Thursday, December 24, 2020

Christmas During Covid

The importance of Christ coming in human form is something that we are particularly aware of during this Covid lockdown Episode 4 of “A Priest on a Medical Leave of Absence because of Chemo” Podcast

-- Father John Hollowell Fatherjohnhollowell Thursday, December 24, 2020

Episode 4 of "A Catholic Priest on Medical Leave because of Chemo" Podcast

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

"Catholicism and Social Media in 2020"

“Priest on Medical Leave because of Chemo” Podcast, episode 3: social media and Catholicism in 2020

-- Father John Hollowell Fatherjohnhollowell Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Message for the day after the Election

I was ordained in 2009 and had Mass regularly for President Obama 

I've spent the last 4 years having a regular Mass for President Trump

Whoever ultimately wins this year I will regularly have Mass and pray for them

This isn't saying that we don't fight it out with every thing that we have in the political realm, but it is saying that when the dust settles and a winner is determined, we will regularly pray for him and all our elected representatives!

Monday, October 26, 2020

My body, my choice?


12 Years a Deacon!

 12 Years ago at St. Meinrad Archabbey, on September 25th, 2008, Archbishop Daniel Buechlein ordained me to the diaconate.

He said, from the Rite of Ordination: 

"Believe what you read. Teach what you believe. Practise what you teach."  and later "May God, who has begun this good work in you, bring it to fulfillment!"

Thursday, October 22, 2020

MUST SEE! Aramaic Chant of Psalm 51

This was mistitled as being "The Our Father" when in reality it is Psalm 51.  MUST LISTEN!

Amazing that this Psalm is also the one sung in Latin by Allegri, titled "Miserere Mei, Deus", also stunningly beautiful in its own right.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Homily: God's Appearance

One of my top 5 favorite Scripture passages is today’s first reading. 

God not in the wind, not in the Earthquake, not in the fire…

After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound.  When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak.


Do we want God to be loud?  Do we want God to be earthquakes and fire and wind?

Certainly that is how his appearance is described throughout the Old Testament, most notably on Sinai.  Thunder, wind, earthquakes and fire.  What is going on there?  I have no doubt that there was fire, thunder, terror, fear, earthquakes, smoke etc. 


So how is it that God is a whisper?

I think we can safely say that what is happening is perfection coming into contact with sin.

God is perfect, unchanging…. He never left us in the sense that He is always sustaining everything that exists, always in every moment willing the existence, but also He can be said to have left in the sense that He’s not present in the world of the Old Testament in the way that He was in the Garden.

and so when He comes back into the story of humanity…that is an epic clash that produces thunder, smoke, earthquakes, lightning, etc.

one analogy: An asteroid travels silently through space, but when it hits the Earth’s atmosphere, there is fire, smoke, thunder and potentially earthquakes and explosions if it makes it to the Earth’s surface.  So is God when he appears in our world.

Or, to use another analogy, just as two opposites air masses colliding can create a thunderstorm so it is when the perfect God encounters the brokenness and sin of humanity.

So although there is smoke and fire and lightning, that is a result of perfection coming back into our atmosphere.  Those things are effects of God drawing near, but God is not in those fireworks.


We know that God ultimately has the plan of being able to be in our presence without the accompanying pyrotechnics.  He ultimately takes on human flesh, thus he’s able to walk about and be in our midst in a way that doesn’t produce the accompanying effects that we see in the Old Testament.  God “hides” his glory in human flesh. 

In conclusion, Christ is stillness.  He is peace.  He is rest for the weary.  Let us seek refuge in Him away from the pyrotechnics of our world on a daily basis.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Racism, Margaret Sanger, Riots, Planned Parenthood, etc.

Saint Paul: “We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now; and we also groan within ourselves as we wait for the redemption of our bodies.”

Translation: We are waiting on Christ’s return, and the world is in turmoil until what we are waiting for happens, when Christ returns at the end of time.

In this homily, I hope to establish 3 things.

1) The Catholic Church could not speak more strongly against racism

2) I want to talk about a racist antiimmigrant who has miraculously escaped mainstream scrutiny for 100 years.

3) And then in conclusion I want to note that a saint has noted that as long as abortion is legal, we can’t expect anything other than violence and turmoil

1) In our own day, lots of people are rightly upset about racism.  The Catholic Church has ALWAYS been against racism, and can’t say it more strongly.  We’ve been against it since the first chapter of Genesis, since God said we are all made in God’s image and likeness

A sampling of teachings through the centuries: since all people have the same dignity as creatures made in his image and likeness…Since something of the glory of God shines on the face of every person, the dignity of every person before God is the basis of the dignity of persons before other persons. Moreover, this is the ultimate foundation of the radical equality and brotherhood among all people, regardless of their race, nation, sex, origin, culture, or class.

Elsewhere (just 2 of thousands of places) “For those who live a new life in Christ, racial and cultural differences are no longer causes of division”

Has every Catholic lived that belief perfectly – absolutely not.  Some today are pointing to the sins of the past, of the Church, Christianity, etc. and we own all of that.  But Catholicism should not be judged by the people who don’t live the faith out.  Hitler, and Mussolini were baptized Catholics.  Yet no one judges Catholicism by those two.

2) So, as we have riots going on around the country about racism, I’d like to talk about the racism of seemingly the one person who has not been targeted: Margaret Sanger who would eventually become the founder of Planned Parenthood.  I’d like to give you a few quotes than because this is probably the most under-reported story of the last 100 years, and I want you to ask “why are we not hearing about these things”

You don’t have to go back through decades of obscure tweets, rereading with a fine tooth comb old social media posts.  These are all in her short, accessible, writings.

In a letter to Dr. C.J. Gamble “We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.”

In a letter concerning the Negro Project she founded in 1939 we read: “The project would hire three or four ‘colored Ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities’ to travel throughout the South and propagandize for birth control, since ‘the most successful educational approach to the Negro is through religious appeal.’ . 

Sanger spoke at a Ku Klux Klan rally in 1926 in Silver Lake, New Jersey. Following the invitation, Sanger describes her elation after receiving multiple speaking requests from white supremacy groups. She writes of the experience on page 366 of her book, An Autobiography:

“I accepted an invitation to talk to the women’s branch of the Ku Klux Klan … I saw through the door dim figures parading with banners and illuminated crosses … I was escorted to the platform, was introduced, and began to speak … In the end, through simple illustrations I believed I had accomplished my purpose. A dozen invitations to speak to similar groups were proffered.”

Do we have a documented case of someone proud to have spoken at a Klan rally who still has streets and awards named after her, and statues still standing?  We have statues being pulled down of Frederick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln, but Sanger’s legacy has remained unquestioned for the past 100 years?  How is that possible?

A sampling of her statements on immigrants:

“There were 1.6 million illiterate foreigners in the United States when the 1910 Census was taken.  Do these elements give promise of a better race?  Are we doing anything genuinely constructive to overcome the situation?”         Women and the New Race

“These foreigners who have come in hordes have brought with them their ignorance of hygiene and modern ways of living and that they are handicapped by religious superstitions is only too true”  Women and the New Race

“Civilized nations are penalizing talent and genius, to coddle and perpetuate the choking human undergrowth, which, as all authorities tell us, is escaping control and threatens to overrun the whole garden of humanity.”  Pivot of Civilization

“We are paying for, and even submitting to, the dictates of an ever-increasing, unceasingly spawning class of human beings who never should have been born at all.”

She uses “feeble minded” seemingly 2,000 times.  It is chilling.  She means, one can assume, all those not as smart as her, those suffering mental illness and she makes the case, over and over again, that “the feeble minded are notoriously prolific in reproduction.”

She also was supportive of, get this, the FORCED STERILIZATION of these human persons:
“The emergency problem of segregation and sterilization must be faced immediately.  Every feeble minded girl or woman of the hereditary type, especially of the moron class, should be segregated during the reproductive period.  Otherwise, she is almost certain to bear imbecile children, who in turn are just as certain to breed other defectives.  The male defectives are no less dangerous….we prefer the policy of immediate sterilization, of making sure that parenthood is absolutely prohibited to the feeble minded…”

She wrote into the charter of the American Birth Control League “Sterilization of the insane and feebleminded and the encouragement of this operation upon those afflicted with inherited or transmissible diseases”

“The grosser, the more obvious, the undeniably feeble minded should, indeed, not only be discouraged BUT PREVENTED from propagating their kind.”  Pivot of Civilization

And she was for purifying the white race:

“Birth control itself, often denounced as a violation of natural law, is nothing more or less than the facilitation of the process of weeding out the unfit, of preventing the birth of defectives or of those who will become defectives”  Women and the New Race

“Every detail of this sordid situation means a problem must be solved before we can ever clear the way for a greater race in America”

“The mating of a moron with a person of sound stock may gradually disseminate this trait far and wide until it undermines the vigor and efficacy of an entire nation and an entire race.”  Pivot of Civilization

All this just to establish that for one hundred years, the work of Margaret Sanger has avoided scrutiny by people otherwise (and thankfully) looking to uproot any one who has said anything hinting at racism.  A person who spoke at a Klan Rally, was completely focused on rooting out immigrants, and was for a purification of the white race and forced sterilization of people with mental illness…how has she survived scrutiny?

And even SHE HATED ABORTION.  In fact, it seems, from a Catholic perspective, to be the one thing Margaret Sanger got right.

She said: “I assert that the hundreds of thousands of abortions performed in America each year is a disgrace to civilization” Women and the New Race

Planned Parenthood, founded by Margaret Sanger to AVOID abortions, is now the largest abortion provider in our country

Dr. Alveda King, niece of Doctor Martin Luther King Jr., remarked on the error of Planned Parenthood’s abortion-on-demand corporate ideology:
“The most obvious practitioner of racism in the United States today is Planned Parenthood, an organization founded by the eugenicist Margaret Sanger.”

Saint Mother Teresa knew that if a mother could kill her child in the womb, then anyone could do anything imaginable to any other person. 

As long as abortion is allowed, this violence and upheaval that we see is the culmination of 50 years of legalized abortion

Contraception championed by Margaret Sanger has undeniably resulted in an absolute implosion of the family.  And abortion, following in contraception’s wake, has resulted in an absolutely hardened, cold, and cruel world wherever it is practiced. 

At the beginning of the Book of Deuteronomy, God tells Moses the Israelites will be given the authority to wipe out the people living in the Promised Land because the occupants of the land at the time did two things:
1)   Worship false gods
2)  Sacrifice their children to these false gods

In a moment, toward the end of the Eucharistic Prayer, I will say “May this Sacrifice of our reconciliation, we pray, O Lord, advance the peace and salvation of ALL the world.”

Sacrificing children to other gods has never worked, but has only brought destruction on people.  This is the only sacrifice, the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, that can ever bring peace to our broken world.  Thanks be to God for the opportunity to join ourselves to this Sacrifice while we groan in labor pains for the redemption of our bodies and the return of Christ.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Homily: "Do not judge" is NOT the same as "be silent"

Admonishing the sinner is a WORK OF MERCY Deal with the beam in your eye. Then... be merciful. Admonish the sinner.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Homily for the Sacred Heart of Jesus

"Although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to little ones." - Matthew 11:25

103 years after our Lord requested that France be consecrated to His Sacred Heart, it happened.

We are 103 after our Blessed Mother requested that Russia be consecrated to Her Immaculate Heart.  We pray that will happen as our Blessed Mother requested.

"Although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to little ones." - Matthew 11:25

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

The Greatest Honor of My Priesthood: Eulogizing Officer David Moore

Officer David Moore was a committed and dedicated officer.  The son of two police officers, he knew and was friendly with everyone on his beat.  On Sunday, January 23, 2011, Officer Moore stopped a vehicle that had been stolen.

"As the driver and Officer Moore, whose weapon was holstered, were outside their vehicles, he was shot four times by the subject who fled the scene. Officer Moore, who was wearing a bullet-resistant vest, was shot in the chest, the left thigh, and twice in his face. He was taken to Wishard Memorial Hospital where he remained in a coma until being taken off life support."

I wrote a blog post shortly after about my knowledge of David Moore, just from a distance.  The next day his Dad called me and bestowed on me the greatest honor of my priesthood to date: the opportunity to read what I had written at Banker's Life Field House in front of thousands of police men and women from around the country.

Part of what I said that morning was used to make the tribute video below:

The entire text of the eulogy can be found here:

Officer David S. Moore from Ron Shelnutt Productions on Vimeo.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

A Two-Question Examination of Consciene

All of the Places in the Bible Directly Referencing Jesus' "Real Presence"

5 different New Testament authors.  22 different places.

Christ could foresee all time.  If he saw that for 1500 years people would be "confused" thinking He meant His LITERAL Flesh and Blood, surely He would have indicated, just one time, that he was speaking metaphorically by slipping in "like" or some other metaphorical indicator.

In NONE of these verses does He do that.

Matthew 26:26 “This is my body”

Matthew 26:27 “This is my blood of the new covenant”

Mark 14:22 “Take, this is my body”

Mark 14:24 “This is my blood of the covenant”

Luke 22:19 “This is my body which is given up for you”

Luke 22:20 “This chalice which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood”

John 6:27 “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life which the Son of Man will give to you”

John 6:35 “I am the bread of life”

John 6:41 “I am the bread which came down from Heaven”

John 6:48 “I am the bread of life”

John 6:51a “I am the living bread which came down from Heaven”

John 6:51b “If anyone eats this bread he will live forever”

John 6:51c “The bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh”

John 6:53 “Truly, truly I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the son of man and drink his blood you have no life in you”

John 6:54 “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him on the last day”

John 6:55 “My flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed”

John 6:56 “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him”

John 6:57 “He who eats me will live because of me”

1 Corinthians 11:24 “This is my body which is for you”

1 Corinthians 11:25 “This chalice is the new covenant in my blood”

1 Corinthians 11:27 “Whoever therefore eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning body and blood of the Lord”

1 Corinthians 11: 29 “Anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself”

Friday, June 12, 2020

Marriage and "privilege"

A word that has been en vogue for a few years is "privilege"

One is supposed to now confess if one has "privilege", and apologize for it, and there is also the related bickering about "intersectionality" and who is MOST victimized and MOST without privilege.

What struck me as I'm working through the Catechism was paragraph 2206 which states "The family is a privileged community"

Our culture has tried everything to address injustice EXCEPT the true source of most of our problems - the degradation of the family.  Until we fix that issue, we don't have a prayer!

Be Perfect!

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

An open letter to brother priests: what I've learned from talking to clergy abuse victims

Dear brother priests,

I am in a position I never imagined just a few months ago.  I prayed, in early 2019, that if there was some suffering I could experience on behalf of victim survivors of Catholic clergy assault, I would accept that willingly.  A month later I had my first seizure from a brain tumor.

When I finally learned that it was a brain tumor, I shared the diagnosis in a blog post, and ask if victims could share with me their name so that I could pray for them.  Over the next month, I had the distinct privilege of speaking with hundreds of victims either by letter, on the phone, or over email.  As gut-wrenching as their stories were, I was also hopeful in knowing in some small way the cross that I would be carrying through surgery, radiation and chemo was helping at least some of these victim survivors.

I wanted to share, then, the insights I’ve gained through those hundreds of conversations in the hope that something I’ve taken away from them might also help you (as it has helped me) see the danger signs coming from further away, and thus having a much better shot of steering clear of the dangers.

First, there are some preliminary facts that I think we can all agree on:

1) We live in a HYPER-sexualized culture, even if it hasn’t swallowed you up personally.

2) There is the carnage of broken families, broken marriages etc. that leave lots of people starving for connection, affection, etc.  And the hypersexualized world is telling them that the connection and affection has to be sexual.

3) There are going to be people at every assignment you have that will be attracted to you.

4) There are going to be people at every assignment you have that YOU will be attracted to.

So, then, the lessons learned through the conversations:

1) They are attracted to you at least in part precisely because of the gifts and talents that have come to you through your Bride, the Church.  You spent 6-8 years in the seminary gaining confidence, learning to preach, developing counseling skills and learning more about yourself.  Those are some of the same things that will attract people to you. 

2) There is an added layer of depravity when we USE what we learned in seminary about psychology as a weapon AGAINST others.  Finding out that they don’t have a father, or that they have some other need, and then EXPLOITING that information gained through counseling and spiritual direction against them.

3) There is a bottom level of the depravity, which is, unfortunately, common to too many stories.  The priest ultimately says some form of “Think of this as God loving you/embracing you”.  This is a complete and demonic reversal of “In Persona Christi”.

Finally, then, I humbly offer these suggestions as ways to swerve from trouble while it is still far away:

1) STRONG BOUNDARIES!  The power dynamic makes it impossible to have deep, authentic friendship with parishioners.  Anyone who has a deep friendship with a parishioner or anyone else under their spiritual care is deluding themselves.  That’s not to say that you can’t be FRIENDLY with parishioners/people underneath your pastoral care; that is EXPECTED.  But the idea that you would consider being a friend with a person under your care is unhealthy.

2) ALWAYS BE EXAMINING YOUR MOTIVES.  Ask yourself over and over again, multiple times a day, and during every conversation “why, exactly, am I saying this?”  That isn’t to invite paranoia into your life, but to just encourage a spirit of discernment with each conversation that you have.  In particular, we should pay attention to anything where we start to say “This person needs some special attention.”  Not that we don’t have people who need special attention at some point in their life and in our ministry, but we should be REALLY careful any time we find ourselves in that position, and should be cautious of our motives.  The ability for a person to deceive him or herself of their true motives is almost limitless, and the Devil LOVES to work in the midst of that deception.

3) Spiritual Direction monthly.  I can’t encourage spiritual direction and daily silent prayer enough.  Archbishop Buechlein, who ordain me a deacon and a priest, said to us the day before he ordained us priests, “Gentlemen, when a priest meets with me and says he’s thinking about leaving, I always ask him two questions, “when did you stop praying?” and “when did you stop getting spiritual direction?””.

4) Live with other priests if possible.  Vatican II says priests should be living in community.  It makes it a lot harder to get in trouble when you are living with other people.  They can also hopefully help in other areas of your spiritual growth as well (not just “not committing crimes”).

Monday, June 8, 2020

"I need to first "find myself""????

On seeking forgiveness from "super trads"

About 8 years ago, without thinking about it much, at the Easter Vigil practice with my servers I said, “Let’s do a video on the steps of the Church, then we’ll get started with practice”.  The Harlem Shake was a video that everyone was making and posting versions of them doing the dance.  I thought it would be a good way to show the transition from Lent to Easter in the Catholic Church.

I have since realized that it was sacrilegious, and I took the video down (it is the only video I’ve ever made that I took down)

A year or two ago, a parishioner said “Father, I saw a video of you posted on Facebook from some trad group…you are…um…famous!”

I went and look it up after Mass and sure enough the video of me and the servers doing the Harlem Shake had been reuploaded by someone and was being spread around.

I went in to the Facebook group and posted an UNQUALIFIED apology.  I shared that I had
1. Taken the video down
2. Gone to confession for the sin of sacrilege
3. Since blessed the items used in the video (vestments, servers cassocks and surplices, aspergilium, etc) according to the Latin book of blessings which someone had recently purchased for me.

I made zero excuses for the video and submitted an apology without any footnotes.

Now here’s where it gets interesting.  The comment was deleted by the Facebook group’s administrator who then reached out to me behind the scenes and said, essentially, that he read my post, but that it wasn’t welcome and that I was not welcome in the group.

Every few months, on a random homily that I post on Facebook, some “super trad” will randomly post the video and say something like “he’s a fraud priest”

So why this post now?  A few weeks ago, on the post pinned to the top of my public Facebook page about my brain tumor and where to get updates, someone posted the video and said, in essence, “You think this priest is trad?  Watch this.” 

I have tried to ask forgiveness for about 5 years for the video.  Some have accepted it.  But some “super trads” will not grant me forgiveness.

Jesus says “If your brother seeks forgiveness, grant it to him.”  I am seeking forgiveness.  The balls is now in the court of the super trads.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Reimagining What a Catholic Parish Can Be

Fr. John Riccardo and his team came up with this article, and I find it to be a succinct and direct summary of what many priests have hinted at, or talked about, or worked on....but this is the best version I've ever seen.

It also takes in the reality of a post-Covid 19 world.

Can't reccomend it enough.  Read it here:

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Going back to "Normal"

"Where are the Church's Sacraments in the Bible?" Part 2

A lot of times the rebuttal to this passage is "well, the Greek is presbyteroi and that translates as elder" and then Catholics get all flummoxed by that because they don't know Greek.

The proper response back: "Okay, so say for a second it is "elder" do you call for an elder when you are sick and does he come and anoint with oil and is that seen as forgiving sins?"

Sunday, May 10, 2020

The doctrine of the Trinity is NOT in the Bible - Homily for the 5th Sunday of Easter

We hear a lot about finding common ground with other Christians, but it is important to acknowledge that there is important "uncommon ground" as well

Monday, April 27, 2020

"Drop what you are doing and come to the ER"

Those were (essentially) the unexpected words I got on the phone this past Tuesday.

Tuesday morning I had an MRI and a visit to get my spot on my head checked out.  They originally told me after surgery that I would have a bruise in that spot for a couple of weeks, and so I sat around and waited for it to get better, but it just wasn't getting over the hump. 

So this past Sunday I sent a picture of it to my neurosurgeon and he got back in touch with me and schedule an MRI for Tuesday.

So when they had a chance to look at the MRI, they saw an infection beneath the skull.

The only way to clean it out is to go back in, take off the part of the skull from surgery, rinse it out, check to see how deep the infection goes, and then NOT put the skull back on but leave it off, treat the body with a month or more of antibiotics, wear a helmet, and then at some point a few months down the road, have another surgery to put in a titanium plate where the skull was.

So that all happened this week and I was released yesterday from the hospital.  I'm looking at antibiotics via IV everyday for the next month, radiation can resume in about two weeks, and then I'll have a surgery to go back in and replace the skull section with titanium in about 7 weeks. 

So this bump in the road set me back about a month total, but I'm totally fine with it, and trust in God's Divine Providence.

Here's a photo of me from Sunday, the day I was released:

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Homily for Holy Thursday

The 3 things the Church asks us to preach about tonight are the 3 surest paths forward through this time of pandemic, and they are united under the one phrase "This is my body, given up for you!"

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Updates during surgery and recovery and a new website

Dear Friends, if you'd like updates from my parents as to my progress through surgery and recovery, here's the link to where they'll post daily updates:

For the past six months I have been working with the Alice Paul Group to look at implementing best practices in online social media evangelization.

This work has taken on a new dimension over the past several weeks as I've been diagnosed with a brain tumor and will be undergoing treatment for the next 2-3 months. The Alice Paul Group will be helping provide you updates through e-mail and social media throughout that time.

Please know of my prayers for all of you. Your prayers for the work that I've been doing and hope to continue to do through my priesthood is always appreciated.

God bless you!
Fr. Hollowell

PS: You can also be kept up-to-date on my new website that was just created - The team at Alice Paul Group are working to help centralize and organize all of my homilies and social media content which can now be found on this website. They're still uploading content, so we appreciate your patience!

Monday, March 9, 2020

A beautiful farewell

Thanks to all who had anything to do with this!  I was COMPLETELY surprised by this surprise thrown together by our head missionary Leah Nielson.  We both have a sort of lukewarm stance on praise and worship music, so everytime she's asked me over these past three years, "Father, is there anything I can do?" I always tell her "Leah, I just want you to sing "You're a Good Good Father" to she set this up, which was absolutely hysterical and awesome. 

Father John Hollowell ‘s send off before his surgery!

Posted by Tiger Catholic on Monday, March 9, 2020

Friday, March 6, 2020

Retirement Dinner for my Dad

MASSIVE thank you to Mr. Chuck Weisenbach and Terese Carson and all who worked so hard on a wonderful celebration for my Dad's 41 years of service at Roncalli High School.  Very nice video that they put together:

Here's a link you can donate to a scholarship fund that Roncalli High School has set up in honor of my parents.  It will help with financial assistance to families who desire a Catholic education! 

Donate here if able:


Monday, February 24, 2020

Thursday, February 13, 2020

medical update: I have been diagnosed with a brain tumor

As you are aware, a one day trip to the Mayo Clinic this week has turned into a four day trip.  I want to begin by saying I have so much gratitude in my heart for the wonderful medical professionals I've been able to work with through this entire process...such a great blessing in our country, and the Mayo Clinic is certainly a bright spot in our world.  My family doctor, Dr. Keith Landry has been wonderful, as well as my cardiologist, a Roncalli dad, Dr. Michael Barron.  I have a nurse, Lauren Alcorn, that has been such a kind help through all that has come up these past 12 months.  That care has continued here at Mayo.  Each person has played a key role in this process, and I am very thankful and amazed by the state of medicine in the US in 2020.

While the MRI that I had at St. Francis in December was thought to reveal a stroke, a second MRI that I had here at the Mayo Clinic showed that the affected area of my brain had not changed hardly at all over the last two months.  My Mayo Clinic doctors have said that a stroke would have already started to heal significantly in those two months, so they were able to say definitively that what I have is a brain tumor.

That certainly is a serous diagnosis, but I actually feel very blessed by the path that they have laid out for me, and the prognosis is very good.  The path involves the removal of the tumor and then possible radiation and chemotherapy to make sure that any remaining cells are taken care of.  Both the radiation and Chemotherapy that I would potentially do are not the severe forms that certain cancers call for, so I'm very thankful for that.

The path:

1) I can function as normal for the next several weeks

2)  I will travel back to the Mayo Clinic for a brain tumor surgery that will happen Friday, March 13th.  The expected time in the hospital is actually surprisingly short.  Brain surgery actually requires a lot less physical recovery than surgeries like open heart.  There may need to be an extended stay if physical therapy or speech therapy is needed.

3) The surgeon said that typically after only 6 weeks a person is back to normal.

One question that I thought it would also be helpful to address: "is the tumor cancer?"  Because of the fact that the tumor has been fairly stable for two months, they are very optimistic that it isn't any kind of aggressive cancer.  It may be a low grade cancer, but even if it is non-cancerous, it is still best to remove the tumor as it would still eventually grow and start to cause problems.   

One request: When the scandals of 2018 broke out, most of you know that they have affected me deeply, as they have most of the Church.  I prayed in 2018 that if there was some suffering I could undertake on behalf of all the victims, some cross I could carry, I would welcome that.  I feel like this is that cross, and I embrace it willingly.  I would love to have a list of victims of priestly abuse that I could pray for each day.  I would like to dedicate each day of this recovery/chemo/radiation to 5-10 victims, and I would like, if possible, to even write them a note letting them know of my prayers for them.  IF YOU KNOW OF A PERSON OR YOU ARE A VICTIM YOURSELF, with the victims permission, please send me the name and, if possible, a mailing address so that I can send them a note, that would be much appreciated.  my email address is fatherjohnhollowell at protonmail.

Also, I would like to pass this word on to SNAP, so if you know someone that is in leadership for SNAP, please let them know I'm interested in speaking with them to see if there's some way I could get the names of people to pray for and, if possible, send a note to in the midst of all of this. 

In closing, I am very much at peace.  Other than time in the hospital, the only effects of this tumor that I have had are 5 episodes of spasm/seizure that have each lasted 90 seconds.  I also realize I am blessed to have uncovered it through this process vs. finding out about the tumor down the road after it had grown more in size.  

You all will be in my prayers, as I pray daily for the salvation of all the souls of those who live and study within my parish boundaries.  

May Our Lady of Lourdes watch over and intercede for all those who are sick or suffering in any way!

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Some of my siblings and I reflect on my Mom and Dad's 41 years at Roncalli High School

At the beginning of this academic year, my Dad announced that he would be retiring at the end of the upcoming school year.  

He contemplated retirement several years ago, but decided to lead the school through the final capital campaign of a plan that had been charted 20 plus years ago.  

The final project was the gym, which was just completed.

Several of my siblings (I count my brother in law as a sibling) wrote up our reflections on what we have seen in both my Mom and Dad as they have, as a team, helped lead and guide Roncalli High School for 41 years.

If you know my parents, or if you are a fan of Catholic schools and leadership, I think you will find these short reflections tell the TRUE story of how Roncalli came to be one of the leading Catholic schools in the country, and the largest private school in Indiana, while also becoming a beacon of Catholic identity and Catholic culture.

Here's our version of what has happened at Roncalli these past 41 years:

Monday, January 13, 2020

I joined the BBC to talk about Celibacy

I was asked to comment on priestly celibacy for the BBC.

I shared some of the more practical benefits of celibacy.

The one lady who spoke after me did a nice job, but she said celibacy started in the early middle ages, when in fact it began right from the beginning centuries of the Church. 

If you want to listen, my comments are at 44:40 of the clip.  You can click here:

Saturday, January 11, 2020

"Sacrilege" by Leon Podles

These are some of the 30 or so problems that led to the priestly and episcopal sexual crimes of the last several decades.  I have tried to provide at least one excerpt from the book that helps illustrate the point somewhat.

YOU NEED TO BUY AND READ THE BOOK for several reasons

1) One of the issues I didn’t list – homosexuality.  His discussion of homosexuality’s role in all this is MUST READ, very accurate, nuanced and important

2) In order to give a true understanding of the issue, he intentionally describes what actually happened in order to not try to gloss over the damage done to the victims.  Those sections are obviously hard to read, and if you have a hard time reading what happened, imagine having it happen TO you.  I believe, as does Podles, that knowing exactly what happened to victims is part of actually taking this crisis seriously.

Anyway, here are the problems that Podles identifies:

Problem 1: Faulty view of the priesthood by the laity
One victim explained: “I received my religious training in the Catholic school and I was trained that the priest was the equivalent of God or Christ on earth and that they should be obeyed.” (49)

Problem 2: lack of Episcopal courage
“The abusers knew that bishops, even if not themselves corrupt, hated confrontation and bad publicity even more than they disliked child abuse.” (69)

Problem 3: Priests and repressed anger

“Twice the number of priests scoring in the clinically significant range of the overcontrolled hostility measure were found in the hospitalized sexual abusive group…these priests had repressed their anger to a far greater degree than the general population does.” (466)

“Gilbert Kilman, a child psychiatrist, commented, “What amazes me is the lack of outrage the Church feels when its good work is being harmed.  So, if there is anything the Church needs to know, it needs to know how to be outraged.” (467)

“A little reflection will make it clear that there is a big difference between the person who knows solely that something is evil and ought to be opposed, and the one who in addition also feels hate for that evil, is angry that it is corrupting or harming his fellow-men, and feels aroused to combat it courageously and vigorously.” (468)

“Josef Pieper concludes his analysis of the place of anger in the virtuous life, “Only the combination of the intemporateness of lustfulness with the lazy inertia incapable of generating anger is the sign of complete and virtually hopeless degeneration.  It appears whenever a caste, a people, or a whole civilization is ripe for its decline and fall.” (507)

Problem 4: no uniform code of punishment
“We feel that the protection of our glorious priesthood will demand, in time, the establishment of a uniform code of discipline and penalties” [Fr. Fitzgerald in 1957].  In 1957 there was no such code; in 2007 there is still none…”If the discipline were more uniform and certain, priests before ordination could be instructed and duly warned, and this would be a deterrent to the initiation of these vicious habits.” (91)

“Abusers form a network of unknown size, and the only way to disrupt it is to remove any priest who even once is discovered to have abused a minor, however distant it may be.” (495)

Problem 5: priests and seminarians psychologically immature
“Dr. Baars stated [in 1971 to the USCCB] “Everyone agrees that there exists a crisis in the priesthood…20-25% have serious psychiatric difficulties…60-70% suffer from a degree of emotional immaturity”   Baar gave 10 recommendations.  None was implemented.” (95)

Problem 6: confusing pedophilia and sex with those who are past puberty
“In December, 1985, Peterson wrote an executive summary and sent it to every bishop in the United States, who mostly ignored it.  Peterson’s summary pointed out that the problem of abuse among priests was not really pedophilia, which is sexual attraction to children who have not reached the age of puberty, but sexual activity with teenagers.” (96)

“Most of the abusers were sexually involved with teenage boys.  It is difficult to classify a male’s sexual attraction to sexually mature teenage boys as a mental illness or disorder without also classifying homosexuality as a mental disorder.” (285)

“…despite this, priests who were sexually involved with teenage boys were sent for treatment as if they were pedophiles” (286)

Problem 7: thinking of pedophilia as a mental illness
“Pedophilia is not in the same category as schizophrenia. Pedohiles are not delusional and they can control their actions.  They do not abuse children on the street, but rationally and calculatedly get access to children…Pedophiles are almost excused by those who call them “sick”, as if they cannot help themselves…They are not so much sick men in need of a cure as criminals who should be punished.” (289)

“Something far worse than disorderly sexual desire leads men to corrupt and torture children, and this evil has not been identified by the Church and therefore cannot be purged from the Church.” (503)

Problem 8: priests who witnessed abuse said nothing
“Rev. Edward Booth, Porter’s superior and the pastor there, walked in. “Father Porter jump right up,” Merry said. “First Father Booth looked at Father Porter, and then back at me, and then back at Father Porter, who was zipping up his fly.  Then Father Booth shook his head and walked out the door.  He didn’t say a word.” (114)

Problem 9: in lots of cases, abusive priests reported being cured but were still abusing
“Porter wrote Bishop Connolly, “I am feeling much better and doing very well.  There have been many temptations, as you can imagine, but thank God, with His grace, I have handled them well.  The next day he molested two children.” (117)

Problem 10: the laity did not want to hear that their priest was a criminal
“They made life miserable for her until she left the parish.  Kathryn D’Agostino heard Gauvreau’s warnings and explained that “I didn’t believe her.  I didn’t think she was lying, but I thought she was deluded.  From what I knew of this guy, I thought it was impossible.” (164)

“The Rev. John Leonard of the Richmond diocese was sentenced to jail in 2004 for assaulting two teenage boys.  This was the reaction of the laity: “Church members have supported him for the entire time and no support was seen more than when he left court and his congregation cheered him.” (425)

“During the 1991 trial, the atmosphere was hostile, said Laura Recker, a former Maricopa County, Arizona deputy attorney…the priest’s supporters taunted the victims’ families and swore at her.” (425)

Problem 11: Priesthood is a helping profession – priests need to set up proper boundaries
“Several surveys have shown that one out of ten physicians has had sexual contact with a patient” (291)

“One study of members of the LA County Psychological association showed that “17% of the men in private practice indicated that they had engaged in therapist-client sexual intimacies” (293)

Problem 12: the priesthood attracts and can foster narcissism
“Because of the public and performing aspects of the position and the opportunity to foster a dependant group of admirers.  Engaging in sexual liasons is part of the larger and continuous pursuit of fulfilling their need for admiration, devotion and unquestioned love (Arelene Brewster).  The new Catholic liturgy places far more emphasis on the personality of the priest-presider than the old liturgy did.” (300)

Problem 13: Treating the problem without punishment and only treatment
“Punishment and treatment are not mutually exclusive.  An abuser should be punished for his actions, but he may also (in rare cases) sincerely want to get rid of the desire for children or lean how he can lessen the chances of his acting on it – after he gets out of jail” (305)

“Severe spiritual disciplines: fasting, vigils, silence, ceaseless prayer – do not seem to have been prescribed.” (306)

Problem 14: The history of places offering treatment for priests is a complete dumpster fire
Most of the places were run by abusers themselves, abuse took place, crazy techniques have been tried…pages 305-320

Problem 15: gay subcultures in seminaries and presbyterates
“Howard P. Bleichner, a Sulpician who worked in seminaries in Baltimore, San Francisco, and Washington D.C., observed that after the Second Vatican Council, “seminaries suddenly began to develop gay subcultures that encompassed faculty and students…Rev. Donald Cozzens wrote that “the need gay priests have for friendship with other gay men…had created a gay subculture in most of the U.S. dioceses.  A similar subculture has occurred in many of our seminaries.”” (322)

“Some of us found refuge in a campy, secret subculture poor in genuine emotional intimacy but rich in the bitchy humor for which we gay men are ‘Will and Grace’ infamous.  We had women’s names for one another, and for some of our teachers.  We trashed each other’s style of dress and gossiped among ourselves about who was ‘going out’ with whom.” (324)

Problem 16: heterosexual unfaithfulness leads to a culture of secrecy
Wendle Tuley: “the underground nature of un-celibate behavior, both homosexual and heterosexual…has made possible a brand of adult dishonesty and manipulativeness in which pedophiles find convenient shelter” (329)

Problem 17: Media and culture subtly supportive of man-boy sex
“A stream of gay fiction, praised by the mainstream press such as the Washington Post, sympathetically portrays man-boy sex…Others make heroes of Oscard Wilde, Roman Polanski…the media horror at the exposure of the sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests has not been entirely convincing.  Both advertisements and entertainment sexualize teenagers and critics continue to praise Polanski, who cannot enter the United States because of an outstanding charge of child molestation…Judith Levine won an award from the Los Angeles Times in 2003 for her book Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex” (340)

Problem 18: the centralization of ecclesial power in Rome
“By centralizing so much power in itself, the papacy has made it impossible for groups of bishops to discipline erring fellow bishops, made it impossible for bishops to discipline priests who are members of religious orders, and made it very difficult for bishops to discipline their own diocesan priests.” (407)

Problem 19: The law protected Churches
“Legislators in Massachusetts in 1983 exempted the Church from requirements to report sexual abuse.” (433)

Problem 20: Police often did not arrest
“Police in 1977 spotted the Rev. Edward T. Kelley apparently engaged in a sex act with a teenage boy in a parked car.  One officer knew the priest, but instead of arresting him, the police contacted Bishop Thomas Daily.  Bishop Daily explained that the “archdiocese of Boston had a long understanding with local law enforcement officers that  church officials rather than the police would ‘take care of’ priests implicated in sex abuse cases.” (434)

Problem 21: prosecutors did not want to prosecute priests because of votes
“Prosecuting priests was not a good career move.  It was hard to get a conviction, and the laity would be mad at the prosecutor, as would the bishop.  The only people who would be grateful were the victim and his family.  Prosecutors can count potential votes.” (434)

Problem 22: Judges behaviors often protected the Church
“Judges soften pre-trial discovery requirements for churches, and in court decisions that order church documents produced in discovery to be sealed and kept secret.  The courts created a “law-free” zone for sexual abuse, and the abusers took advantage of this to commit abuse with impunity.” (437)

Problem 23: Dissenting theologians
“Dissenting theologians should look at their own responsibility when offenders like Paul Shanley start applying [their] theological speculations.” (441)

“No adequate diagnosis of the contributory causes of the Catholic priest scandals can overlook the role of dissent among theologians…how many of the priests and bishops who have brought such suffering to minors and scandal to the public were encouraged by teachers and theologians to cut corners and dissent from the truth of the Catholic Faith and moral teaching?...a climate of dissent was promoted by wholesale dissent from Catholic sexual ethics” – Fr. Matt Lamb (454)

Father Andre Guindon, who taught moral theology at St. Paul’s University in Canada until his death in 1993…taught that an adult having sex with prepubescent children did little or no harm.” (457)

The National Catholic Reporter published an account by a priest who was sexually involved with a teenage boy.  The priest wrote “I read a book on situation ethics.  The basic theme was that no act is objectively evil; its morality or immorality depends on the situation.  I reasoned from this that all sex acts are basically good since God had created us sexual beings…There is nothing good or evil in itself; only the consequences make it so.” … he was ordained and had sex with teenagers. (461)

On nominalism (that the only thing that makes something right or wrong is the authority of God, that right and wrong don’t correspond to anything out in the real world nor in a person’s nature): “If things are wrong only because God forbids them, not because they harm the good of the human person, the only action necessary to make repentance complete is to seek the pardon of God.  The sin has caused no harm to anyone except the sinner…if, however, actions are forbidden because they harm the human good…the harm that the sin has done in creation remains…the sexual abuse victim of a priest is still suffering from severe distortions of his sexual identity and feelings of being betrayed by the God-ordained messenger of salvation.” (477)

“He is not guided to a moral maturity in which he sees, loves and pursues the good through the exercise of all the virtues, but instead follows arbitrary commands, the logic of which he cannot see.  This infantilization prepares the ground for sexual abuse.” (479)

Problem 24: Psychology replaces theology in certain places after the council
“Rogers and Coulson set up a massive group therapy program for the IHM nuns…under these facilitators direction, the nuns got in touch with their inner selves.  What they discovered there was that they did not want to be nuns and they did want (at least some did) to be lesbians.  The order disintegrated within a matter of months…Rogers and Coulson gave the same program at St. Anthony’s Seminary.  When the friars there looked into their inner selves and affirmed their deepest desires, a good proportion of them (about one quarter) discovered that what they really wanted most of all was to have sex with 14 year old boys, which they proceeded to do for the next twenty years.” (449)