Holy Apostles College Appoints Dr. Popcak Concentration Chair in Master of Pastoral Studies Program

Holy Apostles College Seal

                     Holy Apostles College Seal

Holy Apostles College and Seminary announced today that their hiring committee has unanimously approved Dr. Greg Popcak to serve as the Chair of the Marriage and Family Concentration in their Master of Pastoral Studies (MAPS) program.

The MAPS program is a fully accredited, online masters degree program intended to prepare individuals who wish to serve the faithful as pastoral counselors, marriage and family life ministers, spiritual directors, and other ministry professionals.  In addition to teaching courses in the program, Dr. Popcak will be working with the Interim Program Director, Dr. Daniel Van Slyke, to develop new courses and programs to help prepare priests, religious, and lay students to more effectively serve the souls in their care.

Dr. Popcak is the author of over 20 books and programs integrating contemporary insights from counseling psychology with the timeless wisdom of the Catholic faith.  He directs the Pastoral Solutions Institute, an internationally-recognized,  pastoral tele-counseling practice that provides faith-integrated marriage, family, and personal counseling services to Catholics around the world. Together with his wife, Lisa, he hosts More2Life Radio  a call-in advice program heard across the US on the Ave Maria Radio Network.   A Board Certified Diplomate in Clinical Social Work and a Fellow of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors, he has held several academic appointments, serving as adjunct faculty in both the undergraduate psychology and graduate theology departments at Franciscan University and the doctoral program in Counseling Studies at Capella University.  His books have been translated into 7 languages.

For more information on the Holy Apostles College Master of Pastoral Studies program, including its concentrations in General Pastoral Studies, Marriage and Family Studies, and Spiritual Direction, please visit the Holy Apostles College and Seminary MAPS Program website.




What IS A Catholic’s “Job” When It Comes to Voting, Anyway?

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Image Shutterstock

This is not a political blog, nor is it about to become one, but I have seen so many comments lately about what Catholics “must” do in this next election and it seems to me that every single one of these posts is missing an obvious point.

Once Upon A Time…

I once had a conversation with a prominent bishop in which I expressed my frustration that he and his brother bishops were not more strenuously and publicly opposing Catholic politicians who proclaimed themselves to be “good Catholics” while advocating positions that were virulently contrary to the gospel.

He explained to me, in a tone one usually reserves for a small child, that any time the bishops did this, the public reacted poorly to church leaders “meddling” in politics and their comments ended up getting the person elected.

I responded, “That may be. But I thought it was our job to proclaim the gospel, not win elections.  People can certainly reject the gospel if they want to. We have no control over that.  But they shouldn’t be allowed to say that the Church never proclaimed it in the first place.”

Needless to say, my comment was not well-received.

The Same Story

Be that as it may, I still don’t think Jesus came, suffered, died, and rose again so that we could win elections.  It is not our job to hold our collective nose and vote for the candidate who  is most likely to win no matter how execrable his or her policies or personalities are.  It is not our concern to worry about “throwing away our vote” because we cast a ballot for some obscure candidate who actually does hold verifiably socially just and life-affirming views but has absolutely no chance of winning.  It IS our job to preach the gospel with our vote.  To proclaim Jesus Christ to the world in the way we engage the political process every step of the way.

All Catholics are certainly free to vote as their well-formed consciences dictate.  But let me respectfully propose that if you are casting a vote for any other reason than that “this is the best and loudest way possible I can proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a hurting world” then you may be a Democrat, or you may be a Republican, but you are not a Christian.

People might be inclined, as the bishop I began this article with, to think of this view as naive, pie-in-the-sky, too idealistic, or not reflective of reality.  To those who would argue this I can only say that, to my way of thinking, there is nothing more real that the cross.  Nothing more pie-in-the-sky than the hope of Heaven.  Nothing more idealistic than proclaiming the gospel in a world that is, literally, hell-bent on rejecting it.  If my desire to not simply win elections, but actually proclaim Christ with my vote makes me naive, I guess I can live with that.


In this election cycle, especially, when every popular candidate is more foolish than the other, I would suggest that the question is not “how can Christians avoid looking like fools?”  Rather, it seems to me that the real question is,” who will Christians be fools for?”

To my mind, it is better a fool for Christ than a fool for the latest, two-faced demagogue who promises salvation with one hand while stealing it with the other.

And now we return to our regularly scheduled blogging….


Pontifical Council for the Family Members, Dr. John & Claire Grabowski, to Join More2Life Radio Line-Up


Beginning Monday, July, 11, 2016, Dr. John and Mrs. Claire Grabowski, members of the Pontifical Council for the Family, will join More2Life Radio with Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak as regular guest contributors.


More2Life Radio

More2Life, a call-in program that applies St. John Paul the Great’s dynamic Theology of the Body to challenges of everyday life, is hosted by Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak, authors of over 20 popular books and the directors of The Pastoral Solutions Institutean internationally-recognized Catholic counseling practice.  More2Life airs M-F at Noon (Eastern) on over 50 stations across the US.

Dr. John and Claire Grabowski’s Bios

Dr. John Grabovski serves at Catholic University of America as Associate Professor of Moral Theology with continuous tenure and the Director of the Moral Theology/ Ethics area.  He and his wife were appointed to the Pontifical Council for the Family by Pope Benedict XVI in the fall of 2009 where they continue to serve as a member couple. Together they are the authors of The Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World: Anniversary Edition, a popular commentary on Pope John Paul’s encyclical, Familiars Consortio.

M2L Contributors

Dr. John and Claire Grabovski will appear every other Monday beginning July 11th, 2016.  They’ll be joining our current line-up of contributing TOB experts including…

Fr. John Riccardo— (Beginning Aug 3rd, 2016) Host: Christ is the Answer, popular theology of the body expert and speaker.
Dr. Andy Lichtenwalner–Executive Director of the USCCB Secretariat for Laity, Marriage, Family and Youth.
Bethany Meola–Assistant Director of the USCCB Secretariat for Laity, Marriage, Family and Youth and Editor of ForYourMarriage.org.
Damon Owens-popular theology of the body expert and speaker, former Executive Director of the Theology of the Body Institute.
Bill DonaghyCurriculum Specialist for the Theology of the Body Institute
Fr.Thomas Loya-Director of the Tabor Life Institute
Emily Stimpson–popular theology of the body speaker. Author These Beautiful Bones: An Everyday Theology of the Body
Dr. Joseph White–Family Psychologist and National Catechetical Consultant to OSV Publishing.  Author: Catholic Parents’ Toolbox.
Rachel Watkins–Developer of the Little Flowers Girls Club and mom of 11.

We’re excited to have Dr. John and Claire joining the More2Life Radio family and we hope you’ll enjoy their terrific insights on how to live a more joyful and abundant marriage, family, and personal life through the gift of St. John Paul II’s awesome Theology of the Body!


Fr. John Riccardo to Join More2Life Radio Line-Up



Beginning Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016, Theology of the Body expert and host of the popular program Christ is the AnswerFr. John Riccardo, will join More2Life Radio with Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak as a regular guest contributor.

More2Life Radio

More2Life, a call-in program that applies St. John Paul the Great’s dynamic Theology of the Body to challenges of everyday life, is hosted by Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak, authors of over 20 popular books and the directors of The Pastoral Solutions Institute, an internationally-recognized Catholic counseling practice.  More2Life airs M-F at Noon (Eastern) on over 50 stations across the US.

Image. AveMaria Radio. Used with permission

Image. AveMaria Radio. Used with permission


Fr. Riccardo’s Bio

Fr. John Riccardo studied philosophy at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, theology at the Gregorian University in Rome, and received a Sacred License in Theology (S.T.L.) from The Pope John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family. Following his appointment as the Director of the Cardinal Maida Institute, Fr. John became the pastor of Our Lady of Good Counsel in Plymouth, Michigan.  An expert on John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, he is a tremendously popular speaker and teacher at pro life and church events.

M2L Contributors

Fr. Riccardo will be on More2Life every other Wed at 12:20 beginning August 3rd, 2016.  He’ll be joining our current line-up of contributing TOB experts including…

Dr. Andy Lichtenwalner–Executive Director of the USCCB Secretariat for Laity, Marriage, Family and Youth.
Bethany Meola–Assistant Director of the USCCB Secretariat for Laity, Marriage, Family and Youth and Editor of ForYourMarriage.org.
Damon Owens-popular theology of the body expert and speaker, former Executive Director of the Theology of the Body Institute.
Bill DonaghyCurriculum Specialist for the Theology of the Body Institute
Fr.Thomas Loya-Director of the Tabor Life Institute
Emily Stimpson–popular theology of the body speaker. Author These Beautiful Bones: An Everyday Theology of the Body
Dr. Joseph White–Family Psychologist and National Catechetical Consultant to OSV Publishing.  Author: Catholic Parents’ Toolbox.
Rachel Watkins–Developer of the Little Flowers Girls Club and mom of 11.

We’re excited to have Fr. Riccardo joining the More2Life Radio family and we hope you’ll enjoy his terrific insights on how to live a more joyful and abundant marriage, family, and personal life through the gift of St. John Paul II’s awesome Theology of the Body!


Hey Parents, Do THIS to Get Teens to Listen!

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Image Shutterstock

Getting teens to listen can be a challenge, and when they don’t, parents often tend to rely on criticism and negative consequences to “teach” their teens to make better choices in the future.  A new study suggests this might be counterproductive.

The study, conducted by University College–London, looked at the differences between the motivational styles of  adults versus adolescents.  Researchers report, “Unlike adults, adolescents are not so good at learning to modify their choices to avoid punishment. This suggests that incentive systems based on reward rather than punishment may be more effective for this age group. Additionally, we found that adolescents did not learn from being shown what would have happened if they made alternative choices.”

This might explain why so many parents are mystified by the fact that no matter how many consequences they pile on, their kids (in general) and teens (in particular) tend to keep repeating the same undesirable behaviors.  It turns out that negative consequences may not only cause teens to avoid undesirable behavior, it may even reinforce it.

What’s a parent to do?  Two things:  Teach/support the “positive opposite”, and reward good choices.

Teaching and supporting the “positive opposite” means that instead of telling your teen what not to do and then punishing them if they do it, parents should tell the teen exactly what they DO want to see and then create a structure that supports their success.  For instance, instead of punishing your teen if they come home too late from a friend’s house, telling them ahead of time, “I need you to be home by 11 tonight.” and then texting him at 10:30 to say, “Hey son, I hope you’ve had a good night. Start wrapping up because I need you home by 11.”  Such an approach establishes a clear expectation at the outset and then creates a structure that supports success instead of simply standing back and waiting for the teen to fail and then pouncing.

Rewarding good choices means catching your teens being good, acknowledging when they have followed the rules or fulfilled your expectations, especially when you know it was hard for them.  That doesn’t mean you have to have a parade and a medal ceremony every time your kid comes home on time, but taking the time to say, “Hey, I really appreciated you texting me at 10:30 to let me know you were heading home instead of waiting for me to remind you to head out.  That was really thoughtful” can make all the difference.

St Francis de Sales is credited with the saying that we can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.  It turns out that’s not just good advice for evangelism.  It’s good advice for parenting!  For more ways to make your parenting life easier and more effective, check out Parenting with Grace: The Catholic Parents’ Guide to Raising (almost) Perfect Kids (2nd Ed. Revised and Expanded).  

Dr. Popcak Named Fellow of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors

Image Shutterstock.

Image Shutterstock.

I am honored to be able to announce that I have been welcomed as a Fellow of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors.

The AAPC fellowship process involves a lengthy review, by an interfaith committee of established AAPC Fellows, of the applicant’s curriculum vitae, spiritual autobiography, clinical/theological integration paper, and a recommendation by an AAPC supervising Fellow.  Once this process is completed, applicants must defend their application to a committee of fellows charged with evaluating their ability to articulate their own faith tradition in a clinical context, demonstrate their ability to work effectively with people of different faiths and no faith, show their capacity to make an effective contribution to the field of pastoral counseling, articulate a thoughtful plan for continued spiritual and professional development, and other professional criteria.

I am truly humbled and honored for my work to have been recognized by a group of pastoral counselors who represent a variety of faiths and spiritual traditions.  I am grateful for their affirmation and I hope that this process will enable me to both serve my clients and associate counselors more effectively and contribute more substantively to the development of the pastoral counseling profession.


Soccer and the Sacred Heart: The Rhythm of Spiritual Fatherhood


A guest post by Pastoral Solutions Institute Associate Pastoral Counselor, Dave McClow, M.Div., LMFT.

June is the month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  Father’s day also falls within the month, and spiritual fatherhood ties these two together.

The human heart always operates in two directions—the muscle contracts and then relaxes.  If this rhythm is disrupted, you have earned a trip to either the ER or the undertaker.  There is also a rhythm of Catholic fatherhood—the rhythm of loving, then challenging; of being tender, then tough.  Disruption of this rhythm can create major problems for kids.


Chad played soccer.  His parents were highly successful professionals, trying to motivate Chad to pay attention and engage in the game with some intensity.  They were turning the situation into a life lesson:  “How do you expect to succeed if you can’t do this?”  There was a lot of criticism and pressure to perform.  Another team was using psych ops, trashing Chad and his team.  The way they talked, I would have sworn this was a U.S. Olympic competition, but Chad was in fourth grade! The parents assured me their behavior was mild compared to other parents.  Nevertheless, the results were predictable:  Chad was anxious, highly critical of himself, and impulsive, almost explosive at times.  He was performing to be loved, which left him only as good as his last performance.  The rhythm of Catholic fatherhood was broken, and they were all frustrated.

Sacred Heart and Spiritual Fatherhood

Jesus’ Sacred Heart teaches men a lot about this rhythm of fatherhood.  During his time on earth Jesus fathered no physical children (unless you believe the fiction writer Dan Brown).  But he was a spiritual father—a leader, mentor, and coach (and much more), to the twelve apostles and his other disciples!  He loved and challenged them.  It was the Heart of Jesus that revealed how his Father’s heart was turned towards his children—us—in love and mercy.  The Father’s heart is what we need to receive and what we are to give to others.  Scripture confirms the giving part, “The hearts of fathers will be turned back to the children” (Mal 3:24, 4:6; Lk 1:17; Sir 48:10).  Jesus actually became indignant, incensed, or irate at the disciples for hindering the little children from coming to him to be embraced, touched, and blessed  by him (Mk. 10:13-16).  He was tough on his disciples and tender towards the children in his spiritual fatherhood!

St. John Paul II reflected on the Sacred Heart quite a bit.  In talking about the gift of the Holy Spirit called piety (reverence, devoutness), he says, “the Spirit heals our hearts of every form of hardness, and opens them to tenderness toward God and our brothers and sisters” (May 28, 1989). From our sonship, tenderness flows toward God and is expressed in prayer that arises from our own poverty and void of chasing after earthly things, and then turns toward him for “grace, help, and pardon.” It is piety which directs us to trust God as “a good and generous Father” and to call him Abba (Gal. 4:4-7)!

This tenderness is manifested in meekness, a familial openness, toward our neighbor.  Meekness is not weakness!  Meekness is having the power to act or destroy, but not using it.  The Spirit infuses into us a new capacity to love others, making our “heart[s] participate in some manner in the very meekness of the Heart of Christ.”  Our spiritual fatherhood is made complete we when see others as part of the family of God, treating them with tenderness and friendliness.

Back to Soccer

I worked with Chad’s father to create new liturgies (rituals and routines) in their domestic church that communicated love to Chad.  He affirmed Chad as a son rather than just his performance.  And we shifted the focus from results, which Chad could not control, to his efforts—so while he might not always score a goal, he could always choose to play hard.  These changes made a huge difference.  Chad paid more attention, became more self-motivated, and everyone noticed the change.  In fact, in one game, he was playing hard, but they were losing badly.  He had put his shorts on backwards, and though it was not obvious, a friend started to harass him about it.  Normally Chad would have blown up, but instead he retorted, “Do you really think that’s the biggest problem we have here?”  I was amazed and laughed, saying, “I can’t even get adults to do this!”  Chad was feeling much more secure and loved.  The rhythm was back in right order:  love and challenge; tenderness and toughness. We had returned from Olympic tryouts to fourth grade soccer!

The Challenge

June is the month of the Sacred Heart.  It includes Father’s Day, which celebrates physical fatherhood.  But we must challenge all men to follow the Sacred Heart and be spiritual fathers, turning their hearts towards all fatherless children in tenderness, challenging them to be the best versions of themselves.  All men are called to reveal and relive the very fatherhood of God on Earth—this is spiritual fatherhood.

New Study Finds THIS Parenting Style Predicts Highest Rates of Success, Happiness, Morality in Adults…

Image via shutterstock. Used with permission.

Image via shutterstock. Used with permission.

Parenting can be tough work, and there are lots of different ideas about what it means to be a good parent, but with good information, every parent can be equipped to raise healthy, happy, godly kids.  A recent study in Japan surveyed 5,000 adults to investigate the impact on parenting styles and adult levels of job success, happiness, and moral reasoning.

Based on their findings, the researchers then divided parenting methods into six categories:

  1. Supportive: High or average levels of independence, high levels of trust, high levels of interest shown in child, large amount of time spent together;
  2. Strict: Low levels of independence, medium-to-high levels of trust, strict or fairly strict, medium-to-high levels of interest shown in child, large amount of rules;
  3. Indulgent: High or average levels of trust, not strict at all, time spent together is average or longer than average;
  4. Easygoing: Low levels of interest shown in child, not strict at all, small amount of time spent together, few rules;
  5. Harsh: Low levels of interest shown in child, low levels of independence, low levels of trust, strict;
  6. Average: Average levels for all key factors.

The findings demonstrated that people who had experienced “supportive” child-rearing where parents paid them a lot of positive attention reported high salaries, academic success, high levels of happiness and better moral reasoning skills.

On the other hand, participants subjected to a “strict” upbringing where parents paid them high levels of attention combined with strict discipline reported high salaries and academic achievement, but lower happiness levels and increased stress.  READ MORE

To learn more about how you can successful, healthy, moral kids, check out Parenting with Grace: The Catholic Guide to Raising (almost) Perfect Kids.  Here;s what one Amazon reviewer had to say… “After searching for a parenting book that would reflect my values, I found it and so much more with Parenting With Grace. I will be forever changed after reading this book. My husband and I now have the tools we need to be the best parents we can be and raise our children in the home God intended.”  See for yourself!


Condom Distribution Shown to Increase Teen Pregnancy Rates




A new study finds that schools with condom distribution programs in the 1990s seem to have actually increased the rate of teenage pregnancies. “We find that access to condoms in schools increases teen fertility by about 10 percent,” the researchers concluded.

According to National Review, the study by two Notre Dame economists fills a gap in research on school contraceptive programs since there was little previous work on condom distribution programs in high schools.

Researchers Kasey Buckles and Daniel Hungerman used 22 school districts in 12 states, districts that began using condom distribution programs in the ‘90s. The study spanned 19 years and studied teen fertility data from 396 high-population counties.  READ MORE

For more information on how you can raise teens to joyfully live out the Catholic vision of love in their life and relationships check out Beyond the Birds and Bees: Raising Whole and Holy Kids.

RIP Mary White, One of the Seven Original Catholic Founders of La Leche League, Dies at 93.

Image shutter stock

Image shutter stock

From WSJ.

When Mary White and six other moms from the Chicago suburbs started an organization to encourage breastfeeding in 1956, they had to be careful about naming it.

“They couldn’t say ‘breast,’” said Clare Daly, one of Mrs. White’s daughters. Newspapers, they were sure, wouldn’t publish notices about meetings involving such a crude term. Looking for something more discreet, they settled on La Leche League, derived from the name of a Roman Catholic shrine in Florida (Popcak Note:  see commentary below).

To their surprise, the league spread around the world. Now called La Leche League International, it has about 2,000 local groups in more than 70 countries. The league helped create today’s consensus that breastfeeding is far better for babies and mothers than infant formula.

Mrs. White died June 2 at age 93 of complications from a stroke she suffered last September. Her death leaves only two surviving founders of the league—Marian Tompson and Mary Ann Kerwin, Mrs. White’s sister-in-law.

In the 1950s, breastfeeding was widely considered backward and unsanitary. Around 80% of U.S. mothers chose formula instead, according to the league. Views gradually changed as researchers piled up evidence of the health benefits of natural feeding. As of 2012, about 80% of mothers in the U.S. were at least attempting to breastfeed, according to the latest government survey results.

A January report in the medical journal Lancet cited evidence that breastfeeding deters infections and enhances intelligence, while reducing breast cancer risks for mothers, among other benefits. Nestlé SA, once subject to boycotts because it promoted infant formula in poor countries, now says it favors “exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life.”

Mrs. White was born Mary Elizabeth Kerwin on April 3, 1923, and grew up in the Chicago suburbs of Elmhurst and Oak Park as the oldest of eight children. Her father was a financial vice president for the Brach’s candy company; her mother was a homemaker with a philosophy degree from DePaul University.

After earning a drama and speech degree from Rosary College in River Forest, Ill., she married Gregory White, a family-practice physician. Dr. White favored breastfeeding but believed women could be more persuasive than he could in promoting it.

The league traces its roots to a church picnic. Mrs. White and Mrs. Tompson were both breastfeeding. Other mothers said they were using formula but would prefer breastfeeding if they could get more information and help. Mrs. Tompson and Mrs. White decided to start a support group and invited five other moms to Mrs. White’s home to set it up.

“Mary was the first woman I ever saw breastfeed in public,” Mrs. Tompson said. Mrs. White, known for wearing spotless white sweaters and coats despite the exertions of raising 11 children, was self-assured and had the prestige of being a doctor’s wife. “If Mary did it, we figured it was safe,” Mrs. Tompson said.

Though these suburban housewives were defying medical authority, they didn’t flaunt their rebellion. Infants were swaddled in blankets during public feedings. “We would practically smother our babies trying to be discreet,” Mrs. Kerwin recalled.

Ignorance was their biggest obstacle. Most women didn’t know their milk was better for the baby than formula, and many feared they wouldn’t be able to supply enough to sustain the baby.

Doctors could be dismissive. Mrs. Tompson recalled that one told an expectant mother he would let her breastfeed if she “behaved” during childbirth.

Still, times were changing, Mrs. Tompson said: “Women were ready to make the decisions about their life instead of going to an expert.”

At first, the league grew slowly. After Reader’s Digest wrote about it, though, “we got phone calls from all over,” said Mrs. Kerwin, one of the founders.

Mrs. White helped write “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding,” a popular book, and edited other league publications. She often took phone calls at home from women who wanted her advice.

Her family has multiplied prodigiously. Mrs. White is survived by 10 of her 11 children, 61 grandchildren and 109 great grandchildren, said Mrs. Daly, one of her daughters. She kept track of all those birthdays on a calendar. “She was very organized,” Mrs. Daly said.

Mrs. Tompson, 86 years old and still active in the league, said she was pleased to see that some airports now have pods for nursing mothers. “We’re still running into mothers who are getting really bad advice,” she said, “but it’s so much better than it was.”

Has the pendulum swung too far? Mrs. Tompson said she would never shame a woman who chose not to breastfeed. If such women feel guilty, however, there is nothing the league can do about it, she said.

Many people–Catholics in particular–are unaware that La Leche League was founded by 7 devoutly Catholic women and the internationally recognized Catholic physician, Dr. Herbert Ratner.  The article mentions that the organization was named for “a Roman Catholic shrine in Florida.”  What it doesn’t say is that that shrine is dedication to the Nursing Madonna, La Sonora de La Leche (Our Lady of the Milk).  Their love of natural parenting grew as a result of their dedication to both natural family planning and understanding of the importance of the Catholic natural law perspective.  Although today’s La Leche League tends to distance itself from its deeply Catholic roots, the original founders saw nursing as a powerful means of communicating the love of God to their children and to the world.

Proponents of attachment parenting, in particular owe a huge debt of gratitude to Mary White and her friends. They have made a huge impact on the world, transforming the face of parenting and infant healthcare.   I pray that her soul, along with all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, would rest in peace.