National Catholic Reporter

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Faith & Parish

Philly Catholic high school teachers on strike

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PHILADELPHIA -- As incoming freshmen began orientation for the new school year and the archdiocese prepared to welcome a new archbishop, Philadelphia Catholic high school teachers went on strike Sept. 6.

Other students at the 17 Catholic high schools in the Philadelphia Archdiocese were to begin orientation sessions Sept. 8 -- the date of the installation of Archbishop Charles J. Chaput as new archbishop -- and Sept. 9.

Most of the more than 700 striking teachers voted against the archdiocesan contract proposal presented Sept. 6.

"The main issue now and since the beginning has centered on job security," said Rita Schwartz, president of the Association of Catholic School Teachers Local 1776.

Archdiocesan high schools opened Sept. 7 and were to be staffed by administrators and nonunion employees, according to Mary Rochford, archdiocesan superintendent of schools.

"Every school has its plan and is ready to go," she said during a news conference after the strike was announced.

Richard McCarron, archdiocesan secretary for Catholic education, said the archdiocese had contacted the teachers' union and was willing to resume negotiations.

St. Vincent de Paul Society president steps down

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Mission Management

After six pivotal years, Joe Flannigan will step down as president of the National Council of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. Those who have worked with Flannigan are quick to praise his outstanding leadership.

"Joe worked very hard to make the society's councils and conferences really feel connected to each other and to the National Council and the National Council to the International Council," said Sheila Gilbert, who was commissioned to succeed Flannigan -- the first woman to hold the position -- on Sept. 3 at the society's national meeting in Dallas. Gilbert, who has served as the society's national secretary, said Flannigan made these connections "by seeking dialogue, discussion and feedback prior to making significant decisions."

Chant may gain traction under new missal, but hymnody's place secure

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WASHINGTON -- Although the new General Instruction of the Roman Missal has eliminated the use of the word "song" from the General Instruction promulgated just eight years earlier in favor of the word "chant," don't be so quick to ditch those hymnals.

The hymns that have been part and parcel of Catholic worship are likely to continue for some time to come.

Va. quake appears to have hit churches hard

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WASHINGTON -- Historic churches in Washington, Maryland and Virginia were among buildings with the most serious damage after the unusual Aug. 23 magnitude 5.8 earthquake shook the region.

The temblor could be felt as far away as Detroit, north of Toronto and into Florida.

The archdioceses of Washington and Baltimore each reported damage to several churches. But in the Diocese of Richmond, Va., where the quake was centered near the town of Mineral, that town's St. Jude Church had the only reported damage in the diocese, and that was relatively minor, according to its pastor, Father Michael Duffy.

NJ parish blossoms under first-time pastor

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Mission Management

The number of U.S. parishes is declining at a steady rate. According to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University, the total number of U.S. parishes is 17,958 in 2010, down from their peak of 19,331 in 1995. Closures and mergers seem to be the norm in most dioceses.

A mere 22 percent of all Catholics attend Mass on a weekly basis. A recent Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life study points out that Catholicism has experienced the greatest net losses as a result of affiliation changes.

Ministers hope to build strong marriages

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MILWAUKEE -- Over the past 29 years, Lorrie Gramer helped prepare 25,000 couples for marriage in the Rockford, Ill., diocese.

“On the Friday night before the wedding, I tell the couples that they have paid the florist and the caterer and they’ve gone home,” Gamer said. “But the church is still there.”

The church is more to a marriage than a backdrop for the ceremony -- it is a couple’s lifelong commitment to uphold church teachings.

Gramer is president-elect of the National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministries, a group that attracted some 280 participants to a conference called the “Marriage-building Construction Zone” at Marquette University in Milwaukee Aug. 3-6. Almost all attending were lay parish leaders who had paid their own way, although there were a few priests and permanent deacons.

“Marriage-building is a lay movement,” Gramer said. “The bishops gave us the framework, but this is the third annual conference where this has been our theme.”

Orange diocese increases bid for Crystal Cathedral

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ORANGE, Calif. -- The Diocese of Orange has upped its bid to buy the Crystal Cathedral complex in Garden Grove from $50 million to $53.6 million.

Once the home church of the Rev. Robert Schuller, a noted television preacher, the cathedral property was put up for auction earlier this year as part of the Crystal Cathedral Ministries bankruptcy proceedings.

Oakland bishop retracts statement, meets lay leaders

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OAKLAND, CALIF. — Bishop Salvatore Cordileone has published an apology for an official statement posted in late June on the Oakland, Calif., diocesan Web site regarding a series of events at St Joseph the Worker Parish in Berkeley, including the pastor's decision to evict the pastor emeritus from the rectory.

In a new statement on the Web site, Cordileone said the original one "was not meant in any way to point fingers, assign blame or impugn anyone's reputation. To the extent that this may have happened to anyone involved in this matter, and to the extent that the statement may have gone beyond what would be appropriate, I apologize and express my regrets."

New Missal preparation resources abound

WASHINGTON -- As Catholics look toward Nov. 27, when the new edition of the Roman Missal goes into use in the United States, there is no lack of resources to help them prepare for the new sound and feel of the liturgy.

Dozens of books and brochures have been published or are in the works, along with many DVDS and audiotapes aimed at specific audiences -- from priests to teens to elementary school students.

Sacrificing children for Catholic identity

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COMMENTARY

For almost 10 years as the executive director of San Francisco Catholic Charities, I was directly involved in efforts to manage the tension between what our church teaches in the area of sexuality, and how we carried out our mission to serve the poor, the vulnerable and the marginalized.

We dealt with many challenges, but the most complex, significant and painful issue was same-sex adoption.

Catholic Charities provides a broad range of services to all in need regardless of their faith. Following the 1906 earthquake, finding adoptive homes for orphans was our first program.

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July 4-17, 2014

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