Category: Josephite News


Josephite Father Joseph Francis Xavier Del Vecchio died at St. Joseph Manor, the Society’s Retirement Facility in Baltimore, on Jan. 13, after a long illness. He was 72 years old and was a priest for 45 years.

Father Del Vecchio was born in Flushing, N.Y., on Feb. 17, 1945, the only child of Frank and Martha Moleffeto Del Vecchio. He attended St. Patrick Elementary School in Bay Shore, Long Island, and LaSalle Military Academy in Oakdale, N.Y. After graduation, he entered the Josephite college seminary in Newburgh, N.Y. to begin studies for the priesthood. After two years of philosophy and a year’s novitiate, he moved on to St. Joseph’s Seminary in Washington to complete six years of further studies. He was ordained a priest in his home parish of St. Patrick, Bay Shore, by Bishop John McCann on June 3, 1972.

Except for a one-year assignment to Most Pure Heart of Mary parish in Mobile, Alabama, Father Del Vecchio spent the rest of his ministry in parishes in Baltimore and Washington. His first position was as the assistant at St. Pius V parish in Baltimore for four years where he was known especially for his youth ministry. He moved on to St. Luke, Washington, as a four-year associate and also as assistant director of the CYO of the archdiocese.

Father Del Vecchio moved back to Baltimore as associate at St. Peter Claver church for three years and at Incarnation church, Washington, for a seven-year role as associate and also as archdiocesan director of youth ministry. He moved over to St. Vincent de Paul parish in Washington for an eight-year pastorate and back to St. Peter Claver/St.Pius V church for a nine-year term as administrator and pastor. Another pastorate was at St. Luke church, Washington, for five years including a year as Archdiocesan Director of Youth Ministry. His final assignment was in 2014 as parochial vicar at St. Peter Claver/St. Pius V church until health reasons moved him to retirement in February 2017 to St. Joseph Manor.

The Mass of Christian Burial for Father Del Vecchio was held at St. Peter Claver/St. Pius V church, Baltimore, on Jan. 19. He was buried in New Cathedral Cemetery, Baltimore.

Father Del Vecchio will be remembered especially for his interest in youth, including several World Youth Day visits with young parishioners. May he be at peace.


Death came suddenly and peacefully to Josephite Father John Filippelli on the morning of November 24, 2017. He had been living at St. Joseph Manor, Baltimore, having retired from St. Joseph Seminary four years ago. He had just celebrated the sixtieth year of his ordination to the priesthood and was eighty-seven years old.

Father was born in Manhattan, the last of seven children born to Salvatore and Antoinette Zazzarino Filippelli. He attended Power Memorial Catholic High School in Manhattan and after graduation he felt called to the Josephite minor seminary in Newburgh, N.Y. in 1948.

When he had completed his novitiate and theological studies at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Washington he was ordained at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception there in 1957.

He spent a year at Catholic University before being assigned to the staff of the Joseph minor seminary (Epiphany College) in Newburgh for the next fourteen years. While there, Father was also active in ministry in the Hispanic and African-American communities.

His first pastoral assignment was to St. Pius V parish in Baltimore where he was also elected Area Director of the Josephites. In 1979 he was elected Superior General, a post that extended to 1987 when he was appointed pastor of Baltimore’s St. Francis Xavier parish.

Father Filippelli became rector of St. Joseph Seminary in Washington, D.C. in 1996. Seven years later, he became spiritual director to the students and also novice director for two years. Health reasons saw him retired to St. Joseph Manor in 2014.

Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at St. Francis Xavier Church, 1501 East Oliver Street, Baltimore, at 11:00 a.m., on Wednesday, November 29, with visitation from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Burial was at the Josephite plot in New Cathedral Cemetery, Baltimore. May he be at rest after a long and fruitful journey.

God Created Human Beings to Love and Be Loved, Pope Says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — God’s “dream” for human beings is that they would know they are loved by him, that they would love him in return and that they would love one another, Pope Francis said.

“In fact, we were created to love and be loved,” the pope said Oct. 29 before reciting the Angelus prayer with visitors in St. Peter’s Square.

Pope Francis focused his remarks on the Sunday Gospel reading from St. Matthew, in which Jesus tells the Pharisees that the greatest commandments are “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind” and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Jesus lived according to those two commandments, the pope said. His preaching and actions were all motivated by what was essential, “that is, love.”

“Love gives energy and fruitfulness to life and to the journey of faith,” he said. “Without love, both life and faith remain sterile.”

True fidelity to God involves loving God and loving the other people he created, the pope said. “You can do many good things, fulfill many precepts, good things, but if you do not have love, they are useless.”

The ideal of love Jesus offers in the Gospel passage, he said, also corresponds to “the most authentic desire of our hearts.”

Jesus gave himself in the Eucharist precisely to fulfill that desire and to give people the grace they need to love others like he loves them, the pope said.


 Josephite Father Joseph Nicholas Begay passed to a new life suddenly on Monday, October 30. Failing health had seen his retirement three years ago. He was 90 years old.
Father Begay was born in Scranton, PA, on Jan. 31, 1927, the fourth of five children of Anna and Nicholas Begay. He was baptized in St. Vladimir Church in Scranton and attended local public schools. In 1945 and 1946, he served in the U.S. Navy Medical Corps. He then attended the University of Scranton before entering the Josephite minor seminary in Newburgh, N.Y. in 1949.
He made his first year of profession as a Josephite at the end of the novitiate year and continued at St. Joseph Seminary in Washington until his ordination at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in 1959.
His first assignment was to St. Richard’s Josephite parish in Boston and after two years, transferred to St. Pater Claver parish in Baltimore for two more years. Moving to Washington and St. Cyprian parish, he served until 1967 when sent to Our Mother of Mercy parish in Houston, Texas.
For the next six years, Father Begay was pastor of St. Joseph’s in Tuskegee, Alabama and also served as Newman chaplain at Tuskegee Institute in 1976. He moved over as pastor of St. Josephs in Welsh, LA, serving for eight years. Then he served as pastor for three years each at St. Peter Claver, Baltimore and Our Lady of Grace, Reserve. LA. Then, came a six-year term as pastor of Holy Redeemer in Washington and his final period of 13 years of ministry was at St. Luke’s parish in Washington.
While in Washington, Father Begay delighted in serving as chaplain to the police department of several cities of his ministry and attending anniversaries of retirees and assisting at their funerals.
Father Begay’s Funeral Mass will be held at St. Luke’s Church, Washington, D.C., on Monday, November 6 at 11 a.m. Burial will be in Mt. Olivet Cemetery also in Washington, D.C. May his priestly soul rest in peace.


Catholics of Color are Keeping the U.S. Catholic Church Alive

Mary C. Curtis, October 18, 2017

As an African-American Catholic, I often feel like the unnamed black man from Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, present but not really seen.

I was raised steeped in Catholicism—from my name, Mary Cecelia, to my education. I grew up in Maryland in the 1960s and ’70s. I attended the now-shuttered St. Pius V Catholic School, where I was taught by teachers from the Oblate Sisters of Providence, an order founded in 1829 to educate and care for African-American children. I wore my faith proudly, even when the bonds of it were strained. When my classmates and I got the side-eye from the white Catholic school kids at citywide field day games held in Patterson Park, or when some members of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul at the predominantly white Seton High attributed my high test scores to divine intervention rather than intellect, I remained proud of both my heritage and my faith.

My Catholic education continued at Fordham University, where the Jesuits offered a fine education. It was at Fordham where I met my husband, and though he has strayed from the fold, our son would not have been baptized in any other faith.

My faith has also played a role in my career, which, for me, is akin to a vocation. I became a journalist because I wanted to illuminate the lives of those so often dismissed as not worthy of notice or respect, despite the full, complicated and generous lives they—my friends, family and neighbors—lived. This is evident in my writing and in the work I do with The OpEd Project. We work with individuals and institutions across the United States, from universities to corporations, and encourage under-represented experts and thought leaders (especially women) to influence the important public conversations of our time.

The bonds of my faith have once again been strained, even tested, by the partisan infighting of today’s U.S. political scene, which finds very little cooperation and compromise. During the 2016 presidential election, Catholic voters were split between Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump. Throughout President Trump’s first year in office we have seen the chasm among many U.S. Catholics grow even wider, on issues that range from health care to immigration. In my diverse but mostly white parish, we have long since stopped talking politics and justice, sticking instead to the ministries for the homeless, hungry and disabled and spiritual relationships that have kept us close.

The truth is, the Catholic Church in the United States is being transformed by its black and brown parishioners, whose numbers and voices are rising. They and priests from around the world are keeping the church alive. When the National Gathering for Black Catholic Women met in Charlotte a few years ago, I connected with my sister, still holding strong in her Baltimore parish—transformed from white to black and offering services with hymns, praise dance and more emotion than the services of our youth. Yet the parishioners are as devout when it comes to the celebration of the Mass.

After a right-wing gathering turned to tragedy and death in Charlottesville, Va., this summer, some evangelical Christian leaders sought to make excuses for the president’s failure to forcefully denounce white supremacists and neo-Nazis. U.S. Catholic leaders, on the other hand, forcefully reacted on the side of those marching and, yes, dying, against hate and for justice. There was some comfort in a church that looks to the future, though not without the stumbles that will hurt and sow doubt. It is a new day in an old faith, with more voices sharing their concerns and their joy—and there is no going back for Catholics of every color if we are to live our faith.

We were never invisible.

Catholic High Schools Have Varied Stances on Athletes ‘Taking a Knee’

By Carol Zimmermann Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Kneeling during the national anthem as a form of protest of racial injustice has been a hot topic for professional sports teams and the president of the United States, but it also has played out on Catholic high school sidelines as well.

The discussion about what Catholic high school players can and can’t do during the singing or playing of the national anthem has involved not only pregame locker room talks but also school community sessions with parents, and in some cases, diocesan directives.

Lansing Catholic High School in Lansing, Michigan, went back and forth on what to do with players planning to “take a knee” during the anthem, which four of them, including the starting quarterback, did during the Oct. 6 homecoming game. The players were not allowed to play for much of the first half, but they were not benched for the entire game as had been predicted.

Just before the anthem, a prayer was read over the loudspeaker reflecting some of the school’s tensions.

The Lansing State Journal quoted the prayer in part: “We need your grace to overcome all division and all anger, all bigotry and all hatred. The absence of physical violence does not mean the automatic presence of peace. Authentic peace is a gift from you that must be cultivated in human hearts.”

At Bellarmine College Preparatory School, a Jesuit school in San Jose, California, about 12 players knelt during the anthem prior to the Oct. 6 game surrounded by players who chose to stand. The players who took a knee spoke to school administrators, teammates and coaches about their decision prior to the game.

In a letter to the school community, they described their action as a peaceful protest and said they felt “compelled to raise awareness for the marginalized.”

“By kneeling, we hope to express our dissatisfaction with our society’s failure to uphold the values of justice, equality, and peace, and start constructive dialogue in our community,” they wrote.

School officials let the opposing school’s team, Junipero Serra High School in San Mateo, California, know about the planned action during the anthem. Serra’s football coach, Patrick Walsh, told The Mercury News that high school coaches have all been dealing with this issue and it’s “not as cut and dry as some people might think.”

“These are teachable moments. This a great opportunity for us to teach a really deep life lesson,” he said, noting that the ultimate decision is not up to him about what players should do. The conversation is happening, he said, and he told his team “the only thing that’s a guarantee is it’s divisive.”

National anthem protests got started in 2016 with then-San Francisco 49ers Colin Kaepernick, who initially sat during the anthem and then began to take-a-knee with fellow teammate Eric Reid. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media last August.

In a Sept. 25 opinion piece in The New York Times, Reid said it baffles him that this protest “is still being misconstrued as disrespectful to the country, flag and military personnel. We chose it because it’s exactly the opposite. It has always been my understanding that the brave men and women who fought and died for our country did so to ensure that we could live in a fair and free society, which includes the right to speak out in protest.”

The silent protest by NFL players has been criticized by President Donald Trump, who said players should be require to stand during the anthem and fired if they didn’t. And Vice President Mike Pence left a football game between the Indianapolis Colts and the 49ers Oct. 8 after some players knelt during the anthem, saying he did not want to “dignify” this action.

In an Oct. 11 tweet, Trump said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had ordered all players to stand during the anthem, but a statement issued the same day by the NFL did not confirm this move and said there would be continued discussion of the issue at the owner meeting the following week.

“The NFL is doing the hard work of trying to move from protest to progress, working to bring people together,” the statement said.

After the president’s initial comments against kneeling players during a Sept. 22 rally he had in Alabama, NFL teams responded in force with players taking a knee, locking arms or not coming to the field until the anthem was over.

“What can happen at the high school level is they can see something happen in the news or professional athletes do something, and they just kind of mimic it,” said Adam Pribyl, the athletic director of De La Salle High School in Minneapolis. “Then it loses the intent of what some of those protests are.”

He told the Catholic Spirit, archdiocesan newspaper of St. Paul and Minneapolis, that school officials talked about this last year “before it blew up because we wanted to be on top of it, in case it happened.” Forty-five percent of De La Salle High School’s athletes are students of color.

Some schools, like St. Agnes in St. Paul, Minnesota, which has 25 percent of the students in athletics are non-white, have an unwritten policy that all students and coaches will stand for the anthem, said Mike Streitz, athletic director.

Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Minneapolis, where the student body is 84 percent Latino and 11 percent African-American, has a different take on the issue.

“If a student feels compelled to participate in honoring the national anthem or if that student chooses to address the anthem in a different, but respectful, manner by not participating in standing for ‘The Star-Spangled Banner,’ we support that student,” said Robert Carpentier, Cristo Rey’s athletic director.

Some schools, like three diocesan high schools in the Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York, have the decision made for them. A letter sent to school principals in late September from the diocese said students and spectators cannot kneel or otherwise protest during the playing of the national anthem before games and at other school events and doing so could result in serious disciplinary action.

The Diocese of Camden, New Jersey, issued a similar directive last year saying any student who failed to stand for the anthem at a sporting event would be suspended for two games and repeated offenses could get students dismissed from the team.

Mary Boyle, school superintendent for the diocese, said in a letter to school principals that the “best approach is helping our young people understand that blood was sacrificed so that we all can enjoy the gifts of our faith and our country.”

“However, let me be clear,” she added. “We are not public institutions and free speech in all of its demonstrations, including protests, is not a guaranteed right.”

– – –

Contributing to this report was Matthew Davis on the staff of The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Dolan: Honesty About Church’s Flaws Might Win Back Fallen-Away Members

By Peter Finney Jr. Catholic News Service

NEW ORLEANS (CNS) — New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan suggested to more than 400 priests of the state of Louisiana that humbly and openly sharing the “wounds” and shortcomings of the church might bring those who are alienated back to the practice of the faith.

Using the image of the church as “our supernatural family, which we, as priests, are called to image,” Cardinal Dolan told the opening session of the three-day Louisiana Priests’ Convention that human weakness has been a part of the church from the beginning.

“The church is not just our family — it’s also a dysfunctional family,” he said Sept. 19 during what is one of the largest statewide gatherings of priests in the U.S. “Everybody today talks about dysfunctional families. Have you ever met a functional one?”

Cardinal Dolan, who spoke on the theme of “Shepherding Today as Priest, Prophet and King,” said in the jubilee year of 2000, St. John Paul II “apologized publicly” 54 times for “the specific sins of the church.”

“That’s more than once a week,” Cardinal Dolan said. “And Pope Francis surely has done so.”

The cardinal said while the world is “ever ready to headline the flaws of the church,” the dynamic changes when “her loyal members are more than willing to own up to them.”

If that happens, people estranged from the church “might just take a second look,” he said.

“Their favorite caricature of the church is as a corrupt, arrogant, self-righteous, judgmental hypocrite,” Cardinal Dolan said. “I sure don’t have any problem admitting that, at times, it can be tough to love the church because of her imperfections. The mystical body of Christ has lots of warts.”

However, Cardinal Dolan noted, it is clear from the Acts of the Apostles, in particular the conversion of St. Paul, that “Jesus Christ and his church are inseparable.”

When Saul was blinded and knocked off his horse on his way to Damascus, Cardinal Dolan said, the voice he heard was, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

“He didn’t say, ‘Why do you persecute my people?’ Nope. ‘My followers?’ Nope. ‘My disciples?’ Nope. To be rather blunt, Jesus and his church are the same. Christ and his church are one. Jesus Christ and his church are synonymous,” the cardinal continued.

“My brother priests, as we consider the priesthood, preserving the unity of Christ and his church is perhaps the most significant pastoral challenge we shepherds face today,” Cardinal Dolan said. “I’m not telling you anything (new) — you’re all on the front lines. The dominant opinion and sentiment that we face today is, ‘We want Christ; we want nothing to do with that stupid church.'”

A YouTube video by evangelical Jefferson Bethke — “Why I hate religion but love Jesus” — “went viral with 27 million views” because of that sentiment, he said.

“Such is the popular and the successful crusade now to annul the spousal bond between Christ and his bride, the church,” Cardinal Dolan said. “We hear this all the time, right? ‘I prefer spirituality to religion; I want the Lord as my shepherd, as long as I’m the only one there; I want Christ as my king in a kingdom of one; I’ll believe, I won’t belong; God is my father, and I’m the only child; Jesus is my general, but there’s no army.’ They want Christ without his church.”

Cardinal Dolan said Pope Francis has made it clear that a Christian cannot be “a nomad” but is someone who “belongs to a people, the church. A Christian without a church is something purely idealistic.”

“We live in a world that often considers belief in God a private hobby, at best, a dangerous ideology, at worst,” Cardinal Dolan said. “The church is considered superstitious, irrational, backwards, useless, counterproductive, out of it. So, what do we do, my fellow museum pieces?”

Cardinal Dolan suggested to the 435 priests that they evangelize by developing “a theology and a practice of the church as a family.” He said it’s not a new idea; it’s one that also resonate with the Jewish community, which is experiencing similar challenges of keeping young people within the practice of their faith.

Cardinal Dolan said the late New York newspaper columnist Jimmy Breslin once wrote: “We Catholics might not be very good at being members of the church, but we never leave. We’re all just one chest pain away from going back.”

“Not anymore, I’m afraid,” Cardinal Dolan said. “I don’t know about you, but every time the Pew Research Center puts out a new study, every time CARA (Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate) announces more statistics, I, as a priest, a shepherd, a prophet and a king, hold my breath because the percentage of people who claim to be ex-Catholic or ‘none’ rises a couple of points.”

If people with a cynical or jaded view of the church experience priests who “prize honesty and humility” and are “contrite and eager” to reform the flaws of the church, then they may begin to view the church as “a warm, tender, inviting family.”

“If we’re not afraid as priests to show our wounds — the wounds of the church, the wounds of our family — maybe the other wounded will come back,” Cardinal Dolan said.

Bishop Braxton Calls Action to End Racism Imperative for Every American

By Dennis Sadowski Catholic News Service

9.22.2017 11:43 AM ET

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Every person “must do something,” whether big or small, to address racism in the United States, Bishop Edward K. Braxton of Belleville, Illinois, told an audience at The Catholic University of America.

From taking a public stance at a rally to reaching out to a neighbor, racism can be addressed and overturned, the bishop said during a presentation at a Sept. 21 “teach-in” on fighting racism sponsored by the university’s National Catholic School of Social Service.

“We must expand the horizon of possibilities to ourselves by listening, learning, thinking, praying, acting,” he said.

Recalling that Catholics in public life and leaders in the U.S. Catholic Church once supported slave ownership and widely denied the civil rights of enslaved African-Americans early in the country’s history, Bishop Braxton said much remains to be accomplished to heal the sin of racism and the “flaw at the foundation” of past teaching.

He pointed to a series of events, including the killing of black men by white police officers in places such as St. Louis, the rise in white supremacy and even the language of President Donald Trump, who did not specifically call out white supremacists after clashes during rallies and counterprotests Aug. 11 and 12 in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“I believe first of all we must open our hearts to the Holy Spirit and the healing grace of true conversion,” the bishop told more than 200 students, faculty and professional social workers. “We must start with ourselves, our families, our neighbors, our parish, our co-workers, our school, our community and not become a part of the conspiracy of silence.

“It’s one thing to admit, ‘Oh, I can’t do anything about Charlottesville. I can’t do anything about what’s going on in St. Louis.’ What can you do on the street where you live? What can you do with the people who are your co-workers? What can you do to advance all the efforts that have already been made?” Bishop Braxton said.

The bishop offered the audience a brief review of church history regarding racism, saying Catholics and the Catholic Church are not above reproach. He noted that the U.S. Supreme Court opinion in the 1857 Dred Scott case affirming the right of slave owners to take enslaved people into the Western territories of the then burgeoning United States was authored by Chief Justice Robert Taney, a Catholic.

He also quoted writings from Pope Paul III (1534-1546) and Pope Pius IX (1846-1878), both of whom maintained that slave trading and ownership were not contrary to divine law. He said countries influenced by Catholicism such as Spain, Portugal, France and England were leading agents of the slave trade.

In the U.S., he said, Archbishop John J. Hughes of New York (1842-1864) addressed the growing abolitionist movement in 1854, reflecting the concerns of Irish Catholics who feared they would be forced to flee the city, to the detriment of the church, if emancipated Africans headed northward.

“‘Those involved in the abolitionist movement are up to nothing but dangerous mischief,'” Bishop Braxton quoted Archbishop Hughes as writing. “He took the view that the church’s basic stance concerning slavery (was) that so long as slavery was legal in the South, owning slaves is not a sin, but it would not be good to treat them in a harsh way.”

He asked, “Is there a flaw at the foundation? Could it be that at the very beginning of the racial divide in the post-Civil War era, there were individuals who simply did not see the need to have the bright light of the Gospel shining on their decisions about the fate of free human beings, made in the image of God, who were enslaved?”

Bishop Braxton expressed hope that the pastoral letter on racism being drafted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will be embraced throughout the U.S. church and become a teaching document for all Catholics. He said the bishops’ 1979 pastoral on racism, “Brothers and Sisters to Us,” was intended to address the racial divide but was never fully implemented.

“We must continue our efforts where we can have hope toward the publishing of the pastoral letter to undo a century and more of shameful, painful history,” he said.

The bishop also said he was unsure whether he agreed with the call to remove monuments to Confederate leaders, many of which were erected during the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Instead, he suggested, that perhaps it may be appropriate to add monuments or other symbols at those sites telling the “full story” of the individual or event being depicted including their ties to slavery. Monuments for African-Americans may also be appropriate at such locations, he said.

“We can’t rewrite history. We must acknowledge it and never repeat it,” said the bishop, who has written and spoken widely on racism in the Catholic Church and wider society.

Prior to Bishop Braxton’s presentation, the teach-in heard from a panel of social workers and social justice advocates. Their message: challenge institutional racism wherever it exists so that people on the margins gain dignity and respect.

Representatives of Pax Christi USA, Washington agencies DC Rape Crisis Center and Bread for the City, and White Awake, an advocacy organization enabling white engagement on racism, stressed to the students that racism is entrenched in many of society’s institutions.

They concurred that those who are in charge of the country’s leading institutions, primarily white Americans, work under rules that are meant to maintain their power and leadership to the detriment of people of color, the poor and those on society’s margins.

Sister Patricia Chappell, executive director of Pax Christi USA, defined racism as “personal racial prejudice plus the misuse of power by systems and institutions.”

“What I am suggesting is that every system in the United States certainly never had, did not intend to be protective of people of color,” said Sister Chappell, a member of the School Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and who has led the organization’s anti-racism campaign.

She argued that that racism and implicit bias is instilled in society’s institutions “through enactment of laws, policies, procedures and practices” that reinforce the power of whites over others.

Indira M. Henard, executive director of the DC Rape Crisis Center and a graduate of the university’s social work school, urged the gathering to become allies for justice, keeping their worked centered on people in need and to question procedures that harm human dignity.

“Ally is not a noun, it is a verb. It is action. It requires a movement,” Henard said. “Do not expect to be taught. Take it upon yourself to use the tools available to you to learn about the history of the struggle you are engaging in.”

World Cannot Remain Silent to Indifference, Hatred, Pope Says

By Junno Arocho Esteves Catholic News Service

9.12.2017 9:50 AM ET

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Politicians and religious leaders cannot remain indifferent to the suffering caused by violence and hatred in the world, Pope Francis said.

Instead, those in places of authority and influence must “feel the pain of others, to make it our own, neither overlooking it or becoming inured to it,” the pope said in a Sept. 10 message to participants of the International Meeting of Prayer for Peace in the German cities of Munster and Osnabruck.

“We must never grow accustomed or indifferent to evil,” he said.

Among those addressing the Sept. 9-12 meeting, which was sponsored by the Sant’Egidio community, a Rome-based Catholic lay organization, were German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Sheik Ahmad el-Tayeb, the grand imam of al-Azhar University.

In his message, Pope Francis noted that the conference’s theme, “Paths for Peace,” highlighted the need to bring reconciliation to areas of conflict that have left “entire peoples plunged into a dark night of violence, without hope for a dawn of peace.”

Alongside political leaders, the pope said, religions must “respond to this thirst, to identify and, together with all men and women of goodwill, to pave tirelessly new paths of peace” through prayer and by humble, concrete and constructive efforts.

Religious leaders who share the ideals of nonviolence and compassion must encourage peace through “courageous humility and tenacious perseverance in prayer,” he said in his message, which was published in the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.

The path toward peace, he added, is not the one taken by “those who profane God’s name by spreading hatred; it has nothing to do with the bane of war, the folly of terrorism or the illusory force of arms.”

“As religious leaders, particularly at this present moment of history, we also have a special responsibility to be and to live as people of peace, bearing insistent witness that God detests war, that war is never holy, and that violence can never be perpetrated or justified in the name of God. We are likewise called to trouble consciences, to spread hope, to encourage and support peacemakers everywhere,” he said.

Not responding to the hate growing in the world, Pope Francis warned, runs “the risk of paralysis and resignation.” The peace gathering in Germany, however, represents a response of peace where “all stand beside one another.”

“Religions cannot desire anything less than peace, as they pray and serve, ever ready to help those hurt by life and oppressed by history, ever concerned to combat indifference and to promote paths of communion,” the pope said.

As Diversity Grows, Parishes Urged to Address Issue of Racism

 By Elizabeth Eisenstadt Evans Catholic News Service

8.31.2017 1:30 PM ET


VILLANOVA, Pa. (CNS) — Educators and consultants working with children in Catholic schools and parishes on the front line of multicultural change are urging administrators, clergy and parents to proactively address the issue of racism with young people.

That means bringing up the topic in classrooms, religious education classes and even within social groups, educators and other observers told Catholic News Service.

“Children live in a world in which race structures every part of their day, from where they live to where they worship and go to school,” said Marcia Chatelain, associate professor of history and African-American studies at Georgetown University. “It’s hard to make a case for Catholic social teaching when a young person looks around them and sees it’s not being lived out in everyday life.”

Chatelain called on the church to understand that it has a unique opportunity in the wake of events Aug. 13 in Charlottesville, Virginia, to address racial justice. “I hope that they understand that change isn’t going to be delivered,” she said.

Saying there is an “urgent need” to address the subject, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Aug. 23 launched an Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, chaired by Bishop George V. Murry of Youngstown, Ohio, one of the American church’s African-American bishops.

The step followed the violence in Charlottesville in which white supremacist and anti-racist factions clashed. One person was killed and dozens were injured by an alleged neo-Nazi supporter who is accused of driving his car into a group of people opposing a white supremacist rally in the city.

Catholic educators and counselors who work with children also stressed multiple approaches to engage kids and their parents.

Child psychologist Joseph White said that while children are not naturally racist, they are prone to ask questions. “When kids express curiosity about people who look different from them, affirm that curiosity by listening and asking questions,” said White, who is also a national catechetical consultant for Our Sunday Visitor.

Teachers should take care to emphasize cultural similarities as well as differences, White advised. “Kids need to recognize that we share things as well if they are to recognize our common humanity,” he said.

Because many parishes include different ethnic groups who celebrate the Mass in their own language, it’s easy for communities to be segregated, he added.

“One of the things we can do to bridge some of those barriers is to hold an event attended by everyone together,” said White, who suggested parents consider taking their children to Mass in another language in their parish or even to visit another parish that embraces cultural traditions they have not experienced.

In the Diocese of San Diego, Bishop Robert W. McElroy told an interfaith rally against bigotry Aug. 18 that he had asked diocesan staff offices to collaborate on an educational module for children and young adults that would address the “Charlottesville moment.”

John Galvan, director of the diocese’s Office of Schools, said parents are the primary educators of their children, so it is important to use this time in a polarized country to educate parents on the basics of Catholic social teaching and human dignity.

Galvan said Bishop McElroy noted that he was concerned that many young people were among the crowd of neo-Nazi and white supremacist marchers in Charlottesville.

“Social ethics and personal moral behavior is part of the fabric of most Catholic schools in terms of the curriculum and already part of our standards,” he said. “It’s a matter of us realigning the standards to capture the moment.”

Galvan added that he was working with school principals as the new academic year started to redirect already existing resources and adapt materials into the new module that addresses the meaning and causes of racism.

Though teaching on human dignity is already incorporated into diocesan curricula, “we’re trying to utilize this unfortunate incident to allow students to reflect on how we should respond according to Catholic social teacher and how to recognize Christ in the other person,” said Maria “Marioly” Galvan, director of the diocese’s Office for Evangelization and Catechetical Ministry. “Our hope is that by having a clearer picture and awareness they can respond in a charitable way, living their faith.”

Educators and consultants also told CNS it is important for children to see other cultures and races represented in books, movies and other media.

“I always try to choose curriculum materials and texts to be inclusive,” explained Erin O’Leary, director of faith formation at the Church of the Holy Name, in Minneapolis, who has three decades of experience working as an educator in schools and parishes. “I want every child to look at our materials and see examples of people who look like them.”

In the Diocese of San Bernardino, California, conversations about how to support students who might be the target of bigotry because they are immigrants were spurred by the 2016 presidential election, said John Andrews, diocesan director of communications. The diocese is more than 65 percent Hispanic and undoubtedly includes students and young people with family members who are in the country without authorization, he said.

“Teachers needed to be sensitive to that, and to make sure that no student whose parents may have voted differently said something hurtful,” he told CNS.

Ministers, parish employees and Catholic school teachers in the San Bernardino Diocese are required to take part in its Building Intercultural Competencies program, which started in 2011. The pilot project is being expanded to include parish catechists and volunteers, he said.

Teachers play an important role in addressing any potential bias shown by children, added White. “One of the things that teachers need to do is to act very decisively if they see children showing signs of racism or discriminating against other kids because of difference,” he said.

What children learn at home can play a big role in the attitudes they bring to school, say these experts.

If parents don’t feel equipped to reflect with their children on the current racist climate, one in which many people are not valued or not treated with dignity, they might consider reaching out to other parents for help, and reflecting and reading on the topic, suggested Chatelain of Georgetown University.

Such efforts are part of a larger conversation about faithful Catholics and “will raise our more diverse younger generation … to be leaders and to collaborate across cultural and racial lines,” White said.

“The Catholic message is that there is room at the table for everyone, not as a threat, but as gift. That’s what we need to be passing on to our children.”