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Young Adults meet to Explore their Faith

Renew International's Theology on Tap is a discussion series for Catholic young adults, married and single, in their late teens (18-19), twenties, and thirties. Four evening sessions, sponsored by the diocesan Office of Young Adult and Campus Ministries, welcome young adults to gather and to enter more deeply into their faith, ask questions, and socialize with other young Catholics in a relaxed, comfortable setting.

The necessity of outreach to young Catholics was identified as a major pastoral priority from feedback Bishop Galante received throughout the diocese.

The next session will be held at 7 PM at Chickie's and Pete's, 6055 Blackhorse Pike, Egg Harbor Twp.:  

Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2011
Topic: How to Walk on Water: Discipleship and Evangelization
Speaker: Mark Nimo, originally from Ghana, now lives in Chicago, became a missionary in Uganda and has ministried in over 35 countries
 
Two additional sessions will be held at 7 PM at Landmark Americana Tap & Grill, 1 East Mullica Hill Rd., Glassboro: 
Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2011
Topic: How to Keep the Faith in a Secular World
Speaker: Linda Robinson, Director of Lay Ministry Formation for the Diocese of Camden.  Linda has worked with young adults in the Contemplative Leaders in Action Program of the Jesuit Collaborative
 
 Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012
Topic: For God's Sake or Pete's?  Reflections on a Relational God
Speaker: Msgr. Roger McGrath, Ph.D., Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia for the Diocese of Camden.  Msgr. McGrath is a distinguished priest, scholar, and administrator
 
The sessions are free of charge. Participants are welcome to a food buffet for $10.

For more information, contact the Office of Young Adult and Campus Ministries at 856-583-6122 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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"Why?" Bishop Galante's message in the Catholic Star Herald

How many times in our lives do we say “why?”

Why do certain things happen? Why do things happen to us? Why does God permit sad and tragic things to happen, especially to good people?

“Why” is a constant refrain for so many of us, when we are faced with tragedy and suffering.

For example, after many of us heard of the sad and tragic deaths of football players from Mainland High School, we asked, “Why did this happen to wholesome young men? Why must their parents suffer the pain of loss?”

In our own lives, as we grow older, we begin to experience the various illnesses and the diminishment of our strength. So often we struggle with things like heart conditions, cancer, kidney disease and stroke, and again we ask “Why?”

The challenge that we face should not be measured by why, but rather by a growing invitation to surrender to and trust in the God who does not abandon us. God the Father  sent his Beloved Son to us and allowed that Son to be rejected, to be tortured, to suffer and to die for our sins, He who was blameless took on our sin. God allowed this for our salvation to draw us back closer to Himself.

In every tragedy, in every suffering, there is clearly an invitation to God to surrender to love, to grow in our identity with his Beloved Son, to participate in the redemptive suffering of Jesus. And so, as Paul says (Colossians 1: 24-25), “I rejoice in my suffering for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church,” we make up what is “lacking” in the suffering of Christ. It’s not that Christ’s suffering and dying were not adequate, rather it provides us  more intimate participation in the mystery of Jesus’ suffering and dying. Our suffering allows us to participate more completely in the glory of the Risen Jesus.

Suffering and pain are part of our human existence. But they offer us an opportunity to grow into the likeness of Jesus to whom we have been grafted through our baptism; to be seen by the Father with the same delight that he takes in his Son, Jesus. Sickness, tragedy and suffering are invitations and opportunities that unite us to surrender to a loving God who does not forget us in our pain even as he did not abandon his Son in his pain and suffering. They are reminders to us of our need and our dependence on the God who created us and continues to love us.

Sadly we tend to forget we are children of God, dependent on a loving Providence. So very often pain and suffering are vivid reminders of who we are and our relationship with God.

This reflection grows out of my own experiences over the past few months. I have spent much time and prayer reflecting on this as I deal with my own illnesses. I am unable to get around as well as I used to. In response, I have begun to appreciate even more the value of diminishing energy and strength. I believe it is calling me to a greater trust and openness to our loving God, like it has for so many others.

 

 

Bishop Galante's message in the Catholic Star Herald: "Why the ‘Dream Act’ transcends politics"

Some wonder why church leaders speak out on what are often considered merely political issues. However, what are called political issues really affect people, their lives, their present and their future. These issues do not exist in a vacuum detached from human beings.

So very often what are seen as mere “political” issues touch upon moral concerns. Religious leaders have a responsibility to teach about what is just, right and moral. Such issues are not spoken of because of a particular political party affiliation but rather because they touch the lives of so many people.

One of these issues is what is called the “Dream Act.” This proposed law being considered in Congress offers the possibility for young people who are in the country as undocumented persons to be able to achieve citizenship. They will be able to do this, if the act becomes law, by completing at least two years of college and obtaining a degree. Or they can complete two years of military service. In other words, young people who are making a contribution to the good of the country would be given the opportunity to become American citizens provided they entered the United State before the age of 16 and are currently under 35, have been consistently present in this county for five years, have been accepted to college and determined to be of good moral character.

Why is the Dream Act needed?

Many of these young people came here with their parents at a very tender age. Yet, they are impeded from having any possibility under present law of changing their status. Immigrant students without legal status graduating high school in the U.S. have few options. They cannot legally obtain employment. They cannot join the military. In most states, they are unable to attend college. Many are vulnerable to being deported to their home countries, even in cases where, brought here as infants, they have few ties to their family homelands.

It needs to be noted that the Dream Act is not a substitute for broad immigration reform. It is a component, but there is still the need for a broader approach that is fair and equitable.

Catholic bishops support the Dream Act because as religious leaders we are committed to promoting the dignity of every human being. Immigrants do not lose their human dignity by the mere fact of coming to the United State from another country.

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, recently spoke in support of the Dream Act, noting that those who would benefit “are Americans, for all practical purposes.” During a press conference recently he said that many Dream Act supporters have risked deportation to advocate for the chance to become U.S. citizens.

“Why would we not want to embrace their dedication, energy, talents and courage – characteristics that have made our nation great? It would be to our detriment to forsake them,” the cardinal said.

Along with the cardinal, the U.S. bishops see the United States as a country which has presented itself to the world as a place of opportunity, freedom, and a place where people can provide a better life for themselves and their families. How can we hope to be faithful to what we say about ourselves if we refuse to provide the opportunities of which we boast?

The poem on the base of the Statue of Liberty asks the world to "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” The statue has served as a beacon for generations of immigrants, yet we contrast that with the fences being built along our southern frontier. Do we as a nation have a split personality? Are we inviting and welcoming at one border and impeding and keeping out at another?

People have a right to a life of dignity, respect and opportunity. As Americans we have prided ourselves on the potential that exists here. As Catholics we are morally obligated to uplifting and pointing out the God-given dignity of every human being.

Supporters of the Dream Act have designated Sept. 23-25 as Dream Act Sabbath, offering an opportunity for people of faith to reflect upon the question of who is our neighbor. This kind of faith reflection is surely needed about the Dream Act, a proposal supportive of human dignity that transcends politics.

Bishop issues decree establishing St. Joseph the Worker Parish on Sept. 9

Bishop Joseph Galante formally announced that the parishes of St. Vincent Pallotti, Haddon Township, and St. Aloysius, Oaklyn, will unite and the new parish resulting from the consolidation, St. Joseph the Worker, will be established on Oct. 12.

The announcement establishing the new parish was made in a formal decree, which is published in the Sept. 9 edition of the Catholic Star Herald (pp. 14-15).

Father Walter Norris has been named pastor of the new parish for a six-year term. St. Vincent Pallotti will be the seat of the parish, serving the pastoral needs of the 1,500 Catholics in Haddon Township and Oaklyn, with St. Aloysius remaining open as a worship site.

It is the 36th decree issued by Bishop Joseph Galante in a diocesan-wide reconfiguration of parishes announced two years ago to strengthen parishes and improve pastoral care to the people of the diocese. The reconfigurations are a result of more than a year of study by parish and deanery planners, who considered population and demographic trends, the number of diocesan priests available for ministry, Mass attendance and trends in religious practice.

New parish names sign of emerging diocesan church

The Diocese of Camden boasts parishes named for saints Joseph, Mary and Thomas More, among others, all well-known Catholic monikers. However, no children of any of these parish patrons have ever been spotted at their namesake church, at least in South Jersey.

That is until St. Gianna Parish in Northfield hosted the daughter of their patroness this summer.

St. Gianna Beretta Molla, born in 1922, was an Italian physician and mother of four. She died in 1962 soon after the birth of her last child, Gianna Emanuela Molla. St. Gianna, canonized in 2004, was recognized for her heroic virtue, refusing to abort her unborn child despite the threat to her own health. That child grew up to become a gerontologist.

St. Gianna, a patroness of the pro-life cause, is just one of both modern and unusual saints’ names that now adorn many of the parishes of the Camden Diocese. In the process of consolidating parishes, new patrons were affixed to new parishes. Their names, chosen in most cases by popular vote, indicate how the pantheon of saint parish patrons in the diocese has been enlarged both via ethnic diversity and through inclusion of modern heroes of the faith, many of whom were canonized by the now Blessed Pope John Paul II.

Some, such as Our Lady of Guadalupe in Lindenwold, illustrate the growing presence of Latino Catholics in South Jersey, with the newly-formed parish adopting the name of the Mexican virgin who appeared in 1531 to Juan Diego, a young Native American man. A devotion developed at that site which cemented the presence of Mary in the New World as the patroness of the Americas. If the choice of parish patrons is any indication, Marian devotion remains strong: 10 of the 38 new parish titles have names associated with the Blessed Mother.

“Devotion to Mary is part of the church of our Camden Diocese,” says Immaculate Heart of Mary Sister Antoine Lawlor, director of pastoral priorities for the diocese, who worked with newly-formed parishes in the naming process that included a local vote with eventual approval by the diocese.

Other parishes have looked to saints, and those recently beatified, whose memory is still alive in the hearts and minds of most Catholics (for example, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Parish in Collingswood).

Some parishes selected saints who have an organic connection to their new communities.

For example, St. Damien of Molokai, the 19th-century Belgian priest who ministered to lepers on the beaches of Hawaii, is the moniker for the Ocean City parish that resulted after the merger of three churches there. Damien became known throughout the world for his work. He was canonized in 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI. The selection of St. Damien as patron was hailed in an article this year in the Hawaii Catholic Herald, the newspaper for the Archdiocese of Honolulu.

Another new seaside parish, this one in Avalon, adopted St. Brendan the Navigator, the Irish monk said to have traveled much of the world in the sixth century. Some even claim he was the first explorer to reach the Americas centuries before Columbus.

When St. Bartholomew’s and St. Joan of Arc parishes in Camden merged, parishioners seeking a patron looked to incorporate the virtues associated with the African American and Latino presence in the newly-merged church. The parish selected St. Josephine Bakhita, an African saint (1869-1947).

St. Josephine was a native of the Darfur region of what is now the new nation of South Sudan. Kidnapped and sold into slavery, she endured brutality from a series of masters until one, the Italian consul in Khartoum, brought her to Europe.

There, after successfully winning her freedom in an Italian court, she entered the community of the Canossian Sisters in 1893. She spent most of her life in the northern Italian town of Schio, where she developed a reputation for sanctity, gentleness, and friendliness. There she was able to publish her memoirs, including accounts of the horrors of her slavery and the joy she found through baptism and Christian spirituality. She was canonized by John Paul II in 2000, and is the patroness of Sudan as well an exemplar of overcoming suffering and oppression.

The process of parish names, says Sister Antoine, “was a fun part of the job for me.” She says the process allowed the newly-formed communities to look back upon their past and reflect upon what kind of future they desired.

The new parish names, she says, are a sign of “a new time, a fresh time, something that helps us look in a hopeful way to the Church of South Jersey that we are building.”

By Peter Feuerherd