This past week, the Friars of the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy of the United States Vicariate met at the St. Paul of the Cross Retreat Center in Pittsburgh, PA for their annual Permanent Formation meetings.
During this week, the Friars in solemn vows continued to form themselves in matters of their apostolate and ministries, as well as sharing time in fellowship with the greater Mercedarian community of the United States. The theme and talks given by Fr. James Bartoloma, Chancelor of the Diocese of Camden, were on "Church Hacks for Simplifying Your Ministry" and "Protecting the Rights of Special Needs Catholics."
Church hacks are ways that the friars could make reasonable shortcuts in various areas dealing with working in a parish setting. These little shortcuts can make life easier and cut out much of the stress that can arise from the day-to-day issues in the parish, school, prison, or hospital.
In the second set of talks, the Friars learned about the rights and ways to minister to Catholics with special needs. These talks pertained to the catechesis and administration of the sacraments to such members of our parish. Fr. Bartoloma also reminded the friars of key points from Canon Law directed to protecting the faith and dignity of those with special needs. Both talks were informative, interesting, and can help the friars on their mission to visit and redeem Christians in captivity.
Throughout the week, the liturgy was celebrated for various needs and intentions. We opened the meetings with the Mass of the Holy Spirit, celebrated by Fr. Michael Rock, our Vicar-Provincial. On Wednesday, we offered our prayers for the repose of the soul of Fr. Daniel's mother and also celebrated Fr. Richard Rasch's 35 years as a priest. On Thursday, we celebrated a mass in honor of Christ, Eternal High Priest, and we solemnly celebrated the Feast of the Sacred Heart along with Fr. Eugene's 45th anniversary of ordination.