Archive for the ‘Katholikos’ Category

As announced today, our new pastor will be Father John Paul Leyba. Father Leyba will join us next month from St. Thomas More parish in Centennial, Colorado. St. Thomas has published video of some of Fr. Leyba’s homilies. Here are some recent additions to the St. Thomas web page:

Wrapped in Self – Sunday April 10, 2011

This Baby Has Come to Change the World!- Friday December 24, 2010

Archbishop Chaput ordains three priests for the archdiocese

A June 2002 article by Alwen Bledsoe in the Denver Catholic Register highlights Father Leyba’s ordination by Archbishop Chaput. The article provides a biographical look at Fr. Leyba’s call to vocation:

John Paul Leyba very nearly chose a very different life for himself before concluding God was calling him to the priesthood. In fact, it wasn’t until he and his fiancée were in the midst of marriage preparation that his feeling that he might have a vocation to the priesthood became too acute to ignore. Fortunately, his fiancée, a devout Catholic herself, had once considered a vocation as a nun and so understood his dilemma, Leyba said. The engagement was put on hold, Leyba found a spiritual director, and a year-and-a-half later he entered Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein, Ill. At the time, 1997, Denver did not have a seminary, he added.

It officially took five years of schooling and a year-and-a-half of discernment to get Leyba to his ordination June 1, but really, his vocation was a lifetime in the making, he said.

After five years in Illinois, he’s back and will be taking on the position of parochial vicar at St. Thomas More in Centennial.

Here is an excerpt from a 2010 DCR article about Fr. Leyba, written by his mother:

A Priest’s Chalice: My son’s chalice

By Lucille Leyba

Father John Paul Leyba was born near Taos, New Mexico. One of five children, he grew up and attended schools in Penasco, N.M.

As a boy he was a faithful altar server and he made sure we got him to church on time. He seemed to always enjoy being at Mass.

He started playing guitar at 7 and the following year joined the parish choir as a musician. He continued to serve as a parish musician even as a young adult. His high school autobiography list of possibilities for a future career included: music, engineering or priesthood.

He earned a degree in electrical engineering from the University of New Mexico and got a job with Hughes Aircraft in Aurora, Colo. He enjoyed his work there, but after about 10 years, he called our family to tell us he was applying to the Archdiocese of Denver to attend seminary.

Because the Denver Archdiocese didn’t have a seminary at the time, he attended St. Mary of the Lake Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein, Ill. After a year, he came home and announced: “I’m going back. Without any pressure from anyone, now I know that is where God wants me. I’m at peace.”

We weren’t really surprised and we gave him our support. The idea of becoming a priest had never really left him even though he had tried to push it away as he pursued a career in the aerospace industry and had even been engaged to be married.

We joyfully received his priestly blessing on his ordination day, June 1, 2002.

Here is Father Leyba’s biography from the St. Thomas More Parish web page:

Editor’s Note: After his ordination in June 2002, Father John Paul Leyba was assigned to St. Thomas More. He served as parochial vicar until 2005. STM parishioners who knew him before are delighted to have Father John Paul with us again. Father will touch many hearts as he shares his musical talent, sense of humor and his deep love of God.

After Father John Paul Leyba left St. Thomas More, he spent two and a half years at St. Anthony’s in Julesburg, Colorado, a town near the border of Nebraska. While there, Father John Paul says he “did everything,” from running the parish both financially and spiritually, to fixing toilets, shoveling snow and fixing leaks. Since St. Anthony’s had no parish staff, Father John Paul did it all. He says his experiences at St. Anthony’s were fun and that he learned a lot. Another task Father John Paul managed at St. Anthony’s was teaching the teen religious education program, which he says was “intimidating” because, unlike St. Thomas More which has full-time youth ministers, he was given the task of coming up with the material to teach them. But, overall, Father John Paul likes working with youth because they are “wild” and willing to share themselves with others and open up spiritually. He also says, “I think like they do, so I think I relate to them.” After serving at St. Anthony’s, Father John Paul spent two and half years at Our Lady of Loreto.

For six months the pastor was on sabbatical, so he was again given the task of running both the financial and the spiritual sides of the parish. However, after being in Julesburg, doing administrative work at Our Lady of Loreto was a lot easier, and he says it was also interesting. At every parish in which he has served—including STM—Father John Paul says his favorite part is the people, who are “fascinating. Everybody’s so different and so not different. You just don’t get bored…you’re always exploring… the way they think and their perspectives on life.” Father describes working with people like “being an explorer. There’s always new territory.”

In addition to his musical talent that he previously shared at the LifeTeen Masses at STM, Father John Paul provides the parishioners with his insight to the Gospel readings. He says he came up with this idea when he was ten years old. While on vacation in Albuquerque, New Mexico, he attended a Mass where the priest explained the Gospel readings. Father John Paul never forgot that experience and he adopted it for himself. He explained, “I want people to recognize that we’re not that different from the people in the Scriptures,” and he hopes, “It would spark in people a love for the Scriptures.”

Father John Paul is very happy to be back at St. Thomas More, which he says feels like home, “like putting on comfortable shoes.” Father John Paul has certainly blessed this parish with his gifts, both musical and spiritual, and we are pleased he will continue to do so.

Father Leyba – we welcome you to Holy Trinity!


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For Pentecost

For Pentecost, is it worth remembering that the burden of the Holy Spirit is an honor and a danger. Every one of the Apostles except St. John the Evangelist died a martyr’s death.

  1. Peter was crucified upside down
  2. James the Great (Son of Zebedee) was beheaded
  3. James the Younger was cast off the Southeast pinnacle of the Temple. When the 100 foot drop did not fully kill him, he was beaten to death with clubs.
  4. Andrew was crucified on an X shaped cross after being scourged. He preached to his tormentors to his last breath.
  5. Bartholomew had his skin flayed off
  6. Jude Thaddeus was shot through with arrows
  7. Simon the Zealot was crucified
  8. Phillip was beheaded
  9. Thomas was stabbed to death with a spear
  10. Matthias was stoned then beheaded.
  11. Matthew was killed with a sword
  12. John the Evangelist was thrown into a vat of boiling oil. When he miraculously survived he was sent to prison on the Isle of Patmos where he died years later.
  13. Mark was dragged to death by horses.
  14. Luke was hanged to death
  15. Paul was beheaded

The blog for the Archdiocese of Washington is the source for this list, and the following meditation:

What will you suffer for handing on the faith? The martyrs went to death to proclaim Christ but some us cannot bear if some one merely raises an eyebrow at us or scoffs. Merely being less popular or excluded from  the world’s admiration is too high a price for many. The next time you recite the Creed at Mass remember those words are written with blood. The next time you kids protest going to Church or your teenager scorns the faith you insist they practice, remember that others have faced far more formidable does than an unhappy child. The next time you are challenged for your faith and merely have to  risk ridicule, remember others suffered (and still suffer) prison. Many were (and still are) killed for it.

Good words!

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In last Sunday’s bulletin, Nicoletta shared some thoughts about bells and bell towers:

Campanilismo (a/k/a Parochialism)

By: Nicoletta MacKenzie

Actually, the translation of campanilismo into parochialism is not a good one. The literal translation would be closer to “bell-tower-ism,” since a campanile is in fact a bell tower.

How did the usage of the word start? It started when, in the mid 500s, Italians began to build towers with bells, both for church and for public use. In the beginning, it was supposed to be the highest building in the village, town or city, and the bells had a very practical use. For instance: church bells were rung at very specific times or events and according to specific sounds. They would notify all within hearing distance that Mass was about to start, or the beginning of a novena, a triduum or the 40-hour Eucharistic Adoration. Every noon the bells told us that it was time to pray the Angelus (noon), and at 3:00 pm every Friday they’d toll Jesus’ death. Festive bell peals announced weddings, the local parish feast day, solemnities and processions and the election of a new Pope. Slow tolls notified of deaths and funerals.

Church bells also warned of danger and disasters, such as a fire, war and of pirate incursions, in the dark days when they prowled, pillaged and burned all around the coasts of Italy.

Bells on civic towers tolled national holidays, school times, marked the hours (down to the quarter hour) and also served as a warning mechanism.

You can see how important bells were in everyday life, and they were set on the tallest building so that their sound would reach as far as possible.

That’s why Italians became attached to their bell towers, their campanili. Soon there arose a spirit of competition in the breasts of citizens of neighboring villages, towns and even cities. After all, if it was to be the most visible representative of a community, the bell tower had to be beautiful; it had to be recognized from a distance; and it had to be unusual. A town with a “run of the mill” campanile reflected poorly on its inhabitants. And so the larger towns, who could count on the financial support of more people, started to hire architects to design the building that would represent them to anyone who came within sight.

Some of these towers are so famous that just about everyone in the world has heard of them.

For instance, who has not heard of The Leaning Tower of Pisa? Yes maam, it’s the bell tower of the Duomo (or principal church) of Pisa. Its striking structure has no rival anywhere in the world. It took “only” 177 years to complete and although the good Pisani certainly did not intend for their masterpiece to start sinking into the ground, they undoubtedly got their money’s worth! Here you can clearly see the Duomo, which is almost dwarfed by its magnificent and yes, leaning, tower.

Closer to the town from where my family hails, there is a less well known but equally distinctive bell tower: the Campanile di Ossuccio. Its delicate, slender and tall form is also unmistakable. This one stands guard over the church of St. Mary Magdalene. The characteristic top was added in the late 1400s, while the original “stem” goes back to the 1100s.

And who has not heard of the bell tower of Notre Dame? Or at least, of its bell-ringer? Now I’m going to dare to say that my campanile has that squat structure in Paris beat all hollow. And you can call me campanilista if you wish.

And now our Holy Trinity church also has a bell tower, with a full contingent of bells. I venture to say that it’s the most handsome in all Westminster, and while it may not rival in beauty with the Leaning Tower of Pisa or the slender marvel in Ossuccio, when it’s lit up at night it brings a lump to the throat. Its tall grace proclaims to our part of the city that we love God and put our trust in Him.

I can hardly wait to hear the sound of “our” bells calling us, and anyone else who wishes to join us. In fact, a bell tower with its ringing bells is eminently Catholic and exemplifies what the writer James Joyce said: “Catholic means: here comes everybody.” Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

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13 May is Fatima Day

On May 13, 1917, Mary, the Mother of God appeared for the first time to three young, illiterate children in Fatima, Portugal. Brother John Raymond describes the story:

On May 13th, 1917 the children were again playing their games, this time building castles out of rock in the field. Suddenly they saw a flash of light. Believing it to be lightning, even though the sky was clear, the children gathered the sheep and started for home. They saw a flash of light again. They began running, going about a hundred yards further when suddenly they saw, standing over a small holmoak tree, a Lady dressed in white more brilliant than the sun. She said, “Don’t be afraid. I won’t hurt you! I am from Heaven. I come to ask you to come here for six months in succession, on the thirteenth day at this same hour. Then I will tell you who I am, and what I want.”

The Lady went on to say, “Do you wish to offer yourselves to God, to endure all the sufferings that He may please to send you, as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended and to ask for the conversion of sinners?” Lucia responded, “Yes” for all three of them. Then the Lady said, “Then you will have much to suffer. But the grace of God will be your comfort.” With this the Lady opened Her Hands and enveloped the children in light. Moved by an inward impulse, they fell to their knees praying, “O most Holy Trinity, I adore Thee! My God, my God, I love Thee in the Most Blessed Sacrament.” Again the Lady spoke saying, “Say the Rosary every day to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war” [World War I].

A new documentary, Finding Fatima, explores the background behind the 3 children who witnessed visitations of the Virgin Mary in Fatima 1917, and who predicted the miracle of the sun which was witnessed by over 70,000 people. The in-depth portrayal of the story shows the journey of the three children, and how their courage and beliefs changed the face of Portugal.  Here’s the trailer:

The official web site is found here:

The Basilica and Monument to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Santuário de Fátima is an active shrine to the Rosary.The neo-baroque building was consecrated in October 1953. Around four million pilgrims visit the basilica every year.

The church has fifteen altars dedicated to the 15 mysteries of the Rosary. Four statues of the four great apostles of the Rosary and to the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary are at the four corners of the Basilica: Saint Anthony Mary Claret, Saint Dominic, Saint John Eudes and Saint Stephen, King of Hungary. Scenes of the Marian apparitions are shown in  the stained glass windows.

The official web page the Sanctuary is

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The USCCB has published a feature page on the Priesthood Ordination Class of 2010. 150 newly ordained are profiled on this page. The Archdiocese of Washington has the most new priests listed:

Fr. Ismael Ayala
Fr. Blake
Fr. Charles Gallagher
Fr. Justin
Fr. Anthony Lickteig

This year looks to be a great year for new priests named “John”.

Fr. John
Fr. John Michael
Fr. John
Fr. John Michael
Fr. John

Many Professed Religious are being ordained this year:

Fr. Thomas Gricoski
Fr. Sylvestre Obwaka
Fr. Michail
Fr. Jason
Fr. Fawaz
Fr. Kenneth Chijioke Ugwu
Fr. Francesco D’Agostino
Fr. Peter
Fr. Enno
Fr. Vincent Wirtner III

A quick field guide to Male Catholic Religious:

As always, the most intriguing page on the USCCB site is a list of quotes from the new ordinands. Again, I picked out a few interesting tidbits about these new priests:

People might be surprised to know that I…

Grew up on a dairy farm, and was greatly impacted by my time in Boy Scouts. I was able to pay my respects at Pope John Paul II’s lying in state at St. Peter’s in 2005, shortly before applying to become a seminarian.

Contributed to the design of the Illinois state quarter.

Attribute my vocation to the prayer and example of the Discalced Carmelite Nuns of Flemington, NJ for whom I used to serve mass while in high school.

Come from a very non-religious background. I had a huge conversion to the faith and hopefully will never go back because life is great.

Entered the seminary just two years after my baptism and five years after I met first time the Church.

Served as a military officer for over 20 years in the US Air Force.

Was a very active in high school, running cross country and track, wrestling, becoming an Eagle Scout, acting in school plays, all in addition to being an active member of my parish youth group. Somehow in the midst of all the other activities I found time to pray, make retreats and discern that God was calling me to serve him as a priest.

Played rugby in college, and practiced law for a government agency.

Went on to get my Funeral Director’s License and worked as a Funeral Director for some time until I answered God’s call to a priestly vocation.

Was a Sheriff Officer before I entered the seminary in 1995.

Was an Army Psychiatrist before I entered the seminary.

Previously worked as a firefighter for my home town.

Represented my Alma Mater, the University of Notre Dame as its mascot: the Leprechaun.

Attended a one-room country schoolhouse for 8 years of elementary school.

Received two marriage proposals in college.

Played at celebrating Mass as a kid, and was told on once for praying in elementary school…

Worked on the Playstation 3 processor (CELL) at IBM before entering seminary.

Have been legally blind since birth.

Never attended any Catholic schools before entering the seminary. I first thought of the priesthood when I was 23 years old.

Only went to Church like once a year before 2001, made a TEC retreat in February of 2001, did a complete 180, entered seminary in August of 2002! God is good.

Studied Chemical Engineering and played baseball in college..

I am a lifelong bowler and have bowled a perfect game.

Earned a Ph.D. degree in Mechanical Engineering and had an engineering career before I entered religious life.

Turned down an opportunity to go to the US Air Force Academy to go to college seminary instead.

I prayed for and received a sign from God that he was calling me to become a Catholic priest even though I was a fundamentalist Protestant.

I was at the World Youth Day in Denver in 1993. What an awesome experience!

The USCCB has published a full report on the demographics of this class. A few facts include:

  • The average age of ordinands for the Class of 2010 is 37. More than half (56 percent) are between the ages of 25 and 34. This is approximately the same as it was in 2009 and consistent with the average age of ordination classes for the last five years. Eleven are being ordained to the priesthood at age 65 or older.
  • Most ordinands have been Catholic since birth, although one in ten (10 percent) became Catholic later in life. Four in five (83 percent) report that both of their parents are Catholic and close to two in five (37 percent) have a relative who is a priest or a religious..
  • Ordinands of the Class of 2010 have been active in parish ministries, with about half to three-quarters indicating they served as an altar server, lector, and/or Eucharistic minister in their parish. One-fifth (19 percent) participated in a World Youth Day before entering the seminary..
  • Two-thirds of ordinands report regularly praying the Rosary (67 percent) and participating in Eucharistic Adoration (65 percent) before entering the seminary..
  • Overall, ordinands are more likely to be the oldest child in their family and less likely to be the youngest child. Religious order ordinands are more likely than diocesan ordinands to be the oldest child in their family, with 47 percent of religious ordinands being the oldest, compared to 36 percent of diocesan ordinands.

The full PDF report is here:

Congratulations to the Class of 2010!

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“Do not be satisfied with little things, because God wants great things!”
Catherine of Siena – Letter T127

29 April is the feast of Catherine of Siena, OP, a Doctor of the Church, a Dominican, and the force behind the restoration of the Papacy to Rome following the “Babylonian Captivity” in Avignon. Siena has a beautiful Duomo (or Cathedral) that is famous too.

Catherine was the youngest in her family who gave her father no options about her decision to join the Dominicans. Catherine wrote letters to popes, kings and queens, politicians and mercenaries, and many religious figures. Her teaching in “The Dialogue of Divine Providence”  earned her status as a Doctor of the Church.

Catherine’s hometown of Siena is a Tuscan hill town, located north of Rome and about 50 miles from Florence. Siena was settled in prehistoric times, with the first Roman settlement coming during the reign of Augustus. The town’s fortunes improved when the Lombards took over the area in the 4th century. Siena prospered as a city-state, and later as a republic. The University of Siena was founded in 1240, and is still an important Italian seat of learning. Notable sights include the Duomo, the Piazza del Campo, (town square) the Palazzo Pubblico and the Torre del Mangia, and the church of San Domenico. Wikipedia has a wonderful panorama view of Siena, showing the town hall and the Duomo. Go see it – it is too big to fit here.

Siena’s Duomo was built between 1215 and 1263. A major expansion was started in 1339, but the Black Death killed off most of the parishioners and workers, so the building remains unfinished to this day. The Siena Duomo is on of Italy’s greatest cathedrals.

The Siena Duomo is unique because the major axis of the nave runs north to south.

The Siena Duomo is a Romanesque cruciform church with a Gothic facade, a dome, a bell tower, and the main altar at the crossing. Inside elements include a famous octagonal ambo, several statues and murals about Catherine, and four statues of other saints by Michelangelo. Builders used white and greenish-black marble in alternating stripes for both the interior and exterior. Black and white are the traditional colors of Siena.

Sources and Resources:

  1. EWTN: Saint Catherine of Siena:
  2. Drawn by Love: the writings and world of Saint Catherine of Siena:
  3. Project Gutenberg: Letters of Catherine Benincasa by Saint Catherine of Siena
  4. Sacred Destinations: Duomo di Siena/Siena Cathedral
  5. Wikipedia: Duomo di Siena/Siena Cathedral

UPDATE: See more of the Architecture 101 topics here:

Side Note: In Denver, we have Saint Catherine of Siena Parish and School, which is run by the Dominicans.

See the history of this building here.

Basilica di

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Today, 23 April, we celebrate the Feast of Saint George, soldier, dragon-slayer and one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers.

Saint George is the patron saint of Aragon, Catalonia, England, Ethiopia, Georgia, Greece, Lithuania, Portugal, and Russia, as well as the cities of Beirut, Freiburg, Genoa, Ljubljana, Gozo, Milan, Preston, Barcelona and Moscow.  He is the patron of the Romani people in Eastern Europe, and the patron of sufferers of skin diseases.

George is also the Patron Saint of Boy Scouts. Robert Lord Baden-Powell, the founder of the Scouting movement, included this essay in the original Scouting book Scouting for Boys:

The Knights of the Round Table had as their patron saint St. George, because he was the only one of all the saints who was a horseman. He is the Patron Saint of cavalry from which the word Chivalry is derived, and the special saint of England.

Therefore, all Scouts should know his story.

St. George was born in Cappadocia in the year AD 303. He enlisted as a cavalry soldier when he was seventeen, and soon became renowned for his bravery.

St. George’s Day is April 23rd, and on that day all Scouts remind themselves of their Promise and of the Scout Law. Not that a Scout every forgets either, but on St. George’s Day he makes a special point of thinking about them. Remember this when April 23rd comes round again.

Baden-Powell had a favorite rhyme about Saint George that he also included in Scouting for Boys:

My warmest good wishes I am sending to you
And hoping that the winter is through
You will start out afresh to follow the lead
Of our Patron Saint George and his spirited steed;
Not only to tackle what ever my befall,
But also successfully to win through it all
And then may you have an enjoyable spell
Of hiking, and jolly good camping as well.

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