The class of 2013 has big plans; read all about it and see lists of local grads in this section.
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Last August, I wrote about a wonderful weeklong mission trip I took to Piura, Peru, with Commissioned by Christ, a local organization that plans short-term mission trips for working adults.
As part of the trip, I spent a week serving the poor in Piura with 18 other local Catholics. Our jobs varied by the hour, but included visits to local schools, nursing homes, orphanages, rehabilitation centers and construction sites. During the week, I played with children, delivered food packages to local homes, assisted with an English lesson at an elementary school and helped build two homes — one brick, one bamboo.
All the while, I formed deep friendships with the other missionaries, experienced a new culture, and grew in my faith thanks to daily Mass, group prayer discussions and time spent in the adoration chapel. As I reported at the time, the week was educational for me because I learned about poverty, gratitude, humility, love and hospitality.
In the many months since my trip, I have recalled fondly my time in Peru and the people I met there. On my desk at work, I have several photos from my adopted “family,” who I’ve been sponsoring with monthly food donations since last summer.
I’m excited to say that I’m returning to Piura with Commissioned by Christ, from Sept. 20 to 29. This time, I will be serving as one of the trip leaders, so I’m excited to see what new challenges that will bring and what new people I will meet.
In the coming weeks, Commissioned by Christ will be recruiting for local missionaries to join us on our trip. Anyone can be a missionary, regardless of age, marital status or experience level. Even families are encouraged to come. If you’ve ever considered the missionary life and are looking for an opportunity to give of your time in a big way, I hope you will consider applying for the trip yourself.
The application deadline for the trip is June 30. For more information, visit …
I heard two news reports on WETA the other day that made me want to throw something — so like a good nun, I prayed. It wasn’t necessarily shocking or surprising news, just ridiculously ironic. Here were the two most important things the good people of metropolitan D.C. needed to know at 7:30 a.m.: In Paris, dogs and their owners marched for more off-leash space and access to public transportation; oh, and little girls can now buy the super-duper contraceptive Plan B at the drug store without adult notice or supervision. Why are we talking about dogs protesting in Paris but treating young women so carelessly?
Seriously, is it me?
To refresh your memory on the Plan B saga, I refer you back to my blog posts,“What do Girls Need?” and “Washing The Pill down with Organic Milk…and Other Mental Gymnastics.” Bottom line, “emergency contraceptives” can now be purchased and taken by any woman, regardless of age. My heart goes out to all young women and their parents. The FDA had good reasons for prohibiting non-prescription access to Plan B One-Step, as the powerful dose of hormones has such radical effects on the body of the woman that it should be monitored as it works, with the potential for blood clotting or hemorrhaging. Imagine the fear in a vulnerable young woman as her body reacts adversely to the medication. I still say what she really desires and needs is someone to talk to for love and support. And the poor parents who will not understand why their daughter is suffering emotionally, physically, or spiritually. In addition to the physiological effects, I worry about her heart and her soul as she is dealing with sexual activity (chosen or forced) and the fears of an unintended pregnancy or the distinct possibility of the pill causing an abortion.
I am frustrated that our current government administration wouldn’t fight harder to protect our girls. But I also find myself confused over what I …
Sr. Clare Hunter, F.S.E. | Posted 6/14/13 11:14 AM | Comments (0)
Although we may not always consider the active role they play in our lives, the pastors and parochial vicars who celebrate the Masses we attend every week are father figures to society. They guide us on our journey of faith here on earth and always are there to offer a friendly smile or caring support we need throughout our lives.
I know from personal experience how beneficial it can be to share one’s doubts and worries with a caring pastor. During my years at Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington, Father James C. Hudgins served as the school’s chaplain and led his students in weekly Masses, special prayer services and gave us the opportunity to receive the sacrament of reconciliation multiple times a week.
During my junior year, a family relative who had been sick for many months passed away and I was heartbroken. I could not understand why God had allowed this person to suffer for so long before finally welcoming her into His kingdom. I also questioned why bad things happened to good people and why my relative, who had been one of the kindest, most devoted members of the church was taken from us so soon. I could feel myself drifting away from God, and although I still attended Mass and continued to learn more about my faith in daily religion classes, I found myself spending less time praying or turning to the Lord for guidance.
One day my religion teacher took our class to the school’s small chapel to pray and confess our sins. I stepped into the vestibule and sat face-to-face with Father Hudgins while I confessed my sins to him.
When I had finished confessing my wrongdoings and he had explained my penance, he asked me if I had anything I wanted to talk about or any questions I had for him.
Even though I am a cradle Catholic and had attended Catholic schools since kindergarten, I had never been asked a question like this before. I was shocked that a priest whom I had never been that close to (or even talked to more than a few …
Julia Willis | Catholic Herald | Posted 6/13/13 03:13 PM | Comments (0)
I covered the reburial of the remains of Warner Melvin last week in Clifton. Melvin was displaced by last year’s “derecho” storm that swept through the area knocking over trees. One tree held Melvin’s bones in its roots and when it fell it picked him up from his resting place.
When Melvin died in 1893, black people were no longer slaves, having been freed by President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and the victory of the North over the South in the Civil War in 1865.
Melvin was a free black man — free, but indentured at an early age. He was legally bound by contract to another for labor. Times were not good for black people for at least 70 years after his death. Some may argue that things are still not where they should be.
As I looked over the 20 people who were there to honor the man they never met all, but one, were white.
I can imagine Mr. Melvin looking down at that ceremony and smiling at how far we have come.
For the full story, go here.
Between hectic work hours, vacations, family time, summer camps, sports and other obligations, it can seem like the long days of summer just zoom by. With so much going on, it can be easy to lose track of things, be it an exercise schedule or classwork or even one’s connection with God.
That’s why I’m always happy to hear about the creative methods people use for staying connected with their faith when times get busy. In this week’s Herald, we have two stories about ways local Catholics can connect with God, despite their busy schedules.
In Katie Collins’ story, “The highway to God,” we hear from local Catholics who have improved their spiritual lives by integrating prayer into their commuting time to and from work. And my story, “Midweek graces,” discusses how some local parishes are encouraging the sacraments by offering schedule-friendly confession times throughout the week.
Both stories are a nice reminder that we must always make time for God, no matter what else is happening in our lives. As Pope Francis said in his May 15 general audience, we cannot choose to be “part-time Christians” who practice the faith only in certain circumstances. Instead, we must work to be faithful no matter what is going on in our lives.
So let’s hear from you, readers: How do you include time for prayer or the sacraments into your day-to-day schedule? Is it by waking up earlier in the mornings? Stopping by the church on lunch breaks? Or bringing the kids for daily Mass? Let us know in the comment section below!
The first two weeks in June will be filled with many blessings for the Arlington Diocese.
Bishop Paul S. Loverde is scheduled to ordain five men to the transitional diaconate June 1 at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More: Christopher P. Christensen, Mauricio R. Pineda, Brian B. McAllister, Scott Sina and Steven R. Walker.
That same day the bishop will ordain three new permanent deacons: Paul D’Antonio, Don Libera and J.D. Williams.
Two other men currently studying at the North American College in Rome — David A. Dufresne and James C. Hinkle — will be ordained transitional deacons in Rome in October.
The bishop will ordain seven men to the priesthood June 8: Nicholas R. Barnes, Brendan W. Bartlett, Jason C. Burchell, Thomas B. Cavanaugh, Christopher H. Hayes, Michael C. Isenberg and Eric L. Shafer.
It is the largest priesthood ordination class for the diocese since 2006.
The candidates have received their training at four different seminaries: six at Mount St. Mary’s in Emmitsburg, Md.; two at St. Charles Borromeo in Wynnewood, Pa.; two at the North American College in Rome; and two at Theological College at Catholic University.
Three of the men (Hayes, Bartlett and Cavanaugh) scheduled to be ordained to the priesthood are graduates of Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington. One graduated from Paul VI Catholic High School in Fairfax.
The cost of seminary training for three men (Walker, Christensen and Burchell) has been shared by the U.S. Archdiocese for Military Service and the Arlington Diocese, so they will become military chaplains after three years of diocesan service.
Following the June 8 ordination ceremony, Bishop Loverde will announce the annual clergy changes. It is an exciting time for the new priests who will find out where their first assignments will be. It’s equally exciting for parishioners as they learn who their new pastors and parochial vicars will be. (Visit catholicherald.com after 1 p.m. June 8 or …
I have a soft spot for religious sisters. They often work behind the scenes teaching or nursing and keeping a low profile, but performing important and necessary work.
When I was a boy at Marymount Grade School and High School in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., I was taught by the Bernadine Sisters in my home parish of the Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church.
I remember the sisters fondly wearing wimples of starched linen and heavy habits that appeared to be wool. They wore these year-round in what was largely an un-air-conditioned world.
The sisters, as warm as they no doubt were in those heavy habits, were mostly even-tempered educators who tolerated wise-crackers like me. Although once, in seventh-grade science class, Sister Bernadette, no longer able to tolerate my cracking-wise threw a blackboard eraser in my direction, harmlessly whizzing past my head, the felt gently cushioning its fall to the floor.
On May 22, I covered the sisters’ jubilee Mass celebrated by Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde at the Marymount University chapel in Arlington. Sisters María Elizabeth Borobia and Mary Peter Martin, both members of the Daughters of St. Paul, observed their 25th and 50th jubilee anniversaries respectively. Religious sisters from around the diocese joined them in their celebration. The sister’s habits, for those who still wore them, were much different, and no doubt more comfortable, from when I was a boy.
The two beamed as they renewed their vows, a symbol of their fidelity to the church and their chosen lives. It was the same look I remember seeing many years ago at Marymount.
For the full story, go here.
For the past 33 years, the Youth Apostles (YA) Institute has done impressive job of sponsoring programs that have made a positive impact on the spiritual lives of young people in the Arlington Diocese. YA is composed of clergy and consecrated men who live in a communal house in McLean. There are also single and married members who gather weekly for Mass and a community meeting. It’s a wonderful organization that sponsors parish youth ministry programs, college campus ministries, school chaplaincies and much more. The group’s reputation has gained it an invitation from the Richmond Diocese to open a campus ministry at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.
Youth Apostles sponsors an annual fundraising golf tournament. The Catholic Herald sponsors a hole at the tournament and gets to enter a foursome in the event. I’ve been privileged to participate for the past four years, even though my golf skills are better suited to golf of the miniature variety. It’s an opportunity to show support for the work done by YA. The tournament is blessed by many sponsors and participants — a testament to the quality of the organization. This year the 17th annual tournament was blessed by sunny, but cool, weather. Our team played better than years past. We didn’t win of course, but we did finish in the middle.
Every year, the usual suspects finish in the top three spots. This year, the organizers changed the awards around a bit. There were prizes for people in the middle and for the team that finished last.
Each of the Catholic Herald team members won a round of golf at a course in Maryland. It was a nice gift from the organization that keeps on giving.
For more information on Youth Apostles go to youthapostles.org.
In a few years, Virginia will close four of its training centers — institutions that provide people with intellectual disabilities a place to live, plus needed medical, dental and social services. I’ve written a story about the closing of the training centers in this week’s Herald.
When the Northern Virginia Training Center in Fairfax closes next year, nearly 70 clients will need to find a place to live. Quality providers of group homes are limited, with Marian Homes Inc. one that services the Arlington Diocese. I’ve written about Marian Homes before, and always found them able to provide excellent services to a population in need.
Marian Homes was founded by the Knights of Columbus at Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Fairfax. There are two homes for the intellectually disabled, one that serves five men and the other five women.
There is a critical need for Marian Homes to purchase and repair other homes to service the expected rush of new clients. If you can make a donation please do, and help a population that would greatly benefit and appreciate the kindness. There is a link in the Herald story
Last summer, I wrote an article about Wede Gibson, a parishioner of St. Timothy Church in Chantilly who was collecting used textbooks and educational equipment to send to her alma mater, St. Theresa’s Convent School in Monrovia, Liberia. By the time I visited Gibson at her house in June, she had been collecting books — many from local schools — for about two months and her home was lined with box after box of donations for the school.
Since that interview, Gibson has kept her project going. In January, she shipped more than 600 boxes of textbooks and library books to St. Theresa’s, in addition to projectors with screens, educational DVDs, games, 24 computers and one bag of teddy bears. For photos of the school and the children the project has helped, see above.
But that’s not the end. What started as a whim last May is now Textbooks Africa, a full-fledged 501 (c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to shipping textbooks, library books and supplies to schoolchildren and teachers in Africa.
This year, the organization will turn its attention to Zimbabwe, a landlocked country in Southern Africa that has experienced economic turmoil since 2000. According to the organization’s website, Textbook Africa’s goal is to raise at least $12,000 to send a 20-foot sea container with textbooks, library books, computers and school supplies to several schools in the country.
For more information or to find out how you can help, go to textbooksafrica.org.