While the snow is now rapidly melting, I notice that birds are still picking and choosing the warmest places to hang out. In the early morning, when it’s still quiet, blackbirds gather on the stretches of sidewalk without snow, and in the canals I’ve noticed groups of tufted ducks (above), who usually never venture into the city, at least not in large numbers. I’ve seen larger groups of cormorants as well, but not lately. I think it’s warm enough again for them to head out to the countryside and its ponds, lakes and canals.
A very positive development in the diocese of ‘s Hertogenbosch for vocations and the priesthood in general. In Tilburg, newly installed priest and dean, Fr Jeroen Miltenburg, and his chaplain, Fr. Karel Loodts. are working to establish a so-called Oratory of St. Philip Neri.
Established in the 16th century, by St. Philip Neri, a priest in Rome, an oratory is a house where priests live, work and pray together. In St. Philip’s time it was a great boost to vocations and the education of priests, who not only lived together, but also organised regular discussion meetings about all manner of topics, but always with the goal of furthering theological and pastoral awareness.
Fr. Miltenburg: “Of course there are practical advantages when it comes to dividing tasks, but the fundamental idea is praying, offering Mass and doing pastoral work together.”
And about St. Philip Neri he says: “Typical for Neri was his passionate and loving discussion of Jesus Christ. Through his attention on prayer, conversation, song, music and pilgrimage the first oratory developed against the spirit of the Reformation.”
On 17 June of last year, Bishop Hurkmans allowed the establishment of an ‘Oratory of St. Philip Neri in Development’ in Tilburg. Since an oratory needs a core of three priests it is open for growth.