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Seton Center helps thousands each year on Eastern Shore

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Special to The Dialog

Annual Catholic Appeal helps Catholics Charities’ community center provide services for the needy

PRINCESS ANNE, Md. – Barbara Whitehead realizes the effort some people make just getting to Seton Center to ask for emergency food assistance.

While they need emergency food assistance because their finances are so tight, some in Crisfield, for example, must drive 20 miles each way, or talk a friend into taking them, or take an hour-long bus ride, paying a fare of $3 each way. Read more »

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Salesianum graduate Tim Furlong credits his education with helping to guide his TV career

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Dialog reporter

Tim Furlong is in your living room most nights of the week, reporting on the various local issues for NBC10 in Philadelphia. He’s a local celebrity around the Delaware Valley, particularly known for his work for the station in Delaware.

But what the north Wilmington resident wants you to know is that, at heart, he’s just like everyone else. He’s a husband, father and neighbor, and a strong believer in Catholic education. Read more »

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Catholic school athletes have their baselines covered

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Dialog reporter

Concussion testing of diocesan students, now in its third year, continues to evolve, pay dividends

 

The hit knocked off his helmet and ended with the back of his head crashing into the grass, but Reid Dalton was able to pick himself up and walk off the football field last September. Like any athlete, his first thought was getting back on to the field for his Catholic Youth Ministry team, St. Mary of the Assumption.

But Reid knew something was wrong.

“I kind of felt dizzy. I wanted to play, but I didn’t really feel that good,” he recalled recently at All Saints Catholic School, where he is an eighth-grader. “They made me go through the protocol.” Read more »

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Vikings get past Auks, advance to girls quarterfinals

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For The Dialog

 

WILMINGTON – The seventh-seeded St. Elizabeth’s Vikings learned from last year’s second-round loss and survived a tough battle with 10th-seeded Archmere, 49-42, on March 2 at the St. E Center. The Vikings, who beat Archmere, 45-41, on Feb. 5 by scoring the last 11 points, did the same thing Thursday, scoring the final 11 points.

“It was a carbon copy,” St. Elizabeth coach Dan Cooney said. “It’s been like that the last couple of years. I’ve got so much respect for Danny (Pisani, Archmere’s coach) and what he does at Archmere with those kids. That is a good group, and it’s a group that always battles us.” Read more »

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Faith can’t grow without temptation, pope tells Rome priests

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Catholic News Service

ROME — Faith is a continuing path of growth and maturity that cannot progress without the presence of temptations, Pope Francis told priests of the Diocese of Rome.

Pope Francis addresses priests of the Diocese of Rome during a meeting at the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome March 2. The Vatican said Pope Francis spent about 45 minutes hearing confessions, offering the sacrament to a dozen priests before beginning his talk. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano)

Pope Francis addresses priests of the Diocese of Rome during a meeting at the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome March 2. The Vatican said Pope Francis spent about 45 minutes hearing confessions, offering the sacrament to a dozen priests before beginning his talk. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano)

How faith develops in “a man, in a priest” despite his flaws can be seen in St. Peter, the pope said March 2 as he led a meditation with diocesan and religious clergy.

“One thing is clear: Temptation is always present in the life of Simon Peter and temptation is always present in our lives. Moreover, without temptation, you cannot progress in faith. In the Our Father, we ask for the grace to not fall but not to not be tempted,” he said.  

The meeting, held at the Basilica of St. John Lateran, was delayed for roughly 45 minutes as Pope Francis heard the confessions of a dozen priests, according to the Vatican press office.

Greeted with a warm applause by the priests, the pope said that he would not read his entire meditation and instead focus on key aspects of his talk, titled, “The progress of faith in priestly life.”

Without a continual growth in faith, the pope said, priests run the risk of remaining immature and living priestly life “halfway.”

“And we priests, if we do not have a mature faith capable of generating faith in others — that is, fatherhood — we can do harm and so much evil. But if faith grows, it does so much good,” the pope said, departing from his prepared remarks.

Faith, he continued, must be nourished by three important components: memory, rooted in the faith of the church and “the faith of our fathers”; hope, which sustains faith; and “discernment of the present moment.”

These three components, however, hinge on a “fixed point.” The pope gave the example of a basketball player who, with his foot firmly “pinned to the ground,” moves to either protect the ball, find a way to pass it or look for a path toward the basket.

“For us, that foot pinned to the ground, around which we pivot, is the cross of Christ,” the pope said. “Faith, the progress and growth of faith, is always based on the cross, on the scandal of the cross.”

Memory, he explained, feeds and nourishes faith, particularly the memory of the “covenant the Lord has made with us” through parents and grandparents.

Speaking off-the-cuff, the pope recalled a retreat when he found it difficult to be touched by the preacher’s meditation on death and the final judgment.

At that moment, he said, “I remembered a writing my grandmother had on her nightstand: ‘Be careful, God is watching you. Think that you will die and you do not know when.’ And in that moment, I could pray and go forward. It was (my) roots that opened the way. A Christian always progresses from the root. Do not forget your roots.”

Pope Francis said that faith is also strengthened through hope, which helps priests to “find new things” from their past to encounter God in those they are called to help.

“Faith is knowing how to see in the face of the poor you meet today, the same Lord who will come to judge us according to the protocol of Matthew 25, ‘Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’”

To understand the past and sustain hope for the future, he added, discernment in the present is important and it often involves taking a step back to see the bigger picture.

Priests, however, often have the “insidious temptation” of “sterile pessimism,” which seeks to resolve matters quickly and often gives in to the “evil spirit of defeat.”

An example of a progression in faith through memory, hope and discernment, he said, is the apostle Peter, a man who is a “paradox” in that Jesus would often extol the virtues of others while Peter was often reproached for his lack of faith.

Peter’s faith, however, is “faith that is tested,” and through that he has the mission of confirming the faith of the disciples and the church today.

At key moments in his life, the pope continued, Peter is strengthened in his faith. Jesus “prays for him so that his weakness, and even his sin, is transformed into a grace” for him and for all.

Not following the example of Peter, the pope said, “a priest or a bishop who does not feel he is a sinner, who does not confess, who is closed in himself, does not progress in faith.”

Pope Francis explained that the devil’s greatest temptation was to instill in Peter the idea that he was “not worthy to be Jesus’ friend because he betrayed him.”

Although “the weight of our sins makes us move away from the Lord,” the pope said the Lord is always faithful and “confirms us in our shepherding, in leading the flock.”

“The Lord keeps moving forward and Peter’s faith is full. And that sinner, who denied him, the Lord made him pope,” Pope Francis said. “That is the Lord’s logic.”

 

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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Spartans overwhelm Indian River, advance to boys second round

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Dialog reporter

 

MILLTOWN – St. Mark’s wanted to get off to a fast start on March 1 against Indian River, but what transpired in the first quarter had to surprise even the Spartans. They shut out the Indians, 15-0, in the opening quarter and were never threatened in a 57-21 victory in the first round of the DIAA boys basketball tournament.

In their final appearance on their home court, seniors Chris Ludman and Billy Sullivan led the way. Each scored four points in that first quarter and continued to bedevil Indian River throughout the game. Ludman finished with a team-leading 21 points, and Sullivan had 14. Read more »

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Archmere clamps down on Friends to advance in girls basketball tourney

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Dialog reporter

 

CLAYMONT – Archmere’s girls basketball team has played prettier games from an offensive standpoint, but the Auks turned up the defense and managed a 34-26 win over Wilmington Friends Feb. 28 in the first round of the DIAA tournament.

Archmere held the Quakers to just eight first-half points and resisted comeback attempts after the break, but the team’s start offensively was sluggish. Read more »

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Bishop Malooly condemns acts of anti-Semitic vandalism and threats

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Bishop Malooly issued the following statement Feb. 28 regarding recent anti-Semitic activities around the country and in our community:

“Recent shocking acts of vandalism at Jewish cemeteries and the spate of bomb threats made against Jewish community centers across the nation, including the Siegel Jewish Community Center in Wilmington, reveal an ugly anti-Semitism that I condemn with all people of the Diocese of Wilmington and religious leaders of all faiths in our community.

Men work to right toppled Jewish headstones Feb. 21 after a vandalism attack on Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City, Mo. The incident at the cemetery near St. Louis was repeated in suburban Philadelphia Feb. 26 when gravestones were destroyed at a Jewish cemetery there.(CNS photo/Tom Gannam, Reuters)

Men work to right toppled Jewish headstones Feb. 21 after a vandalism attack on Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City, Mo. The incident at the cemetery near St. Louis was repeated in suburban Philadelphia Feb. 26 when gravestones were destroyed at a Jewish cemetery there.(CNS photo/Tom Gannam, Reuters)

“I express my sympathy to members of the Jewish community in Delaware and the Eastern Shore of Maryland for the hate crimes being committed. The Catholic Church rejects this wave of anti-Semitism and, in the words of Pope Francis, sees these kinds of unconscionable acts as ‘completely contrary to Christian principles and every vision worthy of the human person.’

“As Christians begin the season of Lent on Ash Wednesday, March 1, I call on parishioners of the diocese to share God’s love with all their neighbors and speak out clearly against all forms of prejudice and hate directed toward any of God’s people.”

New Castle County Police reported on Feb. 27 that a third bomb threat in a month was made against the Siegel Jewish Community Center in north Wilmington that morning. The building was swept by police and cleared as safe. The threat was made a day after more than 100 headstones were discovered vandalized at a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia. Similar headstone-toppling vandalism was discovered Feb. 21 at a Jewish cemetery near St. Louis, Missouri.

 

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Bosnian bishop says again: Mary has not appeared in Medjugorje

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — “The Virgin Mary has not appeared in Medjugorje,” said Bishop Ratko Peric of Mostar-Duvno, the diocese in Bosnia-Herzegovina, which includes Medjugorje.

A statue of Mary is seen outside St. James Church in Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina, in this file photo.  (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

A statue of Mary is seen outside St. James Church in Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina, in this file photo. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Two weeks after the Vatican announced Pope Francis was sending a Polish archbishop to study the pastoral needs of the townspeople and the thousands of pilgrims who flock to Medjugorje each year, Bishop Peric posted his statement Feb. 26 on his diocesan website.

Three of the six young people who originally claimed to have seen Mary in Medjugorje in June 1981 say she continues to appear to them each day; the other three say Mary appears to them once a year now.

Bishop Peric noted that a diocesan commission studied the alleged apparitions in 1982-1984 and again in 1984-1986 with more members; and the then-Yugoslavian bishops’ conference studied them from 1987 to 1990. All three commissions concluded that it could not be affirmed that a supernatural event was occurring in the town.

The six young people continued to claim to see Mary and receive messages from her and tens of thousands of pilgrims visited the town, and the alleged visionaries, each year. Pope Benedict XVI established a commission that worked from 2010 to 2014; and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith began looking at that commission’s report in 2014.

Many observers believe Pope Francis appointed his envoy in February to study the pastoral needs of the town and the pilgrims in preparation for releasing a judgment on the alleged apparitions.

The position of the Diocese of Mostar-Duvno “for this entire period has been clear and resolute: these are not real apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary,” Bishop Peric wrote in his statement, which was posted in Croatian and Italian.

Some people, he said, believe the apparitions were real at least at the beginning, perhaps for the first week, but that the young people continued to claim to see and hear Mary “for other reasons, most of which are not religious.”

Bishop Peric said a study of the transcripts of interviews with the six alleged visionaries from that first week give several motives for suspicion if not total doubt about the supernatural nature of events.

First, he said, the Mary of Medjugorje usually speaks only when spoken to, “she laughs in a strange way, in response to certain questions she disappears and then returns, and she obeyed the ‘seers’ and the pastor who made her come down from the hill into the church even against her will. She does not know with certainty how long she will appear, she allows some of those present to step on her veil lying on the ground, to touch her clothes and her body. This is not the Gospel Mary.”

The seventh time Mary allegedly appeared, June 30, 1981, five of the youngsters were in a nearby town called Cerno and claimed to have seen Mary there. Bishop Peric said that in the recorded interviews all five reported that the apparitions would continue only three more days, July 1-3, 1981.

“Then she changed her mind and still ‘appears,’” the bishop wrote.

“Taking into account all that was examined and studied by this diocesan curia, including the study of the first seven days of the presumed apparitions, one calmly can affirm: The Virgin Mary has not appeared in Medjugorje. This is the truth that we uphold, and we believe in the word of Jesus who said the truth will set you free.”

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Vandalism at Jewish cemeteries decried, called hateful actions

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Catholic News Service

PHILADELPHIA — Responding to the destruction of some 100 gravestones at a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput Feb. 27 deplored the “senseless acts of mass vandalism.”

The gravestones were discovered toppled over from their bases the previous morning at Mount Carmel Cemetery in Northeast Philadelphia.

National media report on more than 170 toppled Jewish headstones Feb. 21 after a vandalism attack on Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City, Mo. The incident at the cemetery near St. Louis was repeated in suburban Philadelphia Feb. 26 when gravestones were destroyed at a Jewish cemetery there. (CNS photo/Tom Gannam, Reuters)

National media report on more than 170 toppled Jewish headstones Feb. 21 after a vandalism attack on Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City, Mo. The incident at the cemetery near St. Louis was repeated in suburban Philadelphia Feb. 26 when gravestones were destroyed at a Jewish cemetery there. (CNS photo/Tom Gannam, Reuters)

The archbishop issued a statement in which he called on the clergy, religious and laypeople of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia “to join in prayerful solidarity with the families of those whose final resting places have been disturbed. Violence and hate against anyone, simply because of who they are, is inexcusable.”

The incident at Mount Carmel Cemetery mirrors gravestones destroyed at another Jewish cemetery near St. Louis about a week before.

In a statement Feb. 24, the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, expressed solidarity and support for the Jewish community and also called for the rejection of such hateful actions.

“I want to express our deep sympathy, solidarity, and support to our Jewish brothers and sisters who have experienced once again a surge of anti-Semitic actions in the United States,” said Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski of Springfield, Massachusetts, speaking on behalf of all the bishops and U.S. Catholics. “I wish to offer our deepest concern, as well as our unequivocal rejection of these hateful actions. The Catholic Church stands in love with the Jewish community in the current face of anti-Semitism.”

Two days earlier, the National Council of Churches in a statement said that “anti-Semitism has no place in our society. Eradicating it requires keeping constant vigil.”

In his statement, Archbishop Chaput said that “for Catholics, anti-Semitism is more than a human rights concern. It’s viewed as a form of sacrilege and blasphemy against God’s chosen people. In recent weeks, our country has seen a new wave of anti-Semitism on the rise. It’s wrong and it should deeply concern not only Jews and Catholics, but all people.”

Even as the archbishop issued his statement, a new wave of fear spread for Jewish people in the United States as about a dozen Jewish community centers across the country received anonymous threats of violence.

Several centers in the Philadelphia region, including the Kaiserman Jewish Community Center, which includes a preschool, in the Philadelphia suburb of Wynnewood, had been evacuated the morning of Feb. 27 because of bomb threats, local media reported. By the afternoon, the facility along with others in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware had reopened.

Scores of other such threats have been received by Jewish community centers in recent weeks across the country.

“As a community, we must speak out to condemn inflammatory messages and actions that serve only to divide, stigmatize and incite prejudice,” Archbishop Chaput said. “We must continually and loudly reject attempts to alienate and persecute the members of any religious tradition.

“Rather, as members of diverse faith and ethnic communities throughout the region, we must stand up for one another and improve the quality of life for everyone by building bridges of trust and understanding.”

The heads of the Religious Leaders Council of Greater Philadelphia met the afternoon of Feb. 27 at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia to discuss the situation. Msgr. Daniel Kutys, moderator of the curia for the Philadelphia archdiocese, represented Archbishop Chaput at the meeting.

The archbishop, who is a co-convener of the more than 30-member religious leadership council, was unable to attend the meeting.

In the neighboring Diocese of Camden, New Jersey, Bishop Dennis J. Sullivan called the desecration of the Pennsylvania cemetery “abhorrent behavior” that “has no place in contemporary culture (and) stands in opposition to everything the Catholic Church believes and teaches.””

Bishop Sullivan also noted that Jewish community centers in his diocese as well as in Pennsylvania and Delaware received bomb threats over the weekend and on Feb. 27, the day he issued his statement.

“As Catholics, we too are spiritual descendants of Abraham. We recognize that an attack or threat against our Jewish family members is an attack against all peoples of faith,” he said, adding that everyone in the Camden Diocese stands “in solidarity with our Jewish sisters and brothers against these hateful and anti-Semitic incidents.”

“We pray that the perpetrators of these incidents will come to know God’s love, bringing them to the light of peace where they may recant these acts of hate and join with all people of goodwill in forging a community of compassion,” Bishop Sullivan said.

In St. Louis, an interfaith cleanup effort of the vandalized cemetery took place Feb 22 followed by an interfaith prayer service. Vandals toppled more than two-dozen gravestones and damaged an estimated 200 more at the historic Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery, which dates to 1893.

Represented by seminarians, priests, deacons, students and laity, Catholic St. Louisans stood with Jewish brethren at the cemetery in University City.

They were among about 1,000 people who helped with cleanup, including Vice President Mike Pence and Missouri Gov. Eric Greitans. When he came unannounced to help rake leaves, Pence was wearing work clothes, as he had come from another event.

“There is no place in America for hatred, prejudice, or acts of violence or anti-Semitism,” he said later. “I must tell you that the people of Missouri are inspiring the nation by your love and care for this place and the Jewish community. I want to thank you for that inspiration. For showing the world what America is all about.”

Greitens, who came ready to work in jeans, boots and a work shirt, described the vandalism as “a despicable act … anti-Semitic and painful. Moments like this are what a community is about. … We’re going to demonstrate that this is a moment of revolve. We’re coming together to share service.”

Seminarians were among those who answered St. Louis Archbishop Robert J. Carlson’s call Feb. 21 “to help our Jewish brothers and sisters.” About a dozen used their afternoon free time to help out.

“This is neat to see,” said seminarian Cole Bestgen, watching the workers fan out on a sunny and unseasonably warm 67-degree day armed with rakes, trash barrels and buckets. Though toppled headstones already had been replaced, the volunteers took care of general cleanup and maintenance.

The desecration sparked outrage from numerous ecumenical groups — Jewish, Catholic, Christian, Muslims and more — and dignitaries across the country, including President Donald J. Trump, who sent messages of thanks through Pence and Greitens.

 

Gambino is director and general manager of CatholicPhilly.com, the news website of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Contributing to this story was Dave Luecking in St. Louis.

 

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