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Stuff Luke Carey Found for December: Encounter in the Ordinary

2 hours 37 min ago

Two different people shared the same article with me last month. My charismatic roots tempt me to take that it as a sign it should be this month’s topic, so here goes.

The article came from the Catholic website Aleteia, and is titled, “Hey, pastors, want to bring us Millennials back to church?”

The thesis is simple enough. If you want to bring Millennials back to the Church, it says, give them what the world does not offer: beauty, mystery, and prayer. The author makes a good point but
fails to say anything new. There’s been a movement amongst Millennials for more traditional liturgies since at least 2010. More incense and chanting, less tambourine and guitar.

But the end of the article struck me. The author quoted Luke 11:1,”Teach us to pray.” I whispered an emphatic yes reading that line. But why?

If you’ll allow me to have a Millennial moment (he said, wearing a U.S. Soccer t-shirt at a hipster Protestant coffee shop), I’d appreciate it.

This is why. Last weekend I went to a vinyl store in Oakley. The amount of options overwhelmed me. I found the following in the first five minutes: every Sufjan Stevens album, “The Baby Huey Story: The Living Legend” for only $18, “1989” (both the Taylor Swift original and the Ryan Adams cover), and “Awaken My Love” by Childish Gambino — for $7 less than Amazon. I know! Crazy.

I needed to limit my options. Bravely, I decided to purchases only all-time favorites. It took half a second to see that they had “Clarity” by Jimmy Eat World. Released in 1999, “Clarity” is a masterpiece. The first song, “Table for Glasses,” changed me. Specifically, the first 30 seconds of the song. I can still remember feeling goosebumps at the sound of the snare drum. Those seconds shaped my musical taste for the next decade. That song is beautiful in its simplicity. The almost-hidden two-part harmonies, the cellos and strings, the xylophone, the tubular bells, and the lyrics express an earnestness more at home in post-2010 America than the cynical 90s.

“Table for Glasses” drew me out of myself. It affirmed long-held desires, and challenged me to keep seeking beauty in simplicity. Reflecting back on it, it strikes me now as something akin to the “encounter moment” described by Pope Benedict XVI. This parallel between encountering beauty and encountering Jesus still intrigue me.

So how do you teach a Millennial to pray? Doctrine and ideology are not enough. The faith, in all its beauty, must be experienced. We must hear it, smell it, taste it, feel it, let it touch the core of who we are. I wonder if there are more evangelization opportunities found in exploring the themes raised in the song “Appointments” by Julien Baker than there are in sharing a Bishop Barron article on Facebook.

“Teach us how to pray.” It means: Draw us into the mystery that transcends space and time. Provide opportunities for encounter with the Alpha and the Omega, God made man, the Logos, the Joy of Man’s Desiring.

Let forever encounter the present. Give space for death to be conquered, for the Paschal mystery to be experienced and not simply mentioned. Let Jesus be encountered, proposed, and wrestled with. Don’t discuss the woman at the well, be the woman at the well. That changes a person.

That impacts a lifetime.

In #MeToo movement Catholic Church can play role in discussion, healing

12/15/2017 - 7:36pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Lucy Nicholson, Reuters

By Carol Zimmermann

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The wave of accusations of sexual harassment, misconduct and assault from Hollywood to Capitol Hill and many places in between in recent months has been described as a revolution, a moment and a time for national reckoning.

The accused — abruptly fired or resigned — have issued apology statements or denied wrongdoing. Those who have come forward — predominantly women, but also some men emboldened by the solidarity of the #MeToo movement — were named “Silence Breakers” by Time magazine and honored as its 2017 Person of the Year.

“We’re still at the bomb-throwing point of this revolution,” the Time article points out, stressing that for true social change to happen, private conversations on this issue are essential.

And that’s where some say the Catholic Church has something to offer both from its lessons learned — and how it could do more — to support victims and foster healing.

The U.S. Catholic Church — tarnished by the clergy sexual abuse scandal that made headlines in 2002 – has taken steps in all of its dioceses to address and prevent the abuse of young people and will keep doing this forever, according to Deacon Bernie Nojadera, executive director of the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat for Child and Youth Protection.

As it continues its training, education, background checks and reporting, the church must similarly “face the reality of sexual harassment,” said a Dec. 11 editorial in America magazine, pointing out that what the church went through with the abuse crisis shows “it is possible to begin turning even an organization as large and as old as the church toward primary concern for victims. “

But the church faces hurdles in just getting into this discussion, acknowledged Helen Alvare, a law professor at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School and consultor for the Pontifical Council of the Laity, noting that people can accept church teaching on global warming or refuges but its teachings on sexuality “is the thing that gets people mad.”

With papal encyclicals such as “Humanae Vitae” (“Of Human Life”), she said the “church was onto something” when it spoke of what would happen when sex was separated from love and responsibility, stressing that if “sex is robbed of its full meaning, it is bound to hurt someone.”

And that’s what the country is seeing now. As she points out: “We are not talking about women complaining that men stomped on their feet or slapped them really hard, it’s sex,” which explains the “depth of humiliation and anger” these women feel who have come forward.

“This is not a moment for triumphalism. I don’t see anyone in the church taking that approach,” Alvare said. “What I do see is people saying: ‘Let’s look at what’s happening, let’s name what we’re seeing and think about how to fix it.'”

“We’re part of that solution,” she added, noting that the experience of the church reaching out its hand and saying: ‘We’re here if you’re suffering,’ is very powerful.”

Part of the church’s role can’t help but stem from lessons learned in the abuse crisis.

As Deacon Nojadera said: “Clergy sexual abuse should not have happened, but it is part of our history and our landscape” and the church is “healthier and holier” for taking stock of what went wrong and learning to “listen intently” to victims, something he said it didn’t do initially.

He also knows the current abuse allegations go beyond the worlds of entertainment and politics and are closer to home with people coming forward in recent months under the tagline #ChurchToo to share their experiences of abuse in church environments of all faiths. These victims have often expressed the added pain of being told they did something to bring about the abuse.

He said the Catholic Church needs to help all who have been abused, not just address wrongs of its own past. When he gives talks around the country, people often pull him aside to talk about spousal abuse, domestic violence and bullying.

He told Catholic News Service that the church’s policies, adopted across the board in 2002 in its “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” put protocols in place for anytime someone calls a parish or diocesan office seeking help with ongoing or previous abuse or assault. For starters, they are offered resources and contact numbers to report the problem.

Dawn Eden Goldstein, an author who has written about finding healing after abuse, said some dioceses and parishes need to do more.

She said if someone contacts a parish priest to say they have suffered abuse, they should not be immediately given a list of local therapists which they could find on their own, or books with “vague platitudes.” Instead, she said, victims need clear spiritual guidance and reading recommendations tailored to their specific needs. Most of all, Goldstein said, “they need someone to listen to them with an open heart and say: ‘I’m very sorry to hear what was done to you. It wasn’t your fault.'”

In short, there needs to be more collaboration, to connect those who’ve suffered with spiritual care and with priests who are specifically able to help. Victims also need community, she said, pointing out the importance of Catholic outreach groups like the Maria Goretti Network, https://mgoretti.org.

Goldstein, who goes by the pen name Dawn Eden and is an assistant professor of dogmatic theology at Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, Connecticut, speaks from experience. She was sexually abused as a child and when she became a Catholic as an adult, she said, she was “carrying all of this misplaced guilt,” imagining that she should have done something to stop it.

Part of her own path to healing came from the examples of the saints, which she writes about in her book: “My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints.”

She told CNS that the saints model a path forward for the country’s current crisis because they were “bold and courageous in speaking the truth and speaking when they saw people being abused and oppressed in any way.”

They also practiced mercy and justice and didn’t see a conflict between the two.

For example, St. Maria Goretti — an 11-year-old Italian girl stabbed in 1902 while resisting a sexual assault — forgave her assailant on her death bed, but she also gave a detailed description of what happened to her to the police.

As Goldstein sees it, St. Maria Goretti, canonized in 1950, is the “model we need to follow” because she shows those who suffer “that to forgive is in no way to excuse the abuser.”

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Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim.

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Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. 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 cns@catholicnews.com.

Tim Reilly Named New President of St. Xavier High School

12/15/2017 - 5:52pm

The St. Xavier Board of Trustees, announced the appointment of Tim Reilly Class of ’76 as the next president of St. Xavier High School. He will join the school from St. Ignatius Loyola School, Cincinnati, where he currently serves as principal; he will officially assume his new duties beginning in July 2018, which coincides with Fr. Timothy Howe SJ leaving for his new assignment.

Tim is a nationally recognized educator who has served in key leadership roles with the National Catholic Education Association, Catholic Conference of Ohio, the Ohio Principal Center, and the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. He has received the National Inclusive Education Leadership Award, Serving All God’s Children; Exceptional Collaboration and Support of Safe Environment for Students Award from the Council on Child Abuse; Sr. Helen Lucille “Game Changer” Award; Media Civic Leadership Award from Venue Magazine; “Man of the Year” Award from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society; Greater Cincinnati Inclusion Network Leadership Award; and the Jennings Scholar Award. He is also past CEO and Co-Founder of Optim-ALL Services, whose mission, since its founding in 2016, is to empower Catholic schools to successfully engage exceptional learners.

He has also earned an impressive series of academic credentials beginning with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education at Miami University, then a Masters of Education degree at Xavier University, where he later completed his administration coursework. This was followed by a Catechist Certification from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. At various times the during the past 25 years, Tim has also been an instructor at Xavier University with his primary focus being Exceptional Leadership. In addition, Tim has a deep familiarity with St. Xavier High School, beginning as a 1976 graduate and later performing in a variety of roles as a member of the school’s Board of Trustees, with service on the Executive, Education, Mission Promotion and Facilities committees. And, he has been a St. Xavier parent.

Under Tim’s leadership, St. Ignatius’ impressive performance has been frequently recognized. The school was named one of Cincinnati’s BEST elementary and secondary schools in 2016, a Top 100 Work Places in Cincinnati in 2014 through 2017, and a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence in 2008. During Tim’s 23 year tenure, St. Ignatius expanded its facilities, increased its enrollment, and significantly improved its development yield.

Tim was chosen following a rigorous national search led by a diverse committee consisting of board trustees, faculty, staff, alumni, and parents. As we began the search, we did so with the mutual conviction that whomever we selected for the role must fully understand and embrace the values and traditions of Jesuit education, have the appropriate academic standing and credentials, as well as have an understanding of the complex and challenging landscape of college preparatory education. Tim Reilly has all these credentials; but most importantly, he values the Jesuit Catholic identity that is at the core of our mission as an institution, he feels a deep passion for St. Xavier, and he has the necessary leadership skills to propel St. Xavier forward for years to come. Our decision has been received enthusiastically by our Provincial, the V. Rev. Brian G. Paulson, SJ and Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr.

THOUSANDS OF OHIOANS TELL CONGRESS TO PROTECT YOUNG IMMIGRANTS

12/15/2017 - 10:56am

The nine Catholic dioceses in the State of Ohio, in collaboration with other faith-based and advocacy groups, will wrap-up an advocacy effort in support of young immigrants on Monday, December 18, 2017, International Migrants Day. The effort was coordinated by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s Catholic Social Action Office.

Over 15,000 individual letters have been sent to Congress through this campaign asking them to pass the DREAM Act, or similar legislation, to provide a path to regularize the status of immigrants brought to the United States when they were very young. The effort is part of a two-year, worldwide “Share the Journey” campaign launched by Pope Francis on September 27, 2017, inviting all to share the difficult journey of migrants and refugees through prayer and support.

“I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the many churches, schools, faith communities, advocacy groups, and other people of goodwill who united in support of DREAMers,” said the Most Reverend Dennis M. Schnurr, Archbishop of Cincinnati and Chair of the Catholic Conference of Ohio.

“We are deeply concerned by the many years of failure by Congress, whether controlled by Democrats or by Republicans, to address the plight of immigrants who were brought to the United States as children in the arms of their parents and who have no legal means to regularize their status. With such an outpouring of support from thousands of Ohioans, we urge Congress to finally provide a solution to this crisis and a path to citizenship for DREAMers.”

On Tuesday, December 19, non-emailed letters from constituents will be delivered to the offices of Congressional delegates in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. The delivery of letters will begin with a short press conference, involving DREAMers and faith community representatives, outside Senator Rob Portman’s Cincinnati office building (312 Walnut St., Cincinnati) at 9:00 a.m.

From Field to Dreams to new church: St. John the Baptist, Harrison

12/15/2017 - 10:31am
Archbishop Dennis Schnurr, center, with stole, and other church, community, and civic leaders break ground for the new St. John the Baptist Church in Harrison Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017. (CT Photo/E.L. Hubbard)Archbishop Dennis Schnurr, center, with stole, and other church, community, and civic leaders break ground for the new St. John the Baptist Church in Harrison Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017. (CT Photo/E.L. Hubbard)

By Walt Schaefer

Since 2003, St. John the Baptist Church in Harrison has had its own field of dreams.

That’s when Father Edward Shine purchased 26 acres of former farmland near the intersection of New Haven and Carolina Trace Roads, preparing for parish growth in a part of far western Hamilton County hugging the Indiana line.

Father Shine, who still helps out at the parish, is a man of vision. He saw the future as he began to witness a migration of Catholics from neighborhoods nearer the metropolis to Harrison and Harrison Township.

Soon, a new church will rise in that field—a testament to dreams being fulfilled.

In September Shine, along with Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr, current pastor Father Jeff Kemper, Father Bill Dorrmann, community leaders, and architects wielded shovels and broke ground on the new church site. Project completion date is January 2019.

“When the new church is finished, the whole parish will move up there for Masses. Right now we’re in phase one—building the new church. The old church will still be used for school Masses and the school will remain (in downtown Harrison) for at least 10 years,” Father Kemper said.

“Eventually, the rectory and parish offices will be moved in phase 2, which will be about six years from now. We have to pay off the church, but we also need breathing space” before starting another project.

Although the new church will cost $6.3 million, the parish had to raise almost $9 million. “We had to pay off the land bought in 2003, and there are no utilities,” Father Kemper explained. “We have to bring all of those in. And part of that $8.8 million we have raised or pledged includes our share of the capital campaign for the archdiocese.”

This will be the fourth church building for St. John, which built its first church in 1851. Today, the parish has 2,150 registered families. “The church will serve 800 at the start, and we can expand it without too much major work to 1,000, and then it could be expanded to 1,200,” Father Kemper said, adding that he plans to reduce the number of Masses in the new building “We have five Masses now on Sunday and one on Saturday because the current church holds only about 400 people. It’s really small.

“We’re almost doubling the size and there is a lot of building going on out here. When I came here in 2008 and the parish was 1,800 families. About 300 new houses just went up in the past five years; and there have been 900 new home sites approved for development.”

The parish school reflects that growth. Although the school currently has about 300 students, it also has a preschool with an enrollment of 241.

“What I find here is a very strong spiritual life with diverse spirituality,” Father Kemper said. “We have the charismatic people; we have the traditional people; we have people who are more liturgically prayerful. I’ve always been amazed at the number of men involved here in spiritual things and it’s a parish that reaches out to others. We twin with a parish in El Salvador, and then we have a twinning relationship with a parish in Jackson, Ky.—Holy Cross—in the southeast corner of Kentucky, in Appalachia. Then we have an informal relationship with St. Leo Parish in South Fairmount in Cincinnati.

Tom Gruber, chairperson of the Future Home Committee, said the fund drive has secured about $8.4 million with firm plans in place to raise the additional $400,000 needed. It took two drives to get to $8.4 million, and he said many parishioners were willing to open their wallets twice.

“We are (now) following up with some individuals and parishioners who said they planned to make a donation but needed a little more time. We are seeking support from some local businesses. As new parishioners register in the parish, we will make appeals to them. We plan to put together a booklet with furnishings and artwork needed in the church and give individuals the opportunity to make donations to purchase them,” Gruber said, noting that original stained glass windows and stations of the cross will be moved to the new church. “We think that will bridge the gap between what we raised already and have a debt-free church when we’re done.”

Lifetime parishioner Jeanette Losekamp, a Future Home Committee member, said the capital campaigns have gone well because of the pastor’s leadership. “Father Jeff did it the right way,” she said. “When he first came, he was told by the archbishop to build a church. He didn’t just come out and steamroll us and say, ‘We’re building a church this year.’ He got the parishioners together. He got to know the movers and shakers in the parish, and he did surveys, and voting, and town hall meeting—anything he could do to find out what the parishioners wanted.

“He’s the pastor, but our church is the parishioners,” she said. “He was smart enough to know that if he just came out here and said, ‘This is what we’re going to do’, no one would’ve gotten behind it. We would not have raised $8.4 million. The way he went about it was extremely important.”

And for Catholics in Harrison, in just over a year that 2003 dream will be a reality.

Archbishop Dennis Schnurr speaks during the ground breaking for the new St. John the Baptist Church in Harrison Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017. (CT Photo/E.L. Hubbard)Archbishop Dennis Schnurr speaks during the ground breaking for the new St. John the Baptist Church in Harrison Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017. (CT Photo/E.L. Hubbard)

Chaplain says 40 years with bowl-bound Badgers ‘a wonderful experience’

12/14/2017 - 7:15pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Father Nate Wills

By Mary C. Uhler

MADISON, Wis. (CNS) — When the Wisconsin Badgers’ football team travels to the Orange Bowl to play Miami Dec. 30, the players will take a 12-1 record with them — one of the best in team history.

Accompanying them will be Msgr. Michael Burke — better known as “Father Mike” to the coaches and players. He has been the team’s chaplain for 40 years.

He began working with the team when he was on the faculty of Madison’s Holy Name Seminary. The Badgers used the seminary fields and facilities for their summer training camp for many years.

Father Mike was a faculty member, rector, and vocation director during the years from 1977 until the closing of the seminary in 1995.

He remembers the training camps well. “The team was usually at the seminary for over three weeks,” he recalled in an interview with the Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Diocese of Madison. “They were locked in and had to stay there the entire time. They certainly got focused, since there were no distractions.”

Father Mike believes he was the first team chaplain in the Big Ten Conference. Now, all but three of the schools’ teams have chaplains.

Throughout his years as chaplain for the University of Wisconsin-Madison team, Father Mike has offered encouragement and support to the coaches and players of all faiths.

He has performed 104 weddings of players and of coaches and countless baptisms. “They still stay connected with me,” he said. “They send lots of pictures.”

“Football is very intense,” Father Mike observed. “The players have to balance going to school, practicing, and keeping their head straight when they’re 18 years old. Many of them have issues with their families.”

He said the current head coach, Paul Chryst, and the assistant coaches let Father Mike know if players have personal problems. “It could be a father who’s in jail or someone in the family has cancer. I can be there to offer support.”

Father Mike said his work with the team is really another parish. “It’s very rewarding,” he said. “They keep me young.”

Father Mike retired in July as pastor of St. Maria Goretti Parish in Madison, where he served since 1996. Since retirement, Chryst told him, “We’ll keep you busy.”

The priest’s encouragement of players “has happened thousands of times,” Chryst told the Catholic Herald. “Father Mike really helps our team.”

Father Mike prays with players of all faiths before the Badgers’ games, including in position groups.

During the games, he stands on the sidelines with the players and coaches. He wears a clerical collar, and recently at the Wisconsin-Iowa game, he got hit and knocked down by an Iowa player.

He said the Iowa player noticed his collar and said, “Sorry, Father,” and helped him up.

Father Mike said he has been impressed by the spirituality of the Badgers’ players and coaches. He said the players’ parents have noticed the change in their children, with many of them going to church more frequently.

The coaches and players also put their faith into action. This became evident this year when Wisconsin played Florida Atlantic University when Hurricane Irma hit their state.

The Florida Atlantic coaches and players ended up staying in Madison from game day on Saturday until the following Wednesday.

Wisconsin’s athletic director, Barry Alvarez, and his wife, Cindy, along with Chryst’s wife, Robin, and the wives of other coaches, made the Florida Atlantic crew welcome, as did Father Mike himself, who was out every day meeting with the visitors.

“It was impressive to see how we all helped the Florida Atlantic people. Many of them were worried about their families back home. Some of them wrote me thank-you notes when they got back,” said Father Mike. “It was a win-win situation all around.”

Asked to comment on the Badgers’ best football season ever, Father Mike said, “This year, they are so focused. They are a determined group, care for each other, and work together. I’ve never seen a coaching staff and players who work so well together.”

He believes a lot of the success is due to the strong spirituality among the coaches and players, starting with Chryst, who is Catholic himself and attributes much of his success as a coach to the influence of his father, the late George Chryst, who died 25 years ago.

Ordained a priest in 1974, Father Mike said he has been happy. “I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to do what God wanted me to do. I’ve been blessed with wonderful parents, brothers, sisters and friends. I’ve made so many wonderful friends over the years.”

He retired in July but said he’s busier than ever, ministering at a Catholic high school as well as at a Catholic-run nursing facility and a hospice. And he still makes time to serve as chaplain of the Badger football team.

“It’s been a wonderful experience,” he emphasized.

The Badgers’ coaches and players thinks he’s “the greatest” and hope he stays around for many more years.

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Uhler is editor of the Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Diocese of Madison.

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Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. 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 cns@catholicnews.com.

Natural disasters prompt church to raise millions for aid, recovery

12/14/2017 - 4:22pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Carlo Allegri, Reuters

By Dennis Sadowski

WASHINGTON (CNS) — In Puerto Rico, Texas, Florida, California and Mexico City, recovery was slow and deep pain remained from a string of natural disasters as 2017 ended.

Hurricanes, wildfires and earthquakes from August through December caused widespread destruction and claimed hundreds of lives. Rebuilding in the affected areas will take years to complete.

Catholic agencies responded with emergency aid and undertook fundraising campaigns to help people of different walks of life who lost homes and livelihoods.

Perhaps no other place was harder hit than Puerto Rico, which was slammed in September by Hurricane Maria, the 10th most intense Atlantic storm on record. Electrical power was at 70 percent capacity and many communities continued to have no access to clean water in mid-December.

Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago visited the island in early December at the behest of Pope Francis. He toured the island with representatives of Catholic Extension, the papal society that has supported the church in Puerto Rico for decades.

He found once-bustling town centers and business districts shuttered in cities large and small, signaling a massive loss of income and livelihood. Collapsed buildings, flooded homes and roofless structures offered testimony to the severity of the storm.

The official death toll in Puerto Rico stands at 64. However, data obtained by the Center for Investigative Reporting shows that at least 985 additional people died in the 40 days after the hurricane, which is a higher death toll than in 2016, a year without such severe storms.

Elsewhere, Hurricane Harvey, swamped southern Texas and southwestern Louisiana as it ambled offshore in the Gulf of Mexico for days in late August, dumping more than 50 inches of rain on some communities. Catholic parishes and schools were among entities affected by flooding. The storm was the first major hurricane to make landfall on the U.S. mainland since 2005 and caused nearly $200 billion in damage.

Then came the back-to-back storms in the Caribbean: first Hurricane Irma followed by Hurricane Maria. With winds topping 160 miles an hour, both storms devastated entire islands. Irma also caused flooding throughout Florida.

Beyond Puerto Rico, the U.S Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, Antigua, Barbuda, Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Turks and Caicos were battered by the storms.

About the same time, earthquakes of magnitudes 8.1, 7.1 and 6.1 jolted Mexico Sept. 7, Sept. 19 and Sept. 23, resulting in 474 deaths and more than 6,300 injuries.

The temblors were followed in October and December by wildfires in California, driven by hot winds and fueled by hundreds of thousands of acres of dry timber, a consequence of a dry summer.

The most recent round of fires near Los Angeles followed by two months more than a dozen wind-whipped blazes in California wine country that destroyed thousands of homes in urban neighborhoods, causing 24 deaths and leaving hundreds of families homeless.

In response to the disasters, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Charities USA, Society of St. Vincent de Paul and Catholic Relief Services mobilized to raise funds to assist with emergency relief and long-term recovery.

The USCCB collected $38.5 million for hurricane relief and another $1.3 million for Mexican earthquake relief. Catholic Charities USA raised $24 million for disaster assistance. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul also was on the scene in various locales coordinating its response through parish and diocesan councils.

Other donors included Catholic Extension, which provided $400,000 in immediate support to the church in Puerto Rico following the hurricanes, and the Knights of Columbus, which pledged $1.4 million for church repairs in Florida, Texas and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The organization earlier provided $100,000 to the Archdiocese of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Caritas Mexico by the end of October had raised $900,000 for earthquake emergency aid. Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. bishops’ overseas relief and development agency and a partner in the church’s Caritas Internationalis network, was on the ground providing disaster assistance.

The U.S. bishops’ Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions made an emergency grant of $50,000 to the Diocese of Santa Rosa, California, to help with its response to the fires. In addition, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles began collecting funds even as wildfires raged in early December for families, parishes and schools affected by the fires in Los Angeles and Ventura countries.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said 2017 was the seventh most active hurricane season on record dating to 1851 and the most active season since 2005.

Alan Betts, a Vermont-based climate scientist who has studied global weather and climate for more than 40 years, outlined his concerns about future weather patterns during a Nov. 2 Catholic Climate Covenant webinar.

Betts long ago concluded that earth is warming and that humans cause it because of their penchant for burning fossil fuels in large quantities.

During the webinar and a September presentation at St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont, Betts explained that a warming atmosphere holds more water vapor. More humidity in the atmosphere means a higher potential for downpours.

At the same time, the oceans are a storehouse for excessive heat. The Climate Special Report released by 13 federal agencies Nov. 3 found that the oceans have absorbed 93 percent of the excess heat caused by greenhouse gas warming since the mid-20th century, leading to altered global and regional climate.

The warmer the oceans, the more intense the hurricanes, Betts said.

The Catholic Climate Covenant and the Global Catholic Climate Covenant continued efforts throughout the year to call on people to advocate for action to cut carbon emissions, a leading cause of climate change.

In other climate-related actions, hundreds of Catholics from across the country joined the two organizations during the April 29 People’s Climate March in Washington.

In sweltering heat — the temperature reached 91 degrees at nearby National Airport, tying a record set in 1974 for the date — an estimated 200,000 people walked from the Capitol to the Washington Monument to protest President Donald Trump’s environmental agenda.

The Trump administration has begun the process of dismantling environmental regulations and rolling back the Clean Power Plan regulating carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants in the name of creating jobs and boosting the U.S. economy. Trump also followed through on a campaign pledge to begin the process of withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris climate accord.

The U.S. bishops issued several statements throughout the year calling on the president to remain in the accord and keep the Clean Power Plan in place.

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Follow Dennis Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski.

– – –

Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. 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 cns@catholicnews.com.

Xavier and TriHealth Break Ground on Health United Building

12/14/2017 - 2:50pm

$54 million multipurpose “HUB” will be a model of collegiate health

Cincinnati (Dec. 11, 2017) – Xavier University and TriHealth, two long-time, faith-based organizations dedicated to improving the quality of life for all in the Cincinnati community, broke ground today on the Health United Building (HUB) on the Xavier campus.

The HUB, located at 1714 Cleneay Ave. in Norwood, will include classrooms for health-related academic programs, a new state-of-the-art fitness and recreation center, and a holistic health and wellness center to provide expert care for students.

The goals for the four-level, 160,300 square-foot facility are ambitious. “We believe this building will play a critical role in shaping our students—who they become and how they live in the future,” said Xavier University President Michael J. Graham, S.J. “We know that today’s students want balanced and healthy lifestyles. This building is designed to meet the physical, mental and wellness needs of all students and the fast-changing, academic needs of our health sciences students. Partnering with TriHealth, we know we can meet and exceed these goals.”

“This affiliation is so uniquely focused, like no other in the country, on caring for the whole person—mind, body and spirit,” said TriHealth CEO and President Mark C. Clement. “Whether it starts in the classroom, leads to a great performance on the court, drives healthier behaviors or increases positive connections in the community, this affiliation will touch lives and transform people, not only on campus, but throughout the region and nation.”

Primary features of the HUB include:

• Fitness/Recreation Center (104,400 SF)
o 4-lane recreation pool
o 3 fitness studios
o 3 basketball courts
o 2-level fitness area
o café

• Health and Counseling Center (9,800 SF)
o 10 exam rooms
o 7 counseling offices
o pharmacy
o wellness coordinator rooms

• Health Sciences Academic Building (46,100 SF)
o 11 classrooms
o 5 nursing sim labs
o 3 nursing skills labs
o 3 occupational therapy labs
o 2 sports studies labs

In January 2017, Xavier and TriHealth, with the support of Beacon Orthopaedics, announced a 10-year, exclusive affiliation that includes building this national model of excellence for collegiate health and wellness. The affiliation builds on a highly successful, 20-year relationship between TriHealth and Xavier and advances their shared mission to physically, mentally and spiritually improve the lives of those they serve.

The cost of the HUB is $54 million. Xavier and TriHealth are partnering with Messer Construction and MSA Architects. In keeping with Xavier’s Jesuit values, its construction will offer opportunities for minority and women-led businesses, and it will be inclusive, exceeding ADA requirements to make it even more welcoming for all. In addition, the building will be designed and built to LEED Gold standards. The HUB is expected to open in August 2019 for the fall 2019-2020 semester.

Planning for and design of the building has been underway since 2015, led by Vice President for Facilities Bob Sheeran, Senior Director for Student Affairs Leah Busam-Klenowski and Dean of the College of Professional Sciences Paul Gore. “We got here with a lot of input from Xavier faculty, staff and students as well as health-care experts at TriHealth,” said Graham. “I want to thank all of them as we move forward toward making the HUB a national model for collegiate health.”

About TriHealth: TriHealth is hospitals, physicians and the community working together to help people live better. We provide clinical, educational, preventive and social programs through Bethesda North, Bethesda Butler, TriHealth Evendale, Good Samaritan, McCullough-Hyde and TriHealth Rehabilitation hospitals and more than 130 other locations throughout Greater Cincinnati. This includes an ambulatory network, physician practices, research division, employer-based health services, hospice care, and fitness and health facilities. Learn more at trihealth.com, Facebook.com/TriHealth, @TriHealth on Twitter and at YouTube.com/TriHealth.

About Xavier University: Xavier University is a private university located in Cincinnati, Ohio, providing a liberal arts education in the Jesuit Catholic tradition. Founded in 1831, Xavier is the sixth-oldest Catholic university in the nation. U.S. News & World Report ranks it No.5 among master’s-level universities in the Midwest and The Princeton Review names it as one of the “Best 377 Colleges in America.”

Steve Trosley for December: Season’s greetings? Don’t be afraid to offend

12/14/2017 - 2:39pm

Steve TrosleyWhat are we saying this year? Season’s greetings? Holiday greetings? Merry Christmas?

Anecdotal evidence would seem to indicate that how we greet others at Christmas time has more to do with fear than with conviction. We fear that we will offend someone or instigate an unpleasant confrontation. So we default to the least innocuous of greetings. And so it goes with much public discourse in these tribal times. We surrender to the pressure of our secular culture.

“I want Catholics to feel unafraid. It’s such a shame that anyone would live their faith in fear … of making a mistake, fear of answering questions, fear of offending.”

That’s a quote from our newest columnist, whose story you will read elsewhere in this edition of “The Catholic Telegraph.” Nicholas Hardesty, a member of the team bringing the archdiocese’s new catechetical institute—Vocare—though its birthing process, physically bristles at the thought of a Catholic unable to evangelize because of fear.

Nicholas’ passion for the faith and for sharing the excitement he feels about Catholicism lead him to develop a vision he calls, “Seize the Moment,” which became the name of his new column. His envisions that through the column and the content of the Vocare, Catholics will be armed and ready to engage those occasional opportunities that arise for us individually to catechize – teach others about our faith. Vocare responds to the Great Commission: “Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:19). Jesus did not say, “Go make disciples of all nations, taking care not to offend anyone along the way.”

Learning more about your faith should help you conquer your fears, whatever they may be, and be “emboldened,” as Nicholas says, by the excitement you feel about what you have learned. It’s not up to just the clergy, religious and certified catechists. We should all be catechists.

We look forward to hearing from you as you apply the insights and scriptural support Nicholas presents in his column, coming in January.

One of the more interesting evangelizers I’ve encountered in the past several years is Frank Caggiano, Bishop of Bridgeport, Conn.

First, he looks a lot like he came from my boyhood neighborhood. Most appealing is his direct, no-nonsense, family dinner table delivery that brings the message home without the church-speak that burdens so much of today’s discourse on religion.

Bishop Caggiano spoke of another tool in evangelization: Humility. At the USCCB convocation in Florida last year, Bishop Caggiano urged individuals and groups within the church to come to a realization that an individual’s or even a group’s idea or program are not necessarily what’s going to save the Church from its many challenges in the modern world. He said, “The Church already has a savior and that one savior is Jesus Christ.”

While it might be painful to surrender our egos and our independence to others, the humility that enables that surrender becomes a tool for evangelization.

Knowledge, Seize the Moment, boldness, Vocare, humility. A very good start for the new year of evangelizing.

A member of “The Catholic Telegraph” family has decided to join the ranks of the retired. But even given that I have only known Michele Boullie-Nolan for five years, I cannot imagine her living life of disengagement. An excellent salesperson with a 20-plus year history of service, Michele will undoubtedly busy herself with family (including grand-parenting) and other pursuits when she leaves us Dec. 31.

She has been part of the social glue that holds the CT staff together and we thank her for her efforts. We will miss her gentle, positive and loving presence.

Merry and Holy Christmas and Happy New Year to
you and your family from “The Catholic Telegraph” staff and management.

Pope: Helping refugees means converting hearts hardened against them

12/14/2017 - 2:17pm

By Carol Glatz

ROME (CNS) — With so much suffering, poverty and exploitation in the world, missionary work must also include reaching out to people whose hearts are closed to receiving immigrants and refugees, Pope Francis told Jesuits in Myanmar.

“Unfortunately, in Europe there are countries that have chosen to close their borders. The most painful thing is that to take such a decision they had to close their hearts,” he said during a private audience Nov. 29 in the chapel of the archbishop’s house in Yangon.

“Our missionary work must also reach those hearts that are closed to the reception of others,” he told 31 Jesuits from different parts of Asia and Australia, who are based in Myanmar.

The Rome-based Jesuit-run journal, La Civilta Cattolica, published a transcript Dec. 14 from the private meeting in Myanmar and the pope’s private meeting Dec. 1 at the apostolic nunciature in Dhaka with Jesuits based in Bangladesh.

In both meetings, the pope listened to and answered their comments, concerns and questions, and the journal provided an English translation of the original Spanish remarks.

A Jesuit’s mission is to be close to the people, especially those who are suffering and forgotten because “to see them is to see Christ suffering and crucified,” he said in his meeting in Myanmar.

His approach, he said, is to try to visit these places and to “speak clearly, especially with countries that have closed their borders.”

“It is a serious issue,” he said, commenting on how that evening, they all would be sitting down to a full meal, including dessert, while many refugees will “have a piece of bread for dinner.”

He recalled visiting the refugees in Lesbos, Greece, and how the children he was greeting were torn between shaking his hand and reaching for candy that Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople was pulling out of his pockets.

“With one hand, they greeted me with the other, they grabbed the candy. I thought maybe it was the only sweet they had eaten for days.”

The situation of many of the refugees and stories they have told him have “helped me to cry a lot before God,” he said, particularly when a Muslim man recounted how terrorists slit the throat of his Christian wife right before his eyes when she refused to take off the cross she wore.

“These things must be seen and must be told,” he said, because news of what is happening does not reach most people, and “we are obliged to report and make public these human tragedies that some try to silence.”

The Jesuits he met in Bangladesh thanked him for talking about the Rohingya people, a Muslim minority being pushed from Myanmar’s Rakhine state and seeking refuge in Bangladesh.

“Jesus Christ today is called Rohingya,” as these people are their brothers and sisters, the pope told the Jesuits.

Just as St. Peter Claver ministered in the 17th century to slaves subjected to horrible conditions, such shameful conditions people endure still persist, he said.

“Today, there is much discussion about how to save the banks. The problem is the salvation of the banks. But who saves the dignity of men and women today?”

“Nobody cares about people in ruins any longer. The devil manages to do this in today’s world. If we had a little sense of reality, this should scandalize us.”

“The impudence of our world is such that the only solution is to pray and ask for the grace of tears,” he said.

Meeting the Rohingya refugees that same day at the archbishop’s residence in Dhaka, he added, made him feel ashamed. “I felt ashamed of myself, for the whole world!”

When asked “why such attention” for the small Catholic community in Bangladesh when he elevated their archbishop in Dhaka to the rank of cardinal, Pope Francis said that in naming cardinals, he looks to the “small churches, those that grow in the peripheries, at the edges.”

It’s not meant to give them “consolation,” but is “to launch a clear message: the small churches that grow in the periphery and are without ancient Catholic traditions today must speak to the universal church, to the whole church. I clearly feel that they have something to teach us.”

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Editors: The full text in English can be found online at: https://laciviltacattolica.com/church-life/at-the-crossroads-of-history-pope-francis-conversations-with-the-jesuits-in-myanmar-and-bangladesh/

 

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Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. 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 cns@catholicnews.com.

Obituary: Father Don Miller

12/14/2017 - 1:23pm

An indefatigable teacher and mentor, Father Donald Miller, OFM, died Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, at St. Margaret Hall in Cincinnati, Ohio.

His work as Vocation Director for St. John the Baptist Province was widely respected throughout the Order of Friars Minor. Born on Jan. 29, 1945, Fr. Don was one of three children of Raymond and Thekla (Bucher) Miller in Peoria, Ill. He attended elementary school at St. Thomas in Peoria Heights, Ill., before high school at Spalding Institute.

He entered the Franciscan Order in 1964, made Solemn Profession in August, 1969, and was ordained to the priesthood at St. Leonard in Centerville, Ohio, June 10, 1972. He did post-graduate studies in Psychology at Eastern New Mexico University and received a Ph.D. in Moral Theology from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

Father Don was preceded in death by his parents, his sister, Mary E. Kaufman, and a Franciscan classmate, Tod Laverty, OFM. He is survived by his sister Dorothy A. O’Toole of Peoria and his friar-classmates Kevin Duckson, Dan Kroger, and Frank Jasper.

Father Don’s most recent ministry was with the Staff of Franciscan Media, but he also served in pastoral/educational roles in New Mexico, Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio, and Walsh University in North Canton, Ohio. He served as Vocation Director for the Province from 2003 to 2015.

Father Don’s body will be received on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017, at 9 a.m. at St. Clement Church in Cincinnati, followed by the Mass of Resurrection at 10 a.m. Interment will be in the Friars’ Plot at St. Mary Cemetery, St. Bernard, Ohio.

Eleven Admitted to Candidacy for Holy Orders

12/14/2017 - 12:59pm
Photo Credit (l to r): Front Row: Father Anthony Brausch, Archbishop Dennis Schnurr. Second Row: Michael Willig, Kevin LeMelle, Chibueze Asiegbulem, Elvis Aguilar, Jacob Lindle, Father Benedict O’Cinnsealaigh. Back Row: Ethan Hoying, Broderick Witt, J. Tyler Marsh, Robert Hale, Charles Westerhold, Stephen Jones. (Photo by E.L. Hubbard)

Eleven men publically declared their commitment to a program of formation for service to God and to the Catholic Church as priests on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Catholic Church, through Archbishop Dennis Schnurr, publically accepted the aspirants into the ranks of the candidates for Holy Orders.

“The first stage of a vocation is always the personal call from the Lord Himself and the second is the courage to answer,” said Father Benedict O’Cinnsealaigh, president and rector.” “What a great encouragement it is to see so many courageous young men willing to follow where the Lord leads. I have no doubt they will be zealous priests and gentle shepherds.”

Family, friends, and members of the Athenaeum community were present for celebration of the Mass and Rite held on the patronal feast of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary of the West.

Those approved are:

Archdiocese of Cincinnati: 
Chibueze Raymond Asiegbulem
Ethan Michael Hoying
Stephen Paul Jones
Kevin Andre LeMelle
Jacob Benjamin Lindle
John Tyler Marsh
Charles Albert Westerhold
Michael Anthony Willig
Broderick Michael Witt

Archdiocese of Louisville:
Willard Robert Hale

Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph: 
Elvis Hernan Aguilar

For information about The Athenaeum of Ohio/Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary, go to www.athenaeum.edu/Index.aspx

Today’s Video: St. John of the Cross

12/14/2017 - 7:25am

December 14. Saint John of the Cross was a 16th century reformer of the Carmelite way of life, together with Saint Teresa of Avila.

In Today’s video, we look at the life of St. John of the Cross, a mystic, writer of Dark Night of the Soul.

Hold the phone: Vatican says Pope Francis doesn’t use WhatsApp

12/13/2017 - 4:17pm

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — While the thought of receiving a blessing by text from Pope Francis could have millions of mobile users glued to their smartphones, the Vatican spokesman said that isn’t his style.

The spokesman, Greg Burke, issued a statement on Twitter Dec. 13 saying that Pope Francis doesn’t use the instant messaging platform WhatsApp.

Reports of “the Holy Father using WhatsApp are false,” Burke tweeted. “He does not send messages or blessings through this medium.”

The Pope Francis Foundation, a Catholic organization in Corrientes, Argentina, announced Dec. 12 the launch of “Wabot-Papa Francisco,” a chatbot that allows users to contact the pope and keep up-to-date with his schedule, reported the Argentine newspaper, La Nacion.

The foundation said the chatbot would respond to users queries through “texts, images, video, audio and documents,” La Nacion reported.

“You can also have a simulated chat with His Holiness. Wabot technology allows the entire Catholic community or people of any other faith to interact with the pope,” the foundation said.

The pope, the organization added, “is a technological man, he believes that technology can help many people and understands that it is the future of communications.”

In his message for the 50th World Communications Day Jan. 24, 2016, Pope Francis acknowledged that emails, text messages, social networks and chats can be “fully human forms of communication.”

However, he added, “it is not technology which determines whether or not communication is authentic, but rather the human heart and our capacity to use wisely the means at our disposal.”

Despite his favorable attitude toward new forms of communication, the pope has also admitted that he is “a dinosaur” when it comes to technology.

During a Google Hangout conversation sponsored by Scholas Occurrentes in 2015, a young girl from Spain asked the pope if he liked to take photos and upload them to a computer.

“Do you want me to tell you the truth?” the pope asked. “I’m a disaster with machines. I don’t know how to work a computer. What a shame!”

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. 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 cns@catholicnews.com.

Sunday has lost its sense as day of rest, renewal in Christ, pope says

12/13/2017 - 1:55pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tony Gentile, Reuters

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Just like a plant needs sun and nourishment to survive, every Christian needs the light of Sunday and the sustenance of the Eucharist to truly live, Pope Francis said.

“How can we carry out the Gospel without drawing the energy needed to do it, one Sunday after another, from the limitless source of the Eucharist,” he said Dec. 13 during his weekly general audience.

“We don’t go to Mass to give something to God, but to receive from him that which we truly need,” the pope said. Sunday Mass is the time and place Christians receive the grace and strength to remain faithful to his word, follow his commandment to love others and be credible witnesses in the world.

The pope continued his series of audience talks on the Mass in the Vatican’s Paul VI hall, which was decorated with a large Christmas tree and a life-sized Nativity scene. A number of people in the audience hall handed the pope — who turns 81 Dec. 17 — Christmas cards, notes and a chocolate cake.

In his catechesis, the pope responded to the question of why it is so important to go to Mass on Sundays and why it is not enough just to live a moral life, loving others.

Sunday Mass is not simply an obligation, he said. “We Christians need to take part in Sunday Mass because only with the grace of Jesus, with his presence alive in us and among us, can we put into practice his commandment and, in this way, be his credible witnesses.”

“Just like a plant needs the sun and nourishment to live, every Christian needs the Sunday Eucharist to truly live,” he said in summarized remarks to Arabic speakers.

“What kind of Sunday is it for a Christian if an encounter with the Lord is missing?” he asked in his main talk.

Unfortunately, in many secularized countries, the Christian meaning of the day has been lost and is no longer “illuminated by the Eucharist” or lived as a joyous feast in communion with other parishioners and in solidarity with others, he said.

Also often missing is the importance of Sunday as a day of rest, which is a sign of the dignity of living as children of God, not slaves, he said.

“Without Christ, we are condemned to be dominated by the fatigue of daily life with all its worries and the fear of tomorrow. The Sunday encounter with the Lord gives us the strength to live today with confidence and courage and to move forward with hope,” he said.

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Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. 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 cns@catholicnews.com.

Today’s Video: As we head into the darkest part of the year, we celebrate St. Lucy

12/13/2017 - 1:24pm

December 13th is the feast day of St. Lucy. St. Lucy was a virgin martyr during the earliest centuries of Christianity under its worst persecution at the hands of the Roman Empire, therefore making her one of the most glorious saints in heaven.

Today’s video looks at her life

Pope: Guadalupe feast shows Mary’s closeness to those on margins

12/12/2017 - 7:10pm

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which mirrored that of the indigenous people of the time, is a sign of Mary’s closeness to those who are marginalized, Pope Francis said.

Like St. Juan Diego, who felt of no importance at being chosen by Mary because of his indigenous heritage, marginalized people in today’s world are often made to feel worthless by conditions imposed upon them, the pope said in his homily during a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica Dec. 12, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

“Among them are the indigenous and Afro-American communities, who often are not treated with dignity and equality of conditions; many women who are excluded because of their sex, race, or socioeconomic situation; young people who receive a poor education and have no opportunities to advance in their studies or to enter into the labor market so as to move ahead and establish a family; many poor people, unemployed, migrants, displaced, landless peasants, who seek to survive on the informal market; boys and girls subjected to child prostitution, often linked to sex tourism,” he said, quoting a 2007 Latin American bishops’ council document he helped write.

Processing into the basilica dressed in white, the symbol of purity, Pope Francis made his way to a replica of St. Juan Diego’s tilma, which bears the image of Mary, who appeared to the indigenous saint in 1531. The pope stood before the image, bowing reverently and censing it three times.

In his homily, Pope Francis reflected on the reading from St. Luke’s Gospel, in which the angel appears to Mary, informing her that she is with child.

“And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God,” the angel said.

Elizabeth’s sterility, the pope said, was considered at the time “a divine punishment for her or her husband’s sin” and a sign of shame and guilt “for a sin she did not commit … (she was) made to feel small for being unable to fulfill what was expected of her.”

However, in Elizabeth — who was the first to recognize the child in Mary’s womb — Christians can find a woman who is “fruitful and amazed” upon experiencing in her life “the fulfillment of a promise made by God.”

“In her, we understand that God’s dream is not nor will be sterile or to stigmatize or fill his children with shame, but rather bring forth through and from them a song of blessing,” he said.

This fruitfulness can also be seen in St. Juan Diego, who was chosen by Mary to bear on his “tilma the image of the Virgin.”

Mary, shown “with dark-skin and mestizo appearance,” reflected a “mother capable of taking on the traits of her children to make them feel a part of her blessing,” the pope said.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, he added, remains a symbol of the wealth and cultural diversity of Latin America and the Caribbean that must not only be cultivated, but also defended from every attempt to impose a way of thinking that “makes everything we inherited from our elders invalid or sterile.”

“In short, our fruitfulness requires us to defend our people from an ideological colonization that cancels out the richest thing about them, whether they be indigenous, Afro-American, mestizo, farmer, or suburban,” the pope said.

Pope Francis called on Christians to look to Mary and learn from her, to become a church with a “mestizo appearance, an indigenous appearance” that takes the form of the little ones.

It is “the appearance of a person who is poor, unemployed, of a boy or girl, old or young, so that no one may feel sterile and infertile, so that no one feels ashamed or worthless,” the pope said.

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

 

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Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. 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 cns@catholicnews.com.

Event Alert: Free Concert Kevin Heider Live at Synod Hall

12/12/2017 - 7:08pm

You’re invited to a free concert Thursday, December 14, 2017 at St. Peter in Chains Cathedral in Synod Hall. The Office for Young Adult Evangelization and Discipleship proudly presents Kevin Heider in concert.

Kevin Heider is a singer-songwriter, performer, and recording artist from Dayton, Ohio. From introspective acoustic poetry to boot-stomping drinking songs, his music crosses genres while exploring what it means to be human. For details check out the flyer below:

Blessed Oscar Romero continues to inspire listeners through radio

12/12/2017 - 4:00pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Melissa Vida

By Melissa Vida

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (CNS) — In San Salvador’s traffic jams or at work, people turn on Radio YSAX to listen to Blessed Oscar Romero’s homilies, just as they did over 30 years ago.

“I listen to this radio station in Romero’s honor, because it is the one he used,” Karen Larin, a radio listener, told Catholic News Service. “Hearing his voice is great; it’s as if he were here, talking with us.”

From the 1970s until his assassination in March 1980, Blessed Romero used the radio station YSAX to inform Salvadorans and the international community of the horrors of El Salvador’s civil war. In a time when public media was self-censoring, Radio YSAX served as a spiritual guide as well as a news broadcast.

“Oscar Romero collected notes from his listeners and then disclosed when and where human rights were being violated,” Father Edwin Henriquez, director of the radio, told Catholic News Service.

“Without the radio, there would be no Archbishop Romero,” Father Henriquez said. “We wouldn’t know the truth of what was happening at the time, and he wouldn’t have been able to tell the world about the crimes committed against humanity here.”

Reopened in 2015, the station has set itself one purpose: to keep Blessed Romero alive. Every weekday, at 1 p.m., the late archbishop’s voice reverberates again through the speakers and draws radio listeners from all over the world. When the radio is cut for a few days, people from as far as Europe and Australia call to know what happened.

“This radio station gives us hope,” Larin said. “Romero represents a father’s love to us, but he was also a father who defended us, because he denounced the abuse of power.” Larin said Blessed Romero helped his followers reconnect with a concrete, nearby God.

In developing countries, the radio as a means of communication remains influential. With only 20 percent of the country’s households having internet access and more than 10 percent of the population being illiterate, the radio has a broad outreach in El Salvador. It answers the need for real-time information and reliable, interactive hosts.

For Estephanie Castillo, volunteer at YSAX, the radio is also a relevant tool to evangelize and raise awareness on everyday issues.

“Through the radio, we can transmit fundamental values to build a caring and just society,” she said.

Radio YSAX speaks to people of all ages. Hearing Blessed Romero’s voice reassures older generations, who recognize him and identify with the historical context of his speech.

“But the radio program also speaks to the youth,” Larin said, “because they learn about (Blessed Romero) and our past, and that gives hope for our country.”

Most radio volunteers are millennials.

“Our youth needs to bring the light of Jesus and remind others that there is still hope,” Castillo said. Quoting Blessed Romero, she said, “We need to see the truth with open eyes and with our feet grounded, but with our hearts full of the Gospel and of God to look for solutions of justice.”

For the listeners, Blessed Romero’s message of faith and social justice is still valid in 2017. Yesterday’s state-enforced violence and guerrillas became today’s gang barbarism. As Father Henriquez recalled, Blessed Romero did not give in to political correctness when condemning such abuses.

“Romero did not seek applause nor praise and, indeed, some naysayers disliked him because the message of Jesus always has social consequences,” Father Henriquez said. “It’s not that we meddle with economics or politics, but we seek to touch people’s hearts … and that transforms society.”

And El Salvador is in dire need of social change. Still hurt and polarized by the civil war that took place in the 1980s, the country suffers from the rocketing unemployment rates and the highest homicide rate in the world. Gang members extort, rob and kill civilians.

“The violence we have known during the war has been transformed, the culture of death is still prevalent and our youth is suffering the most,” Father Henriquez said.

In this postwar context, Blessed Romero remains a beacon of hope.

“In my own personal hardship, I feel like he accompanies me and helps me,” Castillo said.

“Romero continues to speak to us in the midst of violence, impunity and corruption: We should pay attention to him,” Larin said. “Oscar Romero is alive.”

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Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. 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 cns@catholicnews.com.

Today’s Video: Our Lady of Guadalupe

12/12/2017 - 3:21pm

Today we celebrate the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Check out the video on this Patron Saint of the Americas: