Reasonably Catholic: Keeping the Faith

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Radio host/columnist Colin McEnroe finds his spiritual home — in a Baptist church

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ColinColin McEnroe, host of WNPR’s “The Colin McEnroe Show” and a Hartford Courant columnist, tells how, after a lifetime of seeking, he found his spiritual home at Riverfront Family Church in Glastonbury (, whose pastor Nancy Butler has ALS and is determined, in her last days on earth, to do, in Colin’s words, some “spiritual carpentry” on him. Though Colin is sure he’d win no prizes for “best Christian,” he says he might be this year’s “most improved.” Part II of our chat airs next Tuesday, Aug. 2nd.

Here is a recent column about how his developing faith has changed him:


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It’s how they roll: in a 5th tour, Nuns on the Bus take on the disparities among us

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Nuns on the Bus Sister Simone Campbell, left; Sister Larretta Rivera-Williams, above right; and Sister Susan Francois pass the cell phone among themselves for an interview about their fifth bus tour, this one themed “Mend the Gaps.” The 13-state tour, designed to hit both political conventions, is a project of the non-profit lobbying group Network, of which Sister Simone is the executive director. Go to or for details about the sisters and their work.

The bus will park at Holy Family Passionist Monastery and Retreat House, 303 Tunxis Road, West Hartford on Sunday, July 24. Interested visitors are invited to caucus at 4 p.m., then attend Mass afterward.


Also, Commonweal film critic Richard Alleva reviews “The Innocents,” a quietly powerful film about a post World War II convent of Polish nuns in trouble.



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Willing to get in ‘a little Gospel trouble’

Click below to hear today’s rebroadcast of an unfortunately timely episode from Feb. 3, 2016.


\Deacon ArtDeacon Arthur Miller, who headed the Archdiocese of Hartford’s Office of Black Catholic Ministries until it was eliminated last year (as was the Office of Hispanic Ministries), is still finding plenty of ways to inspire. An activist, author (of The Journey to Chatham, about his growing up in Chicago in the ’50s when he was a schoolmate of Emmet Till, whose murder helped spark the civil rights movement), and popular speaker, Deacon Art was recently arrested for blocking traffic as part of a Black Lives Matter Moral Monday protest in Hartford.


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Practicing presence: a deeper kind of mindfulness

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Mike Smoolca picMike Smoolca gave up his technology job to become a retreat leader and spiritual director. He also is resurrecting the moribund Greater Hartford chapter of the International Thomas Merton Society. Learn more at and by looking him up on Facebook.

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Encore episode: Is Pope’s softer language fertile soil for growth?

In light of Pope Francis’ recent comments about Christians’ needing to apologize to gays, we repeat the April 2016 episode in which three progressive Catholic leaders comment on Francis’ document on the family Amoris Laetitia.

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Francis DeBernardo

Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, which serves LGBT Catholics, says Pope Francis’ ambiguous language in his document on the family, Amoris Laetitia (the Joy of Love), indicates he’s restless with a clarity that’s deadening. Francis “doesn’t want clarity; he wants a mess.”


Deb Rose-MilavecDeb Rose-Milavec, executive director of FutureChurch, says the document is a “light years” leap ahead and yet — especially in its insistence on male and female “complementarity,” effectively their being separate but equal — still falls far short of what the Catholic Church needs to do to bring young people into the fold.

MiriamMiriam Duignan, spokesman for Women’s Ordination Worldwide, says Francis “has changed the tone of how women are spoken about” and that his legacy will be the decentralization of church power and the application of common sense.



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Stage and screen episode: some rebel, some convert

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Our LadiesMary Lou AleskieMary Lou Aleskie, executive director of the International Festival of Arts and Ideas, talks about Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour, running at Yale Repertory Theater in New Haven through Sat., June 25.


OasisMary Claire KendallAuthor Mary Claire Kendall talks about her book Oasis: Conversion Stories of Hollywood Legends.

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The log in Pope Francis’ eye

Jubilee banner

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The Jubilee for Women Priests, an event hosted by Women’s Ordination Worldwide in Rome last week, was strategically timed to coincide with the Vatican’s Jubilee for Priests. With panels, a citywide poster exhibit, a cocktail hour with drinks named for some of Pope Francis’ less fortunate statements about women’s place in the church, and attendees’ prayerful presence in St. Peter’s Square for the closing Mass, the event brought together feminist thinkers to consider the complex (hopeless?) situation Catholic women find themselves in under Francis’s pontificate, that while no substantive change seems forthcoming, at least there’s more openness to discussion.

In today’s episode, we hear from Father Tony Flannery, a Redemptorist priest who’s been forbidden to serve in priestly ministry until he recants his support for women’s ordination.

Among his comments:

  • “Unless the church fully embraces the full equality of women, it will cease to exist as anything important in the world.”
  • “In Ireland, the priesthood as we know it is particularly dead.”
  • “The collapse of the system has to get much more advanced…for the new model of ministry based on equality” to come about.

At the round table discussion in which he participated, he says one theologian expressed the wish “that Francis wouldn’t say anything about women anymore, that this is really a blind spot with him.”

Also featured in today’s episode is Women’s Ordination Worldwide spokeswoman Miriam Duignan and National Catholic Reporter columnist Jamie Manson. Both agree that the issue of women’s ordination is crucial to the future of Catholicism.

Here is a link to NCR’s coverage of the Jubilee for Women Priests:

And a link to Jamie Manson’s Grace on the Margins column, “It’s Time to be Honest about Pope Francis and Women”:

Plus, some pictures from the Jubilee for Women Priests:


A pop-up phone booth  God calling II

strawberries on the cake - WOW cocktailStrawberries on the Cake — a special cocktail named for Pope Francis’ reference to women theologians


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Feast for the senses: The Vatican Cookbook

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Paepstliche Schweizergarde

13 novembre 2013 Citta’ del Vaticano – Piazza San Pietro Udienza Generale.

VC - frutti di mareThe Vatican Cookbook: 500 Years of Classic Recipes, Papal Tributes and Exclusive Images of Life and Art at the Vatican is the brainchild of the Swiss Guard, which for centuries has protected popes. Co-author Thomas French walks us through it. Above, guard David Geisser in the famous ceremonial garb; below, Spaghetti Frutti di Mare. A portion of the proceeds of book sales supports One Human Family, Food for All, a campaign of Catholic Relief Services dedicated to ending world hunger.


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Champions of female deacon movement celebrate Pope Francis’ surprise move

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Schenk head shot2Sister Christine Schenk is a founder of FutureChurch, which seeks the ordination of women as deacons and priests, and the acceptance of men who left the priesthood to marry. She writes the column “Simply Spirit” for the National Catholic Reporter. For 25 years, she has worked to resurrect the early Church practice of ordaining women as deacons. Read one of her columns here:

Phyllis ZaganoHofstra University Professor Phyllis Zagano is the acknowledged mother of the female diaconate movement Among her many works is the newly published Women Deacons? Essays with Answers. Since there is  no disputing that women served as deacons for 1,000 years, the issue, she says, is whether the Church “can withstand the sight of a woman in a dalmatic” (a deacon’s vestment) serving at Mass.

Dr. Zagano offers the following links.



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Wisdom from the East: two Tibetan Buddhist masters to visit

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Click below to read the flyer:


RinpochePalomaTibetan Buddhist teacher Khentrul Rinpoche and his translator Paloma Lopez Landry, of a retreat center in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas …

Rinpoche's teacher…and Rinpoche’s own teacher Khenchen Tsultrim Lodro, visiting from Tibet, will lead a retreat in Connecticut this weekend. The public is welcome to attend a public talk from 2 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 7, and any other session at St. Thomas Seminary, 467 Bloomfield Ave., Bloomfield.

Email or call Kathleen Hayes at 203-641-3563.




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