Fr. Phil "Skip" Negley, Pastor of Mary Queen Church,
Bishop Daniel N. Dinardo, and Fr. Clint Ressler


Co-Adjutor Bishop (Now Archbishop) DiNardo
Speaks at Bay Area Serra Club

by Elodia Madeksho

        Co-Adjutor Most Rev. Bishop Daniel DiNardo spoke before the Bay Area Serra Club on Thursday, July 22, 2004 at Mary Queen Catholic Church in Friendswood, Texas, on the importance of vocations. The Rev. Clint Ressler, Director of Vocations for the Diocese, was also present and introduced Bishop DiNardo Hosting Pastor Phil Negley, M.S., invoked the welcoming and ending prayers.

        Bishop DiNardo spoke of the beginning of his vocation and of the importance of the role of the laity in supporting ways and methods of inviting young people, and even older individuals who may be interested, to consider entering the priesthood and/or the religious life. Vocations come, he said, from God and from parents. He challenged Serrans and every Catholic individual not to fear asking the question. "Would you be interested in studying for the priesthood?" If Serrans are annointed to serve and pray for vocations, then Serrans have a mission. They are the assault troops and must pray. The only bad prayer is the prayer not said, he noted.

        He himself in 1947 as a young child lived next door to the house of the newly founded Steubenville College. There where he lived attending St. Ann's Church in Castle Shannon. many priests were ordained every year until 1985. Women religious played an important role in the training of future vocations, he added, but the families in the parish were where the seeds were planted and the "ethos" formed. It was most important to indicate to the young people that the priesthood was a wonderful way of living.

        In this same vein, the Bishop also spoke of the sacrament of marriage. There is a Christological dimension to marriage, he pointed out. and pastors should speak carefully to young people of this sacrament. A priest should pose to young people contemplating marriage the question, "Did Christ tell you to marry this person?" To the extent that the sacrament of marriage is in trouble, he said, the sacrament of vocations is also in trouble.

        Going further, he indicated that today the cult of holiness, which should be the intent of every Catholic, is also in major trouble. In this regard, he quoted from Chapter 5 of Lumen Genrium that people all are called to holiness and integrity of life.

        The Rev. Bishop recalled his own pastor at the church where he First served as a new priest after he first became ordained. He recounted, to laughter in the audience, that one way that this old-fashioned gentleman priest encouraged humility in him was by telling him to say, when he looked in the-mirror. "You're no bargain, either." Since 1985, however, in line with the priest shortage occurring all across our country, no ordinations have occurred there in Castle Shannon.. his home parish.

        As a young priest, Father DiNardo had the opportunity of being selected to study in Rome. He also had the unique privilege of being Pastor of a newly found Parish. He pointed out humorously that that is the only time that a pastor will not hear the expression from exasperated parishioners, "But Father, we've always done things that way!"

        From the suburban area of Pittsburgh. the young Father DiNardo was sent to "the corn fields" of a parish composed of 24 counties of primarily Irish, German, and Bohemian Catholics in Iowa.

        Bishop DiNardo contrasted those days of his young priesthood with those of today. where priests inevitably are met with a much larger population that has a wide ethnic diversity, along with a massive bureaucracy in the church. This presents much richness in culture and an even greater challenge to the priests of today. For example, he noted his surprise at the amazing budget of the Catholic Charities, just one arm of the Diocese, for which 200 individuals work, and which works with the many diverse cultures of the cosmopolitan Houston area.

        Bishop DiNardo just celebrated his 26th anniversary on July 16, 2004. He later became Bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, where he had also been ordained.

        Present at the meeting were President Rodney Preuitt, VP of Membership, past President and Serran of the Year for 2004 Jerry Schraeder and his wife Christine, Secretary Bob Rose, VP of Vocations Mike Montz, VP of Communications Tim Healy and his wife Annette; VP of Programs Virginia Thompson, and Treasurer Bill Clary and his wife Barbara, and numerous guests. Other special guests were Deacon Hector Ybarra from St. Helen's Catholic, who is also a Serran, and Sisters Mary Monica and Sister Monica Okon, of the Handmaids of the Holy Child Jesus, a new order stationed in Pearland who are now fundraising for their new convent.

        If anyone is interested in helping this very worthwhile and needed project for these ambitious and holy sisters primarily from Nigeria, please send donations to Sister Joana Okereke, 3614 Englewood Drive, Pearland, Texas  77584.

Photos of Meeting

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