Ordination season – eleven deacons and a priest

The first half of November is ordination season in the Dutch dioceses, with this year one priest and eleven deacons (six transitional and five permanent) being ordained in five dioceses.

On 31 October, Bishop Frans Wiertz ordained Deacon Miguel Ángel Pascual Coello, for the Neocatechumenal Way in the Diocese of Roermond. He will be ordained to the priesthood next year.

Last Saturday, November 7th, Father Jochem van Velthoven was ordained Bishop Jan Liesen for the Diocese of Breda.

liesen van velthoven

^Newly-ordained Fr. van Velthoven with Bishop Jan Liesen (photo: J. Wouters)

In the Diocese of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, retiring Bishop Antoon Hurkmans ordained five deacons: Hans Beks, Gideon van Meeteren, Henri Vermeulen, Rien van der Zanden and Pieter Zimmermann. Deacons Gideon and Pieter are transitional deacons.

deacons den bosch

^Five new deacons for ‘s -Hertogenbosch (photo: Wim Koopman)

On Sunday, Bishop Hans van den Hende ordained Deacon Boris Plavčić for Rotterdam. He is also a transitional deacon. Deacon Boris is of Croatian decent and speaks of the difference between Croatian and western European culture in an interview before his ordination: “The Netherlands and Croatia are two different cultures and I feel at home in both. When I am here in the Croatian parish, or in Bosnia where I grew up, I find that my vocation can shine, so to speak, through the way in which the faith is lived and shared there. I will be ordained for the Diocese of Rotterdam. Here you find the challenge to bring God where He does not automatically gets the time from people.”

Next weekend will see the last group of deacons being ordained, in the Diocese of Haarlem-Amsterdam. They are: Paul Leferink, Jeroen Hoekstra, Jan-Jaap van Peperstraten and Mariusz Momot, with the latter two proceeding on to the priesthood next year.

Prayers for the newly-ordained, the soon-to-be ordained and all who may be called by the Lord to serve Him in the vineyard of His Church.

ernst van den hende 7-11-2015

^In closing, a very sweet photo of the oldest and youngest bishops of the Netherlands at the ordination of Fr. van Velthoven: 98-year-old Huub Ernst and 51-year-old Hans van den Hende. Both were bishops of Breda in the past. (Photo: J. Wouters)

Stats for June 2011

The past month was a bit less spectacular then previous months, and that is reflected in the number of visitors. 4,344 visits were made in June, lower than the previous two months. The total number of visitors since the start of my blog is creeping closer to 100,000, standing now at 93,105.

Here is the top 10 of most popular posts. A varied bunch.

1. Bishop De Kesel on Vaticanum II – a bit defeatist? 141
2. Brick minus brick in Groningen 106
3. On the occasion of 60 years of priesthood, a spiritual bouquet for the pope 74
4: Belgian dean welcomes Dutch-trained priests 66
5. Congratulations to a Philippine bishop 62
6. Het probleem Medjugorje 47
7. The class of 2011 37
8. Ascension Day, Pallium day 35
9. Vatican website in the makeover 33
10. Pope to visit the Croatian families this weekend 31

Papal soundbytes – Croatia

As usual, here is my selection of words spoken by Pope Benedict XVI during his papal visit to Croatia last weekend. You can read all the texts in various languages here. My soundbytes are just that: a choice selection of passages to reflect upon.

Pope Benedict XVI shakes hands with the pilot who flew him to Zagreb

Convinced witness and active dynamism in Europe

In the face of the challenges posed by today’s culture – marked as it is by social differentiation and instability, and by an individualism that gives rise to a vision of life without obligations and a constant search for “private space” – there is a need for convinced witness and active dynamism aimed at promoting the fundamental moral values that underpin social living and the identity of the old Continent. (Welcoming ceremony, Pleso International Airport, Zagreb, 4 June)

Hope for the future

Truly, the great achievements of the modern age – the recognition and guarantee of freedom of conscience, of human rights, of the freedom of science and hence of a free society – should be confirmed and developed while keeping reason and freedom open to their transcendent foundation, so as to ensure that these achievements are not undone, as unfortunately happens in not a few cases. The quality of social and civil life and the quality of democracy depend in large measure on this “critical” point – conscience, on the way it is understood and the way it is informed. If, in keeping with the prevailing modern idea, conscience is reduced to the subjective field to which religion and morality have been banished, then the crisis of the West has no remedy and Europe is destined to collapse in on itself. If, on the other hand, conscience is rediscovered as the place in which to listen to truth and good, the place of responsibility before God and before fellow human beings – in other words, the bulwark against all forms of tyranny – then there is hope for the future. (Meeting with representatives of civil society, political, cultural and business world, diplomatic corps and religious leaders, National Croatian Theatre, Zagreb, 4 June)

Msgr. Georg Gänswein and the Holy Father during the meeting at the National Theatre.

Conscience at the root of society

It is by forming consciences that the Church makes her most specific and valuable contribution to society. It is a contribution that begins in the family and is strongly reinforced in the parish, where infants, children and young people learn to deepen their knowledge of the sacred Scriptures, the “great codex” of European culture; at the same time they learn what it means for a community to be built upon gift, not upon economic interests or ideology, but upon love, “the principal driving force behind the authentic development of every person and of all humanity” (Caritas in Veritate, 1). This logic of gratuitousness, learnt in infancy and adolescence, is then lived out in every area of life, in games, in sport, in interpersonal relations, in art, in voluntary service to the poor and the suffering, and once it has been assimilated it can be applied to the most complex areas of political and economic life so as to build up a polis that is welcoming and hospitable, but at the same time not empty, not falsely neutral, but rich in humanity, with a strongly ethical dimension. It is here that the lay faithful are called to give generously of the formation they have received, guided by the principles of the Church’s Social Doctrine, for the sake of authentic secularism, social justice, the defence of life and of the family, freedom of religion and education. (idem)

Jesus speaks to you!

In the Gospel of John, Jesus asks his disciples: “What are you looking for?” (Jn 1:38). Young friends, these words, this question reaches beyond time and space, it challenges every man and woman who is open to life and in search of the right path… And, startlingly, the voice of Jesus also says to you: “what are you looking for?” Jesus speaks to you today, through the Gospel and his Holy Spirit. He is your contemporary! He seeks you even before you seek him! While fully respecting your freedom, he approaches each one of you and offers himself as the authentic and decisive response to the longing deep within your hearts, to your desire for a life worth living. Let him take you by the hand! Let him become more and more your friend and companion along life’s journey. Put your trust in him and he will never disappoint you! (Prayer vigil with Croatian youth, Bano Josip Jelačič Square, Zagreb, 4 June)

The Holy Spirit comes first

Sometimes it is thought that missionary efficacy depends primarily upon careful planning and its intelligent implementation by means of specific action. Certainly, the Lord asks for our cooperation, but his initiative has to come first, before any response from us: his Spirit is the true protagonist of the Church, to be invoked and welcomed. (Holy Mass on the occasion of the National Day of Croatian Catholic Families, Zagreb Hippodrome, 5 June)

The Christian family in modern society

In today’s society the presence of exemplary Christian families is more necessary and urgent than ever. Unfortunately, we are forced to acknowledge the spread of a secularization which leads to the exclusion of God from life and the increasing disintegration of the family, especially in Europe. Freedom without commitment to the truth is made into an absolute, and individual well-being through the consumption of material goods and transient experiences is cultivated as an ideal, obscuring the quality of interpersonal relations and deeper human values; love is reduced to sentimental emotion and to the gratification of instinctive impulses, without a commitment to build lasting bonds of reciprocal belonging and without openness to life. We are called to oppose such a mentality! (Idem)

Encouragement to priests

Dear priests – especially those of you in charge of parishes – I know the importance and the variety of your tasks in an age when the scarcity of priests is beginning to make itself felt strongly. I urge you not to lose heart, to remain vigilant in prayer and in your spiritual lives, in order to perform your ministry fruitfully: to teach, to sanctify and to guide all those who are entrusted to your care. Welcome with magnanimity those who knock at the door of your heart, offering to each one the gifts that divine goodness has entrusted to you. Persevere in communion with your Bishops and in mutual cooperation. Nourish your commitment at the life-giving waters of Scripture, the Sacraments, the constant praise of God, always open and docile to the actions of the Holy Spirit; you will thus be effective workers in the new evangelization, which you are called to realize together with the laity, in a coordinated way and without confusing what pertains to ordained ministry with what belongs to the universal priesthood of all the baptized. Keep close to your hearts the promotion of vocations to the priesthood; by your enthusiasm and your fidelity, strive to transmit a living desire to respond generously and without hesitation to Christ, who calls each one to be conformed more intimately to himself, Head and Shepherd. (Vespers with bishops, priests, religious and seminarians, tomb of Blessed Alojzije Stepinac, Zagreb, 5 June)

Photo credit:
[1] REUTERS/Nikola Solic
[2] [3] REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
[4] AP Photo/Damir Sencar, Pool
[5] REUTERS/Marko Djurica

Pope to visit the Croatian families this weekend

Kicking off tomorrow, Pope Benedict XVI’s first apostolic journey abroad of this year will take him across the Adriatic Sea to Croatia. The rather short visit (only two days in a country with some 3.8 million Catholics) will not take him beyond the capital of Zagreb, but there are a few interesting events scheduled nonetheless.

On Saturday evening there will be a prayer vigil with the Croatian youth, and on Sunday morning a Mass on the occasion of the National Day of Croatian Catholic Families. These and other, more regular, events will undoubtedly see the Holy Father address topics like family and marriage, the propagation of faith among young people, and ecumenism, especially with the Orthodox. Other topics will also be unique to Croatia and the wider Balkans, an area with a chaotic recent history. In time, I’ll be making choice picks from the various addresses and homilies made.

As mentioned, Croatia is a predominantly Catholic country, with some 88% of the population belonging to the Church. The country is divided into five archdioceses, eleven dioceses and 1 military ordinariate. At the head of the 26 bishops and ordinaries sits Josip Cardinal Bozanic, the archbishop of Zagreb, and Archbishop Marin Srakic of Ðakovo-Osijek, the president of the Croatian Bishops Conference. Representing the Holy See ans nuncio, since 2008, is Archbishop Mario Roberto Cassari.

Croatia has been visited by a pope before. Blessed John Paul II visited the country three times, in 1994, 1998 and 2003. This will the first visit of Pope Benedict to the country

Priest removes 6,000 people from church

Fr. Jelinic with saintly remains

Granted, he did so over the course of a few years, but it’s still a high number. What crimes did these people commit?

Father Marijan Jelinic is priest of the church of St. Blaise in Vodnjan, Croatia. It is located in Istria, the destination of many tourists in summer. The church contains many relics and the priest thinks these remains of saints deserve all due respect. He is right, of course, and that is at the root of the reason that he expelled so many from the church. People, often tourists in their summer clothing, need to be properly dressed when they enter a sacred place. In a Catholic church not only the remains of saints are present, but most importantly, Jesus Christ Himself is. That fact alone should influence the way we behave when in a church. That is part of the reason why people usually limit themselves to whispering, for example (even if they’re not really aware of it). What is less known, I think, is that a dress code is also assumed.

People don’t need to dress up to the nines before stepping across the threshold of a church, of course, but short or revealing clothing are usually a big no. This article, from which I got the information above, mentions a dress code that was not respected. If Fr. Jelinic had placed signs at the door, explaining appropriate attire, he is totally right when he asks people who don’t abide to leave. That’s what they do in Rome as well. No shorts or revealing tops at St. Peter’s, please. If it’s frowned upon there, why not in any other Catholic church in the world?

I think that these rules actually add to the experience of attending Mass, or even just visiting a church. The realisation that this is some special place you are visiting is all the easier to reach when you have to go through some effort to do so. And that realisation could, God willing, grow into a fuller one: you are not just in a special place, but in the most special place, where Christ is physically among us, where our salvation is within arm’s reach, so to speak.

Of course, Fr. Jelinic has his share of opposition. People say he scares away young people with his draconian measures. Well, I highly doubt that. I think that a priest who has the guts to be clear and enforce certain simple rules gets more respect, especially from young people, than one who goes with every flow.