Reasonably Catholic: Keeping the Faith

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Lest we forget: they’re children! Fr. John Baptist Pesce on immigration

Fr-John-on-Xmas-I-for-webIn this summer rerun — with an update on how to deal with the children pouring across the southern border of the U.S. — Reasonably Catholic‘s patron saint Passionist Father John Baptist Pesce reminds us whose side Jesus is on.

Click here to listen to the episode:

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She’s 104 and plays six cards at a time? Bingo!

Click here to listen to the episode:

OpheliaOphelia Tyler, 104, plays bingo almost every Friday at St. James Catholic Church in Stratford, CT.

Bingo board Bingo balls Bingo card Dabbing Sheri Catholic school Steps into school basement Good luck tchotchkes List of games Cash drawer Bingo caller Brian Bingo winner Pizza Desserts crowd 2 crowdcrowd 2



Prof. Mark Silk, director of the Leonard Greenberg Center for Religion and Public Life at Trinity College, talking about public reaction to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ objections to the Obama administration’s Affordable Health Care Act: “Most Americans don’t buy this as a threat to freedom of religion.”

 Also in this episode, Prof. Mark Silk, director of the Leonard Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College in Hartford, unpacks the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby, which is now exempt from complying with certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act pertaining to coverage of contraception.



The Brake the Cycle of Poverty group, the subject of the previous episode, looks back on the ride in the synopsis below:

bike leg

“The ride this year was long and hard with rides to and from Cornwall Bridge and Stratford. 250 miles. Our audiences were good-sized (25-30 each place) and receptive to our message.

“This year we offered white papers and sample advocacy letters on 5 poverty “sub-issues”: minimum wage, immigration reform, SNAP cutbacks, unemployment insurance and tax reform. People seemed very happy to have these short concrete approaches to the issue; they sought them out at the end of the presentations in the five parishes. Another new element was the presence of state representatives/senators at each presentation; they spoke briefly and on point and personally. We were glad to have them.

“Our visits to soup kitchens/shelters in Middletown, Bristol and Hartford were once again enlightening and inspiring. At the finale, Sr Pat McKeon spoke of the ‘normalcy’ of these institutions in our society … that we are used to them, that it’s good to have them, as signs of a caring community. All true, she said, but we must be careful to not think that is the way it’s supposed to be. People don’t belong in shelters and shouldn’t be eating in soup kitchens … especially in the strongest economy, the richest nation, the richest state … we need to change the system, change the economy to recognize the dignity of each person, the dignity of work … that we are made to contribute productively to society as best we can … to participate in God’s creating of the kingdom as God wants it to be.”




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Donations cheerfully rejected: Brake the Cycle of Poverty prefers you take action

Click below to hear the episode:

photo 2Brake logo


photo 3

Members of a Brake the Cycle of Poverty planning meeting, in the basement of St. Bridget Church in Manchester, CT. This year’s ride through Connecticut to raise awareness of poverty in the state and nation begins at St Bridget’s  on Saturday, June 21, and concludes on Thursday, June 26, in Hartford. The itinerary includes some bodacious Litchfield hills!

photo 1John RyanCyclist John Ryan receives the Archdiocese of Hartford’s Office for Catholic Social Justice Ministry’s Bishop Peter J. Rosazza Faith and Justice Award at the organization’s annual conference, which is also named for the bishop, on June 14. In accepting the award, which recognizes John’s commitment to social justice, he especially thanked his wife, who he said has practically convinced him that “God loves me very much.”

Brake CycleTeam members applaud their pal.









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Nun on the Bus Sr. Simone Campbell: Vatican censure of LCWR a Godsend

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photo 1photo 3photo 2Sr. Simone Campbell, a founder of Nuns on the Bus, two cross-country trips shining a light on social justice issues, says at a recent fundraiser for the Spiritual Life Center in West Hartford, CT, that the Vatican’s crackdown on the Leadership Conference of Women Religious was painful, but also evidence of the Spirit at work since it brought attention to the lobby group Network’s efforts. (Although in her talk she asks for prayers for an upcoming meeting she’d be having with US Congressman Paul Ryan, author of a proposed budget that cuts social services, neither Network nor Ryan’s office would provide information about how that “private” conversation went.)

Below: my coverage of Sr. Simone’s talk for the June/July issue of the national progressive Catholic newspaper Today’s American Catholic:

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. — The Vatican’s rebuke of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious has been “painful … hurtful … shocking,” says activist Sister Simone Campbell, who heads the social justice lobby Network and is the public face of the Nuns on the Bus tour. “We’re getting in trouble for doing the very thing Pope Francis is doing.”
And yet, she adds, “I do know that the Holy Spirit is using it for good. Nuns on the Bus would’ve never happened without it.”
An investigation by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under Pope Benedict XVI resulted in a censure of the LCWR in 2012, which Pope Francis recently reaffirmed. At issue are what the inquisitors called “serious doctrinal problems,” such as LCWR’s focus on social activism rather than on opposing abortion and same-sex marriage.
Journalists and commentators have followed periodic developments in the dispute, with both sides visibly struggling to maintain a civil tone, but neither side budging. Vatican-watcher John Allen may have put his finger on it when he was quoted in USA Today saying that the conflict between the bishops and the sisters is really about “what it means to be Catholic in the 21st century.”
All of the sturm und drang has drawn welcome public attention to Network, which had labored on Capitol Hill for 40 years but “hadn’t gotten anyplace,” said Sister Simone in her talk. The lobbying group even had proposed a “faithful budget” as an alternative to the ones riddled with social service cuts which Catholic U.S. Congressman Paul Ryan keeps putting forward, only to see it ignored.
Small and broke, lacking even enough money to take out a print ad, Network was batting around “little ideas” about how it might grow itself, said the 68-year-old Sister of Social Service, and that’s when word of the censure came down.
“The Vatican answered our prayer by naming our little organization Network in the censure of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious as being a bad influence on Catholic sisters in the United States because we promote,” she said as if scandalized, “radical feminist themes!”
“By giving us this light, this moment,” she said, practically blessing the bishops, “we got to lift up the story, and our nation began to talk about poverty again, about the anguish of poverty, about folks working full-time but still living in poverty, about people struggling to find jobs. … The joy of the Gospel is in dealing with the censure in a way to fulfill mission. It’s painful, but it’s gift.”
Sister Simone’s staunch support of the Affordable Care Act (she was at the White House signing ceremony), together with her keynote speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, her two nationwide Nuns-on-the-Bus tours highlighting poverty and immigration issues, plus her dozens of television appearances on everything from 60 Minutes to cable shows with more partisan leanings, both left and right, have turned Sister Simone into the face of liberal Catholicism.
“Oh, so you’re a communist,” she quoted Sean Hannity as saying on his show. On Real Time with Bill Maher, the audience cheered as she verbally smacked a ruler across the knuckles of conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza for claiming that increasing the minimum wage would quash innovation.
“Go Google me on there. It’s worth watching,” she urged the audience at her talk, taking pains to note that it’s the Spirit at work, not herself, she’s promoting.
As her speech on the intersection of faith and politics unfolded, Sister Simone was alternately incredulous (“In the richest nation on earth people die just for losing a job?”); miffed (“They’re not really pro-life, they’re only pro-birth”); and funny (“Have you noticed that [Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell does not have lips? That just seems wrong”). At one point, she admitted to having neatly categorized certain people – “Hannity,” for instance, was “not to be seriously engaged with” – but then she realized that “the spiritual life teaches us that we’re all in this together, that we are all a part of God’s plan.”
Relatedly, she recalled a Zen-Christian retreat she’d made, when the director instructed her to pursue “radical acceptance” of her opponents. After first resisting, she decided “if I was at odds with the God in them, I’m at odds with the God in me. Oh, no! The thing that I value most is to be one with God.”
But just when she’d arrived at “that holy place” of acceptance,” she said, the retreat director instructed her to “now add in fighting.”
“Yes, isn’t that what you do in Washington, D.C.?”
What putting the two together brought her to, she said, is an emphasis on fighting for – “To fight for the folks that we meet. To fight for this alternative vision that Pope Francis speaks of. To fight for something better in our society.”
Pulling mementoes from her missal, Sister Simone held up each card and told the stories of people she’d met along her journey: there’s Margaret, who died because when she’d lost her job in the recession ad could no longer afford cancer screenings, despite a worrisome family history of the disease; there’s Robin, who works full-time for a profitable company but still must sleep in a homeless shelter; and there’s Cynthia, whose husband can only afford treatment for stage-three cancer thanks to the Affordable Care Act.
On the bus trip promoting immigration reform, she met Ida, a 17-year-old in Savannah, Georgia, who takes her parents to work every day before school, warning them, ‘“Don’t go off with anybody else, and if you do, call me and tell me who it is.’ … She is terrified that her parents will get deported.”
Then there was Jackie, 19, whose parents have been deported, so, besides working and attending community college, Jackie is raising her younger sisters – “ and every Sunday she’s calling [her parents] to get advice.”
“Our system is broken,” said Sister Simone. “That Jackie would have to raise her siblings, by herself, at 19: ugh, ugh, ugh.”
These people, she said, “have broken my heart. Now the good news is that when your heart is broken open, there’s room for a lot more people. There’s no limit to whom you can bring into your heart. The spiritual becomes: how broken open is your heart, and have you been able to release some hope into this darkness?”
Sister Simone then asked the audience’s prayers, as she was scheduled to meet in a few days with Congressman Ryan. “He’s been doing these hearings on poverty. I want to find out from him what breaks his heart.” (Spokespeople for neither Network nor Ryan’s office would say how the private meeting went.)
Before wrapping up her talk by reading two poems from her recently published book Nun on the Bus: How All of Us Can Create Hope, Change, and Community (HarperOne), Sister exhorted the audience to forgo meaningless talk and instead do what she called “grocery store missionary work.”
“Say to the person in front of you or behind you, something important, like, ‘Hey, I’m kinda worried about minimum wage’ … or say, ‘Have you thought about immigration reform? I really wish they’d get that done. What do you think?’”
Asked how she keeps from getting overwhelmed by the proliferation of problems in the world, she said, “The reason why we get overwhelmed is if we think we’re in charge, we’re in control. And the fact is, we’re not. I just have to do my part. And part of my part is letting my heart be broken by these folks so I can tell their stories.”
As for how the standoff between the Vatican and the LCWR may end, she recalled the Old Testament story of the burning bush: “As long as we’re faithful to letting God flame up in our lives, we won’t be destroyed, so we just have to be faithful.”
“Sister Simone’s positivity was just inspiring,” said Nina Rusko, of Sandy Hook, CT, a town still healing from the elementary school massacre. “It was just the type of spirit that takes us from the negative to a way of being fruitful in our talking about these very, very difficult questions.”




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An ordinary ordination: Roman Catholic women priests are “nothing new”

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laying on of hands Rev. Gabriella Velardi Ward, pastor of St. Praxedis Church in New York City, where ordinand Alexandra Venturini Dyer is a parishioner, lays hands on her at an ordination Mass at Judson Memorial Church in Greenwich Village.

vesselsBishop Andrea Johnsonlaying on hands1 prostratevesting2communionrecessionalalex and friendsmaryrose

Top row: familiar accoutrements; Bishop Andrea M. Johnson preaches the homily (fuller version than in episode and her complete interview afterward:Bishop Andrea homily ; Bishop Andrea interview; the bishops’ laying on of hands (members of the congregation will follow suit); prostrating as a sign of self-giving (note that the bishop sits off to the side; the priests’ vow is to God, not the bishop); vesting with chasuble and stole.

Bottom row: communion; the recessional; Alexandra with friends Dail Moses Taylor and Tracy Lynn Krauss; newly ordained Rev. Maryrose Petrizzo

The readings, selected by Alexandra and Maryrose: First reading — Isaiah 42: 1-9; responsorial psalm — the non-canonical Ode 8 of Solomon; Second reading — Romans 12: 9-18; Gospel –Matthew 28: 16-20

Alexandra’s prayer:

“Creator God, Creator Spirit, Creator beyond all imagining, we give You thanks for the gift of reflective awareness that allows us to recognize Your presence in our universe. Everything we have, everything we see, everything we do, everyone we love and everyone who loves us, reveals Your sustaining presence. We thank You that Your presence brings energy to life and all that exists.”

From her bio, printed in the program: She is the CFAO of Comunilife, Inc., a service organization addressing the health and housing needs of underserved communities in NYC, of which she is a native. A product of Catholic elementary and high schools, she earned a BA in philosophy and religion from Barnard College and attended Union Theological Seminary for her M.Div. and then Columbia School of Business for her MBA with a certificate in not-for-profit management. She is working toward a certificate in spiritual direction from General Theological Seminary. She lives in a committed relationship with her partner Nelson Padilla in Queens, NY, with their three cats and a menagerie of birds, raccoons and other creatures who are welcome in her yard.

Maryrose’s prayer:

“Conscious that we live and move and have our being in You, we give thanks for those throughout history who have affirmed Your loving presence and challenged Your people to give witness. They have witnessed to Your presence in lives characterized by love, mercy, compassion, generosity and forgiveness. We thank You for Jesus, who loved so greatly, taught so clearly, and proclaimed so outrageously. He set people free from images, ideas, and religious practices that bound them in fear and a false sense of separation from You. Through Jesus, we learn how our loving is a share in Your life. In Jesus, we see Your Spirit challenging us to make Your presence on earth more visible.”

Her bio: She lives in Wilmington, Delaware, and has 25-plus years in Catholic parish ministry, including as formation director for secular Franciscans. She is a certified spiritual director and Certified Life-Cycle Celebrant. She was born in the Bronx and grew up in New Jersey, where she attended the College of St. Elizabeth in Morristown. She has been associated with the Roman Catholic Women Priests-led parish of St. Mary Magdalen in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, and is a founding member of the New Jerusalem Community in Wilmington, which she will now serve as its spiritual leader. She works in the pharmaceutical and medical device industry. She also has a part-time business officiating at all types of ceremonies, especially same-sex civil unions.

Judson through arch

Judson Memorial Church, seen through the Washington Square Park arch.

From its website :

Judson Memorial Church in Greenwich Village defines itself as “a church in the Christian tradition” and “a sanctuary for progressive activism and artistic expression.” While affiliated with the American Baptist Churches and United Church of Christ, the congregation draws its 200 members from a variety of religious traditions.

Judson Church occupies a 117-year-old historic building on Washington Square South. Besides Sunday worship and Sunday School, its current programs include work with the New Sanctuary Movement for immigrant rights and a “community ministers” program that trains future clergy on how to involve congregations in social-change activities. Judson also continues its long history of hosting post-modern arts, peace action, women’s reproductive rights, and gay-lesbian-bisexual-transgender events.

Senior Minister the Rev. Dr. Donna Schaper describes the church as “a gathering place for people who seek spiritual nurture to build public capacity for social change.”

Judson has a long tradition of being open to all, regardless of faith. When individuals officially join Judson, they affiliate with both our parent denominations – United Church of Christ and American Baptist Churches.

Open and Affirming

Who are You?…We are Judson Memorial Church: Spiritual. Open. Artistic. Expressive. Affirming. Come in.

Judson Memorial Church serves as a sanctuary for progressive activism, artistic expression, and spiritual nurture. We welcome persons of all sexual orientations and gender identities (including cisgender, transgender, and genderqueer) to participate fully in the life and ministry of the church. We support each and every quest to construct one’s own identity, affirming any and all who identify as lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer, questioning, polysexual, asexual, pansexual, omnisexual, and straight.

Questions about what it means to be an “Open and Affirming” (ONA) United Church of Christ (UCC) congregation? Visit to find out more.

Or a “Welcoming and Affirming” (AWAB–Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptist Churches) baptist congregation? Visit to find out more.

You can join one of the Alliance Communities if you have a particular interest in issues related to (ie) Peace and Justice; Racial Justice and Multiculturalism; LGBTQ; Justice in Palestine & Israel; Justice for the Homeless.
The United Church of Christ Connection:

“God is still speaking” UCC people say…

We have experienced God’s presence…

as the community gathers to celebrate life and faith
in the effort to build a truly democratic country
in advocacy for the poor and oppressed
in joining hands with people in every race and place
in support of public access to the media
in search of justice for minorities, immigrants, and those oppressed
because of race, gender, sexual origin, or handicaps.

Judson is part of a religious denomination which has built upon the heritage which began with the Pilgrims in 1620. Valuing freedom and conscience the Congregationalists (one of the founding families) called their worship places
meeting houses: doors opening inward for worship and outward to the
public square to act on behalf of social justice and community.

Three generations ago two denominations formed the United Church of Christ vowing to be a united and uniting force. In addition to the Pilgrims and Puritans of Massachusetts Bay some of their ancestors were German Reformed people who helped settle Pennsylvania and Evangelical Synod people whose Midwest roots began in Missouri. These bodies — Congregational Christians, Evangelical and Reformed– in 1957 joined seeking deeper unity of the Christian family and a unity of the earth’s peoples

Key Passions of the United Church of Christ, Judson’s Partner:
•The local church is autonomous, accountable, competent
•The face of the church is forward and to the world in which people suffer, dream, and hope
•We are a covenant people
•A radical welcome is who we are and what we are about
•“God is Still Speaking” through the Bible, the community, the events in people’s lives, presence of the Holy Spirit
•The unity of all God’s people is our calling


For info about St. Praxedis Roman Catholic community:










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May I ask?



Letting you know that in the next episode of “Reasonably Catholic: Keeping the Faith,” on May 20, we’ll bring you to the  ordination in New York City of two women who are part of the underground but burgeoning Roman Catholic Women Priests movement. You won’t want to miss it!

And since we’re talking, may I ask: Where are you going to find programming like this, a religious discussion that goes beyond the official church press releases and takes you to where the church is actually heading, however slowly, haltingly, and, yes, sometimes, in the fashion of certain saints, disobediently?

So far this year, “RC:KF” has taken up: clericalism, that notion that clergy dwell on a higher plane than us; Catholic social teaching on taxes; how faith informs the Oscar-winning movies; what it’s like to be a gay seminarian in Rome; a US Congressman’s view of the wealth gap; and more. We even aired an April Fool’s Day Catholic Joke Show! (Warning: that one’s not for pious ears!)

Why not show your support for WESU-FM, the station which not only said yes when I broached the idea of a progressive-minded Catholic radio show, but airs it during drive time?!

Go to, click on donate, and give whatever you can to this amazing community-supported, shoestring-run radio station which, for 75 years now, has been making it its mission to air views and music heard nowhere else.

On top of the lovely thank-you gift you’ll get from the station, if you email me that you’ve supported “Reasonably Catholic,” I’ll send you a book donated and autographed by feminist theologian Rosemary Radford Ruether, the subject of the most recent “RC:KF” episode. Don’t delay, because when the books run out, you’ll have to make do with some inspirational CDs from my own collection, and I have really weird taste! 

Thanks so much in advance for helping!


PS There are so many ways to access “Reasonably Catholic” now:

* when it’s broadcast live over the air at Wesleyan University’s WESU, 88.1 FM, or rebroadcast a few days later on UConn’s WHUS, 91.7 FM;
* as it streams live at and;
* at your convenience by visiting WESU’s online archive at;
* by going to
* by searching the Pacifica network’s AudioPort at



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“I object to the hierarchy making the church look stupid” — 30 years after “Sexism and God-Talk,” Rosemary Radford Ruether shows no sign of mellowing

Click below to hear the episode:

Rosemary RRRosemary at Udupi BhavanFeminist theologian Rosemary Radford Ruether, author of nearly 50 books advancing progressive ideas, is shown here in Middletown, CT, where she spoke at a Wesleyan University eco-feminism conference.

In two interviews with Reasonably Catholic: Keeping the Faith, she displays the same fierce intellect that gave birth to nearly 50 books on progressive themes touching the church, the global economy, and the environment, among other subjects.

She saves her harshest criticism for Catholic bishops who “have made a much stupider church.” The good news, she says, is that the bishops “don’t own this. We are the church.”

Why hasn’t she joined a different Christian denomination? “They’re boring….The issues that the progressive Catholic church is trying to deal with have global consequences — and I want to be part of that.”

She belongs to a community of like-minded Catholics in California, where she writes and teaches. She does not believe Jesus literally rose from the dead (that “makes no sense”); but we honor his memory, she says, by resisting oppression as he did.

As for her view of Pope Francis, he is a “nice guy” and good for the church’s public image, but says we shouldn’t expect any change in church teachings, only a shift in emphasis.

Sexism and God TalkRRR autobiographyOne of her early groundbreaking works, left, and her most recent book, an autobiography



Radio that Matters

Celebrating 75 years

Donate NowPlease go to and show some love for the station that brings you Reasonably Catholic!

Rosemary Radford Ruether has generously donated some of her books to use as pledge gifts.

Make a donation of any size, mention the show, and we’ll send you one!












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Are clergy nearer to God than thee? Voice of the Faithful takes on clericalism.

Click below to hear the audio:

Raymond Cardinal Leo Burke visits the Oratory of Ss. Gregory and Augustine to celebrate Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament followed by a Reception. As Archbishop of St Louis, Cardinal Burke canonically established the Oratory on the first Sunday of AdveThe picture of clericalism — Raymond Cardinal Leo Burke in full regalia


Pope Francis and lamb

Two good pieces about Pope Francis:

“Pope Francis in hot water over ‘personal’ phone calls,” Yahoo News

“John XXIII: The accidental saint,” National Catholic Reporter

Phyllis Zagano

Phyllis Zagano, Hofstra University professor and occasional Reasonably Catholic guest, invites you to the following free online seminar on “Women Deacons: Past, Present, Future,” which will run from June 9 to July 8, 2014. See registration info below:

Instructors for this FREE seminar are Gary Macy, William T. Ditewig, and Phyllis Zagano, all noted researchers and authors of articles and books on the women’s diaconate. Dr. Zagano also is the 2012 recipient of VOTF’s Catherine of Siena Award.
To register here, follow the directions below. Then review the materials needed for the seminar and the course outline.
• How to Register
• What You Need
• Course Outline
1. Go to the initial registration page and enter your country name (example: United States) there. This will allow Dr. Zagano to show visually where the participants reside. Now click the “Click here to enroll” button.
2. On the CourseSites screen, click the Self-Enroll option.
3. Assuming that you have never used CourseSites before, on the next screen choose the second option: I need a CourseSites account. (If you already have an account, proceed with the log-in option and choose the Hofstra Women Deacons course.)
4. Complete the next screen (1. Create a New Student Account) with your name, email address, user name, password and other information. Also, make sure your screen shows None as the “institution/district/company” option.
5. Click Continue and on the next screen click Go to course to open the “Blackboard” for your new account.
That’s it! You are registered. The site will send your email address a verification and a welcome message; confirm the email when it arrives. You will receive future communications and notices about course-related materials at the same email address.
Although the online seminar itself is free, you do need to purchase two books to participate. Both are easily available, in softcover print or as a Kindle download, at reasonable prices from Purchase books through the links below.!

Ordination of Women to the Diaconate in the Eastern Churches: Essays by Cipriano Vagaggini Collegeville, MN, Liturgical Press, 2013.
Women Deacons: Past, Present, Future.
(With Gary Macy and William T. Ditewig) Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2011.

During the seminar, the first four days of each week will contain readings and lectures (about one hour’s worth of work per day).
Each Friday, the Discussion Board will open for three days. Where possible an instructor or a teaching assistant will join in.
The seminar will consider questions related to past, present, and future during the discussion:
1. In the past: Who were the women deacons in the early church? Were they ordained? What did they do? Why did they disappear?
2. In the present: When was the diaconate rejuvenated, and why? Has there been consideration of women in the diaconate?
3. In the future: What are the obstacles to women in the diaconate? How can these challenges be addressed? What would it mean for women to be ordained?










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Smile! It’s tax day! We advanced “the common good”!

Click here to listen to an episode about Catholic social teaching on taxes:

Fr. Fred Kammer, SJJesuit Fr. Fred Kammer, a lawyer, author, teacher and retreat director based at Loyola University in New Orleans, where he is the director of the Jesuit Social Research Institute, explains Catholic social teaching on taxes and how US tax policy is too regressive and thus out of step with moral dictates dating back to ancient times which also have long been promulgated by the Catholic Church. Fr. Fred has advocated for social justice in many capacities, including as the president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, the nation’s largest voluntary human service network. He now serves as director of the Jesuit Social Research Institute at Loyola. He is the author of  Doing Faithjustice: An Introduction to Catholic Social Thought (1991, Paulist Press);   Salted with Fire: Spirituality for the Faithjustice Journey (1995, Paulist Press, and 2008, Wipf and Stock Publishers); and Faith. Works. Wonders.—An Insider’s Guide to Catholic Charities (2009, Wipf and Stock Publishers).

Here is the excerpt Fr. Fred read from a favorite speech. It was given by the late Czech poet and president Vaclav Havel in 1986 at Liberty Hall in Philadelphia:

“Either we have hope or we don’t; it is a dimension of the soul, and it’s not essentially dependent on some particular observation of the world or estimate of the situation. Hope is not prognostication. It is an orientation of the spirit, an orientation of the heart … Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously headed for early success, but rather an ability to work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed … Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out. It is this hope above all which gives us the strength to live and continually try new things, even in conditions that seem as hopeless as ours do now.” [Father Fred notes that three years after Havel gave this speech the Berlin Wall fell.]


Also, salvaged from the cutting room floor (ran out of time!), here’s audio of Fr. Fred’s answer to the question, “How is New Orleans doing, economically?”

Click the link below to listen:


Big promotionsNEW SAINTS – Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII will be canonized on April 27.


Bria and StephNEW MYSTICS — UConn seniors and NCAA national basketball champions Bria Hartley and Stephanie Dolson were just drafted by the WNBA’s Washington Mystics.


Below: photos from the Hartford parade celebrating the UConn men’s and women’s basketball teams’ winning all the marbles. The only other time a school won dual national championships was ten years ago — and it was UConn then, too. Two-hundred thousand people turned out for the parade and rally at the capitol — twice as many as turned out for Pope Francis’ Palm Sunday homily in St. Peter’s Square. Word is his holiness is working on his jump shot.

parade 1 parade 2 parade 3 parade 4parade 5The band, the women, the men (Shabazz Napier with arms outstretched), and NBC 30′s sportscaster Kevin Nathan, who does a great job and happens to be Catholic!


Finally, with thanks and a hat tippo to my sister-in-law Sherry, here’s a video of an Irish priest serenading a bride and groom with his take on Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”:

Singing padreClick below to listen:


















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Our April Fools’ Day Catholic Joke Show: We kid because we love!

Click here to hear the episode, an hour of Catholic comedy:


Pope_in_a_clown_noseA CATHOLIC JOKE SHOW? Why not? We’re sure Pope Francis would bestow his blessing. Here he is in a photo from last November, donning  a red clown nose with newlyweds who volunteer with a clown-therapy charity.



Pope and PrezPresident's gift to PopeGifted Leaders

From the New York Times coverage of President Obama’s visit with Pope Francis:

The two men appeared to share a lighthearted rapport during an exchange of gifts. Francis, an Argentine and the first pontiff from the Southern Hemisphere, gave the president two medallions, including one that symbolized the need for solidarity and peace between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.

He also presented Mr. Obama with a copy of “Evangelii Gaudium,” or “The Joy of the Gospel,” the apostolic exhortation that Francis released last November as his call for a new era of evangelization and for a renewed focus on the poor.

Mr. Obama presented Francis with a custom-made seed chest featuring a variety of fruit and vegetable seeds used in the White House garden, noting that the box was made from reclaimed wood from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore.

“If you have a chance to come to the White House, we can show you our garden as well,” the president said. Using a Spanish phrase that can be translated as “Why not?” or “For sure,” Francis quickly responded.

“Cómo no?” he said.



2014 Assembly Logo DRAFT Purple 102513Voice of the Faithful in Hartford

HARTFORD — On Saturday, April 5, Voice of the Faithful comes to the Connecticut Convention Center for a day of presentations, workshops, prayer, and collegial collaboration.
Guest speakers will be John L. Allen, Jr., Catholic news correspondent and analyst for The Boston Globe and founder of the Vatican beat for National Catholic Reporter; and Fr. Thomas Reese, NCR‘s Senior Analyst and author of The Vatican: The Politics and Organization of the Catholic Church.

Featured presenters in six afternoon workshops include Fr. Tom Doyle, noted survivor advocate; Michael Ryan, specialist in guidelines for parish donations security; and four “conversation starters” from pastoral ministries for the Female Voices workshop.

The Assembly begins with registration at 9 a.m., the opening prayer is at 10 a.m. and the workshops begin at 2.

The assembly will close with a panel on new pathways to healing and reform, featuring Fr. Jim Connell, a canon lawyer and retired pastor who also helped found the Catholic Whistleblowers; Prof. Tom Porter, a trial lawyer, mediator, and Methodist minister from Boston University’s School of Theology, and William Casey, coordinator of a restorative justice program and former chair of VOTF’s Board.

Here’s the full agenda. Lunch is included in the $80 per person registration fee.

You can register easily online, or print out this registration form and mail it to the office (P.O. Box 423, Newton MA 02464) with a check for $80.

Please complete one form for EACH person; it’s the only way to choose your workshops.

If you stay overnight in Hartford, you may make reservations at the Marriott Hartford Downtown, located right next to the convention center, for only $89 per night.



Q. No Fr. Guido Sarducci in the joke show?


fr guido sarducci  A. No, while the clerical garb, cigarette and accent are funny, his material’s kinda — meh. Doesn’t translate well to radio.


Q. What about Bill Maher?

BILL MAHERA. Nah. Not funny. Just mean.


Q. Who told that last groaner of a joke about the guy who paints the house?

fr. joseph martinA. The late Fr. Joseph Martin


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