Welcome to Men of the Hearts, a monthly podcast from the Archdiocese of Detroit Office of Priestly Vocations. Join your hosts, Fr. Craig Giera and Fr. David Pellican, as they explore the priesthood, hear vocation stories from priests all over the Archdiocese, and answer questions about discerning a priestly vocation. Tune in every month to wherever you get your podcast and learn more at detroitpriestlyvocations.com.
Msgr. Tim Hogan
If you think the priesthood is boring or mundane, this episode of Men of the Hearts is for you. Monsignor Tim Hogan shares the journey the Lord has brought him from being a medic in the military, to religious life, to diocesan priesthood as a Navy chaplain, including being airdropped from a helicopter to offer Mass on nine different ships. “These people really wanted a chaplain, they wanted Mass, they wanted Confession, they wanted to talk with someone.” Join hosts Fr. Craig Giera and Fr. David Pellican as they marvel at the Lord’s spirit of adventure and the unknown plans God has for each man thinking about the priesthood.
(00:26) This month’s guest is Monsignor Tim Hogan, pastor of St. Fabian Parish. He has spent most of his priesthood as a chaplain in the Navy, along with some time in a religious order. He now serves the Archdiocese of Detroit as a parish priest. Fr. Craig shares that the Archbishop announced a Year of Prayer for Priestly Vocations at the Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday. The Year of Prayer begins with a Holy Hour on June 4, the Vigil of Pentecost.
(06:50) Vocation Story: Monsignor Tim Hogan shares how he became a priest. He grew up in a large Catholic family of 11 children and was an altar server. He recalls how important Catholic devotionals and prayers were to the family, including the daily Rosary, as well as the “incredible” priests who served at St. Pius X, his home parish. After enlisting and serving in the Navy as a hospital corpsman, he had an awakening experience of feeling, “there’s got to be more.” God came into Msgr. Tim’s life in a powerful way through the witness of a friend’s “profound” conversion experience.
(14:40) Daily Mass: “Daily Mass 11:45.” Msgr. Tim entered a base chapel for Mass and felt the Lord tell him at the Consecration, “this is your home.” He started praying the Rosary again – a daily practice his family had while growing up. While praying the Rosary, he felt the Lord invite him to talk to someone about becoming a priest. After talking to one of the priests and returning to Confession, Msgr. Tim later invited him on deployments to offer Mass.
(21:55) Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Msgr. Tim shares meeting one summer a priest of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales. The priest encouraged him to think more about the priesthood and invited him to visit a high school the order operated in Alexandria, Virginia, which led to him meeting the provincial, leaving the Navy, and joining the religious order, where he spent five years.
(25:20) “Am I called to religious life or diocesan priesthood?” Msgr. Tim shares his experience of reading St. Francis de Sales’ An Introduction to the Devout Life, discerning where God was calling him. While living life as a religious brother, he found that God was using his time in religious life to create a spiritual balance and pattern that led him to leave the community and later serve as a diocesan priest.
(32:32) “How did you come to the diocesan priesthood? And what brought you back to the Navy?” Through meaningful conversations and chance encounters with a friend, Msgr. Tim met with the director of priestly vocations, entered seminary, and was ordained a priest. Early in his priesthood, he received a letter inviting him to become a Catholic chaplain in the military and became a Navy chaplain with the Navy Reserve. He shares his experience being re-called to active duty for Desert Storm in 1991 and remained in active duty for a two-year tour. He served again in Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003 and 2005, retiring in 2007.
(40:05) “What is it like to be a Catholic chaplain in the Navy?” Everyday life and wartime experiences are discussed and what role a Catholic priest plays in the Navy. “The mission of the chaplains is to provide for the Catholics, to facilitate ministries for other religious denominations, and to care for all, to counsel everyone.” His time spent as a
Divine Child Priests: Fr. Bob, Fr. John, Fr. David
This episode of Men of the Hearts is full of priestly fraternity, two inspiring vocation stories, and encouragement against fears of inadequacy related to the priesthood. Join hosts Fr. Craig Giera and Fr. David Pellican as they welcome Fr. David’s fellow Divine Child Parish clergy, Fr. Bob McCabe and Fr. John Dudek. Each shares his own vocation story, how to overcome “analysis paralysis” and fears related to returning to school in seminary, and how gifts are never wasted in a priestly vocation. “God is calling us to expand our comfort zone.”
(00:31) Fr. Craig welcomes us to this episode. He reviews the previous episode with Fr. Tim Birney and insights into how to encourage priestly vocations. Fr. Craig then welcomes our episode’s guests, the clergy at Divine Child Parish in Dearborn: Fr. Bob McCabe, Fr. John Dudek and Fr. David Pellican. They discuss recent blessings including overcoming health concerns, winning a sports bet, as well as excitement for the priesthood. Fr. David shares that he is working on building an altar for the private chapel at the rectory.
(04:00) Fr. Bob is invited to share his vocation story with us. Fr. Bob is 68 years old and grew up in a Catholic family. In 10th grade, he wanted to be a movie director, but by his senior year in high school, he found an interest in photography. In college, Fr. Bob encountered a group that encouraged him to begin having a daily prayer life. Through living a sacramental life, Fr. Bob’s heart was opened to becoming a priest. During this time he experienced “analysis paralysis.” He spent many years considering the priesthood. One misconception he had was that he thought he needed to be 100 percent certain that he was supposed to be a priest before entering the seminary.
(15:36) Do we lose our gifts when we enter the priesthood? Fr. Bob highlights how he was able to use his photography skills as a priest, which included a 5-year project capturing photos of Detroit’s homeless. Taking portraits of persons facing homelessness is something that brings him fulfillment. It is an expression of how Fr. Bob sees each person as unique – and everyone has their own story.
(20:10) Fr. John Dudek shares his own experience of how God brought him to the priesthood. In high school, Fr. John’s discussions with his chaplain lead him to enter seminary after high school. Following his departure from seminary, Fr. John got married and had two daughters. Afterwards, he received a degree in elementary education with a specialty in cognitive impairments and worked in special education for twenty-six years. After an annulment, Fr. John saw a “flame” in his heart for the priesthood. Through serving others and encountering a deacon, Fr. John felt the Lord calling him to enter the seminary after a 30-year gap in his seminary studies.
(29:55) He mentions attending Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Boston, which was founded to serve men, 35-60 years old, who are discerning the priesthood. A nine-week program at the Institute for Priestly Formation helped Fr. John in his discernment. At times, he felt daunted by entering back into the classroom for his seminary studies. But he felt supported in his classes. “If God is calling you to be a priest, we’ll make it happen.” The community of support in the seminary exists to help seminarians discern God’s will and work through the necessary education.
(39:00) The priests discuss the experience of living in a rectory together. They have recently started watching The Chosen. Fr. Bob describes the show as “life transforming, utterly brilliant.” The Divine Child rectory has four priests and they feel they are “stepping back in time” because of the community life they share. “There is so much gained by sharing rectory life. We pray together, we eat together.” Fr. Bob shares that he feels blessed to live with his fellow priests, grow, and minister together with them.
(45:45) “The Ministry of P
Fr. Tim Birney's Vocation Story
In this 12th episode of Men of the hearts, Fr. David and Fr. Craig welcome a priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit, Fr. Tim Birney. Fr. Tim shares his journey to the priesthood that began with family life centered around his parish. A high school assignment was a catalyst to encountering God’s call to serve God as a Catholic priest. The priests discuss an active discernment group in the archdiocese, what seminary really is, how to approach fears surrounding discernment, as well as advice to men discerning. The podcasts closes with an acronym to sumup how to encourage healthy and holy vocations. Take a listen!
(0:25) Introduction: Fr. Craig and Fr. David introduce themselves and review the previous episode on a priest’s experience of saying Mass. This episode’s guest is introduced: Fr. Tim Birney. Fr. Tim was the director of priestly vocations at one point. Fr. Tim shares about a blessing in his life right now: his parish, St. Frances Cabrini, recently received a significant gift that allows the parish to renew their school facilities. The priests discuss humor and how their priesthoods are enriched by humor.
(9:45) A Snowy Chapel. Fr. David shares about the recent building of an outdoor chapel after a snowfall. Fr. Craig shares he had his appendix removed and talks about asking for St. Rita’s intercession.
(17:45) A memory with a future bishop: Fr. Tim shares about his first time meeting then Fr. Earl Boyea, and how the witness of his vigor struck him. Other helpful dynamics surrounding healthy discernment are discussed.
(21:40) Discernment Group: Fr. Craig shares about a Detroit based discernment group for young men considering a call to the priesthood. The group meets monthly, has fellowship, and discusses the shared experience of discerning the priesthood.
(22:41) Fr. Tim Birney’s vocation story: Fr. Tim shares about his upbringing and how he spent a lot of time at his local church. A school assignment about the priesthood opened his eyes to see the priesthood in a new light. Fr. Tim felt he wasn’t holy enough or smart enough to be a priest. While sitting in the library at his school looking at pictures of priests, Fr. Tim felt clearly: “I should be one of them.” His first step was going on a discernment weekend at Sacred Heart Major Seminary. He was terrified and didn’t know what it was going to look like.
(35:15) Obstacles to Discernment: Fr. Tim shares that he didn’t feel “holy” or that he was very prayerful when he first started discerning. He didn’t spend long hours in the chapel or read a lot about the priesthood. But he felt a call and sensed the priesthood is where God was calling him. Fr. Craig shares that each call to the priesthood is different; God calls each man differently.
(44:00) What the Seminary really is: Fr. Tim reminds us that the seminary is a place to discern. “You do not have to have 100 percent certainty that you will become a priest.” The faculty and staff are there to help bring clarity to the call. The seminary helps a man better understand what God wants of him. The time spent in seminary is valuable and never wasted. You will leave a better man, either for ordination or for discernment of another vocation.
(48:22) Take Your Pills: P-I-L-L. Fr. Tim explains what he sees as four important ways to promote priestly vocations: Prayer, Invite, Love your Priests, and Live Your Faith. All the faithful should pray for vocations. We should not be afraid to invite young men to consider a call to the priesthood. Supporting our parish priests helps foster healthy priests, which encourages vocations. And finally, each person living his or her faith with passion creates environments where the Holy Spirit is welcomed.
(56:23) Advice to Men Discerning: 1. How is your prayer life? Seek to grow here. 2. Get involved in your parish. Volunteer to read at Mass. See what’s going on in your parish and plug into the life of your parish. 3. Learn more about the priest
Celebrating the Mass
Fr. Craig and Fr. David take a deep dive into the mystery of offering Mass from a priest’s perspective. They share about their own experiences with saying the Mass, both their first Masses and in recent days during sickness. Fr. Craig shares how a Gospel passage addressed his fears of the priesthood as well as stories of epic priests over the years. Together they reflect on the feeling of unworthiness when discerning the priesthood and God’s ability to use our smallness to feed His people.
(0:12) Fr. Craig and Fr. David introduce themselves and discuss their admiration for their last podcast guest, Fr. John Riccardo. They introduce the topic for this episode, something that is very near and dear to the heart of a priest: celebrating Mass. This is something only priests can do. It defines a priest.
(1:40) Fr Craig shares about his Christmas break; he had the opportunity to slow down. He shares about his Christmas leisure. Then Fr. David shares about his Christmas; he spent the time with family. They also discuss their favorite grocery stores.
(10:13) Fr. Craig defines the Mass. They discuss the Eucharist and the power of the Cross. The Cross is the first thing processed into the Mass and is always present near the altar. They discuss how to spot an accurate crucifix. Fr. Craig talks about his experience casting crucifixes.
(17:14) Fr. David invites Fr. Craig to go through a quick overview of the structure of the Mass. Mass begins with a confession of our sins and our need for God. Then it’s the Liturgy of the Word; we read God’s Word and ask Him to let it take root in our soul. They discuss the transformative power of the Word of God how it’s supposed to take root in our souls.
(26:05) Preaching is one of Fr. Craig’s favorite things to do. He loves to share why he believes in God, why he is happy, and what God has done for him.
(29:00) “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ” – St. Jerome. Fr. David suggests reading the Mass readings before you come to Mass and think about what you would preach on for that passage.
(29:45) The Mass mirrors the way the Jews would worship: offering sacrifice. The Liturgy of the Eucharist is the second part of the Mass. The Eucharist is the sacrifice that bridges the gap between God and man through Jesus. The priest is an active participant in this mystery.
(34:00) One of Fr. Craig’s fears in becoming a priest was, “Do I have enough to offer? What can I give to the Lord? And would it be good enough?” The Gospel story of the multiplication of the loaves and the fishes (John 6:1-15) spoke to Fr. Craig. The story tells how a young lad brings forward his meager offering, and Jesus feeds the people. This story showed Fr. Craig that the Lord takes what little we have and magnifies it. “If we don’t have any young men coming forward to be priests, the people will not be fed.”
(35:35) A question that came up in discernment for Fr. David: am I worthy? The answer is “No.” But the Lord does not call the qualified. He qualifies those who are called.
(36:26) A challenge: next time you’re at Mass, listen to the Eucharistic prayer. Who is this directed toward? What is saying Mass like for a priest?
(39:00) Fr. Craig shares stories of epic priests, referencing books such as “He Leadeth Me,” “With God in Russia,” and “Priestblock.”
(41:21) Fr. Craig discusses the two most vivid moments in which he is reminded that he is a priest of Jesus Christ, the moments when he feels most deeply that God is active within him. They discuss the awesome privilege to make Jesus present the same way he was 2000 years ago, and what it feels like to be “in persona Christi” as a priest. And the reality that the Mass connects us to the mystical body of Christ, His Church. Scott Hahn’s “The Lamb’s Supper” is mentioned.
(55:00) “Why couldn’t Jesus just stay on earth?” asks Fr. David. Jesus had to the bring the offering of Himself into the
Fr. John Riccardo
(0:55) Fr. Craig Giera and Fr. David Pellican introduce guest Fr. John Riccardo, the executive director of Acts XXIX, to share his vocation story and the many twists and turns he experienced along his path to the priesthood. Fr. John shares about a homily from a brother priest on a difficult moral issue which deeply affected him.
(8:00) Fr. John discusses with Fr. Craig and Fr. David the inherent desire for greatness and pursuing a life of meaning by rising up to the challenge. They discuss how, ultimately, the call to greatness is the call to love God and your neighbor.
(12:00) Fr. John takes listeners through his vocation story, reflecting on hearing the Lord clearly speak to him to call him to the priesthood, from where he began his journey at Sacred Heart Major Seminary which solidified his call to his vocation.
(20:00) In reflecting on their various struggles encountered during their journeys in the priesthood, Fr. John discusses with Fr. Craig and Fr. David the ways in which grace has upheld them, and God has provided everything they needed even in the most difficult moments.
(30:00) Fr. John observes how many of the qualities needed to be a good husband and a good father in a marriage are equally needed and used in the priesthood, and how the level at which you are able to give of yourself and share these gifts is only amplified through a vocation to the priesthood.
(39:00) Fr. John reflects on his time at Sacred Heart, living and studying theology in Rome, the struggles he experienced being away from home, and the transformative experience he had with the Lord while there, deepening in his faith.
(44:00) Fr. John, Fr. Craig, and Fr. David talk about the importance of discernment for any man who thinks he may be called to the priesthood. They illustrate examples of how, through giving God an opportunity to help with discernment, you reach a place of peace.
(48:10) Fr. John shares how his father inspired him by offering his blessing on pursuing his vocational call. He mentions that this blessing gave him permission to discern the Lord’s plan for his life.
(55:05) Fr. John offers his perspective on preaching as an act of listening to what God wants to say and encourages listeners to not be afraid to risk everything for Him.
(58:08) Fr. John leads closing prayer with Fr. Craig and Fr. David.
Bishop Battersby's Vocation Story
(0:45) Fr. Craig introduces the latest guest, Bishop Gerard Battersby, alongside his co-host Fr. David. Auxiliary Bishop Battersby shares a blessing with a recent Families of Parishes Commissioning Ceremony while Fr. David talks about his new appointment as the note-taker for the Presbyteral Council.
(8:45) Fr. David talks about how he remembers in seminary when Fr. Battersby received the call to become a bishop and the motto he chose for his episcopacy. Bishop Battersby shares that his motto “In Sinu Patris” (That we live in the bosom of the Father and the Father’s embrace) comes from the Gospel of St. John and the writings of Blessed Columba Marmion.
(10:15) Fr. David shares that during his priestly ordination he gave out cards with an image of El Greco’s depiction of the Trinity and how it relates to Bishop Battersby’s episcopal motto. And Fr. Craig explains that he quoted Psalm 31 on his ordination card.
(11:55) Bishop Battersby shares his vocation story including the fact that his uncle was a priest for the Archdiocese of Detroit and how his passing deeply affected him. He reflects that while studying abroad in Ireland at the age of 19, he had an illumination at a youth hostel in Scotland that he was going to be a priest. However, despite how clear the call was at the time, he struggled with it for the next 14 years.
(15:30) Bishop Battersby explains how he drew closer to the Lord in prayer, particularly during Mass, and learning about Him, he began to fall more deeply in love with Him. The idea of priesthood kept returning despite his best efforts to pursue other things and cast it from his heart. He even bargained with God telling Him he would do anything so long as he could get married and have a family.
(17:16) His Excellency recounts that one day before class at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, he visited the chapel and was in anguish over the fact he knew the Lord wanted him to be a priest and that he didn’t want it. He remembers later telling God that he loved Him but couldn’t be a priest, and the Lord responding to him literary, “You don’t have to.” Shocked and delighted, Bishop Battersby exclaims the beauty of hearing the Lord’s voice and the love contained in Him.
(20:00) Bishop Battersby explains the change that occurred in him and the freedom he experienced after hearing God’s voice whether in fact he was called to be a priest or not. Acknowledging that his call to the priesthood may sound like an anti-vocation story, he emphasizes that the Lord desires us to be free to love Him and say yes to following His will for our lives.
(25:30) Fr. Craig responds to Bishop Battersby that his story is not unique amongst men discerning a call to the priesthood. He describes that God calls us to our vocation out of love because He is love, which Bishop Battersby quips is not just a slogan. Fr. Craig then asks His Excellency follow-up questions based on his story. Bishop Battersby recounts that after returning from Ireland, he contacted the seminary and met with Fr. Don Archambault, the pre-formation director, at the time on several occasions to explore the idea of becoming a priest.
(28:50) Bishop Battersby mentions that one day Fr. Archambault sent him to meet with a parish priest to learn more about the priesthood. However, that meeting with that priest only confirmed, at the time, that he didn’t want to live an unhappy life. He continues that despite a successful career and a nice house and cars, he wasn’t happy. Bishop Battersby emphasizes that we want love and to be fulfilled in love, which answers our deepest needs.
(32:15) Fr. Craig asks follow-up questions on the rest of his vocation story, and His Excellency returns to his experience of hearing the Lord’s voice in the chapel at the seminary. He describes that within six weeks, he applied to the seminary, and later received confirmations during his time there that the Lord was calling him to the priesthood. Fr. Craig talks about a c
Great show with great potential
I’m so excited about this project and look forward to the conversations that will take place. I truly hope everyone -but most especially discerning men - give this a listen as a means to help them personally discern Gods will more easily.
Great listen with lots of great information. Can’t wait to hear more.
Chill and informative
Good convo about discernment by two easy going priests. Loved it