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Three Oblate Sisters of St. Francis de Sales staff Holy Cross Academy in Fredericksburg, the parish school of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception. Currently the parish is the only one in the United States with Oblate sisters. During the Year of Consecrated life Father Don Rooney and the parishioners of St Mary are being very intent in their prayers for vocations to the Oblate sisters.

In the video Sister Susan Louise, Principal of Holy Cross Academy shares with the Hearld the order's gentle charism and excitement for the new school year.

READ the story on the Sister's trip to Africa   More

The Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary are a group of missionary priests known as Missionhurst. The Arlington Diocese is fortunate to have Missionhurst priests throughout the diocese who minister to those in great need. Resident missionaries who live at the Motherhouse in Arlington celebrate assist surrounding parishes with mass and confessions, especially during Advent and Lent. Father Charles Konde, Provincial Superior, is from the Democratic Republic of Congo and helps local pastors minister to the Spanish speaking community. No matter where they are sent, the priests meet the people at their level and infuse the communities with their unique missionary zeal, encouraging everyone to go out and share the Good News.

Visiters are welcome at the Missionhurst motherhouse which is located near Marymount University in Arlington.

4651 North 25th St.

Arlington, VA

22207-3518

  More

The following guest column appeared in the July 22 issue of the Clarion Herald, newspaper of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. It was written by Peter Finney Jr., executive editor and general manager.

The problem is the child.

When you cut through the tortured logic Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards employs to defend the primacy of privacy over the natural law, what you are left with, unfortunately for the nation's abortion Goliath, is the child.

Or, more accurately, 57.5 million children and counting who have died through legal abortion in the U.S. since 1973.

The stain of a sin this big and this unchecked by society for more than 40 years cannot be fully grasped, much less examined.

We cannot view directly the revolting truth of abortion because that truth would blind us and maybe even turn our Lamborghinis into pillars of salt.

Do not look back. This is a settled issue.

In our patriotic fervor to sing “God Bless America” as though it were something more than a children's nursery rhyme, we must avert our eyes to the collateral damage of “choice” and continue living our unexamined lives — from sea to shining sea.

But then, in a country hypnotized by YouTube cat videos, something utterly amazing happened in the past two weeks.

Two undercover videos, the product of careful planning by people who have examined their own lives and felt compelled to expose the hidden reality of death before birth, shook the YouTube cyber-community.

Americans, young and old, stopped and clicked. Amazing. Grace.

The bottom line for me is this: When baby parts are more valuable than the babies who provide them, my God, we have lost our way.

Perhaps most disturbing was the sheer nonchalance of it all. In their unguarded conversations, Planned Parenthood medical professionals admitted there are ways, by modifying surgical procedures, to harvest more intact human tissue per specimen. They also acknowledged there is a Wild Wild West …   More

UPDATED!

I planted sunflower seeds this year. My mom's favorite flower, I'd always manage to buy her a few of the smiling, cheerful, oversized flowers every summer. She'd put them in a heavy crystal vase and wouldn't retire them until it was obvious they were ready to be dried and shared with the squirrels, who would pick at them until every seed was cracked and savored.

She got such a kick out of the whole thing.

I planted three seeds in a sunny area in front of our home. One on the far left was back in the shadier area, one in the middle and one on the right, the most open spot.

A science project could have predicted that the one on the far right would be the blue ribbon winner.

Every few days my husband and I would note how fast it was growing.

By mid-July it had passed the first floor and was fast approaching the second-floor window.

My husband said it would be as if my Mom was looking in on us. The bright yellow head made it to the window. We could sit on the couch and see it like a friendly face keeping watch just outside our home.

I wondered if the squirrels were as excited about the promise of future treats that one blossom held. I sure was.

A severe thunderstorm came through town yesterday afternoon. We sat at work, turned out the overhead lights and watched the spectacle as sheets of rain, tree-bending wind and even sleet turned Glebe Road into Ground Zero for the summer storm.

As I pulled up to our house three hours later, I was thankful that the neighbors' tree was still standing, and just a collection of leaves and small branches from it littered our walkway.

The star sunflower, however, was doubled over and the smiling face was inches from the soggy ground. To add insult to injury, the sturdy stalk had cracked down the middle like the trunk of an old oak.

No tomato stake, no neighboring sunflower, nothing could right this grand dame. So with the head snipped and turned upside down for drying, the little seed that had become a …   More

Sometimes, no amount of research can prepare you for an interview. Such was my recent experience in interviewing Saint Fleur Junior Charles, a 32-year-old man brimming with courage, strength, and— more recently, he says — faith.

Junior, as he prefers to be called, is the administrative head of St. Joseph’s Clinic in Thomassique, Haiti, a hospital run by the Medical Missionaries of Manassas. There, he enables healthcare professionals to serve 25,000 patients a year in one of the Western Hemisphere’s most impoverished places. The valedictorian of his college class, Junior also is a recent law school graduate and an aspiring judge.

To add to his accomplishments, he taught himself Spanish and English (adding to his linguistic repertoire of Creole and French); designed the house where he lives with his retired mother; and is writing a book on handicapped law in Haiti. He spends his free time drawing local churches, flowers and birds. His life is one of discipline.

Junior has achieved all of this despite suffering an accident made more serious by the fact that it happened in a developing country with a dearth of adequate medical care. At age 16, Junior fell from a mango tree and broke his spinal cord, interrupting his studies and sending him into a dark period where he said he hoped for death daily.

As a paraplegic, he is confined to a wheelchair, but today Junior feels grateful that he escaped the fate predicted by doctors in his homeland: that he would spend the rest of his days bedridden, unable to finish school or achieve any sense of normalcy.

Yet Father Jack O’Hara, a priest then serving at Arlington’s Bánica Mission in the Dominican Republic and now parochial vicar of Holy Family Church in Dale City, told him to have faith. So Junior took his mother’s lead and began to pray.

In 2001, American doctors performed an operation that got him out of bed, literally. He woke up to new possibilities. After …   More

More than 100 girls participated in the Diocese of Arlington's FIAT Days Camp. The five day discernment retreat was held at Mount St. Mary's seminary in Emmitsburg, Md. where the girls joined religious sisters in prayer, adoration, crafts and sports.

The girls welcomed the opportunity to interact with sisters who guided the campers throughout the week in prayer and shared with them their own vocations stories.

Read more about FIAT camp by visiting the link below.

A window into a vocation   More

Guest Blog

On the day that a Colorado jury was to announce its verdict in the case of a man who opened fire in a crowded movie theater killing 12 people, Tennesseans were trying to make sense of another deadly shooting, this time in our state.

Four people were killed and three others were injured July 16. (One of the injured died two days later.) The incident began when a man drove up to a military recruiting center at a strip mall in Chattanooga, pulled out a rifle, peppered the glass windows and doors with bullets, and then sped off in a convertible. Authorities caught up to the man at the Navy Operational Support Center and Marine Corps Reserve Center several miles away and there was more shooting. All of the casualties apparently occurred at the Navy Operational Support Center.

Shortly after the shootings, the press reported that the gunman was killed, but authorities were still trying to figure out his motive.

However the story unfolds in the coming days, the shootings are just another in a long line of examples of how our country and our world seems to be caught in the tight grip of what the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops once called a culture of violence.

We see the results of that culture of violence in Chattanooga, in the Charleston, South Carolina, church where a man shouted racist rhetoric before shooting nine people dead, in the case of the Colorado movie theater shootings, in the killings of school children and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, in the school shootings at Columbine more than 15 years ago. We see it in families warped by domestic violence and in communities where poverty has sapped people of hope. We see the culture of violence at work in the Middle East where the Islamic State uses beheadings and murder to spread terror and to recruit new followers. We see it in the wanton destruction of the Syrian civil war where innocent people caught in the crossfire die daily while the world watches, impotent to stop …   More

U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (NJ), co-chair of the Bipartisan Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, made the following comments July 15 at a Capitol Hill press conference on the recently released video of a Planned Parenthood official discussing baby body parts as commodities to be sold:

“Fifteen years ago, I authored the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 — the landmark law that combats the exploitation of human beings, mostly women and children — a cruelty that reduces victims to commodities for sale.

Yesterday we learned of another cruel manifestation of human trafficking.

Yesterday we learned that Planned Parenthood is trafficking in baby body parts and intact organs like livers and hearts charging up to $100 or more per body part.

Not only has Planned Parenthood killed over 7 million innocent babies in their chain of abortion clinics but now undercover video by the Center for Medical Progress — part of a three year investigative journalism study—shows high ranking Planned Parenthood officials explaining how they sell and profit from the sale of the organs of their victims.

In one clip, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, Senior Director of Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s Medical Services — and an abortionist herself—explains ‘we’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.’

Dr. Nucatola says on camera, ‘I’d say a lot of people want liver. And for that reason, most providers will do this case under ultrasound guidance, so they’ll know where they’re putting their forceps.’

In other words, crush the baby to death but do it in a way that preserves certain organs and body parts for sale.

Dr. Nucatola even suggests on tape creating a ‘menu.’

Current law that proscribes altering abortion procedures in order to procure baby organs and body parts …   More

The King’s Men is a ministry devoted to building Christian men in the mold of leader, protector and provider. They host several “Into the Wild” retreats each year where men meet for a weekend at a wilderness area for Mass and prayer. There are also team-building exercises that include orienteering — finding your way across a set course using a map and compass.

I visited the “Into the Wild” retreat July 10 at Prince William Forest Park in Triangle for a story. Prayer, Mass and the rosary all played key parts in the day.

There was an orientation competition in the afternoon. To prepare for the event, orienteering lessons and practice were given in the morning.

The site of the competition was on the other side of the 25-square-mile park, so after training and practice we loaded into cars to convoy to the starting point. I drove the last car and followed the flashing lights of the cars in front of me out of the park onto I-95 to the next exit. We entered through the main gate and wound our way through the park to our destination.

It was taking a bit longer then I thought. Then I noticed the front car stopped, asking questions of a park ranger — a woman — who was driving in the other direction.

I saw her pointing down the road and talking to the driver.

As the convoy made a U-turn on the road I saw the ranger pass and she had an oh-so-subtle smile on her face.

Read the story, and see more pictures http://catholicherald.com/stories/Faith-in-the-wild,29434.   More

Guest Blog

The day before issuing his much anticipated encyclical on the care of creation, "Laudato Si'," Pope Francis set aside time for a very different topic — the sorrow and agony we experience in losing a beloved family member.

It is a universal tragedy and one which has or will shake us all.

A few weeks ago I lost a younger brother to a sudden, fatal car accident and reading the pope's reflection cut to the marrow.

"It is a part of life and yet, when it touches family affections, death never seems to appear to us as natural, the pope told a packed audience in St. Peter's Square. "For parents, to survive their children is something particularly excruciating... The loss of a son or a daughter is as if time stood still: a chasm opens that swallows the past and also the future."

The pope is right but living as though this is an imminent and fast approaching reality is not easy, especially when summer is upon us, when loved ones are near at hand and health is strong. We tend to subconsciously push the reality of death to the periphery, out of sight as we fix our minds on the teeming life that stretches before us.

Still, we know immense pain visits the world daily, we see roadside accidents, hear the sirens. Those who suffer grave injury and sicknesses stray across our path in wheelchairs or crutches. We read of religious persecutions, murder in the Holy Land and the whole gamut of human sorrow. Until these calamities strike close, however, it is possible to live as if we are exceptions. This is the difference between knowing intellectually that the world is broken, and then feeling it deep in your bones.

No pain is more pronounced than the sudden loss of a loved one. Faith in God is tested — sometimes shattered — when we receive the unbearable call that one of our own has been ripped from the world. The agony and disbelief is beyond comprehension, beyond reason. No explanation stands under the weight of losing a close one. Death is an assault to our …   More

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