Virtually there: Small Christian communities online in Africa

A child prays the Our Father during Mass in Kenya Feb. 13. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

NAIROBI, Kenya — The model of parish in East Africa is based on small Christian communities, but the church in Kenya actually has three virtual communities.

By going to smallchristiancommunities.org, a person can click on a link to access a virtual community.

Maryknoll Father Joseph Healey, who teaches a class on small Christian communities at three Kenyan universities, helped set up the virtual communities using a public Facebook page.

The communities meet together to pray, study Scripture and help others. Online communities are limited to six people.

Indian Catholic magazine makes impressive debut

Smart Companion India” is indeed smart. The new Kerala-based magazine debuted recently with 44 well-designed and well-edited pages of news and feature articles, interviews, opinions, reviews and beautiful visuals about Catholic faith and life in India. The magazine is produced by the Society of Jesus, and its editorial director is Jesuit Father Jacob Srampickal, a professor of communications at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and a consultor of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

The magazine is published fortnightly, and is now on its sixth issue. This one discusses human rights, Christianity in Indian art, the papal reach into cyberspace to reach youth using social media, and an interesting interview with Bishop Thomas Macwan of Amedabad, the world’s first Gujarati bishop. (Mohandas Gandhi, the father of modern India, and Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of modern Pakistan, are both Gujarati.)

If you are an Indian Catholic or just have an interest in the ancient Catholic faith in India — it stretches back to the time of the Apostle Thomas bringing the faith to Kerala  — check out “Smart Companion India.” It’s a great new addition to the family of English-language Catholic magazines.

Confronting sex abuse rage: a priest’s story

Sexual abuse among members of the clergy and other church leaders has raised its head again in recent stories. It’s seldom out of the news these days, it seems, just some days more than others.

Too often the media is so busy trying to cover how the church is responding to the crisis, how courts and legislatures are prosecuting and how victims are trying to cope and recover, we can overlook or under-report the toll it takes on church leaders — and the rank and file — who reel almost daily from the onslaught.

Father Doyle

Father Kenneth J. Doyle wrote recently in the Feb. 11 issue of the Times Union of Albany, N.Y., about his own feelings of anger and frustration with a former priest whose trial for raping two young boys just concluded.

“Why am I ashamed since nothing I did myself led to this tragedy?” he asked. “I am ashamed because someone in my own family of faith — a brother priest, no less — would commit these acts of cruelty. And I am deeply saddened because this whole sordid saga has damaged the family of faith, the Catholic Church that I love.”

Father Doyle is the pastor of Mater Christi parish in Albany, and chancellor for public information of the Diocese of Albany. He also is no stranger to reporting. Father Doyle is the former Rome bureau chief for Catholic News Service. He blogged for CNS during the 2009-2010 Year for Priests.

Pope Benedict XVI has spoken repeatedly during his pontificate on the toll the sexual abuse crisis has taken on all of the faithful — clergy and laity alike — and that no matter how painful it is, we have to move to a point of healing, Father Doyle piece heart-achingly echoes that lament, but ends in a resolve that he, as a priest, has to “keep on doing what [he was] called to do.”

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