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Update: Lay role matters in renewing church wounded by abuse, speaker says

IMAGE: CNS photo/Gina Christian, catholicphilly.com

By Gina Christian

PHILADELPHIA (CNS) -- The laity can lead the way in renewing a church wounded by the decades-long sexual abuse scandal, according to Meghan Cokeley, director of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's Office for the New Evangelization.

Prayer, redemptive suffering, forgiveness and a deeper understanding of the laity's calling can radically revive the church, said Cokeley, who has been touring Philadelphia-area parishes to deliver a talk titled "What Can We Do? The Role of Laity in a Time of Crisis."

Combining Scripture, catechesis and historical examples, the presentation offers "a message of hope" as well as several specific action points to counter feelings of despair and apathy in church life.

During a recent session at St. Hilary of Poitiers Parish in Rydal, Pennsylvania, Cokeley cited the devastating fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris in April as "a sign God gave us for these times," one that showed a church "scarred, but still standing."

She noted that as the 850-year-old structure burned, lay bystanders "instinctively ran into the street, rosaries in their hands, praying on their knees and singing hymns" despite grim predictions that the cathedral would be destroyed.

Cokeley pointed out that while the crowd prayed, firefighters formed a human chain to save many of the cathedral's relics and to enable the brigade's chaplain, Father Jean-Marc Fournier, to remove the Blessed Sacrament.

"They say the faith is dead in France. It's not," said Cokeley. "Our prayer matters."

That same passion, she said, is present in "sensus fidei fidelis" ("sense of the faith of the believer"); this cannot be separated from "sensus fidei fidelium," the sense of the faith on the part of all the faithful. "Sensus fidei" can help the church to navigate troubled waters, especially when leaders forsake the helm, she added.

Often confused with public opinion in the pews, the "sensus fidei" was defined in 2014 by the Vatican's International Theological Commission as a "supernatural instinct" for "the truth of the Gospel," which enables active, properly formed Catholics to recognize "authentic Christian doctrine and practice" while rejecting falsehood.

Cokeley noted that a dramatic example of the "sensus fidei" can be found in the laity's rejection of Arianism, a widespread fourth-century heresy that claimed Jesus had been created by God.

Blessed John Henry Newman -- whom Pope Francis has greenlighted for canonization in October -- wrote that the laity upheld true church teaching as the heresy prevailed for some 60 years. In contrast, Cardinal Newman observed, "the body of bishops failed in their confession of the faith," succumbing to confusion and infighting.

Cokeley also said that by knowing the true purpose of church organizational structure, laity can more fully embrace their rightful place in the body of Christ.

"There's a tendency to dismiss the hierarchy due to its failures, or to treat the laity as passive bystanders," she said. "Both are pitfalls."

Cokeley used an image of Guercino's "St. Peter Weeping Before the Virgin," in which the first pope repents to Mary for denying Christ, to illustrate two key dimensions of the church.

Citing the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the writings of St. John Paul II, Cokeley explained that the hierarchical aspect of the church, represented by Peter and therefore called "Petrine," is designed to ensure the holiness of all its members.

The Marian dimension, named for Mary's surpassing sanctity and representing the church's holiness, "precedes the Petrine," the catechism states.

Cokeley said that during the clerical abuse crisis, this order "got flipped, and bishops protected themselves at the expense of the laity."

Intentional, heartfelt forgiveness and redemptive suffering can powerfully redress such wrongs, allowing grace to flow into the lives of both failed leaders and wounded believers, she said.

"When we unite our sufferings with those of Christ -- this is where the power is," she said. "There's a sense that it doesn't do anything, but the saying 'offer it up' is true."

Cokeley acknowledged that while there is a time and a place for activism, the cross shows the true path to transformation.

"The crucifixion of Jesus Christ altered the course of human history," said Cokeley. "And what was Christ doing on the cross? He wasn't signing petitions, he wasn't writing a book, he wasn't enacting policies, although those can be good. He was praying, suffering and obeying the Father."

The rosary is a particularly effective form of prayer, said Cokeley, adding that Sister Lucia dos Santos, one of the Fatima visionaries, stressed its unique power to resolve difficulties both great and small.

Displaying an image of Meynier's "Christ Asleep in His Boat," in which Jesus sleeps calmly amid raging waters, Cokeley urged attendees to "curl up next to Jesus" in the storm of scandal.

"The reason Jesus is asleep is because he knows who his Father is, and he is anchored in his Father," she said. "His Father's got this."

For that reason, Cokeley said, lay Catholics should recommit themselves to greater involvement in parish life and to evangelization -- even if such action seems counterintuitive, given the clerical abuse scandal and the secularized culture.

"God uses the works of the devil for his own purposes," she said.

Cokeley concluded her talk by encouraging listeners to view "fidelity as a mission," one that had long-term impact.

"Someday 300 years from now, they're going to read stories about the laypeople who went to church anyway, who prayed for their priests anyway, who kept on evangelizing," she said. "They're going to read stories about how God preserved the church through us."

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Editor's Note: Meghan Cokeley's presentation can be viewed online at https://youtu.be/R6GMWmXw2-0.

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Christian is the senior content producer at CatholicPhilly.com, the news outlet of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at [email protected]

Appeals court to uphold ACA; health care a basic human right, says CHA

IMAGE: CNS photo/Jonathan Ernst, Reuters

By Elizabeth Bachmann

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- As the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit considers the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, the Catholic Health Association voiced its support for the act, declaring access to health care a basic human right.

CHA is a national organization comprised of 600 hospitals and 1,600 other health care facilities that provide compassionate, nonprofit care to Americans.

In a statement released July 9, CHA emphasized that the ACA brings health care to 20 million Americans, 12 million of whom are low income individuals. "In addition to being harmful to patients' health, the lack of coverage adds unnecessary expense to our nation's health care system and deprives patients with an equitable opportunity for a healthy, productive life."

In its statement, CHA highlights that patients without health insurance are four times more likely to be hospitalized for preventable maladies, making them more difficult and more expensive to treat.

Mercy Sister Mary Haddad, CHA's president and CEO, said the "effort to eliminate access to affordable health care coverage for millions of Americans is unconscionable."

Despite that, the Affordable Care Act is currently under fire for the second time. Back in 2012, an opponent filed a lawsuit arguing that the individual mandate, which requires most individuals buy health insurance or pay a penalty, was unconstitutional. The case reached the Supreme Court, which ruled the mandate constitutional.

Then, in 2017, Congress passed a tax law which did not repeal the mandate, but reduced it to "zero dollars." People are still required by law to purchase state subsidized health insurance, but there is no penalty for ignoring the law.

On Dec. 14, 2018, a Texas federal court ruled that the individual mandate is no longer constitutional, and that, as a result the entire ACA cannot function. The court ruled that the individual mandate is not "severable" from the rest of the ACA. The decision came in a lawsuit filed by the Republican state attorneys general and governors in at least 18 states.

Now the matter is before the 5th Circuit, based in New Orleans. A three-judge panel heard oral arguments July 9 in the case, Texas v. United States.

CHA filed a brief as amicus curiae, or a friend of the court, along with four other national hospital organizations. Altogether, the brief represents 5,000 hospitals and health care facilities across America. In the brief, they argue that the ACA is, in fact, separable from the individual mandate, as evidenced by the fact that the system has existed since 2017 with a "zero dollar" penalty.

Not only that, but the brief outlines all of the programs attached to ACA that will shut down if the 5th Circuit finds the law unconstitutional. These include in-home care for the elderly, programs combating the opioid crisis and other programs that tackle substance abuse issues.

They argue that repealing the ACA completely will leave millions without insurance, harming not only patients, but also hospitals.

"Without coverage, Americans suffer," they wrote. "Those without insurance coverage forgo basic medical care, making them more difficult to treat when they do seek care. This not only hurts patients; it has severe consequences for the hospitals that care for them. Hospitals will bear a greater uncompensated-care burden, which will force them to reallocate limited resources and compromise their ability to provide needed services."

CHA ultimately urged the 5th Circuit to reverse the Texas ruling.

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at [email protected]

Diocese looks to open temporary shelter for migrants in county facility

IMAGE: CNS photo/Michael Brown, Catholic Outlook

By Michael Brown

TUCSON, Ariz. (CNS) -- Catholic Community Services in the Tucson Diocese has reached a tentative agreement with Pima County to turn an unused juvenile detention facility into a temporary shelter for asylum-seekers.

The agency, which is the human services arm of the diocese, has operated such a shelter at a former Benedictine monastery since the beginning of the year. It is scheduled to vacate the site July 31 but no alternative had been found to house the 300 to 500 asylum-seekers currently there.

The 83-year-old monastery, formerly home of the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, was purchased in September 2017 by developer Russ Rulney, who leased it to Catholic Community Services for its relief efforts. The agency welcomed its first "guests" Jan. 26.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and later Border Patrol, shuttled asylum-seekers from border towns such as Nogales, Arizona, and El Paso, Texas, to Tucson.

Staff noted the difficulties encountered at the monastery, including electrical and plumbing deficiencies, which resulted in the facility having to be closed at least one day in early June.

"The monastery didn't have the right infrastructure," Tucson Bishop Edward J. Weisenburger said during a series of media interviews July 8.

The cost of leasing the detention center is only $100 a year, so "the price is right," the bishop said with a smile. "It feels like it is a tremendous blessing."

The staff has already begun planning to address the stark inside of the new facility, said Catholic Community Services' leaders. The bishop added that the volunteers who staff it exude warmth and welcome. "We think we can match the warmth (of the former monastery) and increase it."

The county board still has to approve the lease, which is scheduled for a vote Aug. 6. Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said in a July 8 memo that he was recommending it be approved. The space is part of the Pima County Juvenile Court Center complex.

"These facilities are available and are presently vacant due to the aggressive and successful alternatives to detention program and implemented by the Juvenile Court," Huckelberry wrote. "The county will pay for building, operating and maintenance cost which will include utilities, food service through the juvenile (center's) kitchen and laundry service through the juvenile (center's) laundry."

Part of the detention center is still in use, and the Catholic agency's shelter facilities will be accessed through a different free-standing entrance that will look less foreboding than a lockdown facility. Signage for the county operation and the Catholic-run area will be clearly marked, church officials said.

"We will still accept drive-up, drop-off donations," said Teresa Cavendish, director of operations at Catholic Community Services.

She added that the care and welcome provided by the scores of volunteers are what make the monastery a successful stop for the asylum seekers, most of whom are women and families with children. "They will continue to be respectful and warm to our guests."

Peg Harmon, executive director of the Catholic agency, noted that "the monastery was an empty building when we first moved in," and staff and volunteers turned it into a livable space.

Cavendish added that she believed once accommodations are made, people will forget that they are entering a former detention facility. "It's what it was. It's not what it will be."

The bishop said that Rulney has agreed to temporarily extend access to the monastery past July 31 until the lease at the detention facility has been approved and operations can be transferred. Rulney has been "extraordinarily generous to us," he said.

Bishop Weisenburger praised the county for making the site available, noting that with access to the local airport and bus facilities, ample parking for volunteers and its turnkey status, "it checks all of our boxes."

The bishop also thanked members of the ecumenical community, which had rallied with volunteers to the monastery site and are expected to continue to support the mission at the detention facility. "The community really rallied beautifully around this project," the bishop said.

Noting the extensive search conducted by county leaders before choosing the detention center, the bishop said, "I don't know that there was any other facility that will meet our needs as well as this one."

"We actually feel in some respects, it's an upgrade."

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Brown is managing editor of Catholic Outlook, newspaper of the Diocese of Tucson.

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at [email protected]

U.S. bishop among nearly 200 faith leaders speaking against war in Iran

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy Diocese of Lexington

By Dennis Sadowski

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Two Catholic bishops are among nearly 200 faith leaders calling on President Donald Trump's administration to pursue diplomacy to resolve conflicts with Iran.

Bishop John E. Stowe of Lexington, Kentucky, bishop-president of Pax Christi USA, and Bishop Marc Stenger of Troyes, France, co-president of Pax Christi International, were among the signers of a statement released July 8.

The statement was developed by the National Council of Churches and Sojourners, a Washington-based Christian organization that addresses social justice concerns.

"A United States war with Iran would be an unmitigated disaster, morally and religiously indefensible; U.S. faith leaders must be among the first to rise up, say 'No!' -- and call for better, more effective and life-saving ways forward," the statement said.

Citing the "escalation of confrontation" between the two nations, the statement said "it is time for leaders from our faith communities to point to more effective ways to transform conflict and to speak strongly against military action that could have enormous human and financial costs, and which could easily and broadly escalate."

The leaders also called on the Trump administration to end "harsh and punitive" trade sanctions against Iran and if necessary, establish safeguards for shipping in the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman.

Tensions between the U.S. and Iran heightened in May and June as several seagoing oil tankers were the subject of sabotage and attacks in the Gulf of Oman. Trump has accused Iran of being behind the attacks and British security officials said they are "almost certain" that Tehran instigated them.

Global observers have said Iran's economy has taken a deep hit because of economic and trade sanctions put in place since the U.S. withdrawal in May 2018 from a multilateral agreement that limits the ability of Iran to develop nuclear weapons. Trump has said since that the withdrawal from the so-called P5+1 pact, the world is a safer place.

Despite the U.S. withdrawal, France, the United Kingdom, Russia and China, plus Germany, remain parties to the deal even though Iran has announced that it has surpassed some of the agreement's limits placed on uranium enrichment.

In mid-June, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services made a similar appeal in a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The correspondence from the chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee for International Justice and Peace outlined the Catholic Church's long-held stance that has preferred dialogue and engagement as the best actions to resolve political stalemates.

Other signers of the new statement include Patrick Carolan, executive director of the Franciscan Action Network; Lawrence Couch, director of the National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd; Loreto Sister Teresia Wamuyu Wachira of Kenya, co-president of Pax Christi International; Sister Carol Zinn, a Sister of St. Joseph, executive director of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious; Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners; and Jim Winkler, president and general secretary of the National Council of Churches. In addition, more than 90 women religious signed the statement.

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Editor's Note: The full statement can be read online at https://bit.ly/32idRXH.

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Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski

 

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at [email protected]

Smithsonian inquiring about drawings made by children at Catholic center

IMAGE: CNS photo/Courtesy American Academy of Pediatrics via

By Rhina Guidos

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Smithsonian Museum of American History is looking at the possibility of acquiring for its collection drawings made by children ages 10 and 11 at a Catholic Charities center in Texas, which may depict their stay at federal detention centers for immigrants near the border.

In early July, news outlets circulated three drawings of stick figures the children made at a Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley "respite center," which seem as if they're depicting their lives in immigration detention inside cages or fenced spaces. The drawings were made public by the American Academy of Pediatrics after the group toured a U.S. Customs and Border Protection center and other facilities in and around McAllen, Texas, near the border.  

In a statement sent to Catholic News Service July 9, the museum said it "does not publicize nor speculate on potential collecting" prior to acquiring artifacts, but it confirms that on July 4, a curator reached out to the pediatric organization about the children's drawings "as part of an exploratory process."

One of the three drawings in question shows small stick figures behind bars, and taller figures outside of the bars. Another shows a group of smaller figures in a row underneath blankets, as if sleeping, also behind bars, and a taller figure nearby looking over them. The third drawing shows the bars with no figures inside, only toilets and a thick black door.

Sister Norma Pimentel, a member of the Missionaries of Jesus and the center's executive director, told The New York Times that the Catholic Charities center in McAllen has the drawings. The center, which has moved to a variety of locations in the McAllen area since it opened in 2014, provides food, shelter, clothing and travel orientation for migrants recently released by federal immigration officials near the Brownsville-McAllen area.

The story said a member of the pediatric organization took the photos of the drawings during the June visit, but the names of the children who drew them are unknown.  

"The museum has a long commitment to telling the complex and complicated history of the United States and to documenting that history as it unfolds, such as it did following 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, and as it does with political campaigns," said the statement from the museum.

In July 2018, top leaders of the U.S. Conference Catholic Bishops toured a federal detention facility in the area and celebrated Mass with unaccompanied children detained there. They also visited the Catholic Charities respite center and served a meal for incoming immigrant parents and children who had recently been released by immigration officials.

 

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at [email protected]

Monastery connects U.S. Catholics to Holy Land, events in Christ's life

IMAGE: CNS photo/Sydney Clark

By Elizabeth Bachmann

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Deep inside layers and layers of heavy, cool stone lies a small chamber, about 6 feet by 3 feet, illuminated by the scarlet glow of hanging candles. Carved out of one jagged chamber wall, an unassuming bench stands empty. This is the tomb of Jesus Christ.

Zooming out and up 100 feet, one finds oneself overlooking, not the city of Jerusalem, but a tiny postage stamp of Middle Eastern horticulture and architecture in the great gray and white sea of Washington. This is the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America.

This monastery, built in 1898 by two Holy Land Franciscans, features scaled replicas of the Tomb of Jesus, the Tomb of Mary, the Chapel of the Ascension, the Lourdes Grotto, the Anointing Stone, Calvary, the Gethsemane Grotto, and others. Hemmed with a terracotta-red pergola, the courtyard and sprawling secret gardens burst with blooms or every shade, their slender green arms beckoning visitors to explore its hidden chapels, icons and statues, and to discover the disarming allure of the Holy Land.

Father James Gardiner, a Franciscan Friar of the Atonement, who is director of special projects at the monastery, said the gardens and the replicas are meant to "whet your appetite" for seeing the real things in the Holy Land.

"When people come here, they can get to experience how you're going to have to scrunch down to get into the tomb of Jesus, how only a couple of people can actually fit in there," Father Gardiner told Catholic News Service. "The things are to scale, so they can see the distance from the tomb and the anointing stone to Calvary, they can climb those stairs and see how high it is to get to Calvary if you were in the Holy Land. Things like that, that give people a real time experience of being over in the Holy Land."

In 1219, 800 years ago this year, the Vatican entrusted the safety and guardianship of the Holy Land to the Holy Land Friars of the Order of St. Francis, granting them the Custody of the Holy Land. The Monastery of the Holy Land in America is currently home to 11 Franciscan friars, whose vocation is to safeguard the Holy Land, its sites and its peoples.

To fulfill their vocation, the friars aim to inspire Catholics to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land for real, and then to facilitate that journey. The monastery offers opportunities for pilgrimages monthly, each of which is completely organized and scheduled by the monastery, from hotel reservations to meals to itinerary.

"We do everything for you except say your prayers," Father Gardiner joked.

The friar tried to explain the experience and value of visiting the Holy Land.

"Something just happens to you," he said. "I'll tell you this. I have yet to meet anyone on any pilgrimages that ever been on who haven't said as we are at the airport leaving how they hated to leave. They never say they had a good time, you know, they say, 'I really hate to leave. Something's happened. Something has changed in some way.'"

The Franciscan's particular association with the Holy Land began when St. Francis embarked on his own pilgrimage to there in A.D. 1219. According to historian Franciscan Father Michael F. Cusato, St. Francis was determined to make contact with the Muslim people.
"Francis's intention, first and foremost, was to go and live as a brother among other peoples," Father Cusato said. "His insight, from the spirit in the scriptures, was that he was a creature among other creatures that every living breathing human person is a creature fashioned from the hand of God."

After two failed attempts, Francis succeeded in reaching the Holy Land where he was met with the violence of the Fifth Crusade. In the midst of the blood and the hate, Francis and Islamic Sultan al-Kamil spent eight day in peaceful and respectful exchange of ideas within the sultan's tent.

This year, the monastery celebrates the 800 anniversary of that fateful meeting that first brought Francis to the Holy Land and that witnessed some of the first peaceful interaction between the two faiths.

A reserved historian, Father Cusato is less gung-ho about hopping on a plane to Jerusalem than his brother priest, Father Gardiner, who is currently preparing to embark on his fifth journey of this year. Father Cusato explained that for people who can't or won't journey to the Holy Land, the monastery can be a spiritual refuge.

"I think it is important to enter into the spirit of Jerusalem, the spirit of the holy places, to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, not as if you are in the Holy Land yourself although that is a very viable option today ... but it's important to walk and enter into the spirit of Jerusalem, the various holy places the events that took place there," Father Cusato said. "And you can do that here on the grounds of the monastery both within the church and the wider grounds."

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Stuber

Update: Lavelle's Catholic alma mater cheers her goals, team's World Cup victory

IMAGE: NS photo/Bernadett Szabo, Reuters

By Elizabeth Bachmann

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Rose Lavelle skyrocketed from a star player, loping across the soccer fields at her Catholic girls high school in Cincinnati, to a superstar, scoring three goals for the U.S. women's team at the World Cup and winning the Bronze Ball as the third-best player in the tournament.

Her high school, Mount Notre Dame, spent the days before the final excitedly cheering her on via Twitter, and it hosted a school-wide viewing party for the 2013 alumna's game against Thailand June 11. They tweeted in support before the semifinal July 2 against England: "Good Luck to @roselavelle '13 and the Team USA today in the World Cup semifinals! #GoRose."

On July 7, the U.S. won its record fourth FIFA Women's World Cup title and second in a row, beating the Netherlands 2-0 in Lyon, France. LaVelle scored the second goal.

Even as a young high schooler, Lavelle was dazzling on the field, according to Cincinnati.com. Mount Notre Dame celebrated Lavelle's high school athletic accomplishments, including her four-year varsity performance, during which she earned First Team Honors, All-State player, and Cincinnati Enquirer Player of the Year her senior year.

But her passion for soccer dates back even earlier to her elementary school days. St. Vincent Ferrer School posted this along with a photo of a young Lavelle dressed as former superstar Mia Hamm:

"Once upon a time, this little girl dressed up as her hero, Mia Hamm, for a book sharing project. Today, this amazing woman won her own gold medal, wearing the number 16, as part of the United States National Women's Team that won their 4th World Cup Championship AND she won the Bronze Ball as the third-best player in the tournament! Now, little girls everywhere look up to her, and will be working hard to become like Rose."

Hamm was a forward for the U.S. women's national soccer team from 1987 to 2004. Now retired from soccer, she is a two-time FIFA Women's World Cup champion and a two-time Olympic gold medalist.

After Lavelle and her U.S. teammates won in their final 2-0 game against the Netherlands, Mount Notre Dame celebrated in a Facebook post: "She's always been a star to us! It has been an absolute joy to watch Rose Lavelle '13 shine in the World Cup. Can't say we are surprised -- she was voted Most Athletic her senior year! Congratulations to Rose and Team USA! The MND community couldn't be prouder!

After high school, Lavelle went on to play for the University of Wisconsin, playing for the Seattle Sounders summer league team during her time off from school. That's where she was really discovered by coach Jill Ellis, who stood by her during her 2017 hamstring injury, allowing her to blossom into a successful FIFA superstar.

After watching the final with bated breath, Lavelle's hometown alma mater tweeted a joyful tribute to its local celebrity: "Congratulations @USWNT! Couldn't be prouder of our very own @roselavelle! #FIFAWWC19."

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at [email protected]com.

Opioid crisis reaches all corners of West Virginia, leaving few untouched

IMAGE: CNS photo/Colleen Rowan, The Catholic Spirit)

By Colleen Rowan

WHEELING, W.Va. (CNS) -- West Virginia leads the nation in drug overdose death rates. With an average of 57.8 deaths per 100,000 residents, the state's drug fatality rate was nearly three times higher than the national average of 21.7 deaths.

The numbers were released in mid-June through a study conducted by the Commonwealth Fund, covering the year 2017.

The crisis has been devastating for the state, and Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori, as apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, said the Catholic Church in West Virginia is committed to helping those suffering.

"Through the work of Catholic Charities, the Catholic Church in West Virginia has made a commitment to helping those who have been impacted by drug addiction, most especially the children and other family members of those suffering from drug addiction," the archbishop said.

"Many parishes also have programs and efforts in place to address this crisis," he added. "My office has been in discussions with the state Department of Health and Human Resources and with our ecumenical partners through the council of churches to determine how the diocese can further help in the statewide effort to address the root causes and impact of drug addiction throughout West Virginia."

The crisis has reached all corners of the state, leaving very few untouched. "It's just sad," said Sara Lindsay, chief program officer for Catholic Charities West Virginia. "It's hard to know any person who has not had experience with the opioid crisis."

Based in Wheeling, Lindsay recently traveled four hours south to Huntington in Cabell County to attend a regional health summit which touched upon the state's opioid crisis.

"It's horrible in Huntington," she told The Catholic Spirit, the diocesan newspaper. "In Cabell County, there are 178 overdose deaths per 100,000 people. ... Is that not staggering?"

She learned of the grim numbers at the health summit she attended at Cabell Huntington Hospital, which provided the findings based upon research from 2017. The summit looked at the root causes of the epidemic -- especially poverty.

"From the Catholic Charities standpoint, we aim to address the opioid crisis on both ends of the spectrum," Lindsay said. "From a preventative standpoint, we're there to fill gaps and (meet) basic needs for people that are currently in the cycle of substance use, but also for their family members. It really affects the whole family. ... We see people coming to us that have suffered greatly.

"On the other end of the spectrum," she said, "being a safety net for folks when they do fall back, when they relapse into substance abuse -- we're there to help, to provide case management services and help them get back on track."

Case management helps individuals or families develop healthy interdependence and stability, and works with them to set goals toward improving their physical, emotional, and social well-being, program officials said.

Catholic Charities West Virginia operates career readiness services at its Community Center for Learning and Advancement in Huntington, and found a distressing trend among applicants.

"Sixty-nine percent of the people who are in our learning program reported a history of substance use in the past on their applications for our services, and then 46 percent of those individuals report long-term substance use as being a problem," Lindsay said.

Because of this, Catholic Charities is working on expanding its career readiness services in Huntington, Lindsay said, to work with substance use and mental health treatment providers in the city to serve their clients through its education and training services program.

Emily Robinson, western regional director for the agency in Charleston, said the Community Center for Learning and Advancement, or CCLA, works closely with the addiction recovery organizations in Huntington.

"This is an important relationship," she said, "because many in the addiction recovery community have barriers to enrolling in post-secondary education or entry into the workforce. The staff of the CCLA can address all these barriers through providing academic instruction, career readiness certifications, and advising. The CCLA provides an important step in aiding people working through recovery."

One individual, she said, enrolled in the learning center after receiving a referral from Cabell County Drug Court. The person was in recovery from active substance addiction and needed assistance with increasing her work readiness skills, strengthening her resume and finding a job.

"During her time at the CCLA, she was able to take full advantage of the career certifications the program offers at no charge to the learner," Robinson said. "She earned customer service, hospitality, and computer literacy certifications. She also worked with staff to create a professional resume and attended several job fairs. She has since landed a position with a local employer and now, having accomplished all her goals, has completed her work at the CCLA."

Catholic Charities West Virginia also offers adult education for McDowell County area residents in Welch.

The Catholic agency also recently wrapped up a conference series on the substance abuse epidemic through its Parish Social Ministry program. Sessions were held at four locations around the state and focused on how substance abuse it affects the brain and discussed healing in communities, reducing stigma, as well as showcasing different ways that communities have come together to respond to the crisis.

"We learned what addiction looks like, and we learned what healing looks like," said Kate Kosydar, the agency's Parish Social Ministry coordinator and organizer of the conference series.

"The goals of the conference series were to help people learn about the opioid crisis and spark their imaginations as they consider moving forward," she told The Catholic Spirit. "I think we accomplished those goals. However, there's still more work to do.

"Although this is a nationwide problem, the solution requires nothing less than local relationships and responses. We hope that people who attended the conference are passing the information along and taking action locally."

Jesuit Father Brian O'Donnell, executive director of the diocese's Department of Social Ministries, said the sponsors will be looking into the possibility of more conferences in parts of the state that were not close to the previous sites. He said there are ways the faith community can be of aid for those impacted by the opioid crisis and, through the conference series, many links were created among those attending.

"I judge folks emerged from conferences knowing that substance use abuse really is the result of brain changes due to using drugs, that there are ways of aiding those raising children whose parents have been taken out of their lives by drug usage, and that there are models of counseling which have been showing good results," he said.

In February, Catholic Charities West Virginia expanded its case management services in Wheeling to offer a new Relatives as Parents program to help meet the needs of caregivers and the children they are raising.

Thousands of children in West Virginia are currently being raised by relatives other than their biological parents, program officials said. Census data shows that this number is on the rise, and many cases are linked to drug addiction.

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Rowan is executive editor of The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.

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Migrants are people, not just a social issue, pope says at Mass

IMAGE: CNS photo/Vatican Media

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Christians are called to follow the spirit of the beatitudes by comforting the poor and the oppressed, especially migrants and refugees who are rejected, exploited and left to die, Pope Francis said.

The least ones, "who have been thrown away, marginalized, oppressed, discriminated against, abused, exploited, abandoned, poor and suffering" cry out to God, "asking to be freed from the evils that afflict them," the pope said in his homily July 8 during a Mass commemorating the sixth anniversary of his visit to the southern Mediterranean island of Lampedusa.

"They are persons; these are not mere social or migrant issues. This is not just about migrants, in the twofold sense that migrants are, first of all, human persons and that they are the symbol of all those rejected by today's globalized society," he said.

According to the Vatican, an estimated 250 migrants, refugees and rescue volunteers attended the Mass, which was celebrated at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter's Basilica. Pope Francis greeted each person present after the Mass ended.

In his homily, the pope reflected on the first reading from the book of Genesis in which Jacob dreamed of a stairway leading to heaven "and God's messengers were going up and down on it."

Unlike the Tower of Babel, which was humankind's attempt to reach heaven and become gods, the ladder in Jacob's dream was the means by which the Lord comes down to humankind and "reveals himself; it is God who saves," the pope explained.

"The Lord is a refuge for the faithful, who call on him in times of tribulation," he said. "For it is indeed at such moments that our prayer is made purer, when we realize that the security the world offers has little worth and only God remains. God alone opens up heaven for those who live on earth. Only God saves."

The Gospel reading from St. Matthew, which recalled Jesus curing a sick woman and raising a girl from the dead, also reveals "the need for a preferential option for the least, those who must be given the front row in the exercise of charity."

That same care, he added, must extend to the vulnerable who flee suffering and violence only to encounter indifference and death.

"These least ones are abandoned and cheated into dying in the desert; these least ones are tortured, abused and violated in detention camps; these least ones face the waves of an unforgiving sea; these least ones are left in reception camps too long for them to be called temporary," the pope said.

Pope Francis said the image of Jacob's ladder represents the connection between heaven and earth that is "guaranteed and accessible to all." However, to climb those steps requires "commitment, effort and grace."

"I like to think that we could be those angels, ascending and descending, taking under our wings the little ones, the lame, the sick, those excluded," the pope said. "The least ones, who would otherwise stay behind and would experience only grinding poverty on earth, without glimpsing in this life anything of heaven's brightness."

The pope's call for compassion toward migrants and refugees less than a week after a migrant detention camp in Tripoli, Libya, was bombed in an air raid. The Libyan government blamed the July 3 attack on the Libyan National Army, led by renegade military Gen. Khalifa Haftar.

According to the Pan-Arab news television network Al-Jazeera, the air raid killed nearly 60 people, mostly migrants and refugees from African countries, including Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia.

Pope Francis denounced the attack and led pilgrims in prayer for the victims July 7 during his Angelus address.

"The international community can no longer tolerate such grave events," he said. "I pray for the victims; may the God of peace receive the deceased and sustain the wounded."
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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at [email protected]