of Bethany.

Jesus converts us through His Catholic Church. She is His bride and our mother and teacher. He makes us saints, His friends. He makes us a communion of saints, angels and people of heaven and purgatory and earth who are his circle of friends. His friends help us by their example, and by their prayer, and by their friendship, with thought, affection, and care.

Jesus blesses through His Catholic Church with His prayer and word and sacrament focused on His sacrifice, His offering Himself for others, for His merciful Father and for us His borthers and sisters of the human and angelic family by His Love, the Holy Spirit. He makes us more radically and fully human. He calls us each originally for and with all and each past and present and future to the ongoing conversion of following Him His Catholic way and to the ongoing mission of evangelizing others to do the same.

The game, the road, the battle of life and history together and singly is growing in the human and gospel virtues of Jesus and his friends, His saints. There are three stages in this movement: we start, we advance, and we mature through Him, like Him, and with Him and His Catholic Church for His kingdom now and always. These stages are called:
  • purgative (overcoming our sins by virtues),

  • illuminative (receiving His lights for strengthening our virtues), and

  • unitive (living in company with Jesus our brother and Lord, our friend and savior, and with His saints).
While the dimensions of sins, virtues, and union are present in each stage, usually one dimension is more dominant. There are always the storms of sins and temptations, of errors and divisions, of mistakes and failures, of disappointments and discouragements, of troubles of every kind. Yet Jesus through His Church calms us during all these storms and brings us to His shore.

We people and angels together and singly, and our earth and universe in its whole and in its parts, both now and always are from and to and for our merciful Father and His kingdom through His Beloved Word made our Jesus, speaking us and through His Love, His Holy Spirit, breathing us and His Catholic Church and communion of saints, angels and people of heaven and purgatory and earth who are friends, especially Mary and Joseph.

Father Don