“Principal Peggy Wertz and I worked alongside a great illustrator and saw Becoming Sister Mary Grace come alive,” said Father Kirby, vicar of vocations for the Diocese of Charleston, S.C. Wertz is principal of St. Mary Help of Christians School in Aiken, S.C., where illustrator Alice Judd is an art teacher.
The book is dedicated to the girls who were part of the St. Cecilia Vocation Club at Mary Help of Christians School when the book was begun. Those girls are now juniors and seniors in high school.
Natalie Gorensek, a junior, was really excited at the launch of the book and stated that, “Everyone knows about marriage and priests, but not everyone knows about nuns. So it’s important we have vocation clubs to get the word out that being a sister is interesting and cool. … Knowing other options (of vocations) is really helpful in spiritual development."
To read more about the book Becoming Sister Mary Grace, check out the artilce published in the National Catholic Register and let us continue to pray and encourage vocations throughout the world.
We are one week into Lent and the VISION editors want to know how you are keeping up with your Lenten promises!
The secret’s out. Recently, Pope Benedict XVI joined the Tweeting bandwagon and has created his own personal Twitter account @pontifex. If you have ever wondered what it would be like to tweet at the Pope now is your chance. Reuters reports that Pope Benedict already has 1.2 billion "followers" but next week he will have another type when he enters what for any 85-year old is the brave new world of Twitter.
The Vatican said on Monday that the pope will start tweeting officially on December 12.
"The Pope’s twitter name is a good one. It means 'pope' and it also means 'bridge builder'," said Greg Burke, senior media advisor to the Vatican.
According to the Vatican, the pope’s tweets won’t be about which sports team he wants to see win or how his day is going, rather their focus is to be spiritual and offer his “followers” the opportunity to connect with Christ on a deeper level.
The first papal tweets will be answers to questions sent to #askpontifex and these tweets will be going out in Spanish, English, Italian, Portuguese, German, Polish, Arabic and French.
Primarily the tweets will come from the contents of his weekly general audience, Sunday blessings and homilies on major Church holidays. They will also include reaction to major world events. Benedict will be pushing the button on his first tweet on December 12 but in the future most will be written by aides and he will sign off on them.
God must have a few tricks up his sleeve it seems these days. Last week we had some wonderful news about an increase in vocations and vocational awareness and now this week we have added young people into that mix. I came across another interesting and amazing article about using social media to reach out to teens and young people. Recently, the diocese of Wheeling-Charleston in West Virginia has launched “Video Catechism for Teens”—a free online resource for youths and young adults. The site (www.vcat.org) became available Oct. 11 to coincide with the start of the Year of Faith, instituted by Pope Benedict XVI. The yearlong program of worship, catechesis and evangelization runs to Nov. 24, 2013.
While reading this article found on CNS, I was actually quite excited to see that the Church, in general, is trying to do more for young people. I know that often (myself included in this mix) can struggle with understanding some of the things the Church puts forth. I have that the more questions I ask and the more information I gather, I have come to the conclusion that I have the ability to determine the right choices for me and my faith.
Bob Perron, executive director of the diocese's Department of Youth Ministry stated that, "We wanted to do something where we could help our kids become better catechized, but we knew we had to do it in a different, new kind of format." That format offers young people a four-minute video each month on the site that provides a dramatization of teachings from the "Catechism of the Catholic Church," presented in a way that is relevant to them and will help them understand how they may apply the teachings in their own lives. The dramatizations illustrate experiences and issues that young people face in their own lives and how they can find God in today's culture.
I know sometimes young people have felt pushed aside by the Church or felt that they Church doesn’t seem to relate well to what our generation is going through, and my hope is that this new resource will help us (teens and young adults) see how important we are in the Church.
Today I am reminded of the horrific events that occurred eleven years ago. The date was September 11, 2001 and our country experienced the worst attack on American soil ever. We lost many men and women that day and as time goes on we will never forget those who lost their lives to this tragedy. Families lost moms, dads, sisters, brothers, cousins, neighbors, children, friends and parents. We all lost something or someone that day.
As I continue to read articles, look at pictures, and even recall the events that unfolded, I am reminded of the bravery and courage of the fireman, police, medics, religious, and civilians that risked their lives to protect and save others. Out of this tragedy, our nation came together and a sense of patriotism and compassion developed in our hearts and minds. Regardless of race, sex, or religion, we came together and created a community of love and support for one another.
As we reflect on those events of eleven years ago, let us never forget that tragedy that ensued but let us be reminded of the sense of kindness and togetherness that was created. Let us continue to show sympathy for one another, to be compassionate, and to continue to pray for peace in our world.
I want to thank the men and women that serve our country today and for all those men and women who risked their lives eleven years ago, and for all those who risk their lives today. Let us pray for them, their families, and for each other.
*Source: Independent Catholic News*
With the end of the Olympics, comes the end of the games that captivated audiences around the world for 17 days. But for one Olympian, these London games have taken on a whole new meaning. For Mireia Belmonte, her medals are more than just physical reminders of her success in London; they are also offerings to the Blessed Mother for her help throughout the games.
According to the Catholic News Agency, Spanish swimmer Mireia Belmonte offered her two silver medals from the London Olympics to Our Lady of Monserrat in Barcelona. The 21 year-old swimmer, and the only Spanish swimmer to win two medals, said in a press conference that both medals were of “equal value” to her.
A devout Catholic, Belmonte is one of many athletes who gave thanks and praise to her faith during the Olympics. To name a few others: Gabby Douglas, Katie Ledecky, Missy Franklin, and Jordyn Wieber.
Belmonte trains almost nine hours a day and is beginning her training to prepare for the world championships next year. The swimmer was born in Badalona, Spain, in 1990 and began swimming at the age of four at the recommendation of doctors to help correct her sclerosis.
What a great way to give thanks to God for the gifts he has bestowed upon each of us. Let us all be reminded of the gifts we have each been given and use our talents as best we can each day.
Billboards are usually seen along expressways trying to grab our attention and get us to stop along the way. Often, we glance at these signs and continue driving to get to our destination. But what if a billboard was calling you towards religious life? Would you simply just read the sign and continue driving or would you answer the call?
Seeking to repopulate its thinning religious ranks, the Roman Catholic diocese of Austria's largest province launched a province-wide billboard campaign to recruit priests, nuns, and other laypeople. The requirements are simple: a sense of religious mission and a commitment to celibacy. Benefits: a possible inside track to Heaven. With over 80 large billboards and 300 small electric placards being placed around the provinces, the message is simple, “The Mission. Those who give all receive more.”
While unemployment is growing in Vienna, these billboards are a way to encourage men and women to consider entering into religious life. The billboard campaign has created some serious stir because mass advertisement for religious life is rare. Austria, which is overwhelmingly Catholic, is finding that is mostly in name rather than practice.
Like elsewhere in many parts of Europe, Masses are poorly populated in Vienna and other bigger cities and the number of declared Catholics is shrinking – in Austria by 13 percent since 1960 – as former believers fed up with church scandals and a perceived sense of the Vatican's disconnect with the world.
At the same time, however, the number of priests has declined rapidly – in Austria by 26 percent. In St. Poelten, Lower Austria's provincial capital, 244 priests are administering to the needs of 423 parishes. Country-wide, the overwhelming majority of priests are over 60, and young replacements are scarce.
The hope is that this billboard campaign will get people interested in religious life and service and to show people the importance of working with the Church. To read more about the billboard campaign check out the piece in the Huffington Post.
With the opening ceremonies just days away, it got me thinking about what it would be like to be an Olympian. I thought about how awesome of an experience it would be to compete in front of millions of people, representing our country, playing for a medal, inspiring people to come together and for a moment have the world waiting and watching for what might happen next.
However, for most of us we probably will spend our lives being Olympic spectators but for Sgt. 1st Class Jason Parker, he gets a shot to be on the world’s stage during the London Olympic Games.
Competing this year with his air rifle, Sgt. 1st Class Jason Parker told Catholic News Service in a phone interview from Fort Benning, Ga. “I'm a little bit more relaxed going into this. I know how to deal with some of the extra things the games bring now."
A Nebraska native, Parker grew up around sport shooting. His dad, Dale Parker, was a competitive shooter for much of his early life. At age 13, Jason Parker's parents bought him a competition air rifle, and he used it to climb the ranks in local and state competitions.
He said his real breakthrough came when he attended Jesuit-run Xavier University in Cincinnati. The university had "just a great atmosphere. It was exactly what I needed during my life," he said. Not only did Parker end up making his first international team in 1994 as a junior at Xavier, but he also met his wife, Andrea.
Parker is very skilled in the 10-meter air rifle competition and the 50-meter three-position competition which has led him to a successful career in the military. Sgt. 1st Class Jason Parker won the Men's Three-Position Rifle match, to secure his fourth trip to the Olympics and will be competing on the US Men’s Shooting Team.
Parker, a Methodist, said his faith helps him tremendously: on the range, with his family, and in Afghanistan.
Let us pray this week for all the athletes participating in the Olympics and ask God to watch over them. Good luck to all the Olympians!
Ooberfuse, a European electro-pop band released a single in support of the English and Welsh Church’s new vocations drive, according to the U.K. Catholic Herald.
Worth Abbey Benedictine Fr. Christopher Jamison OSB, director of the National Office for Vocation, commissioned the band to write the soundtrack to help promote vocations. Their song, “Call my name,” can be heard here and comes from their forthcoming album Seventh Wave, to be released in August.
Fr Jamison described the single as a “wonderful gift given to the Church. The words are poetic and inspired, worthy of the psalms.”
Their previous single, Heart’s Cry, was the youth anthem for the Pope’s visit to Britain in September 2010.
Band member Hal St. John described the task as a challenge: “When God speaks to us he does so in a strange and other worldly language that it is sometimes hard if not altogether impossible to render into intelligible words. His gentle yet persistent call cuts through the clamour and roar of contemporary life treading as softly as dove’s footsteps. For some, pop music is part of the noise that drowns out the sound of divinity, desensitising us to the transcendent. On the face of it, it seems incongruous that pop music, especially dub-step, should be used to heighten our awareness of God’s call to each one of us.”
Today marks the 21st anniversary of the death ofJosephite Sr. Irene McCormack, RSJ, at the hands of Shining Path terrorists in Peru. Born in Western Australia in 1938, Irene grew up on a sheep farm and was educated by the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart.
In 1957, Irene entered into the community of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart and began teaching. At an early age Irene knew she wanted to serve God and educate young people. After 30 years of teaching, she was asked to do missionary work in Peru.
She arrived in Peru in 1987 for missionary work. McCormack's first assignment was in El Pacifico, a low income suburb in San Juan de Miraflores.
On June 26 1989, McCormack left to serve in Huasahuasi. McCormack, with her companion, Sister Dorothy Stevenson, were asked to supervise the distribution of emergency goods by Caritas, a charitable food organization in Peru.
McCormack continued her ministry of providing library facilities to poor children, who had no chance of obtaining books to aide in their school homework. She wanted the village children to know how to read and write. She also focused on training the village people how to be extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, so they could serve other parishioners in outlying districts.
On December 17, 1989, the priests of Huasahuasi were warned that they were in danger from Sendero Luminoso, so they and the two sisters left the village for Lima. McCormack and Stevenson, however, felt that the church could not abandon the villagers at this time and returned on January 14, 1990. For 12 months Huasahuasi was without a resident priest. During this time McCormack and Stevenson served the people, led the communion services, and provided leadership.
On the evening of May 21, 1991, McCormack was captured by the terrorist group named Shining Path. Following a mock trial, she was found guilty of being an imperialist and working for the Peruvian government by distributing food for the poor. She was then killed by the terrorist group.
McCormack was buried in Peru on May 23. McCormack believed the Holy Spirit motivated her to work in Peru once stating: "This overwhelming experience of the unconditional gratuitous love of God became a reality in my life—not just a conviction.
Below is the morning offering of Sister Irene. As you reflect on this prayer, pray for Sr. Irene McCormack and all those who are involved in missionary work.
God, my Father, you love and forgive me so TODAY I accept all as gift - and ask to find you Lord the Giver in the gift. I choose to face life without fear and to live wholeheartedly in each present moment. May my heart sing today a song of grateful thanks and praise. I am God's work of art! I am precious in His sight.
Read more about the life of Sr. Irene McCormack and other modern-day martyrs and saints here.
Peter Maurin and St. Therese of Lisieux were very strong influences on the work of Dorothy Day. Born on this day in 1877, Peter was a peasant farmer from southern France who immigrated to New York in 1909. For 10 years of Peter’s life he was not Catholic citing his reason for not living as a Catholic should. While tutoring in the mid 1920’s, Peter had a conversion and was inspired by St. Francis of Assisi. He began tutoring for free and like St. Francis, viewed labor as a gift to the greater community.
Peter had a keen mind and he devised a Catholic social philosophy that brought together a multitude of different interest, like sociology, politics, and economics and placed them at the service of the Gospel message. He proposed a social and religious program that was designed to improve social order and to create a society that made it easier for people to be good.
Peter first met Dorothy Day in 1932, when she has just returned home from DC after covering the Hunger March for America and Commonweal. While in DC, Day had prayed to God for inspiration and when she arrived at her apartment in New York, Peter was waiting for her at the kitchen table. For four months Peter worked with Day and together they began a newspaper to inform people about Catholic social teaching. The Catholic Worker began on May 1st, 1933 by Day and Maurin. Along with the newspaper, they also established a hospitality house to welcome and feed the poor and initiated weekly meetings for people who were dedicated to social justice.
Their efforts developed into the Catholic Worker Movement as we know it today. After Maurin left Day he lived out the remainder of his life in Pennsylvania where he worked on the first Catholic Worker owned farming commune known as Mary Farm. Maurin died on May 15th, 1949 on the feast day of St. Dympha, patroness of mental illness.
As evidenced by Day in The Long Loneliness, Day said she would never have begun the Catholic Worker without him. "Peter was a revelation to me, I do know this--that when people came into contact with Peter...they changed, they awoke, they began to see, things became as new, they looked at life in the light of the Gospels. They admitted to the truth he possessed and lived by, and though they themselves may have failed to go the whole way, their faces were turned at least towards the light."
O Blessed Trinity, We thank You for having graced the Church with Pope John Paul II and for allowing the tenderness of your Fatherly care, the glory of the cross of Christ, and the splendor of the Holy Spirit, to shine through him. Trusting fully in Your infinite mercy and in the maternal intercession of Mary, he has given us a living image of Jesus the Good Shepherd and has shown us that holiness is the necessary measure of ordinary Christian life and is the way of achieving eternal communion with you. Grant us, by his intercession, and according to Your will, the graces we implore, hoping that he will soon be numbered among your saints. Amen