For the Universal Church, today was the Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, the Archangels. They are the secondary patron of Conception Abbey and Seminary College, which makes the feast a solemnity here in Conception, Mo.

One of the traditions associated with this day is the St. Michael’s Open House Party. St. Michael’s is one of the seminary residence buildings on campus and it mainly houses the freshman and sophomores.

This year the Diocese of Jefferson City has 4 freshmen at Conception.

Left to right:

Cody Wagner, St. Pius X, Moberly

Henry Yeagle, St. Peter, Marshall

Garrett Forck, St. Peter, Jefferson City

Cameron DeGraff, St. Francis Cabrini, Paris

As a senior, its been great getting to know these guys over the past several weeks. I hope that you will all have an opportunity to meet them in the diocese soon.

These four guys represent four out of the six guys who entered seminary this semester for our diocese.

Please continue to pray for more young men to be open to a call to the priesthood, as well as for our current seminarians.

If you yourself, or if you know anyone who may be discerning a vocation to the priesthood, have them check out this Web Site: www.discoverthepriesthood.org and contact Fr. Joe Corel, Diocesan Vocations Director

On Friday, just before the official begining of Alumni Weekend at Conception Seminary College, Bishop John Wester of Salt Lake City spoke with the Conception community on the issue of immigration. Bishop Wester serves as the chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration.

The conference room in St. Mauer Hall was filled to capacity with students, Monks and alumni who had arrived early and were interested in hearing the bishop speak.

In his talk Bishop Wester outlined the many nuances and important aspects of the immigration issue. He did a very thorough job at explaining the Catholic Church’s teachings on this important issue.

Personally I was very happy to have Bishop Wester come and speak. My mother was not born in the United States, so obviously this topic quite literally strikes close to home.

Additionally, I have spent two weeks (one in high school, one in college) ministering to migrant peoples. First, I went and spent a week in Tijuana, Mexico, visting with people and building schools for the children. A year or so later I went to Chicago and spend the week doing hispanic ministry. Both of these experiences showed me the many intricacies and nuances of this issue. These experiences provided me with not just one, but many faces to respresent this issue, so that now when I hear of people speaking about the topic my mind immeadiately is turned towards the faces of the people I met in Tijuana and Chicago.

Bishop Wester urged that we as Catholics become more informed about immigration and the Catholic Church’s teaching relating to immigration. He reccommended that anyone looking to learn more visit the USCCB’s Web site: http://www.justiceforimmigrants.org

Please pray for the poor, the migrant people, and our politicians, that they may enact just and fair immigration reform laws.

This past weekend was the first “Off-Campus Weekend.” Once a month the students at CSC are allowed to leave campus for the weekend. The first night I drove down to Rolla, Mo. with fellow senior David Bauer. We visited with a family that evening then got up in the morning to attend the PRC Walk For Life. PRC stands for Pregnancy Resource Center, the center provides, ultrasounds, pregnancy tests, counseling for pregnant women, as well as parenting classes. The center does lots of great work and in less than 3 years they have already helped over 1,000 clients. There were roughly 300 people participating in the walk, and it was great to see so many people support such a great organization. It was also nice to catch up with some families I met this summer while working at the parish in Rolla, St. Patrick’s.

After helping pack everything up from the walk, it was back on the road for me, I went up to Columbia, visited with friends and attended the Mizzou vs. San Diego State football game. While it wasn’t the prettiest victory, it was a victory nonetheless. More importantly I got to visit with some friends from my time at Mizzou.

Sunday morning I got up and headed to Kansas City to see Cardinal John Foley, of Philadelphia. Cardinal Foley is the Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. Previously, he served as the President for the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. Which meant that he was in charge of the Church’s relations, involvement and teachings on the Media. I had the opportunity to meet him in 2008 when he was in Columbia to speak to the Newman Center and Journalism School. Some conversations I had with him at that time influenced me in my discernment to enter seminary as I was wrestling with the desire to be a journalist and a potential call to the priesthood. His example and words helped guide me in many ways.

Unfortunately, due to some unforeseen traffic issues I did not arrive early to the Mass at the Cathedral in Kansas City, Mo. Therefore I didn’t get to see the Cardinal. However, I did get to see the Abbot of Conception Abbey, as well as our very own Bishop Gaydos.

All-in-all it was a very busy, but enjoyable weekend. Next month our off-campus coincides with Mizzou’s Homecoming Game, as well as our Diocesan Hispanic Mass. So I’ll be attending both of those events.

Hey all, thanks for visiting the site. I tried something different and recorded a video message instead of typing something out, thought it might save a little time.

Please tell me what you think? Do you prefer the text updates, or is the video a good idea?

This article originally appeared in the Catholic Missourian published the week of June 27-July 3.

By Geoffrey A. Brooke Jr.

Teenage boys living in 2010 face unprecedented challenges when it comes to growing into strong Catholic men.

In 2009, the Diocese of Jefferson City launched a program to help teens make that transition into Catholic adulthood.

This year, Camp Maccabee will be held July 25-29 in Starkenburg. The camp is open to any Catholic male who will be entering ninth through 12th grade in the fall.

Registration is open until July 10. Anyone interested can contact the Diocesan Youth Ministry Office or speak with their parish priest.

“It’s one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life,” said Forrest Brown of St. Patrick parish in Rolla, about deciding to attend Camp Maccabee last year.

He said his favorite part of the camp was one of the talks given on the four Cardinal Virtues.

“It really inspired me to become a better person,” he said.

Those four Cardinal Virtues — justice, prudence, temperance and fortitude — form the core foundation of Camp Maccabbee. Each evening, there is a talk and discussion focusing on one of the virtues. Other talks focus on issues such as dating and developing a strong prayer life.

“I had a lot to think about, about what they had said, and how it related to me, and how I could use that out in the world,” said Cameron Degraff of St. Frances Cabrini parish in Paris, about all of the talks that he heard while attending Camp Maccabee.

Campers and staff gather to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, the prayer of the Catholic Church, in both the morning and evening. Daily Mass is also a part of the day, in addition to opportunities for adoration, the Rosary and confession — all offered at various points throughout the camp.

However, Camp Maccabee is a camp and not a retreat. The days consist of various outdoor activities. One day the campers travel to the Johnson Shut-ins as well as going hiking at Elephant Rocks State Park.

Perhaps the unanimous favorite activity among the campers in 2009 was the daylong float trip. When interviewed, several of the campers said it was the highlight.

“It brought us a lot closer together,” said Daniel Galarza of Immaculate Conception parish in St. James.

The outdoor activities combined with the evening discussions allowed the students to develop friendships with young men from around the diocese. Despite living far apart, they have been able to keep in touch through Facebook as evidenced by a group created just for the camp.

“We knew each other like we’d known each other for a couple years,” said Mr. Galarza.

These lasting friendships allow for the messages and lessons learned at Camp Maccabee to stay with the young men long after the camp is over. At the completion of the 2009 Camp Maccabee, Garret Trammel of St. Joseph parish in Canton said he was “definitely coming back next year.”

Mr. Galarza didn’t want to leave. “I just wish we could be here longer,” he said.

Mr. Trammel described his experience at the camp as “just having a blast and incorporating God in all of it.”

The camp is staffed by Father Bill Peckman, pastor of St. Clement parish in Bowling Green; Father David Veit, newly appointed pastor of Immaculate Conception parish in Macon and Sacred Heart mission in Bevier; and Father Joe Corel, director of youth ministry and vocations director for the diocese. Joining them are a team of adults, college students and seminarians.

DVDs with more information and personal testimonies have been sent to parishes in the diocese for those seeking to learn more about Camp Maccabee.

Each summer the seminarians of the diocese are given the opportunity to request to work at a parish and get some hands on ministry. Every summer I usually try to make it home and find a job there so as to be able to spend some time with family and friends which is very well needed after being at school for nine months. This summer I decided to take a chance on a new adventure and request a parish. Towards the end of the year the seminarians were given their assignments and I was assigned to St. George parish in Hermann, Church of the Risen Savior in Rhineland, and the Shrine in Starkenburg. My first reaction was that I was real excited about the assignment. After a while though I started to wonder how it would feel to be away from the friends and the family. I was also afraid of not being in an area with a good community and a lot of socializing. I was comforted a great deal by my fellow seminarian Chris Aubuchon. He informed me that it will be fine the only thing I had to do was to have faith in the fact that God was putting me where I needed to be. I went home and tried to work in as much time with friends and family that I could. Upon reaching Hermann I found out rather quickly that I entered a community of people that I could be very comfortable in. In no way at all do the people that I am getting to know here in Hermann replace my friends in Rolla but they found their special place in my heart and my life. The experience that I have had so far this summer has been eye opening. It showed me that I am able to go from place to place make new friends and continue my life with my old friends with no conflict. The experiences so far also have showed me a more desire to be a priest. The fact that I have been doing communion services and taking communion to people who are home-bound and visiting with them as well has shown me how enjoyable it is to take Christ to others and to be Christ to those people whether it be just by sitting and listening to them or even just going by and saying hello just so they can smile. I enjoy having that feeling in my life and the change in scenery this summer has helped me see that even more.

Recently on my Facebook page, I wished all the “Spiritual Fathers” a Happy Fathers day because of all the wonderful work they do for all of us.  I was met with a comment that suggested the misunderstanding of what it means to be a priest.

“Having been raised Catholic, I must say that the idea of having to go to a “priest” as a mediator between God is false doctrine. As believers in Christ we are all priests.”

Initially I took this statement as a question about the Sacrament of Reconciliation, however, after rereading it a couple times I felt as though I should take a broader look rather than focus specifically on the sacrament – after all it wasn’t really mentioned.

Through many other comments, the implicit question of “Sola Scriptura” was also raised, so I felt as though this could also be addressed in my response to the above comment.

Here’s what I ended up presenting in what is known as a “Facebook Note” (similar to a blog post, but much less formal).

“In persona Christi capitas”

The first thing we need to unravel more is what exactly the term “priest” is…

The term “priest” means “one who presides over a sacrifice and offers that sacrifice and prayers to God on behalf of believers.”

-Back in the OT, the men of the tribe of Levi were called “priests” (they offered sacrifices of bulls and goats to God again and again)… however the sacrifices of these men were not sufficient to forgive the sins of the people, which is why Christ came.
-“Catholic priests offer the one sacrifice of Jesus Christ, wherein he died two thousand years ago and rose from the dead. Catholics believe that the Mass is the perpetuation in time of the one eternal sacrifice of Jesus Christ.”

(Above are either direct quotes or a summary take from “To Save A Thousand Souls” by Fr. Brett A. Brannen)
–Basically, what the above is saying is that though the sacred power bestowed upon the Catholic priest, the priest helps to perpetuate, in time, the eternal sacrifice of Christ, here on this earth. – This is during what is known as the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. (Also another reason why Catholics call their “service” Mass, not Church. Church is a building, or a common community of people.)
–In Catholic theology, Saint Thomas Aquinas expresses, “Only Christ is the true priest, the others being only his ministers.” Thus, Catholic clergy share in the one, unique, Priesthood of Christ. –Similar to #1545 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
-By virtue of his ordination and the sacred power entrusted to him, a priest acts “in persona Christi capitas”, in the person of Christ, the head [of the church].

-In conjunction with celebrating the Holy Mass, priests also are held with carrying out the other Sacraments instituted by Christ.
-Priests also pray with and for the people of God. This phrase is where many can get hung up with the fact that “Oh I don’t need a priest to pray for me, I can pray myself or with some friends.” While this statement can be necessarily true, in the context of the Holy Mass and other Sacraments, the priest is the one offering up the prayers for the people or acting “in persona Christi capitas” where prescribed.
-Priests preach the Gospel of Christ. Another one where some get hung up on… It is very true that it is our Christian duty to all be preachers of the Gospel of Christ – whether it be by word or action. The one thing you have to look at on a deeper level is that this very fact does not make a priest a priest. It is however an important component, especially when preaching the Gospel at Mass, but as you very well know, Deacons are also able to preach the Gospel at Mass. We all preach the Gospel in some way in our own lives – within a Bible study context, living out our Christian lives, etc. You just have to go back and look at the first statement I posted, the definition of a priest.

Now I realize that there are many other topics of priests’ “sacred powers” (coming from Christ Himself) that many people have trouble with understanding… the most popular being the forgiveness of sins through the Sacrament of Reconciliation… but the main point to take away from this is that every person has their place in the Body of Christ. Some of us are called to be apart of that community participating in Mass, while others are called to the priesthood.

In regards to “spiritual fatherhood”, there are many places where St. Paul himself refers to others as his children. See 1Cor 4:14, Gal 4:19, Eph 6:1, Col 3:20. St. John also refers to his children in 1John 2:1, 2:12, 2:18, 3:7, 3:18, 5:21.

Another important point discussed was the fact that Catholics do believe in both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. (It is important to know the difference between “Tradition” vs. “tradition” -which I’m not going to get into). Only believing in “Sola Scriptura” poses many problems, sometimes even dangerous problems. I am going to include a few links of some websites I found very helpful, mainly because I don’t want to “recreate the wheel”, or try and restate something that is already stated in a helpful way.

What Catholics Believe about Sacred Scripture:
“As with other doctrine, too often non-Catholics never take the time to read what the Catholic Church truly teaches about the inerrancy and authority of Scripture. They have only too often accepted uncritically what her antagonists say she teaches. The following, therefore, is a selection from the most up-to-date reliable source—the Catechism of the Catholic Church—on what the Catholic Church teaches on Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition, the Deposit of Faith and the authority behind how Scripture is to be interpreted.”

The Practical Problems With Sola Scriptura:
“Simply stated, the Protestant doctrine of sola scriptura (“Scripture alone”) teaches that every teaching in Christian theology (everything pertaining to “faith and practice”) must be able to be derived from Scripture alone. This is expressed by the Reformation slogan Quod non est biblicum, non est theologicum (“What is not biblical is not theological,” cf. Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms: Drawn Principally from Protestant Scholastic Theology, Richard A. Muller, Baker, 1985).”

Searching for Authority:
“Only the Catholic Church truly represented visible and doctrinal unity. The alternative to Catholicism was doctrinal chaos and no unity. The Reformers had decided according to their own judgement which parts of the Catholic faith to keep and which to reject; their followers continued the process of revising, and then the results were codified as revealed truth. The authority of the Catholic Church was simply replaced by the authority of Luther or Calvin. In the liberal denominations the fall was even worse; the principle of revealed truth was replaced by theological pluralism, the absolute belief that there are no absolute truths. Yet in both, the Church’s authority was replaced by the individual’s, and the visible church became nothing more than a collection of individuals.”

Logic and Foundations of Protestantism:
“But when I got down to making a serious attempt to explore the implications of this rock-bottom dogma of the Reformers, I could not avoid the conclusion that it was rationally indefensible. This is demonstrated in the following eight steps, which embody nothing more than simple, commonsense logic, and a couple of indisputable, empirically observable facts about the Bible:”

…Never underestimate the seemingly intimidating power of the Catholic Catechism! For which if there is a question, then there is an answer…sometimes it just might require digging. And there’s always the ever knowledgeable priests in our midst, or those who are learned in the faith who can help explain! It’s better to question and get answers than to remain indifferent and ignorant.

Peace & God Bless!

…and if you were interested how the rest of the comments/conversations went, we further discussed the concepts of purgatory, working out salvation, and still-to-be discussed in great length is the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the all-famous question, “Why do we have to tell our sins to a priest? I just tell mine straight to God and that works for me.”

To Be Continued…