Bright Hope Launches ‘Season of Hope’ Campaign: Gifts That Change Lives for the Extreme Poor

December 7, 2010

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill., (MetroCatholic) — This time of year is truly a season filled with hope, happiness, and amazing miracles. This is also a season of hope for the poor. Even in the poorest, darkest places that Bright Hope serves, this same hope fills the hearts of the poor. You can be a part of bringing hope to the poor by being a blessing to others through Bright Hope’s “Season of Hope” campaign.

Imagine a child looking forward to a hot meal every school day, freedom from malaria because of a simple mosquito net, the warmth of a single blanket as he sleeps at night, or a family to care for him. “These may be simple joys to us, but they are life-changing wonders for children in Africa, Asia, and Latin America,” states Craig Dyer, Bright Hope President.

Your “Season of Hope” gift can bring hope through micro-loans and job training for many families. Such gifts can enable men to earn enough to sustain their families on their own. It can allow women to proudly display their handiwork of crafts, baked bread, sewing projects, and/or goods to be sold in their community - serving as a working example to their children and the entire village.

You can bring empowerment to the indigenous churches in the 10 countries Bright Hope serves. Distribution of Bibles in native languages and pastor/church support are discipleship in action. These churches are at the core of Bright Hope, delivering physical, economic, and spiritual hope to all they encounter. With your gift, the extreme poor will receive help through their church, directly experiencing miraculous blessings in their lives.

The “Season of Hope” catalog offers twelve gifts that can be given on behalf of a friend or loved one that will truly make a difference in the poorest parts of the world. These are gifts that will change lives by providing health, food, job opportunities and hope to people and communities ravaged by poverty - those living on less than $1 a day.

We also want helping the poor to be a fun and unique experience. Use the clever child’s “HopeCatcher” game that is available to help your children or grandchildren assemble the game and follow the instructions. Talk about the different options to support the poor this Christmas and choose the one(s) that best reflect your family or loved one’s gratitude to Jesus and obedience to His Word.

To order a gift that changes lives, place your order online at BrightHope.org by clicking on “Season of Hope,” or call Bright Hope at 224-520-6100.

All gifts given through the “Season of Hope” campaign are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

Whoever is kind to the needy, honors God. Proverbs 14:31

Bright Hope is a not for profit 501(c)(3) organization bringing Hope to those living on less than $1 a day.
Bright Hope is in the Top 5% of charities, receiving five consecutive 4-star ratings by Charity Navigator.

2060 Stonington Avenue
Hoffman Estates, IL 60169
224-520-6100
BrightHope.org

Giving thanks has life-changing impact, priest and psychologist says

November 26, 2010

Denver, CO  (CNA).- Fr. Charles Shelton –a Jesuit priest, psychologist, and the author of a new book on gratitude– says that the choice to live gratefully can help to improve virtually every aspect of a person’s life.

The multi-talented priest, a professor of psychology at Denver’s Regis University, recently published “The Gratitude Factor,” a book that examines the importance of giving thanks for one’s work, leisure, relationships, and other everyday experiences of God’s grace.

Fr. Shelton has made notable contributions to the field of “positive psychology,” a branch of the social science which studies the cultivation of virtue and well-being. “The Gratitude Factor” combines his work in the field with an emphatic focus on Christian spirituality, in the tradition of St. Ignatius Loyola.

Speaking to CNA on Nov. 20, he explained how the choice to live gratefully, even in the midst of difficulty, could profoundly change one’s experience of the world. Gratitude, he said, gives depth to the experience of joy, and profound meaning to less desirable tasks–  by “re-framing” both as important aspects of the life that one receives from God.

He stressed that gratitude, for Christians, comes most of all from understanding that “we are God’s sons and daughters, and Jesus’ brothers and sisters.” That “core experience” is “channeled, through our hearts, into various commitments” that allow believers to share God’s gifts to them with others.

“The more we can carve out some time to reflect on that (identity) in our lives,” he offered, “the more rich they become.” He described the fatherhood of God as a “centering point” for Christian gratitude, allowing the entire range of human experiences to be viewed as God-given responsibilities.

Jesus himself, Fr. Shelton observed, was grateful for every aspect of his human life: not only for his family, community and work, but also –as the priest explains in a profound passage of “The Gratitude Factor”–  for his suffering and death, which he accepted to give new life to humanity.

While some experiences naturally inspire a feeling of gratitude, others take work, patience and prayer to appreciate. Sometimes the benefit of a situation is completely hidden, requiring the attitude of faith. “Regardless of what happens, I would want to be a grateful person,” Fr. Shelton said. “You could weather anything, and draw from it, if you are grateful.”

But even when it comes to obviously good experiences, Fr. Shelton stressed that gratitude is a virtue that requires attention and effort to develop. His book offers a number of strategies for making thankfulness a part of life, including a “daily gratitude inventory” modeled on the Jesuits’ traditional
techniques for recalling God’s presence.

Besides making a person aware of God’s blessings, Fr. Shelton explained that gratitude helps people appreciate one another. The act of giving thanks, he noted, is always outward-directed. “Because it’s always an acknowledgment of someone else, or something else, by definition there has to be an openness (to others) … That’s just inherent in what the experience is.”

Since it is oriented toward others, the experience of gratitude can especially deepen bonds with friends and family. “The whole idea of bonding, and community, comes out of gratitude,” he reflected. “We see the gifts of others, we’re grateful for the gifts of others, and we all need the gifts of others.”

Fr. Shelton also affirmed that the gratitude-centered holiday of Thanksgiving, while not a liturgical feast in its own right, could offer Catholics in the U.S. a unique chance to prepare themselves for the season of Advent. Modern consumer trends have tended to eclipse that liturgical time, in favor of a “shopping season” filled with anxiety.

But Fr. Shelton noted that Thanksgiving was perfectly timed to help American Catholics rediscover Advent. An authentic Thanksgiving experience of gratitude, he said, could help Catholics begin preparing to receive the surpassing gift of Jesus’ arrival, rather than focusing on shopping.

“Studies show (that) people who feel grateful, don’t feel the need for as many material possessions,” he noted. “They don’t have to fill themselves up” to compensate for a perceived “deficit.” By using Thanksgiving to consider “the gifts God has given … through this year, up to now,” Catholics could more easily embrace “the idea of waiting” that should define Advent.

“It makes sense, psychologically,” he said. “Although this is a secular holiday … it does become, for American Catholics, a fitting end to the liturgical calendar – as we really reflect on what Thanksgiving is.”

Although the Church’s solemnity of Christ the King formally closes the liturgical year and signals Advent’s beginning, its moveable date always closely coincides with the civic holiday of Thanksgiving. Fr. Shelton reflected that the combination of the national and liturgical celebrations could enrich American Catholics’ experience of both.

“Having felt God’s gifts,” he said, “we can now prepare ourselves for the greatest gift,” –that of Christ’s birth –“which is coming.”

UD Ministry Conference a Great Success

November 5, 2010

Dallas, TX (Diocese of Dallas) - A new attendance record was set for the University of Dallas Ministry Conference held at the Dallas Convention Center on October 22-23. The fourth annual event drew more than 5,000 people, most of them ministry leaders from parishes throughout Texas and Louisiana.

Conference goers had the opportunity to hear internationally well-known speakers such as Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Reverend Ignacio Larranaga and John Allen.  Speakers addressed topics in all areas of ministry such as youth and young adult, marriage, catechesis and social media/communications. 

The event was co-sponsored by UD, the Diocese of Dallas and the Diocese of Forth Worth.  Bishop Kevin J. Farrell expressed gratitude to those who attended, “Ongoing faith formation is vital for our ministry leaders to increase the knowledge and spirituality they pass on to the communities they serve.  I am very grateful that so many took the time out of their busy schedules to further hone their skills and gather as Catholics in prayer.” 

The bishop encourages even more people to plan to attend next year’s conference. 

POPE SENDS GREETINGS TO CHIEF RABBI FOR ROSH HASHANAH

September 10, 2010

VATICAN CITY, 10 SEP 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father has sent a telegram to Riccardo Di Segni, chief rabbi of Rome, for the Jewish festivities of Rosh Hashanah 5771 (New Year), Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles), which all fall in the month of September.

On these feast days, writes the Pope, “it is my pleasure to express the most cordial and sincere best wishes to you and to the entire Jewish community of Rome, together with the hope that these festivities may bring copious blessings from the Eternal One and be a source of intimate joy. May we all feel a growing desire to promote justice and peace, of which the world today has such need.

“With gratitude and affection I recall my visit to the Great Synagogue. May God, in His goodness, protect the entire community and enable it to develop in shared friendship, both in Rome and in the world”.

‘We will bury Katrina,’ New Orleans archbishop declares on fifth anniversary

August 31, 2010

New Orleans, LA (CNA).- Five years after the Hurricane Katrina disaster, Archbishop of New Orleans Gregory Aymond remembered the dead and thanked those who have helped recovery work. He noted that the symbolic funeral residents held for Katrina shows that it is time “to let her go.”

“Five years ago Katrina, the unwelcomed guest, did ravage on our city and left incredible destruction,” the archbishop said in a video posted on August 29 at the archdiocese’s website.

“We stand here five years later in a spirit of hope and gratitude, with hope for those who have died. We cannot forget the hundreds who died. We commend them to God’s kingdom and ask God’s blessings on their families as they grieve.”

“On Saturday morning we will bury Katrina,” said the archbishop. “We will have a jazz funeral. We’re hoping she doesn’t resurrect. It is a very symbolic gesture … that it is time to let her go. But we must move on to hope and to the future.”

The archbishop expanded on his remarks in a Sunday reflection.

“It would be easy to allow those feelings of confusion, anxiety, and despair from five years ago to creep back into our heads and spirits, but today, we must ask God to help us to rise above those feelings and allow our loving God to replace them with renewed feelings of faith and hope,” he commented.

Acknowledging that he cannot fully understand the emotions of Katrina’s victims because he was not living in New Orleans at the time of the disaster, he said that the strength of people is “amazing.”

“I am constantly inspired by the stories of those who have rebuilt and those who found solace in their faith and in love of God, family and neighbor. This is what makes New Orleans special. Your faith in God inspires me!”

“There is tremendous hope here,” he added in his video.

He pledged help from the Catholic Church to those who are still rebuilding.

“I promise to do all within our means to help you though your pain and your struggles and to be the heart of Jesus Christ to you in your time of need,” he told the disaster’s victims. “We must not forget Katrina, but must use those experiences to grow and strengthen our families and communities so that we may be an example of God’s hope to our neighbors and the rest of the country.”

In the video, the archbishop also praised the “incredible work” of Catholic charities and reported that the organization had helped provide over $55 million in aid to the hurricane’s victims. He thanked other Catholic bishops and Catholics of other dioceses who contributed to the recovery work.

He noted that Catholic Charities’ relief work recently faced a severe shortfall until a gift of $100,000 came from David Blossman of the Abita Brewing Company to help the relief work continue.

Archbishop Aymond also reported that Tom and Gayle Benson, owners of the New Orleans Saints football team, have recently decided to contribute to Catholic Charities’ relief work for Gulf oil spill victims.

“When we seem not to have enough, with the little bit we have and with God’s blessings, we have plenty,” the Archbishop of New Orleans said.

The archbishop has asked all parishes in the archdiocese to say a special Mass in honor of Our Lady of Prompt Succor to thank her for her prayers and to ask her intercession with Jesus for ongoing protection for the region. He also asked Catholics to join in prayer for New Orleans, asking that Our Lady’s prayers will join them more closely to Jesus

Letters to Priests, Thanking The Men Of the Catholic Church

May 21, 2010

McKinney, TX (MetroCatholic)  Press Release:

If you could write a letter describing how you were healed from a tragedy and heal a man two continents away, would you write the letter? If you could describe how a Priest stood by you as your child fought for their lives and offered you The Peace of Christ, with words, would you share them, in hopes of healing others? If you could offer encouragement to a Priest who ministered in Africa and was lonely and discouraged, and your letter shined light on the beauty of the healing that comes with Reconciliation or the peace that comes with The Eucharist, and you lighten his load, would you write the letter?

Lives all over the world have been challenged by facing our global economic slowdown. These challenges compound the difficulty of facing our everyday grief such as illness in the family, death, divorce, injuries, or job loss. Many lives have been pushed to seek help or guidance from our faith through the Sacrament of Reconciliation or counseling directly with a priest.

Sharing our burden with a Priest often leaves us with a golden nugget of words to ponder. These words are healing words that may stay with us for years, if not decades. Letters To Priests, Thanking The Men of The Catholic Church is an interactive book of sharing the golden nuggets of healing so that others may read our book and their journey may be lightened of pain held deep inside of them.

Join us in this grassroots effort by using gratitude to heal those you may never meet. Visit the website www.letterstopriests.com and submit a letter. You will receive an email from Teena or Anne asking permission to use the letter and thanking you. You will get to know the writers and become part of this uplifting project that reflects on so many positive gifts given to laity during times of great need.

One of the challenges is trying to let the many Catholics who are not yet online know about the project. Help spread the word in our parish bulletins and any way you can in order to collect more letters. This is a collaborative effort and involves the whole Catholic community to create a comprehensive collection of unique insights into the various ways priests benefit the community.

Anne Hughes and Teena Adamick  www.letterstopriests.com

http://www.ncregister.com/blog/catholics_in_new_media_letters_to_priests

Letters To Priests, Thanking The Men Of The Catholic Church,

A grassroots effort to show gratitude for the true value of Catholic Priests.

[email protected] Please email us your letters of gratitude.

Website to send letters to: http://letterstopriests.blogspot.com/

Mailing address: P.O. Box 482, Ada, MI 49301

http://www.catholic.org/prwire/headline.php?ID=8909

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