Today (09.25.07)

Today in the Diocese

   Abilene Sacred Heart Confirmation Mass, 6:30 p.m.

   Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, 5 p.m., Christ the King Reatreat Center, San Angelo


   Rev. William Lensing (1978)

Today’s Readings

Ezra 6:7-8, 12, 14-20
Psalm 122:1-5
Luke 8:19-21

Today’s Headlines from Catholic News Service

Mid-Atlantic summit looks at securing future of Catholic schools

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (CNS) — Catholic school leaders from the mid-Atlantic region meeting Sept. 19 in College Park were reminded Catholic education is a unique institution that should be preserved for the good of the church, community, country and future generations. If Catholic schools continue to take a piecemeal approach in dealing with dwindling enrollment in the urban and lower-income parish schools, more closings will be inevitable, Washington Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl told educators, clergy and laypeople of the Mid-Atlantic Catholic Schools Consortium at a summit on the future of Catholic schools. “The cost of a Catholic education has to be in the reach of families and if they can’t afford it, their children can’t access it,” Archbishop Wuerl said in the summit’s keynote address. “If (rising tuition) continues, we’ll only see schools continue in affluent areas for people who can afford it. The Annapolis-based consortium invited 160 national experts, benefactors, laity, educators and clergy to formulate methods that will keep Catholic schools in the region academically superior, affordable and accessible, while maintaining their faith-based identity and value system.

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Bishop advocates in Washington for undocumented students, refugees

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Bishop Thomas G. Wenski of Orlando, Fla., advocated on behalf of undocumented students hoping to attend college and people seeking refugee status or asylum in separate appearances Sept. 19 in Washington. In a statement at the National Press Club, Bishop Wenski, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Policy and a consultant to their Committee on Migration, urged quick passage of the Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act, known as the DREAM Act. He called on elected officials to “resist the voices of dissension and fear this time and vote for the DREAM Act,” which would allow young adults who are in the U.S. illegally through no fault of their own to attend college at in-state tuition rates and to become permanent residents. Later that day, Bishop Wenski told a Senate subcommittee that Congress must correct the unintended consequences of recent changes in immigration law language relating to the issue of “material support.” Provisions of the USA Patriot Act and Real ID Act bar anyone who has provided “material support” to “terrorist organizations” from entering the United States.

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Catholic Charities delegates discuss poverty, racism at convention

CINCINNATI (CNS) — Singing “This Little Light of Mine” and walking across a Civil War-era suspension bridge from Covington, Ky., to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati Sept. 15, about 500 participants at the annual Catholic Charities USA convention demonstrated their desire to lead the way out of poverty and racism. Echoing the convention theme, “Crossing the Rivers of Freedom,” the marchers followed in the footsteps of numerous former slaves making their way to freedom. The final destination for the delegates, the Freedom Center, was named for the part the Ohio River Valley played as a stop along the underground railroad. “This is a wonderful way to end a day of discussion about the role racism plays in our society,” said Shelley Borysiewicz, spokeswoman for Catholic Charities USA. Earlier in the day, Father Bryan Massingale, a Marquette University theology professor, and Bishop Ricardo Ramirez of Las Cruces, N.M., led discussions focused on the Catholic Charities 2006 briefing paper, “Poverty and Racism: Overlapping Threats to the Common Good.”

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Benedictine monks will make own beams for cloister from oak trees

HULBERT, Okla. (CNS) — Benedictine monks will transform 75 large oak trees felled on the property of their monastery near Hulbert into large beams for their cloister and into doors for their residence and gatehouse. Construction on the Monastery of Our Lady of the Annunciation of Clear Creek began in 2004. The first building phase cost an estimated $4.5 million and consisted of the crypt and basement of what will be the church. Phase two of construction is expected to cost $12 million. It began in November 2006 and is scheduled for completion in December of this year. It includes a four-story residence, or cloister, for the monks and the gatehouse, which will serve as a point of contact when visitors come to pray at the monastery. With their massive walls and their huge concrete pillars sunk deep into the Oklahoma bedrock, it is clear that both the cloister and the crypt that will support the monastery’s future church are meant to last. The Benedictine community arrived from Fontgombault, France, in 1999 at the invitation of Bishop Edward J. Slattery of Tulsa. The 26 monks at Clear Creek have been using an original log house on their property as their kitchen and refectory, while they live and pray in several large metal buildings erected since their arrival.

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New book offers spiritual guidance for Catholic educators

ARLINGTON, Va. (CNS) — Catholic educators looking for spiritual guidance can turn to a new book titled “Building the Builders: Faith Formation in Virtue,” by Sister Patricia Helene Earl, a member of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In the book, published by the National Catholic Educational Association, Sister Patricia notes that the changing demographics of Catholic school faculties have created a need for formalized instruction in faith formation. Until the mid-1960s, Catholic schools in the United States were primarily staffed by priests, brothers and sisters; they made up 95 percent of the faculty. But by the mid-1990s, the percentage had reversed itself, and 95 percent of Catholic school faculties were members of the laity. A news release on the book noted that to preserve the identity of the Catholic school diocesan school systems have recognized the need to support their educators with instructions in virtue and the tenets of the Catholic faith.

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Friends, family of Blessed Mother Teresa to gather at conference

LATROBE, Pa. (CNS) — St. Vincent College in Latrobe will host a gathering of Blessed Mother Teresa’s family and close friends to celebrate her life’s work Oct. 5-7. The highlight of the conference, which organizers said will be the first of its kind, will be an address by Sister Nirmala Joshi, Mother Teresa’s successor as superior general of the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, India. Sister Nirmala will be joined by some of the nuns, priests and brothers who are part of the religious congregation Mother Teresa founded in 1950. The conference also will feature a panel discussion that will include Mother Teresa’s only niece, Agi Guttadauro, who will be traveling from Italy to participate, as well as Mother Teresa’s closest friends in America, including several whose friendship dates back to 1960.

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Busy bishops must put prayer at top of daily agenda, pope says

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS) — Busy bishops need to put prayer and reflection at the top of their daily agenda, Pope Benedict XVI told a group of recently ordained bishops. Bishops face many demands and time-consuming tasks and duties, “but the top priority in the life of a successor of the apostles must be reserved for God,” he said. The pope’s remarks came during a Sept. 22 audience at the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome. He spoke to more than 100 bishops who were attending a meeting in Rome for bishops ordained in the last year. A deeply spiritual and rich prayer life will help the bishop stay close to and imitate Christ, the pope said. It will also help him “become sensitive and merciful toward everyone” and help him discern others’ real needs, he said. “Prayer teaches love and opens the heart to pastoral charity,” enabling the bishop to welcome everyone who turns to him, he said.

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Lebanese bishops call for cooperation, say country verges on collapse

BEIRUT, Lebanon (CNS) — Lebanon’s Catholic bishops said the country “is on the verge of (an) abyss” and warned that if a new president was not elected within the constitutional schedule “the fate of the nation would be grim.” In a statement, the country’s Maronite bishops called for “cooperation between parliament and the (feuding) factions so that Lebanon can regain its status among nations.” The statement was issued following the Maronite bishops’ monthly meeting presided over by Cardinal Nasrallah P. Sfeir, patriarch of the Maronite Catholic Church. Lebanon’s parliament was scheduled to convene Sept. 25 to choose a president. In addition to an ongoing political impasse and threats by some factions to boycott the election, the makeup of parliament was further disrupted by the assassination of a Christian lawmaker just hours after the bishops concluded their meeting Sept. 19. Lebanon’s parliament must choose a successor to President Emile Lahoud before his extended mandate ends in November. Some Lebanese fear that if the lawmakers cannot agree on a candidate, parallel governments could result.

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Pope says overemphasizing ‘logic of profit’ can bring ruinous effects

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI said overemphasizing the “logic of profit” can bring ruinous effects, as seen in global poverty and the ecological crisis. The pope spoke about the demands of economic justice during a Sunday blessing Sept. 23 at his summer villa in Castel Gandolfo outside Rome. Earlier in the morning, he made similar remarks during a Mass at the nearby hill town of Velletri. Addressing several hundred pilgrims in the courtyard of his villa, the pope said money “is not ‘dishonest’ in itself, but more than any other thing it can close people off in a blind selfishness.” He noted that Pope John Paul II had praised positive elements of the modern global economy, especially when it leaves room for human freedom. But Pope Benedict said his predecessor also understood that capitalism should not be seen as the only valid economic model. “The hunger and ecological emergencies point to growing evidence that the logic of profit, if dominant, increases the disproportion between the rich and the poor and brings a ruinous exploitation of the planet,” Pope Benedict said.

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French bishop says Marian shrines’ staffers must be connected

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) — The staffers of Marian shrines must be in constant contact with each other or they risk isolating themselves, said the founder of the European network of Marian shrines. Aside from their different histories, Marian shrines have much in common, said Bishop Jacques Perrier of Tarbes and Lourdes, France. Bishop Perrier, who in 2003 established a network of 20 Marian sanctuaries in 20 European countries, said, “People are increasingly traveling; therefore we wanted them to see that any of those 20 shrines belongs to a certain family.” This in turn helps the sanctuaries to connect with the universal church, he said. Huge Marian congresses “do not bring desirable results, because people (involved with shrines) have no chance to really meet,” he said. Maintaining a network enables shrine staffers “to get in touch and relate with each other,” he said.

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Pope encourages Ukraine’s Catholic rites to coordinate programs

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI urged Ukraine’s Eastern- and Latin-rite bishops to meet regularly to coordinate pastoral programs and further ecumenical relations with the Orthodox churches. The pope said meeting at least once a year would give bishops from both rites a chance to plan ways to make their pastoral work “ever more harmonious and effective. I am convinced that fraternal cooperation between pastors will be an encouragement and stimulus for all (Catholic) faithful to grow in unity and apostolic enthusiasm and will also foster a fruitful ecumenical dialogue” with the Orthodox, Pope Benedict said in a Sept. 24 audience with 22 Ukrainian bishops from both rites. The Ukrainian Catholic Church, an Eastern rite, is fully in union with Rome but has maintained the liturgical and spiritual heritage shared with the Orthodox churches. The Latin-rite bishops were in Rome for their “ad limina” visits, in which they travel to the Vatican every five years to report on the status of their dioceses. Vatican Radio reported that although Eastern bishops are not required to make “ad limina” visits, Pope Benedict invited some of Eastern-rite bishops because he wanted to discuss the issue of cooperation between the two rites.

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Late priest’s pioneering ecumenical efforts recalled at memorial Mass

WORCESTER, Mass. (CNS) — The late Assumptionist Father George Tavard, a noted ecumenist, was remembered as “an ecumenical saint” and “one of the great pioneers in Catholic ecumenical work” at a memorial Mass celebrated in the chapel at Assumption College in Worcester. Tributes at the Sept. 16 Mass came from church leaders near and far, including ecumenical representatives and his brother Assumptionists. The French-born Father Tavard, 86, died Aug. 13 at Charles de Gaulle International Airport in Paris shortly before he was to board a flight to Boston. He had been vacationing in France with family members. He had lived at his order’s residence in the Boston suburb of Brighton for the past 15 years. He was buried at the Assumptionist plot in the Paris Montparnasse Cemetery following a funeral Mass Aug. 21 at St. Dominic Church in Paris. Father Tavard had served in many important ecumenical roles during his 60 years as a priest. In Worcester, Father Dennis Gallagher, the Assumptionists’ U.S. regional superior, said in his homily that Father Tavard could pursue truth and enter the mind and heart of the other instead of seeking his own benefit.

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Vatican dismisses English woman’s claims of Marian apparitions

LONDON (CNS) — The Vatican has dismissed the claims of a woman in England who says Mary has visited her outside her home for more than 20 years. Ruling that her claims are “highly questionable,” the Vatican also has refused to approve the statutes of the community she founded. Patricia De Menezes said the apparition has been appearing to her beneath a pine tree at her home in Surbiton, a London suburb, since 1984. She claimed she has received a divine message that the Catholic Church must proclaim aborted babies to be martyrs. She also founded the Community of Divine Innocence, which has about 3,000 members in 43 countries, many coming from the pro-life movement. Community members “strive for holiness and innocence within God’s own family,” according to the community’s Web site. Archbishop Angelo Amato, secretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, announced the decision in a letter to Archbishop Kevin McDonald of Southwark, the archdiocese in which De Menezes lives. The letter from Archbishop Amato was dated July 16; it was released by the Southwark Archdiocese Sept. 21.

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San Jose deacon’s novel gets turned into a major motion picture

SAN FRANCISCO (CNS) — Deacon Ron Hansen, who serves in ministry for the Diocese of San Jose, is also a novelist and English professor, and recently received a professional compliment about his writing from actor Brad Pitt. “He said, ‘Hey, man, great book,”‘ Deacon Hansen told Catholic San Francisco, the archdiocesan newspaper. “He was a really nice guy, very generous and gracious,” the novelist said, adding: “I was prone to like him.” Deacon Hansen met Pitt on the set of “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford,” a movie starring Pitt as the paranoid post-Civil War outlaw and based on Deacon Hansen’s 1983 novel of the same name. What Deacon Hansen appreciates even more than Pitt’s compliment is the movie’s faithfulness to his story. The director, Andrew Dominik, who spotted the book at a Melbourne, Australia, bookstore and thought it would make a great movie, adapted the novel in a remarkably light-handed way for a Hollywood treatment of literature.

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Tony Blair accepts invitation to be speaker at annual Al Smith dinner

NEW YORK (CNS) — Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is scheduled to be the guest speaker at the 62nd Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner Oct. 18 at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. Catholic New York, the archdiocesan newspaper, reported recently that Blair had accepted Cardinal Edward M. Egan’s invitation to speak. The annual $1,000-a-ticket dinner is named for former New York Gov. Alfred E. Smith, who in 1928 became the first Catholic nominated by a major party as a presidential candidate. New York Cardinal Francis Spellman began the dinner in 1945 to inaugurate a hospital wing in honor of Smith and to raise money for health care programs in the New York Archdiocese. Blair was prime minister of Great Britain from May 1997 until he stepped down June 27 of this year. The United Nations then named him special envoy to the Middle East. Among his duties are mobilizing international aid and development for the Palestinians. Blair is Anglican. His wife, Cherie, and their four children are Catholic, and he often attends Mass with them.

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‘Trade’ actress once had private screening with Pope John Paul II

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Alicja Bachleda, the Polish actress featured in the new movie “Trade,” has done a lot in the performing arts in her 24 years on the planet. Bachleda’s first compact disc was released when she was 8 years old. Her first film work came as an extra in the 1994 Steven Spielberg movie, “Schindler’s List.” And for the first movie where she received an acting credit, she got to sit next to Pope John Paul II for a private screening of it at the Vatican. The movie was “Pan Tadeusz,” a Polish-French co-production possibly known to the few English-speaking cinephiles who saw it as “The Last Foray in Lithuania.” The long-ago Polish poem on which the movie was based was very popular among Poles, according to Bachleda. “Pope John Paul knew every word of it,” she said. “He knew all my lines.” Born in Mexico in 1983, Bachleda grew up in Krakow, Poland, where the pope had been the archbishop before his elevation to the papacy. Bachleda said she got to meet Pope John Paul two other times. She spoke to Catholic News Service Sept. 20 while in Washington to promote “Trade,” a drama that looks at human trafficking, in particular people trafficked into the sex trade.


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