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Updated: 32 min 50 sec ago

Parish Picnic at Kolping Grove

1 hour 10 min ago

The CT crew visited Kolping Center near Winton Woods Park for a combined parish picnic for Old St. Mary’s and Sacred Heart (Camp Washington), the two parishes staffed by the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in Cincinnati.

Click on any photo to see it full size.

A Picture Says a Thousand Words: Steubenville Youth Conference

07/22/2018 - 11:59am
Seen here from the middle of a group of yourg people from eh archdiocese, Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr celebrated Mass at the Franciscan University of Steubenville (Ohio) youth conference last week. (Courtesy photo)

Every year, some 1,200 young people from the archdiocese attend one of Franciscan University of Steubenville’s famous youth conferences. This year the Office of Youth Evangelization and Discipleship worked to get as many youth groups there as possible for the conference the weekend of July 14, when Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr was scheduled to celebrate the closing Mass. More than 600 youth from the archdiocese were present at the Mass. “Archbishop Schnurr is our shepherd,” said Brad Bursa, the office’s director. “We want to follow our shepherd.”

Almost 20% of Alter High School’s student body attended the Franciscan University of Steubenville’s youth conference last weekend. (Courtesy photo) “Here’s my heart, Lord” — area young people sing at the Franciscan University of Steubenville conference last weekend (courtesy photo).

A view from above of the Rural Farm Mass 2018

07/21/2018 - 8:17am

Here are some very unique views of the 2018 Rural Farm Mass in Saint Henry. Ohio.

The vast countryside in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. (Photo by Tom Kueterman)The vast countryside in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.
(Photo by Tom Kueterman) A birdseye view of the 2018 Rural Farm Mass (Photo by Tom Kueterman)A birdseye view of the 2018 Rural Farm Mass (Photo by Tom Kueterman) Wonderful views of our farms in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. (Photo by Tom Kueterman)Wonderful views of our farms in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. (Photo by Tom Kueterman) The view overhead of Doug & Sarah Franck's Farm in Saint Henry Ohio. Wonderful views of our farms in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. (Photo by Tom Kueterman)The view overhead of Doug & Sarah Franck’s Farm in Saint Henry Ohio. Wonderful views of our farms in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. (Photo by Tom Kueterman) Bishop Joseph Binzer celebrated the 2018 Rural Farm Mass on July 19, 2018. The view from above at the Franck Farm The view overhead of Doug & Sarah Franck's Farm in Saint Henry Ohio. Wonderful views of our farms in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. (Photo by Tom Kueterman)Bishop Joseph Binzer celebrated the 2018 Rural Farm Mass on July 19, 2018. The view from above at the Franck Farm The view overhead of Doug & Sarah Franck’s Farm in Saint Henry Ohio. Wonderful views of our farms in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. (Photo by Tom Kueterman)

Today’s Video: Summertime Boredom

07/21/2018 - 8:16am

When the summer days get long and hot, the gift of free time can become the burden of boredom. Check out Today’s Video on combating boredom.

‘Walking priest’ pursues street evangelization hoping listeners seek God

07/20/2018 - 6:42pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Jerry Mennenga

By Joanne Fox

WEST BEND, Iowa (CNS) — With apologies to Fats Domino, Father Lawrence Carney is “walkin’ and talkin’ about you and me,” and hoping that listeners will come back to — not “me” — but God.

Known as the “walking priest,” Father Carney brought his message of street evangelization to Sts. Peter and Paul Church in the north central Iowa town of West Bend in early July.

The event was sponsored by the Shrine of the Grotto of the Redemption in collaboration with the Office of Discipleship and Evangelization for the Diocese of Sioux City.

Ordained for the Diocese of Wichita, Kansas, Father Carney is on loan to the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri, where he serves as chaplain to the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, in Gower. He visits the nuns daily to celebrate the Tridentine Mass, offers the sacrament of reconciliation and provides spiritual direction.

Once his duties are complete, Father Carney, 42, takes to the streets of St. Joseph. Armed with a rosary in one hand and a large crucifix in the other, the tall priest in a black cassock and wide-brimmed clerical hat known as a “saturno” shares the Gospel with anyone who approaches.

The oldest of three boys in his family, Father Carney recalled his first inkling of a vocation surfaced in kindergarten.

“A Redemptorist priest visited and held up a card of Our Lady of Perpetual Help and it seemed like the eyes of Our Lady would follow me,” he said.

“I thought, ‘If a priest can do that with a holy card, then I want to be a priest,'” he said, smiling.

Father Carney confessed he “fought” the idea of the priesthood in high school.

“I was convinced I was to marry a beautiful young woman and have 12 children,” he said. “God ultimately won that battle.”

Following his 2007 ordination, Father Carney served as a parish priest in the Wichita Diocese. His life changed when he chose to walk the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route in Spain — opting to wear a cassock — talking to about 1,000 people during his 32 days on the trail.

The experience led to his decision to walk the streets.

Father Carney’s ministry led him to pen “Walking the Road to God,” published in 2017 by Caritas Press. The book is subtitled, “Why I left everything behind and took to the streets to save souls.”

“I’m a horrible author,” the priest said. “Isn’t is something how God chooses the worst people to do his will?”

But save souls, he has, in his travels in Missouri and elsewhere.

“Three years ago, I was approached by a non-Catholic family who insisted their home was possessed by demons; the children were saying they saw red eyes in the house,” he said. “They asked me to pray for them and I did.”

When he later saw the family, Father Carney asked about the house.

“‘Oh, Father, after you prayed and left, the devils left,’ the mother reported,” he said. “After one year of instruction, they were received into the church and one of the sons is discerning a vocation to the priesthood.”

The story was one of several the priest shared with the 125 people who attended his talk.

In his book, Father Carney expressed his dream of a new order of priests, clerics and brothers, who walk and pray in cities around the U.S. to reach out to lukewarm and fallen-away Catholics and non-Catholics.

The Vatican approved his request for the new order Dec. 8 — to accept men into the Canons Regular of St. Martin of Tours. The new community will be based in St. Joseph. About a dozen men have indicated an interest in joining, Father Carney said.

“I am in the process of discernment myself for this new community,” he said. “God willing, I will profess my first vows on Nov. 11, 2019.”

Meanwhile, Father Carney “walks the walk and talks the talk” to about 10 people a day, about 2,000 to 5,000 folks in the last four years.

“The best part of the walking is I get to contemplate God,” he said. “I pray the rosary, get some exercise, look at nature and someone might talk to me and then, I share my contemplation with them.”

After his presentation, Father Carney took questions, with one person asking if he walked the 245 miles from St. Joseph to West Bend.

With a grin, Father Carney shook his head in response. However, he did admit to being somewhat of an expert on shoes.

“I have discovered ‘shandals’ work well,” he said, referring to a part-shoe, part-sandal, which he had on his feet.

Father Carney reported the Canons Regular are looking into creating the hybrid and marketing them.

“We will be calling them, Father Martens,” he said, chuckling repeatedly at the reference to the popular Doc Martens footwear.

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Fox is managing editor of The Catholic Globe, newspaper of the Diocese of Sioux City.

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at

Adoptive parents nervous after raids of Missionaries of Charity homes

07/20/2018 - 5:44pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Saadia Azim

By Saadia Azim

RANCHI, India (CNS) — Theodore Kiro held 13-month-old Navya on her return to his family after they were separated for a week. The crying baby happily clung to Kiro, whom she knows as her grandfather.

Navya is one of the four babies whose fate became entangled in the recent child trafficking scandal broke at Rachi’s Nirmal Hriday (Tender Heart) home, run by the Missionaries of Charity. A five-member district child welfare committee decided it was not fair for the foster mother and the child to be separated for long and ruled they should be united conditionally. The welfare committee asked the foster parents to take the child before the committee every week and keep it informed of the child’s schedule.

“The child and the mother were in trauma after separation, so the committee members decided compassionately to unite them. But this status has been fixed for the next two months only,” said Kiro, a local political leader using his clout to prepare legal papers for adoption of the toddler. Navya was brought to their home in Ranchi just after her birth and was reclaimed by the child welfare committee as one of the babies who allegedly was sold illegally by an employee of the Missionaries of Charity home.

Though the parents confess that there was no exchange of money yet, the officers are investigating the process of adoption without proper paperwork. This makes Anuka Tigga, another adoptive mother of a 4-year-old, jittery. She is scared for her child after the central government announced July 17 that all records and child care homes run by the Missionaries of Charity will be inspected and adoption processes scrutinized.

“It is not that I have committed any wrong. Rather, these happenings will adversely affect the well-being of my child,” said Tigga.

The Indian Ministry for Women and Child Development has directed the state governments that all child care institutions should be registered and linked to the Central Adoption Resource Authority within a month. Many mothers such as Tigga question the fate of children already living with adoptive parents, for fear the government will say the process was not followed and their children will be taken away.

In 2015, the Missionaries of Charity stopped offering adoption of children because the Indian government introduced new rules making it easier for single women and men to adopt. The government rules said prospective adoptive parents must pay a fixed amount of 40,000 rupees ($580).

Police said Jharkhand state’s Child Welfare Committee came to suspect the Ranchi home was involved in the illegal trading of children after a couple complained they were not given a child, despite paying 120,000 rupees (US$1,850) as an adoption fee. Sister Mary Prema Pierick, superior general of the Missionaries of Charity, said in a July 17 statement from Kolkata that the order was cooperating with authorities, and that when a lay employee, Anima Indwar, admitted to the welfare committee in early July that the baby had not been given to the couple, Indwar was handed over to police.

During recent raids at Nirmal Hriday and Shishu Bhawan (Children’s Home) in Ranchi, 11 unwed pregnant women were shifted to government homes and 22 children, including one child as young as a month old, were sent to the Karuna Center, a government-run home. Navya’s family complained that, after the separation, they found their child to be in a miserable condition in the government facility.

Those children who remain in many of homes run by Missionaries of Charity are destitute, orphans and unwanted children who are nursed and cared for and prepared for adoption through the Central Adoption Resource Authority system. The police are investigating now as to why the nuns continued to keep children in their facility when they were no longer a registered body for adoption. The norm has been that though the unwed mothers are provided with nursing and support by the nuns, it is the responsibility of the guardians and families who want to adopt to register with the child welfare committees. The nuns and the Missionaries of Charity staff facilitate the process.

The Missionaries of Charity and other Christian bodies are questioning the intention of the government in the recent actions against the order. They say that, after the arrests of Indwar and Sister Concelia, the nun in charge of accompanying mothers and babies to the welfare committee, the Missionaries of Charity were not given a chance to be heard and were not warned about the raids.

The Christian community and some politicians are also questioning the role of the media, which widely published a video of Indwar’s confession leaked by police.

Police have seized record books from the Missionaries of Charity homes in Jharkhand state. Christian leaders say this is deliberate antagonism by the state’s extremist Bharatiya Janata Party government, which has accused the Missionaries of Charity of religious conversion in the pretext of social service. Sister Concelia was sent to two weeks of judicial custody.

After the incident, Mamata Banerjee, chief minister of West Bengal state, where the religious order is based, called the actions against the Missionaries of Charity a move to undermine the work of St. Teresa of Kolkata, who founded the order.

Abraham Mathai, former vice chairman of the Indian Minorities Commission, has asked for independent judicial inquiry if need be to stop what he calls persecution of the Missionaries of Charity, saying it is bringing disrepute to the whole organization.

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at

Update: CRS student ambassadors stress need for human dignity to Congress

07/20/2018 - 4:34pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Dennis Sadwoski

By Dennis Sadowski

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Denise Ssettimba just began her brief presentation to an aide to Sen. John Kennedy, R-Louisiana, on the need to maintain U.S. funding for global anti-hunger efforts when two congressional dining staffers with food carts in tow asked to squeeze by in a busy hallway in the Dirksen Senate Office Building.

The 18-year-old Xavier University of Louisiana student stepped a little closer into the tight circle around the aide, Kaitlyn Dwyer, staying on message.

“We want to share that there are a lot of ways that this aid helps people avoid migration,” Ssetimba said.

Fellow Xavier University students Ja’Che Malone and Sarah Bertrand and Madeleine Woolverton, a student at Tulane University, picked up the call as Ssetimba finished.

“The issues of global hunger and migration are intimately linked because hunger is one of the causes of migration,” Woolverton said. “When we can provide funding for programs that can provide sustainable solutions … not creating dependency but creating systemic change in farming communities, we can prevent some of these problems.”

The four students asked Dwyer to be sure to share with Kennedy their concern that no funding be cut from international poverty-reducing programs.

Preserving current spending levels for disaster relief, health care, nutrition, anti-human trafficking efforts, migration and refugee assistance is a major priority of Catholic Relief Services and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The students from New Orleans, part of the CRS Student Ambassador Leaders Together initiative, were helping carry that message to Congress July 18. In a second meeting, they were able to share their concerns directly with Sen. Bill Cassidy after talking for 15 minutes with Maria Sierra, a policy adviser to the Louisiana Republican.

They joined more than 150 students from 58 Catholic and non-Catholic colleges and universities who participated in the four-day Student Ambassador Leadership Summit July 15-18 organized by CRS.

The students spent their last day of the summit visiting members of Congress, sharing the same message that Archbishop Paul D. Etienne of Anchorage, Alaska, and Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato, Philippines, brought to Capitol Hill a day earlier.

The programs they addressed were targeted for an overall 36 percent cut in federal spending in the White House Office of Management and Budget’s proposed fiscal year 2019 spending outline. The OMB plan seeks to reduce funding to $15.1 billion from nearly $23.8 billion authorized for the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. Such spending comprises about 0.5 percent of the federal budget.

Having so many young people bringing a consistent message to Congress was sure to have an impact, Kathleen Kahlau, senior adviser at CRS, told the students before they fanned out across Capitol Hill.

“You’re bringing some good news. Not the Gospel in the religious sense, but good news in the sense that you’re sharing with these staffers the fact that what America does through its aid is effective, is efficient, does really save lives,” Kahlau said.

Three days preparing for the congressional visits served to create broader awareness of the work of CRS and deeper understanding of the importance of U.S. aid for that work, students said. Several students who are CRS campus ambassadors told Catholic News Service they were willing to step away from jobs, summer internships and research projects to advocate for people without a voice.

“Coming here has shown me how everything is so connected,” said Emily Baca, a student at St. Martin’s University in Lacey, Washington. “I think that this program can really help by bringing together different people who are passionate in different ways.”

Manhattan College student Kaiyun Chen explained that although she doesn’t practice any faith, she was motivated to become involved as a campus ambassador because of the nature of the agency’s work.

“When I was introduced to the organization and asked to be a student ambassador I was thinking about what the organization stands for and what they believe in and what they do for other people and it makes me feel more passionate toward what I can do,” Chen said.

Students also said they planned to return to their campuses this fall ready to share what they learned about the global work of CRS and encourage others to join them in promoting the agency.

“We want to bring more attention to global issues,” said Carla Aguirre Puerto, a student at the University of San Diego, following a meeting with an aide to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California. “We need to be more aware of and advocating for the services provided across the ocean.”

It’s that role as an advocate that motivated Kaitlyn Toth, a political science major at Ohio State University student, to become a campus ambassador two years ago and make the trip to Washington this year. She earlier worked with the Diocese of Cleveland’s Catholic Charities Migration and Refugee Services and saw the challenges facing migrants around the world.

“I really believe there’s power in each individual’s voice,” she said. “Spending time and showing up and showing people that you do care enough to speak for others holds a lot of weight.”

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Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at

Eagle Scout builds liturgical chest for youth ministry

07/20/2018 - 3:12pm
Brad Bursa (left) and Matt Reinkemeyer investigate the contents of the Mass chest made by Paul Rahner for his Eagle Scout project. (CT photo/Gail Finke)

By Gail Finke

After amassing everything needed for Mass or Eucharistic adoration but an altar, the archdiocese’s Office of Youth Evangelization staff members needed a place to put it all.

Plastic tubs and bins just didn’t seem right for the chalices and bowls, thurible (incense holder), candelabras, monstrance, and other fine liturgical items. This summer, the office got a container worthy of its contents.

Immaculate Heart of Mary parishioner Paul Rahner built the team a massive, but portable, wooden chest to store the items between youth events, and to transport them anywhere they needed to go. Built as his Eagle Scout project (troop 694), the chest is made of walnut and contains specially made boxes for many of the items.

“Deacon Russ Feldcamp came to me with the idea to build a liturgical chest, because the Via ministries came in possession of a whole set of liturgical items and needed something to store and transport them in,” he said. “I had almost no experience working with wood, but under the guidance of Ren Beltramo in his workshop stocked with tools and machinery, my team and I learned several woodworking skills ranging from planing the boards to biscuit cutting.”

Beltramo and another donor, Joe Keeler, provided the wood for the chest, and the IHM Knights of Columbus contributed funds for hardware and other supplies. Rahher and his father, Dave, worked with Beltramo and a team of three other Scouts, Everett Olenick, and Grant and Ryan Foreman. “Because the workshop only had so much space, and this project was more focused and detailed rather than large-scale, the size of the team was perfect,” he said.

The recent Covington Latin High School graduate said the project taught him a lot about leadership by requiring him to coordinate the work of the volunteers, manage the details of the project, and learn new skills. “One particular thing that stuck with me is, ‘a carpenter can never have too many clamps,’” he sa.d “We probably used 15 different clamps throughout the project.”

While the chest has already made several trips from its home in the main office to youth events throughout the archdiocese, Rahner hasn’t seen it in action: He’s spending the summer in boot camp to prepare for the U.S. Naval Academy, where he will study in the fall.

“I am incredibly happy with the outcome of the project,” he said. “Not only did the chest turn out more beautiful than I had imagined, but I learned an incredible amount from planning and executing the project. I never knew so many details and logistics could go into a project “so small.”

“I’d like to thank Ren Beltramo for his extremely generous help,” Rahner said. “Not only did he donate wood for the project, but more than this, he donated his time, talent, and workshop so the chest could be built. I’m also very happy that the chest will be put to good use in the VIA ministries of the archdiocese, as I have loved my experience at the past two VIA Abide retreats.”

For information about Via Catholic youth events, visit For photos from this year’s Abide conference, type “abide” in the search box.

IHM parishioner Paul Rahner made this walnut chest to hold liturgical items for the archdiocese’s youth ministry staff. (CT photo/Gail Finke) The chest holds candlesticks, candelabra, a thurible, a monstrance, and other items for Mass and Eucharistic adoration, many of them in custom-made boxes. (CT photo/Gail Finke)

A picture says a thousand words: Sportsleader Rosary Rally at St. Gertrude

07/20/2018 - 1:19pm

On Thursday, July 19, members of football teams in the area participated in the annual SportsLeader Rosary Rally before two-a-days begin. Normally held at The Athenaeum of Ohio, this year the rally was held at St. Gertrude Church in Madeira as construction continues at the seminary.

Members of the La Salle Lancer Football team arrive at St. Gertrude for the 2018 Sportsleader Rosary Rally. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Members of the La Salle Lancer Football team arrive at St. Gertrude for the 2018 SportsLeader Rosary Rally. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Members of the Elder Panther Football squad gather at St. Gertrude for the 2018 Sportsleader Rosary Rally (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Members of the Elder Panther Football squad gather at St. Gertrude for the 2018 SportsLeader Rosary Rally (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Participants in the 2018 Sportsleader Rosary Rally were from Elder, La Salle, and St. Gertrude. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Participants in the 2018 Sportsleader Rosary Rally were from Elder, La Salle, and St. Gertrude. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Boys from the St. Gertrude Football squad await praying the rosary. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Boys from the St. Gertrude Football squad await praying the rosary. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Men from Elder pray the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary. The Rosary was led by Fr. Anthony Brausch, Rector of Mt. St. Mary's Seminary (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Men from Elder pray the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary. The Rosary was led by Fr. Anthony Brausch, Rector of Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Men of La Salle pray the rosary at St. Gertrude (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Men of La Salle pray the rosary at St. Gertrude (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Virtue = Strength (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Virtue = Strength
(CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Virtue = Strength (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Virtue = Strength
(CT Photo/Greg Hartman) After the rosary, some of the La Salle Football Team shake hands and high five players from the St. Gertrude Football Team (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)After the rosary, some of the La Salle Football Team shake hands and high five players from the St. Gertrude Football Team (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)

Kasich Grants Reprieve to Cleveland Jackson and Commutes Sentence of Raymond Tibbetts

07/20/2018 - 12:53pm

COLUMBUS – Today Gov. John R. Kasich granted a reprieve to delay the execution of Cleveland Jackson and commuted the death sentence of Raymond Tibbetts to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Jackson had been scheduled to be executed on September 13, 2018 and Tibbetts on October 17, 2018.

Cleveland Jackson was convicted for the 2002 murder of 17-year-old Leneshia Williams and three-year-old Jayla Grant in Lima. The reprieve will delay his execution until May 29, 2019 to allow his newly appointed legal counsel sufficient time to review the case and properly prepare for his clemency hearing before the Parole Board. Jackson’s previous court-appointed counsel withdrew their representation just four months prior to his initially scheduled execution after admitting that they failed to do any work to prepare his clemency application over the course of the previous four years.

Raymond Tibbetts was convicted for the 1997 murders of his wife, Judith Crawford, and the couple’s landlord, Fred Hicks, in Cincinnati. Tibbets’s commutation is being granted as a result of fundamental flaws in sentencing phase of his trial. Specifically, the defense’s failure to present sufficient mitigating evidence, coupled with an inaccurate description of Tibbetts’s childhood by the prosecution, essentially prevented the jury from making an informed decision about whether Tibbetts deserved the death penalty.

Once a troubled teen, young man found hope in faith and now is teacher

07/19/2018 - 10:24pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Gina Christian,

By Gina Christian

AUDUBON, Pa. (CNS) — When he arrived at St. Gabriel’s Hall in Audubon nine years ago, Quamiir Trice was in handcuffs.

Arrested for dealing crack, the 15-year-old had been sent to a residential treatment program for at-risk youth offered by St. Gabriel’s, part of the Philadelphia Archdiocese’s Catholic Social Services.

On June 27, Trice returned to St. Gabriel’s — this time, as a Pennsylvania state certified educator, fresh from his fourth-grade classroom and ready to teach mathematics at summer school.

“They took the handcuffs off as soon as my feet hit the ground here,” Trice said, recalling his first moments at St. Gabriel’s as a troubled teenager. “Everything here was so green and beautiful and peaceful. It definitely made me feel like I was in a good place.”

During his time at the Middle States accredited school, Trice earned his GED while displaying a gift for mathematics. Through intensive counseling sessions, he learned to manage his emotions and to make more constructive life choices.

And he discovered that the variables in his life added up to something new: hope through faith in God.

“I became spiritually grounded when I came to St. Gabe’s,” Trice told, Philadelphia’s archdiocesan news outlet. “That was vital.”

“We can’t preach or proselytize a specific faith because we’re publicly funded,” said John Mulroney, principal of St. Gabriel’s. “But we’re allowed to let the students explore their own faith traditions, and we seize every opportunity to help them do just that.”

Mulroney said that Trice, who had been raised as a Christian, embraced the 12-step program directive to “let go and let God” often heard in the school’s drug and alcohol rehabilitation unit, where he recovered from addiction. In doing so, Trice had to confront his pent-up rage, frustration and grief — the legacy of life on the street, where drugs and guns claim a disproportionate number of minority youth.

“I actually remember my best friend getting killed while I was here,” he said. “My social worker called me to his office that day; we had a great relationship and he knew that something was off about me. And of course there was. My best friend was dead.”

Trice said that having a safe space in which to process his harrowing experiences — which included an unstable home life, substance abuse, truancy, drug dealing and lost relationships — was “pivotal.”

Mulroney cites the school’s trauma-informed care treatment as the key to reaching its students. By addressing the core reasons why youth engage in at-risk behavior, staff can foster communication skills, emotional intelligence, nonviolence and a sense of social responsibility among students.

“These kids are wounded human beings, not damaged goods,” said Mulroney. “There’s a difference, and our first step is making these young men feel safe and cared for in this environment,” he said.

Once students are assured of their protection, they can work through their anger and sorrow, often through what Mulroney describes as “cleansing tears” that unclench both fists and hearts. During the grieving process, students participate in multiple therapy groups, meeting even on weekends to share their stories and to support each other’s growth.

As they come to terms with their losses, students can then begin to focus on the future, developing the talents and skills buried under their scars. Mulroney noted that Trice’s mathematical aptitude, masked by a straight-F report card at his former high school, emerged at St. Gabriel’s.

“He was our top GED math student when he was here,” Mulroney said, adding that Trice quickly rose to the head of his class, graduating as salutatorian in 2011 and then enrolling in Community College of Philadelphia.

After obtaining his associate’s degree, Trice completed his undergraduate studies at Howard University in Washington, majoring in elementary education. His leadership roles in several education initiatives have led Mulroney to tease Trice for “hobnobbing with presidents.”

“He’s met President (Barack) Obama several times, along with the president of the MacArthur Foundation,” said Mulroney. “Actually, in one photograph, it looked like he had Obama’s ear, rather than the other way around.”

Because of his academic credentials and a need for greater diversity in educational staffing, Trice was heavily recruited by several school districts and graduate schools throughout the country. He chose to return to his hometown, accepting a position as a fourth-grade instructor at Bethune Elementary School in North Philadelphia.

As he was wrapping up the school year, Trice approached Mulroney about returning to teach at St. Gabriel’s during the summer.

“We have a quote all through St. Gabe’s that says, ‘Enter to learn, leave to serve,'” Trice said. “Coming back here is a dream come true.”

In a sense, Trice had never completely left St. Gabriel’s, which reintegrates its graduates through an after-care program. A counselor with Catholic Social Services, assigned by the city’s family court, follows up regularly with former students for approximately six months after they leave St. Gabriel’s to ensure their progress.

Trice needed that safety net when he hit a rough spot after his St. Gabriel’s graduation and got kicked out of his grandparent’s house. Distraught, he called a former dean at the school for guidance.

“I knew my goal was to still stay on track and stay focused, but I needed help,” Trice said. “He listened and encouraged me, and he said, ‘You have our support.’ And just knowing that really made me feel a lot more confident moving forward.”

As a new teacher, Trice continued to consult his mentors at St. Gabriel’s for advice on classroom management and teaching strategies.

Trice is passionate about cultivating math skills in his students, especially since urban youth are underrepresented in scientific disciplines. He relishes the clarity of mathematics, which hones students’ analytical skills while building confidence, and he weaves life lessons into his lectures.

“I tell my students that whenever you have a variable in an equation that you’re solving for, that is your goal,” Trice explained. “You focus on that goal, and all of the other numbers, all those distractions, don’t really matter.”

For Trice, who plans to attend law school and to develop educational policy, faith in God is the ultimate variable.

“I came to the conclusion that I don’t teach for my students any more — I teach for God,” said. “I don’t feel like I’m doing any of this on my own. It feels like a movie script, and God is writing this story to give himself the glory.”

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Christian is senior content producer at, the news outlet of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

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Maria Stein exhibit honors Mother Teresa

07/19/2018 - 2:16pm

By Sharon Semanie

Mother Teresa of Calcutta continues to be immortalized by fans worldwide. Among those admirers is Ramesh Malhotra, whose Malhotra Collection features artwork of Mother Teresa, as well as other saints and blessed prominently displayed at the Maria Stein Shrine of the Holy Relics through December. The exhibit is housed on the third floor of the newly-renovated Upper Room.

The diminutive nun, canonized on Sept. 4, 2016, is renowned for her compassion and focus on humanity. The Maria Stein exhibit contains several dozen works by internationally-renowned artists who depict the Nobel Peace prize recipient in a series of art medium where she is traditionally attired in her white sari bordered by three blue stripes in honor of the Blessed Mother. Other notables featured include St. Catherine of Bologna, Blessed Padre a Plas, Blessed Sr. Rani Maria, St. John the Baptist and St. Rose of Lima. Various art medium is incorporated into the exhibit including oil on canvas, charcoal, watercolors, Gouache, and pastels along with a sculpture made of stone.

The prestigious art collection comes from the Museum of Spiritual Art in Franklin, which includes original spiritual oil, pastel and watercolor paintings covering a wide range of religions and faiths produced by local and global artists. The museum is the private collection of Ramesh and Chris Malhotra.

Among the distinguished artists whose works are displayed at Maria Stein is Tim Langenderfer of Kettering , whose oil on canvas and charcoal portraits of Mother Teresa are prominently showcased throughout the exhibit. Other international and national artists represented include Gisele Hurtaud of France; Jeff Morrow of Cincinnati; Dave Mueller of northern Kentucky; Chuck Marshall, a New Antioch-Wilmington native; Paul Newton, of Australia; Chandan Pramanik, of India; Dominique Amendola, who has lived in the United States. and abroad; John Leon, of Cincinnati; Patricia Bellerose of Quebec; Sylvie Griselle, of France; and Bijendra Pratap of India.

“The beauty of Mother Teresa is that when she was alive she served the children of India who needed help,” said Malhotra. “After her death, she is forever in the future as an immortal soul and will continue to serve as a guiding light for all humanity. We are excited to share this collection of work, highlighting her beauty and devoted compassion to others with the pilgrims and visitors to the Maria Stein Shrine,”

Malhotra, who was born in Lahore, undivided India, suggests “Mother Teresa was and will remain forever a teacher of humanity. Gandhi was the father of India, and Mother Teresa was the mother of India. Ghandi brought freedom to the nation and Mother Teresa brought freedom to individual souls so they could serve humanity.”
The successful business entrepreneur, philanthropist and author said his “love” for Mother Teresa is derived from “her teaching me the power of compassion. It is the most powerful weapon that helps me face the problems of humanity as a result of our materialistic society.”

Malhotra commissioned the Mother Teresa Collection in 2016 to honor her work in his native India and to preserve her memory for future generations.
The Maria Stein exhibit, which opened in June in conjunction with its eighth annual Art Show & Sale, is available to the public during normal hours on weekdays and weekends, according to Susie Bergman, marketing communications director. Although there is no fee, a freewill offering will be accepted.

“We are delighted to be able to exhibit this incredible collection of religious art at the Shrine,” said Shrine President Don Rosenbeck. “The church has played an important role in and has supported the arts for ages. Works of art are one way our spirituality is conveyed. Our hope is many will benefit from viewing this exceptional exhibit.”
The Maria Stein Shrine of the Holy Relics, which is located at 2291 St. John’s Road, in Maria Stein, provides “faith nourishment and spiritual renewal through opportunities for prayer and pilgrimage and inspiration from the lives of the saints.”

People worldwide visit the shrine to explore and enjoy its environment which is rich in holiness and history.

For more event information, visit

Pope adds teen to list of saints to be declared during synod on youth

07/19/2018 - 1:34pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Vatican Media


VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis added an Italian teenager to the list of people he will formally recognize as saints Oct. 14 during the monthlong meeting of the world Synod of Bishops on young people.

During an “ordinary public consistory” July 19, Pope Francis announced he would declare Blessed Nunzio Sulprizio a saint the same day he will canonize Blesseds Oscar Romero, Paul VI and four others. An ordinary public consistory is a meeting of the pope, cardinals and promoters of sainthood causes that formally ends the sainthood process.

Sulprizio was born April 13, 1817, in the Abruzzo region near Pescara. Both of his parents died when he was an infant and his maternal grandmother, who raised him, died when he was nine.

An uncle took him under his guardianship and had the young boy work for him in his blacksmith shop. However, the work was too strenuous for a boy his age and he developed a problem in his leg, which became gangrenous.

A military colonel took care of Sulprizio, who was eventually hospitalized in Naples. The young teen faced tremendous pain with patience and serenity and offered up his sufferings to God.   

He died in Naples in 1836 at the age of 19. He was declared blessed in 1963 by Blessed Paul VI, who will be canonized together with the teen.

During the ceremony, Blessed Paul had said, “Nunzio Sulprizio will tell you that the period of youth should not be considered the age of free passions, of inevitable falls, of invincible crises, of decadent pessimism, of harmful selfishness. Rather, he will rather tell you how being young is a grace.”

Together with Blesseds Paul and Romero, Sulprizio will be canonized along with: Father Francesco Spinelli of Italy, founder of the Sisters Adorers of the Blessed Sacrament; Father Vincenzo Romano, who worked with the poor of Naples, Italy, until his death in 1831; Mother Catherine Kasper, the German founder of the religious congregation, the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ; and Nazaria Ignacia March Mesa, the Spanish founder of the Congregation of the Missionary Crusaders of the Church.

The Oct. 14 date for the canonizations had already been announced during an ordinary public consistory in mid-May.

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Texas bishops join event to support migrants, highlight church teaching

07/18/2018 - 9:48pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Loren Elliott, Reuters

By Rhina Guidos

WASHINGTON (CNS) — During a time when immigrants around the country have come under attack, the Diocese of El Paso, Texas, and representatives from other dioceses in Texas and nearby New Mexico are joining a variety of faith groups in a show of support and solidarity for migrants in their communities.

“Be a light in the times of darkness,” said El Paso Bishop Mark J. Seitz in a YouTube video posted July 18 announcing an interfaith procession in El Paso on July 20, which will be joined by faith leaders from the Presbyterian, Unitarian, Lutheran, Muslim, Baha’i and indigenous Tigua traditions. A vigil following the procession will feature testimony from separated families.

The second day, which focuses on the church’s teaching on migrants, will begin with a Mass celebrated by the bishops in attendance and includes a keynote speech by a Vatican representative, a social justice drama by the youth of the diocese, as well suggestions for how to offer hospitality to migrants.

Father Robert Stark, of the Migrants and Refugee Section of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, will participate as a keynote speaker. Other Catholic bishops from dioceses nearby plan to attend, including Bishop Edward J. Burns and Auxiliary Bishop Greg Kelly of Dallas, as well as Bishop Oscar Cantu and retired Bishop Ricardo Ramirez of Las Cruces, New Mexico.

“You may have heard in the news about the pain, the violation of human rights and the suffering of our migrant brothers and sisters in our border communities,” said Bishop Seitz in the video. “I’m calling on all our parishes, parishioners and clergy to put their faith into action.”

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Alvare: Society needs church’s ‘gorgeous prescriptions for human love’

07/18/2018 - 7:21pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Dan Rogers

By Valerie Schmalz

NAPA, Calif. (CNS) — Americans continue to pursue “this ridiculous path” of “unlinking sex and marriage and kids, while calling what is actually falling apart ‘flying,'” said one of America’s foremost Catholic feminist thinkers.

“All the while (they’re) hurtling toward a collision with the ground,” said Helen Alvare, founder of the activist movement Women Speak for Themselves and a law professor at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School in Arlington, Virginia.

“Kids are hitting rock bottom with suicide and opioid use” as serial cohabitation and plummeting numbers of marriages signal the disintegration of a relational society, she said in a talk July 12 at the Napa Institute’s eighth annual conference in Northern California’s wine country.

But there are signs of hope in the “huge growth of hashtags, movements ‘ straining toward solidarity,” Alvare said.

“There are opportunities for the church to narrow the gap between our current contemporary situation and the church’s gorgeous prescriptions for human love,” she said.

Movements such as Black Lives Matter, those that work for immigrant rights and #MeToo demonstrate we live in a “society that wants diversity and solidarity next to each other. I hope we can see these are a reflection of the radical need for solidarity, the need to love — a message we can endorse,” Alvare said.

“Where do we get the first message about solidarity and diversity? I don’t know — Genesis?” said Alvare, referring to the creation of man and woman in the first book of the Bible.

Effective Catholic communication needs to meet people where they are and it must discard “church talk,” arcane terms such as “procreative and unitive,” Alvare said in her keynote address at the July 11-15 Napa Institute conference.

“We have to give plainspoken answers,” for instance, about contraception, said Alvare.

“If you disassociate where God chose to put babies” from a committed marriage, “do you realize what that does to the relationship between you and the man — it severs tomorrow,” Alvare said.

“Contraception severs sex from tomorrow and that’s why we oppose it,” said the law professor. She noted that in reversing the Obama administration’s contraceptive mandate, the Trump administration lifted 30 paragraphs of her law journal article disproving the factual underpinnings of the mandate.

Alvare’s audience included German Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Muller, who was prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from 2012 to 2017; John Garvey, president of The Catholic University of America in Washington; and Bishop Steven J. Lopes of the Houston-based Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, the Catholic Church’s U.S. ordinariate for former Anglicans.

The Napa Institute was formed to help Catholic leaders face the challenges posed by a secular America, according to its website. Alvare’s talk was inspired by the day’s theme of the 50th anniversary of Blessed Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical, “Humanae Vitae.”

There are signs all around that people are concerned about the fallout from the sexual revolution, Alvare said. “The sexual revolution is not itself a reasoned revolution. The people who invented it did not invent it out of reason,” said the married mother of three children, now teenagers and young adults.

“Children are speaking up,” wearing T-shirts “My Daddy’s name is donor,” she noted. “Hook-up” books are a genre of teen literature that talk about how bad it feels, she said.

Both the left-leaning Brookings Institute and the conservative Heritage Foundation acknowledge the harms of family instability, she said. “Too many smart academics have pointed out that family structure ‘ is actually the largest part of the social and economic gap between rich and poor, between white and black,” and even between men and women.

Several recent academic studies indicate boys suffer more than girls if raised by a single mother, said Alvare, citing separate works by economists Raj Chetty of Stanford University and David Autor of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Autor found that especially black boys raised by a single mother in a poor neighborhood tend to fall behind their sisters by kindergarten and the achievement gap widens as they go through school, Alvare said, surmising “girls are looking at Mom and seeing Mom does it all.”

“Today we are seeing that Americans are not willing to adopt the claim that the sexual revolution was a complete hands down win,” Alvare said. “Nobody thought we would reach the possibility of a fifth justice with as much of the country on our side as we have,” Alvare said.

She was referring to the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, to replace U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is retiring.

To counter the falsehoods of the sexual revolution, “the winning argument is relationship,” Alvare said. To say: “You think that is the way to get there, but this is not going to get you there.” That is because, Alvare said, “ultimately our desire is for the love of an infinite God.”

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Amigos for Christ continues work in Nicaragua amid political turmoil

07/18/2018 - 5:10pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy Amigos for Christ

By Priscilla Greear

BUFORD, Ga. (CNS) — The Buford-based Amigos for Christ nonprofit serving Nicaragua’s poorest has canceled all summer mission trips due to an upsurge in violence in the Central American country.

Yet, several Nicaraguan churches near the organization’s Chinandega headquarters have stepped in to serve their neighbors and partner with Amigos to finish construction of 100 modern bathrooms and a clean water system for El Pedregal village.

“We normally have about 1,800 people come down each year, and we’ve had to postpone the trips until we can tell people it’s going to be OK to travel,” said executive director John Bland from the group’s headquarters, a three-hour drive from the capital, Managua.

Human rights groups put the death toll in Nicaragua at more than 350 since April 18, when protests erupted over reforms to the country’s social security system. Catholic clergy have been attacked and anti-government protesters are besieged by Nicaraguan police and paramilitaries.

Despite the turmoil, conditions remain relatively calm and peaceful around Chinandega and daily operations continue.

“Here in Chinandega we’re able to get around without any problems,” and Amigos asked local churches and organizations if they would be interested in doing one-day mission trips to help in El Pedregal, said Bland. “It’s been phenomenal to see people ‘ taking time away from their work, which is tough, to come and work in other communities.”

El Pedregal is the 18th community in Nicaragua served by Amigos. Families had no running water and their hand-dug shallow wells all contained E. coli, contaminated from nearby latrines. While treating residents for diarrhea, intestinal parasites and severe dehydration, Amigos also is providing clean water.

“We drill a deep well about 160 feet, and we’ve got good clean water so we’re going to pump that into a tank and distribute through pipes and gravity to everybody’s home,” said Bland, who lives in Nicaragua with his family.

Visiting his home parish in Atlanta in late June, Bland said there are some “basic things that are barriers in people’s lives to growth,” such as having clean water or a school to go to.

“When the local people are able to serve other people to eliminate those barriers, they in turn get to see people grow,” he said at Marietta’s Transfiguration Church, which had to cancel its planned mission trip with nearly 60 participants.

“We’re trying to model Jesus, and his model was to make disciples and those disciples go out and make other disciples, and we’re doing the same thing through service,” he said.

Thinking long term, Amigos has always invested first in local community leadership to make projects sustainable, said Bland. And they’ve either built schools or supported existing schools in partnership with Nicaragua’s ministry of education with a goal to get kids to complete at least high school. Amigos stays apolitical amidst the protests.

“Whenever we work with a community with no school ‘ one of the first projects we do is to build a school,” said Bland. Amigos focuses on attractive physical structures “so that the kids really want to go” to school, “because we know that education is going to change the country for the long term.”

Also, farmers are going greener through crop diversification and organic certification. “We’re growing dragon fruit, a lot of papaya, getting farmers access to capital and helping them have access to market,” he said. “We’re going to be investing heavily in that over the next 10 years.”

Amigos has come a long way since Bland, a former software engineer, established the nonprofit in 1999 as an outgrowth of a youth mission project through Prince of Peace Church in Flowery Branch. The nonprofit now has 116 employees, a $3.6 million operating budget and an extensive network of churches across the United States. About 80 percent of Amigos’ workers are Nicaraguan, which is a key to growth and sustainability, said Bland.

Board member and Prince of Peace parishioner Sue LaFave has participated in mission trips to Nicaragua every year since 2002, most recently leading a team from her parish over spring break.

She even owns a home a few blocks from the nonprofit’s headquarters and eagerly awaits a return to Chinandega.

On her first trip, LaFave accompanied her teen daughter and others from Prince of Peace. Since then she has taken her niece and nephews and many parish teens.

It is the Nicaraguan people who inspire her to continue service.

“Their humility and their strong faith set such a great example for my daughter when we first went and for me always. They are so grateful for the hand up that we give them. ‘ We are the Lord’s hands and feet when we go to Nicaragua,” she told The Georgia Bulletin, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Atlanta.

LaFave, who said she has never felt unsafe in Chinandega, first met the Narvaez family when they lived in a plastic shack with a tin roof near the city trash dump. She worked side by side with the family and other Amigos to relocate them to a new home in Villa Catalina. Now living in a decent home with running water, the mother has a small business and her children attend an afterschool program called Teatro Catalina.

“I now see them being very successful in their daily lives, and it makes me very happy,” said LaFave.

And she sees firsthand the difference having clean running water makes to the 18 communities served by Amigos. Parents would spend half their day fetching water instead of looking for employment, and children would babysit siblings instead of attending school, she recalled.

Sharing faith through action has profoundly impacted LaFave.

“Every shovel full of dirt that I’ve dug ‘ helps me to understand that we can’t always do big things, but every little thing adds up to something big. I see the Lord there,” she said.

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Greear writes for The Georgia Bulletin, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Atlanta.

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Dark to light: Buried under scaffolding, Holy Stairs set for resurrection

07/18/2018 - 4:49pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — With large sheets of plain plywood blocking public access to the Holy Stairs, one woman lovingly touched a large color photograph of the stairs, made the sign of the cross, lowered her head and prayed.

For centuries, the faithful have climbed up the 28 steps in prayer on their knees.

But the popular devotion has been put on hold for an entire year, and the tall placard depicting the staircase is all the public can see as a team of Vatican restorers complete the final phase of a 20-year effort to repair the sanctuary of the Holy Stairs and clean its 18,300 square feet of frescoes.

According to tradition, the Holy Stairs are the ones Jesus climbed when Pontius Pilate brought him before the crowd and handed him over to be crucified. It’s said that Constantine’s mother, St. Helen, brought the stairs to Rome from Jerusalem in 326 A.D.

In 1589, Pope Sixtus V had the sanctuary specially built and decorated for the stairs and the Sancta Sanctorum above, which houses some of the oldest relics of Rome’s early Christian martyrs and a silver- and jewel-covered Byzantine image of Christ.

The 16th-century pope wanted the sanctuary not only to preserve the important relics, but also to express the essentials of the faith through an abundance of vivid, colorful images describing key events in the Old and New Testaments, said Mary Angela Schroth, a Rome art gallery curator who has been involved in the restoration project.

“Since the faithful often did not read or write, the stories came to life” through images, she told Catholic News Service in mid-July. And so, “every square inch” of the sanctuary — its two chapels, five staircases, vaulted ceilings and broad, high walls — were covered in frescoes and decorative art.

“This was meant to amaze and attract the public,” she said.

But the illustrative gems slowly vanished over the centuries as dirt, grime, water damage and primitive or aggressive restoration techniques discolored or covered up what lay beneath. Add poor lighting to the mix and the dingy, gloomy space no longer did what it was designed to do: be a completely immersive physical, spiritual experience with visual cues accompanying the faithful on their journey toward the Sancta Sanctorum, said Paolo Violini, the Vatican Museums’ top expert in fresco restoration.

With initial help from the Getty Foundation in 2000 and then through the generosity of the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums, both the St. Lawrence and St. Sylvester chapels and the four stairwells — two sets on either side of the central stairwell of the Holy Stairs — have been fully restored.

With the central staircase restoration planned to be completed by the end of the year and the front atrium at the end of 2019, it will have taken 11 modern-day restorers nearly two decades to resurrect what 40 artists created in less than two years in the 16th-century. But the careful craft of restoration has paid off, allowing today’s visitors the privilege of seeing, after 400 years, the original decorative beauty Pope Sixtus’ painters had conceived, Violini said.

People barely glanced at the darkened surfaces before the restoration, Schroth said, but now with “these glorious colors” and proper lighting, visitors are doing more than just looking, “they are observing and studying these stories” and recalling their meaning.

The sanctuary’s rector, Passionist Father Francesco Guerra, told CNS that Christian art in sacred spaces is not just some extraneous, decorative flourish, but is a medium as powerful as the spoken and written word, created to explain and share the faith and bring the faithful into a deeper, closer relationship with God.

The sanctuary, which is entrusted to the care and protection of the Passionist fathers, powerfully exemplifies this visual catechism, which exists in so many churches and shrines, but needs “re-evaluating” and re-emphasizing today, he said.

Paul Encinias, director of the Rome-based Eternal City Tours, told CNS that when he has taken groups to the Holy Stairs, their focus is inward — on their individual prayers and intentions — as they climb each step on their knees.

“Twenty-first century Catholic pilgrims are far removed from artistic narratives,” he said, and they are “not used to these visual cues” that surround them, so the purpose and meaning of such artwork would probably have to be explained.

Nonetheless, some of the visitors Encinias brings to pray on the Holy Stairs often have “a strong emotional” experience as they pray and reflect on life’s problems or trials.

“We’re usually afraid of suffering,” and most homilies don’t dwell on it, he said. But because the Holy Stairs tour encourages people to connect with Christ’s passion, “something hits home” and people realize “Christ is with us always, even in our suffering.”

Even though while the Holy Stairs are closed the sanctuary has offered a side staircase for the same devotional practice of praying on one’s knees, there were only about a dozen people using the alternative staircase late morning on a July weekday. On average, about 3,000 people visit the sanctuary each day.

Father Guerra said Pope Francis has underlined the importance of traditional, popular devotions and pilgrimages to sanctuaries and sacred places. People are made up of “spirit and intellect, but we are also flesh, emotions, feelings,” he said.

In the Bible, when Jesus performs a miracle, “he touches the person, he puts his fingers in the ears of the deaf man” and takes the hand a dead girl to bring her back to life, the priest said.

This physical contact, which is an inseparable part of one’s humanity, is a key feature of the Holy Stairs, he said. By climbing the stairs on one’s knees and reflecting on Christ’s passion, “people feel in union with Jesus, they feel understood by Jesus, they feel loved by God.”

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Follow Glatz on Twitter: @CarolGlatz

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Pulled from the sea, migrant’s rescue puts spotlight on Italian policy

07/18/2018 - 4:46pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Juan Medina, Reuters

By Cindy Wooden

ROME (CNS) — Tweeting with hashtags that translate as “Closed ports” and “Open hearts,” Italy’s interior minister disputed claims that the Italian government was complicit in leaving a migrant to die in the Mediterranean Sea as she clung to a board from a destroyed fishing boat.

Matteo Salvini, the minister, has given strong support to Italy’s policy of having the Libyan coast guard patrol its own shores, pushing back refugee boats or taking the migrants and refugees back to camps in Libya.

He also has worked to prevent rescue boats from docking in Italy until other European countries agree to take a share of the migrants onboard.

Salvini and others credit the Italian policy with leading to a sharp decline in the number of migrants and refugees arriving on Italy’s shores. The 17,838 migrants and refugees who arrived between Jan. 1 and July 18 represent an 86.5 percent decline from the number of arrivals in the same period in 2017 and an 84.8 percent decline compared to the same period in 2016, according to figures compiled by the Department of Public Security and posted on the Interior Ministry website July 18.

But the numbers did not bump from the front pages of Italian newspapers the photographs of Josefa, a migrant from Cameroon, being pulled from the Mediterranean July 17 by rescuers from the Spanish organization Proactiva Open Arms. The organization said it also pulled from the water the dead bodies of a woman and a child.

The organization accused the Libyan coast guard of attacking the boat the refugees were on and leaving some of the migrants to die.

A Libyan official said it intercepted a boat with 158 people on board July 16; the migrants were transferred to a coast guard vessel, given food and medical attention and returned to Libya. The boat was destroyed to prevent other smugglers from using it, the Libyans said.

After Proactiva accused the Italian government of being complicit in the abandonment of Josefa and in the deaths of the two people pulled from the sea, Salvini on Twitter accused the organization of “lies and insults” and said that what happened “confirms we are right: reducing the number of departures and arrivals means reducing deaths, reducing the earnings of those who speculate on clandestine immigration.”

Salvini, who has been deputy prime minister and interior minister since June 1, has insisted on a hardline policy limiting immigration. The policy relies both on turning migrants and refugees back to Libya and on forcing member countries of the European Union to contribute to the care of migrants and refugees, who tend to reach land in Italy, Greece, Malta or Spain.

Like other church commentators, Msgr. Robert J. Vitillo, the Geneva-based secretary-general of the International Catholic Migration Commission, noted how Salvini’s actions and comments came so close to the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’ first trip outside of Rome as pope. The pope visited the island of Lampedusa, a major port for migrants and refugees, and he prayed there for the thousands of people who lost their lives at sea in the search for peace and a better life.

“I am left with the haunting question cited by Pope Francis, ‘Cain, where is your brother?'” Msgr. Vitillo said in an email response to questions July 18. “While states and civil society have spent countless hours in consultations and negotiations, how many more precious and invaluable lives are being lost? While we continue to fight over ‘burden sharing,’ how much do we recognize the contributions of refugees and migrants to host populations who welcome them? Why aren’t we talking about ‘resource sharing’ instead of ‘responsibility sharing’?”

As for the claim that Proactiva and other NGOs rescuing the migrants at sea actually entice people to set out and make smugglers’ jobs easier since they increase the possibility of a safe passage, Msgr. Vitillo suggested people making that claim need to speak with some of the migrants and refugees “who felt forced to leave their homelands in order to seek safety, security, freedom and dignity elsewhere.”

Ordained in 1972 for the Diocese of Paterson, New Jersey, Msgr. Vitillo said he has worked with hundreds of refugees and migrants in his 46 years as a priest.

“I spent much time in refugee camps and migrant processing centers,” he said. Most of the people “have told me how much they would have preferred to stay at home. Many of the refugees have shared with me the horrors of their frequent and unsuccessful attempts to leave their home countries because they saw no other way to survive.”

Today, he said, “forced migrants reveal the same circumstances — they are responding to basic needs for survival, not any lure of ‘search and rescue’ boats!”

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Follow Wooden on Twitter: @Cindy_Wooden

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The Catholic Telegraph, AoC-based magazines, win awards

07/18/2018 - 3:27pm
Cincinnati TOPSoccer kids and their coaches after halftime. (Courtesy photo).

“The Catholic Telegraph” brought home an award from the Catholic Press Association for the third time in four years, and other Catholic magazines based in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati earned honors as well.

Gail Finke’s article “Rise Together: An Unforgettable Halftime” picked up third place for Best Online Content not Published in Print. For the story, click here

“St. Anthony Messenger” magazine, owned by Franciscan Median and based in Cincinnati, earned an honorable mention in the Magazine of the Year category for National General Interest Magazines. The publication also earned awards in the essay, editorial, photo story, layout, design, media kit, and illustration categories.

“Comboni Missions,” published by the Anderson Township-based Comboni Missionaries, won second place in the category Magazine of the Year: Mission Magazine (Overseas and home), as well as a first place for Best Feature story.

“Glenmary Challenge,” published by the Fairfield-based Glenmary Home Missioners, took third place in the category Magazine of the Year: Mission Magazine (Overseas and home). It also picked up awards for analysis writing and social justice reporting.

A full breakdown of the awards follows:

St. Anthony Messenger
Honorable Mention, Magazine of the Year: National General Interest Magazines.
John Feister, Editor in Chief. Pat McCloskey, OFM, Franciscan Editor. Jeanne Kortekamp, Art Director. Mary Catherine Kozusko, Art Director (September).

Third Place, Best Essary: National General Interest Magazine
“The Rat Beneath the Bed” by John J. McLaughlin

Third Place, Best Editorial
“Ten Ways to Heal Our Nation” by The Editors

Third Place, Best Photo Story
“Box of Joy Ministry” by Susan Hines-Brigger

First Place: Best Layout of Article or Column: National General Interest Magazine
“The Rat Beneath the Bed,” designed by Mary Catherine Kozusko

Second Place, Best Design with Photographs
“Box of Joy Ministry” by Designed by Mary Catherine Kozusko

Second Place, Best Media Kit Created in 2017
“St. Anthony Messenger Media Kit” Designed by Mary Catherine Kozusko, Art Director

Honorable Mention, Best Illustration with Graphic Design or Art Work
“Witness” by Matt Manley

Comboni Missions
First Place, Best Feature Article: Mission Magazine (Overseas and Home)
Comboni Missions, “The Miracle of Fatima” by Kathleen M. Carroll

Second Place, Magazine of the Year: Mission Magazine (Overseas and Home)
Comboni Missions, by Kathleen M. Carroll

Glenmary Challenge
Third Place, Magazine of the Year: Mission Magazine (Overseas and Home)
Glenmary Challenge, by John Stegeman, Tricia Sarvak, Molly Williamson and staff

Second Place, Best Analysis Writing
“One Body in Christ” by John Stegeman

Third Place, Best Reporting of Social Justice Issues: Dignity and Rights of the Workers
“Cast a wide net” by Molly Williamson

Honorable Mention, Best Coverage of Ecumenical/Interfaith Issues
Glenmary Challenge, “One Family of Christ”; “One Body in Christ”; ‘“Brother Craig says ‘Good Morning’” by Frank Lesko, John Stegeman, Molly Williamson.

The Catholic Telegraph
Third Place, Best Online Content not Published in Print, “Rise Together: An Unforgettable Halftime”


07/18/2018 - 2:28pm

Sidney, Ohio | July 17, 2018 — The Lehman Catholic High School Alumni Association is proud to announce the school’s twelfth annual Lehman Hall of Fame Induction. This year there are five inductees: Lester and Marilyn Kloeker, Tom Frantz, Ben Scott Sr., and William Zimmerman Sr. These distinguished individuals will be honored on Saturday, August 4, 2018.

Since the beginning of this tradition, the Hall of Fame Committee has sought to honor not only alumni but outstanding faculty and supporters of Lehman Catholic. The Hall of Fame evening will begin with Mass at 5:15 p.m. in the Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Chapel. Cocktails and hors-d’oeuvres will be served at 6 p.m. with dinner to follow at 6:30 p.m. in the Geise Family Gymnasium. To secure tickets to the Hall of Fame Dinner, please contact Stephanie Sollmann at or Emily Goubeaux at before July 31.

Among those being celebrated are Lester and Marilyn Kloeker. Lester, a 1953 graduate of Fairlawn High School, and Marilyn, a 1953 graduate of Holy Angels High School, were fixtures of service to the Lehman community. The couple worked every Thursday and Sunday night Bingo for years. Over the decades, both donated numerous hours working in both the office and cafeteria. Their service to the school and to one another was legendary. The cross that hangs in the chapel at Lehman was donated by Marilyn to honor Lester’s memory. He passed away in 1992 and Marilyn followed in 2014. They are survived by five children: Jeff (LCHS 1975), Judy (LCHS 1976), Joe (LCHS 1980), Julie (LCHS 1984), and Jill (LCHS 1992). The couple’s daughter Jill Burden will receive the posthumous award in honor of her parents.

Tom Frantz will also be honored at the August 4 ceremony. A 1977 graduate of Lehman High School, he attended the University of Dayton and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering in 1981. Frantz is now Vice President and Co-Owner of Eagle Bridge Company in Sidney. Having reached the rank of Eagle Scout, Frantz remains committed to the Boy Scouts of America as the Scoutmaster of Troop 97 in Sidney, Ohio. This troop has been sponsored by Saint Paul’s United Church of Christ since 1981. In addition, Frantz has served in numerous positions for the District and Council Levels of the Miami Valley Council of the Boy Scouts of America including Advancement Chairman and Scoutmaster for several National Jamborees. He is also involved with the Knights of Columbus #659. Volunteering time to chair various charitable events over the years, Frantz continues to give much of his time to Lehman. Almost 20 years ago the then football coach Chuck Asher asked Frantz to help out. He is still helping as an assistant football coach and will be there with the Cavaliers for another season this year. His nominator shares that Frantz’s “outstanding character and selfless dedication of time to the Lehman community” are to be admired. Frantz and his wife Joyce live in Sidney.

Ben Scott Sr. businessman and philanthropist will also be inducted. Scott is not a graduate of Lehman Catholic but has been instrumental in carrying out the mission of the school. As owner and operator of McDonald’s from 1974 to 2001, Scott dedicated his time to not only growing his business but cultivating the faith lives of young people. He has served on countless committees and boards at Lehman Catholic. Throughout the years he has supported many different organizations, but in the last 15 years, his efforts have been focused on Food For The Poor, Inc. This organization builds homes for the poorest of the poor in Haiti. In the last decade, Scott has helped to raise more than $3,000,000 that was used to build more than 400 houses, three schools, and a clinic. In addition, the funds secured farm tools and animals that lifted countless families out of poverty and into better futures. In 2012, he authored “How Much Money Should I Be Giving to the Church” as he wanted to share how reading scripture transformed his shift from giving some to moving beyond tithing. The book has been distributed in over 250 Catholic churches. Scott shares that “It is our obligation to pass our faith on to the next generation” and that “Catholic schools provide daily prayer, retreats, and faith formation that help put children on a path to discover God’s plan.” Scott and his wife Louise live in Piqua and have two adult children: Caryn (LCHS 1987) and Benny (LCHS 1989). They have also been blessed with five grandchildren – all graduates of Lehman Catholic High School.

The final inductee is William Zimmerman, Sr. A graduate of Ohio Northern University, Zimmerman practiced as an attorney from 1979 to 2009, serving as Director of the Shelby County Public Defender’s Office for more than 20 years. Zimmerman served as Shelby County Probate and Juvenile Court Judge. Since 2010 he has served as the judge for the Third District Court of Appeals. In addition to his professional accomplishments, Zimmerman has served on the Shelby County Bar Association, Holy Angels Parish Council, Holy Angels School Board, Lehman Catholic High School Board, Shelby County Board of Developmental Disabilities, and the Alpha Center Board. He also provides law-related presentations to area high schools. He has logged time as a football coach at Lehman Catholic, serving as junior high head coach from 1989 to 1992 and assistant varsity coach from 1993 to 2002 and from 2006 to 2008. His nominators share that “he served in multiple capacities while his children attended the school, but more importantly continued his stewardship after they graduated.” Zimmerman and his wife Deb live in Sidney and have four adult children: William Jr. (LCHS 1997), Kate (LCHS 2000), Matt (LCHS 2004), and Brad (LCHS 2005). The Zimmermans have nine grandchildren.

Tom Frantz Lester & Marilyn Kloeker Ben Scott Sr. William Zimmerman Sr.


About Lehman Catholic High School
Lehman Catholic High School is the only state-chartered, Roman-Catholic comprehensive institution that provides secondary education for the students of Auglaize, Darke, Logan, Mercer, Miami and Shelby Counties in West Central Ohio. The school is dual accredited by the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement and the Ohio Catholic School Accrediting Association.