Heroic Priesthood | Fr. Jacques Hamel: Martyr

Four years ago today, Catholic priest, Father Jacques Hamel, was assassinated at the foot of the altar as he was celebrating Mass with his parishioners. On the morning of July 26, 2016, two 19-year old Islamic State radicals stormed Father Hamel's church. Just before having his throat cut, witnesses recount Father Hamel told one of his assailants, "Be gone, Satan!" Minutes later the 85-year old Catholic priest whose throat was slit before the altar died at the scene. For more about this Catholic priest, martyr for the Faith, please click on the image. Peace be with you!

Articles of Faith | Call No Man Father: A Common Misunderstanding of the Priesthood

On this Father's Day weekend we explore the Catholic understanding of the Priesthood, where priests are called father. Catholics defend that this title is scriptural and consistent with a biblical understanding of Christianity.  That view, however, is a source of confusion for some men and women of goodwill, especially for our Protestant brothers and sisters.  If pressed about the point even well-intentioned Catholics, lacking a clear understanding of the biblical evidence, have a hard time explaining why we call our parish priest by such a name.  In fact, Jesus’ words are quite clear, as found in Matthew’s Gospel account, when he says, "Call no one on earth your father ..." (Mt 23:9). So why is it that the Catholic Church has continued the practice, highlighting by name and title, that priests are appropriately called father?  The reason may surprise; and a deeper exploration of Holy Scripture reveals the answer to make one thing clear:  It’s scriptural and is deeply rooted in biblical religion. For more about this post and the Catholic understanding of the priesthood as "fathers" please click on the image. Happy Father's Day. Peace be with you!

Heroic Priesthood | Remembering D-Day (World War II)

[More than three quarters of a Century] after the Allied invasion of Normandy, we remember and honor those who served during the largest seaborne invasion in history. On that one day, over 10,000 Allied soldiers were killed, wounded or declared missing in action. In the course of the Normandy campaign, which lasted through August 21, 1944, Allied forces landed more than two million men in northern France and suffered more than 226,000 casualties. Chaplains and Catholic priests played an important role in providing essential spiritual and psychological guidance during the days and weeks that followed. Unarmed, they courageously put themselves on the front lines to say Mass, offer pastoral care for active and wounded soldiers, and provide last rites for the dying and prayers for those killed. (Excerpt from "D-Day, 74 years later: Remembering the heroic chaplains and priests of Normandy," by Katherine Ruddy, Aleteia). For images and more about these heroic military chaplains and priests, please click on the image. Peace be with you!

Heroic Priesthood | Fr. Vincent Capodanno: Medal of Honor (Vietnam War)

On Sept. 4, 1967, a 38-year-old Capodanno was with his Marines in South Vietnam’s Quang Tin province when his unit learned that another platoon was in danger of being overrun by enemy forces. The chaplain, who was at the company command post, decided to leave his safe haven and run through an area riddled with gunfire to get to the platoon under attack. Despite the hail of gunfire, explosions and other chaos at the scene, Capodanno moved around the battlefield, giving last rites to the dying and aid to the wounded. He was eventually hit by an exploding mortar, which caused multiple arm and leg wounds and severed part of his right hand. But he didn’t give up. Father Capodanno refused any medical help and instead directed other Marines to help their wounded comrades. He calmly continued to move around the battlefield, encouraging the Marines to follow his lead. When he noticed a wounded Marine who was directly in the line of fire, Capodanno rushed in to try to help. He was within inches of the Marine when a burst of machine gun fire went off. Capodanno was hit 25 times and died at the scene. The chaplain’s loss was immeasurable. His bravery had inspired the men around him so much that he went on to posthumously earn the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Silver Star. On January 7, 1969, his family received the Medal of Honor on his behalf. On this Memorial Day we remember Catholic priest, U.S. Navy Chaplain, Father Vincent Capodanno and the U.S. Armed Forces men and women who died in service to their country. (Credit U.S. DOD)

Heroic Priesthood | Fr. Emil Kapaun: Medal of Honor (Korean War)

Born in the small Czech farming community of Pilsen, Kansas on April 20, 1916, Emil Kapaun became a Catholic priest and U.S. Army Chaplain. During the Battle of Unsan in November of 1950, Kapaun worked tirelessly to comfort the suffering and retrieve the wounded from the battlefield. One of the soldiers he retrieved was a wounded Chinese soldier, who helped him negotiate a surrender after he was surrounded by enemy troops. Kapaun was taken as a prisoner of war. War records document Kapaun saving a soldier's life who had been shot and then wounded by a grenade, which broke his ankle and shredded his legs with shrapnel. Korean soldiers would kill any U.S. prisoners who could not walk to the camp, so Kapaun carried the soldier 30 miles on a prisoners’ march. Kapaun was then taken to prison camp number five in Pyoktong, a bombed-out village used as a detainment center. The soldiers at the camp were severely mistreated, facing malnourishment, dysentery, and a lack of warm clothing to counter an extremely cold winter. Kapaun would do all he could for the soldiers, washing their soiled clothes, retrieving fresh water, and attending to their wounds. When he developed pneumonia and a blood clot in his leg, the chaplain was denied medical treatment. He died in 1951. He was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. On this Memorial Day we remember Father Emil Kapaun and the U.S. Armed Forces men and women who died in service to their country.