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Catholic services in adoptions ends in Illinois

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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.

Beyond perfection: The de Kooning Retrospective at MoMA

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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.

Lapse in handling remains of war dead surprises military chaplains

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.

San Diego law student's advocacy for immigrants gains CCHD recognition

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.

Deacon, Hall of Famer 'Easy Ed' Macauley dies

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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.

Walking together on the road to salvation

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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.

California college helps place humans in universe story

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After two brief months of studying "big history," Andy Gramajo, 18, has a new perception of the human species.

"When compared to the universe, we are a pixel on a computer screen," he said. "I feel privileged to learn about the big bang and evolution."

Gramajo is among 250 freshmen who are participating in a unique educational venture at Dominican University in San Rafael, Calif.

Big history has become the school's First Year Experience for freshmen. It has brought together the social sciences, the arts, humanities and sciences to look at the place of human beings within the context of the universe story, explained Mojgan Behmand, English professor and program director.

According to Behmand, 50 big history classes are taught on campuses around the world. But Dominican, a secular school with Catholic roots, is the only university that currently requires all of its freshmen to take the classes, she said. They study the origins of the universe, and consider such topics as human cultures, political systems, visual arts, trade, sex and gender, philosophy, and religion through the lens of big history.

Program helps veterans turn dreams into businesses

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Last year, more than 100,000 American troops came home from overseas wars. Thousands more will arrive from Iraq as that war ends this year. From many, what may start out as a rousing "Welcome home" by USO volunteers at major airports, or family and friends waiting with smiles and hugs at local airports, can quickly deteriorate for the veteran with no place to live and no work to do.

Excommunicated sister finds healing

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MILWAUKEE -- Caught in a controversy over medical ethics and excommunicated, Mercy Sr. Margaret McBride thought she would find all of her healing from the church. But she said she found healing in a conversation with the patient who unwittingly was at the center of the debate.

McBride, a former vice president of mission integration and a member of the ethics committee at the St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, was in the news last year when it became public that the ethics committee assented to the abortion of an 11-week-old fetus in order to save the life of a pregnant woman suffering from pulmonary hypertension.

Volunteers band together to save retreat center

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Madison, Wis. -- Local volunteers are trying to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to save a multifaceted, 37-acre retreat center put up for sale by a religious order and a Catholic college.

Volunteer organizers say the financial and logistical scope of the effort to preserve Durward’s Glen, 35 miles north of Madison, is probably unlike anything else undertaken in the country; and it’s all being done by volunteers.

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July 4-17, 2014

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