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Church official cautiously optimistic about DACA bills before Congress

05/22/2018 - 7:37pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

By Carol Zimmermann

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The executive director of the U.S. bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services gives credit to a group of moderate Republicans in Congress trying to revive interest in Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals legislation, or DACA, by their efforts to bring not just one bill, but four, to the House floor.

“They are surfacing the issue forcefully and making the House deal with it,” said William Canny.

Although he believes the bills could bring about a “path forward,” he said he is not fully convinced it will happen because of the extent of anti-immigrant sentiment in Congress and the White House.

A current proposal, led by Reps. JeffDenham, R- California, and Will Hurd, R-Texas, along with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, is tapping into an obscure House rule called “queen of the hill” which would bring four immigration bills to the House floor for a vote and the bill with the most votes would pass.

But for Congress to even consider these multiple bills, there needs to be enough signatures on a discharge petition. As of May 21, 20 Republicans and 176 Democrats have signed the petition, which needs signatures from 25 Republicans and all 193 Democrats.

If the “queen of the hill” procedure gets the go-ahead, there will be debate on each of the four bills in the course of one day, followed by votes. Another technicality of this procedure is that discharged bills can only be brought to the House floor on the second and fourth Monday of each month, when the House is in session, which narrows the window for this to happen to June 25 and July 23.

In the meantime, it’s a waiting game, Canny told Catholic News Service.

He said the U.S. bishops want Congress to help Dreamers find a path to stay in this country and become citizens “without the fear and stress” they currently live with daily. He also called it “tragic” that DACA recipients — who have been here since childhood and have been educated here — are currently left “to the whims of various courts.”

When President Trump announced last September that he was terminating DACA, he asked Congress to pass a permanent legislative solution for DACA participants. His March 5 deadline has passed and now the DACA battle is in the courts with multiple lawsuits challenging Trump’s decision and seven states filing a lawsuit to try to end DACA.

The four DACA bills that could come up for vote are: Securing America’s Future Act, also known as Goodlatte Bill, written by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Virginia; the DREAM Act; the Uniting and Securing America Act (USA) Act; and a fourth bill that will be chosen by House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin.

The Goodlatte Bill would grant temporary status for DACA recipients with renewable three-year visas and would include stronger border enforcement and legal immigration restrictions. The DREAM Act primarily offers a path to citizenship for DACA recipients and other Dreamers. The USA Act, sponsored by Reps. Denham and Pete Aguilar, D-California, would grant permanent legal status to qualified Dreamers and border improvements.

If the four bills do not come up for House vote, Securing America’s Future Act could come to a floor vote in mid-June but it is said to have little chance of passing in its current form.

Canny said the U.S. bishops have supported the DREAM Act and the USA Act, which have narrow immigration reform, but they are against the restrictions within the Goodlatte Bill, and of course they don’t know what Ryan bill would look like.

Three California bishops placed an ad in a local newspaper May 18 asking House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California, to allow a debate and a vote on DACA, specifically the USA Act. The ad, in the form of a letter, urged McCarthy to recognize: “The time to act is now. We have to do what we can to protect these blameless people who were brought into our country when they were only small children.”

In late April, the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin Texas, stressed his support for USA Act, saying he hoped Congress would “find a humane legislative solution for Dreamers.”

He said the USA Act would provide qualifying Dreamers with protection from deportation and give them a path to citizenship while also augmenting border security at the U.S./Mexico border, increasing the number of immigration judges and Board of Immigration Appeals staff attorneys.

A May 21 editorial in The Los Angeles Times by Denham, said: “Immigration policy is the responsibility of Congress, and this may be our last chance for a legislative fix before DACA recipients’ lives are upended; if we leave DACA in the courts to languish (or be dismantled) and fail to act in Congress, then program recipients will be left in limbo or, worse, deported to a ‘home’ they never knew.”

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Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim

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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

Cardinal stats: Pope makes college more international, not much younger

05/22/2018 - 5:00pm

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Although it is not unusual for a pope to set aside temporarily the limit of 120 cardinals under the age of 80, Pope Francis has done so in a way that could last for more than a year.

The pope announced May 20 that he would create 14 news cardinals June 29; 11 of them are under the age of 80 and would be eligible to enter a conclave to elect a new pope.

In early June, Cardinal Angelo Amato will celebrate his 80th birthday, which will drop the number of electors to 114. Three weeks later, the batch of new cardinals will raise the number of potential electors to 125.

Cardinal Amato is the last cardinal to turn 80 in 2018. And it will take until July 31, 2019, for another five cardinals to age out.

Confirming the limit of 120 electors set by Blessed Paul VI, St. John Paul II wrote in “Universi Dominici Gregis,” his rules for a conclave, that “the maximum number of cardinal electors must not exceed 120.”

That led one major news agency to report, “If a conclave has to be called before any other cardinal turns 80, the electors would have to draw lots to see which five men would be barred from the gathering.”

Conclaves don’t happen that often and none in recent history took place when there were more than 120 eligible electors. But the idea of a lottery for entrance into the Sistine Chapel, where the voting would take place, led many people to scratch their heads.

After all, “Universi Dominici Gregis” and the changes made to it by Pope Benedict XVI in 2013 both strongly state: “No cardinal elector can be excluded from active or passive voice in the election of the supreme pontiff.”

A pope, as the supreme legislator of the Catholic Church, can set aside the limit of 120 potential electors. But doing so does not change the no-exclusion clause.

And while a year may be a long time to exceed the 120 limit, exceeding it by five cardinals is minor compared to what St. John Paul II did in February 2001. Creating 44 new cardinals — the biggest batch ever at one consistory — the pope raised the number of cardinal electors to 135.

St. John Paul created another 30 cardinals in 2003, bringing the number of electors back up to 135 once again. But, by the time he died in 2005, only 117 were under 80, and two of those were too ill to participate in the conclave that elected Pope Benedict.

The Polish pope’s mega-consistories broadly expanded the international — in other words, the catholic — identity of the College of Cardinals. It is a process that continues.

Pope Francis’ latest cardinals-designate include churchmen from five countries not currently represented in the College of Cardinals. But each of those countries — Bolivia, Pakistan, Japan, Madagascar and Iraq — has had a cardinal in the recent past.

With the edition of the new cardinals, the group of electors will represent 67 nations. The cardinals who elected Pope Francis in 2013 came from 48 countries.

The number of Italians with a red biretta, the cardinal’s three-cornered hat, still far exceeds those of any other nation, and Pope Francis is about to add three more to their number.

The day before the consistory, 18 Italians would be eligible to enter a conclave — 19 if you count Cardinal Mario Zenari, the Italy-born nuncio to Syria, who Pope Francis made clear was chosen to represent Syria. Still, in the 2013 conclave that elected Pope Francis, 28 were Italian.

The country with the next-highest number of cardinal electors is the United States, which has 10 cardinals under the age of 80.

At a Mass with the College of Cardinals in 2017, a Mass marking his 25th anniversary as a bishop, Pope Francis said that the Catholic Church is not a “gerontocracy” ruled by old men; “we aren’t old men, we are grandfathers.”

But his choices for the June consistory do very little to lower the average age of the group of electors. Only one, Cardinal-designate Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, is still in his 50s. He is 54. Cardinal Dieudonne Nzapalainga of Bangui, Central African Republic, is 51 years old and still will be the youngest cardinal once the consistory is over.

On June 28, there will be 114 electors with an average age of 71 years, 11 months and one day. After the consistory the next day, there will be 125 electors with an average age of 71 years, eight months and 20 days.

The cardinals who elected 58-year-old Cardinal Karol Wojtyla — St. John Paul II — in 1978 had an average age of 67.

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Follow Wooden on Twitter: @Cindy_Wooden

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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

Millennial Corner: Dating Podcast

05/22/2018 - 1:22pm

A few weeks ago, Luke Carey, the Director of the Office for Young Adult Evangelization & Discipleship, gave a Theology on Tap talk called, ‘Dating: It Doesn’t Have to Suck (But It Probably Will).’ Luke recorded a podcast with author and speaker Arleen Spenceley to explore the remaining questions from the Q & A session.

Below is the first podcast of two that discusses online dating, personhood, asking girls for their number, dating stages, how married friends can support single friends in their relationships, rejection, dating people with different religious beliefs and more! Look for part two next week!

Luke Carey (Courtesy Photo)

First Mass of Rev. Craig Best & Rev. Jacob Willig

05/22/2018 - 12:53pm

On Sunday May 20, 2018, it was Pentecost Sunday, also known as the birthday of the church. The Catholic Telegraph visited to First Masses of Thanksgiving for Rev. Craig Best and Rev. Jacob Willig.

Rev. Craig Best Solemn Mass of Thanksgiving was at St. Margaret St. John church in Fairfax, a suburb of Cincinnati’s east side. Rev. Jamie Weber, Rev. Jason Williams, and Rev. David Sunberg concelebrated the Mass. The Homilist was Rev. Craig’s Spiritual Director in his final two years in the seminary, Rev. David Sunberg. Rev. Mr. Robert Barnell and Rev. Mr. Kyle Gase, classmates from the seminary and who will be ordained next weekend, served as deacons.

Rev. Jacob Willig First Mass of Thanksgiving was at St. Antoninus on the west side of Cincinnati. Revs. Anthony Brausch, Cyrus Haddad, Zachary Edgar, Gregory Carl, Ronald Haft, and John McQuarrie concelebrated Mass. Rev. Anthony Brausch, the rector of the Athenaeum/Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary, was the Homilist. Rev. Mr. Scott Perry and Rev. Mr. Ambrose Dobroszi served as deacons. Rev. Mr. Scott Perry will be ordained next weekend in the Diocese of Toledo.

Rev. Craig Best and Rev. Jacob Willig presented their mothers a traditional gift near the closing of the Mass, the Maniturgium, which was used to cleanse his hands. The Maniturgium is given to the mother, because she was the first protector of the newly ordained priest, during his time in her womb.

When the newly ordained priest’s mother is called home to God, she is buried holding the Maniturgium so that all in Heaven and on Earth will know that she is the mother of a priest. And on the last day when we are raised from the dead, she can present the Maniturgium to Christ the Lord and say, “My son too shared in your priesthood.”

Rev. Jacob Willig presented his father his first confessional stole. The stole is the sign of priestly office, and the priest wears it when he engages in holy things, like celebrating the Holy Eucharist and the Sacrament of Penance. It was the father of the newly ordained priest who first taught him about justice and mercy.

And like the mother of the newly ordained priest, when his father dies, he is buried holding the purple stole so that all in Heaven and on Earth will know that he was the father of a priest. And on the last day when we are raised from the dead, he can present the purple stole to Christ the Lord and say, “My son too shared in your priesthood.”

The gifts of bread and wine at St. Margaret St. John Parish (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Gifts of bread and wine at St. Antoninus Parish. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Acolytes enter St. Margaret St. John Parish for Rev. Craig Best Solemn Mass of Thanksgiving. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Rev. Craig Best censes the altar at St. Margaret St. John Parish (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Rev. David Sunberg gives the homily for Rev. Craig Best First Mass of Thanksgiving. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Rev. Anthony Brausch gives the homily at Rev. Jacob Willig's First Mass of Thanksgiving. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Rev. Jacob Willig awaits the gifts at St. Antoninus Parish (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Rev. Jacob Willig prays over the gifts at his First Mass of Thanksgiving. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Rev. Craig Best prays over the gifts at his First Mass of Thanksgiving. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Rev. Jacob Willig censes the alter at St. Antoninus. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Rev. Craig Best during Eucharistic Prayer I (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Rev. Jacob Willig during the Eucharistic Prayer (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)  "Take this all of you and eat it...." (CT Photo/Greg Hartman Rev. Jacob Willig during Eucharistic Prayer I "...this is my body which will be given up for you." (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Rev. Craig Best during Eucharistic Prayer I, "When supper was ended, he took the cup. Again he gave you thanks and praise, gave the cup to his disciples,..." (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)  this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven. Do this in memory of me." (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Rev. Craig Best during First Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Margaret St. John Parish (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) The Recessional at the First Mass of Thanksgiving for Rev. Jacob Willig (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Rev. Craig Best (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Rev. Jacob Willig (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Rev. Craig Best receives a congratulatory hug from a parishioner at St. Margaret St. John (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Rev. Jacob Willig with well wishers after First Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Antoninus (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Rev. Craig Best with seminarians that attended his First Mass of Thanksgiving. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Rev. Jacob Willig after his First Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Antoninus Parish (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) (From left to right) Rev. Mr. Robert Barnell, Rev. Craig Best, Rev. Mr. Kyle Gase. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Rev. Jacob Willig poses with his sister (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Rev. Craig Best with his mother and sister. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Vestments for Rev. Jacob Willig (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)

Accompanying families, reaching out to youth recurring encuentro themes

05/21/2018 - 5:30pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Jaclyn Lippelmann, Catholic Standard

By Norma Montenegro Flynn

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Catholic Church needs to walk with and accompany Hispanic and immigrant families, reach out to youth and young adults, and strengthen faith and leadership formation.

These were the recurring themes voiced by participants of the episcopal Region IV encuentro held May 19, at The Catholic University of America in Washington.

As part of the National Fifth Encuentro process, nearly 100 regional participants — lay and religious leaders from seven dioceses — from Delaware, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virginia and West Virginia, gathered for the day to “encounter,” as the word “encuentro” suggests, each other and listen to the voices from parish communities and organizations within the region.

They discerned priorities and strategies on Hispanic ministry and how to better answer Pope Francis’ call to become missionary disciples reaching out to those on the peripheries.

“It’s important for us to get to know the drama, the anxieties of our people to bring the peaceful presence of Jesus Christ into their lives,” said Auxiliary Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville of Washington and lead bishop for the Region IV encuentro.

“We have to be able to speak the same language from soul to soul in order to be able to connect them,” he said in an interview with Catholic News Service, noting that such accompaniment doesn’t change through the years.

Participants sharing in small groups and at-large, widely spoke about the ways Hispanic families need the Catholic church community to accompany them in their struggles, their desire for a better and more accessible faith formation, on outreach to youth and young adults, on family values and on keeping families together.

In a region with high numbers of recent immigrants, Central Americans who were Temporary Protected Status recipients and others covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, many voiced fears of deportation that breaks families apart.

TPS was recently terminated by the Department of Homeland Security leaving over 300,000 Salvadorans, Hondurans, Nicaraguans and Haitians facing possible deportations. About 690,000 DACA recipients are in a similar immigration limbo.

“Over and over, we saw that specially youth are feeling overwhelmed with the many stresses that they have, stresses because of immigration issues that affect them directly, especially those with DACA, those under TPS, and those whose parents, relatives or friends are undocumented,” said Lia Salinas, director of Hispanic ministry for the Archdiocese of Baltimore and Region VI encuentro co-chair. “That is a voice that needs to be heard and that needs to be addressed.”

Proposed strategies to accompany families include: nurturing families through each stage, helping families integrate into their communities and following up with pastoral care. They also proposed to provide support for families who suffer separation and be involved in advocacy.

As part of advocacy efforts, many participants signed letters to their senators seeking a legislative solution for TPS recipients. The letters are part of the Catholics Confront Global Poverty initiative led by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Relief Services.

Throughout the day, participants shared priorities and strategies in the ministerial areas of evangelization and mission; vocations and leadership development; youth and young adult ministry; family ministry; immigration and social justice; faith formation and catechesis; intercultural competencies, stewardship and development; and Hispanics and public and professional life.

Priorities across the different areas of work included: the need to prepare catechists, priests, deacons and lay leaders to be multilingual and multicultural to reflect the universal church, placing greater emphasis on cultural integration and competencies.

“We have to develop the competencies, they’re very important, but I just want to stress the importance of developing an open heart,” noted Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore to participants. He noted that although more needs to be done in the different areas, the church is headed down the right path.

Other priorities addressed were: finding ways to strengthen Hispanic ministry by strengthening the formation of Hispanic leaders; making available training in Spanish and scholarships to assist those who want to further their formation but lack the resources to do it; supporting and build up leaders, particularly among youth and young adults; access to Catholic education for youth, and providing a greater support for families, single parents and women.

In the afternoon, a group of bishops or their representatives joined the small group conversations and later exchanged views and answered questions with the participants.

We’re called to proclaim and live the joy of the Gospel, we come here today very much aware of the real struggles that so many immigrants, people, families experience in their lives, and struggles are difficult,” said Father Thomas Ferguson, vicar general of the Diocese of Arlington, who represented Bishop Michael Burbidge. “But even in the midst of carrying the cross or embracing the struggle and the sorrow and the suffering, it is radiated in this room joy, because we’ve been called by Jesus to carry out his work.”

Other panel participants were: Archbishop Lori; Bishop Dorsonville, Baltimore Auxiliary Bishop Mark E. Brennan and Msgr. John J.M. Foster, vicar general for the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services, representing Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio.

Episcopal Region IV includes the dioceses of Arlington and Richmond, Virginia; Wilmington, Delaware; Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia; and the Washington and Baltimore archdioceses; and the U.S. military archdiocese.

Participants came from all walks of life including immigrants and nonimmigrants; ministry leaders from city, suburbs and rural communities; and leaders of Catholic ecclesial movements, organizations and institutions.

“We want to in some way continue the encuentro process in the parishes and the diocesan teams to prepare and ignite that fire that it’s still there,” said Gabriel Garza, a delegate in the Archdiocese of Washington, voicing the desire of many to continue being engaged in the process of leadership, consultation and discernment that the Fifth Encuentro has begun.

Military spouses and active duty members stationed in Japan, Italy, Hawaii and the eastern and western U.S., also participated in the meeting as part of the delegation representing the U.S. military archdiocese, which is based in Washington.

The military archdiocese facilitated access to the encuentro process for Catholics in the military services who wished to participate.

Zack Mackeller is a senior airman in the Air Force and became involved after attending a Catholic conference in Chicago. He represents the voices of young Catholics in the military and embraces the call to be a missionary disciple.

“I try to engage people as they are, where they’re at. Just that very basic, person to person connection, that’s really all you can do. Then the Holy Spirit will unite people in its own way,” he said.

Recommendations will be included in a final report, which will form part of the working document for the National Fifth Encuentro, or V Encuentro, to be held in Grapevine, Texas, Sept. 20-24.

The Region IV participants will be part of over 3,000 delegates from across the country who are expected to convene during those four days to discern priorities and develop strategies for the “Pastoral Hispana,” or Hispanic ministry, in the United States, including seeking ways to better respond to the call to be missionary disciples.

“Evangelizacion y alegria,” or evangelization and joy, were the two words of encouragement that captured what Archbishop Lori wished for the delegates who will attend the National Fifth Encuentro.

The day concluded with a sending-off Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, with Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl presiding and Bishop Burbidge, Archbishop Lori and Bishop Dorsonville concelebrating.


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Pope will create 14 new cardinals in June

05/20/2018 - 1:01pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis announced he would make 14 new cardinals June 29, giving the red cardinal’s hat to the papal almoner, the Iraq-based patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church and the archbishop of Karachi, Pakistan, among others.

Announcing his choices May 20, the pope said that coming from 11 nations, the new cardinals “express the universality of the church, which continues to proclaim the merciful love of God to all people of the earth.”

Pope Francis’ list included three men over the age of 80 “who have distinguished themselves for their service to the church.”

When the pope made the announcement, the College of Cardinals had 213 members, 115 of whom were under the age of 80 and therefore eligible to vote in a conclave to elect a new pope. Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, was to celebrate his 80th birthday June 8.

Under Pope Francis, the idea that some church posts and large archdioceses always are led by a cardinal is fading, but is not altogether gone. His latest choices included the papal vicar of Rome, Cardinal-designate Angelo De Donatis, and the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal-designate Luis F. Ladaria. But other traditional cardinal sees like Venice and Milan in Italy or Baltimore and Philadelphia in the United States were not included in the pope’s latest picks.

With the new nominations, the number of cardinal-electors — those under 80 and eligible to vote in a conclave — will exceed by five the limit of 120 set by Pope Paul VI. But previous popes also set the limit aside without formally changing the limit.

After the consistory June 29, Pope Francis will have created almost half of the voting cardinals. Nineteen of those under 80 in late June will be cardinals given red hats by St. John Paul II; 47 will have been created by retired Pope Benedict XVI; and 59 will have been welcomed into the College of Cardinals by Pope Francis.

The new cardinals hail from: Iraq, Spain, Italy, Poland, Pakistan, Portugal, Peru, Madagascar, Japan, Mexico and Bolivia.

The new cardinals, listed in the order Pope Francis announced them, are:

— Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako, 69, Iraq.

— Spanish Archbishop Luis F. Ladaria, 74, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

— Italian Archbishop Angelo De Donatis, 64, papal vicar for the Diocese of Rome.

— Italian Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu, 69, substitute secretary of state.

— Polish Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, 54, papal almoner.

— Archbishop Joseph Coutts of Karachi, Pakistan, 72.

— Bishop Antonio dos Santos Marto of Leiria-Fatima, Portugal, 71.

— Archbishop Pedro Barreto of Huancayo, Peru, 74.

— Archbishop Desire Tsarahazana of Toamasina, Madagascar, 63.

— Archbishop Giuseppe Petrocchi of L’Aquila, Italy, 69.

— Archbishop Thomas Aquinas Manyo Maeda of Osaka, Japan, 69.

— Archbishop Sergio Obeso Rivera, retired archbishop of Xalapa, Mexico, 86.

— Bishop Toribio Ticona Porco, retired prelate of Corocoro, Bolivia, 81.

— Spanish Claretian Father Aquilino Bocos Merino, 80.

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More priests ordained to serve the 450,000+ Catholics in the Archdiocese

05/19/2018 - 3:37pm
(From Left to Right) Rev. Andrew Smith, Rev. Craig Best, Archbishop Dennis Schnurr, Rev. Jarred Kohn, Rev. Jacob Willig, Rev. Anthony Brausch (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)(From Left to Right) Rev. Andrew Smith, Rev. Craig Best, Archbishop Dennis Schnurr, Rev. Jarred Kohn, Rev. Jacob Willig, Rev. Anthony Brausch (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)

The Archdiocese of Cincinnati celebrated four men being ordained to the priesthood for service to God and the Church on Saturday May 19th. The ordination Mass was open to the public, and the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains was packed to capacity. Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr celebrated  the Mass. Bishop Joseph R. Binzer concelebrated the Mass. The liturgy included the archbishop exercising the rite of ordination, the authority given by Christ to the apostles to make new priests.

The four priests  served as transitional deacons for the last year. Their ministry included baptizing, assisting in marriages, and preaching at Mass. Parish assignments for the new priests were announced at the ordination. The men graduated on May 13th of this year from The Athenaeum of Ohio, Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, after at least seven years of formation for the priesthood.

The four men have varied backgrounds but all discerned a vocation to the priesthood.

Rev. Craig Best attended St. Mary School in Hyde Park and Purcell Marian High School before earning a bachelor’s degree in communications from Xavier University. His assignment July 1, 2018 is St. Francis deSales in Lebanon and St. Philip in Morrow.

Rev. Jacob Willig’s home parish is St. Antoninus in Cincinnati. His brother is also in the seminary and his late uncle was a priest as well. Rev. Willig has been assigned the Eastside Pastoral Region of St. Cecilia and St. Margaret St. John Parish effective July 1, 2018.

Rev. Andrew Smith is a former Air Force Officer and holds an MBA from the University of Dayton. Rev. Smith’s assignment is Incarnation Parish in Centerville.

Rev. Jarred Kohn worked as a welder after high school before going into the seminary. Rev. Kohn has been assigned to the Petersburg Region which comprises of St. John the Evangelist, Fryburg, St. Joseph, Wapakooneta, Immaculate Conception, Botkins, and St. Lawrence, Rhine effective July 1, 2018.

The four new priests will contribute to the growing trend of men being ordained priests over the last decade. According to an annual survey at Georgetown University, there were 590 men ordained to the priesthood in the U.S. in 2017 – an increase of 47% over the 401 men ordained in 2008.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati is the 44th largest Catholic diocese in the country, with more than 450,000 Catholics, and has the fifth largest Catholic school system in terms of enrollment with more than 40,000 students. The 19-county territory includes 211 parishes and 111 Catholic primary and secondary schools.

Deacon Jacob Willig awaits Ordination, May 19, 2018. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Deacon Craig Best awaiting the beginning of Ordination. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) 30 a.m. May 19, 2018 (CT Photo/.Greg Hartman) The processional on Ordination Day 2018. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Priest throughout the Archdiocese of Cincinnati attended this most sacred of days at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) (From left to right) Deacon Jacob Willig, Deacon Andrew Smith, Deacon Jarred Kohn, Deacon Craig Best. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Deacons Craig Best, Jarred Kohn, Andrew Smith, & Jacob Willig listen to the homily of Archbishop Schnurr. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) The ancient tradition of The Litany of Supplication. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Laying on of Hands and Prayer of Ordination. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Investiture with Stole and Chasuble (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Sign of Peace,The ASrchbishop and all the concelebrating priests welcome the newly ordained into the order of presbyters. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Rev. Craig Best during the Eucharistic Prayer (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Rev. Andrew Smith during the Eucharistic Prayer (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Rev. Jacob Willig during the Eucharistic Prayer (CT Photo/ Greg Hartman) The newly ordained await their assignments (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) A very joyous day in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati as Archbishop Schnurr congratulates the newly ordained. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)


Pope to canonize Blesseds Paul VI, Oscar Romero in Rome Oct. 14

05/19/2018 - 9:52am

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis will declare Blesseds Oscar Romero, Paul VI and four others saints Oct. 14 at the Vatican during the meeting of the world Synod of Bishops, an institution Blessed Paul revived.

The date was announced May 19 during an “ordinary public consistory,” a meeting of the pope, cardinals and promoters of sainthood causes that formally ends the sainthood process.

During the consistory, Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, formally petitioned the pope “to enroll in due course among the saints” six candidates for canonization “for the glory of God and the good of the whole church.”

Each of the candidates, the cardinal told the pope, gave “a convinced and coherent witness to the Lord Jesus. Their example continues to enlighten the church and the world in accordance with the perspective of mercy that your Holiness never ceases to indicate and propose.”

Briefly giving a biographical sketch of the candidates, Cardinal Amato said that during El Salvador’s civil war, Archbishop Romero, “outraged at seeing the violence against the weak and the killing of priests and catechists, felt the need to assume an attitude of fortitude. On March 24, 1980, he was killed while celebrating the Mass.”

Reviewing the facts of Blessed Paul’s life, Cardinal Amato highlighted how, as a high-level official in the Vatican Secretariat of State during World War II, the future pope “organized charitable assistance and hospitality for those persecuted by Nazism and Fascism, particularly the Jews.”

Pope Francis then certified that he had solicited the opinion of the cardinals, who agreed that “these same blesseds should be proposed to the whole church as examples of Christian life and holiness.”

Blessed Romero, the archbishop of San Salvador, was assassinated one day after calling on the government to end its violation of the human rights of El Salvador’s people.

While Catholics inside and outside El Salvador recognized him as a martyr immediately, his sainthood cause was stalled for years as some church leaders debated whether he was killed for his faith or for his politics.

As Pope Francis told a group of Salvadoran pilgrims in 2015, even after his death Blessed Romero “was defamed, slandered, his memory tarnished, and his martyrdom continued, including by his brothers in the priesthood and in the episcopate.”

In February 2015 Pope Francis signed the formal decree recognizing Blessed Romero’s martyrdom; the Salvadoran archbishop was beatified three months later in San Salvador.

The Salvadoran bishops’ conference and many Salvadorans had hoped Pope Francis would preside over the canonization in San Salvador, particularly because of the difficulty and expense of traveling to Rome. Others, however, argued that holding the ceremony at the Vatican makes it clear that Blessed Romero is a saint for the entire church, not just for the church in El Salvador.

Salvadoran Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chavez told TV2000, the Italian bishops’ television station, that he hoped Pope Francis would make a brief trip to San Salvador in January to pray at the tomb of by-then St. Oscar Romero. The pope will be in Central America for World Youth Day in Panama.

Blessed Paul VI, who was born Giovanni Battista Montini, was pope from 1963 to 1978. He presided over the final sessions of the Second Vatican Council and its initial implementation. He also wrote “Humanae Vitae,” a 1968 encyclical on married love, the 1975 apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Nuntiandi” on evangelization and “Populorum Progressio,” a 1967 encyclical on social development and the economy.

Speaking in 2013 to a group of pilgrims from Brescia, Italy, Pope Paul’s home diocese, Pope Francis said his predecessor had “experienced to the full the church’s travail after the Second Vatican Council: the lights, the hopes, the tensions. He loved the church and expended himself for her, holding nothing back.”

And, beatifying Pope Paul in 2014, Pope Francis noted that even in the face of “a secularized and hostile society,” Pope Paul “could hold fast, with farsightedness and wisdom — and at times alone — to the helm of the barque of Peter while never losing his joy and his trust in the Lord.”

Pope Francis referred to him as “this great pope, this courageous Christian, this tireless apostle,” who demonstrated a “humble and prophetic witness of love for Christ and his church.”

The other men and women to be canonized include: 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.

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Update: Texas archdiocese, bishops offer healing, support after shooting

05/18/2018 - 8:57pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/HCSO, handout via Reuters


HOUSTON (CNS) — In response to the May 18 school shooting at a Houston-area high school, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston said the archdiocesan community would “unite to support and offer healing to those affected.”

“As a society, we must strive for a way to end such acts of senseless gun violence in our schools and communities,” he added in a May 18 statement.

The cardinal said he was “deeply saddened” and that his prayer and the prayers of Catholics in the archdiocese are with the “victims and families of those killed and injured in this horrific tragedy.”

In a separate statement as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal DiNardo said: “Our community and our local church joins an ever-growing list of those impacted by the evil of gun violence. I extend my heartfelt prayers, along with my brother bishops, for all of those who have died, their families and friends, those who were injured, and for our local community.”

The school shooting, occurring just three months after the shooting in Parkland, Florida, took place when a male shooter opened fire at a Santa Fe High School the morning of May 18 killing 10 people, most of them students. Another 10 were reported injured.

A suspect taken into custody was identified as 17-year old Dimitrios Pagourtzis and another person of interest also was detained and questioned. Explosive devices also were found at the school and off campus. 

The shooting was the deadliest in Texas since a gunman attacked a rural church late last year, killing more than two dozen people.

“Sadly, I must yet again point out the obvious brokenness in our culture and society, such that children who went to school this morning to learn and teachers who went to inspire them will not come home,” Cardinal DiNardo said in his statement at USCCB president. “We as a nation must, here and now, say definitively: no more death!”

He prayed that “the Lord of life” would be “with us in our sorrow and show us how to honor the precious gift of life and live in peace.”

“We experienced an unthinkable tragedy at our high school this morning,” Santa Fe Superintendent Leigh Wall said in a message posted to Facebook.

“As soon as the alarms went off, everybody just started running outside,” 10th-grader Dakota Shrader told reporters, “and next thing you know everybody looks, and you hear boom, boom, boom, and I just ran as fast as I could to the nearest floor so I could hide, and I called my mom.”

Another student told CBS News he ran behind some trees, heard more shots, jumped a fence and ran to a car wash. He said he saw firefighters treat a girl who had a bandage around her knee and may have been shot.

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia, said in a May 18 tweet: “Please keep the victims of the Houston-area school shooting in your prayers. Pray also for their family members and friends who now begin a tragic grieving process. For those killed, grant eternal rest unto them, O Lord, and bestow grace and strength to all in their community.”

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All of Chile’s bishops offer resignations after meeting pope on abuse

05/18/2018 - 2:22pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Every bishop in Chile offered his resignation to Pope Francis after a three-day meeting at the Vatican to discuss the clerical sexual abuse scandal.

“We want to announce that all bishops present in Rome, in writing, have placed our positions in the Holy Father’s hands so that he may freely decide regarding each one of us,” Bishop Juan Ignacio Gonzalez Errazuriz of San Bernardo said May 18 in a statement on behalf of the country’s bishops.

The unprecedented decision was made on the final day of their meeting May 15-17 with Pope Francis.

Auxiliary Bishop Fernando Ramos Perez of Santiago, secretary-general of the Chilean bishops’ conference, said the pope had read to the 34 bishops a document in which he “expressed his conclusions and reflections” on the 2,300-page report compiled by Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta and his aide, Father Jordi Bertomeu, during a visit to Chile to investigate the scandal.

“The pope’s text clearly showed a series of absolutely reprehensible acts that have occurred in the Chilean church in relation to those unacceptable abuses of power, of conscience and sexual abuse that have resulted in the lessening of the prophetic vigor that characterized her,” Bishop Ramos said.

After reflecting on the pope’s assessment, he added, the bishops decided to hand in their resignations “to be in greater harmony with the will of the Holy Father.”

“In this way, we could make a collegial gesture in solidarity to assume responsibility — not without pain — for the serious acts that have occurred and so that the Holy Father can, freely, have us at his disposal,” Bishop Ramos said.

Shortly after the announcement, Juan Carlos Cruz, one of three survivors who met privately with Pope Francis in April, tweeted, “All Chilean bishops have resigned. Unprecedented and good. This will change things forever.”

The bishops will continue in office unless or until the pope accepts their resignations.

The document in which Pope Francis gave his evaluation of the situation of the church in Chile was leaked May 17 by Chilean news channel Tele 13. The Associated Press reported that the Vatican confirmed the document’s authenticity.

The pope wrote in the document that removing some church leaders from office “must be done,” but that “it is not enough; we must go further. It would be irresponsible of us not to go deep in looking for the roots and structures that allowed these concrete events to happen and carry on.”

In it, the pope said that “the painful situations that have happened are indications that something is wrong with the ecclesial body.”

The wound of sexual abuse, he said, “has been treated until recently with a medicine that, far from healing, seems to have worsened its depth and pain.”

Reminding the bishops that “the disciple is not greater than his master,” Pope Francis warned them of a “psychology of the elite” that ignores the suffering of the faithful.

He also said he was concerned by reports regarding “the attitude with which some of you bishops have reacted in the face of present and past events.”

This attitude, the pope said, was guided by the belief that instead of addressing the issue of sexual abuse, bishops thought that “just the removal of people would solve the problem.”

In an accompanying footnote, the pope said the bishops’ behavior could be labeled as “the Caiphas syndrome,” referring to the high priest who condemned Jesus saying, “Better for one man to die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”

The act of covering up cases of abuse, he added, was akin to the Latin American saying, “Muerto el perro se acabo la rabia” (“Dead dogs don’t bite”).

The document’s footnotes included several details from the investigation made by Archbishop Scicluna, who is president of a board of review within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; the board handles appeals filed by clergy accused of abuse or other serious crimes.

The pope said the report confirmed that, in some instances, the bishops deemed accusations of abuse as “implausible.”

But Pope Francis said he was “perplexed and ashamed” after he received confirmation that undue pressure by church officials was placed on “those who carry out criminal proceedings” and that church officials had destroyed compromising documents.

Those actions, he said, “give evidence to an absolute lack of respect for the canonical procedure and, even more so, are reprehensible practices that must be avoided in the future.”

Following the document’s release, Cruz applauded the pope’s evaluation of the abuse crisis and of the bishops’ behavior toward survivors of sexual abuse.

“This is the pope that I met during my conversations in the Vatican,” Cruz told Chilean news site, Emol, May 17. “I hope all (the bishops) resign and that the church in Chile begins to rebuild with true shepherds and not with these corrupt bishops who commit and cover up crimes, as the document states.”

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

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Memorial Day Weekend Mass Schedule

05/18/2018 - 1:53pm

Gate of Heaven Cemetery Field Mass
11000 Montgomery Rd., Cincinnati OH 45249 (513) 489-0300. Mass will be celebrated on Monday, May 28 beginning at 11:00 a.m.. Please bring lawn chairs. In case of rain, the Mass will be celebrated at Good Shepherd Church, same day and time at 8815 East Kemper Rd., Cincinnati OH 45249.

Calvary Cemetery Memorial Day Mass
1625 Calvary Dr., Dayton OH 45409. Fr. Ethan Moore will celebrate Mass at Calvary Cemetery for their annual Memorial Day Mass on Sunday, May 27 at 11:00 a.m. For more information, call (937) 293-1221,

St. Boniface/St. Mary Memorial Day Mass
Forest Hill Cemetery, 8660 N State Route 66, Piqua OH 45356. Mass will be held adjacent to the Priest section on Monday, May 28, 2018 at 11:00 a.m.. Bring Lawn Chair. In case of rain, Mass will be held at St. Mary Church, 528 Broadway, Piqua OH 45356.

St. Joseph Cemetery
3819 W 8th St., Cincinnati Ohio, Monday May, 28 at 11:00 a.m.; Mass will be held in the Mother of God Chapel, Fr. Ralph Westerhoff celebrant.

St. Joseph New Cemetery
The Memorial Field Day Mass will be help on Monday May 28 at 10:00 a.m. in the Historic Mausoleum at the corner of Rapid Run and Nebraska. This event will take place outside; if it rains, Mass will be moved inside. Fr. Chris Lack celebrant.

St. Mary Cemetery
701 E. Ross Ave., St. Bernard Ohio, Monday May 28 at 11:00 a.m.. Mass will be held in the Christ Our Saviour Chapel, Fr. Fred Link OFM celebrant.

St. Philomena
Stonelick Williams Corner Rd, Stonelick Twp OH 45160, Memorial Day Mass, Monday May 28 at 8:30 a.m. Bring lawn chair and breakfast item to share. American Legion Post will present the colors to pay tribute to Men and Women who have served our nation and have paid the price for our nations freedom.

*Click on name for map

Graduates head home for ordination

05/18/2018 - 8:57am

Meet five from Toledo, Louisville, and Fathers of Mercy

Five men from outside the archdiocese who have been preparing for the priesthood at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary will be ordained in their dioceses or religious orders this spring. With Cincinnati’s four graduates, they make up the ordination class of 2018.

Deacon Victor-Antonio Moratin will be ordained June 2 by the Fathers of Mercy, an order of priests founded after the French Revolution to re-evangelize Catholics by preaching missions and retreats about God’s mercy available to all through the sacraments. Their community is now based in Auburn, Kentucky.

Three men from Toledo, Deacons Kyle Gase, Scott Perry, and Andrew Wellmann, will be ordained May 26 at the city’s Our Lady, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Cathedral by Bishop Daniel Thomas.
Deacon Robert Barnell will also be ordained May 26, in Louisville’s Cathedral of the Assumption, by Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz.

Deacon Barnell said he first felt the call to the priesthood in eighth grade. With age came a deeper understanding of “how Christ’s power could save us from our sinfulness and lead us to peace, joy and true love of God and our neighbor,” he said.

He attended Catholic elementary and secondary schools in Louisville and holds a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University in Bloomington. He cites volunteering in the Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement Program, and a priest who befriended him in college, Father Rick Nagel, with affirming his discernment of a vocation.
He is the son of Thom and Joan Barnell and has a brother and a sister.

Deacon Kyle Gase of Fostoria (Diocese of Toledo) said a family conversion back to practicing the faith that took place when he was in high school resulted in his dis-cernment. “During the following years I came to fall in love with the Catholic faith, and the seed of a vocation to the priesthood was planted,” he said.
“Be open to the Lord’s will for your life. No matter the vocation to which you are called, as long as you remain open to His grace and promptings of the Holy Spirit, He will take care of you.”
He did his undergraduate work in philosophy at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus.

Deacon Scott Perry, Tiffin, (Diocese of Toledo) holds a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from The Ohio State University, but his mother, Jane, suspected he had a vocation at his high school graduation. “In his valedictorian speech, he spoke of faith and hope in God, and was very comfortable doing so,” she said. She and his father, Roger, “asked him before and during college if he thought he might have a calling. He said, ‘No, I don’t think so,” but eventually he would see what we all saw early on.”

When he decided to explore the idea that he might have a vocation to priesthood, Deacon Perry said, “I experienced a deep sense of peace that has never left and has only grown stronger over my time in the seminary.” He has three siblings.

Deacon Andrew Wellmann, son of Jim and Jean Wellmann, hails from Delphos (Diocese of Toledo). He attended Ohio Northern University and Pontifical College Josephinum.

“The thought of being a priest appealed to me at an early age,” he said. “I always saw it as a possibility, and from there the desire grew.
“It is most important to be open to the Lord,” he said. “Talk to Him daily about His plan for your life and trust that He will help you as you discern your vocation. Be courageous! Do not be afraid of the Lord and what He asks of you.”

Brother Victor-Antonio Moratin (Congregation of the Fathers of Mercy) said he was reluctant when he first felt a nudge towards the priesthood, but “I began to grow in my relationship with Him and He began to nudge me to say yes to His call to be a priest.”

He holds a degree in engineering from Montgomery College in his native Maryland, and in philosophy from Holy Apostles College and Seminary, Cromwell, Connecticut.

Ordination Masses

Archdiocese of Louisville:
May 26, 11 a.m., Cathedral of
the Assumption

Diocese of Toledo:
May 26, 11 a.m., Our Lady, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Cathedral

Fathers of Mercy:
June 2, 10 a.m. CDT, Chapel of Divine Mercy, Auburn, Kentucky

Deacon Robert Barnell Deacon Kyle Gase Deacon Victor-Antonio Moratin Deacon Scott Perry Deacon Andrew Wellmann

Meghan Markle’s Catholic school celebrates royal wedding

05/17/2018 - 7:00pm


By Carol Zimmermann

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Royal wedding fever has caught on in many places, but it has a particular soft spot at Immaculate Heart Middle School and High School outside Los Angeles, the school Meghan Markle attended from seventh to 12th grade.

The school is located more than 5,000 miles from St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle in England, where Markle and Prince Harry’s May 19 wedding is taking place, but the California school bridged this gap during an outdoor pre-wedding celebration May 15.

Students waved British and American flags, toasted their famous alumna with glasses of lemonade, listened to student speeches and did a group dance all while local and international TV and print reporters mingled among them.

The students at the all-girls school were thrilled for the 1999 graduate’s big day but they were also proud of the humanitarian and activist work the actress has already done.

“I know that I’m not going to marry a prince … but it makes me feel like, as a woman, I can do anything, and I can be empowered by Meghan,” seventh-grader Amina Brenlini told Reuters during the event, adding that Markle is her “biggest inspiration.”

In a speech during the celebration, Mia Speier, the high school student body president, praised Markle for her dedication to service.

“The idea that someone like her, who has had an upbringing so similar to ours, will now be able to voice her concerns on a global platform as an internationally recognized figure is a story that impacts so many young women, especially the young women at our school,” said Speier.

Stella Lissak, middle school student body president said Markle’s humanitarian work showed that “we at Immaculate Heart truly are women of great heart.” Highlights of the speeches were posted on the school’s website.

The school, founded in 1906 by the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, has mission-style terra cotta roofs and is located just a few miles from the landmark Hollywood sign.

Many of the 674 students have been pretty excited to say the least about the royal wedding since the engagement was announced last November. At the time, the communication director for the school, Callie Webb, told Catholic News Service that some of the students had never heard of Markle and others knew every detail about her 15-month romance with Prince Harry, her engagement, her TV career, activism and now- discontinued lifestyle blog, The Tig.

Early on, the school tried to put the engagement news in perspective, announcing when the news first broke in a Nov. 27 tweet: “Over 10,000 women of great heart and right conscience have graduated from Immaculate Heart, and we are proud to count actress and humanitarian” Markle among them.

It posted a similar message that day on its Facebook account but added that as a global ambassador for World Vision Canada, Markle campaigned for clean, safe drinking water. And as a U.N. Women’s Advocate, she has spoken up for women’s rights and gender equality.

In other words, the school had already been proud of its graduate for a long time.

But they also are fully embracing Markle’s upcoming role as Duchess of Sussex.To demonstrate their dedication, and also witness history, some students, alumnae and families will attend a wedding viewing party May 19 at the school that will start at the wee hour of 3 a.m. (PDT).

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Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim

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Throwback Thursday: A look at Ordination Day in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati 2012-2016

05/17/2018 - 4:32pm

Ordination Day is always a wonderful moment each year in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Here’s a pictorial video of Ordination Day 2012 – 2016.


All economic activity has moral dimension, doctrinal congregation says

05/17/2018 - 10:00am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Financial and economic decisions — everything from where a family chooses to invest its savings to where a multinational corporation declares its tax residence — are ethical decisions that can be virtuous or sinful, a new Vatican document said.

“There can be no area of human action that legitimately claims to be either outside of or impermeable to ethical principles based on liberty, truth, justice and solidarity,” said the document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

The text, “Considerations for an Ethical Discernment Regarding Some Aspects of the Present Economic-Financial System,” was approved by Pope Francis and released May 17 at a Vatican news conference with Archbishop Luis F. Ladaria, congregation prefect, and Cardinal Peter Turkson, head of the dicastery.

Based on principles long part of Catholic social teaching and referring frequently to the teaching of St. John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, the document insisted that every economic activity has a moral and ethical dimension.

Responding to questions, Archbishop Ladaria said it is true that Catholic moral theology has focused more on questions of sexual ethics than business ethics, but that does not mean that the economy and finance are outside the scope of Catholic moral teaching. For example, he said, over the centuries the church and the popes repeatedly have intervened to condemn usury.

Pope Francis, he said, supported the development of the document, but the idea of writing it and examining the ethical and moral implications of the current economic scene came from “the grassroots.”

“At stake is the authentic well-being of a majority of the men and women of our planet who are at risk of being ‘excluded and marginalized’ from development and true well-being while a minority, indifferent to the condition of the majority, exploits and reserves for itself substantial resources and wealth,” the document said.

The size and complexity of the global economy, it said, may lead most people to think there is nothing they can do to promote an economy of solidarity and contribute to the well-being of everyone in the world, but every financial choice a person makes — especially if they act with others — can make a difference, it said.

“For instance, the markets live thanks to the supply and demand of goods,” it said. “It becomes therefore quite evident how important a critical and responsible exercise of consumption and savings actually is.”

Even something as simple as shopping can be important, the document said. Consumers should avoid products manufactured in conditions “in which the violation of the most elementary human rights is normal.” They can avoid doing business with companies “whose ethics in fact do not know any interest other than that of the profit of their shareholders at any cost.”

Being ethical, it said, also can mean preferring to put one’s savings in investments that have been certified as socially responsible and they can join others in shareholder actions meant to promote more ethical behavior by the companies in which they invest.

In a statement distributed at the news conference, Archbishop Ladaria said that “the origin of the spread of dishonest and predatory financial practices” is a misunderstanding of who the human person is. “No longer knowing who he is and why he is in the world, he no longer knows how to act for the good” and ends up doing what seems convenient at the moment.

“The strongest economic subjects have become ‘superstars’ who hoard enormous quantities of resources, resources that are distributed less than before and are increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few people,” he said. “It’s incredible to think that 10 people can possess almost half of the world’s wealth, but today that is a reality!”

Cardinal Turkson told reporters, “a healthy economic system is vital to forge flourishing human relationships.”

“To help generate such healthy system, this joint document reminds us that the resources of the world are destined to serve the dignity of the human person and must be commonly available for the common good,” the cardinal said.

The document takes aim at greed, not capitalism. In fact, it praises economic systems and markets that respect human dignity and promote human freedom, creativity, production, responsibility, work and solidarity.

A healthy economy, it said, promotes all of those goods and realizes that the measure of progress is not how much money people have in the bank, but how many people are helped to live better lives.

One key to judging how well the economy works is how many decent jobs are created, the document said. But too often selfishness gets the upper hand, the rich speculate and gamble, accumulating more money but not creating more jobs.

“No profit is in fact legitimate when it falls short of the objective of the integral promotion of the human person, the universal destination of goods and the preferential option for the poor,” the document said.

“It is especially necessary to provide an ethical reflection on certain aspects of financial transactions which, when operating without the necessary anthropological and moral foundations, have not only produced manifest abuses and injustice, but also demonstrated a capacity to create systemic and worldwide economic crisis,” the document said.

The global financial crisis that began in 2007, it said, created an opportunity to review mechanisms of the economy and finance and come up with corrective regulations, but very little has been done.

In addition to the immorality of usury and tax evasion, the document signaled out other ethically problematic practices or practices that require more regulation to ensure ethical behavior: for example, executive bonus incentives based only on short-term profit; the operation of “offshore” financial bases that can facilitate tax evasion and the outflow of capital from developing countries; “the creation of stocks of credit,” like subprime mortgages, and credit default swaps; and the growth of the “shadow banking system.”

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College diploma: source of pride and uncertainty for graduating Dreamers

05/16/2018 - 8:30pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Chaz Muth

By Carol Zimmermann

WASHINGTON (CNS) — A group of current Washington Trinity University graduates are proud of what they’ve accomplished but also very anxious about the future.

These emotions could ring true for almost any graduate, but for this group of 21 graduating Dreamers — among the hundreds of thousands in the U.S. protected, for now, by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA — these feelings are even more intense.

That’s because many of these students who came to the United States as children when their parents immigrated here without documentation, never imagined they would be able to afford to go to college or graduate in four years. And now, like other graduates across the country, they worry about financing grad school or getting good jobs all while fearing the worst: possible deportation for themselves or their family members as immigration laws remain in flux.

Two of these Dreamer graduates who spoke to Catholic News Service May 10 — in between finishing final exams and awaiting their May 19 graduation ceremony — asked that their last names or the states where they came from not be used to protect their families. 

They are among the 20 DACA recipients who started at Trinity four years ago and the first group of Dreamers to graduate from the school. The term “Dreamer” is coined from the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, or DREAM Act. One student from the initial group left Trinity and two others joined later as transfer students. The students were among 100 Dreamers who attended the university this year.

All of these students are recipients of scholarships from TheDream.US, a scholarship program for DACA students that partners with colleges. Trinity was the first Catholic college to partner with the program when it started in 2014 and two other Catholic colleges have since joined: Dominican University, just outside Chicago, and Arrupe College of Loyola University Chicago.

Brenda, who came to the United States from Mexico with her family when she was 6, said she will probably cry when she gets her diploma mainly because when she was a senior in high school, she didn’t think she’d be able to even go to college, let alone finish in four years.

She said her mom found out about scholarship program and urged her to apply, but Brenda was skeptical because as she put it: “No one even knew about Dreamers” or DACA four years ago. Which means they didn’t know immigrants without documentation don’t have access to Pell grants, federal education loans or work-study programs and that many of them have to pay out-of-state tuition to go to college in their home states.

Brenda, who is graduating with a double major in business and international affairs, said she wants to get her master’s and doctorate degrees, but she knows it won’t be easy.

“It will be a challenge. I might have to work even harder to get financial support to figure out how I’m going to get there, but I will,” she said with the confidence of someone who has already worked pretty hard.

Brenda disputes a misconception that DACA students are just looking for handouts, noting that everything she and fellow Dreamer students have attained is through hard work. The scholarship program, for example, is only for top academic students.

“We’re competing for a spot and what we do has to be two, three, four and five times better than everyone else,” she said. “We have to earn it.”

Yarely, a graduating senior majoring in biochemistry with a minor in math, similarly stressed the pressure to work hard and the weight of not knowing what the future holds.

The 22-year-old who came to the United States from Mexico with her mother and sister when she was 8, said: “Sometimes I feel like there really is no choice for me, no path, but then I stop and think about my family, my friends and I just keep going because that’s the only thing I can do.”

In the days before graduating, she kept her eyes on the ceremony itself. “I feel that is a win — no matter what — that is definitely a win,” she said.

She doesn’t focus on the fact that her mom won’t be able to attend her graduation. Yarely is used to having to face challenges on her own. Like Brenda, she didn’t do college tours nor did family members help her move in. She simply came to Trinity on her first airplane ride, moved on campus and got to work, literally, holding down two jobs as a student, often tutoring both college and high school students.

A big unknown for her now is the future of DACA, saying she needs it to work and to keep going to school, which she hopes will eventually be medical school. “Not knowing if I am going to even be able to finance that it is definitely something that makes me really scared; it makes me terrified,” she said.

Senior year for these students has been a particular roller coaster starting last September when the Trump administration announced the government was terminating DACA. Multiple lawsuits have since challenged that decision and a recent court ruling issued an order to strike down the end to DACA and reinstate the original program while still giving the government 90 days to explain its decision. In early May, seven states filed a lawsuit to try to end DACA.

Yarely and Brenda have seen both sides of the immigration battle. Neither of them are immune to anti-immigrant rhetoric, but they also are grateful for support from their families, teachers and administrators at Trinity, the scholarship program and the Catholic Church at large.

Yarely said she has had nightmares of “being out on the streets and people yelling to me and to my family, just yelling things that I know aren’t true,” but she also said there are “so many great people out there. … I know people who yell or say incredibly hurtful things are the minority so I feel like that helps me get into perspective that America is not that way; America is not place of hate and ugliness.”

Brenda said she is thankful “for all those who have seen there’s a gap, there’s injustice leaving us out of opportunities just because of our status.” She has hope from those who advocate on behalf of immigrants, especially the Catholic Church, which she saw firsthand during an internship with U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“Knowing that the church is involved and wants to be involved does give me hope,” she said, adding that church leaders “won’t be quiet about it and are willing to stand up for us and with us.”

Brenda, who has spent most of her life in this country, considers herself to be American and said she is thankful for the opportunities here that she knows she would not have had in Mexico.

“I love this country,” she said, adding: “I do want to stay here and I have all the faith in God that that will be the case.”

Pat McGuire, president of Trinity, compared the first class of Dreamers to graduate from the university to Trinity’s first graduating class in 1900 because both had “vision for how a great college education can change the fortunes of their children and families.”

In an email to CNS, she said the Dreamer graduates were a “force for solidarity” as students of all backgrounds, faculty, staff and alumnae offered personal support and did advocacy work. She said the immigrant students were role models for other students coping with discrimination and setbacks.

The Dreamers’ presence also helped the entire school community to sharpen its “sense of mission and commitment to challenge injustice,” she said.

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Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim

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Sex trafficking is ‘rooted in structure of society,’ says speaker

05/16/2018 - 5:22pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

By Kurt Jensen

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The fight against human trafficking and sexual exploitation may need its own #MeToo moment, according to a leading trafficking opponent.

Good Shepherd Sister Winifred Doherty, who is her religious congregation’s representative to the United Nations, observed that sex trafficking, “a debasement of the human person,” is “rooted in the structure of society, and more so today.”

The “social acceptance of the prostitution of women and girls” includes the benign label of sex worker. “Prostitution is neither sex nor work,” Sister Doherty told the inaugural Shine the Light conference at the U.S. Capitol May 15. If gender equality can be put into laws, traffickers could “no longer buy and sell people,” she said.

Conference speakers addressed both sexual and forced-labor exploitation in the United States. According to a recent report from the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, 79 percent of human trafficking worldwide involves sexual exploitation. It said 18 percent involves forced labor — promising desperate people steady high-paying jobs that don’t exist while forcing them into debt bondage and low-paying jobs.

That, Sister Doherty emphasized, can be going on in one’s neighborhood, and not be something far away. The next time women walk by a hair and nail salon using what appears to be immigrant labor, she said, it’s right to ask, “What’s happening in there? Who’s working in there?”

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 was the first comprehensive federal law to address trafficking in persons, but more needs to be done, Sister Doherty said. She also is advocating for the decriminalization of women forced into prostitution.

The conference was co-hosted by the National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd with the District of Columbia Baptist Convention. Participants later met with congressional representatives to advocate for two pieces of legislation.

H.R. 4485, also known as Savanna’s Act, would standardize investigation procedures and build databases to strengthen the federal response to the growing number of missing and murdered Native American and Alaskan Native women. It is named for Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, a 22-year old pregnant member of the Spirit Lake Tribe who was murdered last August.

In the Senate, the Protecting Girls’ Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act has been sponsored by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, to ensure children overseas who are displaced due to ongoing conflicts receive an education.

Two former prostitutes, now both outreach workers helped by Dawn’s Place, a residential rehabilitation center in Villanova, Pennsylvania, and operated by several Catholic religious orders, and at Covenant House Pennsylvania, a facility serving homeless people and refugees in the Philadelphia area, said therapy was key to rebuilding their shattered lives, but it requires a great deal time.

“For me, being in that program,” said the Dawn’s Place graduate, “basically they were teaching me to love me first. It took a whole year of trauma therapy to feel like a new person.”

In the United States, according to statistics provided by the conference, 17,000 children are trafficked for sex annually. That works out to 46 every day.

“Traffickers can sense (past sexual abuse),” said Angela Aufdemberge, president of Vista Maria, a social services organization in Dearborn Heights, Michigan. “The biggest need is to address maltreatment in homes, and regulating who our kids are communicating with on the internet.”

Luring girls, she observed, can be as simple as enticing them to send a nude photo via Snapchat, where photos disappear after being received. With a trafficker, of course, the photos always remain.

Her facility learned of one man “who had been contacting 100 children a day to entice them into sexual exploitation.”

Hilary Chester, associate director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ anti-trafficking program, said labor traffickers also prey on low self-esteem. Labor trafficking in the United States is heavily involved in the meat and seafood-processing industries.

“Survivors need a soft landing, where they can gather themselves,” Chester added.

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Thirty graduate at Athenaeum’s spring commencement

05/16/2018 - 3:19pm
Photo by E L Hubbard

The Athenaeum of Ohio/Mount St. Mary’s Seminary graduated 30 students during ceremonies May 13 in the Chapel of St. Gregory the Great on the Athenaeum campus. The degrees were conferred by Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr, chancellor and chairman of the board of the Athenaeum.

After the invocation by Archbishop Schnurr, Father Benedict O’Cinnsealaigh, outgoing president/rector, greeted the graduates, guests, faculty members and administrators.

The graduation address was given by Archbishop of Louisville Joseph E. Kurtz. “How delighted I am to be with you, especially you, the graduates,” the archbishop said, speaking to those gathered about the “gift of joy that tends to show up in our hearts after serving another well.”

Archbishop Kurtz made note of Pope Francis’ recent apostolic exhortation “Gaudete et Exsultate” (Rejoice and be glad), on the call to holiness in today’s world, which mentions “the saint next door” — the person who serves another humbly.

“As you go forth,” he told the graduates, “remember that your path to greatness is not a journey you take alone. “Say ‘thank you’ to Jesus that the One who has ascended to the Father has not left you orphaned. He has given you a saint next door.”

The graduates are:

Master of Arts (Catholic Studies)
Reverend Benjamin Asibuo Kusi
Isaiah Callan
Alex Dugas
Brother Michael French, CPM
Stephen Hughes
Jonathan Jergens
Michael Martin
Bradley McNeal
David Morand
Jeffrey Stephens

Master of Arts (Pastoral Ministry)
Marlene Doughman
Maria Gaviria
Michael Guarasci

Master of Arts (Theology)
Linda Bader
Nathanial Beiersdorfer
Reverend Mr. Craig Best
Reverend Mr. Jarred Kohn
Reverend Mr. Scott Perry
Reverend Dominic Tawiah
Reverend Mr. Andrew Wellmann
Reverent Mr. Jacob Willig

Master of Divinity
Reverend Mr. Robert Barnell
Reverend Mr. Craig Best
Reverend Mr. Kyle Gase
Reverend Mr. Jarred Kohn
Reverend Mr. Victor Moratin
Reverend Mr. Scott Perry
Reverend Mr. Andrew Smith
Reverend Mr. Andrew Wellmann
Reverend Mr. Jacob Willig

Graduate Certificate (Pastoral Administration)
Pamela Edwards

Non Degreed Certificate (Lay Ministry)
Carol Adams
Susan Meyer
Charles Salway
Jeanne Simonton

During the ceremony, Father Anthony Brausch was also installed as the 36th president/rector of the Athenaeum of Ohio/Mount St. Mary’s Seminary.

2018 May Graduation at the Athenaeum (Courtesy Photo)2018 May Graduation at the Athenaeum (Courtesy Photo) Deacon Andy Smith at the Athenauem of Ohio Graduation (Photo by EL Hubbard)Deacon Andy Smith at the Athenauem of Ohio Graduation (Photo by EL Hubbard)

Update: Pope expresses concern about ‘spiral of violence’ in Holy Land

05/16/2018 - 2:32pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Mohammed Salem, Reuters

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Warning that violence will never bring peace, Pope Francis urged all sides to do all they can to foster dialogue in the Middle East.

“I am very worried about the intensifying tensions in the Holy Land and the Middle East and about the spiral of violence that increasingly leads away from the path of peace, dialogue and negotiations,” he said in an appeal May 16 during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square.

The Associated Press reported that May 14, the same day the United States was inaugurating its embassy in Jerusalem, Israeli forces shot and killed 57 Palestinians and injured more than 2,700 people during mass protests along the Gaza border. In addition, a baby died from tear gas inhalation, the Gaza Health Ministry said, bringing the death toll to 58.

Expressing his sadness for those killed and injured, and prayers for all who are suffering, the pope underlined that violence is never of any use for bringing peace.

“War is called war, violence is called violence,” he said.

“I invite all those involved and the international community to renew their commitment so that dialogue, justice and peace may prevail,” he said, before leading the thousands of people gathered in the square in praying the “Hail Mary.”

The pope then sent his good wishes to all Muslims at the start of the month of Ramadan. “May this special time of prayer and fasting help in walking the path of God, which is the path of peace,” he said.

Earlier, the head of Jerusalem’s Latin Patriarchate called for prayers for peace as the world witnesses “another outburst of hatred and violence, which is once again bleeding all over the Holy Land.”

“We need to pray more for peace and our conversion and for all,” said Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, apostolic administrator of the patriarchate, or diocese.

“The lives of so many young people have once again been shut down and hundreds of families are mourning their loved ones, dead or wounded,” said the statement May 15 from Archbishop Pizzaballa. “As in a kind of vicious circle, we must condemn all forms of violence, any cynical use of human lives and disproportionate violence. Once again we are forced by circumstances to plead and cry out for justice and peace!”

He announced that May 19, the eve of Pentecost, the church would hold a prayer vigil at the Church of St. Stephen at L’Ecole Biblique. He asked the entire diocese to dedicate a day of prayer and fasting for the peace of Jerusalem and that the liturgy on Pentecost be dedicated to prayer for peace.

“We must truly pray to the Spirit to change our hearts to better understand his will and to give us the strength to continue to work for justice and peace,” the archbishop said.

Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital and now feel that, with its embassy there, the U.S. cannot be a fair broker in the peace process with Israel.

Many Israelis see opening the embassy as the long-awaited official recognition of Jerusalem as their capital and the fulfillment of a promise made by numerous U.S. presidents to move the building from Tel Aviv.

The Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land, which includes Archbishop Pizzaballa and bishops of the Eastern Catholic churches in the region, reiterated the Catholic Church’s position that moving the U.S. embassy and “any unilateral move or decision about the Holy City of Jerusalem doesn’t contribute to advancing the long-awaited peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”

“We believe that there is no reason that could prevent the city from being the capital of Israel and Palestine, but this should be done through negotiation and mutual respect,” said the statement from the assembly May 15.

The Catholic leaders also said the deaths and injuries along the Israeli-Gaza border “or most of them, could have been avoided if non-lethal tools had been used by the Israeli forces.”

The assembly called on “all parties involved to avoid use of violence and to find ways to end siege imposed on about 2 million Palestinians in Gaza Strip as soon as possible.”

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Looking Back: The Ordination of Rev. Robert Muhlenkamp & Rev. Timothy Ralston

05/16/2018 - 11:27am

This article originally appeared in the May 21, 2010 edition of The Catholic Telegraph

ARCHDIOCESE — God calls men to the priesthood at different times in their lives. Some begin discerning the call while still in their teens. Others embark on different careers before they begin priestly formation.

This year two men are being ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. One heard God’s call early and entered college seminary straight out of high school. The other spent a year in medical school before following his true vocation.

They will be ordained by Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr May 22, 11 a.m., at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains.

Deacon Robert Muhlenkamp

Growing up the third of six boys in a Catholic family on a dairy farm in Coldwater, Deacon Robert Muhlenkamp thought he would someday be married with a family of his own. “All through high school I always looked up to my parents, my aunts and uncles, so I thought the best way to serve God is to raise a family and bring them up in the faith and teach them to love God,” he said. “It wasn’t until my sophomore year of college that I started thinking about the priesthood.” Deacon Muhlenkamp was raised in Holy Trinity Parish and graduated from Coldwater High School.

As a student Ashland University studying math and chemistry, he became involved with Newman Catholic Campus Ministries and was asked to lector at Mass on campus during his sophomore year.

“As I stood up to read from the Scriptures, I looked out at all my peers and a thought came into my mind that these people are hungry. And with the grace of God I can feed them,” he said. “So I had to figure out what that meant.”

Two months later, Deacon Muhlenkamp, 28, was home for Christmas when Father Ronald Wilker, then-pastor at Holy Trinity, called him into the sacristy and encouraged him to attend a welcome
weekend at Mount St. Mary Seminary in Cincinnati.

“I knew at that point [the priesthood] was something I had to consider. That’s the first time I thought about it at all. I did go to that welcome weekend in April, and there was a real sense of peace at the seminary,” Deacon Muhlenkamp said. “It’s just that sense of discernment and prayer. There’s a restlessness when you’re not doing what God is calling you to, and there’s a sense of peace when you are following the promptings of the Spirit.”

He contacted Father Mark Watkins, then-archdiocesan vocations director, while continuing his college studies. He graduated in 2003 but wasn’t quite ready for the seminary. He entered medical
school at The Ohio State University. He continued to wrestle with a calling to the priesthood. Medical school is difficult on its own, he said, adding that it is tougher if one is doing it half-heartedly. It
was a challenging year, and not just academically. “I knew I wasn’t where I was supposed to be. I knew that I had to try the seminary. That became very clear,” he said. “I met great friends during that year, and I got strong support from them, but there was always that inner tension, especially at prayer, that something’s got to give.”

He continued to discern the call to the priesthood, making retreats, including one at the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky.

He also went to another welcome weekend at the seminary.

Deacon Muhlenkamp spent the summer after his year in medical school in China working in hospitals and staying with missionary families. He filled out most of the seminary application before he left for China and began formation in 2004.

“The seminary is a unique opportunity to pray and to study, because you don’t have other responsibilities,” he said. “No matter where I am, wherever I might have been serving God, I would want to pray and to study the faith, and so I’m thankful that I had the time to do that.”

His internship year was served at St. John the Baptist Parish in Tipp City with Father Marc Sherlock, giving him a feel for parish life.

“You do observe firsthand the parish dynamics and the dynamics of the parish staff,” Deacon Muhlenkamp said. “It was the first opportunity to work with parishioners as a member of the parish staff.”

As a transitional deacon, he participated in three of his cousins’ weddings, celebrating the sacrament of marriage at two and assisting with the wedding Mass at a third.

His family sensed his calling was a good fit. While they said little, “the Catholic culture of the area and the Catholic culture within my family indicated that they were supportive of my decision.”

Deacon Muhlenkamp’s first Mass of Thanksgiving will be May 23 at 5 p.m. at Holy Trinity Church in Coldwater. He will also celebrate Masses of Thanksgiving June 5 at 5 p.m. and June 6 at 8 and 10:30 a.m. at St. John the Baptist Church in Tipp City.

Deacon Timothy Ralston

Timothy Ralston was a ninth-grade Mass server at St. George Parish in Georgetown when the pastor at the time, Father Earl Metz, first suggested that he should think about becoming a priest.

A religious formation teacher at the parish made a similar suggestion, but the high school student didn’t embrace the idea.

“I don’t remember really saying much in response to it,” Deacon Ralston said. “It was something that I decided I didn’t want for myself, and I definitely didn’t want to talk about it with anybody. “I basically said, ‘If you want me to do this, Lord, I’ll do it but only because you want me to do it. I don’t want it for myself. I want you to give me something else.’ “A lot of it was due to the fact that I didn’t view myself as being worthy of the call,” he said. “I didn’t view myself as having the necessary gifts to be a good priest, to be an effective priest.”

Deacon Ralston, 31, is the son of Gerald and Rebecca Ralston and has a sister, Amy. He graduated from Georgetown High School. He was active in St. George Parish and later at St. Michael Parish in
Mt. Orab.

At St. George, “being a small parish, we didn’t have a lot of servers, so I got to do it quite often,” he recalled. “I ended up loving serving Mass. I think that was part of what [Father Metz] saw, just kind of an attraction to the Mass and being at the altar.”

He prayed and thought about the possible vocation all through high school, where he enjoyed typical experiences like playing basketball, watching movies and hanging out with friends.

“I took my faith very seriously as far as wanting to know the faith, wanting to read about the faith, wanting to love the faith,” he said. “I still wasn’t at the point where I could embrace the possibility of the priesthood for my life. Even as I prayed, there was still a lot of hesitancy about it.”

Deacon Ralston attended the University of Cincinnati, earning a bachelor’s in philosophy. Though he was undecided about a career, he understood that philosophy would benefit him in formation if
he did choose to attend the seminary.

“During college there was a transformation in my thinking about the priesthood,” Deacon Ralston said. “It got to the point where I was more open to discussing it as a possibility with other people.”

He wanted specific direction from God, but he eventually found it through others. People he didn’t know well raised the possibility of a priestly vocation: a housekeeper, a girl in the college dorm who said her mother was praying for him to go to the seminary.

After graduation he was still doubting his own worth and skills. For two years he worked and prayed and discussed the priesthood with Father Metz and Father Mark Watkins, then-archdiocesan vocations director. Both told him the only way he would know for sure was to try. An encounter with a stranger solidified the decision. The man sat in the back pew that Saturday morning at St. Michael in Mt. Orab, one of about a half dozen people in the church. Deacon Ralston, who regularly served that Mass, had never seen him there before. After Mass the man approached Deacon Ralston, who was still wearing his alb, and asked him pointblank if was going to the seminary or not.

“I was a little stunned by the question, so I just looked at him and said ‘I think I’m going to try in the fall,’” Deacon Ralston said. “He didn’t take his eyes off me and said ‘Good.’ Then he turned and
walked out of the church. I’ve never run into him again.”

The years in the seminary have helped Deacon Ralston build a stronger relationship with God and helped him develop a deeper prayer life. He has gained a better appreciation of the gifts God has given him.

His year-long internship was spent at Incarnation Parish in Centerville working with Father Lawrence Mierenfeld. The large, suburban parish of nearly 4,000 families was an adjustment from his own rural parishes. Still, it was a great experience, he said.

“I learned a lot from Father [Mierenfeld] just on the need for balance in the priest’s life,” he said. “The spiritual life, the day-to-day running of the parish, time for recreation, relaxation, the need to maintain friendships both with lay people and especially with other priests, being able to discuss some issues with them.

“I learned that there is still great desire out there for the sacraments, for the word of God, for God’s presence among us, for having God in our lives every day,” he said. “I saw it in so many different people there.”

Looking ahead, Deacon Ralston has a single goal: Do God’s work.

“The only thing I want to accomplish is to do the will of Christ,” he said. “I want to bring Christ to the people and the people to Christ. I’m going to do that through the sacraments, through preaching, through the other priestly ministries, through teaching. What it comes down to is salvation of souls.”

Deacon Ralston’s Masses of Thanksgiving will be May 23, 11 a.m., at St. Michael Church in Mt. Orab and May 30, noon, at Incarnation Church in Centerville.