Educators attend convention

PITTSBURGH – Educators from Catholic schools across America browse the vendor area at the NCEA convention in April. (CNS photo/Chuck Fazio, courtesy NCEA)

By John Franko
PITTSBURGH (CNS) – The new evangelization is not a new Gospel, but refocuses the faithful on the good news of Jesus and involves the renewal of faith and the willingness to share it, Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington told the National Catholic Education Association (NCEA).

“We bring a fuller vision,” Cardinal Wuerl said of the Catholic faith during his keynote address at NCEA’s annual convention. “We need to admit that and be proud of it.”
Hosted by the Diocese of Pittsburgh in partnership with the NCEA, Catholic Library Association and the National Association of Parish and Catechetical Directors, the convention drew about 6,000 participants during its April 22-24 run at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, including four representatives from the Diocese of Jackson.

Karla Luke, operations and support services coordinator for the Office of Education in the diocese, said the conference was a wonderful opportunity.
“The sessions I attended included Joy in the Vocation of the Educator, which focused on the demands of teaching and how to bring joy to our vocations by contemplating Christ,” she said. “I also attended two sessions on Advancing the National Standards for Effective Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools. There was robust discussion among school administrators, teachers and diocesan administrators using self-assessment as a means to school improvement and strategic planning,” Luke added.

As a bonus, the conference introduced a smartphone app allowing attendees to bring resources and some presentations to their home dioceses.
Cardinal Wuerl, a native son and former bishop of Pittsburgh, presented his remarks in light of Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, “The Joy of the Gospel” (“Evangelii Gaudium”) and the pontiff’s call for a new evangelization within the church and around the world. In the exhortation, the cardinal noted, the pope invites people to focus on the blessing that is the love of God in their lives.

“His energy is a bright ray breaking through the secular darkness,” Cardinal Wuerl added. While the church is the home of the new evangelization, he said, Catholic education is an instrument of it.

The cardinal explained that it can involve “ordinary” areas of evangelization, something as simple as teaching a child the sign of the cross and that it can focus on outreach to those who have fallen away from the church.

“The church brings to our world today an invitation to faith, an encounter with the Lord Jesus and a whole way of living,” he said. But the secular world is often overwhelming, Cardinal Wuerl noted, and many markers of the faith have been taken away. He expressed concern that secularism has also diminished appreciation of the faith.

Passing on the faith highlights the importance of Catholic schools and religious education programs, he said, explaining that if the new evangelization is to be successful, children must be firmly grounded in an authentic faith. Only then will children be able to live their faith and daily existence with Christ, he added.

Expressing his belief that Catholic education must present a real vision of what it means to be created in the image and likeness of God, Cardinal Wuerl said the authentic proclamation of Christ begins with a clear declaration of who God is. The faithful, he noted, must understand how essential the church is in their lives. The work of building the kingdom as just the beginning, he said.

Cardinal Wuerl said that evangelization involves the work of disciples who share the good news. It involves a bold new courage, a connectedness to the church and a sense of urgency that reminds people it is their time to pass on the message of Jesus.
“Our message should be one that inspires people to follow us,” he said.
(Franko is a staff writer for the Pittsburgh Catholic Review, newspaper of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.)Maureen Smith contributed to this article)

Summer Institute focuses on Pope Francis

MOBILE – The Department of Theology & Ministry at Spring Hill College will offer an opportunity to learn more about the Jesuit spirituality of Pope Francis during the 2014 Summer Institute of Christian Spirituality.
The Summer Institute is a program designed for adults interested in both academic challenge and spiritual enrichment. This year the event will look at some of the iconic expressions and themes of Pope Francis and ask where they come from.
In Mobile, the event is hosted on the Spring Hill College campus, over the two-week period, June 1-13.  Courses may be taken for graduate or undergraduate credit, or merely for enrichment and enjoyment. Discounted rates are available for those who do not want to earn credit.
In Atlanta, the events are hosted at Ignatius House Retreat Center, and will feature a variety of courses offered either in an intensive weekend or weeklong format. Dates range from June 16-29.This year’s faculty line-up includes Matthew Bagot, a theologian specializing in moral topics; Matthew Baugh, SJ, a Jesuit scholastic with degrees in law and political science; Timothy Carmody, a biblical scholar and author; Father Mark Lewis, SJ, the provincial of the New Orleans Province of Jesuits, Rev. Jayme Stayer, an English professor specializing in poetry visiting from John Carroll University, and Father Christopher Viscardi, SJ, chair of the department of theology at Spring Hill.
In Mobile five- or eight- day silent directed retreats are also available following the Institute June 14-22.
For more information visit www.shc.edu/sics, call, 251-380-4458 or email, theology@shc.edu.

Essentials for Hispanic ministry grow

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SOUTHAVEN – Members of Christ the King Parish celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe in December 2013.

By Patricia Zapor
CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. (CNS) – Training of pastoral leaders and provision of most other resources for Hispanic ministry aren’t keeping up with the fast-approaching time when Hispanics will make up the majority of Catholics in the United States, according to a new report.
“Hispanic Catholics have reached critical mass in the church,” said Hosffman Ospino, lead author of the National Study of Catholic Parishes with Hispanic Ministry. He said 55 percent of all U.S. Catholics under the age of 30 are Hispanic and Hispanics account for 71 percent of the growth in the U.S. Catholic population since 1960.
“Ignoring the growth of Hispanic Catholics in the United States would be self-defeating for our churches and schools,” he added.
Ospino, assistant professor of theology and ministry at Boston College in Chestnut Hill, presented his findings from the first major survey of how parishes are handling the rapid demographic shift May 5 at the college. The Office of Hispanic Ministry for the Diocese of Jackson participated in this study.

Hispanics currently account for about 40 percent of all U.S. Catholics and their share of the population is continuing to increase. Nationwide, 4,358 parishes – almost one-quarter of the U.S. total – were identified as having some sort of organized ministry to Hispanics.

Children share a cultural dance during a celebration at Christ the King Parish in Southaven.

Children share a cultural dance during a celebration at Christ the King Parish in Southaven.

The study cited many signs of vitality in parish Hispanic ministry – including youth, a strong permanent diaconate system and thriving apostolic movements. But other areas require urgent attention, it said.

Among the “urgent dynamics” of parish Hispanic ministry that are in need of attention, it listed: disproportionately limited financial and human resources, a “disquieting gap” in Hispanic enrollment in Catholic schools, and a cohort of pastoral leaders who are approaching retirement age with too few people in training to replace them.

The study pointed out that the oldest Catholic parishes under the flag of the United States were and continue to be Hispanic.
In the Southwest, a vibrant Catholic Church existed long before the United States acquired parts of Mexico, making for Hispanic-dominated parishes that predated the development of “national” parishes. National parishes were created in the 19th century to minister to European immigrants such as Germans, Italians and Poles, intended to be a temporary system for helping newcomers maintain their faith connections while they integrated.

As the study notes, “when absorbing the annexed Mexican territories, long-standing Hispanic parishes were typically treated as ‘only’ national parishes,” although many different nationalities fall under the cluster of Hispanic.

JACKSON – A confirmation celebration at St. Therese Parish from 2013. (All photos file photos from the Office of Hispanic Ministry)

JACKSON – A confirmation celebration at St. Therese Parish from 2013. (All photos file photos from the Office of Hispanic Ministry)

The report is a summary of the findings of a national study, conducted by the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry in collaboration with the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate of Georgetown University. Several future reports will delve into angles such as education and leadership training, Ospino told Catholic News Service.
The study is based on responses to surveys sent to diocesan and parish leaders who work in Hispanic ministry. Parishes were counted as offering Hispanic ministry if they offer Mass or religious education in Spanish, for example, even if they don’t formally have a Hispanic ministry program, Ospino said.

Other elements in the report include discussion of leadership structures and leadership development; apostolic movements such as Cursillo and Communion and Liberation; and programming and education for children, youth and adults
In an event at Boston College where the study was released, Mark Gray, of the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University in Washington, said one conclusion he draws from the study that should catch the attention of church leaders is “if you don’t do Hispanic ministry well, then you face an uncertain future.”

Unlike past generations of immigrants, he said, people today have many more choices in where they can go to worship, whether another Catholic parish that offers something different, a non-Catholic Christian church that is welcoming or even the growing phenomena of dropping all religious affiliation.
“We call them drive-bys,” Gray said, because people will drive by a church that doesn’t offer what they need and go elsewhere.

It will be important to the future of the church for the more established parts of the church, where there is more money and power, to think of the growing sector of less-wealthy Hispanics as deserving of their support as part of the same church, Ospino said.

Ospino told a story to illustrate how that’s relevant to meeting the pastoral needs of a working-class or poor group of newcomers. He described a parish with a high level of immigrants that was in financial crisis. The parish was administered by a religious order that also ran three wealthier, nonimmigrant parishes in the same region. The religious order leaders went to the three wealthier parishes asking for support to keep the immigrant parish open. “They said no,” Ospino said.

In a subsequent interview with CNS, Ospino said perspectives such as that of the nonimmigrant parishes in that story illustrate a basic flaw in how many American Catholics think about the growth of Hispanics toward dominance in the church.
“We need to shift the language in the church,” Ospino said. “We can’t simply treat Hispanics as a subgroup of the church anymore. In many parts of the country, to speak about Hispanic Catholics is to speak about the majority of the church.”
To see the survey results, visit the Office of Hispanic Ministry page on the diocesan website, www.jacksondiocese.org, under offices.

Educators attend convention

By John Franko
PITTSBURGH (CNS) – The new evangelization is not a new Gospel, but refocuses the faithful on the good news of Jesus and involves the renewal of faith and the willingness to share it, Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington told the National Catholic Education Association (NCEA).

“We bring a fuller vision,” Cardinal Wuerl said of the Catholic faith during his keynote address at NCEA’s annual convention. “We need to admit that and be proud of it.”
Hosted by the Diocese of Pittsburgh in partnership with the NCEA, Catholic Library Association and the National Association of Parish and Catechetical Directors, the convention drew about 6,000 participants during its April 22-24 run at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, including four representatives from the Diocese of Jackson.

Karla Luke, operations and support services coordinator for the Office of Education in the diocese, said the conference was a wonderful opportunity.
“The sessions I attended included Joy in the Vocation of the Educator, which focused on the demands of teaching and how to bring joy to our vocations by contemplating Christ,” she said. “I also attended two sessions on Advancing the National Standards for Effective Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools. There was robust discussion among school administrators, teachers and diocesan administrators using self-assessment as a means to school improvement and strategic planning,” Luke added.

As a bonus, the conference introduced a smartphone app allowing attendees to bring resources and some presentations to their home dioceses.
Cardinal Wuerl, a native son and former bishop of Pittsburgh, presented his remarks in light of Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, “The Joy of the Gospel” (“Evangelii Gaudium”) and the pontiff’s call for a new evangelization within the church and around the world. In the exhortation, the cardinal noted, the pope invites people to focus on the blessing that is the love of God in their lives.
“His energy is a bright ray breaking through the secular darkness,” Cardinal Wuerl added. While the church is the home of the new evangelization, he said, Catholic education is an instrument of it.

The cardinal explained that it can involve “ordinary” areas of evangelization, something as simple as teaching a child the sign of the cross and that it can focus on outreach to those who have fallen away from the church.
“The church brings to our world today an invitation to faith, an encounter with the Lord Jesus and a whole way of living,” he said.
But the secular world is often overwhelming, Cardinal Wuerl noted, and many markers of the faith have been taken away. He expressed concern that secularism has also diminished appreciation of the faith.

Passing on the faith highlights the importance of Catholic schools and religious education programs, he said, explaining that if the new evangelization is to be successful, children must be firmly grounded in an authentic faith. Only then will children be able to live their faith and daily existence with Christ, he added.
Expressing his belief that Catholic education must present a real vision of what it means to be created in the image and likeness of God, Cardinal Wuerl said the authentic proclamation of Christ begins with a clear declaration of who God is. The faithful, he noted, must understand how essential the church is in their lives. The work of building the kingdom as just the beginning, he said.

Cardinal Wuerl said that evangelization involves the work of disciples who share the good news. It involves a bold new courage, a connectedness to the church and a sense of urgency that reminds people it is their time to pass on the message of Jesus.
“Our message should be one that inspires people to follow us,” he said.
(Franko is a staff writer for the Pittsburgh Catholic Review, newspaper of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.)Maureen Smith contributed to this article)

Saints proclaimed in historic Mass


A banner shows new Sts. John Paul II and John XXIII and Jesus during an April 28 Mass of thanksgiving for the canonizations of the new saints in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Canonizing two recent popes in the presence of his immediate predecessor, Pope Francis praised the new Sts. John XXIII and John Paul II as men of courage and mercy, who responded to challenges of their time bty modernizing the Catholic Church in fidelity to its ancient traditions.
“They were priests, bishops and popes of the 20th century,” the pope said April 27, in his homily during Mass in St. Peter’s Square. “They lived through the tragic events of that century, but they were not overwhelmed by them. For them, God was more powerful.”

“John XXIII and John Paul cooperated with the Holy Spirit in renewing and updating the church in keeping with her original features, those features which the saints have given her throughout the centuries,” he said.t
Speaking before a crowd of half a million that included retired Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis praised St. John for his best-known accomplishment, calling the Second Vatican Council, which he said “showed an exquisite openness to the Holy Spirit.”
“He let himself be led, and he was for the church a pastor, a servant-leader,” the pope said of St. John. “This was his great service to the church. I like to think of him as the pope of openness to the Spirit.”

Pope Francis characterized St. John Paul as the “pope of the family,” a title he said the late pope himself had hoped to be remembered by. Pope Francis said he was sure St. John Paul was guiding the church on its path to two upcoming synods of bishops on the family, to be held at the Vatican this October and in October 2015.

The pope invoked the help of the two new papal saints for the synods’ success, and he prayed, “May both of them teach us not to be scandalized by the wounds of Christ and to enter ever more deeply into the mystery of divine mercy, which always hopes and always forgives, because it always loves.”
Pope Francis has said the agenda for the family synods will include church teaching and practice on marriage, areas he has said exemplify a particular need for mercy in the church today.

The pope repeatedly mentioned mercy in his homily, which he delivered on Divine Mercy Sunday, an observance St. John Paul put on the church’s universal calendar in 2000. The Polish pope died on the vigil of the feast in 2005 and was beatified on Divine Mercy Sunday in 2011.
In addition to Pope Benedict, making only his third public appearance since he resigned in February 2013, Pope Francis’ concelebrants included some 150 cardinals and 700 bishops.

Pope Benedict did not join the procession of bishops at the start of Mass, but arrived half an hour earlier, wearing white vestments and a bishop’s miter and walking with a cane; he sat in a section of the square designated for cardinals. Pope Francis greeted his predecessor with an embrace at the start of the Mass, drawing applause from the crowd, and approached him again at the end.
During the canonization ceremony, which took place at the beginning of the Mass, devotees carried up relics of the new saints in matching silver reliquaries, which Pope Francis kissed before they were placed on a small table for veneration by the congregation.

St. John’s relic was a piece of the late pope’s skin, removed when his body was transferred to its present tomb in the main sanctuary of St. Peter’s Basilica.
Floribeth Mora Diaz, a Costa Rican woman whose recovery from a brain aneurysm was recognized by the church as a miracle attributable to the intercession of St. John Paul, brought up a silver reliquary containing some of the saint’s blood, taken from him for medical testing shortly before his death in 2005.

The Mass took place under cloudy skies with temperatures in the low 60s, and only a sprinkle of rain fell just before the 10 a.m. start of the liturgy. Huge tapestries bearing portraits of the two saints hung from the facade of the basilica, and the square was decorated with 30,000 roses and other flowers donated by the nation of Ecuador.
The square and the broad Via della Conciliazione leading up to it were tightly packed with approximately half a million pilgrims, many of whom had been standing for hours before the start of Mass. Among the many national flags on display, the majority were from Poland, the native land of St. John Paul.

The Vatican said 93 countries sent official delegations to the Mass, and more than 30 of the delegations were led by a president or prime minister. The current king and queen of Spain and the former king and queen of Belgium were in attendance.
The canonizations of both popes came after extraordinary measures by their successors to expedite the process. Pope Benedict waived the usual five-year waiting period before the start of a sainthood cause for Pope John Paul shortly after his death, when he was mourned by crowds shouting “Santo subito!” (“A saint at once!”). In the case of St. John, Pope Francis waived the usual requirement of a second miracle before a blessed can added to the church’s canon of saints.

‘Joy of the Gospel’ shared

(Editor’s note: Pope Francis’ first apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium” or in English “The Joy of the Gospel” is filled with much valuable and inspiring words of wisdom. Because of its vital lessons in evangelization for the next several months Mississippi Catholic will devote this spot in the paper to reprinting sections of the exhortation for your reflection and faith formation. Through the kind permission of the Vatican Publishing House – Libreria Editrice Vaticana– we have been given the opportunity to share these sections with you our readers. We hope you as our readers will take time to read these snippets and be compelled to obtain a copy of the entire document. Copies may be found at Amazon as well as the USCCB web site and The Word Among Us web site.This week we begin with some of the introductory paragraphs that give the foundation for the document.)

INTRODUCTION
1. The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and


(CNS photo/Paul Haring)

loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew. In this Exhortation I wish to encourage the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by this joy, while pointing out new paths for the Church’s journey in years to come.

I. A joy ever new, a joy which is shared
2. The great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience. Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades. This is a very real danger for believers too. Many fall prey to it, and end up resentful, angry and listless. That is no way to live a dignified and fulfilled life; it is not God’s will for us, nor is it the life in the Spirit which has its source in the heart of the risen Christ.

3. I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since “no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord”.[1] The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms. Now is the time to say to Jesus: “Lord, I have let myself be deceived; in a thousand ways I have shunned your love, yet here I am once more, to renew my covenant with you. I need you. Save me once again, Lord, take me once more into your redeeming embrace”. How good it feels to come back to him whenever we are lost!
Let me say this once more: God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy.

Christ, who told us to forgive one another “seventy times seven” (Mt 18:22) has given us his example: he has forgiven us seventy times seven. Time and time again he bears us on his shoulders. No one can strip us of the dignity bestowed upon us by this boundless and unfailing love. With a tenderness which never disappoints, but is always capable of restoring our joy, he makes it possible for us to lift up our heads and to start anew. Let us not flee from the resurrection of Jesus, let us never give up, come what will. May nothing inspire more than his life, which impels us onwards! © Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Bishops encourage faithful to observe ‘fortnight for freedom’

WASHINGTON — Catholic dioceses and parishes across the United States are once again encouraged to raise awareness for domestic and international religious freedom concerns during the third annual Fortnight for Freedom, June 21-July 4. The two-week celebration will focus on the theme, “Freedom to Serve,” emphasizing the link between religious liberty and service to the poor and vulnerable.

“During the Fortnight, our liturgical calendar celebrates great martyrs who remained faithful in the face of persecution by political power—St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, John the Baptist, Peter and Paul and the first martyrs of the Church of Rome,” said Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). “This is a time when Catholics can unite themselves in prayer to the men and women throughout history who spread the Gospel and lived out Jesus’ call to serve the ‘least of these’ in even the direst of circumstances.”

Two nationally televised Masses will bookend the Fortnight. Archbishop Lori will celebrate Mass at the Baltimore Basilica on June 21, at 5:30 p.m. EDT. Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington will celebrate Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington on July 4, at noon EDT. USCCB President Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, will be the homilist at the July 4 Mass.

USCCB has prepared materials to help dioceses and parishes participate in the Fortnight, including templates and guides for special prayer services, a list of frequently asked questions about religious liberty, one-page fact sheets on current threats to religious freedom in the U.S. and around the world, and a study guide on Dignitatis Humanae, the Second Vatican Council’s Declaration on Religious Freedom.

These materials and more information on the Fortnight and related issues can be found online at www.fortnight4freedom.org and www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/.