When I started this blog, I did so with the intent of sharing my developing vocation story and pointing out admirable men of the cloth and collar who have responded with a dedicated yes. I put up my vocation story (see “My Call-Story” Page) about 6 months ago, now it is time to fulfill the second half of my intention. After prayer and contemplation – and just as much trial and error – I have decided on authoring a new series, Admirable Men of the Cloth and Collar. It is my firm hope that by spotlighting those priests who have set a strong example in living out their priestly vocation with steadfast and zealous dedication, this series will inspire many more young men to answer the Call.
If my own propensity to procrastination doesn’t get in the way, I hope to start off posting in this series on every First Thursday (with a few exceptions) and possibly expand it to a bi-Thursday format. In each post I will give a short bio on the chosen priest. For those whom I have personally known well or for whom I have served Holy Mass, I will add my own thoughts. Lastly, I am inviting each priest to pen his thoughts on what “Vocation” means.
In the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, the Chapter 11 and Clergy Abuse Claims are all about to come to a head. Also, nearly all of the Catholic Bishops running a diocese have promised to resist the new HHS mandate, even to the point of closing the Catholic hospitals. My point is that we Catholics, most especially those of us who are “conservative” or orthodox, are about to be challenged in ways we had not thought possible, and our clergy are going to take the brunt of the flak. It is my hope that while the mainstream media tries to slash the image of those in Persona Christi, the Admirable Men of the Cloth and Collar series will shed light on the positive and productive ways the majority of our priests are living the Call.
In addition, I invite you my readers to pray for all priests, most especially those whom I spotlight.
Alright, enough with my commercial and on to the good stuff. No, you aren’t reading your calendars wrong, it is the second Thursday of the month. My first post of this series had to be postponed because last Thursday – First Thursday – was the Feast of Candlemas. (Yes, I was late for that post too but….”)
To kick off this new series, I am going to turn the spotlight on Fr. Michael Berry of the Heart of Jesus, O.C.D.
“Fr. Michael Berry of the Heart of Jesus, O.C.D. moved to Holy Hill in December 2010 and he will remain a conventual member there during the coming three years, while continuing to serve as provincial vocation director. Fr. Michael is a native of the metropolitan New York area (and a diehard Yankees fan though he roots for the Packers on the gridiron), with a B.A. degree from the College of William and Mary in Virginia and an M.Div. from Catholic Theological Union (CTU) in Chicago. He completed his novitiate and made first profession of vows at Holy Hill in July 2000 and then remained another year there as a newly-professed friar. From mid-2001 until mid-2005 he lived and studied in Chicago while attending CTU for his theology. Following his diaconate ordination in 2005 he was assigned to St. Florian’s community in West Milwaukee, WI and was ordained a priest there by Cardinal-designate Dolan in June 2006. After spending a year studying the spirituality of St. Teresa of Jesus and St. John of the Cross in Ávila at the Order’s International Center, he then served three years as provincial councilor and vocation director. He is very pleased to return to Holy Hill and to assist with the shrine ministries, as well as to carry out his full-time role as vocation director.” – Fr. Michael’s Bio
I have had the privilege of being acquainted with Fr. Michael Berry since I started serving Holy Mass for him about two years ago. Our first conversations in the Sacristy mainly consisted of our blogging experiences or the latest sports talk (recall he is a “diehard Yankees fan, but roots for the Packers on the gridiron”). Yet, it was only when these conversations turned to more serious theological matters that I realized what devotion, brilliance and conviction this humble friar possessed.
Fr. Michael is blessed with a brilliant mind as well as the rare ability to take profound doctrine and, without loosing it’s depth or beauty, distill it down to a level which we not-so-refined folks can understand. Just ask any of us who have had the joy of listening to his homilies. At first sight, you would never suspect the depth of intellect or the zeal of his spirit for he also possess a degree of humility which is rare to find in this age. Fr. Michael will preach a homily on a challenging gospel passage or difficult-to-apprehend aspect of the Teresian Carmel, concentrating it to the level of the commoner and then after the Mass he will discuss the latest baseball stats or Super Bowl rigmarole. We are so blessed to have him to turn to for such an admirable example of Spiritual Fatherhood.
In this day and age, there is an unfortunate lack of love for the Holy Eucharist, even among some Catholics. Even more distressing is that this lack of devotion to the Holy Eucharist is occasionally present among our clergy. When clergy view their vocations as a nine-to-five job and minimize the reality of the sacraments, their flock suffers. That is why it is so refreshing to discerning young people, like myself, to find a priest deeply rooted in love for the Holy Eucharist and as a result of that love, living his vocation with dedication and devotion. I look no further for such an example than Fr. Michael Berry of the Heart of Jesus, O.C.D. Just in attending one of the Masses he celebrates, you can feel his love for the Real Presence, you can feel the devotion emanating from him. This devotion to the Holy Eucharist is contagious. It is truly an honor to serve Holy Mass for Fr. Michael.
If you are earnestly considering a vocation to the Discalced Carmelites I strongly encourage you to contact Fr. Michael Berry. You will not find anyone who takes you and your vocation more seriously than he. I can tell you personally that just in these two years, our conversations, his homilies and his admirable example have led to considerable growth in my discernment.
Please pray for Fr. Michael Berry of the Heart of Jesus, O.C.D., for all priests and for an increase of men and women answering with a dedicated and devoted yes to God’s Call. Please also follow his blog at: http://discalcedcarmelitefriar.blogspot.com/.