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12 Catholic women under 40 making a difference

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To highlight the work of young women in the church, we asked contributors and readers to nominate Catholic women in the U.S. under the age of 40 whose work has greatly impressed them. Here are 12 women our judges selected that you may not have heard of, but are making a difference in the church by the work they are doing.

Alison McCrary, 30
Religious sister, lawyer

Death sparked the flame of social justice in the life of Sr. Alison McCrary. She was providing litigation support on death penalty cases in Louisiana in 2006 when her eyes were opened to the interconnectedness of societal problems. When she looked at the people on death row, she saw how the systems -- education, judicial and so much more -- had failed them.

She started thinking: How are we called to help change these root causes of different poverties? And instead of waiting for an answer, she went out there and searched for it.

Late Jesuit and ex-congressman Robert Drinan accused of attempted sex assault

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A popular online advice columnist has said that the late Fr. Robert Drinan, a famed Jesuit priest and onetime Democratic congressman from Massachusetts, tried to kiss and fondle her in the 1970s when she was 18 or 19 years old.

Emily Yoffe, who writes Slate's "Dear Prudence" column, said she was prompted to write her first-person account after reading coverage of the trial of Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football coach who is charged with raping and molesting 10 boys.

In the column, published Thursday, Yoffe said she was sexually assaulted three times before she turned 20.

She said the first episode took place was when she was 9 years old and a 15-year-old cousin tried to fondle her; the second was at age 15 when the father of a school friend drove her home and tried to kiss and grope her before she fled the car.

The third attack, she said, allegedly occurred when Drinan, who died in 2007, drove her home after a fundraiser for his re-election campaign. Drinan was first elected to Congress in 1970 on an anti-war platform and served five terms until then-Pope John Paul II said priests could not run for elected office.

Catholic business schools urged to help students develop moral compass

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DAYTON, Ohio -- Business is a vocation from God, Cardinal Peter Turkson said Monday at the University of Dayton, calling on Catholic business schools to help students develop a moral compass along with excellence in business education.

"Let me insist, business is a noble pursuit," said Cardinal Turkson in his keynote address at the eighth annual International Conference on Catholic Social Thought. "At its best, and most true to its nature, business serves the common good. Business and entrepreneurship is a calling from God to be a co-creator in a responsible way."

A reflection on motherhood: one life well-lived

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Every four years the presidential campaigns roll out their version of motherhood and apple pie. This year is no different. While the recent public discussion on motherhood was ramping up, the life of one mother, Anne-Marie Gallagher, was coming to an end. After suffering a serious stroke earlier this year, Anne-Marie went home to God peacefully surrounded by her family in upstate New York on April 14.

Anne-Marie, a distant relative of mine, lived a quiet, but extraordinary life, a life that offers much to ponder.

School leader: Mexican American Catholic College's charism in peace and justice

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NCR met recently with Arturo Chávez, president and CEO of the Mexican American Catholic College (MACC) at the college's new campus in San Antonio. What follows is a look at the institution's mission and its role in preparing leaders for the U.S. church and for the wider Catholic world on the occasion of MACC's 40th anniversary.

NCR: Congratulations on this milestone. Forgive me, but you don't look old enough to have been here 40 years.

Chávez: Thank you. I've been here 12 years. I began on the faculty and became president in 2007. But I first came to MACC as a teenager, attending a weekend mini-pastoral conference. Bishop [Ricardo] Ramirez [of Las Cruces, N.M.] asked each of us to introduce ourselves. I said: "I'm Arthur Chávez." Right away and in front of everyone, he asked me: "Who were you before you called yourself 'Arthur?'" His question made me so mad, but it was the beginning of my reclaiming and rediscovery of the culture I had left behind.

Tell us a bit about your ethnic and cultural background.

CARA study: Priests not content with bishops on sex abuse front

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To varying degrees, U.S. priests continue to harbor discontent with church leaders and at times feel like they are walking on "eggshells" as a result of the clergy sex abuse crisis, reports a recently released study.

Carried out by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, "Same Call, Different Men: The Evolution of the Priesthood since Vatican II" also says the scandal:


  • Caught many priests off guard, that they had been "unaware of the full scope of the problem";

  • Was "almost never" linked by study participants to homosexuality or clerical celibacy as underlying causes;

  • Should include the question: "Is there a dark side to priestly fraternity?"

Based at Georgetown University, the CARA researchers used a sample of 2,400 diocesan and 800 religious priests. It employed surveys, focus groups and individual interviews.

Two chapters -- a little more than a fourth of the book-form study -- focus on the sex abuse issue. Both chapters are largely based on interviews and anecdotes.

'For Greater Glory' moving, but glosses over aspects of war

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In 1917 the Mexican Constitutional Congress adopted a new constitution. It confirmed the separation of church and state first decreed in the 1857 constitution, returned subsoil rights to the government from ownership and control by foreign corporations, established the basis for secular education, and provided for land reforms. Five articles restricted the power and liberty of the Catholic church. These forbade public worship outside of churches, restricted the church’s right to own property, closed monasteries, deprived clergy of civil rights, forbade the wearing of clerical or religious garb, and banned clergy from criticizing the government or commenting on public affairs in the press.

University archivist works to make Catholic history just a click away

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The word archives conjures an image of a dark room with file cabinets, covered in dust, filled with papers that are delicate, containing fading, often illegible writing, all of it overseen by an ancient cleric who is greatly concerned to make sure that no one enters his precinct with a ballpoint pen.

Maria Mazzenga, archivist for The Catholic University of America in Washington, is out to shatter that image. I first met Mazzenga at the frequent brown-bag lunches hosted by the university’s Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies, where we are both fellows. She can scarcely contain her enthusiasm about the university’s collections, which include the papers of famous churchmen like Msgr. John A. Ryan, and also the papers of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Merton scholar Shannon dies at age 94

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His whole life, Msgr. William Shannon fed his thirst for knowledge by teaching and learning.

Shannon, a priest of the diocese of Rochester, N.Y., a religious studies professor and a well-known Thomas Merton scholar, died April 29 at the Sisters of St. Joseph of Rochester motherhouse. He was 94.

"Bill saw his life as a series of conversions," said Christine Bochen, a professor at Nazareth College in Pittsford, N.Y., and a colleague of Shannon's when he taught there. His last book, How to Become a Christian Even If You Already Are One, explored those conversions.

Bochen described his "profound gift of presence," which didn't include just his memorable laugh. It was his ability to "truly listen to people, to empathize with where they were, to be interested in their questions and their concerns," she said.

William H. Shannon was born Dec. 6, 1917. He was ordained on June 5, 1943, and was named a monsignor in 1966. He was assistant pastor at Sacred Heart Cathedral from 1943-45. In 1946, he was appointed professor of religion at Nazareth College and was named a full professor in 1958.

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August 15-28, 2014

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