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A small sampler of Pope Francis quotes

03/13/2018 - 1:10pm

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In his formal documents, many speeches and unscripted morning homilies the past five years, Pope Francis has given the church plenty of “food for thought” on many issues of great importance.

Here are a baker’s dozen of quotes from the pope, organized by topic:

— On clerical sexual abuse: “Before God and his people I express my sorrow for the sins and grave crimes of clerical sexual abuse committed against you. And I humbly ask forgiveness. I beg your forgiveness, too, for the sins of omission on the part of church leaders who did not respond adequately to reports of abuse made by family members, as well as by abuse victims themselves. This led to even greater suffering on the part of those who were abused, and it endangered other minors who were at risk.” (Homily at Mass with survivors, July 7, 2014).

— On communication: “Communication has the power to build bridges, to enable encounter and inclusion, and thus to enrich society. How beautiful it is when people select their words and actions with care, in the effort to avoid misunderstandings, to heal wounded memories and to build peace and harmony.” (Message for World Communications Day 2016).

— On creation: “We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth; our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters.” (“Laudato Si’, On Care for Our Common Home,” May 24, 2015).

— On economics: “Let us say ‘no’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality, where money rules, rather than service. That economy kills. That economy excludes. That economy destroys Mother Earth.” (World Meeting of Popular Movements, July 9, 2015).

— On faith: “Please do not water down your faith in Jesus Christ. We dilute fruit drinks — orange, apple or banana juice — but please do not drink a diluted form of faith. Faith is whole and entire, not something that you water down. It is faith in Jesus. It is faith in the son of God made man, who loved me and who died for me.” (World Youth Day, July 25, 2013).

— On the family: “No family drops down from heaven perfectly formed; families need constantly to grow and mature in the ability to love. … May we never lose heart because of our limitations or ever stop seeking that fullness of love and communion which God holds out before us.” (“Amoris Laetitia,” April 8, 2016).

— On life: “Human life is sacred and inviolable. Every civil right rests on the recognition of the first and fundamental right, that of life, which is not subordinate to any condition, be it quantitative, economic or, least of all, ideological.” (Speech to the Italian pro-life movement, April 11, 2014).

— On mercy: “Mercy: the bridge that connects God and humanity, opening our hearts to the hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness.” (“Misericordiae Vultus,” April 11, 2015).

— On migration: “Migrants are our brothers and sisters in search of a better life far from poverty, hunger, exploitation and the unjust distribution of the planet’s resources, which are meant to be equitably shared by all. Don’t we all want a better, more decent and prosperous life to share with our loved ones?” (Message for World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2016).

— On religious freedom: “It is incomprehensible and alarming that, still today, discrimination and restrictions of rights continue for the single fact that one belongs to and publicly professes an unwavering faith. It is unacceptable that real persecution is actually sustained for reasons of religious affiliation! Wars as well! This distorts reason, attacks peace and humiliates human dignity.” (Speech, June 20, 2014).

— On Satan: “The devil exists even in the 21st century and we shouldn’t be naive. … We have to learn from the Gospel how to fight” against him. (Homily, April 11, 2014).

— On vocations: “A vocation is a fruit that ripens in a well-cultivated field of mutual love that becomes mutual service, in the context of an authentic ecclesial life. No vocation is born of itself or lives for itself. A vocation flows from the heart of God and blossoms in the good soil of faithful people, in the experience of fraternal love.” (World Day of Prayer for Vocations 2014).

— On young people in the church: “I want you to make yourselves heard in your dioceses. I want the noise to go out. I want the church to go out onto the streets. I want us to resist everything worldly, everything static, everything comfortable, everything to do with clericalism, everything that might make us closed in on ourselves.” (World Youth Day, July 25, 2013).


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Stuff Luke Carey Found: The Threshold Podcast

03/13/2018 - 12:26pm

“Let’s violate a cultural norm. In a time when religious conversations can seem tense or even taboo, we sit down with a different guest each week to talk about their faith (or disbelief), what shaped it, and why it matters.” — The Threshold

So begins the ‘About’ section of The Threshold Podcast, a new show hosted by two friends, Tony Vasinda, a youth minister, and Father Colin Parrish, a Catholic priest. Their listener base contains a broad spectrum of Catholics, evangelicals, atheists, agnostics, former believers, and searchers. The show begins with Vasinda interviewing a guest about his or her story. During the interview Vasinda discusses the guest’s faith and why the guests believe what they believe. Vasinda leaves the conversation open-ended, allowing guests to share their experiences without judgement.

After the interview, Father Parrish and Vasinda look for the beautiful, good, and true, and ask what they can take away from the conversation. So often, religious podcasts look for something tidy and packaged. Something to make listeners feel good about themselves and their beliefs. The Threshold Podcast flips this notion on its head. It respects the pilgrim journey all of us partake in, and finds the good regardless of where the guest is on that journey.

Within my own ministry, I start with a simple question: is any of this actually real? Ultimately, our answer to this question can only come from experience and witness. Pope Paul VI states it beautifully in Evangelii nuntiandi (Evangelization in the Modern World), “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.”

What can be more honest than a person’s story? You cannot have witness without a story. You cannot have a story without a listener. The desire to evangelize leads many to want tips on how to make evangelization easier. Simple steps to share their faith. These tips often ignore listening. It’s easy to write off people whose beliefs differ than mine. Listening involves work. When we listen, the reward is far greater. We can see how God is working in their lives, regardless of what they believe.

The age of cookie-cutter evangelization is over. The era of listening, understanding, and accompanying is here. If you want to see where the world is, to hear the stories of people in the thick of trying to find God, you can do no better than by listening to the Threshold Podcast. It’s available on iTunes, Google Play, and pretty much any podcasting app of your choice.

Courtesy image Twitter follow for March:

Ethan Stueve, @bropostle. Ethan is a college student and one half of The Crunch podcast. If you are in college and looking for a good Catholic witness, look no further than Ethan. He’s a dynamic Catholic and an entertaining follow.


Retired pope says criticism against Pope Francis is ‘foolish prejudice’

03/12/2018 - 8:30pm

IMAGE: CNS/Vatican Media

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — On the eve of the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’ election, retired Pope Benedict XVI defended the continuity of the church’s teaching under his successor and dismissed those who criticize the pope’s theological foundations.

In a letter sent to Msgr. Dario Vigano, prefect of the Vatican Secretariat for Communication, Pope Benedict applauded the publication of a new book series titled, “The Theology of Pope Francis.”

“It contradicts the foolish prejudice of those who see Pope Francis as someone who lacks a particular theological and philosophical formation, while I would have been considered solely a theorist of theology with little understanding of the concrete lives of today’s Christian,” the retired pontiff wrote.

Msgr. Vigano read the letter during a presentation of the 11-volume series March 12.

Before reading the letter, Msgr. Vigano said he sent a message to Pope Francis and Pope Benedict regarding the publication of the book series.

He also asked if Pope Benedict would be “willing to write a page or a page and a half of dense theology in his clear and punctual style that would have liked to read this evening.”

Instead, the retired pontiff “wrote a beautiful, personal letter that I will read to you,” Msgr. Vigano said.

Pope Benedict thanked Msgr. Vigano for having given him a copy of “The Theology of Pope Francis” book series, which was authored by several notable theologians.

“These small volumes reasonably demonstrate that Pope Francis is a man with profound philosophical and theological formation and are helpful to see the interior continuity between the two pontificates, even with all the differences in style and temperament,” he wrote.

Pope Benedict has made no secret of his affection for and admiration of Pope Francis.

During a Vatican celebration for the 65th anniversary of Pope Benedict’s priestly ordination June 28, 2016, the retired pope expressed his sincere gratefulness to Pope Francis, saying that his goodness “from the first moment of your election, in every moment of my life here, touches me deeply.”

“More than the beauty found in the Vatican Gardens, your goodness is the place where I live; I feel protected,” Pope Benedict said.

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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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

Haitian immigrant back home working for CRS says faith gives her hope

03/12/2018 - 6:25pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Denis Grasska, The Southern Cross

By Denis Grasska

SAN DIEGO (CNS) — When Cassandra Bissainthe left Haiti for the United States some 17 years ago, it seemed unlikely that she would ever return.

Political instability and economic insecurity were rampant in her homeland, and extreme poverty had driven desperate people to do terrible things.

Shortly after her relocation to Miami, Bissainthe discovered that she had been in danger of being kidnapped. Around that same time, her aunt actually was kidnapped and held for a week until the family paid a ransom.

“I never thought I would go back,” Bissainthe, now 33, said during a visit to the Diocese of San Diego earlier this year.

Today, she is stationed in Haiti with Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. church’s overseas relief and development agency. She is the agency’s church partnership and capacity strengthening manager.

In the aftermath of the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti in early 2010, she reflected on what she could do to help the suffering people of her homeland. She began working in Haiti for Trocaire, the international development agency of the Catholic Church in Ireland, and then in 2015 joined the staff of CRS, the organization’s U.S. counterpart.

Bissainthe holds a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Florida International University. She was drawn to development work both by the example of her mother, who had worked for the U.N. Development Program, and by her experience at her all-girls Catholic high school in Haiti, where community service requirements awakened within her a desire to work for a mission-driven organization.

In Haiti with CRS, Bissainthe has her work cut out for her. The country is ranked as the poorest in the Western hemisphere, with some 80 percent of the population subsisting on less than $2 a day. In addition to an unstable economy and political climate, Haiti also is still recovering from the damage caused by the 2010 earthquake, coupled with the devastation of Hurricane Matthew, which impacted more than 2 million people in late 2016.

“I like to be in the field,” said Bissainthe, who added that her co-workers will confirm that she is rarely found behind her office desk. But, she said, “in the field, you get to meet people that have nothing, so those situations can (bring) you down.”

Encountering people who are struggling amid poverty and natural disasters can be challenging, but in those moments, she relies on her Catholic faith, which inspires her “to look for the positive.” Past experiences of CRS’ life-changing work have given her reason for this hope, she told The Southern Cross, San Diego’s diocesan newspaper.

She has seen, in villages where most of the youth used to drop out of school by the sixth grade, an increasing number asking for high school recommendations. After major disasters, she has encountered people whose entire livelihoods have been wiped out; yet, several months later, she has witnessed them rebuilding their lives with whatever support CRS was able to offer them.

A key component of CRS’ approach to development and a reason for its success is its collaboration with local partners in the various regions in which it serves.

CRS only has three offices in Haiti, Bissainthe said, and it’s only because of community partners that the organization is able to assist as many people as it does. Those partners continue to be key players in the community, even after CRS pulls up stakes and leaves the region, carrying on the programs that CRS put in place.

Bissainthe’s job places her at the center of cultivating relationships with these partners, particularly the local Catholic Church, from the national to the parish level.

“It’s truly crucial that we maintain a strong relationship with the church, because they are our eyes and our knowledge of the field,” she said, adding, “They know these communities ‘ and they might know the needs better than (we do).”

Bissainthe visited San Diego in late January as part of a two-week U.S. tour to promote CRS Rice Bowl, a Lenten faith-in-action program that encourages U.S. Catholics to show solidarity with the poor through prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

Some 75 percent of the funds raised through CRS Rice Bowl support the organization’s programs around the world, including agriculture, water and sanitation, microfinance and education projects. The remaining 25 percent benefits the poor and hungry in the communities where those funds were raised.

Just as she enjoys meeting the people CRS serves in Haiti, Bissainthe said she is grateful for the opportunity to meet the U.S.-based donors whose generosity makes CRS’ work possible. During her recent tour, she was able to hear their stories while also sharing her own.

“I think it makes you even more humble about the work that you do,” she said of her experience on the tour, “and also see the value in what we do.”

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Grasska is assistant editor of The Southern Cross, newspaper of the Diocese of San Diego.

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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

Christian activists warn of slaughter of Syrian civilians in Afrin

03/12/2018 - 4:17pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Khalil Ashawi, Reuters

By Dale Gavlak

AMMAN, Jordan (CNS) — Christian activists warn that 1 million Syrian civilians will face certain slaughter in northwestern Afrin, where they allege Turkey and its militant allies have already carried out “war crimes” and “ethnic cleansing.”

They have appealed to U.S. President Donald Trump and top U.S. officials to stop the bloodshed, warning that failure to act jeopardizes the hard-fought U.S.-led military campaign against Islamic State in Syria.

Civilians from other parts of Syria and outside the country have reportedly offered to stand as “human shields” between the Kurdish-backed fighters and Turkish forces set to storm Afrin.

Cardinal Mario Zenari, apostolic nuncio to Syria, said, “I have never seen so much violence as in Syria.” In remarks March 9, he likened the situation to the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

The nuncio called the situation in the war-ravaged land “hell on earth,” especially for vulnerable children.

In March, Syria’s conflict entered its eighth year. More than 350,000 people have died, 5 million are refugees and 6.3 million civilians are displaced within the country.

Syria is currently “one of the most dangerous places for children,” Cardinal Zenari said. “It’s terrible. I always say, it’s a massacre of the innocents.”

Two Christian activists, Bassam Ishak and Lauren Homer, told Catholic News Service of the relentless assault by Turkey and militants from hardline jihadist movements, including the so-called Islamic State.

“Turkey has committed war crimes and ethnic cleansing already in Afrin and the Federation of Northern Syria,” or FNS, they told CNS.

Ishak heads the Syriac National Council and is a member of the political bureau of the Syrian Democratic Council. He is a graduate of The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. Homer, an Anglican, is a Washington, D.C.-based international human rights lawyer.

“Turkey has already ‘cleared’ villages of Yazidis, Kurds, Christians and others, promising to replace them with Syrian refugees. In fact, Afrin already has enlarged its population by 50 percent to house (internally displaced) Syrians, who are among those being killed, injured or captured,” they said.

People in and around Afrin are facing the warplanes, tanks, artillery and other heavy weapons of NATO’s second-largest standing army, Turkey.

A local health authority reported more than 220 dead and 600 civilians injured in this mainly Kurdish area of northwestern Syria, some 30 miles from Aleppo.

Videos and photos from Afrin taken by both Kurds and members of the Turkish forces depict bombed-out houses, mangled bodies of children killed by the blasts and civilians being herded away.

Largely untouched by Syria’s deadly conflict until recently, this part of the Federation of Northern Syria succeeded in creating a nonsectarian, pluralist, inclusive government system not seen elsewhere in the Middle East in which there is religious freedom and equal rights are granted to all.

Activists are calling for an immediate no-fly zone over Afrin, enforced by U.S. drones or warplanes; implementation of the Feb. 24 U.N. Security Council resolution requiring a cease-fire by Turkey in Afrin; humanitarian aid and safe passage out for civilians; and mediation of a long-term cease-fire and withdrawal of Turkish troops to its own borders — potentially with promises of U.S. or U.N. border monitors.

Meanwhile, the Kurdish council that governs Afrin demanded the U.N. Security Council establish a no-fly zone over Afrin and forcibly respond to the Turkish offensive.

“This U.N. and U.S. and NATO inaction will go down in infamy as an inconceivable abandonment of our ‘allies’ the SDF and the FNS. Genocide seems to be only something we are interested in in retrospect, to mourn and wring our hands over,” Homer warned.

Anti-aircraft weapons are needed to stop the attacks, observers say, but the Syrian Democratic Forces, composed of Kurdish and Christian fighters, were never given the necessary arms. At this point, U.S. aerial patrols would be needed. The Kurds and Christian fighters largely won the U.S.-led battle against Islamic State in Syria.

“Military solutions are no real solutions. Taking Afrin will not solve any problems, neither the internal problems for Turkey in the long run, nor will it help solve any issue that is part of the Syrian question,” Ishak told CNS. Turkey says it is battling Kurdish “terrorists” as its pretext for invading Afrin.

“Instead, it will just further complicate the situation and increase the level of competition between actors jockeying for influence in Syria,” Ishak said.

Meanwhile, the Syrian military, backed with Russian airpower, carried out intensive ground and aerial assaults on the rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta near Damascus. Syrian government forces have reportedly captured more than half of the area.

The international medical charity Doctors Without Borders said more than 1,000 civilians have been killed in the area since late February, while almost 400,000 residents are living under heavy bombardment, after having been subjected to nearly five years of siege, lacking food and medicines.

Pope Francis has repeatedly called on the international community to intervene in Syria to help end the violence. Calling the war in Syria “inhumane,” Pope Francis urged for an end to the fighting, immediate access to humanitarian aid and the evacuation of the injured and infirm.

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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

Nicholas Hardesty for March: Three easy ways to defend the Resurrection

03/12/2018 - 12:05pm

Although we are still focused on the season of Lent, Easter will be here soon. You know what that means: it’s “open season” on the Resurrection. The History Channel will reveal a “secret Gospel” that contradicts Jesus’ rising from the dead. Atheists on Facebook will start posting memes about “Zombie Jesus.” News networks will trot out their “Bible expert” who will explain that the Resurrection “probably didn’t happen” the way the Bible describes.

Of course, not everyone who questions the Resurrection is trying to stir up higher ratings or more Facebook followers. Most people genuinely want to know, “Why do you believe Jesus rose from the dead?”

Let’s get ready to respond. Here are three simple points you can use to defend the Resurrection.

1. The Gospels Describe What Actually Happened

As Catholics, we believe the Gospel accounts are true because the Bible is inspired. But, for non-Christians we need other reasons.

Try this: imagine you’re a historian researching an event that happened long ago. What would you do? One approach would be to read the written accounts of those who witnessed the event.

That’s what the Gospels are: the eyewitness accounts of the earliest followers of Jesus. The authors themselves tell us they intended to faithfully record what they saw, or what they received from those who saw it (Luke 1:1-4; John 21:24-25). As an unbiased researcher, we would have to give them some credence.

2. There’s No Better Explanation

The Gospels tells us that when Jesus’ followers came to the tomb, they found the stone rolled away, the burial garments piled in the corner, and the tomb empty (Matthew 28:1-8; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-10). They knew that Jesus had risen.

If anyone challenges this, just ask them, “Do you have a better explanation?” There are many theories, but they’re all ridiculous:

“The apostles stole the body”  It’s not possible to roll away the heavy stone, remove the burial garments, and run away with the body without waking the guards.

“Jesus was still alive when they buried him” In other words, perhaps Jesus regained consciousness, rolled away the stone, and walked out. Really? The Romans were experts at execution. The soldier who broke the legs of the crucified (to hasten their death) did not break Jesus’ legs because Jesus was already dead (John 19:31-33). At any rate, Jesus was too bruised and beaten to roll away the stone or walk around town without the soldiers stopping Him.

“The tomb wasn’t empty” Perhaps the whole thing was made up. Doubtful. For one, Jesus’ enemies didn’t even doubt that the tomb was empty (Matthew 28:11-15). And if any of the contemporaries of the apostles doubted, they could just go to the tomb and see for themselves. It would have been impossible to lie about it.

3. Many People Saw the Resurrected Jesus

If Jesus did not die and then rise to new life, why did so many people see Him during those 40 days after His Resurrection? First, the women saw Jesus (Mark 16:1,7). Then Peter, then the Twelve, then more than 500 at once, then James, and finally, Paul himself (1 Corinthians 15:5-8). This couldn’t have been visions of a spirit. They “took hold of His feet” (Matthew 28:9). They handled His hands (Luke 24:39). He ate fish (Luke 24:42-43). Thomas put his hand right into Jesus’s side! (John 20:27). Jesus was very physically present to them. Plus, 500 people don’t hallucinate all at once, and hallucinations don’t last 40 days. The truth is: Jesus has risen! This is what Easter is all about, and when Easter comes, we will have good reason to celebrate.

     Nicholas Hardesty develops new digital courses for Vocare, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s online catechist certification process. Contact him with new course ideas at

A Picture Says a Thousand Words: Bockfest Mass

03/11/2018 - 6:00am
Still hazey from incense at the previous Mass, the large sanctuary at Old St. Mary’s Curch in Over-the-Rhine had more than enough room for German society banners. CT photo/Gail Finke

Old St. Mary’s Church gives the neighborhood’s annual Bockfest some needed gravitas. An irreverent celebration of craft beer and German heritage, the festival gives more than a nod to the neighborhood’s past as a German Catholic enclave, as well as to the ongoing presence of Franciscan friars. But as the country’s only church offering a weekly German Mass, the parish allows both local and traveling attendees a chance to make Mass part of their plans. Local German societies process in with banners, and only the homily is in English.

German Mass is also one of the items on The Catholic Telegraph’s Bucket List, so to check off that one with some extra festivity, put the 2019 Bockfest Mass on your calendar.

Pastor Jon-Paul Bevak processes into church with servers and the lederhosen-clad lector. CT photo/Gail Finke Dressed for Bockfest, a couple waits for Mas to begin. CT photo/Gail Finke Members of several area German societies assemble with their banners at the back of Old St. Mary’s Church. CT photo/Gail Finke The lector read both readings in German. CT photo/Gail Finke Praying the Our Father. CT photo/Gail Finke Sunday’s 11 a.m. German Mass is an item on The Catholic Telegraph’s “Bucket List” — see story for link. CT photo/Gail Finke

Photo Essay: Brent Celek from the Super Bowl Champion Eagles visits La Salle

03/10/2018 - 8:21pm
Brent Celek and Dan Flynn '74, La Salle High School Advancement Director during Brent's meet and greet at La Salle (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Brent Celek and Dan Flynn ’74, La Salle High School Advancement Director during Brent’s meet and greet at La Salle (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)

Brent Celek walked the hallowed halls of La Salle High School 15 years ago. He went to grade school at St. Bernard Taylor’s Creek, and in 1999 began his career at La Salle. After a stellar 4 years as a Lancer, he racked up awards as first-team all district his junior and senior year, setting a record as well for an 89 yard pass.

In the Fall of 2003, Brent became a Bearcat at the University of Cincinnati. earning a Most Valuable Player award, amassing over 1,135 yards and being on victorious UC teams that won the Fort Worth Bowl in his sophomore year, and International Bowl his senior year.

Celek was drafted in the fifth round by the Philadelphia Eagles and in 2009 became starting tight end. His 11 season totals: 398 receptions for 4,498 yards, an average of 12.6 yards a catch. Brent reached the pinnacle of his career, as The Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New England Patriots 41-33 in Super Bowl LLII in Minneapolis.

Just 34 days after the Super Bowl it was old home week back in Cincinnati. I spoke with Brent’s cousin a senior at La Salle and he relayed to me how they all live in close proximity to St. Bernard Taylor’s Creek. Not only was Brent in the building, his younger brother Garrett was on hand. Garrett, a 2006 La Salle Lancer went on to play for the Michigan State Spartans, and now playing for the San Francisco 49’ers. Garret, a tight end, has 77 receptions for 1,104 yards, averaging 13.2 yards a reception.

Young children are normally excited to meet a pro football player, especially a Super Bowl Champion. Yet tonight it was more of meeting an old friend. Brent & Garrett Celek were home. St. John the Baptist De La Salle, Pray for us; Live Jesus in our hearts, forever!

Current Lancers meet Brent Celek:


Brent Celek Signs mini-Eagle helmets at La Salle (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Brent Celek Signs mini-Eagle helmets at La Salle (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)

A fun night at La Salle as Brent Celek signed autograph’s for the throng in Lancer Nation


Garret Celek poses for pictures on March 10th at La Salle. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Garret Celek poses for pictures on March 10th at La Salle. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Brent & Garrett Celek pose with a Lancer, (Note the Eagle/49er helmet) (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Brett Celek of the Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles awaits hundreds at Lancer Nation (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) La Salle High School students patiently await the arrival of Brent Celek (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Celek's 84 La Salle Lancer Jersey. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Brent examines some Lancer bling from State Championships. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Garrett Celek and head coach Pat McLaughlin talking shop at La Salle (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) It was time to pose on the field with Brent Celek! (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Garrett Celek signs an autograph at La Salle High School (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Meeting a Super Bowl Champ! (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) The McLaughlins pose with Brent Celek (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) St. I's student meets Brent Celek (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) St. James students and future Lancers? meet with Brent Celek (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Students from St. Bernard Taylor's Creek meet a St. Bernard Taylor's Creek Alum Brent Celek (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) A great day at La Salle as Brent Celek came home to Lancer Nation (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)

Confessors should seek to bring penitents closer to Jesus, pope says

03/09/2018 - 4:25pm

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — A good confessor is a good listener, Pope Francis said.

By truly listening to the penitent during confession, “we listen to Jesus himself, poor and humble; by listening to the Holy Spirit, we put ourselves in attentive obedience, becoming listeners of the Word” in order to know what God wants to be done, he said.

This is how priests can offer “the greatest service” to all penitents, especially the young, because “we put them in touch with Jesus himself,” he said March 9.

The pope spoke to hundreds of confessors and other participants attending an annual course on the sacrament of reconciliation, sponsored by the Apostolic Penitentiary, a Vatican court that handles issues related to the absolution of sin.

He warned confessors to avoid the temptation of becoming “masters” over other people’s consciences, especially the young, who are very easily influenced.

A confessor must never forget his is not the source of mercy or grace, but he is, however, an “indispensable instrument, but always just an instrument,” the pope said.

Being a conduit between the Holy Spirit and the penitent does not diminish this ministry, rather it leads to its fulfillment, he said.

The more the priest “disappears and Christ, the supreme and eternal priest, appears more clearly,” the more the priest fulfills his vocation as “unprofitable servants.”

In light of the October Synod of Bishops on young people, faith and vocational discernment, the course this year looked at the relationship between the sacrament of reconciliation and helping others discern their vocation.

The pope said young people should be able to hear what God is saying to them, both in their own conscience and by listening to the word. To achieve this, young people need wise accompaniment by a confessor, he added.

With priest and penitent both prayerfully listening to God’s will, confession can become an occasion for discovering God’s plan for the individual, he said. Vocations, he added, are never about what form they take, but are about building a life-giving and inseparable relationship with Jesus.

The pope asked confessors to be witnesses of mercy, “humble listeners of young people and of God’s will for them; always be respectful of the conscience and freedom of those who come to the confessional, because God himself loves their freedom.”

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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

Today’s Video: Laetare Sunday Rejoice!

03/09/2018 - 3:47pm

We’re halfway through Lent this Sunday, which is known as Laetare Sunday or Rejoice! The THREE things about this Sunday is in this video

Standing Room Only for Talk by Renowned Catholic Scientist

03/09/2018 - 2:00pm
Scientist and theological Stephen Barr delivered the fifth annual Conway Lecture in Catholic Studies at the University Cincinnati March 7. CT photo/Gail Finke

By Gail Finke

After the extra chairs brought in to supplement the auditorium seating filled up, some stood in the back. Some sat on the windowsills or in the aisles. And while many went elsewhere after seeing that the eminent physicist’s lecture at the University of Cincinnati was full to bursting, about 16 hardy souls stood in the hallway to listen.

String theory? “Quantum consciousness”? No, the subject of Dr. Stephen Barr’s lecture was “The Catholic Faith and Evolution.”

The president the new Society of Catholic Scientists, Barr is a theologian as well as a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Delaware. A fellow of the American Physical Society, the Princeton graduate is the co-discoverer of the Flipped SU(5) scheme of unification and co-proposer of the Nelson-Barr mechanism, both well-knownto physicists. In 2007 he was awarded the Benemerenti Medal for service to the Catholic Church. On March 7 he delivered the fifth annual Conway Lecture in Catholic Studies at U.C. – in a room, due to a scheduling error, much smaller than originally planned.

Dr. Jeffrey Zalar, director of the Catholic Studies program, introduced him as “one of the most important figures in the contemporary American church,” because of his breath of mind as both a leading scientist and a leading theologian.

People sat on the floor after the extra chairs set up next to the auditorium seating had been filled. CT photo/Gail Finke

To an eager audience of student scientists and adults from many different fields (the annual Conway lecture is meant to be “town and gown” – free and open to the general public to introduce a wide variety of people to Catholic intellectual thought), Barr explained that the Catholic intellectual life has been, for all of its history, one of rational inquiry and understanding. All three historical versions of the scientific theory of evolution, and most of the philosophical theories arising from them, he said, have been compatible with the Catholic faith.

After tracing the three theories (the original idea of “common descent,” Darwin’s theory, and the later neo-Darwinist theory that incorporated genetics), Barr explained from the Church Fathers onward, Catholic theologians have understood that soul, not the body, is what differentiates mankind from other created beings. Neither the mechanisms of that creation nor the similarities between human and other bodies, he said, change this fundamental difference.

Reason and will are the properties of the human soul, he said, and their existence, not the appearance of the human body, are the way human beings are made in the “image and likeness of God.” The early Church Fathers understood the creation accounts in Genesis to be metaphorical, not scientific treatises, he said, and they regarded the account in Genesis of God’s breathing life into Adam as the point that his already-created body became human.

Likewise Barr said, the early Church fathers all agreed that God’s omnipotence and omniscience meant more than current scientists and atheists, as well as current religious fundamentalists, mean by the term “creation.” Their reason-based idea of God, grounded in philosophy, led them to conclude that the very existence of order in nature proves that God both exists and created it. Contrary to the arguments of today’s “new atheists,” he said, the discovery of more and greater complexity in order is a further argument for their conclusions, not against them.

While never declaring the current understanding of evolution as definitive, Barr said that most scientists accept it as correct, and explained briefly that while several Intelligent Design ideas (such as Michael Behe’s idea of “irreducible complexity”) have some intellectual merit, they can be countered. The arguments of evolution as a theory are no threat to faith, Barr said, and the dubious sociological or philosophical conclusions people have sometimes drawn from them are not scientific. Rather, they show the need for sound thinking beyond the boundaries of science.

After Barr explained and refuted eight common arguments that evolution disproves the existence of God and the creation of the universe, one of the student scientists in the audience asked plaintively why so many Catholics seem to think that evolution is at odds with faith.

“I think there are two reasons,” Barr said. “First, the Second Vatican Council said that everyone should be more theologically knowledgeable, but instead we got the 1960s, which downplayed ‘book knowledge’ of all kinds. So now we have two generations who never learned that this tradition exists.

“And second, before the Second Vatican Council, Catholics didn’t mix much with evangelicals.” While a new spirit of ecumenism with other Christians means that Catholics now “rub shoulders with evangelicals,” Barr said, many of them are religious fundamentalists who believe in reading the Bible literally. While more fellowship with evangelicals is itself good, he said, coupled with the wide-spread loss of memory that the Catholic intellectual tradition exists, it has led to many Catholics assuming that “the idea that evolution disproves the Bible is Christian.”

Following the talk, many in the audience stayed to discuss Barr’s books, and several Ph.D. candidates asked to join the Society of Catholic Scientists. For information about the society and how to join, visit

Attendees talk to Stephen Barr after his lecture on the Catholic faith and evolution. CT photo/Gail Finke

Forum gives Hispanic teens a voice

03/09/2018 - 11:24am
Father Louis Gasparini told young people they are an important part of the local and universal church. (Courtesy photo) Bilingual program aims to encourage a new generation of Catholics

Laura Diaz made the trip from Northern Kentucky to the University of Dayton.  Her reason was simple. “I’m hoping to find God and find a closer encounter with him,” Diaz said.

Diaz attends St. Henry District High School in Erlanger, Ky., and is a member of St. Leo the Great Parish in Cincinnati, and says she didn’t mind waking up early on a Saturday morning to drive up I-75 for a chance to learn about God and meet more teenagers her age. She was one of 70 high school students from Cincinnati, Kentucky, New Carlisle, Springfield, and Dayton who attended the second annual Youth Forum for Hispanic Catholics at the University of Dayton’s River Campus building in November.

UD began the Forum in 2016 to help Spanish-speaking teens in the region understand that they have a place an archdiocese with a largely European heritage. “Youth is critical for this time and place within Ohio,” said Liliana Montoya, director of Hispanic outreach for the Institute of Pastoral Initiatives at the university. “We believe that organizing an animated Catholic Hispanic youth movement enables our Catholic Hispanic teens to be a resilient cohort of missionary discipleship and leadership.”

Attendance more than doubled from the first Forum, Montoya said, and the positive responses from teens, parents, teachers, and people working in Hispanic ministry tells her the event is already having an important impact on young people. It’s presented in both English and Spanish, “which we’ve discovered is essential,” and is aimed at helping the teens “fortify their witness to the Catholic faith today.”

Father Louis Gasparini, director of Hispanic ministry for the archdiocese, led discussions and prayers. He told the teens they are an important part of the local and universal church. “For us to see a young church, you are the hope,” he said. “You have to teach us old folks with white hair how to live our faith today, and we need to respect that – God speaks to all of us.”

The teens did speak, not just in prayer, but also to each other, making new friends as well as learning more about their faith.

“I’m here to find a connection with God, to learn more about him,” said Agustin Godinez, from St. Charles in Lebanon, Ky. “It’s nice, I’m meeting a lot more people than I thought would be here.”

Yajaira Martinez, who attends Sacred Heart Church in Dayton, said, “I’m here to discover who I am, and make new friends. I hope to find out the true meaning of me.”

Students discussed their talents and potentials, talked about Jesus, learned some public speaking skills, and spoke candidly about their relationship with God. Some students from Saint Mary’s Parish in Dayton delivered their message through a play titled, “Who is Jesus?”

“The heart-warming testimonies of the young people here today deeply touched everybody,” Montoya said “Everything surpassed our expectations” – so much so that the university has added a spring four-week Forum course in March.

Titled “Faith in Abundance,” the course is sponsored by the UD Virtual Learning Community for Faith Formation and will be offered to youth and young adults on four Saturday evenings. It’s described as “an introduction to the deposit of faith, which they have inherited by their baptism, and which they are called to understand so that they can live illuminated by the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His church.”

     The youth and young adult faith formation class from the Hispanic Youth Forum will run Saturdays from March 3-24. 

Spring Hispanic Youth Forum “Faith in Abundance”
Foro Juvenil: “Fe en Abundancia”
Marzo 3,10,17, y 24, 8 am-5:30 pm
UD River Campus 
(1700 S. Patterson Blvd.)
(937) 229-2462 Liliana Montoya
(937) 624-9421 Mary Alice Ordonez
Este curso está disenando para jóvenes y adolescentes buscando entender los principos de la fe Católica. Es una introducción al depósito de fe que ellos han heredado a través de su bautismo; y al cual están llamados a entender para poder vivir a la luz del evangelio de Jesuscristo y su Iglesia.

Young people from around the region attended the fall Hispanic Youth Forum in Dayton. The first-ever “Foro Juvenil” class on living the Catholic faith for youth and young adults will be held there on four Saturdays this March at the University of Dayton’s River Campus. (Courtesy photo) Young people from around the region attended the fall Hispanic Youth Forum in Dayton. The first-ever “Foro Juvenil” class on living the Catholic faith for youth and young adults will be held there on four Saturdays this March at the University of Dayton’s River Campus. (Courtesy photo)

Fish Fry Report 3: Old St. Mary’s

03/09/2018 - 7:00am
The scene at Old St. Mary’s Fish Fry… just before the fish ran out. CT Photo/Gail Finke

Staffer Gail Finke headed to the Old St. Mary’s Bockfest fish fry — the historic parish’s only fish fry of the year — last Friday. Parishioners and Bockfest revelers packed the parking lot for almost two hours before the parade began, and until the fish ran out about an hour after the parade ended. “I’m really disappointed,” said a woman who had waited patiently in one of the long lines, only to have the fish run out just as she reached the tent and was about to order. “I really wanted to be German Catholic today and put more ‘Lent’ in my Lent.” (Click on photos in the gallery to enlarge).

Two fried fish dinners and a craft beer to split: A great start to Bockfest in Over-the-Rhine. CT Photo/Gail Finke

Sisters minister to intellectually disabled people, offer catechesis

03/08/2018 - 8:05pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy Daughters of St. Mary of Providence

By Joseph Albino

SYRACUSE. N.Y. (CNS) — In the nautical world, a “spar” is the straight pole used to support the sails and rigging of a ship.

In the world of faith and the ministry of the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence in the Syracuse Diocese, SPAR is the support offered to Catholics with intellectual disabilities to help them to recognize the presence of God in their daily lives and to act in light of the Gospel message.

The sisters’ Special Adult Religious Formation Program apostolate, better known as SPAR, operates in accordance with the Catholic Church’s teaching that “all baptized persons with disabilities have a right to adequate catechesis and deserve the means to develop a relationship with God.”

In Syracuse, the sisters concentrate on offering support for older teens and adults with intellectual disabilities who, when they were of school age, were not able to receive the sacraments of reconciliation, Eucharist and confirmation. They are offered a catechetical program designed with them in mind.

The foundation of the sisters’ apostolate is “respect for life and dignity of every human person,” according to the sisters’ Guanellian ethics code, named for the congregation’s co-founder, St. Louis (Luigi) Guanella.

“We hope to contribute to the good of every person who must be helped to live his or her life with conditions that require support, attention and care,” the code says. “The centrality of every human person continues over time and cultural changes in our world today.”

The Congregation of the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence traces its roots to 1881 when a group of young women in the community of Pianello del Lairo, near Como, Italy, wanted to pursue a ministry for needy individuals including those with disabilities. They rented a house, which they eventually were able to buy, and named it the Little House of Divine Providence and began an apostolate modeled on the Gospel example of the good Samaritan.

The house became known as “Noah’s Ark,” because the sisters took in orphans, young working women looking for a place to live, people living with epilepsy, the elderly and those living with intellectual disabilities, among others.

The Daughters of St. Mary of Providence came to the U.S. in 1913, arriving in Chicago. Being Italian themselves, the first sisters to arrive assisted Italian immigrants. They established a motherhouse in Chicago for the congregation’s U.S. province and opened a residential facility for intellectually disabled children.

The congregation has different missions in various countries, but in the U.S., the sisters made their primary concern caring for and teaching the faith to those with intellectual disabilities.

They also minister to the elderly in nursing homes and those in assisted living and independent living arrangements. Some of the sisters also may serve in parishes as teachers and directors of religious education programs and as extraordinary ministers of holy Communion to provide the Eucharist to the homebound. In years past, they taught in Catholic elementary schools.

After the order became established in Chicago, it spread to East Providence, Rhode Island; Syracuse, New York; Sleepy Eye, Minnesota; Milbank, South Dakota; and Elverson, Pennsylvania, where the sisters operate a retreat center. The U.S. province now encompasses Mexico and the Philippines. There are more than 500 sisters around the world.

The congregation has a male counterpart, the Servants of Charity, founded in 1908. Its priests and brothers pursue similar apostolates in various countries. In the United States, they serve in Chelsea, Michigan; Springfield, Pennsylvania; and Providence, Rhode Island.

The Daughters of St. Mary of Providence were invited to come to the Diocese of Syracuse at the invitation of the late Bishop James M. Moynihan because of a Holy Family Church parishioner, Mary Lou Coons, who was seeking a way to help the intellectually disabled, often praying before the Blessed Sacrament for an answer.

In answer to her prayers, she felt God led her to the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence. She communicated with them through emails and visits and then brought them to the attention of diocesan officials.

Three of the sisters have a home near Holy Family Church in Fairmount, a western suburb of Syracuse.

“It was because of her faith and perseverance in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament and her love for the intellectually disabled that Mary Lou Coons searched and found a community that served that category of persons,” said Sister Caryn Haas, one of the three sisters.

Sister Haas provides pastoral care for the homebound, which includes helping families prepare for the baptism of their children or for other sacraments through monthly classes. She also can make arrangements for the homebound to receive the Eucharist.

Another of the sisters, Sister Beth Ann Dillon, teaches religion at nearby Bishop Ludden High School and also is campus minister there. Another, Sister Arlene Riccio, schedules faith activities for people with intellectual disabilities on the first floor of the sisters’ residence, called the SPAR Center.

For those adults with intellectual disabilities who have received religious and sacramental education through their parishes, SPAR offers a continuing formation program once a month to help deepen the faith planted and grown in their families and parishes.

As the head of the SPAR apostolate, Sister Riccio strives to deepen the faith of those with intellectual disabilities whom she encounters in parishes in the greater Syracuse area.

In addition, for those individuals whose disabilities make classroom learning difficult, Sister Riccio offers small group or one-on-one sessions in a sacramental preparation program. The individuals with intellectual disabilities come to the meetings from a number of different parishes in the area as well as from group homes.

Individuals who live at home are invited regularly to monthly meetings at the SPAR center through a phone call or a mailed flier.

Classes may be held once a week for those individuals who are preparing to receive any of the Sacraments. Often, a sister will go to the home of a person with intellectual disabilities who may not be able to attend a regularly scheduled meeting because of transportation and/or health problems.

Sister Riccio’s other goals through the SPAR apostolate include going to group homes to teach general spirituality to residents who are Christian and to teach the Catholic faith to those who are Catholic. Another goal is to line up volunteers who could assist group home residents to go to a church of their choice for Sunday services.

Participants in SPAR programs have different levels of capability, ranging from needing just a little bit of help to needing to learn the difference between ordinary bread and the consecrated eucharistic bread for Communion.

Some need to be taught that reverence is called for at church. Those with intellectual disabilities can be prepared to receive the sacrament of reconciliation if they are able to tell right from wrong and know to confess committing an act that was wrong.

Catechetical materials Sister Riccio uses include the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Program, the recognized full curriculum for people with intellectual disabilities, and “Seasons of Grace,” which concentrates on the church’s seven sacraments. Loyola Press of Chicago also offers an adaptive religious education program in the faith and in the sacraments.

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Human Trafficking Part II: Labor victims

03/08/2018 - 2:44pm
The new face of slavery in Ohio

Part 2

Part two of a series on a pressing issue for our region, and on the Catholic response to it.

By Walt Schaefer

They pour across our southern borders from Mexico and Central and South America.

They come from India and Pakistan and Afghanistan. They are drawn from the Middle East. All search for a land of promise, if not the Promised Land.

Immigrants still seek the prosperity, freedom and liberty symbolized by that statue in New York Harbor. But, often enough, these people become victims of predators — human traffickers who trap them in their webs and force them into a modern-day form of slavery as vile as the one abolished in the 1860s.

Human trafficking, much like the viper it is, has two fangs: sex trafficking and labor trafficking. At times, they overlap.

“Labor trafficking, in general, would involve people on some sort of expired immigration status, here completely illegally or even here legally,” said Specialist Nate Young of the Cincinnati Police Vice Squad, responsible for investigating labor and sex trafficking crimes along with the FBI.

These victims are most often in service jobs such as restaurant workers, nail salon employees, crop pickers and domestics. “Locally, there is a large contingent of Hispanic workers that draws my attention,” Young said. These pickers can be working anywhere there are farms and crops ready for harvest.

Erin Meyer of End Slavery Cincinnati, an agency offering aid to human trafficking victims, said most labor trafficking victims are brought in from abroad, although poorer United States citizens are not exempt.

“Most of these victims are brought in through the (illegal trafficking) trade from other countries — many smuggled in” on the promise of a bright future, a well-paying job and comfortable life.

“It sometimes happens that someone is going to get a legal work permit visa to work in agriculture or domestic service,” Meyer said, “and they are tied to traffickers in the sense that the trafficker has control of the visa. Then the trafficker has the ability to use that as a threat” to exploit people in the country legally. Others come legally but overstay their visa, Meyer continued, and meet up with smugglers who traffick them with similar threats.

Those smuggled into the United States often pay the smuggler a hefty fee to get here: “It’s going to cost you $10,000 to cross the border and $20,000 more when you arrive,” Meyer said. “If you don’t have the money, [they say] ‘You can work it off at a sweatshop or at my uncle’s brothel.’

A Glaring Case

Perhaps the most glaring case in southwest Ohio involved Harold D’Souza and his family, who came here from India in 2003. They were caught in a trafficking web that saw D’Souza and his wife, Dancy, working 15-hour days at a Blue Ash restaurant while living in a tiny  apartment where their children, Rohan, then four, and brother, Bradly, then seven, slept on the floor. The restaurant has since closed.

Following the ordeal, in December 2015, President Barack Obama appointed D’Souza to the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking.

“I have a lot of education in human trafficking — particularly in Asian countries like India, Pakistan Nepal, and also in Mexico,” D’Souza said. “I teach about human trafficking in the community and I don’t want any innocent victim to be involved in human trafficking in the United States.”

“The victims lose their life; they lose their courage; they lose their hope, and they lose their faith. You would be surprised at the stories and be amazed. It happened to me in Cincinnati. It happens elsewhere. You go to a restaurant, and a victim is serving and nobody talks. You go to a gas station. It happens in motels and hotels.

“Profit is the motivation. The risk factor is very thin. If you talk to the law enforcement agencies, the perpetrators are not prosecuted. That is very common. There are so many loopholes where perpetrators can get away,” D’Souza said. The man who allegedly trafficked D’Souza’s family has never been prosecuted and walks the streets of Hamilton County today.

D’Souza eventually sought help from End Slavery Cincinnati and later was put in contact with agents of the FBI in 2007 — four years after his family’s ordeal began.

“By then, most of the evidence was gone, and many times law enforcement agencies are not very keen to prosecute. They make charges against perpetrators but nobody goes to jail,” D’Souza said.  “In my case, my perpetrator hired a guy to shoot me.

“I’m writing a book about human trafficking. I’m doing it because I want to do something good for my community. My parish has helped me. I have a lot of regard and respect for the community. There are a lot of community services out there and it was through the community agencies that I was able to get out. Law enforcement could not do it. We struggle to prosecute through the law enforcement agencies.

“The biggest issue is that nobody complains,” he said. “Victims don’t have the courage to stand up and allow their trafficker to be prosecuted. I went through so much suffering. I’m going to continue to fight for my wife and my children, but so many victims do not have the courage to go to the law enforcement agencies.

“People who deal in human trafficking are not considered criminal. The problem is the process is so slow the perpetrators are one step ahead of the game. They know how to traffic and they know how to get out of it,” D’Souza said.

“The victims are criminalized,” D’Souza said, explaining that his trafficker forced him to take out a large bank loan. The trafficker got the money and D’Souza, who said he was not allowed to make payments on the loan, got the debt. “I thought I was a criminal,” he said. “But when someone forces you to lose something, it doesn’t mean you’re a criminal.”

Empty Promises

The D’Souza family experience is heart-wrenching and it is hard to comprehend it happened here.

They trusted the man who promised them a better life in America. They were told a nice house, a lucrative restaurant job, and better lives for their children were waiting. Even the prospect of someday owning the restaurant was suggested.

They received nothing but empty promises. Their wages were withheld to “repay accrued debt,” their visas taken for “safe keeping,” and they were threatened with deportation by the trafficking restaurant owner if they sought help from law enforcement or agencies.

At one point, D’Souza’s life was threatened, but the shooter mistakenly focused on someone else. While the FBI investigation stalled for lack of evidence, End Slavery Cincinnati successfully placed the family in its trafficking assistance program. D’Souza did odd jobs and accepted assistance from area churches and other outreach organizations. Although an FBI complaint was filed, the investigation faltered because evidence was lost during the lengthy time span involved.

Today D’Souza today works at Children’s Hospital Medical Center. His family’s experience, he said, is not unique. “Most victims are humble, honest, and good human beings, and the perpetrator knows how to use that,” he said. “Traffickers are in it for the money. They live a good life, and they use people.”

A sad statistic: More than 25 labor trafficking complaints are reported in greater Cincinnati a month. The number is increasing.

Read part one of this series, on sex trafficking in Ohio, here.

The remaining stories in this series will cover police and charitable responses to the challenges of sex and labor trafficking.

The Trafficking Victims Assistance program run by Catholic Charities Southwestern Ohio helps victims of sex and labor trafficking and their famlies. Visit for help or to volunteer.



Area faith communities hold Lenten prayer service for unity, religious freedom

03/08/2018 - 12:56pm

Roman Catholics, Eastern Rite Catholics and Orthodox will gather together in prayer at an upcoming event organized by the One Church of Mercy Committee. The prayer service is scheduled for Saturday, March 10, at St. Anthony of Padua Maronite Catholic Church, 2530 Victory Pkwy., Cincinnati.

It begins with welcoming reception at 5:30 p.m., followed by the prayer service at 6:30.

The event is an effort to strengthen bonds and pray for persecuted Christians around the world. Presiders and choirs from the Roman, Maronite (Lebanese) and Syro-Malabar (Indian) Catholic Rites, as well as Orthodox tradition, will be present. The prayer service will be an appreciation of diverse yet complimentary rituals. This is the first year the committee has organized a prayer service of this nature. It was specifically planned during the season of Lent.

Parishes participating are St. Anthony of Padua and St. Ignatius of Antioch Maronite Catholic Churches, St. James Orthodox Church, St. Chavara Syro-Malabar Catholic Church and Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Roman Catholic Church, as well as the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

More information about the One Church of Mercy Committee can be found at

Jeanne Hunt for March: Stressed? Give God your worries

03/08/2018 - 11:29am

Do you take things back from God?  You know what I mean: you are praying your heart out for your son who struggles in school, you turn your troubled marriage over to God again and again, you lift up the chaos on the streets…only to grab it all right back and try to play God. It seems to me that is what got Adam and Eve off track, too. We ultimately wind up “taking it back.” So what can we do to mean it when we turn our lives and our problems over to God?

Don’t think for a minute that you are the only one who suffers from taking your worries back. Yet, we feel ashamed of the fact that our faith is so weak that we can’t even believe for an hour that God will take care of our needs. The problem lies in choosing to take back control of the things we turned over, choosing to take care of ourselves without God’s help, figuring out our own way when we initially asked God for direction. These choices cause us to reject God’s help and take back what we have surrendered to God.

When we leave God out of our life equation we feel overburdened, overwhelmed and frustrated. Every day we must decide who is going to be in control of our lives.  That choice is an ongoing battle. We all have a list of stuff we want to control. We want to make our own rules. Sometimes God’s rules are too tough. He may ask us to eliminate an unhealthy relationship or get real about the consequences of our lifestyle. The bottom line is that the only way to ease our anxiety is to let go of control and know that God is the divine fixer. We must let go and know that God is God in our life. We say, “God, I’m letting go of my tight grip and allowing you to be in control, because only you can repair my damage.” Listen to Psalm 46:10: “Let go of your concerns! Then you will know that I am God…”

The biggest reason we are under stress is because we are in conflict with God. We are trying to control things only God can control. We cannot control our spouse, our kids, our job, our future or our past or any of those things. The more we do it, the more we are trying to play God.
We are not only going to fail miserably but we are going to be exhausted.

The way to begin to give something to God and leave it there is to trust God to care for us. So, how do we build up our trust level in the Almighty?  We start be seriously believing that God loves us. In all our relationships, we learn to trust the people that love us. Knowing we are loved is the key to opening the door of trust. So, begin by asking God to reveal His love for you. Pray that you will know and feel God’s magnificent, overwhelming love. Next, spend some time learning about God’s promises to us. If we don’t know that God promises to supply all our needs, we can’t sign the contract. Read Philippians 4:19 and take it to heart.

Finally, name and give to God your worries. Don’t allow these worries to drift in and out of your mind.  Once we put our cards on God’s table by naming those things that keep us awake at night, they can no longer control us. Once we name it, it is time to release it to God. We know God promises to care of us. Ask God if there is anything we need to do and leave the rest to God. If you are anything like me, you may need to release it again… and again. I can’t promise any of us will have immediate success in letting God be God in our lives. What is essential is that we start trying. God will take it from there.

Jeanne Hunt is a nationally recognized author and catechetical leader.

Miracles attributed to Pope Paul VI, Romero clear way for sainthood

03/07/2018 - 2:33pm

IMAGE: CNS photos/files/Octavio Duran

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis has cleared the way for the canonizations of Blesseds Paul VI and Oscar Romero.

At a meeting March 6 with Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, Pope Francis signed decrees for the causes of 13 men and women — among them a pope, an archbishop, two young laywomen and a number of priests and nuns.

He recognized a miracle attributed to Blessed Paul, who, according Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, will be declared a saint in late October at the end of the Synod of Bishops on youth and discernment. Blessed Paul, who was born Giovanni Battista Montini, was pope from 1963 to 1978.

Pope Francis also formally signed the decree recognizing the miracle needed to advance the sainthood cause of Archbishop Romero of San Salvador, martyr.

El Salvador’s ambassador to the Holy See, Manuel Roberto Lopez, told Catholic News Service March 7 that the news of the pope’s approval “took us by surprise.”

“They told us before that the process was going well and that all we needed was the approval of the miracle, and it turns out the pope approved it yesterday,” he said.

Lopez told CNS that he was happy that Blessed Oscar Romero’s canonization was imminent and that his holiness was recognized alongside one of his earliest supporters.

“To see that he will be canonized along with (Blessed) Paul VI, who was a great friend of Archbishop Romero and supported his work, is a great blessing,” Lopez said.

The Vatican did not announce a date for Blessed Romero’s canonization.

The pope also recognized the miracles needed for the canonization of: Father Francesco Spinelli of Italy, founder of the Sisters Adorers of the Blessed Sacrament; Father Vincenzo Romano of Italy; and Mother Maria Katharina Kasper, founder of the religious congregation, the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ.

He recognized the miracle needed for the beatification of Maria Felicia Guggiari Echeverria, a Discalced Carmelite from Paraguay whom Pope Francis has upheld as a model for the youth of Paraguay. Affectionately called, “Chiquitunga,” she died from an unexpected illness in 1959 at the age of 34 before she could make her final vows.

The pope also recognized the martyrdom of a 16-year-old laywoman from Slovakia. Anna Kolesarova, who lived from 1928 to 1944 in the eastern town of Pavlovce, was murdered during Slovakia’s occupation by the Soviet army in World War II after refusing sexual favors to a Russian soldier.

In causes just beginning their way toward sainthood, the pope signed decrees recognizing the heroic virtues of Polish Redemptorist Father Bernard Lubienski, who entered the congregation in England and then returned to Poland to re-found the Redemptorists there in the 20th century, and Sandra Sabattini, a young Italian lay woman who was active in helping the poor with the Pope John XXIII Community. She was hit by a car and died in 1984 at the age of 22.

The pope also recognized the heroic virtues of Antonio Pietro Cortinovis of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin (1885-1984) and three Italian women — two who founded religious orders and a laywoman who founded a lay fraternity.

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Junno Arocho Esteves in Rome also contributed to this story.


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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

The Catholic Telegraph Bucket List for March

03/07/2018 - 12:18pm

This month’s Bucket List takes you to three places during Holy Week, for Palm Sunday, Holy Week Tuesday, and Good Friday, all of them traditions for more than a century:

  • Pray the steps at Mount Adams – 175+ years
  • Palm Sunday dinner at Sacred Heart Church – 100+ years
  • Cathedral Chrism Mass – a tradition since the early church
Do: Palm Sunday Dinner at Sacred Heart

Sacred Heart – Camp Washington
2733 Massachusetts Ave.
Cincinnati, Ohio 45225
(513) 541-4654

Recommended by “Telegraph” staffer Gail Finke. Cooked by members of the parish, and of many Italian societies, from authentic recipes brought to Cincinnati by Italian Catholics, the fall and Palm Sunday Italian Dinners have been a  regional tradition for more than 100 years. People begin lining up before dawn for take-out sauce, ravioli, and meatballs.

The 107th Sacred Heart Palm Sunday Dinner
Sit-down dinners: noon-4 p.m.
Carryout sales begin at 10 a.m.
Palm Sunday Masses:
9 a.m. (English), 11 a.m. (Latin, Extraordinary Form)


Worship: Chrism

Mass at the Cathedral

Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains
325 W. 8th Street
Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
(513) 421-5354

Recommended by: Anne Marie Reames and Glenmary staffer John Stegeman, who said: “Beautiful liturgy. Optional followup: My family tradition was to go to Skyline after!” Every cathedral celebrates an annual Chrism Mass, where the bishop blesses the three oils used in anointings for the coming year.

Nearly every pastor of every parish attends to receive the oils for his church, and many other priests attend with them, because this solemn and joyful Mass also celebrates priesthood.

All the priests renew the promises they made at ordination, and the people promise to pray for them and for their bishops. During the blessing of the oils, the bishop breathes on the chrism (a special, scented oil) to recall Christ breathing on His disciples and sending forth the Holy Spirit.

This year’s Archdiocese of Cincinnati Chrism Mass will be at 7 p.m. on March 27.

Go: “Pray the Steps” on Good Friday

Holy Cross-Immaculata
30 Guido Street
Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
(513) 721-6544

Recommended by: many, including former St. Ursula Academy Principal Judy O’Donnell. In the mid-1800s, Archbishop Purcell asked Catholics to pray for his plan to build a shrine to the Virgin Mary on Mt. Adams. People began praying on the hillside while the church was being built and, after 1859, gathering to pray on its original steps. Eventually the custom developed into a Good Friday observance, and for many decades, people have come from around the region to walk up the steps, praying the rosary or other prayers.

Bishop Joseph R. Binzer will bless the steps at one minute after midnight, March 30. The church will be open for confession all day, and for prayer until midnight. Good Friday services will be held at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., and the parish offers hungry pilgrims coffee and donuts from 6 a.m.-1 p.m., pizza and Kona Ice throughout the day, and a fish fry from 3 p.m-7 p.m.

Purcell Marian High School mourns loss of one of its own

03/07/2018 - 12:08pm

While the Cincinnati Police investigation continues into the Evanston deadly schooling death of 17-year-old Gregory Thompson Jr., Purcell Marian High School continues to mourn his loss.

Thompson, son of Dionne Partee, principal at St. Joseph Catholic Elementary School, West End, was shot and killed at his grandmother’s Wabash Avenue home Friday evening, Cincinnati Police said.

The Purcell Marian High School junior was shot at about 6:45 p.m. and found dead inside the home. Principal Andy Farfsing said Thompson was lost to “senseless gun violence” which occurred in the front yard of the house. Cincinnati Police Homicide Detectives were investigating. No arrests had been made as of Tuesday.

In a video available on the school website, Farfsing said, “it’s important for everybody to know Greg had a very positive impact on everyone at Purcell Marian. Greg has only been with us for a year.” The victim “made positive and lasting relationships with teachers and staff.

“He was a fantastic young man; … who made fantastic relationships with so many during his time here. I’m going to miss Greg tremendously as we’re going forward.

“As a Cavalier community, we really value the family relationship we have … and one of our brothers is gone and we will mourn him and celebrate his life and together we will make it through this time, grow stronger in who we are… So, from one Cavalier to another, and with a very heavy heart: Together, onward Cavaliers.”

Police were seeking two cars in relation to the homicide: a gold or brown Honda Accord and an older model black Lexus being driven by a man in a black ski mask.

Officials said Thompson spent his freshman year at Roger Bacon High School before moving to Louisville with his father. He played football at Roger Bacon and was named that year’s MVP. He enrolled at Purcell Marian over the summer.

Purcell Marian, is a co-educational Catholic school of 342 students is in East Walnut Hills. Grief counselors have been on campus providing care to students coming to grips with the loss of a popular classmate and friend.

Thompson’s great-uncle, Father Bill Cross, a priest of the archdiocese, was Purcell Marian chaplain for many years.

Thompson is the second Purcell Marian student to be shot in recent years. In April 2015, Kelsie Crow, 17, was hit by a stray bullet outside the Melrose YMCA in Walnut Hills. Rico Mosley was arrested and charged with her murder, but was later acquitted by a jury of all charges.

Note: On Tuesday, March 6, 2018 on a very emotional evening for the Purcell Marian Community, The Cavaliers defeated the Anna Rockets  78-65 to capture the Division III Ohio Basketball Tournament.