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Church says N.Y. woman is source of Blessed Marianne Cope's miracle

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- A 65-year-old woman from Chittenango, N.Y., was inexplicably healed of pancreatitis in 2005, Catholic leaders say, and is the source of the second miracle that will make Blessed Mother Marianne Cope a new U.S. saint.

"I'm very happy to be here and I thank the Lord," Sharon Smith said Tuesday (Dec. 20) during a news conference at the Syracuse Motherhouse Chapel of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities.

"I'm very happy to be Mother Marianne's vessel for her to become a saint,"
Smith said.

Franciscan leaders said sisters prayed for Cope's intercession on Smith's behalf.

According to The Associated Press, Smith was hospitalized for nearly a year after pancreatitis tore a hole between her intestines and stomach. A stranger in the hospital waiting room told Smith's friend to pray to Cope for help, said Sister Patricia Burkard, general minister of the Franciscan sisters.

In new book, Cardinal Wuerl encourages Catholics to challenge culture

WASHINGTON -- In his new book, "Seek First the Kingdom," Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl calls on Catholics to seek God's kingdom and then reflect it in their everyday lives.

When Catholics deepen their own faith, their hearts are transformed, and when they share it with others, they can change their community, their nation and their world, the cardinal wrote in his book, which is subtitled "Challenging the Culture by Living Our Faith."

"To be in the kingdom is to be with Christ always, and to be for Christ always, in season and out of season, in private and in public, on the job and on our days off," he wrote in the book, which was published in November by Our Sunday Visitor.

At a time when many people only know kingdoms from history, fairy tales and royal weddings, Cardinal Wuerl points out how God's kingdom "forms the heart of the Gospel," and as Pope Benedict XVI has noted, the phrase "the kingdom of God" appears 122 times in the New Testament, including in 90 quotes from Jesus in the Gospels.

From wheat to war -- a life for the poor

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Broken and Shared: Food, Dignity, and the Poor on Los Angeles' Skid Row
By Jeff Dietrich
418 pages, Marymount Institute Press, $29.95

If you are wandering in the 50-block area known as Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles and you ask directions to Hospitality Kitchen or where the Catholic Workers serve meals to the homeless, no one will know what you are talking about.

"This place," explains Catherine Morris, the gentle Catholic worker, "is and always has been known among the people as 'The Hippie Kitchen.' Since the beginning."

Catherine is author Jeff Dietrich's wife, who, together with various community members, has run the Catholic Worker Movement in Los Angeles since 1970. When NCR asked me to review Jeff Dietrich's book and attend the launch at Loyola Marymount University this past Sunday, I knew I needed to visit the kitchen to have an idea of their work in Los Angeles, a visit long overdue.

Retired Louisville Archbishop Kelly dead at 80

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Archbishop Thomas C. Kelly, who led the Archdiocese of Louisville from 1982 until his retirement in 2007, died peacefully in his sleep on the morning of Dec. 14 at his home on the campus of Holy Trinity Church. He was 80.

Funeral arrangements were not announced immediately.

In a statement released shortly after Archbishop Kelly's death was announced, his successor, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, praised his brother bishop for his service to the archdiocese.

"With the death of Archbishop Thomas Cajetan Kelly, the local church of Louisville has lost a friend, a humble servant and a dedicated man of God," Archbishop Kurtz said. "Archbishop Kelly served for more than a quarter century as the archbishop of Louisville and remained active as archbishop emeritus for almost five years.

"In his 80 years of life, he has been thoroughly a priest of Jesus Christ, as a faithful Dominican, as a diplomat and administrator at the nunciature and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, as metropolitan of the province of Louisville, as a true archbishop, and in these last days as a faithful parish priest."

Bishop urges Congress to heed needs of jobless and their families

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WASHINGTON -- With the median length of unemployment reaching 10 months and more than four job seekers for every opening, Congress must find ways to continue unemployment compensation to protect jobless workers and their families, said the chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.

"For millions of American workers and their families, economic hardship continues and grows," said Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, Calif., in a Dec. 12 letter to House members.

"The U.S. Catholic bishops have long advocated that the most effective way to build a just economy is the availability of decent work at decent wages," he added. "When the economy fails to generate sufficient jobs, there is a moral obligation to help protect the life and dignity of unemployed workers and their families."

The House was to vote as early as Dec. 13 on a Republican-backed proposal to restore the federal extended unemployment benefits program. Unless the program is extended, millions will lose their unemployment benefits beginning Jan. 1.

Vatican communications chief, Mideast advocate dies

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DARBY, Pa. -- U.S. Cardinal John P. Foley, who spent more than two decades leading the church's social communications council and later worked for the church in the Middle East, died Dec. 11 after a battle with leukemia. The cardinal, who had been residing at Villa St. Joseph, the home for retired Philadelphia archdiocesan priests, was 76.

Florida Catholics celebrate black history

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TALLAHASSEE, FLA. -- The celebration here of “Plenty Good Room,” exhibited the vigor and joy of African Americans’ song and food. St. Eugene Catholic Chapel and Student Center on the edge of Tallahassee’s Florida A&M University, a land-grant school, brought together a cross section of the community Nov. 11-13 for a gospel music workshop to feed the soul and a soul food lunch to feed the body.

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