25-year-old Peace Corps volunteer honored at funeral Mass

Here’s a sad story just in from Illinois: Family and friends of Blythe O’Sullivan, a Peace Corps volunteer who died in Suriname earlier this month, gathered this week to honor and celebrate her life at her funeral Mass, according to the Catholic Explorer in the Diocese of Joliet. Among those paying tribute at the Mass was the U.S. ambassador to Suriname, Lisa Bobbie Schreiber-Hughes, who said the 25-year-old O’Sullivan “led a meaningful life of service.”

Thoughts for Christmas

Of course you would expect the Catholic press to celebrate the Christmas season with plenty of excellent reflections. They’re coming in fast and furious now. Some examples:

“12 practical ways to keep Christ in Christmas” in The Catholic Spirit in St. Paul, Minn., delivers some excellent ideas for Christians trying to keep their Christmas celebration on track.

— Also from The Catholic Spirit is “Wal-Mart, Target offer faith-based toys,” which gives parents some ideas for wholesome alternatives to typical Christmas toys.

— Among the bishops writing Christmas columns, Bishop J. Peter Sartain of Joliet, Ill., offers a reflection on how “the Christmas foreshadowing of Jesus’ death adds to our appreciation of the mystery of the Incarnation and the depth of God’s love” in his diocesan newspaper, the Catholic Explorer.

Jesse Tree ornaments available for download

Here’s something rather unique: Our friends at Faith magazine in the Diocese of Erie, Pa., have posted free, downloadable Jesse Tree ornaments. Rich Papalia, Erie’s graphics manager and Webmaster, says the response has been tremendous. Here’s your chance to familiarize yourself with the Jesse Tree tradition and prepare your family for Christmas.