Home » Page 29

Dolphin flick sequel is family-friendly Winter’s tale

September 12th, 2014 Posted in Movies Tags: , ,

By

Catholic News Service

Flipper’s cousin is making waves again in “Dolphin Tale 2,” the dramatic follow-up to the 2011 film about the marine mammal with the prosthetic tail.

Charles Martin Smith returns to direct this family-friendly film about Winter, whose real-life triumph over disability has made her a symbol of hope to young and old around the world.

Cozi Zuehlsdorff, Harry Connick Jr. and Morgan Freeman star in a scene from the movie "Dolphin Tale 2." The Catholic News Service classification is A-I -- general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG -- parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children. (CNS /Warner Bros.I

Cozi Zuehlsdorff, Harry Connick Jr. and Morgan Freeman star in a scene from the movie “Dolphin Tale 2.” The Catholic News Service classification is A-I — general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children. (CNS /Warner Bros.I

Winter, for the unfamiliar, washed up on a Florida beach, tangled in a fishing trap. Discovered by young Sawyer (Nathan Gamble), the female dolphin was brought to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Doctors there were forced to amputate her severely injured tail, but Winter was fitted with a space-age prosthetic, a first.

We pick up the story a few years later, and Winter is the star attraction at Clearwater, where Sawyer, now in his teens, is a volunteer guide, along with his pal, Hazel (Cozi Zuehlsdorff).

Hazel’s dad, Clay (Harry Connick Jr.), runs the aquarium which is expanding by leaps and bounds. As such, he is under heavy pressure from investors to keep Winter happy and healthy.

That’s easier said than done. Winter’s surrogate mother, the elderly dolphin Panama, has died (a fleeting scene that may upset young viewers). By law, dolphins in captivity must live in pairs, as they crave companionship and social interaction in the water.

Spare dolphins are hard to come by, and without a replacement the authorities will step in and transfer Winter to another aquarium. Winter, moreover, is in a funk and refusing to perform, to the dismay of paying customers.

Clay must rally the troops, including his grizzled father, Reed (Kris Kristofferson); Sawyer’s spunky mother, Lorraine (Ashley Judd); and the avuncular Dr. Cameron McCarthy (Morgan Freeman), who designed Winter’s new tail.

Even champion surfer Bethany Hamilton drops by to help. Hamilton, who lost an arm to a shark, was the subject of another inspirational water-based film, 2011′s “Soul Surfer.”

Overall, it’s a whale of a tail — make that, tale — with a sweet side story of puppy love, as Hazel admires the clueless Sawyer, preoccupied by the plight of his aquatic pal.

“Dolphin Tale 2” is that rare Hollywood film: wholesome and fun for all ages, with nice messages about family, responsibility, and perseverance. The Catholic News Service classification is A-I — general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

 

 

Comments Off

Robin Hood, you might want to call your merry lawyer

September 12th, 2014 Posted in Movies Tags: , ,

By

Catholic News Service

It’s no wonder Errol Flynn called his autobiography “”My Wicked, Wicked Ways.” The swashbuckling actor’s bad habits are showcased in “The Last of Robin Hood,” a lurid account of the decline and fall of a once-beloved matinee idol.

Dakota Fanning and Kevin Kline star in a scene from the movie "The Last of Robin Hood." The Catholic News Service classification is L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. (CNS photo/Samuel Goldwyn)

Dakota Fanning and Kevin Kline star in a scene from the movie “The Last of Robin Hood.” The Catholic News Service classification is L — limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. (CNS photo/Samuel Goldwyn)

Flynn, famous for leading roles in “Captain Blood,” “The Adventures of Robin Hood,” and “The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex,” was also notorious behind the scenes as a womanizer and an alcoholic.

In “The Last of Robin Hood,” writer-directors Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland focus on the actor’s final two years before his death in 1959 at age 50.

It’s a sad but true story of rampant hedonism, sufficient to put anyone off considering a career in Hollywood.

We meet Flynn (portrayed with panache by Kevin Kline) in 1957. Professionally, he’s washed up, with choice film roles going to younger actors. But physically, he’s still dashing and debonair, constantly prowling the movie studios for nubile young starlets to seduce.

He lands one in Beverly Aadland (Dakota Fanning), a chorus girl on a Warner Brothers film. Beverly dreams of stardom, groomed from childhood by her pushy mother Florence (Susan Sarandon).

“Don’t fade into the woodwork,” she advises her daughter, whom she provides with a faked birth certificate that says she’s 18 years old.

In reality, Beverly is 15. This doesn’t matter in the least to Flynn, who has been accused of statutory rape before (and was acquitted). Bewitched but not bothered or bewildered, Flynn and Beverly embark on a very public affair.

“I am the devil incarnate,” Flynn crows. “I live every day and night as if it were my last.”

Florence, initially appalled, is won over by Flynn’s charms and the potential for Beverly’s showbiz “career.” She dumps her morally aghast husband Herb (Patrick St. Esprit) and follows the lovebirds to New York City.

After an interlude in Cuba with Fidel Castro (don’t ask) and a trip to Canada, Flynn pops the question, and a wedding is planned. Fate intervenes, and a happy ending is not in store.

“The Last of Robin Hood” is a cautionary tale about narcissism and the perils of fame. Viewers would do better to suspend reality and instead enjoy one of Flynn’s classic film performances from Hollywood’s golden age.

The film contains a scene of rape, nonmarital sexual activity, partial nudity, alcohol and drug abuse, sexual banter, and frequent profane and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is L, limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

 

Comments Off

Pope to address European Parliament Nov. 25

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis will address the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, Nov. 25.

The Parliament’s president, Martin Schultz, made the announcement Sept. 11, and the Vatican immediately confirmed it.

According to Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, Pope Francis will travel to Strasbourg and back to Rome the same day, and his brief trip should not be considered a pastoral visit to France.

In visiting the parliament, the pope will be accepting an invitation made by Schultz during a visit to the Vatican in October 2013.

“The decision to come to Strasbourg before visiting any individual EU member state as such gives a strong signal that the pope supports and encourages the pursuit of European integration and unity,” said a statement by German Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, president of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community. “We hope that the Holy Father will encourage European parliamentarians in their work and that he will indicate how the foundational values of the Union, inspired to a large degree by the Christian faith, may shape the Europe of tomorrow.”

Pope Francis will be the second pope to speak before the European Parliament.

When St. John Paul II addressed the body in October 1988, the event was disrupted by the Rev. Ian Paisley, leader of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, who unfurled a large orange banner branding the pope “Antichrist’” and shouted, “I renounce you. I renounce you and all your cults and creeds.”

Fellow parliamentarians threw papers at Rev. Paisley, and after a brief scuffle, he was forcibly ejected from the hall.

 

Comments Off

Feast days of new papal saints added to universal calendar

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — In light of “countless requests from every part of the world,” Pope Francis has approved putting Sts. John Paul II and John XXIII on the church’s universal calendar of feast days.

Images of St. John XXIII (left) and St. John Paul II. (CNS)

Images of St. John XXIII (left) and St. John Paul II.
(CNS)

Called the General Roman Calendar, it is the universal schedule of holy days and feast days for the Latin rite of the Catholic Church.

The two saints’ feast days, both of which have the ranking of an optional, not obligatory, memorial, are Oct. 11 for St. John XXIII and Oct. 22 for St. John Paul II.

The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, published the decree Sept. 11 from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.

The pope determines who makes the universal calendar based on recommendations from the congregation for worship.

In 2007, Pope Benedict approved stricter guidelines for determining which saints will be remembered with mandatory feast days. The new norms were necessary, the congregation had said, because the year does not have enough days to include all the saints in the universal calendar, particularly when Sundays and holy days are subtracted.

Pope Francis, who canonized the two saints in April, approved the optional memorials “given the extraordinary nature of these pontiffs in offering the clergy and the faithful a unique model of virtue and in promoting the life of Christ,” the decree said.

“Taking into consideration the countless requests from every part of the world,” the pope took “as his own the unanimous wishes of the people of God,” it said.

 

Comments Off

All sorts of couples among those marrying at papal Mass Sept. 14

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Among the men and women Pope Francis was set to unite in marriage were Catholics who have been living together as well as couples who already have children.

The pope, who is the bishop of Rome, will preside over his first wedding ceremony as pontiff during a nuptial Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica Sept. 14.

Newly married couples watch as Pope Francis leads his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Sept. 10. Pope Francis will preside at the weddings of 20 couples at St. Peter's on Sept. 14. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Newly married couples watch as Pope Francis leads his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Sept. 10. Pope Francis will preside at the weddings of 20 couples at St. Peter’s on Sept. 14. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The event, which will see 20 couples from the Diocese of Rome celebrate the Sacrament of Marriage, was organized by the vicariate of Rome.

“Those who will get married Sunday are couples like many others,” the diocese said in a press release Sept. 10.

The ages of the brides and grooms range from the youngest being 25 to the oldest being 56, the vicariate said.

It said the couples also come from all kinds of situations with some “who have been engaged for a long period of time or for not as long; there are those who are already cohabitating; who already have children; who got to know each other in church,” it said.

While cohabitation is not in itself a canonical impediment to marriage, it is contrary to the church’s teaching on marriage and sexual love. The church urges that pastoral ministers help couples preparing for marriage by showing them the witness of Christian family life in such a way as they may regularize their situation before their wedding ceremony.

One of the brides, identified only as Gabriella, has never been married, but she had a daughter when she was quite young, she told the Italian daily La Repubblica Sept. 9. Her grown daughter will also attend the ceremony at the Vatican, Gabriella said.

Gabriella’s fiance, Guido, has had an annulment, the newspaper said.

“We’ve known each other for five years and our wanting to get married in the church stems from no longer wanting to live in a union and with feelings that are deprived of some of the sacraments,” the couple said.

When their parish told them about the possibility of having their marriage in the church presided over by the pope, they said they were shocked. “We didn’t feel worthy, because of our age and personal background.”

The papal Mass celebrating the couples’ marriage will come just a few weeks before the start of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family, Oct. 5-19.

Pope Francis has said the church’s pastoral approach to helping couples must be “intelligent, courageous and full of love” because the family today is “looked down upon and mistreated.”

He told the world’s cardinals in February that reflections on the family “must keep before us the beauty of the family and marriage, the greatness of this human reality, which is so simple, yet so rich, made up of joys and hopes, of struggles and sufferings.”

The mid-September ceremony will be the first public papal celebration of a wedding since 2000, when St. John Paul II joined in marriage eight couples from different parts of the world as part of the Jubilee for Families. He also publicly presided over another joint wedding for a group of couples in 1994 as part of his celebration of the International Year of the Family.

 

Comments Off

Bishop to lead prayer service Saturday morning at Cathedral Cemetery in memory of aborted children

By

The Dialog

Bishop Malooly will preside at a prayer service Saturday, Sept. 13, in Cathedral Cemetery at the gravesite of 63 aborted children.

The public is invited to the 9 a.m. ceremony, which is part of the second annual National Day of Remembrance for Aborted Children, co-sponsored by Citizens for a Pro-Life Society, Priests for Life and the Pro-Life Action League.

“Cathedral Cemetery is honored to be one of the over 100 locations that will host a solemn vigil to mark the National Day of Remembrance for Aborted Children,” said Mark Christian, executive director of Catholic Cemeteries for the Diocese of Wilmington. “On this day we pause to remember the loss of over 55 million children to legal abortion since 1973 and mourn that they were never allowed to make their mark on our world.”

The memorial stone at Cathedral Cemetery, 2400 Lancaster Avenue in Wilmington, marks the grave of 63 aborted babies whose remains were abandoned in a Chicago abortion facility and brought to Wilmington in 1988 by Delaware Right to Life, according to Bob Krebs, the communications director for the Diocese of Wilmington.

 

 

Comments Off

Commentary: Recalling the message delivered on 9/11

September 11th, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized Tags: , , ,

By

 

Message delivered

In a message from a burning building, in a call from a doomed airplane, the words were repeated again and again.

The second tower of the World Trade Center bursts into flames after being hit by a hijacked airplane in New York in this Sept. 11, 2001, file photo.  (CNS photo/Sara K. Schwittek, Reuters)

The second tower of the World Trade Center bursts into flames after being hit by a hijacked airplane in New York in this Sept. 11, 2001, file photo. (CNS photo/Sara K. Schwittek, Reuters)

It was a message from the point of death. It was a call from people engaged in workday lives who minutes before had no clue the ordinary morning hour would be their last.

The last words from the victims in the burning World Trade Center and the hijacked airplanes on Sept. 11 came from people whose lives had dwindled from abundant possibility to the imminent certainty of death.

The terrorism had focused their minds on essential things. They wanted to do one last thing with their life. They wanted to deliver a message.

“I love you,” they said.

They called their spouses. They called their parents. They called their children. They called their friends.

“I love you,” they said.

They didn’t ask, “Do you love me?”

They didn’t say, “Take care of the business.”

They didn’t scream, “Take revenge.”

Facing death, they reached out to give the gift of themselves.

They used their last moments to establish the most basic human contact.

“I love you.”

They were helpless. They were dying. They had a call to make. They got to the heart of the matter eloquently.

“I love you.”

In the face of their powerlessness, it wasn’t a cry for help. In the face of their death, it wasn’t a call for mercy.

“I love you” was their summation.

It’s difficult to imagine receiving such a tragic call. It’s harder to imagine discovering one on an answering machine. But the calls went out and the stunned recipients repeated the message they received to the media so the whole world could hear it.

“I love you.”

Consider the context: Fanatical terrorists plot a mass murder tha’s diabolical in the extreme. Hate is the incentive and death the goal that unleashes explosions strong enough to break the Pentagon, demolish a plane and collapse 220 stories of office towers into a mangled heap.

But what word emerges from the victims? What emotion survives the fireball?

Love.

It’s an old message. Two thousand years ago, for instance, the Son of God left his own message for us in that symbol of his love, the cross.

“Love one another as I have loved you.”

To the point of death, to the point of his abject powerlessness on the cross, the Son of God was teaching us that we are all helpless in the finality of death, but from the saving grace of his death and resurrection we are called to love God and love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

We are called to establish community with each other as God established community with us. We are called to love one another.

That love can be a powerful solution to the challenges of our world. We love our neighbors, therefore we work for their well-being. We work for justice. We work for peace.

Love produces humility, not arrogance. Love teaches us to serve, not to dominate.

Love is the lesson.

Dialog Editor Joseph Ryan wrote the above commentary in September 2001, for The Catholic Standard and Times, the former newspaper of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, where he was acting editor at the time.

 

Comments Off

Column: How did global warming cause a cool summer?

By

“Can we remain indifferent before the problems associated with such realities as climate change … loss of productivity in vast agricultural areas, the pollution of rivers and aquifers, the loss of biodiversity, the increase of natural catastrophes and the deforestation of equatorial and tropical regions?”

These aren’t the radical words from the leader of a secular environmental organization, no; these are the radical words from the former leader of the Catholic Church.

In his 2010 World Day of Peace message titled, “If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation,” Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI wrote that “it would be irresponsible not to take seriously” the signs of a growing environmental crisis.

The greatest threat to the natural world is climate change, caused principally by human induced global warming. Burning fossil fuels – oil, gas and coal for energy – produces huge amounts of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the lower atmosphere.

The earth indeed is getting hotter. It’s not a hoax.

According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), last decade was the hottest on record.

And according to NASA, “97 percent of climate scientists agree that global warming trends over the past century are “very likely due to human activities.”

In a study titled “Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis” the highly authoritative United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports that it is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed global warming since the mid-20th century.

According to new findings by the World Meteorological Organization, concentrations of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide – the major cause of global warming – increased at their fastest rate in 2013 than in any year since 1984.

And in a study by the non-governmental organization Germanwatch, the U.S. is the second largest emitter of carbon dioxide.

To underscore the critical importance for world leaders to robustly respond to the climate changing dangers already beginning to affect the earth and humanity, the U.N. on Sept. 23 will host “Climate Summit 2014.”

With all of the solid scientific evidence validating climate change and global warming, I was wondering why this summer has felt cooler than normal where I live in Maryland.

Dr. Brenda Ekwurzel, senior climate scientist for the Union of Concerned Scientists, explained to me that the continued relatively faster warming of the Arctic region is causing shifts in the jet stream pattern which, in turn, is leading to more unusual weather in the Northern Hemisphere.

She said that during the first half of this year the same jet stream that has been bringing mostly cooler weather to the eastern U.S. has caused hot drought conditions along the west coast.

As the Arctic and Greenland ice caps continue to melt, ocean levels will dangerously rise – putting large areas of world-wide coastal land under water.

While too much water will plague many, countless others will suffer from not having enough.

According to the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “Hundreds of millions of people face water shortages that will worsen as temperatures rise.”

We need to quickly move toward, and heavily invest in, clean, safe and renewable alternative sources of energy – like wind, solar and geo-thermal.

Pope Benedict writes, “In a word, concern for the environment calls for a broad global vision of the world; a responsible common effort to move beyond approaches based on selfish interests towards a vision constantly open to the needs of all peoples.”

Our wise retired Holy Father is absolutely right.

Tony Magliano is a syndicated social justice and peace columnist, who lives in the Diocese of Wilmington.

 

Comments Off

Vatican official says ISIS conflict is not about religion, points to economic interests

By

Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — The conflict in which Islamic State fighters are driving out Christians and other minorities must not be seen as a war between Islam and Christianity, said the head of the Vatican Congregation for Eastern Churches.

“I do not share this position and I ask, on the contrary, that it never prevail,” Cardinal Leonardo Sandri told participants in the inaugural In Defense of Christians summit Sept. 9.

Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, leads a prayer during an ecumenical service at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington Sept. 9. Christian patriarchs from the Middle East, along with lawmakers and international human rights activists, are attending In Defense of Christians’ three-day summit about the persecution of Middle Eastern minorities. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, leads a prayer during an ecumenical service at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington Sept. 9. Christian patriarchs from the Middle East, along with lawmakers and international human rights activists, are attending In Defense of Christians’ three-day summit about the persecution of Middle Eastern minorities. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

He said the Islamists are not looking to destroy a foreign Christian culture, but are intent on destroying centuries of “a respectful and useful cultural coexistence.”

He also said it was “impossible … to quell the doubts about how the vast economic interests at stake affect the conflict.”

The cardinal reminded approximately 500 people at the Omni Shoreham Hotel about Pope Francis’ statement Sept. 8, 2013, the day after his prayer vigil for peace in Syria. Pope Francis said: “And the doubt always remains: Is this war or that war, because wars are everywhere, really a war to solve problems, or is it a commercial war for selling weapons in illegal trade? These are the enemies to fight, united and consistent, following no other interests than those of peace and of the common good.”

Cardinal Sandri said that people also must consider “the control of oil wells and of gas deposits, the safety of the petroleum and gas pipelines, the supremacy of one area of free commercial trade over another, and this is not only in the Middle East but also in Eastern Europe and in other regions of the world.”

He said this leads to a situation in which someone’s personal economic interests are more important that human life, which “can even be annihilated, or at least not taken into account.”

Cardinal Sandri said the situation in which Christians and other minorities were being forced from their homes and executed had to be resolved through the United Nations, and it might or might not involve the use of force.

“The unjust assailant must be halted, but let us not limit our thinking to the use of force, in some cases necessary, alone, and in any case only within the framework of an international agreement under the aegis of the United Nations, involving the Arab and Muslim countries,” he said.

The cardinal thanked Muslim leaders, such as the grand muftis of Saudi Arabia and of Al-Azhar University in Egypt, as well as of several imams of England and Italy,who had spoken against Islamic State atrocities in recent weeks.

“Let us thank them in the hope that their example may be followed by many so that no silence may be equivocal, and let us thank together all those in Iraq, in Jordan, in Lebanon, in Bahrain … who have worked hard or have offered help and shown willingness to welcome the Christians expelled from the plain of Ninevah,” he said.

He said he had heard of private residents of Jordan who had gone to the Caritas offices with basic goods or offered to pay rent for refugee families. He said Muslim students had volunteered with Caritas in Jordan.

Earlier in the day, speaking to the Administrative Committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Sandri thanked them for their consistent calls for Americans to remember their “elder brethren in the faith.” He also thanked them for their special prayers for peace in Iraq; letters to politicians, including President Barack Obama, meant to raise awareness; and special collections for those affected by Middle Eastern violence.

 

Comments Off

NFL ref is a rookie on the field but not in his faith

September 11th, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized Tags: , , ,

By

Catholic News Service

INDIANAPOLIS — The emotion poured out of Bryan Neale when he learned that the dream he had pursued for 25 years had finally come true.

The National Football League informed Neale earlier this year that he had been chosen as one of the 13 new referees hired for the 2014 season.

Bryan Neale, center, talks with a fellow NFL official during a pre-season game in early August between the San Diego Chargers and the Dallas Cowboys. Neale, a member of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Indianapolis, has always relied on his faith on and off the field. (CNS photo/courtesy Bryan Neale)

Bryan Neale, center, talks with a fellow NFL official during a pre-season game in early August between the San Diego Chargers and the Dallas Cowboys. Neale, a member of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Indianapolis, has always relied on his faith on and off the field. (CNS photo/courtesy Bryan Neale)

“The phone rang at 11:48 a.m. on March 21, if that tells you anything,” said Neale, a member of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Indianapolis. “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t start bawling like a baby. It was a really big deal. It’s one of those deals where you go, ‘Oh my God, I’m in the NFL!’”

Yet, even Neale’s joy for his selection does not match the emotion he feels when he tells the story of how his Catholic faith became the focal point of his life.

“I grew up in a conflicted household,” he told The Criterion, newspaper of the Indianapolis archdiocese. “Both of my parents are from Catholic families in Evansville. My dad was a hippie, and he would rebel against the Catholic Church because, in his mind, it was old school and brainwashing. So growing up, I had my dad’s influence which was to be a free spirit. And I had my extended family which went to Mass every Sunday.”

He was baptized but never had his first Communion or confirmation, he said. During Mass, his aunts, uncles and cousins would go to Communion, while “me and my Methodist aunt would be sitting in the pew together,” he recalled. “I always felt left out. Not to be a sob story, but I felt I always wanted to be a part of it.”

Neale reached a turning point as a young adult.

“As I moved into my twenties, I hit what a lot of people do, the searching phase. I was faithful, but I really didn’t have a place to worship. The Catholic Church was always my home. I always felt fully at peace and comfortable there,” he said.

But after “talking to a friend about being lost and meandering around,” the friend told Neale he was taking Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults classes at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish. He put Neale in touch with the director.

“I went through RCIA in 1997,” said Neale, now 44 and the father of four. “Even to this day, the consecration and Communion never get old to me. It’s the most special thing going because it’s the thing I always missed out on when I was a kid. To me, it’s the most touching, important thing that we do in the Catholic faith.”

Neale’s “all-in” approach to his faith reflects the same commitment he had to pursue his dream of becoming an NFL official.

He played football through high school, but when he enrolled at Indiana University in Bloomington he knew he was not “fast enough or good enough” to play the sport in college. So he set his sights on becoming an official. He got his license in 1988.

“My first game was a (junior varsity) game at Bloomington South (High School). I ran around the field, I had no idea of what I was doing, I never blew my whistle, I didn’t throw any flags, and I thought it was awesome. It was the greatest thing ever.”

A year later, he wrote down a list of goals, including becoming an NFL official someday. As he progressed through the college ranks, including eight years in the Big Ten Conference, his focus never wavered.

Then came the moment when he was sure he had blown any chance of living his dream, during the national college championship game in January 2011, Oregon vs. Auburn.

“Oregon was driving to win the game at the end of the fourth quarter. … I ran into a defensive back who was guarding a receiver on a fourth-down play. I hit this Auburn kid, and it left the Oregon kid wide open. He caught a pass for 16 yards, and they went down and scored a touchdown.”

Neale’s voice softened.

“For a moment, I thought my career was over. But you still have the rest of the game. There were a couple minutes left. Auburn ended up coming back and kicking a field goal to win,” he said.

Faith helps in those moments, too.

“I pray a lot more on the football field than I do in church,” Neale said, adding, “I pray all the time. It may not be in the traditional on-the-knees, eyes-closed, hands-folded manner, but I’m constantly talking. More than anything, I affirm that God is going to take care of me.”

Neale’s faith guides him in family life as well. He’s been married to his wife, Jennifer, for 14 years. Their four children range in age from 7 to 12.

It’s important to him to give his children “a more structured faith environment,” than he had, “so it’s very central to what we do,” he said.

“It makes me feel good to start them off that way, to expose them to faith, to let them experience the things that I didn’t experience that I wish I would have as a kid,” Neale said. “And still to give them, hopefully, the freedom when they’re adults to make their own reasonable choices about their faith.

“I still want them to have part of what my dad taught me, to be open-minded and be called to what you’re called to. I hope to God, they all stay close.”

 — By John Shaughnessy

Comments Off
Marquee Powered By Know How Media.