A prayer answered

The attentive reader will have noticed a small change in the left sidebar of my blog. Directly below the short blurb about yours truly there is now an image of the devotional statue or Our Lady of the Garden Enclosed. This is the name with which the Blessed Virgin is known and venerated in the small chapel and hermitage in the village of Warfhuizen. In the past decade that unassuming site has become the focal point of prayer and pilgrimage. No miracles have happened here, apart from prayers answered (although hermit Brother Hugo calls the fact that so many faithful have come to this far northern location for Our Lady a miracle in itself), but people come to pray from all over the Netherlands and beyond.

Last week, so did I, as part of the Guild of Our Lady of the Garden Enclosed’s annual pilgrimage. And I too had reason to come and lay my prayers at the foot of Our Lady. And her intercession paid off. What I prayed for will, God willing, bear fruit tomorrow. To reflect my gratitude I chose to make Our Lady of the Garden Enclosed a permanent fixture of my blog, so that my effort here may, so to speak, continue to fall under her protection.

Sancta Maria, Hortus Conclusus, ora pro nobis!

For more information on the Guild, check their website.

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A new priest for the archdiocese

Karel Donders (left) at his ordination to deacon, pictured here with Archbishop Eijk.

A happy day for the Archdiocese of Utrecht today, as Deacon Karel Donders will be ordained to the priesthood at the cathedral of St. Catherine in that city. Deacon Donders was ordained to the diaconate on 6 November of last year, at which point Archbishop Eijk called that ordination “the first fruit of the cooperation between the archdiocese and the Tiltenberg seminary”. Donders was educated at that seminary, which is where I met him once or twice. During one visit he shared his vocation story with me and other young men attending an orientation weekend. Of his choice to be incardinated in Utrecht despite receiving his education in Haarlem-Amsterdam, soon-to-be Father Donders says:

“I have studied there for six years: very important year of inner formation and desire for the priesthood. After my graduation in 2009 I started a pastoral internship in the parish in Heemstede. A was able to live and work there for a year with much joy. During that year I also made the decision to make myself available as a future priest for the Archdiocese of Utrecht.”

Congratulations to Deacon Donders and the archdiocese, as well as the faithful of the parishes where the new priest will work, on this very important and joyful day.