Independence Day Mass closes Fortnight for Freedom

Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. (CNS photo/Julie Asher)

Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. (CNS photo/Julie Asher)

Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington was the main celebrant of the July 4 Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington to mark the close of the U.S. bishops’ Fortnight for Freedom, an annual observance to raise awareness of threats to religious freedom in the U.S. and around the world.

Miami Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski was a concelebrant and the homilist. The text of his homily is available here.

“Religious freedom is the human right that guarantees all other rights,” said Archbishop Wenski, who is chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development. “The right to religious freedom has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person. Peace and creative living together will only be possible if freedom of religion is fully respected.”

The fortnight, now in its fourth year, is a two-week period of prayer, education and advocacy focused on the role of faith in public life and the preservation of religious liberty rights. This year’s theme was “Freedom to Bear Witness.”

Other concelebrants included Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, who celebrated the fortnight’s opening Mass June 21; Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio and Auxiliary Bishop Richard B. Higgins of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services; Auxiliary Bishops Barry C. Knestout and Mario E. Dorsonville of Washington; Msgr. Walter R. Rossi, rector of the national shrine; and Msgr. Ronny Jenkins and Msgr. J. Brian Bransfield, general secretary and associate general secretary, respectively, of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

As the concluding prayer for the general intercessions, Cardinal Wuerl recited Archbishop John Carroll’s 1791 “Prayer for Government,” which says in part:

We pray you, O God of might, wisdom, and justice, through whom authority is rightly administered, laws are enacted, and judgment decreed, assist with your Holy Spirit of counsel and fortitude the president of these United States, that his administration may be conducted in righteousness, and be eminently useful to your people, over whom he presides; by encouraging due respect for virtue and religion; by a faithful execution of the laws in justice and mercy; and by restraining vice and immorality. Let the light of your divine wisdom direct the deliberations of Congress, and shine forth in all the proceedings and laws framed for our rule and government, so that they may tend to the preservation of peace, the promotion of national happiness, the increase of industry, sobriety, and useful knowledge; and may perpetuate to us the blessing of equal liberty.”

Taking an evening to honor our work

Father Thomas Weise kayaks off the shoreline of the Shrine of St. Therese in Juneau, Alaska. The photo won first place in the scenic category at the Catholic Press Association Awards.  (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

Father Thomas Weise kayaks off the shoreline of the Shrine of St. Therese in Juneau, Alaska. The photo won first place in the scenic category at the Catholic Press Association awards. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

BUFFALO, N.Y.  — With award presenters that rivaled any Hollywood show, Catholic News Service and others in the Catholic media celebrated the good work members created last year.

The Catholic Press Association awards banquet was the final session at a three-day Catholic Media Convention in which journalists from the U.S., Canada and other countries came together to discuss current trends, tips for the future and hear challenging and compelling stories from speakers.

A boy in New Mexico kisses his father through the border fence following Mass Nov. 22 in Sunland Park, New Mexico. The photo was part of a package honored by the CPA.  (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

A boy in New Mexico kisses his father through the border fence following Mass Nov. 22 in Sunland Park, New Mexico. The photo was part of a package honored by the CPA. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

The presenters — Carol Zimmermann from CNS, Mark Zimmermann of Washington’s The Catholic Standard and J.D. Long-Garcia of The Tidings in Los Angeles — kept the night moving with humor and speed in announcing hundreds of awards in dozens of categories.

Catholic News Service was the recipient of multiple awards. It swept the category of Best Multimedia Package for News/Features and won for best multimedia package for straight news. CNS also took first place for Best Scenic, Still or Weather Photo and won awards for general news photos, photo stories, multiple picture packages.

In writing categories, CNS took first place for a personality profile of a Franciscan in Honduras, and it was honored for coverage of immigration, restorative justice and the multiple stories synod on the family. A feature on restoring the Holy Stairs shrine won second place. Two columnists — one in English and one in Spanish — were honored for general commentary.

You can download the entire list of winners here.

J.D. Long-Garcia, Carol Zimmermann and Mark Zimmermann kept colleagues entertained during the Catholic Press Association Awards Banquet. (CNS/Barb Fraze)     J.D. Long-Garcia, Carol Zimmermann and Mark Zimmermann kept colleagues entertained during the Catholic Press Association Awards Banquet. (CNS/Barb Fraze)

J.D. Long-Garcia, Carol and Mark Zimmermann kept colleagues entertained during the Catholic Press Association awards banquet. (CNS/Barb Fraze)

‘One nun can make a difference’

The June 24 welcome dinner for the 2015 Catholic Media Conference in Buffalo, New  York, combined three worlds: journalism, Catholicism and Buffalo.

It began with a tribute to the late Tim Russert, a well-respected journalist who was the longtime moderator of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” who was equally proud of his Catholic faith and his hometown of Buffalo.

Mercy Sister Lucille Socciarelli (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

Mercy Sister Lucille Socciarelli at CMC in Buffalo, N.Y. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

And maybe no one was more proud of Russert, who died in 2008, than Mercy Sister Mary Lucille Socciarelli, his seventh-grade teacher at St. Bonaventure School in Buffalo,  who once told him: “Timmy, we have to find a way to channel your excess energy,” and named him editor of the school’s newspaper. Russert credited Sister Lucille with inspiring him to become a journalist and later established the Sister Mary Lucille Outstanding Teacher Award to honor teachers for the impact they have on students’ lives.

Sister Lucille, who goes by Sister Lucy, coincidentally just moved back to South Buffalo and was a special guest at the Catholic Media Conference. She told the group how much she treasured her friendship with Russert and how the city was so proud of him.

She also said Russert had told her, with a twist on the famous inauguration speech of President John F. Kennedy: “One nun can make a difference and you did.”

The former teacher proudly wore a Buffalo Bills pin and laughed and nodded in agreement with the introductory remarks about her given by Mark Zimmermann, editor of the Catholic Standard, newspaper of the Washington Archdiocese.

He told the attendees that Sister Lucille was highlighted in chapter nine of Russert’s book about his father, “Big Russ & Me”: Russert wrote that Sister Lucille was chatty, had a great sense of humor, liked popular culture and even sometimes played baseball with her students, swinging the bat, and “rounding first base with her black habit and rosary beads flying in the wind.” He also said he and his friends thought the nun was “the coolest teacher we had ever met.”

Zimmermann pointed out that when Russert  famously wrote “Florida, Florida, Florida” on his dry erase board in the early morning hours following Election Day 2000, one viewer later sent him a note about his penmanship — Sister Lucille.

She told Catholic News Service after the welcome dinner — where she received a standing ovation and was greeted by a number of reporters who waited in line to talk to her — that the problem with the famous Florida writing wasn’t that Russert didn’t write in cursive, because she said that was even worse.

More on Russert,  Sister Lucille and another Catholic teacher of Russert’s can be found here.

Putting “Laudato Si’” to work

The 500,000 to 750,000 bees on the 42-acre garden have homes throughout the Washington monastery. (Photo by Rhina Guidos)

The 500,000 to 750,000 bees on the 42-acre garden have homes throughout the Washington monastery. (Photo by Rhina Guidos)

WASHINGTON (CNS) – Before that now famous encyclical came out this week, a group at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in Washington was already busy putting the spirit of “Laudato Si’” to work — or rather, they were putting bees to work to help the environment.

A group called the Franciscan Monastery Garden Guild gathers several times a week to tend the plants and flowers that visitors to the site see. They also care for a produce garden that yields food for events at the venue, for the friars who live there and other groups in the area, and also for the poor of Washington and its environs. Some of them also work behind the scenes to tend to more than half a million bees that live on the grounds of the 42-acre garden.

Joe Bozik, a retired civil engineer and the main beekeeper of the group, said having bees on the grounds “is in keeping with spirit of St. Francis.”

The bees, which were about to be displaced when he found them, have a home, they help pollinate the garden, the garden in turn generates food for those who live at the monastery and fresh food for the poor in the city.

Bees at work at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land. (photo by Rhina Guidos)

Bees at work at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land. (photo by Rhina Guidos)

Though Bozik had no previous training with bees, he grew up on a dairy farm in upstate New York and always wanted to work with honeybees. He joined the garden guild in 2000, and six years later, he started looking for a hive for the monastery garden and came into contact with a woman in nearby Maryland who was moving away and was trying to relocate 60,000 bees.

Since then, two hives have turned into 15, with a population that can range between 500,000 to 750,000 bees. Their pollination has increased the yield of eggplant, squash, tomatoes and other produce in the garden, Bozik said.

Besides helping pollinate, the bees also provide honey produced, bottled and sold at the monastery gift shop. Twice a year, the group invites the public to see the environmental benefits of the pollinators during a honey extraction event where they can help collect honey that is later sold for the benefit of the monastery — some of it goes for equipment needed to maintain the hives. Visitors can also tour the produce garden where the bees work.

One of the honeycombs at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land. (photo by Rhina Guidos)

One of the honeycombs at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land. (photo by Rhina Guidos)

“They observe us working with the bees, they see how gentle the bees are, they’re not out to sting people,” Bozik said. “It’s great education, an eye-opener to see the creatures.”

For some city dwellers who descend on the monastery to observe, the extraction event may be their only friendly encounter with bees. The work of the bees draws some people of faith but also others whose main focus is the environmental benefits of the insects, Bozik said.

“They help preserve creation, improve creation,” he said.

On Saturday morning, around 9 a.m. eastern time, we will briefly look at the honey extraction process at the monastery via livestream using Periscope on our CNS Twitter feed (@CatholicNewsSvc) and tour the monastery garden where the bees do their work.

Some fun facts about the Franciscan Monastery bees from Joe Bozik:

-In April 2006, the Guild established a honey bee committee and introduced two beehives on the grounds.

– A queen bee lives for three years. Around July or August, bee “cells” raise 4-7 new queens. The strongest kills the others and takes over (that doesn’t sound very Franciscan).

– Egg hatching takes 18 days.  Queens feed on “royal jelly” so they are larger than the other 30,000-40,000 bees in their colony.

– If a viable queen does not emerge or survives, the beekeepers may have to buy a queen bee to start a new colony. She is shipped with two attendant bees in a little box.

Pope Francis’ “Christian Prayer in Union with Creation”

A prayer in Union with Creation draft2

Pope Francis’ ‘Prayer for Our Earth’

A prayer for our earth draft1

Pope accepts resignations of St. Paul archbishop, auxiliary

From Cindy Wooden at the CNS Rome bureau:

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Ten days after the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis was criminally charged with failing to protect children, Pope Francis accepted the resignations of Archbishop John C. Nienstedt and Auxiliary Bishop Lee A. Piche.

Pope Francis appointed Newark Coadjutor Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda, a canon lawyer, to be apostolic administrator of the Minnesota archdiocese.

Archbishop John C. Nienstedt  (CNS/The Catholic Spirit)

Archbishop John C. Nienstedt (CNS/The Catholic Spirit)

The resignations were announced by the Vatican June 15; on June 5, the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office filed charges against the archdiocese alleging it had contributed to the harm of three minors sexually abused by former priest Curtis Wehmeyer.

The charges, six gross misdemeanors, were three counts of contributing to the need for protection or services for a minor and three counts of contributing to a minor’s status as a juvenile petty offender or delinquency.

Archbishop Nienstedt, 68, has led the archdiocese since May 2008. In a statement, he said, “In order to give the archdiocese a new beginning amidst the many challenges we face, I have submitted my resignation.”

“The Catholic Church is not our church, but Christ’s church, and we are merely stewards for a time,” the archbishop said. “My leadership has unfortunately drawn attention away from the good works of his church and those who perform them. Thus, my decision to step down.”

Bishop Piche, 57, also issued a statement. He said the people of the archdiocese “need healing and hope. I was getting in the way of that, and so I had to resign.”

“I submitted my resignation willingly, after consultation with others in and outside the archdiocese,” said the bishop, who had served as an auxiliary in the Twin Cities since 2009.

Auxiliary Bishop Lee A. Piche (CNS photo/Dianne Towalski, Catholic Spirit)

Auxiliary Bishop Lee A. Piche (CNS photo/Dianne Towalski, Catholic Spirit)

In his statement, Archbishop Hebda noted that the position of an apostolic administrator is temporary and his role “is not to introduce change, but rather to facilitate the smooth continuation of the ordinary and essential activities of the church, while advancing those positive initiatives to which the archdiocese is already committed.”

Still, he said, he hoped to meet as many people as possible in the archdiocese while still fulfilling his responsibilities in Newark.

“As the universal church prepares to embark on a Year of Mercy, I look forward to getting to know this local church and experiencing in a new context the marvelous ways in which the Lord works through his people to make his grace and healing presence known and felt, even in the most challenging of times,” Archbishop Hebda said.

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