The Good Shepherd: Priesthood Today in the Footsteps of the Saintly Hierarchs of the Ruthenian Greek-Catholic Church

Center of Eastern Christian Studies Summer School 

Photo montage from the Eastern Christian Studies Summer School

From June 20th to July 4th of this year the ITI Centre of Eastern Christian Studies (ECS) in Austria organized a summer school with the theme, The Good Shepherd: Priesthood today in the footsteps of the saintly hierarchs of the Ruthenian Greek-Catholic Church.

Clergy and seminarians from the Byzantine Catholic Eparchies of Phoenix and Parma in the USA flew over to participate in the program. The summer school combined conferences and seminars with pilgrimages to the most significant places for the Ruthenian Byzantine Catholics in Slovakia, Ukraine (Zakarpattya), and Hungary.  Participant Fr. Diodoro commented, “The course topics were uniquely forward-thinking. I found the specific areas of study, like those of the Good Shepherd and Obedience, and Conjugal Life and Eucharistic Purity very relevant and necessary topics in our Eastern Church that need to be addressed.”

The meetings and discussions during the pilgrimages with local bishops, clergy, seminarians and those working in the formation of clergy contributed much to the study of the topic. Seminarian Michael, another participant, shared his experience about the pilgrimages, “Looking back on our trip to Eastern Europe, I felt connected with the living, breathing roots of our Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic Church. Perhaps one of the best highlights of the trip was praying in the different churches where Blessed Romzha, Blessed Hopko, and Blessed Gojdic’s relics rest. I was also moved to spend time at the shrine church of Our Lady of Mariapoch in Hungary where the original icon as well as the current icon copy has wept and many people have been healed. With so many beautiful pilgrimage places that we visited, I think the significance and spiritual benefits of this trip will be something I realize over time.”

ECS-SummerSchool 2011 Photos

We also hope that all the meetings with the hierarchy and clergy during this program will contribute to the development of collaboration between the Byzantine Rite Churches in Central and Eastern Europe and in the USA.

Rev. Dr. Yosyp Veresh

Director of ECS

Portiuncula Indulgence

Today is Aug 2nd – time for the Portiuncula Indulgence!

The Indulgence :

“The Portiuncula indulgence is the first plenary indulgence that was ever granted in the Church. There were indeed indulgences at all times, but they were only partial, and only a partial remission of the temporal punishments could be obtained by them. But, as already remarked, he who gains the Portiuncula indulgence is freed from all temporal punishments and becomes as pure as after holy baptism. This was also the reason why Pope Honorius was astonished when St. Francis petitioned for the confirmation of this indulgence, for such an indulgence, up to that time, bad been entirely unknown. It was only after he had come to the conviction that Jesus Christ himself wished it, that he granted the petition of the saint and confirmed the indulgence” (Source)

August 2nd is the feast of Portiuncula. A plenary indulgence is available to anyone who will

1. Receive sacramental confession (8 days before of after)

2. Receive the Holy Eucharist at Holy Mass on August 2nd

3. Enter a parish church and, with a contrite heart, pray the Our Father, Apostles Creed, and a pray of his/her own choosing for the intentions of the Pope.

Along with the usual conditions…For more information see the full text and discussion here.

The Significance of the Miracles of the Loaves

Our students come from all over the world…and they then go out to serve all over the world.  Here is a recent sermon from ITI graduate Fr. Thomas Bolin:

Fr. Thomas Bolin's First Mass

The Significance of the Miracles of the Loaves
by Rev. Thomas Bolin, O.S.B.
Subprior , Monastery of San Benedetto, Norcia, Italy



In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus performs a miracle, and thus provides food for a large crowd of about 4,000 people, with seven loaves of bread and a few fish.  Earlier in the Gospel, Jesus performs another similar miracle, and later, after the passage from today, compares the miracles:  “And do you not remember?  When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of leftover pieces did you take up?’ They said to him, ‘Twelve.’  And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of leftover pieces did you take up?’  And they said to him, ‘Seven.’  And he said to them, ‘Do you not yet understand?’” (Mk 8:18-21). 
Perhaps we, too, don’t understand the meaning of these particular numbers, even if one could say that both numbers, seven and twelve, are different ways of expressing perfection:  each of these two numbers is composed, in a different way, of three and four.  Three plus four is seven, and three times four is twelve.  Thus, the number of baskets in each case signifies perfection.  We could reasonably say that the miracle of the loaves signifies the Sacrament of the Eucharist, and therefore, perhaps, the remaining baskets signify that when one divides the Eucharist, Jesus fully remains in each portion.  In the same way, his body and his blood are both present under the species of bread and wine.  But if we understand the miracle in this way (or in another way), the general meaning would be that the power of God remains perfect when he does something for us, i.e., nothing is lost. 
However, let’s look at the specific numbers.  In the miracle of today’s Gospel passage, Jesus feeds 4,000 people with seven loaves.  On the other hand, in the previous miracle, he feeds 5,000 people with five loaves.  Thus, he uses fewer loaves to feed a larger crowd, and more loaves to feed a smaller crowd.  What this indicates is that when God does something, he prefers to utilize weaker instruments to manifest his power with greater completeness.  Thus, St. Therese of the Child Jesus says that God loves to use weak and imperfect people to bring out his plan, because this glorifies God more.  Thus, he reveals himself as the true source of salvation, which could otherwise be erroneously attributed to the instruments.
This type of miracle, a miraculous multiplication of food, is common enough in the lives of the saints and is found in the Old Testament.  For example, the prophet Elisha performs a similar miracle, giving food to a hundred people with a small quantity of loaves, and likewise, he multiplies the widow’s jar of oil such that she could pay her debts (cf. 2 Kgs 4).  Jesus deliberately performs similar miracles to those of the ancient prophets, but his are even greater, inasmuch as 5,000 is greater than a hundred, and in the end, this demonstrates that he is greater than all of the prophets.  Thus, not too long after the discussion of these two miracles, we read about the episode at Caesarea Philippi, where Jesus asks: “Who do men say that I am?” (Mk 8:27).  Men think that he is just one of the prophets, but only the disciples, and in particular Peter, see that he is someone greater than the prophets:  “You are the Christ” (Mk 8:29), to which Peter adds in the Gospel of Matthew, “the Son of the living God” (Mt 16:16). 
We can see in all this an optimal reason to trust ourselves to Christ and his power to guide our lives.  And the weaker and more impotent that we are, the more Christ can operate in us, just as he feeds the larger crowd with fewer loaves.  Therefore, let’s go to him each day and let’s try to follow him ever more closely, in particular with the heavenly bread of the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

Otto von Habsburg

Archduke Otto of Austria was laid to rest on Saturday, July 16, 2011.  It was amazing to be there for the funeral, and in the procession – to see a whole empire passing by.   Read Wikipedia for his history and a great description of the funeral ceremony.  Fr. Edmund also has a great description of the meaning of his life and events.  The entombment ceremony is amazing.  What are these titles?  Nothing before God. 

Hearing Otto von Habsburg speak, I realized, here was a man born and raised to rule.  He spoke clearly, with a great vision, and with concern and care for his people.  Sent into exile, he did not just hang his head, but worked from there for his people – always for the good of his people.  The funeral and memorial ceremonies were a wonderful indication of the far-reaching effect that his works had.  But amazingly too…it was not a political display.  It was faith-filled.  Requiescat in pace.


Knocking Down Walls

Walls come down to create more space.

Summer is here, but despite the fact that school is out, there is still plenty to do.  Right now the Phoenix Institute is holding a summer course on campus. 

The Russian Kino renovation has inspired further renovations and walls are currently being knocked down to begin the first phase of the new Byzantine chapel in the Schloss.  Everyone is giving a hand. 

Who knew that bricks have a heart?

While knocking down some of the walls between the vaulted ceilings and archways, students discovered hearts on some of the bricks!

New ITI Promo Movie

Click here to enjoy the new ITI promo film.  While on the ITI You Tube page – enjoy the other films!

Need a Smile?

When I need a smile I go to the youtube page of ITI graduate Fr. Johannes Schwarz and watch one of his ad spoofs.  He has a real gift.

Here is my favorite 

Graduation 2011

Class Speaker Deacon Mike Lee

Despite all forecasts and worries about rain, the weather provided a perfect sunny background for the festivities of the day.  Bishop Peter Rusnak, Eparch of Bratislava celebrated Divine Liturgy, the Byzantine Rite Mass, to begin the day.  Christoph Cardinal Schönborn presented the Masters, Licentiate and Doctoral degrees to the thirteen happy graduates.  Fr. Juraj Terek was presented with a special honor as well – the Golden Priest’s Cross – for his wonderful selfless service in his demanding job at the ITI.  The festivities continued at a nearby heuriger with food and wine.  Then entertainment and desserts followed in the newly restored Festsaal and the graduates could finally relax after a long, hard week of exams.

Graduates, Professors and Bishops

Russian Kino

With a little elbow grease and lots of man-hours, a section of the schloss at the ITI has been transformed in a little over six weeks.  It used to be a grainery, then when the Russians inhabited the schloss, they transformed the room into a cinema.  Then it was left deserted and when the ITI moved here, this is what we found.


 We all saw the room had good bones, but during the move it became a dry place to store furniture.

Grainery to Cinema to Storage Room

Then students, faculty, staff and friends started working on the place.

And it was transformed into this!


Thesis Defenses

Deacon Mike Lee Makes a Point

This week was the intense and exciting week of thesis defenses.  The Lectio Corams begin next week.  Now, we all knew the Licentiate students SAID they were writing…but this week showed us all WHAT they had been writing, and how well they knew their stuff. 

Pater Rupert Mayer makes a point

Each student gave a short summary of their thesis …and then the three Professor readers had a chance to tear the thesis to shreds (at least, I am sure that is what it felt like).  But the students held their own and did a great job and we curious onlookers learned a little bit more.  Deacon Mike Lee wrote on “The Ecclesial

Another Way of Describing a Thesis Defense

Hermeneutic: Implications for Biblical Interpretation and for Understanding the Liturgy ”   and Scott Hefelfinger wrote on, “The Conception of Theology in Ratzinger and Aquinas”.