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Content from NCR special sections, including our June 7-20, 2013, Ministries edition, is not available online. These sections explore topics important to today's Catholics, including Our Environment, Catholic Education, Family Life and Theology.

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The 'Bike Lady'
Her shop in Asbury Park, N.J., supplies much more than bicycles
By Tom Roberts

Asbury Park, N.J., - Twenty-one Main Street in this gritty little town along the central Jersey Shore is a place where the improbable has become somewhat ordinary.

From the outside, it appears an unassuming storefront, save for the zany promo board and a dressed-up skeleton that might make the occasional appearance. Inside, it is a 7,500-square-foot warehouse originally intended for other uses that never panned out. So it became Second Life Bikes, a used bike shop, social services center, youth training site, and occasional (three times) hangout for rock legend Bruce Springsteen.
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bikelady1.jpg

The 'Bike Lady'

Her shop in Asbury Park, N.J., supplies much more than bicycles

By Tom Roberts

Asbury Park, N.J., - Twenty-one Main Street in this gritty little town along the central Jersey Shore is a place where the improbable has become somewhat ordinary.

From the outside, it appears an unassuming storefront, save for the zany promo board and a dressed-up skeleton that might make the occasional appearance. Inside, it is a 7,500-square-foot warehouse originally intended for other uses that never panned out. So it became Second Life Bikes, a used bike shop, social services center, youth training site, and occasional (three times) hangout for rock legend Bruce Springsteen.

The “Bike Lady,” as she is now known around town, has achieved a certain celebrity, primarily because of the opportunity her shop provides for local youth. Asbury Park’s population as of the 2010 census was 16,116, and nearly half (7,955) were black, the largest ethnic/racial group. Hispanics numbered 4,115, and whites, 3,511. Nearly 24 percent of the population was under 18, and nearly 29.4 percent of the population was living in poverty. Those figures translate into a lot of young people who might be looking for a bike.

The opportunity is a fairly simple exchange. She said the kids do 15 hours of work, learning how to repair and put together bicycles, and after 15 hours they can make their own. On an afternoon in May, 13-year-old Willy, a recent arrival from Haiti, was handing tools to Pete Leather, Martin’s first hire, who bikes 22 miles a day to and from work and is fascinated with “human-powered technology.” He was teaching his young charge about fixing a bike’s shifter and tightening brake cables.

Ahmara, 14, was completing a community service requirement. She knew her way around basic repairs from fixing her own bikes. She was put to work changing a few tires.

Martin's work with the kids is what draws notice, but "it is the adult stories that keep me awake at night. The adult stories in here are heart-wrenching," she said. She sees people going from day jobs to night jobs to make ends meet. They need a bike repair not for fun but for basic transportation. She knows the person who just got out of jail and needs a bike to get to a new job or to a class at a community college. She knows many people living paycheck to paycheck or out of work and trying to keep themselves and  families together. It's much more than a bike shop. ...

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House a respite for prisoners’ families
By Patrick O’Neill

On a Sunday morning, Brian DeRouen took a phone call from someone making a reservation at the Alderson Hospitality House. Seconds later, a guest stopped by his office door to ask a question, and then shoved a load of sheets and towels into the dryer. “I can’t fall behind on this,” he said with a smile. And there were dishes to wash, food to put away, funds to raise and bills to pay.

Weekends are especially hectic at the three-story, circa 1890s house that features 13 guest bedrooms with amenities as nice as any bed-and-breakfast. However, the folks who come to Alderson Hospitality House can stay for free- food and house-keeping service included.
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House a respite for prisoners’ families

By Patrick O’Neill

On a Sunday morning, Brian DeRouen took a phone call from someone making a reservation at the Alderson Hospitality House. Seconds later, a guest stopped by his office door to ask a question, and then shoved a load of sheets and towels into the dryer. “I can’t fall behind on this,” he said with a smile. And there were dishes to wash, food to put away, funds to raise and bills to pay.

Weekends are especially hectic at the three-story, circa 1890s house that features 13 guest bedrooms with amenities as nice as any bed-and-breakfast. However, the folks who come to Alderson Hospitality House can stay for free- food and house-keeping service included.

For 35 years, the Alderson Hospitality House has been a respite for families and friends visiting loved ones in the women’s Federal Prison Camp Alderson just 2 miles down the road. Opened in 1928, this minimum security prison was the nation’s first federal prison for women. Today, with about 1,200 inmates, it is one of 15 women-only federal prisons in the nation. Sentences can range from a few months to decades at Alderson, where most inmates are mothers.

Because there are so few women’s federal prisons, inmates often serve their sentences far from home. For poor families, a trip to Alderson, located in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains in southeastern West Virginia, can be a significant expense. Alderson, a town with fewer residents (population 1,064) than inmates, has just a single, small motel. The nearest larger town is Lewisburg, a 16-mile drive. Lewisburg is also the site of the nearest airport, and the Hospitality House provides rides to and from there as well as to and from prison visits. Pins on a U.S. map on a Hospitality House wall show where guests have come from; all 50 states have pins. ...

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Ministry of music leaders and volunteers vital to parishes’ liturgical life
By Porsia Tunzi

It was Sunday morning and the time had arrived for the procession of the gifts in the stone Catholic church on the corner of 39th and Troost in Kansas City, Mo. There was a silence as a group of women volunteers made their way to the front left. They started to use their hands as instruments, clapping to a steady beat. The small Nigerian choir sang, lifting their voices, and in turn, the spirits of the congregation.
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nigeria.jpg

Ministry of music leaders and volunteers vital to parishes’ liturgical life

By Porsia Tunzi

It was Sunday morning and the time had arrived for the procession of the gifts in the stone Catholic church on the corner of 39th and Troost in Kansas City, Mo. There was a silence as a group of women volunteers made their way to the front left. They started to use their hands as instruments, clapping to a steady beat. The small Nigerian choir sang, lifting their voices, and in turn, the spirits of the congregation.

St. James Parish welcomes a variety of music volunteers to share their talents and cultural identities during the 10 a.m. Sunday Mass.

“Music ministry today is a melting pot of cultures, a microcosm of the church,” said Anna Belle O’Shea, director of liturgies and music at the Office for Divine Worship in Chicago.

“Church documents point to music as being ‘normative’ in liturgical celebrations,” O’Shea, a member of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians, told NCR. “Music ministry is vital to the liturgical life of the parish.”

If music ministry is vital to liturgy, volunteers are vital to music ministry.

"Though liturgical music in a parish may be led by a paid member of the parish staff, volunteers are at the heart of music ministry in any parish community, serving as cantors, choir or ensemble members, and instrumentalists," said Steven Janco, director of the Rensselaer Program of Church and Liturgy at St. Joseph's College in Rensselaer, Ind.

According to Michael McMahon, president of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians, "There are many more opportunities for music ministry volunteers than there were before the Second Vatican Council."

Fifty years ago, there may have been one choir in a church, he explained, but "today you see parishes with many choirs: adult, children, contemporary, gospel, intercultural and intergenerational."

"This is one of the greatest liturgical renewals--there is a greater involvement," McMahon told NCR. ...

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Doctors answer God’s call to serve
By Brian Roewe

Some families spend summer vacation overseas. For Brent Burket, Jennifer Thoene and their four children –an American family-overseas means Oregon. Having arrived in May back in the U.S. after three years in Guatemala, they will again depart in August, this time for Cameroon, their home through 2016. Such is the life of medical missioners.
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Doctors answer God’s call to serve

By Brian Roewe

Some families spend summer vacation overseas. For Brent Burket, Jennifer Thoene and their four children –an American family-overseas means Oregon. Having arrived in May back in the U.S. after three years in Guatemala, they will again depart in August, this time for Cameroon, their home through 2016. Such is the life of medical missioners.

Both physicians, Burket, 46, and Thoene, 44, have spent more than a third of their 18- and 20- year medical careers (as well as their 18-year marriage) working outside the U.S. in countries with less advanced health systems bit just as strong needs for quality care.

Their time in Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala, and 11 years before that, in Kpandu, Ghana, came through, the Mission Doctors Association, a Los Angeles-based organization that pairs lay Catholic medical professionals with service opportunities around the globe. In October, Mission Doctors and its sister organization, Lay Mission-Helpers Association, received the National Award for International Mission Work from the U.S. Catholic Mission Association.

Formed in 1959 by Msgr. Anthony Brouwers, Mission Doctors predates many well-known service groups in the United States.

"Brouwers recognized, before Vatican II, before there was a Peace Corps, or Doctors Without Borders, or any other Catholic lay mission program, that lay Catholics can and do provide a valuable witness and service to the church 'ad gentes'--as God's helpers--by supporting the efforts of the local church," said Elise Frederick, executive director of Mission Doctors. ...

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lgbt.jpgWife and husband open their home to LGBT youth
By Eloísa Pérez-Lozano

Though Deb Word has two biological children, she has been a mother to about 15 others, all of whom lived in her home in Memphis, Tenn., if only for a short while. Since December 2009, she and her husband, Steve, have been taking in youth who have been kicked out of their homes because of conflicts over their sexual and gender identities.
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lgbt.jpgWife and husband open their home to LGBT youth

By Eloísa Pérez-Lozano

Though Deb Word has two biological children, she has been a mother to about 15 others, all of whom lived in her home in Memphis, Tenn., if only for a short while. Since December 2009, she and her husband, Steve, have been taking in youth who have been kicked out of their homes because of conflicts over their sexual and gender identities.

“I have a gay son and a not-gay son,” Deb Word, a parishioner at Memphis’ Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, told NCR in a telephone interview. “I wouldn’t want to think that if I wasn’t around to help, that they would be left on the street.”

The Words are involved in Fortunate Families, a national group of Catholic parents with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender children that works to affirm and seek equality for their families. Deb Word is vice president and a board member for the group.

But it was through the couple’s local work with the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center that they first realized the need to minister to homeless LGBT youth.

According to Deb Word, the community center held cooking classes and the staff noticed that the youth who attended seemed to come only to get something to eat. The staff also kept hearing that kids were sleeping on the streets. Word and her husband decided to see if they could help. Since she had previously worked as a dining service manager for Mississippi State University where she fed 3,000 kids every day, she figured, "This was something I could do." ...

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