As lawmakers debate how they will trim budgets everywhere and reduce the federal deficit, Catholic health care organizations, like the wider health care industry, continue to deal with the challenges of delivering medical care with fewer resources. Like others, they are looking for new ways to treat poor and uninsured patients, bring physicians to rural areas despite a nationwide shortage, and continue to survive in a rapidly changing landscape.
The call to mission has transformed the lives of priests, religious and people in U.S. and Latin American parishes and dioceses. One dramatic example is the story of Fr. Stanley Rother and Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala.
Rother, an Oklahoma City archdiocesan priest, became pastor of Santiago Atitlán, just 10 miles west of San Lucas Tolimán, in 1965. Guatemalan government death squads murdered him in 1981 because of his work with the poor.
CLEVELAND -- Northeast Ohio native Suhad Hasan says neither her Muslim faith nor her headscarf should be an issue where she works.
But she said they were while she was a sales associate at the Old Navy clothing store in Santa Clara, Calif., three years ago. Hasan said she was assigned to work in the fitting room and was never offered training for other positions, despite her repeated requests.
After several months, Hasan moved back to Ohio, only to be denied what she said was supposed to be an automatic transfer to a job in another Old Navy store. She found herself without a job.
"I was born and raised in the United States and I pay taxes like everybody else," said Hasan, 39, now a Parma, Ohio, resident who has sued Gap Inc., the parent company of Old Navy. "What I wear on my head and the God that I believe in should not be an issue in the workplace."
Artist Rita Corbin, whose tender line drawings graced the pages of Catholic Worker journals for decades, died Nov. 17 from injuries suffered in a car crash. She was 81.
Corbin decided early in life to become an artist, choosing to major in art while attending Cathedral Girl's High School in New York City.
"The school was keen on turning out secretaries," she said, "but I refused to learn to type. I knew I didn't want to go into business on pure instinct, I guess. I needed a major and art appealed to me the most."
For Corbin, the artistic endeavor could not be separated from one's political and religious consciousness. She considered the work of the artist to be "a real struggle to bring some kind of form and feeling out of the materials one uses and the society one lives in."
Corbin's society included the natural world as well as the poor. Both were frequent subjects of her illustrations. Her etchings and pen and ink drawings of trees, flowers and birds have been described as lyrical celebrations of nature. Her figurative work has been likened to that of German painter, printer and sculptor Kathe Kollwitz.
As the U.S. bishops, meeting in Baltimore in mid-November (See story), warned about growing threats to religious liberty, a scenario was playing out in Illinois that some would argue makes a strong case for their alarm.
The Belleville diocese announced Nov. 10 that Catholic Social Services of Southern Illinois was separating from the diocese in order to continue to provide foster care and other social services in the poorest corner of that state. The separation was necessary, said a statement posted on the diocesan website, because the agency was no longer able to carry out its mission under the recently enacted Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act, which requires state-funded adoption agencies to place adoptive children with same-sex couples.
The move signaled the end of decades of Catholic involvement in adoption services in Illinois. Previously, three other dioceses had ended similar programs because of the new law. In the past, the church referred unmarried couples, including same-sex couples, to other agencies.
When 22- year-old Willem de Kooning arrived in New York Harbor in 1926 as a stowaway on the SS Shelley, he came with academic training in commercial and fine art from his native Netherlands as well as a ferocious hunger to discover America. What he could not have known at the time was that he was to show America how to see itself as it never had before.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Serving at the Pentagon crash site and offering prayers for the dead as the remains of those killed in the 9/11 attack there were recovered, Father Robert L. Marciano will never forget the reverence with which the military cared for the remains of those lost in the line of service to their country that day.
So it came as a surprise to the chaplain when the U.S. Air Force acknowledged Nov. 8 that staff at its Dover, Del., military mortuary had lost body parts or mishandled the remains of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan after they were shipped home from the battlefield.
"In my experience, the military is usually so meticulous in identifying and handling the remains," said Father Marciano, who holds the rank of colonel and now serves as the state command chaplain of the Rhode Island National Guard. He also is pastor of Our Lady of Good Help Parish in Burrillville.
While also assigned to the Pentagon, he recalls how the military worked hard to ensure the remains of those killed in a helicopter crash in Iraq were brought home to their respective families.
BALTIMORE -- When Rosibel Mancillas Lopez meets undocumented immigrants living in the shadows of mainstream U.S. culture, she goes into action.
She tells them they have basic rights under the law, despite their lack of citizenship. She explains Catholic teaching and its promotion of human dignity. She points them to avenues where they can advocate for changes in U.S. immigration law.
Enrolled in the University of San Diego law school, Mancillas, 24, has taken a similar message to students on campus, where she organizes monthly trips to Tijuana, Mexico, in an effort to breach the cultural chasm.
Mancillas was honored for her advocacy work on behalf of immigrants Nov. 14 by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, which presented her with the Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award during the U.S. bishops' fall meeting. The award honors a young adult for leadership in fighting poverty and injustice.
As Mancillas sees it, her efforts follow her desire to live the Gospel.
ST. LOUIS -- Basketball Hall of Famer, former sportscaster and pro-life advocate Deacon Ed Macauley, known as "Easy Ed," died Nov. 8 in St. Louis at age 83. He had Alzheimer's disease.
Deacon Macauley was best known as an All-American with St. Louis University and a pro player with the St. Louis Bombers, Boston Celtics and St. Louis Hawks. The St. Louis University High School grad also coached the Hawks for two seasons. He was ordained a permanent deacon of the St. Louis Archdiocese in 1989.
He told the St. Louis Review, archdiocesan newspaper, in 1996 that he was grateful for the blessings he enjoyed and wanted to do something for others. He wanted especially to let people know how it makes sense and "how much fun it is" to follow the Christian life. An important element in the diaconate was the support of this wife, Jackie, he said.
Sr. Marie de Mandat-Grancey, a Daughter of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, was the founder of the House of Mary, located in Ephesus, Turkey. The stone house has attracted pilgrims since the late 19th century as the place where the Blessed Virgin was brought by the Apostle John to live until her assumption. De Mandat-Grancey helped restore and preserve Mary’s House from 1891 until her death in 1915. Today, Mary’s House provides a unique venue for millions of both Christians and Muslims as a place of peace and prayer.
In December 2010, I wrote an NCR story titled, “An ‘intercessor with Muslims,’ ” which tells how two Catholic women, Erin von Uffel and Lorraine Fusaro, longtime friends and residents of Long Island, N.Y., believe they have identified a way to model peaceful coexistence and respect between Christians and Muslims by making people aware of de Mandat-Grancey and Mary’s House.