SEVEN THINGS CATHOLICS SHOULD KNOW…
By Peggy Weber
West Hartford, CONN. — More than three dozen teenagers and several dedicated volunteers gathered from Aug. 20-23 for a San Damiano Summer Camp and Retreat at the Holy Family Passionist Retreat Center.
These young people could have been at the beach or hanging out at home or working. Instead they chose to spend four days focused on their faith.
Conventual Franciscan Father Pedro DeOliveira helped guide the group which calls St. Stanislaus Basilica and Martyr Parish in Chicopee its home.
Deacon Joe Peters of St. Stanislaus and his wife, Jan, worked with the teens throughout the week. Jan used her incredible art talents to help the group create stained-glass windows from plastic!
Joe Dziok, who just returned from an internship with the Summer Olympics in London, worked with the teens, especially in the area of technology.
I was asked to speak to the group about the efforts of Catholic Communications and specifically about blogging.
It was a great chance to show our iobserve.org page and the wealth of information there.
I was lucky enough to have the assistance of my daughter, Elizabeth Weber Begley, who helped me click through YouTube, Facebook, and other pages on the diocesan news site.
The youngsters were polite, attentive and really, really nice!!
They created a blog for their parish and engaged in other creative and technical projects. They also interacted with singing evangelist Michael Poirier and his family and focused on The Divine Mercy.
Catholic Communications hopes to hear from the teens as they learn to express their faith in a variety of media.
And Catholic Communications also hopes that these savvy teens will follow Catholic Communications on Twitter and “like” them on Facebook.
Photos by Jeremiah Begley
Editor’s note: This essay was written by a diocesan seminarian. He and the subject remain anonymous so that the essay will praise all priests.
This summer I have been assigned to work with a truly unique man who is a wonderful priest and role model. I would like to describe him for you. I won’t name him because I expect that whatever town that you live in you will know a priest like him. The Diocese of Springfield has been blessed with a presbyterate made up of great men who, despite what the press may say, quietly toil in the “vineyard” and accomplish some amazing things every day! They have devoted their lives to bringing the love of Christ their parishes.
My supervisor this summer is a “street priest”. While I have always heard that expression I thought that it was an outdated term that referred to the ‘hippie” or “anti-war priests” of the sixties and seventies, the guys who lived on the Boston Common or in the homeless shelters. It was not always a compliment to be described as a “street priest”. Today the term is very complimentary. My boss, the street priest, is a living example of the words of St. Francis of Assisi, “Preach the Gospel always, if you have to, use words.”
This guy lives the beatitudes. The expectations expressed by Jesus in Matthew’s gospel are not theoretical to him. Every day he is out “on the street” interacting with “God’s people”. He can often be found handing out bags of food to the hungry or cold drinks to the thirsty.
He dashes off to the hospitals to comfort the sick and relies on Google maps to guide him to the homebound. On a regular basis he visits area prisons to make sure “his boys don’t need anything.”
He gives voice to the marginalized and challenges the rest of us to move out of our comfort zones and live the gospel message. If you’re down on your luck; if you have made some poor choices in life; if you’re confused or desperate he is your man!
He’s not perfect. My seminary professors would not be impressed by his liturgical style and although his homilies are interesting and often passionate no one will ever describe him as a great preacher. His singing is downright awful. He has a quirky personality and an annoying amount of energy…But none of that matters because he has boundless love for his neighbor and his Church. He is a great evangelist, he just doesn’t use words. He offers an open mind and a warm heart to everyone that he meets. He doesn’t judge, he serves!
In return his parishioners love him. As part of my “internship” this summer he took me to visit his “old parish”, a parish he left almost ten years ago. You would never know that he had been away. As we walked down the local streets I was amazed by the number of “passersby” who beeped and stopped to say hello to “their priest”. The children of his old parish had grown up but still waved and laughed with him. Old youth group members were now pushing baby carriages down Main Street and were excited to have the opportunity to introduce their children to this great priest. Two people, who had been gang members and prisoners, stopped to tell us about what “the street priest” had done for them and how they were able to turn their lives around “because of him”. A five block walk took almost an hour because of this impromptu outpouring of love. “His people” stood on street corners and sat on stoops and in each place we were greeted with big smiles and incredible stories.
There have been many books written these days that focus on the problems of the Catholic Church and the future of the priesthood. Some of these tomes raise very good points and make valuable contributions but anyone who has serious doubts about the goodness of priests or the future of the Church should spend a few hours walking through the parish with their “street priest”. The future of this Diocese is very bright. The priests of this diocese are incredible. Please pray for them and maybe consider joining them in bringing the Love of Christ to the streets. Do you have what it takes to be a “street priest”?
U.S. Catholics’ Satisfaction with Bishops Up to 70 Percent
By Peggy Weber
Recently, I was at a small grocery store and picked up a copy of a Valley Advocate newspaper. It had a cover photo about an historical cemetery and I was intrigued.
I was with my daughter, Elizabeth, and she started to flip through the paper as we drove home.
After just a short time, she closed the paper and told me there was a cartoon in there that made fun of the Eucharist.
I could not believe it and looked when I got home.
A part of me wants to post the cartoon so you can see just how awful it is. However, I do not want to show this and give it more publicity.
I will quote some lines from it.
The cartoon is titled, “And Also With You” and has a picture priest handing Communion to a boy who is wearing a backwards baseball cap. The cartoon figure has one hand out for Communion. The other is holding an Ipod and he is wearing “ear buds”.
There are several responses made by this young man in the cartoon. I hesitate to write them. One of the mildest is “I always wondered where recycled styrofoam went.”
Another is — “You gonna finish that pimp cup o’wine, playa?”
Others have sexual innuendos and mock transubstantiation.
I was so outraged by this cartoon and thought that I had to speak out.
I called Tom Vannah, the editor of the Advocate three times and never got a return call.
I -emailed him and asked for a public apology. There was no response.
Can you imagine if any other religion had been mocked that way in a local cartoon? Can you sense the outrage that would take place?
I decided I could not be quiet or do nothing. I ask you to contact The Advocate and let them know that they should not mock the Eucharist in this fashion.
I intend to go to my little market and ask them to think about not accepting the Advocate for distribution in their store.
I have a sense of humor and believe in freedom of the press but this cartoon crossed the line.
Please join me in speaking out.
Advocate contact info:
By Joe Dziok
Currently, I am working in the field shop at the olympics preparing to begin work on building the cameras for the olympics. It is incredible how much work goes into putting this event together. It is an incredible experience to work with NBC Olympic engineers. These people are literally putting together every piece of equipment for the airing of the Olympic games on their own. They have vast knowledge of electronics and audio/visual integration, as well as networking. I am so blessed to be a part of this experience. Combining my current education (Music Production Technology) with this internship experience (learning more of the video aspect) I hope to enter a career in communications and live television. My goal one day is to work in Catholic communications.
During my free time this past Sunday, I met up with my friend Andy, who was an exchange student in my class last semester, from London. He took me to some of the great tourist sites of London, including the House of Parliament, West Minster Abbey, and Buckingham Palace. But my most favorite place we went to was Westminster Cathedral (the Catholic cathedral of England) where many British saints are buried.
P.S. my favorite part about the tour was when we went to the Cathedral and my friend Andy (who is not Catholic) realized my desire to go and pray at some of the altars in the Westminster Cathedral. He was actually very moved by the time I spent in prayer and joined me. Later on, I found out that he is Anglican but he has family members who are Catholic. It was nice to see him join me in praying at the Cathedral.
Editor’s note: Joe wanted to be sure the readers understood that this was not Westminster Abbey, rather he went to the Catholic cathedral in London!
Rest in Peace
When tears are not enough -
Transparent falling tears
that flood our very breath.
They wash but cannot
Clean away the pain.
Sorrow, senseless in its cause,
Overwhelms the heart
holding steady to the beat,
That steady beat of sadness.
Silence speaks today.
Silence speaks through tears,
Through pain, through sorrow,
Through our beating hearts.
Kevin’s life must live on in us,
unceasing in honor,
selfless in serving,
Still giving in dying.
This stillness so loud in its speaking.
This message profound in its prayer.
Our resolve begs for strength
To bring sense to our sorrow –
That his dying may prove
a reason for being
more true in believing
that one man’s dying can change
the way of our living.
Editor’s note: This poem was written by Mary E. Franz of St. Michael Parish in East Longmeadow. She penned it on June 8, 2012 after watching the funeral of Springfield police officer Kevin Ambrose. Officer Ambrose was killed while protecting the life of a woman and child who called the police regarding a domestic violence complaint.