Hispanic Catholics have an inconvenient truth for the Church in the US: We are no longer the minority.
And this emerging majority is organizing the largest evangelization effort the US Church has yet to see, as Latinos prepare for the “V Encuentro”—a four-year conversation beginning at the parish level and ending on a national stage in 2018.
With guidelines distributed to 5,000 parishes throughout 175 dioceses, the process is meant to gauge pastoral realities within Hispanic communities while inspiring new leaders among youth. Read more
The identity of a “mystery” priest who prayed with a young woman at the scene of an accident in central Missouri has been solved.
The Diocese of Jefferson City, MO, has identified the priest as Fr. Patrick Dowling, a native of Kilkenny, Ireland, who is currently serving in prison ministry and in parish ministry to Spanish-speaking Catholics in the diocese.
For days after the accident, which occurred Aug. 4, local and national media described an “angel priest” or a “mystery priest” suddenly appearing at the scene to pray with an accident victim and then just as suddenly vanishing. Read more
Members of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) announced Aug. 10 at the close of their four-day assembly in St. Louis that they will continue to dialogue with Church officials about the Vatican’s doctrinal assessment of their organization.
LCWR’s outgoing president, Franciscan Sr. Pat Farrell, said the group’s leaders would begin dialogue with Seattle Abp. J. Peter Sartain, who is charged with overseeing the group’s reform. He attended the organization’s board meeting the following day.
Sr. Farrell said LCWR members hoped its leaders would have “open and honest dialogue” that would lead to greater understanding and to greater opportunities for women to have a voice in the Church.
She said the officers would “proceed with these discussions as long as possible but would reconsider if LCWR is forced to compromise the integrity of its mission.”
Abp. Sartain said that along with LCWR, he remained “committed to working to address the issues raised by the doctrinal assessment in an atmosphere of prayer and respectful dialogue.”
“We must also work toward clearing up any misunderstandings, and I remain truly hopeful that we will work together without compromising Church teaching or the important role of the LCWR,” Abp. Sartain said in a statement released Aug. 11 after his meeting with the LCWR board. “I look forward to our continued discussions as we collaborate in promoting consecrated life in the United States.”
In its assessment issued in April, the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said a reform of LCWR was needed to ensure its fidelity to Catholic teaching in areas including abortion, euthanasia, women’s ordination, and homosexuality.
Abp. Sartain said in his statement LCWR brings “unique gifts to its members and to the church at large. This uniqueness includes sensitivity to suffering, whether in Latin America or the inner-city; whether in the life of an unborn child or the victim of human trafficking.”
The US bishops “are deeply proud of the historic and continuing contribution of women religious to our country through social, pastoral, and spiritual ministries; Catholic health care; Catholic education; and many other areas where they reach out to those on the margins of society,” he said.
During an afternoon news conference Aug. 10, when asked how LCWR officials would be able to dialogue on issues of doctrine, Sr. Farrell said that “dialogue on doctrine will not be our starting point.” She also said LCWR officials cannot speculate how the dialogue will proceed but will see “how it unfolds.”
Nine hundred sisters attended the St. Louis meeting, which included several closed sessions where members discussed how they would respond to the Vatican’s doctrinal assessment.
At the start of the Aug. 7-10 meeting Sr. Farrell announced that this gathering would be “like no other” because of the particular focus on the doctrinal assessment.
At the close of the assembly, Franciscan Sr. Florence Deacon, president-elect, was to succeed Sr. Farrell. Sr. Carol Zinn, a Sister of St. Joseph, was chosen president-elect.
The gathering was the first time the organization had assembled since the assessment was released April 18. The organization’s canonical status is granted by the Vatican.
The participants, leaders of women’s religious congregations, were urged at the outset of the St. Louis meeting to take a thoughtful and prayerful approach to discerning the assessment and not to discuss the deliberations with members of the media since the process would continue to unfold in each day’s executive sessions.
One sister described the process of discernment as “muddling through” and said it is not new to the sisters but something they said they are used to doing, particularly in their work with other religious communities and lay groups.
References to how the sisters were discerning their next steps were clear in the daily prayer sessions where the sisters were continually reminded that they were at a crossroads and should let go of fears and preconceived ideas and trust the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Sr. Farrell told the group in her closing address that the doctrinal assessment’s “historical impact” could not be ignored.
“Yes, much is at stake,” she said, pointing out that the LCWR can only go forward with “truthfulness and integrity” which she said she hoped would both contribute to the “good of religious life everywhere and to the healing of the fractured church we so love.”
In the final days of the meeting security near the ballroom where discussions were taking place became tighter, preventing anyone from even being outside the doors.
Most Rev. James V. Johnston, Jr., DD, JCL
Bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau
St. Louis Prayer Breakfast
May 24, 2012 Click here for the video
I am honored to have been invited by Abp. Carlson and Legatus to address you this morning. I thank all of you for the love you have for Christ and his Church.
You may know that before I ventured off to seminary, I worked for several years as an engineer. One of my sisters, who works in marketing for Alcoa, sent me this little story several years ago: Read more
Abp. Robert J. Carlson of St. Louis said a judge’s ruling against efforts by the St. Louis Archdiocese and a group of Polish Catholics to return a former Polish Catholic parish to full communion with the Catholic Church will be appealed.
St. Stanislaus Church, which had served Catholics of Polish heritage for generations, is no longer operating as a Catholic parish and a civil corporation owns the property.
In August 2004, the pastoral care of Catholics of Polish heritage in the St. Louis Archdiocese was moved away from St. Stanislaus after the lay board claimed control over parish finances from the administrator and refused to bring parish structures into conformity with canon law.
The parish was suppressed by the St. Louis Archdiocese, and the apostolate for Polish Catholics then was moved permanently to St. Agatha Parish in South St. Louis.
Judge Bryan Hettenbach of St. Louis Circuit Court ruled March 15 against the Archdiocese of St. Louis and former St. Stanislaus parishioners who had asked the court to declare the St. Stanislaus Parish Corporation’s amended bylaws void and restore the original bylaws, a move that the archdiocese believed would have returned St. Stanislaus to full communion with the Church.
The ruling “brings great sadness to all in the Archdiocese of St. Louis who had hoped for reconciliation and healing in this matter,” Abp. Carlson noted in a statement he read at a news conference held the same day the ruling was issued.
The statement noted that the judge agreed that the purpose of the parish corporation is to operate a Polish Roman Catholic church, as stated in the original articles of agreement and paperwork forming the St. Stanislaus Parish Corp.
The Vatican has determined that the corporation, by revising its bylaws in 2001 and 2004, has transformed St. Stanislaus into an entity that has no resemblance to a Roman Catholic parish, it noted. Abp. Carlson has supported the Vatican’s determination in the case and has tried to work with the parish to bring it into communion with the Catholic Church once again.
Hettenbach also ruled against earlier judgments removing the directors and officers of the board of the parish corporation and declaring that the St. Stanislaus Church property be subject to a charitable trust with the archbishop as trustee.
He said all interest in the original St. Stanislaus Church property vests with the St. Stanislaus corporation.
“It would not, however, be inaccurate to say that in 1891 the predecessors of today’s litigants struck a tacit bargain that, in regard to St. Stanislaus, the archdiocese would not overreach into civil corporate matters and the parish corporation would leave religious matters to the archbishop,” he wrote in the ruling.
The history of St. Stanislaus, founded by Polish immigrants in 1880, is complex. In 1891, Abp. Peter Kenrick of St. Louis allowed the parish to form a lay trustee board to control parish finances and own the parish’s property.
Shortly after then-Abp. Raymond L. Burke began his duties in 2004 as St. Louis archbishop, he continued the effort started a year earlier by his predecessor to persuade the board to transfer property ownership to the archdiocese.
Stating concerns over the future of the parish should it allow the property transfer, the board stated publicly that it could not reach an agreement with the archbishop, which led to suppression of the parish and the transfer of Polish Catholic apostolate to another parish.
The archdiocese’s March 15 statement said that Hettenbach, in his opinion, “has disregarded these ecclesiastical determinations and has substituted his own analysis of church law, finding that the bylaws are not in conflict with the parish corporate purpose of maintaining a Roman Catholic church. We plan to appeal this decision and will take this case all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.”
The six parishioners of St. Stanislaus who are plaintiffs with the archdiocese included four former board members of St. Stanislaus.
Waving flags and holding signs, people three deep along the parade route yelled, “Welcome home,” “You rock” and “We salute you” to troops who have returned from Iraq.
They were taking part in the nation’s first “Welcome Home the Heroes from Iraq Day” Jan. 28 in downtown St. Louis.
Catholics from Missouri and Illinois were among the thousands who gathered for the salute or took part in the parade.
It started as an idea between two friends, Craig Schneider and Tom Appelbaum, who quickly put together an official thank-you to the men and women who served their country in Iraq. They began a Facebook group that ignited thousands of citizens to donate time, money and services for the cause.
“It’s nice to be recognized. It means a lot,” David Behle, a reservist who served in Iraq, told the St. Louis Review, the archdiocesan newspaper. A member of St. Joseph Parish in Cottleville, he wants to see a similar event when troops return from Afghanistan.
“It’s hard to believe that private citizens came up with this idea in three weeks time and made it this huge–a turnout like this on a January day,” said Richard Cullen, quartermaster of a Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Illinois. He is a member of Holy Ghost Parish in Jerseyville, IL.
Cullen said his parish pastor, a veteran of the Korean War, and the parish have supported the troops as have many other churches. He noted that while he was in the Army serving in Iraq and Germany he was lucky to have a Catholic chaplain serving his battalion.
“It’s nice to be able to go to a service and practice your faith,” he said, noting that it was a time to put aside worries. “Whether it was in a tent or under a tree, it was really nice to have that.”
Also taking part in the parade were Scotty and Melissa Wood, looking sharp in their dress uniforms. They are from Clarksville, TN, where they serve on a base and are members of Immaculate Conception Parish there. Scotty Wood said he gets gratitude from the people he has served with but “it’s always nice to come home and feel appreciated. It’s reassuring.”
Melissa Wood, who grew up in St. Robert Bellarmine Parish in St. Charles, said the Clarksville parish has been supportive. Especially needed is for people to reach out to the families who have a spouse serving overseas, she said, noting that as soon as her husband left that is when a malfunction would happen at their home. Sometimes, Melissa and her husband said, staying home alone and caring for three young children can be as difficult as being deployed.
Scotty Wood said that each deployment brought him closer to his faith, “even when you see horrible things.”
His wife agreed about the effect of combat, noting that some people who previously didn’t have any faith grew closer to God.
“And combat brings people together in a way nothing else can,” she said. “When everything is chaos around you–that’s when you need something that can pull you through.”
They recalled how much they enjoyed religious services in Iraq, and Scotty Wood cited the help provided by the chaplains.
Ricky Elcan, who attends St. Norbert Church in Florissant, was with a combat systems support battalion in Iraq and had 800 soldiers under his command. “I lost a few. That’s why I’m here,” he said, noting his appreciation for the support being given the military.
Elcan sees the need to help returning soldiers get jobs. He, too, felt a sense of peace when going to church in Iraq and a “a feeling of being connected. Listening to the word of God would re-energize me.”
In a war, “you have to have faith,” he said.
Joseph Woodward of High Ridge said he appreciated the St. Louis community “taking the lead for the nation at a crucial time.”
People who support the military are important during a war effort, he added. When people respond to him when he is in uniform, he said, that is a reminder that “it’s an honor to serve the country.”
Among others giving support were Marcia Wells of Valle Mines and Andrea Politte of Pevely, who were with a group from Camp Hope, a 180-acre outdoor space that helps wounded veterans heal.
Connie McClellan drove in from Columbia, Mo., to salute the Iraq veterans. Her son, a Marine, was shot once while serving in Iraq and twice while in Afghanistan, and the last time was hit in the head. He now is a college student. She has written a book about him, “My Miracle Marine.”