How Make a Wish and a Bishop helped an 11 year old boy be a “priest for a day.”

Brett Haubrich and Archbishop Carlson

Brett Haubrich and Archbishop Carlson

Reposted from: http://stlouisreview.com/article/2015-04-02/priest-day-wish-came

Make-A-Wish requests often involve meeting athletes, attending sporting events or traveling to amusement parks or beaches.

When it came time for 11-year-old Brett Haubrich of south St. Louis County to make his wish, he not only listed none of those things but had no request at all.

“He didn’t want anything,” explained his mother, Eileen. “They had to keep asking him, ‘What would you like to do? Do you want to meet anybody? What do you want to be when you grow up?'”

The answer to the last question became part of his wish — what Make-A-Wish calls “wish enhancement” to complement the main wish. The sixth-grader at St. Mark School wants to be a priest, a doctor or an engineer, in that order.

Priest was No. 1

“I said, ‘I really want to be a priest,'” he said.

So, on Holy Thursday, at the invitation of Archbishop Robert J. Carlson, Brett took his place beside the altar at Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis as “Priest For a Day.”

Brett served not one but two Masses — the Chrism Mass and the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper — and held the book for Archbishop Carlson for prayers after the homilies. At the evening Mass, he was with 11 seminarians having their feet washed by Archbishop Carlson, and his parents brought up the gifts of bread and wine.

He also joined Archbishop Carlson for two meals; a luncheon with archdiocesan priests and deacons after the Chrism Mass and a dinner with seminarians at the archbishop’s residence before the evening Mass.

Best of all, he wore a collar provided by a seminarian from Kenrick-Glennon.

As for his favorite part of the entire day, Brett was unequivocal in his answer.

“The whole thing,” he said as he waited for his dad, Conrad, near the Cathedral Basilica sanctuary with his mom and older sister Olivia after the Chrism Mass. “It was really neat for them to let me do this stuff.”

And cool, too — a term he used often in describing the day.

“Just a really cool experience,” he said.

His actual wish is cool, too.

“Eating mangoes on a beach,” his mother said.

That trip will come later. His interim “priest-for-a-day” request didn’t surprise his family.

“For years, he has loved the Mass and been religious,” said Eileen Haubrich, a graduate of Notre Dame High School. “He has such a good heart. He’s a very caring boy.”

The second of Eileen and Conrad’s four children and oldest of two sons, Brett has served at his school church and at his parish, St. Martin of Tours, which is visible from the back door of his house only a short walk away.

He digs the smell of incense burning in the thurible, enjoys confession and likes “communion, and the songs, too.”

Communion — the Eucharist, the living presence of Jesus Christ — stands out.

“I like receiving the Body and the Blood,” he said, simply

Brett and his family told several priests about his request, and they offered several options – like shadowing one, spending the night at a rectory with his dad or serving a Saturday morning Mass at the New Cathedral.

The latter request was made of Father Nick Smith, the Master of Ceremonies at the Cathedral Basilica. His initial response was “no way,” followed quickly by “we can do way better than that.”

Sure enough, they did.

“I said, ‘Why don’t we have him come down for Holy Thursday? He can serve the Chrism Mass — it’s a Mass for priests — and that night mass is always about the Eucharist,'” Father Smith said, repeating the two main aspects of the Masses that fit Brett. “Priests and Eucharist.”

Archbishop Carlson also played a big role. During the initial phone call about Brett’s request, he actually was with Father Smith in the Cathedral sacristy getting ready for his Lenten reflection

“It just so happened he was standing right next to me,” said Father Smith, who described Archbishop Carlson as “very excited. He was throwing out ideas right and left, ‘Let’s do this, let’s do that.'”

Archbishop Carlson came up with ideas of the seminarians dinner and of the foot washing.

“He said, ‘Put him in there; we’ll wash his foot,'” Father Smith said, with a laugh. “Before you knew it, it turned into a whole day.”

Father Smith prepared an itinerary and delivered it in person along with a letter signed by Archbishop Carlson asking for Brett’s help at the Masses.

“I handed it to him, and when he got to the first line, ‘I’m making you a priest for a day,’ his eyes got as big as half-dollars,” Father Smith said.

Brett admitted to being a little nervous heading into Holy Thursday, but the events went off like clockwork. Wearing the collar, Brett processed down the center aisle at the New Cathedral with priests, deacons and seminarians at the Chrism Mass — at which Archbishop Carlson blessed the oils to be used throughout the archdiocese for sacraments for the next year — and took his spot near the altar.

He performed flawlessly.

“He did pretty well,” Archbishop Carlson said.

See more photos from his adventure here: http://stlouisreview.photoshelter.com/embed?type=slideshow&G_ID=G0000NHpmvWiCF1w#!/slideshow/I0000LbhITXvu2SI/null 

Pretty cool eh?!? What can you do to inspire vocations and help instill a love of the Mass, Liturgy, Christ, and his church in our youth? How can we help others to join us in walking this Way of Beauty even closer?

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An Inspiring and Beautiful Video for Altar Servers

This video is an excellent video on what it means to serve at the Altar, and the importance of doing it reverent and well. It made me reminisce back on the “older” days of when I was a little server and first learning how to serve. Luckily I had several great young men and one much older in age “emcee”; to help me and show me the beauty behind it. And I have been graced to be able to serve under the direction of several fantastic priests who are very skilled when it came to matters of the Liturgy. Now after serving at the Altar for 10 years, my eleventh year serving is as a seminarian. Serving has played a major role in my discernment to begin seminary studies. Now after being a Seminarian for about 8 months I have had the privilege to serve in even more a variety of Masses than I did as a server. I have been able to serve for the Latin Rite Patriarch of Jerusalem, a number of Bishops/ArchBishops, and serve in my Diocese’s Cathedral during Diocesan Events. And I owe it all to three priests, 4 seminarians (2 of who are now priests, 1 who is married, and one who will be ordained a deacon this Spring), 3 priests, and one kind man. So kudos and thanks to them for getting me started with serving. I am forever grateful for the skills they have taught me and the memories I have shared.

I have included the following description from Monsignor Charles Pope of the Archdiocese of Washington, as I think that he does an excellent job in describing the video and offering some reflection points. The original article may be found here.

What makes the video so good is that it inspires a spirituality for the server that includes some of the following encouragement and advisement:

  1. That the Mass is mystical, beyond mere human sight, and that the server must learn to be sensitive to what lives beyond ordinary perception and become more spiritually aware.
  2. In so doing he should lead others to greater reverence by the example of supreme awareness of the presence of God.
  3. He should also, by his reverence  lead others to understand that what takes place on the altar is the making present of the most important moment in all of human history.
  4. The Altar server also provides practical leadership for the congregation as to when to sit, stand and kneel.
  5. Even the folded hands, pointed upward are meant to direct attention upward to God.
  6. The manner of his clothing (e.g. dress shoes, pressed trousers etc) are meant to and ought to show that what he is doing is a matter of utmost seriousness and importance.
  7. Our body, (posture etc) and our clothing impact our disposition, so all we do should be to help our hearts worship, and lead others to the same.
  8. Prayer, especially the rosary, is a good way to prepare one’s heart to be a better server.
  9. The goal is to have your heart in the right place.

A couple of other things I like about the video, that the man interviewed models well a piety that is serious but not somber looking. Not everyone gets this balance right, and some who are trying to look prayerful merely look sad, angry, or bored. But the man in this video shows an appropriate balance, a kind of natural and serene sobriety well suited to the Mass.

The images throughout the video are also beautiful and the photography is wonderful.

I suspect (sadly) that not all will be happy with some of the more traditional elements in the video: the ad orientem celebration of mass and the expressed preference for the cassock and surplice, rather than the alb. There is also no reference to girls serving. However, none of these aspects is forbidden. Perhaps a word about each.

  1. The ad orientem celebration of Mass (I speak here of the Ordinary Form), while less common, is not forbidden. I use it occasionally, after proper catechesis, in smaller settings in my parish. We have several side altars in the Church that I use on occasion, and I have also used the high altar for that purpose from time to time.  The catechesis I use includes the fact that the priest does not have his back to us. Rather we are all facing God, looking to the liturgical east for Christ to come again. I will say I would not adopt this position in my main Sunday liturgies at this time without consulting with the Bishop, simply out of respect for the fact that he is the chief liturgist of the diocese. But for smaller liturgies of a more private or intimate character, I do use the eastward orientation occasionally.
  2. The cassock and surplice – the preference here for this vesture is traditional. And while the current norms speak of the alb as being the common vesture for ministers of every rank in the Mass, (GIRM # 336). However the cassock and surplice are not forbidden and tend to be worn today especially by clerics who assist at mass but are not celebrating or concelebrating. As such, the cassock and surplice have a more priestly look. For this reason I think it unadvised that a girl or woman should wear the cassock and surplice. In my own parish the seminarians that assist us, as well as some of the older men wear the cassock and surplice. The younger boys and all the girls and women wear the alb.
  3. That only males are envisioned as servers – Here again, while it is common in most parishes today that box sexes serve, it is not required that the pastor observed this permission. For pastoral reasons, such as encouraging priestly vocations, the pastor may employ only men and boys as servers if he sees fit. In my last parish that is what we did. In my current parish, I inherited a server program that uses both sexes, and younger as well as older people. The mix is good and I see no reason to change it. But it is neither wrong for a pastor to make use of only males in this role. Neither is it wrong for the lay faithful to seek to encourage this sort of approach, as the video makers do.

I hope you will find this video as inspiring and beautiful as I do. And, just as the video we looked at last week did not please all, I do pray and ask for charity toward, and the presumption of good will by those who have made and produced this video. It is a good effort and has an important message in regard to reverence and spiritual preparation for altar servers.

A Week without priests? Perfect!

NationalVocationAwarenessWeek

It always seems interesting to me, how in our Diocese of Owensboro, the Priests convocation always ends up falling during National Vocations Awareness week. During that time, almost all of our churches in the Diocese go without Mass for 4 days. They have no priests to celebrate Mass, as they are always on their annual Convocation with the Bishop. I don’t know if it was an accident for the Diocese to always coincide the Convocation with National Vocation Awareness Week, but I think that it works out perfectly!

Here the parishes are, left without Masses, left without priests for almost a week. And it is during National Vocation “AWARENESS” week. Are you getting what I’m hinting at? The people of God in Western Kentucky are getting a first-hand look at what our world will be like without priests. I love it! Not the fact that the people are left without priests, nor the fact that we don’t have enough nearby priests to provide subs for the pastors during the Convocation. But I love how National Vocations Week coincides with it. Because it really does send a wake-up-call! It really does raise awareness in my eyes as to why we need vocations, why we need vocations to the Priesthood. Why vocations matter. Just another reason why during National Vocations Week, we should be doing things to raise vocation awareness and encouraging men in thinking about the priesthood. When was the last time that you encouraged that young man serving Mass to think of the Priesthood? When was the last time that you told that young man that was interested in his Faith in CCD, that you think he’d make a great priest? When was the last time that you helped build Vocation Awareness?  I’ll close with a quote from St. John Vianney:

“Without the priest, the passion and death of our Lord would be of no avail. It is the priest who continues the work of redemption here on earth…What use would be a house filled with gold, were there no one to open its door? The priest holds the key to the treasures of heaven: it is he who opens the door: he is the steward of the good Lord; the administrator of His goods…Leave a parish for twenty years without a priest and they will end by worshiping the beasts there..The priest is not a priest for himself, he is a priest for you.”