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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.

Ann Romney's choice to stay home is one many lack

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COLUMN

If Mark Twain was right, that work is what you do when you would rather be doing something else, then Hilary Rosen's jibe that Ann Romney "never worked a day in her life" was credible. Rosen, a CNN talker and Beltway operative who toils in Washington in the election strategizing industry, intended her comment as a putdown of the wife of Mitt Romney.

Heat from the resulting firestorm caused Rosen to back off. She apologized to Ann Romney. But why? She was right, doubly so.

Campus ministers help graduates transition into the 'real world'

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Graduating college students shouldn't feel like they're being jettisoned into the "real world," as if the life they have been living is some kind of "unreal world," say campus ministers counseling students during this perennial time of transition.

"Don't discount the past years as unreal," Jesuit Fr. Jack Treacy tells graduating students at Santa Clara University in California, where he is director of campus ministry.

Editorial: Catholics face an arduous evolution on marriage

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The opening sentence on our news story about President Barack Obama’s endorsement of same-sex marriage is: “Americans’ position on same-sex marriage is like their president’s: It’s evolving.” This is especially true for Catholic Americans, and indicators so far suggest it won’t be a smooth evolution.

Shortly after Obama’s announcement, New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the president’s comments “are deeply saddening.”

U.S. views on marriage evolving, polls show

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Americans’ position on same-sex marriage is like their president’s: It’s evolving.

Back in 2010, President Barack Obama said his views on same-sex marriage were “evolving” and that he “struggles with this,” adding he would continue thinking about the issue. In a May 9 interview this year with ABC News, Obama said that, after several years of deliberation, he thought same-sex couples “should be able to get married.”

Georgetown alum, 'Exorcist' author: University should stop calling itself Catholic

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The author who turned Georgetown University into a horror scene in "The Exorcist" plans to sue the school in church court, charging that his alma mater has strayed so far from church doctrine that it should no longer call itself Catholic.

William Peter Blatty, who graduated from Georgetown in 1950, says the "last straw" was the university's speaking invitation to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Sebelius, who addressed graduating public policy students on Friday, has been criticized by conservative Catholics for approving a mandate that requires many religious institutions to cover employees' birth control costs. The Archdiocese of Washington called the Sebelius invitation "shocking."

Blatty, 85, credits a Georgetown scholarship with fostering his writing career, which includes an Academy Award for "The Exorcist," a blockbuster based on his best-selling 1971 novel. In the book and movie, a Jesuit priest at Georgetown, the nation's oldest Catholic university, struggles to save a demon-possessed girl. Now retired, Blatty lives in Bethesda, Md.

Franciscan University drops student health insurance plan

WASHINGTON -- Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, is discontinuing its student health insurance plan in the upcoming school year in opposition to the Obama administration's mandate requiring most religious employers, including colleges, to provide no-cost contraceptive and sterilization coverage in its health insurance plans.

The school made the announcement to its students in mid-April and the news became public one month later when the university posted its campus health insurance policy on its website.

Media outlets announced that the university was the first Catholic college to drop students from its health insurance plan because of the contraception mandate required by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Michael Hernon, vice president of advancement, said university officials had not expected their decision to receive national media coverage.

When university students, alumni and benefactors were initially told of the change, he said, the reaction was "overwhelmingly supportive."

Bishop who resigned because of sex abuse dies

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Bishop Anthony J. O'Connell, whose admission of inappropriate conduct with high school seminarians decades ago led to his resignation as head of the Palm Beach, Fla., diocese in 2002, died May 4 at Mepkin Abbey in Moncks Corner, S.C.

The Irish-born bishop had lived under supervision at the abbey since his resignation. His funeral Mass was May 7, also at the abbey.

O'Connell died after a long illness, less than a week before his 74th birthday.

Re-encountering Lernoux

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HEARTS ON FIRE: THE STORY OF THE MARYKNOLL SISTERS (CENTENNIAL EDITION)
By Penny Lernoux (with Arthur Jones and Robert Ellsberg)
Published by Orbis Books, $25

Rereading Penny Lernoux’s final book, Hearts on Fire: The Story of the Maryknoll Sisters, is like a re-encounter with an old friend.

For a time in the 1980s, Lernoux had a considerable readership and following in Minnesota, the state where I attended college and began my reporting career. Lernoux was briefly a visiting professor at Macalester College in St. Paul, my alma mater. Anyone who took a course in U.S.-Latin American relations in those days read her work.

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August 15-28, 2014

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