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Annual Catholic Appeal sets 36-year record


The 2011 Annual Catholic Appeal set a new record with collections of more than $4.3 million, the campaign’s highest total in its 36-year history, the diocesan Development Office announced this week.

Collections totaled $4,394,389 at the campaign’s close on Jan. 10, more than 8 percent above the campaign target of $4,058,000. The campaign generated pledges of $4,593,735 from nearly 28 percent of the constituents registered in the diocese’s 57 parishes and the Korean Catholic Community. The average gift was $253.08.

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From the Bishop: Prayer and witness are important in struggle for human life


This month we recall the disastrous 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, which overturned the abortion laws in all 50 states. That decision has cost over 50 million lives and has contributed significantly to the polarization and bitterness of our political and cultural life.

Each year on Jan. 22, the precise date of the decision, the Catholic Church in the United States holds a Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children. This year, because that date is a Sunday, the Day of Prayer will take place on Monday. I urge Catholics in Delaware and on the Eastern Shore of Maryland to make it a day of prayer, privately or by attending one of the Masses or holy hours celebrated on that day.

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Pope warns of radical secularism in U.S., greets Bishop Malooly

January 19th, 2012 Posted in Featured, Our Diocese


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI warned visiting U.S. bishops, including the Diocese of Wilmington’s Bishop Malooly, that “radical secularism” threatens the core values of American culture, and he called on the church in America, including politicians and other laypeople, to render “public moral witness” on crucial social issues.

The pope spoke Jan. 19 to a group of U.S. bishops who were in Rome for their periodic “ad limina” visits, which included meetings with the pope and Vatican officials, covering a wide range of pastoral matters.

Pope Benedict XVI meets Bishop W. Francis Malooly of Wilmington, Del., during a Jan. 19 meeting with U.S. bishops on their "ad limina" visits to the Vatican. In a speech to the bishops, the pope issued a strong warning about threats to freedom of religion and conscience in the U.S. (CNS)Pope Benedict XVI meets Bishop W. Francis Malooly of Wilmington, Del., during a Jan. 19 meeting with U.S. bishops on their "ad limina" visits to the Vatican. In a speech to the bishops, the pope issued a strong warning about threats to freedom of religion and conscience in the U.S. (CNS)

Opening with a dire assessment of the state of American society, the pope told the bishops that “powerful new cultural currents” have worn away the country’s traditional moral consensus, which was originally based on religious faith as well as ethical principles derived from natural law.

Whether they claim the authority of science or democracy, the pope said, militant secularists seek to stifle the church’s proclamation of these “unchanging moral truths.” Such a movement inevitably leads to the prevalence of “reductionist and totalitarian readings of the human person and the nature of society.”

The pope drew an opposition between current “notions of freedom detached from moral truth” and Catholicism’s “rational perspective” on morality, founded on the conviction that the “cosmos is possessed of an inner logic accessible to human reasoning.” Using the “language” of natural law, he said, the church should promote social justice by “proposing rational arguments in public square.”

Coming at the start of an election year, Pope Benedict’s words were clearly relevant to American politics, a connection he made explicit by mentioning threats to “that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion.”

The pope said that many of the visiting bishops had told him of “concerted efforts” against the “right of conscientious objection … to cooperation in intrinsically evil practices” — an apparent reference to proposals by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, opposed by the U.S. bishops, that all private health insurance plans cover surgical sterilization procedures and artificial birth control.

In response to such threats, Pope Benedict said, the church requires an “engaged, articulate and well-formed Catholic laity” with the courage and critical skills to articulate the “Christian vision of man and society.” He said that the education of Catholic laypeople is essential to the “new evangelization,” an initiative that he has made a priority of his pontificate.

Touching on one of most controversial areas of church-state relations in recent years, the pope spoke of Catholic politicians’ “personal responsibility to offer public witness to their faith, especially with regard to the great moral issues of our time,” which he identified as “respect for God’s gift of life, the protection of human dignity and the promotion of authentic human rights.”

The pope was not specific about the bishops’ relationship with such politicians, merely encouraging the bishops to “maintain contacts” with them and “help them understand” their duty to promote Catholic values.

While acknowledging the “genuine difficulties” facing the church in the United States, the pope concluded on a hopeful note, pointing to a growing appreciation for “Judeo-Christian” civic values, and a “new generation of Catholics,” who he said will play a “decisive role in renewing the Church’s presence and witness in American society.”

Before the speech, Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, greeted the pope with brief remarks that recalled his 2008 visit to the United States.

The pope addressed bishops from the District of Columbia, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services, and the Virgin Islands.

Sarah Delaney contributed to this story.


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Parishes providing buses to March for Life, events in diocese set

January 19th, 2012 Posted in Featured, Our Diocese Tags: , ,


Parish buses leaving Jan. 23 for the March for Life in Washington include:

Church of the Holy Child in Wilmington (call Nancy Frick at 302-529-5738 for details); St. Thomas the Apostle in Wilmington, (contact Tom Nicastro at 302-250-3105); St. John the Beloved in Wilmington (call Dave Williams at 302-234-0346);  St. Peter the Apostle in New Castle (contact Larry Ciskanik at 302-328-2279); St. Mary of the Assumption in Hockessin (call Ann Courtney at 302-494-4138); St. Polycarp in Smyrna (call Darla Vinton at 302-747-7053) and St. Jude the Apostle in Lewes, Delaware (call Rachel Leonardo at 302-644-1106); and from St. Luke Parish in Ocean City, Md. (Call the parish at 410-250-0300.)

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Bishop Malooly with region’s bishops in Rome for ‘ad limina’ visits


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Bishops make their “ad limina” visits to the Vatican to report on how well they have cared for their faithful, but also to give thanks to God for their bonds with the pope, the successor of the Apostle Peter, said Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington.

Presiding at Mass Jan. 16 at the tomb of St. Peter, the cardinal led his fellow bishops, including Wilmington’s Bishop Malooly, in singing the creed in Latin and thanking God for the gift of apostolic faith that lives through the ministry of the pope.

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Sallies’ lesson plan on Jan. 27: Holy orders


Staff reporter

WILMINGTON —For Mike Vogt, the running stops Jan. 27.

That’s when, in front of the Salesianum School community of which he has been a part for the past two and a half years, Vogt will be ordained a priest of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, completing a process he began almost 36 years ago.

Vogt, 53, joined the Oblates right after he graduated from North Catholic High School in Philadelphia in 1976 and, for the next decade, he was in formation with them and with the Diocese of Allentown. Then, as his ordination approached, he had second thoughts.

Rev. Mr. Mike Vogt, who will be ordained an Oblate priest at Salesianum School on Jan. 27, distributes the Communion cup during a recent school Mass. (The Dialog/DonBlakePhotography.com)

“Basically, I got cold feet and left,” Vogt said recently at Salesianum, where he is part of the campus ministry team and a theology teacher.

“I had some doubts about myself and my own worthiness. I guess you could say a lot of it was rethinking, some confusion. There were some personal crises in my life, and I think I needed to take a step away and catch a breath.”

In the interim, Vogt had a bi-coastal odyssey. He taught high school in Philadelphia for seven years, then moved to California, where he did some acting in commercials and worked in sales for CBS. He also ran two sober-living facilities for men.

Vogt said he used a lot of what he had learned in teaching and in community life at the sober-living houses. In a way, he was practicing his vocation in California.

“As somebody used to say to me, ‘You took off the uniform but you never really got out of community,’ he said. “I still had a sense of mission and I think of service to the people of God, but was just confused.”

In 2003, a priest friend from Philadelphia told Vogt he was the pastor of twin parishes in West Philadelphia and that he could use some help, so Vogt returned to his hometown and became a pastoral associate, eventually moving into the rectory. There, the pastor asked Vogt why he kept avoiding the call.

“He said, ‘It’s time to stop running,’” Vogt said.


The ‘call’ lingered

The Oblates accepted Vogt, and although he had already met the academic requirements and been ordained a transitional deacon, he had to go through formation and make his vows again. He had changed, as had the Oblates and, to  some extent, the church, and both sides needed to know they were on the same page, Vogt said.

“I was never laicized, was never asked to, nor did I want to. Somebody told me I had the longest transitional diaconate in the history of the church,” he joked.

Throughout his life, he said, he knew something was missing. “No matter what I did, the call never went away. It was always on my shoulder.

“It was really good priests, brothers, nuns and my folks who were saying, ‘Maybe you didn’t make a mistake the first time. Maybe you were doubting yourself.’”

Oblate Father James Greenfield, the provincial, was the congregation’s vocations director when Vogt returned. They had known each other since 1979, when Father Greenfield joined the Oblates. He said the Oblates handled Vogt’s inquiry as they would any other and that they have no particular policy on the age of candidates.

“We did a review of what’s been happening over the years, we make sure the candidate’s been under spiritual direction and has been for at least the previous three years,” Father Greenfield said.

A gap of that many years is unusual, Father Greenfield said, but sometimes it takes a while to be certain.

“It’s a clear sign to really trust and believe in the slow work of the spirit. Sometimes we live in a world where we expect instant results, but vocation is something that happens day by day, we grow into it,” he said.

Vogt said he first felt the call at Holy Innocents School in Philadelphia, where he was an altar boy and would find himself drawn to the church, where he would sit in the back “and feel at home.” He liked the sense of mystery he felt.

He met the Oblates at North Catholic and was attracted to the brotherhood he saw among them. No matter what they did at the school — teaching, administration, staff the bookstore — they were happy.

“They truly believed you could live Jesus and follow the Lord now, and that was just as dynamic as following him in 33 A.D. in Nazareth,” he said.

Theologically speaking, his philosophy fits well with the teachings of St. Francis de Sales.

“De Sales believed in practical holiness, that it was not having to go into a monastery, that we’re called to be the best of who we are according to the Gospel of where we’re at, and to follow that. Francis was imminently practical and down to earth, and that’s what struck me about the Oblates,” he said.


Students part of journey

He is enjoying his campus ministry work and teaching theology at Salesianum, where the students just call him “Rev.” He wasn’t a reverend, and he wasn’t a mister. They were at a loss as to what to call him.

At Sallies, he leads retreats, such as one for the sophomore class recently in Camden, N.J., where they worked in a soup kitchen, helped the homeless and straightened up a park for neighborhood children. He is also involved in liturgy preparation and penance services, although until now he has not been able to hear their confessions. He is looking forward to saying Mass at the school and in nearby parishes.

In his free time, Vogt likes to take walks, see movies and “get lost” in bookstores.

He is also a familiar face at Salesianum athletic events and likes to be present in the students’ lives. He tells them all the time that they are part of his journey.

“They get to see someone, regardless of age, who’s in formation, who’s growing with them, who’s not arrived, who’s studying, who’s learning what priesthood and what religious life is all about,” he said.


Ordinations are usually in church


When Rev. Mr. Vogt is ordained to the priesthood on Jan. 27, it will mark a first for the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, Salesianum School and Bishop Malooly.

Instead of the Cathedral of St. Peter, where most diocesan priests are ordained, or St. Anthony of Padua Church, where the Oblates have held ordinations in the past, Vogt will complete his journey to the priesthood at Salesianum School, in front of the students, faculty and staff with whom he has spent the last two and a half years.

Because the students have been such a big part of Vogt’s life the last three years, the Oblates wanted to find a way to have them at the ordination. They talked about transporting students to one of the local churches, but decided, with Bishop Malooly’s permission, to hold the ordination in the school gymnasium.

“The idea was that this has been where I minister, and the transporting of the entire student body and faculty to one of those places would be a major problem,” he said.

He added that he is sure there are a few vocations among the student body, and if they see an ordination, perhaps someone else will realize he has a call. His parents, Albert and Mary, will be there, as will younger brothers Larry and Greg and their families.

Bishop Malooly said the suggestion came from the Oblates and he has no problem with the arrangement. Most students do not have an opportunity to witness an ordination, and this is a way to encourage vocations.

“Usually you would prefer to celebrate it in a church, but I was delighted to do it this way. And he’s part of the faculty there, so it will be very meaningful for them,” said the bishop, who will be doing an ordination outside a church for the first time.

“I love doing ordinations. Any time you ordain a priest, it’s most meaningful,” he said.

Oblate Father James Greenfield, the provincial, believes this is the first priestly ordination at Salesianum, although he was ordained a deacon in the school’s former chapel.

As unlikely as the gymnasium seems for an ordination, Vogt said it is appropriate. Students will be sitting across from each other and God is found in each other.

“The bottom line was, I don’t care what building it is as long as the people of God to whom I am going to serve are there. Buildings are wonderful, but the church is more than a building. It’s the people of God,” he said.


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Rev. King’s message of action and service lives on, say speakers

January 13th, 2012 Posted in Featured, National News Tags: , ,


Two priests and one mayor recalled the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in two words: action and service.

Speaking Jan. 8 at Holy Angels Cathedral in Gary, the three recounted the slain civil rights leader’s belief in equality and nonviolence, challenging their audience to continue that legacy.

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‘The Artist’ is a silent charmer for adults

January 13th, 2012 Posted in Featured, Movies Tags: , ,


Catholic News Service

At a time when Hollywood movies tend to get louder and more offensive, “The Artist” is a breath of fresh air, without uttering a word. Who knew a modern-made silent movie could be so charming and entertaining?

French director Michel Hazanavicius displays a flair for re-creating the techniques of old Hollywood, from the lively musical score and use of intertitles to the dramatic lighting and good use of the studio back lot. He also draws from his actors the pure emotions that can be evoked with a simple expression or a single tear.

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High court upholds church school’s exception to federal law


Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court Jan. 11 upheld the idea that a “ministerial exception” to anti-discrimination laws means the church can’t be sued for firing an employee who the church classified as a minister.

For the first time, the court held that such an exception to federal employment laws exists. The unanimous opinion reversed a ruling by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

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Rome receives three-year study of U.S. nuns


Catholic News Service

A three-year study of U.S. women religious called for by the Vatican has been completed with the final comprehensive report recently sent to Rome.

No details of the findings in what the church calls an apostolic visitation were released by Mother Mary Clare Millea, superior general of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the apostolic visitator appointed by the Vatican to undertake the study.

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