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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Feb-21-2008

By Catholic News Service


St. Patrick's Day falling during Holy Week prompts parade dilemma

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The long-held tradition of St. Patrick's Day parades has experienced a bump in the road this year with the saint's feast day occurring during an unusually early Holy Week. In cities across the country most of the parades, some more than a 200-year-old tradition, are going on as planned, even though March 17 is the Monday of Holy Week. But the idea of marching bands, Irish dancing and vast displays of green parading during the solemn week before Easter has stirred some comments from U.S. bishops. The question of how to celebrate the Irish saint is not usually such a dilemma, since the last time his feast day fell during Holy Week was in 1940. Because St. Patrick's Day falls just days before Easter this year the feast will not be celebrated liturgically in most U.S. dioceses, because of a decision by the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments. A newsletter from the U.S. bishops' liturgy secretariat last April announced that the feast day of St. Patrick may be moved to Friday, March 14, in dioceses "where St. Patrick is the principal patron of a particular church" and where "it is customarily commemorated as a solemnity."

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Georgia Catholics visit Capitol, tell lawmakers their views on issues

ATLANTA (CNS) -- Willa McGarity and Margaret Ann Harris were among scores of Catholics who took to the shiny marble halls of the Georgia Statehouse in early February to encourage lawmakers to vote against death penalty legislation and an English-only language proposal. McGarity, a retired nursing instructor, and Harris, who worked in advertising, are friends and novices in the ways of politics. Both wanted to learn about the intersection of faith and the making of laws. Harris called the day a "fact-finding mission for my faith. We are just here to voice what is the right thing to do, according to the Bible," she told The Georgia Bulletin, Atlanta's archdiocesan newspaper. But she knows the Catholic view isn't the only view. "We Catholics are just part of what makes up the community. We don't run the show," she said. The Catholic Communications Office of the Archdiocese of Atlanta and the Georgia Catholic Conference sponsored the event. The Georgia Catholic Conference, the lobbying arm for the two dioceses in the state, is focused on fighting two bills currently, one related to immigration and the other to the death penalty.

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Diocese asks parishes, schools to break ties to Komen for the Cure

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (CNS) -- Following the practice of some other dioceses, the Diocese of Little Rock is discouraging its parishes and schools from supporting fundraising activities for Susan G. Komen for the Cure. The international organization raises millions annually for the detection, treatment and research of breast cancer. A portion of the money nationally is given to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screenings. Planned Parenthood is also the largest provider of abortions in the United States. Several parishes and schools have hosted teams for the Komen Race for the Cure, which attracts more than 43,000 participants to the 5K race in Little Rock alone each October. Another 15,000 participate in the Komen race in Springdale each April. Marianne Linane, diocesan respect life director, said a statement declaring the Respect Life Office "neither supports or encourages participation" in Komen activities was written after several inquiries from pro-life Catholics about the diocese's position. The diocese is encouraging Catholics to write to the Komen headquarters in Dallas and ask them to stop funding Planned Parenthood.

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Wisconsin town agonizes over mill closure, its effect on community

PORT EDWARDS, Wis. (CNS) -- The production of pulp and paper products is synonymous with the small Wisconsin town of Port Edwards. Together with the other towns and cities in the La Crosse Diocese that straddle the Wisconsin River -- including Nekoosa, Wisconsin Rapids, Stevens Point, Mosinee and Wausau -- Port Edwards is and always has been a paper town. Ever since Port Edwards' first sawmill was built in 1840, the Port Edwards mill has always fed the town's economy and provided its residents with jobs, as well as a source of pride and identity. Generations of fathers and sons have worked the same paper machines. "When I was growing up, this was the job to get, and if you got it you were set for life," said Esther Becker. She and her husband, David, who was hired at the mill nearly nine years ago, are members of St. Alexander Parish in Port Edwards. "Set for life" is the case no more. The parish is trying to help families figure out how they'll make ends meet when the mill closes down this spring. Its owner, Domtar Corp., announced the closure Dec. 13, although an exact date has not been set. The Canadian company cited a loss of profits and higher costs.

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Pope tells Jesuits to make clear their acceptance of church teachings

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI asked the Jesuits to continue to be pioneers in dialogue, theological research and work for justice, but insisted that they also must make clear their faith and their acceptance of the teachings of the Catholic Church. "The church needs you, counts on you and continues to turn to you with trust," the pope told more than 200 Jesuits chosen to represent the almost 20,000 members of the Society of Jesus for the order's General Congregation. Led by Spanish Father Adolfo Nicolas, elected superior general of the order Jan. 19, the congregation delegates met Feb. 21 with the pope. Father Nicolas told the pope, "In communion with the church and guided by the magisterium, we are seeking to dedicate ourselves deeply to service, discernment and research." The members of the General Congregation are aware of their responsibility to the church as a whole, he said, but they also are aware of the need for humility, "recognizing that the mystery of God and of the human person is much greater than our ability to understand."

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In talk to Serbian diplomat, pope urges moderation in Kosovo crisis

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In an address to Serbia's new ambassador to the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI called on all parties to act with "prudence and moderation" in response to "the current crisis in Kosovo." The pope said by choosing to live by the values stemming from Christian roots "we discover the courage to forgive and to accept forgiveness, to be reconciled with our neighbors and to build together a civilization of love in which all are accepted and respected." The pope made his appeal during an address to Vladeta Jankovic, the ambassador, who presented his letters of credential during a Feb. 21 audience at the Vatican. Jankovic urged the pope to use his "enormous influence" to "preserve stability in the Balkans" and called Kosovo's declaration of independence an injustice. "With your devotion to the highest moral principles, Your Holiness knows better than anyone that injustice, which is called justice in only one unique case, always remains an injustice," he said. Jankovic also warned that Kosovo's separation could spur other acts of secession in the world.

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Goal of Catholic Church in Cuba is to help Cubans, pope tells bishops

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The goal of the Roman Catholic Church in Cuba is to help the Cuban people, Pope Benedict XVI said. In a letter delivered to Cuban bishops Feb. 21, the pope said the bishops' efforts to revive the church in Cuba must demonstrate that "the church, centering its gaze on Jesus Christ, wants to do good, to promote the dignity of the person and -- sowing sentiments of understanding, mercy and reconciliation -- contribute to improving humanity and society." The text of the papal letter was released at the Vatican and it was read by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, at a meeting with the Cuban bishops' commemorating the 10th anniversary of Pope John Paul II's visit to their country. The pope said he understood that sharing the Gospel message could be difficult and delicate under certain circumstances, but even the smallest gestures of Christian charity can be effective means of evangelization. "Sometimes some Christian communities feel oppressed by difficulties, by a lack of resources, by indifference or even distrust, which can lead to discouragement," he said.

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CRS program for doctors in Congo helps ease plight of female victims

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS) -- A church-run training program for rural doctors in the Democratic Republic of Congo has helped ease the plight of women in the war-torn eastern region where sexual violence is common, an aid worker said. Because of the program, run by the U.S. bishops' Catholic Relief Services, doctors are able to help the seriously wounded, mostly rape victims, at village hospitals, said Lane Hartill, regional information officer for CRS in West Africa. Otherwise, doctors would have to tell patients to walk long distances to bigger centers "on almost impassable roads in atrocious condition," he told Catholic News Service in a mid-February telephone interview from Dakar, Senegal. Dr. Freddy Mubuto, 32, whom Hartill got to know on a recent visit to Congo from Dakar, where he is based, worked alone for two years at Nyamibungu hospital in South Kivu province before another doctor joined him this year. Mubuto found it heartbreaking to refer his patients to Panzi hospital in Bukavu, eastern Congo's top medical facility, knowing that most of them would have to walk the 135 miles or be carried through the mud on "what resembles a goat track more than a road," Hartill said.

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In West Bank home for elderly, personal care in Christian atmosphere

TAYBEH, West Bank (CNS) -- Father Dominic Veglio cuts a romantic figure as he walks along the windswept hill in his long black coat and black hat, a roughly hewn walking stick in his gnarled hand and two dogs tumbling by his side. At 94 the former parish priest, an Italian who served in various parishes throughout the West Bank, said he "comes to visit" Beit Afram, a home for the elderly and handicapped, which can be seen behind him. But in reality he has been living in the three-story home for eight months. A lifelong animal lover, he was upset and nervous when he arrived without his menagerie of pets, said Rimon Ady, administrator of the home. The staff, which includes three Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows, quickly realized the problem and brought him the two dogs. "He got much better then," said Ady, the heart behind the success of the home. "He was able to relax and adapt better to the home. He got better and better." Ady is able to rattle off information about all 16 of Beit Afram's residents and speaks affectionately with them as he would with his own elderly relatives.

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At age 90, Precious Blood sister who is an artist still going strong

DAYTON, Ohio (CNS) -- Most people looking at a block of wood or stone see ... a block of wood or stone. But Precious Blood Sister Eileen Tomlinson apparently thinks like the great Renaissance artist Michelangelo. According to legend, Michelangelo said that when he looked at a block of marble he saw the figure within, waiting to be released. Last winter, Sister Eileen looked at a large log of walnut wood and saw more than what met the eye. She saw Mother Maria Anna Brunner, the Swiss-born foundress of the Sisters of the Precious Blood. And she soon went to work to free her. In their 162-year history, the Dayton-based Sisters of the Precious Blood have had no shortage of talented women, artists who work in almost every medium. But Sister Eileen's talents range across an incredibly wide artistic spectrum: oil, acrylic and watercolor painting, pen-and-ink illustration, calligraphy, sculpture and woodcarving. Trained as an artist, Sister Eileen was an art teacher for many years in Ohio and California before she "retired" to the motherhouse in Dayton's Salem Heights area in 1997. Since then she has been the unofficial artist-in-residence, in constant demand for her artistic work.

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For Minnesota nun, the message is the massage

SAUK RAPIDS, Minn. (CNS) -- Jennie Lewis calmly walked up to her next client, who lay covered in white sheets upon a raised table. Lewis asked the client if it was OK to pray with her. The client consented and the massage therapist began her prayer. "Lord Jesus, I thank you for sending her in today. Father, I ask that you bless her with this massage," she said. "I ask you to help her to relax. Let your spirit come on to bring her peace. May she feel refreshed and rejuvenated. In the name of Jesus. Amen." Lewis is a massage therapist at the Sister Rosalind Gefre Schools and Clinics of Massage in Sauk Rapids. Clients upon arriving at the clinic are given the option of checking "yes" on their health history forms to request prayer. For Sister Rosalind, a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet who founded the school, massage and following Jesus' example go hand in hand -- literally. "When Jesus healed people, he touched them," she said. Since beginning her ministry of massage 34 years ago at the YMCA in Fargo, N.D., Sister Rosalind has incorporated prayer into healing. "Prayer heals," she said.


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