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Eleven Admitted to Candidacy for Holy Orders

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

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

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

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

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

Those approved are:

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

Archdiocese of Louisville:
Willard Robert Hale

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

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

Today’s Video: St. John of the Cross

12/14/2017 - 7:25am

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

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

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

12/13/2017 - 4:17pm

By Junno Arocho Esteves

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

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

12/13/2017 - 1:55pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tony Gentile, Reuters

By Carol Glatz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

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

12/13/2017 - 1:24pm

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

Today’s video looks at her life

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

12/12/2017 - 7:10pm

By Junno Arocho Esteves

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

 

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Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Event Alert: Free Concert Kevin Heider Live at Synod Hall

12/12/2017 - 7:08pm

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

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

Blessed Oscar Romero continues to inspire listeners through radio

12/12/2017 - 4:00pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Melissa Vida

By Melissa Vida

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Most radio volunteers are millennials.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Today’s Video: Our Lady of Guadalupe

12/12/2017 - 3:21pm

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

Washington Archdiocese considers next step in lawsuit over transit ad

12/11/2017 - 9:27pm

By

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Archdiocese of Washington was weighing its options after a federal judge denied a request for an emergency injunction over the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s advertising guidelines.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson Dec. 8 denied the archdiocese’s request that WMATA be required to post an ad promoting its annual “Find the Perfect Gift” initiative for the Advent season.

Transit authority officials had denied the ad based on 2015 policies that ban ads “that promote or oppose any religion, religious practice or belief.”

“We are disappointed that the federal court denied our emergency request for an injunction to run our ‘Find the Perfect Gift’ Advent campaign,” Ed McFadden, the archdiocese’s secretary for communications, said in a statement Dec. 9.

“While this preliminary ruling that there should be no room made for us on WMATA buses is disappointing, we will continue in the coming days to pursue and defend our right to share the important message of Christmas in the public square,” the statement said.

Berman found that while buses are controlled by a government agency, the authority’s rules likely are legal and reasonable because WMATA’s restrictions are not based on whether the agency opposes the advertiser’s particular views.

The archdiocese contended WMATA’s policy that “prohibits all noncommercial advertising, including any speech that purportedly promotes a religion, religious practice or belief,” is a violation of the free speech and free exercise of religion clauses of the First Amendment and a violation of the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment.

The WMATA’s prohibition, the archdiocese contends, “violates the free speech rights of the archdiocese because the prohibition creates an unreasonable and disproportionate burden on the exercise of the archdiocese’s speech without any legitimate justification.”

The archdiocese has in previous years advertised on WMATA’s public buses. Up until 2015, the archdiocese purchased WMATA space for ads that, according to the lawsuit, “were explicitly religious in character.”

“These advertisements included a campaign highlighting the importance of the sacrament of reconciliation during the liturgical season of Lent. This campaign, ‘The Light Is on for You,’ was remarkably successful for the archdiocese — and lucrative for WMATA — with advertisements on the backs of 85 buses throughout the metropolitan area.”

The rejected ads highlight the archdiocese’s annual “Find the Perfect Gift” campaign, which refers viewers to the FindThePerfectGift.org website that includes Mass schedules, reflections on the meaning of Advent and Christmas, religious holiday traditions and opportunities for charitable service. The image is a silhouette of shepherds and sheep standing on a hill.

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Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Christian vocation is to serve life, health, pope says in message

12/11/2017 - 5:30pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/John E. Kozar, CNEWA

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Catholic Church’s care for the sick, especially through Catholic-run hospitals, is an antidote to “the business mentality that is seeking worldwide to turn health care into a profit-making enterprise,” Pope Francis said.

In his message for World Day of the Sick, Feb. 11, the pope urged Catholics individually and as a community to continue to provide loving care for the sick.

The church marks the day each year on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, and Pope Francis’ message for 2018 had a strong Marian focus, emphasizing the church’s maternal mission to provide for the spiritual and physical needs of all people.

“May our prayers to the Mother of God see us united in an incessant plea that every member of the church may live with love the vocation to serve life and health,” he prayed.

The church’s motherly concern for the sick has been clear throughout its history and continues today, the pope said. “In countries where adequate public health care systems exist, the work of Catholic religious congregations and dioceses and their hospitals is aimed not only at providing quality medical care, but also at putting the human person at the center of the healing process, while carrying out scientific research with full respect for life and for Christian moral values.”

Perhaps more heroically, he said, “in countries where health care systems are inadequate or non-existent, the church seeks to do what she can to improve health, eliminate infant mortality and combat widespread disease.”

“The image of the church as a ‘field hospital’ that welcomes all those wounded by life is a very concrete reality, for in some parts of the world, missionary and diocesan hospitals are the only institutions providing necessary care to the population,” he noted.

In rich and poor countries alike, he said, the church focuses on caring for the sick even when a cure is not possible.

Pope Francis urged Catholic health care institutions and individual doctors, nurses and staff members to remember the church’s tradition of generous care for the sick and renew their commitment to continuing that kind of loving service.

But especially on the World Day of the Sick, he said, “we cannot forget the tender love and perseverance of many families in caring for their chronically sick or severely disabled children, parents and relatives. The care given within families is an extraordinary witness of love for the human person; it needs to be fittingly acknowledged and supported by suitable policies.”

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Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Breaking News: Father Alex McCullough Pastor of Winton Wyoming Pastoral Region February 1, 2018

12/11/2017 - 5:23pm
Father Alex McCullough returns to the altar after distributing Holy Communion. (CT Photo/John Stegeman)

It was announced that Father Alex McClullough, who was ordained in 2016, has been named to be Pastor of the Winton Wyoming Pastoral Region: St. James Wyoming, Our Lady of the Rosary Greenhills, and St. Matthias Parishes.

Parishioners watch Father Kyle Schnippel debut on tv cooking competition

12/11/2017 - 4:52pm
The crowd turned its attention to watching the debut of Father Kyle Schippel in the Great American Baking Show. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)The crowd turned its attention to watching the debut of Father Kyle Schippel in the Great American Baking Show. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)

More than 100 people gathered at St. John Neumann Church in Pleasant Run Farms to watch their pastor, Father Kyle Schnippel, compete in “The Great American Cooking Show” Thursday.

Spoiler alert: He isn’t going to win. At the end of the second episode (two are aired each Thursday for three weeks; last week’s episodes were the first two), Father Schnippel went home.

But for parishioners, friends, and coworkers, just seeing the former vocations director for the archdiocese on television was a thrill. And eating some of the treats he prepared for the show was a bonus.

People gathered in the hall, decorated to look like a Tuscan villa with murals and faux painting, an hour ahead of the watch party to hear Father Schnippel answer questions about the show and sample the food. He commented throughout the programs – participants weren’t given previews, so he was as surprised as the rest of the room to hear himself mentioned as a candidate to leave at the end of the first episode – and answered questions at the breaks.

For instance, though the judges’ comments on each bake take only a few minutes on the show, they lasted much longer and each baker got a thorough critique. “I’m kind of glad they didn’t air all the things they told me,” he said.

The crowd clapped and cheered every time Father Schnippel appeared, and laughed when he made faces of alarm or exasperation. When the show ran a clip of Father Kyle at Mass, saying, “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” everyone answered back, “amen.” When television Father Schnippel continued with, “the Lord be with you,” everyone in the room answered with a genial “and with your spirit.”

Judging from the reaction on social media, not just in the room, Father Schnippel’s appearance was a hit with viewers, even if his “bakes” weren’t top with the judges. His ambitious attempts at the show’s requisite “show stopper” bakes, his sunny personality, and his offering encouragement to the other bakers (for those who have never watched: it’s an encouraging kind of show) were all mentioned by viewers.

And the judges liked him too. “We absolutely loved having Father Kyle in the tent,” said judge Johnny Iuzzini, at the end of the second show. “He was such a joy to speak to. He was so interested in becoming a better baker. He just never found his way to a perfect bake.”

Watching the judges critique Father Scnhippel and the other contestants wasn’t easy for everyone. His former coworker Wayne Topp, who is assistant director of the Vocations Office, said he couldn’t imagine baking under the cameras, with judges watching and the time clock running. “I went to culinary school for a while, and I took a pastry class,” he said. “When they gave us an assignment to cook, I was losing my mind! And I wasn’t trying to do all the elaborate things they are.”

Local fans of cooking priests have no reason for despair: During the party, Father Shnippel announced that he and Father Leo Patalinghug, a cooking priest and television host who once beat “Iron Chef” Bobby Flay on a Food Network cooking show, will have a cookoff at the parish on January 20.

And local fans of “The Great American Baking Show” have no reason for despair either: Cincinnatian Jessie Salzbrun is still on the show and still has a chance to win baking glory. Father Schnippel’s parishes will continue their watch parties, and you can watch at home on ABC.

Watch the first two episodes online at ABC.go, where you can also find two recipes from last Thursday (including Jessie Salzbrun’s champion cake recipe). Watch the next four episodes at 9 p.m. Dec. 14 and 21 on ABC.

Father Kyle receiving text well-wishers prior to The Great American Baking Show. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Father Kyle receiving text well-wishers prior to The Great American Baking Show. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Gifts of butter was popular at the viewing party of The Great American Baking Show. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Gifts of butter was popular at the viewing party of The Great American Baking Show. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Some of the artistry in food by Father Kyle (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Some of the artistry in food by Father Kyle (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Guests awaiting the start of Episode 1 in The Great American Baking Show 2017 (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Guests awaiting the start of Episode 1 in The Great American Baking Show 2017 (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Lots of smiles and friendship at the viewing party. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Lots of smiles and friendship at the viewing party. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Father Kyle Schnippel giving the viewing party participants a primer before the show. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Father Kyle Schnippel giving the viewing party participants a primer before the show. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) More cooking classics by Father Kyle (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)More cooking classics by Father Kyle (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Guests enjoy the Father Kyle's specialties. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Guests enjoy the Father Kyle’s specialties. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) From left to right, Father Thomas McCarthy, Father Tom Wray, and Father Jason Bedel at the viewing party. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)From left to right, Father Thomas McCarthy, Father Tom Wray, and Father Jason Bedel at the viewing party. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) A scrumptious cake awaits the viewing party gatherers. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)A scrumptious cake awaits the viewing party gatherers. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) It begins! Father Kyle Schnippel on ABC's Great American Baking Show! (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)It begins! Father Kyle Schnippel on ABC’s Great American Baking Show! (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Being introduced on the Great American Baking Show. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Being introduced on the Great American Baking Show. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Whether in Great Britain or St. John Neumann parish in Cincinnati, Father Kyle enjoys baking. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Whether in Great Britain or St. John Neumann parish in Cincinnati, Father Kyle enjoys baking. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Though he was on The Great American Baking Show, Father Kyle watches with those gathered the outcome in the first episode. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Though he was on The Great American Baking Show, Father Kyle watches with those gathered the outcome in the first episode. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) A fun few seconds on The Great American Baking Show 2017. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)A fun few seconds on The Great American Baking Show 2017. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Enjoying the watch party at St. John Neumann (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Enjoying the watch party at St. John Neumann (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) From the Vocations Office, Wayne Topp watches the former Director of the Vocations Office. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)From the Vocations Office, Wayne Topp watches the former Director of the Vocations Office. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) The Great American Baking Show with Father Kyle Schnippel on ABC (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)The Great American Baking Show with Father Kyle Schnippel on ABC (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)

‘Crowning jewel’ of national shrine — Trinity Dome Mosaic — dedicated

12/11/2017 - 3:39pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

By Carol Zimmermann

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The overflowing congregation at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception hardly needed reminding to raise their “eyes to the heavens” during a dedication of the Trinity Dome Mosaic Dec. 8.

Before Mass began, all eyes were already on the newly completed gold dome above the front central section of the Upper Church.

When it was blessed during Mass, incense rose above the congregation and bright lights were turned on to give a better view of the newly finished dome that includes the words of the Nicene Creed encircling the base and a depiction of the Holy Trinity, Mary, the four Evangelists, angels and more than a dozen saints connected to the United States or the shrine.

During the blessing and before and after Mass, phones and cameras were held aloft to capture the completed work more than two years in the making. But it would take more than a few pictures to capture the details in this majestic work of art described as the “crowning jewel” of the national shrine during introductory remarks by Msgr. Walter Rossi, the rector.

The dome mosaic is composed of more than 14 million pieces of Venetian glass covering more than 18,300 square feet of the dome’s surface. Its completion marks the final step in finishing the work of the Upper Church that began in 1955.

The dome was dedicated, fittingly, on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, reflecting the basilica’s namesake. The dedication Mass was celebrated by Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl and Cardinal Kevin J. Farrell, prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life, who was named by Pope Francis to be his special envoy at the dedication Mass.

Other cardinals concelebrating the Mass included Cardinals Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington and Justin Rigali, retired archbishop of Philadelphia, along with Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. They were joined by more than two dozen bishops and 90 priests.

Cardinal Wuerl pointed out in his homily that the mosaic tiles in the dome are symbolic of the living body of Christ regularly filling the pews of the shrine and reflecting the church’s diversity.

He urged the congregation of families, women religious, students and people of all ages and ethnic backgrounds who filled the pews, the side chapels and stood in the back at the dedication Mass to always look to this “great majestic dome mindful of our prayer to Mary” and ask for her intercession.

He said Mary is the model of “what our faith should be” because she believed that nothing was impossible with God.

The cardinal said he remembered coming to the shrine when he was a student at The Catholic University of America in the 1960s when the walls were simply brick except for the mosaic image of the Risen Christ at the front of the church.

He also noted that the completion of the dome finishes a work that began nearly 100 years ago when the shrine’s cornerstone was placed in 1920.

As construction began on the National Shrine, as it was then called, Catholics across the country were invited to contribute however they could. Some donated pieces of gold jewelry and even precious stones, the cardinal said, which were fashioned into what came to be known as the “first chalice of the National Shrine” and was used at the Dec. 8 mosaic dedication.

When Pope Francis was at the shrine in 2015 to celebrate Mass and canonize St. Junipero Serra, he also blessed a piece of the mosaic: the words for the beginning and end of the Nicene Creed: “I believe in one God” and “Amen.”

At the end of the dedication Mass, Msgr. Rossi thanked the artists and workers, some of whom were seated at the front of the church, for their work on the mosaic, which was done in Italy and shipped in 30,000 sections weighing 24 tons. He pointed out that no one was injured and no damages occurred in the installation.

He also thanked the many donors who contributed to the dome work and gave to the shrine’s one-time national collection for the project on Mother’s Day.

“This crowning jewel of Mary’s shrine is really your work, your gift to the Blessed Mother,” he said.

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Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim.

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Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

A picture says a thousand words: Joy at the University of Dayton

12/11/2017 - 2:11pm

As a beautiful sunset occurred at the University of Dayton, the great spirit of Joy could be found on campus for the annual “Christmas at UD.”

UD's Immaculate Conception Chapel at sunset for Christmas at UD. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)UD’s Immaculate Conception Chapel at sunset for Christmas at UD. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) In the gloaming, joy was spread throughout the UD Campus (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)In the gloaming, joy was spread throughout the UD Campus (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Festive carols sung awaiting the lighting of the Christmas Tree (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Festive carols sung awaiting the lighting of the Christmas Tree (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) The Joy of Christmas in the wonderful voices of children. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)The Joy of Christmas in the wonderful voices of children. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Children in the joy of Christmas (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Children in the joy of Christmas (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) The story of the birth of our Savior, the manger awaits. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)The story of the birth of our Savior, the manger awaits. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) A glorious sunset was the setting for Christmas at UD (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)A glorious sunset was the setting for Christmas at UD (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Awaiting the lighting of the Christmas Tree (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Awaiting the lighting of the Christmas Tree (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Excitement, Joy, Anticipation for Christmas at UD (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Excitement, Joy, Anticipation for Christmas at UD (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Checking out what's in the bag (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Checking out what’s in the bag (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Perhaps a future UD Flyer enjoying the fun. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Perhaps a future UD Flyer enjoying the fun. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Having fun at Christmas at UD (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Having fun at Christmas at UD (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) 6-7) (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son.She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:6-7) (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)  9) CT Photo/Greg Hartman)And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. (Matthew 2: 9) CT Photo/Greg Hartman)  8-9) (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear. (Luke 2: 8-9) (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) University of Dayton President Eric Spina, awaits the lighting of the 2017 Christmas Tree. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)University of Dayton President Eric Spina, awaits the lighting of the 2017 Christmas Tree. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree, How faithful are thy branches. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree, How faithful are thy branches. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Flyer spirit was evident for Christmas at UD (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Flyer spirit was evident for Christmas at UD (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Portraying Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Portraying Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) UD Band lines up for entertainment beneath the Christmas Tree. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)UD Band lines up for entertainment beneath the Christmas Tree. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) On a cold December night, UD Band warms the hearts with a Christmas Medley (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)On a cold December night, UD Band warms the hearts with a Christmas Medley (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Nothing better on a cold night than hot chocolate. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Nothing better on a cold night than hot chocolate. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) A popular place to be on campus, hot chocolate and service with smiles! (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)A popular place to be on campus, hot chocolate and service with smiles! (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Stoic William Shakespeare look on in the Joy of Christmas at UD (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Stoic William Shakespeare look on in the Joy of Christmas at UD (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) The University of Dayton's Immaculate Conception Chapel in all its glory (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)The University of Dayton’s Immaculate Conception Chapel in all its glory (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) The bell tower at UD's Immaculate Conception Chapel stands vigil over Christmas at UD (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)The bell tower at UD’s Immaculate Conception Chapel stands vigil over Christmas at UD (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)

School Logo, Colors, Mascot and Tagline Unveiled for the new Mercy McAuley High School

12/11/2017 - 11:25am

Cincinnati – Today, in a joint pep assembly of all students, faculty and staff from both McAuley and Mother of Mercy High Schools, the school colors, mascot, logo and tagline were revealed for the new Mercy McAuley High School, which opens in August of 2018. The new school’s official colors are orange, white and gray, with orange serving as the primary color. The school’s mascot is the wolf. The new school’s logo is shown above, and the school tagline is: Opening Hearts. Opening Minds. Opening Doors. Please see the one-page “Identity Essentials” document attached for an explanation of why these branding elements were chosen.

The Mercy McAuley Transition Committee partnered with Madison Design, a local branding agency based in Covington, Kentucky. Madison Design Co-Founder Jackie Roberto, a Mother of Mercy alumna, led the Mercy McAuley Transition Committee through a comprehensive process that began with extensive research and input from students, parents, faculty/staff, and alumnae from both school communities, along with prospective students and families as well as grade school principals. Both qualitative and quantitative research was conducted, along with a comprehensive competitive analysis. All of the data received helped the team develop the brand position and ultimately, the visual expression of the brand – logo, colors, mascot and tagline.

“We are confident that the brand effectively reflects the Mercy Charism and represents who we are, who we serve, and how we are different from other schools. We believe these branding elements will position Mercy McAuley for success for many years to come,” said Tom Otten, Chair of the Mercy McAuley Transition Committee. “We are grateful to Jackie Roberto and her team of branding experts at Madison Design for leading us through a very thorough and systematic approach to Mercy McAuley’s brand development, and we thank the many individuals who provided valuable input and feedback throughout the process.”

“The new school will be an amazing growth opportunity for young women,” said Jackie Roberto, Co-Founder, Madison Design. “Therefore, it needs a bold, innovative and unique identity to strategically communicate the essence of the Mercy McAuley education experience.”

Mercy McAuley High School, a new all-girls Catholic school sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, will open in August of 2018 at 6000 Oakwood Avenue in College Hill. The new school will bring together the best of two outstanding schools – McAuley High School and Mother of Mercy High School – taking their already strong academic, athletic and arts programs to even greater heights. Mercy McAuley High School will be led by Patty Ragio, President, and Connie Kampschmidt, Principal. For more information about Mercy McAuley High School, visit http://www.mcauleyhs.net or www.motherofmercy.org.

Update: Fundraising starts to aid victims of Southern California fires

12/08/2017 - 8:53pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/David McNew, Reuters

By

LOS ANGELES (CNS) — The Archdiocese of Los Angeles has started a fund for victims of the wildfires that have raced through the archdiocese and were threatening to spread to locations in the nearby Orange and San Diego dioceses.

“Friends, as the wildfires continue, the needs of our neighbors continue to increase,” said Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles on the archdiocesan webpage that hosts the fundraising campaign, https://tinyurl.com/yaa4qlu2.

“In this season of giving, let us open our heart to our brothers and sisters in need,” he added. “Let us keep praying for an end to the fires and let us keep praying for the safety of our police, fire and emergency workers — and all those who are in harm’s way.”

In a Dec. 8 statement from Washington, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, asked prayers for all those in danger, “both those whose homes are in the fire’s path and those courageous first responders and firefighters who are putting their lives at risk.”

The wildfires, which have stubbornly resisted most efforts to be reined in by firefighters, have hit Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties in the archdiocese.

This is the second set of wildfires to have hit California this fall. Wildfires burned thousands of acres in the Sonoma and Napa areas in the northern part of the state in October, killing 31, scorching more than 128,000 acres and causing an estimated $3 billion-$6 billion in damage.

The Southern California series of wildfires had passed the 150,000-acre mark within four days of their starting Dec. 4. As of the morning of Dec. 8 local time, no fatalities had been reported despite the density of population in the region.

Four counties have already declared a state of emergency.

Archbishop Gomez on Dec. 5 called for prayers for the well-being of families, firefighters and rescue workers “facing devastating fires and high winds” in the wildfires.

“May God keep them all safe and put an end to these fires!” the archbishop said in a message sent via social media channels and posted on the archdiocesan news site, angelusnews.com.

On Twitter, Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Robert E. Barron said the fires in Ventura County, which is in his pastoral region, had alone forced 30,000 people to evacuate.

“Join me in praying for all the evacuees, firefighters, officials, and everyone helping to subdue the flames,” he tweeted. About 1,000 firefighters were working to contain the wind-driven flames.

Called the Thomas Fire, it is the biggest of the wildfires being stoked by dry conditions and high winds. Among the evacuees in Ventura County were students and faculty at Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula.

In a message posted on its website and on Twitter, the Catholic college expressed “deep gratitude for the prayers of its many friends and for the heroic firefighters who battled all of Monday night (Dec. 4) to protect the Santa Paula campus.”

The college canceled classes for the rest of the week as roads had been closed and power was out in some communities. “The college is hopeful that it will reopen in time for final exams next week,” the college said in a Dec. 5 statement.

Students from California who had transportation were considering returning home for the time being; others planned to remain at the homes of local friends and faculty.

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Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Trinity student studies, works to create her preferred future

12/08/2017 - 5:13pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

By Mark Pattison

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Daniela doesn’t remember much about coming to the United States from her native El Salvador with her parents when she was 3 years old. 

“The only thing I remember is the dress I wore when I got on the plane,” she said.

Daniela, now 19, is a sophomore at Trinity Washington University. Her college costs are paid for in large part by a scholarship from “TheDream.US” fund. She is one of about 100 “Dreamers” enrolled at the Catholic college, which is women-only for its undergraduate studies but admits men to its graduate programs.

She hasn’t declared it yet, but Daniela, who asked that her last name not be used for this story, wants to be a double major — one of those majors being in education.

“But I can’t see myself teaching elementary school my whole life,” she told Catholic News Service in a Dec. 5 interview. For her, that means graduate and post-graduate studies, so she can be a college professor “and do my own research.”

Dec. 5 was the same day that Dreamers descended upon Capitol Hill for a workshop and to lobby members of Congress to pass a “clean” DREAM Act.

DREAM is an acronym for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors, which would create a path to citizenship for those, like Daniela, who have been protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA.

The clean part of the DREAM bill? No amendments that would lessen the bill’s impact or make it problematic, at best, to pass. Congress needs to take such action to preserve DACA after the Trump administration announced the program will end in March.

“I know they (opponents) want border security” to be included in any bill, Daniela said. Doing so, she added, would harm her parents, who also are from El Salvador. Since she and her parents arrived in the United States, Daniela now has a baby brother and baby sister — both of whom are U.S. citizens.

Daniela described an uneventful childhood growing up in a close-in suburb of Washington. She recalled that when she was in middle school, her parents would tell her, “Don’t worry, we’ll be here for you.” She said she never quite understood at the time what they meant, since they had always been there to begin with.

The first time Daniela said she started feeling different from everyone else as an immigrant without legal documents to be in the country was as a high school junior. That’s when she started researching colleges and scholarship availability, only to learn that most scholarships required the student to be either a U.S. citizen or a documented immigrant. “That’s what got me frustrated,” she noted.

However, a counselor at her school told her about TheDream.US scholarships. “You have a grade point average better than what they need, you have all the extracurricular activities,” Daniela said the counselor told her. Among other things, she had been captain of her high school’s lacrosse team — and, ironically, involved in her school’s ACES club, short for Achieving Collegiate Excellence and Success.

The biggest obstacle for Daniela at the time: “Six essays! Now that I’m in college, six essays seems like no big deal. But in high school … !”

TheDream.US seeks “partner” schools, either public or private, so that dreamers can be clustered at particular colleges and receive whatever academic and social supports are necessary. Trinity was the first college in the District of Columbia to sign on as a partner school — and, after five years, is still the only one, according to Trinity spokeswoman Ann Pauley.

With 100 Dreamers in the 1,000-student undergraduate program, 50 of them freshmen, “it has changed the demographics” at Trinity, Pauley said. What had been a majority-African-American student body, most of whom lived within commuting distance of the school, is now more diverse and more geographically far-flung. 

“And we think that’s a good thing,” she added.

What made Daniela choose Trinity? “My parents are ‘helicopter parents,'” meaning they hover over their children’s school lives, she replied. “The closer, the better.” Her commute from home is plus or minus 30 minutes depending on traffic.

Sadhana Singh, another Dreamer, wrote in Trinity’s campus magazine that she had arrived with her parents from Guyana when she was 13 years old. They moved to Georgia and she finished near the top of her class in high school. But Georgia’s state-funded universities were off-limits to immigrants in the country illegally and she was “ineligible for in-state tuition and any kind of financial aid, loans and scholarships,” Singh said.

But Singh gained DACA status in 2012, which “refilled my diminishing well of hope,” she added. By that time, she had been seven years out of high school with no chance in sight of a college education.

Her scholarship from TheDream.US allowed her to enroll at Trinity in 2014. Now a senior, she expects to graduate on time. Singh also was part of a busload of Trinity students being shuttled to a nearby subway station to lobby at the Capitol for the DREAM Act.

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Follow Pattison on Twitter: @MeMarkPattison.

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Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Seminarians Help Host Behold Event

12/08/2017 - 3:58pm

Over 200 young adults from the greater Cincinnati area gathered for adoration, confession, praise, and worship on November 17 at St. Mary’s Church in Hyde Park. The Behold event was hosted by the Mount St. Mary’s seminarians and the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s Office of Young Adult Evangelization and Discipleship.

Reflection by seminarian Br. Nathan Mudd, CPM, Fathers of Mercy, II Theology

“A dimly-lit church is something you read about in novels or see in movies, but for most Catholics this is never experienced in reality. For most of us, our experience is a bright church, light streaming through the windows, and all the lights turned on. This is the Sunday morning church with all of its own special distractions.

This seemed not to be the same church on Friday night. Instead, the dimly-lit church of St. Mary’s in Hyde Park opened its doors for something different from Sunday morning. Here, tonight, was something new to “behold.”

The lights were dimmed to cut down on distractions, to render one indistinct in the twilight so that the brilliance of what seemed to be hundreds of candles in the sanctuary might catch the eye. There, in a literal blaze of glory upon the altar, was the Lord of the Universe Himself, Jesus Christ present in the humble species of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

While to myself, a seminarian, this is a sight well worth going out of my way to see, I wondered how many of my generation would also think so. I was pleasantly surprised that young men and women arrived in a steady stream until nearly two hundred filled the dark pews. In the front right, the Children of Mary were a model of loving devotion, and on the other side the Dominican novices lent their prayerful example.

Moving music was played to encourage adoration as long lines of prayerful penitents waited to confess their sins. Several priests charitably made themselves available to bring these young adults closer to the Father, and those who chose that night to cleanse their souls again with the Sacrament of Reconciliation were not disappointed.

I had wondered, after all of this, what the party afterward would be like. As the young men and women engaged in conversations with seminarians and religious I saw them having a very good time at a religious event. How often does one hear about that? These young adults had sacrificed their Friday night plans to come to this event. I think that, just as I did, they found this to be just as fun and much more fulfilling than anything else they could have done that night.

I was taking pictures during the event, which became the occasion of my meditation on the dim lighting. I would have loved for the illumination usual to a Sunday morning to aid my photographic endeavor. Then again, this lighting was most silent and personal time of prayer, in which one is trying to commune more deeply with God. The Mass, especially when celebrated on Sunday, is an act of community worship out of which Eucharistic Adoration grows organically. It is experiences like Behold that rekindle our love for the sacramental life of the Church.”

Mother of three Dreamers holds fast on Hill for passage of DREAM Act

12/07/2017 - 4:55pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Jaclyn Lippelmann, Catholic Standard

By Kelly Sankowski

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Antonia Alvarez, the mother of three DACA recipients and one U.S. States citizen, began a 10-day fast Dec. 4 outside of the Capitol in Washington to advocate for the passage of the DREAM Act.

The measure would allow her children and 800,000 other Dreamers to remain in the country and gain a path to citizenship.

Alvarez is originally from Mexico City and said she immigrated to the United States 16 years ago because of dangerous conditions in Mexico. She currently lives in New Brighton, Minnesota, where she has done similar fasts throughout the past few years.

But after President Donald Trump announced in September that he would end DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, there was added urgency to Alvarez’s advocacy.

To get the attention of members of Congress, she decided she would need to travel to hold a fast right in front of their offices. In ending DACA, Trump called on Congress to come up with a legislative solution to keep the program by March. Many are calling for passage of the proposed Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, or DREAM Act, to do just that.

Alvarez, a parishioner of Incarnation Sagrado Corazon in Minneapolis, traveled to Washington with a group of leaders from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis to speak with congressional leaders, then stayed behind to carry out the fast.

She said she planned to fast until passage of the DREAM Act or when Congress is scheduled to recess for the holidays Dec. 15.

Every day from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., she planned to sit in a section of the Capitol grounds directly between the House office buildings and the Capitol, urging lawmakers take action on the bill.

“Sometimes I said, ‘God, I stay alone,'” she said, expressing fear about doing this by herself. “But I listen, (and hear) ‘You’re not alone.'”

Now she really isn’t alone. Daniel Galan, a 25-year-old electrician from Chicago, who saw on Facebook what Alvarez was doing and decided to hop on a bus from Illinois to join her.

Galan, a parishioner of St. Paul Catholic Church on Chicago’s South Side, was brought to the United States from Mexico City at age 8. He and his girlfriend are both DACA recipients, so he said he was doing the fast for the both of them, as well as for many other Dreamers he knows who couldn’t make the trip to Washington.

“Our family is poor. My mom didn’t see any future for me in Mexico, so she brought me here so I could go to school, work, and become something of myself,” Galan told the Catholic Standard, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Washington.

Alvarez’s three children who are DACA recipients are 24, 25 and 28 years old. Her oldest child is a businessman, and the other two are in school, with one getting her bachelor’s degree and the other pursuing her master’s degree. She also has a 12-year-old daughter who is a United States citizen.

“Every day she is crying for her brother and two sisters,” Alvarez said.

Alvarez, who has a house cleaning business in Minnesota, said her family has paid for all of her children’s education.

“We don’t want crumbs,” she said. “We are working for everything.”

Unlike herself, Alvarez’s kids are now in the legal system, she pointed out, since they had to give personal information and go through a vetting process to be covered by DACA. This would make it easier for them to get deported.

“ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) has all of our information,” said Galan. “They know where to find us, know where we live and know where we work.”

Alvarez was catching the attention of several members of Congress who have come out to speak with her, some of them bringing her hot water or inviting her inside for a break. But Alvarez declined to go inside, and instead invited them to come visit her whenever they want a break.

As the two stood outside next to their table that supports a large cross, Galan spoke about his hopes for the future. He has not seen his dad since he left Mexico, but speaks to him frequently; Galan’s mother and brother live in the United States.

Galan hopes to someday get a green card so he will be able to travel back and forth to visit his dad, and maybe someday bring him to the U.S. legally if he becomes a citizen.

He hopes to start his own electric company. But he fears that he will lose his job once his DACA benefits expire, since the company he works for checks on employees’ legal status. He recently renewed his DACA participation; it expires in March 2019.

But until Congress passes a more permanent piece of legislation, Galan said he would “be contemplating the day I lose everything I’ve worked for.”

Noting her family’s situation, Alvarez said, “My kids are afraid, but I’m not afraid. I’m fighting for protecting my children ‘Always I pray to God, always I believe in God, always my faith is in God.”

With tears in her eyes, Alvarez said one of her daughters feels so afraid that she wants to leave the country and move to Ghana, where her boyfriend is from, because she thinks they would not be discriminated against there.

Alvarez said she not only prayed for her own family and for Dreamers, but also for Trump, asking God to bless him.

“I’m angry, but (I don’t) hate. That is not my position,” she added.

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Sankowski is a reporter at the Catholic Standard, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Washington.

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Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.