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.

A bishop’s commute across the river and into the mountains

Bishop Donald Lippert on a foot bridge heading to a confirmation ceremony in his diocese in Papua New Guinea. (Courtesy of Bishop Donald Lippert)

Bishop Donald Lippert on a foot bridge heading to a confirmation ceremony in his diocese in Papua New Guinea. (Courtesy of Bishop Donald Lippert)

Before complaining about the traffic on your way home, you may want to look at Bishop Donald Lippert’s commute in Papua New Guinea, near Australia. Recently, those who follow him on Twitter witnessed the Franciscan Capuchin priest’s trek across a fragile foot bridge and into the mountains of the Diocese of Mendi.

He was commuting, if you will, to St. Michael Church, Kurumb, on a steep mountain highland, accessible not by car, but by an hour-and-a-half walk. The effort, taken along with an entourage from the Diocese of Mendi, was to confirm “almost 200 young people (and a few young at heart),” on the feast of Corpus Christi, the bishop said by email.

The group started out by car.

“After about an hour and a half through mountain roads and beautiful scenery, we arrived as far as we could go by road. We left the car and began the walk,” Bishop Lippert said. “Before starting our way up the mountain we had to cross the Lai River, on a rather rickety foot bridge. I tried not to look down, because the water rushing by underneath made me a bit dizzy, but there were big gaps in the planks on the bridge, so I could not avoid it. Of course, the local people crossed with ease — and so they gave me the nerve to make it across safely.”

His Twitter feed features photos of the bishop along the way: on the bridge, meeting friends, and continuing on in the rural diocese where the native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has served since 2007. At the entrance to the group’s destination, parishioners welcomed the group with drums and chants. Many parishioners donned the traditional attire.

A youth in Papua New Guinea receive the sacrament of confirmation. (Photo courtesy of Bishop Donald Lippert)

A youth in Papua New Guinea receives the sacrament of confirmation. (Photo courtesy of Bishop Donald Lippert)

“One of them (Raphael) gave me a hat adorned in a traditional way with feathers. He said that it represented the fact that I was the ‘chief’ of the Catholic people of the province. I was humbled and honored by the gift,” Bishop Lippert wrote.

The Corpus Christi commute led to a homily about “the Eucharist as food for our journey and the Holy Spirit as fire for our mission of bringing the good news to all people,” wrote the bishop, who puts mileage with his feet behind those words.

“Some were visibly moved by this important moment in their lives.  Their eyes filled with the hope and promise of a life lived in the Lord — despite many challenges and difficulties,” he said.


After the ceremony and fellowship, “we began our trek back down the mountain,” he said. “I must confess that, as in other such occasions, I felt a bit like Peter, James and John must have felt, as they walked with Jesus back down Mount Tabor after having experienced the glory of the Transfiguration.”


Follow Bishop Lippert on Facebook, on Twitter @BishopMendi or via his “Bishop Don’s Blog” at http://www.bishopdon.blogspot.com.au

Caption contest draws humorous entries

By Jim Lackey

We have been having a little fun with this photo, taken over the weekend by our Rome-bureau photographer, Paul Haring:

(CNS photo/Paul Haring)

(CNS photo/Paul Haring)

In the photo from Saturday, Pope Francis is speaking to Italian youngsters, some of whom were born in prison and all of whom have at least one parent in jail. They were treated to a special train trip to Rome thanks to the Pontifical Council for Culture.

(CNS photo/Paul Haring)

(CNS photo/Paul Haring)

After the pope watched some of the youths flying kites in a cleared-out parking lot next to the Vatican audience hall, he spoke to the group and answered questions, telling them to never stop dreaming.

The photo of the pope speaking inside the hall, of course, cried out for a caption contest. (Given the nature of the Holy Father, we were certain he wouldn’t mind.) Thanks partly to a helpful nudge from our friends at U.S. Catholic magazine, here’s some of what we got:

Naturally, some thought it was a papal fish (or snake) story:

Others wondered why the pope had an official name badge hanging from his neck, as if he needed proof that he belonged in the hall:

But someone had a possible answer:

Here are the best of the rest:


At the Vatican: “Women are here,” they are tackling problems

VATICAN CITY — The women who run the Vatican newspaper’s monthly supplement, “Women — Church — World,” do not mind at all that their conference Friday through Sunday is just the latest in a long line of Vatican meetings focused on women.

“It is almost an incessant reminder, ‘There are women here, women are here,’ so I think it is positive that there is conference after conference,” said Dominican Sister Catherine Aubin, a professor at Rome’s Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas.

“It is important to open people’s eyes because it seems that sometimes, in some church spheres, we women do not exist. All of these conferences might help open people’s eyes,” said the French sister, who also works on the monthly supplement.

The cover of the conference program.

The cover of the conference program.

The conference, “The Church before the Condition of Women Today,” will be live streamed on the website of the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano. Sessions will focus on violence against women, challenges facing the family and changing ideas about women’s identity and roles.

Lucetta Scaraffia, a writer for the Vatican newspaper and professor of modern history at Rome’s La Sapienza University, said she and the other organizers make the deliberate decision not to include a discussion on the need to expand women’s voices and roles in the church, although “it is right” that women are asking for that.

This week’s conference, she said, starts from a recognition that “we are already part of the church and that we can take responsibility ourselves for looking at certain situations and presenting the position of the church.”

The speakers, Scaraffia said, will demonstrate that Catholic women, acting in the name of the church, already are tackling many of the problems that most deeply impact the life of women — and their families and societies — around the world.


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