Fr Stephen Smuts

Posts Tagged ‘Priest

Saved from Abortion, Chilean Twin Brothers are Now Priests

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Two twin brothers in Chile say that their mother’s determination in protecting them from abortion despite the advice of doctors helped to foster their vocations to the priesthood.

“How can I not defend the God of life?” said Fr. Paulo Lizama. “This event strengthened my vocation and gave it a specific vitality, and therefore, I was able to give myself existentially to what I believe.”

“I am convinced of what I believe, of what I am and of what I speak, clearly by the grace of God,” he told CNA.

Fr. Paulo and his identical twin brother, Fr. Felipe, were born in 1984 in the Chilean town of Lagunillas de Casablanca.

Before discovering her pregnancy, their mother, Rosa Silva, had exposed herself to x-rays while performing her duties as a paramedic. Consequently, after confirming the pregnancy, her doctor conducted ultrasounds and informed her that he had seen “something strange” in the image.

“The baby has three arms and its feet are sort of entangled. It also has two heads,” he told her.

Although abortion for “therapeutic” reasons was legal at the time in Chile and doctors told her that her life was in danger, Rosa opposed the idea and said she would accept whatever God would send her.

“The Lord worked and produced a twin pregnancy. I don’t know if the doctors were wrong or what,” Fr. Felipe said.

“I always think with special affection and tenderness in the heart of my mother who gave her life for me, for us,” Fr. Paolo added.

The two brothers were born on Sept. 10, 1984. Felipe was born first, and when the placenta would not detach, doctors suggested scraping her womb. Silva refused however, saying she felt another baby was coming out. Paulo was born 17 minutes later.

“This last detail is very significant for me,” Fr. Paulo said. “The doctors inserted instruments to remove the placenta because it wouldn’t come out. My mother knew that I was there. I was late, but I came out.” Had doctors scraped his mother’s womb, he would likely have been “gravely injured.”

The twins learned about the circumstances of their birth when they were in the sixth year of seminary formation.

“It was surely the wisdom of my mother and her heart that allowed us to learn of such an amazing event at the right time,” Fr. Paulo said, reflected that while he had always thought his priestly vocation came during adolescence, he later realized that God was working in his life from the beginning, thanks to the ‘yes’ of his mother.

Although they grew up in a Catholic home, the Lizama brothers drifted away from the faith and stopped attending Mass. However, their parents’ separation and divorce led them back to the Church, and they received the sacrament of Confirmation.

At the time, Fr. Paulo said, he lacked conviction in his faith but was attracted by the Blessed Sacrament, Gregorian chant, and the silent reverence of prayer.

Fr. Felipe said he was drawn to God through a priest, Fr. Reinaldo Osorio, who would later become his formation director at the seminary.

“God was calling me. I realized that it was in God and in the things of God that I was happy, there was no doubt: I wanted to be a priest,” he recalled.

Despite being close, the two brothers did not talk about their vocations with each other.

“I don’t know who felt the call first,” Fr. Paulo said. “I think God did things the right way in order to safeguard the freedom of our response.”

In March 2003, they both entered the seminary. While it was difficult for the family to accept the brothers’ decision at first, their mother told them after the first year of formation that she was at peace, realizing that they were happy.

The twins were ordained priests on April 28, 2012, and celebrated their first Mass at Our Lady of Mercies in Lagunillas.

Now, a year after their ordination, Fr. Felipe serves at the parish of Saint Martin of Tours in Quillota, and Fr. Paulo serves at the parish of the Assumption of Mary in Achupallas.

“God doesn’t mess around with us. He wants us to be happy, and the priesthood is a beautiful vocation and that makes us completely happy,” Fr. Felipe said.

Following Jesus is not easy but it is beautiful, added Fr. Paulo.

“Jesus, the Church and the world need us,” he explained. “But they don’t need just any young person: they need young people empowered by the truth of God, so that their very lives convey life, their smiles convey hope, their faces convey faith and their actions convey love.”


Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

August 17, 2013 at 14:22

Anglican Priest Finds Bracelet, Tries To Sell To Owners

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How selfish and greedy:

Maybe he thought the Lord said “finders keepers, losers weepers.”

An Australian Anglican priest who found a $6,500 bracelet and tried to sell it back to the owners has been humbled — and perhaps will be defrocked.

After media outcry and shaming from his archbishop boss, the Rev. Terry McAuliffe returned the diamond bracelet to Perth restauranteurs Clyde and Lesley Bevan Wednesday afternoon, Clyde Bevan told The Huffington Post.

The priest didn’t seem embarrassed during the exchange at the clergyman’s house, Bevan said.

But perhaps he should be: After reporting the lost bracelet to police, McAuliffe claimed it as his own and tracked down the owners through the bracelet’s security code. He then offered to return the jewelry to them for 50 percent of the value while the Bevans recover the loss by filing an insurance claim, the Australian Associated Press reported.

The reverend, a former lawyer, told outlets that his discovery was a “gift fallen from the sky.”

“I’m just offering to share the windfall,” he said.

But Wednesday, the only sharing seemed to be scorn for his actions.

“It’s certainly amazing and bizarre behavior,” Bevan said to HuffPost.

The Anglican Archbishop of Perth, Roger Herft, told the AAP that McAuliffe’s actions were “reprehensible” and that while the priest may have followed the law by asserting ownership after a few months, people expect more from religious leaders. The archbishop also said discipline could include McAuliffe’s removal from his post at St. Paul’s Anglican Church.

Bevan, who runs a restaurant called Friends with his wife, said Lesley happily wore the bracelet, which he gave to her as a birthday gift eight years ago. He thanked the press.

“If it wasn’t for the media asking probing questions and basically chasing him down the street with cameras, it wouldn’t have happened,” he explained.

He said that McAuliffe’s actions didn’t dim his view of the clergy. He explained that other priests had taken up a collection to pay the reverend for the bracelet in case he didn’t give it back.

“It restores my faith,” Bevan said.

‘Fallen from the sky’?!

The West Australian also has the story.


Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

June 27, 2013 at 06:47

Priest’s ‘Horrible’ Job of Telling Newtown Parents of Children’s Deaths

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ABC News:

A Newtown, Conn., priest had the “horrible” job of informing families this morning that their children had been killed in the elementary school massacre.

There were 20 children among the 27 people brutally killed the day Adam Lanza, 20, invaded Sandy Hook Elementary School and opened fire on staff and students. Lanza was also found dead in the school.

Most of the children were between the ages of 5 and 10, President Obama said on Friday.

Medical examiners have completed the grim work of identifying all of the victims at the school and families were informed early this morning that their loved ones had been killed.

“We were gathered until after midnight and we were sent out with teams to go to the homes of the victims,” parish priest Monsignor Robert Weiss told “Good Morning America” today. “We went to their homes early this morning to confirm the death of their children and it was just horrible.”

“The uncertainty…even though they knew in their hearts that this was real,”  he said. “And the questions they were asking, the regrets they had. ‘Why did I send my child to school today?'”

Weiss said some of the parents shared the last moments they had with their children. One dad said that, for some reason, his child got up early Friday morning and came down to tell the father how much she loved him. Another parent said their child had asked what dying was like just the day before.

“Parents are really going through a tremendous amount of pain and hurt right now, trying to deal with not just their personal loss, but what happened to their child in the last moments of their life,” he said.

A number of the victims’ families are part of Weiss’ parish. He baptized some of the children and some of them went to his parish’s nursery school.

“It’s hard to believe that these little children are gone,” he said.

Weiss met with the families from his parish who lost children and said the hurt and the anguish are “just settling in now” and then “there’s going to be anger.”

“And then they’re going to have to live with this reality that this big part of their life is gone for them,” he said.

Weiss said he has “no answer” when families ask him why their children have been taken from them…


Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

December 15, 2012 at 21:24

Priest Blesses New 787

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In the Huffington Post:

Boeing delivered LOT Polish Airlines’ first 787 Wednesday with a blessing from a Catholic priest from a largely Polish congregation in Seattle.

Stanislaw Michalek who came to Washington from the Archdiocese of Poznan in Poland blessed the plane with holy water during the ceremony at Everett’s Paine Field.

Poland’s LOT was Europe’s first airline to purchase the new model with an order for eight. It plans to fly its first Boeing 787 on short-haul flights in December in Europe. Early next year it will fly routes between Poland and New York, Chicago and Toronto.

It was the 35th 787 Boeing has delivered overall, and 803 more are on order.

Boeing says the 787 is the first mid-size plane capable of flying long-range routes, allowing airlines to open new, non-stop flights.

A godless generation simply no longer recognises the value and importance of such actions (blessings).


Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

November 15, 2012 at 06:12

Fit for Ministry: Addressing the Crisis in Clergy Health

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The Christian Century:

Being a pastor is bad for your health. Pastors have little time for exercise. They often eat meals in the car or at potluck dinners not known for their fresh green salads. The demands on their time are unpredictable and never ending, and their days involve an enormous amount of emotional investment and energy. Family time is intruded upon. When a pastor announces a vacation, the congregation frowns. Pastors tend to move too frequently to maintain relationships with doctors who might hold them accountable for their health. The profession discourages them from making close friends. All of this translates, studies show, into clergy having higher than normal rates of obesity, arthritis, depression, heart problems, high blood pressure, diabetes and stress.

But research also says that pastors’ lives are rich in spiritual vitality and meaning. Pastors say that they have a profound calling and are willing to sacrifice to fulfill it.

Is there a way for pastors to be both physically and spiritually healthy? What would enable clergy to become physically healthier? What effect does physical health have on spiritual well-being, if any? The Clergy Health Initiative is trying to find out the answers to these questions. Funded by the Duke Endowment, the CHI is the largest and most comprehensive effort ever made to study clergy health and to improve it.

Read on here.



Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

November 2, 2012 at 06:09

Now I Sell Jesus Christ…

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Canadian priest’s unorthodox evangelization drawing people to the pews.

Over at The Deacon’s Bench:

Details, from the Catholic Register:

A financial analyst turned priest, Fr. Mario Salvadori is marketing an unorthodox and unapologetic formula of evangelization — and youth are flocking to it.

Salvadori, the only priest at Thornhill’s St. Joseph the Worker parish, jokes that he has “more degrees than a thermometer.” He has a bachelor’s degree in computer science, a master’s degree in theology and a master’s in business administration. Before he was a priest, Salvadori was a businessman. In many ways, he still is.

“I used to be able to sell a glass of water to a drowning man,” he said. “Now I sell Jesus Christ.”

His congregation in this Toronto suburb seems to be buying it.

“The numbers speak for themselves,” said Vlad Mamaradlo, the lay minister Salvadori hired to work with youth. Mamaradlo said every Mass is standing room only. “Even the foyer is full.”

And in the five years since Salvadori joined the parish, he’s paid off a $1.3-million renovation and $600,000 more off the mortgage.

Salvadori’s success stems from his approach to Mass. For him, evangelization is no different than marketing. “It’s just a different word,” he said. He and Mamaradlo look at Catholicism as a product they are selling. Something that, they say, the Church has failed to sell.

“In society, people are given options,” Mamaradlo said, “so let’s give them options.”

What Salvadori has given them is a refreshing twist on the traditional Mass. When he ordered the church renovation back in 2009, he made sure it would accommodate his style for delivering just that.

“We’re competing against 60-inch TVs, iPods and every other stimulation that’s out there,” Mamaradlo said.

So, Salvadori brought the technology to Mass. Every homily, his laptop is plugged into the pulpit, at the ready to bring up a clip on the two huge screens on either side of him.

He invites guest speakers and tackles current and controversial topics that many priests tend to shy away from — topics that weigh heavily on everyday life. One homily he delivered in May included a clip of U.S. President Barack Obama speaking about gay marriage. That homily has collected more than 300 views on YouTube as have some of his other videos posted on the site.

There are other options too, opportunities to connect with the congregation outside the now lessthan-traditional construct of Mass. There are trips downtown to feed the homeless, youth groups, parish events, even retreats in the United States that young people can sign up for.

Read more.


Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

October 29, 2012 at 12:20

When was Jesus Ordained a Priest?

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Via The New Theological Movement:

No one takes this honor upon himself but only when called by God, just as Aaron was. In the same way, it was not Christ who glorified himself in becoming high priest.

While St. Paul, in his Letter to the Hebrews, generally distinguishes our Savior from Aaron (showing that the priesthood of Christ is greater than that of Aaron), in this place the Apostle emphasizes this point of similarity between the Levitical priesthood and the eternal priesthood of Jesus.

Namely, St. Paul tells us that, just as Aaron was called and ordained a priest, so too was our Lord. For no man can be a high priest of himself, but only when he is so called by God.

When, we ask, was Jesus called and ordained to the priesthood? When did he become a priest?

The answer here.


Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

October 26, 2012 at 11:12


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