Saturday, February 28, 2009

Soup Supper and Stations of the Cross at St. Andrew During Lent!

Cathy of Alex here. I should've posted this earlier! Sorry.

Every Friday thru April 3rd, give yourself a cooking break and stop over at St. Andrew's Catholic Church at 1051 Como Ave in St. Paul for our fabulous soup suppers! Soup is served at 6:00 p.m. in Carroll Hall (Church basement).

Call me biased, but we have some phenomenal soup makers in our parish. The soups are always MEAT FREE as they should be. We also have a dessert and beverage table. No alcohol.

Stick around for Stations of the Cross at 7:00 p.m. in the Church.

FFI: Call 651-488-6775

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Church membership: Who's counting? And how?

How many church members are there in the world?

Well, no one knows, as your Sunday school teacher may already have told you. God is keeping track of the roll in the Lamb's book of life (see Revelation 21 for technical details), but those pages aren't open to demographers.

So the job of counting church members falls to frailer institutions like your church office or communion headquarters. Each year more than 200 American and Canadian Christian communions report their numbers to the Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches, which adds them up. The 2009 Yearbook, published this week, announces the result. There are 146,663,972 church members north of the Río Grande.

Give or take. The actual figure, according to the Rev. Dr. Eileen W. Lindner, Yearbook editor, depends on who's doing the counting, and how.

For some churches, "membership accrues to children brought for baptism," Lindner writes in an essay entitled, "The Meaning of Membership: Reassessing the Counting of Sheep."

"Others confirm membership at the time a youth confirms the intention to follow in the faith tradition of baptism. Still others rely primarily upon adult affirmation of faith or of a born again experience in adulthood."

That makes comparisons "quite difficult," Lindner says. Some churches count active and inactive members while others keep all baptized infants on their rolls.

"Many church members relocate, affiliate with other churches, lose interest in church membership or relocate permanently" without deleting their membership, Lindner writes. Untold numbers of college students and military personnel keep their local membership active long after they have moved away -- as do adults who retire in communities far away from their home churches.

Some traditions, Lindner points out, estimate the number of members in their churches. Many Orthodox and African American communions base their estimates on the ethnic or racial population in neighborhoods.

Some national church bodies count members annually and others collect data at unpredictable intervals. Other groups, including Megachurches and Emergent church fellowships stress participation in their congregations rather than membership. And millions of younger adults born between 1977 and 1998 attend church regularly but are loathe to become members.

For these churches, the measure "is counted in hot meals served, children taught, elderly and infirmed visited and other forms of ministry and mission," Lindner writes.

These trends and disparities are of special interest to the Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches which for 92 years has been widely regarded as the most reliable and accurate source of church statistics in North America. Each year the appearance of the Yearbook is a major story in church and secular news outlets because of its documentation of church membership increases and declines, and the relative ranking of the top 25 largest churches.

"Those accustomed to the assembling of such data know that development of annual reports is a rather imprecise art," Lindner writes. "This lack of precision derives, in part, from the wide diversity of practice among the churches concerning the definition of 'membership.'"

Whether or not church membership remains a common measure of church vitality, she says, the Yearbook will continue to monitor and report on developments.

"More research will be needed if we are to follow the variety of responses to the issues of membership and affiliation in American church life and gain a deeper understanding of the meaning of church membership." National Council of Churches

I had a firsthand piece of evidence the other day on problems with the "Catholic count." I registered with a new parish (more, anon!). And I was told that it wasn't necessary for me to inform my previous parish that I was leaving them. I could have "dual memberships" if I so chose. I will choose not to have two memberships.

Maybe a heckuva lot of those 67,000,000 Catholics in the US of A are nothing but "phantoms?"

Number of US Catholics declines by 398,000

The 77th annual edition of the Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches, long a highly regarded chronicler of growth and financial trends of religious institutions, records a slight but startling decline in membership of the nation's largest Christian communions.

Membership in the Roman Catholic Church declined 0.59 percent and the Southern Baptist Convention declined 0.24 percent, according to the 2009 edition of the Yearbook, edited by the National Council of Churches and published by Abingdon.

The figures indicate that the Catholic church lost 398,000 members since the appearance of the 2008 Yearbook. Southern Baptists lost nearly 40,000 members.

Both membership figures were compiled by the churches in 2007 and reported to the Yearbook in 2008. The 2009 Yearbook also includes an essay by the editor, the Rev. Dr. Eileen W. Lindner, on the various ways churches count their members.

Neither figure is earth-shattering given the size of the churches. Roman Catholics comprise the nation's largest church with a membership of 67,117,016, and Southern Baptists rank second in the nation at 16,266,920.

But this year's reported decline raises eyebrows because Catholic and Southern Baptist membership has grown dependably over the years. Now they join virtually every mainline church in reporting a membership decline.

According to the 2009 Yearbook, among the 25 largest churches in the U.S., four are growing: the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (up 1.63 percent to 5,873,408; the Assemblies of God (up 0.96 percent to 2,863,265); Jehovah's Witnesses (up 2.12 percent to 1,092,169); and the Church of God of Cleveland, Tenn. (up 2.04 percent to 1,053,642).

There are no clear-cut theological or sociological reasons for church growth or decline, says Editor Lindner. "Many churches are feeling the impact of the lifestyles of younger generations of church-goers -- the 'Gen X'ers' or "Millenials' in their 20s and 30s who attend and support local congregations but resist joining them."

But former Southern Baptist President Frank Page told the Associated Press that the decline in his denomination was troubling because of the Southern Baptist emphasis on winning souls.

Page called on Southern Baptists to "recommit to a life of loving people and ministering to people without strings attached so people will be more open to hearing the Gospel message."

Lindner writes, "A slowing of the rate of growth of some churches and the decline of membership of others ought to be the focus of continued research and and thoughtful inquiry."

Churches listed in the Yearbook as experiencing the highest rate of membership loss are the United Church of Christ (down 6.01 percent), the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church (down 3.01 percent), the Presbyterian Church (USA) (down 2.79 percent), the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (down 1.44 percent) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (down 1.35 percent),

American Baptist Churches USA, on the other hand, cut its previous decline rate of 1.82 percent in half, now reporting a decline of 0.94 percent.

Membership of the top 25 churches in the U.S. totals 146,663,972 -- down 0.49 percent from last year's total of 147,382,460.

The top 25 churches reported in the 2009 Yearbook are in order of size:

The Roman Catholic Church, 67,117,06 members, down 0.59 percent. (Ranked 1)

The Southern Baptist Convention, 16,266,920 members, down 0.24 percent. (Ranked 2)

The United Methodist Church, 7,931,733 members, down 0.80 percent. (Ranked 3)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 5,873,408 members, up 1.63 percent .(Ranked 4)

The Church of God in Christ, 5,499,875 members, no change reported. (Ranked 5)

National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Inc., 5,000,000 members, no change reported. (Ranked 6)

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 4,709,956 members, down 1.35 percent. (Ranked 7)

National Baptist Convention of America, Inc., 3,500,000 members, no change reported. (Ranked 8)

Presbyterian Church (USA), 2,941,412 members, down 2.79 percent (Ranked 9)

Assemblies of God, 2,863,265 members, up 0.96 percent. (Ranked 10)

African Methodist Episcopal Church, 2,500,000 members, no change reported. (Ranked 11)

National Missionary Baptist Convention of America, 2,500,000 members, no change reported. (Ranked 11)

Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc., 2,500,000 members, no change reported. (Ranked 11)

The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (LCMS), 2,383,084 members, down 1.44 percent. (Ranked 14)

The Episcopal Church, 2,116,749 members, down 1.76 percent. (Ranked 15)

Churches of Christ, 1,639,495 members, no change reported. (Ranked 16)

Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, 1,500,000 members, no change reported. (Ranked 17)

Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, Inc., 1,500,000 members, no change reported. (Ranked 17)

The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, 1,400,000 members, down 3.01 percent. (Ranked 19)

American Baptist Churches in the USA, 1,358,351, down 0.94 percent. (Ranked 20)

Baptist Bible Fellowship International, 1,200,000, no change reported. (Ranked 21)

United Church of Christ, 1,145,281 members, down 6.01 percent. (Ranked 22)

Jehovah's Witnesses, 1,092,169 members, up 2.12 percent (Ranked 23)

Christian Churches and Churches of Christ, 1,071,616 members, no change reported. (Ranked 24)

Church of God (Cleveland, Tenn.), 1,053,642 members, up 2.04 percent. (Ranked 25)
National Council of Churches

For coaches at Saint John's, no pastures greener


Among Saint John's University coaches with tenures of three decades or more are, from left, Jerry Haugen, baseball, 32 years; Tim Miles, track, 30 years; Pat Haws, soccer, 31 years; and John Gagliardi, football, 56 years.

Among Saint John's University coaches with tenures of three decades or more are, from left, Jerry Haugen, baseball, 32 years; Tim Miles, track, 30 years; Pat Haws, soccer, 31 years; and John Gagliardi, football, 56 years.

COLLEGEVILLE, Minn. — Ask John Gagliardi why he has spent almost his entire adult life at Saint John's University, and the 82-year-old football coach gives a mischievous smile.

"I think it must be the water," he says of the 1,900-student Catholic men's school in the empty spaces of west-central Minnesota. "That or the weather."

Gagliardi came to Saint John's in 1953 and has won more games — 468 — than anyone in any division in college football history. He has won two NCAA Division III national championships and two NAIA titles and in 2006 became the first active coach inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. The Division III player of the year award carries his name.

But while Gagliardi is the most decorated of SJU's coaches, his longevity is the rule and not the exception when it comes to athletic tenure. Coaches tend to come to Collegeville and never leave.

•Basketball coach Jim Smith ended his 45th season Monday with 699 career victories, coaching the final weeks from a wheelchair after slipping and breaking his leg Feb. 7.

•Jerry Haugen began his 32nd year as baseball coach Wednesday and could reach 600 victories before season's end.

•Soccer coach Pat Haws has won 336 matches in 31 seasons.

•Track/cross country coach Tim Miles has been on the job for 30 years, working with the indoor and outdoor teams.

Beyond these five, Bob Alpers has coached the Johnnies golf team for 17 years and will be going for a third consecutive NCAA title in May. John Harrington, a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic gold-medal hockey team, spent 15 years at Saint John's before leaving last year to coach a pro team in Switzerland. Of the university's 13 coaches, 10 have the longest tenure in their sport in the nine-school Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

Smith was an assistant at Marquette when he was recruited to become head coach at Saint John's in 1964, arriving on campus by train and taxi.

"I thought anything west of Milwaukee was wilderness," Smith says. "But from the first day I visited I thought Saint John's was a unique place."

As Smith and his wife, Adrienne, considered Saint John's offer, they had a lot more reasons to say no than yes. They came anyway, raised seven children in nearby St. Cloud and have never given a thought to leaving.

"There was just something about this place that made it unlike anywhere I had ever been," Smith says. "I think it all goes back to the monastery and the values and the ethics of the monks that are all around you. It is and always has been an inspiring place to work."

Monks make difference

Saint John's University is Collegeville, Minn. There is no surrounding town, no accompanying infrastructure of restaurants, apartments and shops. There is simply the school, which sits 70 miles northwest of Minneapolis and 150 miles southeast of Fargo, N.D. St. Cloud is 10 miles east.

The campus lies just off Interstate 94 on County Road 159, close enough that the school's arching bell tower is visible from the highway. Bordered on two sides by lakes and surrounded by 2,700 acres of woodlands, the school has prospered since being founded in 1857 by five Benedictine monks.

Saint John's sister school, the College of Saint Benedict, is 6 miles away in the town of St. Joseph's. The schools have separate administrations, ministries and athletic departments but share academics. Students take courses on both campuses, and classes are co-educational.

The university has grown around the Benedictine monastery that endures as a central part of the school and is home to the 150 monks of Saint John's Abbey. These Benedictine fathers and brothers have taken vows of stability, poverty, chastity and obedience and will live out their lives on the campus and be buried in the campus cemetery.

The monks serve as academic instructors, administrators and craftsmen. One lives on every floor of every dormitory as an adviser.

"Somewhere on this campus there is always a light on and a door unlocked," says the Rev. Timothy Backous, who served as athletics director from 2003 to 2006 and now is the headmaster of Saint John's prep school. "I think that resonates with men like John Gagliardi."

The number of monks is dwindling — there were more than 400 in the 1950s — but their presence and the continuity they provide help explain the strong generational ties reflected in the school's enrollment.

Roughly 45% of Saint John's students have followed parents, siblings or other relatives to SJU or CSB, according to Saint John's admissions office. The 2003 national championship football team featured 18 players whose fathers played at Saint John's, three of them on the 1976 title team.

Coaches at the Division III level often wear more than one hat, serving as assistants in other sports or holding administrative posts. Saint John's takes that to another level.

At one time, Gagliardi also was the track and hockey coach and athletics director. Smith served two stretches as AD, and Haugen, a 1976 graduate, began as the hockey coach before taking over baseball. He also was a basketball assistant and still doubles as football's defensive coordinator.

Even coaches who retire find some way to remain. John Elton, a 1980 graduate, was inducted into the NCAA Division III wrestling coaches' hall of fame in 2007. Elton, who is a master gardener, stepped down in 2004 after 23 seasons to become Saint John's landscape manager.

"I've been here 30 years, and I'm still talking with brothers who taught me as a student and running into sons of men I coached," Elton says. "The longevity of Saint John's isn't just athletics, you see it in all aspects of this community.

"This is a place you almost have to experience to understand. It's like coming home; it's a feeling you're part of something good and that what you're doing makes a difference."

Community truly close

More than one-third of Saint John's students participate in intercollegiate athletics; that number jumps to 90% when club sports and intramurals are included. Although the school does not have its own hockey rink — it plays home games at St. Cloud State — its athletic facilities are first-rate, especially in football.

Surrounded by trees and nestled in a natural bowl, Clemens Stadium becomes its own little city on football Saturdays. Although there are seats for 7,500, standing room routinely lifts crowds to 13,000, attracting students, alumni and fans from a 100-mile radius. Despite a stretch of rotten weather on game days last fall, Saint John's led the 231 schools that play Division III football in attendance (7,694 a game) for the 12th time in the past 16 years.

This atmosphere was one of the reasons Brett Saladin set aside opportunities to play football and baseball at the Division I level and came to Saint John's, where he finished this past fall as one of the most productive tight ends in school history.

"I had zero ties to Saint John's before coming here, but I knew from the day I visited that this was my place," says Saladin, who grew up 60 miles outside Chicago. "People talk about community wherever you go and how close people are, but it's really true here."

Almost 90% of the SJU and CSB student bodies graduate in four years, and 98% receive some sort of financial aid to help cover the $36,000 annual cost for room, board and tuition (Division III schools do not award athletic scholarships).

Senior hockey player Lance Wheeler was impressed by the way coaches made room for academics. "At Saint John's, you are a student-athlete in that order," he says.

Wheeler and his twin, Vince, joined retired priest Bryan Hayes every day for lunch in the campus dining hall last summer while taking classes.

"We had discussions on everything from the presidential race to his life in the monastery to man's place in the world," says Vince, who is not Catholic. "You experience things here that you just wouldn't experience anywhere else."

You experience people such as soccer coach Haws. He graduated from Saint John's in 1972, a year before his father, the Johnnies' wrestling coach, died of a heart attack while guiding SJU at the national Catholic championships. He returned to campus that year to start the SJU swim program and added soccer duties in 1978, coaching both programs for 20 years.

"I met my wife when I was a student here, and my son is now my assistant," Haws says. "He graduated in 1999, almost 100 years to the day after my wife's grandfather graduated.

"This is more than our home; it's our life. I don't care what sport I'm coaching, this is where I want to be. My wife and I bought a plot (in the Saint John's cemetery). I'm here for eternity." USA Today

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Archbishop Dolan moves to New York. Even the Times is happy.

Archbishop Timothy Dolan reflects on his Milwaukee tenure as he heads to New York

In two strongly positive editorials, the (New York Daily News)-- the nation’s fifth most popular newspaper-- praised New York Cardinal Egan for putting the Archdiocese of New York on a firm financial footing and welcomed Archbishop Timothy Dolan as his successor. Reflecting upon his tenure as Archbishop of Milwaukee, Archbishop Dolan emphasized the importance of honesty and simply being with people. “They don't say we remember this homily. They say, ‘Remember when we sat together at a fish fry? Or when you came to grandma's wake? Or visited my kid at children's hospital? … You can never go wrong being honest with people -- even when it's bad news. As you know, we've had more than our share of bad news financially, sex abuse stuff. And the people say it hurts us when we hear it, but we sure prefer to hear it from you.” Archbishop Dolan added that he did not seek the position. “I didn't ask for it. By the way, I don't think I’m the best candidate. I hope you know all my flaws … So I’ll go and I find that very freeing or liberating. And that'll be liberating the rest of my life because when I make tons of mistakes, as I’m sure I will, I’m going to say, ‘I didn't ask for this,’" he said. Al Szews, a retired Marquette professor and president of the Milwaukee chapter of Catholics United for the Faith, told the Lower Hudson Valley Journal News, "New York's gain is our loss. He will not only be your bishop, he'll be your priest. He inherited a bad situation here, but he is a holy priest, down to earth … He is realistic, but Reagan-like as far as being upbeat. He truly believes that Jesus Christ is in charge and he is merely an instrument.”

Source(s): these links will take you to other sites, in a new window.

Just where do those palms come from?

OK, if you're like me (and I hope you're not), you have 7 or 12 years worth of dessicated palm fronds lying around the house that you've been meaning to bring to your parish on time so that they can burn them and make ashes for Ash Wednesday. I know I read an announcement once that indicated that that was how blessed ashes were generated. Well, again, it is too late for me this year. I'll have to make more room in the closet for my used palms.

But unlike Communion hosts that are no longer made by battalions of nuns with rolling pins (see HERE), I guess ash production has not been industrialized. Interestingly, though, the production of the original palm fronds has been aided with Minnesota tax dollars and the despised NAFTA economic agreement. Do you suppose that is a violation of the "separation of church and state?"

Next year I'll have to bring my 8 or 13 years of dried out palms to Midnight Mass with me to make sure that they get used before they decay of natural causes.

Ever wonder where the ash that's smeared on foreheads for Ash Wednesday comes from? Palm fronds saved from the previous Palm Sunday.

Ever wonder where the palm fronds come from? Increasingly, Mexico and Guatemala, thanks to a program administered by a university in an utterly untropical part of the world: Minnesota.

Eco-Palms is a program developed by the Center for Integrated Natural Resources and Agricultural Management at the University of Minnesota. Dean Current, program director, said the idea is to foster sustainable production of palms and economic development opportunities for Mexican and Guatemalan communities.

Fronds and stems used year-round in floral arrangements, and for Palm Sunday, are shipped to customers in the United States, Canada and Europe as part of the environmental cooperation initiative sponsored by the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Workers cultivate the "chamaedorea" genus of palm, a bush that grows to 10 feet, Current said. The plants, certified "sustainably harvested" by the Forest Stewardship Council and Rainforest Alliance, flourish in the shade and provide a source of income to growers.

When the program launched in 2005, about 5,000 fronds were sold at 25 cents each, Current said. In 2006, sales were 80,000. In 2007, they reached 340,000. Last year, the program sold 580,000. A little more than 20 percent of the income is returned to the growers, Current said. The rest covers operating and shipping expenses. Communities have been using their earnings to fund school scholarships, teacher salaries and community kitchens, he said.

Susan Lindsey, senior communications associate at the national office of the Presbyterian Church (USA), said the Eco-Palm program fits nicely into the church's mission. It encourages sustainable harvesting practices, produces a fair wage for workers and engages the church in the global economy. The Presbyterian Church and Catholic Relief Services in 2007 joined Lutheran World Relief as co-sponsors of the program.

Surely not all fronds are bought in bulk from faraway places, right?

Right. Joe Stonesifer, of Palm Perfect, an Isle of Palms palm tree expert, has been known to gather up stray fronds from sundry yards and give them to local churches. Problem is, most of the stray fronds he collects are sapped of life, grayed and wizened, worth little to anyone except the neighborhood mulcher.

"It appears there are established channels used to get these things in bulk, despite our local bounty," Stonesifer said.

The Rev. Spike Coleman, of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in West Ashley, said sustainable harvesting is a fabulous idea, but this year he'll rely on scavenging. "The church budget is tight, so we're not buying from anybody," he said.

Before he worries about frond collection, though, there's the pressing matter of ash-making to kick off the Lenten season. Today's the day for smearing, and Coleman must ensure there's a big enough supply.

"I grill them," he said. "In a metal pan. They're dried out, you know. I light a match to them." Charleston Post & Courier

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


2009 Lenten regulations and admonitions from Sacramento Bishop Jaime Soto

(From the web site of the Diocese of Sacramento, posted Feb. 10, 2009)

Another Lenten journey of further conversion will begin on Ash Wednesday, February 25. Lent prepares the faithful to celebrate the Paschal Mystery of Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection. It is a time for reflection and spiritual renewal, a time to examine one’s relationships with God and with others. The Church also calls Catholics to a spirit of penance, above all to practice the “Acts of Religion:” fasting, prayer and almsgiving, “which express conversion in relation to oneself, to God, and to others.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos.1969 and 1434).

I. FAST AND ABSTINENCE (self-denial). To foster the spirit of penance and of reparation for sin, to encourage self-denial, and to guide us in the footsteps of Jesus, Church law requires the observance of fast and abstinence (CCC, nos. 1249-1253).

1. Abstinence: All persons who have already celebrated their 14th birthday are bound to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays of Lent.

2. Fasting: Everyone, from the celebration of their 18th birthday to their 59th birthday, is bound to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Voluntary fasting on other weekdays of Lent, especially on Wednesdays and Fridays, is highly recommended. Fasting is generally understood to mean eating one full meal each day. Two other partial meals, sufficient to maintain strength, may be taken; but together they should not equal another full meal. Eating between meals is not permitted, but liquids are allowed. Other forms of “fasting,” especially regarding alcoholic drink, needless television, video games, Internet use and social entertainment, is of true spiritual value and is strongly encouraged. When health or ability to work would be seriously affected, neither the law of fasting nor the law of abstinence obliges. If in doubt, one’s parish priest or confessor may be consulted. Airport workers, travelers, and others while on board ships or airplanes are dispensed from the laws of fast and abstinence for the duration of their journey (except on Good Friday). It is desirable that they perform some other pious act instead.

II. PRAYER. In order to deepen one’s love for Christ, Catholics are urged to read and pray over sacred Scripture; to study the Catechism of the Catholic Church; to participate in devotions offered by the parish; and to pray more fervently -- individually, as families, and in common with others. The faithful are exhorted to pray the rosary, to make private visits to the Blessed Sacrament, and to pray especially for vocations to the priesthood and the religious life, for world peace, and for an ongoing implementation of the pastoral initiatives of the Third Diocesan Synod.

1. Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation: Lent is a privileged time for celebrating this sacrament. Parishes generally make readily available the Sacrament of Penance, including its communal celebration. (In this way, the social and ecclesial aspects of sin and reconciliation, as well as one’s personal reconciliation with God may be underscored.) At communal celebrations of reconciliation, however, general absolution is not permitted. During the Lenten and Easter time, Catholics are reminded that they are obliged to celebrate the Sacrament of Penance at least once a year.

2. Lenten Mass Schedule: Daily Masses during Lent are so scheduled so as to facilitate the attendance and spiritual growth of the faithful. The faithful are urged to attend Mass on weekdays as often as possible.

3. The Stations of the Cross are celebrated publicly in each parish on Fridays during the Lenten season. Parishioners are urged to participate.

4. Pilgrimage to the designated Churches: During the Church’s observance of the “Year of Paul” six parishes have been designated as places of prayer, reflection and study where those who visit or attend Mass can receive the Plenary Indulgence. The designated parishes for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis may be found HERE.

5. [Applies only to the Diocese of Sacramento]

6. Wedding Masses may not be celebrated during the Easter Triduum, on Sundays of Lent, Ash Wednesday, or during Holy Week. Marriages may take place at other times during Lent according to the proper liturgical norms and provisions, but it is contrary to the penitential spirit of the season to have elaborate weddings or lavish receptions.

7. Funeral Masses may not be celebrated on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday, nor on the Sundays of Lent. When pastoral reasons require that a funeral be celebrated on these days, a Liturgy of the Word, with the final commendation and farewell rite, is held.

8. Mass may not be offered on Holy Saturday, April 11, except the Easter vigil, which may be celebrated only after nightfall, in darkness. This year, the Easter vigil Mass should not begin before 8 p.m.

9. Easter Duty: All Catholics who have been initiated into the Holy Eucharist are bound to receive Holy Communion worthily at least once during the Easter Season: Easter Sunday, April 12, through Pentecost, May 31. (In the United States, the Easter Duty may be fulfilled up through Trinity Sunday, June 7.) Catholics are encouraged to receive Communion as often as possible, not only during Eastertide, but throughout the liturgical year. However, “Anyone conscious of a grave sin must receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation before coming to Communion.” (CCC, no. 1385)

III. ALMSGIVING. The act of giving to the poor, in the most ancient tradition of the Church, is an expression of penance, a form of piety, a witness of fraternal charity and an expression of Lenten conversion. Therefore, all Catholics are urged to support generously the charitable works of the Church, including ordinary stewardship to their parish; generous response to the 19th Annual Catholic Appeal for Catholic Charities; and contribution to the Diocesan Food Bowl. People are also encouraged to assist the sick, the aged, the needy and the imprisoned in other ways. Fasting and abstinence together with works of charity help Catholics live in solidarity with the crucified Christ reflected in the image of our brothers and sisters who suffer.

In our Lenten pilgrimage of faith and ascent to the holy mountain of Easter, may God direct our steps to himself, and show us how to walk always in his way.

The Morality of Mortgage Relief


National Catholic Register daily blog Last week, President Barack Obama announced his $75-billion plan to help mortgage holders at risk of default because of the economic downturn and the global financial crisis.

Will the plan succeed? And is the mortgage relief plan, and the other elements of the federal economic recovery plan, based on sound moral and economic principles?

To get an informed opinion about these matters, the Daily Blog spoke via email with Dr. Samuel Gregg. Dr. Gregg, director of research of the Michigan-based Action Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, is the author of several books integrating economics and morality, including Morality, Law, and Public Policy and Economic Thinking for the Theologically Minded.

What is your overall assessment of President Obama’s mortgage relief plan? Is it likely to work?
Dr. Samuel Gregg: Without question, thousands are suffering as mortgage defaults rise across America. Their plight should not be trivialized. That said, I am deeply skeptical of the mortgage relief plan. I believe that it will be counterproductive and only harm those that it is intended to help.

First, we know that something like 55% of people who have defaulted on their mortgage and received a temporary reprieve typically re-default within six months. In short, this plan is likely to encourage people to stay in painful situations instead of moving on with their lives, rebuilding their credit, and investing their talent, time and energy in more productive activities.

Secondly, the plan will encourage some to stay attached to mortgages that are worth far more than the real value of the actual properties. Frankly, foreclosure or individuals renegotiating their mortgages with their banks would be better, and allow for a faster recovery of the housing market, which is truly in the interests of the common good.

In announcing the plan this week, President Obama said, “I also want to be very clear about what this plan will not do: It will not rescue the unscrupulous or irresponsible by throwing good taxpayer money after bad loans. It will prevent the worst consequences of this crisis from wreaking even greater havoc on the economy. And by bringing down the foreclosure rate, it will help to shore up housing prices for everyone.”

Do you think that this is correct — that President Obama has structured his plan in such a way as to minimize the “moral hazard” of bailing out people who acted irresponsibly in obtaining loans they couldn’t afford, and of lenders who acted irresponsibly in making loans to people who were obviously a bad credit risk?
In a word: no. To “shore up” something usually means that you are engaged in a temporary delaying action. The Administration and Congress can try to make as many distinctions as they like, but they can’t change the facts that millions of people will take this as a signal that the government will protect them from the consequences of irresponsible behavior, such as borrowing too much money or seeking quick profits by “flipping houses.” Even worse, those many more millions who have worked hard, who have not played the house-flipping game, who have made sacrifices every day in order to honor those contracts which they made with banks and mortgage lenders, will wonder why they have bothered to do the right thing.

Based on what we have observed thus far — whether it is with the “bail-out” or the mortgage relief plan — it is difficult to believe that either the Administration or a good number of Senators and members of Congress particularly care about moral hazard. This will cost America dearly in the future.

Many Americans complain that there is a double standard in operation in Washington’s efforts to address the financial crisis that seems to reward the rich and ignore those who are less well off. That’s because huge amounts of taxpayer dollars have been spent to shore up banks and brokerages whose lending practices and speculative trading practices were responsible for creating the crisis, whereas it looks like many individual mortgage holders will receive little help and will default on their mortgages and lose their homes as a consequence. What is an authentically Christian and economically sound approach to addressing this problem of an apparent double standard?
Economic questions fall squarely, for the most part, into the realm of prudential judgment for faithful Catholics. In this area, they can disagree among themselves about specific policy-details. Americans are rightly outraged by some of the Wall Street practices contributing to the crisis. But we should remember that much of the responsibility for this crisis also lies on “Main Street,” where plenty of people neglected to save, over-invested in property, and borrowed excessively in order to live beyond their means.

In economic terms, it appears that none of the various government injections of taxpayer dollars (which presently total almost 7 trillion dollars) into our ailing economy have had any effect. I am skeptical that any further spending is likely to have any positive impact, regardless of whether it is in the banking sector or on individual mortgages. Keynesian policies of “spending one’s way out of recessions” have never worked, and never will. Populists will never accept the hard economic truth that we need to allow the normal processes of market exchange to clear out the bad debts on Wall Street and Main Street, thereby restoring the conditions that allow entrepreneurs to begin creating wealth again.

Of course, we as Catholics have non-negotiable obligations to those suffering in the midst of the crisis, and we should not allow the state to usurp our concrete responsibilities to our neighbor.

At the end of the day, do you think that the economic crisis is going to result in a mentality in the United States that is more or less moral — and one that is more or less economically sound — than the mentality that existed when we landed in this mess?
Much depends upon the guidance we receive from our political leadership.

If the Administration and Congress persist in pursuing New Deal-like policies — and let’s keep in mind that it is now generally accepted that the New Deal was a failure — then I fear we could be headed for a Japan-like decade of stagnation, especially if our banking sector is shielded from root-and-branch reform. In moral-cultural terms, the same policies are likely to facilitate inertia, rising resentment, a diminishment in personal responsibility, and growing attachment to the lie that politics and government are the solutions to all our problems.

By contrast, if we are humble enough to accept that the financial crisis is the result of interventionist policies, politically-driven lending, and old-fashioned greed on Wall Street and Main Street, then perhaps we might understand that free markets will only produce stability and prosperity over the long-term if they are grounded in a moral culture of virtue rather than relativism and skepticism.

In short, if we understand that markets need both limited government and a robust moral culture, America has a bright future.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

St. Helena's Adult Education Programs this Spring

"Basic Teachings of the Catholic Faith"
The Church of St. Helena, Minneapolis, will offer an eight-part series of classes on "Basic Teachings of the Catholic Faith" taught by Fr. James Reidy, Ph.D., on Mondays, March 2 through April 20, 2009, from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. in the St. Helena Parish Office Building, 3204 East 43rd Street. This series is for adult Catholics who want to learn more about their religion; those who are not Catholic and just want some background on the Catholic Faith; and adult Catholics who have not received one or more of the following sacraments: Penance (Confession), Confirmation, and Holy Eucharist. There is no charge except $14.95 for the textbook (complimentary textbooks are available by calling 612-729-7321). For more information or to register, please call 612-729-7321.

Fr. Michael Keating to speak at "Saturday Breakfast for Men"
The Church of St. Helena, Minneapolis, will sponsor a "Saturday Breakfast for Men" with Fr. Michael Keating, Ph.D., speaking on "What Is It To Be a Father - as Completion of a Masculine Personality?" on Saturday, February 28, in Rowan Hall, 3204 East 43rd Street. Men are invited to attend Mass first at 8:00 A.M. in the Church, followed by a full, hearty breakfast in Rowan Hall at 8:30 A.M. and Fr. Keating's talk at 8:45 A.M. (which ends promptly at 9:30 A.M., but men may remain for questions until 10:00 A.M.) The cost for the breakfast is $5, but a free-will offering will also be taken to cover expenses, such as speaker's honorarium, publicity, etc. Reservations must be made by 12:00 Noon on Friday, February 27. Complimentary tickets are available by calling 612-729-7321.

Fr. Andrew Cozzens begins Friday Lenten Series
with talk about Mother Teresa of Calcutta's “Dark Night'

The Church of St. Helena, Minneapolis, will begin “A Lenten Series on The Spiritual Life" with a talk on "Mother Theresa of Calcutta's 'Dark Night': What Her Life Says to Ours" by Fr. Andrew Cozzens, S.T.D., on February 27 from 7:30 to 9:00 P.M. in Rowan Hall, 3204 East 43rd Street. Other speakers for the next five Fridays include: Fr. James Reidy, Ph.D.; Fr. Scott Carl, S.S.L.; Fr. John Paul Echert, S.S.L.; Jonathan Reyes, Ph.D.; and John F. Boyle, Ph.D. The tuition is $4 per evening. Complimentary tickets are available by calling 612-729-7321. (Stations of the Cross will be held in the Church at 7:00 P.M.)

St. Helena's is conveniently located just southwest of the Hiawatha Avenue and 42nd Street intersection in South Minneapolis near Minnehaha Park. See Map

Friday, February 20, 2009

Archbishop Nienstedt designates 15 churches as pilgrimage sites for the Pauline Year

Archbishop John Nienstedt has designated 15 churches in the archdiocese as pilgrimage sites, where the faithful can receive a plenary, or full, indulgence during the 2008-2009 Jubilee Year of St. Paul.

repent.jpgAn indulgence is a remission of the temporal punishment due to sin. It can be granted on behalf of the individual petitioner or on behalf of departed souls.

Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed the jubilee year, which concludes June 29, to celebrate the approximately 2,000th anniversary of St. Paul’s birth.

During the Lenten season, with its focus on reconciliation, the plenary indulgence provides further incentive for Catholics to partake in the sacrament.

Archbishop Nienstedt recently issued a decree listing the designated pilgrimage churches:

The conditions for receiving the plenary indulgence are: sacramental confession, reception of the Eucharist, prayers for the pope’s intentions, total detachment from sin [Mortal AND Venial Sins], and participation in a public act of devotion to the Apostle Paul at any of the 15 pilgrimage sites during the Pauline year or at any Catholic church on June 29.

More information is about indulgences (yes, they still do exist) is at the Catholic Spirit web page.

Ever though about becoming a Deacon? You might have to wait a bit now.

[Archbishop John Nienstedt] One of the great achievements of the Second Vatican Council was the restoration in the Latin rite of the order of deacon “as a proper and permanent rank of the hierarchy” (“Lumen Gentium,” 58).

The origin of the diaconate is found in the sixth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. There we see that the concrete needs of the Greek members of the faith community gave rise to the selection of seven men over whom the apostles prayed and then “laid hands on them,” consecrating them for the church’s service.

Again, as we read in “Lumen Gentium,” 29, this imposition of hands is “not unto the priesthood, but unto the ministry.” Through the sacrament of holy orders, the deacon shares in the mission of Christ and receives a permanent character configuring him to Christ, who made himself the servant of all.

Servant in many ways

The deacon assists the bishop and priests “in the celebration of the divine mysteries, above all in the Eucharist, in the distribution of Holy Communion, in assisting at and blessing marriages, in the proclamation of the Gospel and preaching, in presiding over funerals, and in dedicating themselves to the various ministries of charity” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1570).

Thus, it can be said that the deacon serves the church as servant of the Word, servant of the Eucharist and servant of charity and justice.

As a sacramental sign of Christ the Servant, the deacon brings God’s presence to his marriage (if he be married), to his family, to his work, in outreach, in the parish or in the public forum. Across the nation, about a third of the deacons work full time in secular work, about a third are retired from secular work and about a third work full or part time for the church.

For four decades, this archdiocesan church has been blessed with the presence of permanent deacons as well as the expanded services of transitional deacons. They continue today to be an important and, I would say, essential part of the clergy in this local church.

In 2003, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) approved a National Directory for the Formation, Ministry, and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States. It was then sent to the Holy See for its approval and was subsequently published in 2005.

Coincidentally, our own Bishop Frederick Campbell, now bishop of the Diocese of Columbus, Ohio, was chairman of the bishops’ Committee on the Diaconate when the document was printed. This national directory gives a focused sense of direction for the church throughout this country on the education, formation and ongoing development of deacons and their ministry of service.

As you know, the Archbishop Harry J. Flynn Catechetical Institute was initiated a year ago at the St. Paul Seminary. This institute has already proven itself to be a rich resource for helping the adult Catholic gain a deeper insight into the truths of our faith.

These two important developments prompted Archbishop Flynn, at my request, to call for a re-evaluation of our own program of preparation for, and ongoing assistance to, our archdiocesan deacons. For that reason, we have suspended the admission of new candidates to the program until that evaluation is done.

Personally, I believe there are many fine aspects to our program which will not have to be changed. But I do believe that we will gain a better perspective on what we are doing in light of the two new re­sources mentioned above. Catholic Spirit

St.Paul Seminary Catechetical Institute accepting new applicants for Fall 2009

Msgr. Aloysius Callaghan, rector of the St. Paul Seminary, is pleased that the first session of the Arch­bishop Harry J. Flynn Cate­che­ti­cal Institute has already helped students to be­come stronger in their faith and their desire to share that faith.

Msgr. Callaghan
“One of the most amazing results of this is this transformation pro­cess,” Msgr. Callaghan said. “People are getting excited about their faith."

The institute for ministry professionals and other adults opened with 150 students Sept. 15 at the request of Archbishop Flynn and the support of Archbishop John Nien­stedt.

Jeff Cavins was recently named in­stitute director, after serving as the interim director and helping to set up the curriculum. He also has been teach­ing, along with five other in­struc­tors.

The first of four sessions focused on the Creed. The upcoming session will be on the sacraments and is open only to the students who took the first session. The third session, next fall, will be on moral law and the fourth, next winter, will focus on prayer.

Integrating the lessons

At the end of the first session, students were asked to write a reflection on what they learned and what they hoped to do with what they learned, Cavins said. Many people said they planned to integrate what they learned about the Catholic faith into their marriage, how they raise their children, into their fi­nances and “every area of life,” he added.

When the second session begins Mon­day, Feb. 16, at Providence Aca­d­e­my in Plymouth, the group will be down just five students, who had to drop out due to illness or because they were expecting a baby, Msgr. Cal­laghan said.

“It was not for lack of interest,” he added.

Classes are structured on the Cate­chism of the Catholic Church.

“If you follow that and present the faith as a systematic whole, it has a message that few programs can convey,” Cavins said.

Each week, the previous week’s teaching is recorded and uploaded to the Web so the next instructor will know what to teach in the upcoming class.

As the program was being developed, Cavins said the staff realized that most people fell short in two areas: understanding salvation history in Scripture, and understanding the Catholic Church as a whole.

After learning more about the Creed, people said they began to understand how the profession of faith fits into the sacraments, how sacraments fit into moral law and the Ten Com­mandments and how prayer fits into the Creed.

“It’s like giving keys to people, and they can unlock these mysteries with the hope that they can put it into practice in their life,” Cavins said.

This fall, a second round of the four-part series will be added, so two classes will be going on at the same time, with a total of 300 students participating, he said.

People can sign up for the series that begins in the fall starting in mid-February, but only 150 people will be chosen to attend. Applicants must write an essay about why they want to be a part of the class. They also must obtain two recommendations: from their pastor and another person. Catholic Spirit

For information or to apply for the fall session, call (651) 962-6890 or visit the Web site:

State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?

[. . . Speaking at a daylong conference devoted to the subject of "State Financing of Catholic Schools," held Feb. 16 at the Pontifical University Antonianum in Rome and hosted by the Acton Institute], the American perspective was given by Professor Thomas C. Berg, who lectures in law at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota. He said that although the United States has a healthy history and tradition of church-state separation that carries an in-built wariness of state funding, the United States is beginning to increasingly resemble Europe, and conflicts are emerging because of a distrust of religious schools by a secular-oriented state.

Two options

So what needs to be done to secure permissible state financing for Catholic schools while helping such institutions remain faithful to the magisterium? Gregg believes the whole issue needs to be rethought in ways consistent with magisterial teaching. He then presented two possible options. One would be for Catholic schools to opt out of public funding altogether. He believes that would show how much some schools are reliant on such funding rather than faithful support of other groups. It would also reduce bureaucracy and re-engage the laity on how to best educate their children.

A second option would be to shift from direct subsidies to a policy of tax breaks, whereby Catholic parents could nominate a particular school they would like their taxes to go to. That, argued Gregg, would create "major incentives" to educators to pay more attention to parental wishes rather than "the whims of state officials and politicians pushing politically correct agendas."

For his part, Berg argued that two things are needed if pluralism is to coexist with the state financing of Catholic schools: first, a developed jurisprudence to determine which regulations are legitimate or illegitimate for Catholic schools financed by the state. Second, even if state financing continues to be available, Catholic schools will still need to call on the voluntary commitment of the faithful.

"The tradition of voluntary support will have to be there as a backstop," said Berg, "because state funding brings too many dangers."

Father David Jaeger, professor of canon law at the Pontifical Antonianum University, stressed that parents have a right to state funding for education under canon law. But this whole area of whether such financing should be sought and accepted in light of encroaching secularist ideology is "something new."

Like Berg, he believes the key question for the future will be where to draw the line between helpful state intervention and impermissible interference.

But for [Professor Sam Gregg, research director at the Acton Institute], if that line cannot be satisfactorily drawn, then the Church should take radical action. "Anything that impedes the ability of Catholic schools from maintaining and promoting that which is at the very heart of its inspiration -- which is the Catholic faith -- ought to be dispensed with," he said. "In our age, if this includes state funding, then it, too, ought to be one of those things that the Church casts off, not as an act of defiant confrontation, but rather as an inspiration of love for its beginning and ultimate end, the Lord Jesus Christ."

That may inadvertently please the likes of Barry Sheerman, but at the same time he’d be less able to prevent Catholic schools from being, as he would put it, “too serious” about the faith. Zenit

Leader needed urgently for Minneapolis Rosary Procession

Dear Leaders in Christ who are passionate about the Rosary,

These past four years as a volunteer directing this event for our Queen have been extremely beautiful in so many ways. In leading others, working with truly faithful Catholics, it has renewed my belief year after year in the power of the most Holy Rosary.

There is a need for new leadership of the Minneapolis Rosary Procession which will take place on May 3 this year.

As the former leader, I have prepared a timeline of duties and will be available to consult by telephone for the purpose of facilitating an excellent and beautlful event. If anyone has questions about the mission, the time commitment or qualifications necessary to lead, they can contact myself or Father Altier. If you would like Father 's contact number for the purpose of inquiring about this opening or to indicate you are willing and able to lead, contact me at the email address below.

Father will be accepting leaders' assents until March 1st, 2009. If no one felt the
prompting from the Holy Spirit by then he will have no other recourse left except to pull the plug on the Minneapolis Rosary Procession.

May God guide your decision. May Our Lady be served and graces be brought into this world

In Christ's freedom,

John Paul Rosenthal


Subject: Minneapolis Rosary Procession...

  • John-Paul Rosenthal would be a backup there and assist with information. . . . There is an organizational template that they could just needs to be activated... and publicity for the event is done together with Saint Paul via emails to parishes and our website.

  • Otherwise it is going to end on that side...deadline for getting help is March 1.

  • I'd appreciate it if you could forward this to anybody you know there and John-Paul could give them the specifics. It is very nice over there...they assemble at Dunwoody, walk over the overpass and go into the Basilica for Benediction. They pray the Rosary in several languages...Arabic, Polish, English, Spanish and Vietnamese...they bring their statue and sing a lovely hymn to Our Lady in their language.

  • Mary Clare Wareham

Thursday, February 19, 2009

St. Thomas OKs $118 million athletic, recreation and student cente construction project


The University of St. Thomas unveiled plans today for a $52 million athletic and recreation complex and a $66 million student center on the university's main campus in St. Paul.

The board of trustees approved the athletic and recreation complex today. Work on the project, the largest in St. Thomas history, will start in late May.

The board discussed the athletic complex in October but held off on approval because of concerns about the weakened economy.

"Thanks to the support of generous contributors, we are able to move forward," said Father Dennis Dease, president of St. Thomas. "Our facilities simply have not kept pace with our growth or the kinds of facilities now found at other Minnesota colleges."

The St. Paul-based school has more than 10,000 graduate and undergraduate students at campuses in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

The 180,000-square-foot athletic complex will be located east of St. Thomas' football stadium and will open for use in fall 2010.

Construction of the proposed 240,000-square-foot student center, if approved next year by the Board of Trustees, would begin in fall 2010 and be completed by February 2012.

The two projects and a parking ramp all will be named for Lee and Penny Anderson, who made a $60 million gift to St. Thomas in 2007. It is believed to be the largest single contribution by an individual or a couple to a college or university in Minnesota and is part of St. Thomas' $500 million, eight-year fundraising drive.

Lee Anderson is a St. Thomas trustee and owner and chairman of APi Group Inc., a Twin Cities-based holding corporation of construction, manufacturing and fire-protection companies.

The construction projects will significantly change the appearance of St. Thomas along both Summit and Cretin avenues. A statement by the university said St. Thomas is reviewing plans for the athletic complex with the West Summit Neighborhood Advisory Committee and will go through a site-plan review with the city of St. Paul in the spring.

The $15 million Anderson Parking Facility that opened earlier this month will allow the university to close its parking lot at Summit and Cretin avenues. This will free up space for the athletic complex, student center and a larger quadrangle. Some existing buildings also will be replaced.

The Anderson Athletic and Recreation Complex will feature:

• A 2,000-seat basketball and volleyball arena.

• An aquatic center containing an eight-lane, 25-meter swimming pool and diving area.

• A new field house with a 200-meter track.

• A west wing with a fitness center, weight room and aerobic rooms on the first floor and offices, classrooms and labs on the second and third floors.

Opus Northwest and Opus Architects and Engineers are the contractor and architect for the athletic and recreation complex and the student center. Opus has designed or built more than 20 buildings on St. Thomas campuses over the past 50 years. Ryan Companies designed and built the 725-car parking ramp.

A video, slide show, floor plans and animated aerial view of the future look of the St. Paul campus can be found on the university's Bulletin Today website:

More details from the St Paul Pioneer Press

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Fetal stem-cell therapy fails: Israeli experiment triggered tumors

A family desperate to save a child from a lethal brain disease sought highly experimental injections of fetal stem cells — injections that triggered tumors in the boy's brain and spinal cord, Israeli scientists reported Tuesday.

Scientists are furiously trying to harness different types of stem cells — the building blocks for other cells in the body — to regrow damaged tissues and thus treat devastating diseases. But for all the promise, researchers have long warned they must learn to control newly injected stem cells so they don't grow where they shouldn't, and small studies in people are only just beginning.

Tuesday's report in the journal PLoS Medicine is the first documented case of a human brain tumor — albeit a benign, slow-growing one — after fetal stem cell therapy and hammers home the need for careful research. The journal is published by the Public Library of Science.

"Patients, please beware," said Dr. John Gearhart, a stem cell scientist at the University of Pennsylvania who wasn't involved in the Israeli boy's care but who sees similarly desperate U.S. patients head abroad to clinics that offer unproven stem-cell injections.

"Cells are not drugs. They can misbehave in so many different ways, it just is going to take a good deal of time" to prove how best to pursue the potential therapy, Gearhart said.

The unidentified Israeli boy has a rare, fatal genetic disease with a tongue-twisting name— ataxia telangiectasia, or A-T. Degeneration of a certain brain region gradually robs these children of movement. Plus, a faulty immune system leads to frequent infections and cancers. Most die in their teens or early 20s.

A Tel Aviv University team extensively tested the tumor tissue and concluded the fetal cells were to blame. Among other evidence, some of the cells were female and had two normal copies of the gene that causes A-T — although that boy's underlying poor immune function could have allowed the growths to take hold.

Using stem cells from multiple fetuses that also were mixed with growth-spurring compounds "may have created a high-risk situation where abnormal growth of more than one cell occurred," wrote lead researcher Dr. Ninette Amariglio of Sheba Medical. She urged better research to "maximize the potential benefits of regenerative medicine while minimizing the risks."

This brain disease wasn't conducive to stem cell therapy in the first place, said stem cell specialist Dr. Marius Wernig of Stanford University, who said it's unclear exactly what was implanted.

"Stem cell transplantations have a humongous potential," Wernig said. But "if people rush out there without really knowing what they're doing ... that really backfires and can bring this whole field to a halt." Pioneer Press

Pelosi Gets Religion from the Pope. Will it Stick?

Breaking News: Pope Reminds Speaker Pelosi of Her Obligation to Protect and Defend all Human Life

Catholic Online (

His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the Church’s consistent teaching on the dignity of human life.

When Pope Benedict XVI visited the United States, the Speaker of the House was pleased to greet him and use the public gesture of kissing his ring, a sign of respect for his office. She has regularly called herself an
When Pope Benedict XVI visited the United States, the Speaker of the House was pleased to greet him and use the public gesture of kissing his ring, a sign of respect for his office. She has regularly called herself an "ardent Catholic". Yet her position on the fundamental human rights issue of our age, the right to life from conception to natural death and at every age and stage, is often in direct opposition to the truths revealed by the Natural Law and the infallible teaching of her own Church.
ROME (Catholic Online) - Following the much anticipated event of the Speaker of the House, Senator Nancy Pelosi, meeting with the Holy Father, the Vatican issued the release set forth below in both English and Italian. The release was first posted, Stateside, by Rocco Palmo at "Whispers in the Loggia". Now, all major news sources have picked up this important story. The Speaker's office has indicated that she will release a statement later in the day concerning her meeting with Pope Benedict XVI.

When Pope Benedict XVI visited the United States the Speaker of the House was pleased to greet him and use the public gesture of kissing his ring, a sign of respect for his Petrine office. She has regularly called herself an "ardent Catholic". Yet her position on the fundamental human rights issue of our age, the right to life from conception to natural death and at every age and stage, is often in direct opposition to the truths revelealed by the Natural Law and the infallible teaching of her own Church.

Catholic Online will be following all the developments surrounding this story throughout the day.

Vatican Statement

"Following the General Audience the Holy Father briefly greeted Mrs Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, together with her entourage.

"His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the Church’s consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death which enjoin all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists and those responsible for the common good of society, to work in cooperation with all men and women of good will in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development." (emphasis added)

Lent is nearly upon us; Make your plans now; Assemble your Sackcloth and Ashes Garb

Wednesday, February 25 is Ash Wednesday; Easter is on April 12. Much earlier than last year when they were the earliest they have been in a long time. So, Lent starts in two weeks!

And it is not too early to begin planning your Lentan purgations and mortifications. The Newman Center of Texas A&M University (Baptist Bible Belt Bailiwick, to be sure) in College Station has a wonderful blog entry with a Lentan FAQ and all kinds of information that you should peruse HERE

Speaking of Newman Centers. . . .

Inasmuch as few Catholic Colleges and Universities have received a mandatum from their bishops indicating that their theology professors teach in accordance with the Magisterium of the Church, those seeking a place to go to college might very well consider some of the public and private institutions that are known for their wonderful Newman Centers and schools who have branches of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students.

As an aside, priests don't need a mandatum from their bishop. It is assumed that they are orthodox. Well, we all know about "assumptions."

If you or your child are not going to be getting an orthodox education, you might gain more value by going to a school where your time spent outside of the classroom and the library (do they still have libraries these days?) might be best spent being with fellow Catholics engaged in deepening their faith on their own at Mass, in prayer, in study and in fellowship.

Here is a list of some of the best of those organizations:

Outstanding Newman Ctrs Fellowship of Catholic Univ.

Briar Cliff College, Sioux City, IA
Chatham College, Pittsburgh (Oratory) Iowa
Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh Loras College, Dubuque
Georgia Tech University

Illinois State University, Normal Kansas
Joliet Junior College, Joliet, IL
Benedictine College, Atchison
Kansas State University
Kansas U St. Lawrence Center
Middlebury College, Middlebury, VT
Southern Missouri State, Springfield, MO Maryland
*Texas A&M U, College Stn, TX U. S. Naval Academy, Annapolis

U of Maryland, College Park
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
*U of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana Massachusetts
*University of Maryland, College Park U of Massachusetts, Amherst

University of Minnesota, Duluth Missouri
University of Missouri, Rolla
U of Missouri - Kansas City
University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh
University of South Dakota, Vermillion Montana
University of Texas, Austin
Montana State U, Bozeman

*Top Notch!


Hastings College, Hastings
Fellowship of Catholic Univ. Students Nebraska Wesleyan U, Lincoln

*University of Nebraska, Lincoln

University of Nebraska at Omaha
Colorado School of Mines, Golden
Colorado State University, Fort Collins New Jersey
U. S. Air Force Academy, Col. Springs Seton Hall U, South Orange
University of Colorado, Boulder

University of Denver, Denver
North Dakota
University of Northern Colorado, Greeley North Dakota State U, Fargo

U of North Dakota, Grand Forks

University of North Florida, Jacksonville Pennsylvania

U of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh

Bradley University, Peoria
Illinois State University, Normal
George Mason U, Fairfax
Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Western Illinois University, Macomb