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(Vatican Radio)  The Vatican's Promoter of Justice, Gian Piero Milano, issued a report Saturday to inaugurate the 81st year of the Vatican's judicial tribunal. In the report Milano noted that the reforms initiated by Pope Francis profoundly affect the internal life of the Vatican City State, its legislative, judicial and administrative activities. "They also affect the level of relations with other jurisdictions,” he said, “to whom the Church and its institutional expressions can offer a unique and significant contribution.” Justice affects the individual person and also the entire community. The love of neighbor, peace, care for creation, tireless concern for the elimination of inequalities, are themes of the report and are values ​​that challenge legal practitioners who are called to intervene when rules are violated. Justice, as identified by Pope Francis, is not enough. We have a God also of mercy and forgiveness. With the pontificate of Pope Francis a new legislative phase has begun to address concerns of the international community to prevent money laundering and the financing of terrorism. The Holy See and the Vatican City State is also committed to adopting a series of measures for implementing specific EU requirements in these areas. In criminal matters, new offences have been identified: crimes against the person (racial discrimination, human trafficking, torture); crimes against children (sale of children, induction or management of child prostitution, sexual violence, child pornography, child recruitment); crimes against humanity (genocide and other crimes against the civilian population); war crimes and crimes related to terrorism and narcotics. Financial matters have been reformed, including modernization efforts in the field of regulating the financial system. Vatican financial ordering is now on par with that of European standards. Measures have been introduced to increase the transparency, integrity and stability of the system, operating on the “due diligence” system. With the Motu proprio "Fidelis dispensator et prudens" of 24 February 2014 the department has established the Council for the Economy and the State Secretariat for the Economy. The first has the duty to ensure the structures and administrative and financial activities of the departments of the Roman Curia, the institutions connected with the Holy See and Vatican City State. The second has the task of implementing economic control and the supervision of those organizations and institutions. The Promoter also reported on the progress of the agreement between the Holy See and Italy on tax matters, signed 1 April 2015. This convention allows full compliance with simplified procedures, tax obligations related to the financial assets held by entities conducting financial activities in the Holy See from natural and legal persons resident for tax purposes in Italy. Reforms have also affected the judiciary. New arrangements ensure a dialogue and cooperation with other jurisdictions and a more effective adoption of foreign legal instruments. In reporting on the Gendarmerie, the Promoter stated that controls on cross-border cash transportation have resulted in an average of 30 inspections per day for a total of 11,000 per year. More generally, in the course of 2015, 8 arrests and 53 detentions were effected. Complaints of theft numbered 58, there were 88 fines, 64 road accidents and 3 fraud attempts. Among the activities of the judicial police, efforts were made in the area of cyber crime. Websites with defamatory content in regard to the Vatican City State and the Holy See were shut down, as well as email accounts connected to fraud and identity theft. Finally, the report states that there has been a significant increase in the judicial burden during the past judicial year.  (from Vatican Radio)... 12 hours 12 min
(Vatican Radio) The President of the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace, Cardinal Peter Turkson, is in Iran for a conference on the role of religion in Justice and Peace taking place at the Centre for the Study of Jurisprudence of Aemer Athar in Qom. In his talk, Cardinal Turkson spoke about five building blocks of peace and justice: human dignity, justice, unity and brotherhood of the human family, common good and the universal destination of the goods of the earth. “These five principles, which promote righteous and peaceful conduct in the world, are distilled from what the revealed Word of God in the Bible teaches about God, the creator of the world,” he said.   The full text of Cardinal Turkson’s remarks are below   The Role of Revealed Religions in the Achievement of Peace and Justice in the World Qom, Iran, 6 February 2016 THE GLORY OF GOD IS PEACE AND JUSTICE ON EARTH Cardinal Peter K.A. Turkson Excellencies, distinguished Authorities, Professors and students, dear friends Introduction: In the name of Pope Francis, it is my honour to greet you, also on behalf of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. As I stand before you for this important Conference on the Role of Revealed Religions in the Achievement of Justice and Peace in the Word, [1] I cannot help but recall the recent, most historic visit of President Hassan Rouhani to the Vatican. His meeting with Pope Francis generated new hopes in the hearts of very many around the world. Since the majority of people living on our planet profess to be believers, this should spur religions to dialogue among themselves for the sake of building networks of respect and fraternity, defending the poor and protecting nature. [2] Today, we gather in the holy city of Qom, a spiritual place for Shiite Moslems that goes far back in history. Qom’s sublime architecture and sculptures splendidly convey that beauty which reflects the divine order of creation to which we, as one human family and servants of God, must and should turn in order to establish peace and justice among us. To do so would be to repeat precisely what Pope John XXIII once did. At the height of the Cold War in the 1960s, Saint John XXIII invited the whole world to reflect with him on the experience of peace on earth in the life of the human family. His Encyclical Letter Pacem in terris (1963) was addressed in an unusual manner: not only to Patriarchs, Bishops, Priests and the Faithful of the Catholic Church, but also to all people of good will. The whole world teetered on the brink of nuclear war and groped aimlessly for a solution. Under these dismal conditions, but intending to be hopeful, Pope John wrote: “ Peace on earth -- which man throughout the ages has longed for and sought after -- can never be established, never guaranteed, except by the diligent observance of the divinely established order.” [3] In this statement, we hear an echo of the hymn of praise of God with which the Angels greeted the birth of Jesus: “ Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those who enjoy His favour” (Lk 2:14). In both instances, peace on earth is related to God's established order and his favour! Far back in the Hebrew and Christian scriptures, in fact very early in the relationship between God and Abraham, God revealed to Abraham the scope of his call. God’s call consists in teaching justice and righteousness: " No, for I have chosen him that he may charge his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice…” (Gen 18:19). It takes a prophet, made privy to God’s plans (Gen 18:17), to teach righteousness and justice on earth; today this conference invites us to explore the reasons for this under the theme: The Role of Revealed Religions in the Achievement of Peace and Justice in the World . I shall now endeavour to briefly discuss the foundations of revealed religion that continues to be crucial to the well-being of the entire human family; and also what it takes for revealed religion to contribute to peace and justice in the world. Creation: the Setting of Man's Vocation to Peace and Justice: My dear friends, the three great monotheistic religions, namely, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, all share a high regard for the forefather Abraham and for their sacred scriptures. They all also believe in a God who freely manifests Himself, communicating to us His love, His will, His meaning, even Himself. This divine self-manifestation is for us revelation; and we first encounter it in the book of nature ( creation ), but most especially, at least in the biblical religions, in the relationship God establishes with man ( covenants ). [4] Thus the revelation within the revealed religions is the source of a theology or mysticism, dealing with who God is and with man's knowledge of God. It has a corollary: an anthropology (and an ecology ) about the human person and his world, what they are, where they come from, how human conduct must be (the domain of ethics ) and their purpose or vocation and destiny . The latter give sense to human history by defining social ethics and ecological responsibility for the human family . In all of these revealed religions, the beginning point of God's self-manifestation outside Himself is in the act of creation. Thus, in the Koran, Muslims are reminded of the supremacy of God as creator of all things, and that He created a world of order and truth. The universe was established with mīzān , measure, and that everything has its proper place. Humankind was created as khalifah of the earth, to be its stewards; yet through the fāsād , corruption, that humans have done to the planet, we have upset the natural order. In a word, climate degradation caused by man is a sin against ar-Rabb, the Lord and Sustainer of all things. [5] In the Bible, creation is presented both as a system of separations maintained and kept in order and in orderliness ( goodness ) by the powerful Word of God, and it is a garden prepared by God to be the home of humankind. Here too, the irruption of sin disfigures God's work and plan for humanity, thus setting the scene for God's subsequent intervention and engagement with humanity and his world in the history of salvation. The call of Abraham is set in this subsequent phase of divine engagement with humanity and the world in order to save them. This is the material that makes up what Christian call the “Old Testament”; and it is also the source of knowledge of that divinely established order which brings and guarantees peace, as Pope St. John XXIII has observed. Principles for Shared Life in our Common Home The divine act of creation, especially in its presentation in an " account of the beginning" ( récit du commencement ), is the origin of what Pope St. John XXIII referred to as the divinely established order ; and it gives rise to concepts and principles for Christians which are pertinent to our discussion of how revealed religions can help build peace and justice in the world. Human dignity : To begin with, the accounts about the creation of man show that, created in the image and likeness of God, each person, each human being has a dignitas - each one is a unique gift to the others. This dignity does not, therefore, derive from the State or any other human institution or any changeable majority opinion. It is rather to be respected and safeguarded by the State. Knowing that they are created and loved by God, people come to understand their own transcendent dignity; they learn not to be satisfied with only themselves, but to encounter their neighbour in a network of relationships that are ever authentically human. [6] Men and women who are made “new” by the love of God are able to change the rules and the quality of relationships, even transforming social structures. They are people capable of bringing peace where there is conflict, of building and nurturing fraternal relationships where there is hatred, of seeking justice where the exploitation of man by man prevails. Only love is capable of radically transforming the relationships that men maintain among themselves. [7] In their transcendent dignity, men recognize that they are subjects of a humanism that is up to the standards of God's plan of love in history, an integral and solidary humanism capable of creating a new social, economic and political order, founded on the dignity and freedom of every human person, to be brought about in peace, justice and solidarity. And this humanism can become a reality if individual men and women and their communities are able to cultivate moral and social virtues in themselves and spread them in society. [8] But, not only are they, in their dignity, created social, and interdependent with others in human communities; the dignity of human beings requires that they be free from coercion in those matters which most closely concern their conscience, especially the matter of religion. So, how we treat one another, the earth and its vulnerable creatures is a reflection of what we truly believe. When the root causes of violence, war and inequality are examined, what emerges is a grave alienation from ourselves, from others, from creation and ultimately from God, the source of all life. If the other is not recognized as equal in dignity and worthy of respect, then something else moves in to fill the vacuum; and this something is the ego, preoccupation with self, with one’s own interests and plans, in isolation from others. Such are the attitudes which stymy peace. Justice as a relationship term : In the beginning, God’s act of creation establishes a communion with man and his world, based on the threefold relationship between God and man, among human beings (man and his fellow man), and between man and his world. The maintenance of these relationships is also the maintenance of communion with God and harmony within creation. The disruption of these relationships through a disregard of or infringement upon God's command, as in the biblical story of the Fall, leads to a rupture in the life of communion between God and his creation and disharmony within creation. When, then, in the Christian Bible, the story of salvation and redemption is the restoration of the life of communion between God and his creation through a repair of broken relationships; and when this repair is referred to in the Christian Bible as reconciliation and justification (making just again) , then the Christian Bible invites us to understand justice in the context of relationships. Indeed, justice is a relationship term; and it denotes respect for the demands of the relationship in which we stand. When we respect the demands of the relationship(s) in which we stand, then the Bible calls us just (tsadiq and justice is צדקה ). Thus, the pious man, whose worship of God expresses his respect for his ties with God, is just. Similarly, the man who maintains good relationship with his neighbours, respecting their rights, is just. Thus also with creation and the environment. The opposite conduct, when we disregard the demands of the relationship in which we stand, is wickedness ( רשע ). Therefore, the biblical sense of justice, before it becomes distributive, commutative, restorative etc., is primarily "relational": respect for the demands of the relationships in which we stand. This makes for harmony and peace. The whole of life is about relationships or the lack of them. When we live and respect the demands of the relationships in which we stand, we are just, and we act with justice; and the fruit of justice is peace. Peace is directly related to the quality of personal and community relationships. To build a more peaceful world, work needs to be done at the personal level; between individuals, communities and nations; with creation, and ultimately with God. Everyone contributes to a more just and less violent society to the extent that we cultivate right and just relations at every level of our lives. Unity of the Human Family, Humanity as a Brotherhood, a Fraternity : The Bible not only posits a common origin of the human family in Adam and Eve in the creation story; it also calls God the Father and origin of all: " Have we not all one father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another…" (Malachi 2:10). In relation to this affirmation of the unity of the human family, the story of the birth of Cain and Abel, as brothers, introduces diversity. As brothers ( a-delphos ) from the same womb, Cain and Abel are equal in dignity, as persons; but they are different in character and occupation. Male and female God created us, brother and sister he called us to be. Fraternity – treating each other as the brothers and sisters that we are – is our true vocation. We are free to embrace it or reject it. God our Creator has freely made human beings equal in dignity, but not the same. Each one of us is fully loved, not more or less but infinitely, fully, uniquely, and unconditionally. Respect for the dignity of the other is the first sign of acceptance as a brother or sister. Since, beside brotherhood, the Bible offers no other way for the multiplication and growth of the human family, brotherhood becomes the only form of existence of the human family in its diversity. Men and women are different, but they are brothers and sisters. Any form of aggression and killing of man is a fratricide. We must watch over each other as goël (kinsman, redeemer, avenger), and seek each other's wellbeing in solidarity : in that moral and social attitude, by which one, with firmness and perseverance commits oneself to the common good; i.e. to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all”. [9] In the process, however, we need to ensure that all, including the poorest, can participate directly in fashioning their common good. This is the important principle of subsidiarity : and it ensures the participation of all in the common business of life. A politics of participation rather than mere membership is the hallmark of subsidiarity. This attitude challenges all social barriers that emerge in human societies and serve to isolate and threaten material wellbeing and social participation. In the light of what the human family is, as one and as brothers, solidarity, subsidiarity and participation must become everyone’s true social habits. Common Good : The discussion of fraternity leads seamlessly to another great teaching of the biblical account of creation: the common good . [10] This refers to "the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfilment more fully and more easily;" [11] and it is said to be "common", because only together as a community, and not simply as isolated individuals, is it possible to enjoy, achieve, and spread this good. Sometimes, though, the common good is misunderstood to mean simply the common desires or interests of the multitude. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Common good is not simply what people happen to want, but what would be authentically good for people, the social conditions that enable human flourishing. However, the common good , as important as it is, is not the greatest good. The ultimate fulfilment of every human person, created by God, can be found only in God, but the common good helps groups and individuals to reach this ultimate good. So, if social conditions are such that people are inhibited or deterred from being able to love God and neighbour, then the common good has not been realized. Universal Destination of the Goods of the Earth : A crucial implication follows from the above, but most importantly, from the fact that God, in the biblical account of creation, bestowed the riches of the earth on man and woman, "created in the image and likeness of God". What follows is that God has "destined the earth and all it contains for all human beings and all peoples so that all created things would be shared fairly by all mankind under the guidance of justice and charity". [12] Because the goods of the earth are so destined for the use of all, one may actually describe a universal right to the goods of the earth. Such a right, however, does not negate the right to private ownership. It only invites private ownership to recognize its social function; [13] for, "the principle of the universal destination of goods is an invitation to develop an economic vision inspired by moral values that permit people not to lose sight of the origin or purpose of these goods, so as to bring about a world of fairness and solidarity…” [14] In sum, “the universal destination of goods requires a common effort to obtain for every person and for all peoples the conditions necessary for integral development, so that everyone can contribute to making a more humane world, ‘in which the progress of some will no longer be an obstacle to the development of others, nor a pretext for their enslavement.’” [15] Summing up: St. Francis of Assisi once prayed: “Lord, make me a channel of your peace.” We today pray in this sacred place of Shiite Islam: “Lord, make us builders of the city of man which deserves the name Salaam/shalom/pax” . In the above, I have described five building blocks of peace and justice : human dignity, justice, unity and brotherhood of the human family, common good and the universal destination of the goods of the earth. These five principles, which promote righteous and peaceful conduct in the world, are distilled from what the revealed Word of God in the Bible teaches about God, the creator of the world. The New Testament Principles of Grace and Love : But when God created the world, it was good. Indeed, it was very good! So, the five building blocks of peace described above were set in this original goodness of God’s creation and were natural and native to human conduct: natural and native to human conduct because man was in perfect communion with God. With the irruption of sin, the alienation of man from God, the disfiguring of creation and the wounding of the nature of man, these principles remain; but no longer are they natural and native to man. Sin has put them beyond the natural and ordinary reach of man, rendering them difficult to be achieved by man. And this is where revelation in the Biblical religion continues the divine act of creation with a divine act of redemption : God’s self-manifestation again in the history of man to save him from sin and its wounds. In Christian belief, this divine act of redemption began already in the Old Testament with the promise of a Messiah; and it was fulfilled in the New Testament with the coming of Jesus Christ. This period of revelation in the Bible expresses God’s gratuitous and prodigal saving action towards undeserving humanity out of His mercy. This mercy of God, which makes Him come to the help of humanity to save it from sin, is often described as God’s love in action ; and it is, I must admit, the most difficult part of Christian Biblical revelation for non-Christians. Just two examples may illustrate the point. The Gospel of John says: “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish, but may have eternal life” (Jn 3:16); while St. Paul teaches: “But God proves His love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). So, this part of Christian revelation teaches that man is not just a sinner; he is a sinner called by God’s undeserved favour to experience God’s mercy and salvation. This undeserved favour of God in the life of man is what Christian revelation calls grace ; and it is what draws man again into a relationship with God. It is what justifies man, makes man just again before God . And so, we come to make the same point as above: Justice is a relationship term . It expresses, first and foremost, the relationship of communion and harmony, and all that we do to make this happen. The teaching of the New Testament revelation, then, is that we fashion and maintain relationships of communion, friendship and harmony with people – not because they always deserve it, but because we love them and want to show them the same favour ( grace ) God has shown us by forgiving our sins and drawing us back to Himself. Thus in showcasing, as it were the love of God, the New Testament is predominantly the revelation of the mystery of the love of God for sinful humanity, as a sign of the presence of the Kingdom of God ; and it formulates grace and love (actions out of love) as the new ethic of the Kingdom, and the new principle of human conduct that ensures peace and justice in the world. And so, if we were to ask the question again: “What role does revealed religion play in the achievement of peace and justice in the world?, we would say that Christian revelation teaches us to shape the earthly city (world) in unity, peace and justice by rendering it to some degree an anticipation and a prefiguration of the Kingdom of God, [16] through living, by God’s grace, the five principles above, now perfected by the new ethic of love. This word, love, is Christianity’s ultimate tool for justice and peace in the world. In sum, as Pope Benedict XVI once put it: “The earthly city (of peace and justice ) is promoted not merely by relationships of rights and duties, but to an even greater and more fundamental extent by relationships of gratuitousness ( grace and love ), mercy and communion.” [17] Our global common home : As a final note, let me observe that a clear case of the application of the tenets of revealed religion for peace and justice in the world today is how we care for our global common home. Care for the earth, our global common home, is, indeed, a necessary consequence of our common brotherhood; for our fraternity is now more than ever a global question, because we inhabit a common home, which is the whole world. Not only did Pope Francis publish his Encyclical Letter, Laudato sì', on the care of our common home, last June. During the summer, several Islamic institutions and individuals came together (August 2015) to issue an important new document about the urgent challenges posed by climate change. The Islamic Declaration on Climate Change [18] is something Catholics everywhere can welcome and support. Islam’s geographical spread is vast. It includes major oil-producing countries. It also includes some of those countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, notably low-lying Bangladesh and Indonesia. There is no doubt that the addition of a strong Muslim voice to the chorus of those demanding a coherent moral response to the world’s ecological problems would be a huge strategic asset. As we have observed already, to build a more peaceful world, work needs to be done at the personal level, between individuals communities and nations, with creation and ultimately with God. Everyone contributes to a more just and less violent society to the extent that we cultivate right and just relations at every level of our lives, including the earth and our environment. Already in 1990 and 2010, Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI applied the tenets of Christian faith to the ecological issue of care for the environment; and in our own day, Pope Francis has formulated it in an Encyclical Letter. Both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI eloquently taught that, rather than simply being technological, the environmental crisis is fundamentally ethical as well. [19] In the past mankind was able to overcome perplexing problems through technological innovation; and facile confidence trusts that it will once again come to our rescue – thus, business continues ‘as usual’. But now technology is proving insufficient to compensate for the excesses of the developed world, with their negative impact on the earth’s ecosystems of the earth. Nor can technology address the injustices that are perpetrated as a result of environmental problems. So questions are beginning to be raised from an ethical perspective: Does the ability to do something actually justify doing it? What is technically possible may not be ethically justifiable. Instead, a responsible ethics of the use of the earth’s goods will in turn help to forge solutions that are more mutual and solidary between peoples, more respectful of the environment, and therefore more sustainable. That is why, while climate change has received its desperately needed attention over the past year, the Encyclical Letter of Pope Francis is equally emphatic about the social element of the environmental crisis. Yes, the rising water levels are a huge threat, but so are the persistent levels of poverty. We are not caring for our common home when some of our brothers starve unseen in a forgotten room and our sisters scavenge outside for food scraps in garbage heaps. If we are to take justice and peace seriously, we must turn our attention to the workings of everyday economic activity, from those who bake or harvest before dawn and walk to the town market to sell their produce, to the analysts and investors in world financial institutions manipulating huge sums in an instant at their computers. Pope Francis has been emphatic that all this activity must serve the interests of all peoples: “Economy, as the very word indicates, should be the art of achieving a fitting management of our common home. If we really want to achieve a healthy world economy, what is needed at this juncture of history is a more efficient way of interacting which, with due regard for the sovereignty of each nation, ensures the economic well-being of all countries, not just of a few.” [20] This teaching derives from what the Church calls ‘the universal destination of goods’. All created things are to be shared fairly under the guidance of justice and love: that is, without excluding or favouring anyone. As Saint John Chrysostom taught: “Not to share one’s wealth with the poor is to steal from them and to take away their livelihood. It is not our own goods which we hold, but theirs.” [21] Thus economic efficiency and the promotion of human development in solidarity are not two separate goals, but one. Careful use of technologies, planning of labour, distribution of capital and debt, approaches to investment, responsible handling of human migration, and respect for national sovereignties must all serve, and not frustrate the origin and purpose of goods in their global context. Conclusion Both of our religious traditions, Islam and Christianity, have long histories, with immense contributions to the intellectual and spiritual riches of humankind. It may be time to see how they, in their own ways, help make our earthly cities prefigurations of the Kingdom of God. “The majority of people living on our planet profess to be believers. This should spur religions to dialogue among themselves for the sake of protecting nature, defending the poor, and building networks of respect and fraternity... The gravity of the ecological crisis demands that we all look to the common good, embarking on a path of dialogue which demands patience, self-discipline and generosity, always keeping in mind that “realities are greater than ideas ” [22] . As Pope John XXIII implored in 1963, so may we today gather together, with the richness of our differences and of our common moral and spiritual principles, to flourish in a common home within “the divinely established order”. May God the Almighty and All-Merciful, who daily inspires generous desires to serve the common good and achieve justice and peace on earth, grant us abundant grace to live our commitments fully and bring them to fruition. +++   [1] I am grateful to Dr. Damian Howard S.J. (London) and Mr. Robert Czerny (Ottawa) for their contributions to this paper. [2] Cf. Laudato Si’, on Care for our Common Home, § 201. [3] John XXIII, Pacem in Terris, § 1. [4] Thus, for example in the words of Pope John XXIII, the “ divinely established order” is what it is because of the coherence with which God endowed it in the very act of his self-manifestation at creation. In short, at the origin of everything and of man, is God's gratuitous self-manifestation to us. This may take the form of an individual and his descendants who are called into a relationship with God, the history or record of which reveals who God is, who man is and “ God purposes for man”. This is the case of the Biblical religions, which begins with Abraham, a prophet (Gen 20:7), and his descendants in the TaNaK (Old Testament), and continues in the New Testament with the disciples of Jesus, Son of David. In Islam, the belief is that God (Allah) made the content of the Koran known to the Prophet Mohammed, who recited it to his listeners. [5] Matthew Livingstone S.J., "Religioni e impegno per il clima: Tra l’Enciclica «Laudato si’» e la Conferenza di Parigi"Civiltà Cattolica n° 3973 (9.1.2016) [6] Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, § 4. [7] Idem. [8] Compendium, § 19. [9] Cf. Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, § 38. [10] In Evangelii Gaudium , in a section titled “The common good and peace in society” (§§ 217-237), Pope Francis asks us to place a vision of the common good back at the centre of our human projects. [11] John XXIII, Pacem in Terris, § 55 [12] Compendium, § 171. [13] Compendium, § 178. [14] Compendium, § 174. [15] Compendium, § 175. [16] Benedict XVI, Caritas in veritate, 2009 , § 7. [17] Idem, § 6. [18] See the text online at [19] See , message of John Paul II for World Day of Peace, 1990, and , message of Benedict XVI for World Day of Peace, 2010.   [20] Evangelii Gaudium, § 206. [21] De Lazaro Concio , II, 6: PG 48, 992D, quoted in Evangelii Gaudium, § 57. [22] Laudato si’, § 201 (from Vatican Radio)... 14 hours 6 min
(Vatican Radio) The Secretary of State of the Holy See, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, delivered the keynote address on Saturday morning at a conference being hosted by the Pontifical Gregorian University on the past, present, and future of the discipline of priestly celibacy in the Catholic Church. In his prepared remarks, the Cardinal Secretary of State recalled that the requirement of celibacy is a disciplinary one that has never been imposed by the whole Church, and one from which men have more or less frequently been dispensed. Cardinal Parolin addressed the opinion that it is time to lift the discipline in the Latin Church, where it is mandatory for all priests, and not just bishops and religious. “If the problematic [situation of a so-called ‘vocations crisis’] does not appear irrelevant,” he said, “it is nevertheless necessary not to take rushed decisions, or decisions based solely on the basis of present need.” Cardinal Parolin went on to say, “It remains true now as ever that the exigencies of evangelization, together with the history and multiform tradition of the Church, leave open the possibility for legitimate debate, if these are motivated by the [imperative of] Gospekl proclamation and conducted in a constructive way, [and] safeguarding the beauty and high dignity of the choice for celibate life.” (from Vatican Radio)... 14 hours 36 min
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis  on Saturday  greeted members of “Padre Pio” Prayer Groups , who are in Rome to venerate the relics of the great saint, which have been translated to St. Peter’s Basilica and are there exposed for veneration by the faithful in connection with the ongoing Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy. St. Pius of Pietralcina – or San Padre Pio , as he is popularly known around the world – was a Capuchin friar with a worldwide reputation during his earthly life as a mystic and miracle-worker, who was also a tireless confessor and laborer in favor of the poor, the sick, and the downtrodden. Click below to hear our report It is in connection with efforts to renew appreciation of and rekindle love for the Sacrament of Penance or Reconciliation that Pope Francis has asked that the relics of St. Padre Pio be brought to Rome – together with those of another great Capuchin confessor, St. Leopold Mandic . In remarks prepared for the occasion of the prayer groups’ visit, Pope Francis reflected that St. Pius became, through the ministry of Confession, a living caress of the Father who heals the wounds of sin and restores the heart with peace. “St. Pius never tired of welcoming persons and listening to them, never tired of passing time and energy to spread the scent of the Lord’s pardon,” he said. The “ Padre Pio ” prayer groups were founded in the mid-20 th century by the saint himself, and are present in virtually every Italian region and in scores of countries around the world, and Pope Francis thanked the many of their number who had made the trip to Rome for the occasion, saying that prayer is the greatest strength of the Church and that we must never let go of the habit of prayer, since the Church bears fruit only if she does as Our Lady and the Apostles, who were, “persevering with one mind in prayer. (Acts 1:14)” Pope Francis encouraged the participants to continue in their imitation of Padre Pio , as apostles of prayer and as helpers of the sick and needy – and thus to continue to give example of the great love that builds up the Church, when Christians take and practice seriously the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. (from Vatican Radio)... 15 hours 39 min
(VIS) The annual meeting between the officials of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (PCID) and the staff of the Office for Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation (IRDC) of the World Council of Churches (WCC), took place from 3 to 4 February in Geneva, Switzerland. Appropriately this was during Interfaith Harmony Week. The meeting included reflection, prayer and the sharing of information regarding activities which had been carried out during 2015, as well as the discussion of plans for 2016. The staff of the two offices have collaborated in a variety of ways during recent years, either through joint initiatives, such as the publication of the document “Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World: Recommendations for Conduct” (2011), or by each other’s supportive participation in events or projects organized by their respective offices. 2015 had marked the 50th anniversary of the publication of the Vatican II document Nostra Aetate which is recognised by the World Council of Churches, to have been a seminal moment in the history of Christian relationships with other religions. The meeting in 2106 offered the opportunity to reflect on future partnerships between the two institutions, in the light of their mutual desire to build further on the impetus given by the celebration of this important document.   (from Vatican Radio)... 19 hours 44 min
(Vatican Radio) The historic meeting of Pope Francis with Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church has a special significance during this Jubilee year of mercy. That’s the view of Dominican Fr Hyacinthe Destivelle who is in charge of relations with the Slavic Orthodox Churches at the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity . The Vatican and the Russian Orthodox Church announced on Friday that the Pope and the Patriarch will meet for the first time in Cuba on February 12th. A statement released jointly in Moscow and in Rome said the meeting will mark “an important stage in relations” between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches and a “sign of hope for all people of good will”. Fr Destivelle and Council President Cardinal Kurt Koch will be in the Cuban capital for the encounter and the signing of a joint declaration between the two leaders. Fr Destivelle talked to Philippa Hitchen about the background to this meeting and about the contents of that joint statement….. Listen:  Fr Destivelle says there has been an intensification of relations over recent years, following on from a period of difficulties in the 1990s. At that time the Moscow Patriarchate accused the Catholic Church of proselytism as it restored Catholic structures in Russia following the fall of the Soviet Union. There was also the so-called ‘Uniate’ problem in Ukraine, but he says on both questions the Moscow Patriarchate has been reassured. Fr Destivelle says the encounter between the Pope and Patriarch will take place in Havana’s José Marì international airport while the former is en route to Mexico and the latter is on a visit to Cuba. The two leaders will hold a two hour meeting and exchange gifts before signing a joint declaration. Joint statement on different aspects of shared testimony The statement will not be of a theological nature since that dialogue takes place in the framework of the International Commission for dialogue between the Catholic Church and all the Orthodox Churches. Instead, he says, it will be a declaration on different aspects of collaboration and testimony that the Russian Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church can give in our world today. These may include the problem of persecuted Christians in the Middle East, secularization, the protection of life, marriage, the family and other issues of shared concern. No unity without mercy The role of the meeting, Fr Destivelle says, is within the framework of the dialogue of charity since Pope Francis has often said he is willing to promote a culture of encounter, especially in this Jubilee year of mercy – “there will be no unity without mercy”, he adds. See also,_patriarch_encounter_is_sign_of_hope_for_all_christians/1206350 (from Vatican Radio)... 1 day 9 hours
(Vatican Radio) The relics of St. Pius of Pietralcina – Padre Pio, as he is popularly known around the world – and St. Leopold Mandic, made their way on Friday afternoon from the Church of San Salvatore in Lauro to St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. The relics of the two great saints – both of whom were Capuchin Franciscan friars and priests who were renowned as confessors – have come to Rome by the desire of Pope Francis in connection with the Jubilee Year of Mercy , as part of efforts to renew, rekindle and strengthen interest in and love for the Sacrament of Penance or Reconciliation.  Click below to hear our report Following a Mass in nearby San Salvatore, at which the principal celebrant was the Archbishop of Manfredonia – Vieste – San Giovanni Rotondo, Michele Castoro, the saints' relics were carried in solemn procession through the streets of Rome, across the Tiber River and into St. Peter’s, where they were received by the Cardinal-Archpriest, Angelo Comastri, who, after a moment of prayer, accompanied them into the Basilica and saw them placed in the central nave before the Altar of the Confession for the faithful to venerate. The relics will remain in St. Peter’s for veneration until the morning of February 11 when, after a Holy Mass of thanksgiving at 7:30 am at the Altar of the Chair, they will be returned to their places of repose. (from Vatican Radio)... 1 day 9 hours
(Vatican Radio) The Vatican and the Russian Orthodox Church announced on Friday that Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill will hold a historic first encounter in Cuba on February 12th. A statement released jointly in Moscow and in Rome said the meeting will mark “an important stage in relations” between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches and a “sign of hope for all people of good will”. Philippa Hitchen reports:  Pope Francis announced at the start of the Jubilee  year of mercy that he himself intended to make some practical gestures showing God’s mercy to the world on one Friday of each month. Friday February 12th may prove to be the most significant of all those gestures, as the leader of the Catholic world and the head of the largest Orthodox Church meet together to show that, despite the issues still dividing them, they are determined to pursue the path of mercy, forgiveness and the restoration of full Christian unity. The historic encounter has been years in the making, at least since the fall of the Soviet Union, when Pope John Paul II first expressed his desire to visit Russia and further the reconciliation of East and Western Christianity which officially divided in 1054. Since then there have been several behind-the-scenes attempts to orchestrate a meeting between popes and patriarchs, but political and religious tensions continued to stand in the way. Warming of Catholic-Orthodox relations Following a significant warming of relations – Cardinal Koch of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity travelled to Moscow and Metropolitan Hilarion came to Rome four times last year – the opportunity arose for a meeting on neutral territory in Cuba. The island nation was a key ally of Moscow during the Cold War and more recently Pope Francis played an important role in the rapprochement between Washington and Havana. Two hour private conversation at Havana airport The Pope will stop over at Havana airport en route to Mexico City, while Patriarch Kirill will arrive the previous day at the start of a visit to three Latin American nations. They will have a two hour private conversation, in Spanish and Russian, with just their interpreters and closest advisers present in the airport salon. They will exchange gifts and sign a joint declaration before speaking briefly with journalists to share their impressions and expectation. Both leaders have asked Christians everywhere to pray for this encounter, a practical sign of healing, forgiveness and great hope for the future.  (from Vatican Radio)... 1 day 10 hours
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis is asking people around the world to pray during the month of February for an increase of attention to and care for our common home. The Holy Father is making the request through his new video initiative in cooperation with the Jesuit-operated Apostleship of Prayer. Below, please fin the full text of the Holy Father's Message, which you can view at . ************************************************************* Believers and unbelievers agree that the earth is our common heritage, the fruits of which should benefit everyone. However, what is happening in the world we live in? The relationship between poverty and the fragility of the planet requires another way of managing the economy and measuring progress, conceiving a new way of living. Because we need a change that unites us all. Free from the slavery of consumerism. This month I make a special request: That we may take good care of creation–a gift freely given–cultivating and protecting it for future generations. Caring for our common home. (from Vatican Radio)... 1 day 10 hours
The Holy Father, Pope Francis has met Zambia’s Republican President, Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu Friday morning in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace.  The Zambian President, Mr. Lungu arrived shortly after 10.30 hours. He was accompanied to the Vatican by his wife, Esther. Also, with the President was Zambia’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr. Harry Kalaba, Zambia’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Mr. Muyeba Chikonde  who is also accredited to the Holy See. Others were Zambian government officials and state house aides.  Upon arrival in the Vatican, Mr. Lungu was welcomed by Archbishop Georg Gänswein who is the Prefect of the Papal Household and the personal secretary of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Archbishop Gänswein then led President Lungu to Pope Francis’ private library.  In the library, Pope Francis held a closed-door meeting with Mr. Lungu that lasted almost 25 minutes. Later the Vatican Press Office released a statement saying that the discussions were cordial and about the good relations between the Holy See and the Republic of Zambia. Also discussed were the contribution of the Catholic Church in Zambia through involvement in the educational, social and healthcare institutions, as well as the Church’s collaboration in combating poverty and social inequality and the promotion of peaceful social and religious co-existence through a culture of dialogue and encounter.  The statement further said attention then turned to themes of common interest, including  migration, climate change and the protection of the environment. Finally, Pope Francis and Mr. Lungu discussed the international situation, with the focus on conflicts that affect various areas of Africa as well as Zambia’s commitment to peace. At the end of the visit, the Pope Francis and President Lungu exchanged gifts. The Holy Father also personally gave rosaries to Mr. Lungu’s entourage. The Zambian President gave to Pope Francis a big Copper plaque depicting the big five animals found in Zambia.  Later, President Lungu met the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin. President Lungu was in the afternoon expected to hold talks with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The two international organisations have their head offices in Rome.  In the evening of the same day, Mr. Lungu was expected to meet Zambians living in Italy at the residence of Zambia’s ambassador to Italy, Ms. Gertrude Mwape.  The following day, 6 February President Lungu and his entourage were scheduled to tour Saint Peter’s Basilica before leaving Italy in the afternoon for another official visit to France. (Fr. Paul Samasumo, Vatican Radio)  email: (from Vatican Radio)... 1 day 11 hours
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met with the President of Zambia, Edgar Chagwa Lungu, on Friday morning. A communiqué from the Press Office of the Holy See informs that the Pope and the President held cordial discussions on a range of topics, including  the contribution of the Catholic Church to the upbuilding of Zambian society, the promotion of peaceful co-existence through a culture of dialogue and encounter, migration, climate change and the protection of the environment. The Holy Father and the President also discussed international issues, with special focus on  the conflicts that affect various areas of Africa and the commitment of the country to regional peace. Below, please find the full text of the official Communiqué, in English ********************************************************** On the morning of Friday 5 February 2016, the Holy Father Francis received in audience, in  the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the president of the Republic of Zambia, Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu,  who subsequently met with His Eminence Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied  by His Excellency Archbishop Paul R. Gallagher, secretary for Relations with States. During the cordial discussions, the good relations between the Holy See and the Republic of  Zambia were noted. The Parties focused on the contribution of the Catholic Church through her  educational, social and healthcare institutions, as well as her collaboration in combating poverty and  social inequality, and the promotion of peaceful social and religious co-existence through a culture  of dialogue and encounter. Attention then turned to themes of common interest, including  migration, climate change and the protection of the environment. Finally, mention was made of the international situation, with special attention to the  conflicts that affect various areas of Africa and the commitment of the country to the peace  processes in the Region. (from Vatican Radio)... 1 day 13 hours
John the Baptist, “the greatest of the prophets”, teaches us a fundamental rule of Christian life: humble ourselves so that Jesus may grow. This is “God’s approach”, as opposed to “mankind’s approach”, as the Pope pointed out during Mass at Santa Marta on Friday morning, 5 February. In the day’s Gospel passage, Mark writes that “the people were talking about Jesus, because his ‘name had become known’” (6:14-29). In other words, “everyone was talking” and they asked themselves who he really was. One person said: “He is one of the prophets who has returned”. And another: “He is John the Baptist, who has been raised”. The fact is that “people were intrigued” by Jesus. Meanwhile King Herod, Mark writes, was also “fearful and perplexed” because he was “haunted by the ghost of John”, whom he had killed. In addition, Francis noted, “other characters appear in this Gospel passage: a wicked woman, who was hateful and had a grudge; a girl who did not understand anything and whose only interest was vanity”. Thus, the story of Herodias and her daughter is “like a novel”. This is how the evangelist frames “the end of John the Baptist, ‘the greatest man born of woman’ as the canonization formula states”. And “this formula was not stated by a Pope: Jesus said it!”. John truly “is the greatest man born of woman, the greatest saint: this is how Jesus canonized him”. But John “meets his end in prison, with his throat cut”. The Gospel passage seems to end on a note of “resignation”. John’s “disciples heard of it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb”. This is how “the greatest man born of woman” meets his end. “A great prophet, the last of the prophets, the only one allowed to see the hope of Israel”. Yes, “the great John who called for repentance: all the people followed him and asked him ‘what must we do?’”. The Pontiff added that “even soldiers” followed him. “Everyone followed him in order to be baptized, to ask forgiveness, to the point that the doctors of the law went to ask him: ‘are you the one we have been waiting for?’”. John’s answer is clear: “No, no, not me. There is another who comes after me. It is he. I am only the voice of one crying in the wilderness”. On this point, the Pope explained, “St Augustine makes us think hard when he says: ‘Yes, John says of himself that he is the voice, because behind him comes the word’”. And “Christ is God’s word, the Word of God”. Truly, “John is great”, Francis repeated. Great when he says he is not the awaited one: “this phrase is his destiny, his life plan: ‘He, the one who comes after me, must increase; I instead must decrease’”. This is precisely “what John’s life was like: decreasing, decreasing, decreasing and ending in such a prosaic fashion, in anonymity”. Thus, John was “a great man who sought not his own glory but God’s”. It doesn’t end there. The Pontiff then remarked that John “suffered in prison — let’s say the word — the inner torture of doubt”. He ends up asking himself: “Might I have made a mistake? This messiah is not how I imagined the Messiah would be!”. Thus, “he sent his disciples to ask Jesus: ‘Tell the truth, are you he who is to come’”. Obviously, “that doubt made him suffer” and he asked himself: “Was I wrong to proclaim one who isn’t he? Have I deceived people?”. Thus, he had “great suffering and inner loneliness”. His words return in all their strength: “I instead must decrease, but decrease in this way: in spirit, in body, in all”. To John’s doubt, “Jesus responded: ‘Watch what happens’. He is confident, he doesn’t say, ‘I am he’. He says: ‘Go and tell John what you have seen’. He also gives signs, and leaves him alone with his doubt, to interpret the signs”. Thus, Francis affirmed, “this is the great prophet”. However, also regarding John, “there is a final thing that gives us something to think about: with this attitude of ‘decreasing’ so that Christ may ‘increase’, he prepared the way for Jesus. Jesus died in anguish, alone, without the disciples”. John’s “great glory”, therefore, is being “a prophet not only with words, but also with his flesh: with his life he prepared the way for Jesus. He is a great man!”. In conclusion, indicating that “it will do us good”, the Pope suggested “reading this passage of the Gospel of Mark today, the sixth chapter”. Yes, he said again, “read that passage” in order “to see how God overcomes: God’s approach is not mankind’s approach”. In the light of this Gospel passage, let us “ask the Lord for the grace of John’s humility, and not to attribute to ourselves the merits or glories of others”. And ask “especially for the grace that in our life there may always be room for Jesus to grow as we become more lowly, to the very end”.... 1 day 13 hours
(Vatican Radio)  It was announced on Friday that Pope Francis will hold a meeting with Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia in Cuba on February 12th. It marks the first ever such meeting between a Roman Pontiff and the head of the Russian Orthodox Church. Please find below the Joint Press Release of the Holy See and of the Patriarchate of Moscow: The Holy See and the patriarchate of Moscow are pleased to announce that, by the grace of God, His Holiness Pope Francis and His Holiness Patriarch Kirilll of Moscow and All Russia will meet on February 12th next. Their meeting will take place in Cuba, where the Pope will make a stop on his way to Mexico, and where the Patriarch will be on an official visit. It will include a personal conversation at Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport, and will conclude with the signing of a joint declaration.  This meeting of the Primates of the Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church, after a long preparation, will be the first in history and will mark an important stage in relations between the two Churches. The Holy See and the Moscow Patriarchate hope that it will also be a sign of hope for all people of good will. They invite all Christians to pray fervently for God to bless this meeting, that it may bear good fruits.     (from Vatican Radio)... 1 day 15 hours
(Vatican Radio) God’s ‘style’ is not man’s ‘style,’ because God triumphs through humility. That was Pope Francis’ message in his homily during daily Mass at the Casa Santa Marta. God’s style can be seen in the death of the greatest of the prophets, St John the Baptist. This “just and holy man,” the “greatest man,” the man who had prepared the people for the coming of the Messiah, was beheaded in the darkness of his cell, alone, condemned by the vindictive hatred of a queen and the cowardice of a submissive king.   Listen:  The ultimate prophet And yet that is how “God triumphs,” the Pope said, commenting on the day’s Gospel which relates the circumstances of John’s death: “John the Baptist, ‘the greatest man born of a woman’ – so says the formula for the canonization of John. But this formula was used not of a Pope, or even of Jesus. That man is the greatest man born of a woman: The greatest saint: Thus Jesus canonized him. And he ended his life in jail, beheaded, and the final phrase [of the Gospel reading] seems almost one of resignation: ‘When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.’ This is the end of ‘the greatest man born of a woman.’ A great prophet. The ultimate, the last of prophets. The only one to whom it was granted to see the hope of Israel.” The suffering of the greatest Pope Francis took his congregation beyond the text of the Gospel, inviting them to enter into John’s cell, to look into the soul of the voice crying out in the desert, of the one who baptized the crowds in the name of Him who was to come, the one who was now weighed down not only by the iron chains that bound him in his prison, but by the shackles of some doubt, despite everything: “But he also suffered in prison – let us say the word – the interior torture of doubt: ‘But maybe I made a mistake? This Messiah is not how I imagined the Messiah would be.’ And he invited his disciples to ask Jesus: ‘But tell us, tell us the truth: are you He who is to come?’ because that doubt made him suffer. ‘Was I mistaken in proclaiming someone who isn’t [who I thought]?’ The suffering, the interior solitude of this man. ‘I, on the other hand, must diminish, but diminish thus: in soul, in body, in everything…” Humble to the very end “To diminish, diminish, diminish.” That “was the life of John,” Pope Francis repeated. “A great man who did not seek his own glory, but the glory of God”; a man who died in such a prosaic manner, in anonymity. But with this attitude, the Pope concluded, John “prepared the way for Jesus,’ who, in a similar manner, “died in agony, alone, without the disciples’: “It does us good to read this passage from the Gospel, the Gospel of Mark, chapter 6. Reading this passage, seeing how God triumphs: the style of God is not the style of man. Asking the Lord for the grace of humility that John had, and not leaning on our own merits or the glory of others. And above all, the grace that in our life that might always be a place that Christ might grow greater, and we might come down, even to the very end.” (from Vatican Radio)... 1 day 15 hours
(Vatican Radio) The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin , concluded a visit to Slovenia on Thursday by visiting a reception centre for refugees in Dobova, on the Croatian border, where tens of thousands of immigrants arrived at the height of last autumn’s migration crisis. During his three day visit, the cardinal on Wednesday inaugurated new premises for the Apostolic Nunciature to Slovenia, in the capital Ljubljana and celebrated Mass to mark the close of the Year of Consecrated Life in Ljublijana Cathedral. Speaking at a joint press conference on Tuesday at the start of his visit, Cardinal Parolin and Slovenia’s prime minister Miro Cerar called for a “humane and solidarity-based” resolution to the refugee crisis. During his visit to the reception centre in Dobova, the Vatican Secretary of State met with volunteers and said he was impressed by the “great sense of solidarity” with migrants which must be the starting point for any lasting solutions to the crisis…. Listen   Cardinal Parolin said he was very struck by the sense of solidarity he experienced at the centre in Dobova. Although there are many complex issues to be taken into consideration, he said the focus on sharing difficulties and giving help to those in need is an important starting point. Migrant crisis must be tackled through common effort He said he was visiting the centre on behalf of Pope Francis to give “strength and courage” to those working on behalf of the refugees. He said it’s important to recognize the work of organisations like Caritas and many others, adding that it’s “a good sign” that such organisations are working together in the face of the crisis. While insisting that the Vatican does not give “technical solutions” but simply recalls the principles that must lie at the basis of any such solutions, the cardinal said the emergency can only be tackled and resolved through a common effort. Asked about a possible papal visit to Slovenia, the cardinal said the Prime Minister invited the Pope during a trip to the Vatican last year and he repeated that invitation this week, but there are “no more details” of any papal visit at present. (from Vatican Radio)... 2 days 9 hours
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Thursday paid a surprise visit to the offices of three dicasteries of the Roman Curia: the Congregation for Oriental Churches and the Pontifical Councils: Cor Unam and for the New Evangelisation. During his visit, the Pope agreed to answer a number of questions put to him by the staff of the three organisations. In an interview afterwards, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Council for promoting the New Evangelisation said they were deeply grateful for this visit by Pope Francis. Archbishop Fisichella said the Pope had given them valuable advice on how best to promote the new evangelization, especially when it comes to the question of pastoral conversion and the catechesis. He also spoke about the important role model of the two saints, Pio of Pietrelcina, better known as Padre Pio, and Leopold Mandic, both of whose relics will be taken in a procession to St. Peter’s Basilica on Friday.    (from Vatican Radio)... 2 days 9 hours
(Vatican Radio) The Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Paul Gallagher , has appealed for increased funding to support refugees from the Syrian crisis, saying the Holy See will “continue its humanitarian assistance” to the region over the coming year. The Vatican ‘foreign minister’ was speaking at a conference in London on Thursday entitled ‘Supporting Syria and the Region’. The one day meeting, organised by the British government in partnership with Germany, Kuwait, Norway and the United Nations, focused not only on the emergency humanitarian needs of Syrian refugees but also on providing longer term support through jobs, education and economic development of host countries in the region. Listen to Philippa Hitchen's report:  In his statement Archbishop Gallagher highlighted the deaths and “ever-increasing human suffering” in Syria as the conflict enters its sixth year. In particular he mentioned the malnourishment of children and other civilians trapped in besieged and hard-to-reach areas. Holy See responded to Syria crisis from start of conflic t  The Holy See, he said, through the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”, and the Catholic Church, through its network of charitable agencies, have been responding to the humanitarian crisis in the region from the start of the conflict. Given the overwhelming humanitarian needs, he said the Holy See “joins its voice to the appeals for increased funding to help refugees and impacted host communities” such as Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey and Egypt. Existence of Christians in Middle East "gravely threatened" In distributing aid, the Vatican diplomat noted, Catholic agencies make no distinction regarding the religious or ethnic identity of those in need and seek always to give priority to the most vulnerable victims. He said that Christians and other religious minorities suffer disproportionately the effects of war and social upheaval in the region, stressing that their very existence in the Middle East remains “gravely threatened”. Here is the full statement by Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Secretary for the Holy See’s Relations with States The Holy See is pleased to participate in the “Supporting Syria and the Region” Conference aimed at responding to the humanitarian crisis in Syria that is now, regrettably and painfully, entering into its sixth year. A crisis that is characterised by ever-increasing human suffering, including extreme cases of malnourishment of innocent children and other civilians, especially among the high number of people who are trapped in hard-to-reach and besieged areas and are deprived of essential humanitarian aid. Notwithstanding renewed hopes for the political resolution of the crisis, our humanitarian efforts are increasingly focused on not only emergency aid but also the medium and long-term needs of refugees and host countries. Therefore, the Holy See warmly welcomes the emphasis on providing education, jobs and economic development at this pledging conference. As we address the humanitarian needs of this crisis, it behoves us to remember that the real cost of this humanitarian crisis is measured by the deaths and suffering of millions of our fellow human beings. In his recent address to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, on 11 January last, His Holiness Pope Francis recalled “the plea of thousands of people who weep as they flee horrific wars, persecutions and human rights violations, or political or social instability…forced to flee in order to escape unspeakable acts of cruelty towards vulnerable persons, such as children and the disabled, or martyrdom solely on account of their religion.”  In looking ahead to the First World Humanitarian Summit, which will take place next May, His Holiness expressed his desire that this Summit “will succeed in its goal of placing the person and human dignity at the heart of every humanitarian response”. The Holy See, through the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”, and the Catholic Church, through its network of charitable agencies, have been responding to the humanitarian crisis in Syria and the region from the very beginning. The funding needs of many Catholic agencies and NGOs are already included in the United Nations Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan [3RP] 2016-2017 in response to the Syria Crisis. The 3RP funding requirement for 2016 alone is significantly greater than the amount appealed for in 2015, which regrettably was only 50% funded. Given such overwhelming humanitarian needs, the Holy See joins its voice to the appeals for increased funding to help refugees and impacted host communities in the 3RP countries: Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey and Egypt. In 2015, entities of the Catholic Church (dioceses, Catholic Church aid agencies and Catholic NGOs) with funds received from appeals promoted by national episcopal conferences, private donations of Catholic faithful throughout the world, and in partnership with Governments and International organisations, contributed to providing USD 150 million of humanitarian assistance of direct benefit to more than 4 million people. The following were the principal areas of priority for Catholic agencies in 2015: Education: USD 37 million for education programmes in Lebanon and Jordan, for both refugees and impacted host communities; Food aid: USD 30 million, of which USD 25 million was distributed in Syria; Non-Food aid: approximately US 30 million in Syria and Iraq; Health: approximately US 16 million was provided to the health sector, particularly in Syria, Jordan and Iraq; and finally, accommodation: US 10 million for accommodation and lodging for refugees and IDPs. A further US 12 million of funds were used in the provision of direct cash assistance, water and sanitation, livelihood and socio-psychological assistance. On this occasion, I wish to give assurances of the commitment of the Catholic Church to continue its humanitarian assistance in the coming year. In distributing aid, Catholic agencies and entities make no distinction regarding the religious or ethnic identity of those requiring assistance, and seek always to give priority to the most vulnerable and to those most in need. Particularly vulnerable are religious minorities, including Christians, who suffer disproportionately the effects of war and social upheaval in the region. In fact, their very presence and existence are gravely threatened. For this reason, His Holiness Pope Francis has repeatedly called attention to the particular needs of Christians and religious minorities in the Middle East. See also this blog post on the conference by Britain's ambassador to the Holy See Nigel Baker (from Vatican Radio)... 2 days 13 hours
(Vatican Radio) The most beautiful inheritance we can leave to others is the Faith: that was Pope Francis’ message during Holy Mass on Thursday morning at the Casa Santa Marta. In his homily, he invited us to not fear death, because the course of life continues. Listen to Christopher Wells' report:  Thinking about death illuminates life The day’s first reading tells the story of the death of King David. “In every life there is an ending,” the Pope said. This is a thought “that is not pleasing to us,” that we always pass over, but “it is an everyday reality.” Thinking about death is “a light that illuminates life” and “a reality that we should always have before us”: “In one of the Wednesday audiences there was among those who were sick a very old sister, but with face of peace, a luminous countenance: ‘But how old are you, sister?’ With a smile she said, ‘Eighty-three, but I am finishing my course in this life, to begin another with the Lord, because I have pancreatic cancer.’ And so, in peace, that woman had lived her consecrated life with great intensity. She did not fear death: ‘I am finishing my course of life, to begin another.’ It is a passage. These things do us good.” Faith, the most beautiful inheritance David ruled over Israel for 40 years, the Pope noted. Before dying, David exhorted his son Solomon to observe the Law of the Lord. David had sinned often in life, but had learned to ask for forgiveness – and the Church calls him holy, “a sinner, but a Saint!” Now, at the point of death, David left to his son “the most beautiful and greatest inheritance a man or a woman can leave to their children: He left them the faith”: “When a will is made, people say, ‘I leave this to one person, this to another, to another person I leave this.’ Yes, that’s fine, but the most beautiful inheritance, the greatest inheritance a man, a woman, can leave to their children is the faith. And David remembered the promises of God, he remembers his own faith in them, and he reminds his son of them, leaving the faith as an inheritance. When in the ceremony of Baptism we give the parents the lighted candle, the light of the faith, we are saying to them, ‘Preserve it, make it grow in your son and in your daughter, and leave it to them as an inheritance.’ Leaving the faith as an inheritance – this is what David teaches us. And he died, simply, like any man. But he knew well what to leave to his son, and what was the best inheritance he could leave: not the kingdom, but the faith!” God is faithful; He is a Father who never disappoints We would do well to ask ourselves a question, the Pope concluded: “What is the inheritance I will leave with my life?” “Will I leave the inheritance of a man, a woman of faith? Will I leave this inheritance to my children? Let us ask two things of the Lord: to not be afraid of this final step, like the sister at the Wednesday audience (‘I am ending my course, but beginning another”), not being afraid. And the second thing, that with our life, we might all be able to leave, as the better inheritance, the faith, faith in this faithful God, this God who is always close to us, this God who is a Father, and who never disappoints.” (from Vatican Radio)... 2 days 16 hours
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday met with members of the Pontifical Foundation ‘Scholas Occurrentes’ – an international project based in Argentina that brings together schools and educational networks from different cultures and religious backgrounds. Following an opening greeting from the Pope, participants presented the work of three projects, linking young people around the world through art, through sports and through a citizenship initiative. Among those taking part in the meeting were a number of well-known sports personalities, including the top Brazilian footballer Ronaldinho. While he was still Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Bergoglio himself played a key role in the founding of the Scholas Occurentes’, with the goal of improving education, while empowering and integrating different communities, especially those on the margins of society. The organisation today counts over 400.000 members spread across five continents, yet linked though a shared passion for sports, science, technology and art. During the encounter, at the Casina Pio IV in the Vatican gardens, the organisers announced they would be sponsoring another edition of the “Match for Peace” a celebrity football match to be played at Rome’s Olympic Stadium (from Vatican Radio)... 2 days 16 hours

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From: Live Catholic Headlines
Washington D.C., Feb 6, 2016 / 07:59 am (EWTN News/CNA).- Controversy has erupted in recent weeks over a beloved American pastime and – considering the risk it poses – whether or not the game of football is even worth it.
13 hours 40 min
Vatican City, Feb 6, 2016 / 06:57 am (EWTN News/CNA).- On Saturday Pope Francis said that St. Padre Pio is a key example of someone who has given their entire life in the service of God's mercy, but cautioned that there is only one reason he was able to do so: prayer. 14 hours 42 min
Vatican City, Feb 5, 2016 / 08:02 am (EWTN News/CNA).- Sitting alongside soccer stars such as Ronaldinho and Bryan Ruiz on Wednesday, Pope Francis announced that a second edition of his 2014 interreligious match for peace will take place in May. 1 day 13 hours
Vatican City, Feb 5, 2016 / 06:59 am (EWTN News).- On Friday the Vatican announced that while on his way to Mexico, Pope Francis will stop in Cuba to meet with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill in the first-ever meeting between a Pope and a leader of the Russian Orthodox Church. 1 day 14 hours
Denver, Colo., Feb 5, 2016 / 05:13 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- Disability advocates and medical professionals came out in opposition to a proposal in the Colorado legislature that would legalize assisted suicide, warning that it would further marginalize the disabled and terminally ill. 1 day 16 hours
Washington D.C., Feb 5, 2016 / 05:06 am (EWTN News/CNA).- Pope Pius XII's secret support for the attempted overthrow of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler is the subject of a new book that draws on wartime documents and interviews with the American intelligence agent who wrote them. 1 day 16 hours
Sao Paulo, Brazil, Feb 5, 2016 / 02:08 am (EWTN News/CNA).- In the wake of the Zika virus outbreak in the Americas, one woman born with microcephaly – which is suspected to be linked to Zika – has said that what's needed for those with the condition is assistance, not abortion. 1 day 19 hours
Lincoln, Neb., Feb 5, 2016 / 01:29 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- Bishop James D. Conley of Lincoln defended his decision to allow Bishop Robert Finn, former bishop of Kansas City, Mo., to take a position as chaplain of a community of religious sisters in the Diocese of Lincoln, Neb. saying that justice for his past negligence "has been served." 1 day 20 hours
Vatican City, Feb 4, 2016 / 12:03 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- The partially incorrupt body of Padre Pio has arrived to Rome for the first time ever alongside that of another friar, St. Leopold Mandić, as a special initiative for the Jubilee of Mercy. 2 days 9 hours
Strasbourg, France, Feb 4, 2016 / 09:24 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- The European Parliament on Thursday declared that genocide is taking place in the Middle East against Christians, Yazidis, and other ethnic and religious minorities, at the hands of the Islamic State. 2 days 12 hours
Los Angeles, Calif., Feb 4, 2016 / 08:22 am (EWTN News/CNA).- Efforts to combat social injustice cannot forget that the right to life is foundational, Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles said at a Hispanic pro-life gathering last week. 2 days 13 hours
Vatican City, Feb 4, 2016 / 07:29 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- On Thursday the "Pope of Surprises" made an unscheduled stop at the welcoming center for pilgrims in Rome for the Jubilee of Mercy, before heading to three Vatican departments for a lengthy visit after. 2 days 14 hours
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Feb 4, 2016 / 07:11 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- In its first statement related to the health crisis sparked by the Zika virus, the Brazilian Conference of Catholic Bishops said that the disease is "no justification whatsoever to promote abortion." 2 days 14 hours
Los Angeles, Calif., Feb 4, 2016 / 06:39 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- For months, Erwin Mena donned vestments, called himself "Padre," and convinced Southern California Catholics that he was a priest, police say. 2 days 15 hours
Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Feb 4, 2016 / 06:01 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- Évila Quintana Molina is a single mother in a Mexican prison. She has never spoken in public, to protect her little daughter from being teased by other children. But when she was chosen to give her testimony to Pope Francis, her eight-year-old daughter encouraged her to go ahead. 2 days 15 hours
Chicago, Ill., Feb 4, 2016 / 05:03 am (EWTN News/CNA).- The Chicago area didn't get the piles of snow that much of the rest of the country did this week, to the disappointment of students and staff at Holy Family Academy. 2 days 16 hours
Washington D.C., Feb 4, 2016 / 02:59 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- In their keynote address at the National Prayer Breakfast, the couple behind the History Channel's 'The Bible' miniseries called for efforts to unite people of different faiths, races and political beliefs. 2 days 18 hours
Washington D.C., Feb 4, 2016 / 02:04 am (EWTN News/CNA).- The future of religious freedom in the United States will one day be in the care of today's college students, so one Catholic college is working to equip them for that struggle. 2 days 19 hours

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chatfield college first snow

21 hours 34 min
St. William already HAD their first fish fry! Photo courtesy Tina Geers.

Photo courtesy Tina Geers.

Our 2016 fish fry list is up! See it here.

Is your fish fry missing? Email your information to in the following format: Name of church or organization, address of fish fry, dates, times, web site, phone number for information. Send your fish fry photos to the same address for our Fish Fry Gallery!

1 day 21 hours
The  renowned Rose Ensemble will present a concert of early music based on the life of St. Francis at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains (CIncinnati) Sunday afternoon.

The renowned Rose Ensemble will present a concert of early music based on the life of St. Francis at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains (CIncinnati) Sunday afternoon.

Feb. 4, Screening of Risen at Showcase Cinema Deluxe Springdale (OH), 7 pm. Free screening of the film starring Joseph Fiennes as Romen soldier present at the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus; by the makers of War Room. Sponsored by Sacred Heart Radio. Registration required; click here to register online or call (513) 731-7740 — only 190 tickets available.

Feb. 5-7, Women’s Silent Retreat at Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center (Norwood, OH). Based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius; offered by the Legionaries of Christ/Regnum Christi. Guided meditations, private reflections, Mass, opportunities for confession and spiritual direction more. For information or to register see

Feb. 5th, Fat Friday Pre-Lenten Dinner at St. William Church (Price Hill/Cincinnati), 5-8 pm. Get a jump start on Fat Tuesday with the 3rd annual Fat Friday dinner in the undercroft: chicken wings (plain or with choice of sauces), chicken tenders (fried and grilled), pepperoni and cheese pizza, fried cheese sticks, fried pickles, more. Live entertainment.

Feb. 6, First Saturday Mass and Talk at Our Lady of the Holy spirit Center (Norwood, OH), 9:30 am (rosary at 9 am). Sponsored by Men and Women of Christ through Mary. Speaker: Fr. Shannon Collins, “The Rosary during Dark Times.”

Feb. 6, First Saturday Mass and Talk at Our Lady of the Holy spirit Center (Norwood, OH), 9:30 am (rosary at 9 am). Sponsored by Men and Women of Christ through Mary. Speaker: Fr. Shannon Collins, “The Rosary during Dark Times.”

Feb. 6, 40 Days for LIfe Vigil Cincinnati Kickoff at the Mt. Auburn Planned Parenthood, 10 am. Speakers: Fr. Cyril Whitaker, SJ, of Xavier University and Mr. Henry Flowers IV, director of Life Issues Institute’s Protecting Black Life initiative.

Feb. 6, Harp Concert at the Cincinnati Sisters of Charity Motherhouse Chapel (Delhi, OH), 2 pm. The Cincinnati Harpers’ Robin, a group of several lever harps, will perform music arranged for multiple harps and voices ranging from late 12th century Europe to 17th century Britain and Ireland, as well as a Sephardic tune, all arranged for harp ensemble by the group’s members. Sources range from the oral tradition of ancient Ireland to 17th century Scottish lute manuscripts, anonymous trouvère songs from 13th century France, and other early music from Britain and Northern Europe. A Cincinnati Early Music Festival event. No fee.

Feb. 6, FaithFest featuring Tenth Avenue North at the University of Dayton RecPlex, 5:30 pm. Local bands will join Tenth Avenue North at this second annual interfaith (Christian) music festival, which sold out last year. Tickets on sale now. discounts available for groups of 15 or more. More information to come, for tickets or with questions, call Fr. Brandon Paluch, SM, at 937-229-2516 or email him at

Feb. 6, Harp Concert at the Cincinnati Sisters of Charity Motherhouse Chapel (Delhi, OH), 2 pm. The Cincinnati Harpers’ Robin, a group of several lever harps, will perform music arranged for multiple harps and voices ranging from late 12th century Europe to 17th century Britain and Ireland, as well as a Sephardic tune, all arranged for harp ensemble by the group’s members. Sources range from the oral tradition of ancient Ireland to 17th century Scottish lute manuscripts, anonymous trouvère songs from 13th century France, and other early music from Britain and Northern Europe. A Cincinnati Early Music Festival event. No fee.

Feb. 7, 40 Days for Life Vigil Dayton Kickoff at the abortion business in Kettering, 2-3 pm. Prayer, praise, and a special presentation by Jennifer Ellis, Manager of the Kettering Women’s Center.

Feb. 7, “Il Poverello: Exploring the Life and Deeds of St. Francis of Assisi,” The Rose Ensemble in Concert at St Peter in Chains Cathedral (Cincinnati), 3 pm. Based in Minnesota, the award-winning ensemble will feature centuries of hymns, dances, and motets, as well as early Italian-language spiritual songs and light-hearted readings written about and by Francis himself, in a joyful concert. A Cincinnati Early Music Festival event. Tickets $40. For tickets click here.

Feb. 7, Sacred Repertoire of the Colonial Period in New Spain Concert at St. Francis de Sales Church (Walnut Hills/Cincinnati), 4 pm. Chris Albanese is a DMA candidate in Choral Conducting at CCM; his recital will feature a performance of the “Missa Ego Flos Campi” (for double choir) and several sacred villancicos of Juan Gutierrez de Padilla, who was active in Puebla, Mexico between 1629-1664. This unusual opportunity to learn about the early music of the New World will feature many local performers. A Cincinnati Early Music Festival event. No fee.

1 day 21 hours
Detail from the Nativity window at St. Martins in the Bull Ring (Birmingham, England) designed by Sir Edward Burne-Jonnes.

Detail from the Nativity window at St. Martins-in-the-Bull-Ring (Birmingham, England) designed by Sir Edward Burne-Jones.

All area mean are invited to the annual Lenten Men’s Conference at Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center (Norwood,OH) Feb. 19-21.


Sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, the retreat will be led by Franciscan friar Fr. Elias Mary Mills, FI, director of the retreat program at Mother of the Redeemer Retreat Center in Bloomington (IN). The conference will focus on Church’s Marian dogmas, inviting men to consider the importance of Mary, Mother of Mercy, to the Church and the world, especially during this Holy Year of Mercy.


Fr. Eilias Mary MIlls

Fr. Eilias Mary Mills, FI

Fr. Elias has given Marian retreats and parish missions in the Canada, Australia, and numerous American states, as well as at the Indiana retreat center. A native of Nebraska, graduated from the University of Nebraska with a major in mathematics and minored in computer science before discerning a call to religious life and priesthood. Ordained a priest in 2000, he has served in missions and friaries in Australia and the United States.


Established in 1990 by St. Pope John Paul II as a diocesan institute, the Franciscans of the Immaculate are friars, sisters and lay people who follow the example of St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe, giving the fullest expression to the Marian dimension of St. Francis’ ideal and Rule.


Organizers promise multiple opportunities for Confession and spiritual direction. Tickets are $155 and include five catered meals, as well as single rooms at the Center.


For more information call Larry Tracy 513-321-4879 or register by web:  


Registration and payment deadline is Monday. February 15th.


For more Catholic events, see our Events page.

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2 days 21 hours
 Carolina Pather linebacker Luke Kuechly has gained fame as a "gentleman" off the field and a ferocious player on it. The Sports Illustrated website MMQB traces that combination back to his home life and his training at Cincinnati's St. X high school.

Still in blue: Carolina Pather linebacker Luke Kuechly (#59) has gained fame as a “gentleman” off the field and a ferocious player on it. The Sports Illustrated website MMQB traces that combination back to his home life and his training at Cincinnati’s St. X high school.

This piece by Jenny Vrentas originally appeared as “The Gentleman Linebacker: Four years at a Catholic prep school helped make Luke Kuechly a ‘nice boy’ off the field, and a ferocious competitor on it” on the Sports Illustrated site “The MMQB.” It’s part of a series called “The Road to Super Bowl 50,” which you can read here.

CINCINNATI — Walking into St. Xavier High School, you are greeted by Pope Francis. If any reminder is needed of the expectations at this private Jesuit school on the north side of the city, nothing does the trick quite like a framed photo of the leader of the Catholic Church.

Farther inside are a display case presenting mission trips for students; an art gallery; a bulletin board posting the students accepted into the 18 AP classes next school year (the offerings include Chinese, Spanish literature and 2-D design). If you’re standing in the hallway between periods, expect to hear a chorus of “excuse me, ma’am” and “pardon me, sir” as the student body of 1,600 boys, clad in the dress code of khakis and polo shirts, head to their next classroom in another part of the sprawling 110-acre campus.

Anyone who has gone to school here is considered part of the “Long Blue Line,” an alumni network that extends to the clergy, the military, academia, Wall Street—as well as an alumnus from the class of 2009 who will be one of the most feared men on the field in Super Bowl 50: Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly.

“Luke was a nice boy,” says St. Xavier football coach Steve Specht, “until he crossed that line. He could flip that switch like no one I ever coached. He could literally take on a new persona on the field. It’s an interesting case study.”

Cam Newton may have cornered the national market on the Superman identity, but here at St. Xavier they refer to Kuechly as Clark Kent. There’s an uncanny resemblance, with Kuechly’s tuft of dark hair and the wire-rimmed glasses he wears off the field, and the fact that he is polite, clean-cut and mild-mannered—until he puts on his football uniform.

The MMQB’s Road to Super Bowl 50 spent a morning at Kuechly’s alma mater, seeking the origin of the heat-seeking missile style of play that has made him the point for the Panthers’ intimidating defense.

* * *

St. Xavier, the largest all-boys Jesuit prep school in the country, has a five-figure annual tuition cost and a full-time communications and marketing director. Becky Schulte is her name, and since the Panthers won Sunday’s NFC Championship Game, which included Kuechly’s second pick-six in as many weeks, her phone has been ringing non-stop. CBS visited on Tuesday, The MMQB on Wednesday—and Super Bowl 50 is still 11 days away.

Not that Schulte has to twist anyone’s arm to get them to talk about Kuechly. They all get in line: Specht. Tim McDonald, his linebackers coach and defensive coordinator. Jim Telles, Kuechly’s morality-social justice teacher. They chuckle at the dichotomy between Kuechly’s prep-school persona and the relentless competitor who makes his living fighting through blocks, lowering his shoulder and snapping his hips to drive back ball-carriers.

Telles came into the classroom with the college recommendation letter he had written for Kuechly. As a part of the morality-social justice class, Kuechly spent a year volunteering once a week at a school with mentally and physically disabled kids—counting with them, coloring, wheeling them down the hallway to the gymnasium. In the letter, he wrote about how he watched Kuechly working with the kids gently and with great empathy. “In closing I would like to say that as a person, as a maturing young man, Luke Kuechly is respectful, polite, hardworking, intelligent, and honest—a young man of integrity,” Telles wrote.

Gentleness, politeness—not the first attributes associated with a hard-hitting linebacker whose job depends upon not letting an opposing player run past him. Before the NFC Championship Game, McDonald paused his TV to take a screen shot of Kuechly during the national anthem. From the way Kuechly was swaying back and forth to release his energy, and that look in his eyes, his old coach could tell he’d already made that action-hero transformation.

His St. Xavier coaches got to know it well during Kuechly’s years playing for them. His junior season, the fall of 2007, Specht thought his defense was missing a piece. He’s a defensive-minded coach, so he always puts the best athletes on that side of the ball, and the way he and his coaches pick linebackers is by tabbing the guys who would always be around the ball if they were just playing sandlot football. That was Luke Kuechly. They put the former tight end at weak-side linebacker, and he would end up making plays on the strong side, too, the same way that he pinballs sideline to sideline in the NFL today.

After each game, McDonald has a years-old tradition of giving out a “Ballhawk Trophy”—an old copper basketball trophy that’s shaped like an eagle hawk—to the linebacker who made the most impact plays. “Luke won it, like, 14 of the 15 games that year,” McDonald says. St. Xavier finished a perfect 15-0 that season, including winning the Ohio state championship against Mentor, a high school near Cleveland.

In the state final, Mentor quarterback Bart Tanski, who had been named Ohio’s Mr. Football a few days earlier, was running a zone-read up the sideline when Kuechly snaked his hand in and ripped the ball out of his grasp. To Kuechly’s chagrin, one of his senior teammates was awarded the Ballhawk Trophy instead that week. After watching the NFC Championship Game, and seeing that second consecutive pick-six, McDonald texted Kuechly: I guess you are the true ballhawk.

(For a photo of the Ballhawk Trophy, and other photos from Kuechly’s high school career, see the MMQB page here.)

The following season, Kuechly’s senior year, St. Xavier opened with a win against New Jersey’s Don Bosco Prep, the top-ranked team in the nation. Now playing from a position called “the adjustor,” a hybrid safety/linebacker who stands in the middle of the field and tracks everybody down, Kuechly recorded 26 tackles that day (coincidentally, the same number he had in a 2013 game to set an NFL record). The season slid, though, after injuries to their starting quarterback and running back. A loss in the regular-season finale cost St. Xavier a playoff berth. Long after the game ended, Specht found Kuechly on a pitch-black field, sobbing so hard his shoulders were shaking. Not because of one game, but because it meant the end of his St. Xavier career.

There’s a standing rule in the Kuechly household: All three of their sons’ interests and achievements are treated the same. So before Henry, the youngest of the Kuechly boys and a senior at St. Xavier, could agree to a media request, he had to ask his parents. They granted him permission, but Henry put one condition on the interview: He had to be done by 9:15 a.m., not a minute later, because he did not want to be late for a meeting with his math teacher.

The oldest of the Kuechly boys, John, was a senior reserve offensive lineman on that ’07 state championship team. He’s an officer in the Army Reserve and is working at the family-owned business, J&N Auto Electric, while completing his MBA at Xavier University. Henry, seven years younger than Luke, never played tackle football. In first grade he learned he had an ear condition, enlarged vestibular aqueduct, that carries a risk of him going deaf if he gets hit too hard in the head. Instead, he’s a forward on St. Xavier’s basketball team and is planning to major in pre-medicine when he goes to college this fall.

The Kuechlys emphasize politeness and manners in their household. Every fall since Luke graduated, his dad, Tom, brings Specht a bag full of hundreds of DVDs for the current players to burn their high school highlights for colleges, a thank you for all the discs Specht made for Luke. (Specht so appreciated the gesture, he didn’t have the heart to tell Tom when the highlights switched to digital.) But boys will be boys, and Henry knows first-hand how his big brother could flip the switch when it came time for competition. And everything is a competition between three brothers.

They used to play a game in the upstairs hallway of their house, where they’d hide in a bedroom, and when another one walked past, they’d jump out and tackle them into the sliding closet doors on the other side of the wall. (“Those always got broken,” Henry says matter-of-factly.) So what does he think now about the fact that his big brother is one of the most feared linebackers in the game?

“I mean, I see where they are coming from,” Henry says, a grin starting to peek out, “because one time he tackled me and gave me a partially cracked rib at my grandma’s house.”

Say what?

“I kind of deserved it because I was egging him on,” Henry continues. “He was sitting in a rocking chair, and I was sitting on the ground, saying, ‘You won’t hit me,’ and then he just sprang out of the chair and tackled me. I felt the consequences. It wasn’t, like, a serious cracked rib, but it still hurt.”

(Roman Harper, the veteran Panthers safety who suffered a dislodged cornea after Kuechly accidentally collided with him on a tackle attempt last Sunday, can relate.)

“When I think of Ray Lewis, I think he’s one of the best linebackers ever,” Henry says. “But when I think of Luke, I just think he’s my older brother, playing a game.”

With that, it was 9:15, and Henry was off to that meeting with his math teacher, walking down the same hallways plastered with Jesuit teachings (“strive for the magis”) that his brother did seven years ago. Back then, Luke was a gangly kid, a Catholic player from Ohio whom Specht couldn’t convince Notre Dame or Ohio State to recruit. He ended up at Boston College, where he was a two-time consensus All-America and the 2011 winner of the Butkus, Lombardi and Nagurski awards. That Clark Kent look can be deceiving.

“When you meet Luke,” Specht says, “you’re never going to guess, that guy is a vicious linebacker.” Now, of course, his cover has been blown.

Luke Kuechly will play for the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50 on Sunday.

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2 days 21 hours
Once served only during Lent, pretzels are made in the shape of crossed arms -- which used to be a common posture during prayer. Whether you make your pretzels or buy them, you'll want to share this beer dip -- it's that good! Photo by Cindy Kalamajka, courtesy FreeImages.

Once served only during Lent, pretzels are made in the shape of crossed arms — which used to be a common posture during prayer. Whether you make your pretzels or buy them, you’ll want to share this beer dip — it’s that good! Photo by Cindy Kalamajka, courtesy FreeImages.

Lent begins Wednesday, February 10 this year. It’s a meaningful time to reflect on the symbolism of foods eaten during Lent, like hot cross buns, pretzels and beer (yes, beer!). Today I’m sharing some interesting information about pretzels and beer. Later on in the Lenten season, we’ll chat about hot cross buns.


Pretzels: The pretzel has a deep spiritual meaning for Lent. In fact, it was the ancient Christian Lenten bread as far back as the fourth century. In the old Roman Empire, the faithful kept a very strict fast all through Lent: no milk, no butter, no cheese, no eggs, no cream and no meat. They made small breads of water, flour and salt, to remind themselves that Lent was a time of prayer. They shaped these breads in the form of crossed arms, for in those days they crossed their arms over the breast while praying. Therefore they called the breads “little arms.” From this Latin word, the Germanic people later coined the term “pretzel.”


Since Lent is a time of prayer the pretzel is an appropriate symbol. It consists only of water and flour, thus proclaiming Lent as a time of fasting.


Although many people eat pretzels today all through the year and they take them together with beer in taverns and restaurants, that is only an accidental habit. In many areas of Europe, pretzels are served only from Ash Wednesday to Easter, thus keeping the ancient symbolism alive.


For more wonderful information on everyday Catholic life, check out this site which is where I adapted the above information:


Beer: Once upon a time, German monks ate nothing for the entirety of the Lenten fast. No bread, no salad, no fruit—nothing. Beat that.


How did they survive, you ask? By imbibing large quantities of heavy, calorie rich beer, of course!


Around 700 years ago, German monks in the town of Einbeck developed a specific style of malty, dark, high alcohol beer to help sustain them during intense periods of fasting. This beer became known as Bock, a corruption of the name Einbeck [and also the German word for “goat” — ed.] Later, discontented with the strength of Bock style beer, monks developed an even stronger variant known as Doppelbock, meaning double Bock. This beer was so laden with nutrition that some dubbed it “liquid bread.”


Now, these beers were so delicious that the monks began to wonder if they were contrary to the spirit of Lenten penance. Being faithful sons of the Church, they decided to consult the pope. On the journey to Rome, however, the beer was subjected to extreme weather conditions, causing it to spoil and turn sour. When the pope tasted it, he was so appalled by the spoiled beer that he immediately deemed it an excellent Lenten penance.


Now if you want to find out what suggested beers are given for Lenten fare, check out  – this is the site where I got the above information.  

Ranch Beer Dip


What a perfect recipe to share – it uses both beer and is eaten with pretzels! Plus it’s a given for our Super Bowl party. Thanks to Marie, an avid reader of my Community Press column, for passing this recipe on to me. “I got it from my Taste of Home cookbook,” she said.


Get ready to share the recipe – it’s that good!


  • 1 pound cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup beer, your favorite alcoholic or non
  • 1 pouch ranch salad dressing mix (the kind you make with mayonnaise and milk)
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar


Beat everything except cheese together until smooth.  Stir in cheese. Serve with pretzels.  


Rita Heikenfeld.

Rita Heikenfeld.

Rita Nader Heikenfeld writes a weekly syndicated column and blog for the Community Press, appears every Thursday on the Son Rise Morning Show, and is the author of several cookbooks. An adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati, she is Certified Culinary Professional and Certified Modern Herbalist,  the Culinary Professional for Jungle Jim’s Eastgate, and a media personality with a cable show and YouTube videos. In 2014 she was inducted into the Escoffier Hall of Fame. She lives “in the sticks” outside Batavia, Ohio with her family, where they heat with wood, raise chickens for eggs, and grow their own produce and herbs. You’ll find all her previous recipes featured on The Catholic Beat here.

Rita’s Bible Foods segment airs on the Son Rise Morning Show every Thursday morning at 7:22 am (rebroadcast Friday at 6:02 am). Tune in to hear her discuss the history behind each recipe and the scripture verses that inspired it. And of course, for cooking tips!

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2 days 21 hours

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Pope Francis met on February 5 with President Edgar Chagwa Lungu of Zambia. A Vatican statement released after the meeting indicated that the conversation had centered on Church-state ... 1 day 5 hours
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From: The site of the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

IMAGE: CNS photo/David Maung

By David Agren

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico (CNS) — Esteban Alanis, 23, once ran with a local gang known as “Los Parqueros,” which would accost people for their cash and cellphones in a working-class neighborhood of southeast Ciudad Juarez. He called the crimes “easy money,” while gang activities offered a sense of belonging and an adolescence of parties, girls and underage drinking.

Then Alanis survived a shootout in 2010 outside his home — and he turned his life to God, got out of the gang and likely saved himself from further involvement in the cycle of violence consuming Ciudad Juarez.

“That’s when my conversion started,” he said recently outside Corpus Christi Parish, where he teaches catechism classes. “I prayed to God that if I survived, I would give up gang life.”

When Pope Francis visits Ciudad Juarez Feb. 17, he is expected to address issues such as migration, victims of violence and conditions in the factory economy. Alanis and others working with young people expressed hopes the pope will have positive words for them, too, as they go about working with a population still somewhat scarred by the violence that claimed more than 10,000 lives between 2008 and 2012.

Ciudad Juarez was once murder capital of the world, an image now out-of-date, according to statistics from the citizen-run Security Roundtable of Ciudad Juarez, which shows a 92 percent decline in the homicide rate since 2010.

Rival drug cartels once clashed over a corridor for trafficking contraband to the United States. Gangs in the city previously preyed on the local population, carrying out crimes such as kidnapping, robbery and extortion, likely to finance the conflicts’ cost, security officials say. They also preyed on young people, who became “cannon fodder” for a conflict. An attack by gangsters on a birthday party in 2010 killed 15 young people, an atrocity that outraged the country even more after then-President Felipe Calderon erroneously said the victims were mixed up in illegal activities.

“Organized crime attracted a lot of young people,” said Mario Dena, the roundtable president, who said he believes that so many people were killed or imprisoned that it partially caused the crime rate to plunge. “They wrongly thought it would be easy money. That’s why there were so many victims.”

Church officials say the problem persists, though at a lesser level.

“We see that there are kids, probably 12 years, who are being approached by them (organized crime),” said Salesian Father Juan Carlos Quirarte, who also participates in the security roundtable.

Kids “don’t see many other options, and they mythologize these figures,” he added. “They (criminals) always have access to easy money, they have power, it’s seductive. Hence, it’s not easy to say, ‘Study, if you do, there’s a career.'”

At Corpus Christi Parish, crime was so problematic that thieves stole the bell and cars were robbed during Sunday Mass. Father Roberto Luna responded to the rising insecurity in the neighborhood of factory workers — 80 percent originally from other Mexican states — by doubling down on outreach. It including getting to know young people in the parish area.

“The way to promote belonging is to make people feel that this is their home and they are in their home,” Father Luna said, adding the approach is so successful he recently removed the bars protecting the building and leaves the doors unlocked. “Pope Francis spoke of a church with open doors. I said, ‘That’s it! I’m going to open up the church.’ … And nothing has happened.”

He also put a priority on catechism classes, which are no longer scheduled just on Saturdays, when many workers were having a hard time taking their children to attend.

“They have no excuse for missing catechism with me, because I have catechism every day to accommodate the varying factory schedules,” he said.

The pastoral approach of creating a sense of belonging and Father Luna’s incessant outreach and fondness for informality keep people coming to church.

“He always attends our youth meetings,” said engineering student Daniel Terrazas, who helps teach catechism classes.

“He says Mass in a way that’s dynamic, that isn’t boring,” said Francisco Ramos, 20, who credits the youth ministry for his return to high school after he dropped out. He said it also helped improve his relationship with his parents after a rebellious childhood.

On a recent Sunday, 23 young people attended catechism classes for confirmation led by Alanis, who now studies industrial engineering and works in an auto parts factory.

His life was not always so ordered. Alanis recalls seeing gangs on every corner of his neighborhood.

“It was a situation of be the aggressor or be the victim,” he recalled. “All my friends were in the gang. They were popular and admired.”

Alanis went through an initiation of fighting another person, then started robbing people in the neighborhood.

“If they resisted, we put the boots to them,” he recalled.

Church wasn’t a priority, though he showed up initially for “girls” in the youth group. Then the shootout occurred, and he became committed to church life. Like many in Ciudad Juarez, he’s eagerly awaiting the pope’s arrival.

“I hope the pope will give me more encouragement in my work with young people,” Alanis said.

– – –

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1 day 7 hours
Elder High School Principal Tom Otten shakes hands with Mayor of Cincinnati John Cranley on Feb. 5, 2016 after Cranley proclaimed the date "Tom Otten Day" in the City of Cincinnati. (CT Photo/John Stegeman)Elder High School Principal Tom Otten shakes hands with Mayor of Cincinnati John Cranley on Feb. 5, 2016 after Cranley proclaimed the date “Tom Otten Day” in the City of Cincinnati. (CT Photo/John Stegeman)

Though Feb. 5, 2016 passed in much of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati as simply the final day of Catholic Schools Week, at Elder High School and throughout the City of Cincinnati, it was officially Tom Otten Day.

The official proclamation declaring Feb. 5, 2016 Tom Otten Day in the City of Cincinnati. (Courtesy of Elder High School)The official proclamation declaring Feb. 5, 2016 Tom Otten Day in the City of Cincinnati. (Courtesy of Elder High School)

Otten, the 19-year principal of Elder High School, is retiring at the end of the school year after working more than 50 years at the school. To honor him for his service and commitment, Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley was on hand Feb. 5 at Elder to present Otten with a proclamation declaring the day in his honor and also with a key to the city.

Mayor Cranley read the proclamation before handing over the key, drawing a standing ovation from the student body, which had been gathered to watch a faculty vs. students volleyball game.

“Tom has been a personal friend of mine and has made a huge difference for the city and Price Hill in particular,” Cranley said. “We want to make sure that he goes into retirement knowing he’s always welcome back here at Elder and in the City of Cincinnati which is why I’m presenting him with a key to the City of Cincinnati.”

Otten was also honored by students who presented him with a plaque noting his 19-year tenure as principal.

The proclaiming of Tom Otten Day and reception of a key to the city caught Otten off guard as Elder staff had worked to plan the event without his knowledge.

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“I’m almost speechless with this whole thing,” Otten said. “Honest to God it came as a complete surprise.”

Otten started his Elder employment career as a student, doing data entry in the office. During college he worked there a janitor. Eventually he taught at the school for three years, served as assistant principal for 26 years and has spent the last 19 as principal.

“It’s really neat but really I’ve just been honored to have the job that I’ve had at whatever point in my life it was,” Otten said. “Without the support of my family, without all the hard work of the alumni, the teachers, this wouldn’t be the school that it is. Everyone is doing their job here and that’s what makes it a great place. I’m privileged to be who I am to sit in the chair I get to sit in, but really, everybody else does the work.”

1 day 7 hours

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Russian Orthodox officials said the planned meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow is not a signal that decades of tension have been resolved, but emphasizes the need to work together on behalf of persecuted Christians in the Middle East.

As the Vatican was announcing the Feb. 12 date for the meeting of the pope and patriarch in Cuba, the Russian Orthodox also held a news conference to speak about it.

Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, director of foreign relations for the Moscow Patriarchate, told reporters the activity of the Ukrainian Catholics that prevented the Russian Orthodox from agreeing to a meeting in the past is still a problem today.

In a statement on the website of Metropolitan Hilarion’s office, he referred to the Ukrainian Catholics with the pejorative term “uniates,” and said, “Regrettably, the problem of the uniates is still there, with uniatism remaining a never-healing, bloody wound that prevents the full normalization of relations between the two churches.”

At Orthodox urging, the Catholic Church rejected “uniatism” — the uniting of a segment of an Orthodox Church with Rome — as a model for future Catholic-Orthodox union, but at the same time it affirmed the authenticity of Eastern Catholic churches formed in the past under such a model.

Metropolitan Hilarion said that despite Orthodox reservations about the Eastern Catholic churches, with the serious problem of religious persecution of Christians in the Middle East calling for action on the part of all Christians worldwide, “urgent measures and closer cooperation” are necessary. “In the present tragic situation, it is necessary to put aside internal disagreements and unite efforts for saving Christianity in the regions where it is subjected to the most severe persecution.”

As for the choice of Havana, Metropolitan Hilarion recalled that in the late 1990s serious efforts were made to arrange a meeting in Vienna between St. John Paul and then-Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow; the meeting never occurred.

In the current discussions, the metropolitan said, “Patriarch Kirill, from the very beginning, did not want it to take place in Europe, since it is with Europe that the grave history of divisions and conflicts between Christians is associated. The coincidence of the date of Patriarch Kirill’s visit to Latin American countries with that of the pope of Rome’s visit to Mexico has become an opportunity for holding the meeting in the New World, and we hope that it will open a new page in the relations between the two churches.”

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Follow Wooden on Twitter: @Cindy_Wooden.

– – –

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1 day 8 hours

IMAGE: CNS photo/Sergei Chirikov, EPA

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — After almost three decades of tense Catholic-Russian Orthodox relations, Pope Francis will meet Patriarch Kirill of Moscow Feb. 12 in Cuba on the pope’s way to Mexico.

It will be the first-ever meeting of a pope and Moscow patriarch, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told reporters Feb. 5.

As Pope Francis travels to Mexico and as Patriarch Kirill makes an official visit to Cuba, the two will meet at Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport and plan to sign a joint declaration, Father Lombardi said. The pope will leave Rome earlier than planned to allow time for the meeting without forcing any changes to his schedule in Mexico, he added.

The meeting “will mark an important stage in relations between the two churches,” said a joint declaration on the meeting.

The Cuba meeting was not an “improvisation,” Father Lombardi said; it took two years of intense planning and negotiations to schedule. Even when the idea of a meeting was just a vague hope, both Catholic and Orthodox officials insisted it would have to take place on “neutral” territory rather than at the Vatican or in Russia.

Being the first ever meeting of a pope and Russian patriarch, he said, “is an event that, in the ecumenical journey and in the dialogue between Christian confessions, has an extraordinary importance.”

The meeting will come as representatives of Orthodox churches from around the world are preparing for a pan-Orthodox Council meeting in Crete in June. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians, “naturally, has been informed” of plans for the pope and Patriarch Kirill to meet and expressed “his joy for this step forward,” Father Lombardi said.

Holding a simple meeting with a Moscow patriarch, spiritual leader of the world’s largest Orthodox church, was a failed dream of St. John Paul II and an opportunity that escaped retired Pope Benedict XVI as well.

Repeatedly after the Soviet bloc began dissolving in 1989 and the once-repressed Eastern Catholic churches began functionally publicly again, Russian Orthodox leaders insisted there could be no meeting between a pope and a patriarch as long as Catholics were “proselytizing” in what the Orthodox considered their territory.

The Vatican insisted the Catholic Church rejects proselytism, which it defines as actively seeking converts from another Christian community, including through pressure or offering enticements. The Russian Orthodox had insisted such types of proselytism occurred in both Russia and Ukraine, although the Vatican said that when asked, the Orthodox provided no proof.

St. John Paul re-established the Latin-rite Catholic hierarchy of Russia in 2002, which led to the Russian Orthodox withdrawing from dialogue with the Vatican for several years. Even as tensions over the Catholic presence in Russia waned, the Russian Orthodox insisted a bigger example of proselytism was the loss of its churches in the newly independent Ukraine.

The Vatican recognized there were some instances of excessive zeal early on, but rejected the use of the term “proselytism” as a blanket description for the re-establishment of the Ukrainian Catholic Church. The Ukrainian Catholic Church was outlawed by the Soviet government in the 1940s and its property was confiscated by the government, which in turn gave some churches to the Russian Orthodox. Byzantine-rite Catholics who once could worship only in a Russian Orthodox church, returned to Catholic services and sought the return of church property.

Father Lombardi said the fact that a meeting has been scheduled “allows one to think that on various points dialogue has matured and allowed some things that were once seen as obstacles to be overcome.”

“Every step toward dialogue, understanding, a will to draw closer to each other, understand each other and walk together” after “a past of distancing themselves and even of polemics and division is a positive sign for everyone,” especially considering the huge numbers of Catholics and Russian Orthodox in the world, the spokesman said.

Jesuit Father David Nazar, rector of Rome’s Pontifical Oriental Institute and a Ukrainian Catholic from Canada, told Catholic News Service, “If this were to take place, it would be big news in the Year of Mercy. To make a step in this direction is beautiful, but also irreversible.”

Especially for Catholics in Russia and Ukraine, he said, relations with the Russian Orthodox are complicated, including because of the close relationship between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian government, which annexed the Crimea and is supporting fighting in Eastern Ukraine.

Father Nazar described his reaction to the news as “cautiously optimistic” and said he hoped it would mark “a new beginning” in Catholic-Russian Orthodox relations.

– – –

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1 day 12 hours
Mary Martin, principal of St. Michael in Ripley, earned more than $3,000 for her school while trekking through Florida. (Courtesy Photo)Mary Martin, principal of St. Michael in Ripley, earned more than $3,000 for her school while trekking through Florida. (Courtesy Photo)

A long walk can clear the mind, help tone the body and, as it turns out, help fund a school. During the week of Thanksgiving, one principal laced up her gym shoes and took steps to raise more than $3,000 for her school. It was part pilgrimage, part adventure and every bit a fundraiser.

Mary Martin is the principal of St. Michael School in Ripley. It’s a rural school with just 63 students. Though small, it still takes money to operate it.

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“We charge tuition that is appropriate for the income levels of the community,” says Martin. “St. Michael’s Parish balances out the rest.”

Tuition is $2,100 a year, the lowest in the archdiocese. But it costs more than $6,000 to educate a student. A flower sale and the fish fry raise money and the Knights of Columbus help cover some costs. School committee members write grants to get funds to maintain the building.

“The question always is what else can we do? What can we do differently to reach out to other populations that might be interested in helping rural education?” Martin said.

So she decided to walk 100 miles over Thanksgiving week to raise money.

She tuned in to her map app and trekked from Jacksonville, Fla., to St. Augustine. Her goal: 20 miles a day and to get to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine for Thanksgiving Day Mass. St. Augustine was significant, she said, because of its history as America’s first parish and her school’s theme this year of “Giving Thanks.”

Martin didn’t make the trip alone. School librarian Melody Kokensparger drove down and met her.

“When Mary decided to do this over thanksgiving week, I thought she needs a backup,” said Kokensparger. She had celebrated Thanksgiving with her husband the week before and she’d never been to St. Augustine, so she took advantage of the opportunity.

Support rolled in to the principal’s office. One kindergartner brought in his money for the cause. Other students gave her glow sticks, in case she would be walking in the dark. An out of uniform day raised $73. The school secretary made a care basket, complete with Band Aids, energy bars, water, wipes and Advil.

The walk began as soon as Martin got off the plane. She wrapped her feet and ankles every day for extra support and didn’t need the Band Aids until the last day to help with a few blisters.

“I dropped her off. We did kind of a leap frog. She’d walk until she was almost out of sight,” said Kokensparger. “We leap frogged for quite a distance. In more populated areas I would pull into parking lots and wait for her.”

Before they left, they sent emails out to parishes and holy sites along the route. The staff at Most Holy Redeemer Parish in Jacksonville responded.

“The second day we went to Most Holy Redeemer. The staff at the parish office was so friendly and very welcoming. We stayed at the home of the parish secretary. Her husband made us an Italian dinner,” recalled Martin.

They also stopped at other holy sites and parishes along the way where Martin and staff members talked about the challenges they face at school. Kokensparger says she was “spiritually uplifted from visiting all the different churches.”

Martin’s Brown County school has three teachers on staff with master’s degrees and one working on a master’s. Music and art teachers also have degrees, and there are 18-20 other staff members. It takes money to keep them from moving to bigger districts with better benefits.

After all the pledges were collected, Martin earned $3,222 for St. Michael. It will go toward operating expenses.

Martin is happy with the outcome.

“It was worth it. Blisters and all.”

This story by Patricia McGeever first appeared in the February 2016 print edition of The Catholic Telegraph.

1 day 12 hours

As Catholic Schools Week 2016 winds down, here’s a look at some of the news submitted to the CT by area Catholic schools around the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

Sidney Stigler (with flute) and other St. Ignatius students get their first look at some of the instruments recently donated to the music program. (CT Photo/John Stegeman)The St. Ignatius music program has grown significantly, and is in need of more instrument donations. (CT Photo/John Stegeman)

St. Ignatius Music Program growing, in need of instruments

Ta-ta-tam-tam! Music teacher Tasha Grismayer taps a music stand three times.  There is scarcely a second of silence, and then a sixth grade string ensemble begins the end of quarter concert.  The sixth graders have been learning string instruments as part of their regular music curriculum.

St. Ignatius Loyola school collected over 60 band instruments,  30 violins and violas,  4 cellos, and one bass for its music program.  Many of the band instruments were collected after an article appeared in The Catholic Telegraph asking readers to dust off old instruments in their attic and donate them to St. Ignatius.

Now, students at St. Ignatius will learn a band instrument in the fourth and fifth grades and a string instrument in the sixth grade.  Since the band class started eighteen months ago, the extracurricular band program has doubled in size to over 100 participants.  The string class just started at the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year, and there is already a plan for an afterschool string ensemble in the works.  The school is now seeking donations for more advanced instruments like bassoons, oboes, and french horns.

“Some kids who would have never tried to play an instrument discover a hidden talent; some may become musicians, others will leave grade school with an appreciation for music that they never would have had if they had not played an instrument,” said Grismayer.  “Most importantly, the students are really enjoying it.”

Principal Tim Reilly also noted that the best example of the joyful sounds he has heard since students began learning instruments in class was hearing a student exclaim, “I didn’t know I was a trumpet player!“ “We are grateful to those who have donated to the program,” said Reilly.  “It is exciting to see how the students have embraced this opportunity.”

To donate to the St. Ignatius instrument program, contact Lynn Esmail at or 513 389 3242.


Carol Dauwe Fine Arts Center.Carol Dauwe Fine Arts Center.

Roger Bacon opens Carol Dauwe Fine Arts Center

Roger Bacon High School is proud to announce the grand opening of the Carol Dauwe Fine Arts Center. Under construction since June 2015, the Fine Arts Center has permanent seating for 317 persons with an additional 200 floor seats. The center features a new thrust stage, state-of-the-art sound and video systems and expanded capabilities which will be used for fine arts and daily academic classes. It is a true multiuse facility located in the heart of Roger Bacon.

The new Fine Arts Center contains many features showcasing Roger Bacon’s rich history – the original Our Lady of the Angels (OLA) terrazzo emblem from the lobby of OLA, a San Damiano cross from the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, Italy, restored skylights, preservation of the original center court, and a 62-foot mural. The mural contains 400 photos from yearbooks dating back to 1929 portraying students, faculty and key events in the history of both schools. “The Fine Arts Center is a perfect blend of tradition in a modern facility” according to Principal Steve Schad. “Not only will it provide state-of-the art performance opportunities for our current and future students, it honors our illustrious history with a variety of unique features.”

This space has gone by many names: auditorium, old gym, original gym. But now, it is the permanent home for the arts at Roger Bacon High School. The first Drama Guild performance will be ‘The Wiz’ on April 21, 2016. According to the Fine Arts Department chair, Joe Montgomery, “It is offering us experiences and opportunities we have never had before; not just for our Art students, but our entire Bacon family. How nice it will be to perform in a modern theatre instead of a converted gymnasium. We are expanding opportunities in Fine Arts. It is very gratifying to see this emphasis on Fine Arts – especially since this is not the trend at many local schools.”

Roger Bacon is hosting an Open House on February 6th from 5:00 – 7:00 pm for alumni, donors, parents and friends. Following the Open House, the Sound Body Jazz Orchestra will perform. The Sound Body Jazz Orchestra is comprised of alumni and was formed in 1992. The band’s name is adapted from the inscription above the performance stage – “Mens Sana en Corpore Sano” (Sound Mind in a Sound Body).

Roger Bacon is looking forward to the opportunities the Carol Dauwe Fine Arts Center will create for the community, our alumni, current and future Spartans.


St. Gertrude eighth grader Olivia DeStefano and Junior High teacher Sister Veronica Marie, O.P. perform in a Catholic Schools Week Talent Show. St. Gertrude eighth grader Olivia DeStefano and Junior High teacher Sister Veronica Marie, O.P. perform in a Catholic Schools Week Talent Show.

St. Gertrude School (Madeira) hosts Catholic Schools Week talent show

Congratulations to all the students who put on a fantastic Talent Show for Catholic Schools Week.

The show consisted of dance, vocals, comedy and musical acts. Pictured are SGS 8th grader Olivia DeStefano and Junior High teacher Sister Veronica Marie, O.P.


Four Ursuline students accepted into TAP MD program

Ursuline congratulates the four students who have recently been accepted into the TAP MD program: Kiran Desai ‘17 of West Chester, Sophia Jacobs ‘17 of Hyde Park, Katie MacVittie ‘17 of Montgomery, and Kate Thompson ‘17 of Maineville.

Kiran Desai ‘17 of West Chester, Sophia Jacobs ‘17 of Hyde Park, Katie MacVittie ‘17 of Montgomery, and Kate Thompson ‘17 of Maineville. (Courtesy Photo)Kiran Desai ‘17 of West Chester, Sophia Jacobs ‘17 of Hyde Park, Katie MacVittie ‘17 of Montgomery, and Kate Thompson ‘17 of Maineville. (Courtesy Photo)

TAP MD is sponsored by the Greater Cincinnati Health Council and is a career exploring program for high school students selected by school teachers and counselors. Students must be strong academically (29 ACT and/or 1300 SAT), motivated, mature, dependable and have a positive attitude. The program focuses on students who have not yet decided upon a career choice.

The objectives of the Council’s TAP MD program are to find “untapped” and talented high school students, encourage their entry into a career in medicine, and increase the number of future Tristate urban and rural physicians.

“TAP MD offers students a wonderful opportunity to learn about potential careers,” Ursuline President, Ms. Sharon Redmond, said. “The experiences these students have are truly beneficial as they begin to think about college and careers. We’re very proud that four Ursuline students will be participating in the upcoming class and we’re excited to see what they do in the future.”

The goal of TAP MD is that over 50 percent of participants pursue a career in medicine. In the third year of the program, 2013, 89% of the participants indicated that they planned to pursue medical school.


Malia Berkely.Malia Berkely.

Badin’s Berkely named Gatorade Player of the Year

Badin High School senior Malia Berkely couldn’t stop smiling on Thursday morning. It’s been a great week.

One day after signing to play Division I college women’s soccer at Florida State University, Berkely learned that she had been named the Gatorade Ohio Girls Soccer Player of the Year for 2015-16. It’s the second year in a row that Berkely has earned the Gatorade honor.

“It’s so surprising!” Berkely said. “I’m super excited about it. It’s crazy to win it once, but to win it twice is just amazing.”

The Gatorade award recognizes not only athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field. She is now eligible to earn the Gatorade National Girls Soccer Player of the Year award, which will be announced in May.

In four years at Badin, Berkely scored 66 goals and added 33 assists for teams that went 62-12-10 and won the 2013 and 2014 Ohio Division III state titles. She is also a member of National Honor Society at Badin and carries a 4.12 weighted grade point average.


Athletic Signings

Badin High School announced the following signings:

Malia Berkely, soccer, Florida State University

Cody Boxrucker, football, Valparaiso University

Gabby Geigle, soccer, University of Akron

Ursuline High School announced the following signings:

Holyn Alf, soccer, University of Cincinnati

Amanda Reed, soccer, Kent State University


To submit news to The Catholic Telegraph, send press releases to

1 day 13 hours

IMAGE: CNS photo/Yara Nardi, Reuters

By Cindy Wooden

ROME (CNS) — Thousands of people waited hours outside a Rome church to glimpse the mortal remains of St. Padre Pio and St. Leopold Mandic, two Capuchins popular as miracle workers and known particularly for the long hours they would spend hearing confessions.

Pope Francis asked the Capuchins to bring the relics of St. Padre Pio and St. Leopold to Rome for the Year of Mercy, particularly the Feb. 10 celebration of Ash Wednesday and the commissioning of the official “missionaries of mercy.”

The hearse carrying Padre Pio’s crystal coffin was about 90 minutes late getting to Rome’s Basilica of St. Lawrence Feb. 3 because pockets and clusters of faithful repeatedly forced it to slow down as it drove from San Giovanni Rotondo, 235 miles to the southeast.

Posters pasted up all over the center of Rome giving the detailed schedule for Masses, prayer services and other devotions feature a large photo of Padre Pio and a smaller photo of St. Leopold.

In the celebrations, St. Leopold “is given the backseat, but that’s been his life,” said Capuchin Father Clayton Fernandes, secretary-general of the order. St. Leopold was a Croatian-born friar who ministered in Padua, Italy, and died in 1942. Father Fernandes said, “He was 4-feet-5-inches tall,” and was known to prophesy and to levitate.

While St. Leopold is well known in Croatia and around Padua, his fame pales in comparison to that of Padre Pio, who was born in 1887 and died in 1968.

From 1918 to the very end of his life, Padre Pio bore the stigmata, wounds similar to those inflicted on Christ when he was crucified.

“For 50 years, he bore the marks of Christ,” Father Fernandes said, yet the marks disappeared as soon as he died. There were accusations that they were self-inflicted, but the Capuchin said doctors examined them when he was operated on for appendicitis and said they did not believe they were self-inflicted.

“People realized that this was not just an ordinary guy; he had special gifts,” Father Fernandes said. His primary gift was the ability “to read hearts, he could tell you what you were going through before you told him.” He also was said to bilocate.

“Padre Pio is special for all these reasons and more,” Father Fernandes said. “Padre Pio has won the hearts of the people because he spoke to their reality, the reality of a family that struggles because of economic difficulties, because they have someone who is sick.”

“We need more Padre Pios today: priests, confessors, even laypeople who just take the time to listen to another and say, ‘I’m interested in what you are going through. Maybe I can’t do much, but remember, I think about you and pray for you.’ This is precisely what Padre Pio did and continues to do,” Father Fernandes said.

At the same time, there are stories of Padre Pio yelling at people and being harsh with penitents. While Padre Pio was not always gentle, Father Fernandes said, he seemed to know what was needed to bring each individual to conversion.

“He was tough,” Father Fernandes said. People would flock to him, expecting him to work a miracle, “but they didn’t want to change.”

“Conversion is a process that starts with me,” he said. Padre Pio or any good confessor, spiritual guide or friend can help people on the path, but it takes a personal decision.

“This is the secret to his success, you could say: He was able to look deep into people and say, ‘Look, what you are asking for is not really what you need. You need something more’ or ‘you need something different,'” Father Fernandes said. He was like any good father, who knew that sometimes what a child asks for is not what the child really needs.

The Capuchin also insists that Padre Pio “was not a one-man show.” The other friars in his community and in his province supported his work and assisted him, especially in replying to the thousands of letters that would arrive each week. “They believed that he had a special gift from God, not that he was perfect.”

“There is one precise reason why Pope Francis wants Padre Pio and St. Leopold (at the Vatican for the jubilee),” he said: “It’s because they are missionaries of mercy. And mercy as encountered in confession. These are two friars who spent the big part of their life in the confessional.”

– – –

Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at

2 days 7 hours

IMAGE: CNS photo/Junno Arocho Esteves

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Tomorrow’s priests and bishops must be good pastors and not just good scholars, said the secretary of seminaries at the Congregation for Clergy.

“The vocation is meant to be lived, not to be argued about, hypothesized over or talked about, because love is meant to be lived,” Mexican Archbishop Jorge Patron Wong told Catholic News Service. “Young priests all the way up to bishops, we need to experience Christ’s call every day and answer it every day.”

The role of the Vatican secretary of seminaries is to help ensure those preparing for priesthood and those assisting them have that experience. It’s part of an emphasis Pope Benedict XVI and now Pope Francis have had on not just educating priests, but forming apostles, the archbishop said.

Pope Benedict, in one of his final official acts as pope, transferred responsibility for seminary education from the Congregation for Catholic Education to the Congregation for Clergy. It was not simply an administrative decision, Archbishop Patron said.

“This is a new perspective,” the archbishop said. The Congregation for Clergy now follows priests from their seminary days and can ensure a more holistic approach, “meaning that it’s not just about intellectual formation but also spiritual, human as well as pastoral formation.”

Archbishop Patron is not your typical prelate, or typical Mexican for that matter. Born in Yucatan, the archbishop’s maternal grandfather was one of thousands of Chinese immigrants who made their way to Mexico.

“My grandfather was like all the Chinese who emigrated and whom I admire: They learned Spanish, became Mexican citizens, they became Catholics, and they did not wait for the next generation to live as Mexicans,” he told CNS.

Although he doesn’t speak Mandarin or Cantonese, Archbishop Patron said that his ancestry is a gift from God because it brings him closer to seminarians, priests and bishops who come to Rome from the Far East.

“Some tell me that with my Chinese features and Chinese blood, that I belong to half of the world,” he said jokingly.

The easy connection he makes with seminarians and clergy from around the world is noticeable on his social media accounts. With more than 12,000 followers on Twitter, Archbishop Patron posts photos of events and his countless visits to seminaries and formation houses across the globe. Only on very rare occasions are the posts missing the words “thank you” and a mention of “friendship and priestly brotherhood.”

When asked how many seminaries and houses of formation he visited in 2015, he replies with a slight grin, “I honestly don’t know.” Aside from normal duties at his office across the street from St. Peter’s Square, he meets “with people every day from 7 in the morning until 11 at night.” He also teaches a course every Thursday on priestly formation with 120 priests.

The rigorous schedule, he said, keeps him living many of the struggles and challenges facing seminarians and priests in giving priority to their ongoing formation and their prayer lives. The greatest concern, he said, is “how to live their vocation.”

A priest doesn’t just exercise his ministry in the church, the archbishop explained. A priest is the same 24 hours a day, “when he rests, when he eats, when he sleeps, when he is walking on the street, when he’s on the bus, when he’s getting an ice cream or coffee; he is a presence of Christ and today’s world needs Christ’s presence.”

On a regular basis, Pope Francis talks about how seminarians and priests should live their vocations, about how often they should pray, where they should live and even about what kind of car they should drive — used, preferably. For Archbishop Patron, the pope’s words are for him as well as for seminarians and priests.

“The pope is inviting me to be a good priest, he’s inviting me to live an ordinary and concrete spirituality and theology. And he’s inviting me to be close to God and to the people,” the archbishop said. “He’s inviting me to be sincere and live the Gospel joyfully, and I can only live it joyfully if I live out my vocation faithfully.”

Soft-spoken and often smiling, Archbishop Patron takes to heart the pope’s call for priests who have “the smell of the sheep and the smile of a father.”

“There can’t be sad preachers of the Gospel. In order to be happy, to be joyful, it’s important to live one’s vocation freely and not as something imposed,” the archbishop said.

– – –

Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at

2 days 8 hours
Father Jamie Weber, pastor of St. Cecilia, poses for a photo with a group of recently baptized students. (Courtesy Photo)Father Jamie Weber, pastor of St. Cecilia, poses for a photo with a group of recently baptized children. (Courtesy Photo)

A few years ago, according to St. Cecilia Principal Mike Goedde, the Catholic population of his school was roughly 30 percent. That percentage is now 51 percent Catholic.

While growing enrollment and changing demographics have played a role, the school and parish have made an intentional effort to be more missionary. The result over the past year and a half is 22 students baptized into the faith. A handful more are in preparation to be baptized.

Click here for more Catholic Schools Week stories

“It is a missionary act that we’re doing,” Goedde said. “We’re evangelizing. I think it reinforces everything the diocese would want for Catholic schools. This is ultimately why we are here.”

With the support of Pastor Father Jamie Weber, Pastor, the help of Archdiocese of Cincinnati and dedicated parents more and more students are becoming full members of the church through their involvement with the school.

In 2012-13, with only seven Latino students enrolled in the school, St. Cecilia made a push broaden its outreach to that community. One of the earliest parents to get involved was Bucio. The mother of two daughters at the school is the official “Madrina” or parent ambassador for the school to the Latino community.

“I liked to talk to people and ask them how they are doing,” Bucio said. “I started to ask, “Hey, is your child baptized,’ and they’d say no. I’d see there were a lot that didn’t have anything, any sacrament. I started to think, maybe we could do something.”

The first year after the push St. Cecilia had 26 Latino students. There were 43 last year and 58 are enrolled presently. Latino students now make up 29 percent of the student population. An additional 29 percent is African American, 27 percent are Caucasian, 13 percent are multi-racial and two percent are Asian.

Mayra Wilson, Coordinator of Latino Outreach for Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, said that while many Latino families coming to St. Cecila came from Catholic cultures, the children are often not baptized.

“The parents feel like, ‘Wow, this is what it is like to live our faith,” Wilson said. “I think the biggest thing is, the school has done such a good job welcoming the families so all of the sudden families are like, ‘Oh, this is a great place.’ Latino families are hungry to learn more about their faith.”

The growth at St. Cecilia mirrors what has been seen archdiocesan-wide. Since the archdiocese began a Latino outreach five years ago, there has been a 68 percent increase in Latino enrollment at Catholic elementary schools. In the archdiocese as a whole, 3.5 percent of students are Latino.

At St. Cecilia, not all the student baptisms have been Latino students. African American and Caucasian students have also been baptized. The reason for the cross-demographic success, Goedde said, is an authentic presentation of the faith.

“We presented the faith and it was not watered down. It was genuine,” he said. “That was driven by the pastor and parish expectations for the school and the school children. I think it is a combination of hard work, missionary zeal and genuine outreach, particularly with our Latino families.”

The baptisms have taken place in public contexts. Eleven students were baptized at an all-school Mass on Nov. 15, and five more were baptized on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe in December.

“It has a ripple effect to what it has done to the culture of the building,” Goedde said. “When you go from 33 percent to more than 50 percent, even those students who are not Catholic… they see and sense an importance of faith, some faith. It has changed the culture of worship and the culture of the overall building. It has become more Christ centered. It feels different.

“We’re always going to be welcoming to students and we want to serve students who may not be Catholic,” he added. “If they have a conversion to the faith, great. If they don’t but they realize they’re in a Christian-based environment, good.”

Father Weber added that the increase in baptisms has led to many parents considering the faith for themselves, and not only their children. Some couples have sought to have their marriages convalidated in the church as well.

“We’ve put it out there and people are seeing this and its definitely had an effect,” Father Weber said. “Parishioners here want to support what’s happening with the school.”

Most of the Latino students that have been baptized attend Mass at San Carlos Borromeo (St. Charles Borromeo) Catholic Church in Cincinnati, but Father Weber said he feels a responsibility for the students at his parish school.

“We don’t have an overwhelming amount of Latino’s going to Mass as parishioners,” Father Weber said. “But they’re parishioners in my mind in the fact that they’re going to the school and I have an obligation to be a part in their lives.”

The students who have received the sacraments at St. Cecilia since enrolling run from preschool to eighth grade. A group of students offered their thoughts on the experience to The Catholic Telegraph.

Eighth grader Maddy Bolin was baptized, confirmed and received first Holy Communion at last year’s Easter vigil.

“You have to go through RCIA first. I liked that,” she said. “It took a while but it was worth it. The Easter vigil was late night and it was cool.”

Fifth grader Eduardo Garcia, who’s favorite things about school are field trips and art class, said he received first communion last year, and baptism the year before.

“It made me feel happy to be baptized here at St. Cecilia,” he said.

Sarai Arrazola, a sixth-grader, liked how baptism brought her family together.

“I got baptized this year and I liked when I got baptized because my whole family was here,” she said.

Saida Rangel, a sixth grader who saw her brother baptized earlier this year and made her first communion last year reflected on the preparation process.

“It was kind of hard to memorize everything,” she said. “Taking Jesus inside your body… It is important to me because I’ve never been Catholic so I thought my first Eucharist made me feel good and was different.”

Kenya Arrazola, sixth grader, was baptized with 10 of her classmates at the all-school Mass.

“I was kind of really shy because everybody in my class was there, but I liked it,” she said. “Now I can be a sacristan and help with Mass.”

Kenya Arrazola was wearing a medal featuring an angel. It was a gift given to her by her godparents. She says she’s worn it every day since being baptized.

This story first appeared in the February 2016 print edition of The Catholic Telegraph.

2 days 9 hours
This photo from the January 26, 2001 edition of The Catholic Telegraph features St. Ignatius principal Tim Reilly and students in the school's computer lab. See below for an updated photo taken today, more than 15 years later. (CT File)This photo from the January 26, 2001 edition of The Catholic Telegraph features St. Ignatius principal Tim Reilly and students in the school’s computer lab. See below for an updated photo taken today, more than 15 years later. (CT File)

Catholic Schools Week has been around since 1974, one year before Apple Inc. started donating Apple 1 computers to schools. Over the years that followed, Catholic schools were often among the leaders in integrating technology in the classroom.

By the new millennium, Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati had state-of-the-art CPUs like the ones seen in this Throwback Thursday photo from 2001 at St. Ignatius of Loyola Catholic School in Monfort Heights.

St. Ignatius Principal Tim Reilly poses with students Libby Neal, Claire Brown, Alexandra Landin, Alex Meyer, Charlie Pressler and Oliver Hines on Feb. 4, 2016 during Catholic Schools Week. (Courtesy Photo/St. Ignatius)St. Ignatius Principal Tim Reilly poses with students Libby Neal, Claire Brown, Alexandra Landin, Alex Meyer, Charlie Pressler and Oliver Hines on Feb. 4, 2016 during Catholic Schools Week. (Courtesy Photo/St. Ignatius)

In the photo St. Ignatius Principal Tim Reilly, who still holds that job, poses with students in the computer lab to illustrate the efforts his school made in inclusion for students with disabilities.

On a whim, the Throwback Thursday team reached out to St. Ignatius staff with the photo to see if Reilly was willing to reprise his role in the photo 15 years later. He was.

Lynn Esmail, advancement director for St. Ignatius noted that while in 2001 Reilly was honored for reaching out to students with disabilities, he and the school have continued in that mission.

“Students are now using iPads, laptops, and smartboards, however, Mr. Reilly’s commitment to all learners has not changed,” she said. “This past year, he won the Edward Shaughnessy III Award for “Embracing all of God’s Children”.

Happy Catholic Schools Week to all students, teachers and parents in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

Welcome to The Catholic Telegraph’s edition of Throwback Thursday. Throwback Thursday is a weekly online feature wherein users of social media share an old photo or anecdote about times gone by. We use Throwback Thursday to highlight the history of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, and our publication.

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2 days 9 hours
Carolina Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly returns an interception for a touchdown Jan. 17 against the Seattle Seahawks in the first quarter of the NFC Divisional round playoff game in Charlotte, N.C. Kuechly, who will be the starting linebacker when the Panthers play the Denver Broncos in the Feb. 7 Super Bowl, credits his parents and his Catholic faith for making a positive impact on his NFL career and his outlook on life. (CNS photo/Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports via Reuters) Carolina Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly returns an interception for a touchdown Jan. 17 against the Seattle Seahawks in the first quarter of the NFC Divisional round playoff game in Charlotte, N.C. Kuechly, who will be the starting linebacker when the Panthers play the Denver Broncos in the Feb. 7 Super Bowl, credits his parents and his Catholic faith for making a positive impact on his NFL career and his outlook on life. (CNS photo/Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports via Reuters)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Middle linebacker Luke Kuechly of the Carolina Panthers, the team going up against the Denver Broncos in the Feb. 7 Super Bowl, credits his parents and his Catholic faith for making a positive impact on his NFL career and his outlook on life.

“I went to a Catholic grade school, Jesuit high school and a Jesuit college, and I think you just learn certain things growing up in that environment. Really, the biggest thing I learned from it is respect and to treat people correctly,” he said after a Jan. 28 practice.

Kuechly is a graduate of Cincinnati’s St. Xavier High School

“Your background has something to do with it, but my parents I think were the biggest impact on that, as far as to be a good person. You know, it’s not that hard, as long as you’re nice to people, everything works out,” he told the Catholic News Herald, newspaper of the Diocese of Charlotte. “Treat people how you want to be treated. It’s pretty straightforward stuff, and I think it makes things easier.”
Kuechly, a product of St. Xavier High School, a Catholic boys school, near his hometown of Evendale, Ohio, and a graduate of Boston College, is known as a fierce competitor who does not give up, a natural and humble leader, the person everyone calls “the nicest guy on the team.”

When he was in the fourth grade, Kuechly first played organized football with Cincinnati’s Catholic Youth Organization. In high school, he was a two-time All Greater Catholic League selection.

Kuechly, a three-time All America linebacker for Boston College, was the ninth overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft.

He was named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in the 2012 season, and followed that up by being named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year by The Associated Press in 2013, joining Lawrence Taylor as the only players in NFL history to win the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and NFL Defensive Player of the Year in successive years.

Kuechly said he doesn’t really have a special patron saint or a special prayer he always says before a game.

“We say a couple prayers in the locker room before games, though,” he said.

The team is often seen praying at each game, and players are known as much for their charitable works off the field, especially for children in need.
Charitable works also were getting attention from supporters of both teams headed to the Super Bowl.

Gerry Carter, CEO and executive director of Catholic Charities of Charlotte, and Larry Smith, CEO and president of Catholic Charities of Denver, agreed to raise $50,000 by the end of the game in a fundraiser called Charity Bowl 50.

“It’s a worthy cause that will have a major impact on the lives of the poor and needy in each of our communities,” Carter said. “All of our team’s fans and Catholic Charities in the Carolinas look forward to this challenge, and the inevitable victory that will be ours.”

Smith responded that Denver is not afraid of a challenge.

“Through Charity Bowl 50, Denver football fans have a real opportunity to show they have the best team spirit and a passion for serving others,” Smith said. “This challenge is a true win for both Denver and Charlotte, but there’s no doubt we will seize the victory.”

Anyone can participate in Charity Bowl 50 to help one of the charities raise the most money by donating online at

The site began accepting online donations Jan. 31 and will take them until the end of the Super Bowl Feb. 7. The donations will be tallied and counted toward the total amount raised. The winning charity’s CEO planned to hold a victory celebration during which charity employees will dump cold sports drinks over him. The losing charity’s CEO will dress in the opposing team’s colors and send a message of congratulations to the other charity.

The competition can be tracked on social media with the hashtag #CharityBowl50.

– – –

Story by SueAnn Howell,  a senior reporter with the Catholic News Herald, newspaper of of the Diocese of Charlotte.

2 days 14 hours

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From: Latest News Releases from USCCB
WASHINGTON—Nearly all of the religious men and women who professed perpetual vows in 2015 had a strong, active parish life or participated in a vocation program or experience prior to entering their religious institute, according to the annual survey on men and women religious conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University. The report comes as the Catholic Church completes the global observance of the Year for Consecrated Life.

Nearly 84 percent participated in a vocation program prior to entering their religious institute, such as a "Come and See" experience (72 percent), or a vocation retreat (46 percent). Women were more likely than men (57 percent compared to 29 percent) to report participating in a vocation retreat before entering their religious institute.  

"It is remarkable to think that 82 percent of those participating in the CARA survey served in one or more specified ministries in their parish community before entering their religious institute," said Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Raleigh, North Carolina, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations. "We know active participation in parish life is an important component for spiritual growth. I encourage those who are currently active in ministries and eligible to pursue a religious vocation to ask yourself if God might be calling you to consecrated life. Be assured that he will provide the strength and grace you need."

Over four in ten respondents reported that they were encouraged to consider a vocation by a parish priest or a friend. Women are more likely than men to have been encouraged by both (46 percent compared to 34 percent).  

Sister of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities Cheryl Wint found her vocation through her active parish life and a mission trip to Guatemala, giving up a successful business career. "After eight mergers within my career, I took some time off and went on a Franciscan Habitat trip to Guatemala where I had a very profound experience and knew it was time to make a change. So, during a Lenten penance service at my parish I felt the call to religious life and so pursued the call, which lead me to the sisters."

Three in ten (30 percent) first became acquainted with their institute through promotional material, while one in five first learned about their institute from a priest or advisor. On average, these men and women religious knew a member of their institute for about five years before entering.

That was the case of Sister Maria Catherine Toon of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. "I went to visit a friend who had just entered the community and ended up joining the same community three weeks later," she said. "I ended up making vows in the same class as the friend I had visited."  

The USCCB's Secretariat on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations commissioned CARA to conduct the survey of the religious profession class of 2015, and the results of the survey were released before the annual celebration of World Day for Consecrated Life. The entire survey and press release can be found at

The survey polled women and men religious who professed perpetual vows in 2015 in a religious congregation, province, or monastery based in the U.S. CARA received a response from 447 of 790 major superiors, for an overall response rate of 57 percent among religious institutes. In all, 75 percent of LCWR superiors, 55 percent of CMSWR superiors, 52 percent of CMSM superiors, and 22 percent of superiors of contemplative communities provided contact information for 136 members who professed perpetual vows in religious life in 2015.
Of these 136 women and men, a total of 54 sisters and nuns and 35 brothers responded to the survey. These brothers may include some who intend to pursue studies leading to priestly ordination. This represents a response rate of 65 percent of the 136 potential members of the Profession Class of 2015 that were reported to CARA by major superiors.

Other major findings of the report are:

″  Nearly all responding religious (90 percent) regularly participated in some type of private prayer activity before they entered their religious institute. About two-thirds participated in Eucharistic Adoration or prayed the rosary before entering. Nearly six in ten participated in retreats or spiritual direction before entering.

″  Most religious did not report that educational debt delayed their application for entrance to their institute. Among the two who did report educational debt, however, they averaged less than a one year of delay while they paid down an average of $35,000 in educational debt. Several of the women, but none of the men, reported receiving assistance in paying down their debt.

″  The average age of responding religious is 39. Half of the responding religious are age 35 or younger. The youngest is 26 and the oldest is 76.

″  Two-thirds of responding religious (68 percent) identify as white, more than one in six (16 percent) identifies as Asian, and more than one in ten (11 percent) identifies as Hispanic.  

″  Most responding religious (77 percent) were born in the U.S. Of those born outside the United States, the most common country of origin is The Philippines.  

″  Among those identifying as Hispanic/Latino six in ten (60 percent) are U.S. born. Those identifying as Asian/Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian (86 percent) are predominantly foreign born. Nearly all identifying as Caucasian/white (97 percent) are U.S. born.

″  Almost half of responding religious (47 percent) attended a Catholic elementary school, which is about the same as that for all Catholic adults in the United States (42 percent). These respondents are more likely than other U.S. Catholics to have attended a Catholic high school (39 percent of respondents, compared to 22 percent of U.S. adult Catholics) and much more likely to have attended a Catholic college (43 percent of responding religious, compared to just 7 percent of U.S. adult Catholics). Responding women religious are less likely than brothers to have attended a Catholic college (37 percent for women compared to 51percent for men).

″  On average, responding religious report that they were 19 years old when they first considered a vocation to religious life, but half were 18 or younger when they first did so.  

″  One-half say that a religious sister or brother encouraged their vocation (52 percent).

″  Respondents are less likely to report that they received encouragement from their family members than from other religious, friends, or a parish priest. One in three (34 percent) report that their mother encouraged them to consider religious life. Just under a quarter received encouragement from their father (22 percent) or other relatives (19 percent).

Keywords: Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, CARA, Class of 2015, religious life, CCLV, Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, USCCB, CMSM,

# # #
Norma Montenegro Flynn
O: 202-541-3202


2 days 11 hours

 WASHINGTON—National Marriage Week USA and World Marriage Day are opportunities "to celebrate the gift and blessing of marriage," said the chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).  

"Marriage, both as a natural institution and as a Christian sacrament, is an irreplaceable good for society and all people," wrote Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, New York, in a letter to his brother bishops. "Our Committee remains ever grateful for the ongoing efforts in dioceses and parishes to promote, strengthen and defend marriage, and to accompany married couples in their joys and trials."

National Marriage Week USA is celebrated February 7-14, and World Marriage Day is celebrated February 14.

The USCCB provides numerous resources that can be of assistance to bishops, priests and lay leaders in promoting, strengthening and defending the gift of marriage as the lifelong union of one man and one woman, including the websites For Your Marriage, Por Tu Matrimonio, and Marriage: Unique for a Reason. Bishop Malone encouraged participation in the Call to Prayer for Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty. The letter and additional resources are available online:  

A daily virtual marriage retreat for National Marriage Week is also available through Facebook: The theme of this year's retreat is marriage and mercy, given the year-long Jubilee of Mercy. There will also be a National Marriage Week contest available through multiple USCCB social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

The celebration of National Marriage Week in the U.S. began in 2002, originating from Marriage Week International. World Marriage Day, held the second Sunday of February each year, was started in 1983 by Worldwide Marriage Encounter.

Keywords: Bishop Richard J. Malone, National Marriage Week USA, World Marriage Sunday, marriage, family, USCCB, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, For Your Marriage, Por Tu Matrimonio, Marriage Unique for a Reason, Call to Prayer

# # #
Norma Montenegro Flynn
O: 202-541-3202

2 days 17 hours