A Faithful Echo Report
Catholic Action for Faith and Family Launches ‘A Faithful Echo Movement’ Uniting Clergy and Laity
by James Aitchison
Set against the snow-covered backdrop of the Rocky Mountains in Denver, Colorado, a clarion call was sounded when Catholic clergy and laity came together from across the country for a ground-breaking summit Oct. 28-Nov. 1 to unleash the power of Catholic hope by launching a movement termed ‘A Faithful Echo’.
A Faithful Echo summit was scheduled possibly at a time for the Church of generational importance. As we stand at the brink of 2020, everyone knows the Church has been plagued throughout this year with the abuse scandal reignited the previous year along with an onslaught of controversy; meanwhile in this time of perceived vulnerability, those with competing worldviews continue to put forth concerted efforts to attempt to deconstruct truths that touch on the foundations of our faith.
Insisting Bishops, priests and deacons, and the lay faithful work together as living members of the Body of Christ to safeguard and defend our Catholic Faith, His Eminence Cardinal Raymond Burke underlined the significance of A Faithful Echo Movement saying “its mission is directed to drawing the clergy and the lay faithful in ever closer unity to combat the darkness of the present confusion, error and division in the Church.”
According to Thomas McKenna, Founder of Catholic Action for Faith and Family, “there is an urgent need to restore order across several situations in the Church and A Faithful Echo compels and provides the platform for us to come together in this moment of great solidarity; ready for self-sacrifice, ready to work together for the good of all, and ready to defend, promote and get back to the basics of doctrine and morals of our Catholic faith.
Your full report of A Faithful Week to follow; thanks for your kind attention.
A Faithful Echo Priest Conference
As the philosophers of old tell us, few things bring more joy or are more beautiful in an entity or a creature then for it to be directed to the purpose for which it was created. This is especially true in the sacred vocation of the Holy Priesthood. When a priest is ordained, he is elevated to a status to act in persona Christi (in the person of Christ) both on the altar and in every aspect of his life.
Unfortunately in our days, many priests have lost this notion and many faithful have lost the idea of the true role of the priesthood, the true mission of the priesthood and the true role of the laity. With this in mind, Catholic Action for Faith and Family co-hosted the Faithful Echo Week with Napa Institute in partnership with the Confraternity of the Catholic Clergy and the Archdiocese of Denver to launch a new program of Catholic Action, A Faithful Echo, to restore Catholic grandeur in the hearts of the faithful and in the eyes of the world.
A Faithful Echo Priest Conference (Days 1 - 3)
From Monday, October 28 to Friday, November the 1st, Faithful Echo Week was held in beautiful Denver, Colorado. The first part of Faithful Echo Week was dedicated to a three-day Priest Conference entitled A Faithful Echo aimed at providing priests with a retreat-like environment to spend time contemplating and reflecting upon the exalted vocation that they have as priests.
The overachieving theme of the Priest Conference was to reinvigorate and reignite the pursuit of holiness and sanctity within the priesthood as essential and necessary elements that a priest must have in order to sanctify themselves in order to sanctify others; in so doing, they sanctify the world.
Priests are called by their vocation to teach, to guide and to sanctify the faithful. However, in order to teach, one must learn. In order to guide, one must be a leader. In order to sanctify, one must be striving for holiness themselves. Hence, it is the highest imperative for a priest to have as one of the primary goals in their vocation to become a saint.
At the same time, the laity is called to be taught, to be guided and to be sanctified. But we cannot be taught unless we are humble and teachable.
We cannot be guided unless we know how to obey. We cannot be sanctified unless we understand the incredible importance of striving for holiness and to allow the Christ-like influence from the priest to shower down upon us and to help sanctify our souls.
The Faithful Echo Priest Conference opened with Benediction and Holy Mass at St. Thomas More Catholic Church for the 80 priests attending. Holy Mass was celebrated every morning during the conference with morning prayer. Meals throughout the conference allowed wonderful occasions of community and camaraderie for all present.
Cardinal Raymond Burke opened the Faithful Echo priest conference with the first session entitled The Holy Priesthood: Participation in Christ's own pastoral charity. In this beautiful address, His Eminence discussed with his brother priests how important it is and how the essential role of the priest is to be in the person of Christ not only on the altar but to be Christ in all situations. The love that the Sacred Heart of Jesus has for every single soul is the love that the priest must have for each soul that he meets, each soul that is in his care.
His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke
The 2nd day of the conference began with Holy Mass and then breakfast at the Denver Marriott Tech Center. Multiple opportunities were offered for Confession and Spiritual Direction each day.
The first session of the day entitled Costly Discipleship was an exhortation by Curtis Martin (left), Founder & Chief Executive Officer of Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), regarding the degree of love and dedication that priests are called to have to the point of martyrdom; to the point of shedding their own blood for the love of God, to be faithful to Our Lord Jesus Christ and to save souls.
This was followed by an inspiring talk by Enzo Salvaggi (right) from Heritage Design Group about the beauty of the liturgy, the church and vestments. He demonstrated what beauty is, the importance of beauty in the building of the church, in the vestments, in the celebration of the liturgy itself. This beauty influences the Faith not only of the priest but also of the faithful that see these things. Beauty transmits the idea of the sacred and the transcendent. If Beauty is lacking, then the priest and the laity will tend toward the mundane, the mediocre and the banal through the lack of beauty in the edifice of the church, the liturgical vestments and the manner in which the liturgy is celebrated. To illustrate his talk, Enzo brought a beautiful set of vestments commissioned by Catholic Action for the Holy Masses.
His Eminence Gerhard Ludwig Cardinal Müller during his speaking session titled: You Shall Be a Blessing
His Eminence Cardinal Gerard Ludwig Mueller then followed with a session just before lunch entitled You shall be a blessing highlighting the importance of the priest’s role in maintaining Fidelity to the unchanging teachings of the Catholic faith without wavering, without watering them down. As Cardinal Müller stated: A priest must always stand firm for Our Lord Jesus Christ, for what our Lord taught and teaches through His Church. For the benefit of the attendees, a special screening of the film Manifesto of Faith was part of Cardinal Müller’s session.
In the afternoon, Father John Trigilio (below) delighted his brother priests with a talk on Sanctity is the Salvation of the Priesthood reminding the priests present that sanctity is not an option of the priesthood. Sanctity is essential and crucial for the priest to save his own soul and for the salvation of the souls that are under their care.
Fr. Trigilo (left) explained there are 4 types of priests: bad priests, mediocre priests, good priests and holy priests. The laity have a special ability to sense which category priests fall into and will respond accordingly. The laity are looking for holy priests and to be the best instrument of Christ, a priest must be striving to be a Saint. When a priest is happy and content just to be nice, just to be good, just to be mediocre, this creates inside of the parish a mediocre and stagnant atmosphere without passion, without devotion, without love.
Fr. Trigilio also went on to remind his brother priests that the vocation of the priesthood is a vocation of sacrifice. Priests are called to sacrifice as Our Lord Jesus Christ sacrificed in every moment of every day. For example, the phone call from a sinner who needs help might come at an inconvenient time, in the middle of dinner, but for the priest there is no inconvenient time because they have given their lives in sacrifice in imitation for Our Lord Jesus Christ and for the salvation of souls. Father Trigilio went on to highlight the importance of liturgy and the behavior of the priest: he must strive for holiness and sacredness in the liturgy and must also be striving for holiness and sacredness in his daily life and in his behavior in all things.
In the next session, Father Ezra Sullivan a Dominican Friar of the province of Saint Joseph, currently teaching at the Angelicum in Rome, delivered a talk entitled The once and future priest: why the priesthood is vital for renewing the world. Father Ezra discoursed on the eternal and the perennial nature of the priesthood. Tu es sacerdos in aeternum secundum ordinem Melchizedek, You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek! Priests need to remember that they are priests forever. If they go to Heaven, they are priests in heaven. If they go to hell, they are priests in hell. A priest will never cease being a priest.
He shared with all those present a beautiful reflection on how as a priest acts in persona Christi, as the priest is called to be another Christ, as the priest is another Christ at the altar, at the moment that Our Lord Jesus Christ became Incarnate in the Virginal and Immaculate womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary at that moment also every priest in history was mystically conceived with and in Our Lord Jesus Christ. This establishes a special, unique and exalted spiritual relationship with the Blessed Virgin Mary as a special mother to every priest.
In order to provide practical help to priests in this time of crisis and struggle where, sad to say, some bishops are abusing their power and persecuting those priests who are trying to be good, who are trying to be faithful to the Church, who are not accepting sins such as homosexuality and others, Mr. Bradley Hahn gave an important talk on protecting clerical rights under Canon Law. He provided practical advice and guidance to priests on how to defend themselves, how to protect themselves against the abuse of power within the clergy, and what steps to take to appeal erroneous decisions that are made by their bishops. A priest can avoid abuse from their bishops and from other priests by using the protections and the safeguards that the Church has always had in place in the code of Canon Law.
Mr. Hahn also provided important resources of civil legal protection that can be used alongside Canon Law to protect priests in cases such as when they are falsely accused and automatically treated as being guilty or perceived as guilty and persecuted even though there is no proof in the accusation.
At this point in the conference, Cardinal Burke led the most Holy Rosary and more time was available for spiritual direction and confession for all the priests available. A wonderful reception and dinner provided time for the priests to converse and encourage each other in their vocation.
On the final day, Cardinal Burke rounded out the conference with a talk on Priestly Celibacy: Belonging totally to Christ and in His bride, the Church. Amid the growing confusion that seems to be spreading far and wide throughout the Church and throughout the clergy regarding celibacy, this was a very welcome and profound reminder of the reason why a priest is celibate and the reasons why the Church has always advocated and promoted priestly celibacy. Cardinal Burke spoke about the direct effect that this has on the ministry of the priest and the celebration of Holy Mass and the Liturgy. Needless to say, the priests present found this discussion very helpful and very enlightening as Cardinal Burke shared many of his stories while the priests present were able to share their own.
Their Eminences Cardinal Müller and Cardinal Burke during a Questions & Answer Session for priests, moderated by Thomas McKenna
Before the closing lunch, a Question & Answer session was held with Cardinal Burke and Cardinal Müller moderated by Thomas McKenna, Founder and President of Catholic Action. This Q&A session was considered by all as the highlight of the event.
It provided a wonderful opportunity for all the priests present to ask questions about anything and everything that they wanted to discuss in a safe environment without persecution and without misinterpretation. Just a free open healthy honest discussion with 2 great leaders and defenders of the Faith within the Catholic Church in this day and age.
The future of the Church: Seminarians
After the end of the Faithful Echo Priest Conference, Catholic Action was able to organize a visit to the Redemptoris Mater Seminary with Cardinal Burke. The Denver archdiocese has 2 seminaries and the seminarians from both gathered together at the Redemptoris Mater seminary for an address by Cardinal Burke and for a chance to meet him. Cardinal Burke delivered a very edifying address encouraging the 150 seminarians present to focus on the 2 most important things in their vocation:
1) To have as the very center of their vocation, the Sacred Liturgy and the Holy Eucharist. Our Lord Jesus Christ is truly present Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Blessed Sacrament and every priest and seminarian should take time to spend time with Our Lord conversing with Him, seeking guidance from Him and being supported by Him at Mass, through devotions and through a daily Holy Hour.
2) A priest must have profound devotion and love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. A priest’s heart should be placed and should live deep inside the heart the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This is the only way for a priest to maintain the virtue, the strength, the courage, the purity, and the constant pursuit of holiness that is absolutely essential for his exalted vocation. Cardinal Burke stressed the importance of forming this habit while still in the seminary.
After this beautiful address which lasted about 20 minutes, Cardinal Burke opened up for questions and this is where it really got interesting. The seminarians of all ages, from all parts of the world, and from many different cultures asked question after question about topics ranging from the crisis inside the Catholic Church, how to teach hope to your parishioners, how to practice the virtue of purity, how to remain faithful when being persecuted, the importance of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, how to have Our Lady as your mother when you are a priest, how to guide and sanctify the flock that you are assigned to lead, and how to control own’s own passions, and so much more...
Cardinal Burke was like an experienced and loving grandfather spending more than an hour and a half answering questions, telling stories and giving advice for what turned out to be one of the most important things that happened throughout the entire Faithful Echo Week as this was helping to form the future of the Church, to encourage and to teach seminarians about how they should behave and exercise their priestly vocation once they are ordained.
After the beautiful address and question & answer session, the seminarians held a dinner for Cardinal Burke and the Catholic Action team. Enthusiastic conversation and convivium abounded during the dinner. After dinner, Cardinal Burke had the opportunity to meet every single one of the seminarians that was their present. After that Cardinal Burke and the team that was with him were given a full tour of the Redemptoris Mater seminary and were able to spend time with the seminarians and really be edified by the passion and enthusiasm that seminarians have for their vocation.
On Thursday morning, the 31st of October, Cardinal Burke, Dr. Gianna Emanuela (daughter of St. Gianna) and Mr. Thomas McKenna went on pilgrimage to the shrine of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini in Golden in the Rocky Mountains. The pilgrimage was specifically to pray for Holy Mother Church, for all priests, bishops and clergy throughout the world, to pray for all Catholics and to pray for the success of the Faithful Echo Movement and for all the Rosary Warriors that are part of Operation Storm Heaven, the global rosary crusade led by Cardinal Burke.
Faithful Echo Dinner
That evening, the 31st of October, which for the world is known as Halloween and for Catholics is known as All Hallow’s Eve, the day before All Saints Day, A Faithful Echo Dinner was held at the Grand Hyatt in downtown Denver for clergy and laity. This was a wonderful opportunity for clergy and laity to come together to renew their resolution to stand for the Truth of the Catholic Faith and to be faithful echoes in their own lives, in their own situations, in their own social circles, of the true teachings of the Church. During the evening reception, the 200 attendees were able to mix and mingle with Cardinal Burke, Archbishop Samuel Aquila, Fr. John Trigilio and the many priests and seminarians present. A magnificent dinner was provided during which Fr. Trigilio and Thomas McKenna explained and officially launched the Faithful Echo movement to unite clergy and laity and restore Catholic grandeur in the hearts of the faithful and in the eyes of the world.
Cardinal Burke then addressed everyone who attended the Faithful Echo Dinner and a Question & Answer session was held providing answers to the many questions presented by the attendees. The wonderful and blessed evening finished with a solemn blessing given by Cardinal Raymond Burke and Archbishop Samuel Aquila for all of the attendees, their loved ones and all those who strive to be a faithful echo of the Holy Catholic Church.
Operation Storm Heaven: All Saints Day
To bring Faithful Echo Week to a magnificent close, on Friday morning the 1st of November, Feast of All Saints Day, Cardinal Burke celebrated the Operation Storm Heaven Mass and prayed the Holy Rosary together with more than 150,000 Rosary Warriors spread all across the globe. The Holy Mass and Rosary were offered for salvation of souls especially those dearest to each and everyone of us, for the success of the Faithful Echo movement, and as it was the start of the month of November and the next day would be All Souls Day, a special intention was included for all the souls in Purgatory especially for the loved ones of the Rosary Warriors who are part of Operation Storm Heaven.
With hope and with enthusiasm, we raise our eyes up to heaven beseeching the Blessed Virgin Mary to intercede for us before the throne of her Divine Son to obtain for each and every one of us the graces necessary to be faithful echoes of the perennial and eternal truths of our Catholic faith amidst the confusion and challenges that we all face.
We would like to thank our donors and supporters, especially those who sponsored priests and seminarians for Faithful Echo Week. We thank them from the bottom of our hearts. Without them, none of this would have been possible.