Saving the children of Syria’s war

????????????????????????????????????There are many tragedies in any war, but none are harder to watch than the suffering of children. Syria’s civil war is no exception. Hundreds of children have been killed and thousands more displaced in refugee camps with poor food and shelter and no idea when they can go home.

In the summer edition of One magazine, the official publication of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, Jesuit Father Ziad Hilal writes about the impact the conflict is having on Syria’s children and the work of the church to save the children in the city of Homs.

As director of St. Savior Center for Education in Homs, Father Hilal is working with his fellow Jesuits and Jesuit Relief Services, the Paulist Fathers, the Sisters of the Good Shepherd and dozens of lay Christians, with the assistance and support of CNEWA, to help the displaced and threatened children — Christian and Muslim — continue their lives. Many have lost one or both parents. All are victims of the crush of violence.

Calligraphy teaching priest portrayed in new movie

Father Robert Palladino, an 80-year old priest of the Archdiocese of Portland, Ore., might want to get out to the movies — at least to see how he is portrayed on the big screen.

Father Palladino  (CNS photos)

Father Palladino (CNS photo)

The priest  is credited with teaching Apple Computers co-founder Steve Jobs calligraphy that influenced the typeface of Mac computers.

His role as calligraphy professor at Portland’s Reed College with his famous student gets a scene in the biographical movie ” Jobs.”  In the movie, the priest is portrayed by 48-year-old actor and screenwriter William Mapother, best known for playing Ethan Rom on the TV series “Lost.”

Mapother, a native of Louisville, Ky.,  attended St. Xavier High School there and then the University of Notre Dame.

He told the Catholic Sentinel that he intended to portray Father Palladino as “someone deeply committed to calligraphy, and by extension, to life. Someone who cared about beauty, expression, and communication. Someone serious.”

He said he received some background about the priest before the scene was filmed, and would like to have met him but didn’t get time.

About 10 minutes into the movie,  Jobs is wandering around his college campus when he sees a girl under a tree sketching. She says she is taking a calligraphy class taught by a monk. The movie then jumps to Jobs in the classroom, working on calligraphy.

In a later scene, Jobs explodes at an engineer who did not include a button for multiple fonts on a computer toolbar. He fires the man, complaining that obviously he lacked passion for the project.

During a 2005 commencement address at Stanford University, Jobs said that Reed College in the 1970s offered what he thought was the best calligraphy instruction in the country. “Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed,” Jobs said.

According to the Catholic Sentinel, Father Palladino taught Jobs serif and sans serif type faces and about varying spaces between combinations of letters, and everything that makes typography excellent.

A CNS story on the priest two years ago points out that Father Palladino was a Trappist monk for 18 years. In 1968 he left the order and was dispensed from monastic vows and celibacy by Pope Paul VI. He married and had a son with his wife Catherine.

His wife died in 1987 and five years later he asked Portland’s archbishop,  then-Archbishop William J. Levada, if he could become a  priest. In 1995, with papal approval, the former monk and husband became a parish priest.

He said his role in the movie came as a surprise because he was not consulted about it. He is just now getting around to reading the 2011 book on which the movie is based.

But he was  glad the producers chose “a handsome, athletic, 6-foot-1 actor to portray him. “
“Of course, Hollywood does have a way of getting unhinged from reality, ” he quipped.

Civil rights movement carried on by ‘great souls’

Participants at the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington (CNS/Reuters)

Participants at the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington (CNS/Reuters)

Atlanta Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, a 15-year-old seminarian in Chicago during the March on Washington 50 years ago, said he “realized that history was being made” when he watched the event on television.

In an interview with the Georgia Bulletin, archdiocesan newspaper, the archbishop talks about his own brushes with discrimination as a seminarian and a young priest. He also notes how the civil rights movement has made huge strides but can still make stronger inroads.

He said the movement has always been “much larger than any single individual” even Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., pointing out that “all of the great souls who spoke, wrote, sat-in, endured water hoses and vicious dogs” contributed to its success.

“The civil rights movement is a testimony of the courage of a pantheon of martyrs from Medgar Evers, to Malcolm X, to Viola Liuzzo, to James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, to the little girls who died in the church bombing in Birmingham, to Dr. King and thousands of unnamed others. Those names punctuated my youth as the civil rights movement advanced toward freedom,”  Archbishop Gregory said.

He also indicated that there is still much work to be done.

As he put it: “We have made unquestioned progress on many fronts, including in the political arena, but we now face other challenges in the pursuit of justice. Violence against all forms of life has persisted, if not increased. We may no longer lynch people, but we euthanize the unwanted, experiment with fledgling human life, kill those we deem dangerous and expendable, we slaughter those within the womb as a perverted expression of freedom. We could certainly learn powerful lessons from nonviolence in such a violent context, as we now seem to find ourselves.”

Sculptor captures ‘heart and soul’ of Mary, Joseph in statues for renovated cathedral

Oregon sculptor's bronze statue of Mary and Joseph capture's realism. (Photo courtesy sculptor)

Oregon sculptor’s bronze statue of Mary and Joseph at Kansas cathedral. (Photo courtesy Rip Caswell)

A world away from Rome, the conclave and the papal watch there’s excitement at the local church level about something entirely different — but a celebration of the Catholic faith nonetheless. The excitement is in Wichita, Kan., about the completion of the renovation of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

In February 2012 we reported on the 18-month project to upgrade, enhance and preserve the cathedral in this story from part of the Catholic Advance.

The Wichita Diocese selected Oregon sculptor Rip Caswell to create the dramatic monuments. Caswell has a reputation for historical accuracy and “painstaking attention to detail.”

“We selected Rip,” explains Msgr. Robert Hemberger, chairman of the Cathedral Arts Committee, “above all, because of his ability to capture the heart and soul of a subject — this especially comes through in the face and eyes of his work.”

Scuptor caswell stands by The Cricifix

Sculptor stands by Crucifix he created for Kansas cathedral. (Photo courtesy Rip Caswell)

The two sculptures, each standing taller than 7 feet and weighing approximately half a ton apiece, are of Mary and Joseph and of the Crucifix. They stand apart in separate east and west alcoves of the cross-shaped cathedral, facing one another across the open space.

“They appear connected, almost as though there is a conversation taking place,” Msgr. Hemberger said in a statement. “Mary and child, with Joseph by her side, has a distant look in her eyes, as though seeing her Son’s future.” About Caswell’s work the priest added: “We’re astounded by the beauty of what he’s created. It’s truly amazing.” Caswell’s figure of Christ on the cross is looking down but his face reflects a sense of calm and peace.

According to a news release, Caswell used wood from Israel and stones from the Jordan River for the cross and the base of his sculptures. A young Jewish girl was his model for Mary and Catholic seminarians were models for Christ.

The artist, who has created more than 200 sculptures, has been sculpting in bronze for 20 years. He was recently commissioned to create a national monument to five-star Fleet Adm. Chester W. Nimitz, scheduled to be unveiled Sept. 2 at Pearl Harbor.

Bombay Archdiocese launches campaign to stop violence against women

Violence against women in India has been going on for centuries, but recently it seems as if it has reached a tipping point with the news of the terrible gang rapes of several young women. People and institutions across India are taking up the cause and trying to end this national shame.

The Women’s Commission of the Archdiocese of Bombay (Mumbai) is one of the lead lights in this fight with its new campaign, “37 Million Diyas: Say Yes to Love, Say No to Violence.” The number is the difference between the male and female population of the country, one of the biggest factors in the violence, and the result of the widespread practice of aborting female children.

Yesterday, parishes across the archdiocese held a an hour of prayer and remembrance for women victims of violence  — killing, rape, domestic violence and human trafficking of girls. Cardinal Oswald Gracias has vowed prayer and work on behalf of women and “it will continue for as long as it takes  for you and me to bring about change.”

Watch this striking video produced by the archdiocese. It is provided by our sister news agency UCANews, the Asian Catholic news service based in Bangkok and Hong Kong.

Marquette’s ‘Tolkieniana’ collection includes manuscripts, drawings

Marquette archivist William Fliss looks over material related to Tolkien collection. (Catholic Herald photo by Juan C. Medina)

Marquette archivist William Fliss looks over materials related to Tolkien collection held by university. (Catholic Herald photo by Juan C. Medina)

The buzz about “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” preceded the film’s release by months and since the movie opened Dec. 14, it has grossed more than $600 million in box office receipts around the world — and still counting. But as Tom Jozwik writes in a story for the Catholic Herald in Milwaukee, the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien on which the film is based and his other works and papers have been “hot topics around Marquette University for some time.”

The Jesuit-run university has a Tolkien collection — “Tolkienana” — that contains 10,000 pages of the author’s book manuscripts, typescripts and drawings.

As the Catholic News Service review of “The Hobbit” notes, that Tolkien novel was first published in 1937 and “has proved so popular in the decades since that it has never gone out of print.” Almost two decades later, Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy was published. His work has been described as Catholic in both the general sense of “universal” and in the Catholic sense of a deeply sacramental understanding of reality. Tolkien also was a good friend of C.S. Lewis, whose work is finding renewed popularity and whose exploration of Christian faith is inspiring a new generation as we reported earlier this month.

Iowa Catholic woman is world’s oldest person

(Photo/Patti Brown, The Catholic Mirror, Des Moines)

(Photo/Patti Brown, The Catholic Mirror, Des Moines)

The Gerontology Research Group announced this week that 115-year-old Dina Manfredini is the oldest person in the world. She is Catholic and a longtime parishioner of Sacred Heart Parish in West Des Moines, Iowa. She inherited the title when 116-year-old Besse Cooper of Georgia died Dec. 4.

Here is a link to a profile of Manfredini by Patti Brown published last year in The Catholic Mirror, newspaper of the Diocese of Des Moines, and posted on the newspaper’s blog. Editor Anne Marie Cox tells us the paper was working to update the story on the supercentenarian, who was born April 4, 1897.

According to Brown’s story, she was born in a small town in northern Italy called Sant’Andrea “the month after William McKinley became president of the United States” — he was sworn into office March 4, 1897 — and “just a few weeks before Guglielmo Marconi sent the first wireless communication over the open sea.”

“She came to America as a bride in 1920 and settled with her husband, Riccardo, in a tiny mining camp on the southwest edge of Des Moines. Riccardo was 15 years old and had come to America first before sending for Dina.” The couple had four children. “My parents lived their faith. They were poor but we didn’t realize it,” daughter Enes Logli told the Mirror.

Some reports put the number of supercentenarians — those 110 years old or more —  living around the world ay 70. The Gerontology Research Group says the figure is between 300 and 450.  Another Catholic paper recently featured a centenarian — Charlie Barcio. At 108, he has a little way to go before he gets the “super” designation. He recently moved to an assisted living facility in Columbus, Ohio, from Victorville, Calif.

Reporter Tim Puet of the Catholic Times, newspaper of the Columbus Diocese, asked Barcio to sum up what’s meant the most to him in his long life, he said: “My church, my work and my wife.” He was born March 22, 1904, in Erie, Pa., three months after the Wright brothers made their first flight. Read more of his story here on Page 11.

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