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July 3, 2008 Edition

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Trusting in the Spirit: Promoting vocations
Brother Dutton inspires patriotism

Trusting in the Spirit:
Promoting vocations

Trusting in the Spirit 

Grant Emmel 

As we fully enter into the summer "ordinary" time of the year the parishes in the Diocese of Madison are waiting on the Implementation Commission's replies to their Trusting in the Spirit Implementation Plans which should be arriving shortly.

As previously said, these plans give a concrete methodology for how the parishes within each cluster will work together to achieve the directives that the Bishop placed before them last October. We've begun discussing those directives that apply to all clusters, all parishes, in the diocese, namely the General Directives, and this week we'll continue with the second of four articles on them.

The second General Directive that we'll discuss is:

Pray and do all you can
to increase vocations to ordained,
consecrated life, and lay ministry

To anyone who has been listening to anything the Bishop has talked about in the nearly five years he has been the spiritual leader of the diocese, these should be familiar words.

Additionally, the Implementation Guidebook has a whole section (5a) on what a parish can do to promote vocations. We take a look at just a couple of ideas that will give a parish a lot of "bang for their buck": Pray, Join Serra, Ask.


We need to be reminded of our filial relationship, one befitting a son or daughter, with our Father in Heaven. Thus, he is there waiting for us to ask him to help us in our time of need.

Vocations contacts

Janesville Serra Club:
   Clarence Lornson, 608-754-2965

Madison Serra Club:
   Tom Nelson, 608-821-3093

Southwest Vocations Club:
   Joe Timmerman, 608-568-7234

Diocesan Vocations Office:

As Catholics, a people centered on Christ, we are a sacramental people, with the Bishop and his brother priests in persona Christi. Without priests, our path to holiness and thus to heaven would be no easier than for our protestant brothers, who don't operate with all of the sacramental "tools" that have been given us by Christ. We need priests, so we need to ask our Father for priests.

The most fruitful way is by praying for them and especially in Holy Hours of Adoration in front of the Blessed Sacrament. There are a number of places and times where there is Perpetual Adoration where you can pray in front of Jesus exposed for all to adore (maybe you could even start it in your parish), but, guaranteed, the time spent in front of Jesus in the Tabernacle is very effective in communicating to our Lord our deep need for priests.

The Serra Club

No, not the Sierra Club (environmental concern) but the Serra Club (vocations concern). The Serra Club (www.serraus.org is the link to the USA Council of Serra International) is an international group of people whose mission is to "foster, affirm, and promote vocations to ministry in the Catholic Church."

This club has been in existence since 1935 with nearly 20,000 individuals in 36 countries and is part of the "Pontifical Work for Priestly Vocations within the Sacred Congregation for Seminaries and University Studies." Thus it has the highest support of the Holy Father and bishops throughout the world. We are very blessed to have strong vocations clubs in the Diocese of Madison, who do much to support our bishop, but who need your help.

The Madison Serra Club, Janesville Serra Club, and the Southwest Vocations Club all have regular meetings, programs, and events where one can get involved to the degree one is able (see box).


There is a Bible verse (Romans 10:13-15) where the fact that we are a sacramental people is clearly linked to the priesthood. "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? And how can people preach unless they are sent?"

As it is written, "How beautiful are those who bring the good news!" It is clear what we must do to help persons recognize their vocation: ask men about whether they ever considered the priesthood; ask women whether they have ever considered religious life; asking whether marriage is what God is calling them to.

In our massively communications-connected world, it still revolves around simple face to face conversations about the important of recognizing God's call to one's vocation, a vocation that He has known about since you were knit in your mother's womb.

There are many other ways for you to get involved with promoting vocations but these three will go a long way toward increasing ALL vocations.

Msgr. Jim Bartylla, and Sr. Marcia Vinje, both in the Office of Vocations for the Diocese of Madison, have a lot of ideas and ways for you to help. Contact them to see what you can do in your parish and even in your home.

"Do all you can" should put a lot of pressure on each one of us to help the Bishop with this part of his ministry. We don't have to have all the answers, but we do have to do our part, with Christ's help and by continuing to be . . . Trusting in the Spirit.

If you have any questions or comments, contact us at trustinginthespirit@straphael.org or mail us at Trusting in the Spirit, 702 S. High Point Rd., Madison, WI 53719.

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Brother Dutton inspires patriotism

Independence Day on July 4 reminds us of the patriotism of Brother Ira Joseph Dutton.

Brother Dutton served as a captain in the Union Army during the Civil War. He was engaged in many battles. After the war ended, he volunteered to find the dead, scattered on various battlefields. Then he brought them to a common burial site which eventually became a national cemetery.

Brother Dutton also heroically served the Molokai lepers for 44 years while Father Damien, his close friend, ministered to them for 16 years.

Life of Brother Dutton

Ira Dutton was born in Stowe, Vt., on April 27, 1843. In 1847 his family moved to Janesville, Wis., where he spent his youth. Ira Dutton got his first part-time job at the age of eight or nine working for the Janesville Gazette.

Brought up in Episcopalian traditions, he was home-schooled by his mother until age 12. Then he enrolled at Milton Academy (Milton College).

After the war, the pressures of a failed business and his broken marriage caused him to drink heavily. After one heavy drinking spree in July of 1876, he realized that he needed God's help. He made and kept a vow never to touch a drop of whiskey again.

He sought atonement for his sins and embraced the Catholic faith. Later he entered the Trappist Monastery of Our Lady of Gethsemani in Kentucky. This is probably why he was called Brother Dutton in later life. But after 20 months of strict discipline, he realized that monasticism was not his true vocation. So with the blessing of the abbot, he left the monastery.

Ministering on Molokai

When he learned of Father Damien's need for help with the lepers, Ira Dutton gave away all of his possessions and volunteered to help him. He never asked for any recompense and worked heroically with Father Damien for two years and eight months before Father Damien died.

After Father Damien died, Brother Dutton faithfully continued his work. He washed sores, did rudimentary surgery, dug graves, helped on construction projects, did accounting, and much more. Also he communicated well with the outside world and made many aware of the plight of lepers.

In 1930 Brother Dutton met Fr. Joseph Hanz, pastor of St. Jude Parish in Beloit, who in 1926 had named their new school in honor of Brother Dutton. Brother Dutton died on March 26, 1931.

In life and death

Brother Dutton's patriotism, faith, and heroic care of Molokai lepers can inspire us. In recognition of his patriotism, a Civil War flag flies over his grave next to Father Damien's grave at St. Philomena Church in Kalawao, Molokai.

Every president from Theodore Roosevelt to Franklin Roosevelt praised Brother Dutton's accomplishments. In 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt sent the Great White Fleet to dip their colors to this heroic patriot. This reminded the lepers that the United States had not forgotten them. Also President Calvin Coolidge wrote his obituary to the nation. Currently, efforts are ongoing to keep Brother Dutton's memory alive by asking the postal service to issue a stamp in honor of him.

As a sign that we have not forgotten Brother Dutton, as we near Independence Day, let us pray for him, honor him, show devotion to him, and try to further his cause by learning and by sharing more about him.

Fr. Don Lange is a pastor emeritus in the Diocese of Madison.

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