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For the past 33 years, the Youth Apostles (YA) Institute has done impressive job of sponsoring programs that have made a positive impact on the spiritual lives of young people in the Arlington Diocese. YA is composed of clergy and consecrated men who live in a communal house in McLean. There are also single and married members who gather weekly for Mass and a community meeting. It’s a wonderful organization that sponsors parish youth ministry programs, college campus ministries, school chaplaincies and much more. The group’s reputation has gained it an invitation from the Richmond Diocese to open a campus ministry at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.
Youth Apostles sponsors an annual fundraising golf tournament. The Catholic Herald sponsors a hole at the tournament and gets to enter a foursome in the event. I’ve been privileged to participate for the past four years, even though my golf skills are better suited to golf of the miniature variety. It’s an opportunity to show support for the work done by YA. The tournament is blessed by many sponsors and participants — a testament to the quality of the organization. This year the 17th annual tournament was blessed by sunny, but cool, weather. Our team played better than years past. We didn’t win of course, but we did finish in the middle.
Every year, the usual suspects finish in the top three spots. This year, the organizers changed the awards around a bit. There were prizes for people in the middle and for the team that finished last.
Each of the Catholic Herald team members won a round of golf at a course in Maryland. It was a nice gift from the organization that keeps on giving.
For more information on Youth Apostles go to youthapostles.org.
In a few years, Virginia will close four of its training centers — institutions that provide people with intellectual disabilities a place to live, plus needed medical, dental and social services. I’ve written a story about the closing of the training centers in this week’s Herald.
When the Northern Virginia Training Center in Fairfax closes next year, nearly 70 clients will need to find a place to live. Quality providers of group homes are limited, with Marian Homes Inc. one that services the Arlington Diocese. I’ve written about Marian Homes before, and always found them able to provide excellent services to a population in need.
Marian Homes was founded by the Knights of Columbus at Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Fairfax. There are two homes for the intellectually disabled, one that serves five men and the other five women.
There is a critical need for Marian Homes to purchase and repair other homes to service the expected rush of new clients. If you can make a donation please do, and help a population that would greatly benefit and appreciate the kindness. There is a link in the Herald story
Last summer, I wrote an article about Wede Gibson, a parishioner of St. Timothy Church in Chantilly who was collecting used textbooks and educational equipment to send to her alma mater, St. Theresa’s Convent School in Monrovia, Liberia. By the time I visited Gibson at her house in June, she had been collecting books — many from local schools — for about two months and her home was lined with box after box of donations for the school.
Since that interview, Gibson has kept her project going. In January, she shipped more than 600 boxes of textbooks and library books to St. Theresa’s, in addition to projectors with screens, educational DVDs, games, 24 computers and one bag of teddy bears. For photos of the school and the children the project has helped, see above.
But that’s not the end. What started as a whim last May is now Textbooks Africa, a full-fledged 501 (c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to shipping textbooks, library books and supplies to schoolchildren and teachers in Africa.
This year, the organization will turn its attention to Zimbabwe, a landlocked country in Southern Africa that has experienced economic turmoil since 2000. According to the organization’s website, Textbook Africa’s goal is to raise at least $12,000 to send a 20-foot sea container with textbooks, library books, computers and school supplies to several schools in the country.
For more information or to find out how you can help, go to textbooksafrica.org.
Author Eric Metaxas is a busy man. He has written a couple of successful books. Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery was turned into a movie called “Amazing Grace.” Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet Spy was formerly No. 1 on The New York Times bestseller list for non-fiction e-books.
His latest book, released April 29, is called Seven Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness. It includes chapters on George Washington, Jackie Robinson, Pope John Paul II and Chuck Colson.
In addition to writing books, Metaxas hosts the Colson Center’s daily BreakPoint radio commentary that offer listeners a brief biblical perspective on today’s news and trends. The program is carried by 1,400 radio outlets nationwide.
Metaxas served as master of ceremonies April 27 for the William Wilberforce Awards Banquet that honored New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan.
“In a culture where the deeply cherished freedom of religion is suddenly under attack, Cardinal Timothy Dolan has emerged as a genuine hero,” Metaxas said.
Prior to the banquet, Metaxas talked about issues that impact both evangelical Christians and Catholics. “The HHS mandate is about religious freedom,” he said. “It is not about Catholicism.”
“Can the government force Christians in America to violate their consciences?” he asked.
On the question of same-sex marriage, Metaxas said the government wants to legislate the issue before people figure it out for themselves. “The whole issue hasn’t gotten a fair hearing,” he said.
Metaxas compared it to abortion, which was legalized 40 years ago by the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. “It will be tougher to undo once it becomes law,” he said.
The abortion issue is no different that the slavery issue, which Wilberforce, a British statesman, was able to get outlawed in England in 1807.
The movie “Amazing Grace” barely touched upon the faith of Wilberforce, Metaxas said. …
Father Emile J. Kapaun, the Korean War chaplain who heroically looked out for the men he shared his life with in a Korean prisoner of war camp, has received a lot of press recently, both secular and religious. I wrote a story about a man who served in a POW camp with Father Kapaun in this week’s issue.
For his service and courage, Father Kapaun was awarded posthumously the Medal of Honor recently by President Barack Obama at the White House.
The "shepherd in combat boots" is an example of sacrifice and love to all men and women of good will. The Catholic Church recognizes that example and has named the priest a “servant of God”, the first step on the way to sainthood.
It’s a wonderful story, and a testament to the important work of military chaplains.
There are new chaplains in the making. Priestly and diaconate ordinations are coming in June —transitional deacons will be ordained June 1 and priests June 8.
The Herald will interview the men and share their vocation stories.
One of the soon-to-be priests is Deacon Jason Burchell, an admirer of Father Kapaun who will enter the chaplaincy after three years of service as a parish priest in the Arlington Diocese. It’s an agreement between Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde and the Archdiocese for the Military Services. It will be at least a three-year tour for Deacon Burchell in the Navy as an officer and chaplain.
Deacon Burchell is passionate about being a “man of God” and serving our men and women in the armed forces. He is a fine example of the qualities required to serve the spiritual needs of our military
Earlier this week, I listened as Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde talked to college students at Marymount University about the benefits of living a faith-filled life. By bringing themselves close to Jesus through prayer, service and the sacraments, he assured the students their lives would not be boring or restricted, but joyful and adventurous with a sense of inner peace and calm that will bring them through the difficult moments.
I love the idea of a faith lived adventurously. Certainly in the stories I’ve written and read for the Catholic Herald over the years, I’ve encountered many people whose faith have led them on great adventures near and far. There’s people in our diocese who have become missionaries, people who have started organizations or businesses, people who have devoted themselves to family life and those who have drawn great creative inspiration from the love of God. In this week’s Journey in Faith, local Catholic Gloria Purvis talks about how her faith has led to pro-life work, speaking engagements and even an EWTN television show.
And of course, we must never forget the amazing stories of the saints and spiritual role models who have come before us. When I think of an adventurous life, I often think of Blessed Mother Teresa who, at the age of 38, left her convent in Darjeeling to found her own religious order, the Missionaries of Charity, and dedicate herself completely to the service of the poor. That move led to a lifetime of service that brought her all over the world to war zones, disaster areas, and communities torn apart by poverty and need. By the time she died in 1997, her order had more than 4,000 sisters in 123 countries.
That’s not to say that everyone should be like Mother Teresa. But it leads me to wonder what great things each of us could accomplish if we really put our trust in God.
To quote the bishop on Monday night, “If you want to make an effect on people’s lives, you …
I reviewed the children’s Christmas picture book Gift of a Servant by Tamara Amos last December. Amos, a parishioner of St. John the Evangelist Church in Warrenton, wrote the book about a man — much like Amos’ father — who had a beef about the commercialization of Christmas and confronted Santa on Christmas Eve to make his point. The man wanted to put Christ back in Christmas.
I got an email recently from Amos that said she won the 2013 National Beverly Hills Book Award in the holiday category.
It’s an honor that Amos deserves for a book that attempts to get children and adults in the right state of mind for Christmas.
And although most of us will soon be planning beach vacations and Fourth of July picnics, it’s never too late to start thinking about a present for yourself or your family, one that will give you, and your family, a head start on some Christmas joy.
To order a copy of Gift of a Servant, go to mysticalroseinspirations.
It’s sometimes difficult to watch the news, isn’t it? As Monday’s bombing at the Boston Marathon shows us, there is a lot of unjust violence in this world and the threat of terrorism is still very much alive in our country today.
But as my Facebook and Twitter feeds filled up with news stories and reactions about the bombings, I took comfort in something else — a quote from Mister (Fred) Rogers, which has gone viral in the past 24 hours: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'"
Within the past week alone, I have heard from two world-renowned “helpers” — men who have dedicated their lives in the pursuit of promoting peace around the world.
Last week at Catholic University in Washington, I attended the “Pacem in Terris at 50” conference, which focused on the 50th anniversary of Pope John XXIII’s encyclical on world peace. There, I met Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the former archbishop of Cape Coast in Ghana.
Speaking briefly with the cardinal following his talk, I asked him what individuals can do to promote world peace.
“On the personal level, that’s where it all begins,” he said. “People who are not at peace with themselves cannot become agents of peace.”
Cardinal Turkson believes that in order to promote peace on a larger scale, people must first promote peace within their own lives by respecting the needs of those closest to us — our family members, colleagues, friends and neighbors.
“Justice is when we respect the demands of the relationships in which we stand,” he said. “When the demands of whatever relationships we stand in are respected, there is peace and there is harmony. That is a good way of beginning.”
Cardinal Turkson also …
The conversation about a new approach to Catholic discipleship has started and author Sherry A. Weddell is leading the discussion. Nine months after her book, Forming Intentional Disciples, was published by Our Sunday Visitor, Weddell is visiting parishes around the world to equip them with the tools they will need to radically change the life of the whole church.
A convert to Catholicism, Weddell developed the “Called and Gifted” discernment process in 1993 as a way to introduce Catholics to the idea that they were apostles with a mission by virtue of their baptism. In 1997, she co-founded the Catherine of Siena Institute along with Dominican Father Michael Sweeney.
The turning point in Weddell’s ministry occurred when she began asking church leaders the question, “Could you briefly describe to me your lived relationship with God to this point in your life?” The answers she received were astounding.
“We learned that there is a chasm the size of the Grand Canyon between the church’s sophisticated theology of the lay apostolate and the lived spiritual experience of the majority of our people,” she wrote in the introduction to her new book. “We learned that the majority of even ‘active’ American Catholics are still at an early, essentially passive stage of spiritual development.”
The first need at the parish level isn’t catechetical, she said, but rather the fundamental problem is that most Catholics are not yet disciples. “They will never be apostles until they have begun to follow Jesus Christ in the midst of His church.”
At an April 15 workshop at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington, Weddell told a group of parish and school leaders, including Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde, that personal witness is a powerful way for adults to learn about the faith.
There is no “silver bullet” method of forming disciples, she said. Rather, she encouraged the group to create multiple processes and opportunities …
The April 18 edition of the Catholic Herald will have several stories focusing on Earth Day.
I am featuring several local artists who use eco-friendly and recycled materials in their work.
Check out a few events this month featuring some of the artists.
Torpedo Factory Arts Center
Artist — Jackie Ehle Inglefield
Target Gallery presents Trash Talk, an exhibition that focuses on everyday common objects that are reclaimed, recycled, reinterpreted, and transformed into art. Our juror is Maren Hassinger, Director of the Rinehart School of Sculpture at Maryland Institute College of Art.
Exhibition Dates: April 10-28, 2013
Special Reception: April 11, 6-8 p.m., Gallery talk at 7p.m.
105 N. Union St.
Alexandria, Va., 22314
A Show of Hands
Artist — Jen Athanas
April 12, 6-9pm
Artist’s Reception showcasing artists who use recycled and repurposed materials.
2301 Mt Vernon Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22301
Eco Art & Design Depot
Artist — Jen Athanas
Sunday, April 21, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
1309 5th Street NE
Washington, DC 20003
Join us for a day of eco-conscious art and design, featuring a pop-up marketplace of local vendors and interactive workshops led by teaching artists dedicated to inspiring “creative reuse” and environmentally sustainable behavior.
Arlington Arts Center
Sunday, April 21
3550 Wilson blvd
Arlington, Va. 22201
Join us for our annual Earth Day celebration for families. This year, we'll do some resourceful art making with recycled materials!