May 15, 2019

From Jehovah’s Witness to Catholic Priest an Interview with Father Daniel Bowen, O. de M.the man who made that Journey

Father Daniel Bowen        orderofmercy.org
IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson


Father Daniel Bowen, O. de M., distinctly remembers how every Sunday when he was growing up his mom would take him and his two brothers to Kingdom Hall. Their mom was a Jehovah’s Witness, and this was their church. It was as far removed from the Catholic church as one could imagine.

Young Daniel believed in God but was filled with doubts. By the time he became a teenager, he had decided he had enough of “church” and told his mom he did not want to go anymore  His father told his wife that Daniel did not have to go if he did not want to. Daniel seized the moment and stopped going.  After all,  he came first---all else came second.

The years passed by and Daniel more or less forgot about God. Once in college, he became more self-absorbed about his own needs and what might make him happy. Then he met a Catholic girl named Lisa.

Lisa told Daniel that if he wanted to date her, he would have to go to Mass with her. He did, and he liked it. Then she introduced him to Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. That was it. The young man, as the saying goes, was “hooked.”  

Eventually, Daniel and Lisa took different life paths. The Holy Spirit had seized hold of Daniel Bowen and was not about to let go.  On August 15, 2015, the Solemnity of the Assumption, Daniel Bowen was ordained a priest. He now serves as Vocation Director for the Mercedarian Friars U.S.A.

You can find Father Daniel’s inspiring story HERE. It is a beautiful story of a man who took his leap of faith holding hands with the Holy Spirirt---ENJOY
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Now let’s ask Father Daniel some questions:
(Interviewer’s questions in Bold:     Father Daniel is (Fr. D) responses in Italics)

When and how did you receive your call to become a priest? Was there a moment in time or an event when you heard the Holy Spirit calling you?
·         Fr. D: “People began to ask me the question: Did I ever think about being a priest. I hadn’t, and so I had to ask God about it. It took a few years to figure it out, and then seminary to figure it out the rest of the way. No man knows for sure until he is laying on the ground before a Bishop on the day of his ordination. It is totally a Holy Spirit thing, and prayer is an essential part of it all.”


Tell me your number one reason for being a priest?
·         Fr. D: “To know, love and joyfully serve God, and to love my neighbor as myself. To be a servant to God’s servants. All for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.”


What attracted you to the Mercedarians? (The Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy)
·         Fr. D: “The Order was founded by the Blessed Virgin Mary, so this Marian aspect was most attractive to me. Also, the 4th vow, the Redemptive Vow, the willingness to lay down one’s life for another in danger of losing their faith - this “all in” aspect always spoke profoundly to my heart.”


According to the General Rule Of Survey from the Univ. of Chicago, in 2015, among those 18 to 34 years old, 30 % do not have any religion at all. Many do not believe in God. Secularism seems to have infected many the world over. As the Vocation Director for the Mercedarians, your job must present quite the challenge. How is this going for you?
·         Fr. D:  “I am still working on getting my wings, so to speak. Yes, it can be seen as a challenge, but I prefer to see it as an opportunity. God still calls people to Himself. Christ’s death and resurrection is completely relevant to every generation, even those who feel it does not need to apply to them. First is helping others know that our Lord, the God of love and mercy is real and necessary to live a life of complete fulfillment. To help them realize the Christian faith is about relationship - God’s desires us to be in an intimate relationship with Him. And then to facilitate an encounter with Him. Once men know this, then they can begin to find what the mission and plan that He has for their life. Could God be calling me to be a priest and/or a consecrated religious? And if the answer is yes, then one is best to find out if this is truly His calling, and if so acting on it.”


What advice would you give to a young person who is considering religious life?
·         Fr. D:  “It is a great gift given by God to some, not all. It is a precious calling to be intimate with God and others in a way that no other lifestyle can match. It is a summons to love fully and without holding back. To proclaim boldly to our world that not only God exists, but He knows and loves us. That I am willing to forsake the goods of this life and world, in order to embrace, here and now, the blessing that God desires for us in heaven. My advice: Go for it!!! Do not be afraid, or put it off, go find out if this is God’s will for your life. If it is you will have the best life. If it is God’s will, then there will be a peace and deep, profound joy that will be under it all.”


How do you, as a priest, deal with negativity about the Catholic Church in the media, when asked about it by a layperson?
·         Fr. D: “Some people were negative towards Jesus in His life here on earth. It is no different today. The Catholic Church is the body of Christ, yes there is a very human element, but there is also a divine element present here, that should not be so easily dismissed. For all her faults, and only the Lord knows why He permits them, the Church is the most charitable and truth-bearing place on the planet. She is the spouse of Christ, and so must be present to continue to bring Christ’s authentic presence, so that all generations may have the opportunity to encounter Him. Staying close to our Lord in prayer is key to keeping one’s head above water, especially when our faults are clearly manifested - keeping our hearts, minds, and souls on the Lord. Jesus, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.”


What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job?
·         Fr. D: “Helping others to believe that the faith is real, and then to fully surrender one’s life to it. Seeing people fall deeply and madly in love with our Lord, and seeing that transformation take place is most rewarding. Experiencing the good work our Lord is able to accomplish through people who desire Him to work in their lives is a beautiful blessing. Challenging is seeing those who fall away from the faith, or keep saying no to God, seeing the resulting destruction this does to that person and to others and knowing how much it hurts our Lord, this is challenging. But following Christ is a summons to love, and it is an invitation that one must be free to choose or reject. Otherwise, it really isn’t love is it?


THANK YOU Father Daniel for taking the time to do this interview. May God bless you as you move forward in your priestly ministry.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019 

May 10, 2019

On Mother's Day--Remembering Jamie Schmidt who died defending her honor in St. Louis, Missouri, on November 19, 2018


 IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson


The Roman Martyrology of the Catholic Church has thousands of names on its pages. However, that huge book may need to find space for the very first American who was matryred on American soil for being Catholic and daring to defend her honor. Her name is Jamie Schmidt and she gave her life for Jesus in St. Louis, Missouri.

Most of us have heard of  St. Maria Goretti, the eleven-year-old who died “In Defensum Castitatis” (In Defense of Purity). Maria was trying to fight off the advances of a twenty-year-old neighbor, Alessandro Serenelli. He became so enraged at her that he stabbed her fourteen times. Before Maria died, she forgave her attacker. He spent 30 years in prison and, touched by the grace of God, was present at the canonization of the young girl he had murdered.

Jamie Schmidt was an average, 53-year-old, Catholic woman who lived in High Ridge, Missouri a town about 25 miles outside St. Louis. She was married to her high-school sweetheart, and they had three children. The Schmidt family belonged to St. Anthony of Padua Church and Jamie sang in the choir. She was also a member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, worked organizing and holding women’s retreats, and was always ready to help anyone in need. She even made and distributed rosaries. Ironically, it was her Rosary ministry that brought her face to face with evil.

It was about 3:30 in the afternoon when Jamie stopped into the Church Supply Warehouse in St. Louis for needed rosary supplies. There were two other women in the store. Jamie was no sooner inside when a man came in and began looking around. He said to the woman at the counter that he had forgotten his credit card and had to go out to the car to get it. He was actually casing the place.

Jamie went over to the section where the supplies she needed were located. It was then that the man returned. This time he was brandishing a gun. He told the three women to get to the back of the store and that “they had better do as they were told.”

He lined them up against the wall and proceeded to molest the first woman who, frightened for her life, gave in to the man’s advances. He did the same to the second woman who also just submitted, terrified for her life. Then he turned to Jamie. He demanded that she take off her clothes.

Jamie had been witness to the depraved acts this disgusting man had inflicted on the two other women. She was surely terrified too, but the Holy Spirit must have been with her. (The two women gave this account to police);  She stared at the man  and, standing tall, said in a firm voice, “In the name of God, I will not take my clothes off.”

Buoyed by her Catholic faith and refusing to submit to an immoral, sexual assault, she had invoked the name of her God and said categorically to her assailant, “NO!”  He shot her in the head at point blank range. Jamie Schmidt crumpled to the floor. The man ran from the store while one of the women quickly called 911.

Jamie did not die instantly. As she lay mortally wounded, the two women could  hear her saying ever so softly the “Our Father.” She knew her life was slipping away, but she was thinking of her God and invoking His name. It was reported that even during the ride in the ambulance Jamie, barely audible, kept praying.  She was still praying when her last breath left her body.

A short time later a man by the name of Thomas Bruce, was captured by police. He was the perpetrator and was arrested for murder, sodomy, and other charges. He now awaits trial for the crimes with which he has been charged.

St. Maria Goretti, age 12,  refused a similar assault and was stabbed to death in 1902. Blessed Pierina Morosini, age 26, refused a similar assault and was beaten to death with a rock in 1957. Jamie Schmidt, age 53, refused and was shot to death in 2018. These three women, their lives spread over a century apart, share an unexpected sisterhood.

Having died “In Defensum Castitatis” Jamie’s cause for beatification should move along quickly.  What happened to her and St. Maria and Blessed Pierina can happen to any of us at any time. If suddenly we were asked to defend our faith with our lives hanging in the balance, what would we do?

 copyright©Larry Peterson 2019