American Assassin: morals surface in revenge thriller

By Joseph MCaleer

Shiva Negar, Michael Keaton, Neg Adamson and Dylan O’Brien star in a scene from the movie “American Assassin.” The Catholic News Service classification is L — limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. (CNS photo/CBS Films and Lionsgate) 

NEW YORK (CNS) – The award for the most obvious film title of the year goes to “American Assassin” (CBS Films), an action thriller about – you guessed it – a professional killer from the United States, specifically Rhode Island. This adaptation of the 2010 novel by Vince Flynn opens with a bang (multiple bangs, actually) and proceeds at a breakneck pace, leaving in its wake a veritable tsunami of bullets, blood and bodies. It’s a gory revenge fantasy reminiscent of the “Death Wish” films, requiring a strong stomach and extreme patience. But the movie does finally come to its senses, and good triumphs over evil. The story opens on a happy note before spiraling downhill. Mitch Rapp (Dylan O’Brien) has just proposed to his girlfriend, Katrina (Charlotte Vega), on a crowded beach in Ibiza. As he strolls off to get celebratory cocktails, gunmen burst onto the sand and open fire, killing just about everyone in sight, including Katrina. Flash forward two years, and Mitch has transformed himself into a lean, mean, fighting machine, a baby-faced version of Jason Bourne. He is driven by one desire: to avenge Katrina’s death by killing the terrorists responsible. This means learning Arabic, studying the Quran and joining shadowy chat rooms on the internet. Unbeknown to Mitch, the CIA is watching his every move, and deputy director Irene Kennedy (Sanaa Lathan) is impressed. “I like your agenda,” she says. “I know exactly what to do with you.” And so Mitch is recruited for a new black-ops program to infiltrate Iranian terrorists seeking to unleash nuclear war in the Middle East. First he must be trained, and that responsibility falls to Stan Hurley (Michael Keaton), a grizzled Cold War veteran. To his credit, Stan tries to temper Mitch’s rage, and the hothead’s belief that “we kill people who need to be killed.” “We need a higher cause,” Stan counters, discouraging Mitch’s vigilantism. “As soon as it starts feeling good, that’s when you stop being a professional.” As the Iranian plot unfolds, Batman and Robin – make that Stan and Mitch – join forces with Annika (Shiva Negar), a comely Turkish agent who has her own scores to settle. Director Michael Cuesta, channeling a Robert Ludlum thriller, keeps the audience guessing and the body count rising as the trio zips across Europe in search of a mysterious ringleader named Ghost (Taylor Kitsch), who just happens to be an old buddy of Stan’s. The film contains a vigilante theme, constant bloody violence, including torture and gunplay, brief upper female nudity, several uses of profanity and pervasive rough as well as much crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is L – limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R – restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. (McAleer is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service).

Review of faith, culture, politics of past 50 years essential reading

By Brian T. Olszewski (CNS)

This is the cover of “Getting Religion: Faith, Culture and Politics from the Age of Eisenhower to the Era of Obama” by Kenneth L. Woodward. The book is reviewed by Brian T. Olszewski. 

”Getting Religion: Faith, Culture and Politics from the Age of Eisenhower to the Era of Obama” by Kenneth L. Woodward. Convergent (New York, 2016). 447 pp. $30. In the introduction to “Getting Religion,” Kenneth L. Woodward states two goals for writing it: to “provide an account of American religion, culture and politics over the past 50 years by someone who was fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time to witness events and people in ways that others never could or did; and to challenge some competing narratives through my personal reflections on what happened and why.” That he far surpasses those goals is just one reason why this book is essential reading. In the first two chapters, Woodward blends autobiography with a description of how he saw the United States during the 1940s and ‘50s. Of the latter decade he writes, “religion was embedded in the national culture as well as in the landscape — though, like minerals in the soil, particular religious traditions were deposited at different depths and levels of concentration.” Although the Second Vatican Council and some of its effects, and the “birth control encyclical,” “Humanae Vitae,” fill volumes of reporting and commentary, Catholic readers should appreciate Woodward’s take on these critical moments in Catholic history even though they occupy only a fraction of the pages. The issues, events and personalities he covers go far beyond the Catholic Church. The second part of the book provides an extensive look at what was occurring in the ‘60s and early ‘70s — the civil rights movement, feminization of theology and entrepreneurial religion, i.e. the evangelists, whom he describes as “performance artists.” In each of these areas, Woodward shows how those facets of culture grew out of organized religion or seeped into it, depending on the movement, issue or cause.
Segments of interviews done during his Newsweek stint with the Rev. Billy Graham, Hillary Clinton, New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, the Dalai Lama, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and others add context to the narrative about the respective times in which they were prominent national and world figures. While “Getting Religion” can be heavy reading due to the subject matter, Woodward adds a smattering of humor throughout. For example, he recalls when Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, asked him, “Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal lord and savior?” Woodward replied, “No, I don’t want a personal lord and savior. I prefer the one everyone else has.” Two factual errors detract from the overall quality of this work. One is that the promulgation date for Blessed Paul VI’s encyclical “Populorum Progressio” (“On the Development of Peoples”) is listed as 1961 instead of 1967. Blessed Paul VI was not elected pope until 1963. Woodward also refers to Jesuit Father Robert Drinan of Massachusetts as “the only Catholic priest ever elected to the U.S. Congress.” Father Gabriel Richard was elected to the U.S. House as a nonvoting member from the Michigan Territory in 1822. Norbertine Father Robert Cornell of Wisconsin was elected to the U.S. House in 1974 and 1976. Nonetheless, one would be hard pressed to find anyone else who could compile and organize its contents, and write this book as well as Woodward. His 38-year tenure as the religion editor at Newsweek, combined with knowledge of and lifelong practice of his Catholic faith, are all the credentials he needs. With that combination Woodward provides an engaging story for readers who “were there,” either by participation or merely by living through those times.
For those who only know what they read about those decades and the people, events and movements integral to them, they will feel as though they “were there” once they have read “Getting Religion.”
(Olszewski has written for and edited diocesan publications for more than 40 years.)

Tome Nota

Estamos pidiendo anuncios de sus celebraciones de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. Por favor envíe su horario de actividades para esta celebración a maureen.smith@

El Vaticano ha publicado una encuesta en línea para jóvenes de 16 a 29 años en preparación para el sínodo de los obispos de 2018. El obispo Joseph Kopacz pide que todos los jóvenes de nuestra diócesis participen. La encuesta está disponible en

Encuentro Hispano Diocesano 7 de Octubre de 2017 St. James 845 Lakeshire Drive Túpelo, MS 38802-0734 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Encuentro Hispano Diocesano 21 de Octubre de 2017 St. Francis of Assissi 4000 West Tidewater Lane Madison, MS 39110 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Diocesan staff prepare for Marian consecration

Diocesan staff are continuing to prepare for the Consecration of the Diocese of Jackson to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary. The celebration will mark the centennial of Mary’s appearances at Fatima and support the process of integrating the new Pastoral Priorities at the parishes across the diocese. In the Office of Communications, staff members are packing up prayers cards to distribute to all the parishes. The bishop has asked pastors to use the pastoral priority prayer in their parishes as they work on the priorities. Each parish will get a packet, some hand-delivered, others through the mail, to use in the effort. Those who wish to get more cards or Pastoral Priority workbooks can contact Maureen Smith at 601-969-3581 or All are welcome to the celebrations of the consecration. The prayer to be used, along with resources for individuals, are posted in
all stories about the consecration at www. Public Celebrations: Saturday, October 7 – 10:30 a.m.: Rosary at the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle and in parishes or areas throughout diocese. The Bishop asks parishes in the tri-county area around Jackson to send parishioners who want to participate to the Cathedral. Sunday, October 8 – 2:30 p.m.: Mass of Consecration with Marian procession including representatives from all parishes. All are welcome. Oct. 14-15: All Masses and Sunday Celebrations: Parishes, families, individuals are invited to consecrate themselves to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary on the local level. A brochure for families and individuals will be sent out along with general intercessions and parish Prayer of Consecration with instructions for the Oct. 14-15 local celebrations.

JACKSON – Maureen Smith, director of Communications for the diocese and Melisa Munoz, Mississippi Catholic contributor, organize Pastoral Priorities prayer cards for distribution from the chancery offices. (Photo by Tereza Ma)

Pastor who served in Clarksdale dies

Father Patrick McDermott

Father Patrick McDermott of the Diocese of Biloxi died Sunday, September 17, in Ocean Springs. Father McDermott, 77, a native of Donegal, Ireland, was ordained at St. John College in Waterford on June 14, 1964. In the Diocese of Jackson he served at Clarksdale St. Elizabeth Parish. On the coast, he served as assistant pastor of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish, Biloxi and St. James Parish, Gulfport. His assignments as pastor included St. James Parish, Gulfport; Our Lady of Victories Parish, Pascagoula; Sacred Heart Parish, D’Iberville and a second stint as pastor of Our Lady of Victories Parish in Pascagoula, where he served until his retirement in January 2010. In retirement, Father McDermott resided at Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Biloxi. A funeral Mass will be celebrated Monday, September 25 at Our Lady of Victories Church, 503 Convent Avenue, Pascagoula, Visitation is set for noon to 3 p.m., when the Mass will start. Father McDermott will be buried in Ireland.

Sister Ann Brooks, ‘saint with a stesthescope,’ retires

By Maureen SMith JACKSON – When Sister Ann Brooks, SNJM, finished medical school she joined a program through which she could pay back her school debt by working in a community in need of medical service. The intrepid Dr. Brooks knew she wanted to stay in the South, but had no specific place in mind, so she grabbed an atlas. “I wrote letters to the mayors of all those towns. One town answered me. That was Tutwiler, Mississippi,” said Sister Brooks. “I had never even heard of it.” In August, 34 years after she opened Tutwiler clinic, she packed up and moved to a retirement home for religious just outside Albany, New York. “One of the hardest things I ever did was leave the clinic in Tutwiler,” she said. When Sister Brooks first visited she found a shuttered clinic in need of some work. The town council offered to purchase medical equipment and she was in business. Within a year she called her friend, Sister Cora Lee, to join her. The two had worked together at a clinic in St. Petersburg, Fla. “When I came, they were surprised. There were no Catholics on the board at that time,” said Sister Brooks. “They came to realize my focus was taking care of people. I was not there to make everyone Catholic, but to take care of people and teach people how to take care of themselves,” she added. “When you look back, there weren’t many Catholics in Tallahatchie County and none in Tutwiler. It’s been a journey for people to see what these two women have done for the community without asking for anything in return. It’s been an education,” said Cindy Herring, co-director of public relations for the clinic. Both Sisters insist that the exchange has been mutual. They both speak about how they have learned as much from the people of Tutwiler as they have taught. Sister Cora Lee is still in Tutwiler serving as the clinic director. She said the mission to educate remains central and she has seen the impact. “I think the community has gotten healthier. When we started, people came in with acute situations, signs of stroke, heart attack, dehydration. We went from that over time to having patients with chronic illnesses coming in earlier,” said Sister Cora Lee. She said the staff concentrates on teaching people to manage their own health and get to the root of their problem rather than just treating symptoms.

Dr. Sister Ann Brooks (Mississippi Catholic archive photo)

“Health is more than just coming to the doctor. Health is more than just medicine. Health is a way of life,” said Sister Cora Lee. Once the two got settled, they realized the people of Tutwiler needed more services than just medical care. They put the word out to their community, the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, for a community organizer or social worker. Sister Maureen Delaney answered the call and opened an office in the back of the clinic in 1987. Her goal was to listen to the community and help them answer their own needs. Her mission grew so much it spun off into a separate entity, the Tutwiler Community Education Center. The Center relocated to a building in the tiny downtown of the tiny Delta town and continued to grow. Today, TCEC continues to offer senior programs, a summer program, teen mentoring, music lessons, the now-famous quilting group and more. Sister Delaney took on another ministry in 2015, but a lay staff continues to operate the center. Seeing TCEC thrive – one of the signs of improved overall community health – is one of Sister Brooks’ great joys. “I think Dr. Brooks would have liked to have worked herself out of a job. To have people take care of themselves, she would love that,” said Sister Cora Lee. The clinic had a brief moment of fame in 1990 when the CBS broadcast magazine 60 minutes featured the work being done there. A reporter returned in 2012, calling Sister Brooks “a saint with a stethoscope.” Sister Brooks celebrated 60 years of religious life earlier this year with Mass and a reception at Clarksdale Immaculae Conception Parish. She broke her elbow in 2016 and remains in a brace. That, coupled with the demands of running the clinic – where the staff saw more than 8,500 patients one year, started weighing on her. She and the staff started looking for someone to take over. Tallahatchie General Hospital was looking to expand its community presence and a partnership was born. “When they came to visit, they got excited so I started to get excited,” said Sister Brooks. The hospital took over operations in 2016, retaining the staff, but upgrading the computers and equipment. “The partnership is one of the reasons Dr. Brooks felt comfortable retiring,” said Herring. “She was convinced the mission could continue since the mission of the hospital and the mission of the clinic were already very close,” Herring added. The clinic works with patients on the cost of their care, helping them find coverage, using a sliding scale and taking donations to offset costs. Sister Brooks is trying to stay active, she said she is writing a history of the clinic, praying for her friends and reflecting on the blessings of decades of service. “What’s important is I was able to care for patients – and what a privilege that was.”

Inmigrantes centroamericanos ayudan con la recuperación del terremoto en México

Por Davi Dagren

CIUDAD DE MÉXICO (CNS) – Los migrantes centroamericanos que viajan por México permanecen rutinariamente en un albergue católico en el Istmo de Tehuantepec. Pero los huéspedes del refugio de los Hermanos del Camino han estado lanzando con esfuerzos de socorro desde que un terremoto de magnitud 8.1 sacudió la región el 7 de septiembre. “Como defensores de los derechos humanos, pedimos a la gente que entienda y ayude a nuestros migrantes”, dijo el hermano de Crosier, José Filiberto Velásquez Florencio, coordinador del refugio, en la publicación de la Arquidiócesis de México, Desde la Fe. “Ahora están devolviendo este apoyo al pueblo mexicano, al istmo, a toda la gente que necesita su ayuda”. El terremoto ocurrió poco antes de la medianoche el 7 de septiembre con un epicentro en la costa del estado de Chiapas. Esto causó que los edificios se movieran en la lejana Ciudad de México, pero no causaron grandes daños allí. Sin embargo, destruyó casas y edificios en los estados del sur de Oaxaca y Chiapas y tomó las vidas de 96 personas. Las divisiones de Caritas organizaron colecciones en todo México para ayudar a las personas sin hogar en los estados del sur del país. El terremoto dañó aproximadamente el 80 por ciento de los hogares en Juchitán, un municipio adyacente a Ciudad Ixtepec, donde se encuentra el refugio de los Hermanos del Camino, según el gobierno del estado de Oaxaca. Los huéspedes del refugio han formado equipos, mostrados en fotos publicadas en Facebook, viajando a ciudades de toda la región y ayudando a las familias a recuperar objetos de los escombros de sus casas, como artículos de cocina, artículos electrónicos y recuerdos. “Hemos recibido mucho apoyo de la gente, así que queremos ayudarles,” Wilson Alonso, un emigrante de Honduras, le dijo al periódico español, El País. “Estamos eliminando todo lo que está creando un bloqueo y ayu
dando a la gente a rescatar cosas de sus hogares.” El refugio de los Hermanos del Camino no ha tenido un tiempo fácil en su misión de servir a los migrantes que llegan encima de un tren conocido como “La Bestia” por la forma en que mutila a los que caen bajo sus ruedas. El fundador del refugio, el padre Alejandro Solalinde, fue forzado al exilio por un período después de recibir amenazas de bandas de delincuencias organizadas, que secuestra a migrantes y se enfrentó a la perse
cución de políticos de la zona que estaban descontentos con su trabajo. Los daños en la zona son tan graves que las fotos de la prensa mostraron al Obispo Oscar Campos Contreras de Tehuantepec celebrando misa fuera de las oficinas diocesanas debido a que todas las iglesias de la zona sufrieron daños. Las iglesias en Chiapas también fueron dañadas. La caída de los escombros destruyó el órgano de la catedral de San Cristóbal de Las Casas.

Obispo soporta el Centro de Apoyo al Migrante

(Nota del editor: El Obispo Joseph Kopacz utilizó los desarrollos de DACA para llamar la atención sobre el Centro de Apoyo al Migrante de las Caridades Católicas. El siguiente es un extracto de una carta enviada junta con algunos casos describiendo el trabajo del centro.) El Centro de Apoyo para Migrantes brinda servicios críticos a los inmigrantes que tienen necesidades urgentes. Ahora más que nunca, esta población requiere nuestros servicios. Algunos inmigrantes no conocen sus derechos, y nuestros abogados trabajan incansablemente para defender sus causas ante las cortes, al mismo tiempo que proporcionan programas de educación e información. Cuando un gran número de niños inmigrantes no acompañados de Guatemala, Honduras y El Salvador, buscaron refugio en los Estados Unidos en el 2013, el Papa Francisco dijo: “Esta emergencia humanitaria requiere que estos niños sean protegidos”. En el Centro de Apoyo al Migrante, tomamos esta evocación en serio. Estos niños no acompañados son nuestros clientes más vulnerables, ya que muchos han sufrido daños y se embarcaron en el viaje peligroso de sus países a los Estados Unidos. La ley de inmigración provee ciertos remedios legales a los niños que están huyendo de la persecución, o han sido abusados o abandonados por sus padres. Pero la aplicación de estos remedios es complicada. Los niños que son incapaces de pagar asistencia legal tienen que enfrentar estos procedimientos solos, lo que significa un retorno casi seguro a los peligros de los que huyeron.
En Mississippi, pocos recursos legales existen para los niños que no pueden pagar. Por lo tanto, el Centro de Apoyo está trabajando para asegurar que todos los niños no acompañados tengan representación de inmigración pro bono, ayudándoles a crear vidas nuevas. Tal es el caso de Julio, adolescente guatemalteco que huyó de su país como menor desacompañado después de que el alcalde de su ciudad lo reclutara a la fuerza para tomar las armas contra una compañía minera extranjera, incorporada por el gobierno guatemalteco para excavar tierras tradicionalmente indígenas (como la de Julio). Durante una escaramuza, un minero cortó el brazo de Julio con un machete, dejándolo físicamente y emocionalmente marcado. Julio no pudo pedir ayuda del gobierno guatemalteco, ya que las tropas federales prestaron apoyo a las compañías mineras. Con la ayuda del Centro de Apoyo y de nuestros socios de Mississippi College, Julio ahora tiene asilo y está disfrutando su libertad en los Estados Unidos. El Centro de Apoyo también representó a cuatro hermanos hondureños, los García, que huyeron de Honduras después de sufrir abusos físicos, emocionales y sexuales y luego fueron abandonados por su padre. Los abogados del Centro de Apoyo representaron a los niños en la corte y aseguraron el estado juvenil especial de inmigrantes y la residencia permanente legal para los niños basado en el trauma que sufrieron. Los niños están asistiendo a la escuela, aprendiendo inglés y recibiendo servicios de consejería en su nuevo hogar.