BIG SPRING — Celebration by Big Spring-area Catholics of 125 years of church in the community. Mass: 10 a.m. Sunday, Big Spring High School Auditorium.
Headlines from Catholic News Service
Indiana diocese marks its 150th anniversary with eucharistic congress
NOTRE DAME, Ind. (CNS) — Thousands of Catholics from around the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend made the pilgrimage to the University of Notre Dame campus Aug. 18 to celebrate the diocese’s 150th anniversary. While oppressive heat and heavy rains affected much of the country, northern Indiana enjoyed an unusually mild August day, and persistent gray clouds even held back their sprinkles until everyone had gathered in the Joyce Athletic and Convocation Center at the university for the event’s closing Mass. Some participants, particularly those from Fort Wayne, came on buses chartered by their parishes. Others drove with their families, often meeting up with fellow parishioners once they arrived on campus. Like some of the other pilgrims, the VanOverberghe family from St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish in New Carlisle proudly wore T-shirts with their parish’s name on the front. Dan and Karen VanOverberghe, who are youth directors at their parish, expected their distinctive shirts to help them locate other members of their youth group in the crowd.
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Poor Clare Sisters in Omaha break ground for future monastery
OMAHA, Neb. (CNS) — Though the Poor Clare Sisters in Omaha have yet to reach their financial goal, they broke ground for a new monastery on land near a Benedictine abbey Aug. 15. The date was chosen because it holds special meaning for the nuns: Aug. 15, 1878, was the date the first Poor Clares monastery was established in Omaha. The monastery was the religious community’s first in North America. More than 75 people joined the sisters for the groundbreaking, which included praying the five joyful mysteries of the rosary and the two glorious mysteries about Mary. And balloons were released. “We hope the event fosters greater interest and participation from those who are in a position to help in a big way,” said Sister Theresina of Jesus Santiago, coordinator of the building project. The proposed $5 million monastery will reflect the symbol of their order’s founder, St. Francis — the tau cross, which is a T-shaped cross. The building will have 18 rooms for sisters, allowing room for future vocations.
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New Catholic school opens in St. Louis for students with autism
ST. LOUIS (CNS) — A new Catholic school for children with autism is opening Sept. 5 in the St. Louis Archdiocese. The development of the school, the St. Gemma Program for Children With Autism and Developmental Disabilities in Ellisville, is in response to a survey sponsored by the archdiocesan Department of Special Education. Response to the survey was overwhelming, said Michelle Wright, the mother of a student who will be attending St. Gemma. “So the department moved forward and started the school. … St. Gemma demonstrates our Catholic community’s commitment and responsiveness to the emerging needs of that community.” The school, in a one-story former residence on the grounds of the Passionist nuns’ monastery, will serve children ages 6 through 12. There will eventually be two classes, each serving five students, and each class will have a trained, certified teacher and a trained teacher’s aide. A community volunteer will assist with the students, and a trained speech and language pathologist will provide therapy.
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Religious communities notice more young women open to religious life
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Girls often dream of saying “I do” at the altar to their future spouse. Katrina Gredona hopes she’ll be saying those words to Jesus as a religious sister. “When I look at a community of religious women, I see women who contribute fruitfully to the church and to the world in a very special way and in a very essential way, and I think that’s exciting,” said Gredona, a student at Seton Hall University in New Jersey. Ten years ago, Gredona’s interest in religious life would have been unique in comparison with the majority of other Catholic girls, as reports indicated a decline in the number of religious sisters in the United States. But recently campus ministers and the vocations directors of some women’s religious communities have been noticing a new trend of more young women looking into religious life. Many vocation directors, in interviews with Catholic News Service and in responses to a survey by Vision Vocation Guide, reported a notable increase in the number of women contacting them for information. A small number of communities reported a stable increase in young entrants. At the same time, more campus ministries are helping young women learn about discernment and religious life.
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Chinese officials arrest bishop in Hebei, says U.S.-based foundation
STAMFORD, Conn. (CNS) — Chinese officials have arrested a bishop who is not part of the government-recognized Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, said the U.S.-based Cardinal Kung Foundation. Bishop Julius Jia Zhiguo of Zhengding in China’s Hebei province was arrested by the Chinese Public Security and Religious Bureau the morning of Aug. 23, the foundation reported. A statement from the foundation said it did not know the reason for the bishop’s arrest, but added that “in the last five days there was a marked increase in the number of security police for putting Bishop Jia under strict surveillance 24 hours a day, and there were police vehicles parking outside the bishop’s residence.” A priest and a layperson also were arrested and interrogated for eight hours before being released, the foundation reported. The foundation, a human rights organization that advocates for the Catholic communities in China not registered with the Chinese government, added that since the release of Pope Benedict XVI’s June 30 letter to Chinese Catholics calling for unity between the registered and unregistered communities “Bishop Jia was told several times by the religious bureau that he was not allowed to publicly support and promulgate” the letter.
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Association holds workshop for archivists from religious communities
PITTSFIELD, Mass. (CNS) — The Catholic Library Association’s introductory archives workshop for religious communities in July at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Snows in Belleville, Ill., gave novices as well as seasoned archivists from 32 communities an introduction to archival theory and practice and current trends in the field. Archivists from 18 states and Newfoundland in Canada gathered in Belleville July 15-20. A second workshop is planned for Oct. 7-12 in Malvern, Pa., and according to the Pittsfield-based association the event is already oversubscribed. In a recent news release the Catholic Library Association said it will offer the workshop on an annual basis beginning in the summer of 2009. It will return to Belleville that year and in 2010 it will be held in California. Association officials said the workshop is one phase of its commitment to foster the preservation and protection of U.S. Catholic materials. By educating the archivists of religious communities, individuals will be trained to save and make accessible materials reflecting the religious charism and work of their communities for future generations.
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Dean leaves path of flooding; Mexico reports storm-related deaths
MEXICO CITY (CNS) — As Hurricane Dean moved west and weakened to a tropical depression, it left widespread flooding across Mexico’s Gulf Coast and left at least three people dead. They were killed in the Mexican states of Veracruz and Hidalgo, according to separate statements by the states’ governors Aug. 23. Meanwhile, the heavy rains caused rivers to overflow and dozens of landslides that blocked roads and highways in the region. The state leaders said that 37,000 people had taken refuge in regional shelters, and thousands of homes were damaged. Widespread crop damage also was reported. In the neighboring state of Puebla, television images showed muddy, turbulent rivers and continuing rains. Eufemio Flores, emergency coordinator for Caritas Mexico, warned that the risk of further mudslides was still high because the rains had loosened soil on eroded mountain slopes. “Even though Dean is now a tropical depression, the amount of rain that we’re still expecting is considerable,” Flores told Catholic News Service in a telephone interview Aug. 23.
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Philippine farm school offers poor students chance to study
IRIGA, Philippines (CNS) — Alvin de Leon began the school day by washing out a pigsty with a power hose. The 15-year-old rose at 5 a.m., as he does every day, to clean 40 pigpens at the farm run by Daughters of St. Augustine nuns in Iriga, about 200 miles southeast of Manila. “This takes about one and a half hours,” de Leon told the Asian church news agency UCA News in early August. He swept around the pens and washed up for his classes, which began at 7:30 a.m. De Leon is among 157 students who live at the Fatima Center for Human Development and take high school classes at the center’s farm school under a work-study type of program. “My mother has no job and takes care of my (grandma). We don’t have a farm, just a small house, so I came (here),” said de Leon, who came to the center in 2005. “I would like to study to be an electrician,” he added. At the farm school, he joins other residents and day students for morning classes in mathematics, science, languages and history. In afternoon classes they learn about sustainable agriculture, home economics and moral values.
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Polish prosecutors drop investigation into radio priest’s conduct
WARSAW, Poland (CNS) — Polish prosecutors have dropped a criminal investigation into the conduct of a prominent Catholic priest who was covertly recorded using anti-Semitic language and insulting his country’s president. “There are no legal indications a crime was committed,” Ewa Janczur, deputy head of the Torun-based regional prosecutor’s office, told journalists Aug. 21 about Redemptorist Father Tadeusz Rydzyk. “The justification for this decision will be made available after the ruling is validated — in other words, seven days after it has been referred to the injured parties.” Prosecutors launched proceedings against Father Rydzyk, the director of Radio Maryja, after the Wprost weekly published a transcript July 9 of alleged remarks by the priest to students at Torun’s School of Social and Media Culture. The priest described Polish President Lech Kaczynski as “a crook subservient to the Jewish lobby” and accused Jews of attempting to extort billions of dollars by demanding compensation for wartime Nazi atrocities. The priest’s comments were protested by Israel and by Jewish organizations, including the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, which demanded his dismissal in a July 10 letter to the Polish bishops’ conference.
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Knoxville cathedral pastor chosen again as diocesan administrator
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (CNS) — The Diocese of Knoxville’s College of Consultors, meeting two days after the installation Mass for Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz in Louisville, Ky., elected as diocesan administrator the one man with experience in the role. Father Al Humbrecht, who remains pastor of Sacred Heart Cathedral, will again guide the diocese until the appointment of its next bishop. He served as diocesan administrator for almost 11 months after the departure of Bishop Anthony J. O’Connell in 1999. “It is a ministry of service, and I believe very strongly that when called upon to serve that it’s the Holy Spirit working, and you offer your best,” said Father Humbrecht as he left the consultors’ meeting Aug. 17. “The wonderful thing about serving as administrator in our diocese is that with the clergy we have, the laity we have, all the people we have in place — everything is already running very smoothly.” The Nashville native, born on the same day in 1946 as Archbishop Kurtz, was elected administrator on the day before each man celebrated his 61st birthday.
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Young women want to be ‘countercultural’ in religious life
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Valerie Stringer, 24, became interested in religious life while attending a Catholic high school run by religious sisters. Now at the University of Illinois, she is seriously considering entering a religious community and has a few characteristics in mind when looking for one. After growing up with a love for Pope John Paul II, she said she and other women in the campus ministry’s vocations discernment group look for communities that express faithfulness to the pope and to the teachings of the church. She said a pope’s adherence to what he believes to be true, even when unpopular, is attractive to the young women because it stands in contrast to politicians and others who regularly change their opinions and values. “We’re looking for something that can provide us with guidance and a cornerstone on how to live our lives,” she said.
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Wisconsin Jesuit priest joins humanitarian caravan to Cuba
MILWAUKEE (CNS) — In his 87 years, many memories have formed in Jesuit Father Bill Brennan’s mind. An experience that he said changed his life took place in 1954 in Guatemala. While he was serving as a missionary in Honduras, his parents journeyed from Milwaukee to Honduras and he convinced them to travel to Guatemala to go sightseeing. However, the travelers didn’t know that the U.S. CIA was beginning a coup against the elected government of Guatemala. While in the airport saying goodbye to his parents, Father Brennan said he heard a message from Guatemala’s president over the public-address system that the Americans were invading. “I didn’t fully comprehend what was happening,” said Father Brennan from his home at San Camillo in Wauwatosa. “It was a shock; there was the president of Guatemala condemning my country.” Later, Father Brennan found out the reason for the invasion. Guatemala’s president was attempting to buy back from local farmers land used to grow bananas. According to the priest, this was viewed as a communist act by the CIA. In July, Father Brennan traveled to Cuba as part of the Pastors for Peace caravan. The trip was made as an act of civil disobedience against the U.S. economic blockade of Cuba, and to deliver humanitarian and medical supplies to the Cuban people.
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Chinese bishop known for simplicity, religious fervor dies
HONG KONG (CNS) — The simplicity and religious fervor of Bishop Benedict Cai Xiufeng of Wuzhou, who died Aug. 20 at the age of 90, is well known among Catholics of the Guangxi autonomous region in southwestern China, said Catholics who knew him. “The departure of Bishop Cai is a big loss to the church,” Bishop John Baptist Tan Yanquan of Nanning told the Asian church news agency UCA News Aug. 22. “We’ll miss him.” The late bishop was “fervent and spiritual” and prayed every morning and evening with his nuns and seminarians even when his health was failing, Bishop Tan said. Bishop Cai “sacrificed his whole life for the church,” he added. Bishop Tan, now the only bishop in Guangxi, was to preside at the funeral Mass Aug. 24. The late prelate’s body was to be cremated after the morning liturgy.
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Bishop of Boise undergoes successful back surgery
BOISE, Idaho (CNS) — Bishop Michael P. Driscoll of Boise underwent successful back surgery Aug. 21 at St. Alphonsus Hospital in Boise. The procedure, called a laminectomy, lasted about two hours and went as planned. The bishop needed the operation because he suffered from a condition called stenosis, in which arthritis in the spine caused some nerve roots to become exposed and led to severe pain. A laminectomy involves removing part of the tissue and bone matter putting pressure on the roots, allowing them to resume normal functioning. Bishop Driscoll was to remain at St. Alphonsus for several days before returning home to convalesce and to undergo physical therapy. He is expected to make a full recovery and return to work in October.
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Jesuit recalls his time as script doctor for New York play on Judas
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Jesuit Father James Martin would never be accused of slumming around the Stage Door Canteen, much less a backstage entrance to New York City’s dozens of theaters. Still, he found himself in a theater role — as script doctor for a play about Judas Iscariot that had a healthy off-Broadway run more than two years ago. Father Martin has recounted the experience in “A Jesuit Off-Broadway: Center Stage With Jesus, Judas, and Life’s Big Questions,” published by Loyola Press and scheduled for release Sept. 1. In the process, Father Martin said he had one revelation: Actors are people, too. “Sam Rockwell, an actor who I’d already known, was the first person to contact me and (said) that (actor) Philip Seymour Hoffman was going to be the director. So I was excited to be part of that,” said Father Martin, an associate editor for America, a weekly magazine published by the Jesuits. As he spent more time with the actors, the priest said, he went “from being tongue-tied to being relaxed and comfortable … to being friends with them.”