Today (08.20.07)

Necrology

August 19 — Rev. Msgr. Arnold Boeding (1989)

Today’s Readings

Judges 2:11-19
Psalm 106:34-37, 39-40, 43-44
Matthew 19:16-22

Today’s Headlines from Catholic News Service

Families of trapped miners continue to pray; rescue efforts suspended

HUNTINGTON, Utah (CNS) — The Catholic pastor of a mission church near the mine where six miners remained trapped said their families were “coping as well as they can amid the slow progress of rescue operations and their attempts to keep their hopes up that the miners are still alive.” Father Donald E. Hope, a tall, lanky native of Ohio, has been meeting with miners’ families every day since the Aug. 6 collapse at the Crandall Canyon Mine that stranded the miners. He is pastor of Notre Dame de Lourdes Parish in Price and three central Utah missions, including San Rafael Mission in Huntington, near the mine. “The families are meeting daily with mine officials, and sometimes those meetings have been very emotional,” Father Hope told the Intermountain Catholic, newspaper of the Salt Lake City Diocese. He spoke to the Catholic paper before mine and rescue officials decided on the evening of Aug. 16 to suspend rescue efforts. The decision came shortly after another cave-in took the life of three rescue workers and injured six others. They had been trying to dig through rubble to try to reach the trapped miners. On Aug. 17 the head of the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration said underground rescue efforts will be suspended indefinitely.

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Today student loan debt seems as abundant as back-to-school supplies

WASHINGTON (CNS) — In a seemingly more innocent age, the back-to-school supply rush meant getting new pencils, pens, paper, construction paper, binders, folders, a Duo-Tang binder or two, plus a compass and the ever-popular protractor. Then came the calculator. And the bulkier textbooks. And the laptops. And the backpacks to cram everything in. Today, what may be heavier than that crammed pack is the debt burden incurred by a college student just to continue his or her education. With the heightened sense that only a college degree will gain a young worker entree to the current world of work, more students than ever — thanks also in part to the demographics of the baby “boomlet” — are attending college. But with states reining in higher-education funding, state-supported colleges and universities have had to hike their tuition rates substantially. Catholic colleges and universities, which don’t have the government funding supports public institutions still have to hold down tuition costs, must charge higher rates. DePaul University in Chicago will charge $24,300 this school year for a full load of classes. Even students getting financial aid, such as grants and work-study programs, can find it necessary to take out student loans to help fund their education.

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As antidote to megachurches, many seek small Christian communities

ST. PAUL, Minn. (CNS) — In an age of cavernous megachurches, where parishioners sometimes outnumber pastors 2,000 to 1, it can be easy to get lost in the masses, so to speak. Mounting evidence suggests, however, that a worldwide movement to reclaim the sense of community upon which the church was founded is taking shape. This movement has spawned a new parish model, in which parishioners regularly gather in more intimate groups for prayer and faith-sharing. Approximately 50 percent of U.S. parishes report having small Christian communities, according to a recent National Pastoral Life Center study. Attendance at a recent convocation on small Christian communities in St. Paul attested to how widespread this grass-roots phenomenon, which began about three decades ago, has grown. Catholics from 23 U.S. states and at least nine other countries, including South Korea, Mexico and Tanzania, gathered at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul Aug. 9-12 to share their ideas for organizing and sustaining parish-based small Christian communities.

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College chaplains offer advice on how college students can keep faith

PHILADELPHIA (CNS) — Staying involved in church activities and with campus Newman centers is key to students keeping the faith while in college, according to college chaplains. “First and foremost, as in all things Catholic, go to Mass,” said Father John Nordeman, chaplain of the Newman Center at Pennsylvania’s West Chester University. “It is a staple. It is something that we can always count on as being the same, and it is where we go to meet our Lord.” He also stressed the importance of prayer, saying that “even five minutes can change your day.” Father Edward Windhaus, chaplain of the Tri-College Newman Cluster of Bryn Mawr, Haverford and Swarthmore colleges in Philadelphia, encourages students to expand their prayer lives through the Liturgy of the Hours and contemplative prayer. Prayer without words — just putting oneself in the presence of God — can do wonders, he said, suggesting that students “find a quite space — a niche in a library, an empty chair in a study room” or even to pray while walking to campus.

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Director hopes ‘Resurrecting the Champ’ inspires truthful living

PHOENIX (CNS) — One of the first lessons children learn is not to tell lies. It is also one of the easiest lessons to forget. The benefit of living a life of truth comes into sharp focus in “Resurrecting the Champ,” a film opening nationwide Aug. 24 that recounts the story of a journalist struggling to reconstruct the life of a boxer. “I think we could have equally titled the film ‘Redeeming the Champ,'” said Rob Lurie, who wrote the script and directed the film, adding that he believes it is never too late in life to receive redemption. If more people realized the continuing opportunity for redemption, “the world would become a better place,” he said in an interview with The Catholic Sun, newspaper of the Phoenix Diocese. Based on actual events, “Resurrecting the Champ” stars Josh Hartnett as Erik, a sports journalist continually trying to impress his young son. He is also focused on jump-starting his career by writing a story about Champ (Samuel L. Jackson), a former boxing great living on the streets of Denver. As a friendship develops between Erik and Champ, each helps the other along a path leading to redemption.

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Religious order recruits male teachers for Catholic schools

ST. LOUIS (CNS) — The Midwest province of the Christian Brothers has begun a program to combat the growing shortage of male teachers. The province offers the Lasallian Teacher Immersion Program at universities run by the religious community to provide male college students with classroom teaching experience and opportunities to serve those in need while earning college credit. “(The program) is, in many ways, a return to our original mission,” said Christian Brother Patrick Conway, the province’s director of formation and director of the teacher immersion program. St. John Baptist de La Salle began his educational mission in the late 1600s with a teacher-training program, preparing laymen to serve the church as teachers, explained Brother Patrick, a longtime educator and former university vice president. “This is my 35th year in education. One thing I’ve noticed is the shrinking pool of male teachers, particularly as related to theology and religion teachers,” he told the St. Louis Review, the archdiocesan newspaper. “In the United States today, 19 percent of all Catholic school teachers are men. In public schools it’s 21 percent … and 40 percent of children are growing up without a biological father in the house. Couple those things together and there is a real need,” he said.

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WORLD

Catholic-Jewish relations: Bumps in the road should not slow journey

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Summer brought a few bumps in the road of generally good Catholic-Jewish relations, bumps almost certainly caused inadvertently. In a further example of how internal church matters can negatively impact the church’s external relations, Pope Benedict XVI’s July decision to widen access to the Tridentine Mass and his brief encounter Aug. 5 with Redemptorist Father Tadeusz Rydzyk, a Polish priest accused of anti-Semitism, led to expressions of concern by several Jewish groups. On both occasions, the Vatican responded with statements reaffirming the Catholic Church’s commitment to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and the completely new chapter the council opened in Jewish-Catholic relations. Despite the hiccups, Oded Ben-Hur, the Israeli ambassador to the Vatican, said, “Officially and institutionally, relations are constantly improving.” In an Aug. 16 interview, the ambassador said: “Sometimes the mishaps, which look terrible at the beginning, can strengthen us by forcing us to clarify them. Trial and error is a form of education.”

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On Assumption, Chinese Catholics reminded of pope’s call for unity

XUANHUA, China (CNS) — Catholics in northern China, celebrating the feast of the Assumption of Mary, were reminded of the call for unity in Pope Benedict XVI’s letter to Chinese Catholics. In Hebei province’s Xuanhua Diocese, about 1,000 parishioners attended the 5 a.m. Mass Aug. 15 at Xiheying Church in Yuxian County, about 100 miles west of Beijing. “Today we celebrate the feast day of our Blessed Mother, the caretaker of our souls,” Father Xia Shaowu said in his homily. “We should also give thanks to all mothers who take care of our material and spiritual needs.” He highlighted Pope Benedict’s emphasis on one church and unity between China’s clandestine Catholic communities and those officially registered with the government. The papal letter was published June 30; the priest’s remarks were reported Aug. 17 by the Asian church news agency UCA News. “No matter which way we have taken before, we should now return to the side of our Blessed Mother on this feast day,” Father Xia said.

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Kenyan bishops tell citizens to elect honest candidates

NAIROBI, Kenya (CNS) — Kenya’s bishops, saying the country’s future was at stake, have advised citizens to vote for candidates with a track record of honesty in the December general elections. They also expressed concern that corruption was still a major issue in the government of President Mwai Kibaki, who plans to seek re-election. “There have been many complaints that when looking for employment, it is not how qualified you are, but who you know and the ethnic group to which you belong,” the bishops said in the eight-page pastoral letter, titled “Love God and Love Your Neighbor.” “If a corrupt person is elected to the Parliament, the cycle of deprivation and abuse of office would be prolonged and the moral fiber of the nation would continue to erode,” the bishops said.

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PEOPLE

Peruvian bishop says quake victims need food, water immediately

LIMA, Peru (CNS) — People left homeless by the magnitude 8 earthquake that struck Peru Aug. 15 face an immediate shortage of food and water, said Bishop Guido Brena Lopez of Ica, one of the cities hardest hit. “The situation is dramatic, because many houses have collapsed and many people have died. It’s very difficult,” Bishop Brena told Catholic News Service by telephone Aug. 16. More than 500 people are known to have been killed and 1,500 injured in the earthquake, which caused houses, shops and churches made of adobe to collapse. Rubble blocked streets in Chincha, Pisco and Ica, coastal towns along the Panamerican Highway between about 125 and 185 miles south of Lima, the Peruvian capital. “The only good thing was that it occurred a little after 6 p.m., and many people were in the streets, or were indoors but were able to get out,” Bishop Brena said. “The immediate needs are food and water. The water supply depends on electricity, so if we have no electricity there will be no water,” he said. “We need water, food, blankets and tents, because unfortunately not even the civil defense agency was prepared. People are sleeping in the streets and plazas.”

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Retired Bishop Frey of Lafayette, La., dead at 93

LAFAYETTE, La. (CNS) — Retired Bishop Gerard L. Frey, who once headed the dioceses of Savannah, Ga., and Lafayette, died Aug. 16 at his home near Lafayette. Bishop Michael Jarrell of Lafayette was to concelebrate Bishop Frey’s funeral Mass at 10 a.m. Aug. 21 at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, along with priests of the Lafayette Diocese. Bishop Jarrell said in a statement that Bishop Frey’s life “as a Christian, as a priest and as a bishop is summarized in his episcopal motto, ‘Serviam’ (‘I will serve’). “In all of his assignments he served generously and faithfully,” he added. “Above all, he served his Lord in whom he had complete faith and trust. That trust is now rewarded as God has called him to share in the beatific vision.”

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New archbishop praised for leadership, organization, sense of humor

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (CNS) — Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz was extolled as a holy man, an organized and pastoral leader, and a man with a penchant for silliness by those who streamed into a downtown Louisville arena for his installation as archbishop of Louisville Aug. 15. “He was the best pastor we ever had” at Notre Dame of Bethlehem Church in Bethlehem, Pa., said Merl Turzanski. He and his wife are members of the church where Archbishop Kurtz served for three years before becoming bishop of the Diocese of Knoxville, Tenn. The archbishop was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Allentown, Pa., in 1972. He held a variety of parish and administrative posts in the diocese, until he was named to Knoxville in October 1999. The Turzanskis, who have been married for 55 years, drove from Pennsylvania to Louisville for the occasion. Archbishop Kurtz’s sisters, Theresa Bakos and Patricia Cameli, described their brother as studious and holy. But Cameli added, “Of course, he’s silly as heck, too. He has a wonderful sense of humor.”

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