Ideas for Fortnight for Freedom

The Bishops of the United States have called all the faithful to celebrate the Fortnight for Freedom: Freedom to Bear Witness from June 21 to July 4, 2015. The theme of this year’s Fortnight will focus on the freedom to bear witness to the truth of the Gospel.
1. Celebrate a memorial Mass for SS. Thomas More and John Fisher on June 22 (their feast day) to recognize how they bore witness to the truth (and paid for it with their lives).
2. Present a Catholic movie night for members of your parish, by getting copyright permission to show:
a. A Man for All Seasons, about the martyrdom of St. Thomas More;
b. For Greater Glory, about the struggle for religious freedom in Mexico;
c. First Freedom: The Fight for Religious Liberty, a PBS video about religious freedom;
d. Becket, about 12th century English martyr St. Thomas à Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury.
3. Invite a local or national figure to speak to your parish about religious liberty. Also, encourage parishioners to read Our First, Most Cherished Liberty, a document of the Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty.
4. Sponsor a day of faith-based service within the community, perhaps volunteering at a soup kitchen or helping to paint, garden, clean, or organize donations at a local charity. Highlight existing Catholic service activities and institutions and how they bear witness to the truth of the Gospel.
5. Host an indoor or outdoor concert with religious music.
6. Plan a parish outreach event including a meal—a fish fry, picnic, pancake breakfast, or spaghetti supper—to raise awareness about the Fortnight and advertise local Fortnight events.
7. Organize day-long (or multi-day) Eucharistic Adoration.
8. Sponsor a presentation on the history of Catholicism in the United States.
9. Host a study group on Dignitatis Humanae, the groundbreaking document from the Second Vatican Council on religious liberty, using the 14-day reflection piece at This year marks the 50th anniversary of this important document.
10. Lead a Eucharistic Procession through your community on a path that passes important government or civic buildings.
11. Host a panel discussion on the wide range of current religious freedom issues; on a single religious freedom issue in depth; or on how religion can and should influence policy issues generally.
12. Remind parishioners that the Supreme Court decision on marriage—which may have serious effects on religious freedom in our country—is expected to occur during the Fortnight (likely on the last day of the Court’s term, June 29). Consider events surrounding the announcement of the decision.
13. As a parish at the end of daily Mass, pray the Prayer for the Protection of Religious Liberty.
14. Organize an Independence Day family picnic with a special Mass to close the Fortnight for Freedom.

Parishes invited to plan Fortnight for Freedom services

WASHINGTON (CNS) – Threats to religious freedom continue to emerge, making it more urgent for people of faith to take action to defend the full realm of religious practice, said Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore.
Speaking during a May 28 webinar announcing the fourth annual Fortnight for Freedom, Archbishop Lori called on Catholics to learn about the importance of religious liberty throughout the history of the United States and to actively promote free religious practice during the two-week period beginning June 21.
This year’s fortnight observance will open with Mass at 9:45 a.m. June 21 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore. It closes with Mass at 11a.m. July 4 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.
The Diocese of Jackson invites parish leaders to plan their own services for Fortnight for Freedom, sharing resources and ideas from USCCB with pastors, lay ecclesial ministers and community leaders.
“Religious freedom is not something that stands alone. It’s not simply a legal question for the church. It pertains very much to the new evangelization,” Archbishop Lori explained.
This year’s fortnight observance theme is the “Freedom to Bear Witness,” stemming from the Gospel message that Jesus came to the world to bear witness to the truth, explained Hillary Byrnes, assistant general counsel for the USCCB, who joined the archbishop during the webinar.
She said dozens of local events in dioceses across the country are planned, including prayer services, discussions and charitable works.
“We’re looking this year to raise awareness of religious freedom so people don’t take it for granted,” she added.
Archbishop Lori said government policies, such as the federal mandate to include a full range of contraceptives in employee health insurance and the redefinition of marriage throughout the country, pose growing threats to religious freedom.
The fortnight, he said, also is meant to draw attention to the dangers to religious liberty around the world as Christians and people of other faith traditions face persecution, limits on their freedom and death.
“Pope Francis pointed out that we are truly living in an age of martyrs,” the archbishop said. “I think we have to pay a lot of attention to the sacrifices which people are making for their faith around the world. Many Christians are being persecuted, beheaded. And Muslims are being persecuted for not being Muslim enough.
“These are men and women of deep faith and deep courage, and as we witness their sacrifice, first of all I think we have to hold up and to highlight what’s happening to them. I’m not sure our leadership is paying enough attention to their sacrifice.”
Information about the fortnight and various resources to help plan local observances are available online at and on page 13 of this issue. Share celebrations with Mississippi Catholic by emailing photos and information to

Parishes utilize apps to update faithful, evangelize

By Mark Pattison
WASHINGTON (CNS) – In an increasingly mobile and digital world, Catholic parishes and other institutions are finding that the ubiquitous mobile app can work for them. In Mississippi, parishes in Tupelo and Greenwood have launched personalized apps to help keep their communities connected.

The home screen of the Greenwood community app showing the three parishes and school. (Courtesy of Catholic Parish Apps)

The home screen of the Greenwood community app showing the three parishes and school. (Courtesy of Catholic Parish Apps)

More parishes are going the app route, and more companies are tailoring their business for the church trade. Among the app developers are, and Catholic Parish Apps.
Edmundo Reyes, founder and CEO of Catholic Parish Apps, the company that developed the Greenwood parishes’ app, told Catholic News Service that since his venture opened for business less than a year ago, he has gotten 65 parish apps off the ground, has another 75 or so in the works, and has secured contracts for the 70-parish Diocese of Orange, Calif., and the 213-parish Archdiocese of Detroit, where he doubles as director of institutional development for the archdiocese and its seminary.
“Not all of them are going to get the app, but a number of them will,” said Reyes, whose company’s site is
“We wanted to found a company that would really be at the intersection of technology and ministry,” he added. “We want things for the parish to be easy to use. We want our app to be flexible. Each parish is different, each ministry is different.” According to Reyes, parishes are interested in at least one of three things, based on how the pastor perceives his ministry: communication, collaboration and evangelization.
He referred to a 2013 survey conducted by the Detroit Archdiocese that garnered 44,000 responses. When asked how they got connected to their parish or the diocese, “95 percent of the people said the bulletin. Below them was the vicariate newsletter, and the thing about it is that the newsletter is included in the parish bulletin,” Reyes said. “The parish website and parish email efforts were only 45 percent. Now that’s a big gap between 95 and 45 percent.”
“People aren’t using computers or even laptops anymore, they really are using their smartphones to communicate,” said Father Lincoln Dall, pastor at Tupelo St. James, who used the company myParish app for his parish. He said he has already used the app to notify parishioners about prayer requests, funerals and changes in liturgy schedules. Some parishioners even said they attended one fund-raiser because of a reminder sent through the app.
Father Gregory Plata said Catholic Parish Apps was able to work with him to include all four of his faith communities, three parishes, a mission and a school, in one app. This helped keep the cost reasonable and allows him to communicate with all four at one time. While all four parishes are on one app, each offers different options depending on the needs of that faith community.
One early adapter was Nativity Parish in Timonium, Maryland, a Baltimore suburb. “The app allows people to check out basic information about Nativity such as service times and where we are. It has a map so people can come and check us out that way,” Hamilton said. “There’s some more in-depth information about some programs like our kids and teen programs.”
Weekend Mass announcements are posted. “We also put our pastor’s messages on the app as well. We break down our messages in series so over the course of four or six weeks we can have a series of messages,” Hamilton said. Nativity has since taken to broadcasting its Masses for viewing via the app, which also links to the pastor’s blog.
Holy Spirit Parish in Dubuque, Iowa, after nearly eight months of development, unveiled its app on Easter, and got 119 people to download it right away.
“It’s a tool for collaboration in the parish and it’s a tool for the new evangelization,” said Brandon Kuboushek, a member of the parish evangelization committee. “We want people to use it to get more information, get questions answered about the parish. We also hope people walking down the street will download it and it’s a way to evangelize. People are being bombarded with media all the time. This is a way to use that new technology.”
Kuboushek spent more than 40 hours volunteering, working with members of the committee and parish officials to get the app off the ground.
“We did this based on how can we get the attention of younger people or anyone who has gone away from the church; (we thought) ‘what are some ways we can appeal to them?’” Leslie Foley, another member of the evangelization committee, told The Witness, Dubuque’s archdiocesan newspaper.
Then there’s iBreviary, replacing the hefty leather-bound volumes of the Liturgy of the Hours. It’s a must-have, Father Clements told The Catholic Sun, newspaper of the Diocese of Phoenix. A handful of priests from the Diocese of Jackson downloaded iBreviary when they attended a training session earlier this year. The app has settings to alert the user to prayer times and offers music and other prayer options.
(Contributing to this story were Dan Russo in Dubuque, Zita Taitano in Jonesboro, Dwain Hebda in Little Rock, Ambria Hammel in Phoenix and Maureen Smith in Jackson.)

Noted black Catholic historian, writer, dies in Indiana

Father Cyprian Davis

Father Cyprian Davis

By Catholic News Service
ST. MEINRAD, Ind. (CNS) — A funeral Mass was celebrated May 21 at St. Meinrad Archabbey in St. Meinrad for Benedictine Father Cyprian Davis, who died May 18 at Memorial Hospital in Jasper. He was 84.
Father Davis wrote six books, including “The History of Black Catholics in the United States,” published in 1990. He was working on a revised edition of the book at the time of his death.
He also had also written what is considered the definitive biography of Mother Henriette Delille, the black foundress of the Sisters of the Holy Family in antebellum New Orleans. Her sainthood cause was opened in 1988 and she was declared venerable in 2010.
Born Clarence John Davis Sept. 9, 1930, in Washington, he joined the Catholic Church as a teenager. He studied at St. Meinrad Seminary from 1949 to 1956, was invested as a novice monk in 1950, professed simple vows in 1951, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1956.
Father Davis received a licentiate in sacred theology from The Catholic University of America, Washington, in 1957, and a licentiate and doctorate in historical sciences from the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium, in 1963 and 1977, respectively.
He began teaching church history at St. Meinrad in 1963, and in 2012 became the school’s first professor emeritus. Father Davis was an archivist of the archabbey. He also belonged to the American Catholic Historical Association and the Society of American Archivists.
He also served as archivist for the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus, of which in 1968 he was a founding member. Father Davis contributed to the second draft of “Brothers and Sisters to Us,” the U.S. bishops’ 1979 pastoral letter on racism, and helped write the initial draft of “What We Have Seen and Heard,” the 1984 pastoral letter on evangelization from the nation’s black Catholic bishops.
His other books include “Christ’s Image in Black: The Black Catholic Community Before the Civil War,” “To Prefer Nothing to Christ,” and “The Church: A Living Heritage,” He was co-author of “Taking Down Our Harps: Black Catholics in the United States,” with Georgetown University theology professor Diana Hayes, and “Stamped With the Image of God: African Americans as God’s Image in Black,” with Dominican Sister Jamie T. Phelps.
“Father Cyprian Davis was a significant leader as a Benedictine monk and priest of St. Meinrad Archabbey and as a spiritual writer, historian, and advocate for the vibrant presence of African-American Catholic leaders,” said a May 18 statement from Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference.
“Most of all, Father Cyprian was a humble child of God who sought in an unassuming way to live a life of holiness and to place his considerable talents at the service of Christ and his church,” Archbishop Kurtz added.
Father Davis was honored numerous times. In 2007, he received the Marianist Award from the University of Dayton in Ohio. In 2003, he was awarded the Johannes Quasten Medal for Excellence in Scholarship and Leadership in Religious Studies by Catholic University. In 1992, Father Davis won the American Catholic Historical Association’s John Gilmary Shea Prize for “The History of Black Catholics in the United States,” for making the most original and significant contribution to the historiography of the Catholic Church. He also won the Brother Joseph Davis Award in 1991, and was given an honorary degree in 2001 by the University of Notre Dame.
In a 2007 interview with Catholic News Service, Father Davis said his love of history is what helped motivate him to join the church. “I would never describe my odyssey as being an intellectual journey. It was more or less a falling in love with history. It made me fall in love with one of the things history talks about, and that would be the Catholic Church,” he said.
He added his interest in U.S. black Catholic history started upon his return from his studies in Belgium in 1963. “All those times were in ferment, especially in regard to civil rights, and that’s when I began to realize its importance. People began to come and ask me about being black and Catholic: ‘What is my place in the church?'” he recalled. “That’s when I began to realize that this is important. … That’s when I began to do my own research.”
Interviewed at length by CNS in 1999, Father Davis said, “I think to a large extent the mentality of many black Catholics has been that we are a people who are almost like still on mission.” However, he added, “we also should have an understanding of contributions that have been made and are being made. And that there is more to being black and Catholic than the fact that we’ve got nice music,” he noted, laughing, “and that we probably do very, very wonderful liturgies. … There is more.
“There are more things that are out there. And we should be aware. And that we are a part — we are an integral part of the church. That is very important part. We’re an integral part of the church, and we’re not negligible.”
In a 1992 critique of the U.S. bishops’ 1990 pastoral letter “Heritage and Hope: Evangelization in the United States,” written, in preparation for the fifth centenary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival to the Americas, Father Davis said: “What the pastoral fails to say is that both in North America as well as in South America, the Hispanic culture bore the marks of a Catholicism that was African as well as Native American, was black as well as brown.”
Also missing, he added, was acknowledgement that “bishops, priests, religious men and women, and institutions such as convents, monasteries and seminaries in the United States had their slaves.”
In a 2004 column for CNS, Father Davis said, “In another decade or so U.S. Catholics will learn that our church is more black, brown and in-between than Caucasian and more catholic than they dreamed. Will we be prepared for what that will mean?”
He is survived by a cousin and a niece.

Redemptorists turn to Mary for Jubilee year

DENVER – The Redemptorists of the Denver Province are proclaiming the 2016 Jubilee Year of Our Mother of Perpetual Help on Sunday, April 26 – the exact date the ancient icon of the Mother of God that enjoyed ‘great veneration and fame for its miracles’ was first presented for public veneration a century and a half ago in the Redemptorist church of Sant’Alfonso in Rome.
The Jubilee Year of Our Mother of Perpetual Help is being ushered in with two special events: noted iconographer Brother Dan Korn will share the spirituality of the beloved icon with the hundreds of people expected to attend the Seelos Healing Mass in New Orleans; and a special replica of the original Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, written by a Polish Redemptorist specifically for the Jubilee Year, will be presented to the Redemptoristine community in Liguori, Mo., for veneration. The Redemptorists plan a three-year celebration of the 150th anniversary of the date Pope Pius IX gave the congregation the beloved icon with the mandate, “Make her known throughout the world!”
Year I (2015) is a preparation year for renewed devotion to Mary as Our Mother of Perpetual Help.   The spirituality of the icon is being shared at presentations throughout the Denver Province. Earlier this year, Br. Korn presented a reflection on the icon at Locus Benedictus Retreat Center in Greenwood.
Year II (2016) will focus on the anniversary celebration for the entire worldwide congregation and those who have a special devotion to Mary as Our Mother of Perpetual Help. Highlights of this 150th Jubilee Year include a Denver Province celebration at the site of the first public Tuesday novenas to Our Mother of Perpetual Help – St. Alphonsus “Rock” Church in St. Louis – on Monday, June 27, 2016.  It was from this historic church that the world-wide practice of ‘weekly’ novena prayers spread throughout the entire country. The Most Rev. Joseph Tobin, C.Ss.R., Archbishop of Indianapolis, will preside at the celebration, which will be telecast to every ministerial site in the Denver Province. Each ministerial site plans a procession of the icon and a special viewing of the celebration in St. Louis. Pope Francis will be invited to participate in the worldwide celebration at the Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help at Sant’Alfonso Church in Rome.
Year III (2017) will be a renewal the Redemptorist ministry to proclaim the Gospel, especially through the Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help as a tool of evangelization. The Jubilee Icon will be sent as a ‘missionary icon’ to each ministerial site in the Denver Province, as well as to other churches and arch/dioceses that request the presence of this miraculous icon.
For more information about events planned throughout the Denver Province, please contact local Redemptorist ministerial sites.
The Redemptorists are a religious congregation of Catholic priests and Brothers founded in 1732 by St. Alphonsus Liguori in Naples, Italy. Approximately 5,000 Redemptorists are currently working for the poor and most abandoned in nearly every part of the world. More than 400 Redemptorist priests, Brothers and students represent the Denver Province in much of the United States, as well as Brazil and Nigeria.

New Format for Spring Hill College Master of Theology

050115springhillMOBILE, Ala. – Spring Hill College (SHC) has redesigned its Master of Theological Studies, (MTS) Master of Pastoral Studies (MPS) and Master of Arts (MA) degrees in a new blended format of on-line courses and in-classroom experiences.  More than 30 years ago Spring Hill College offered its first graduate degree program in the Diocese of Jackson and since then numerous Mississippians have earned Master of Theology degrees from SHC.  The school also offers extension classes in Atlanta and Birmingham.
Spring Hill is still committed to this mission. In response to a desire from students not near the centers of Jackson, Birmingham, Mobile and Atlanta, Spring Hill has redesigned its graduate theology programs to be accessible to more people in more areas. The new program will require students entering the program to take at least three Level I courses, which are hybrid courses requiring just one six-hour in-classroom session on a Saturday in either Mobile or Atlanta.
After completing these courses, the student will take fully on-line Level II courses. While taking Level II courses, and before completing their program, students will be required to attend three graduate seminars. These seminars will meet in Mobile and Atlanta for one overnight stay from Friday evening to Saturday afternoon or Saturday noon through Sunday noon.
Students from anywhere in the southeastern U.S. would only have to travel to Mobile or to Atlanta six times in total during the course of the entire program. Both the MTS and MPS require a total of 33 credit hours.  The MA requires 48 and builds on the MTS degree.
This new blended program allows students to earn an academically rigorous theology degree in the convenience of their own home and time schedule. At the same time, the program provides targeted in-classroom meetings for the students in the program to build a learning community with other students and with the faculty.

Masters champion, product of Dallas Jesuit prep school, remains humble


U.S. golfer Jordan Spieth hugs his father, Shawn, as his mother, Chris, looks on April 12 after the 21-year-old won the Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Course in Georgia. Spieth attended St. Monica’s Catholic School in Dallas and graduated in 2011 from Jesuit College Prep in Dallas. (CNS photo/Mark Blinch, Reuters)


By Seth Gonzales
DALLAS (CNS) – Even after becoming the toast of the sports world, golfer Jordan Spieth, a 21-year-old Dallas Jesuit graduate, remained humble and down-to-earth as he worked the crowds at Augusta, handled the media, and bantered with morning and late night talk show hosts after his historic win.
That’s no surprise to those who know the new Masters champion, who set course records at Augusta, Georgia, from April 9-12 on his way to the coveted prize and the iconic green blazer. They say he has kept family first, especially his younger sister, Ellie, who is autistic.
“He is just very genuine,” said Steve Koch, athletic director at Jesuit College Preparatory School in Dallas, which claims Spieth as a graduate of its class of 2011. “He says what he believes. He believes in supporting others, taking care of others before he takes care of himself.”
Michael Earsing, the president of the Jesuit school, said that the foundation of family, balance and caring for others has no doubt created a different perspective for Spieth, one that will serve him well after winning the Masters.
“We talk about Ignatian balance in everything we do and I think Jordan and his family are a really good example of that balance,” Earsing told The Texas Catholic, newspaper of the Diocese of Dallas. “When we talk about balance, we talk about love. We talk about how much he loves his sister, someone he loves and who has kept him grounded. We talk about how important life is to all of us as Catholics. What a wonderful thing.”050115golf01
At the Masters, Spieth became the second-youngest player to win and was the first to reach 19 under par in the tournament. His 28 birdies in the four rounds at the Masters is a tournament record. He also logged the best scores after 36 and 54 holes. And if that were not enough, he is only the fifth player in tournament history to lead from start to finish. He finished 18-under par, 270.
Spieth is now ranked as the second-best golfer in the world behind Rory McIlroy, and is watching his already rising status accelerate significantly. Spieth’s win at the Masters has inspired the Dallas Jesuit community, but perhaps none more so than the school’s golf team, which was preparing for a regional tournament during the Masters tournament.
Jesuit golfer Cameron Suhy said the team members were constantly checking their phones to get the latest on Spieth, who only four years ago was in their shoes playing golf for Jesuit. “It was pretty nerve-wracking the whole week just watching him having to sit on the lead but when he finally pulled it out, it definitely gave our team a lot of confidence,” Suhy said. “We saw that a kid from Jesuit could win on golf’s biggest stage.” During his time at Jesuit, Spieth led the team to three Class 5A state titles in the University Interscholastic League.
Jesuit golf coach Cathy Marino, herself a 10-year veteran of the LPGA, said while Spieth definitely stood out on the golf course, he was just a normal teenager.
“When he was on the team, he was one of the guys,” Marino said. “He was a regular high school kid a lot of the time and I was glad to see that. I think that’s important especially once you turn pro and it becomes a business.”
For Spieth, the Masters win brought him a paycheck of $1.8 million. He already has an endorsement deal with Under Armour and there is talk that other lucrative endorsement deals are in the works.
He was on various morning shows and late night shows April 13 and April 14. Unlike other Masters champions who take the week off following the tournament, Spieth said that he would play the RBC Heritage in Hilton Head, South Carolina, April 16-19 because he wanted to give back to the tournament that was good to him when he turned pro.
That loyalty is not surprising for those who see Spieth on the national stage. They say he is the same young man with the same value system that he had embraced at Dallas Catholic schools, including his elementary school, St. Monica Catholic School.
“Jordan was always respectful to staff and students alike,” said Colette Corbin of the school’s Student Services Department. “He was one of those kids that would just stay and help clean up in the cafeteria if he saw that I was short on students helping. He was considerate of others’ feelings and tried to include other students that might otherwise not be part of a group.”
And Jesuit’s Earsing said Spieth will be an inspiration for students, parents and teachers in Dallas Catholic schools.
“I think it’s a hope of everybody who works in Catholic education that you see somebody who is achieving at such a high level, who is also a wonderful model for our students,” Earsing said. “Jordan is just the common man who achieves greatness through the blessings and talent God has given him to the maximum.”
(Copyright © 2014 Catholic News Service/United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The CNS news services may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed, including but not limited to, such means as framing or any other digital copying or distribution method in whole or in part, without prior written authority of Catholic News Service.)
(Gonzales is a staffer writer for The Texas Catholic, newspaper of the Diocese of Dallas. Texas Catholic staff writer Cathy Harasta contributed to this report.)

In memoriam: Bishop William Friend

Bishop William Benedict Friend, the founding Bishop of the Diocese of Shreveport, died at his home in Coral Springs, Florida, Thursday, April 2.  Born Oct. 22, 1931, in Miami, Bishop Friend was ordained to the Catholic priesthood in Mobile, Ala., on May 7, 1959. He and retired Bishop William Houck of the Diocese of Jackson, were good friends.
After lengthy service as a parish priest and pastoral research specialist, Father Friend was named as Auxiliary Bishop of Alexandria, La., in 1979, becoming bishop of Alexandria in 1983. Under the direction of St. John Paul II, Bishop Friend founded the Diocese of Shreveport in July 1986 and remained bishop of that diocese until his retirement in 2006 after 47 years of active priesthood, 36 of those years serving as a bishop. He leaves behind a remarkable legacy of public speaking, pastoral experience, teaching and educational administration as well as published works on both professional and research levels.
Bishop Houck remembers a joyful man who “lived up to his name,” befriending all who knew him. “He was a capable and dedicated leader. He had a joyful and generous manner of using his values, talents and abilities in service to others,” said Bishop Houck. He added that Bishop Friend was a great supporter of Catholic schools. “He contributed greatly in research and planning, which he used to help the church and society at large,” added Bishop Houck.
“He left me a diocese in wonderful shape,” commented current Shreveport Bishop Michael Duca.  “His many years of work to create an active and dedicated community of priests and lay faithful is a tribute to his enormous skill and pastoral leadership.  All of us within our worship community remain grateful for his ministry to us.”
The Funeral Mass was Tuesday, April 14, at the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans located in Shreveport. The diocese has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Catholic Charities.

NCEA keynote links Catholic education with quality of life

Carolyn Y. Woo, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, speaks about Catholic education to some 5,000 Catholic educators April 7. She delivered the opening keynote address of the annual convention of the National Catholic Educational Association at the Orange County Convention Center. (CNS photo/Tom Tracy)

Carolyn Y. Woo, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, speaks about Catholic education to some 5,000 Catholic educators April 7. She delivered the opening keynote address of the annual convention of the National Catholic Educational Association at the Orange County Convention Center. (CNS photo/Tom Tracy)

By Tom Tracy
ORLANDO, Fla. (CNS) – The head of Catholic Relief Services made the case for Catholic education and Christian beliefs and values by retracing her own roots as a student of American missionaries in Asia through her higher education experiences as an international student in the U.S.
Speaking April 7 to some 5,000 Catholic educators in Orlando for the National Catholic Educational Association convention, Carolyn Woo, CEO and president of the U.S. bishops’ overseas and relief agency, recalled her early education in Hong Kong at a school run by the Maryknoll Sisters.
“The nuns taught us not to compete with each other but to help each other and to become friends,” she said. “Today, I am in almost daily contact with my colleagues from first grade, and so in my life I have been in many competitive contexts but never felt competitive with my peers.”
Woo recalled that as a young member of the Legion of Mary, she would volunteer to work with the poor in Hong Kong, and how the nuns provided them with rudimentary medical care. “I remember how difficult it was to bend down to wash, and touch and smell the feet of these individuals, but I also remember coming back from these service activities and asking, ‘Why them and why not me?’”
Today’s young people, she said, are not so much immoral as they are not given the adequate resources to “cultivate their moral intuitions, to think broadly about moral obligations and to have the tools to evaluate and navigate moral situations.”
She noted that one in five children live below the federal poverty line in families fraught with underemployment, homelessness, failed marriages, highly influenced by the popular media and advertising, violence, bullying, scams, child abuse, sexually transmitted disease and abandonment.
Born and raised in Hong Kong, Woo served on the CRS board of directors from 2004 until 2010 and traveled to observe the agency’s program in Africa and Asia, including Banda Aceh, Indonesia, soon after the Indian Ocean tsunami.
She immigrated to the United States to attend Purdue University in Indiana, where she received her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. She held various positions at Purdue, ultimately serving as associate executive vice president for academic affairs.
Before becoming head of CRS in January 2012, she had been dean of the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame since 1997. She was featured in the May/June 2013 issue of Foreign Policy magazine as one of the 500 “most powerful people on the planet” and one of 33 individuals in the magazine’s “force for good” category.
“In my work at CRS, I have come back full circle and now go to many places where there are no bathrooms and I understand what people have to live with,” said Woo, “and that came from the (Maryknoll) sisters, and from that the sisters helped us to define … what is the common ground in making friends with these people and about dignity of other people.”
Woo said Catholic education is so important because it places a high value on the real value of young people and on raising the next generation with Christian values.

Chicago-based bullying expert Jodee Blanco meets April 8 with participants at the National Catholic Educational Association’s annual convention, held this year in Orlando, Fla. Bullying was a popular workshop topic at the April 7-9 convention. (CNS photo /Tom Tracy)

Chicago-based bullying expert Jodee Blanco meets April 8 with participants at the National Catholic Educational Association’s annual convention, held this year in Orlando, Fla. Bullying was a popular workshop topic at the April 7-9 convention. (CNS photo /Tom Tracy)

“What happens through the many assemblies, retreats, lessons, catechism classes, youth groups, sporting events, extracurricular outings, confessions, the Eucharist, social actions projects, fundraisers, prayer circles, academic balls and so on? Clearly Catholic education is trying to teach students about Christ and Christianity and how this belief forms values and these values inform behavior,” she said.
The “mother of all questions” that Catholic education is transmitting to young people, Woo said, is: How real is God?
Young people have to see faith demonstrated through the actions of adults and church and parish life, Woo added, noting that she was a recipient of great hospitality as a foreign student at Purdue University and benefited from Catholic community support there.
Woo also recalled the value of stopping at chapel for a few minutes of quiet time as a student. That same true hospitality undergirds Catholic values everywhere, she said.
“It’s not just about academic rigor but all the different things that allow us to make God real in the lives of young people,” Woo said. “Think about the big questions that your students are asking at this point.”
“Our job is to help them and provide an environment for them to come to their own answers, where those answers are life-giving, that they don’t rule out possibilities and hope and joy on this earth,” she said, and show students not to give up ethics “thinking that in the end it is the strongest who survive and that it is OK to cheat so long as no one catches you, or to give up on marriage because of a father who walked out.”
(Copyright © 2014 Catholic News Service/United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The CNS news services may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed, including but not limited to, such means as framing or any other digital copying or distribution method in whole or in part, without prior written authority of Catholic News Service.)
(Editor’s note: The Diocese of Jackson sent several representatives to the NCEA conference. They will share what they learned with schools here.)

World Meeting plans in high gear, diocese seeks more participants

By Matthew Gambino
PHILADELPHIA (CNS) – Organizing for the World Meeting of Families and the visit by Pope Francis to Philadelphia in September has taken a major step forward with the announcement of the 15 committees and leadership charged with spearheading operations in hospitality, liturgy, volunteers and more.
Executives for the events including Auxiliary Bishop John J. McIntyre and Independence Blue Cross CEO Daniel Hilferty, who is a co-chairman of the World Meeting of Families-Philadelphia, unveiled the committees and introduced their chairpersons at the IBX headquarters March 11.
The congress has already registered approximately 7,500 attendees, according to officials. Between 10,000 and 15,000 people from the United States and 150 countries are expected to register for the Sept. 22-25 congress. Up to two million people are also anticipated for the papal events, including a cultural celebration and Mass celebrated by the pope, Sept. 26-27.
The Diocese of Jackson has partnered with Proximo Travel to offer three different trips to the event. Unfortunately, fewer than two dozen people are currently signed up to go. One trip is an eight-day trip by air and includes hotel, most meals, registration to the World Meeting of Families and Mass with Pope Francis. The second trip is five days and includes airfare, hotel rooms, tours of Philadelphia, some meals and Mass, but does not include attendance at the conference. The final trip is a five-day trip by bus which includes Mass with the pope. The bus must be full in order to make the trip so it is important to reserve a seat early. Air travelers can fly out of any airport in the continental United States so parishes in any part of the diocese can arrange to fly out of the airport nearest to them. Exact details of each trip are posted on the Diocesan News section of
“I just think this is such a unique opportunity to get in touch with what we call the one, holy, Catholic church,” said Kami LeVern, of Proximo Travel.
“For some, the chance to see Pope Francis will be a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” she added. As an added bonus, Proximo is donating profits from the trip to Catholic Charities.
The World Meeting of Families, held every three years, will come to the United States for the first time since it was begun by St. John Paul II in 1994. The aim of the congress is to strengthen the bonds of family life and highlight its value to society throughout the world.
Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput said in a statement that he was grateful to the people serving on the committees. “I’m confident that we will create a beautiful and memorable week for our families here in the Philadelphia region – and for families from around the world,” he said.
To join the diocesan trip to the World Meeting of Families, call LeVern at Proximo travel, 855-842-8001.
(Maureen Smith, editor of Mississippi Catholic, contributed to this report.)