Wednesday’s WYD summary

Here are today’s highlights over at the CNS World Youth Day blog and on the CNS homepage for WYD stories:

U.S. pilgrim Alex Lugar, 16, of Wexford, Pa., attends a World Youth Day catechesis session July 16 at Blessed John XXIII Parish in Stanhope Gardens, a suburb of Sydney, Australia. Religious instruction has been a traditional part of the international gathering for Catholic young people. (CNS/Paul Haring)

— Catechesis sessions throughout the host city are always a big part of the World Youth Day tradition. One of our bloggers, Anna Weaver of the Hawaii Catholic Herald, has a blog post detailing one she attended yesterday, plus we had a story today on a session led by Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, the former president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue at the Vatican and currently Vatican ambassador to Egypt and the Arab League.

— Helping guide youths as they attempt to discern their vocations is also a big part of World Youth Day, so our other major story today from Sydney was on the vocations fair held this week in the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre. CNS Rome bureau reporter Cindy Wooden, who came to Sydney as part of the Vatican press corps on the papal plane, describes the event as both lively and serious.

— Speaking of vocations, one of our bloggers notes his own deep involvement in the vocations aspect of WYD. Chris Valka, CSB, wrote in a post yesterday that the Vocations Expo was a major responsibility of his while in Sydney. Make sure you go back and read his piece if you haven’t already because he talks about his own vocation arising from his attendance at World Youth Day in Denver in 1993 and how he is just weeks from his own final profession of vows with the Basilian Fathers and just months from his own ordination to the priesthood.

All this activity (check here and here for previous summaries) and the pope is just now beginning his official participation in Sydney, where it’s already Thursday morning. Until then …

Photos of ‘Sydney excitement’

(Cross-post from CNS World Youth Day blog)

To make yourself feel even closer to the events of World Youth Day, make sure you check out the slideshow on our World Youth Day 2008 page. Once you’re on the page at, look to the right and click the “CNS Photos — Sydney Excitement” to see some of the best images from WYD.

Come back often because we’ll be updating the slideshow up to and beyond the end of WYD activities.

A light in the darkness for vocations

For years now, the church in the U.S. has been dealing with a shortage of priests. Vocations to the priesthood seem to be at a low and many parishes are being forced to share priests or combine with other parishes as a result.

Reading articles like this one in The Catholic Virginian, newspaper of the Diocese of Richmond, Va., and this one in the Catholic Advance, in the Diocese of Wichita, Kan., are a little scary. The future for American vocations can seem pretty dark at times.

Thankfully, there are beacons of hope. Some young American men are heeding the call to the priesthood and new priests are being ordained. The Diocese of Brooklyn, N.Y., just ordained two men for the priesthood, as seen in this article in The Tablet.

In the Diocese of Monterey, Calif., an article in The Observer tells of the eight new priests who just joined the diocese, even as three priests retired.

The Monitor of the Diocese of Trenton, N.J., has this article about a young man who has just been formally accepted as a seminarian. He will be studying in Rome at the Pontifical North American College.

So, while it’s no secret that there aren’t as many vocations as there could be, it is nice to see that Americans are still accepting the call.

A woman who knows her Bible

As the world’s bishops gear up for the synod on the Bible in October, stories about how people don’t understand Scripture are inevitable.

As CNS reported earlier this year, not everyone gets the Bible. Although most people in North America and Europe own one, more than half say they don’t understand it.

But not Susanna George, a Korean Catholic woman in Tampa, Fla. As the Florida Catholic reports in its July 4 issue, George’s appreciation for the Bible along with her desire to understand the readings in English, inspired her to spend every night during the last 10 years copying the Bible by hand twice — first in Korean, then in English.

Janet Shelton reports that George’s initial work essentially involved an awkward effort to copy the image of letters. Eventually, the process became easier and George began to recognize words and sounds as she made the translations. One day at an English Mass, the priest read one word that she recognized, which for her made all the work worthwhile.

George finished her project in March and bound the pages into notebooks numbering 2,700 pages. Now that she’s done, she plans to use the 100 minutes a night that she once devoted to Scripture translation to start the process all over again.

UCA News on World Youth Day

In addition to the links provided here yesterday on additional material for World Youth Day, our friends at the Asian church news agency UCA News also have a special WYD page of their own. Currently at the top of the page is a story about how two Filipino youths used the proceeds from collecting empty plastic bottles to finance their trip to Sydney.