Tag Archives: Bishop Roger Gries

Celebrating the Year of Consecrated Life

Bishop Robert Gries

Bishop Roger Gries

Pope Francis has decreed that this current year is a Year of Consecrated Life! Among the hundreds of young people I confirmed this spring, only a very few understood what this “consecrated life” really is.

I explain to them that consecrated life is a sign of good things to come in human civilization. It is willing to come to grips with provisional certainties, with new situations and challenges as they develop, with the clamorous demands and passions of contemporary humanity.

Religious communities living out their charism founded most of our Catholic hospitals, schools, universities, nursing homes and many other charitable institutions. With the aging of these communities and the lack of vocations, many communities have closed their ministries. Let me share some thoughts on my vocation to the Benedictine monastic life.

First, take a moment and remember a time when you experienced a shift in your life. In the midst of living an ordinary day, an insight from deep within arose and you began to “see” in a new way. You saw an answer to a question you had been carrying — or clarity came that focused your energies, maybe even redirected your choices and activities. Or an encounter with a person, with others, which changed you, opening possibilities beyond what you imagined. This shift might even have been life changing! If so, it also became life challenging with consequences you never imagined. Remember what has carried you through it all.

The men and women in the scriptures, ordinary people like us, also experienced life-changing moments. Samuel, a young man living his culture and tradition, seeking to discover his way into the future was jostled by a “call,” an inner experience only he could describe. His life was changed and challenged as he gradually took his place in the service of his people.

Mary, a young woman about to be engaged to a man named Joseph, had an experience which changed her life. Mary had an encounter that changed her forever. She was dumbfounded, she questioned — how can this be? — and then she received assurance. Yes, God was doing something new. Go visit your cousin Elizabeth. She too has been changed. Together, they grew into the truth of those life-changing moments. We know well the challenges both women faced as their sons, John the Baptist and Jesus, discovered on their life path.

Those of us who have accepted God’s invitation to consecrated life have lived many consequences of our decisions to belong to the people. In the midst of constant cultural change, we came and we have stayed. So what sustained us on the journey?

If I were to share an image that has helped sustain me on the way, listen to some of the wisdom about what I am called to live: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18).

I also offer wisdom about what keeps me going: “I know the One in whom I have believed, and I am certain He is able to guard all that has been entrusted to me” (2 Tim 1:12).

Finally, there is some wisdom about my longing for tomorrow: “Behold, I am doing something new. Can you not see it springing forth in your midst?” (Isa 43:19)

My deep gladness, my family relationships, bonds of friendship in community and ministry formed over many years; times of solitude and prayer helped sustain me and my creative activity in the world.

I trust that whatever I have lived will be a small contribution to the future when the vision of the Earth Charter, the international declaration signed in 2000, will become reality as the human family grows into “the awakening of a new reverence for life, the firm resolve to achieve sustainability, the quickening of the struggle for justice and peace, and the joyful celebration of life.”

My face and my body have changed through the years. My heart has been purified and refined by circumstances and continues to be tended to by our God who is Wild Abundance! I will always belong to the people I serve.

In this year that the Holy Father has dedicated for consecrated life, my heart is filled with gratitude and openness. I pray that my life and the lives of all in consecrated life witness our thanks for all that has been — and our “yes” for all that will be.

BISHOP ROGER GRIES, OSB, is a retired auxiliary bishop in the Diocese of Cleveland. He serves as the chaplain of Legatus’ Cleveland Chapter.

Summit on the Bayou

Religious liberty and the new evangelization took center stage at the Summit in Phoenix . . .

Raymond Arroyo

Raymond Arroyo

Despite its arid location, Legatus’ 2013 Summit had a distinct Louisiana flair — everything from Cajun food to a raucous Mardi Gras-themed evening presided over by the bead-tossing New Orleans native and master of ceremonies, Raymond Arroyo.

The three-day annual conference, hosted by Legatus’ Baton Rouge Chapter, drew more than 400 Legates and guests from across the country and beyond to the luxurious Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz., from Feb. 7-9.

Religious Freedom

Speakers from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to Catholic historian George Weigel touched on the Summit’s dual themes of faith and freedom. In his Feb. 8 address, Baltimore Archbishop William Lori exhorted Legates to help the country return to its founding principles amid challenges to religious liberty. “In the spirit of the new evangelization, may I invite you to engage your network of family members, colleagues, and friends to understand more profoundly how religious freedom is threatened and to think of our political system with more than enlightened self-interest?” he asked.

Archbishop William Lori

Archbishop William Lori

The 1884 Council of Baltimore, he said, decided that there is a fundamental compatibility between the U.S. Constitution and “the Church’s understanding of the natural law.” However, Archbishop Lori noted, this view “has recently been called into question.”

The diminishing role of religion in America is leading to a different understanding of religious freedom than existed in the past, and this “is part of the challenge of the new evangelization to which Pope Benedict has called us in this Year of Faith and beyond.”

Bush, who spoke to Legates just one year after his more famous brother, talked about his conversion to the Catholic faith and how it has made all the difference in his life — both personal and political.

“But for my faith, I don’t know what the outcome [of my life] would have been,” he said. “My faith has brought me the greatest happiness of my life.”

Like many of the speakers and clergy who addressed Summit attendees, Bush said faith must inform every aspect of one’s life.

“If your faith means anything to you, it must inform your public policy,” he said. “We should encourage people in public life to stand on principle. At a time when we should be excited about the future, we have lost our optimism. I reject that completely.”

Call to Evangelize

Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted

Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted

In his homily at St. Thomas the Apostle parish, Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted told Legates that the Church — and Legatus’ mission statement — asks them to be formed in the faith and to go out to the world as missionaries and evangelists.

“Legatus means ‘ambassador,’ one sent on a mission, an apostle,” he said. “At the end of every Mass, we are sent forth on this mission.”

Along with Bishop Olmsted and Archbishop Lori, Summit-goers attended Masses celebrated by Bishop Sam Jacobs, Legatus’ international chaplain; Cleveland Auxiliary Bishop Roger Gries, chaplain of Legatus’ Cleveland Chapter; and Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life.

Other speakers included Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.), Relevant Radio’s Fr. “Rocky” Hoffman, author Matthew Kelly, Mother Miriam of the Lamb of God, and Los Angeles Dodgers’ general manager Ned Colletti.

Legates were also treated to a presentation of Legate Jason Jones’ new film Crescendo; a sneak peak of the History Channel’s The Bible, a mini-series produced by Hollywood super-couple Mark Burnett and Roma Downey; a panel discussion on religious freedom; and Evangeline, a full-fledged stage musical.

Ken Cuccinelli

Ken Cuccinelli

The Summit was an uplifting and faith-building experience, Legates agreed.

Salvatore and Josephine Caruso, members of the San Jose Chapter, attended their first Summit. The experience helped the couple to be “fortified in our faith and to better understand our responsibilities in our faith,” he explained. “As lay persons, what are our responsibilities? Faith is not something you just keep to yourself personally. It’s something you use in society for the greater good.”

Joe Melançon, who chaired the Summit with his wife Paula, said he was pleased with the way Legates responded to the event’s Year of Faith theme — The Door of Faith: A Summons to a Deeper Conversion.

“My greatest hope is that they, like Paul, will have a summons to a deeper conversion,” he said.

Tom Moran, a member of Legatus’ Orlando Chapter since 2006, said the Summit was a remarkable call to action. “It was encouraging direct action and involvement not by scare tactics, but by giving sound, intellectual basis for concern,” he said.

Keith Tigue of the Phoenix Chapter not only enjoyed having a Legatus Summit in his hometown, but was encouraged by the speakers and the entire Legatus community. More importantly, he said, Legatus helps him to be a better businessman.

“As business leaders, we really have to narrow down on what [God wants] and get out of the way and let God work through us and the dream He has given us in our business.”

In particular, Tigue said, Matthew Kelly’s talk on “The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic” inspired him to do more. “It made me realize that I’m glad I’m doing this,” he said, “but I need to do better.”

PATRICK NOVECOSKY is the editor of Legatus magazine. This article contains reporting from Catholic News Agency and Ambria Hammel, staff’ writer for The Catholic Sun.


2012 Award Winners

Archbishop William Lori

James Sheehan

Tom Spencer

Ken Cuccinelli, Bill & Andy Newland, Weingartz Family, Christopher & Mary Ann Yep

Mike Caspino, John Reid

Richard Doerflinger, Chuck Donovan, Michael Schwartz

Baton Rouge, San Juan Capistrano

Western Massachusetts, Lexington, South Bay of Los Angeles, Detroit Northeast, Fort Worth