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Deacon Steve Greco is always excited when Fr. Robert Spitzer joins him in the podcast studio. In addition to being an accomplished author, professor and television personality, Fr. Spitzer is president of the Magis Center and host on EWTN’s popular TV show, “Fr. Spitzer’s Universe.”

Today’s enlightening broadcast is all about the joy of Pentecost.

Please be sure to SHARE this podcast with others.



Originally broadcast on 6/5/22


It has become a holiday tradition to have our very own Bishop Kevin Vann join Deacon Steve Greco in the radio studio. On this podcast, the Bishop catches us up on some of the latest goings-on at Christ Cathedral; and, he shares some fascinating stories of some of his favorite Christmas traditions.

Tune in for a wonderful, heartfelt conversation! 




Originally broadcast on 12/26/21


Being a Christian is cause for joy.  Do you wish to be a joyful person? Take up the theme of joy in the third week of Advent for Gaudete Sunday (December 15th).

Fr. Tim Grumbach joins Trending with Timmerie as they discuss this important virtue and fruit of the Holy Spirit.  What does the third Advent candle stand for?  They’ll discuss the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Francis of Assisi, and more!


Listen to more episodes at

Bring Timmerie to your parish or event in 2020




Originally broadcast on 12/14/19


VATICAN CITY (CNS) — A priest must be able to see the people around him as his children, as brothers and sisters, and must be willing to risk everything for them out of love, Pope Francis said in his morning homily.

In fact, the best example of this kind of priest is St. John Bosco, the founder of the Salesian order, he said Jan. 31, the saint’s feast day.

The 19th-century Italian saint, who saw so much poverty and so many children living on the street, was able to see the world around him with the eyes of “a man who is a brother and also a father and said, ‘No, things cannot go on this way!'” so sought to make things better, the pope said in his homily during morning Mass at the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

But, the pope said, this priest also had “the courage to see with the eyes of God and go to God and say, ‘Let me see here. This is an injustice. … You created these people for (a life of) fullness and they are in the midst of a real tragedy.'”

A priest needs to have both ways of seeing things — being moved by tragedy on a purely human level, yet inspired by the divine “to have the courage to go there and fight,” the pope said. “A priest is someone who fights with God.”

St. John Bosco did not approach the poor and troubled kids “just with the catechism and the crucifix,” he said. If he had started with doctrine, telling the kids, “‘Do this…’ the young people would have said, ‘Yeah, right. See you later.'”

Instead, St. John Bosco approached them with youthful vitality, letting them play, bringing them together as a group, like brothers, listening to them, crying with them, leading them forward and always being down-to-earth, he said.

But there is always the risk a priest may only see things from a human point of view and “nothing divine” or, the alternative “too divine and nothing human,” he said.

“But if we don’t take a risk we will do nothing in life,” he added. Those risks include being persecuted, gossiped about, criticized, for example, that “this priest is there on the street” with ill-mannered kids who “break the glass of my window” with their soccer ball.

St. John Bosco received from God the great heart “of a father and a teacher,” said Pope Francis, who briefly attended a Salesian school in Argentina.

The sign of a good priest, who knows how to see things with the eyes of God and a human being, is joy, and St. John Bosco was a great “master of joy,” he said.


VATICAN CITY (CNS) — This Christmas will people go to adore and be amazed by Jesus, or will they let themselves be detoured by distractions? Pope Francis asked.

In fact, one sign of holiness is being able to “be astonished, to feel wonder before God’s gifts, his ‘surprises.’ And the greatest gift, the ever-new surprise is Jesus,” he told Vatican employees and their family members during a meeting Dec. 21 in the Paul VI audience hall.

The pope continued a tradition he began in 2014 of offering Christmas greetings to people who work at the Vatican. The special audience comes right after a longer-held tradition of the pope meeting with officials of the Roman Curia.

Christmas cheer was in the air as Vatican employees and their families, many dressed in festive clothes, greeted the pope and gave him Christmas cards, gifts and hugs.

Christmas is the season of joy because the source of true joy — Christ the savior — has come, the pope said.

“But often we realize that people and perhaps we ourselves are caught up in so many things and, in the end, there is no joy or, if there is, it is very superficial. Why?” he asked.

Joy, he said, comes from being holy or at least trying to be good, being close to Jesus and letting oneself be touched by wonder and “contaminated” by the joy that surrounds him.

Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and all the others gathered at the manger, gazing at the Christ child, are “overflowing with holiness and, therefore, with joy,” he said.

Mary and Joseph had so many things to worry about, but they were happy because “they welcomed this gift from God with so much faith and so much love.”

He told the employees that his wish for them this Christmas was “to be saints, to be happy.”

People must not be superficial saints, just “normal saints,” that is, people who are holy even with all their defects and sins because “we ask for forgiveness and go forward,” he said.

It takes just a little to be on the road to holiness, he said, just a small ray of sunshine, “a smile, some attention, a favor, saying sorry.”

Little things like that make the workplace “more breathable,” too, he said. It lightens up that stifling environment “we create with our arrogance, closed-mindedness and prejudices, and people even work better” with better results.

The pope reminded them to avoid criticizing others behind their backs. If something is bothering them, they should confront the person directly and speak frankly, he said, or else just bite their tongue.

Do not gossip or backstab, he said, because it destroys “friendships and spontaneity.”

With this being his sixth Christmas at the Vatican, the pope said he has gotten to know many holy people who work there.

They are “saints who live the Christian life well. If they do something bad, they apologize. But they go forward,” he said, adding, “you can live this way. It is a grace and it is very beautiful.”

Often these saints “who live next door” are hard to notice because they are modest, do their jobs well and work well with others, he said.

“And they are joyful people, not because they are always laughing, no, but because they are very serene inside and they know how to spread it to others. And where does that serenity come from? Always from him, Jesus.”

“We are not afraid of holiness,” the pope said. “I can tell you, it is the path of joy.”


MIAMI (CNS) — After spending a week with adults and Catholic school children in the hurricane-impacted Florida Panhandle, one mental health professional noted how the Christmas season is a mixed blessing for survivors of natural disasters.

“Right now the holidays are working in two different ways — both as a distraction and an underlying stress factor for parents both emotionally and financially but in another way it is good thing kids are looking forward, knowing that Christmas is coming and it is something else to think about,” said Claudia J. Gomez-Cardona, is a regional director of counseling for Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Miami.

Gomez-Cardona and other Catholic Charities licensed mental health counselors from around South Florida spent the first week of December offering therapy and faculty training to hard-hit areas of Northwest Florida following this year’s unusually strong storm there.

Hurricane Michael’s Oct. 10 landfall brought near Category-5 strength winds when it came ashore at Mexico Beach, near Panama City on the Florida Gulf Coast.

The visiting mental health team initially expected they would engage more traumatized adults at one of the parishes most impacted by the storm but found themselves more useful by reaching out to parents, students, faculty and staff at one Catholic elementary school which has absorbed the entire student body of another school which closed due to Hurricane Michael.

St. John Catholic School in Panama City suffered catastrophic wind and rain damage and is hosting classes at nearby St. Bernadette Parish for the foreseeable future. Much of the impacted region remains without power and clean water; the storm’s death toll rose to at least 29 in Florida alone and a total of 39 across the Southern United States.

Gomez-Cardona said she and her team went from classroom to classroom and began easing into a series of conversations about the hurricane, listening to the youngster’s stories and encouraging the younger children to simply draw a representation of their feelings and memories of the storm.

“The kids really needed this; it is amazing it was how they shared their feelings and how scared they were from the hurricane,” Gomez-Cardona told the Florida Catholic, newspaper of the Miami Archdiocese.

“We talked about how they are doing now,” she added, “and you could see some leftover feelings of fear because the community is still so damage: Life doesn’t feel back to normal at all for them, and kids are very much aware of that with garbage in the streets and downed trees.”

The team met separately with school faculty and staff.

The Christmas and Advent season, she noted, may be a time of joy and good feelings but also be a cause for more stressful triggers for those displaced families who realize there won’t be a Christmas tree in their own home this year.

For others, the season will bring a pleasant distraction for the short term, only to find their new reality will quickly bring them back down to earth in the new year.

Gomez-Cardona said she offered parents and school staff and faculty a series of practical measures for natural disaster survivors during the holiday season, including:

— Start with the spiritual component of Advent and stay focused on what Christmas is really about. Stay in the present moment and see what you need to do and then do what you can with those things that you control.

— If there is something beyond your control, pray or talk to others about it, do some discernment and try to step back and focus on the things you can be grateful for. Focus on one positive thing each day.

— Even after fostering a sense of gratitude understand that everyone has problems and should remember life is not perfect but still make a point to focus on the blessing of good health or one’s children, and then expand on that, write it down, call someone and tell then you are grateful.

— Get out into the community, join activities, be a little more open with people who want to help you or love you and don’t stay isolated.

— For some, there may be feelings of suicide and be on the lookout for family and friends who may be feeling suicidal.

Gomez-Cardona said other mental health teams from Catholic Charities agencies around Florida have continued to stay in the region in order to move from group therapy opportunities to personalized counseling with students and adults in the Panama City area.

Many of the staff from St. John Catholic School in Panama City have considerable problems of their own that they haven’t had time to address.

It also was noteworthy to hear youth from first grade to eighth grade expressing a lot of gratitude to the emergency responders and post-hurricane workers in the community who were putting things back together in the Panhandle, she added.

Gabe Tischler, who is working full time on the Hurricane Michael response for the Tallahassee-based Florida Catholic Conference following the storm, has noted that Catholic Charities entities in the region have distributed some $6 million in aid, services and donations since the storm, and that St. Dominic continues to serve some 2,500 families daily.

It is expected that the project may continue unabated well into next year.


Whether it’s watching a holiday film like “Trains, Planes and Automobiles” or “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” or sharing midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, the holidays should be a joyous time. 

For many, however, the crush of the holiday season brings a sense of chaos, out-of-control spending, or even depression. How can Catholic families celebrate reasonably, while emphasizing the season’s meaning? 

In an October 2016 story in The Messenger of Saint Anthony – a magazine published by the Conventual Franciscan friars of the Basilica of Saint Anthony in Padua – author Victor M. Parachin lists 40 ways to meaningfully celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

Among them, Parachin mentions planning ahead rather than automatically doing the same thing year after year. “Gather your family and ask everyone what they really want to do and who’s going to do it,” he writes. “A little planning can go a long way to reducing holiday stress.”  

Making a list of all the things required to make the holidays happen will help budget the family’s time. If the list looks too hefty, Parachin says, pare it down to something more manageable.  

One of the most difficult tasks for parents is to avoid debt, due to the expenses of holiday meals and activities, decorations, gifts and travel. Parachin notes that rather than going into debt, it’s best for parents to keep gift-giving small and simple.  

Another tip he offers is to spend five minutes every day in silence. “Spending a mere five minutes a day in silence before God can bring you closer to the spirit of Christ.” 

Reading a Christmas poem and reflecting on its message can help center your thoughts and feelings about the holiday, he suggests. 

In addition, keeping the spirit of the holidays alive year-round can help add meaning to the celebrations. “Remember that Christmas is not only a date but a state of mind,” writes Parachin. “Live by this wisdom from Mother Teresa of Calcutta: ‘It is Christmas every time you let God love others through you.’” 

Writing in Working Mother magazine, licensed clinical psychotherapist Mia Adler Ozair notes that we all must ask for help when we need it. “Whether it’s cooking or cleaning or mental and emotional support, don’t go it alone,” Ozair notes. “Don’t wait until it’s too late. You deserve to have the support and love you need during this time of year – and all other times as well.” 

Self-care often is ignored during frantic holiday planning, but she believes it’s especially important this time of year. “Take some time for quiet relaxation before going out or hosting a holiday party,” she recommends. “Take a bath, read a book, get a massage. Try to get plenty of sleep (one good way: go to bed a bit earlier than usual) to wake feeling rested and ready for whatever comes your way.” 

Avoiding or limiting alcohol consumption prevents next morning after-affects, including regretful comments to in-laws or ill-advised selfies, she adds. “It’s always fun to have a glass of wine or two, but knowing your limits will prevent embarrassing behavior you may be held accountable for later on.” 

Focusing on gratitude – from Thanksgiving to Christmas – is particularly important to maintain the meaning of the holidays. 

“Each of us goes through so much on this roller coaster of life,” Ozair says. “Take a moment to reflect on the idea that we are lucky to be here on Earth to experience yet another holiday season.”  



ORLANDO, Fla. (CNS) — Catholic leaders attending the opening Mass of the “Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of The Gospel in America” were urged to reflect joy — a sign of God’s presence — and not exclusively focus on the world’s problems.

“A big part of the reason behind this promising convocation, folks, is that we, your pastors, believe with Pope Francis, that a renewal of joy is essential for a deepening of Catholic vitality and confidence today,” said New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, homilist at the July 1 Mass.

The hotel ballroom in Orlando was transformed into a spacious church for the congregation of about 3,500 delegates — invited from dioceses around the country — who were urged to view their time at the four-day convocation as a journey, not just a conference, by Dallas Bishop Edward J. Burns in remarks before Mass.

The Mass was concelebrated by 150 bishops. Readings were in Spanish and English and prayers of the faithful were delivered in several languages. A gospel choir from St. Peter Claver Parish in Tampa, Florida, led the delegates in song.

Cardinal Dolan emphasized that during the gathering people would come to know each other better and also get to know Jesus more, which would be make them effective and joyful in their mission of spreading the Gospel message.

He said this renewal of joy was especially needed at this moment in the church.

Catholics, the cardinal said, can be tempted to “concentrate on problems, worries, bad news, scandals (and) darkness” which he said can’t be ignored but also shouldn’t dominate people’s lives.

“We can’t become, in the folksy term of Pope Francis, ‘a church of sourpusses,’” he added.

Cardinal Dolan also noted that the convocation was starting on the feast of St. Junipero Serra, who started the Franciscan missions known for education, health care and evangelization, but also for joy, which is why people came to the new churches and stayed.

“People may claim they do not want faith, hope or love,” he said, but “rare is the person who does not crave joy.”

The crowd was already in good cheer, laughing about references to nearby Disney World and other theme parks before Mass began.

Orlando Bishop John G. Noonan asked Cardinal Dolan where he was going after the event and the cardinal replied: “Disney World!” repeating the answer given by many Super Bowl athletes.

Clearly looking for another answer, the bishop turned to the crowd and asked them the same question and they responded, “Heaven!”

“How are we going to get there?” the bishop asked before answering his own question that they would figure out the answer during their time at the convocation and when they returned to their parishes with renewed hope.

Bishop Noonan said the cardinal called him five years ago and said he’d like to come to Orlando in July. “He just didn’t say how many he invited!” the bishop joked.

Another message delivered to the delegates before Mass was from Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, read aloud by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio. The message said Pope Francis hoped the days of dialogue and prayer for the delegates would enable them to return to their Catholic communities and “read the signs of the times joyfully” and follow God’s call to be missionary disciples.

The message also said the Holy Father hopes the convocation would “stir up enthusiasm” at every level for encountering Jesus and proclaiming his message of reconciliation and peace.

The delegates did not seem short of joy, greeting one another before and after the Mass and laughing along with Cardinal Dolan in the opening words in his homily when he said he hadn’t seen this many priests and bishops since the last Notre Dame football game.


As Christmas approached, St. Peter’s Square was filled with balloons, singing and an incredible variety of Baby Jesus figurines — everything from plastic figures that would fit in a walnut shell to those that were larger-than-life sized.

For Pope Francis, the most important ingredient in the mix was joy.

Reciting the Angelus Dec. 11 and blessing the Baby Jesus statues children brought for their home or school Nativity scenes, the pope insisted that the true meaning of Christmas should bring Christians a deep and abiding sense of joy.

Unlike “superficial happiness” or even the giddiness shopping can bring, he said, “it is a joy that touches the depths of our being while we await Jesus, who already has come to bring salvation to the world, the promised Messiah, born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary.”

“God entered history to free us from slavery to sin; he pitched his tent among us to share our existence, heal our wounds, bandage our injuries and give us new life,” the pope said. “Joy is the fruit of this intervention of salvation and God’s love.”

The Christmas decorations and lights and the Nativity scenes being set up in homes all over the world are signs of that joy, Pope Francis said. They are a call “to welcome the Lord who always knocks at our door, the doors of our hearts, to draw near to us” and “to recognize his footsteps in those of our brothers and sisters passing by, especially the weakest and neediest.”

Pope Francis asked the children to pray in front of their Nativity scenes with their parents. “Ask Baby Jesus to help us all love God and our neighbors.”



LOUISVILLE, Ky. (CNS) — On a seasonably warm, drizzly Nov. 3 evening, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz drove his white Toyota Avalon up a driveway that leads to the stately Louisville home of Steve and Kathy Ford.

The couple graciously agreed to hold a fundraising event for Catholic Extension, a national organization that supports programs for mission dioceses across the U.S. and one the 70-year-old archbishop strongly backs.

He was visibly moved when he heard one of the speakers talk about a prison ministry made possible by Catholic Extension, an outreach Archbishop Kurtz sees as essential in Catholic social teaching.

Events like this one — conducted in the Archdiocese of Louisville, which he has shepherded for the past decade — bolstered his positive outlook for the future of the Catholic Church.

It also offered him an opportunity to reflect on the remaining days of his three-year term as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which will conclude at the end of the bishops’ fall general assembly in Baltimore Nov. 14-16.

Archbishop Kurtz was elected USCCB president in November 2013, eight months after the election of Pope Francis.

His term has been a busy one that saw a flurry of activity at the Vatican, pastoral trips to typhoon-ravaged Philippines and battle-scarred Ukraine, the Catholic Church’s struggle over religious liberty issues, a resurgence of U.S. racial struggles, growing societal polarization, a refugee crisis and the 2015 U.S. visit of the profoundly popular Pope Francis.

It would go against Archbishop Kurtz’s affable style to call his tenure an exhausting exercise in maintaining a dual role as prelate of an archdiocese and his nation’s representative of the Catholic Church.

Instead, he told Catholic News Service that three years is the right amount of time to serve as president of the U.S. bishops’ conference.

“Come the end of this plenary meeting, I’ll be passing on the baton … figuratively to whoever is elected as the next president, I will do so gladly, I will say this, because I think three years is a good portion of time,” Archbishop Kurtz said during a Nov. 4 interview in the chapel at his archdiocesan chancery. “And I mean that.”

Once the archbishop passes that metaphorical baton, he will leave behind six years of leadership with the U.S. bishops’ conference — his term as president and his 2010-2013 stint as vice president — though, like other past presidents, he will remain on conference’s Administrative Board for a year.

“It’s a wind-down role,” he said. “Be available in case you are needed. But really it’s a gracious role of saying, ‘I support who is the new president.’”

During his term, Archbishop Kurtz said he witnessed an exciting period for the American Catholic Church, with generous giving from U.S. Catholics in response to the devastating 2013 typhoon in the Philippines, numerous natural disasters throughout the U.S. and an openness by many to welcome the stranger in response to the refugee crisis, even when it wasn’t a popular decision to do so.

The bighearted spirit of American Catholics — to give their time, money and resources — offers him faith in the future of the church and where it needs to be.

The highlight of his presidency, however, has to be the pope’s apostolic journey to the U.S. in September 2015, Archbishop Kurtz said.

Not only did that papal visit give Americans an opportunity to forge a closeness with the celebrated Pope Francis, it allowed the pontiff to witness the faithfulness of the U.S. people, he said.

More than a year after that trip, Archbishop Kurtz met with Pope Francis at the Vatican and reiterated the positive impact it had on the American people and was gratified when the pontiff said it was fruitful for him as well.

Other highlights of his presidency include pastoral visits to the Philippines, Haiti, Ukraine, Bogota, as well as his involvement in the Synods of Bishops on the family and the Jubilee Year of Mercy, he said.

“I don’t know how many highlights you can have,” Archbishop Kurtz said, “but there were so many opportunities I had to interact with, not only our Holy Father, but with bishop leadership conferences throughout the world and with average people who I met, often in very difficult circumstances, who gave great hope.”

It’s in the archbishop’s nature to project optimism, a quality that didn’t elude him even when asked to respond to difficult topics such as racism, violence, polarization, economic devastation, religious persecution and the displacement of people fleeing their war-ravaged homelands.

“It’s very difficult to be able to embrace a comprehensive plan that the world — in a sense — can come together and embrace,” Archbishop Kurtz said. “Obviously the church has always said we have to in some way begin with one person at a time — the person in front of us.

“With our bishops’ conference, we’re very, very conscious of the need for us to support peaceful alternatives right within the devastated areas,” he said. “Whether we’re talking about Syria and Iraq, or other parts of the world. It’s very important for us to work with the local episcopal conferences, because they’re on the scene. They know what can happen.”

In an effort to welcome the stranger, offer them assistance and provide them with opportunities for a better life, Archbishop Kurtz points to the church urging the U.S. Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform with laws that will not be punitive, but will cultivate the common good.

When it comes to religious liberty issues, he said the focus has to be primarily on regions in the world where there is “in-your-face persecution, where people really don’t have the right to exercise their freedom of religion and — in a sense — take their own lives in their hands when they try to.”

He said the church and the human community has not done enough to address these abominations and must collectively tackle these issues in a meaningful way.

The archbishop did say Americans probably have taken their own religious freedom for granted and that legitimate attempts to promote it in this nation are sometimes unfairly seen as an effort to discriminate.

In some cases, the church has not effectively articulated its message when it comes to issues in society that don’t align with church teaching, such as the legalization of same-sex marriage, Archbishop Kurtz said.

When the bishops reiterate the church’s teaching that marriage is the union between one man and one woman and a union that must be open to new life, often he said it’s interpreted as discriminatory toward people with same-sex attraction.

“They don’t necessarily hear the need for us to respect the dignity of every person and call forth that dignity,” Archbishop Kurtz said. “We have challenges in being able to present it in a new way.”

The violence and racial division that’s occurred in cities such as St. Louis, Chicago and Baltimore during his presidency prompted the archbishop to establish the USCCB Task Force to Promote Peace in Our Communities — chaired by Atlanta Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory.

“There are examples in which people are being judged not by, as Martin Luther King Jr. had said, the content of their character, but rather by the color of their skin,” Archbishop Kurtz said. “So, I thought it was important for us to join with people of goodwill in saying that the church needs to be part of a solution of creating opportunities.”

The bishops’ plan to write a pastoral letter on racism, and the church will actively go into communities and invite people of all ethnic backgrounds to come together in prayer and solidarity to build harmony and civility.

Though the archbishop acknowledged these actions are not the only solution to such divisive issues, he believes it is a start.

The humanitarian example of Pope Francis guided Archbishop Kurtz as he confronted each challenge throughout his presidency, which includes societal polarization, in which people vilify those with philosophical differences.

The church needs to model the mind and heart of Christ, “which is to see in the person next to you as a child of God, to be able to listen to people in a civil way, even to listen to people who may not agree with you,” he said. “To do it in a way that is thoughtful and serene.”

The archbishop said the church must emphasize that while everyone should be men and women of conviction, they should also have the conviction to see the goodness in the person sitting next to them.

Though Archbishop Kurtz said he looks forward to a more relaxed pace that his post-presidency should offer, he said the experience has enriched him spiritually.

“One of the benefits of being president is that you see a lot,” he said. “I’ve had a chance truly to see the richness … of the local churches. Whether I go to St. Cloud, Minnesota, or to Cincinnati, or to many different parts of our country, invited to be a part of their local church celebration, it gives me great insights into, not only the struggles … but also the great signs of hope.”