National Catholic Reporter

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Faith & Parish

Vocation directors report fourth year of increased interest

WASHINGTON -- New revelations of clergy sex abuse and the Vatican apostolic visitation of U.S. communities of women religious have not discouraged Catholics from considering a religious vocation, with the majority of vocation directors seeing an increase in inquiries for the fourth straight year, according to a recent survey.

Bringing resources to US dioceses in need


Poverty in the United States is at a 15-year high, according to the Census Bureau. It is expected to get worse. Forty-four million people -- one in seven residents -- are living on less than $10,830 as a single person or $22,050 as a family of four. Households inside major cities experienced a 1.9 percent increase in income, whereas households outside major cities experienced a 1.9 percent decline. Most poverty can be found in the South and West regions in the United States.

'No parish is safe'


Canon 515, which gives a bishop unfettered power in determining which parishes to erect and which to suppress, was cited recently by the Vatican’s Supreme Court in its ruling that Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston correctly followed church procedures in closing parishes. The ruling was delivered in appeals by 10 parishes in Boston that had been closed.

Spiritual leaders in the battle zones


Fr. Kenneth R. Beale, an active-duty Air Force major and chaplain, was preparing for his ninth deployment since 1996. This time around, he was scheduled to go to Afghanistan in March. Beale, pastor of St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Community on Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., the largest base in the free world, was scrambling to find his replacement. At times Reservist priests or civilian parish priests step in, other times he must ask retired clergy to cover his absence. There are some 1,500 Catholics at Eglin.

On other side of church closings, new reasons for hope

CLEVELAND -- Holly Nixon used to need only 10 minutes before the 9 a.m. Mass to pick up her elderly, disabled mother and find a parking spot close to the sanctuary door.

That was before St. William Catholic Church in Euclid merged with nearby St. Robert Bellarmine, which then closed, shifting hundreds of people into St. William's pews.

"Now I have to pick her up at 8:30," said Nixon, noting that the parking lot, expanded since the January merger, fills up pretty quickly on Sunday mornings.

Nixon's mother, Loretta Valencic, has been attending Mass for more than 50 years at St. William. The church is now Ss. Robert & William Catholic Church, the result of an extensive downsizing by the Cleveland Catholic Diocese.

Seventeen new parishes, involving 39 churches, have been created as a result of mergers since last year.

Ss. Robert & William stands as an example of how the consolidation -- however painful for the parishioners losing their churches -- can lead to growth and good will.

Parish community refuses to be suppressed


Saying the diocese can take away a parish’s building but not its community, about 350 members of a suppressed Cleveland parish defied their bishop’s orders and celebrated Mass Aug. 15 in a rented space as the legally incorporated Community of St. Peter.

Cleveland Bishop Richard Lennon declined to take any immediate punitive action against members of the suppressed parish. In a letter on the diocesan Web site Aug. 20, he stressed “the importance of unity and communion” among the faithful and said the action of the former parishioners of St. Peter is “of grave concern.”

But “rather than dismissive action,” Lennon said, “this is a time for prayer and calmness,” and he expressed hope for a meeting with the former pastor, Fr. Robert Marrone, and leaders of the community.

At the community’s second Sunday Mass Aug. 22, Marrone told the congregation that he and the community’s nine-member board of trustees had agreed to meet Lennon.

Acclimating musicians to missal poses challenge


WASHINGTON -- The new Roman Missal authorized Aug. 20 for use in the United States beginning in Advent of 2011 will pose significant challenges to both the musicians performing music based on new Mass texts and the congregations expected to learn them.

"The thing that's on most people's minds -- rank-and-file music directors -- is how to adapt to new texts, especially for things like the Glory to God, which is essentially the most heavily changed from the one we've been using for many, many years," said Charles Gardner, who is director for spiritual life and worship and director of liturgical music for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

In an Aug. 18 telephone interview with Catholic News Service, Gardner also expressed concern that "the most commonly used wording of the Memorial Acclamation -- 'Christ has died,' etc." might not appear in the missal.

The texts made public Aug. 20 for what is now called the Mystery of Faith did not include the phrase Gardner mentioned. One liturgical music figure said musicians should not be bothered by the changes in Mass texts. The new translation was designed to follow more closely the text in the original Latin.



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