Tallying high school grad success by college acceptances

Graduation at Catholic high schools in the Diocese of Tucson, Ariz.,  is being marked with a tally of not just how many students graduate, but how many are going on to college and how much money in scholarships and grants they’ve received.

Of the 448 graduates of the diocese’s six Catholic high schools, all but two — that’s not a misprint, two out of 448 — are going on to college, notes this story from The New Vision, the diocesan newspaper. The article also tallies the financial aid received by those 446 college-bound Arizonans — more than $14 million — and lists all the schools they will be attending across the country.

When going get tough, (altar) wine gets flowing

A family-owned winery claims the economic downturn has helped one portion of its business. When times get tough, more people return to church and that means an increase in one of the vinyards specialties: sacramental wines.

sgwine1_thIn the June 5 San Gabriel edition of The Tidings, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, reporter Janis Nelson takes a look at how business is booming for one of the nation’s largest producers of sacramental wines. Read about the fortunes of the St. Anthony Winery run by the Riboli family in “When going gets tough, (altar) wine gets flowing.” Shown at left are family members Anthony and Steve Riboli. (Photo by Paula Doyle)

Glenmary Missioners care for rural hungry

Glenmary Challenge

Glenmary Challenge

CNS is running a series of stories and photos on the impact of the economic crisis on the rural life in the Midwest and on the church itself. But we aren’t the only ones taking a hard look at what is happening in the American rural lands.

Since 1939, the Glenmary Home Missioners have ministered to rural communities from West Virginia to Florida to the Southwest. In this month’s issue of the Glenmary Challenge, Glenmary Brother David Henley photographs and writes about how a small Glenmary mission, St. Andrew in Danville, Ark., pulled an entire community together to set up an emergency pantry and other assistance for the locally unemployed after the town’s main industry, the Petit Jean Poultry plant, shut down last January. Read the story, “Difficult times; Extraordinary Response.” For many residents, it was the first time they had ever set foot in a Catholic church.

After reading about the St. Andrew’s great work, turn to the feature story by Father John Rausch, a Kentucky-based Glenmary Missioner, on the 2008 American Religious Identification Survey and how the lives of the men and women of the Glenmary missions both “reflect and refute” the national trends. Check out “Religious Trends; Unique Challenges.”

Post-Holy Land visit, pope gets some stamps

VATICAN CITY — The first gift Pope Benedict XVI received at the end of his weekly general audience today was a framed copy of the two stamp sheets and souvenir booklets issued by the Israel Philatelic Service of Israel Post.

POPE-MIDEAST/HOLY LAND VISIT

Pope Benedict XVI prays at the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest prayer site, in Jerusalem May 12. (CNS/Catholic Press Photo)

The first sheet and booklet, issued to welcome the pope to Israel for his May 11-15 visit, featured photographs of the Christian holy sites and relevant biblical texts. The 10,000 sets published have sold out.

The second sheet and booklet feature photographs of the pope from his Holy Land pilgrimage along with quotes from each speech he gave in Israel.

Mordechay Lewy, the Israeli ambassador to the Vatican, introduced the pope to the president and CEO of Israel Post, the director of the Israel Philatelic Service, and Peter Jennings, a dedicated stamp collector and Catholic public affairs expert, who wrote the text for both booklets.

Yaron Razon, director of the Israeli philatelic service, said he is working with the Vatican Numismatic and Philatelic Office to plan a joint stamp issue commemorating the visit. It should be ready for purchase in 2010.

Pushing for a commission to investigate U.S. use of torture

June is Torture Awareness Month and the National Religious Campaign Against Torture is making sure the topic remains in the forefront.

The Rev. Richard Killmer, the campaign’s executive director, and the organization’s supporters are planning a witness during the noon hour June 11 at the White House. They will bring one primary message to President Barack Obama: Establish an independent commission to investigate the use of torture by U.S. interrogators on detainees held since the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq began.

While the anti-torture campaign has welcomed Obama’s executive order banning the use of torture and calling for the closing of the U.S. Army prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, by January 2010, the organization maintains that the country must confront its past and the best way to do so is through a commission of inquiry. 

Representatives of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture believe that by looking at what the country has done in the past, America can move forward and take steps so that torture never again becomes a part of U.S. practice.

Eight heads of faith groups are expected to participate in the June 11 witness. People from as far away as California are expected to join them.

The religious leaders will hold a press conference a couple of hours before the event to explain why they feel a commission of inquiry is necessary.

The anti-torture campaign has been invited to send a delegation to meet with White House officials after the vigil. Representatives plan to deliver a letter to the president outlining the reasons for their call.

In case you’re wondering, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has not taken a stance on such a commission.

On the other hand the bishops have supported the president’s executive order and are working to enact the order into law, said Stephen Colecchi, director of the bishops’ Office of International Justice and Peace.

Our first video

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — I’m attending the Keystone Multimedia Workshop sponsored by the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association. The workshop was timed to coincide with the annual Pennsylvania Special Olympics competition at Penn State University, giving workshop participants dozens of story possibilities.

I shot and edited this video at the opening ceremonies for the games. As Catholic News Service uses more multimedia formats in the future, I’m sure I’ll look back at this story as poorly shot and edited, but it’s exciting for us to take our first steps in this new way of telling stories of faith.

L’Osservatore Romano clarifies its views on Obama

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican newspaper has once again emphasized that when it comes to the Obama administration and pro-life issues, the Vatican and the U.S. bishops are in full agreement and that no compromise is possible on the right to life.

The newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, said it was a mistake to view its press coverage of Obama — which has been positive on many issues — as evidence that the Vatican is following a “different strategy” than the U.S. bishops in dealing with the new administration.

The comments came in the newspaper’s June 5 edition, in an article criticizing the Obama administration’s restoration of federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research.

The newspaper appeared to be defending itself against accusations by some U.S. Catholic commentators that its editorial line was too soft on Obama.

In one of the latest critiques, Michael Novak, director of social and political studies at the American Enterprise Institute, wrote in National Review Online May 26 that L’Osservatore had “published glowing, star-struck, teenage praise of Pres. Barack Obama” and “seems not to grasp the fundamental realities of abortion politics in America.”

Here’s what L’Osservatore said June 5:

It is appropriate to underline that in reporting on recent statements and initiatives of the president of the United States, L’Osservatore Romano has certainly not intended to express appreciation for his positions on questions of ethical importance.

The article of April 29 on the first 100 days of President Obama, in fact, said that any initiative regarding stem-cell research does not remove ‘reasons for criticism in the face of unacceptable forms of bioengineering that contrast with the human identity of the embryo.’

Obviously the Holy See and L’Osservatore Romano have been, are and will be fully at the side of the U.S. bishops in their commitment in favor of the inviolability of human life in whatever stage of its existence.

Other interpretations have no foundation, especially those that have wanted to use the newspaper’s articles to make it appear that the teachings of the U.S. episcopate on the inherent evil of abortion were an exercise in partisan politics, supposedly in contrast with a different strategy of the Holy See.

President Obama has shown himself to be open to dialogue and the U.S. bishops have welcomed this possibility in a positive manner. But in doing so, they have reaffirmed, and quite rightly, that in dialogue no compromise is ever possible on the fundamental question of the right to life.

 In May, we reported a similar statement from L’Osservatore editor Giovanni Maria Vian, who said: “It should be understood that L’Osservatore shares the same position as the American bishops who consider abortion a disaster. It is always a necessary and decisive task, in fact, to promote a culture of life at every level.”

At the same time, Vian has said that, despite obvious differences with the new administration on pro-life issues, he does not consider Obama a “pro-abortion president,” and his newspaper has emphasized Obama’s declared commitment to reducing the number of abortions.

The latest statement from L’Osservatore came at the end of an article that ran on an inside page. The same day, the newspaper published a front-page article giving good marks to Obama’s speech to the Arab world in Cairo.

Pope Benedict XVI and the president and expected to meet in July.

A quirk in the stats

The annual statistical summary published in the 2009 Official Catholic Directory, which we reported on here, shows an odd jump in the number of church-run residential homes for children, or orphanages — from 163 at the beginning of 2008 to 403 now.  But the increase can be attributed to the Archdiocese of Seattle, which the directory lists as having 251 orphanages, when it had none the year before.

Greg J. Magnoni, director of the Seattle archdiocesan Office of Communications, says there are still no orphanages in the archdiocese. With an adjustment down to zero for Seattle, the number of Catholic-run residential homes for children actually declined by 11 to 152.

It’s a mystery where the error came from. An official with the directory said 251 was the number submitted by the Seattle Archdiocese. “We try to scrutinize everything that comes across our desk, but we cannot question them on everything they submit,” said publisher Jeanne Hanline in an e-mail to CNS.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Christian Egyptian children find refuge in Catholic school haven

Here’s a story about a Catholic school in Egypt that serves as a refuge to Christian Egyptian children — many of whom have been sexually abused. It’s in the colorful May edition of One magazine, the official publication of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association in New York. Not only are the photos beautiful, but the story is inspiring, heartfelt and lively written. It’s worth a read!

And it’s a timely story from a country all over the news these last several days because of President Barack Obama’s visit to Cairo.

Graduating blind students help Catholic school peers see

This story about two blind students graduating from a Catholic school in Drexel Hill, Pa., is worth a read for anyone in need of a boost in spirit. The story in The Catholic Standard & Times, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, tells us how these two young men learned how to function in the world of sight at their school, and how the student body embraced them and saw beyond their disability.

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