Catholic World News

After break-in, Bishop Conley prays for burglar’s conversion

Lincoln, Neb., Oct 13, 2015 / 10:03 am (CNA/EWTN News).- When Bishop James Conley’s residence in Lincoln, Nebraska was invaded and burglarized this weekend, he offered a message of forgiveness and called on the faithful to pray that the thief will discover Christ and return the stolen items.

“One of Christ’s last acts on the Cross was forgiveness of a repentant thief,” Bishop Conley said in a statement, adding that “certainly, the Church forgives the person responsible for this crime. God offers his mercy well.”

“I ask all Catholics to join me in praying that the thief will experience a conversion of heart, and seek the mercy of God,” the Lincoln bishop continued.

Around 1:30 P.M. on Saturday, Oct. 10, the alarm in Bishop Conley’s residence was set off, notifying local diocesan officials and the Lincoln police. The bishop was not at home at the time of the break-in.

Among the items stolen were pectoral crosses, one of which is believed to contain a relic of the cross of Jesus. However, no additional items of value were taken from the bishop’s home, and local law enforcement has opened an investigation into the burglary.

Pectoral crosses, usually large and ornamental, are worn by Catholic bishops, cardinals, and popes around their chest as a symbol of their distinctive seat within the Church.

“These crosses belong to the whole Diocese of Lincoln. They signify the unity of our Church in Christ. Let us pray together that they might be returned,” Bishop Conley said.

The Diocese of Lincoln is fully cooperating with the investigation of the burglary, according to diocesan spokesman J.D. Flynn.

“Forgiveness does not exclude accountability,” Flynn said in a recent press release, urging the burglar to give back the crosses. He also stated that the return of the stolen items would be accepted – even anonymously – at any Catholic Church.

Bishop Conley underscored the various outreaches that the Diocese of Lincoln provides, including shelter, food, counseling, training for employment, and crisis assistance. The bishop voiced hope that the local Church would be able to help the burglar, if he or she is in need.

“We care a great deal about the poor, because Jesus Christ was poor. I hope no one will resort to stealing because of some poverty,” Bishop Conley noted, saying, “I hope people, including this thief, will know that the Catholic Church stands eager to help in whatever way we can.”

“I pray, quite sincerely, that the thief will discover that Christ died for him, loves him, and desires to bring him to eternal joy.”

Catholic World News

What is the future of marriage? First we have to look at its history, author says

Washington D.C., Oct 9, 2015 / 12:04 am (CNA).- June’s Obergefell v. Hodges ruling, which mandated recognition of same-sex marriages across the United States, was largely recognized by both supporters and opponents as a groundbreaking ruling.

What are the factors that led to this wide-reaching Supreme Court decision? And what will happen next in the marriage landscape?

Ryan T. Anderson, an author and Senior Research Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, seeks to answer those questions. He traces what he sees an erosion of marriage over the past half-century – as well as examine the future of marriage in the U.S. – in his latest book, Truth Overruled: the Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom.

Anderson begins by saying that the overall restructuring of marriage began long before legalizing homosexual marriage was even a discussion.  

“It’s not gays and lesbians who were the first to come up with the idea that ‘love makes a family,’” Anderson told CNA, saying the slogan came out of the ’60s and the birth of the sexual revolution, which backed the notion that marriage lasts only as long as the feeling of love does.

“In general, the values that come out of the sexual revolution are saying that consenting adults can do whatever consenting adults want to – the only value that matters is consent,” he continued, saying this sentiment is an all-too-familiar quality that has carried itself into the modern-day discussion of marriage.

Post-sexual revolution, America saw the steady rise of the hookup culture, non-marital childbearing, divorce, and cohabitation, he said. This escalation ignored the traditional, comprehensive understanding of marriage as a life-long, permanent bond between a man and a woman – making it more and more feasible to redefine its meaning.

“It’s only after a generation or two of heterosexuals making a mess of marriage that it is even plausible to have justices legally redefine what marriage is,” Anderson asserted.

Allowing same-sex marriage across the country is not the only problem with the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling, according to Anderson, who says this decision also tackles an additional political hurdle.

“The U.S. Constitution does not define marriage one way or the other – they leave that up to the states,” he said, and it is “unclear” why five Supreme Court justices were given the ability to make the decision for all 50 states when the Constitution remains silent on the matter.

Ever since the ruling in June, Anderson said, religious freedom and democratic justice have been threatened by the very fact that the tradition of democracy was usurped during the proceedings of the 5-4 ruling.

“The Supreme Court’s ruling is not just going to impact marriage, but also civil society, religious freedom, education, our children and grandchildren,” he wrote.

First, “redefining marriage teaches that men and women are interchangeable, that moms and dads are replaceable,” stated Anderson.

“It makes it further difficult for us to say that fathers are essential, whereas redefining marriage makes them optional,” he continued, saying that every family with a mother and father have been undermined by this decision, cheapening the very fabric of familial culture.

Secondly, Anderson says that the ruling paves the way for polygamy, which is currently illegal in all 50 states.

“Once you get rid of the male-female part of marriage, there is no reason for marriage to be monogamous, exclusive, or permanent,” he said.

The author also pointed to other effects of same-sex marriage on Americans, such as the Colorado cake baker who is facing a lawsuit for declining to bake a cake for a same-sex ceremony. Anderson said, this is just one example of how individuals and religious freedom are being manipulated in the name of tolerance.

In addition, he said, the Supreme Court ruling “has shut down debate just as we were starting to hear new voices – gay people who agree that children need their mother and father, and children of same-sex couples who wish they knew both their mom and dad.”

As an example, he pointed to Heather Barwick, a daughter of same-sex parents, who has said that being raised in this way is harmful for children because it deprives them of their right to both a mother and a father.

Despite these consequences, Anderson does not see the legalization of same-sex marriage as inevitably being the final word.

“The Supreme Court got marriage wrong, and got the Constitution wrong,” he asserted, but every American should be working to protect their liberties and freedoms – by going out into the public square and bear witness to traditional marriage.

“We can do this in our own lives, by living out the truth about marriage in our families,” Anderson concluded, saying that “we also have to be prepared to make the argument about marriage, what it is, and why it matters.”

Catholic US News

Chicago shrine seeks help to rebuild after devastating fire

Chicago, Ill., Oct 8, 2015 / 04:36 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- This morning the Shrine of Christ the King Sovereign Priest in Chicago launched a online restoration fund following Wednesday’s fire at the church which collapsed much of its roof.

Firefighters responded to the conflagration shortly before 6 a.m. Sept. 7.

The following day the shrine, a certified charity, launched a GoFundMe campaign aimed at raising $500,000 for its restoration. In the last nine hours, it has already raised more than $11,000.

The community writes that “This church has an aura of hope. The Canons and staff at the Shrine are fully committed to carry on the work of restoration, in spite of the devastating fire.”

While the choir loft and part of the roof collapsed, and the windows and much of the interior furnishings were destroyed, the building’s walls and bell tower were secure following the fire. Adjoining the shrine are a rectory and a women’s shelter (formerly a school), both of which were unharmed.

No one was injured, and among the valuables rescued from the blaze were the tabernacle and a 17th century statue of the Infant of Prague.

“Unfortunately, most of the roof collapsed into the structure,” said Deputy Fire Commissioner John McNicholas, according to the local CBS affiliate. “So as beautiful as the structure is, it sustained an awful lot of damage.”
The church is a historic landmark – it was built in 1923 as St. Gelasius parish, and the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest was already in the midst of renovating the building.

The shrine is located in the Woodlawn neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. It forms the United States headquarters of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, a society of apostolic life whose aim is to spread the reign of Christ in all spheres of life, and which celebrates the extraordinary form of the Roman rite.

Parishioners at the Shrine participating in the Mass of Palm Sunday. Photo courtesy of the ICKSP.

The shrine had offered concerts and social events to edify the neighborhood since having been entrusted to the Institute in 2004.

Fire officials have said the fire may have been started from rags which were improperly stored after varnishing a portion of the shrine’s floor.

Catholic World News

A triumph through remarkable trial – the story of one Catholic athlete

Naples, Fla., Oct 6, 2015 / 03:07 am (Sports Up Today).- Remembering the words spoken by then-five year-old Valeria Tkacik still gives her mother, Anne, goose bumps.

“I turned around to look at her, and she was looking at me and smiling, and I’ll never forget that day. She said, ‘Mommy, I was born to make people happy.’ I said to her, ‘I know you will.’ I truly believe she was getting a message from the angels right then. And from all her achievements, I know this to be true.”

These days, Tkacik is a standout lacrosse player for Ave Maria University in Florida. By all accounts, she is a leader on and off the field.

Tkacik was named to the National Women’s Lacrosse League South Regional Team and is considered a talented athlete who loves playing lacrosse, basketball, golf, track, soccer and flag football.

A good student in the classroom, Tkacik was also accepted as a Mother Teresa Scholar at Ave Maria. She has contributed service time for charity work, including a mission trip to Harlem, N.Y., where she served the poor and homeless. Tkacik recently donated 12 inches of her hair to Art of Wigs (Texas) to help cancer patients. As a freshman, she served as a representative on Ave Maria’s Student Government. For her sophomore year, she will serve on the Student Activities Board and was selected for Ave Maria’s Media Internship Program.  

And if those achievements aren’t enough, Tkacik is also a motivational speaker, helping patients who are struggling with the loss of limbs and providing them encouragement. The reason? Tkacik can relate to their story.

You see, what makes Tkacik’s life especially inspiring is that she achieves so much with only one arm.

Tkacik was adopted from Russia at 18 months old. Her parents say they were meant to be a family right from the start. In fact, Tkacik came home nine months from when they first saw her picture.

“We look at Valeria as we are blessed,” says her mother, clearly proud. “It was the right direction to go in our lives. We always look back and think, she wasn’t born to us but it was perfect harmony between the three of us. You’re either meant for adoption or you’re not. It’s given to you by God.”

Tkacik was born with a condition called congenital shoulder disarticulation, meaning she has no left arm. Workers at the children’s home where she was born said the condition was due to complications from the kidney medication her birth mother was taking during her pregnancy.

But being born with only one arm hasn’t stopped Tkacik from living a life more active than most.

Tkacik’s parents decided early on that words like “handicapped” and “disability” would not be part of their home vocabulary. “We knew with her situation that we wanted to make sure Valeria had the confidence needed to do the things she wants to do,” says her father, John. “Valeria knew she had to work harder than others and she did, that’s the kind of girl she is. Valeria has a lot of self-confidence and we can’t hold her back.”

Tkacik thrived on that support.

“My parents always believed that they would never set any limitations on me,” she says. “They always encouraged me to do my best.  My parents have given me everything.”

From the time Tkacik was very young, she loved playing with toy horses, and one day, she asked to try horseback riding.

John says, “She was four when she started ‘pony camp’ and I remember she was in a riding show her first year. That smile on her face just stole the judge’s hearts. You can never look to Valeria to see which team is losing or winning because she’s always smiling. Valeria enjoys everything she does, she enjoys life.”

Tkacik went on to take five years of dance classes including hip hop and tap dancing, played the trumpet in elementary school and was in the school’s Drama Club. She also got involved in sports, which she says helped build her confidence.

“Growing up as a little girl, I never saw my life as any different and I don’t think my friends did either,” she says.

In fact, her parents called Tkacik the “Pied Piper” of their neighborhood as a child because of her ability to attract new friends. It’s those friends and her community which have lent her support throughout the years.

Still, Tkacik says people are often curious about how she’s able to handle life with one arm.

“People always asked me growing up how I am able to tie my shoes, how do I put my hair up in a pony tail or how I am able to play lacrosse,” she said. “I just say that I just do it. Even though I only have one arm, God has given me so many other beautiful gifts. It’s been a real honor and blessing to please the Lord with all the events and activities I’ve been doing and I think He is pleased with how I handled my situation growing up.”

It didn’t take long for Tkacik’s athletic talents to progress from her first game in 4th grade basketball to some lofty achievements on her 8th grade team. That was the year she was named to two all-tournament teams and won a 3-point contest. She led her team in scoring, assists and blocked shots – so strong defensively that she was the team’s center.  

As a junior in high school, Tkacik played an important role during her basketball team’s championship season. She also played the position of defender as a lacrosse player for her high school team; a sport that she had not played until her sophomore year. “I loved guarding the cage,” she said. “At Ave Maria, I also got to play mid-field and absolutely loved it.” Tkacik’s quickness and speed allow her to be a diverse player on the field.  

Tkacik said she always knew that God had a plan for her and the entire Tkacik family points to her strong faith as the reason for her success.

“She learned her Catholic faith attending Catholic schools but also living in the faith at home. We would say rosaries at home together. She would remind us it was almost time to pray. The feeling you get from that as a parent wants to make you do it that much more,” her mother reflected.

Those teachings have served her well as a young adult now living away at college. She frequently attends Mass at her university and spends time in the Adoration Chapel.

“(People) always ask me how I am able to do what I do. They say it is something that they could never do,” she said. “It’s a crutch that God gives certain people that He thinks can overcome it and I think I am the right person to handle this.”

“God led my parents to Russia to come pick me up,” she says. “I always had joy in my heart and I always want to give back to God because without Him, I don’t know where I would be.”

Tkacik, a political science major, said she would love to get into politics in the future as she also completed an internship with U.S. Senator Rob Portman in Washington, DC.

“I just think it’s fascinating,” she said. She also an interest in attending law school following her undergraduate studies and is also considering pursuing a career in the media.

Ultimately, Tkacik said she just wants to live the life she’s been called to live.

“Actions speak louder than words and I just love my life,” she said. “My goal is to continue to live a Christ-like life.”

Diane Xavier contributed to this story

Reprinted with permission from Sports Up Today.


Hide me
Sign up below to have the hottest Catholic news delivered to your email daily!
Enter your email address:
Show me
Menu Title