By Various authors - OSV Newsweekly, 12/30/2012
On the following pages, we profile nine Catholics who have been outstanding examples of leadership, service and witness in the past year. They are not all newsmakers or power brokers. In some cases, they are the priest who says Mass day by day in a parish and the layperson who unselfishly volunteers his or her time to make the parish a better place and the sister who finds time to blog while living in community and teaching faith formation at a parish. As suggested by OSV readers and staff members, these Catholics — men and women, clergy and laity, famous and anonymous — do their part in uplifting the Faith in a hectic, skeptical world.
Looking at their examples, some of the important themes in the life of the Church in 2012 emerge: the importance of religious liberty in the face of the HHS mandate, the need for the Church to have its voice heard in the digital world and, in this Year of Faith, the value of better understanding the New Evangelization.
Encouraging women to speak up
By Meg McDonnell
In February, in response to “war on women” rhetoric accompanying the Health and Human Services mandate, Helen Alvaré and her neighbor, attorney Kim Daniels, wrote an open letter to President Barack Obama, Kathleen Sebelius and members of Congress. The letter demanded that they refrain from claiming to speak for all women when they equated free contraception with female freedom and trampled religious freedom in the process. It spread like wildfire, rapidly turning into the Women Speak For Themselves (WSFT) movement, which has more than 36,000 women signed on.
Women of many faiths and no faith have found WSFT to be an educational resource and a way to connect with their allies in every state on behalf of religious freedom and a truer notion of women’s freedom. Alvaré provides fact sheets on women and religious liberty, and on the failure of contraception and abortion as social policies. The signers, hundreds of whom are in weekly contact with Alvaré, put these and other resources to work, using the facts to speak for themselves and producing hundreds of letters to the editor, conversations with their federal representatives and thousands of exchanges with family and friends on Facebook and other social-media venues.
Alvaré, in her position as a law professor at George Mason University, spent much of the year traveling the country giving lectures on religious liberty, debating against proponents of the HHS mandate (including Sandra Fluke, a highly noted Obama campaign spokeswoman) and appearing on television, on radio and in print. She also edited and co-authored “Breaking Through: Catholic Women Speak for Themselves” (OSV, $16.95), wherein 10 women speak about the most fraught issues Catholic women are facing as they live their Catholic faith in American culture.
As the year closes, Alvaré’s work in religious liberty forges on. The morning after the re-election of President Obama, Alvaré had an email in the inboxes of WSFT members, encouraging them to continue the religious liberty fight, to “be more consistent about praying the Rosary to ask Mary to give us wisdom and to intercede for us,” and to “work harder and harder to come up with ideas for winning the ‘religious liberty’ and ‘women’s liberty’ questions.” Hundreds of women responded to Alvaré’s email with renewed hope that victory will be theirs, so long as they endure.
Meg McDonnell is communications director of the Chiaroscuro Foundation.
Archbishop William E. Lori
Religious liberty point man
By Russell Shaw
For a little more than a year, Archbishop William E. Lori has been the American bishops’ point man in the toughest fight the Catholic Church in America has faced in a long time. Maybe ever, in fact.
As chairman of the religious liberty committee of the bishops’ conference, the 61-year-old Archbishop of Baltimore is at the center of Catholic resistance to an Obama administration act of aggression — commonly known as the “HHS mandate” — as well as other government incursions on religious free exercise.
The mandate would require hundreds of church-related institutions to provide coverage for contraceptives, abortifacient drugs and sterilizations in employee health plans. This is the first time in America that government has sought to force the Church to cooperate in what it regards as moral evil.
The religious liberty committee was established by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in September 2011. As chairman, Archbishop Lori has testified before Congress and played a key role in strategic planning for the Church’s response to what observers call the potential “institutional martyrdom” of Church programs via the HHS mandate. Currently, the mandate is the target of lawsuits in several courts.
A native of Louisville, Ky., the archbishop was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., in 1977 and received a doctorate in Sacred Theology from The Catholic University of America in 1982. He served as secretary to the late Cardinal James Hickey of Washington, chancellor, moderator of the curia, and vicar general. Blessed Pope John Paul II appointed him auxiliary bishop of Washington in 1995 and bishop of Bridgeport, Conn., in 2001. Eleven years later, Pope Benedict XVI named him archbishop of Baltimore.
Archbishop Lori has held numerous committee posts with the bishops’ conference, including chairing the Committee on Doctrine and the Ad Hoc Committee on Universities and Colleges. He is Supreme Chaplain of the Knights of Columbus.
Speaking at USCCB’s fall general assembly in November, he predicted the religious liberty struggle would be a long one. “We’re going to stay the course,” he promised the bishops and the Church.
Russell Shaw is an OSV contributing editor.
Canossian Sister Lisa Marie Doty
Authentic living in the digital world
By Lisa M. Hendey
Growing up in a Catholic and yet not overly religious home, Sister Lisa Marie Doty recalls from an early age being drawn to the crucifix, a spiritual attachment that would ultimately play out in her chosen vocation. “The Crucified Christ is the central spirituality of the Canossian religious family,” Sister Lisa Marie said. “Christ Crucified chose me to be a Canossian Daughter of Charity — Servant of the Poor.”
Sister Lisa Marie pursued studies for her vocation at the Angelicum in Rome during an amazing time in the history of the Church. Along with being impacted by the history and sanctity of her surroundings, she recalled: “I met Pope John Paul II and was there when the world said goodbye to him. I was in St. Peter’s Square when it was announced ‘Habemus Papam!’ Being in Rome also gave me a very different view of how the world sees my homeland. I was there on 9/11 and watched with my international community that awful day.”
In 2009, a series of family illnesses called Sister Lisa Marie home to serve with her religious sisters in the Diocese of Sacramento, Calif., and introduced her to a new mission field: the Internet. She began blogging and soon expanded her online efforts to include evangelization in social-media venues such as Facebook and Twitter.
“The use of technology in the New Evangelization works both ways,” said Sister Lisa Marie. “When I write, I hopefully build up the Church and highlight its beauty in some small way and bring people to Christ. But it also becomes a means of reaffirming who I am on various levels: as a Christian, a Catholic, a Religious … these and more come through and challenge me to be authentic in my use of new media.”
Along with her work online, Sister Lisa Marie serves as the director of faith formation for Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Sacramento. Asked about her hopes for the Year of Faith, she responded:, “My goal is to provide more means for that faith encounter among people of all ages at my parish, and that must start with my own deepening of understanding of the Catechism and the sacred Scriptures. I am reading through the Bible this year as part of my personal study. And, thanks to Flocknote, I am also reading through the Catechism.”
Lisa M. Hendey is the founder and editor of www.CatholicMom.com and the author of “A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms” (Ave Marie Press, $16.95).
Bishop Christopher Coyne
Leading flock in the digital world
By Brandon Vogt
In his message for the 44th World Communications Day, Pope Benedict XVI encouraged priests to “make astute use” of new media.
After all, he asked, who better to “help the men and women of our digital age sense the Lord’s presence”?
Many priests have heeded that call, but few better than Bishop Christopher Coyne, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.
In the last few years, he’s started a popular blog titled “Let Us Walk Together” and has connected with thousands of followers through Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
Every morning, Bishop Coyne tweets out short reflections on the Mass readings or the saints of the day, usually followed by a quote or prayer.
His messages are then beamed across the world and even his brother bishops take note. One recently confessed to using Bishop Coyne’s daily Twitter reflections to craft his own morning homilies.
Besides the devotional messages, Bishop Coyne also uses new media because it personally connects him to his flock. It’s common for parishioners to tell him, “I read your tweets every morning, and they’re such a great way to start the day.”
A young couple once messaged him on Facebook, explaining their baby was about to have surgery.
They asked for Bishop Coyne’s prayers and, thanks to Facebook, he was able to immediately respond with encouragement and supplication.
Among bishops, Bishop Coyne is the clear online leader.
Back in November, this was affirmed when he was invited to be a panelist at the special USCCB bishops and bloggers meeting. In his opening remarks he explained, “It’s not a question if bishops and the Church should be involved in digital media, but how.”
As a living bridge between the episcopacy and the digital world, Bishop Coyne modeled that “how” throughout 2012. While his brother bishops may be hesitant about websites and social media, perhaps even afraid, they can rest easy knowing one of their own is leading the way.
Brandon Vogt is a Catholic writer and speaker who blogs at BrandonVogt.com. He is also the author of “The Church and New Media: Blogging Converts, Online Activists and Bishops Who Tweet” (OSV, $13.95) . He writes from Casselberry, Fla.
Cardinal Luis Tagle
An emerging voice in Asian Church
By Matthew Bunson
On Nov. 24, Pope Benedict XVI officially installed Archbishop Luis Tagle, the archbishop of Manila, Philippines, as a member of the College of Cardinals. The high honor capped a year in which Cardinal Tagle, 55, emerged onto the scene of global Catholicism.
Nicknamed by his friends “Chito,” the American-educated bishop and theologian (he earned a doctorate in theology from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.) had been bishop of Imus, Philippines, from 2001 until 2011 when he was transferred to the archdiocese of Manila as its new archbishop. He was a member of the International Theological Commission and earned notoriety for his remarks at the Synod of Bishops in 2005 and 2008, and at the 2008 International Eucharistic Congress in Quebec City. He is famous across Asia for his great concern for the poor, taking the bus to work every day and playing the guitar.
His profile increased when he was named by Pope Benedict XVI to the Synod of Bishops held in Rome in October that focused on the New Evangelization. He called on the Church to discover the power of silence as a sign of a new spirit of humility, declaring, “The Church’s humility, respectfulness and silence might reveal more clearly the face of God in Jesus.”
He was subsequently nominated by the pope as vice president of the “Commission for the Message,” and produced the formal statement on the New Evangelization at the synod. He was in Rome during the canonization of St. Pedro Calungsod. Tagle is considered a young and important voice for the rapidly growing Church in Asia.
Matthew Bunson is the editor of “The Catholic Almanac” (OSV, $32.95) and The Catholic Answer.
For love of morality
By Elizabeth Scalia
When Yale graduate Leah Libresco began blogging for Patheos.com in October of 2011, her blog banner read: “Unequally Yoked: A geeky atheist picks fights with her Catholic boyfriend.” Handling her little corner of the blogosphere like Mario Andretti at the wheel of a Maserati, Libresco drove a dialogue that went beyond a mere statement of truth — that one can be an unbeliever and live a life disciplined by morals and ethics — to examine the nature of morality, what propelled it and gave it meaning. Gifted with a relentlessly curious and open mind (and such astounding depths of good will and good cheer as are rarely encountered on the Internet), Libresco debated philosophy and religion and invited her readers to plumb modern and ancient ideas in an effort to move beyond stagnant relativism, toward a hardy engagement with reality and truth. She hoped the ongoing discourse would “force me to burn off the dross in my philosophy.” When the going got tough in the comboxes, she regaled weary minds with show tunes, or terrified them with mathematics until they settled down. Finally, in a testament to the power of “Ephphatha,” her willingness to be intellectually open allowed the kiss between faith and reason, which won her heart.
In June 2012, with attention from puzzled mainstream media folk, Libresco’s subheader was changed to read: “A geeky convert picks fights in good faith.”
In November she was received into the Church, taking Augustine as her patron; her showtune-laden, beautifully written pre-baptismal posts gave us a glimpse of her muscular spirituality — a promising gift to the Church in a combative age.
Her conversion confounds all of the prevailing narratives of common acceptance: How could this young atheist find the seeds of faith in college, precisely where so many begin to lose theirs? Her elite education and sterling feminist credentials should have inoculated her against religious infection. How could she embrace the Church considered by many to be the originator and sustainer of the worldwide “war on women”?
With breathtaking humility and grace, Leah Libresco answers with a fond shrug: “I guess morality just loves me, or something.”
Unequally Yoked can be found in the Catholic Channel of Patheos.com: www.patheos.com/blogs/unequallyyoked/.
Elizabeth Scalia is the managing editor of the Catholic Channel at Patheos.com and the popular blogger known as “The Anchoress.”
Constant fixture at his parish
By Jessi Emmert
Francis O’Brien, a retired military officer, is a vital part of St. Peter Chanel Catholic Church in Roswell, Ga. He leads the Rosary before the 8 a.m. daily Mass, serves as a lector when needed and is secretary of the parish’s pro-life committee.
“He’s the type of person who is quiet,” said Yakaly Fernandez, a fellow parishioner. “He will do things without anybody knowing, and that’s what I think is amazing.”
O’Brien is a fixture in the parish. “He’s there every single morning,” Fernandez said.
O’Brien loves his parish because of its active and vibrant culture. “We have perpetual Eucharistic adoration, which is a great thing for a parish,” he said. “I take part in that.”
O’Brien’s wife, Judy, is also involved at St. Peter Chanel and serves on the pro-life committee with him. The parish is the closest one to the couple’s home, and they have been attending since the parish began in 1998. O’Brien described how they have seen the church grow throughout the years.
“In the beginning, Mass was being held in school gymnasiums and so on, then to a temporary sanctuary, and now we’re in the permanent church,” he said.
O’Brien is also involved in a Catholic outreach, The Society of St. Francis and St. Therese, that sends out postcards to the public, offering a free course in Catholicism.
He has used his retirement in a beautiful way that gives back to the Church. His passion for stewardship, evangelization, service and commitment to life represent the qualities of a strong and focused parishioner.
O’Brien is a symbol of the countless men and women who serve in parishes around the world. While they may not have an official title in the Church, their dedication and servants’ hearts make the ministry of the Catholic Church possible. Their silent but steadfast work may often go unnoticed, but they deserve a standing ovation for their loyalty and love.
Jessi Emmert is OSV Newsweekly’s intern.
Trump Organization VP puts faith first
By David Dziena
Dan Scavino, 36, is an executive vice president and general manager of Trump National Golf Club.
Scavino began his career as a teen working in the bag room at a modest golf club in Westchester County, N.Y. One interaction with Donald Trump would change his life forever.
“He said, you keep up the good work, you are going to work for me one day,” Scavino said.
Also as a teen, Dan was invited to be a youth delegate to attend World Youth Day in Denver. He and the rest of his delegation had the privilege of shaking hands with Blessed John Paul II.
“Since then, I’ve met hundreds of A–list celebrities,” he said. “But meeting the pope and shaking his hand ranks at the top. More astonishing, was a second encounter at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, N.Y. — where I was able to secure a front-row seat to the papal Mass! There I greeted John Paul II, and kissed his ring. Twice in one lifetime?”
Not only has Scavino worked his way up in the Trump organization, he has developed a true sense of philanthropy. In 2012 alone, he has helped raise more than $1.5 million through the Eric Trump Foundation to help St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.
Scavino has passed this gift of service on to his children, who participated in lemonade sales to help raise $25,000 for a neighborhood playground developed for special-needs children. Scavino and the Trump foundation have led the effort to complete the playground.
The Trump organization receives hundreds of requests for donations. Part of Scavino’s job is to decide which organizations receive funds or gifts.
“We receive thousands of requests a month — and do the best we can, to fulfill or honor what we can. While it is impossible to please everyone, we make a strong effort.”
Scavino said he strives to balance his professional goals with his desire to serve. It is also important to him to live his faith in his work. Even in the fast-paced and high-powered setting of the Trump Organization, Scavino is anchored by his Catholic faith and relationship with God.
“It has been the experience of a lifetime,” he said.
David Dziena is OSV acquisition editor.
Your parish priest
Very busy days, bookended by prayer
Editor’s note: Rather than choose just one priest to include in this package, OSV Newsweekly asked a priest to share how he witnesses to Christ on a “typical” day. His reply exemplifies the many duties that priests fulfill day in and day out to bring the sacraments to the people of God:
My “typical” day always begins with prayer: I pray a Morning Offering to the Sacred Heart even before I get out of bed!
This sets the tone for the rest of the day, which continues with a period of meditation, the office of readings and morning prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours, and then Mass. If there’s a funeral or burial, that can easily fill the rest of the morning. Otherwise, I often spend that time answering emails and letters, writing bulletin columns or blog posts, returning phone calls or meeting with staff members — the preschool director, the religious education coordinator, the music director, the financial administrator, the plant manager or the cemetery superintendent.
Some days, I grab lunch with whatever staff happen to be around.
At other times, it’s a “working” lunch; I’ve found that a meal is an excellent way to connect with people, especially teens and young adults. In fact, I like to say, half jokingly, that I do some of my best pastoral work in restaurants!
Right after lunch, I like to spend a few minutes sorting through the day’s mail. Then I try to devote an hour or two to prayer and spiritual reading, preparing homilies, or thinking over the next presentation to the youth group. I cover for the chaplain of the local Catholic hospital on his days off each week, so there’s often a round of visits and calls for anointing of the sick.
One or two afternoons each month are devoted to visiting our homebound parishioners; those moments are often the high points of their month! When a parishioner dies, I visit the wake in the afternoon, because things around the parish only pick up in the evening. On any given day, I may have a parish council or finance council meeting, youth group meeting or activity, Catholic Daughters, Knights of Columbus, or a diocesan meeting.
Sometimes I don’t eat supper until very late, after which I like to walk around our property and pray the Rosary.
Then it’s time for night prayer and bed. If it sounds like a lot, it is — but the rewards are literally out of this world!
The nine people profiled in this In Focus represent just a small number of worthy Catholics who were suggested by OSV staff members and readers. Here is a list of others who were nominated.
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