Sunday, November 04, 2007

Fr. Francis Mary Stone of EWTN needs our prayers

I was shocked to hear this letter read on "Life on the Rock" on EWTN tonight. Fr Francis Mary Stone, the host of my daughters' and my favorite show, wrote the following letter, transcribed by Wisconsin Catholic.
Dear Family,
Regretfully, I have a message that does not come without significant pain to both you and me. I have to tell you in all honesty and truth, that I have been personally involved with helping a widow and her struggling family. Over the course of time, the mother and I have grown very close. As a result, I am compelled to take some time off to prayerfully and honestly discern my future.
I am truly sorry of the impact this may have on so many. I am not unaware of the gravity and magnitude of the situation, yet after much wise counsel, it is really something that I must deal with now for the good of all. With that said, it is best that I deal with it away from EWTN.

Therefore, I have asked for and graciously been granted some extended time to prayerfully discern my vocation. To those who are part of the EWTN family locally, and others throughout the world, especially all those who have supported me so faithfully in my priestly vocation and ministry here on Life on the Rock, I sincerely apologize. I ask for your prayers and understanding during this time that is so very difficult, but yet so very necessary.
Please lift me up in your humble prayers to Jesus through Mary, our Mother, in Grace and Mercy.
Fr Francis Mary, MFVA

Fr Anthony Mary then said "Brothers and Sisters of our EWTN family, this is a time in which Fr Francis and all involved are in great need of your prayers and your support as our family. Always remember that no one is beyond the power of God's Mercy or Redemption. And on Fr's behalf, I humbly ask that you pray for him. God bless you."
Fr Anthony Mary looked very shaken, and it felt like a body blow to hear this news.
We'll be praying for the priesthood of Fr. Francis Mary.
Christine Schult posts about it here.
Here is another post by American Papist.
HT Wisconsin Catholic

124 comments:

monica said...

I think they handled this well -- it's alarming, but it's all out there, nothing to gossip about or creatively embellish.

Years ago one of my favorites from ewtn just one day disappeared! It was Fr. Augustine Mary -- as far as I recall, there was no explanation, and no further reference to him. I always wished that they'd said at least something for those concerned about him. I think this was the right way to do it this time.

WICatholic said...

Thank you for the HT!

God bless!

Anonymous said...

What's the problem? He obviously fell in love with a woman and wants to be with her.

Seriously people, there is something wrong with YOU if you think priests are supposed to be eunuch slaves who exist for your benefit. They are men who are healthy and normal.

Good for Mr. Stone. Hope he marries her and lives happily.

Anonymous said...

I read on another blog that Fr Augustine Mary is now a parish priest, Fr James (can't remember his surname).

Anonymous, Fr Francis is married - to the Church. Imagine if a married man came home one day and said to his wife, "Darls I have been helping out this widow and I have become fond of her and I want to re think this whole marriage thing with you."

Neither marriage nor the priesthood are just until something better comes along.

We should all pray for Fr Francis.

Victoria

monica said...

Eunuch slaves? Well, I wouldn't put it like that, but He did say some will become eunuchs for the kingdom of God, and to some it will be given . . . the supernatural grace, that is, to live a celibate life.

It's biblical. Got a problem with it, take it up with the Creator of the Universe.

If Fr. Francis made a mistake and was not called to this, then he can be laicized. But more likely, it's a terrible life crisis/temptation, because young, healthy men don't typically dedicate their lives to God and vow a celibate life . . . on a whim. That is why he needs prayers.

Anonymous said...

The Roman church needs to rethink its celibacy policy. The Pope allows married priests in the Eastern Catholic curches and Episcopalian priests who become Catholic to become married Roman Catholic priests, so, why not allow the married priests throughout the Church? Perhaps ordain the permanent deacons as priests, or, at least, have married part-time priests assist in the parishes that need them.

Leticia said...

The Roman Church needs to do what the Holy Spirit leads it to do.
Since I am not aprised of what this is at the moment, I'll leave it to our capable Shepherd, Pope Benedict XVI.
Pray for Fr. Francis Mary Stone. We are in my house.

Anonymous said...

This just goes to show that even priest/clergy have human weaknesses and temptations and that they need our prayers as much as any laity person. I pray that he finds spiritual guidence through this difficult trial that he faces.

Anonymous said...

Christ was very clear when He said:

"..and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it." (Matthew 19:12)

Obviously, a man who becomes a priest must avoid any occasions which will tempt him away from his vows.

If we read the lives of the saints we discover that their lives were not easy. St. Francis threw himself into a thorny rosebush in order to fight the temptations of the flesh.

If our weakness is chocolate, we don't do ourselves any favors if spend a lot of time around chocolate; especially if we have decided to forfeit chocolate.

Let's all promise to pray for priests every single day, especially for Fr. Francis Mary, who is one of my favorite priests on EWTN.

Here is a great video about the path which Christ forged for all of us to follow:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=5crbtwXYc1U

Anonymous said...

When I was ordained I wrote in my own hand and signed that I understood what celibacy was and accepted it. No one forces priests to be celibate. It is a gift and a choice. Some priests find it difficult to keep, just like some married people find fidelity difficult. A failure does not mean that we should change marriage and allow for infidelity does it? I do hope that Father will remain faithful to his promise. Pray for priests. It is not easy to be a priest today and those who denigrate celibacy make it harder for us. Celibacy is not going to change, so help us to live it faithfully and fruitfully.
Fr. J

Anonymous said...

Fr. Francis has given 17 years of his life to the Catholic Church. What dedication! Imagine what a wonderful church we would have if each one of us gave 17 years of our life to Jesus.

As regards married Catholic priests, I think that they should allow deacons who have been successfully married for 25 years or more to become priests.

God bless and thanks to Fr. Francis. Alice from Birmingham

Marie said...

Concerning celibacy.

I am a single mom.
I am trying to live a life in accordance to God's Commandments.
That means no sexual relations outside of marriage.
What makes it harder for a priest than for me???
That argument is bogus and ridiculous.
And it is a tool of the devil.


We are NOT animals.
We have free-will.
We do NOT have to have sex to be whole.
We are created in the image of God and deserve that dignity that comes with being a child of His.

Fr. Francis must follow God's call for his life and it is not in us to judge.
But, to blame it on celibacy is completely insane.

Anonymous said...

YES, I AND MANY OTHERS WILL PRAY FOR HIM BUT I FEEL FR. FRANCIS MARY STONE HAS CAUSED MUCH DAMAGE TO THE CHURCH AND IT WAS VERY SELFISH OF HIM TO TAKE THESE STEPS. HE SHOULD HAVE TAKEN THE RIGHT STEPS IN THIS RELATIONSHIP WHEN HE FELT THE FIRST STIRRINGS OF ANY ROMANTIC FEELINGS AND REFERRED THIS WOMAN AND HER PROBLEMS TO ANOTHER PRIEST AND A MUCH OLDER ONE. THIS WOMAN ALSO SHOULD HAVE HAD THE WISDOM TO CUT THIS OFF IN THE EARLY STAGES. HOW SAD THIS IS FOR HER EXTENDED FAMILY, FRIENDS AND OTHERS. MUCH PRAYER IS CERTAINLY NEEDED IN THIS SITUATION. wHAT DAMAGE THIS HAS DONE TO THE YOUTH WHO LOOKED UP TO HIM. SO SAD.

Anonymous said...

anon ~ This isn't about the celibacy policy. Additionally, in the Eastern Catholic churches, once a man is ordained to the priesthood, he can't marry. He may be married and then ordained, however. The permanent deaconate in the Roman Catholic Church is the same thing.

Changing the discipline of celibacy isn't the answer people outside the Church (and some within) seem to think it is. Now, more than ever, in this over-sexed culture, we need to see that example of heroic virtue. Not cave in to the demands of the ininformed and unspiritual.

~ Adoro

Anonymous said...

I know this may sound facetious but I'm dead serious. I was far more shocked and disturbed to hear that Dunbeldore was gay than that Fr.Francis has fallen in love with a widow!
Signed: An 80 year old grandma.

Anonymous said...

Monica, Fr. Augustine Mary is now called Fr. James Hedderman and is working for the Diocese of Birmingham in Huntsville at Good Shepherd Church. He is a WONDERFUL priest and we are so blessed to have him continue his ministry in our diocese. What an honor to have him with us! I pray for him everyday! God bless. Alice in Birmingham

Anonymous said...

Let us pray for Father Francis, and remember that he is an ordained priest forever married to the Divine spouse.

Nancy said...

I think this a time of temptation for Fr. Francis Mary Stone. He is doing so much good for the Church that the devil is trying to tempt him away. We will be praying for him in our home.

Anonymous said...

It is truely sad about Fr. Francis.
Is there a process of annulment from the priesthood? It is a commitment this individual made with the church. If he does decide to marry this women, he should also e excommunicated just like Catholics who remarry after a divorce and do not have an annulment.

Anonymous said...

For those who think marriage is the answer to our so-called priest problem, I have something to think about. Supose, the Catholic Church decides to allow priests to marry--Fr. Francis marries his widow friend, remains a priest and five or so years down the road, he's counciling another young woman for some preistly reason and again falls in love--then what? Let's face it, satan hates the Church especially the priests who bring us Jesus. We must always and continually pray for them as they are surely constantly attacked.

Anonymous said...

Of course, I was so very saddened by this announcement on LOTR. However, if the woman involved is reading this, I would hope that she sincerely search her conscience regarding Fr. Francis and his eternal vocation as priest. All she has to do is tell him that she in good conscience could not lure a priest away from his God-given call. I could not live with myself and would fear the day I would meet the Lord at the end of my life if I had tempted a priest to leave the priesthood and his God-given call to serve His people.

David said...

rethinking celibacy because someone sins is like saying we should just let alcoholics drive drunk. If a man can't be faithful to religious vows what makes you think he can be faithful to marital ones?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, have you not got a clue? Fr. Francis Mary is married to the church, just like Victoria explained it clearly and very well! Do you want for the priests to be married to both the bride that is the church and someone else? I'll let you in on a secret, buddy. There are some Protestant priests who know what a pain in the butt to do that, and think the Catholic Church is right on with the celibacy thing.

Anonymous said...

EWTN did wrong by unnecessarily publicising this situation, regardles of whether Father Francis Mary wanted them to do so. They have given scandal, and shot themselves in the foot in the sense that it will be difficult for him to return to ministry with them. As for Father, he is wise to withdraw from public ministry, and wise to pray. It is no sin to fall in love, only an opportunity for sacrifice. To speak of "redemption" is to pre-judge that Father has sinned by breaking his vows. It was very wrong for them to broadcast. Even if Fr. Francis had broken his vows, it would be wrong to broadcast the fact unless justice or the counterbalancing good of others required it. I am surprised that the people at EWTN don't know this basic truth of Catholicism.

David said...

Sound's like this priest need our prayers, he is obviously conflicted. He is confused about needing to discern his priestly vocation though since he is already a ordain priest, his vocation is pretty clear. It sound's like he is conflicted about if he should honor the commitment he made on his ordination or not though. I feel for this man, but the choice too me is pretty clear, he is a priest, will always remain a priest.

Pamela said...

It definitely sounds like he needs our prayers. Though he is confused on the part were he says he needs to dicern his priestly vocation.

He is a ordained priest so his vocation in that matter is pretty clear. He is a priest and nothing he can do can change that. At ordination a indelible mark on his soul was made, and he is a priest. Now the question is whether he will honor his commitment that he made at ordination or not.

Though I can understand how this can happen, and feel for his situation; but he should turn to his faith, really work on his prayer life, and trust that God will help him handle any situation that would put him in conflict with his vocation.

Betty said...

Anonymous wrote: The Pope allows ... Episcopalian priests who become Catholic to become married Roman Catholic priests.

That is true, under a special Pastoral Provision approved by JPII in 1980. But if their spouse dies, they cannot marry again.

Here is information about the Pastoral Provision.

Anonymous said...

The orthodox church split in the end of the first millenia; it wasn't until after 1200 AD that the Roman Catholic Church required all priests to be celibate, and not until 1400's that it really became enforceable. We also have had pre 1220 AD Popes who were married.

The Church is lead by the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit did forsee the need for holy and unhindered priests to battle the Reformation and the hersies of this millenia.... If the Pope wants to continue this tradtion, good. I feel better going to confession or seeking advice from a celibate priest with out the worries of him thinking about his wife and kids at home.

gladys said...

on numerous occasions Protestant and Jewish clergy have commended the Catholic church for itd policy on celibacy. They say being part of the clergy is very trying on their marriages. The divorce rate is very high among them

Anonymous Father M said...

My guess is Father Francis Mary will not be back. When I was in the seminary, the Spiritual Director warned us that we will fall in love at least once every ten years. It is normal for a young priest to experience attraction to women. Naturally, man was created to his leave his mother and father and be joined to a woman. It is in nature. It is not surprising priests will find some women attractive and may feel longing to be joined to her.

I, myself, went through a period of discerning whether or not to leave the priesthood. It had nothing to do with celibacy or falling in love. A the time I felt a certain nothingness. I "lost" God. It was so bad at one point that I only said Mass once a week and ver prayed. I'm sorry, but not all of us are as strong as Mother Theresa of Calcutta. Some of it was my fault and some the fault of my Bishops and seminary (I went to a good seminary). I am trying to do what is best. I sometimes feel I would be better off petitioning for a laicisation.

The reason why I am telling you this is because there are many priests like Father Francis. He is a mere man who needs the Father like everyone else. I feel the MFVA Brothers, for their sake, should not be on EWTN. I would prefer they work behind the scenes until the have proven over time they can "survive."

Anonymous said...

Pray for the woman involved as well. She is doing wrong by becoming involved with a priest.

monica said...

Thanks Alice - it's great to hear that Fr. Augustine/James is serving as a great priest. Yay! I've wondered for years.

To those espousing (pardon the pun) married priesthood - I was under the impression that after ordination, one cannot marry. Is that true? If so, allowing married priests does not mean that priests can marry, it simply means that already married men can become priests.

Anonymous said...

We are to pray for all of His Shepherds as we know the devil usually stikes at them first.
That being said, Fr. Francis is a child of God first, and any prayerful decisions he makes is between him and God, not us...we are to pray that "Gods will be done", just as Mary pronounced, and prayed for.
I still wondor what happened to Fr. John Mary....he was so on fire with the Spirit of the Lord at Mass one time...again, all priests need our prayers...for Gods will, not ours, to be done. Shalom!

Anonymous said...

St. Michael defend Father Francis in this spiritual battle. He is a wonderful priest who has touched so many lives. During this time of his discerning, increase your prayers and fast for him. Ask for the Blessed Mother's protection for her beloved son, Father Francis.

Priests are under spiritual attack because only they can bring us Jesus in the Eucharist, absolve our sins in the Sacrament of Confession, and anoint us when sick.

The woman involved is attractive to holiness, but she is doing wrong by becoming involved with a man, who is a priest, married to the Bride of Christ, the Church.

Anonymous said...

Those of you who are anti-Catholic and/or dissenters...why do you read and post on a Catholic blog? What exactly is the point? Just go be a Protestant and don't concern yourself with what the Catholic Church teaches and practices. To be perfectly honest, it really doesn't concern you.

Anonymous said...

I think this is why it is hard for single, unattached women to get Priests as Spiritual Directors. The Priests want to avoid any type of closeness with an unattached woman, which in this day and age is probably the right thing to do and is commendable. Except, it is very hard for single women to find Spiritual Directors because of it.

Dan said...

I agree EWTN made a mistake to publicize the reason for Father Francis' sabbatical. I'm glad my son and I weren't watching tonight. He looks up to Father Francis a lot, and he is in the years of his life where he needs to go against today's crowd to obey God by remaining celibate before marriage. They should've just said the church is allowing him to take a sabbatical and that he needs our prayers. This is what I'm going to tell my son when he asks me why Father Francis isn't on the show the next time we watch.

In the meantime, we'll pray that Father Francis opens his heart to the Lord, because if he asks in the name of the Lord for the strength to overcome his current trial in order to fulfill his priestly vows to a church that badly needs his leadership, then the Lord will give him this strength (John 14:13). The widow needs our prayers too. Perhaps her enlightenment to what the Father's will is for Father Francis can put an end to the ordeal.

The OX said...

My prayers will include Bishop Baker as the Shepherd of EWTN. He will NOT try to sweep the problem under the table as so many of our Bishops have done in the Sex Abuse Scandal. My prayers for Fr. Francis Mary Stone will include his continued fight for the revearsal of Roe v Wade. As a priest at EWTN he would be limited in his game plan in attacking the Abortion problems.

Jeanne said...

I feel such an ache in my heart. What will be even more damaging than this announcement to the youth that looked up to him, will be if he actully does decide to leave the priesthood.

St. Francis of Assisi, pray for your son.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Stone was always very harsh about those who are living on the margins, including persons with a homosexual orientation. He was cynical about religious persons who adopted anything other than an old-fashioned, exaggerated habit. He seemed like an angry and conflicted person. I'm not surprised that he was dealing with something big on the side, in fact I have long suspected along these lines. I was not sure if it was gay-oriented or straight-oriented, but he did not strike me as a person whose sexuality was integrated into his religious life. It always seemed to me that the old-style conspicuous habit (that he wore even during recreation) was a cover-up for something. Now it seems that such is the case.

George said...

EWTN did wrong by unnecessarily publicising this situation, regardles of whether Father Francis Mary wanted them to do so.

I think it was necessary, in this case. Sadly, in this day of scandal in the priesthood, I have to say most of us were relieved to hear it was a woman and not a child or man.

Unfortunately, I have it from a good source that EWTN publicly released only the tip of the iceberg with regards to this. There is MUCH more to the story and it ain't pretty.

Anonymous said...

First, thank you anonymous Fr. M. God bless you.

Secondly, the announcement was as specific as it was to avoid any gossip that Father's disappearance (and it should be noted his existence has basically been wiped off of EWTN...looking for video of a LOTR from his time as host? Sorry! Gone!) was about, frankly, a boy. There would be no reason to think so, but the absence of any specific allusion to a member of the opposite sex would lead some to speculate in that direction - especially (I repeat) how dramatic and swift his excision from EWTN has been.

And yes, you can trust Bishop Baker.

anthonypadua said...

Discern your vocation? Isn't that what a life of prayer is supposed to help you accomplish PRIOR to taking vows? Isn't that why religious orders have postulancies?

How can a person "discern" their vocation once they've made their choice? My parents have been married 52 years. I guess after 7 children and 29 grandkids, they should take time off from their vows to each other to "discern" their vocation of having freely entered the married state.

I guess this is the age wherein nobody takes responsibility for what they either say or do...

Anonymous said...

This has nothing to do with celibacy but more to do with the clergy of the Novus Ordo of Vatican II feeling they are able to do whatever they pleased

Scandal? How long has he been "involved" with this widow? While still under the vows of celibacy?

This is just another nail in the coffin of the church until she decides to once again embrace all that made her great, her true mass, her sacraments (unaltered as they have been changed since Vatican II), her catechesism, her code of canon law, all gutted by Vatican II

Anonymous said...

This is just another of the fruits of Vatican II. How long was he involved with this "widow"??

The mass, sacraments, canon law, catechism, customs, everything has been gutted these past 40 years in the attempt to be modern, something that Pope Pius X warned us about but with aggornimento embraced by John XXIII, one can only see the fruits this false council and ecumenism has brought

I guess the only thing worse is if he was leaving for a man

Anonymous said...

I guess I just don't get it. I thought we were to have compassion for our fellow human beings. We should be praying for all of our priests and clergy. They have a tough job. We should not rush to judgement. We shouldn't blame celibacy, the habits, Vatican II, the widow, EWTN or anyone else. We are all locked in mortal combat and our enemy is not flesh and blood. Their will be casualties in this warfare as there has been since the fall of Adam and Eve.

Ray

Anonymous said...

http://dymphnaroad.blogspot.com/2007/11/sad-sad-sad-today.htm

The above link is for Dymphna's Road Blog. She has written some excellent advice for women who interact with priests and married men.

Victoria

Anonymous said...

So another pseudo-priest has left?
GOOD! This guy may be a priest in the New Church, but he is not a priest in the True Church.

Now he will stop murdering souls with his errors and quit pretending to be a Catholic priest!

You can't be a Catholic priest unless you are ordained by a Catholic bishop after going through the 8 steps to become a priest (Porter, Lector, Deacon, etc). The Catholic Church anathematized those who said that it doesn't take those steps to become a Catholic priest.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said...
What's the problem? He obviously fell in love with a woman and wants to be with her.

Seriously people, there is something wrong with YOU if you think priests are supposed to be eunuch slaves who exist for your benefit. They are men who are healthy and normal.

Good for Mr. Stone. Hope he marries her and lives happily."

Good grief, do you even have a clue about what the priesthood means?

Pray for Father Francis, if you can't find anything else useful to do.

--Kenshin

AL said...

I am more than a little disappointed with some of the comments I've read........no matter...I think that there are many out there that simply do not understand the spiritual life. It's certainly not for the faint hearted and is an extremely painful process of spiritual healing. Those of us who are on this journey must keep always in the forefront of our thoughts that we are ALL weak and fall easily into tempatation, despite our best intentions and efforts to the contrary. I'm sure that we can all relate to the scourge of conscience when we embark on a path contrary to God's plan in our lives and Father must be experiencing this now. Let's pray that he perseveres in prayer, summons the strength to resist this most difficult of all temptations, and return to his most blessed calling.

vows said...

To all concerned: We must pray for the network and all involved with this sitution. I've personally known atleast four priests in my lifetime that left the priesthood as a result of interacting with distraught women. One of them is related and I'm totally against what he did. He was never properly dispensed and arrogantly went so far as to say atleast one mass AFTER he married. I also have a priest-friend who was being repeatedly hit on by a separated woman sending gifts and love letters. He told her to stop sending them, cut off all communication with her, and remains strong in his priestly ministry to this day. My feeling is that once a priest ALWAYS a priest. It doesn't make it right that some do whatever they want to. They were called to be priests and will continue to be priests even after death. Priestly discernment should be finished before priestly ordination.
Remember that Judas was called to be an apostle to show that there will always be scandals in the church. Again, I will pray for everyone.

Anonymous said...

This is indeed very, very sad news to hear regarding someone who has touched my life in a very special way. It is times like these when prayer is very powerful. If Fr. Francis ever reads these comments I hope they have a positive influence--and that he can draw upon the love from others to do the right thing. We have to pray that he can "finish the race" and overcome this particular spirtual challenge in his life. I agree with those who comment with regards to the spirtual battle that all of us go thru--"strike the shepherd, spread the sheep" Padre Pio said the greatest sin is "curiosity". Fr John Corapi Said "the devil is like a pitbull on a rope-- don't get within range". Mother Theresa said "we're not called to be successful, rather, to be faithful". He is going thru trying times right now-- as are the rest of us who have been touched by him. Hopefully he will overcome obstacles in his life to become the person Christ wants him to be. I think we also need to pray for all past guests on the program who have been touched by Father Francis-- the personal interactions they had i'm sure touched their faith, as does hearing this news. As someone allluded to, perhaps EWTN should give the program to lay people. I would vote for Jason and Crystalina Evert (a young/dynamic couple who to this point in their lives have, ironically enough, focused on chastity). THe program needs hosts that can relate to young people, and the posted comments of someone in this order at EWTN were very insightful....

-anonymous in detroit


PS--I hope that at some point, but can understand why it may not be in the immediate future, that EWTN will place the back log of archived ROCK episodes back on the internet website b/c there are many strong testimonies from lay people who have been on the show that can still serve to help others.

Anonymous said...

IF PEOPLE CAN'T KEEP ONE VOW-- HOW DO YOU EXPECT THEM TO MAINTAIN ANOTHER, OR TWO??????????????

Donna Fulchino said...

I am so very disappointed in Fr. Mary Francis Stone for the choice he made to counsel this woman in the first place and for the choice he did not make to refer her to a more appropriate counselor in the clergy. This reflects a weakness on his part and it grieves me to think he may reap what he sows if he chooses her over his priestly vow. This was, and still is I hope, an opportunity for him to be strong, stand tall for the Truth and make the right decision...to take the high road.
We are all faced with these difficult situations on the spiritual journey and as a consecrated single woman, in love with Jesus, at times I have had to say no to the temptations for human love that have come my way.
I am sad to think that if Fr Mary Francis makes the lesser choice, and breaks his vow to his spouse, he may reap the same in time and be devastated by the outcome. God is so merciful but in some areas of our lives we do reap what we sow in just the exact same way.
It is wisdom or woe from my perspective.

Donna

WICatholic said...

Anon in Detroit:
"He program needs hosts that can relate to young people, and the posted comments of someone in this order at EWTN were very insightful...."

Posted comments at EWTN?

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Alice, for the word on Fr. (Augustine Mary) James Hedderman. I wondered about him for years, because the Missionary Friars of the Eternal Word (MFVA) and EWTN have always been, until now, 100% secretive about the MANY priests and brothers (and one deacon) who have left the friary. There was once a Father James, whose last name I never knew. There was Fr. John Mary (Joseph) Klobuchar who vanished (and, according to what I have read, was laicized). I don't remember any other names of the departed.

I thank God that one of the original five priests of the MFVA (from 1987) is still in his congregation. It is the very holy Fr. Joseph Mary (Wayne) Wolfe. [Another, Fr. Marion, remained and is now deceased.]

You might enjoy reading the following history of the early days of the MFVAs, which I found on the Internet:

"The date of the founding of the community is May 2, 1987, the feast of St. Athanasius, when [diocesan priest] Fr. Donat McDonagh was invested in the habit by Mother Angelica and received the religious name of Fr. Michael. The next day, on the feast of Sts. Philip and James, Wayne Wolfe received the habit and the religious name of Br. Joseph. After this, Frank Giglio of New Jersey, a wealthy businessman, left all his possessions and entered the community on September 8th, 1987, and received Br. Marion for his religious name; he became a member of the community in order to pursue a vocation to the brotherhood. Joseph Klobuchar of Michigan entered on May 19th of 1988 and upon his investiture on August 15 of the same year received the religious name of Br. John. Fr. Richard Mataconis, a Salesian for thirty-five years, joined the community on September 12th of 1989. He received Fr. Philip as his religious name. On June 3rd of 1990, James Hedderman from Ohio entered the community and three months later on September 8th received the habit and the religious name of Br. Augustine. Brs. Joseph, Marion, John, and Augustine, constitute the initial four men under formation within the Community of the Eternal Word who have continued direct affiliation with Mother Angelica and EWTN."

God be with you all.
PS: Please pray for Fr. Dominic Mary, who may be the next to leave. He seems overly "intoxicated" with what is falsely called "Traditionalist Catholicism."

Anonymous said...

Fr. Francis was, and still is, one of my favorite priests. He is SO tall. We had our picture taken w/him several years ago and told him that his 2nd vocation should be that of a basketball player! Yes, he IS conflicted, but, aren't we all in this mixed up life we live? Bad is considered good, good is considered bad and on and on. Let us pray for our dear Fr. Francis and ask God to put His hand on his shoulders and whisper in his ear to "come home to where your heart truly lies...with your Bride the Church." Whatever the outcome, Fr. Francis has courage to come out and speak of this personal matter for all ears to hear knowing of all the outrageous gossip that it would incur. Please, St. Francis, help our Fr. Francis now in his great hour of need.

Anonymous said...

I for one am glad EWTN and Fr. Francis Mary Stone acknowledged what has happened and has asked for our prayers. If this had not happened, then probably each one of you would be on this blog right now speculating why he is no longer on the show. There would be a total smear of him. He would have been everything from a child molester to a murderer. Instead he wanted the facts out, so this would not happen. He could then begin the prayerful healing and discernment of his vocation. Many think because he is already a priest he cannot discern his vocation. Let me be the first to tell you discernment is a constant process. He must now discern whether he is called to remain a priest.
May God bless him, show him mercy and bring him back to the fullness of the Church.

Anonymous said...

By his own admission, he has disclosed that he is discerning, this indicated he has already decided. If we in the married vocation can prove that we were not culpable in the full understanding of the covenant we entered into, then it is an shallow and a misunderstood marriage until a deeper conversion is embraced. With Fr Francis Mary's entering into the priesthood, and his long years of service to the Church, I CANNOT CONCLUDE THAT HE SUDDENLY WANTS TO LEAVE THIS LIFE BEHIND; and so therefore his authenticity has to be brought into question. What we need to pray for is his conversion and repentence and full acceptance and embracing of his priestly, eternal vocation as a In Persona Christi for the faithful of the Catholic Church. A priest is a priest forever. ... And to those who believe that the Church should permit married priests; this could be accepted eventually but would most likely follow along the guidelines of the Eastern Church where marriage is done before holy orders are undertaken. Those not married before entering the priesthood are not permitted to marry. This would not harm the Church in God's eternal plan for it. Just a few thoughts from Braeside ON.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Stone did not say he slept with this woman, just that he fell in love with her. Falling in love with someone isn't a sin, ACTING on it is. I think he has the "knight in shining armor" role now, a ready made family he grew close to helping the widow out after her husband died. She was vulnerable too. He certainly wasn't rich or anything like that. I know old priests that said some reasons given for not leaving are "where would I work, what would I do?" Some didn't have college educations. In the rectory, they had 3 meals and a bed and at one time, more respect. I pray daily for good vocations, good discernment, because it's a glorious life, but a hard one.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the poster that said the rumors would have been worse if they hadn't read something. Sad as it is, with the scandals not over, you wouldn't want anyone thinking he had been caught doing something with a child or another man. I am not lessening the damage so to speak, but you have to admit, the fallout would have been worse.
I know the rapport hasn't seemed the same this past year, some shows a little "stiff", some with passing comments about "Friars driving me crazy" how hard it is in group living, etc. A few years ago, the commraderie seemed happier, more joking, secret jokes, etc. I hope things work out for EWTN and prayers are numerous for them all.

WICatholic said...

Anonymous of Sat Nov 10, 09:03:
You wrote: "Let me be the first to tell you discernment is a constant process. He must now discern whether he is called to remain a priest."

He will always be a priest. He cannot change that. The only thing he could do is seek to be laicized.

However, I respectfully disagree with the rest of your statement as well. Vows were spoken.

I am wondering if you would give the same statement about a married man 'discerning' if he should leave his wife for the 'widow'...? That isn't a sarcastic comment. I have seen many good Catholics give that sort of advice over my life, sadly.

God bless!

WICatholic said...

Anonymous Sun Nov 11, 06:14 AM

Actually, Fr FM didn't even say that much. His words:
"Over the course of time, the mother and I have grown very close."

Mary said...

I agree if one day I come home to my husband and I tell him, sorry but I have been working with this person and we are very close to eachother, I will have to re-think about our marriage. NO!! if I would know that I am growing closer to that person I stay away from him/her, and Fr.Francis should know better. The devil works in many ways and uses everything and everybody in order to take souls away from God. We should pray for holy priests! that can advise people the way to go closer to God. Good priests is NOT enough! I will be praying for Fr.Francis. The divorced woman, should know better! there are too many men in other places!.

Anonymous said...

Let me be the first to tell you that discernment is a constant process!!! He is discerning whether he wants to remain active in the Priesthood. Most know that once ordained the indelible mark that is place on you is never removed. However, he can chose to leave active ministry and be laicized, giving him the option to be married. I do appreciate you pointing that out and giving me a chance to clarify my statement. Again, it appears that everyone feels "cheated". This is a man who before anything is a man. He has only human nature. God was the only one who had both divine and human nature. He perhaps made a mistake and is discerning what he is called to do. As for as your question about a married man leaving his wife for a widow, I would say the same thing. I would not advocate what he did, I would tell him counseling is in order and that the Church teaches against it. However, it is ultimatly his choice. It is then between him and God. He deserves our thanks for his service to the priesthood for the last 17 years. He deserves our prayers, and he deserves to be treated as we would like to be treated.
May God bless you all

Anonymous said...

I'm glad somebody pointed out that falling in love is not the same as sleeping with. Let's pray for Father without assuming something he didn't say.
As for women seeking spiritual direction, there are good female spiritual directors, including religious sisters. I am in my first of two years of formation to be certified as a spiritual director, and my own director has emphasized that he confers with women only with the door open so that others may see, though not hear.

snapshot said...

How tiring this whole discussion is. You'd think Father was the first priest to encounter such a problem.
Certainly we must pray for him (and her) but PLEASE stop pretending that he's going to discover something new and original if he spends enough time "discerning."
Face it: he's got the same problem Adam had -- a big ego and a tempting woman.
He needs to go to confession and admit that he let things get out of control, instead of pretending that this whole thing sort of caught him by surprise, etc. What hogwash!
Pray, pray, pray -- that he can muster up enough humility to confess his sin and do penance for the scandal he's caused.
And pray for the widow, too. What a grave mistake she's about to make. We all know what happens to people who give in to the Tempter in such a situation. No genuine happiness in this life and a dreadful punishment in the next -- for eternity. They must "discern" whether it's really worth it.
There are no excusing causes here; nothing that can make it right.

Anonymous said...

As Fr. Groeschel mentioned on his program "Sunday Night Live" today, we are in grave danger of committing the mortal sin of "detraction" if we spread this judgment (true or false) in any way. Let's take the log out of our own eye first!

Anonymous said...

"WICatholic said...

Anon in Detroit:
"He program needs hosts that can relate to young people, and the posted comments of someone in this order at EWTN were very insightful...."

Posted comments at EWTN?
Fri Nov 09, 01:53:00 PM 2007"


This short blurb on EWTN.com was obviously posted after your comment, but it is the most recent mention of Fr. Francis Mary on their site: Where is F. Francis Mary Stone?

Where is F. Francis Mary Stone
Question from KEN OBRIEN on 11/9/2007:

Will you please let me know where is Fr. Francis Mary Stone. I'm told he prepared a letter for the public. Where can I get a copy. Thanks, Ken OBrien
Answer by Fr. Jay Toborowsky on 11/10/2007:

I don't really know where Fr. Francis is right now. I am not assigned at EWTN, so I only know what most other people know. He has asked for a sabbatical to re-evaluate his vocation. This, though rare, is not unheard of. I know that on a recent episode of Life on the Rock, Fr. Anthony read a letter from Fr. Francis explaining this, but I don't think that letter has been published. Above all, he needs our prayers.

COPYRIGHT 2007


Google cache... in case it gets erased.

Anonymous said...

We live in a country where we are free to voice an opinion and a few posted here are difficult for me to agree with but gave me things to reflect on.

First, the directives of our Church are ones we cannot change. The Church has said no married priests and now there may be a priest or any number of priests who are dealing with a change in their commitment to the Church. Frankly, I don't know what is so scandalous about that. People grow into areas they didn't expect to experience. It can be a serendipity happening, nothing planned. Why should shame be attached to leaving the religious life unless it would be leaving God? (I've not been in the religious life, married for 37 years.)

Second, the comparison between a priest's vocation to the Church and a husband and wife seems to be one of those strange reasonings I have never figured out. A vocation is not the same as a marriage relationship although there are some similarities that have been drawn. As for a priest's vocation in a relationship with the Church or any religious person's vocation with the Church, it cannot be the same as a covenant relationship with a flesh and blood person. The Church is an institution, a community, spiritual, yes, but still a structure. It's not a mate in the sense of a human being. I'm not sure why that comparison is always made since it seems illogical to me and I hope people see the fallacy of that comparison.

Lastly, I try not to put God and people in a box. I have to ask myself questions like what if God was leading a priest into another ministry that he would not be effective at if he were a priest? That thought might be a shock to some, but I don't know what God is up to. Are we so locked in to our expectations of a priest's Christian walk that we have lost our sensibilities? Are we stuck in a paradigm in the Church where we are imposing norms on people? Are we arguing and praying for God's will to be done in a priest's life or trying to determine what we think it should be?

God bless our priests and religious who stay the course! God bless those who laicize and continue to live out the Christian life!

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have an opinion why EWTN has such trouble attracting priests? They are loyal, conservative, on TV, etc. Granted, Alabama isn't NY, but orders like Fr. Groechel's do so well. His is growing and has over 140 members in 10 years since they started it. His order is very strict and they live with really no "extras" at all. Just one example, but I was always perplexed why the nuns at EWTN thrived but the friars lost people or they decided not to go there. Brother Leo has been the only one for the last 2 years. Just curious what you thought.

Anonymous said...

I don't think we should be so quick to judge Fr. Francis as we don't want to be judged. The only thing to do is to pray for God's Will to be done in his life whatever it is. I believe everything happens for a reason, ane we can't begin to know the mind and designs of God in each of our lives.

Matthew S said...

I think lots of people have jumped to conclusions about Fr. Francis...I commented on that on my blog when I linked back to here.

Under the Mercy,
Matthew S.

Elly said...

"Second, the comparison between a priest's vocation to the Church and a husband and wife seems to be one of those strange reasonings I have never figured out. A vocation is not the same as a marriage relationship although there are some similarities that have been drawn. As for a priest's vocation in a relationship with the Church or any religious person's vocation with the Church, it cannot be the same as a covenant relationship with a flesh and blood person. The Church is an institution, a community, spiritual, yes, but still a structure. It's not a mate in the sense of a human being. I'm not sure why that comparison is always made since it seems illogical to me and I hope people see the fallacy of that comparison."

In response to this person, I must say that they should research Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body. Perhaps then they will understand that marriage is just as much a vocation as the religious life and that the priesthood is a covenant in exactly the same way as a marriage is. Human logic cannot be compared to God's.

I am sorry to hear of Father's difficulties but I have faith that God turns every circumstance - even human mistakes and sins - to His advantage. All any of us can and should do is pray for all those involved.

rev'd up said...

Absolutely breath taking that the Church survived nearly 2000 years without JP2's "theology of the body!" To think the Church and all previous popes were, in essence, heretics for not conceiving of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony as a vocation. Adam and Eve had a vocation to marriage but it took around 7000 years for anyone to realize it. Halleluja, for JP2.

Anonymous said...

I love Fr. Francis and all the Priest in EWTN. I pray that he comes back to where he belongs. because once the hands of a Priest consecrates the Body and Blood of our Lord,it is really remarkable and unforgettable and no matter what he will always be a Priest. God Bless you all.

Anonymous said...

The friars of the Eternal Word have need for priests in other places - the seminarians in Emmitsburg, MD, the new Poor Clare convents in Arizona and Ohio. Why in the world would a priest not ask to be transferred to another location where he could have continued to function as a priest instead of slowly allowing himself to be tangled up in this mess. Where was his confessor? Did he confide in his confessor?

Frank said...

Pray for the woman and children involved -- they are the victims of sexual abuse by a person in a heloing profession who should have been trained to know better, and not do this. Any "affair" involving a priest is not an affair, but it is abuse. No doctor, psychologist, priest, counselor, or any helping professional can do this, and a priest is always a priest, 24/7.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if priests REALLY believed what they were doing, that they were given the power to turn bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, to remove mortal sin, really believed it,if the power and allure of a secular life would be as appealing? Maybe our world, in all it's filth sometimes, chips away at faith, you believe but not like before. Just a thought, because you given awesome gifts at ordination.

Anonymous said...

Please stop scandalizing Fr. Francis! Nobody knows what transpired between him and the widow he was counseling. He most certainly is NOT a sexual abuser and I am repulsed by the comment. I truly believe his intentions were, and continue to be, sincere. He and the widow and her family are human like you and I are and they deserve our prayers to help them find their way. The only judge here is our Lord and Saviour.

Chaim said...

We already have married priests in the Church, many who came over from the Anglican Church were already married and we have the Maronites, for example, whose priests are married for the most part. To suggest that a priest cannot be married is simply ignorance of what the Church teaches: there is no intrinsic connection between priesthood and celibacy, it is a matter of Church discipline. Frank's comment about sexual abuse is, to my mind, deeply sinful in its judgment.

WICatholic said...

Chaim, in each instance you point out, the priest was married before becoming a priest. Once a priest, they cannot marry. If their spouse dies, they also cannot marry again.

Married priesthood is something that can change, should the Church make that decision. But the way to get it to change is not through the 'back door'.

SINNER said...

We are all brothers and sisters in Christ and this is the best time to pull together and pray for our brother,Fr. Francis who is in need of our prayers.As far as I know it was only Jesus who walked on water and He also said to the crowd...whoever has no sin, cast the first stone. Let us be merciful to one another so God can be merciful to us.

Chaim said...

My point stands: the Church HAS married clergy and that is entirely compatible with its stance that there is no INTRINSIC connection between celibacy and priesthood. I do not believe that anyone is seeking to get chsnge through the back door in this case. I was chalenging the perspective that the priest is already married to the Church/Christ. The Church has already lost many wonderful men from the ministry over clibacy. How sad.

WICatholic said...

Chaim, I understand that there is "no INTRINSIC connection between celibacy and priesthood". Celibacy is a discipline of the Church that could be changed someday. I do not think, however, that it will be 'grand-fathered', meaning that those already ordained, with many years of preparation prior to ordination and/or vows will be released and allowed to marry should the Church change the discipline. Those who have been ordained as married priests in the other Rites are already married when they are ordained, and those entering the Church from other Churches (such as Anglican) are already married when entering.

While we can debate celibacy vs married clergy, the Church thus far has not given any indication that this discipline will be changed.

Chaim said...

It is certainly a much bigger debate and I cannot see any grandfathering taking place. Nonetheless when there are more and more communities denied the Eucharist because there are no celibate men coming forward for priesthood, it may become utterly untenable to hold to the current rules. Perhaps the Holy Spirit is saying something :) In the current context Fr. Francis has two choices, stay as a priest or leave, seeking permission to marry.

Chaim said...

Snapshot said ++pray, pray, pray -- that he can muster up enough humility to confess his sin and do penance for the scandal he's caused. And pray for the widow, too. What a grave mistake she's about to make. We all know what happens to people who give in to the Tempter in such a situation. No genuine happiness in this life and a dreadful punishment in the next -- for eternity.++

It is so sad to read this nonsense, written with such absolute certainty. We don't even need God's mercy now, it's all decided. The level of judgment and presumption in snapshot's message is breathtaking. This kind of judgment and public comment is pernicious, scandalous, and possibly seriously sinful. Recognising the mote in my own eye, I acknowledge I need humility and abundance? How about you, snapshot?

WICatholic said...

Chaim,
I say the following with all due respect, and though it is rhetorical, it is an important point to me....

Would you make this same statement to a married man who 'grew close to a widow and her children'?
Would you say that today, as so many families are being destroyed by man's no fault forced and unilateral divorce that perhaps the Church should change her stance on Marriage? That 'perhaps the Holy Spirit is saying something here', also?

All first marriages are to be considered to be Valid, and indissoluble because of the Vows spoken before God and witnesses by the two involved, who then become One in God's eyes.

A man in a religious order (who has also been ordained), and has taken final vows, had much more time to discern before taking those vows, and before being ordained than any married couple has had.

Today, it is so easy to 'excuse' ourselves from Vows taken and have others agree, and not see how very serious this truly is. That holds true in this situation and in Marriage. We use the Goodness of God's Love and Mercy...but we forget that His love and mercy is tempered by His Justice .
It is an attibute of God that we were taught when we learned that one of the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit... Fear of the Lord.

Vows are important.

"So when you make a promise (or a VOW) to God, don't delay in following through, for God takes no pleasure in fools. Keep all
the promises you make to him. It is better to say nothing than to promise
something that you don't follow through on. In such cases, your mouth is making you sin. And don't defend yourself by telling the Temple messenger that the promise you made was a mistake. That would make God angry, and he might wipe out everything you have achieved."

~~ Ecclesiastes 5:4-6 New Living Translation

Chaim said...

WICatholic makes a fair point but is not comparing apples and oranges. Although marriage and holy orders are vowed states (technically secular clergy make a "promise" of celibacy) they are important differences. Perhaps the best way to see this is to look at the Church's approach to those priests who leave to get married. These men are dispensed from all obligations arising from ordination and return to the lay state, but theologically, ontologically remain priests forever. This is not possible for married people, so in that sense while marriage of itself bars a second marriage relationship with another person, this does not apply to priesthood. This arises of course from the Church's stance of celibacy not being intrinsic to priesthood. Any other formulation would require a complete theological reappraisal of holy orders.

WICatholic is absolutely correct in the two core statements he makes (1) "All first marriages are to be considered to be Valid, and indissoluble because of the Vows spoken before God and witnesses by the two involved, who then become One in God's eyes" and (2) "A man in a religious order (who has also been ordained), and has taken final vows, had much more time to discern before taking those vows, and before being ordained than any married couple has had." It is not possible, however, for the theological reasons cited above, to make a leap from 1 and 2 to come to the conclusion that "the priest is already married and cannot enter into marriage" which is implied here.

Celibacy remains a difficult life choice. Some cannot live it, despite their best efforts. I fail daily in my living of the gospel and I am utterly reliant on the mercy of God; that is a much richer source of hope that the judgments of my fellow creatures.

Our primary task in relation to Fr. Francis Mary is to pray for him and for whoever else is affected by this; God will do the rest. And, in the meantime, we as a Church, clergy and laity alike, need to attend to what the Holy Spirit is saying to us.

Anonymous said...

I had a busy schedule and was not able to see LOTR for quite sometime. I just thought perhaps Fr.Mark was taking his turn at the helm and Fr. Francis was away studying. I love all the Brothers and Sisters at EWTN as if they were my own family. Yes I am saddened by the news, and my heart is troubled. But in the end, the only TRUE role model any of us who follow The Way, The Truth and The Light...is Christ and Christ alone.
I am not a Catholic so I have no grounds to say anything regarding the "letter" of the laws or rules. All I am is a humble hand-maid to Our Lord, whose own life for a short while enjoyed the love and kindness of three men all of whom went on to be members of the clergy and did NOT chose to spend their lives with me. It is no one's fault, it is life, it is love...I still love those I let go with all the love God gave me...and turned to Christ to fill in the scares of my brokenheart. How ironic that Fr. Francis' last name is Stone. It seams to me many amoung us are willing to stone the man and the unfortunate woman who touched his heart. May GOD have mercy on us all; including me.

Anonymous said...

Lest we forget, Father Francis
Mary, a vowed religious &
ordained priest is a human being
and therefore, a fellow sinner!
Yes, the Church has had it's recent
share of "scandals", but the
biggest scandal(and sin) of all is hypocrisy. I don't recall alot
of Christian charity for Archbishop-emeritus of Milwaukee,
Rembert Weakland OSB, when news
of his "scandal" broke!
+Immaculate Heart of Mary,
pray for us.

Anonymous said...

A priest is a priest forever, established after the order of Melchizedek of old, and Our Lord is the appointed chief priest for all time. Fr. Francis has been called to this very same vocation, but he must choose to serve freely. It is important that Fr. Francis takes this time to draw himself closer - his vows however legal it may be does not guarantee that he will always remain strong - he is required to ask for the grace each day. We all experiences situations that requires time to draw ourselves closer to God... and this is his oppurtunity to do so.

We must also be mindful that Fr. Francis has asked us for prayers, not judgements. We therefore, should not form in our minds what has and what has not happened. Compline reminds the penitent heart to recall actions of the day, and so we should try our very best to abstain from the sin of detraction (per Fr. Groeschel), less we feel the inclination to subject ourselves to a true confession of the mind and heart (if anyone is compelled to recall that what they have done in their minds may be deemed sinful). I have certainly witnessed through all of the various responses that some of us have allowed the evil to plant sins of distasteful thoughts that distracts our minds away from the grace of prayer and Christian support. Are anyone of you aware of the condition of your own soul? Are you in a state of grace? Does your confessional life or state of consciousness hinge on perspectives? Are you yourselves tempted to voice a perspective?

We cannot under any circumstances try and judge Fr. Francis or the widow. All of us at one time or another (if you've ever been a pastor) been faced with the need for showing compassion toward others. In this case, Fr. Francis has clearly indicated what has transpired, and not what we think has happened, as evidenced by the many detracted responses. We are neither in Fr. Francis' position ourselves, or in the position of the widow. It is equally natural that a widow looks to a spiritual father for support, and he was able to offer it to her. The measure by which this situation has developed is not up for judgement - because more damage could be done by our remarks or pre-conceptions. Nevertheless, we have arrived at the apparent conclusion that Fr. Francis requires time, and so we should at least offer him the courtesy to take the time and resolve his life situation. The widow too requires our prayers and understanding. It is our prayers that will ultimately avert the plans of real evil-doer, which can eminate from our very own misconduct (thought, writing or by word of mouth). We do not need to increase the perception of sin by generating further oppurtunities for it. Many good things came come from this, so please dwell on the good, for goodness sake.

Celibacy is a choice, and a graceful choice. It has been proven and disproved as well. Ask any preacher's or pastor's wife and she will make the case. Ask any orthodox pastor and he will gladly defend this point of view. History makes a case for Fr. Maximillian Kolbe and such who gave their lives completely, just as Christ did. Celibacy is not a coincidence, but the rightful choice that helps the priest, brother, sister or even laity (such as Christalina and Jason Everrett) to conduct their lives with grace. Thanks to our Great Father John Paul II and his work on Theology of the Body, we have a proper understanding of marriage, regardless of who we are espoused to (fellow man, or God). The Holy Spirit made a great case in his writings to define what marriage it truly about. Clergy are espoused to Holy Mother Church and give their lives to Christ, so they will not be given much oppurtunities to love only one, or two, but all as they are called to do so.

Lastly, I would ask that we try to remain focused on our comments and responses. God did not create the priesthood, the celibate lifestyle, prayers, Holy Mother Church, or Holy Orders, just so we can choose to deny that it exists just because we don't believe in it. It is not apparent that what God has put in place so far has worked, and have continued to flourish. I pray that your hearts may know this, and that your will continue to ask God to watch over us. And that you shall remember to pray for Fr. Francis, the widow and her family. We do not live in a perfect world, but we are all called to make it a graceful one. This world misunderstands God's ways, and often fails in this area by placing unreasonable expectations on others. Have we not all failed, fallen or unforgiven at least 99% of the time. Let us be aware of God's ways, which certainly has its own requirements, statutes and sacrifices. It is hard enough to live a life of grace in a world, who is loosing complete sight of it, and creating its own variations of it every day. It takes all of us to make it right in the sight of God. This world lacks a great measure of grace, and we should try our best to accord our lives with grace, which is evidenced by our measure of compassion towards others. What has happened, has happened, but it is never to late to show love and compassion. Our good Father never thinks twice about correcting us, but he does it with compassion. If we are any children of His, we need best show it.

eucharisticadoration

WICatholic said...

eucharisticadoration,

As I read through your comment, I am uncertain what it is that you are saying. I am not sure if you are saying that God may be calling Fr FM to marriage... ??

We are called to 'live/work the Spiritual Works of Mercy, "To Admonish the Sinner". That does not mean that we can determine the Eternal destination of anyone. We cannot judge the State of a person's soul. However, we are able to call someone to repentance when they have 'lost their way' in Sin, and always, to pray for those individuals. And we are ALWAYS called to examine our own Conscience.

I do agree, and have also said many times on my own blog, that we have enough information with the written words of Fr Francis Mary without adding to them by speculation and innuendo.

However, I disagree with you about celibacy. The final choice was made on the day that a priest is ordained in our Latin Rite, as it is a requirement. Even in those Rites that allow for married priests, once ordained, they are not allowed to be married--the wedding had to have taken place before ordination. It is also made on the day of Solemn (Final Vows) for those entering religious life.

Just as married people are called to honor their Wedding Vows, and live chaste, marital lives, those in the religious life are called to honor THEIR Vows. In marriage, Chastity is most often not Celibacy. In religious life, Chastity IS Celibacy.

Divorce, in the CCC, is called a 'Grave offense'and immoral (see 2382 and on...). God does take very seriously the breaking of our Vows, no matter which Vocation we have entered into.

Barbara said...

I say, right on Fr. Francis! Discover that God is all about relationship. You can be a priest in the Episcopal church where you can encounter the God of love and not be hog-tied with man made doctrines. Good luck, man... go for it! I made the decision 25 years ago and haven't looked back.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know Fr. Francis's real name in case he leaves (as some have) and is a priest/layperson under his old name?

Francis said...

I am so sad to see Fr Anthony Mary Stone no longer on my television screen either saying Holy Mass or "Life on the Rock".

Fr Anthony, what has happened has happened. I pray that you may, as I am sure you have done, seek God's forgiveness and return to your priestly ministry as quickly as possible.

I also hope EWTN will welcome you on television, as quickly as possible.

God Bless,
Francis

Anonymous said...

It was nice to see the MFVA's on EWTN Live Wednesday night. \Two brothers that were going to be priests and one brother that wanted to stay a brother. One sounded so much like Fr. Francis, a businessman who "almost got married" but decided to become a priest. The first call was a woman who asked about Fr. Francis, they had to know that was coming....they said he was in retreat. That was it besides thanks to us for our prayers.

Anonymous said...

They said he is still in retreat. I don't know if that means he's home, on vacation or whatever, but at least they didn't say he left.

Christopher said...

I just found out myself not too long ago about the leave of absence of Father Francis Mary. It is my belief that the honesty, truthfulness and manner in which this has been dealt with by Father Francis and the entire EWTN and MFVA community, is commendable, and that Father Francis, EWTN and MFVA deserves all of our prayers and our support. In the end, whatever path Father Francis chooses, he will have the support and love of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, and all that have come to know him personally, and through EWTN.

Chaim said...

It is heartening to read many of these comments. I wonder if the same charity is to be exercised toward all priests who leave the ministry or consider leaving? Some comments appear to aply this specifically to this man in this situation rather than generally.

Anonymous said...

Now that you mention it, I don't think other priests would get the same prayers. If he wasn't liked, it would just be gossip, if he was liked there would be gossip and anger but I don't know about prayers. I think Fr.Francis, being on TV, young and handsome to some, is given more empathy and disdain. It's funny because the same "star" appeal of being on TV might have made him more attractive to others too. Where else do buses and tours come to meet you and get your autograph? It is a bit different than the usual priestly life.

Anonymous said...

I don't think that Fr. Francis should have a choice in whether he leaves the priesthood for a "woman."
The Church and the priests that "enforce" its rules are very clear when they say people with same sex attractions can't function and have relationships in that fashion. They don't give us a choice in just being who we are.
The are adament about it.
Why should Fr. Francis or any one else be able to go and do what they want. Sin is sin and when you make a choice to be married heterosexually or a priest you know going in what you are getting into. He has been around awhile. He knew what he was doing when he professed his final vows. I can feel sympathy for the position he has put himself in but I can't give him a "free pass" to just break thjose vows and go do whatever he wants.
Priests must lead by example and I find his actions on this situation very much lacking.

If I want to live in good standing in the church, I have to adhere to the "rules." As I have so often heard from him and other priests, the Caffateria is Closed. One can't pick and choose.
Fr. Francis needs to do likewise.

But does not mean that he doesn't need our prayers and support.
You can do both without agreeing with his actions.

This is a conroversial comment and it will probably not be posted.
But it should

robert said...

If all of the novus ordo priests are not so hot as some ascribe, and only those brought up and ordained pre-vatican II are woth their salt, why are so many sexual abuse cases focused on clerics ordained, shepherding and abusing during the era of Tridentine greatness. And these are the good guys?

Chaim said...

Anonymous conflates his/her opinion with fact, an unfortunate error to say the least. It really does not matter that Anonymous "does not think that Fr. Francis should have a choice in whether he leaves the priesthood for a "woman." By the way, I can only imagine why woman is in quotation marks. The Church has a process whereby he can legitimately seek to be released from his vow and returned to the lay state. Anonymous finds the situation lacking. So do many, but it is erroneous, both in logic and in charity, to arrive at the conclusion implied by the statement 'Sin is sin'. There is absolutely no reason whatsoever to assume that Fr. Francis is in anything other than good standing with the Church. Assuming otherwise is sinful in itself. Casting the first stone comes to mind.

A Roman Catholic said...

This above all else--one must follow the will of God. And the will of God established Peter as the "petra" upon which the church is built, and that whatsoever the "petra" looses or binds on earth shall be loosed or bound in heaven. That is where we get the dogma of priests being vicars of Christ. And 1st Samuel says that obedience is better than any sacrifice.

Father Stone is proceeding with things in the best way possible and in perfect obedience with what his superiors are allowing for him. Anyone who thinks evil of this situation or takes this time to criticize the Church had better examine their conscience as to whether they are truely trying to follow God's will or if they are trying to force their will onto the church. "For whoever does not have the Church as his mother does not have God as his father." That's a very powerful statement from St. Cyprian of Cathage.

All the great saints have been obedient, and yet it seems to be that there are always those who say that God's Eternal Word needs updating.

God bless Father Stone. Perhaps God did not mean for him to be a priest. May the Holy Spirit guide him. And for those who criticize the church, examine your conscience according to the Law (if it's not inscribed on your heart yet, then please pick up a copy of the Catechism) before you take of Holy Communion again. 1st Corinthians says that you invite judgement upon yourself if you receive Holy Communion unworthily.

A Roman Catholic said...

In response to-- "If all of the novus ordo priests are not so hot as some ascribe, and only those brought up and ordained pre-vatican II are woth their salt, why are so many sexual abuse cases focused on clerics ordained, shepherding and abusing during the era of Tridentine greatness. And these are the good guys?"

Pray for holy priests. The devil (yes, he is real) is attacking the Church. Of all people on earth, Satan hates priests the most and he will find a way to tempt these holy men of God. God allows these tempations to test them as gold is tested in fire. Even Jesus was tempted after having fasted for 40 days.

Chaim said...

This debate can possibly be reduced to two elements: our individual paths to holiness in following God's will for us, and whether it could be God's will for a man to seek to be laicised. As laicisation has the blessing of the Church, it would appear that this *could* be God's will for some men, as the Church would not be party to any effort to frustrate God's will. It seems to follow then that a priest's path to holiness *could* mean resigning from the ministry. Hence, presumably, Fr. Stone's engagement in a discernment process.
I know many great priests who are now laicised, and I have met many priests who seem so unhappy, so miserable, so lifeless in the ministry that it might be wiser for some to think about seeking laicisation.
This may be heresy to some but perhaps it might be appropriate to think about priestly ministry on something other than a lifelong committment? Or at least perhaps to air the issues?
I have no answers, but lots of questions. In seeking God's will in my own life as a member of the Church, I think it right and fitting to raise the issues at least.

Anonymous said...

This is not an example of a priest that will be strong enough to help us in the inevitable direct, conflict with Islam which is just around the corner. We need strong warrior priests like those that existed in the past and helped kick Islam out of Europe and reclaim the holy lands. Pray that our Lord will send us more of these warrior priests.

Chaim said...

++We need strong warrior priests like those that existed in the past and helped kick Islam out of Europe and reclaim the holy lands. Pray that our Lord will send us more of these warrior priests.++

What extraordinary bigotry that runs in conflict with the teaching of the Church. Perhaps "Anonymous" is not familiar with Lumen Gentium or Nostra Aetate, let alone the most recent declarations of Pope Benedict (peace be upon him).

Anonymous said...

I am very sad to learn the news of departure of Father Francis. I am shocked because I have only recently heard as I was unable to tune into EWTN for a couple of months. I have often told my husband-a protestant- that I am amazed that an order of this standing would allow only one priest to become the "STAR" of the show as I have felt for some time that FR.Francis behaved like a celebrity and had got a bit carried away with his popularity and charisma and I felt that the holiness aspect of him had disappeared.I do not think it wise for the network to allow the friars to get into that situation. I feel they should rotate the brothers through the show thereby keeping them humble. I shall pray for the fate of Father Francis and get over this aweful disappointment.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the above comment. He did project the heir of a celebrity. It has been a disappointing evolution since 2002, the year he became the host.

power4350 said...

I have only just learned of Fr Francis Mary's problem, and I will daily commend him to Jesus through Mary as he has asked.
EWTN has, over 20+ years, become the single most influential Catholic media outlet in the English speaking world, if not the entire world. It is a solidly Catholic voice in a sea of secularism and relativism. EWTN introduces the truths of the Catholic Faith to many people (Catholics included) who would never have heard it otherwise. Life on the Rock has challenged youth to live faithfully and virtuously, it has been successful in doing this.
With this in mind, how much do you think that Satan hates EWTN? The souls of the men and women who serve the Lord in this important work are huge targets for the temptations and wiles of the devil and his minions. How better to attack the work of a program such as Life on the Rock that chalenges teens to live purely, than to tempt its host against chastity. The Cynic will now ask, "How can they seriously expect teens to be faithful when the host can't be faithful to his vows?"
The burden is on us, the flock who watch or listen to EWTN, the ones who benefit from this great work to PRAY. We can not be like parasites who take without giving, we must pay those who give us so much by praying for them daily. Just as we pray for the Pope, our Bishops & priests, we must pray for the men and women, Priests, Religious and laypeople who keep this vital network going, that they may have the grace and strength to withstand the great temptations that they face every moment of every day.
Pope John Paul the Great Pray for us.

Anonymous said...

Re: Fr. Francis Mary Stone's leaving: 30-40 years ago when many priests were leaving the priesthood, it seems they became "figitive" when saying mass, as I would notice with Fr. Stone,i.e., hands in and out of pockets, nervousness, etc. and I knew he had a serious problem he was trying to deal with, now we know. Pray with and for him,because there"is nothing new under the sun". Satan will sift even the "elect". He always comes as an "angel of light" to betray us. Fr. Stone would be wise to remember that we may be "weak", but we should NEVER be "crazy"![to leave the priesthood] Be sober, and realize the devil roams the world, etc.!!! I pray Fr. Stone comes to his senses,but at this stage he probably will not, so we must all pray for him. Do not judge, remember, Christ loves him. May god have mercy on him and the woman!!! As a "footnote", I also was aware that Fr. Stone was biased against Islam. He failed to realize that they worship the same GOD,we,[Christians], and the Jews worship, and ,so, we are all brothers in our love of GOD. That is my only complaint against him. He would have done better to see St. Francis's example toward the moslems and the respect he had for them.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to point out that no information so far points to Fr Francis having broken his vows, or otherwise having behaved scandalously.

He's having a rough period, as regards living his vows. So he has retreated in order to discern what course of action to pursue.

The only reason this is a case for public discussion is that he hosted a show on EWTN. People would (and have) asked why he was absent. So, in order to head off a torrent of conspiracy theories, he told the truth. A mature action.

So far, no evidence of wrongdoing or faithlessness. A lot of folks, however, seem to equate having a rough time with ones vows as having broken them. This is neither factually correct, nor very charitable.

Priests are still Men, subject to confusion and temptation. They aren't perfect, and even the best of them sometimes need time and space to reflect on their lives. Unrealistic expectations from the peanut gallery aren't helpful, or just. Some folks might want to tackle the beam in their own eye, first.

Chaim said...

+So far, no evidence of wrongdoing or faithlessness. A lot of folks, however, seem to equate having a rough time with ones vows as having broken them. This is neither factually correct, nor very charitable.+

Very well put, anonymous. It is amusing and distressing simultaneously to see the assumptions made about Fr. Stone's behavior. It has to be pointed out (again) that the Church does allow men to leave the priesthood. That is not of itself sinful. Sadly, however, that fact seems lost on some readers of this blog.

As I posted earlier, it is better for the Church, the ministry and for some priests who have left that they did leave. For many who left, the Church experienced a great loss. How sad it is that there are thousands without the Eucharist because of celibacy, or so it would seem. It is a pity to put an ecclesial discipline above the need to nourish the faithful.

Anonymous said...

So, HOW is Fr. Francis Mary Stone, is He in GOOD HEALTH and doing OK...he seems to have dropped off the face of the earth? God bless him we pray for him and area eager to learn of his good health.

Anonymous said...

It is very hard I think being a priest or a nun, we should pray for them, as Jesus said he without sin cast the first stone, to the Lady at the well yes this is different because he had taken up the cross but before we judge, we should first pray. In years gone by we had novena ,now ,we do not even say the rosary as our lives are so hectic, I think we should get back to try praying more as is in the bible if My people will humble themselves, and pray He will hear our voice and heal our Land, and before any take me for word for word, I am just paraphrasing

Anonymous said...

Someone earlier had claimed that Fr. John Mary had been laicized. This is not true. One of the brothers at EWTN recently told me that he is still seeking to be laicizied and that he is still outside of the Church and hasn't been able to receive the Sacraments. His situation is very sad and it is clear that Satan entered his soul and steered him away from his priestly vocation. Fr. Francis Mary apparently has repented from his sin and has a strong desire to function as a priest once again. However, he will not be welcomed back to EWTN because of his public scandal. Do pray for Fr. John and Fr. Francis. Also, pray for the woman who seduced Fr. Francis. She still visits EWTN along with her baby. Her behavior and the comments she makes to people are scandalous and she should thus be banned from EWTN property.

Anonymous said...

Who was John Mary? Was he on earlier in MFVA's formation?

Anonymous said...

Why is there not more rejoicing about this news? we have all been praying for it. God is so good to forgive us all. I for one am elated about the news thank you for the inf. any more? as for the woman "hell has no fury as a woman scorned" pray for her as well and fr frances still needs our prayers.

Anonymous said...

Maybe no rejoicing because an "anonymous" post is just that...there aren't any names or offical sources, it could be true or it could be a rumor that was passed on. If some of the rumors that were posted here and on other sites were true, how can you rejoice? There would be another person involved and he would be responsible for another human being. "If" that is true, that is the trouble with blogging/posts, it's like the tabloids in some ways, you can post anything and not have to say you were wrong or post sources.
I hope he is desiring to stay a priest and it's not "what will I do instead" but again, he might have other responsibilities also. Time will tell.

Anonymous said...

would the writter of the info please confirm would love to pray thanksgiving for his soul. i understand there is someone else involved but God finds a way. hope he is at peace. st frances pray for him thank you

Chris Lewis said...

Fr. Francis did indeed bail...check out http://davestoneinc.com

Anonymous said...

IT LOOKS LIKE THE DEVIL IS REALLY IN THE DETAILS AT EWTN---THE ONE GREAT ORTHODOX CATHOLIC COMMUNICATIONS VEHICLE THROUGHOUT THE WORLD...SO MANY OF IT'S WONDERFUL PRIESTS HAVE IN ONE WAY OR ANOTHER BEEN TARGETED FOR SCANDAL! LOOKS LIKE THE EVIL ONE IS AT WORK---OVERTIME!!!