Roman Echoes 2015 – Volume 20, Issue 1

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Ordinations at the Altar of the Chair

16 Diaconate Ordination 24 Synod on Marriage and Family 28 3rd Year Summer Assignments

Content EDITORIAL STAFF EDITOR IN CHIEF M. Casey Sanders ‘17 Archdiocese of Louisville MANAGING EDITOR Robert Duck ‘18 Diocese of Tulsa LAYOUT & DESIGN MANAGER Andrew Showers ‘17 Diocese of Madison

6 A Mission of Joy in Tanzania Colin Jones ‘18 Colin highlights his summer apostolate in Tanzania.

ASSISTANT EDITORS Joseph Heschmeyer ‘18 Diocese of Kansas City, KS Joseph Scholten ‘17 Diocese of Sioux Falls


LAYOUT & DESIGN EDITORS Michael Zimmerman ‘17 Archdiocese of Boston

Returning Home Joys of III Theologians’ Summer Assignments

PHOTOGRAPHERS Daniel Hart ‘17 Diocese of Alexandria

Just few of the things our seminarians did their first summer back.

Leo Song ‘18 Diocese of Rockville Centre

24 Synod on the Family The Essential Cell of Society and the Church The Church calls forth her shepherds.

Cover Image: The ordinandi lying prostrate during the Litany of the Saints at the Papal Basilica of St. Peter during the Ordination Mass. 2

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5 Rector’s Corner 6 Summer Apostolates for II Theology

Beginning the Priestly Life

8 Adventures of Recent Alumni

Joshua Meier ‘18

10 Casa Update

Joshua reflects on the joy of presbyteral ordinations this summer.

11 A Roman Sabbatical 12 New Faculty 14 Beginning the Priestly Life


16 The Road to Diaconate 18 New Men Orientation

The Road to Diaconate

20 News Bytes 22 Fall Workshops

Kevin Leaver ‘17

24 Synod on the Family

Kevin describes the diaconate ordination in anticipation of his own.

26 Work with the Poor 28 III Theologians’ First Summer back Q&A


29 Institutional Advancement 30 Economo’s Corner

New Men Orientation Alexander Turpin ‘19 Alexander reflects on the beginning of his Roman experience.




TREASURER Most Rev. Frank J. Dewane ‘88, C‘89 Bishop of Venice

VICE CHAIRMAN Most Rev. John C. Nienstedt ‘73, C‘84 Archbishop Emeritus of St. Paul and Minneapolis

SECRETARY Most Rev. Joseph M. Siegel ‘88 Auxiliary Bishop of Joliet

The alabaster window depicting the Holy Spirit as a dove in St. Peter’s Basilica above the Altar of the Chair, where 39 new deacons from the College were ordained.


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Donald Cardinal Wuerl ‘67 Archbishop of Washington

Most Rev. William M. Mulvey ‘75 Bishop of Corpus Christi

Most Rev. Robert J. Carlson Archbishop of St. Louis

Most Rev. William F. Murphy ‘65, C‘74 Bishop of Rockville Centre

Most Rev. Gerald Nicholas Dino C‘72 Bishop of the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Holy Protection of Mary

Most Rev. Joseph A. Pepe C‘76 Bishop of Las Vegas

Most Rev. Robert C. Evans ‘73, C‘89 Auxiliary Bishop of Providence Most Rev. Jeffrey M. Monforton ‘93, C‘02 Bishop of Steubenville

Most Rev. Glen J. Provost ‘75 Bishop of Lake Charles Most Rev. J. Peter Sartain ‘78 Archbishop of Seattle Most Rev. Michael J. Sheehan ‘65, C‘71 Archbishop of Santa Fe

For more information about the Pontifical North American College, subscription questions, or to learn about ways you can financially support “America’s Seminary in Rome,” please contact Mark Randall, CFRE, Executive Director, Institutional Advancement. Tel: (202) 541-5411 • Fax: (202) 722-8804 Email: • Website:

Rector’s Corner


t St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, Pope Francis reminded the priests, religious, and seminarians with whom he gathered in prayer that our vocation is one that is always to be lived in joy. Gratefully, our houses here at the College always seem to be marked by joy, and I hear so many visitors comment on this aspect of our houses, but most especially at this time of year! This summer, 53 new priests were ordained after finishing four years of priestly formation at our College. We also welcomed 72 new men this year, bringing all kinds of enthusiasm for deepening their friendship with Christ, learning the truths of the faith and serving their brothers and sisters in need, while also again filling the College to capacity with 252 students at the seminary. On October 1, 39 seminarians were ordained deacons at St. Peter’s Basilica by our beloved former rector, Cardinal Dolan. These 39 deacons join their 22 classmates who were ordained deacons over the summer in their home dioceses, or will be in the months ahead, so that the College will benefit from the diaconal ministry of 61 deacons this year! All of our seminarians participated in a week long retreat upon their return to Rome, as well as several weeks of workshops covering such topics as homiletics and liturgical training, pastoral counseling, priestly identity and celibacy, pastoral leadership, as well

as ministry to families and marriage preparation. These workshops all took place in our new classroom building, which has been a blessing in itself and has made a significant difference in the life of our community. Our graduate house, the Casa Santa Maria, welcomed 42 new priests this year, bringing the enrolment to a very healthy 75 student priests. Work began on transforming the venerable old building into a more suitable and comfortable living situation for the priests, renovating each bedroom to include individual climate control and its own bathroom. Finally, the modules for ICTE this fall have great enrollment too, so ongoing formation, renewal, and the joys of priestly fraternity fill the Casa O’Toole. Yes, there has been so much to be joyful about here! On the vigil of our diaconate ordination at St. Peter’s, the fourth year class and I gathered to celebrate a class Mass. Appropriately, it was the memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, a man so dedicated to priestly renewal and formation that he founded a religious community to do just this work. Late in his life, St. Vincent reminded his brother priests in seminary work: “ln the state we’ve embraced, we’ve been called by God to work on a masterpiece; for, if there is a masterpiece in this world, it’s the formation of good priests; nothing greater, nothing more important can be conceived.”

Indeed, for over 155 years, the work of this College has been forming these masterpieces: good priests! It’s been a blessing to be involved in this ministry, and we here at the College are ever grateful for your making this effort possible through your noble support, prayers and financial contributions. Without the support of our bishops, vocation directors, religious and lay friends, we simply would not be able to joyfully form these masterpieces for God and His Church! I hope you enjoy this edition of Roman Echoes, which our students put together from start to finish. I know we can count on you to join us in this mission by your prayers and financial support and for that, we are truly grateful. Vergine Immacolata, aiutateci

Rev. Msgr. James F. Checchio ‘92, C‘97 Diocese of Camden Rector



Summer Apostolates for II Theology

Patrick Dorelus ‘18 (Brooklyn; left of center) and Colin Jones ‘18 (St. Paul-Minneapolis; right) with their first grade class in Tanzania.

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C O L I N J O N E S ‘ 1 8 , A R C H D I O C E S E O F S T. PA U L A N D M I N N E A P O L I S

ituated in East Africa between Lake Victoria and the Indian Ocean, Tanzania is known for many cultural and geographic landmarks: Mount Kilimanjaro, Serengeti National Park, the tropical island of Zanzibar, and the Swahili language, which gave us the worry-free phrase “Hakuna Matata.” I was blessed to spend this past summer within this beautiful country with my two NAC classmates, Vince Fernandez and Patrick Dorelus. And while we did see much of the natural beauty for which Tanzania


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is famous, our greatest joy by far was found in a little town called Ushetu, where we lived and worked for 6 weeks among the beautiful, faith-filled people of Our Lady of Lourdes parish. The parish is served by one priest and four sisters from an Argentinian religious order called the Institute of the Incarnate Word, whose charism is to make the Gospel message incarnate among the people of any place and culture. In Ushetu, the sisters spend their days working a dispensary to provide for basic medical needs, while also running a school for 60 children in preschool

As I look back on the summer, I am so grateful to God for the opportunity he gave me to enter into the lives of those wonderful people of Ushetu, and to learn from them what it means to live a life of faith, simplicity, and joy.

through first grade. The pastor, Father Diego, on the other hand, cares for the many sacramental needs of the parish, which includes not only those who live nearby, but also the many surrounding villages that have no priest of their own. As one might imagine, there was so much to be done, and my 2 classmates and I were at work from the beginning. Some days, we joined Father Diego on his excursions to the various outlying villages, where he would celebrate Mass, hear confessions, baptize newborns, and even witness a marriage or two. Wherever we found ourselves, the people welcomed us with songs, dancing, games, and the best food they could provide, knowing that Father brought with him the most important gift of all: Jesus Christ! Back at the parish center, we were able to spend many hours with the children while teaching English in the parish school. This was difficult since we did not know much of their native language, but with the help of songs, Dr. Seuss books, and our very poor drawing skills, we were able to make some progress. The evenings were some of our favorite moments of the day, as the altar boys from the surrounding area would gather at the field across the street for a heated game of soccer. We may have had the size advantage, but we were certainly outmatched when it came to skill. As I look back on the summer, I am so grateful to God for the opportunity he gave me to enter into the lives of those wonderful people of Ushetu, and to learn from them what it means to live a life of faith, simplicity, and joy. I am grateful as well for the formation we received from Father Diego and the sisters, who showed us what it means to be missionaries, preparing us to go forth one day to serve our brothers and sisters back home. n

Colin Jones ‘18 (St. Paul-Minneapolis) and Vince Fernandez ‘18 (Tulsa) handing out rosaries at their summer apostolate in Tanzania.

From left: Colin Jones ‘18 (St. Paul-Minneapolis), Patrick Dorelus ‘18 (Brooklyn), and Vince Fernandez ‘18 (Tulsa) with their host in Tanzania, Fr. Diego Cano,IVE.

Vince Fernandez ‘18 (Tulsa; back row, left of center) and Colin Jones ‘18 (St. Paul-Minneapolis; center) with children from one of the parishes they served in Tanzania.




Fr. John Burns ‘10 (Milwaukee) a retreat to the Missionaries of Charity Sisters.

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ecently, Roman Echoes got in touch with Fr. John Burns ’10, a recent alumnus of the College. A priest of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Fr. Burns left Rome in 2011 having completed his license in moral theology from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross. After serving as associate pastor at Christ the King parish in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin and teaching at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology in Hales


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Corners, he was appointed to St. Mary Parish in Menomonee Falls.

Fr. Burns, could you share a favorite memory from your first five years of priesthood? “Together with a classmate, Fr. Craig Vasek, I use some of my vacation time to direct a retreat each year for the Missionaries of Charity. I’ll never forget completing the first retreat, which was in our first year home from Rome. The retreat was in Nairobi, and I was quite

Fr. John Burns celebrating Mass.

sure I could not and should not be directing retreats for the sisters as such a young priest. When I tried to back out by claiming I was too inexperienced, the regional superior looked me in the eye and said, ‘Father, you will not give retreat. You will simply pray. The Holy Spirit will give retreat.’ She was, of course, absolutely right, and she called my lack of trust right out into the open. The retreat was so graced, and the experience was truly that of being used by the Lord to bless His beloved sisters.”

Fr. John Burns preparing to baptize a family member.

this best for you?’ To respond to His promptings and watch the fruitfulness of the Holy Spirit among the community of believers is the quintessential joy of parish priesthood!”

It’s been a while now since you left the Janiculum. Have you managed to stay in touch with classmates from the College? Fr. John Burns offering benediction.

You have been at St. Mary’s parish for over a year now. What is the best part of serving as pastor there? “I’m inspired to see, constantly, that despite all of the trends in our culture and in the secular sphere, people are just yearning to grow closer to Jesus Christ and His Church. The best part of being pastor, I’d say, is the deep knowledge that Jesus wants ‘life to the full’ for His people and that He’s asked me to help Him accomplish that in a particular community. The center of my prayer and discernment, in each and every activity, is simply, ‘Lord, how can I do

“I am very blessed to maintain close contact with a group of 7 classmates. While we were at the College, we invested intentionally in our friendships and spent a lot of time together both in the house and travelling. As our time together in Rome reached its conclusion, we decided to commit to getting together once a year. So, each January, we spend a long week together. During the trip each man spends an hour sharing graces and struggles from the year past, and then we pray together and intercede for him. It’s a gift to keep this connection alive and well and to watch how each guy grows, changes, and continues to be blessed by the priesthood in such diverse settings. Truly, I would not be the priest I am without this important group of brothers from the College.” n

STAY CLOSE TO ROME! The College offers a variety of digital means to keep up to date on our community, milestones, and special events. Be sure to sign up for monthly e-Newsletter (Firmum Est), ‘like’ our Facebook page, and visit our YouTube page and main website at



Casa Update

A New Beginning at Casa Santa Maria R E V. A N D R E W L I A U G M I N A S C ‘ 1 7 , A R C H D I O C E S E O F C H I C A G O


n the evening of September 21, a group of priests from across America and Australia gathered to pray before the image of Our Lady of Humility in the Main Chapel of the Casa Santa Maria. They came from dioceses as far apart as Providence and Perth. Some were seasoned pastors, others had been serving in parish or seminary ministry for some years, and others had been ordained to the priesthood just a few months before. Yet, despite these differences in background and experience, those 42 priests gathered in prayer that evening now shared this in common: they were to become the newest priests to call the Casa Santa Maria their home. Under the direction of our Rector, Msgr. James Checchio ’92, C’97; our Superior, Msgr. Fred Berardi C’82; and our Spiritual Director, Msgr. Joseph

Chapel ’92, C’98, the Casa Santa Maria has grown to house a total of 75 priest residents. The priests of the Casa this year come from 53 dioceses, representing 30 American states, 4 Australian states/territories, and one province in Spain. For the first time in several years, there are two Eastern Catholic priests in the Casa community: one Byzantine Catholic and one Chaldean Catholic. The priests of the Casa are engaged in a variety of license and doctoral programs in many of the Pontifical Universities, Athenae and Institutes in the city. A majority of the priests are studying Canon Law, Dogmatic Theology, Biblical Theology, Liturgical Theology, Philosophy or Moral Theology. However, many other sacred disciplines are represented in house as well. We commenced the new academic year in prayer with our opening Mass

(Left to Right): Fr. Kerry Abbott OFM Conv., Msgr. James Checchio ’92, C’97 (Camden), Rector, Most Rev. Jose Gomez, Archbishop of Los Angeles, Msgr. Ferdinando Berardi C’83 (New York), and Msgr. Joseph Chapel ’92 (Newark) with the priests of the Casa Santa Maria after their Mass to open the new academic year.


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Fr. Andrew Liaugminas C’17 (Chicago) addressing the men of the Casa during the Opening Banquet.

on October 10. We were honored to welcome Archbishop José H. Gómez of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles as the Principal Celebrant of our Mass. Following Mass, we enjoyed a wonderful banquet prepared for us by the Sister Servants of Mary Immaculate and our kitchen personale. During the meal, we took a moment to show our gratitude to Msgr. Checchio for all he does for the Casa community as rector of the North American College. Then we offered the traditional toasts to our Holy Father, our nation, and the College, and concluded by singing ad multos annos. A special thanks to the residents who worked to ensure a smooth transition into the new year, especially Fr. Christopher Trenta C’19 and Fr. David Hudgins C’17 of the 2015 Casa Orientation Team, and to Fr. Daniel Hess C’19, Fr. Kevin Kimtis C’17, and Fr. Matthew Rolling C’19 who are serving with me on the House Council of the Casa Santa Maria. As a community, we would also like to take this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude to all of our alumni and benefactors who support us in so many ways. You have a special place in the prayers of this community of 76 priests, and we ask for your continued prayers as we embark upon our studies in this new academic year. n


A Roman Sabbatical R E V. WAY N E J E N K I N S , A R C H D I O C E S E O F L O U I S V I L L E


magine rush hour at Piazza Venezia and contrast that with a leisurely Sunday afternoon stroll to Castel Gandolfo. Those were the competing images that popped into my head as I began recalling the transition my brother priests and I experienced leaving our sometimes hectic and oftentimes demanding pastoral responsibilities and entering our September sabbath! Good bye leaky roofs, maintenance headaches, capital campaigns, and staff strife! Hello to a smorgasbord of Bernini, Carravaggio, and Michelangelo art and architecture. On the evening of September 7, 2015, 33 priests (29 from the United States, 2 from Australia and 2 from Ireland) concelebrated an opening Mass to inaugurate our month-long sabbatical on Christian Art and Architecture. After an orientation and introduction to the Pontifical North American College by our undaunted and gracious director, Fr. Jim Sullivan, O.P., we concelebrated Mass the next day at the tomb of St. Peter – what a great start! Wednesday we attended the papal audience. Then our art adventure began with a guided tour of the Vatican Mosaic Studio which prepared us for our tour of St. Peter’s Basilica by Liz Lev. We concluded the week with a Saturday afternoon walking tour to Piazza Navona and surrounding environs, enjoying an evening feast at Pancrazio. Sunday we

concelebrated Mass at the seminary and shared brunch with the seminarians from our respective dioceses and communities. Following this fulfilling action-packed first week, we settled into a most peaceful and prayerful retreat given by Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, Preacher of the Papal household. How blessed we were to be in the presence of someone so holy, so wise, so pleasant. What a gift! What a treat! He led on us on a week-long journey through St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans, repeatedly emphasizing the role of the creating and loving Father, the sacrificing, self-giving Savior - Jesus Christ the Lord - and the powerful and ever-present Holy Spirit. For those of us longing for sabbath rest, the overwhelming consensus was that Fr. Cantalamessa was the soothing balm that made the wounded whole and healed the sin sick soul (to paraphrase a familiar song). The retreat was ideal preparation for “Holy Ground” - our study tour of Assisi art and architecture. Our Assisi excursion was sandwiched in between visits to Orvieto and Spoleto - two charming towns perched atop soaring vistas with panoramic views with art and history of their own renown. Both are worthy of more extended visits! Assisi - what can I say? Mass and tour of the Basilica di San Francesco and the same the next day of Basilica di Santa Chiara. We had ample personal time to

ICTE Director Fr. James Sullivan, O.P. (far right) with priests in the Institute’s September module after Mass in the Porziuncola in Assisi.

visit the likes of San Damiano, San Rufino, and San Pietro, and even squeezed in a little shopping and gelato. On leaving Assisi we concelebrated Mass in the Porziuncola in the Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli. We concluded the month with visits and tours of Santa Croce and the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the Pantheon, a Caravaggio walking tour, and a tour of the Vatican museum and Sistine Chapel with Liz Lev. It was an incredible sabbatical experience and this brief essay can in no way convey what we will take with us spiritually and emotionally, not to mention the physical renewal of self. It has been interesting, informative, inspiring - in a word AWESOME! In conclusion, I offer a limerick a parishioner composed after I had posted a few photos and commentaries on Facebook. He captured my sabbatical experience rather well I thought. There once was a priest on sabbatical whose love for Rome was fanatical. He studied and prayed and saw art everyday, His flock worried if he would come back at all.



New Faculty

The Faculty of the North American College after lunch on Lake Albano near the summer residence of the Holy Father.

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his year, the North American College was pleased to welcome, in addition to her 72 new seminarians, 4 other “new men,” most of whom are not new to the Eternal City at all. We had 4 new priests join the faculty, and we are pleased to welcome them. They bring a wealth of experience, a love of the priesthood, and an excitement to serve the College.


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Fr. Kerry Abbott, OFM Conv. (California Province) Fr. Kerry is no stranger to Rome or NAC. He is an alumnus of the ICTE program (‘14) and completed his priestly formation in Rome at the Pontifical College of St. Bonaventure while earning his licentiate in canon law at the Lateran University. He is a convert to Catholicism and has served for many years as a chaplain in the U.S. Air Force, achieving the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, and has served our troops in five deployments

(Left to Right): Fr. Kerry Abbott, OFM Conv., Msgr. Bill McDonnell ‘65 (Rockford), Fr. John Cush ‘98,C ‘15 (Brooklyn), and Fr. Jerry McGlone, SJ, PhD join College faculty for the 2015-16 year.

in active combat operations. He also comes with much experience in priestly formation, serving as vocation director for many years for the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA. Fr. Kerry is uniquely prepared for his new role as Economo/Director of Administration, Facilities, and Personnel at the College, having earned degrees in business management and in international civil law, and for his other role at the NAC, as a spiritual director, having multiple degrees in spirituality and spiritual direction.

(Left to Right): Matthew Faucett ’19 (Green Bay), Msgr. Bill McDonnell ‘65 (Rockford), His Eminence James Cardinal Harvey ‘75 (Milwaukee) and Austin Steffen ‘19 (Madison) enjoying conversation during the New Man cookout.

Msgr. P. William McDonnell, ’65, ICTE ’13

Fr. John Cush ‘98, C’15 Fr. Cush, a priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn, is no stranger to seminary life. As he joked to the new men in his introductions, he is a true “lifer.” Having entered the minor seminary at the high school level at the age of 14, Fr. Cush is an example of someone who heard the call early on and followed it to ordination at the age of 26. He studied at the Gregorian University for first and second cycle, earning his STL in fundamental theology and is currently completing his doctorate at the Gregorian. He has served as a parochial vicar, a teacher at Cathedral Preparatory Seminary, Elmhurst and Cathedral Seminary Residence, Douglaston, NY and has extensive experience in formation programs of laity, permanent deacons, and religious women. He was also very involved in the work of the DeSales Media Group in the Diocese of Brooklyn. Fr. Cush will be serving as Assistant Vice-Rector and as a formation advisor, as well as offering a class in U.S. Roman Catholic Church history to the second year students at the Gregorian.

Msgr. McDonnell is a priest from the Diocese of Rockford with many years of experience, serving as a parochial vicar, area dean, college campus minister and pastor of two different parishes (Freeport and Algonquin, Illinois), both of which he helped to build or remodel. He holds an STL in sacred theology from the Gregorian, as well as an MA in counseling education from Northern Illinois University at DeKalb. He will serve as a spiritual director at the College. He is a beloved and respected priest in his diocese, and NAC is blessed to have such an alumnus come back to serve his alma mater.

Fr. Gerard McGlone, SJ, PhD (Maryland Province) Fr. Jerry hails from Philadelphia and comes with years of experience in working with priests, religious, and seminarians. He will serve the College as the House Counselor and Director of Counseling Services. Fr. Jerry is a leading expert in dealing with clergy who have experienced crisis and in sexual abuse. He holds degrees in psychology,

theology, and ministry from St. Louis University, Boston College, and the Weston School of Theology. He earned his doctorate in clinical psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology. He has taught at Georgetown University Medical Center, Loyola College, Baltimore, and St. Joseph’s University, Philadelphia. A world-renowned expert in his field, he was the Executive Director of Saint John Vianney Center in Doylestown, PA, as well as in Guest House. A consultant to the USCCB, the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, and to numerous dioceses and religious orders, Fr. Jerry is a published author of scholarly works in psychology and priestly life, including The Inner Life of Priests (2012), which won the Catholic Press Award. Each of our new faculty enriches our experience of the priesthood. All of them are very different men in their backgrounds, ages, and interests, but all have one thing in common: they love being priests and want to help the seminarians to grow to be the priests that the Lord wishes them to become. To our new faculty we say welcome and Ad Multos Annos. n

MONTHLY GIVING Your monthly, automated gift to the College is an easy way to sustain our noble mission! Join with a gift of $10, $15, or even $25 – the amount is adjustable at any time. Call the Office of Institutional Advancement (202-541-5411) or visit ROMAN ECHOES 2015 • VOLUME 20: ISSUE 1


Beginning the



s Monsignor Checchio mentioned in the “Rector’s Corner,” the College sent 53 men home to their beloved dioceses this past summer to be ordained priests of Jesus Christ. As we know, it was the culmination of many years and hours of hard work on their part as well as on the

part of all those generous men and women who supported them in their journey toward the altar. We are indeed truly grateful for the generosity of these men in laying down their lives in service to the people of God! Once ordained, some of these men stayed home in their respective dioceses to hit the ground running as parochial vicars or in other priestly capacities. Many of these men, however, have returned to Rome as what we affectionately refer to as Fifth Year priests in order to continue their advanced studies in a variety of license or even doctoral programs offered at various pontifical universities. But, before returning to Rome, they first enjoyed the great and awesome privilege of being ordained priests and then living the priestly life, however briefly, back home. Since he is a convert, the ordination of Fr. Joseph Delko ’15 of the Diocese of Salt Lake City was a particularly powerful experience for his family since his was the first ordination they had ever witnessed. They were moved by the 14

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Every year, departing seminarians display their new chalices and patens.

beauty of it all, particularly the Litany of the Saints when it became quite clear to them as he lay prostrate that he truly was laying down his life for God and in service of His people. It was a blessing for him to celebrate his first Mass at the parish he attended while in college and where he came home to the Catholic faith, particularly in the presence of

the very priest who encouraged him to consider a call to the priesthood. The highlight of the summer for him was being able to serve at St. Andrew parish, about 90 minutes south of Salt Lake City. While there, he truly felt the privilege of being able to celebrate Mass and the other sacraments, particularly that of reconciliation. “Father, will you

Students of the North American College stand during the Closing Banquet as they are sent to preach the Gospel in their home dioceses.

They were moved by the beauty of it all, particularly the Litany of the Saints when it became quite clear to them as he lay prostrate that he truly was laying down his life for God and in service of His people. hear my confession?” speaks a great deal to people’s own faith in that sacrament, he observed. Fr. Delko came to realize that it is not about his saying the right

Fr. Gabriel Lopez ’15

words in the confessional, but rather about his acting as an instrument “through whom the grace of God is at work to heal this person of his sins.”

Fr. Gabriel Lopez ’15 of the Diocese of Madison, likewise had a number of guests who weren’t Catholic. They, too, were struck by the liturgy, with one describing it as the “fastest 2 hours and

45 minutes he had ever experienced”; another was struck by the sincerity of the fraternal kiss of peace among the priests, that they were truly welcoming Fr. Lopez into the fraternity of the priesthood. He was assigned to the Immaculate Heart of Mary parish in Monona, Wisconsin. The highlight for him was “everything.” In particular, though, he described baptisms as being the most fun and life-giving element of his summer parish experience, particularly being able to see how excited the family is to witness such a profound and powerful event for their little baby. n

DID YOU KNOW Some of our recent posts on the Holy Father’s visit to the NAC and Diaconate ordinations reached over 150,000 people! Be sure to “Like” our page, and share our posts. You can find our page at ROMAN ECHOES 2015 • VOLUME 20: ISSUE 1


The Road to



efore the academic year starts in the Eternal City, the North American College has one of our highlight events of the year: the diaconate ordination of our Fourth Theology class. While some were ordained in their home dioceses in the spring of Third Theology or over the summer,

the vast majority of the Class of 2016 opted to receive the Order of Deacon in Rome by the imposition of hands of His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, an alumnus and former Rector of the College. On Thursday October 1, 2015, 39 men from different dioceses around the United States, Canada, and Australia processed into St. Peter’s Basilica to lay down their lives in service to Jesus Christ and His Church at the Altar of the Chair. As the choir so beautifully sang their traditional entrance hymn, “Laudate Domino, omnes gentes…” I was filled with many emotions: happiness, pride, and excitement, to name only a few. The Diaconate Class of 2015 were the men I first encountered upon arrival to NAC in 2013 as a New Man, when they were entering Second Theology. Over the course of my previous two years at the College, I’ve gotten close with some of these men, traveled with them, prayed with them, and grown in fraternity with them as men to whom I


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Rev. Mr. Stephen Wyble ‘16 (Washington) receiving the Book of the Gospels from the ordaining prelate, His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan.

will one day, God willing, be a brother priest. As each man was called to present himself to Cardinal Dolan, I couldn’t help but feel proud to know these men who were about to prostrate themselves on the marble floor of St. Peter’s for the Litany of Saints as a gesture of supplication, remembering

that service to God and His holy people requires genuine humility in the example of Christ. My favorite moment in the Rite of Ordination to the Order of Deacon is when the bishop hands the Book of Gospels to the elect and says, “Receive

the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.” I love the admonition of it as a request of the Church for her newly ordained to be men of God. The newly ordained is told to wholeheartedly believe the Word of God, to teach it to those entrusted to his care, and to practice himself what he has told his flock.

When a seminarian returns to Rome for Third Theology after a summer assignment in his home diocese, it is said he’s “crossed a bridge” in the formation program as third year will be his last before diaconate. However, this year while the newly ordained were receiving the Book of the Gospels, a different thought ran through my mind: “Oh man! I’m next!” I struggled to stay in the present moment, but it was very exciting to think that, God willing, this time next year it would be my class receiving Holy Orders.

The newly ordained deacons take a final picture with ordaining prelate, His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan ’76; Their Eminences, Edwin Cardinal O’Brien ‘76, James Cardinal Harvey ’75; Msgr. James Checchio ’92, C’97, Rector; and visiting bishops.

Newly ordained deacon Rev. Mr. Michael Lund ’16 (Pembroke) distributing Holy Communion at the Mass of Ordination.

Rev. Mr. Brian Lenz ’16 (Lansing) receiving the laying on of hands from His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan ’76.

When a seminarian returns to Rome for Third Theology after a summer assignment in his home diocese, it is said he’s “crossed a bridge” in the formation program as third year will be his last before diaconate. As this year progresses, I pray that my classmates and I will continue to grow in conformity to Christ so that next year when our names are called, we can stand tall and say to our ordaining bishop “Present” as we lay down our lives for the Church. n (Left to Right): Rev. Mr. Dave Tomaszycki ‘16 (Detroit), Rev. Mr. Michael Lund‘16 (Pembroke), Rev. Mr. Sean Grismer ‘16 (Rockford), and Rev. Mr. Adam Potter ‘16 (Pittsburgh) singing a Marian hymn as the procession concluding the Diaconate Vigil begins.



New Men Orientation

The New Men pose for a class picture with His Eminence James Cardinal Harvey ’76 and Msgr. James Checchio ‘92,C‘97, Rector, while visiting Castel Gandolfo, the traditional summer residence of the Holy Father.

To Resonate Christ With A Roman Heart • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •



his summer, the Pontifical North American College’s Class of 2019 arrived in Rome in two waves. The majority of us arrived in mid-July for a week of welcome to the seminary and the city, before leaving for a month of language school. In mid-August we returned to meet the dozen or so of our colleagues joining us from the States. Seventy-two in number, we were given a whirlwind tour of our new home.


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We found quickly that the College is a sanctuary from the noise and grit of a modern city; but in keeping with the motto emblazoned on the side of the seminary’s academic tower, we learned just as well “to resonate Christ with a Roman heart.” Our orientation team, accustomed for a year now to these streets and churches, led us out many mornings into the bosom of Church and civilization. There was barely a moment to recover from trans-Atlantic travel,

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Left to Right: Nathan Rueb ‘19 (Kansas City, MO), Nick Sentovich ‘19 (Rockford), Jeff Craig ‘19 (Pittsburgh), Ben Petty ‘19 (Washington), and Austin Faur ‘19 (Raleigh) receive their image of Our Lady of Humility, Patroness of the College, during orientation.

and we found ourselves in the midst of the worst heat in a decade of Roman summers, reaching temperatures in excess of 40 degrees Celsius! After we had all arrived safely at the College in August, there was a new mixture of comfort and culture shock, as the whole class came together for the first time. On the first full day of regular orientation, we celebrated Mass with our rector and faculty upon the very rock in which Saint Peter is entombed. Later we were led by last year’s New Men through the quiet grotto where his bones rest, the same bones that once shivered with the confession, “You are Christ, the Son of the living God.” Throughout orientation, we found that the city itself had become our formator. We saw this through our encounters with the Lord in the desperate, jaded, and harried denizens of these cobbled streets. We met Him in the wonder on the faces of pilgrims in St. Peter’s Basilica; in the locals enjoying a quick espresso down a narrow side street; even in the joys and griefs of our own fellow seminarians. We have seen Him in the countless welcoming gestures of last year’s New Men, who gave up their summers to make us comfortable in a new country. And, of course, we have met Him not least in the faculty’s constant proclamation of the Lord’s “reckless mercy” and overabundance of care for us.

Perhaps the most memorable moment of all was the College’s century-old tradition, the “Clap In.” As a class, we processed from the front lobby around the outside of the College, up to the chapel steps. All the faculty and last year’s New Men waited for us on the steps, inducting our first entrance to the community’s worship place with long applause. For all the uprootedness, strangeness, and stress we have felt at one time or another during our short stay in Italy,

this was a time when our gratitude was as unqualified as the welcome we received. It was a time to know implicitly what our house psychologist, Fr. Gerry McGlone, S.J., would make explicit a few days later. He gave us for meditation St. Ignatius’s vision of God’s words to him: “I will be propitious toward you in Rome.” This is already true for us, and we know that we will continue to echo St. Peter’s words: “Lord, it is good that we are here!” n

Left to Right: Alex Nevitt ’19 (Paterson), Gregory Crane ’19 (Bismarck), Joe Cwik ’19 (Washington), and Phillip Dufour ’18 (Providence) joyfully applaud as the Holy Father finishes addressing the pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square during his weekly Angelus.

PLANNED GIVING By including the College in your estate plan, you can help bridge support for the next generation of seminarians who will be sent to Rome. A Charitable Gift Annuity is an easy way to simultaneously provide a charitable donation, an income tax deduction, and a guaranteed lifetime income stream for you, the benefactor. Annuities can be established for as little as $10,000. TO LEARN MORE: Contact Mark Randall, CFRE, Executive Director for Advancement. or 202-541-5411 ROMAN ECHOES 2015 • VOLUME 20: ISSUE 1


News Bytes

Stephen Logue ‘18 (Harrisburg), Greg Parent ‘18 (Green Bay), Stephen Schumacher ‘19 (Saint Louis), Leo Song ‘18 (Rockville Centre), and Dan Carr ‘18 (Greensburg) enjoy lunch near Castel Gandolfo, the summer residence of the Holy Father.

Louis Masi ‘18 (New York), Vihnson Nyugen ‘18 (Phoenix), and Carter Zielinski ‘18 (Kansas City, KS) putting their grilling skills on display during the opening cookout.

Seminarians enjoying a game of bean bag toss during the orientation cookout.

The Bismarck men (from left): Christian Rodakowski ‘19, Brandon Wolf ‘19, Fr. Austin Vetter ’93, Gregory Crane ‘19, Scott Lefor ‘19, and Jarad Wolf ’18 joining His Eminence James Cardinal Harvey ’75 (3rd from left) for a picture at Castel Gandolfo.

Rev. Mr. Stephen Gadberry ‘16 (Little Rock) gazing at the window of Our Lady during the Diaconate Vigil procession.


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The New Men square off against the 2nd Year Men in a game of softball on the Kardos Campo Sportivo during orientation.

New Men gather for Mass in the crypt of the Basilica of St. Peter, just adjacent to the bones of the Apostle himself.

Rev. Mr. Jack Berard ’16 (Washington), Rev. Mr. Dan Connealy ‘16 (Phoenix), Rev. Mr. David Exner ‘16 (San Diego), and Rev. Mr. Emmett Hall ‘16 (Dallas) are all smiles after being vested as deacons for the first time.

Rev. Mr. Nate Ricci ‘16 (Providence) giving a crowd-pleasing toast to the Class of 2016 during the Opening Banquet.

Fr. Donald Henke ‘92, C’04 blessing the men after a joyful game of softball on the Kardos Campo Sportivo.

Tyler Johnson‘19 (Seattle), Spenser St. Louis’19 (Fort Wayne-South Bend), Archbishop Patron Wong, Secretary for Seminaries at the Congregation of Clergy, Stephen Cieslak ‘19 (Portland,OR), Mitchell Roman ‘19 (Gaylord), and Zach Brown ‘19 (Toledo) enjoying a cookout during orientation.

St. Louis seminarians Stephen Schumacher ‘19, Clark Philipp ‘17, and Andrew Auer ‘19

Ben Rahimi ‘19 (Chicago) delivering a toast to the Class of 2019 during the Opening Banquet.

Men of the “2nd Hospital” corridor enjoy a meal together during the Opening Banquet in the O’Toole Refectory.



Fall Workshops

Fr. William Byrne ‘93 (Washington) leading the Third Theologians in a homiletics workshop.

Pastoral Counseling for Families in the Shadow of the Synod • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •


R E V. M R . A L E X A N D E R PA D I L L A , I I , ‘ 1 6 , D I O C E S E O F S T. P E T E R S B U R G

wo years ago, Pope Francis unexpectedly announced that there would be an Extraordinary Synod on the Family in October 2014, a year before the Ordinary General Synod in October 2015. The 2014 Extraordinary Synod was convoked to address the “pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization.” The General


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Synod had a similar focus, looking at the “vocation and mission of the family in the Church and in the contemporary world.” Shortly before the October 2015 General Synod, and in the run-up to the diaconate ordination of thirty-nine members of their class, the fourth-year theologians participated in a week-long conference on the subject of pastoral counseling of families.

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“I was taking a class on sacraments of initiation, and read something along the way somewhere that suggested that we needed to look at the initiatory dimensions of marriage. It just struck me as being so important.”

Like the synod, these conferences focused on developing tools for use within the Church in order to address new challenges facing families and diocesan priests. Dr. Joann Heaney-Hunter, the chief presenter, has a history of integrating theory and practice in responding to the needs of Catholic families. In addition to being a licensed therapist, she holds both an M.A. and a Ph.D in theology. In 1987, she first became involved in the field of family ministry, inspired by something she had read: “I was taking a class on sacraments of initiation, and read something along the way somewhere that suggested that we needed to look at the initiatory dimensions of marriage. It just struck me as being so important.” This insight was deepened upon discovering Pope St. John Paul II’s call in Familiaris Consortio for marriage preparation to be “similar to the catechumenate,” leading couples into “a deeper knowledge of the mystery of Christ and the Church.” In the intervening three decades, much has changed. Dr. Heaney-Hunter explains: “Couples look different now. When I started this work back in the 1980s, you certainly didn’t have the incidents of couples living together

First Theologians hard at work studying Italian.

Dr. Joann Heaney-Hunter presenting to the IV Theology class on pastoral counseling of families.

that you do now.” Combined with this is the reality that “couples are more disconnected from the Church, and they’re very open about that.” Gone are the days of what she terms the “traditional wisdom,” in which young people “would go to college, drift away, come back. That was still mostly in place in the 80’s. By the time you get to 2015, it’s harder to expect that traditional wisdom to follow.” So how should diocesan priests respond to these challenges? That’s the question that Dr. Heaney-Hunter addressed at the North American College, in her tenth year leading conferences for

the fourth-year men. The conference focused on practical tools, with a major part of the week focused on training the seminarians to administer the FOCCUS© Pre-Marriage Inventory and on simulating counseling sessions. Matthew Rensch ‘16 (Burlington) praises the practical dimension of the conference, saying that “having the opportunity to watch her conduct a practice counseling session showed me some important ways that I can help married couples in my future priestly ministry.” Dr. Heaney-Hunter, in turn, found the fourth-year men to be a receptive audience. She describes them as a group of “talented, generous men that want to serve God’s people, well-educated men, people who have been given many opportunities,” and that “the level of commitment to the work is very high.” She stresses that the men “want to work on the pastoral pieces of what they’re doing,” and praises the North American College for meeting these needs: “the house here is where formation happens, and it’s the house that gives all of the students the pastoral context: homiletics, family ministry, and pastoral counseling in general.” n




The Essential Cell of


Leon Griesbach, Director of Liturgical Music, lives here on our campus with Cassie, his wife, and his beautiful children (left to right), Emma, Dietrich, and Stella. They are a great witness to us as the “essential cell of society and the Church.”


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Shepherds Called Forth

His Eminence Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, Vice President of the USCCB, and Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, President of the USCCB, two of the many synodal fathers who stayed with us here at the PNAC during the course of the synod.

The Essential Role of the Family During his recent visit to the U.S., Pope Francis addressed bishops participating in the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia reminding them that, “For the Church, the family is not first and foremost a cause for concern, but rather the joyous confirmation of God’s blessing upon the masterpiece of creation.” I believe these words capture the core of what the Synod of Bishops on the Family sought to highlight: the essential role of families in today’s world and to provide them with the tools they need to flourish and shine “like a city on a hilltop” (cf.Mt 5,14). In the apostolic

work the seminarians do here in Rome and around the world, we are regularly reminded of the very real day-to-day challenges and hardships of family life. The synod was a great opportunity for all of us to reflect on the importance of this in our future priestly ministry as we walk with families in their struggles and encourage them to remain faithful to their vocation and to grow in their love for each other. Necessarily, then, part of the agenda for the synod focused on the “pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization,” continuing their work from the synod that took place last year here in Rome.

These days have been full of excitement for all of us here at the Pontifical North American College as we witnessed the arrival of some of our own cardinals and bishops who were summoned by the Holy See to participate in the synod. Among the 8 American prelates who participated are His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York and Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, President of the USCCB and Archbishop of Louisville, KY. Moreover one of our own fifth-year priests, Fr. Stephen Prisk ’15, a newly ordained priest for the Diocese of Paterson, NJ and an alumnus of the College was able to assist at the synod as a collaborator, by virtue of his ongoing studies at the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family. It was a blessing to witness our own shepherds being called forth from around the world, in line with Pope Francis’s exhortation that the “whole synod journey [be] animated by the compassion of the Good Shepherd for His flock, especially for persons and families that, for different reasons, are ‘troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd.’” Now that the synod is over I invite all of us to unite in asking the Holy Spirit to guide the efforts of the Church as she continues to promote, uphold, and protect the sacredness of marriage and family as “willed by God in the very act of creation” (FC, 3). May the fruits of the synod bear witness to the “Gospel of the family” which seeks to announce to all peoples that, “our families, our homes, are true domestic churches” and therefore “they are the right place for faith to become life, and life to become faith.” n

“For the Church, the family is not first and foremost a cause for concern, but rather the joyous confirmation of God’s blessing upon the masterpiece of creation.” ROMAN ECHOES 2015 • VOLUME 20: ISSUE 1


Work with the poor

Food is prepared at the Sant’Egidio soup kitchen, where North American College students serve the city’s poor.

Going to the Peripheries: Serving the Poor in Rome • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •



er favore, mi aiuti.” These words – “please, help me” - and their myriad variations are heard every day on the streets of Rome. It can be as simple as an outstretched hand, a furtive glance or as direct as a desperate cry, but the simple fact is that one cannot ignore the plight of the poor on the streets we walk each day. For many of us at the NAC, the radical poverty found


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in Rome may have been something that we were unaccustomed to back home. The encounter with the poor in Rome can be jarring for some as we are faced with the stark realization that we do not know how to help the person so desperately in need right in front of us. The North American College realizes the need for us seminarians to have an understanding of how to encounter and best serve the poor in Rome, and so, the

Fr. Luke Ballman ‘00 (Atlanta) directs apostolic works, including the St. Lawrence Outreach to the poor of the city.

The encounter with the poor in Rome can be jarring for some as we are faced with the stark realization that we do not know how to help the person so desperately in need right in front of us. resources in the city or provide help from his own means.

The colonnade of Saint Peter’s shelters many of Rome’s homeless on rainy Roman nights. Students of the College look for ways to reach out.

College provides a variety of resources available to this end. Recently, the 1st year men had a presentation given to them by Fr. Luke Ballman, the Director of Apostolic Formation, and several of the 4th year men on how to situate their encounters with the poor within the teachings of the Church; we were also given practical advice on ways to bring Christ to the impoverished in the city of Rome. One particular way that the seminarians are empowered to give tangibly to the poor is through the apostolate of the St. Lawrence Food Pantry. The pantry is a service provided to the seminarians free of charge, and they are encouraged to take an item or two from the pantry on their way to class so they have something to give. It is stocked with a wide variety of items from cans of tuna and boxes of peanuts to baby food and pastries so that the seminarians can minister to the particular situations they encounter. When a seminarian is approached on the way to class by someone begging for help, the item can serve as a starting point in a conversation about his or her needs. From there, a real relationship can be formed wherein the seminarian can prudently refer the person to other

The St. Lawrence Food Pantry is funded largely by generous donors, but seminarians also contribute to the pantry. It is kept stocked by Fr. Ballman and a group of deacons who are charged with the upkeep of this apostolate. In addition to keeping the pantry running smoothly, Fr. Ballman and the aforementioned deacons lead monthly meetings which include prayer for the poor, reflection on the Church’s teachings, and a sharing of the experiences, both good and bad, that the men have had with some of the poor and how to best serve them in the future.

The encounter with the poor in Rome is really a chance to encounter Christ and to bring Christ to someone who may have nothing else. It seems fitting to end with a quote from St. Vincent de Paul, a champion of the poor, that sums up what are often our initial attitudes towards the poor and then exhorts us to see the true reality of the poor: “Even though the poor are often rough and unrefined, we must not judge them from external appearances nor from the mental gifts they seem to have received. On the contrary, if you consider the poor in light of faith, then you will observe that they are taking the place of the Son of God who chose to be poor.” n

Fr. Josh Laws ’15 (Baltimore) joking with a friend he met in the city.



III Theologian First Summer back

Returning Home: The Joys of Third-Year Summer Assignments ROMAN ECHOES EDITORS


or most third-year theologians here at the Pontifical North American College, this past summer was their first time home in two years. Broadly speaking, most of them spent their summer in one of three types of pastoral assignments. Some, like Peter Ascik ‘17 (Charlotte), spent it in a parish. Others, like Dennis Conway ‘17 (Dubuque), engaged in clinical pastoral education (CPE) in a hospital or elsewhere. Still others, like Joseph Scholten ‘17 (Sioux Falls) went on retreat. Here’s what Ascik, Conway, and Scholten have to say about their respective placements.

Q: How did you spend this summer? Peter Ascik: “I spent this summer at St. Anne’s parish in Charlotte, North Carolina, as a seminarian-in-residence.

Dennis Conway: “I spent half of my time working at Epiphany Parish in Mason City, Iowa and half of my time at Mercy North Iowa Hospital, also in Mason City. The hospital assignment was a modified CPE experience.”

Joseph Scholten: “I spent this summer doing a couple of different things. The main assignment was to


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The scenic Broom Tree Chapel, where Joseph Scholten ‘17 (Sioux Falls) made his 30-day retreat.

do the thirty-day retreat exercises at Broom Tree Retreat and Conference Center [in Irene, South Dakota].”

the folks from the parish as they entered this Marian spirituality, and was able to really experience it anew myself.”

Q: What was the experience like?

DC: “Being able to minister to a family

and to see the interaction between the pastor and his flock: how the pastor cares for his people, how he leads, and how people respond to what he does.”

going through a rough time while their mother was dying. I was amazed by the visible work of God’s grace at the time of her passing, and the peace that came to the family in the two hours prior to her death.”

DC: “It was a really powerful experience,

JS: “One of the highlights of my

PA: “It was great to be in a parish setting,

especially at the hospital. I was working as a chaplain intern there, and many of the people I worked with were not Catholic. It was a great opportunity for implicit evangelization.”

JS: “I’m really grateful for the experience. It was totally different than any other summer I’ve ever had, back in my diocese or elsewhere. It was really a time to be in the desert, to encounter the Lord, a time to let Him approach me, and to dig deeper into what it means to follow Him, and to dig deeper into this vocation that He’s calling me to.”

Q: What was one of the high points of your summer? PA: “Helping with the parish 33-day consecration group. The whole parish was invited to prepare for Marian consecration. I was able to walk with

summer was actually to help lead a vocations camp once the retreat was finished. In a way, I got to bring the experience of prayer and discernment with the Lord into a much more active setting, where I was helping to lead a small group.”

Q: What was one of the things you were most surprised about? PA: “How powerful the presence of the pastor is: the pastor’s choice to be close to his people, and just to be with them.”

DC: “One of the things that I was most surprised about was the great variety of ministries being carried out in the fairly remote area of our diocese.”

JS: “It surprised me how much the Lord was able to draw me into the Gospel with Him. The Spiritual Exercises really place you right at the center of Christ’s life and ministry.” n

Institutional Advancement



t was a great blessing for me and my family to attend the formal ceremony at the White House in September welcoming Pope Francis to the United States. The pageantry and historical weight of the moment made an impression on me which I will not soon forget. But it was a different kind of ceremony in Rome a few weeks ago that surpassed my experience on the South Lawn: the Ordination to the Diaconate of our Fourth Year Theology class. I sat in St. Peter’s Basilica and watched them process to the Altar of the Chair, along with a host of bishops, archbishops and cardinals. Pageantry and history, for sure, but the occasion held a much deeper meaning. These seminarians joyfully embrace their vocations with humility and eagerness. As laity, can we not help but shout, “Thank you!” to these men? St. John Paul II once said, “The world

looks to the priest, because it looks to Jesus! No one can see Christ; but everyone sees the priest, and through him they wish to catch a glimpse of the Lord!” As these newly ordained deacons prepare to finish their “fourth quarter” of formation at the North American College in Rome, may they be sustained by our prayers of thanksgiving and encouragement.

Meanwhile, as we all enter this fourth quarter of the calendar year, our annual December 8 Annual Appeal will be arriving in your mailbox soon. Last year, alumni and lay benefactors supported the Appeal at record levels and we were thus able to complete all of our special projects, including the Porter’s Office renovation and the repairs at the Sister Servants of Mary Immaculate Convent. This year, we have several new projects highlighted in the Annual Appeal, and

I hope you will renew your financial investment. The December 8 Annual Appeal is our broadest request for funding partnership. Your “Yes!” makes all the difference as we work hard to keep our two campuses and many formation programs strong to serve our students. Last year, we welcomed our most generous friends as charter members of our new Rector’s Circle: benefactors who give $10,000 or more annually to the College. Your renewed (or initial) membership will be most appreciated and acknowledged. As you consider your year-end giving, please know that your investment in the mission of the College will continue to bear much fruit. The stories you have read in this issue illustrate just a fraction of the many good works offered by our students in their journey to the priesthood. n

Grazie! Thanks to the generosity of many friends, we were able to meet the $25,000 St. Lawrence Food Pantry Challenge. Our pantry is now stocked for our seminarians to help feed the poor of Rome this semester. If you would like to help support this apostolate in the future, please email us at



Economo’s Corner

Looking to the Future R E V. K E R RY A B B O T T, O F M C O N V.


arrived at the North American College on August 10, 2015, in the middle of our “New Men” orientation process. By the next day, the Memorial of St. Clare and my original investiture date as a Franciscan novice, I had begun the process of acquiring a “soggiorno,” the document granting a person permission to stay in Italy beyond ninety days. Then it was off to beautiful Gubbio for our faculty conferences. In U.S. Air Force terms, I hit the runway with full afterburners for a “max climb,” with a learning curve that was (and still is) vertical. But what a profound privilege it is to be invited to become part of such an inspiring institution which thrives in the “heart” of the Church. The Business Office of the Pontifical North American College is a hub of constant activity. Known in archaic Italian language as the Economato, my position as Director of Administration, Personnel, and Facilities is really an amalgamation of the roles of Chief Financial Officer, Chief Operating Officer, and Human Relations Director, known colloquially as the Economo. Our current rector, Msgr. James Checchio, has served and led this wonderful institution for nearly 13 years, and to my mind has magnificently embraced the legacy of his beloved predecessors to not


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only maintain the 3 departments which comprise the College, but has implemented the vision of the Board of Governors while certainly contributing his own tremendous expertise: undertaking the projects that we have all so joyfully read about in previous issues. We all know that the Four Pillars outlined in the Program for Priestly Formation (human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral) are incarnated at the College in the men that come here to discern and respond to the Lord’s call to “come, follow me.” They are concretized, if you will, in the buildings that allow them to live, pray, study, and interact with one another and our faculty, staff, and guests. Yet a physical facility that is dozens, or even hundreds, of years old, requires respectful and necessary attention.

The chapel at the Casa O’Toole, where our sabbatical priests gather together in prayer.

We all know that the Four Pillars outlined in the Program for Priestly Formation (human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral) are incarnated at the College in the men that come here to discern and respond to the Lord’s call to “come, follow me.” The seminary, built in the mid-20th Century, the Casa O’Toole in the 18th Century, and the magnificent spiritual heart of our institution, the Casa Santa Maria with elements of the building dating from 1598, all require significant investment to continue the magnificent legacy which is the Pontifical North American College. Thanks to our most generous benefactors, the Casa O’Toole was completely renovated in 2010, and similar extensive work has begun at the Casa Santa Maria, and of course the seminary was blessed by the magnificent new tower which contains new classrooms, practice chapels, and the beautiful St. John Paul II chapel visited by our Holy Father on May 2, 2015.

As we look to the future we hope you, our ever so generous benefactors, will allow us to continue to maintain the infrastructure necessary to continue the great legacy of this institution… generations of holy priests. A few of our larger projects include: providing a well-equipped fitness center and tennis court renovation on the Janiculum campus; critical work replacing water, heating, air conditioning, and electrical infrastructure in the seminary building that is beginning to show its age; flooring and bathroom replacement of original facilities on the seminarian residential floors; a dedicated rehearsal space and office for our inspiring choir; improved

reading and office space for our amazing library. I realize that it may seem ironic for a Franciscan to beg you to prayerfully reflect on what you might be able to contribute toward these and other worthy projects here at the College, but to my mind, conscious as I am of the enormous respect that St. Francis had for the diocesan clergy and the people of God, I am certainly not above begging you in our mendicant Franciscan tradition to reflect on how you might help us, or continue to help us, to provide for the Four Pillars necessary to form good and holy priests for God and the people of the (arch) dioceses they will serve.

Our Lady’s statue in the courtyard of the Casa Santa Maria.

Pax et bonum, Fr. Kerry n

The Pontifical North American College remembers His Eminence William Cardinal Baum C’58 His Eminence William Cardinal Baum C’58, was a longtime friend and alumnus of the College. Cardinal Baum served in many capacities, including Bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, Archbishop of Washington, DC, Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, and Major Penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary. We join his family in prayer in thanksgiving for his faithful service to the people of God. Requiescat in pace. Amen.



The Pontifical North American College Office of Institutional Advancement 3211 Fourth Street, NE Washington, D.C. 20017-1194


For more information about the Pontifical North American College, subscription questions, or to learn about ways you can financially support “America’s Seminary in Rome,” please contact Mark Randall, CFRE, Executive Director, Institutional Advancement. Tel: (202) 541-5411 Fax: (202) 722-8804 Email: Website:

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Join us for the 24th Annual Rector’s Dinner in Rome APRIL 7, 2016