A new bishop in the house

We had the great privilege today of welcoming back to my parish Brooklyn's newly ordained Bishop James Massa. Bishop Massa began his priesthood at our parish 29 years ago; it was his first parochial assignment after ordination, and he was chiefly responsible for introducing something new and different to the parish—RCIA—and was remembered by many longtime parishioners for his incisive and inspiring homilies.After his Mass of Thanksgiving, we had a little gathering for him in the parish hall. … [Read More...]


The veterinarian, husband and father who became a priest

Some may remember when I posted on Frederick Richard Lesser, a widower who was ordained a deacon earlier this year.In June, Deacon Lesser became Father Lesser:Frederick Richard (Rick) Lesser, the widowed father of three grown children, was ordained today [June 20] as a priest of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany. The ceremony was celebrated by Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, in Albany. In concluding his homily in which Bishop … [Read More...]

“Be a deacon, a good and faithful servant”

Boston's Cardinal Seán O'Malley recently ordained a man to the diaconate, as he continues a particularly long journey to the priesthood. He offered some important thoughts on the diaconate:  Tom Olson reached a milestone in his 11-year journey toward the priesthood, July 25, when Cardinal Seán P. O' … [Read More...]

Homily for August 2, 2015: 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Last week, millions around the world were shocked to hear that an American hunter had gunned down a beloved lion named Cecil in Zimbabwe.But there is another important story that attracted attention. It didn’t spark as much media coverage or outrage. But it should have.I’m speaking of the und … [Read More...]

“Will you do this for me?”: how one man became a monk

The Oregonian this weekend has published a long and detailed look at life inside the Mount Angel Abbey, and it includes the story of how one man with "minimal" religious upbringing eventually found himself behind the abbey walls as a Benedictine monk, living a life of strict discipline: In another … [Read More...]

“Pray for mercy, pray for healing”

That was the consistent message of this afternoon's Holy Hour in the Archdiocese of New York, held at the beautiful Church and Priory of St. Vincent Ferrer. This placid house of prayer on Lexington Ave., staffed by the Dominicans, proved the perfect setting for an hour devoted to … [Read More...]

You’re invited: Jubilee for Deacons in Rome during Year of Mercy

The following letter has been sent out this week from Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization:  Dear Deacon:As you are aware, the Holy Father has charged the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization with … [Read More...]

Deacons in “a new model of parish management” in St. Louis

This won't be a surprise in some places, and it echoes what is happening now in Pittsburgh. But it's interesting to realize that, in certain dioceses, this sort of thing is still radical and new. From the St. Louis Review:The clergy appointments announced in the paper this week include one that … [Read More...]

I’ll be there. Will you?

As luck (or the Holy Spirit) would have it, my office closes early tomorrow and I'll be able to take the short walk from my desk to this beautiful church for a special Holy Hour. Won't you join me? If not with your presence, with your prayers?From Kathryn Jean Lopez: We must pray unceasingly … [Read More...]

Coming to TV this Halloween: “Exorcism: Live!”

A better title might be "Exploitation: Live!"  BYOPS (Bring Your Own Pea Soup).Details from The Los Angeles Times: Destination America is looking to instill a little more fright -- and a few less spirits -- into viewers this Halloween with "Exorcism: Live!" Yes, it's a real show. On television. … [Read More...]

Planned Parenthood website hacked? Really? — UPDATED

CNN reports: Planned Parenthood's website went down Wednesday afternoon in what the nonprofit health services organization called "an attack by extremists."The hack comes in the wake of the publication of several undercover videos by anti-abortion activists seemingly showing Planned Par … [Read More...]

Austrian theologian: “Married priests and women deacons should be reintroduced as soon as possible”

From The Tablet in London:The dean-elect of Salzburg University’s Catholic theological faculty has called for married priests and women deacons in the Church. “Married priests and women deacons should be reintroduced as soon as possible. That would bring new dynamism to the Church”, the future d … [Read More...]

Church in Spain declares transgendered person not “suitable” to be a godparent

From Huffington Post in Spain: Alex Salinas is 21 years old. He was assigned female at birth, but is now living as his authentic self as a man. He is a "firm believer" and wants to be a godparent at his nephew's baptism but the diocese of Cadiz and Ceuta is standing in his way. According to them, … [Read More...]

Cardinal O’Malley speaks out on Planned Parenthood and “the throwaway culture”

The USCCB has just released this statement from Cardinal O'Malley regarding recent news about Planned Parenthood: WASHINGTON—Cardinal Seán O’Malley, OFM Cap., archbishop of Boston and chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), responded, July … [Read More...]

Their days are numbered: after thousands of years, Rome to stop using Roman numerals

Wow.From The Telegraph: They have survived thousands of years since their birth in ancient Rome, but Roman numerals are finally to be phased out after they were deemed too complicated for the modern-day capital.Until now, Rome has remained stubbornly wedded to the ancient numeric s … [Read More...]

First look: trailer for “Spotlight,” starring Michael Keaton, on the Boston sex abuse scandal

From Variety: The film from director/co-writer Tom McCarthy tells the true story behind the Boston Globe’s investigation into child abuse in the Catholic Church. The group of reporters won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 2003 after uncovering the local Boston Archdiocese’s massive cove … [Read More...]

What ever happened to that Buffalo church being moved to Georgia??

A friend dropped me a line to ask if I'd heard anything more about this unusual undertaking.I posted on it a few years back, when The Deacon's Bench was still at Beliefnet: Instead of building a neoclassical church, Wilbur’s growing parish wants to buy classical-style St. Gerard’s, take it ap … [Read More...]

Farewell, my lovely: a New York church prepares to close

I received this message two days ago, from a New York City parish just a few blocks from my office that is slated to close.I was impressed by the fervor and prayerfulness surrounding events the people in the pews are planning for their church. I think it speaks to the sense of dedication and d … [Read More...]