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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.

Songbirds change to cope with deforestation

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Eastern North American songbirds are a very adaptable bunch, says a scientist who discovered some remarkable changes in their wing shapes over the past century.

A close look at museum collections of 851 songbird specimens belonging to 21 species shows that most of the birds evolved wings that are more pointed after their forests were disrupted by logging. Others in re-forested areas evolved less-pointed wings. The drive to procreate forced the changes in wing shape.

More pointed wings can help birds who are long-distance commuters fly more efficiently. Rounded wings however, are better off over short distances.

"I've been studying the effects of (forest) fragmentation," said Andre Desrochers of Quebec's University Laval and the Laboratory of Ornithology at Cornell University. "Roads, rivers, clearcuts and other gaps can break up songbird habitats.

"To me, it becomes apparent that fragmentation is really a big problem" he added. "If you (as a songbird) are in a fragmented habitat, you have more chance of being without a mate."

NCR contributors in the news

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NCR contributors in the news

Sr. Rose Pacatte, a Daughter of St. Paul and director of the Pauline Center for Media Studies in Los Angeles, who writes on media for NCR, has been chosen to receive the Board of Directors Award from Los Angeles-based Catholics in Media Associates.

The awards are slated to be distributed as part of a Feb. 28 Mass and awards brunch in Beverly Hills. Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of Los Angeles is scheduled to celebrate the Mass.

Columnist Heidi Schlumpf was profiled in the Chicago Daily Herald. The paper notes that Schlumpf "wrote her book, While We Wait" Spiritual & Practical Advice for Those Trying to Adopt, to encourage other parents going through the adoption process."

Ashes to ashes

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No one had seen Robina Dumas at church, but everyone knew why. She had fallen ill, and things did not look good. Craig, her husband of more than 60 years, still came every Sunday, sitting by himself at the edge of a pew. We'd always said hello to him and his wife on Sundays, but really got to know them when their daughter Kathy started teaching our kids piano.

We'd always ask Craig about Robina, and he'd smile some and say she seemed better or stronger or livelier. Until he would just smile and shrug slightly. We'd learned from others how much she had done for parish in decades pass, as she was raising her children and even long after they had grown. She was a fixture, people said, in 1950s, 1960s and on.

We got the call from Kathy one night not long ago -- her mother had passed. The funeral was set for that Saturday.

My wife and I wondered how Craig was taking it -- and how the parish would respond. Robina had been a key figure there years ago, but would anyone remember now? Life, especially in places like Los Angeles, is always in motion -- people move out and move on, taking their memories with them.

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August 15-28, 2014

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