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Feb. 23, St. Polycarp, Bishop, Martyr

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Today is the feast of St. Polycarp, c. 69 - c.155, "one of the 'Apostolic Fathers,' the generation of bishops who received their teaching direct from the apostles or disciples themselves."

"It was the commemoration of his martyrdom that established the custom of celebrating the anniversary of a martyr's death, seen as the dies natalis, the 'birthday into heaven.'"

--Butler's Lives of the Saints

Scranton, Pa., gets new bishop

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Monsignor Joseph Bambera has been appointed the 10th bishop of the Diocese of Scranton, the Vatican announced this morning.

The pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Mary of Czestochowa churches in Archbald, the Rev. Bambera has run the daily operations of the diocese for the past six months as delegate to interim leader Cardinal Justin Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia.

He replaces Bishop Joseph F. Martino, whose six-year term has been described as "stormy." See Why did the bishop of Scranton, Pa., resign?

Hispanics & the GOP

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The Washington Post ran both a news column and an op-ed the other day on the subject of the GOP’s efforts to win back Hispanic voters. Between 1988 and 2008, the number of Hispanic voters grew from 16.1 million to 19.5 million, an increase of 21 percent and there is no sign that such growth will abate anytime soon. “If you don't go out and bring more Hispanics to our party, the math isn't there to win, no matter what the other side does,” Henry Bonilla, a former Republican congressman from Texas told the paper.

This Lent, behold a new creation

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This Lent, the Franciscan Action Network invites you to experience renewal in your relationships with God's creation. Reflections on Sunday readings and suggestions for the practice of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving help prepare for the re-commitment to your baptismal calling at Easter. You can sign up to receive the weekly resource via email at www.franciscanaction.org,
or you can directly view resources at www.franciscanaction.org/lent2010.

For the First Sunday of Lent, there are a variety of liturgical resources, including Prayers of the Faithful, a Final Blessing for Mass, and a bulletin insert text at www.franciscanaction.org/first_sunday_of_lent_2010.

From sports phenom to priest candidate

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Grant Desme was well on his way to baseball fame and fortune -- until fate intervened. Now, the 23-year old minor league phenom is on his way to the priesthood.

A fascinating, detail-filled profile in Sunday's Los Angeles Times tells Grant's story: a kid consumed with baseball since childhood who suddenly found himself, almost against his will, considering the larger questions of life and his place on the universal canvas.

Where are the 'talking heads' on global affairs in religious life?

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tOver the weekend I was in Baltimore, where a prominent men’s religious order brought together a few people to talk about how they can be more effective communicators. This was an off-the-record brainstorming session, but I can pass along one point I made, which is something I’ve long wondered about and something broadly applicable to religious congregations both of women and men.

tHere’s the question I posed: When a crisis erupts in some obscure corner of the world, why isn’t a man or woman religious automatically in the mix along with the ex-general, the retired diplomat and the aid worker on “Good Morning America” and “The News Hour” explaining what’s going on? Why aren’t religious writing opinion pieces in the New York Times and Foreign Policy magazine outlining what the issues look like from the perspective of people who actually live there? In other words, why isn’t the press culture in America in the habit of tapping religious in the same way we pursue talking heads from other walks of life presumed to have some kind of global expertise?

Washington archdiocese ends adoption program

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It's official, but it's sad. After generations in the business of facilitating adoptions and foster care, the Washington Archdiocese is transferring its entire program to a secular agency, the National Center for Children and Families. In doing so, Catholic Charities avoids following a new law in the District of Columbia, which will soon require that gay or lesbian couples be treated equally with heterosexual couples in the adoption process.

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April 11-24, 2014

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