Friday, October 21, 2016

Impressive statistics from the Knights of Columbus

    In the October issue of "Columbia" magazine from the Knights of Columbus, there is a report on the Catholic Fraternal Organization from the Grand Knight given to the 134th Supreme Convention held in early August in Toronto.  This "state of the Fraternity" report is always impressive, and as a fellow Knight, I am very proud of the accomplishments and influence of this group in the United States and on the world stage.  There are 1,918,122 brother Knights across the world, from an organization that began in New Haven, Connecticut, founded by Father Michael McGivney.

     The Knights of Columbus is noted for many things, but high on the list is its dedication to the Catholic Church and its commitment to be of service to those in need and to the Church herself.

     In the year 2015, the Knights of Columbus donated more than $175 million to charitable causes, more than $1.5 million more than the year before.  In addition, the volunteer hours of service added up to a record 73.5 million service hours - on average, an entire workweek from each brother Knight.  Independent Sector, a network for nonprofit foundations, listed the value of a 2015 volunteer hour as $23.56.  Using that figure, last year's time donated to charity was worth more than $1.7 billion.  In the last ten years, service hours totalled 700,765,880 or a value of more than $15 billion.

     Some of the service projects include: Coats for Kids, Food for Families, Habitat for Humanity, the Global Wheelchair Mission, medical equipment and supplies for needy areas of the world, Special Olympics World Games, sponsoring blood drives, pro life projects and countless other worthy and necessary projects. 

     As the Supreme Knight, Carl Anderson stated in his report, "Our charitable works are a light to the nations.  They are a powerful witness to love of God and neighbor that reaches to every corner of the world."  And this is only one part of the mission of this great Catholic Fraternal Organization.  Check out the Knights ... they are worth your inquiry.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

New Priests' Stats

     The November issue of "The Priest" magazine lists this year's results of a survey of newly ordained in the United States.  This survey, commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, is conducted by CARA (The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate).  Of the 548 men ordained as priests this year in the U.S., 440 responded.  Here are some interesting findings:

* The average age of those ordained in 2016 is 35 (it was 27 in my time)
*  82% list both parents as being Catholic
*  92% have been Catholic since birth
*  59% completed college before seminary
*  41% attended a Catholic college (compared to just 7% of all U.S. Catholic adults)
*  70% indicated that they were altar servers
*  51% said that they were discouraged from entering the priesthood by family or friends
*  73% said that they participated in regular Eucharistic adoration and prayed the rosary daily.

     What does this tell us about this year's group of priests?

     They are older, more mature, well educated, and strongly influenced in their Faith by the practice of their Faith, by family and the institutions that guided their growth ...  this despite the discouraging words of some.  They are men of prayer and devotion.  Altar servering is a great entrance into the ministry of service at the Altar.   They enter into a ministry and respond to their vocational call at a time of challege, both in the Church and in society ... but they come well prepared to be servant leaders.

     In our own diocese this year, Bishop Malesic ordained Father Ryan Ravis, a fine young man who is enjoying his introduction to priestly ministry.  Pray for him and for the 547 other men ordained in the U.S. in 2016, and pray for all of your priests whose ministry spans many years.  May they have "many fruitful years".

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Cathching up with random thoughts

     Yesterday, as the Church celebrated the memorial of Pope Saint Callistus the First, an early Pope and martyr for the Faith (he died in 222), I shared with our Mass attendees my visit to the Catacombs in Rome that bears the name of this early Pope.  It was in 1975 as I attended the first International Catholic Charismatic Conference held during that Holy Year.  Of course, the conference took place on the beautiful grounds above the catacombs, but we did have the opportunity to visit the catacombs themselves, a powerful experience.  Callistus was a deacon of the Church of Rome who was enrusted with the care of this burial ground outside of the city, and was later chosen as the pastor of that local Church.  If I remember correctly, there were about 10,000 who attended the conference.


     Recently I had a number of great experiences with our Regional School family at Queen of Angels.  Over the summer, a group of parents transformed a classroom into a beautiful chapel for the students and faculty.  The Chapel of Saint Michael the Archangel will be blessed by Bishop Malesic on November 1st, the Feast of All Saints.  He will celebrate liturgy for the entire school in the auditorium (the new chapel only seats about forty five) and then bless this new sacred space.  We look forward to his visit.

     I had the honor of celebrating the first school liturgy in the chapel on the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi with the fourth and fifth grades.  It is a wonderful setting for prayer and litugy, and I commended those who dedicated themselves to make this transformation possible.  The singing was great, and I encouraged the youngsters to always be ready and willing to lift their voices and become troubatours of the great King.  Here are a few pictures of the Mass.

     Also at the school, the Drama Club sponsored a production of "Late Night Catechism" last Friday, and despite a pouring rain, over 300 attended this fundraiser and enjoyed themselves tremendously.  "Late Night Catechism" is a production that has a Religious Sister (an actress) sharing a catechism session with her class (those in the audience) with humor and faith that brings back memories to any of us who attended Catholic School or CCD classes in the "olden days".  Lots of laughs and many memories (hopefully most of them good).  It was a huge success, and those involved are to be commended.

The guy in the punishment / prayer seat is Father John Moineau, one of our local pastors.

     Queen of Angels was also well represented recently at the annual Catholic Schools Mass at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Greensburg.  Check out the Queen of Angels facebook page - Queen of Angels School, 1 Main Street, North Huntingdon, PA.

Maybe a future bishop?

     And on October 4th we celebrated the feast of Francis of Assisi, one of my favoprite saints.   I cherish the three times that I visited his home town and prayed at the tomb of Francis and of Claire.  Despite the tourists, it is a most peace filled and prayerfulplace.  I include a few pictures from the past that I took.
The lower entrance to the Basilica of Saint Francis

View from the plaza in front of the Basilica of Saint Claire

View of the "old" Cathedral in Assisi

View from the entrance to the town.

Even the Assisi residents like pizza.