Past and future students receive the ministries of Acolyte and Lector

On Wednesday the Gospel for the liturgy of the day summarized the purpose of sacred ministry beautifully: “whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:43-45). Ministry, whether sacred ministry performed by bishops, priests, and deacons, or ministries performed by other members of the faithful, are always ministries of service. Seminarians as part of their preparation for ordination are instituted in the ministries of Lector and Acolyte to assist in certain liturgical functions.


In the case of the Legionaries they receive it one or two years before their diaconate ordination. As a professor this means my students to be within a year, and the students I have just taught are instituted each year in the ministries of Lector (my future students) and Acolyte (my past students). If that isn’t a blessing enough, living in Rome means I can usually attend their ordinations as well (as I did this year). Last Wednesday I concelebrated in the Mass where my past and future students were instituted in the ministries. This is the language Paul VI used: instituted in the ministries. The focus is not so much on being a minister as on the ministry, the service, that needs to be performed for the good of the faithful.


As a sacred minister, a priest who doesn’t stop being a deacon, a servant, I can tell you that this is the key to being who Our Lord calls you to be: seeing and acting from the point of view of service. Let’s pray for these young men to continue to advance and grow in service.


A neighborly experience of Rome

Last Thursday I had to head into the city for some blood work (nothing serious) and I was struck by how despite being in a big city you could still see strangers showing the kindness of neighbors. I headed into town on the 246 bus. It was rush hour, and a mother got on the bus with her two young children to take them to school. As soon as the door opened a gentleman behind me greeted them like old friends and they settled around him and chatted as the bus continued along its route. The family got off on the next stop and they all wished each other a good day.

In the waiting room at the lab an elderly lady who seemed a little bewildered went in ahead of me, and while she was inside her husband arrived with a newspaper (I had seen them enter when I’d entered the building) and asked a young couple waiting there to make sure she got the paper when the lady came out; it turned out she had multiple appointments that day. When she came out, escorted by one of the nuns to make sure she knew where to go, the couple followed after her and made sure she got her newspaper.


After it was my turn I went to a nearby McDonald’s (just another way of maintaining my American culture in a foreign land) for breakfast, since I had fasted and it was getting late, and as I ate a woman came in and greeted the person at the counter like an old friend.

Big cities can be intimidating, and sometimes you get the feeling that everyone is making an effort not to notice each other, so it’s nice to know that even in a sprawling urban landscape people can be neighborly to each other. Let’s not be afraid to reach out when we see someone in need, or simply wish them a good morning and see where things go from there.

A Marian pilgrimage and retreat for Mother’s Day

On Mother’s Day (Sunday, May 10th) my community had their annual pilgrimage and monthly retreat at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima on the outskirts of Rome. The shrine is under the direction of the Oblates of the Blessed Virgin Mary and is also the shrine of St. Vittorino Romano. After a morning retreat in their spirituality center we concelebrated in the Noon Mass. We all prayed for our mothers and for all mothers in this challenging world, and also thanked the Blessed Mother for being such a good mother to all of us, just as her Son asked.

During the month of May at dinner we listen to a reading about Mary, and a few nights ago Jean Galot, in his book on the Immaculate Heart of Mary, said something that struck me. Before the Annunciation Mary had decided to sacrifice to God what any daughter of Israel considered a precious gift: her maternity. She wanted to consecrate her love exclusively to God. God rewarded her by not only making her the mother of God, but the mother of us all in the order of grace. Her sacrifice of maternity was returned to her a hundred fold. Let’s not be afraid giving everything we have and are to God: He blesses us a hundredfold.

Thank you all mothers out there too for being a blessing to us.

After the sheepskin comes the work…

I just received my diploma and framed it this week. Six years in the making. Now I really have to get to work. Other than an ongoing student of life, I’m not a student anymore, unless I sign up for another degree (not!).



Twenty new deacons in Rome

On May 2nd I attended the diaconate ordinations of twenty of my Legionary brothers. They’d all been my students the year before, and some of them I’d worked with as far back as 2003, so I am proud to have helped them reach this important moment in their lives. Please keep them in our prayers along with the twenty-four other Legionary brothers who will be ordained deacons over the next month and a half all over the world. God-willing all 44 of them will be ordained priests in Rome on December 12th.

Pope John Paul II in an address to permanent deacons said that their contribution to the Church was that they “sacramentalized” the Church’s service: deacons are a sign of Christ, who became the servant of all, and a reminder that we are all called to serve others. In the case of the Legionary deacons, who’ll exercise this sacred ministry for a few months before becoming priests, it is a perfect introduction into sacred ministry. As priests and bishops we never stop serving in imitation of Christ, and it’s poignant reminder of that whenever we work with deacons and remember our own diaconate ordination.

The deacons were ordained by a Legionary bishop, Brian Farrell, who works in the Vatican, so in this photo we have all three degrees of Holy Orders represented (our General Director, Fr. Eduardo Robles-Gil, is in the photo to the bishop’s right.



Each one of these men is an answer to a prayer, so let’s keep praying for vocations.