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Ravens savor first volleyball victory under new coach


Dialog reporter


GREENVILLE – St. Thomas More’s volleyball team had lost its first two matches of the 2017 season, and, for a bit on Sept. 14, the Ravens weren’t sure they were going to have a chance to play their third. Bus troubles delayed the team’s trip to New Castle County, and a 5:30 p.m. scheduled start moved closer to 7 p.m.

The wait was worth it, however, as the Ravens knocked off host AI. DuPont in five tough sets in the consolation round of the inaugural Tiger Classic. It was the first win for new coach Cheyenne Sanchez, and afterward, she and her lone senior, Haley Davidson, clutched the third-place trophy tight, posing for photographs with teammates and eagerly anticipating a few slices of pizza before boarding their bus back to Magnolia. Read more »

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Belgian Brothers of Charity reject Vatican order to stop euthanizing patients


Catholic News Service

Belgium’s Brothers of Charity Group, which runs 15 centers for psychiatric patients, has rejected a Vatican order to stop offering euthanasia.

In a Sept. 12 statement, the organization said it had not been given a chance to explain its “vision statement and argumentation.”

Activists take part in an anti-euthanasia protest Feb. 11, 2014, in Brussels. Assisted suicide and euthanasia were legalized in traditionally Catholic Belgium in 2002 A group of psychiatric care centers run by a Catholic religious order in Belgium is rejecting a Vatican order to stop euthanizing “nonterminal” mentally ill patients on its premises. (CNS photo/Julien Warnand, EPA)

It added that it “always took into account shifts and evolutions within society,” and “emphatically believed” its euthanasia program was consistent with the doctrine of the Catholic Church.

“In our facilities, we deal with patients’ requests for euthanasia for mental suffering in a nonterminal situation with the utmost caution,” said the organization, whose board members include Herman Van Rompuy, a former European Council president and former Belgian prime minister.

“We take unbearable and hopeless suffering and patients’ requests for euthanasia seriously. On the other hand, we want to protect life and ensure euthanasia is performed only if there is no more possibility of providing a reasonable treatment perspective to the patient,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, a Sept. 12 statement from Brother Rene Stockman, superior general of the Brothers of Charity in Rome, said he “deplores the fact that there is no willingness to negotiate” the text of the vision statement on the part of the Belgian organization.

“He does not understand that a board of directors does not want to take into account experts from the field that have expressed clear objections to the text,” the statement said.

An initial deadline of the end of August to settle the disagreement was delayed until Sept. 11, the statement explained, to allow further negotiations to take place.

But it said that the scheduled talks were “shot down” because Professor Rik Torfs, a former rector of Belgium’s Catholic University of Leuven called into mediate the dispute, “could no longer put his trust in the Brothers of Charity organization in Belgium.”

The statement said: “The superior general remains open to dialogue, provided that this dialogue is about the content of the vision text, and thus whether or not to apply euthanasia within the walls of the institutions of the Brothers of Charity, and not about a ‘modus vivendi’ (agreement allowing conflicting parties to coexist until a final settlement is reached).

“He will however resubmit the current situation to the competent authorities in the Vatican before taking further action,” it said.

The Belgian church’s Cathobel news agency said Sept. 12 the Brothers of Charity Group lay chairman, Raf De Rycke, a former economics professor, had agreed euthanasia requests would now be examined “with greater circumspection than previously,” but conceded that the order’s hospitals were not yet ready to accept more restrictive guidelines.

The agency added that at least three organization members had not declared their attitude to the Sept. 12 announcement, despite “claims of unanimity.”

In August, Brother Rene Stockman told Catholic News Service that Pope Francis gave his personal approval to a Vatican demand that the Brothers of Charity reverse its policy by the end of August. He said brothers who serve on the board of the Brothers of Charity Group must each sign a joint letter to their superior general declaring that they “fully support the vision of the magisterium of the Catholic Church, which has always confirmed that human life must be respected and protected in absolute terms, from the moment of conception till its natural end.”

Brother Stockman told CNS that if the group refused to bow to the ultimatum, “then we will take juridical steps in order to force them to amend the text (of the new policy) and, if that is not possible, then we have to start the procedure to exclude the hospitals from the Brothers of Charity family and take away their Catholic identity.”

He said if any of the brothers refused to sign the letter upholding Catholic teaching against euthanasia, “then also we will start the correct procedure foreseen in canon law.”

Geert Lesarge, press secretary of the Brussels-based Belgian bishops’ conference, criticized the decision and reiterated support for the Vatican Sept. 13.

He told Catholic News Service that attempts by Torfs to mediate the dispute had failed. He said church leaders were ready to debate “matters of principle,” but not “medical practices at specific hospitals.”

Assisted suicide and euthanasia were legalized in traditionally Catholic Belgium in 2002, a year after the neighboring Netherlands, and euthanasia deaths are increasing by 27 percent annually, according to Health Ministry data.

At least a dozen patients in the Brothers of Charity care are believed to have requested euthanasia over the past year, with two transferred elsewhere to receive deadly injections.

The Brothers of Charity Group is considered the most important provider of mental health care services in the Flanders region of Belgium, where they serve 5,000 patients a year.

Besides Belgium and the Netherlands, euthanasia and assisted suicide are also legal in Luxembourg and deemed “nonpunishable” in Switzerland. Poll data suggest most Europeans favor euthanasia laws if backed with safeguards.

     Contributing to this story was Simon Caldwell in Manchester, England.

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The Chainsaw Carmelite: Texas principal knows the joys of serving and severing


Catholic News Service

She inspired many when she rolled up the sleeves of her habit to clean up after Hurricane Irma with a chainsaw.

Carmelite Sister Margaret Ann Laechelin, principal of Archbishop Coleman F. Carroll High School in Miami, holds the chainsaw she used to help clean up debris following Hurricane Irma. (CNS photo/courtesy Sister Margaret Ann)

After the local police department posted a video Sept. 12 on Twitter of Carmelite Sister Margaret Ann Laechelin trimming branches off a fallen tree with a chainsaw, she became an instant hit and a symbol of sorts for the hurricane-ravaged Miami area.

“People are making a big deal about the chainsaw, but I’ve already given my life to God and that’s what brings true joy,” not the fame that came after the airing of the video, said Sister Laechelin in a Sept. 14 phone interview with Catholic News Service.

But the community at Archbishop Coleman F. Carroll High School, where she is the principal, has been enjoying the fame and the attention it has brought to the suburban Miami Catholic school of 300 students in West Kendall, she said.

“They say ‘Sister, you’re famous. Can I have your autograph?’” she said.

The community needs every bit of levity it can find as it recovers from the damage wrought by Hurricane Irma, which led to the school’s closing because a cooling tower needs to be fixed before students are allowed to return. Inspired by the Carmelite’s example of contributing to the cleanup, families from the school have shown up to help clean around the perimeter, she said.

Though it’s not open for classes, the school has been helping the surrounding community, giving out ice (from its icemaker) and providing a place for others to charge their phones and regroup, Sister Laechelin said.

“There’s such joy in giving,” she said.

And that’s what she was doing when she decided to clear the tree from the road when a police officer, armed with a phone, happened to drive by and filmed her. Though you wouldn’t know it from the video, she had never really used a chainsaw before, but when she was faced with finding a way to clear the tree, she remembered some important advice from her students.

“I had to go on YouTube” to figure it out, she said, “but growing up in Texas, I did a lot of yardwork and my dad taught me to figure things out.”

Though she lives in Florida, she is a member of the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart in Los Angeles, who also have a community of four women religious in Florida. Via FaceTime, she has been talking to them, easing the concerns of her community in Los Angeles, she said.

“Sisters, we stick together,” she told CNS.

They weren’t surprised at all. she said, by seeing her wielding the chainsaw and said, “That’s Sister Margaret Ann, she never sits back and jumps right in.”

Her family in Texas, however, was in “awe” when they saw her on TV, she said, and told her “I always thought you’d be famous, but not because of a chainsaw.”

The best lesson she can impart on her students from the situation, she said, comes from the Gospel.

“I want them to know that if they see a need, to step in and to help people, to help others, because God didn’t create us to be selfish and to care only for our little world,” she said.

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Derick, Seemans key in Spartans sweep at Friends


For The Dialog


ALAPOCAS – Senior Erin Derick and sophomore Savannah Seemans combined for 24 kills, seven blocks, seven digs and 35 assists to lead St Mark’s to a sweep of Friends in nonconference volleyball on Sept. 12. The Spartans won by set scores of 25-20, 25-14 and 25-17. Read more »

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U.S. bishops pray for ‘safety, care’ of all hit by two massive hurricanes


WASHINGTON — The U.S. bishops’ Executive Committee Sept. 12 prayed for “the safety and care of human life” after two catastrophic hurricanes and urged Catholics around the country to offer their prayers as well as financial support and volunteer help as they can.

Residents look at a collapsed house Sept. 12 after Hurricane Irma passed the area in Vilano Beach, Florida. (CNS photo/Chris Wattie, Reuters)

“The massive scale of the dual disasters and the effect it has on communities, families and individuals cannot be fully comprehended or adequately addressed in the immediate aftermath of the storms,” the statement said, noting that “lives and livelihoods” were “still at risk in Texas, Florida, the Virgin Islands and throughout the Caribbean.”

Beginning Sept. 6, Hurricane Irma left hardly any place in its path untouched. The strength and size of the massive storm, with 120-plus-mph winds stretching 70 miles from its core, leveled entire islands in the eastern Caribbean, brought unprecedented flooding on Cuba’s north coast, devastated the Florida Keys, snapped construction cranes in downtown Miami and targeted cities along Florida’s Gulf Coast.

Irma dwindled to a tropical storm as it neared the Florida-Georgia line early Sept. 11 and was forecast to die out over southern states later in the week. Officials in Florida and across the Caribbean, meanwhile, started to dig out and evaluate the full scope of the disaster Irma left behind. The death toll stood at more than 30 in the Caribbean and at 12 in the United States, as of Sept. 12.

More than a week earlier, Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc on Houston and southern Texas Aug. 25-30. In a four-day period, many areas received more than 40 inches of rain. Flooding inundated hundreds of thousands of homes, displaced more than 30,000 people, and prompted more than 17,000 rescues. The death toll from that storm stood at 70.

“At this time of initial recovery, we mourn the loss of life, homes and other property, and the harm to the natural environment, and we pray for all those affected and in need of assistance” in the wake of the two massive hurricanes, said the Executive Committee, which includes the officers of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“We also pray for the safety of, and in thanksgiving for, the first responders who are risking their lives at this very moment in care for their neighbors, especially those who are elderly, sick, homeless, or otherwise already in need of special assistance,” the statement said.

The Executive Committee’s statement followed by three days a statement from the president of the USCCB, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, whose diocese was hit by flooding from Hurricane Harvey.

He called for prayers for the victims of Harvey and for those affected by Irma.

“At a time like this, when our endurance is tested, we implore God to direct us to yet unknown reserves of strength and human compassion for those suffering so deeply. May our manifestations of love and solidarity be lasting signs in the midst of this crisis,” he said Sept. 9.

The Executive Committee said it shared “Pope Francis’ trust that the Catholic faithful here in the United States will respond to the needs presented by these disasters with a ‘ast outpouring of solidarity and mutual aid in the best traditions of the nation.’”

“We encourage the faithful to respond generously with prayers, financial support, and for those who have the opportunity, the volunteering of time and talents in support of those in need,” it said.

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New York firefighters march, pray as they recall events of 9/11


BROOKLYN, N.Y. —The ritual of remembrance continues.

Just as in previous years, Fire Department of New York Battalion 57 marched 2.5 miles from the World Trade Center, across the Brooklyn Bridge, ending at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph in Brooklyn to remember the fallen heroes of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center in 2001.

Members of New York City Fire Department Battalion 57, based in Brooklyn, march from the World Trade Center site in Manhattan to the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph in Brooklyn for the commemoration of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. They carried the flags of the Fire Department and attended Mass celebrated by Father Sean Suckiel. (CNS photo/Matthew O’Connor, The Tablet)

Father Sean Suckiel, vocations director for the Diocese of Brooklyn, celebrated the memorial Mass at the church, praying for those who lost their lives and blessing the first responders still on the job.

“That day we were shocked, we were wounded,” Father Suckiel recalled. “Evil that day has its moment of triumph. That was a day of horrific events that we must never forget.

“When truly challenged, we forget ourselves and we become men and women for others, men and women who are willing to give up their lives. In times of disaster, we are present for one another, we change, we become our best,” he said.

“Our hearts are always saddened by the events that took place on this day,” the priest continued. “But we must look back through a different point of view. Heroism is where we find Jesus. He shows us the way.”

Firefighter Keith McElwain remembered driving through the tunnel into Manhattan and “when we got out, the clouds of smoke were everywhere and most of us didn’t know the towers had fallen yet. But I knew my brothers were in there and I had to bring them home.

“As long as I can walk, I will be in this march,” he said. “It is a good feeling to see the younger guys joining in today, to see them carry the flags and help pass on the tradition. Today is just about having everyone together.”

Firefighter Thomas Palombo graduated from the fire academy in 2015. His father, Frank Palombo, a graduate of Cathedral Prep School and Seminary in Queens, was killed on 9/11.

“So many risked their lives to save thousands and it is an honor to know my father was a part of that,” Palombo said. “This is my fifth year marching and I love being a fireman. I cannot actually put it into words what today means to me and so many people. Carrying the flag means a lot because for me it is to remember my father and to bring him back to Brooklyn.”

Firefighter Billy Stark marched for the 14th consecutive year and doesn’t plan on stopping.

“Every year the march seems to get a little tougher, but we keep going,” he said.

Twenty-three members of Battalion 57, located in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, lost their lives at the World Trade Center.

“Of our battalion, we only recovered a femur of one firefighter. That was it,” Stark said.

“There was a sense of guilt for a long time that you weren’t one of the guys who died, but to the man none of us cared if we lived or died. We had to find our friends. It’s nice to see so many families still come out today and it shows how much love is out there.”

— By Matthew O’Connor, who is on the staff of The Tablet, newspaper of the Diocese of Brooklyn.

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‘You are children of God’ — Bishop Malooly supports Hispanics in DACA program


Bishop Malooly issued a letter Sept. 9 to Hispanic Catholics in response to President Trump’s Sept. 5 announcement that he would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in six months. DACA allows more than 800,000 young people brought to the United States illegally as children to stay in the country, working or going to school.

On Sept. 6, the president said Congress had six months to address the status of the DACA youth, or he would step in.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) supporters demonstrate near the White House in Washington Sept. 5. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Sept. 5 that the DACA program is “being rescinded” by President Donald Trump, leaving some 800,000 youth, brought illegally to the U.S. as minors, in peril of deportation and of losing permits that allow them to work. (CNS photo/Kevin Lamarque, Reuters)

Here is the text of the letter Bishop Malooly asked to be read at all Spanish-language Masses in the Diocese of Wilmington Sept. 9 and 10:

To my Hispanic Catholic communities in the Diocese of Wilmington, both in Delaware and Maryland:

On this weekend when our readings remind us how much God wants all of us to seek out the lost and make all people welcome in His name, we are confronted by another challenge with the attempt to overthrow the DACA program. The cancellation of this program is discouraging. Our DACA youth strengthen our communities and our Church. Many of them have only known America as their home and to send them away is not only cruel but it goes against the fundamental principles of self-sacrificing love that is at the heart of our faith.

I repeat the message from my brother bishops in the United States that “as people of faith, we say to DACA youth – regardless of your immigration status, you are children of God and welcome in the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church supports you and will advocate for you.” The U.S. Bishop’s will continue to lobby the federal government for legislation will bring this dilemma to a swift and positive conclusion.

You remain in my prayers.

Sincerely yours in Our Lord,

Bishop Malooly

A mis comunidades hispanas católicas en la Diócesis de Wilmington, tanto en Delaware como en Maryland:

En este fin de semana, nuestras lecturas nos recuerdan cuánto Dios quiere que todos nosotros busquemos lo perdido y hagamos que todas las personas sean bienvenidas en Su Nombre, nos enfrentamos a otro desafío con el intento de cancelar el programa de DACA. La cancelación de este programa es desalentadora. Nuestros jóvenes DACA fortalecen nuestras comunidades y nuestra Iglesia. Muchos de ellos sólo conocen a Estados Unidos como su hogar y enviarlos no sólo es cruel sino que va en contra de los principios fundamentales del amor abnegado que está en el corazón de nuestra fe.

Repito el mensaje de mis hermanos obispos en los Estados Unidos de que “como personas de fe, decimos a los jóvenes de DACA – sin importar su estatus migratorio, son hijos de Dios y son bienvenidos en la Iglesia Católica. La Iglesia Católica les apoya y abogará por ustedes “. Los Obispos de los Estados Unidos continuarán presionando al gobierno federal para que la legislación resuelva este dilema en una forma rápida y positiva para todos ustedes.

Permanecen en mis oraciones.

Sinceramente en Nuestro Señor,

Obispo Malooly


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Pope Francis hopes Trump reconsiders DACA decision


Catholic News Service

ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM COLOMBIA — Politicians who call themselves pro-life must be pro-family and not enact policies that divide families and rob young people of a future, Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis answers questions from journalists aboard his flight from Cartagena, Colombia, to Rome Sept. 10. Earlier, the pope cut and bruised his face on the popemobile window when he was greeting people. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Flying from Colombia back to Rome late Sept. 10, Pope Francis was asked about U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allowed some 800,000 young people brought to the United States illegally as children to stay in the country, working or going to school.

Trump announced Sept. 5 that he was phasing out the program; his decision was strongly criticized by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Pope Francis said he had heard of Trump’s decision, but had not had time to study the details of the issue. However, he said, “uprooting young people from their families is not something that will bear fruit.”

“This law, which I think comes not from the legislature, but from the executive (branch), if that’s right, I’m not sure, I hope he rethinks it a bit,” the pope said, “because I’ve heard the president of the United States speak; he presents himself as a man who is pro-life, a good pro-lifer.

“If he is a good pro-lifer, he understands that the family is the cradle of life and its unity must be defended,” the pope said.

Pope Francis said people must be very careful not to dash the hopes and dreams of young people or make them feel “a bit exploited,” because the results can be disastrous, leading some to turn to drugs or even suicide.

Pope Francis spent only about 35 minutes answering journalists’ questions and commenting on his five-day trip to Colombia. After he had answered eight questions, Greg Burke, director of the Vatican press office, told the pope it was time to sit down because the plane was approaching an area of turbulence.

The pope went to the journalists’ section of the plane still wearing a small bandage on his left eyebrow and sporting a large bump, which had turned black and blue, on his cheek. Rather than joking with reporters, he told them that he had been reaching out of the popemobile to greet people and turned. “I didn’t see the glass.”

While his trip back to Rome did not have to change flight plans like the flight to Colombia Sept. 6 did because of Hurricane Irma, Pope Francis was asked about the apparently increasing intensity of hurricanes and other storms and what he thinks of political leaders who doubt climate change is real.

“Anyone who denies this must go to the scientists and ask,” he said. “They speak very clearly. Scientists are precise.”

Pope Francis said he read a report citing a university study that asserted humanity has only three years to reduce the pace of climate change before it’s too late. “I don’t know if three years is right or not, but if we don’t turn back, we’ll go down, that’s true.”

“Climate change, you can see the effects,
Pope Francis said. “And the scientists have told us clearly what the paths to follow are.”

Everyone has a moral responsibility to act, he said. “And we must take it seriously.”

“It’s not something to play with,” the pope said. “It’s very serious.”

Politicians who doubt climate change is real or that human activity contributes to it should speak to the scientists and “then decide. And history will judge their decisions.”

Asked why he thinks governments have been so slow to act, Pope Francis said he thinks it’s partly because, as the Old Testament says, “”Man is stupid, a stubborn one who does not see.”

But the other reason, he said, is almost always money.

Talking about his five-day stay in Colombia, Pope Francis said he was “really moved by the joy, the tenderness” and the expressiveness of the people. In the end, they are the ones who will determine Pwhether Colombia truly has peace after 52 years of civil war.

Politicians and diplomats can do all the right things to negotiate peace deals, he said, but if the nation’s people aren’t on board, peace will not be lasting. In Colombia, he said, the people have a clear desire to live in peace.

“What struck me most about the Colombian people,” he said, was watching hundreds, perhaps thousands, of fathers and mothers along the roads he traveled, and they would lift their children high so the pope would see and bless them.

What they were doing, he said, was saying, “This is my treasure. This is my hope. This is my future. I believe in this.”

The parents’ behavior with their little ones, he said, “is a symbol of hope, of a future.”


Follow Wooden on Twitter: @Cindy_Wooden.


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Salesianum impresses on both sides of ball in football opener at Concord


Dialog reporter


BRANDYWINE HUNDRED – Salesianum faced an early start in its season-opening football game Sept. 9 at Concord, but the hour didn’t seem to make a difference. The Sals came out and displayed a multi-pronged offense and a stout defense in a 34-6 win over the Raiders.

Sallies, ranked third in Division I by 302 Sports, set the tone on their first possession of the game. Jassiem Lynch returned the kickoff to the Salesianum 37-yard line, and the offense went to work under the guidance of senior quarterback Zach Gwynn. They marched down the field, converting a fourth down along the way. On a second-and-10 from the Raiders’ 37, Gwynn hit a leaping Logan Bushweller with a 34-yard pass, setting up a first and goal. Nick Merlino punched it in from two yards out for the 7-0 lead. Read more »

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Auks volleyball impresses in season-opening trip to Smyrna


Dialog reporter


SMYRNA – Archmere knew its first volleyball match of the 2017 season would be a challenge, but after an early push by Smyrna, the second-ranked Auks took control and went on for a 3-0 sweep on Sept. 8. Set scores were 25-17, 25-9 and 25-20. Read more »

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