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

05/17/2018 - 4:32pm

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

 

All economic activity has moral dimension, doctrinal congregation says

05/17/2018 - 10:00am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Cindy Wooden

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Copyright © 2018 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.

College diploma: source of pride and uncertainty for graduating Dreamers

05/16/2018 - 8:30pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Chaz Muth

By Carol Zimmermann

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim

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Copyright © 2018 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.

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

05/16/2018 - 5:22pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

By Kurt Jensen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Copyright © 2018 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.

Thirty graduate at Athenaeum’s spring commencement

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

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

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

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

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

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

The graduates are:

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

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

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

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

Graduate Certificate (Pastoral Administration)
Pamela Edwards

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

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

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

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

05/16/2018 - 2:32pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Mohammed Salem, Reuters

By Carol Glatz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Copyright © 2018 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.

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

05/16/2018 - 11:27am

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

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

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

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

Deacon Robert Muhlenkamp

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He also went to another welcome weekend at the seminary.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deacon Timothy Ralston

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everyday Evangelist: Teen mothers find help and hope in Shelby County couple’s home

05/16/2018 - 1:58am

By Sharon Semanie

Connie McEldowney believes in her ministry’s motto so strongly that she had it tattooed on her arm: “Rustic Hope…Because Every Life Matters.”

The mother of five biological and three adopted biracial siblings, McEldowney offers free support to pregnant teens before, during, and after delivery – in her family’s home.

Over the past 17 years, the Russia, Ohio, resident and her husband have not only raised their own children, but also have welcomed more than 50 pregnant teens, as many as four at one time, into their home in rural Shelby County. They work alongside family members cleaning the kitchen, doing laundry, babysitting, and completing their education while gaining a sense of belonging and, most importantly, love. 

“This is not a free hotel,” McEldowney said. “They are given chores and have to follow a curfew and our rules.”

Many have been through the foster care system. “Ninety percent of them don’t know their fathers, and 90 percent aim to get pregnant so they have somebody to love,” McEldowney said. Trust is foreign to many, and often McEldowney’s assurance that “I love you…be careful” represents the first time the girls have ever heard those words.

“We are Christ-centered and family-focused,” McEldowney said. “Pregnancy can be a very difficult time for young women, and we have become family members who believe loving support is imperative to healthy pregnancies.”  

Involved in pro-life activity since childhood, McEldowney said she first took pregnant teens into her home in 2001, when a student in the religion class she was teaching confided that his girlfriend was pregnant. Eventually, she said, “I prayed that God would give me a better option, and through discernment was able to provide a support system for these girls.” 

In 2006 she and her husband, Craig, spoke with an attorney. who advised them to set up a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, which would enable her to accept donations. That was the year Rustic Hope was founded: Rustic, “because we’re out in the middle of nowhere and I like the rustic aspect,” and Hope, because that “was something we could offer.”

In 2008, when McEldowney traveled to pray in front of Kettering’s abortion clinic, she saw how necessary Rustic Hope’s services were when she counted at least 15 young women go inside. “They were all different ages, and looked very middle class,” she said. “I had this perception they would be evil-looking. Instead they looked like the girl next door, my daughter, or the person next to me in church. They looked very scared and I was just blown away.”

Over the years, McEldowney has driven dozens of young mothers to doctor appointments; provided them with maternity clothes, housing, adoption information, and parenting classes; served as a birth coach; and provided daycare after births. She also operates “The Shed,” a renovated barn half a mile down the road, where donated baby clothes, strollers, furniture, and food are given to some 200 area teenage mothers each month. Diapers are the most requested item. 

“The Shed,” she said with a laugh, “is basically a recycling center for baby items.” 

Members of St. Remy Parish, the family is not paid. Though Craig McEldowney works as a machine engineer, the ministry relies on donations of money, food, and new or gently used baby items.

Sometimes the donations come just in time. More than once, McEldowney recalled, a girl would need to get to Dayton for an appointment, or the family van or freezer would need a repair. “Mysteriously,” she said, someone would arrive at the door with an envelope full of gas cards, a check from a grant she had not applied for, or money earmarked for a new freezer.

 “God saw the need and the generosity of this area,” she said. “I get blessed so much. One woman with a young daughter was kicked out of her apartment and lost her job. All they had were sleeping bags and pillows. After coming to The Shed, my husband set them up in an apartment, and the girl commented, ‘There really is a Jesus. I didn’t think there was.’”

As two young Sidney teens with baby carriers walked into the Shed one rainy afternoon for clothes and boxed food, McEldowney handed them Easter baskets filled with donations, Divine Mercy flyers tucked inside. 

Her future plans?  She smiled. “I don’t have plans. God’s in control.”

Find Rustic Hope online at Rustichope.webs.com, or at Facebook.com/RusticHope. Contact Connnie McEldowney at mcfamilyfarm@yahoo.com.

Some Irish believe lives were saved by country’s prohibition on abortion

05/15/2018 - 5:23pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/John McElroy

By Sarah Mac Donald

DUBLIN (CNS) — In the last major pro-life rally ahead of Ireland’s May 25 referendum on whether to liberalize the country’s abortion laws, thousands gathered to say “no” to far-reaching proposals that could see abortion on demand up to 12 weeks, and even later in some cases.

In less than two weeks, people in Ireland will be asked if they wish to repeal Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution, known as the Eighth Amendment, which enshrined a ban on abortion in 1983 and gives equal right to life to the mother and the unborn child.

The Irish bishops have warned that if the Eighth Amendment is repealed, legislation the government plans to introduce would make Ireland one of the most liberal abortion regimes in Europe.

Among the speakers who addressed the weekend rally in the shadow of the Irish parliament on Dublin’s Merrion Square was Mary Kenny, 24, a single mother from Pallaskenry. She believes the Eighth Amendment saved her daughter’s life.

“Holly’s life literally hung in the balance in the early stages of pregnancy,” said Kenny, who became pregnant at age 19. “If it had been a matter of just driving down the road to the nearest abortion clinic or to my GP, almost certainly Holly would not be alive today.”

Instead, Kenny believes the near total ban on abortion in Ireland gave her time to think about her pregnancy and opt to keep her baby.

“My first thought was abortion. I looked up the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) and decided that I would travel to England to end the life of my small baby,” she said. She would have been one of the 3,265 Irish women who annually make the trip across the Irish Sea to Britain for an abortion.

However, she discovered her passport was out of date, so she could not travel.

“I became frantic and I ordered abortion pills online,” she explained to Catholic News Service.

She broke down in front of a colleague. “I told her my feelings of hopelessness and (of) the pills that were on the way. She told me she would have given anything to have been able to become pregnant, because all her children were adopted. ‘You can do this,’ she said. At that moment, those small words of encouragement were all that I needed to hear.”

Holly arrived Nov. 19, 2013. Kenny continued with her college studies and has since secured a degree in technical communications and electronic learning at the University of Limerick.

Addressing the rally on May 12, Kenny said: “We know that at least 100,000 lives have been saved by the Eighth Amendment. We meet so many women that regret their abortions, but nobody regrets having their child.”

While polls indicate that the “yes” campaign to repeal the Eighth Amendment currently polls at 45 percent of voters, the gap between the two sides has been narrowing in recent weeks, with 34 percent saying “no” and 18 percent of voters still undecided. Nearly 4 percent gave no opinion.

Gavin Boyne, 20, a student of philosophy at Trinity College Dublin, told CNS he is strongly opposed to a repeal of the Eighth Amendment, which he believes saved him from being aborted.

“I have heard the pro-choice side argue that abortion should be legal in less-than-ideal conceptions,” he told CNS. “I am the prime example of a less-than-ideal conception. My mother was 16 and got pregnant after a one-night stand. That is not ideal, but does that make me less valuable as a human being?”

Warning that repealing the Eighth is stripping unborn babies of their humanity, Boyne said a “yes” vote would suggest that “choice and convenience take precedence over human life, and that is a very slippery slope to go down. We have seen cases in the past where a certain group of people has been dehumanized and anything then was permissible.”

On campus, he has found “a very strong ‘yes’ presence.” Many students are “very hostile and aggressive,” but he said he worries that “they have been fed soundbites, not facts.”

Someone else who knows the challenge of being pro-life on campus is 21-year-old Katie Ascough. She was impeached as University College Dublin’s Students Union president over her decision, following legal advice, to remove information from the student union handbook on procuring an abortion.

Ascough, a graduate in medicinal chemistry and chemical biology, told CNS, “My impeachment, if nothing else — it highlighted the issue of freedom of speech in our country, especially on college campuses.”

Tracy Harkin’s fifth child was diagnosed at birth with Trisomy 13, a severe life-limiting condition.

“We were told at that time that she was incompatible with life and that over 90 percent (of) children diagnosed with this don’t make to a year old. But Kathleen has defied all medical expectations, and she is still with us today at 11 years of age. She is our little miracle,” said Harkin, 43, of County Down.

Harkin is a member of the support group Every Life Counts, which assists parents whose children are diagnosed with a life-limiting condition. If the referendum passes, she believes the impact on children with a disability will be dramatic.

“Unborn children with special needs will be eradicated. It is heart-breaking for me, because I think special needs people bring so much to our families and our communities; they are a blessing. They teach us how to love and they bring out the best in us,” Harkin said.

“There will be huge pressure on parents if they get a diagnosis of disability. In Britain, 90 percent of babies with Down syndrome are aborted, and with no time limits. What does that say about the value of disabled people in our society? It is really worrying — we have got to prevent that happening.”

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Copyright © 2018 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.

Parishes grow only when people are welcomed, heard, pope says

05/15/2018 - 3:08pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Reuters

By Cindy Wooden

ROME (CNS) — After months of study and discussion, the parishes of the Diocese of Rome have recognized “a general and healthy exhaustion” with doing the same things over and over, touching the lives of fewer and fewer people as time goes on, Pope Francis said.

Changing the way parishes — and their priests and involved laity — operate will not be easy, the pope said, but members of the diocese must set out to follow the Lord more closely, deal with the reality in their neighborhoods and learn how to show everyone living within the parish boundaries that they are recognized and loved.

Pope Francis addressed some 1,700 diocesan leaders, both clergy and laity, May 14 at the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the cathedral of the diocese of Rome.

In the process of identifying the “spiritual illnesses” of the diocese, the pope said, the priests and parish leaders made it clear that they are tired of being content with what they have been doing for years.

A renewed outreach, the pope said, must begin by “learning to discern where God already is present in very ordinary forms of holiness and communion with him.”

There are people in the parishes, he said, who might not know their catechism, but they see the basic interactions in their lives through a lens of faith and hope.

Calling for a “revolution of tenderness” in parishes and the diocese, Pope Francis said that while “guiding a Christian community is the specific task of the ordained minister — the pastor — pastoral care is based in baptism and blossoms from brotherhood and is not the task only of the pastor and priests, but of all the baptized.”

The pope’s speech marked his formal reception of a diocesan report on “spiritual illnesses” afflicting the city. Through a process that began in Lent, parishes identified the main challenges as “the economy of exclusion, selfish laziness, comfortable individualism, wars among us, sterile pessimism and spiritual worldliness,” according to a statement from the diocese.

The priest who summarized the findings at the evening meeting told the pope that a lack of education in the faith was identified by many of the groups; that lack was seen regarding basic church teachings but also regarding how the Gospel and its values could be brought to bear on modern problems.

Pope Francis told them the process of identifying the problems had two benefits: a recognition of “the truth about our condition as being in need, sick,” but, at the same time, a recognition that even if people have failed, God is still present and is calling his people to come together and to move forward.

“Our parishes,” he said, “must be capable of generating a people, that is, of offering and creating relationships where people feel that they are known, recognized, welcomed, listened to, loved — in other words, not anonymous parts of a whole.”

To move forward, he said, Catholic communities must look at “the slaveries — the illnesses — that have ended up making us sterile.”

Often, he said, parishes are slaves to doing things the ways they always have been done and to investing time and energy in projects and programs that no longer meet the needs of the people.

“We must listen without fear to the thirst for God and to the cry that rises from the people of Rome, asking ourselves how that cry expresses the need for salvation, for God,” he said. “How many of the things that emerged from your studies express that cry, the invocation that God show himself and help us escape the impression that our life is useless and almost robbed by the frenzy of things that must be done and by time that keeps slipping through out hands?”

Too often, he said, evangelization also is stifled by “faith understood only as things to do and not as a liberation that renews us at every step.”

Pope Francis asked the diocesan leaders to dedicate the next year to “a sort of preparation of your backpacks” for setting off on a multiyear process that would lead to a “new land,” a place marked by new pastoral action that is “more responsive to the mission and needs of Romans today, but also more creative and liberating for priests and those who directly collaborate in their mission and in the building up of the Christian community.”

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Copyright © 2018 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.

Pope Francis: Youth are lost in a ‘virtual world’, instead of reality

05/15/2018 - 11:04am

By Hannah Brockhaus

Rome, Italy, May 14, 2018 (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis said Monday he is worried that youth are too enmeshed in a virtual world of cell phones and other technology, separated, in particular, from the real human contact experienced by performing works of mercy.

Answering a question about youth during a visit with the people of the Diocese of Rome May 14, the pope said that the works of mercy “help young people so much,” because they them to be grounded in “concreteness” and to “enter into a social relationship.”

“It worries me that they communicate and live in the virtual world,” he said, noting that on a recent visit with youth, instead of extending their hands when they saw him, they “greeted” him with their phones held up, taking photos and selfies.

“Their reality is that… not human contact. This is serious,” he continued. “We have to make young people ‘land’ in the real world. Touch reality. Without destroying the good things the virtual world can have,” because some things are needed, he acknowledged.

Pope Francis spoke during a visit to the cathedral of Rome, the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, for a moment of prayer and to hear about the activities of the diocese. The encounter included Rome’s bishops, priests, religious, and members of the laity, among them representatives of the Catholic schools and various groups.

During the visit, the pope answered four questions, among them a question about young people and what he thought about the pre-synod meeting of over 300 young adults which took place in Rome in March ahead of the Synod of Bishops on young people and discernment.

He said that he had a good impression of the pre-synodal meeting and noted the participants’ hard work during the week to create the pre-synod document, which he said was “very beautiful… strong.”

The young people present “had courage to speak” and “really wanted to speak seriously,” he said.

Immediately following the Q&A, the pope gave a prepared speech, in which he spoke about what Catholics can learn from the Israelite’s exodus from slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land.

“The story of Exodus speaks of slavery, of an exit, of a passage, of an alliance, of a temptation and an entrance. But it is a journey,” he said.

The pope’s meeting with the Diocese of Rome concluded a period of reflection by the parishes and prefectures of Rome on “spiritual diseases,” which was begun during Lent.

“As you will have understood, I am inviting you to undertake another stage of the journey of the Church of Rome,” he said. “In a certain sense a new exodus, a new departure, which renews our identity as God’s people, without regrets for what we must leave.”

This period of self-reflection should lead to discernment of where God is present, even “in very ordinary forms of holiness,” he said, such as those people who are already living the Gospel in friendship with the Lord.

It will also be necessary, he continued, to listen to the cry of the people, as Moses was urged to do, “knowing how to interpret, in the light of the Word of God, the social and cultural phenomena in which you are immersed.”

Reflecting on weaknesses and sharing those with others may take time, Francis said, but having done it, Catholic communities and individuals are better prepared to serve others because they have felt and experienced the “gift of mercy and fullness of life for us and for all.”

The pope explained that Christ has loved everyone and continues to love everyone, demonstrating his care for people’s lives, that they are not “creatures abandoned to their destiny and their slavery. That everything is for our conversion and for our good.”

He also stated that Catholics should understand the truth that God did not make any mistake in putting him or her in this place at this time and with these challenges, and that if they find themselves “in a condition of slavery,” it was brought about by a dependence on created things.

The journey to the Promised Land was long for the Israelites – “40 years, eh?” – but they did not get tired, he said, inviting the Catholics of Rome to “spend some time” preparing to “reach the new land that the column of cloud and fire” will reveal.

“New conditions of life and pastoral action… To no longer be afraid of what we are and of the gift we have, but to make it fruitful,” he urged.

Steve Trosley for May: “Rerum novarum for millennial workers”

05/15/2018 - 1:10am

“I thank them every other Thursday when I sign their paychecks,” my boss said, deflating an enthusiastic employee relations seminar leader, who was making the case for management demonstrating more appreciation for workers.

He took a more humane approach than his comment signaled, but as a manager, he could have used a lesson on “Rerum novarum” (On capital and labor), an encyclical issued by Pope Leo XIII on May 15, 1891.

While Pope Leo’s magnum opus is most often applied with enthusiasm by social justice advocates to the responsibilities of management, he also had some guidelines for labor that bear consideration in this high-tech era. Some of the duties of workers Pope Leo cited include “fully and faithfully” to perform their agreed-upon tasks, individually, to refrain from vandalism or personal attacks, collectively, to refrain from rioting and violence.

So when we read about government workers exchanging more than 500 text messages about their love lives or private political activities during the work day, is that fully and faithfully performing the agreed-upon tasks? Or when a co-worker emails us news of a great bargain found on Amazon during working hours so we can place our order, too – is that fully and faithfully performing? And when we share internal information on social media with a snide remark about our organization’s leadership, is that not a form of vandalism or a personal attack?  

That doesn’t mean management doesn’t have its responsibilities in this age of high-tech communications. Pope Leo said management should to provide work suited to each person’s strength, gender, and age, and needed to respect the dignity of workers and not regard them as bondsmen (slaves.)

There’s a TV commercial playing right now showing a young woman awaking to an alert on her smart phone late at night. Her boss has left an email asking her to perform some task – and it can’t wait until she wakes up. Some managers have used the ability for instant communication to turn their employees into “bondsmen,” sending emails and text messages at all hours of the day. This has gotten so extreme that some countries (France) and state legislatures have passed laws making it illegal to require a response to an email outside of work hours.

My father worked in an oil refinery. He had 30 minutes for lunch each day, noon to 12:30 p.m. One of my fondest memories is that he would call home around 12:25 p.m. each workday to speak to my mom. He was always back at work at 12:30 p.m. The telephone was the technology of the 1950s and1960s. It would never have occurred to him to call at any other time – during work time.

With today’s smart phones, Muffin can call mom at work when she can’t find her favorite sweater and Buster can call six times to remind her to pick him up after his lacrosse practice. We can also surf the internet, watch a movie, or listen to a podcast or a collection of favorite tunes, weigh-in on a political debate, comment on a current event, post a review of a product, look at who’s hiring people with your skill set or exchange recipes with a neighbor – the list is endless. And it’s a wonderful way to refresh when we’re on a break from work, but not so when we’re actually supposed to be working.

And bringing “Rerum novarum” up to date for management means it needs to respect workers’ personal time as much as they expect the workers to respect the time they owe to the company.

The technology that serves us – and that we serve – enables us to achieve marvelous feats of instant communication. But having these amazing abilities at our fingertips doesn’t release us from our social responsibilities, whether we march with the ranks of workers or management.

Trosley is editor and general manager of “The Catholic Telegraph.”

Graduates urged to proclaim ‘a new American story’ of ‘holiness, heroism’

05/14/2018 - 8:56pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Dana Rene Bowler, courtesy The Catholic University of America

By Maureen Boyle

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The American story began with the Catholic missionaries who first shaped the nation with the Gospel and proclaimed the dignity of all, a truth the class of 2018 must share to the betterment our country.

That was the message Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez imparted to more than 1,600 new graduates of The Catholic University of America May 12.

“America’s founders — including Padre (St. Junipero) Serra — dreamed of a nation where men and women from every race, religion and national background could live in equality,” the archbishop said in remarks during the university’s 129th annual commencement exercises held on the east steps of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.

Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, university chancellor, offered the ceremony’s invocation.

“Their vision helped make this a great nation, exceptional in human history — blessed with freedom and committed to sharing our blessings with the whole human race,” said Archbishop Gomez, a native of Monterrey, Mexico, and a member of the university’s board of trustees.

Since 2011, he has led the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the largest archdiocese in the United States, where he has focused his ministry on marriage and family, vocations, immigration and end-of-life issues.

Archbishop Gomez told the graduates that American society is divided and facing challenges, not related to demographics, technology or globalization, but rather a crisis of identity.

“America has lost her way because we have lost the threads of our national story. We no longer know who we are as a people or what our national purpose is,” he said. “I say this is our biggest challenge because unless we know who we are and what we are here for, we will never be able to set the right priorities or find the right solutions to the many challenges we face.”

To overcome these obstacles, he urged the class of 2018 to proclaim a new American story, one of “holiness and heroism,” he said. “We need a new narrative that will define us and hold us together as one people with a common purpose.”

He said America is “alive in her saints — and we have so many! Mystics and missionaries; martyrs and immigrants; refugees and exiles. They came from everywhere to share their gifts and make this country what she was meant to be, a light to nations.”

Archbishop Gomez was joined by four other immigrants who were receiving honorary degrees. Those honorees included Toufic Baaklini, president and chairman of the board of the nonprofit organization In Defense of Christians; Maria (Mary) Suarez Hamm, who served as the longtime executive director of Centro Tepeyac, a pro-life pregnancy aid center in Silver Spring, Maryland, and is a staff member of the Archdiocese of Washington’s Office of Worship; Dina Katabi, professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Ray Mahmood, founder of the Mahmood Investment Corp.

Archbishop Gomez spoke of the “litany of American saints,” such as Henriette Delille; Mother Marianne Cope; Dorothy Day; Thomas Merton; Black Elk, a Lakota Sioux mystic and Catholic catechist; and Father Augustus Tolton, a freed slave and the nation’s first African-American priest.

But he went on to say, the saints he knew from his tradition came from simple neighborhoods, parishes and families. “They are the hidden saints, saints of everyday — holy wives, holy husbands, working hard to do what is right, sacrificing for their children; being good friends and good neighbors; serving the poor and working to make their communities stronger,” Archbishop Gomez said. “We need to hold these people up as examples. Tell their stories. We need to try and be like them in our own lives.”

He also recalled the life of Mother Maria Luisa Josefa of the Blessed Sacrament, a sainthood candidate. A refugee from the anti-Catholic Mexican persecutions of the 1920s, she became a religious sister and servant of the poor in Los Angeles.

“Mother Luisita used to tell everyone, ‘For greater things we were born.’ My friends, this is the meaning of our lives. This is the meaning of America.”

“America’s founders — the missionaries and statesmen — they knew this truth. They knew that we belong to a story that began long before us, the story of our Creator. They knew that we are born with a dignity and destiny that can never be denied,” Archbishop Gomez said. “No matter who we are. Or where we came from. Or how we got here.”

The American story, he said, is neither over nor naive, but one that continues to be written in one’s daily life with God’s help and protection, through decisions made and treating others with the charity of Christ.

“My prayer for you is that you will write a story that is filled with goodness, love and service; with prayer and thanks for simple gifts. I pray that you will always seek to know what is right — and have the courage to do it,” he told the graduates as they embark on a new chapter in their lives.

“We can still open the door with confidence to people who are yearning to breathe free. We can still practice politics with malice toward none and charity for all. We are made for greater things,” said Archbishop Gomez in closing his remarks.

Catholic University President John Garvey also addressed the class of 2018, speaking on the Christian virtue of hospitality, inspired by the Rule of St. Benedict, which states: “Let all guests be received as Christ.”

Referring to biblical stories about “entertaining angels unaware,” Garvey encouraged the graduates to practice hospitality in their own lives by opening their hearts to new people and looking at those who are different with friendship instead of fear.

“It’s a good virtue to begin life with,” he said. “You will make some friends. You will bring an open heart to the responsibilities of citizenship. You will build a loving home. And there you might some day receive Christ.”

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Boyle writes for the Catholic Standard, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Washington.

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Copyright © 2018 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.

Chilean bishop says mistakes were made in handling abuse cases

05/14/2018 - 8:28pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — A Chilean bishop acknowledged the damage inflicted on survivors of clerical sex abuse and the mishandling of cases by church leaders in the country.

“I am not saying that perhaps we have made mistakes. We have made mistakes,” said Bishop Juan Ignacio Gonzalez Errazuriz of San Bernardo.

Bishop Gonzalez, along with Auxiliary Bishop Fernando Ramos Perez of Santiago, met with journalists May 14 on the eve of a three-day meeting between Pope Francis and 34 Chilean bishops.

The bishops are meeting at the Vatican May 15-17 to discuss with Pope Francis their handling of clerical sex abuse allegations.

Echoing Pope Francis’ April 11 letter to the Chilean bishops, Bishop Ramos told journalists that the bishops felt “pain and shame” for the abuses committed.

“Receiving information that sexual abuses occurred in our community left many people in shock, because it is something that is unacceptable, intolerable, unjustifiable from every point of view,” Bishop Ramos said.

When asked whether they intend to follow the pope’s lead and ask forgiveness of survivors, Bishop Ramos said attending to the wounds inflicted upon “victims is a great, moral imperative.”

“As Jesus said, we must ask forgiveness seven times 70. We are completely willing to ask forgiveness, but we also hope that forgiveness (can) be restorative,” he said.

Recently, three Chilean abuse survivors who met with Pope Francis strongly criticized the bishops, accusing them of misinforming the pope on the reality of sexual abuse in the country.

Pope Francis invited Juan Carlos Cruz, Jose Andres Murillo and James Hamilton to stay at the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the Vatican residence where he lives, and to meet with him individually April 27-29. They met him again as a group April 30.

Briefing journalists May 2 on their meeting with the pope, the survivors read a joint statement saying that for “10 years we have been treated as enemies, because we fight against sexual abuse and cover-up in the church.”

Cruz said he told the pope how he was demonized by Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, retired archbishop of Santiago, and his successor, Cardinal Riccardo Ezzati, in a leaked email between the two prelates. Although media reports initially reported Cardinal Errazuriz would not attend the meeting, he boarded a plane May 13 from Santiago and landed in Rome.

Cruz said he told Pope Francis “how these two men lacked respect toward a person, which was known because they did the same to Jimmy (Hamilton) and Jose (Murillo). They called me a ‘serpent,’ they called me everything. I told the Holy Father, and he said he was hurt,” Cruz said.

When asked whether they also received an apology from the bishops of Chile, Cruz said: “Pope Francis asked forgiveness for himself and on behalf of the universal church. The bishops of Chile don’t know how to ask for forgiveness.”

Bishop Gonzalez told journalists that victims must remain at the center of the upcoming discussions. He also said that he met with countless victims in his diocese and “knew the survivors that met with the Holy Father.”

Shortly after the press conference, Cruz tweeted: “I’ve never seen him before in my life. The truth according to the bishops of Chile is very different from what we all have lived.”

“My conclusion regarding the press conference of the Chilean bishops — (Bishops) Ramos and Gonzalez — is that they are great actors, who see a reality and a truth totally different from what common people see, and they should return to the planet from where they came,” Cruz said in a follow-up tweet.

Several Chilean bishops arrived earlier in the day at Rome’s Fiumicino airport for the upcoming meeting with Pope Francis.

Upon his arrival, Bishop Christian Caro Cordero of Puerto Montt told journalists: “I wouldn’t say that there is a church in crisis. I would say that there is a serious problem that must be confronted, but not a church in crisis.”

However, in a statement May 12, the Vatican press office said Pope Francis was concerned by the “circumstances and extraordinary challenges posed by abuses of power — sexual and of conscience — that have occurred in the last decades.”

The pope “considers it necessary to profoundly examine the causes and consequences, as well as the mechanisms that in some cases led to a cover-up and serious omissions regarding the victims,” the Vatican 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. 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.

Chilean bishop says mistakes were made in handling abuse cases

05/14/2018 - 8:28pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — A Chilean bishop acknowledged the damage inflicted on survivors of clerical sex abuse and the mishandling of cases by church leaders in the country.

“I am not saying that perhaps we have made mistakes. We have made mistakes,” said Bishop Juan Ignacio Gonzalez Errazuriz of San Bernardo.

Bishop Gonzalez, along with Auxiliary Bishop Fernando Ramos Perez of Santiago, met with journalists May 14 on the eve of a three-day meeting between Pope Francis and 34 Chilean bishops.

The bishops are meeting at the Vatican May 15-17 to discuss with Pope Francis their handling of clerical sex abuse allegations.

Echoing Pope Francis’ April 11 letter to the Chilean bishops, Bishop Ramos told journalists that the bishops felt “pain and shame” for the abuses committed.

“Receiving information that sexual abuses occurred in our community left many people in shock, because it is something that is unacceptable, intolerable, unjustifiable from every point of view,” Bishop Ramos said.

When asked whether they intend to follow the pope’s lead and ask forgiveness of survivors, Bishop Ramos said attending to the wounds inflicted upon “victims is a great, moral imperative.”

“As Jesus said, we must ask forgiveness seven times 70. We are completely willing to ask forgiveness, but we also hope that forgiveness (can) be restorative,” he said.

Recently, three Chilean abuse survivors who met with Pope Francis strongly criticized the bishops, accusing them of misinforming the pope on the reality of sexual abuse in the country.

Pope Francis invited Juan Carlos Cruz, Jose Andres Murillo and James Hamilton to stay at the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the Vatican residence where he lives, and to meet with him individually April 27-29. They met him again as a group April 30.

Briefing journalists May 2 on their meeting with the pope, the survivors read a joint statement saying that for “10 years we have been treated as enemies, because we fight against sexual abuse and cover-up in the church.”

Cruz said he told the pope how he was demonized by Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, retired archbishop of Santiago, and his successor, Cardinal Riccardo Ezzati, in a leaked email between the two prelates. Although media reports initially reported Cardinal Errazuriz would not attend the meeting, he boarded a plane May 13 from Santiago and landed in Rome.

Cruz said he told Pope Francis “how these two men lacked respect toward a person, which was known because they did the same to Jimmy (Hamilton) and Jose (Murillo). They called me a ‘serpent,’ they called me everything. I told the Holy Father, and he said he was hurt,” Cruz said.

When asked whether they also received an apology from the bishops of Chile, Cruz said: “Pope Francis asked forgiveness for himself and on behalf of the universal church. The bishops of Chile don’t know how to ask for forgiveness.”

Bishop Gonzalez told journalists that victims must remain at the center of the upcoming discussions. He also said that he met with countless victims in his diocese and “knew the survivors that met with the Holy Father.”

Shortly after the press conference, Cruz tweeted: “I’ve never seen him before in my life. The truth according to the bishops of Chile is very different from what we all have lived.”

“My conclusion regarding the press conference of the Chilean bishops — (Bishops) Ramos and Gonzalez — is that they are great actors, who see a reality and a truth totally different from what common people see, and they should return to the planet from where they came,” Cruz said in a follow-up tweet.

Several Chilean bishops arrived earlier in the day at Rome’s Fiumicino airport for the upcoming meeting with Pope Francis.

Upon his arrival, Bishop Christian Caro Cordero of Puerto Montt told journalists: “I wouldn’t say that there is a church in crisis. I would say that there is a serious problem that must be confronted, but not a church in crisis.”

However, in a statement May 12, the Vatican press office said Pope Francis was concerned by the “circumstances and extraordinary challenges posed by abuses of power — sexual and of conscience — that have occurred in the last decades.”

The pope “considers it necessary to profoundly examine the causes and consequences, as well as the mechanisms that in some cases led to a cover-up and serious omissions regarding the victims,” the Vatican 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. 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.

Dozens killed in protests as U.S. embassy inaugurated in Jerusalem

05/14/2018 - 5:44pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa, Reuters

By Judith Sudilovsky

JERUSALEM (CNS) — As the new United States embassy was inaugurated in Jerusalem May 14, violence broke out between Palestinian protesters and Israeli soldiers.

International media reported that in Gaza, at least 52 people were killed, including five under the age of 18, and some 2,000 were injured. The death toll was expected to rise.

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

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

Israel accuses many of the protesters of being members of Hamas and of using Palestinians as pawns in the violent protests along the Gaza border, which began March 30. The Israeli Defense Forces has said that numerous protesters have been caught trying to break through the border fence that imprisons them, and fire-lit kites sent by Palestinians across the border have caused millions of dollars of damage to crops when they have landed on Israeli farmland.

At St. Joseph Parish in Jifna, West Bank, May 14, Father Firas Aridah tolled bells at noon to mourn those injured and killed in clashes, to mark the commemoration of the day Palestinians call al-Naqba — their catastrophe — and to lament the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem. On May 14, 1948, Israel declared its independence; Palestinians commemorate that 250,000-300,000 Arabs living in the British mandate of Palestine were forced off their lands and homes at the time.

“Jerusalem is at the heart of the conflict,” he said. “Opening the American embassy without resolving the conflict is going to the extreme. They can resolve the conflict of Jerusalem and then do whatever they want. But why just move the embassy to Jerusalem without resolving the conflict?”

The priest said although parishes in the Holy Land tell their parishioners to resist occupation by educating themselves and preparing for the future, people in Gaza see no future. He said he can stress to his school’s Christian and Muslim students that throwing stones is not worth dying for, but people in Gaza are desperate.

“They don’t have anything to lose,” he said. “They are not living in dignity.”

On May 15 Palestinians will mark a moment of silence in commemoration of the Naqba, much like the Israelis did a month early on the Hebrew anniversary of Israeli independence.

Father Aridah said he would light candles with his parishioners following 6 p.m. Mass May 15 and have a silent march to the center of the village. He expects the demonstrations, including throughout the West Bank, to continue for some time.

In a statement released May 14, Pax Christi International said it recognized the 70th anniversary of two historic events this year: the 70th anniversary of the creation of the State of Israel and the Naqba.

“These two events are forever interconnected. Pax Christi members and partners will once again stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people, especially those who, after seven decades, remain refugees, as they mark this solemn anniversary,” said the statement. It called for the right of return and/or compensation for Palestinian refugees as a prerequisite for a just and fair Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, for which Pax Christi said an increased commitment from the international community is “urgently necessary.”

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Copyright © 2018 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.

DEPAUL CRISTO REY SCIENCE TEACHER SELECTED FOR PRESTIGIOUS KNOWLES TEACHING FELLOWS PROGRAM

05/14/2018 - 2:58pm

DePaul Cristo Rey High School Science Teacher Linsey McMullen is one of just 34 teachers from around the country named a Knowles Teaching Fellow by the Knowles Science Teaching Foundation.

This five-year program supports early-career science and mathematics teachers to develop teaching expertise and lead from the classroom.

McMullen, in her first year at DePaul Cristo Rey, teaches biology and chemistry. She joined DPCR’s faculty after completing her master’s degree in secondary education from Vanderbilt University. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Saint Mary’s College.

The Knowles Teaching Fellows Program is an intensive, cohesive five-year program that focuses on mentorship, coaching, best practice and developing teacher leaders in STEM within their specific teaching context. It includes financial support for professional development and classroom materials. The value of the Knowles five-year fellowship is approximately $150,000.

DePaul Cristo Rey, sponsored by the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, offers a nationally recognized, dual-focus education model to students whose families need significant financial assistance to afford a private, college preparatory program. This education model, not available at any other local high school, partners challenging college preparatory academics with a Corporate Work Study Program (CWSP). It is one of 32 Catholic high schools in the nationwide Cristo Rey Network® which serves 11,500 young people.

Linsey McMullen (Courtesy Photo)Linsey McMullen (Courtesy Photo)

School News: Roger Bacon Students serving in the community

05/14/2018 - 11:39am

More than 500 students and faculty from Roger Bacon High School fanned out all over the cities of Cincinnati and St. Bernard May to beautify their neighborhoods and serve the poor and vulnerable. They kicked off their day with prayer and reflection from Father Roger Lopez. As the Spartans do their work for others, Principal Steve Schad told the students, they represent their faith and our conviction that “everyone has value.” Their effort is in conjunction with “Go Local,” a weekend of service involving the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, Crossroads Church and other Christian communities.

Nicholas Hardesty for May: Religion and science are not at war

05/14/2018 - 1:13am

Many people reject religion and even leave the church today because they believe that religious faith is at odds with reasonable, scientific inquiry.

You may have heard it before:

  •      “I’ll believe in God if you can give me empirical proof that God exists.”
  •      “How can I take Catholicism seriously when it persecuted Galileo?
  •      “The church has always been anti-science”

There’s a lot that could be said in response. What we need are some basic points we can useeto “seize the moment” whenever objections like these arise.

Point 1: Some of the greatest scientists ever were Catholics. If being Catholic means being anti-science, then why have so many Catholics made significant advances in various scientific fields? Here are just three examples (there are dozens more):

  • “Georges Lamaitre: First proposed the “Big Bang Theory” of the origins of the universe; was a Catholic priest.
  • Gregor Mendel: Considered the father of the scientific field of genetics; was an Augustinian monk.
  • Nicolaus Copernicus: First proposed that the sun, not the earth, was the center of the universe; had a doctorate in Canon Law and was a canon of Frombork Cathedral. 

These are intellectual giants in the history of scientific progress, and they were all committed Catholics.

Point 2: Catholic beliefs lead to scientific advancement. We never answered our earlier question: If being Catholic means being anti-science, why then are Catholics numbered among the most important scientists of all time? The answer is because Catholic beliefs foster scientific inquiry.

If Catholics (and Christians, broadly speaking) did not believe there was a law and an order to the universe (given to it by a supreme Lawgiver), then there would be no point in scientific inquiry. The whole reason you “do science” in the first place is in order to discover and better understand the things of this world and the laws that govern them. Scientists approach their work with the presupposition that these laws exist – and that’s a very Christian way to look at things.

Even the persecution of Galileo was not the result of an anti-science bias. Church officials consulted leading astronomers and sincerely believed they had science on their side. And at any rate, it wasn’t Galileo’s science that got him in trouble, it was his insistence that certain Bible passages about the sun must be interpreted in a particular way. If Galileo had stuck with science and presented his findings as a theory (instead of the absolute truth), then the church would have had no issue with him, just as there was no issue with Copernicus before him.

Point 3: Truth is not limited to what can be empirically observed. Many people reject religion and God because they insist that science is the only truth. But, truth is not bound by what science can reveal. As soon as someone says otherwise, they actually prove the point.

The statement “truth is bound by what science can reveal” is not something that can be put under a microscope. It’s not a scientific truth claim, it’s a philosophical one. Science can only answer the question, “Why?” up to a certain point. After that, philosophy and theology must take over.

Once people realize that they actually depend on certain non-scientific truth claims to construct their worldview, then they are usually more open to what philosophical and theological truths might tell them about the world and their place in it. 

A Match Made in Heaven

Ultimately, religion and science cannot be at war because they both come from the same God. As the Catechism tells us, “The humble and persevering investigator of the secrets of nature is being led, as it were, by the hand of  God in spite of himself, for it is God, the conserver of all things, who made them what they are” (no. 159). Thanks be to God!

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

Volcano’s lava flow displaces members of one Hawaii parish

05/11/2018 - 8:55pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/USGS, handout via Reuters

By Patrick Downes

HONOLULU (CNS) — In addition to offering prayers, the Catholic Church is stepping into action on behalf of hundreds of residents displaced from a fierce and unpredictable volcanic eruption.

Members of Sacred Heart Parish in the town of Pahoa in the Puna District of the island of Hawaii — known colloquially as the Big Island — are opening their hearts, their homes and their parish hall to those forced to flee the lava flowing from cracks in the ground in their neighborhood.

Bishop Larry Silva of Honolulu has visited and offered his assistance.

Local Catholic service agencies are working with victims, coordinating aid efforts, and collecting and distributing funds.

About 1,700 people reside in Leilani Estates, a rural subdivision of acre-sized lots on a grid of about 22 miles of roads, where at least 15 fissures have opened up since May 3 spewing molten rock and poisonous sulfur dioxide gas. A Hawaii County evacuation order sent subdivision residents packing shortly after the eruption began.

According to Hawaii County Civil Defense, 36 structures, including 26 homes, already have been destroyed by lava from the 2.5-mile-long fissure system, the newest outflow from Kilauea Volcano, which has been erupting since 1983. Lava so far has covered more than 115 acres.

During pauses in the volcanic activity, residents have been allowed to return to their homes to retrieve belongings.

Some are staying at two county evacuation centers. Sacred Heart parishioners are being taken in by fellow parish members, according to parish administrator Father Ernesto Juarez.

“Parishioners are opening up their homes,” he told the Hawaii Catholic Herald, Honolulu’s diocesan newspaper.

Bishop Silva was at the parish May 5-6, the weekend the eruption started, for a previously arranged episcopal visitation and to administer the sacrament of confirmation.

With hundreds of small earthquakes predicting volcanic activity, the bishop had offered to reschedule his visit, but Father Juarez, after consulting with some of his parishioners, decided to proceed as planned.

“I was happy to be there with them during that time,” the bishop said.

“I was actually surprised how normal life seemed in Pahoa, despite the eruption that was taking place in the parish boundaries,” the bishop said. “I did not detect any panic or great anxiety.”

He said he could see from the church the plume of smoke from the eruption site.

Several people told him that evacuees who were parish members did not have to use the county-run emergency shelters “because they were offered hospitality by fellow parishioners.”

Bishop Silva said that the diocese’s three social service agencies — Office of Social Ministries, HOPE Services Hawaii and Catholic Charities Hawaii — “have all been involved in the situation.”

“I asked them to keep me informed to see if there was anything I could do or if there were any services of the diocese that needed to be mobilized,” he said.

The bishop was told that immediate needs for shelter, food and clothing were being addressed locally, but that “long-term needs may require help from outside the community.”

“We will continue to monitor the situation and will let people in the diocese know if there are any specific ways they can help,” he said.

Father Juarez volunteered the parish hall as a crisis information center.

At the center, which is open weekday, evacuees from the Leilani Estates and the smaller Lanipuna Gardens subdivision connect with personnel from Hawaii County and social service agencies for information or to apply for assistance. Participating organizations include Child and Family Services, The Food Basket, Catholic Charities Hawaii and HOPE Services Hawaii.

HOPE Services Hawaii, which deals primarily with homelessness on the Big Island, has deployed several staff members who, with others, are collecting data on evacuated households to determine their needs. As of May 10, the agency had gathered information on nearly 300 households.

“Quite a bit of people need everything,” said Brandee Menino, HOPE Services Hawaii chief executive officer, who is coordinating the data collection. “They are checking all the boxes — food, shelter, permanent housing, transportation.”

Other families have temporarily settled in with family and friends, but will have needs down the road, she said. Some hope to eventually go back home.

“We’re still only days in and it looks like this is going to be a long one,” Menino said.

She added some of the agencies involved cover financial assistance, food, shelter, counseling, case management, physical and mental health, clothing, legal assistance and animal care.

HOPE Services has already given out some rent assistance.

In a message to Big Island parishes, Catholic Charities Hawaii’s Hawaii Island Community Director Elizabeth Murph said housing needs are a looming concern, in particular for those with mortgages to pay on houses they no longer have access to.

She said besides stable housing, other immediate needs include counseling, clothing, and gift cards for groceries, household items and gas.

Catholic Charities Hawaii has asked the public for monetary donations to be used for direct housing assistance for the victims of both the Kilauea eruption and April’s historic flooding on Kauai.

Donations will go toward temporary housing subsidies, emergency home repairs and other related needs.

“Funds will be immediately available” to victims, Murph said, compared to money from other organizations distributed through a lengthy grant process.

Father Juarez, who has been at the parish for less than a year, visited the main evacuation shelter in Pahoa May 7. Several hundred people are being temporarily housed there.

He was joined by former pastor Jesuit Father Mike Scully, parish religious education director Maila Naiga and parishioners Liz Morgan and Roberta Vangoethem.

“We talked to them, shared stories, offering comfort, letting them know that there are people who have great concern about their plight,” Father Juarez said.

The parish is bringing back into action its Disaster Assistance Relief Team, which was mobilized when Tropical Storm Iselle ravaged the east side of the Big Island in 2014, and later that same year when a lava flow threatened Pahoa.

At an East Hawaii vicariate meeting May 8, Father Juarez said, some of his fellow Big Island priests offered their parishes for “refuge.” At the meeting the priest gathered rosaries, Bibles and holy water to be distributed at the evacuation center.

Father Juarez said his church, which is three-and-a-half miles from the eruption, is not in any immediate danger.

“We are safe in Pahoa as of now but we are always reminded to be vigilant,” he said.

“We still need prayers,” he added. “The eruption is unpredictable.”

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Downes is editor of the Hawaii Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Diocese of Honolulu.

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Copyright © 2018 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.