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Christians are oriented toward light, hope, pope says at audience

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The ancient practice of orienting church buildings east to west -- with the entrance facing West and the altar toward the East -- was symbolic of the connection that exists between light and hope, Pope Francis said. "What does it mean to be a Christian? It means looking toward the light, continuing to make a profession of faith in the light, even when the world is wrapped in the night and darkness," Pope Francis said at a recent weekly general audience. With temperatures moving toward a forecasted 100 degrees, the pope resumed his audiences indoors after a month's hiatus. He also resumed his series of audience talks about Christian hope. He began by explaining how in ancient times the physical setting of a church building held symbolic importance for believers because the sun sets in the west, "where the light dies," but rises in the east, where "the dawn reminds us of Christ, the sun risen from on high." In fact, he said, using the "language of the cosmos," it was customary to have those about to be baptized proclaim their renunciation of Satan facing west and their profession of faith in God facing wast.

FOCUS ministry doesn't stop with school year

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- With students gone for the summer, campus ministries throughout the country focus on summer conferences and mission work and prepare for thousands of new freshmen as the fall semester approaches. For the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, ministry spreads beyond campuses during the summer, taking college students on mission trips throughout the world. A national outreach program that sends missionaries to college campuses, the fellowship led several trips to Ecuador in July. Kelly Kuzma, a rising senior at the University of Dallas in Irving, Texas, traveled with the program to minister and volunteer in San Vicente, Ecuador. Kuzma, a theology major, explained that with a desire to serve but a limited time frame, the fellowship's summer mission trip worked out well for her. After two weeks of catechesis and manual labor, Kuzma said that transitioning back to everyday life has come with its challenges. "That's one of the hardest parts: the transition from an intense couple of weeks, and a lot of work, intense encounters with all these people, and then you have to go back to daily life," Kuzma told Catholic News Service. "They were really good about talking about how 'mission is all the time,' and it's just kind of carried out in our daily life."

U.S.-based group invites parishes to mark Blessed Romero's birth centenary

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A group of Blessed Oscar Romero devotees in the United States is inviting parishes throughout the country to mark on Aug. 15 what would have been the slain Salvadoran archbishop's 100th birthday. From Washington to Dallas to Los Angeles, parishes are planning events honoring the Salvadoran archbishop, popularly known as the "voice of the voiceless," on or around his birth date, which also marks the Feast of the Assumption. In a statement, the Archbishop Oscar Romero U.S. Centennial Commission said it invites churches "to honor Blessed Romero by including a petition or other remembrance during Assumption Day Masses. Romero found great inspiration in Mary and called her 'the first Christian' and 'ideal of the Church,'" said the statement, adding that Blessed Romero, who was martyred in 1980 as he celebrated Mass and was beatified in 2015, used the Assumption of Mary "to help us understand the knowledge of our heavenly destiny, which we will one day enjoy in glorified bodily form like Mary." The group suggested that U.S. parishes wishing to mark the day use a Blessed Romero quote during the homily on the feast of the Assumption, pray the Blessed Romero novena created by the Archdiocese of San Salvador, or use the hashtag #Romero100 to share with others the centennial on social media. The commission also suggests other activities in its romero100.org website, which provides materials, including the novena, in English.

Classical approach to education gains momentum among Catholic schools

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Each year on Nov. 1, the feast of All Saints, the classrooms at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Classical School in Denver are not full of students, but of little saints. Dressing up as the saints is what the principal, Rosemary Anderson, describes as part of her students' "joyful witness of the faith," which serves as the foundation of Lourdes Classical. Students at Lourdes attend Mass four times a week, recite ancient poets -- such as Ovid -- and begin learning Latin in kindergarten. Lourdes Classical is part of a classical education approach to Catholic schooling, a movement gaining momentum in schools throughout the country. "Classical education is really an integration of the whole person's formation," Anderson told Catholic News Service in a recent interview. "You're teaching virtue in every lesson, just because what they're learning about is relevant to them, they aren't just reading it out of a textbook." In 2012, the parish school at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Parish in Denver shifted from a traditional Catholic school to a classical educational approach. At the time, they had fewer than 100 students. "The school had to do something to attract people, it was on the verge of closing," Anderson said. "But also, I was discovering as a Catholic school teacher how fulfilling a Catholic classical education is in regards to being a teacher and being in service to the Church."

Tourism should benefit both travelers and local communities, Vatican says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- While tourism can broaden travelers' horizons and improve local economies, it cannot be seen as being part of "sustainable development" unless it includes respect for workers' rights, the local culture and the environment, said Cardinal Peter Turkson. The U.N. General Assembly proclaimed 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, noted the cardinal, who is prefect of the Vatican official for integral human development. In a message for the celebration Sept. 27 of World Tourism Day, Cardinal Turkson said that according to the social teaching of the Catholic Church, "true development cannot be restricted to economic growth alone. In fact, to be authentic, it must be well rounded; that is, it must foster the development of each man and of the whole man." The World Tourism Organization reported that in 2016, the number of international tourist arrivals was around 1.2 billion; one out of 11 jobs globally is in tourism. "It therefore occupies an important place in the economies of individual states and in policies that focus on inclusive development and environmental sustainability globally," the cardinal wrote in his message, which was released Aug. 1 by the Vatican.

Detroit parish plants 44 crosses to remember lives lost in 1967 riot

DETROIT (CNS) -- The bell tolled 44 times. One time for every name that was read. They were brothers and sisters, fathers and uncles, young and old. Whether they were "looters" or "bystanders," 50 years later, they were people gone but not forgotten. On July 23, Christ the King Parish and others in northwest Detroit commemorated the 50th anniversary of the 1967 riot -- some in the community call it the 1967 rebellion. Whatever semantics people choose, 44 souls were lost in its aftermath. And 50 years later, parishioners -- black and white -- came together to remember the dead. "Today we're experiencing a deep, lasting look at the reverberations of that hot, July day," the lector read at the beginning of Mass. "As we remember 1967, we need to remember the Mass is a remembrance of Jesus' life, passion and death, but also of His resurrection. We, too, remember in hope the life and resurrection today for all those who were lost."

Americans end pilgrimage to Canadian shrine after 95 years

STE.-ANNE-DE-BEAUPRE, Quebec (CNS) -- Leonardo DiVittorio approached the statue of St. Anne. As part of the opening ceremony of the feast of the grandmother of Jesus July 25, he laid a wreath of flowers, a symbolic gesture intended to mark the Ahearn Memorial Pilgrimage's 95th and last visit at the Basilica of Ste.-Anne-de-Beaupre. His face reddened with emotion, his mouth slightly tense, he carried the prayers of several generations of pilgrims who have, each in their own way, forged what was the oldest American pilgrimage on Canadian soil. The Ahearn Pilgrimage is an institution in Ste.-Anne-de-Beaupre. Its importance is such for the history of the shrine that a stained-glass window in the basilica is devoted to the founder of the group, Andrew Ahearn. After a work accident left him disabled, this American from Springfield, Mass., was told by his doctors that he would be crippled for the rest of his life. As a last resort, he went to Ste.-Anne-de-Beaupre in 1922, where he was inexplicably healed at the foot of the statue of Ste. Anne, on her feast day. For many faithful, this remains a defining miracle for the shrine founded in 1658.

Being a Christian

By Father Thomas Mattison
…There is no such thing as a Church teaching that is not social.
Once upon a time the bishop of the Diocese of Burlington was named Robert F. Joyce. He was a native of Proctor and installed as bishop of Burlington in 1957. He resigned as bishop after 15 years at age 75.
He would not have been grateful to be called an ecclesiologist — an expert in the theology of the Church — but he was just that. At every Confirmation ceremony he gave the same sermon -- every one! And he would make everyone in church repeat the message after him: Don’t go to heaven alone; take someone with you.
RFJ clearly understood that there is in each of us a tendency — a temptation — to think of ourselves before thinking of anyone else and, even, to the exclusion of
everyone else. But he understood, too, that such a focus on the single self was absolutely antithetical to Christianity.
Just being a Christian means being — at very least — connected to Jesus. We have no connection to Jesus except for the one that is forged by the evangelical work of making him known in every place and time; our connection with Him happens because others reach out to share their connection with us. Our Christian identity, then, is more than a creed or a morality or a style of worship. It is a series of interlocking and reinforcing connections between us and Jesus and all the other humans of every time and place who have believed, hoped in and loved the God he called Abba, Father. As soon as I decide to cast off one or another of those connections — one or another of those people — my relationship with Jesus begins to suffer.
It is misleading, then, to talk too much about accepting Jesus as my personal Lord and savior. The decision to become a Christian is personal and individual, but once it is made, remaining a Christian means involvement with all other Christians as well as Jesus; this is automatic and irreversible.
Sin is nothing more or less than decision and action motivated by and effective of a severing of myself from the connectedness that is the very essence of Christianity. That is why sinners have to go to confession individually, rather than hiding in the great collectivity of human sinfulness and imperfection. That is why such things as abortion and broken marriage vows and unforgiveness are declared mortal sins; they cut ties that bind the human family and the Church together. That is why long and willful refusal to attend Mass with the rest of the Christians in the community is treated as a sin requiring individual penance before a return to the sacramental Communion of the Mass. That is why those whose brand of Christianity is identified as refusing to accept the pope as part of their vision of the Christian community are asked not to take communion with those for whom his role seen as integral to the life of the Church.
For more on Father Mattison’s parish, Christ Our Savior in Manchester Center, go to christoursaviorvt.com.

‘Action for Ecological Justice: Celebrating a Year of Creation’

COLCHESTER--A former head of Catholic Relief Services will be in Vermont to speak at the “Action for Ecological Justice: Celebrating a Year of Creation” conference at St. Michael's College on Sept. 30. The conference will be the main event of the Diocese of Burlington’s Year of Creation, a yearlong, statewide, intentional focus on embracing the message of Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical letter, “Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home.”
Hosted by the Catholic Church in Vermont, sponsors for the event include Catholic Relief Services; Oregon Catholic Press; St. Michael's College; the Sisters of Mercy; Catholic Climate Covenant; United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Department of Peace, Justice and Human Development; Courtyard Burlington Harbor Hotel; Keurig Green Mountain Coffee; Green Mountain Habitat for Humanity and Green Mountain Monastery.
Dr. Carolyn Woo, who from 2012-2016 was president and CEO of CRS, the U.S. Catholic Church's official, international humanitarian and development aid agency, will present a personal look at the encyclical she helped Pope Francis present in Rome, at environmental degradation and its effect on the poor and at measures to minimize further environmental harm from carbon emissions and remediate damage already done.
With perspectives from scientists, politicians, activists, economists, professionals, academics and people of various faiths, the conference will offer the opportunity for dynamic conversations about the state of creation and how people can work together for a sustainable future.
CRS staff “works face to face every day with the effects of climate warming,” Woo said. These include working with farmers whose livelihood is negatively impacted by erratic rainfall, which causes problems like drought on one extreme and soil erosion from deluges of rain on the other.
Catholic Relief Services was founded in 1943 by the Catholic bishops of the United States to serve World War II survivors in Europe. Since then, it has expanded to reach more than 100 million people in over 100 countries on five continents.
Its mission is to assist impoverished and disadvantaged people overseas, working in the spirit of Catholic social teaching to promote the sacredness of human life and the dignity of the human person. With that mission rooted in the Catholic faith, CRS operations serve people based solely on need, regardless of their race, religion or ethnicity. In the United States, CRS engages Catholics to live their faith in solidarity with the poor and suffering people of the world.
The conference at St. Michael’s College will be open to people of all faiths.
General registration is $35 per person and includes morning pastries, lunch and afternoon breakout sessions. Students can register for free.
For more information, call Stephanie Clary at 802-846-5822.
To register or learn more, visit vermontcatholic.org/actionforecojustice.

Nonviolence workshop

By Cori Fugere Urban
ESSEX JUNCTION-- Laurie Gagne would say that nonviolence is what the love of God looks like in action.
“Jesus calls us to stand in His place, to enter the relationship of love which He shares with the Father. The more deeply we enter this relationship, the more we experience the love of God as a passion, which propels us, as Pope Francis says, towards those who need our help,” she said. “Violence contradicts the love of God in us; therefore our actions on behalf of others must always be nonviolent. In individuals like Dorothy Day and Gandhi, we see how nonviolence can be a way of life as well as a real power for social change.”
Nonviolence is the “use of power in such a way that promotes the life and dignity of every human being and all of creation,” defined John F. Reuwer, an adjunct professor of nonviolent conflict resolution at St. Michael's College in Colchester. “This is contrasted with violence, which is the use of power as if someone and parts of creation are not worthy of life and dignity.”
The Catholic perspective on nonviolence has developed during the more than 2,000- year history of the Church.
“The early Church was completely pacifist,” said Gagne, former director of the Edmundite Center for Peace and Justice at St. Michael's College in Colchester and current adjunct professor of peace and justice there. “From gravestone inscriptions we know that until 170 A.D. there were no Christians who were soldiers because the early Church fathers believed that military service contradicted Jesus's command that we love our enemies.”
She and Reuwer are scheduled to co-facilitate a workshop, "Nonviolence, Power for Peace and Justice," on Oct. 21 at Holy Family Church in Essex Junction from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
St. Augustine introduced the Just War Theory in the fifth century, and for the next 1,500 years, the Church taught that fighting for a just cause, using limited means, in a war declared by a legitimate authority, was the duty of Christians.
“Since the papacy of John XXIII, however, we find one pope after another speaking against war,” Gagne continued. Pope “Paul VI famously went before the United Nations and declared, ‘No more war! War never again!’ At the same time, there has been a turn to nonviolence as a way of resolving conflicts.”
The 20th century was witness to a robust Catholic peace tradition lead by Dorothy Day, Gordon Zahn and Daniel and Philip Berrigan, among others. “But what was remarkable was the advocacy of nonviolence by the Magisterium,” Gagne said, pointing to Pope John Paul II’s encyclical “Centesimus Annus” and the American bishops’ two peace pastorals. “The World Day of Peace Statement issued by Pope Francis this past January is the strongest endorsement of nonviolence by the Church thus far and indicates that it has become mainstream in Church teaching.”
Yet as much as the Church is promoting nonviolence today, it hasn't completely rejected the Just War Theory, and it remains a good standard for evaluating wars that are occurring, Gagne noted. “Catholics should know that according to Just War criteria, there have been almost no just wars in the modern period; modern weapons, for one thing, make the Just War principles of discrimination and proportionality hard to meet.”
Thus Catholics, she said, should call for nonviolent means of solving the conflicts which lead to war and support nonviolent movements for social change. They can also support groups like Christian Peacemaker Teams and the Nonviolent Peace Force who stand alongside those trapped in conflict situations.
“The phenomenally destructive nature of modern war has caused many people to seek alternatives to this age-old method of conflict resolution,” Gagne said. “I find it exciting that the Catholic Church is taking part in this search. By adopting the principles of nonviolence, we can be true to our pacifist origins while remaining fully engaged with the world and its problems.”
According to Reuwer, nonviolence is “poorly understood in our culture” because it is depicted as weak in the face of powerful evil, while violence is depicted as the strong defender of the helpless and innocent.
“Belief in this contrast is a major reason why war and violence are so persistent and so few resources allotted to nonviolent means of dealing with evil,” he said.
The workshop he and Gagne will lead presents evidence that nonviolence is the stronger force for good. “If this is true, then we can easily embrace Pope Francis's call to embrace nonviolence. Think for a moment if we put the money, creativity, and human sacrifice that we put into war and its preparations into nonviolent conflict engagement. The results, I believe, would be astounding.”
The public is invited to attend the workshop, "Nonviolence, Power for Peace and Justice," on Oct. 21.
Topics to be covered include history of Church teaching on peace and war and current teaching on nonviolence; relating the concept of nonviolence to participants personal and communal spiritual growth; how the power of nonviolent action can forge a realistic path from the Sermon on the Mount, through the harsh realities of a violent world, to the reign of God among us; how to begin, on a personal and community level, to use nonviolent power to create the relationships and the world participants seek.
It was presented at St. Thomas Parish in Underhill Center in May, and parts of it have been presented dozens of times in the last 20 years at various churches, colleges and public forums.
“Nonviolence is based on love and has no inherent contradictions, while violence is almost always based on fear and always has contradictions and unintended consequences,” Reuwer said.
For more information on the workshop, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

175th Anniversary of the Society of St. Edmund

ISLE LAMOTTE—The opening celebration for the 175th anniversary of the Society of St. Edmund Feast will take place on the Feast of the Assumption, Aug. 15, with Mass at 11:15 a.m. There will be an additional Mass at 7 p.m. followed by the traditional candlelight procession.

St. Therese Digital Academy

Grounded in the firm foundation of the Catholic faith, St. Therese Digital Academy works with parents in their roles as primary educators by offering a four-year online Catholic high school with flexible options to assist in their child’s education, while also providing weekly local opportunities for enrichment courses, community service projects and social and spiritual formation. The goal is to develop well- grounded disciples of Jesus Christ who possess 21st-century skills that equip them to fulfill their roles as members of the Body of Christ within today’s society. For more information, call 658-6110 ext. 1450 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Vatican Online Questionnaire

To involve young people in preparations for the Synod of Bishops on youth in 2018, the Vatican has released an online questionnaire to better understand the lives, attitudes and concerns of 16- to 29-year-olds throughout the world. The questionnaire can be found on the synod’s official site: youth.synod2018.va/content/synod2018/it.html and is open to any young person, regardless of faith or religious belief.

School Sisters of Notre Dame gathering

The School Sisters of Notre Dame are hosting a New England Gathering of their formers students, teachers, colleagues, counselors, family and friends for  a fundraiser. Schools include Holy Name of Immaculate Heart of Mary Grammar School in Rutland. The event will be at Anthony's of Malden, 105 Canal St., Malden, Mass. Proceeds from the lunch will benefit the sisters’ educational ministries and care for elderly members. Tickets are $75 per person and available online at amssnd.org.

40 Days for Life Returns to Vermont Sept. 30 through Nov. 5

Catholics throughout Vermont are encouraged to participate in the upcoming 40 Days for Life prayer vigils in Rutland and Williston with special events in Burlington.
40 Days for Life (40daysforlife.com/mission/) is an annual, non-denominational event that takes place for 40 continuous days in communities across the United States with a three-point program of public outreach to end abortion involving prayer and fasting, prayer vigil and community education.
Participants from faith communities around Vermont will conduct peaceful vigils in front of the Planned Parenthood clinics in three locations:
+ 75 Talcott Road, Williston, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
+ Special events will also take place at 183 St. Paul St. in Burlington including prayer from 8 a.m. to noon on Wednesdays and weekly rosaries at 6 p.m. on Tuesdays and 5 p.m. on Fridays.
Call Agnes Clift for more information at 802-310-9520.
+6 Roberts Ave., Rutland.
Call Delia Warnecke for information at 802-287-0354
Sign up for vigil hours online at 40daysforlife.com https://goo.gl/CGxi0S
A 40 Days for Life opening event will take place Sept. 23 from 1 to 3 p.m. at St. Anthony Church in Burlington followed by a rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet at 3 p.m. at 183 St. Paul St.  Refreshments will be provided.

  • Written by Cori Fugere Urban
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