Thursday, August 27, 2015

65 Years of Religious Life:
August 15, 1950 – August 15, 2015

1950-57       International Scholasticate, Rome, Italy     Seminarian
1957-64       Our Lady of the Snows Scholasticate,        Theology Teacher*
                   Pass Christian, MS
1964-74       Sankt Josef Arbetaren, Luleå, Sweden       Parish Priest**
                   Vår Fru, Täby, Sweden                             Parish Priest**
                   Kristi Moder, Umeå, Sweden                     Parish Priest**
1974-81       Oblate College, Washington, DC                Theology Teacher*
                   Oblate College SW, San Antonio, TX          Theology Teacher*
                   St. Paul Seminary, St. Paul, MN                Theology Teacher*
1981-92       Oblate College, Washington, DC                Theology Teacher*
1992-94       St. Joseph, Waterville, WA                        Parish Priest***
1994-97       St. Francis de Sales, Chelan, WA               Parish Priest***
1997-98       St. Francis of Assisi, Tuscaloosa, AL           Parish Priest
                   St. Aloysius, Bessemer, AL                        Parish Priest
1998-2007   St. Peter, Volo, IL                                     Parish Priest***
2007-15       Heart of Mary, Lake Villa, IL                      Chaplain***

* Taught seminarians during their four years of theology for ordination and mission.
** Confidant to Bishop of Stockholm John Taylor, O.M.I., and was his theologian (peritus) at Vatican II from 1964 to 1965. Also was member of Bishop Taylor’s Catholic Ecumenical Committee from 1964 to 1974.
*** Confidant to Bishop of Yakima and Cardinal Bishop of Chicago Francis George, O.M.I.

Heartfelt thanks to friends and family members alive and dead who cross my path.

My mother, who died in a car accident on January 5, 1939, when I was nine.

With my family on August 15, 1950, after First Oblation. From left: Grandpa Charlie (my mother’s father), Dad, Mom (Dad’s second wife), sister Jo Ann (in front of me), brother Jack, sister Jeanne and her husband Jake.
Father Don

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Captivating John Newman

People move intellectually according to John Newman between the human and the inhuman. Either they develop their intellectual potential or they corrupt it. Either they move toward the Catholic Christian religious human or toward the atheist/nihilist human and so inhuman. John Newman developed his human intellectual potential by becoming Catholic.

His journey had stages. He started as a biblical ecclesial Christian. At age 15 he experienced a religious Christian biblical conversion as an evangelical. At age 23 he experienced a further patristic ecclesial sacramental conversion as an Anglican. Lastly at age 44 he experienced a final Catholic conversion.

The movement of his journey was paced by his conscience. He met Jesus, Judge and Savior, in his conscience and so he made the decision to say yes to Him. He was touched by the grace and the gospel and the gathering and the going of the followers of Jesus. He viewed Jesus as the wonderful realization of our human hope and the wonderful fulfillment of the promise of the Lord in the Old Testament. He viewed Jesus of the New Testament as a wonder of truth and mercy in His mission and identity. He viewed Jesus in His followers together and single throughout history, especially in the early martyrs, as our Savior full of wonder. This is the grammar of his assent to Jesus and his Catholic Church.

In the Bible and in Church history he encountered two key disciples of Jesus. They are Peter and Mary. Peter represents the Church apostolic. Mary represents the Church holy. Peter stands for the truth of Jesus. Mary stands for the grace of Jesus. Peter is the universal shepherd. Mary is the universal mother.

The University Church of St. Mary the Virgin,
where Newman preached during his time at Oxford.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons
To John Newman, the Catholic Church stands out among Christian churches. She is the fullness of the Church of Jesus. She is apostolic and holy, catholic and one. She is filled with His truth and grace, she is guided in the development of His truth and grace by the successors of His apostles with and under the successor of His Peter. She develops the same gospel of Jesus for people of different times and places and needs. Her gospel is ever ancient, ever new. Theologians of the academy have a charism of doctrine. People and priests of parishes, the faithful, have a charism of devotion. Bishops with and under the pope have a charism of decision for guiding the development of the doctrine of the theologians and the devotion of the faithful.

John Newman urges the full flowering of our personality. There is a merely human maturity and a Catholic Christian maturity. They are best found together for full flourishing. Art and science, insight into people and nature, enhance the saint. Philosophy and theology with their wisdoms make more attractive the saint wise with faith and love. John Newman himself is cultured and holy. He is a Catholic follower of Jesus in the England of his day.

John Newman preached at the university and the parish. He was at home on the level of scholars and on the level of ordinary people. He was a brilliant tutor and conversationalist, he was a teacher, and he was a shepherd, whether one-on-one or to a group.

John Newman was an affectionate and faithful friend. His motto as a cardinal was cor ad cor loquitur, "heart speaks to heart." His heart was the heart of a friend. John Newman is a man of the word and of the heart, a captivating Catholic follower of Christ.
Father Don

Monday, August 24, 2015

Seminarians Today

Seminarians today come with attitudes and abilities that are new because of their time and place, their enslavement and culture, and their originality. They engage in the art of theology and philosophy. They engage in this adventure with Jesus, our friend and companion and Savior, and his friends, especially Mary and Joseph. They are blessed with these years of preparation for their mission as priest-servants of Jesus in his Catholic Church for his world. They are to make present Jesus, offering us his Word and Heart to be heard and held, and his Body and Blood to be offered and received and approached as the food and drink that our heart and conscience need. They are to be good Samaritans, merciful neighbors to us in our misery.

Seminarians are becoming more philosophical and theological during this time with their teachers, companions, classes, and books. To this they direct the classic formation of logic, grammar, and rhetoric, of thinking, expressing, persuading in speaking and writing. They catch more the vision of the whole and the parts of our human and graced ongoing conversion as friend and witness of Jesus in his Catholic Church for his world. They catch more his fire. They get in touch with the Bible, with masters like Thomas Aquinas and John Newman, with Teresa of Jesus and Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, with the teaching of Vatican II and the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, guided by our chief shepherds, philosopher John Paul II, theologian Benedict XVI, and pastoral Francis.

"The Good Samaritan," by Aimé Morot, via Wikipedia 
Seminarians are living their hidden life in preparation for their public life with, like, and through Jesus, and with and like his friends, especially Mary and Joseph. This is a time of growing more traditioned and more creative in their words and deeds. The rosary, meditating the joys, lights, sorrows, glories of Jesus, to be reflected and echoed in us his friends, is a helpful devotion during their concentrated engagement in the art of theology and philosophy. Each day of the Church year, centered on Jesus energizing and encouraging us with his Word and Heart and Body and Blood in his sacramental sacrifice, moves them forward and onward in responding to their call to be priests of the new evangelization in the revolution of mercy.

People need seminarians today. People want them. Jesus needs and wants them to be ordained presbyters in his present mercy movement.

Father Don

Friday, August 14, 2015


Our story and our song involves two trees: the tree of sin, death, and use of others, and the tree of grace, life, and offering for others. Jesus is our tree of grace, life, and offering for others. He is for us together and singly, with the wood of his crib and his cross. He is Child of Mary and Joseph, Child of the Father and the Holy Breath. Mary, wife of Joseph, is his Virgin Mother and disciple-companion, graced and glorified by him, his humble and merciful friend. Joseph is his virgin father and carpenter-protector, blessed by him, also his humble and merciful friend.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, the Holy Family, are our humble merciful family of friends, to the image and likeness of the Father and his Child and his Holy Breath.

A tree has roots in the earth, a trunk, and branches with a crest in the sky. A tree symbolizes each brother and sister, and our family in the Church and in the world. A tree invites us to appreciate each and all in the Holy Family and in our family of the Church and the world. As we celebrate the Assumption of Mary, we appreciate her life and mission, our Jewish mother, companion and friend of Jesus, and of us each and all. In this light, we reflect on the words of Joyce Kilmer in "Trees": "Poems are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree."

Father Don

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The OMI Charism

Different groups of consecrated followers of Christ have their different charisms. The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, or OMIs, claim as their charism brotherly and apostolic love. This was the will of the founder Eugene de Mazenod at his death. His heart was like that of Paul toward Jesus crucified and His Church, toward Timothy and his other companions, toward the Philippians and the other local churches he founded and built up.

St. Eugene lived from 1782 to 1861, during the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Empire. He is likened to the bishop who was merciful to Jean Valjean in Victor Hugo's Les Miserables. Eventually he became bishop of Marseilles.

The OMIs are a brotherhood of priests and laymen.Their founder had a difficult personality. He was both explosive and tender, commanding and affectionate. Yet he carried the OMIs in his heart. He prayed for them, thought about and loved them each and all. He was a man of brotherly love and wanted the OMIs to be men of brotherly love.
St. Eugene de Mazenod

OMIs are missionaries. They are to be men of apostolic love. The founder was an apostle of youth, of servants, and of prisoners. He was an apostle of the unwanted, the neglected, and the abandoned. His heart was touched by people in need of Jesus and His Catholic Church. He was a missionary priest and bishop. He wanted the OMIs to be men of the people, of the everyday ordinary forgotten people, on fire to draw them closer to Jesus and His Church.

OMIs live and work together. Whether they live under the same roof, or under different roofs but in the same area, they join together in prayer and service. They pray to the Lord for people and for themselves at the eucharistic sacrifice, before Jesus sacramentally present, in the prayer of the hours, in scripture reading and meditation, and in the rosary. They serve the Lord and people by their presence and example and conversation, by their preaching and teaching, by their caring and shepherding, and by their celebrating the eucharistic sacrifice and the other sacraments, especially reconciliation. They are men of cheerful mercy for their neighbors, like and with Jesus our merciful Savior.

OMIs attract candidates to their way by their brotherly and apostolic love. Like their founder, they may have difficult personalities. Yet their hearts are full of manly affection, of care and concern for each other and for the people they meet and serve and help. They display mirth, energy, and daring. Likewise, in their love they tend to be humble, modest, and simple. This is their magnetism.

The OMI charism is nourished by devotion to Mary graced at her conception and to her husband Joseph, by allegiance to the successor of Peter and to the successors of the other apostles with and under him, by the teaching of Thomas Aquinas and of John Henry Newman and of Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. Like Eugene, they approach Jesus through and in His Church, His bride crucified by outsiders and insiders. They are men in love with Christ our Savior and His Church as priests and brothers and apostles.

In a word, the OMIs are a priestly congregation of men, ordained and lay, who aim to care for their least brothers and sisters, and to do so like Jesus crucified, offered by Mary and Joseph, and attuned to the successors of Peter and the other apostles. As in the parable of the Good Samaritan, they seek to embody Jesus the merciful neighbor to their neighbors in their misery.
Father Don

Tuesday, August 4, 2015


Aging is like the sunset of each day. Simeon and Anna are aged people at the presentation of the Lord. Simeon sings the Night Prayer of his life. He has met Jesus, glory of Israel and light of the nations. He is readied for death. Anna is eighty-four; she has seen four seasons of twenty-one years each (as Daniel Levinson might say), the twenty-one years each with three passages of seven years each (as Gail Sheehy might say). She speaks about the deliverance of the city.

Aging is moving toward the sunset of the time of our life and toward the sunrise of everlasting destiny. We remember and forget, we imagine and anticipate, limited by our bodily aches and pains. We are being transformed. We revise our view of people and events and history, of family and friends, of ourselves. This revision is a purgatory, a joyful and sorrowful bettering. We ripen like apples, like wheat and grapes. We are more thankful for our many blessings, more sorrowful for our many sins, more hopeful for our ongoing conversion.

Aging is becoming more aware of the future kingdom of truthfully, faithfully merciful friends forever. We look forward to meeting Jesus and His and our friends, especially His and our beloved Mary and Joseph. He will say, "I am Jesus." Mary will say, "I am Mary." Joseph will say, "I am Joseph." Each and all will approach one another with identity and mission now complete. We will have been pruned totally, if necessary through purgatory. We will be glowing, flaming, blazing, each original, for and with all and each.

Aging is playing, traveling, battling to the end. Jesus will make us winners, having come home, victorious forever.

Father Don

Photo: "Burning Yellow Sunset" by Jessie Eastland,via Wikimedia Commons.