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The Catholic New World
News Digest: Week in Summary


Busy schedule on papal journey
Pope John Paul II, who turns 82 on May 18, has a heavy schedule during his May visit to Azerbaijan and Bulgaria, countries where Catholics form a small minority.

His May 22-26 trip will mark the first papal visit to either country. The liturgical highlight will be a Mass in Bulgaria to beatify three priests shot to death by communists in 1952.

During his May 22-23 stay in predominantly Muslim Azerbaijan, the pope will meet with the leader of Caucasian Muslims and with heads of the local Orthodox and Jewish communities, and will celebrate a Mass for the tiny Catholic population, estimated at fewer than 300.

In Bulgaria May 23-26, the pontiff will visit Orthodox Patriarch Maxim and will meet with Jewish, Protestant and Muslim leaders.

This journey will be the pope’s 96th trip outside Italy.

Crisis to uncover ‘every stone’
The general secretary of the U.S. bishops’ conference told diocesan attorneys that he doesn’t think the current crisis in the church over the handling of sex abuse cases will pass until “every stone that is hiding some secret has been overturned.”

Msgr. William P. Fay told a national gathering of diocesan attorneys that “the greatest crisis the church in this country has faced” has perhaps traumatized everyone.

He also reported on the U.S. cardinals’ meeting at the Vatican in April and on steps the American bishops are likely to take, beginning with their June general meeting in Dallas. Among possible steps is establishment of a national office for the protection of children.


Msgr. Higgins, Chicago’s ‘labor priest’ buried amid great praise
Msgr. George G. Higgins, America’s foremost labor priest for half a century, was laid to rest May 7 after a funeral Mass at Holy Name Cathedral—a Mass attended by government, religious and labor dignitaries, as well as family members and brother priests from the Archdiocese of Chicago.

“George always claimed Chicago,” Cardinal George said, despite a career in social justice ministry that kept him in Washington D.C. for more than 50 years. “And Chicago always claimed George.”

Hispanics see growing voice in religious, civic arena
The growing U.S. Hispanic population is bringing demands for a greater Latino voice in religious and public life, said Hispanic religious leaders at a Washington conference.

Hispanics are often discriminated against in their churches and in society, said many of the speakers.

Charities spreads its message of help ‘just about everywhere’
The cartoons have been popping up like May flowers next to highways and major intersections for weeks now: a smiling child with a plate and spoon, a jogger stretching after a workout, a bedroom window with clean curtains and the moon peeking in.

Each includes a bit of information about one or more Catholic Charities programs, and the tagline “Catholic Charities: All about help and just about everywhere.”

Cardinal visit aims to settle standoff
As tensions mounted between Israeli forces and the Palestinians hiding inside Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity, a retired Vatican official arrived in Jerusalem to seek an end to the monthlong standoff.

“I come to ask that everything be done to settle as soon as possible the tragic situation of Bethlehem,” Cardinal Roger Etchegaray said in a statement released after his visit with Israeli President Moshe Katsav May 2.

Finding God in the ordinary
Kathleen Norris, best-selling author of “Dakota,” opens her latest memoir, “The Virgin of Bennington,” with a quote from St. Augustine: “But ‘salvation is far from sinners,’ and such was I at that time. Yet little by little I was drawing closer to you, although I did not know it.”

“The Virgin of Bennington” chronicles Norris’ experiences as a young adult, examining the subtle ways God was at work in her life, unbeknownst to her.

Reporter traces his father’s mid-life calling
When Matt Murray was 7 years old, his mother died.

But when the Wall Street Journal reporter decided to write a book, it wasn’t about how the loss of his mother changed his life. It was about the loss of his father—at least, the father he thought he knew.

Murray’s father, James, was a somewhat non-observant Catholic when Matt was growing up. How, then, was the then 13-year-old boy to understand his father’s turning to the church, transforming his life and becoming, eventually, a Benedictine monk and priest at St. Bede Abbey in Peru, Ill.?

Our Lady of the New Millennium will be taken off “tour” between June 2-8 for a general cleaning and polishing to remove the dirt and grime that has collected over the past years. More

Movies at a Glance
Capsule reviews of movies from the U.S. Catholic Conference's Office for Film and Broadcasting, judged according to artistic merit and moral suitability. Go to reviews


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Church Clips by Dolores Madlener
Dolores Madlener
a column of benevolent gossip

Honk if you’re Polish — Father Czeslaw Krysa’s research continues at SS. Cyril and Methodius Seminary in Michigan. He’s compiling a source book for families called “A Basket for the Blessing: The Culinary & Ritual Art, Song and Heritage of the Polish Easter Meal.” It will hold stories of Polish American priests, pisanki (decorative egg) artists, palm weavers, parish sacristans, expert cooks, bakers, butchers, deli-owners and caterers. Krysa is also calling on “Polish-American families committed to heritage” to write down treasured Easter memories, stories, traditions and recipes for future generations. He promises “Photos will be returned via express-mail within 30 days.” Persons whose material is published will get a free copy of his book due out Easter, 2003. Deadline to submit material is July 31, 2002. His 1998 “A Polish Christmas Eve” is a best-seller. Krysa’s seminary address is: 3535 Indian Trail, Orchard Lake, MI 48324. . . . Pope John Paul II will celebrate his 82nd birthday May 18. While the state of his health is debated by pundits, there was a happy report from Rome recently. A choir of little Polish kids in costumes serenaded JPII at his April 10 general audience and he sang one verse of an Easter folksong back to them. When the choir and 500 Poles in the audience applauded loudly, “with a somewhat impish smile on his face” the pope sang the second, third and fourth verses as an encore. Sto lat, Holy Father!


Chicago connection — Chicago native Carmelite Father Joachim Smet taught at Mount Carmel High School (S. Dante) in the 1940s. Later, with a degree in library science from the University of Chicago he began collecting books from Carmelite institutions around the world and worked with booksellers in Europe, knowing how difficult it was for North American scholars and students to get to Europe to do research. Because of Smet’s efforts, 14,000 rare and modern books, as well as microfilm and audio-visuals, are now housed in a recently dedicated building at Whitefriars Hall in Washington D.C. With early editions of the works of St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross, other 16th- and 17th-century books, rare altar missals and medieval manuscripts relating to the Carmelites on microfilm, the collection now draws scholars from all over the world.


Grand Slam — St. Robert Bellarmine Parish (N. Austin) can boast 105 years of priestly vocations being celebrated there this spring: Father Mike Goergen, pastor, (Class of 1962) 40th anniversary; resident Father L. Scott Donahue, Class of ’82, 20 years; native parishioner Friar James P. Henning, OFM Conv., ordained 1982, 20 years; and former associate pastor Father Thomas Mulcrone, Class of ’77, chaplain Chicago Fire Dept., 25 years. . . . And St. Emeric will throw a party at Gaelic Park on June 30 for its retired pastor Father John Rochford and a past associate, Father Jerry Rodell. Both are marking 80th birthdays and 55 years as priests.


Bull’s eye — When Father Cirilo Nacorda says he’s packin’ he doesn’t mean a lunch. The stocky 44-year-old priest carries a .45 automatic under his vestments at Mass at the island Church of St. Peter near the Philippines. He spent two months as a hostage of the Abu Sayyaf rebels in 1994 and he’s not taking chances. Maybe he heard the saying, “God can’t do it all by himself.” . . . Since 1989 the St. Gabriel Possenti Society has lobbied to name Possenti patron saint of [legal] handgun owners. As a seminarian and marksman in 1860 he’s said to have single-handedly saved the Italian village of Isola from 20 terrorists, thus proving “handguns can be used to preserve innocent human life.” Possenti disarmed two of the gang leaders and shot a lizard as it crawled across the street, causing the bad guys to run for the hills.


Catholic heroes — Pendergrast Productions will present Wayne Messmer in Aldyth Morris’s one-man play “Damien: The Leper Priest of Molokai.” Damien is one of those larger-than-life Catholic heroes every school kid once read about, who volunteered to minister to and be a prisoner with, the outcast lepers on what was the saddest island off Hawaii in the late 19th century. The performances at 8 p.m. June 1 and 2 p.m. June 2 at the brand new Raue Center for the Arts, 26 N. Williams, in Crystal Lake will be a departure for Messmer, an active member of St. Josophat Parish (N. Southport). The actor, vocalist, speaker and author is probably most renowned for belting out the best “Star- Spangled Banner” anywhere. A photo exhibit of stunning, historic landscapes of Molokai from Robin F. Pendergrast’sExiles in Paradise” will be displayed in the center’s lobby. Show tickets are $20 and $15, from the box office, (815) 356-9212 or at www.rauecenter.org.


People and places — Ray Pascua of St. Margaret Mary Parish (W. Chase) has been named one of the 20 outstanding Filipinos in the U.S.A. and was honored April 27 at a banquet and ball in the capitol. . . . A while back St. Clement Parish (W. Deming) selected some local charities to benefit from their first Lenten “Loose Change” collections. The six-week total was $2,295.09. . . . Sister Lilian Augustina Okafor, Daughter of Divine Love missionary from Nigeria, serving and studying in the arch, received Loyola’s Golden Key International Honor Society Award here recently. . . . St. Constance Parish (N. Long) has been gifted with new state-of-the-art high-tech digital chimes and a carillon system. Called “The Singing Tower Carillon,” with bell voices that are exact reproductions of tuned cast iron bells. . . . Sox vs. Cubs is child’s play. The big game was 3 p.m. May 10 as De La Salle HighSchool faced its Catholic league arch rival St. Rita in a baseball game at Comiskey Park, just as we went to press!

Send your benevolent gossip to Church Clips, 721 N. LaSalle St., Chicago, IL 60610 or via e-mail to: dmadlener@catholicnewworld.com


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