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Faith & Parish

Okla. bishop no longer faces people at Mass


Saying he wants "to recover a more authentic Catholic worship," Bishop Edward J. Slattery of Tulsa, Okla., has announced that he will return to the ancient custom of ad orientem, in which the presider at Mass does not face the people in the pews, but turns to face the altar.

Having the priest face the congregation was one of the major liturgical changes brought to the Mass during the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). Slattery said this change had had unforeseen, negative consequences that he hoped to counter by reverting to the ad orientem tradition.

Don't be prisoners of crises, men religious told


ST. LOUIS -- Challenges faced by men's religious orders -- including the impact of the clergy sex abuse scandals and decline in vocations -- should inspire a renewed commitment to proclaim the Gospel message, said speakers at an annual conference.

Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States, told more than 130 superiors of men religious Aug. 6 that the church should not be "a prisoner of the sex scandals" nor should it be "a prisoner of the crisis of religious life."

Young Catholics accept the church as is


The latest installment: In Search of the Emerging Church

Young people are arguably the most studied, analyzed and coveted group in the Catholic Church.

If churches conducted auctions for members, the bids for them would shoot through the roof. Everyone wants them. They are the future. At the same time, everyone wonders where they are and how to keep them if they dare to darken the door of the local church.

In interviews earlier this year with young Catholics (most were in their 20s and 30s, two were in their mid-40s) at Our Lady of Czestochowa Parish in Jersey City, N.J., it seemed clear that some ideas about church membership are definitely age- or generation-specific. Younger Catholics appear reluctant to use such labels as conservative or liberal in describing themselves or others, while traditional pieties and the church's tradition itself can play an important role in someone's decision to become Catholic.

22,000 honor Our Lady of Guadalupe

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Nearly 22,000 people packed Arena in the Phoenix suburb of Glendale for an Aug. 8 festival honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe and featuring a special relic -- a small piece of St. Juan Diego's famed cloak.

The event was hosted by the Knights of Columbus and followed the fraternal organization's Aug. 6-8 International Marian Congress. During the festival, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson reflected on the unparalleled influence Our Lady of Guadalupe has had on the Americas.

"Your presence here today is a testament to the power of the message of love that Our Lady brought to this hemisphere," Anderson told the crowd. "Our Lady of Guadalupe is the empress of the Americas. She calls all of us to unity within the Gospel message of her son."

When Mary appeared to St. Juan Diego in 1531 in Mexico, the Spanish missionaries had had little success evangelizing the indigenous population. After the apparitions, millions of indigenous people converted.

Her appearance also called the Europeans and native populations to a new unity in her son, Anderson said, a call that is still in effect today for the Americas.

New vocations in U.S. ethnically, culturally diverse


WASHINGTON — U.S. Catholic religious communities are attracting more ethnically and culturally diverse members now than in previous generations, according to an in-depth survey of 4,000 men and women who are in formation or newly vowed members.

The "Study of Recent Vocations to Religious Life" also showed that most U.S. religious communities report diminishing numbers with aging populations, but at the same time indicated those who are choosing religious life today are passionate about it and some orders are cultivating vocations from the millennial generation.

With less than 10 percent of women religious and 25 percent of men religious under the age of 60, it's imperative that U.S. religious communities figure out effective methods of recruitment, said Mercy Sr. Mary Bendyna, executive director of the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate and principal author of the study.

The study was conducted by CARA, a Georgetown University-based research center, on behalf of the National Religious Vocation Conference, based in Chicago. It surveyed 4,000 men and women who are in formation or newly vowed members.

The study results are available at

$100 million contract aids Catholic Charities' work

The expertise honed by years of resolute follow-up work with natural disaster victims has landed Catholic Charities USA a five-year federal contract potentially worth more than $100 million.

The contract with the Department of Health and Human Services is the first the Alexandria, Va.-based agency has received from the federal government.

Father Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA, said the contract will allow the agency to step in immediately in the days after a natural disaster strikes anywhere across the U.S. or its territories to ensure that victims' basic needs are met and to follow up on individual cases for up to 18 months.

"When you look at case management, that's where Catholic Charities excels," Father Snyder told Catholic News Service July 31.

The contract governs disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and earthquakes provided a federal disaster declaration is issued. It calls for the agency to organize national, regional and local teams to respond quickly and to work with disaster victims to meet their immediate needs as well as long-term needs in putting their lives back together.

Foreign priests, enculturation programs proliferate


It was simple for Uganda native Father Alfred Onyutha to bring his ministry to America almost four years ago -- he filled out a form and was on his way.
"I didn't have much (of an) interview," Father Onyutha said from his office at St. Margaret's Church in Woodbury Heights, N.J.

But behind the scenes, the Diocese of Camden, N.J., had a lot to consider when reviewing Father Onyutha's credentials. He needed to commit to five years, have a working knowledge of English and bring enough money to buy a car. His sending bishop needed to sign off on things like physical and psychological health, the ability to live and work with people of diverse backgrounds and freedom from demanding family obligations, according to guidelines from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Because dioceses are not required to follow the bishops' guidelines, procedures vary widely for accepting and orientating international priests. Some common steps are background checks, training in the Virtus child protection program, Homeland Security procedures and visa assistance.



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