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Apostle to the Apostles

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Of all the lyrics that blend human love with religious longing, Leonard Cohen's 1967 song "Suzanne" is perhaps the most provocative and moving. It describes a relationship with a young woman that is both real and beyond real -- a spiritual journey in which the meaning of love transcends bodily union to achieve communion outside of time and space. In the second verse, the song shifts focus to the mystery of Jesus and describes our response to him with these words:

"And you want to travel with him
And you want to travel blind
And you think maybe you'll trust him
For he's touched your perfect body with his mind."

A priestly incubator

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Here's a story that is well reported from the Los Angeles Times, Seminary works to fill a dire need for priests, about seminary formation at the Junipero Serra House of Formation in the San Bernardino diocese in Southern California.

The article explains that "With no local Catholic university or seminary to replenish an aging clergy, diocese leaders decided in 1985 to develop their own priests at Serra House." The men in formation now attend Riverside Community College and other local schools to work toward bachelor's degrees in philosophy or other subjects. They will complete formal training at seminaries in Camarillo or San Antonio.

Schools are hub for families in need

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Here's an inonvative idea for social service delivery: "We really think about schools as being the center of the community where everything comes together," said Josefina Alvarado-Mena, executive director of Safe Passages, a nonprofit organization in Oakland, Calif.Alameda County youth.

"The old paradigm was that families had to go to multiple services, often at multiple locations," Alvarado-Mena said. "Many got lost in transit or lost in translation."

By contrast, Safe Passages uses schools as conduits to bring social services to youth and their families. Focusing on poor and underperforming youth in middle school and early childhood, the organization offers academic support, physical and mental health services, violence prevention classes, and family therapy. Full-time site coordinators at each participating school help Safe Passages reach the most vulnerable students, including undocumented immigrants and young people with violent backgrounds and unstable families.

Catholic Charities' volunteers of the year

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Catholic Charities USA has named its Volunteers of the Year. They are:

William Rainford, associate professor and chair, Master of Social Work program, Boise State University, for his tireless work on behalf of Catholic Charities of Idaho; and a trio of dedicated women -- Elsa Amboy, Melissa Kreisa, and Andrea Lee -- for their refugee work with Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County, in San Jose, CA.

Bishops on health care reform

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The U.S. bishops waded into the debate over health care reform with a letter to congressional leaders pointing the four criteria that governs the bishops’ thinking on health care and giving special attention to two of these points.

The four governing criteria are: respect for human life and dignity, access for all, pluralism and equitable costs. The two that need special attention, according to the letter signed by Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre, N.Y., are: respect for human life and access.

Voice of the Faithful lives to pray another day

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Voice of the Faithful, the lay Catholic group founded during the church's clergy sex abuse scandal, has raised enough money to keep operating.

The group sent a letter to its members last week, saying its financial situation was so dire that it might be forced to close its Needham headquarters unless it raised $60,000. Today, the group said its plea raised more than $63,000. The money will be used to pay operating costs for July and August.

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