Denver, Colo., Jul 29, 2014 / 02:06 am (CNA).- A new movement seeking to unite the faithful and their pastors in the formation of thriving parishes has seen a wide scope of interest throughout the U.S. in the time since it was started little more than …
Posts Tagged ‘US’
Washington D.C., Jul 28, 2014 / 05:28 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- While welcoming the proposal for a new global religious freedom ambassador after a nine-month vacancy, one expert warned that adequate resources must be given for the position to be effective.
Washington D.C., Jul 27, 2014 / 04:11 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The head of the U.S. bishops’ international justice and peace committee implored Secretary of State John Kerry to utilize U.S. foreign policy to address the “root causes” of c…
Philadelphia, Pa., Jul 25, 2014 / 10:22 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Reports that Pope Francis will travel to the U.S. for the World Meeting of Families in 2015 remain unconfirmed by the Vatican; however, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia is confident of the pontiff’s attendance.
On July 25, reports began to circulate the Archbishop Chaput had confirmed Pope Francis’ presence at the meeting in his cathedral city next year.
However, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia explained in a statement that there “has been no official confirmation by the Vatican or The Holy See of Pope Francis’ attendance.”
“We still expect that any official confirmation will come approximately six months prior to the event,” the archdiocese said, explaining that “Archbishop Chaput’s comments do not serve as official confirmation, (but) they do serve to bolster our sincere hope that Philadelphia will welcome Pope Francis next September.”
“Archbishop Chaput has frequently shared his confidence in Pope Francis’ attendance at the World Meeting and his personal conversations with the Holy Father are the foundation for that confidence,” the statement said.
The 2015 World Meeting of Families will be held Sept. 22-27 under the theme, “Love is our mission: the family fully alive.” Tens of thousands from across the world are anticipated to attend the event.
The World Meeting of Families began in 1994 by the Pontifical Council for the Family under St. John Paul II. Its mission is to strengthen families across the globe, encouraging them to live their faith with joy and sincerity.
Earlier this week, it was announced that the meeting is to be under the patronage of St. John Paul II, who visited Philadelphia in 1979, and St. Gianna Molla, who died while giving birth.
Archbishop Chaput has previously hinted at the Pope’s presence at the event.
While “obviously a papal visit is never official until the Holy See confirms it,” he said June 11 at the U.S. bishops’ spring general assembly in New Orleans, “we do have good reasons to believe that Pope Francis will take part in the meeting, and we are planning to welcome him wholeheartedly.”
He added that the meeting “comes at a time when the Church in the U.S. urgently needs an opportunity for joy and renewal. It is also a time of great confusion about the nature of marriage and family,” he said, noting that its goal is to “offer the beauty of Catholic teaching about marriage and the family with confidence and a spirit of invitation to every person of good will.”
Washington D.C., Jul 25, 2014 / 06:16 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A strong national economy requires strong families, supported by both government and the broader community, said Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in a recent policy speech.
“Too often in m…
Philadelphia, Pa., Jul 25, 2014 / 04:07 am (CNA).- Dan, Rilene and Paul knew that once their stories were out, life would not be the same.
“We’ve been advised not to google ourselves,” Rilene said, laughing.
These three are the subjects of a recently released documentary, “Desire of the Everlasting Hills,” which chronicles their stories of having same-sex attraction, and how they eventually found peace in the Catholic Church.
The film made its world premiere in Pennsylvania July 19 at a conference for Courage, the Vatican-approved apostolate that reaches out to Catholics with same-sex attraction with the goals of growing closer to God, engaging in supportive friendships, and learning to live full lives within the call to chastity.
Its simple style and universal themes of human love and longing, however, make the film a touching and moving experience for a much broader audience.
All three said they approached their involvement in the film with some trepidation. They were hesitant about the responses they might get from their family and friends, and those in the LGBT community.
“I was very scared to do this movie,” Dan told CNA July 19. A professional musician, he was worried what people in the music industry might think. He didn’t want to be seen as “Dan the gay man.” Before this film he had never been publicly out, and had occasionally dated women.
“But I was thinking about 1 Peter 3:15, where he says ‘Always be prepared to give an answer for the hope that lies within you.’ With how good God has been to me, if I can help other people through my story, that’s why I chose to do this.”
Dan’s passion is especially to help young people who are experiencing same-sex attraction. Although he was Catholic when he was young, his family became Protestant by the time he was in his teenage years. He remembers feeling like there was no one he could talk to about what he was experiencing.
“I remember the pastor doing a series on sexual purity, and he was talking about lusting after women,” Dan said, “And I remember thinking, ‘Who can I tell, that the guy two pews in front of me is the guy that I’m lusting after?’”
In the film, Dan recounts going to a strip club as an experiment. He ended up talking vegetables with a dancer, and still uses some of her gardening tips to this day.
He then decided that he still wanted the normalcy of a dating relationship, so he started dating Jason, with whom he was in a relationship for about a year. But his desires for a family and biological fatherhood were reawakened when he found himself falling in love with Kelly, a woman at work.
When his relationship with Kelly ended, Dan said he found himself tempted to find another relationship with a man.
“But I had reached a threshold where I realized the path to peace … was not going back.”
Rilene participated in the film because she felt she owed it to God to be as outspoken about him as she had been about being gay.
“When I was gay I dragged my partner out of the closet,” she said. “I feel like I at least owe God the same level of full disclosure, so that’s why I am openly back in the Church and abandoned my gay identity.”
In the film, Rilene recalled that at first she wanted to be loved by a man and to have a family. But after a dating dry spell and a woman making a move on her at a party, she started questioning whether or not she might really be attracted to women.
On a business trip, she met a woman, Margo, who was to be her partner for 25 years.
“I think she was a lot like me in many ways, she was professional,” Rilene said. “And she wanted me, honestly. And I needed to be wanted.”
But even throughout that relationship, Rilene said she felt restless and often alone. After a series of financial downfalls and a marriage proposal from Margo, Rilene left the relationship and eventually found her way back into a Catholic parish.
She said she felt like the film was a good chance for her and the other subjects to sort through their thoughts and examine their lives.
“There were so many blessings in this movie for us, the actual conversation, the questioning, helped to focus our own thoughts for each of us on different aspects of our life that maybe we hadn’t considered as closely before.”
“And it has wonderful graces so far, and whatever else comes, that’s the way it goes, we’ll just take it as it comes.”
Paul got involved in the gay scene after moving to New York City in the 1970s. He landed a high-end job as an international model and rubbed elbows with celebrities at clubs in the city.
“Studio 54, especially if you were young and somewhat attractive, you could go there and it would be total heaven. The lights, the way people dressed, the music, the movie stars … it was exactly like you’ve heard,” he said in the film.
When he wasn’t at the studio or at the gym, Paul spent his time looking for partners. He found himself going through dozens, and then hundreds, and then thousands of lovers.
“It became frantic, and it was never my intention … but I became insensitive to what it means to be with a partner, both body and soul.”
When the AIDs epidemic claimed around 90 percent of his friends, Paul decided to move to San Francisco for a fresh start. He met his partner, Jeff, there and they moved to a cabin in Sonoma County.
One day while watching T.V., Paul came across a strange image and called Jeff into the room to laugh at what they saw.
“I’m laughing mockingly at this nun with a patch over her eye, a distorted face (I didn’t know she had a stroke at the time), and a complete, old fashioned habit,” he said.
It was Mother Angelica on EWTN.
Jeff and Paul both laughed at “these crazy Christians”, but when Jeff left the room, Paul kept watching.
“I was about to change the channel, she said something so intelligent and so real and so honest that it really struck me.”
“You see God created you and I to be happy in this life and the next. He cares for you. He watches your every move. There’s no one that loves you (that) can do that,” Mother Angelica said.
From then on, Paul was hooked on Mother Angelica. But he hid his new obsession. He would change the channel after watching her so that Jeff or anyone who used the T.V. wouldn’t see the nun.
“And it reminded me as I was doing this of when I used to turn the channel when I was watching porn because I didn’t want Jeff or anyone else to see a porn station come up.”
Paul anticipates that the negative response to this film will be huge. Even though the film wasn’t public at the time of the interview, Paul said he’s already seen a reaction.
“I got blowback because I walked up the stairs … of a church called the Catholic Church. I lost clients, I lost friends.”
“People were in shock that an educated, relatively intelligent man could believe in Jesus Christ. These were the few friends that were aware that I was back in the Church.”
Dan echoed Paul’s sentiments about the reaction he expects from the film.
“I think my colleagues would have no problem if I were to come out as gay. I think they’re baffled by the fact that I’m Catholic.”
All three also said that once they were back in the Church, they started to distance themselves from the label “gay” or “lesbian”.
Within the Church, the terminology is not preferred because it tends to pigeonhole people by defining them first by their sexual drives.
“I went to a Protestant conference and one of the people said, ‘Maybe you need to consider the fact that the label ‘gay’ doesn’t define you,’ and that was one of the most liberating things,” Dan said. “I think the very fact that the Church would avoid the terms gay and lesbian speaks to the truth of the human person, and there’s something vitally important about the Church’s refusal to use that.”
When asked about what the Church needs to do to better serve people with same-sex attraction, the answer was resoundingly that priests and the Church need to be better educated about the Church’s position.
Rilene said within the first few years of living with Margo, a priest knocked on her door for a parish survey. When she burst into tears, explaining that she used to be Catholic but felt unwanted by the Church because she was a lesbian, the priest didn’t know what to say.
“He just said, ‘No, we want you!’ But there was nothing behind that … he just had no tools. So I think that our priests need the education, they need training. I know priests who I don’t think even know what the Church’s position is on it, or are resistant to it.”
“So, that’s what we need to do. We need to arm our priests.”
Dan said he hoped that priests would also not shy away from the topic, or the Church’s teachings on the subject.
“One of the guys in Courage said chastity isn’t a consolation prize. Our lives are better because of the Church’s teaching, and we shouldn’t be embarrassed by that,” he said. “We should shout it from the mountaintops, it’s the good news!”
Denver, Colo., Jul 24, 2014 / 08:07 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A federal judge ruled Wednesday against Colorado’s marriage defense amendment, leading the state attorney general to say the case will ultimately be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. &nbs…
Orange, Calif., Jul 24, 2014 / 04:20 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- On Thursday, EWTN Global Catholic Network announced it has begun construction on a television studio on the West Coast, located on the campus of the Diocese of Orange’s Christ Cathedral.
“As we transform the Christ Cathedral campus into a dynamic and inspirational center of Catholic worship and outreach, we are blessed to partner with EWTN to share our community’s energy and faithful witness with the world,” Bishop Kevin Vann of Orange said July 24 at the Napa Institute.
“EWTN’s partnership will profoundly benefit our Church, enabling us to share the love of Christ with millions across the world in multiple languages from the Cathedral campus, here in Orange County.”
The new studio is expected to be operational by the end of 2014, transmitting news and Masses across the world.
Bishop Vann made the announcement along with Michael Warsaw, chief executive officer of EWTN, who said that the network is “pleased to be able to collaborate with Bishop Vann and the Diocese of Orange on this important new project. The studio being developed there will be of great benefit to EWTN’s programming efforts around the globe.”
He added that the West Coast location “gives EWTN a presence in an area of the country where the Network will be able to execute programs that would be difficult to produce elsewhere, particularly for our Spanish-language channels.”
“We are also pleased to develop this West Coast studio in advance of the historic renovation of the Christ Cathedral itself,” he said, adding that EWTN “will be well positioned and prepared to share news of this closely watched transformation with our viewers.”
The Diocese of Orange purchased the 3,000-seat Crystal Cathedral in February 2012 from the Protestant community which founded it. The structure was renamed Christ Cathedral, and will serve as the seat of the Bishop of Orange.
The purchase was made after Crystal Cathedral had filed for bankruptcy in October 2010 when some of its creditors sued for payment.
The Diocese of Orange, one of the nation’s largest, is home to the more than 1.2 million Catholics who live in California’s Orange County.
Established 33 years ago, EWTN is the largest religious media network in the world, reaching over 230 million television households in more than 140 countries and territories.
The network includes television, radio and a publishing arm, along with a website and both electronic and print news services.
Chicago, Ill., Jul 24, 2014 / 04:19 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis on Thursday named a Chicago-area priest to become an auxiliary bishop of the Syro-Malabarese Eparchy of Saint Thomas the Apostle of Chicago.
Father Joy Alappat, 57, the vicar of Mar Thoma Sleeha Cathedral in Bellwood, Ill., will become a bishop for the diocese which serves the faithful of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church in the U.S.
He was born in Parappukara, in the Indian state of Kerala, in 1956. The bishop-designate attended St. Thomas Apostolic Seminary in Vadavathoor and was ordained a priest of the Syro-Malabarese Diocese of Irinjalakuda in 1981.
Fr. Alappat undertook graduate studies at St. Joseph’s Pontifical Institute in Aluva and at Adheva University in Wattair. He then did pastoral work in Chalkudy, Mala and at the Irinjalakuda cathedral.
He was a chaplain in Chennai before he was transferred to the U.S. in 1993.
Fr. Alappat served as a chaplain at Georgetown University Medical Center from 1999-2002, where he completed the university’s clinical pastoral education program.
His pastoral assignments in the U.S. include New Milford, Conn., and Newark and Garfield in New Jersey.
The date of Fr. Alappat’s episocopal consecration has yet to be determined.
The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church is an India-based Eastern Catholic Church. It is of the East Syrian rite, and most closely related to the Chaldean Catholic Church.
There are some 4 million Syro-Malabarese Catholics in the world, mainly in India, making it the second largest Eastern Catholic Church.
The Syro-Malabarese Eparchy of St. Thomas the Apostle of Chicago is led by Bishop Jacob Angadiath, who was appointed in 2001 when the eparchy was established.
In 2010, the eparchy, which serves all the Syro-Malabarese Catholics in the U.S., included 86,000 faithful, 37 diocesan priests, 10 religious priests, and 18 parishes.
Denver, Colo., Jul 24, 2014 / 04:23 am (CNA/EWTN News).- With a national student loan debt of slightly more than $1 trillion, American colleges may have to start re-thinking the way they do business.
Recent graduates of Catholic colleges are among those feeling the weight of student loan debt. Karissa O’Hearn and her husband Joe both graduated from Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., a few years ago. As a student, Karissa said she did not realize how signing for loan after loan would affect her financial future.
“(Financial aid offices) let you sign a piece of paper saying you’re responsible for 30,000 + dollars in debt, but (they do not) take the time to tell you what that really means,” Karissa told CNA. “For the next 20+ years you could be paying that off, depending on who you marry or what job you get.”
According to Forbes, nearly 12 percent of all student loans are currently delinquent by 90 days or more, making them the type of debt most likely to be in default.
A recent limited-release documentary from CNN films entitled “Ivory Tower” even goes so far as to question the value of a college degree, given the present condition of loan defaults coupled with ever-increasing costs of tuition.
Students with tens to even hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt talked about their struggles to find any job, let alone jobs that would utilize their degrees and help them rise out of debt.
Some professors and experts featured in the film even wonder if there will be some sort of collapse within the college system, leaving the last schools standing to pick up the pieces and forge a more sustainable model of higher education.
If such a collapse were to happen, it is likely that private Catholic colleges, whose tuition is higher than state schools, would take a hit.
But like most national issues, the college debt problem is not simple, and neither are the solutions. CNA spoke with three of the nation’s top Catholic colleges to see how they are dealing with the student debt crisis.
The struggle: A Catholic college student’s view
Karissa O’Hearn represents a fairly typical situation for college graduates.
O’Hearn started out at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), but transferred to Benedictine College in Kansas after her sophomore year. She was drawn to the close community feel and active faith life of the college every time she visited her then-boyfriend (now-husband), Joe, there.
“I felt really called to be at Benedictine even though there were really great things going on at UNL, it just seemed to fit, it felt like where I was supposed to be,” Karissa said.
She attended Benedictine for three years and earned degrees in special education and elementary education. Joe earned dual degrees in philosophy and theology a year earlier than Karissa, and the couple married soon after his graduation.
Finding a job after graduation was easy for Karissa, especially in the area of special education. For Joe, however, things proved difficult.
“He was working jobs a high school student could be easily hired to do, and that was really hard on him because he’s questioning, ‘What about my education? What is that value? How did I spend so much money on school and now I’m getting paid minimum wage?’”
The couple moved back to Grand Island, Neb., after Karissa graduated, where Joe worked as a phlebotomist for the American Red Cross. They then moved to Lincoln so Joe could work on his master’s in order to be able to teach philosophy at the college level. Between the move, taking on more loans for graduate school, and a new baby, the O’Hearns realized they were not longer able to afford the $1,000 a month that was going towards their debt.
They started to default on their loans. Even though Karissa was working full-time for Lincoln Public Schools, times were tight.
“We would be going, ‘Oh my gosh we can’t go get groceries, we can’t do this, we can’t do anything,’ we would be panicking because we were waiting for my paycheck to come in at the end of the month,” Karissa said, “and that was really a scary time for us, and it got so scary that we just stopped making payments on our loans completely, which is not good because our credit score starts dropping.”
After a year, Joe left grad school.
“It was just putting us further into debt because he couldn’t get funded, and the guarantee for a job as a philosophy professor just isn’t there,” Karissa said. Their combined debt now is “well over $70,000.”
Going into college, Karissa said she felt unprepared and uneducated about what it would take to afford college and how loans would impact her finances years into the future. Taking out more loans to afford another semester sounded like a good idea at the time.
“For me it was like ‘oh okay, there’s my answer to that prayer, I’ll take out a loan,’” she said.
Karissa also said the college system seems to favor the very disadvantaged and the upper middle class, while the lower middle class seems to struggle the most.
“You have people like myself and Joseph and tons of other people that are lower middle class, where our parents didn’t go to college, they don’t prepare, they don’t have a college fund waiting for us, they don’t have all these things,” she said.
Finances have become the topic of conversation among fellow Benedictine graduates who are going through similar struggles.
“When we talk about the stress of adulthood, that’s what we talk about, we don’t talk as much about kids and other financial things, we talk about our loans,” she said.
If she could go back, Karissa said she would have thought to try to earn better grades in high school. She would have thought to be educated on the financial terminology surrounding college loans. And, she would have been more up front in asking about the real cost of private college over three years.
“I would have been fine at UNL, I fit in well enough there, but it’s hard because when you’re discerning it’s like, ‘What does God want from me?’, the first thing you don’t want to think about is finances,” she said.
“You think, ‘Oh God has all the money in the world so I’m not going to think about finances,’ but in a lot of ways we’re still called to be responsible for our finances and that is of God too.”
“I really value my time at Benedictine, I’m so grateful for it, I’m so grateful for the lifelong friends that I made there, and for the encounters I had with Christ there,” Karissa said.
“But I don’t know, had I recognized the financial burden, I’m not sure if my educational decisions might have been different.”
Since the O’Hearns have graduated, Benedictine College has responded to the need for students to be more educated about loans and financial terminology.
Tony Tanking, director of financial aid at the school, said he started teaching a class on personal finances last year.
“We’re trying to touch base with more students at an earlier stage by incorporating some financial literacy within our curriculum,” Tanking told CNA.
“Not only do we go over aspects of different parts of their lives with regards to applying for loans and dealing with credit cards (in the class), we also go over terminology and aspects of student loans that those students will be dealing with when they get out of school.”
While the class is currently an elective, it is something Tanking hopes becomes part of the required curriculum for every student.
The increasing expectations students have for a college experience is part of what keeps costs high, he said. Students at Catholic colleges are looking for what a college can offer them academically, spiritually and socially.
“When you take into account all of those things, it’s a challenge for the school because while you’re providing a high level of performance for those students, you also have the accountability of keeping up on buildings, making sure that you’re staffed properly, and making sure that you have competitive wages for your faculty,” Tanking said.
Students who are concerned about their finances should establish a relationship with their college’s financial aid office early on, he suggested.
“Focus on communication, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Talk to your financial aid office, that is an office that is available for free for the students to come in, whether they come in as a freshman or as a sophomore or junior or senior,” Tanking said.
“If they develop a relationship with that office, that office has their information and can help them with understanding what their situation is.”
Tanking said he even has students who will call him and ask for financial advice after they’ve graduated.
“There’s no greater satisfaction than knowing I’ve had an impact on these students and I’m helping them,” he said. “So keep communicating, keep communicating.”
Ave Maria University
Ave Maria University, a Catholic college in Florida, announced in the fall of 2013 that they would be cutting their tuition by $5,000, effective for the 2014-2015 school year. Jim Towey, president of Ave Maria University, said he believes colleges have a moral responsibility to keep costs low.
“You have to look at the morality of a system of higher education that’s placing so much debt on the shoulders of our graduates, even if they’re willing to borrow the money,” Towey told CNA. “You have to ask questions about whether it’s right for a system like that to lead to that outcome.”
Part of the reason Ave Maria University was able to make cuts is the fact that it is still a relatively new and growing university.
“We made a number of cuts back in 2011, we cut our budget by 3.6 million dollars, we laid off a couple dozen people and eliminated positions,” Towey said. “We went through a process of right-sizing the university. I don’t think a lot of universities ever go through that exercise but when you’re a young university you can.”
The process of right-sizing included evaluating the worth of some administrative positions, as well as making sure professors were teaching a full class load.
“Some of these universities where a professor’s teaching one class a semester, is that working for the professor? Sure. Does that help his research? Sure. Does that drive up the cost of that education for the students? Yes,” Towey said.
The current average debt of an Ave Maria graduate is around $22,000 a year, almost $10,000 lower than the average private college graduate. One way the college protects potential students from over-borrowing is by looking at their ability to pay before they are accepted to the school through a program called CAP.
“Are they a fit with our Catholic culture, that’s the ‘C’. Are they academically capable of succeeding, that’s the ‘A’, and ‘P’ can they pay?” Towey explained. “And sometimes private, non-profit universities will admit students where there’s a real question as to how that family is going to afford four years of that education.”
The University of Dallas
Despite the national default rates, there are several people in the field of higher education who say things are not nearly as bleak as they appear. A recent New York Times piece examined many of the cliché arguments surrounding the issue, finding that tuition prices have actually not out-paced inflation as is often believed. Most students still carry a moderate amount of debt, with the highest burden falling on those who drop out. History, the article says, is still on the side of those who earn a degree.
Taryn Anderson, director of financial aid for the University of Dallas, agrees that the issue has been blown out of proportion recently.
“I was at a conference last week for NASFA (National Association of Student Financial Aid Advisors) and they had done some research based on some of the media that was coming out,” Anderson told CNA, “(and they) found that the types of loan debt that are featured in the media, of people who have $100,000 or $200,000 is not the norm, it is a very small percentage that actually have that.”
The national average debt burden a student borrower graduates with is close to $30,000. Students who graduate with loans from the Catholic honors college in Texas are on par with that.
“(Student) debt upon graduation for us is not higher than the national average…and our cohort default rate is much lower than the national average,” Anderson said, “which to us signifies that the degree is worth that amount of borrowing.”
“Now, is it worth double that? Probably not. I don’t think it’s worth borrowing $80-$100,000 and most students are not doing that.”
Part of the debt problem, she said, are families and students who are willing to over-borrow, even despite advice not to do so. Anderson – who meets with potential UD students who are looking at borrowing – says the current system in place requires that she allow students to take out loans regardless of amount.
“The way the federal government is set up, we have to give them our cost of attendance, and we have to allow them to borrow up to that much and we have no say in stopping them from doing that,” Anderson said.
And while Anderson said she tries to help as many students stay at UD as possible by getting creative with financial aid and housing arrangements, she is not afraid to be honest with students.
“I’m not opposed to telling the family this is not the right school for them. I’m definitely not telling the family we’re the cheapest option and they’re going to have to borrow wherever they go,” Anderson said.
Like many of her co-workers, Anderson has attended Catholic school all of her life and deeply values what UD can offer in terms of academics as well as spiritual formation. There are a lot of ways to make Catholic college affordable, even if it means not choosing UD, she said.
“There are options even among Catholic schools that are less expensive, there are options that are closer to your home,” she said. “There’s great Catholic universities all over the country so even just within choosing a Catholic university there are ways that families can keep their costs down.”