Stepping out of our comfort zone. Isn’t that what Lent is about? Shaking up those daily rituals so that we see the world from a different angle – hopefully one that is more God-focused, and less focused on ourselves. This Lent, I decided to “take up” going to Mass twice during the week during my lunch hour. Talk about shaking up your work week! While in years past, I had always focused on the “giving up” tradition, the taking up of this new spiritual discipline has had a profound effect: twice a week, I hit the “pause” button on the concerns and stresses of my job and spend some time with the Lord. It gives me time to pray for my family and my friends and to think about the things that really matter. Those two extra hours each week force me out of my Sunday morning complacency and have me looking at things in a new way.
As you know, this year’s Annual Catholic Appeal theme – Serve with Love – is based on Pope Francis’ unceasing call over the past year for us to step out of our comfort zones and be with the poor: attending to their needs, listening to them, ministering to them, learning from them, and working to end poverty altogether. I recently read an article by Cardinal Sean O’Malley (who was the keynote speaker at this year’s Diocesan Catholic Men’s Conference), which discusses the influence of Ignatian spirituality on Pope Francis, and how this has led the Holy Father to challenge our “core assumptions about power, authority and leadership.”

It’s in that spirit that we wanted to shake things up and look at the Annual Catholic Appeal differently. For so many years, we’ve politely asked for your donations, you have generously donated, we have allocated those funds, and the agencies and schools have done amazing work. It was time to hit the “pause” button and figure out how we could connect neighbor to neighbor, to help donors get something back spiritually by interacting with those who need their help. That’s why this year, we’ve incorporated a volunteerism campaign into the Appeal, as Bishop McDonnell explained during our kick-off. I’m happy to report that so far, over 40 people have pledged to volunteer over 1,000 hours in local agencies and parishes! Of course, the 40+ agencies, schools, parishes and ministries still need financial support. We are also closing in on the $1 million milestone: as of March 17th, we have raised $947,064 from 6,545 generous donors.
If you are interested in volunteering and want to learn more, there are several options:
• Fill out our online volunteer form
• Like our Facebook page so you can hear when different agencies supported by the ACA need your help
• Follow us on Twitter: @ACASpfldMA2014
• Call me at 413.452.0670

ACA Poster 2014

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@ACASpfldMA2014

Over the past few weeks, I’ve shared with you what we mean when we say “Serve with Love,” why we do it, and whom we help through our Annual Appeal. But there’s still an important part of this story to tell, and it’s a bigger story than I can tell myself. So I need your help. I want to hear how YOU are making a difference every day. How are you living out the gospel message in your own way? How are you empowering people? Helping them live with dignity and joy? How are you, as Pope Francis is urging us to do, “protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need, who are often the last we think about?”

Over the remainder of Lent, please share your stories on twitter with #wmaservewithlove. And be sure to follow us @ACASpfldMA2014. We’ll share our favorites in this blog and on our Facebook page.

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Beth & Ray Ginepro
Worldwide Marriage Encounter
  
Turning Points
    
    We spring ahead an hour this month and from that time on the days get longer, the weather gets warmer and activities shift more to the outdoors.  We can think about the milestones in our lives also marked by the phrase “from that time on”: We met ‘the one’ and from that time on our life was never the same. We got married and from that time on it was no longer just about me but about us.  Children came along and from that time on we were a family.  Demands of daily living pulled us in separate directions and from that time on disillusionment began to set in.  We forgave each other and from that time on our relationship began to heal.  We lived our marriage encounter weekend and from that time on we grew in intimacy and joy again.
 
            In scripture too, as Bishop Ken Untener so keenly points out, turning points in Jesus’ public life are marked by the phrase “from that time on.” (See Matthew 4:17 “From that time on Jesus began to preach”, Mt 16:21 “From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly”, Mt 26:16 “From that time on, Judas began looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus.”)
 
            Turning points are an opportunity to grow…together or apart…for better or for worse…closer to each other and God …or not.  How we approach the turning points in our own lives affects the direction in which we will go. Are you happy with where you are headed? 
 
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Discussion questions to explore some more:
  • What have been the turning points in my life? What have I learned from them?
  • When did I first realize that you were the one for me?
  • What is one thing we can do to recapture some carefree timelessness together?
  • Recall a time when have I stepped out of my comfort zone as an act of love for you?
  • What do I need to turn away from to turn closer in relationship to God/to my spouse?
  • If I had one do over what would it be?
  • I feel loved and cherished when you________.
  • How has the love of neighbor/of God touched me in my life?
  • What dreams do I have for our future?
  • How open are we to invite God to be our “able bodied navigator”?
May your discussion blossom with blessings in your journey toward Easter and Spring!
 
(To find out more about a Worldwide Marriage Encounter weekend go to www.wwmeMA.org)
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Three million dollars. That’s a lot of money! That is also how much we hope to raise through this year’s Annual Catholic Appeal. If you’ve had a chance to read through our 2013 Accountability Report, then you know that last year’s Appeal, which raised $2,727,110, was able to help our neighbors and churches by:

·         Providing over $700,000 in educational support to Catholic elementary and secondary students in the Diocese

·         Providing  $288,005 for direct social services to people in need

·         Allocating $372,750 for Catholic Latino Ministries, which ensures all services afforded to diocesan Catholics be made available to the Catholic Latino community

·         Promoting the Catholic faith through print and media by supporting Catholic Communications Corporation

Campaign costs were kept to less than 7%, and only 11% went towards supporting three offices within the Diocese. The Appeal has always been about neighbor helping neighbor, and we work hard to keep it that way.

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So how can we reach our goal of $3,000,000 this year? If every registered Catholic in the Diocese – there are approximately 219,000 – were to donate just $14, we’d make our goal. But I understand that not every person is able to give financially. That’s why we’re encouraging area Catholics to visit and like our new Facebook page, which showcases the many area agencies and causes that the Appeal supports. If you are not able to make a financial donation, consider volunteering your time and talents to one or more of these worthy organizations.

In the past few days, we’ve highlighted Rick’s Place, Northern Berkshire Pregnancy Support Center, Homework House, Montague Catholic Social Ministries, Lorraine’s Soup Kitchen, and The Gray House. By liking our Facebook page, you’ll receive an update each day about volunteer opportunities, events, and meaningful ways to serve others over the coming months.

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In the end, when we serve our neighbors with love – whether through our donations of time, talent, or treasure – we all reach our goals.

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As we prepare for our big kick-off weekend for our 2014 Annual Catholic Appeal, I’m often asked, “Where does my money go? Why should I give?”  These are great questions, and I want to help you make informed decisions about how you can best serve others this year. That might be through a donation to the Appeal. It might be by learning about one of the agencies we support through the Appeal, and volunteering there. Or your agency might learn more about our charitable mission, and become more closely involved with us.

So to answer the first question, of the approximately $2.5 million raised last year, nearly $350,000 went to grants to external agencies. The remainder of the money raised is allocated to diocesan programs, such as Seminarian education, supporting retired religious, our Catholic schools throughout the diocese, Catholic Communications, and Latino ministry.

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As the Annual Catholic Appeal Manager, one of my favorite things is getting out into the community and discovering a new agency that is doing work that could be funded through the Annual Catholic Appeal. Here are the basic requirements:

  • The agency performs one of the Corporal Works of Mercy (feeding the hungry, visiting those in prison, clothing the naked, giving shelter to the homeless, visiting the sick)
  • The agency is endorsed by a pastor or priest in the county in which they operate
  • The agency, while not necessarily Catholic, abides by and follows Catholic teaching (does not contradict Catholic teaching)
  • The agency is within the boundaries of the Diocese of Springfield (Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin and Berkshire counties)

Right now, we are able to fund agencies between the range of a few thousand dollars up to $30,000 and beyond, depending on the capacity of the agency to deliver programming. Here are the criteria I use when determining funding:

  • What population is served (youth, elderly, families, unborn, etc.)?
  • What other funding sources does the agency have access to?
  • What is the current size of their budget?

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So is your agency a potential match? Consider the following:

  • Our “feelers” are always out for agencies that promote the Corporal Works of Mercy and whose mission aligns with the mission of the Appeal.
  • Demonstration of need, purpose and population served are all things that we look for when deciding to invite an agency to submit a grant proposal
  • Unique programs (Rick’s Place is a wonderful example) that fulfill a need that is not currently being fulfilled are always of interest to our funding group

Next week, I’ll discuss our goals for 2014 and what those goals mean for our region and the agencies serving it. Until then, I encourage you to read our 2013 Accountability Report and to visit and like our Facebook page.

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Aesop once said that, ”After all is said and done, a lot more will have been said than done.” It would definitely seem that our Holy Father, Pope Francis, is not content with letting the Church be guilty of just talking about the problems of the world; rather,he insists that we take the Gospel to heart and roll up our collective sleeves and attend to the needs of the suffering, the hungry, and the poor: “be open to others, especially to the poorest and neediest, to work to improve the world in which we live. Be men and women with others and for others, real champions in the service of others.”

As you may know, we are about to kick-off the 2014 Annual Catholic Appeal. Our theme this year – based on the call of the Gospel and inspired by Pope Francis’ urges for us to return to our Gospel roots – is Serve with Love. In addition to supporting the ministry of the diocese, did you know that the Annual Catholic Appeal directly supports local organizations that are responding to Pope Francis’ call to serve the poor, the underserved, and the neglected?

This year, we’re adding a social media component to our campaign to better share the stories of these organizations and the families they serve. Through our daily Facebook posts and tweets, you’ll not only be able to learn more about their important work, but you’ll be able to share how you choose to serve with love in your own way: we encourage you to share your comments on our Facebook page or to tweet how you are responding to Francis’ call – whether it’s “liking” an organization’s work, or volunteering your time at one of their events, or supporting the 2014 Annual Catholic Appeal – by using the hashtag #wmaservewithlove.

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By Peggy Weber

Friday afternoons were pretty easy in the 4th Grade. After lunch we had art and then headed next door to church for Benediction. However, On Nov. 22, 1963 things were different. We were told to put away our art supplies right away and clear our desks. The whole school was rushed out of the building. The teachers were visibly upset. Something was wrong.

We soon learned that President Kennedy been shot. 

There was no horsing around in church that afternoon. The mood was different. Some of the sisters were crying. All the students at Holy Name Grammar School in Springfield were on their knees trying to pray the first Catholic president back to health.

Since then I have learned that many other students were taken to church that fateful Friday. Catholic school children throughout the land were doing the only thing that can be done in face of tragedy and sorrow — they prayed. 

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I recall that somehow we were informed that the president had died and were sent home. I think we were let out early. You could do that back then. Kids went home for lunch. Entire classes were kept after school for talking too much.

I rushed home and was greeted at the door by my mother. One look at her face told me that she knew the sad news. She looked really, really sad. I began to cry and we hugged. This was followed by our usual afternoon ritual of a cup of tea — mine had lots of milk in it.

Friday afternoons also meant tap dancing class at Charmaine’s School of Dance. I told my mother I was too upset to go to class. She said I had to go anyway because you had to pay for the class whether you did or did not go. We didn’t waste money. I trudged down Alderman Street to White Street and shuffled and pointed — with very little enthusiasm.

That night — those were meatless Fridays back then — we did something very unusual. My dad set up a card table in the living room and we watched TV. 

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We never ate in front of a TV when I was little. I knew that night that things were really different.

In a way, this was the second death that had struck our family that year. In June our beloved Pope John XXIII had died. They were the special “Johns” in our world. However, this one hurt more. It was violent and tragic. It left two children without their dad. It left everyone wondering why.

The weekend was a blur as our family was glued to the old black and white set in our living room. Finally on Sunday, my mom told us to go out and play. We did. We were not out long when one of the seven kids from the house next door burst out of his front door. He was a few years older and had our attention as he said, “I just saw Lee Harvey Oswald get shot.”

We rushed back into our homes to learn more. The unreal weekend continued. 

I remember black-rimmed prayer cards in church.

I remember the riderless horse.

And, of course, I remember the salute from young “John-John.”

I know the world changed that day — just as I watched it change for my children on September 11th.

But one thing has not changed. On the night of September 11th, our parish gathered for Mass. We went to our knees in the face of violence and tragedy — just as I had as a fourth grader 50 years ago. 

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Photos courtesy of Catholic News Service

 

 

By Don Clemmer

Editor’s Note: Don Clemmer is the assistant director of media relations for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington D.C. He wrote this blog for the memorial of Blessed John XXIII.

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Pope John XXIII and  Pope Francis hold the respective distinctions of ushering in the most significant reforms the Catholic Church had seen in a millennium and being the first Latin American and Jesuit pope. But both men are also witnesses to how Christian holiness permeates daily life in moments big and small and that it’s not just what a person does, but how he or she does it, that matters.

Sure, both men provide visions of The Big Picture. John XXIII gave his recipe for sustainable global peace in his final encyclicalPacem in Terris (1963). And Pope Francis has put in place with lightning speed his program of global solidarity and a Church that goes out to the margins to serve.

But Francis has also focused much of his preaching and teaching energy — exemplified by his daily Mass homilies especially — on the “small things,” behaviors of everyday life like gossip, laziness and cynicism. These are not lofty theological concerns, but pitfalls of human behavior that apply to everyone. And he doesn’t criticize them lightly. Often the devil gets dragged into it. It’s as if the last thing Pope Francis wants is a Church that “believes correctly” but is populated by otherwise miserable people.

Blessed John XXIII

While this may sound like “papal micromanaging” to some, it’s more like a cheat sheet for the Christian life. Yes, you know the 10 Commandments and the Catechism, but just in case there was any doubt, the end result should look like this…

John XXIII had his rules for dealing with the small stuff too. His famous managerial maxim (recently quoted by Pope Francis in his interview with the world’s major Jesuit journals) was “See everything. Overlook a great deal. Correct a little.” His guide to living together in harmony (attributed to St. Augustine) had a similar spirit: “In essentials, unity. In doubtful matters, liberty. In all things, charity.” 

Pope John’s leadership style was on full display at the Council. He didn’t participate, wishing to promote freer discussion among the bishops, but watched the proceedings from his apartment on closed circuit television. However, when the curia proposed a highly unpopular draft for the document on divine revelation and the bishops did not have quite enough votes to reject it outright, Pope John, to the Council fathers’ surprise, intervened and threw out the draft. He didn’t see the point in such an unpopular schema taking up so much of the Council’s time and energy. See everything. Overlook a great deal. Correct a little.

Pope smiles as he leaves general audience in St. Peter's Square at Vatican

Pope Francis exercised a similar sense of discernment and freedom in the act of moving ahead Pope John’s canonization without the required second miracle. Look at the witness of his life! The world has already proclaimed him a saint! This system was meant to guide us, not hinder us. Pope Francis seems to be saying. And he is, after all, the pope.

From the model of John XXIII to the current admonitions of Pope Francis, Catholics everywhere can learn from these men how to discern what is truly important in matters large and small and learn follow their lead in in exemplifying the key to a Christian witness: “See how they love another.” Both men extended that love, in word and deed, to the entire world.

 

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By Lauren Dulude ’14
Holyoke Catholic High School

Editor’s note: Lauren Dulude was one on five Holyoke Catholic High School students who traveled to Africa in July, the following is her reflection about that visit.

After willingly going to Africa for three weeks, I can boldly say that it was the absolute best experience of my life.  Not only did I learn a lot about Tanzanian people and their culture, but I also learned some things about myself in the process. I was ready and anxious to begin our mission after my group spent the first week studying in the Makoko Language School. I had no idea what God had in store for me. Every day I experienced something new and exciting. I have so many stories and memories, so hopefully I can share small and meaningful parts with you.

First of all, I should begin by letting you know that it was not easy for my family to decide to let me go to Africa. (See her mom’s letter below.) Despite the majority of people that would tell me that it is too dangerous, I somehow always had the feeling that everything would work out. I never got discouraged. Most of the time people looked at me with utter confusion, told me that I couldn’t go, or made a rude comment about Africa. Although it was hurtful, I ignored them. I thought that no matter what they would do, it was my decision, and I knew that it was the right one. I was determined to go to Africa. I know that God helped me through that time and for some reason I had to go.

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In my last letter on: Iobserve I wrote about the overall character of the people and the surroundings of the Makoko Language School. Even though both the school and the House of Compassion are not in the bustling town, they are an hour apart from each other. Every day we left the school at 8:00 on our private buses which we used for our safari vehicles. On the way to the House of Compassion everyone stared at us from outside the vehicle. This was the first day. During the next few days more and more people began waving to us as we passed by them. I will never forget the kids chasing after our van, smiling, and waving.

My main focus throughout the day was the kindergarten class. Only six out of about thirty kindergarteners lived at the House of Compassion. The others walked back home before lunch. During the mornings I worked in the kindergarten with three other Holyoke Catholic students. With a sort of wonder in her eyes, the teacher said to us: “We want to learn something from America.” The children knew minimal English, but the younger children surprisingly knew more than the older kids. We taught the kindergarteners songs like “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”, “If You’re Happy and You Know It”, and “Old MacDonald.” The kids also loved learning the chicken dance.

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After morning class the kids would all put their shoes on and lead us by hand to the church to pray. The teacher did not come with us and did not have any worries. The children were quiet and respectful in church where they said a prayer together in the pews and quietly left the church. I reviewed with five of the six kids that lived at the House of Compassion after lunch. The kids were so happy and obedient in class. There were a few days that one child would get the occasional case of malaria and sleep during class. In the kindergarten classroom they only have a mat on a cement floor, the teacher’s desk, a chalkboard, and a couple lawn chairs. The teacher had only one box of school supplies for the whole class.

Three other mission trip students and I spent the weekend tutoring a few House of Compassion kids in English. The seventh graders that we tutored went to the community school. Although they had English class in school, they basically only knew how to say hello.  Their teacher must not have known much English at all because the children were confused. The seventh grade had been preparing for an English test that they were to take in two weeks. They would never go to school again if they failed their test, which meant that they will probably not be able to find that great of a job. It was extremely sad to know that just because their education system is weak, the kids will be the ones to suffer. When we tutored them we could tell that they were so eager to learn. They wrote down everything we said and worked for hours straight.

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During Mass the voices of all of the people were outstanding. The songs are led by the older seventh graders. Their voices brought tears to my eyes. Mass was so powerful in Tanzania. The people truly came alive in church. There were so many people at the House of Compassion that were mentally disabled and could not communicate well. In church, those people were singing and dancing. During peace everybody walked around the church giving peace to one another. We brought smiles to people’s faces and they returned the favor.

Every day after Church we played with jump ropes and soccer balls. The adults and children loved to play. They figured out how to do double Dutch and they would always try to beat their record. When we collected the jump ropes at the end of each day they gladly passed them over which surprised me. As far as I know, all of the children at the House of Compassion are orphans. The most beautiful thing was to laugh and smile alongside the children.  They stole my heart.

For the entire time we were at the House of Compassion I noticed that every child seemed to have about three different outfits. In the room that the adults shared they really only had a bed, a mosquito net, and maybe a box of belongings. Despite the conditions in which these people live in, they still enjoy life. They live simply, but it is beautiful. They are not dependent on material goods. Everybody at the House of Compassion makes up one big family. The abundant love, hope, and acceptance at the House of Compassion can be felt in multitudes and makes up the true spirit of the Tanzanian people whom I will remember forever.

The following is a letter from Lauren’s mother, Jodi Dulude, and their reaction to their daughter’s life-changing trip.

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It was a hard decision to let our daughter go to Africa.  At first we were hesitant in allowing her to go on the trip.  We were also blown away that Lauren, would consider going to a third world country.  She has always been afraid of all flying or crawling critters.  There must have been a more powerful reason why she was being pulled to go on a 21 day mission trip to Tanzania.  We came to the decision that it was something we had to let her experience.  The conflicts and safety that go on in other countries was extremely frightening.  So many questions needed to be answered.  Many meetings were held to prepare us with the day to day activities, Lauren would experience.  Her entire stay was at the Makoko Language School, it was comforting to be able to communicate, either by email, face time, or skype.  One of our conversations on skype Lauren said, “can we just hang up, I’d like to go have fun, I only have four more days here”.  Whether that  was to be with the four other students she had become close to, write in her journal, or prepare for the next day she wanted to be there 100% of the time.  Looking back at our decision and knowing it was the right one is a blessing.  The people she met and grew close to in a short amount of time will always be a part of her.   We have heard many stories of the children and people she met at the House of Compassion in Musoma, where the mission work took place. Lauren returned safely with an extraordinary experience she will never forget in a life time. She also has expressed an interest in returning to Musoma, Tanzania at some point in the near future.  The next time will be an easier decision to make.

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In 1952 a gallon of gas was just 20 cents. A loaf of bread was 16 cents and a postage stamp was only three cents. Of course, the average income was only $3515 so these prices are relative.

However, a group of people who can remember all of those prices assembled at the Fort Restaurant in Springfield a while back for their 60th reunion.

The Class of 1952 from Classical High School in Springfield met to reminisce about their high school days.

Pauline Fitzgerald of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Springfield sent along the information.

Classmates came from Florida, Georgia, Baltimore, Md. and Cape Cod. The event was arranged by Ann Tyminski from Baltimore and the photo was taken by Fred Krug the same photographer who took the 50th Class Reunion photo.

Those attending were: Fran Smith Levine, Ruth Cohen Broverman, Alan Broverman, Rose Zucco Davis, Shirley Cote Colapietro, Judith Catron McRae, Ann Lattinville Tyminski, Carl Mendola, Barbara Maier Krampitz, Phyllis Kazin, Bart Kazin and Robert Picknelly.

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