The USCCB Media Blog is previewing the upcoming visit by Pope Francis to the Holy Land. Yesterday they carried a piece by me on the visit deepening the friendship between Catholics and Jews. Today, Bishop Richard Pates of Des Moines blogs on bringing hope to a hopeless situation. They will have more entries in the days to come. Stay tuned!
In Sunday’s New York Post, Naomi Schaefer Riley had an excellent article on the value of Catholic schools, and why we must work to save them! She shares a wonderful story of a student, Jason Tejada, who attended Incarnation School in Washington Heights and All Hallows High School in the Bronx, and went on to Columbia University, and is now working at JPMorgan.
The details of Jason’s story may be particularly poignant, but the success that Catholic schools can bring underprivileged students is widely understood.
The achievement, graduation rates and college completion rates are much higher for students who attend Catholic school than public school, even controlling for family income. A recent Brookings/Harvard study found that African American students in New York who won and used a scholarship to attend private school starting in kindergarten were 24% more likely to attend college than those who applied but didn’t win a scholarship.
You can read the entire article here.
Heading home from Jordan today. What an inspiring and informative journey! My thanks to Deacon Greg Kendra for posting these updates on the CNEWA blog.
From their home, the sisters offer Christian refugees from Iraq and Syria counseling, schooling, formal catechesis and emergency assistance to those in dire need. The sisters’ “House of Mary” also offers a safe haven, a refuge from the storm that has enveloped these innocent families.
Read the rest here.
Continuing their pastoral visit to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Bishop William Murphy and Msgr. John Kozar visited two key holy sites before spending the rest of the day with the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary. They visited the site on the Jordan River where Jesus was baptized, touring the archaeological remains associated with the early church.
Read the rest here.
Deacon Greg Kendra has a blog post along with a few photos of our visit. You might want to take a look. I’ll pass along any updates.
I am extraordinarily proud of the work CNEWA is doing, but there is so much more that needs to be done. Please keep all those who support CNEWA in your prayers.
The readings from God’s Holy Word in the Bible during this bright Easter season are most enlightening and encouraging.
A facet I enjoy a lot, especially evident in our selections at Mass, and in the Divine Office we clergy and religious daily pray, is the narrative, particularly in the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles of Paul, Peter, James, and John, about the growth and structuring of the infant Church.
So, the apostles, disciples, and faithful women and men had to pray for guidance, then debate, and finally make tough decisions about such things as preaching the Gospel outside of Jerusalem (Who would go? Where? What language?); taking care of the “widows and orphans” (thus the development of deacons); the flow of the liturgy and other sacraments; attracting new converts and preserving the faith of those already in the fold; how to relate to pressing cultural and social issues, bringing the light of the gospel to the public square; and, how best to spend the offerings of God’s People.
One legitimately asks: hasn’t the Church been into strategic pastoral planning since Jesus ascended to His heavenly Father?
It’s hardly novel. Our current Making All Things New is only the 2014 chapter of an opus which began to be composed in 33 a.d.
That’s why we’ve stressed from the start of our present round of planning that it’s more than a question about buildings, addresses, closings or merging. Yes, some of this will be called for, and the sound recommendations from our pastors, clergy, religious, and people are now “on the table,” to be further prayed over, refined, and finalized.
But, driving all of this is the same set of values we sense in our Easter readings: is the invitation of Jesus, and the truth of His message, being extended effectively in our preaching, religious education of the young, faith formation of adults, and our schools? Are the poor and rich being served? Are the “fallen away” being welcomed back? Do God’s people have available to them the spiritual sustenance of prayer and the sacraments? Are the offerings of God’s People being spent well, or squandered?
Some are tempted to observe (and the press readily reports it!) that this strategic pastoral planning is all the result of a new, unprecedented crisis in today’s Church, caused by such things as mismanagement and stupidity by bishops and priests; the stubbornness of the Church to change settled teaching (woman’s ordination) or discipline (priestly celibacy) to correct the shortage of vocations; the loss of money paid to victims and attorneys due to the sex abuse nausea; or the mistakes of past bishops and pastors in overbuilding and over-expansion.
Baloney! There’s not much radical, dramatic, or crisis driven in sound, patient, prayerful pastoral planning. It’s been going on since Pentecost.
Thanks to all of you leading and cooperating in this current phase! It’s not easy, but it’s sure essential. And you’re in good company with the apostles and first generation disciples.
Here is a great piece on Catholic education from the New York Daily News by Peter Meyer:
Church officials and educators have not given up, and there are numerous initiatives that have been launched in the last 20 years meant to staunch the hemorrhaging. The church’s extensive network of religious orders have picked up some of the educational slack, expanding their networks of schools, especially for the poor…
These are promising initiatives, but in this Holy Season, Catholics should consider their history, especially those times in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when they were not the dominant American religion, but an outcast group. And it was in 1884, at a Baltimore enclave of Bishops, that church leaders ordered every Catholic parish to create a Catholic school and all Catholic parents to send their children to them, creating one of the most successful grassroots church revivals in history.
I hope that our non-Catholic friends will pardon many of us Catholics today. They will probably sense that we’re a bit jittery: This is Holy Week, and, today is Reconciliation Monday throughout all five boroughs, Long Island, and seven counties north of the Bronx, reaching almost to Albany. Sometime this week, especially today in the Archdiocese of New York, Diocese of Brooklyn, and Diocese of Rockville Centre (as every parish in those three dioceses has confessions available from 3:00-9:00) many of us will approach the sacrament of penance to conclude Lent and be ready for Easter.
So, we’re a little nervous. Going to confession is like a trip to the dentist: we know it’s good for us, and we sure feel better afterwards, but we’re anxious about doing it.
The simple truth is, we are sinners. We Catholics – - like all Christians, and our Jewish neighbors – - acknowledge that our sins not only offend our loving God and harm ourselves, but that they hurt everybody else.
We claim to be people of love, and, I’m afraid, sometimes are hateful; we pretend to be selfless, and often are the opposite; we say we’re honest, and on occasion lie and cheat; we’re supposed to be for peace, and end-up fighting and arguing. We say we’re humble, but are all too often cocky and arrogant. As is evident from what Pope Francis expressed Friday, we remain sickened and sorry for such a horror as the abuse of minors by priests, and negligence by bishops, however tiny a percent of clergy they may be. We have disregarded the commandments, the beatitudes, the Bible, and the teaching of Jesus and His Church. We admit it. We’ve hurt God, ourselves, and our neighbors. We’re sorry.
We know God forgives us when we ask Him to, because He told us so. We experience that in Confession. We find it hard at times to forgive ourselves. And we ask those whom we have offended to pardon us for our failure to practice what we preach.
I guess that’s why we describe ourselves as “practicing Catholics,” because we keep trying to get it right.
So, this week finds us somber, as we recall what our sins did to Jesus that first Good Friday. Jesus, on his way to His cross, fell three times, which means, in the Bible, “a lot.” We slip and fall a lot too!
But, this Holy Week finds us ultimately joyful, grateful, renewed as we celebrate His resurrection from the dead this Easter Sunday.
Today finds us jittery as we prepare for confession on this “Reconciliation Monday.”
So, to our non-Catholic friends who read this blog, I say thanks for your patience with us, not only today, but every day, as we often stumble and fall in what I hope is our ongoing journey to follow Jesus more faithfully and generously.
And, to my fellow Catholics, I strongly urge you to take advantage of this most wonderful sacrament. If you’re in New York, Brooklyn, or Rockville Centre, stop by any Church between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. today, and a priest will be waiting to hear your confession. If you’re outside the New York metropolitan area, I am sure your local parish will have additional opportunities to receive the Sacrament.
Happy Passover to our Jewish neighbors!
Happy Holy Week and Easter to our Christian neighbors!
Thought you would enjoy this wonderful piece on the Cathedral from Mary DeTurris Poust:
At first, as we walked along the outer edges of the cathedral, trying to avoid wires and boards and construction workers, I wondered aloud why they would even bother to keep the cathedral open under such conditions. But eventually we made our way to the Lady Chapel at the back of the cathedral, which remains untouched (at least as of now) by the restoration project. We knelt down in prayer, as other visitors did the same — the old lady with the scarf tied tightly around her head, a shopping bag on her arm; the young business man in the fashionably cut suit; the tourist with backpack and camera marking his outsider status. One by one, they drifted in and out, genuflecting, kneeling, praying, making the Sign of the Cross…
Read the rest here.
My thanks to Seth Lipsky at the New York Post for his insightful article, Time to end NY’s anti-Catholic bigotry:
The proposed credit is tiny compared to the estimated $22 billion for pre-k through grade 12 in the state’s education budget. It would start at $180 million in the first year and then $225 million and $300 million. However modest in comparative cost, it would be a help, particularly to families of limited means with pupils in religious day schools…
Our credit is shaken, but not by the priests, rabbis and imams. The poor laborer is strangled by public employees who have a better deal than he could ever get — and a quarter of a trillion dollars in unfunded state pension obligations. Isn’t it time to make it easier for religious schools to help educate our children?
Read the rest here.