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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.

Same-sex couples can use British churches for ceremonies starting in December

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LONDON -- The British government said Wednesday that same-sex couples will be allowed for the first time to use churches to seal their civil partnership vows, starting in December.

But the directive added that no religious group will be forced to conduct or host such a ceremony, and the Church of England quickly announced it would permit no such rites on its premises.

In a statement, the church said it "has no intention of allowing civil partnerships to be registered" in its churches.

The government's equalities minister, Lynne Featherstone, used a written statement to Parliament to announce that same-sex couples will be allowed to seal their vows in churches and other places of worship in England and Wales starting Dec. 5.

Civil partnership registrations have been entirely secular in Britain.

"The government is advancing equality for LGB (lesbian, gay and bisexual) people and ensuring freedom of religion for people of all faiths," Featherstone said. But she added that "no religious group will be forced to host a civil partnership registration."

Milwaukee Archdiocese says pension recipients being paid on time

MILWAUKEE -- All employee benefits have been paid on a timely basis and pension plans will continue to pay all benefits in the immediate future, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee assured pension recipients and contributors in a "media clarification" issued Oct. 26.

The archdiocese issued the clarification in response to an Oct. 25 story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel stating that pension funds operated by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee "have unfunded liabilities totaling $41.8 million, according to documents filed as part of the archdiocese's bankruptcy proceedings."

"As has been historically the case, all employee benefits have been paid on a timely basis and it is clear that the plans will continue to pay all benefits payable in the immediate future," said Jerry Topczewski, chief of staff for Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki, in an email to pension investors, which also was posted on the archdiocesan website, www.archmil.org.

"The archdiocese intends to continue the retirement plans and continue making payments in the years to come," it said. "Thus, we believe that there is no current cause for concern for employees."

Religion is part of holistic education of children, pope says

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VATICAN CITY -- A holistic education of children and young people must include religious education in accordance with the wishes of the children's parents, Pope Benedict XVI told Brazil's new ambassador to the Vatican.

The teaching of religion in public schools, "far from signifying that the state assumes or imposes a specific religious creed, indicates a recognition of religion as a necessary value for the holistic formation of the person," the pope said Oct. 31.

Welcoming Almir Franco de Sa Barbuda as Brazil's new ambassador, the pope said that when the Holy See and Brazil signed an agreement in 2008 on allowing religious education in public schools, the motivation was not to give Catholicism a special privilege, but to respond to the rights of parents to choose how their children should be educated and to give Brazil a new generation of citizens formed with a sense of morality and ethics.

The pope said offering students a "generic sociology of religions" class instead of a Catholic religious education course isn't good enough, because "there is no such thing as a generic, non-confessional religion," the pope said.

Catholic health care grapples with identity in a complex ministry

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BALTIMORE -- Last May, St. Agnes Hospital opened its first new building in more than 50 years, a 200,000-square-foot addition to the existing campus, with 120 newly designed patient rooms, five operating rooms, a spacious main lobby and a seven-story-high, lighted cross that faces traffic on Caton Avenue. William Greskovich, the hospital’s vice president of operations and capital projects, said the new building -- part of a $200 million plan to expand the campus -- will take the 150-year-old, 314-bed hospital into its next 50 years.

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November 21-December 5, 2014

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