|Vision Vocation Guide and VocationNetwork.org are resources of the Natiional Religious Vocation Conference, a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit.|
Seeing the Spirit at work in the world
|Vision Vocation Guide and VocationNetwork.org are resources of the Natiional Religious Vocation Conference, a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit.|
The Adorers of the Blood of Christ, a vowed religious community of Catholic women, are preparing for the 25th memorial anniversary of the deaths of five of their American missionary sisters in Liberia. In October 1992, these "martyrs of charity" were killed by soldiers in the army of Liberian warlord Charles Taylor during a civil war that left hundreds of thousands dead. This coming October, the sisters are releasing two mini-documentaries about the martyrs.
Sisters Barbara Ann Muttra and Mary Joel Kolmer were killed as they drove the convent’s security guard home to a neighboring suburb. Three days later, soldiers shot and killed Sisters Kathleen McGuire, Agnes Mueller, and Shirley Kolmer in front of their convent.
“We remember them as fellow sisters radically committed to their ministry. Their lives and martyrdom have left an indelible mark on us,” the community said in a statement. One current Adorer, Sister Elizabeth Kolmer, had a biological sister and a cousin who were among the five. Another current Adorer, Sister Mary Ann Mueller, had a biological sister in the group.
The Adorers of the Blood of Christ were founded in 1834 as a teaching order by Saint Maria De Mattias in Italy. The Adorers strive to be Christ’s reconciling presence in the world by responding to the needs of individuals and society. Diverse in their ministries and singular in their mission to be a compassionate presence wherever they are, Adorers serve as educators, justice advocates, health care workers, pastoral ministers, spiritual directors, and more. Worldwide they are 2,000 women strong, including more than 200 in the United States.
Read bios of the martyrs of charity.
Watch the final letters of the martyrs read by their sisters.
Watch a Frontline news segment on the martyrs: “Who killed the nuns?”
Sisterhood, a special, seven-part series produced by Canadian Salt + Light TV in collaboration with Loyola University New Orleans, gives viewers an exclusive look into the daily lives of sisters from around the world. As Salt and Light decribes the focus of the series: "Day in and day out, in every country, religious sisters provide an enormous service to the Church, giving life to the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Without their prayer, their wisdom or their charity, the Church could scarcely begin to achieve its mission. Yet, the number of sisters in North America and in other countries is dwindling, and at a time when the world desperately needs their charisms."
The series, which already aired in Canada, is available for streaming at Salt + Light.
Pope Francis said that a life which isn't shared with others "belongs in the museum," according to Inés San Martín reporting for Crux. In a Google hangout with youth from around the world, the Pope urged young people not to succumb to an "elitist education" but to be agents of a "human globalization."
“To educate is not to know things," said Francis, but to be "capable of using the three languages, that of the hands, the heart and the mind. Education is to include.”
Carmelite friars conducted a “ministry of presence” at Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 29, the day that protests erupted around the country over President Trump’s travel ban targeting seven majority-Muslim countries. The friars’ action segued into a spontaneous interfaith prayer service with a Muslim imam.
Brothers Matthew Gummess, Mikhail Woodruff, and Kevin Keller "wandered through the crowd to hear stories, share hope, and offer a friendly prayerful presence,” reports the Order of Carmelites blog. “Brother Mikhail was a voice of kindness and impartiality in conversation with reporters. Brother Matthew offered moral support and chocolates to travelers, airport staff, security, lawyers, and anybody who might need a little boost.”
After they met Imam Yahya Hendi, the Muslim chaplain at Georgetown University, who was also at the airport, the four agreed to hold an immediate joint prayer service.
“Together with the Imam, those present were called to prayer by Brother Matthew with some verses of 'Amazing Grace.' Brother Mikhail invoked the presence of God in a warm and hospitable prayer. Then Imam Hendi passionately prayed on behalf of the gathering—roughly 50 people from diverse faiths—offering words of peace, justice, and integrity,” the Carmelites report.
To show support for indigenous rights and environmental concerns, two Presentation Sisters spent their Thanksgiving weekend bringing firewood and sleeping bags to the protesters at Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota.
Sister Liz Remily, P.B.V.M., from Aberdeen, South Dakota and Sister Joanna Bruno, P.B.V.M., from San Francisco worked with other members of their community to gather supplies and then made a 450-mile drive to the reservation to deliver goods.
“It was encouraging and inspiring to see so many young and courageous people standing up for the earth and indigenous rights,” Bruno and Remily report. They were also impressed by the size and the spirit of the protest: “Along with the Lakota and Yankton Sioux were thousands ... representing over 200 tribes from North and Central America along with environmentalists.”
Explaining their rationale, the sisters say: “We can go to the moon and return safely to earth. How can we not figure out a way to move oil from point A to point B without sacrificing sacred lands and contaminating drinking water? If we are willing to rape indigenous sacred lands then we would be willing someday to run a pipeline through the main aisle of Notre Dame Cathedral.”
Maryknoll Lay Missioners—a Catholic organization that supports laity living and working in poor communities in Africa, Asia, and North America—has named a new executive director, Matthew Boyle.
Boyle, who has been with the organization since 2014, says, “I am humbled by being selected to help lead this amazing organization into our next phase of growth and service in Christ’s image.”
Maryknoll Lay Missioners is an independent organization but works closely with Maryknoll fathers, brothers, sisters and affiliates in responding to basic needs of the poor and helping to create a more just and compassionate world.
“Pope Francis calls us all to come back to our missioner roots," Boyle says. "There are so many people in this beautiful world that God created for us, who need our assistance and love.”
Motivated by a profound tradition of Catholic Social Teachings and grounded in the history and spirit of the Maryknoll mission family, Maryknoll Lay Missioners recruits new missioners; helps potential missioners through a discernment process; trains new missioners with an intensive 10-week orientation; provides ongoing mission education, including language and cultural experiential learning; and helps match missioners’ talents with the needs of the population they will serve.
Learn more at www.mklm.org.
The Letters, a film about the life of Mother Teresa of Calcutta (1910-1997), portrays an intimate struggle with hope and despair by one of the most famous religious humanitarians of the 20th century. The story follows Mother Teresa's life as told through her revealing letters to her spiritual director Father Celeste van Exem. The reviews of the film were mixed, but the movie interestingly delves into many aspects of religious life and different types of religious communities.
The film begins with Mother Teresa's first congregation, Loreto Sisters of Dublin, who served in Darjeeling, India, as cloistered teachers of girls. After 15 years of service teaching geography and history, Mother Teresa experienced "a call within a call." She desired to work with the poor, sick, and dying on the streets of Calcutta.
The movie highlights the challenges she faced to establish a new religious community, the Missionaries of Charity, that was fully recognized by the Vatican. Despite her desire to give dignity to those most vulnerable, Mother Teresa experienced deep spiritual darkness at times, which is well-depicted.
The Letters is available on DVD and Netflix. Mother Teresa's canonization ceremony will be Sept. 4, 2016.
A dictionary for discerners is a great reference resource to help understand parts of the film.
Father Sabino Maffeo, S.J., assistant to the director of the Vatican Observatory, recently discovered the names of four Sisters of the Holy Child who helped map a section of the night sky that was assigned, as part of an international project, to the Vatican Observatory in 1887. Italian Sisters Emilia Ponzoni, Regina Colombo, Concetta Finardi, and Luigia Panceri helped catalog nearly half a million stars. Using photographic plates, the Vatican Observatory, along with 19 other countries, mapped the entire sky.
In 1920 Pope Benedict XV received the sisters in a private audience and gave them a gold chalice. Pope Pius XI also received the "measuring nuns" eight years later, awarding them a silver medal.
Over the centuries, there have been many monasteries that have made and sold wine and beer. In recent years, with craft breweries becoming all the rage in the United States, some beer-brewing monks are tapping into the trend, according to the Los Angeles Times, namely the American monks who produce a beer line called Birra Nursia at the Monastero di San Benedetto in central Italy.
“I knew the difference between craft beer and run-of-the-mill factory beer,” says Father Benedict Nivakoff, originally from Connecticut, who is proud of Birra Nursia’s two beers, a blond ale and a Belgian strong ale that hit the U.S. market in April. “Our life is mostly centered around prayer,” he says, “so we get up at 3:30 in the morning, we pray seven times a day, we’re in and out of the church every hour—there isn’t a lot else we can do, besides the brewery.”
Another popular beer brewed by monks is Ovila Abbey Saison—this one in the United States. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. brews the Ovila Abbey Ales series in collaboration with the Trappist monks of Abbey of New Clairvaux. These Cistercian brothers harvest fruit for the beer from their orchards in Vina, California, where they also tend vineyards for wine-making.
Read more: "Raise a glass to the brewing monks!".
The Los Angeles Times reports that Father George "Jerry" Hogan is celebrating the sacraments with circus performers, allowing them to work around busy performance schedules and make time for their faith. Recently, 11 members from the Circus Vargas troupe—mainly the children of performers—took their next steps into the Catholic faith with Confirmation.
Father Hogan understands that for many of the performers there is not much free time outside of practice and performing. He said, "They do three shows on Saturday and three shows on Sunday, so it's impossible for them to go to church." He has been ministering to circus performers for more than 22 years, and he even has circus vestments.
He is not alone in his suprising ministry. Sisters Dorothy Frabritze and Mary Seibert help to prepare performers and their children for the sacraments while on the road, and transform the center ring into a space suitable for Mass by adding an area for Baptism and an altar.
The performers are grateful to have Father Hogan to minister to them. Josue Marinelli, who received his First Communion and was confirmed by Hogan a few years ago, said, "My older daughter was also baptized by Father Jerry. It's kind of like a family tradition, which is hard, working in the circus because we're always traveling around. Luckily, we have Father Jerry to help us out."
Portrait photos of Hawthorne Dominican Sisters were recently featured in the New York Times, profiling those who serve the dying at Rosary Hill Home in Hawthorne, New York. Founder Mother Mary Alphonsa, born Rose Hawthorne Lathrop, daughter of American author Nathaniel Hawthorne, said, "We cannot cure our patients, but we can assure the dignity and value of their final days and keep them comfortable and free of pain."
The photographer Gillian Laub learned of the sisters when her mother-in-law was suffering from terminal cancer and spent her final days with the sisters. Laub wanted to capture the tenderness and care in the eyes and faces of these Hawthorne Dominican Sisters in the 15 portraits of each woman.
View the slideshow of the portraits and original article here.
Discover more about Dominican Sisters (O.P.) here.
Founded in 1991 by the late Cardinal John J. O’Connor, the Sisters of Life are an emotional and spiritual outreach to pregnant women in crisis in New York City. As a contemplative and active religious community, the sisters' charism is to “protect and enhance the sacredness of human life.” Pregnant women are welcome at the congregation's Visitation Mission and its Holy Respite residence at Sacred Heart Convent, and some are permitted to stay in the residence until their babies are one year old.
“One of the reasons for the joy in the community is we believe each person has some beautiful, unique goodness and we have the joy of discovering that in them and reflecting it back so she has the experience of her own dignity, goodness and strength,” Sister Mary Elizabeth said. “That person becomes a gift to us in our recognizing her for who she is. She reveals to us the splendor and beauty of God.”
The sisters do not advertise and rely on word-of-mouth from friends and former clients to share the mission of their community.
Read more from Catholic News Service here.
The Benedictine Sisters of Chicago organized a peace walk in April to grieve the loss of the life of 18-year-old Antonio Robert Johnson, who was recently gunned down in front of their home, St. Scholastica Monastery. The sisters and their neighbors walked in solidarity against violence and injustice in their north side neighborhood of Chicago.
The primary ministry of the Benedictine Sisters (O.S.B.) of Chicago is community: to minister in education, social services, pastoral ministry, spiritual development, and social justice, to name a few.
Sister Benita Coffey, O.S.B., who promotes social justice for the Benedictines, shared with the Chicago Tribune: "We've been on this property since 1906 and we are not getting up and leaving the neighborhood. We're going to support our neighbors in whatever ways we can."
According to the Amsterdam News, the Franciscan Handmaids of the Most Pure Heart of Mary are celebrating a century of service in Harlem, New York, with a gala at the New York Academy of Medicine in Manhattan. One of only three orders of black nuns in the United States, they established one of the first preschool educational programs in New York in 1923 and feed more than 20,000 families annually at the St. Edward Food Pantry on Staten Island.
With six new sisters in formation and the opening of a new convent in Nigeria, the sisters believe, as shared by congregation minister Sister Gertrude Lilly Ihenacho, that “the mission of the order has not yet ended, and the spirit informed us to wake up and revive what is left before we die.”
Essence magazine editor-in-chief emerita and founder and CEO of the National CARES Mentoring Movement Susan L. Taylor will present the Centennial Award to the Franciscan Handmaids of the Most Pure Heart of Mary at the gala, which Sister Ihenacho hopes will have a wonderful turnout as the proceeds benefit scholarships for children to attend St. Benedict Day Nursery with the next generation of FHM sisters.
The Telegraph reports that as part of the Year of Mercy, a special confession drive in England on March 4 and 5, known as “24 hours for the Lord,” invited non-Catholics to speak to a priest and unburden themselves of things that weighed heavy on their hearts. A priest was available to talk with participants, but they were not bound to the formal steps of expressing penitence for their sins, and instead of absolution, they simply received a blessing.
The idea was put forth by England's Bishop of Plymouth Mark O’Toole. He said, “Confession continues to be a priceless treasure in my own life, and I hope every Catholic can avail of its gift more deeply. Even if you are not Catholic, come and see. You are welcome in our churches, there will be time and space for prayer, and you can approach the priest and chat with him, and receive a blessing."
This initiative is part of the Year of Mercy, which is centered on forgiveness. The church hopes that this gives both Catholics and non-Catholics an opportunity to receive mercy, while also inspiring them to show mercy to others.
Brother Joseph Maria, of the South Bend, Indiana, Franciscan Brothers Minor, jogs around town in his brown woolen robe and sandals, sporting a beard and shaved head, according to the South Bend Tribune.
This friar, along with five others, are among the subgroup within the Franciscan order established by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades (Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend) six years ago. The brother friars are fully recognized by the church but are going through the steps to gain more jurisdiction over themselves. Like Saint Francis of Assisi, living simply to focus on service to the gospel, these brothers focus on prayer, work with a Mishawaka youth group, and religious education at a nearby parish.
Brother Joseph struggled with whether to continue jogging as a friar, but decided that running in his robe is an outward sign that the brothers continue the "walk" of Saint Francis. As they have no income, the brothers walk for transportation and beg for what goods and foods they need.
Learn more about the Franciscans Friars here.
In celebration of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, Pope Francis has chosen more than 1,000 priests to be "missionaries of mercy" and preach and teach about God's mercy during this holy year. According to Catholic News Service, 700 of the 1,071 missionaries chosen by Francis will be in Rome on Ash Wednesday (Feb. 10) to concelebrate the liturgy and receive their special mandate at St. Peter's Basilica.
The Jubilee of Mercy website explains the various functions and characteristics of the missionaries in detail. Diocesan bishops nominated these priests to apply and the Holy Father chose the missionaries personally. The missionaries will be able to pardon, during the Sacrament of Reconciliation, types of sins usually reserved for the Holy See.
The missionaries are to be:
1. A living sign of the Father’s welcome to all those in search of his forgiveness.
2. Facilitators for all, with no one excluded, of a truly human encounter, a source of liberation, rich with responsibility for overcoming obstacles and taking up the new life of Baptism again.
3. Guided by the words: “For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy upon all; inspiring preachers of Mercy."
4. Heralds of the joy of forgiveness.
5. Welcoming, loving, and compassionate confessors, who are most especially attentive to the difficult situations of each person.
Read about two Franciscans of the Province of St. John the Baptist who will serve as missionaries of mercy here.
Read more profiles of Dominican, Jesuit, Holy Cross, and diocesan priests commissioned to be missionaries here.
The Global Post profiled Sister Mary Dillon, a a 70-year-old nun from Ireland, who has been caring for HIV/AIDS patients in Kachin, Myanmar for more than a decade. Since the country held democratic elections, there have been promises of peace and justice, but for the Kachin people, these promises seem empty.
As an ethic minority in the north, many from Kachin turn to one of 40 camps for internally displaced people (IDPs). Among these is The Hope Center, a shelter for impoverished people with AIDS and HIV. It currently provides care and medicine to nearly 80 people, ranging in age from 1 to 54. The center serves about 520 people a year.
“Life is very hard; very cruel here,” says Sister Dillon, who opened the center in 2005 after two years of making house calls. “[Myanmar's government] is not a government for the people—it's a government for themselves.”
Along with little government support, the lack of medicine and health education as well as high rates of drug addiction in the area are worsening the problem. With stigmas surrounding HIV and AIDS, Sister Dillon has created her own "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy at The Hope Center. She seeks to help anyone and everyone who comes through her door.
“We don't ask questions here. This is not a hospital. This is a home where people who are discriminated [against] are welcome,” she says. “Whether you are KIA [Kachin Independence Army] or Burmese army or Christian or Buddhist, we are all one here.”
Homeboy Industries founder and executive director, Father Greg Boyle, SJ, will be honored with the 2016 James Beard Humanitarian of the Year award on May 2 at the Civic Opera Building in Chicago. According to the James Beard Foundation, the award is "given to an individual or organization whose work in the realm of food has improved the lives of others and benefited society at large."
L.A. Weekly recapped Father Boyle's ministry in Los Angeles, where he founded Homeboy Industries after the 1992 L.A. riots and brought rival gang members and former prisoners together to learn baking and business skills at the Homeboy Bakery. The humble Jesuit "homie" continues to grow the mission of Homeboy Industries, which is now the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation, and re-entry program in the world. The organization now also runs Homegirl Café & Catering, Homeboy Diner in Los Angeles City Hall, and a retail presence at farmers’ markets around Los Angeles.
The Sisters of the Good Shepherd Maria Droste Contemplative Community is one of six contemplative communities invited by the Archdiocese of St. Louis to open their doors as a pilgrimage site during the Year of Mercy.
Sister Elizabeth Garciano, the local leader for the Maria Droste Contemplative Community in St. Louis recently blogged about the official blessing by Bishop Edward M. Rice and the great opportunity and privilege it is for them to serve the community at large during this Jubilee Year.
Being a pilgrimage site near Ferguson, Missouri, "in the midst of racial tension" allows the sisters to continue to be an affirmation of missionary life as well as a witness to God's mercy and reconciliation, Garciano says. Additionally, she shares, being a pilgrimage site allows people to get closer to God through Mass, morning and evening prayer, Stations of the Cross, praying the Rosary, and eucharistic adoration.
The Sisters of the Good Shepherd Year of Mercy pilgrimage site event is listed on the VISION Events Calendar. Join the sisters at the Maria Droste Contemplative Community for prayer and Mass during the following times throughout the Year of Mercy:
Weekly Sunday morning prayer 9 a.m.
Sunday Mass 9:30 a.m.
Daily Monday to Friday Mass 7 a.m.
Daily Monday to Friday morning prayer 7:30 a.m.
“The shepherd cannot run at the first sign of danger,” wrote American priest Father Stanley Rother in 1980 in his last Christmas letter to Catholics in his native Oklahoma. He remained true to his word and was martyred the following year in Guatemala.
The first biography of the late priest, The Shepherd Who Didn’t Run: Fr. Stanley Rother, Martyr from Oklahoma, by Maria Ruiz Scaperlanda, was released in November. The cause for beatification of Father Rother is now being considered by the Vatican.
Five years after his ordination, in 1968, Father Rother arrived in Guatemala and served as a parish priest to Tz’utujil Mayan Indians in the farming community of Santiago Atitlan. He learned their languages, cared for their needs, and prepared them for the sacraments. Even after the violence of the Guatemalan civil war reached their village and kidnappings and killings became routine, Father Rother continued his work of building a farmers’ co-op, a school, a hospital, and a Catholic radio station.
When his name was put on a death list, he returned to Oklahoma in 1981 for three months, but decided not to abandon his people in Guatemala. The 46-year-old priest was shot to death shortly upon his return. He was among 10 priests killed in the country that year.
Scaperlanda is an award-winning author and journalist, published in both the Catholic and secular press. The Oklahoma-based writer blogs at DaybyDaywithMaria.blogspot.com.
Holy doors opened worldwide this month to begin the Year of Mercy, and in the United States, an abundance of events, observances, services, and pilgrimages are planned all year to commemorate it.
In Lafayette, Louisiana, an ambulance transformed into a mobile confessional named "Spiritual Care Unit," was blessed by the bishop and designed to "give greater access and availability of the sacrament to those who may have been away for some time," said Community of Jesus Crucified Father Michael Champagne. "We have already experienced persons who were away for decades from the sacrament returning home."
In Dubuque, Iowa, local parishes will perform one corporal work of mercy for seven weeks.
In New Ulm, Minnesota, the Church of St. Mary will host a workshop on human trafficking, and the diocese will encourage the corporal work of visiting the imprisoned.
The New Orleans archdiocese is heeding Pope Francis' call for mercy toward those who have had abortions and is providing healing and support through counseling.
Ecology is the focus of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development, and it has organized a Catholic social ministry gathering, "Called to Live Mercy in Our Common Home," in Washington, D.C., Jan. 23-26.
Pilgrimages in many individual dioceses are also among the celebrations of this holy year.
Read the full article from the National Catholic Reporter here.
The Christian Post reports that hundreds of Catholic high school and college students met in Washington, D.C., last week and urged Congress to stand with Pope Francis and his message on climate change, immigration, and human rights in Central America.
The students also heard from Sister Simone Campbell, S.S.S., a Sister of Social Servie and Executive Director of NETWORK, a Catholic social justice lobby group. “Faith through justice," said Campbell, "takes care of our earth, takes care of our people, takes care of our politics. So you all, use this moment to build bridges and transform our nation and give people hope.”
Over the weekend, the students met with members of Congress and discussed policy. At the end of the conference, the Ignatian Solidarity Network hosted a day of advocacy on Capitol Hill, the largest Catholic advocacy day of the year.
The BBC 100 Women series recently featured Mercedarian Missionary Sister Neyda Rojas and her detention ministry in the very violent and overcrowded prisons of Venezuela. Sister Neyda teaches literacy and other life skills to the inmates who she acknowledges have committed serious crimes, but who she continues to see as "God's children." She shares: "They've lost their freedom, but not their dignity."
Through out her 17 years of ministry, Sister Neyda's charisma and perseverance have gained her trust and respect among the inmates. Some of Sister Neyda's best memories include delivering the baby of a female inmate and ensuring inmates with serious illnesses got the medicine they needed. She spreads hope and respect to each person she encounters, which keeps her coming back to the inmates who call her "La Gota Blanca" (The White Drop) because of the color of her habit in a sea of darkness.
The Irish Catholic reports that priests will hear confessions at shopping malls around the country on Dec. 8, 2015, including as many as 16 priests at Skycourt Shopping Centre in County Clare. The "Mercy on the Mall" initiative will mark the opening of the Holy Year of Mercy.
Shannon parish priest Father Tom Ryan shares that these Irish priests are carrying the pope's message and answering his call "to go out to the market place and proclaim the Gospel."
Capuchin Friar Father Dan Joe O’Mahony, who runs a popular oratory in the Blanchardstown Centre in Dublin, said ministering in large shopping malls is about “meeting people where they are at. It’s all about getting the Church into the market place which is where the Lord worked himself."
The Year of Mercy will begin on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Dec. 8, 2015, and will conclude on the Feast of Christ the King, Nov. 20, 2016.
Jesus, his mother, and his disciples once passed through the ancient town of Anjara, located in Jordan in the hills east of the Jordan River Valley, and rested there in a cave, where now stands the Church of Our Lady of the Mount, a site of Christian pilgrimage and an example of community between Christians and Muslims in the area.
The pastor, Father Hugo Fabian, 46, is Argentinian but has lived in the Middle East for 18 years, including in Egypt and Syria. He is fluent in Arabic and has studied Islam. A priest of the Religious Family of the Incarnate Word (IVE), he has worked in Anjara for the past decade.
“Thank God we are able to help many families in Anjara because so many of them need help,” Father Fabian said.
Anjara, population 20,000, is a particularly poor town, even for the poor country of Jordan. The parish’s weekly collection is about $50. The church and its school and mission are largely supported by Arab Christians in the United States and by donations from pilgrims who visit the shrine. And the parish has much to support.
There are about 220 students at the school, about half are Christian and half are Muslim. As part of the comprehensive curriculum, classes in Islam are taught to the Muslim students and catechism is taught to the Christian students. All are taught religious tolerance.
Of the king of Jordan, Abdullah II, Father Fabian said, “Thank God we have this open-minded man,” who promotes religious acceptance of the minority Christian population in this predominantly Muslim country.
The parish also runs a mission that takes in children of all ages and religions, who are in need of refuge for a variety of reasons including poverty and problems at home, providing them with food, clothing, shelter, and education. The mission regularly has about 30 kids in its care. Additionally, the church ministers to prisoners and prostitutes. And it wants to do more, including housing and other support for Syrian refugees.
In this place that is a sign that love and unity is possible among all people, a miracle occurred. On May 6, 2010, the statue of Our Lady of the Mount wept tears of human blood. Many believe the tears showed her sorrowful solidarity with the poor of Anjara. "The Virgin Mary cries with us and for us,” Father Fabian said.
There are 250 families in the parish, served by three priests and seven sisters, who belong to the Religious Family of the Incarnate Word, founded in Argentina in 1984. The order has missionaries all over the world and began working in Jordan in 2004.
Former prioress of the Adrian Dominican Sisters, Sister Donna Markham, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, served some 300 homeless at a lunch with Pope Francis at Catholic Charities in Washington, D.C., after his historic address to Congress.
According to the Adrian Dominican Sisters' blog, Sister Markham will also be a guest of a Holy See diplomat in New York City for the pope's address to the United Nations General Assembly on Friday, Sept. 25. And following the U.N. event, Sister Markham will be with Catholic Charities of New York City for the pope's visit to Our Lady of Queen of Angels School in East Harlem to spend time with immigrants and refugees of the school and its parish.
Sister Markham said being at these events was a “thrilling and moving experience” and that it was an “incredible day” that brought together the Catholic Church and the U.S. government so powerfully.
Discover more about Sister Markham, the first female president of Catholic Charities USA in this SpiritCitings blog post from Jan. 15.
View Pope Francis' speech to Catholic Charities USA from CBS here.
Update: Pope stopped on his way to celebrate his final Mass in Philadelphia to view the "Knotted Grotto" art installation, sponsored by MercyandJustice.org.
Sister Mary Scullion, R.S.M., a Mercy sister, was asked by Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia to help with preparations for the World Meeting of Families, convening from Sept. 22-25, 2015. “The archbishop wanted to talk about how we could protect the poor and hungry,” says Scullion, in an interview with Huffington Post. “But I never imagined we could get so much done in that short time.”
"Since launching the World Meeting of Families Committee on Hunger and Homelessness, reports Jaleem Kaleem, "Scullion has used the pope’s high-profile visit and the convergence this week of the nation’s leading Catholic figures to raise $1.3 million to aid 52 projects and organizations centered on helping people struggling with poverty, mental illness or both."
“Pope Francis says the greatest virtue is mercy,” says Scullion. “But he also said that concrete works of mercy and spiritual development are not enough. We also need systemic change.” Learn more about the works Scullion helped spearhead at MercyAndJustice.org.
Click her for more informations on the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas.
Among the worldwide celebrations in August of the 200-year anniversary of the founding of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, the Cincinnati Province held an outdoor Mass, mission presentation, and reception for 1,500 guests at the St. Charles Center in Carthagena, Ohio. The community also co-sponsored a youth and family event called "Jubilation!" with the Northern Network of Youth Ministers at the nearby Spiritual Center of Maria Stein Shrine of the Holy Relics.
Meanwhile, in Peru, to commemorate the bicentennial, priests, brothers, parishioners, and friends celebrated Mass at the parish of San Francisco de Borja and held a large reception where several groups entertained guests with Peruvian dances and school children joined in a procession around the neighborhood. According to the congregation's website, the Missionaries of the Precious Blood have ministered in Peru since 1962.
The Missionaries of the Precious Blood is a worldwide congregation of priests, brothers, and lay associates (called companions) that was founded by Saint Gaspar del Buffalo in Italy on August 15, 1815. The congregation began preaching in towns throughout central Italy, igniting the "fire of faith in God's people."
A new film, The Dream Continues, available in English, Spanish, and Italian explores the spirituality, mission, and ministry around the world of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood.
Jesuit Father Robert Dae-je Choi has found a way to wake people up—with caffeine and prayer. Father Choi and a team of volunteers run Ignatius Cafe in Los Angeles, where they help customers kick off their busy day in a peaceful way by creating an environment to quietly pray or happily converse.
“As a Jesuit and in the Jesuit faith, we find God in all things—coffee is in God and God is in coffee,” Father Choi said. The cafe is named after the founder of the Society of Jesus.
According to Jesuit News, Father Choi, who has a passion for coffee and a certification from the Coffee Quality Institute, opened the cafe in 2011 to help support St. Agnes Korean Catholic Church and provide a place for members to gather. All proceeds go to local and global causes. The drink menu is simple, and a $3 donation is suggested for all drinks. Not a bad price considering Father Choi has a selection of beans from around the world hand-sorted every morning in order to make the perfect brew.
A statue of Mother Catherine Spalding (1793-1858) was installed outside the Cathedral of the Assumption in Louisville, Kentucky, among statues of presidents, civic leaders, explorers, and athletes. It is the first public statue of a woman in Louisville, which honors her work as co-founder of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth and her many contributions to Louisville, according to Louisville's NPR news station WFPL.
Spalding, an orphan herself, and the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth took in many children who were abandoned during the settlement of the Kentucky frontier or orphaned by the cholera outbreak of the 1830s. Spalding's statue depicts her carrying a child in her arms and holding the hand of another child next to her.
Discover more about the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth who work for justice in solidarity with oppressed people, especially women and the poor, and for care of the earth. They minister in the United States as well as India, Nepal, Belize, and Botswana.
|One of the many tasks of Sister Dorothy Fabritze's circus ministry is sacrament preparation
for the performers, crew, and their families who travel around the United States.
|Pope Francis will visit Ecuador, Paraguay, and Bolivia to raise awareness of the struggles of the poor there..|
July 5-13 Pope Francis will be in South America visiting the continent's poorest nations: Ecuador, Paraguay, and Bolivia.
"Bolivia and Paraguay are the continent's poorest countries, writes Nicole Winfield for the Associated Press, with one in four Bolivians living on $2 a day, according to the World Bank. The countries are also small in population and weight compared to regional powerhouses like Chile and Argentina."
"Here you see a bit the pope's criteria: To go to visit even those countries that aren't geopolitically at the top rank of the world panorama," said the Vatican spokesman, the Father Federico Lombardi.
"Indigenous people will take center stage during much of Pope's visit," says Winfield "while Francis' own Jesuit order will be in the spotlight for its role in evangelizing the continent centuries ago and even today. Environmental concerns in the Amazon, border conflicts and the region's tortured history with authoritarian regimes also factor into the agenda."
Read more here.
|A new Gregorian chant album by a group of Benedictine monks in Norcia,
Italy, debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s classical music chart.
| Sister Larraine Lauter, O.S.U., executive director of Water with Blessings, gets water filters, the
size of an empty toilet paper roll, to those who need them, but she needs help to deliver more.
|Beatification ceremony of Consolata Missionary Sister Irene “Nyaatha” Stefani in Kenya.|
| "Human trafficking is not something that you recognize quickly and this is why
we have to speak up about it. We have to inform the world that these are
people who need help," Comboni Missionary Sister Gabriella Bottani said.
Comboni Missionary Sister Gabriella Bottani was recently appointed coordinator of Talitha Kum, a project of the Unión Internacional de Superioras Generales (International Union of Superior Generals) and the Rome-based international network of religious sisters working to end human trafficking.
In a Global Sisters Report interview, Bottani shared the staggering statistics of moderm-day human trafficking: "Between 800,000 to 2 million people are trafficked each year, 80 percent of whom are women and girls. Human trafficking facilitates sexual exploitation, forced labor, domestic servitude; it leads to organ removal and forced marriage."
Talitha Kum's network is "now present in 81 countries and are more than 1,000 sisters strong. At first [in the early 2000s], the idea was to train sisters and have them become leaders in this area—and to go from there to create a movement. So the first step was to organize training programs in different countries. And the first goal was to inform and train sisters as to what human trafficking is. The second goal was to organize a network. In 2009, there was an international meeting that called all of the programs together. And it was decided to form this network, which was called Talitha Kum," Bottani said.
The continued goal of Talitha Kum is to "strengthen our identity and to help the local networks improve their capacity to confront human trafficking."
"We are in a very positive place with the engagement of Pope Francis and his commitment against human trafficking. I think he is helping the church to confront and to see this problem," Bottani said.
| Nuns at St. Joseph's Health Centre in Bangui, Central African Republic grow vitamin-rich
green algae spirulina to care for those suffering from acute malnutrition.
The children of Central African Republic have long suffered from malnutrition due to the ravages of the civil war that has divided the country since 2013. But at St. Joseph Health Centre in Bangui, under the direction of Sister Margherita Floris, there is hope growing in the form of algae spirulina.
According to PBS Newshour, "The nuns of the centre, who serve women and children with pre- and post-natal care, do their best to alleviate the suffering of children with acute malnutrition. They have literally taken matters into their own hands."
Using a French pharmacist's formula, the nuns produce vitamin-rich green algae spirulina in their own backyard. The spirulina contains all of the essential amino acids plus minerals such as iron, and it is a good source of protein.
Sister Margherita’s eyes sparkle with satisfaction as she tells me “none of our babies die anymore, we have a huge success with this.”
| Sister Norma Pimentel, M.J., hopes the opportunity to speak to the U.N.
will bring more attention to immigrants on the U.S./Mexico border.
Sister Norma Pimentel, M.J., ministers in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas to those on "the frontlines of the crisis on the border," according to ABC-KRGV. Pimentel, Sacred Heart Church in McAllen, and Catholic Charities have helped nearly 18,000 immigrants. She has been invited by the United Nations to address the organization and share her experience.
"Oh wow, what an honor. I'm humbled to know that they asked me to do this," Pimentel says.
Read the full article and watch the brief interview here.
|Catholic sisters marched with clergy and non-violent protesters in Selma, Ala. in 1965.|
A recent Global Sisters Report article, “The Selma effect: Catholic nuns and social justice 50 years on,” documents the vital role Catholic Sisters played during the civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala. in 1965. Pictures of Catholic sisters who marched were splashed on the front pages of newspapers all over the country. Those images of solidarity for the marginalized were a catalyst for the future of social justice ministries in religious communities.
GSR shares, “Although the six Catholic sisters who marched in Selma were among hundreds of marchers, their presence was a landmark occurrence, an event that would reverberate around the country. Never before had Catholic sisters been involved in a national public protest, let alone one that was covered by all the national media. Initially the six nuns did not anticipate the impact of their public witness, but the violent racism and poverty they observed in Selma—and the reactions from the American Catholics, both positive and negative—provided a wake-up call to action for U.S. Catholic sisters from a wide range of communities in all parts of the country.”
Read about the full legacy of the sisters’ stories of working toward "gender equality and women’s empowerment, education, health, poverty eradication, environmental sustainability, and global partnerships," especially during this National Catholic Sisters Week.
|"Sister Dorothy Stang did not set out to be a martyr, but she was deeply committed to doing God’s
work of defending human rights and promoting justice." - from VISION tribute to Stang
A decade ago, Ohio-born Sister Dorothy Stang, of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, was slain because of her tireless work for the poor and landless in Brazil. She advocated for the small-scale farmer who is still, 10 years later, the frequent victim of harassment, forced evictions, threats, physical violence, and even killings.
However, according to the Huffington Post, "In recent years, independent civil society truth commissions have begun investigating the history of violence in the Brazilian countryside, grappling with the roles of unequal land distribution, poor documentation of land rights, and expulsion and killings of indigenous peoples. These investigations were inspired by Brazil’s National Truth Commission, which reported human rights abuses under the 1964-1985 military dictatorship."
For Girolamo Treccani, a law professor at the Federal University of Para and a member of Para State’s Rural Truth Commission, the question of prison time was less important than ensuring that all cases are acknowledged and investigated.
“The right of justice demands denouncement and recognition,” he said, “even if individuals can’t go to prison." This denouncement is key as "in Brazil defendants are sometimes granted liberty while the lawyers exhaust all of their options of appeal, which often takes years."
Stang’s case was, in many ways, exceptional, because her killers were identified and brought to trial. Of the 1,270 cases of homicide of rural workers documented by the Pastoral Land Commission between 1985 and 2013, less then 10 percent were ever prosecuted. Stang’s case was one of the first times a mandante (someone who orders a killing) was convicted in Para.
From a tribute to Sister Dorothy Stang in the VISION article, Sister Dorothy Stang: Her dying shows us how to live: "Stang’s faithfulness to the gospel and commitment to her community’s mission to educate and stand with the poor is a profile in courage and true Christian discipleship. Stang is her community’s first martyr. They have pledged to continue the struggle for a world of justice and peace."
|Blessed Junipero Serra, O.F.M., founded nine of the 21 Spanish missions in California.|
|Sister Donna Markham, the new president of Catholic Charities.|
Sister Donna Markham, O.P., an Adrian Dominican with a background in clinical psychology, has been named the next president of Catholic Charities, USA. This makes the first time in its 105-year history that a sister has been named the head of the organization.
Catholic Charities serves more than 9 million people annually, making it extremely important to the social justice and service work of the Catholic Church in the United States.
“I feel blessed to walk among the many dedicated Catholic Charities workers across the country who daily make the gospel come alive through their care for their sisters and brothers in need," Markham said in a statement released by Catholic Charities.
"There can be no greater call than to serve and advocate on behalf of persons who struggle to get by in a world where they are all too frequently relegated to the margins of society and where they long for dignity, hope, and compassion.”
Read more about the Adrian Dominicans.
|Excitement builds for the pope's second trip to Asia.|
For his second trip to Asia and his seventh apostolic journey, Pope Francis will visit Sri Lanka and the Philippines this week, according to news reports.
While in Sri Lanka, the pope will canonize Blessed Joseph Vaz, a 17th-century South Asian priest who established missions in Sri Lanka. In the Philippines, the pope's emphasis will be comforting the victims of natural disasters that have struck this area hard recently.
According to Reuters, Pope Francis' trip to Asia will focus on the pope's "concern for inter-religious dialogue, poverty, and the environment." In fact, "the Vatican says Francis, who is preparing an encyclical on the environment, will speak about the issue several times."
|Sister Rosemary Connelly runs Misericordia with "a kind smile and an iron will."|
|Pope Francis urged the Salesian Sisters "to be everywhere a prophetic witness
and educative presence through an unconditional welcome of the young."
|A nun from Visitation Monastery in Minneapolis hugs a young member of the community.|
Nuns from an inner-city monastery on the north side of Minneapolis are celebrating 25 years of ministry in their community. Visitation Monastery was started in 1989 by four nuns. The community often refers to them as the 'nuns in the hood.'
The nuns of Visitation Monastery are a strong presence in the community, participating in peace walks and vigils for the slain and organizing events for children such as birthday parties and school-supply drives, as well as providing bus tokens and groceries to those in need.
According to resident Bianca Franks, the nuns provide more than services. "It’s just the idea of being present and having someone not only see but appreciate you and love you,” Franks said.
Retired journalist and professor Dave Nimmer said, “They are the closest thing that I can see to the face of Christ, of God, on this Earth.”
Read the full story.
|Fr. Paul Mast took to the streets to learn about homelessness on his 'street sabbatical.'|
Fr. Paul Mast, 68, a priest in the Diocese of Wilmington, Del., recently took to the streets in what he is calling a ‘street sabbatical’ during which he tried to better understand the issues those living on the streets face every day.
Mast was recently told that he was in the early stages of memory loss, and this prompted him to take a sabbatical. He did not really have a plan for his time off, but he wanted to challenge his brain to think in different ways. His theory was "that by living outside of his normal routine, his mind could map new pathways and, perhaps, slow the decline and recover function.”
When he was out one day, he encountered a young, homeless Iraq war veteran in Washington, D.C., who challenged him to “find and listen to those who are homeless.”
Mast embraced his advice and traveled around the world to pursue this mission. He traveled from Wilmington to San Francisco, Dallas, New Delhi, Munich, Milwaukee, and Hawaii and has chronicled his experiences in a new book, Street Sabbatical.
Mast worked to build relationships with many of the people he met on the streets, often asking their names, their stories, and what he could do for them. He often bought those he talked with meals or other supplies they needed, and even stayed in a shelter to gain a “new perspective."
Mast often asked those he talked with what they wanted the average person to know about homelessness, to which one person responded, “Tell them to look beyond the mess that is me and find God hidden somewhere inside.”
Read the full story.
|Fr. Joe Corriveau is working to rebuild a Haitian church.|
Fr. Joe Corriveau and his friends in Winthrop, Me., are working to raise $250,000 to rebuild St. Anthony of Padua Church in Haiti. Corriveau, who was born in Winthrop, was a pastor at St. Anthony of Padua in 2010 when an earthquake destroyed the church and the country surrounding it. According to the Red Cross, the earthquake killed 222,570 people, injured 300,572, and displaced 2.3 million people.
Corriveau, who is back in the United States for medical treatment, says the people of St. Anthony of Padua are still using a makeshift chapel of canvas and tin while they wait for a new church.
He says he is anxious to get back to Haiti and help new priests and missionaries that have been sent to the country. “I’m getting up there in age, and my hip doesn’t permit me to climb mountains any more. They put a younger priest there in my place and also put a seminarian there to get used to missionary work. I’m still attached to the parish because the young priest doesn’t have all the help that he needs,” Corriveau said.
So far, St. Michael’s Parish in Winthrop has raised $60,000 to help fund the new church. “We’ve always helped (Corriveau) out if there is any way we could help him," said Liz King, one of the people leading the project.
Corriveau understands how lucky he is to have the support of his friends and family in the United States. “The parish has been very generous and the men’s club very generous, and that’s how we’ve been keeping the (Haitian) parish open,” he said.
Read the full story.
|Fr. Bill Edens serving up spirituality in Portland, Ore.|
|Albanian faithful awaiting Pope Francis|
Sr. Maria Kaleta, an 85-year-old Franciscan Stigmatine nun, was a highlight of Pope Francis’ recent trip to Albania. During his meeting there with priests, religious, seminarians, and members of ecclesial lay movements, Kaleta recounted stories of her faith during the Communist regime in that country.
Kaleta spent seven years with her order but was forced to return home to her family by the Communist regime before taking her final vows. While there, she was unable to publically declare her faith but learned “to keep the faith alive in the hearts of the faithful” in secret.
She recalled a time when a Communist woman approached her and asked her to baptize her child. “I was afraid," Kaleta said, "because I knew the woman was a Communist, and I told her I didn't have anything to baptize her with because we were on the road, but she expressed so much desire that she told me there as a canal with water nearby. I told her I didn't have anything to collect the water with, but she insisted that I baptize that child, and seeing her faith, I took off my shoe, which was made of plastic, and I filled it with water from the canal and baptized her.” This was just one of many times she risked her life and safety to spread God’s word and witness her faith.
Among other stories of how she lived out God’s will in secret for years, Kaleta also focused on the strength her faith gave her. "The Lord gave strength to those He called; in fact, he has repaid me from all my sufferings here on earth," she said.Read the full story.
|Fr. Vincent Mulligan receives Vatican's Good Samaritan medal.|
Fr. Vincent Mulligan, 74, was awarded the Good Samaritan medal by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers for his decades of service as the director of pilgrimages for the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) order in Dublin, Ireland. For the past 27 years, Mulligan has been conducting pilgrimages to Lourdes, France, for patients suffering from illnesses. He is the first Irish priest to receive this honor.
“I didn’t expect it at all, and I don’t deserve it either," Mulligan said, after receiving the award. "I am just an ordinary working priest. Lourdes is a place of peace and contentment. You are faced with suffering on a massive scale. Your health is your wealth, and if you haven’t got that, you’ve got nothing.”
Lourdes is home to the Sanctuary of our Lady of Lourdes, where many pilgrims travel to pray to the Blessed Mother for healing. Along with many volunteers, Mulligan takes those who would not have otherwise had the opportunity to travel to the religious site.Even after visiting Lourdes so many times, Mulligan still enjoys the trip and is thankful for the volunteers that accompany him. “I look forward to it," he said. "You are helping people that cannot help themselves. It is not something I expected at all in any shape or form. I feel this is recognition of all the workers, all of them. Without them, and without the young people, we could not do what we do here.”
|"I return from Honduras evangelized by the poor, strengthened to live out my own gift of self with love, joy, simplicity, humility, and generosity," Friar Marius-Petrus Bilha O.F.M. says of his mission trip.|
NETWORKS’s Nuns on the Bus are back at it. Starting Sept. 17, the nuns will travel through 10 states. This year, the group’s stated goal is to “encourage candidates to commit to policies that benefit the 100 percent.”
NETWORK is a national Catholic social justice lobby, founded in 1971, in Washington, D.C. It advocates for issues in education, healthcare, immigration, housing, fair trade, peace through economic development, wage equity, and food security.
NETWORK sponsors Nuns on the Bus, a small group of nuns who travel on a dedicated bus in the United States to publicize different issues. The campaign first hit the road in 2012, fighting against budget cuts that would leave many on the margin without assistance. In 2013, the nuns spread the word about the need for immigration reform.
“‘We will call on ‘We, the People’ to stand up against big money and inequality in the upcoming November election,” Sr. Simone Campbell, NETWORK executive director, wrote in an email sent to supporters.The tour will end Oct. 17, after visiting Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, and West Virginia.
Pope Francis is no stranger to Twitter, and he recently tweeted his first photo on the social media site. The photo, by Catholic Relief Services, shows two children and their families, who have been displaced in central Iraq.
His tweet reads: “I pray every day for all who are suffering in Iraq. Please join me.”
Pope Francis has been quite vocal in his criticism of the Iraqi government, saying, "Hatred is not to be carried in the name of God! War is not to be waged in the name of God!"
The pope has expressed great support for the men and women of the church working to help in Iraq, and he recently called Iraqi Christians the heart of the church, which would ‘defend her defenseless and persecuted children’ like a mother.
Follow Pope Francis on Twitter @Pontifex.
|Saint Mary's College (Notre Dame, Ind.) President Carol Ann Mooney will hand deliver the #VoicesofYoungCatholicWomen letters when she and Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, have a general audience with Pope Francis on November 26.|
|“The Voices of Young Catholic Women project has allowed me to see my academic studies come to life. As a religious studies major and a gender and women’s studies minor, this experience is giving me a tangible experience where I am able to see the intersection of religion and gender,” said Saint Mary’s College student Tori Wilbraham ’15 (seond from the left pictured with the organizing group).|
Father Brown’s Cross on Mount Roberts, Juneau, Alaska
Recently, I went on a family vacation to Alaska where breathtaking views greet you at every angle. Coming from Chicago, I was not used to air so clean or skies so clear. The water was blue, dozens of whales swam through the ocean, bald eagles flew through the sky, and massive glaciers could be seen peaking through the mountains.
Everywhere I turned there was another beautiful part of nature--of God’s creation, but, as I learned, there are also many threats to this pristine land. Perhaps people taking this trip in the future would not see the same things I had the privilege to experience. Would I come to this place in 20 years with my children to find it all destroyed?
Pope Francis is reported to be writing an encyclical on the environment. I look forward to his guidance and wisdom on this important issue. In a talk in July, he said, "This is our sin, exploiting the earth and not allowing her to her give us what she has within her."
I will be the first to admit that the earth has not my number one priority. But after my Alaskan adventure, I realize how truly amazing the earth is. I am coming to understand that care for the poor and justice and peace go hand-in-hand with care for the environment. What good is a peaceful world without a healthy place to live? And how can we achieve peace when so many conflicts stem from people fighting for accesss to resources. God gave us this precious gift to protect, and we must take our role as stewards seriously.
Here are a few more images of the earth’s astounding beauty:
Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, Alaska
Johns Hopkins Glacier, Glacier Bay, Alaska
|This 19th-Century gold dalmatic worn by deacons during special occasions such as Christmas and Easter is one of many items on display at "Crossings and Dwellings."|
|A 1930 photo of Sister Mary Justitia Coffey, BVM, the first president of Mundelein College, and her desk also on display at the LUMA exhibit.|
In January, following the death of a 3-year-old boy after a Mafia ambush, Pope Francis began speaking out against organized crime. Then in June, the pope traveled to the place of the murder and “accused Mafia members of pursuing the ‘adoration of evil’” according to a report in Huffington Post, and even went so far as to excommunicate members of the mafia.
Next, Pope Francis will visit a mafia stronghold near Naples, in the town of Caserta, and many are wondering what this fierce anti-mafia stance will do for his papacy and his papal legacy.
Philip Willian, author of The Vatican at War, says, “The church has been divided over what sort of stance to take against organized crime. When the Pope puts his weight decisively behind the people fighting that battle, he gives them extra strength and encouragement.”
Since the Pope has started actively speaking out, other clerics have been more active in fighting the Mafia as well. A bishop in Calabria “put a 10 year moratorium on naming godfathers at baptisms in a bid to stop Mafia members from spreading their influence” and another bishop “ordered an end to religious processions after hundreds of people carrying a statue of the Madonna bowed in front of the house of a powerful godfather.”
The problem the Vatican and the church is facing is that Catholic rituals and practices are often “embedded in the secret rituals and practices of the Calabrian Mafia” and other rings of organized crime.
Enzo Ciconte, a top Mafia expert in Italy, says many mafia members “use religion simply as a means to gain social approval and advance their criminal operations. The actions of the pope could drive a wedge between the Mafia and those who are genuine believers.”
While many have stressed their concerns for the Pope and his safety, Ciconte also adds, “The Mafia is not stupid. It is not worth it for [them] to attack the pope. They will look for ways to pressure the faithful or will stop giving money to the church.”
|A sign of peace is offered at at all Souls Mass at the US-Mexico border.|
Sisters of Charity of Cincinatti novice Tracy Kemme writes a touching account of how she "encountered the human face of immigration" in "No Fences," a blog featured on the Global Sisters Report. "Every year on All Souls Day," she writes, "people gather at the border fence to celebrate a binational Mass in memory of all those who have died crossing the border. In 2010, I attended the Mass on the Mexico side with some of the families from Proyecto Santo Niño...How unsettling that the fence prevented us from embracing or shaking hands! We were reduced to touching our fingertips together through the chain links of the fence."
But, says Mercy Sister Mary Ann Walsh, R.S.M., director of media relations for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Conference, in the crisis at the border "heroes are emerging." In her blog post "Birmingham, Vietnam and Murrieta," Walsh highlights those who rate heroe status in her book: "First might be [Missionaries of Jesus] Sister Norma Pimentel, M.J., executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley... Another is Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville. He gets the problem. On his social media blog, he notes: 'What we are seeing unfold in front of our eyes is a humanitarian and refuge reality, not an immigration problem.' He adds that 'the Church must respond in the best way we can to the human need' and says 'at the same time we ask our government to act responsibly to address the reality of migrant refugees. A hemispheric response is needed, not a simple border response. And we ask the government to protect the church’s freedom to serve people.'”
Click on these links to participating VISION communities to find more about the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati and the Sisters of Mercy.
The St. Joseph Worker Program (SJW), sponsored by the Congregation of St. Joseph, has announced the first class of St. Joseph Workers for their new year-long volunteer program in New Orleans, Louisiana. Four young women, who have a blog, joined recently-named program director Jackie Schmitz, C.S.J. on July 31, 2009. Their volunteer year will end June 30, 2010.
SJW is a year-long volunteer program for single women between 21 and 35 who are committed to social change. This program is based on the St. Joseph Worker program the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet began seven years ago in St. Paul, Minnesota that has since grown to two houses in the Twin Cities as well as an alumni house.
The program trains and supports women to be agents of change as they provide direct services to the communities they serve. The core of the program includes development in leadership, community, justice, and spirituality, which participants work toward through training programs, retreat days, living together in community, ministry experiences, and interaction among themselves, the sisters and associates of the Congregation, and others they meet.
Nearly four years after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans remains a prime destination for thousands of out-of-state volunteers willing to take a break from their own lives to help rebuild the city--never more so than during the recently concluded spring break season.
Here, at least, Katrina fatigue has not yet settled in, say managers of major church and community groups that consume millions of volunteer hours as they build and repair thousands of homes.
"We're completely maxed out," said Paul Cook, senior project coordinator for Catholic Charities' Operation Helping Hands.
Similar reports came from other major rebuilding nonprofit groups: the St. Bernard Project, Habitat for Humanity, the United Methodist Church's Southeast Louisiana Disaster Recovery Center, the Presbyterian-affiliated Project RHINO and others.
Many Catholic colleges and universities now have "alternative spring break" programs in place, to make such opportunities available. Here's a question for college students' and recent grads--Does your school have such a program? If so, have you participated in an alternative spring break? Tell us about it!
Homeboy Industries, a nonprofit job-training program started by a Jesuit priest for ex-convicts in East Los Angeles, offers hope and a helping hand to former prisoners as they try to rehabilitate their lives and find jobs in a down economy.
For years Homeboy Industries put former felons to work at a bakery and cafe it runs in East Los Angeles. Last summer, Father Greg Boyle, S.J., who started Homeboy two decades ago, was approached by a supporter about the idea of preparing them for the green economy.
Because job-placement for ex-convicts is especially difficult in a recession, "I leapt at the opportunity," said Boyle. Homeboy Industries now has been training a group composed mostly of former gang members on parole to install solar panels so they can improve their skill set and market themselves for the new green economy.
Homeboy has joined forces with the East Los Angeles Skills Center, a public vocational school that offers a hands-on program to teach the design, construction, and installation of solar panels. The course is one of only a few such programs in California and commands a months-long waiting list.
The center created an intensive course for Homeboy. "I loved the idea of doing something for these guys," said Brian Hurd, the senior instructor who designed it. "My best student ever was a Homeboy referral" in a construction course "who needed a second chance."
Read more in an "A New Gang Comes to Los Angeles: Solar Panel Installers" by Miriam Jordan for the Wall Street Journal.
Cathleen Falsani, award-winning religion writer for the Chicago Sun-Times, says in a recent column that she greeted the news that the Vatican had introduced its own YouTube channel with happy anticipation because one of her all-time favorite online videos is of Pope John Paul II watching three Polish breakdancers performing at the Vatican. Falsani writes:
"Though struggling with the effect of Parkinson's disease, John Paul II is clearly enthralled by the dancers. He raises his hands in joyful approval, smiles and even attempts to clap in time with the hip-hop beat. 'Breakdancing for the pope,' as the video is called, never fails to lift my spirits."
"Alas," says a disappointed Falsani: "The Vatican's YouTube fare thus far is decidedly more, shall we say, austere. Each of the 30 videos posted on YouTube is a minute or two long, and most show Pope Benedict seated in a gold throne or behind a glass lectern reading from a script in Italian, Latin, French and English."
Falsani's advice: "These staid Vatican videos are vying for young people's attention with YouTube phenoms such as Spaghetti Cat, orange-clad Filipino inmates dancing to Michael Jackson's 'Thriller,' or that maddeningly memorable song, 'Chocolate Rain'? If the Vatican can loosen up a little bit and post video content with a bit more soul -- think more break dancing and less Latin chanting -- its efforts to bridge the digital divide to young Catholics could be a great success."
What's your advice? Send us your ideas for Vatican videos you'd like to see, or links to Catholic videos that haven't made it to the Vatican's YouTube channel.
From the heart of a missionary
Words come rushing into my awareness as I think of my missionary life so far . . . Kenya, my dream come true, far away from my birthplace of Detroit, Michigan. Fulfilling years of wondering, praying, searching, which culminated in my joining the Medical Missionaries of Mary, in Boston, Massachusetts. One dream, of being a nurse, had already come to fruition; now the missionary segment was unfolding. I was sent to a place called Turkana, a desert area tucked away in a corner of northwest Kenya. It was a land so totally new to me and “foreign,” yet it was there, in a seemingly barren land, that my life really bore fruit. I found a new life, a new home and all my dreams were fulfilled.
How to sum up my years as a missionary? So many experiences: joys and frustrations of learning a foreign language, becoming part of a gifted people so very different from my own. So much learning: about life and death, risk-taking and loving, failures and accomplishments. I discovered within me: my love for a people and land that is so deep that they will always be enmeshed in my heart and soul. It was a land where I experienced the deeper meaning of communion and commitment, of realizing more deeply what a missionary really is, the costs as well as the tremendous gift.
O what wondrous things I have experienced! What can compare with an old woman’s toothless smile as she eagerly awaits the often mispronounced or haltingly expressed words I speak in her language? Or who would trade anything for the laughter of a healthy baby and mother who have successfully fought the battle against tuberculosis? Again, what is equal to helping to quench the thirst for knowledge about God, about healthy living, about what the “rest of the world is like” that young people have?
Whom did I find? I found friends, people I am close to and will remain so until the day I die. I found Christ already present among the people who were labeled animists by some and heathens or pagans by others. I, the missionary, was missioned to, in countless ways, such as the heartfelt compassion I received from a starving mother of three who comforted me as I cried while telling her we had no more food to give, that our supplies were finished after a year-long drought and famine. I am the woman of little faith that, during that same famine, when death from hunger and disease were literally all around us, thought that Christmas would be dismal—but who had the best Christmas of her life! I experienced that Christmas Eve the true spirit and meaning of Christmas shining in the eyes and hearts, in the faith and joy of the people. These and countless other experiences I hold dear and will cherish always.
I lift my heart in gratitude to God for my missionary vocation and for all I have lived and experienced as a result! Glory and praise to our God!
I belong to: The Medical Missionaries of Mary
|FIRST Religious and third pope named TIME's Person of the Year.|
|Left top: Maryknoll's Mother Mary Columba,
Mother General at a critical time of growth and expansion; Below: 1975 Mother Teresa of Calcutta, bringer of an "extraordinary message of love and hope."
|Right top: 1971 Antiwar protestor priests Father Philip Berrigan, a Josephite, and his Jesuit brother Daniel; Right bottom: Sister Ada, 91, of the convent on Good Counsel Hill in Minnesota participates in medical study for Alzheimers in 2001 issue.|
|THIS SUNDAY celebrates those called to serve the gospel in different parts of the world.|
|BISHOPS REHEARSE a dance for the opening ceremony welcoming
Pope Francis at World Youth Day Rio 2013.
WHEN Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, six Catholic communities of religious women lost not only convents, chapels, cars, and motherhouses but also buildings housing ministries that served the people of the city—high schools, daycare sites, community centers, senior nursing home facilities, and others. The story of the dilemma the sisters faced between remaining and rebuilding or ministering elsewhere is told in a new documentary, We Shall Not Be Moved: The Catholic Sisters of New Orleans.
The communities the film profiled (some of whom can be found in VISION)—the Ursuline Sisters, the Congregation of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the Sisters of the Holy Family of New Orleans, the Marianites of Holy Cross, the Congregation of St. Joseph, and the Society of St. Teresa of Jesus (Teresian Sisters)—have served in the New Orleans area for an average of 175 years, the oldest for 285 years.
“This analysis elevates the program . . . to a complex and fascinating journey with religious women who faced an uncertain personal and public future,” said Sister of St. Francis of Sylvania, Ohio Judith Ann Zielinski, O.S.F., the film’s writer and producer for NewGroup Media in South Bend, Indiana. “Their choices were not uniform, simple, or immediate; ultimately, however, all six congregations . . . reconfirmed their commitment to the city and its people,” she said.
The SC Ministry Foundation in Cincinnati coordinated the film project and received funding from the Assembly of Catholic Foundations and other Catholic foundations and congregations of women religious.
“I have had the privilege of witnessing the faith, hope, and love of these women religious in New Orleans since 2005,” said Sister of Charity of Cincinnati Sally Duffy, S.C., president and executive director of the SC Ministry Foundation and an executive producer of the film. “These prophetic sisters transformed the destruction and devastation through the power of the Spirit and through the abiding presence of Christ. They rebuilt high schools, child-care development centers, community centers, and motherhouses, in some cases starting from nothing. In other cases they began programs that responded to the needs they saw around them after Hurricane Katrina.”
The ABC network has been offering the film to its affiliates. To see if a broadcast is scheduled in your area, go online.
Here’s the trailer:
October is Mission Month in the Roman Catholic Church, and on October 1 the Maryknoll Sisters will go live with their first website for teens.
Teen4Mission features stories for, about, and by teens who are making mission part of their everyday lives. In October it will have an interactive daily calendar with articles, links to videos, and mission-focused games as well as places where teens themselves can upload their own articles, pictures, and videos about mission and share their thoughts about mission in daily life with other teens.
See a preview of the site.
“Trailblazers in Habits,” a 90-minute film documenting the work of the Maryknoll Sisters, the first U.S.-based congregation of Catholic women religious dedicated to foreign missions, will have its New York premiere on Sunday, October 28, 2012, at 2 p.m. at the SVA Theatre, 333 West 23rd St., New York, NY.
A portrait of the Maryknoll Sisters’ endeavors in Hong Kong and elsewhere throughout the world, the documentary tells the story in the sisters’ own words, a chronicle that spans 100 years and several continents. The premiere coincides with the Maryknoll Sisters' Centennial year. Here's the 7-minute trailer: