Updates on billion-dollar campaigns in Catholic higher education

The Chronicle of Higher Education issued its monthly report on the progress of the 33 U.S. colleges and universities currently in campaigns to raise $1 billion or more. Of the 33, two are Catholic institutions of higher education.

According to the Chronicle, Boston College had raised $587 million as of May 31 towards its goal of $1.5 billion by 2010.

Indiana’s University of Notre Dame raised the second largest amount of money in a single month, after Brown University, when it pulled down $43.7 million in May. The total put it over its total campaign goal of $1.5 million by 2011. Golden Domers have raised $1.531 billion.

The only other U.S. university to achieve its campaign goal ahead of time is the Rensselear Polytechnic Institute, in New York, which already has hit $1.408 billion on its $1.4 billion goal by the end of 2009.

Who’s after the biggest prizes in college fundraising? Stanford with a $4.3 billion goal by 2011, followed closely by Columbia and Cornell, both with $4 billion goals by the same year.

Are other Catholic colleges and universities in the midst of campaigns. You bet. But Boston College and Notre Dame have the biggest targets.

New surgeon general nominee is a CHA board member

Dr. Regina Benjamin poses for a portrait in the waiting room at her temporary clinic in Bayou La Batre, Ala, Sept. 18. Benjamin, founder and CEO of Bayou La Batre Rural Health Clinic, has been awarded a $500,000 fellowship from the MacArthur Foundation in Chicago. (CNS/courtesy MacArthur Foundation)

Dr. Regina Benjamin poses for a portrait in the waiting room at her temporary clinic in Bayou La Batre, Ala., last September. (CNS/courtesy MacArthur Foundation)

Dr. Regina Benjamin, a member of the board of trustees of the Catholic Health Association, is being nominated as surgeon general this morning.

We had this story on Benjamin last fall, when she received a MacArthur fellowship for her work with medical clinics in poverty-stricken areas of Alabama.

Benjamin did her undergraduate studies at Xavier University in New Orleans and in a 2005 speech she talked about the Catholic parish she grew up in, and how her grandmother’s land donation made it possible to create a parish for blacks who experienced segregation in the primarily white church.

CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta last winter was reportedly a leading candidate for the position but withdrew his name, citing demands of time and pressure on his family.

Year for Priests: Grateful to serve, despite challenges

By Father Kenneth J. Doyle
One in a series

On June 29, I posted my first blog regarding the Year for Priests.  I confess to having been a bit surprised at the reaction, termed by one observer a “minor firestorm.”

In that entry, I described a “typical” day in the life of a parish priest, which often becomes a whirlwind of meetings, appointments, phone calls, crisis management, etc., in addition to celebrating the Eucharist and the other sacraments and praying the Liturgy of the Hours.  I made a plea for carving out a 10-minute “sacred space,” preferably at the beginning of the day, for quiet conversation with the Lord.

Several of the respondents considered this a “minimalist” approach and noted that the priest must be, beyond all else, a “man of prayer.”  I did anticipate those comments and, believe me, a more extended period of quiet would be a real bonus; but the reality is that much of a priest’s day is spontaneous and dictated by events beyond his control.

What surprised me, though, was the reaction from a woman who called my “typical” day “bleak and soul-deadening” and worried that her son would find no joy that might attract him to a similar calling.  (I did mention the need for “play” and that I was looking forward to attending a Red Sox game with a couple of old friends, but maybe this reader was a Yankee fan!)

I just don’t believe that “busy” equates with “bleak” because the very reason I became a priest was to be busy with the Lord’s work.  And it’s no coincidence that study after study describes priests as among the happiest and most content of all American males.  (This result is consistent in every survey I’ve read about over the last two decades, including those done since the avalanche of publicity on the tragedy of clergy sex abuse.  Evidently most priests are embarrassed and angry about those crimes but feel that parishioners are savvy enough to assign them to the vast minority of priests.)

The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once said that if  Christians really believed what they say, they would smile more than they do.  I guess that I probably smile a lot, because I believe in what I do and I like doing it.  (I’m reminded of Stan Musial, who said that he felt guilty being paid for playing baseball, something he enjoyed doing so much.)

I once read that the difference between an optimist and a pessimist is this: an optimist wakes up and says ‘Good morning, Lord” while a pessimist, upon waking, says “Good Lord, morning!”  I wake up each day grateful for the chance to serve God’s people as a priest.

Father Doyle, a priest of the diocese of Albany, N.Y., has served as pastor of a large suburban parish for the last 17 years; he is also chancellor of the diocese for public information. Ordained in 1966, he has also been a high school religion teacher, editor of a diocesan newspaper, bureau chief in Rome for Catholic News Service, lawyer/lobbyist for the New York State Catholic Conference and director of media relations for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Click here for more in this series.

McNamara showed concern for poor, vulnerable

In his message to leaders of the Group of Eight meeting in L’Aquila, Italy, and in his new encyclical, Pope Benedict XVI urged wealthy nations to remember the poor in their own countries and their responsibility to poor nations and to care for the most vulnerable members of society.

So it was interesting to discover that the late Robert McNamara expressed similar sentiments when he was president of the World Bank in an interview carried by CNS — then called National Catholic News Service — in the 1970s.

Hidden in our archives was a Q&A of McNamara conducted by San Francisco’s archdiocesan newspaper, then called The Monitor, in which he talked about his views about America’s role in helping those less fortunate. He called the United States one of the “poorest performers” in assisting others’ development and claimed domestic animals living in America had “a better standard of nutrition that hundreds of millions of children in the developing nations.”

McNamara, who died July 6 and was perhaps best known for his role in the Vietnam War as U.S. defense secretary, was about halfway through his 13 years as president of the World Bank in 1976 when the Catholic news article was published.

In it McNamara commented on growth in both developing and developed countries, saying per capita income for developing countries remained at a near stagnant level while per capita income for those living in developed nations almost doubled.

And beyond such numbers, McNamara said he thought there was a great problem in the distribution of wealth among even the richest of nations.

“There are serious inequalities in their income-distribution patterns. Not only do the 170 million absolute poor in their societies suffer the same deprivations as those in the poorest countries, but hundreds of millions more subsist on income levels less than a third of the national average,” McNamara said.

Similar to what Pope Benedict has been emphasizing, McNamara stressed that giving help to those less fortunate should always be a priority for able nations and their citizens.

“The affluent nation, understandably preoccupied with controlling inflation, and searching for structural solutions to their liquidity imbalances, may be tempted to conclude that until these problems are solved, aid considerations must simply be put aside,” McNamara said. “But aid is not a luxury – something desirable when times are easy, and superfluous when times become temporarily troublesome. It is precisely the opposite. Aid is a continuing social and moral responsibility, and its need now is greater than ever.”

Last-minute change for Archbishop-designate DiNoia’s episcopal ordination

In case you were expecting to see Spanish Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera as one of the ordaining bishops at the episcopal ordination of Archbishop-designate J. Augustine DiNoia tomorrow in Washington, think again.

The cardinal, who is the prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, experienced “visa difficulties” and could not board the plane in Rome, according to Susan Gibbs, spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Washington.

Retired Archbishop Thomas C. Kelly of Louisville, Ky., will step in. Archbishop Kelly, who was already planning on attending, was Archbishop-designate DiNoia’s spiritual adviser as a seminarian at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington.

After his episcopal ordination, the archbishop-designate will become secretary of the worship congregation. He says “oodles” of his family members will be in attendance for the ceremony at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, as well as more than 100 Dominican priests, four cardinals and at least a dozen bishops.

Pope gives Obama bioethics document

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI gave President Barack Obama a surprise gift this evening: a copy of the Vatican’s document on bioethics and human dignity, which was published in December.

ILLUSTRATION/LIFE ISSUES

Illustration of an early stage human embryo (CNS)

The document, “Dignitas Personae” (“The Dignity of a Person”), was issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Strangely enough, about four hours before Obama arrived, I was in the Vatican bookstore. While I was trying to pay, the cashier was interrupted by a phone call and she made me wait while she went to the shelves. She pulled  the last two English copies of the document off the shelf and put them on her desk.

Msgr. Georg Ganswein, the pope’s personal secretary, told reporters the document would help Obama understand the church’s reasoning behind its efforts to protect human life at every stage of its development.

Families increasingly homeless, HUD study finds

Homelessness among families jumped 9 percent in 2008, the Department of Housing and Urban Development reported.

Homelessness for families grew primarily in rural and suburban areas of the country, the agency said.

Members of homeless families now make up nearly a third of all homeless people in the country, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan told reporters during a July 9 telephone conference.

In releasing the agency’s Annual Homeless Assessment Report, Donovan said statistics showed that 1.4 million people were homeless for at least one night in 2008.

On one night in January 2008, when HUD conducts its annual census of homeless people,  the report showed that 664,000 people were without shelter or a bed.

The highest concentrations of homeless people were found in California, Hawaii, Nevada and Oregon.

Half of all homeless people were in four states — California, Florida, Michigan and New York. Twenty percent of all homeless people were in Detroit, Los Angeles and New York City.

The full report will be posted at some point on the HUD Web site at www.hud.gov.

Donovan told reporters in a telephone conference call that the number of people who are homeless held steady between 2007 and 2008, but that data was collected before the full impact of the housing crisis hit last year.

The secretary also announced that $1.5 billion was being released through the Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-housing Program to local communities to offer assistance to families and individuals who are facing homelessness or are already homeless.

The money is part of the $787 billion economic stimulus package passed by Congress in February.

CNS will provide additional coverage of the issue of homelessness in the coming weeks.

Easy-to-read encyclical

Don’t want to spend hours scrolling through a Web site in order to read the pope’s new encyclical? Then order a copy of Origins, the CNS Documentary Service, where you can get it in an easy-to-read format. Call (202) 541-3290.

Baseball, softball is for everyone

Frank Kolarek (CNS/Owen Sweeney III, The Catholic Review)

Frank Kolarek (CNS/Owen Sweeney III, The Catholic Review)

Summer is the time for baseball and softball. At least it is in my life.

Even at 52, after years of running on all kinds of diamonds — from the beautifully manicured to makeshift fields high with weeds — I find there’s nothing as exhilarating as sending a line drive over second base to plate a run or making a play no one thought I’d make. 

In Baltimore, fellow baseball lover Frank Kolarek feels the same way.

A former minor leaguer in the Oakland Athletics organization,  Kolarek continues to share is love of the game in Maryland.

The Catholic Review in Baltimore has a story by Matt Palmer about Kolarek’s devotion to baseball and his effort to bring the game to adults and children with special needs through his League of Dreams.

For his effort as league president and founder he was selected to attend the Major League All-Star Game in St. Louis July 14. A parishioner at St. Mark Parish in suburban Catonsville, Kolarek was voted by fans to represent the Baltimore Orioles at the game under the All-Stars Among Us awards program sponsored by Major League Baseball and People magazine.

Kolarek was nominated by his son, Adam, a rising star on the University of Maryland baseball team.

He told the newspaper his greatest joy comes when he’s at a game and he closes his eyes to listen.

“When you do that, you hear kids laughing,” he said. “You don’t see anybody’s disability.”

Diocese launches video-sharing site

The Trenton, N.J., Diocese’s video-sharing site, Dottube, seems to be the first of its kind.

Dioceses and churches have claimed their own YouTube channels or posted videos on diocesan or parish Web sites, but debuting a separate site may be new territory, according to leaders for the Catholic Academy for Communications Arts Professionals.

“I don’t know of any that have taken that step,” said Frank Morock, president of that organization and communications director for the Diocese of Raleigh, N.C., which he said was the first diocese in the world with its own Web site. Nationally, there is My Catholic Voice for video sharing. 

“I commend them because a number of dioceses don’t have the capability of using media to get the message out,” he said about Trenton.

Its new site has given a home to diocesan television productions “Realfaith TV” and “The Catholic Corner” and radio production “Black Catholics, Yes!” It also allows parishes and ministry groups — such as youth groups, the Knights of Columbus, Catholic schools, campus ministries and adult faith formation groups — to create and share original content, said Rayanne Bennett, diocesan communications officer.

One parish actively posts content thus far. Site activity is expected to increase in the fall, after parents have signed waivers for their children to participate.

Only group leaders can post videos to the site, but anyone can sign up and post comments, which are moderated. These restrictions make it a safer environment than YouTube, where children can navigate to questionable “related videos.”

The diocese launched Dottube in March, five months after the idea was pitched by the Office of Radio and Television and the Hispanic Apostolate, said Ken Perry, Web department director. It cost between $15,000 and $18,000 to start the site, and it will cost $10,000 to host each year. Morock said dioceses will probably look at the option because after start-up costs, it’s not expensive to achieve a decent picture and understandable audio.

“Anything that advances getting the word out, I applaud,” he said.

Bennett and Perry said the site has the potential to attract non-Catholics to the faith if users link videos to their blogs. Moreover, it may enrich the faith experience of those who are Catholic, such as parents who visit the site to see videos or pictures of their children and notice such features as online adult catechesis classes. In this way, it serves a similar purpose to diocesan newspapers.

The diocese also manages independent Web sites for its vocations and Respect Life offices and the Bishop’s Annual Appeal.

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