Fraternity of Priests Goes to Slovenia

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					                                                                      Fraternity of Priests Newsletter • August 2001




                  Fraternity of Priests Goes to Slovenia
                                                      By Fr. Bob Franco, Cleveland Fraternity

      It is sort of a joke in Slovenia. When                                                          time. It was here that I came to know some
asked, “What are the three largest                                                                    of the burdens and pains the people of
Slovenian cities in the world?” the                                                                   Slovenia suffer. In both FIRE rallies, the
answer is, “Ljubljana, Maribor and                                                                    Lord used these moments to set His
Cleveland.” That’s right! The city of                                                                 people free.
Cleveland has between 60,000 and                                                                           On the lighter side, the first person I
80,000 Slovenian immigrants. It was                                                                   prayed with in Maribor, Peter, ministered
fitting then, as a native Clevelander, that                                                           to Fr. Mike Scanlan and myself in a
I should go to Slovenia and sow the seeds                                                             providential way. Our team was to report
of Fraternity among their clergy.                                                                     to the bus immediately after the closing
      Slovenia is the most northern part                                                              mass for the trip back to Ljubljana and
of what was Yugoslavia. About the size                                                                the next day’s FIRE rally. Since we had
of New Jersey, this relatively prosperous                                                             to take off our vestments for mass, we
                                                                  The group begins to assemble
country of two million inhabitants                                                                    came out to the parking lot a few minutes
                                                                  and gather for the conference.
borders Italy, Austria, Hungry, Croatia                                                               late, only to see our bus driving away
and the Adriatic Sea. The country has                                                                 without us! Though my shouting and arm
much physical beauty: lush forests,                     outwardly persecuted, social and              waving did not attract the attention of
fertile plains, a portion of the Julian Alps,           economic advancement depended on              anyone on the bus, I did get the attention
the limestone mountains in the east                     belonging to the Communist party. The         of someone along the road where the bus
called the Kras, and just a sample of the               Church’s moral influence on society was       was traveling. You guessed it! It was Peter.
blue waters of the Adriatic.                            shut down. Even today, ten years after        He was able to flag down the bus and we
      However, over forty years of                      the collapse of Communism in                  were able to board.
Communist rule by Tito has taken its                    Yugoslavia, the abortion rate almost
toll. Though the Church was not                         equals the birth rate. Slovenia’s suicide
                                                          rate is the second highest in Europe.          ...the Lord used these
                                                                I joined up with Renewal                   moments to set His
                                                          Ministries, which had been working
                                                          with renewal leaders in Slovenia for a               people free.
                                                          number of years. This mission in
                                                          Slovenia, May 16-24, would consist
                                                          of two FIRE rallies, a number of street         Twenty-three priests from all three
                                                          evangelization events, and a priest         diocese of Slovenia (Ljubljana, Maribor
                                                          retreat.                                    and Koper) attended the retreat in Celje.
                                                               After a day of travel and getting      The focus of the retreat was Pope John
                                                          settled in at our home base in Ljubljana,   Paul’s apostolic letter Novo Millennio
                                                          the team pressed on to Maribor for an       Ineunte, the Pope’s plan for the new
                                                          evening reception with the Bishop. The      millennium. Ralph Martin, Fr. Mike
                                                          FIRE rally was held the following day.      Scanlan and Peter Hrbeck challenged the
 Fr. Bob Franco listens intently to the presenters.       It was unlike the FIRE rally I had          priests: “put out into the deep.” They
      (Fr. Franco seated in left foreground)              experienced in the United States. Each      taught that parishes were to become
                                                          talk was followed by a prayer ministry                        ...continued on page 3
                      Dear Friends of the Priesthood
                                                                                           a highway with
                                 Dear Friends of the Priesthood,                           ones hands on the
                                       How is your Summer going? Hopefully it is           steering wheel and
      EPISCOPAL                  restful and rejuvenating for you and your loved           ones eyes riveted
      ADVISORS                   ones. This month I’d like to share a reflection on        to the back seat—
    Bishop Sam Jacobs            Lk. 9:51, 57-62. Biblical scholars tell us that           disastrous! How
       Alexandria, LA            verse 51 is the turning point of Luke’s Gospel            many of us keep
    Bishop Paul Bemile           where Jesus “resolutely determined to journey             looking back to
        Wa, Ghana                to Jerusalem” to face His passion and death. I’m          the “good ole
  Bishop Gilbert Sheldon         sure He wasn’t crazy about going there, and He            days”—our
     Steubenville, OH            probably dreaded the idea. However, He was                churches were full,
                                 “determined” to go and He set His sights on the           people had more
   Bishop Donald Wuerl
                                 journey to fulfill His father’s will for our salvation.
       Pittsburgh, PA                                                                      respect, etc. The
                                 Stop for just a moment: think of how much you             reality is that the
 Bishop Paul Dudley, Ret.        mean to God!! The rest of Luke’s Gospel                   Lord is calling us
       Northfield, MI
                                 describes this journey to Jerusalem.                      here and now, the “good ole days” are history;
   Bishop Thomas Daily                 Vv. 57-62 describes three “would-be”
       Brooklyn, NY                                                                        the Lord of history calls us forward. There is a
                                 followers of Jesus. The first tells the Lord that he      great rose window in Precious Blood Church in
    Bishop John Myers            will follow Him anywhere. Jesus tells him how             Woonsocket, Rhode Island (where I am pastor) of
          Peoria, IL             difficult it is to be a disciple. He lays all the cards   St. George slaying a dragon. It contains two
  Bishop Thomas Dupre            out on the table: foxes have dens, birds have nests,      simple Latin words which I believe should be the
      Springfield, MA            “but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head”.         motto for every Christian: “Numquam retro”—
                                 It’s as if the Lord is saying, “if you would follow       ”Never backwards!”
       TRUSTEES                  Me, count the cost and know what you are doing.”
                                 So often the response to the Lord doesn’t seem to
   Msgr. James Cassidy
                                 make much of a difference to people; yet, it makes
                                                                                            When the Lord knocks at the
         New York
                                 all the difference in the world!                           door, the challenge of the
    Very Rev. Les Ivers
         New York                      Jesus invites a second person to follow who          moment is to open the door
                                 responds, “Lord, let me go first and bury my
                                 father.” Jesus’ response to this request seems
      DIRECTORS                  heartless and harsh, “Let the dead bury their                  As Jesus resolutely sets His mind to journey
     Msgr. John Allard           dead.” Let’s look at this a bit. Perhaps the man’s        to Jerusalem and to the cross for our salvation, He
          Chairman               father isn’t dead or even near death; maybe he is         invites His disciples to journey with Him and to
       Rev. Tim Graff            still a young man. When the Lord calls, that              have the same determination. It is not an easy
   Newark, New Jersey            moment is the critical moment, not at some future         journey, it calls for the cross, but our response is
  Rev. Ray Ratzenberger          time when I think I might be more ready to                critical and forward. The Lord invites us as He
         Tucson, AZ              respond (when I’m holier, or more free, or richer,        has invited disciples for centuries, “Follow Me!”
 Rev. Cuthbert Alexander         etc.). If I put off the response to a later time, I            As we in the Fraternity of Priests seek to
  Port of Spain, Trinidad        might miss the call altogether. When the Lord             respond wholeheartedly to the Lord’s call, and to
     Rev. Bob Giardina           knocks at the door, the challenge of the moment           bring other priests along with us, please know
 Providence, Rhode Island        is to open the door—as St. Paul reminds us, “Now          that your prayers and generosity are vital. It is
                                 is the acceptable time, now is the moment of              the prayers and donations of our friends and
                                 salvation” (2Cor. 6. 2).                                  benefactors that enables us to continue to proclaim
                                                             To the third “would-be”       a message of hope and restoration to our brother
                                                       follower who asks to say            priests. Once again, thank you and God bless
               Editor’s Box:                           farewell to his family Jesus        you. Remember to pray for your parish priest.
      Please send all articles, comments               paints a vivid image: “No one
  and photos to the editor, Fr. Ray                    who sets a hand to the plow                            In Jesus,
  Ratzenberger, ratz@theriver.com, or,                 and looks to what was left
  P.O. Box 2198, Benson, AZ 85602,                     behind is fit for the kingdom
  U.S.A., or, Fax: (520) 586-3919.                     of God.” The Lord always
      Newsletter Co-editor, Rev.                       calls us forward; if we keep                           Fr. John
  Cuthbert Alexander, can be emailed at                looking back at what we’ve
  cuttief@carib-link.net.                              left, we’ll have disastrous
                                                       results. It’s like driving down

Fraternity of Priests Newsletter • August 2001                                                                                         Page 2
...continued from page 1
                                                                                                 preached between groupings of songs. I
schools of prayers and communities that                                                          led people in the renewal of their baptismal
evangelized.                                                                                     promises, prayers of surrender to Jesus
     It was at this point that I was able to                                                     Christ, and yielding to the Holy Spirit. It
deliver the message of Fraternity of                                                             was here that the Holy Spirit prompted me
Priests. The call of the priest to be holy                                                       to lead the people in a time of inner healing.
and to evangelize would be greatly                                                               I trust that the Lord was healing some of
strengthened when he knows the                                                                   the wounds that result from political
encouragement of brother priests. I shared                                                       oppression and family disintegration. Our
my witness of how the Fraternity of Priests                                                      outdoor rally concluded with mass inside
strengthened me in my priesthood and                                                             the church (which was packed!) and a time
ministry. The priests attending the retreat              Fr. Mike Scanlan, TOR                   of prayer ministry.
responded with many comments and                          listens to a question.                      Sr. Ann Shields, Sr. Sarah, Peter
questions. Ralph Martin gave the                                                                 Hrbeck and I traveled together to the USA
Fraternity an endorsement by                        Immediately after the retreat, I was         on Ascension Thursday. I was able to cel-
encouraging the other priests to have the      whisked away to the city of Kranj, where          ebrate mass for us in Frankfort, Germany
Fraternity of Priests return to Slovenia       I engaged in street evangelization. This          between flights. The words of Jesus that
for a conference.                              consisted of a rally outside of the local         day from the Gospel of Luke: “repentance,
                                               Catholic parish. This church was nestled          for the forgiveness of sins, would be
  The call of the priest to be holy            among cafes and shops. This busy area             preached in his name to all the nations…”
                                               was a wonderful place to sing songs of            were especially meaningful. Though the
  and to evangelize would be
                                               praise and preach the gospel. The local           people of Slovenia speak a different lan-
  greatly strengthened when he                 prayer group provided a sound system,             guage and have a different history and
  knows the encouragement of                   chairs, a music group, and translators. I         culture, we share a common need: salva-
  brother priests.                             was joined by two of the Renewal                  tion in Jesus Christ. And though I am sepa-
                                               Ministries team. We witnessed and                 rated from the priests of Slovenia by al-
     That afternoon I met Fr. Zoran                                                                                        most five thousand
Kodela of the diocese of Maribor. He                                                                                       miles, we are
and another priest from his diocese,                                                                                       joined by a com-
during a trip to the USA a year earlier,                                                                                   mon mission that
had visited Visitation House and the                                                                                       Jesus gives us:
New Jersey fraternity and had been                                                                                         “make disciples of
impressed by the Fraternity of Priests at                                                                                  all the nations…”
that time. He asked me that afternoon if                                                                                   (Matthew 28:19).
their priest gathering in Maribor could
be considered a Fraternity. They were
seeking to live out the Fraternity of
Priests as best they knew it. I said, “Of
course,” and reiterated our desire to
return for a Fraternity conference.


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Page 3                                                                                     Fraternity of Priests Newsletter • August 2001
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            Mary, Immaculate Conception, Mother of Jesus and Mother of priests, pray and intercede
          him live in you and keep him in this intimate union always.
          yourself. Incline him to constant adoration and thanksgiving; pray in and through him. Let
          and behavior. Possess his soul, take over his entire personality and life. Replace him with
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          Think your thoughts in his mind, love through his heart. Give him your own disposition and
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                                     A PRAYER FOR PRIESTS
       THANK YOU FOR PRAYING FOR A PRIEST EACH DAY!