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Viewpoint: Snow plows under parish budgets


Lent would be a good time to give the snow devil a cold shoulder.

That’s Father William T. Cocco’s feeling at St. John the Beloved in Wilmington, where as pastor he’s been watching the unusual amounts of snowfall cover the church’s and school’s walkways and extensive square feet of parking lots.

“Snow removal, putting down salt, maintenance, it’s not cheap,” Father Cocco said last week before the eighth significant snow of the winter covered parish property on Monday. Read more »

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Reflection: Having more while possessing less

February 23rd, 2014 Posted in Opinion Tags:


Twenty years ago, Maura Cardona joined a program to train health promoters who would provide basic medical care and hygiene education for Guatemalan communities throughout the San Marcos area.

Today, she is as a model for what is possible in San Marcos, a country that hugs Guatemala’s border with Mexico from the coastal plains along the Pacific Ocean to the volcanic mountain highlands.  Read more »

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How do we become peacemakers in our lives?

February 9th, 2014 Posted in Opinion Tags: ,


By Kathy Ebner


Entering a new year brings us all to reflect on the quality of our life. How do I live as a Catholic Christian? Are my decisions in line with God’s will? These questions are crucial to a person desiring to live a life honoring God, the creator.

I believe the practical wisdom necessary for living a Christian life can be found in the Beatitudes and their influence on my decisions. The Ten Commandments are mainly a list of what not to do. The Beatitudes are the new law, given by Jesus, teaching us how to live in God’s grace. Keeping in mind these Beatitudes and observing how Christ lived, we can learn how to live our lives wisely. Read more »

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Viewpoint: Weathering the storms that arise

February 8th, 2014 Posted in Opinion



“Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice.”

Robert Frost, whose very name was cold, speculated that fire would be the world’s end in his poem “Fire and Ice.” He readily admitted, however, that ice “would suffice.”

This winter, snow and freezing weather hold the lead in apocalyptic threats to the Diocese of Wilmington. Read more »

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Viewpoint: The Good News still draws attention


Before completing his first full year as pope, Francis was named Time magazine’s person of 2013 this week.

Pope Francis’ nine months in Rome have given birth to his advocacy for the poor that’s been heard around the world, to his constant proclamation of the gift of God’s mercy and to his daily reflections on the salvation offered to all by Jesus.

Following his unique election to the papacy after the retirement of Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires, took the name of St. Francis of Assisi and soon came to personify his namesake’s love of the poor and all creation. Read more »

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Viewpoint: It’s looked like Christmas for a month already

November 29th, 2013 Posted in Opinion Tags: , ,


The church devotes each Advent, four weeks, to the coming of Christmas in its liturgical calendar.

In business, that anticipation has expanded from five weeks to eight shopping weeks heralding the coming of consumer goods under a tree.

Halloween now stands as the only civic and commercial event between Labor Day and Christmas. If not for trick-or-treating, the Christmas advertising launched at the start of November would quickly find a way to begin at the end of summer. Read more »

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Editorial: It’s a First Amendment issue


To deny conscience rights, government refuses to call Catholic charities, hospitals and colleges ‘religious’

You don’t have to be a conservative Catholic to be dismayed by the Obama administration’s decision to force Catholic hospitals, Catholic colleges and Catholic charitable institutions to buy insurance plans for their employees that cover contraceptives, including some that can cause abortion, and sterilizations, even though the church teaches abortion, sterilization and contraception are immoral.

Read more »

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Analysis: Ruling over teacher’s firing could have far-reaching implications

January 19th, 2012 Posted in Opinion, Uncategorized


Catholic News Service

The direction the courts will take with other cases related to religious employment is far from clear, but the Supreme Court’s Jan. 11 ruling opens a whole track of possibilities.

The decision in Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC held that fired teacher Cheryl Perich could not sue under federal disability discrimination laws, because the Michigan Lutheran school where she worked considered her a “called” minister. Read more »

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Guest commentary: Reasons for pro-life optimism

January 19th, 2012 Posted in Opinion, Uncategorized


Here is an editorial from the Jan. 15 issue of Our Sunday Visitor, a national Catholic newsweekly based in Huntington, Ind. It was written by the newspaper’s editorial board.

Why shouldn’t pro-lifers be discouraged?

After all, since its legalization in 1973, there have been roughly 50 million abortions in the United States. After a steady decrease since the 1980s, the annual number of abortions has stuck at about 1.2 million. Read more »

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Commentary: Extreme sports and opportunities to evangelize



Picture the scene: Skaters clad in helmets and pads, racing down a winding ice hill at speeds up to 40 mph, while tens of thousands of cheering spectators line the course with the Cathedral of St. Paul serving as a picturesque backdrop.

“Ice cross downhill” is one of the newest extreme sports gaining popularity around the world, and it’s coming to downtown St. Paul next month as part of the Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championship competition.

Fun and exciting to watch?

For sure.

An opportunity to practice the “new evangelization” that Pope Benedict XVI says is so urgently needed in today’s world?

Maybe — at least in one small way that shouldn’t be overlooked.

A survey a few years ago found that the percentage of Americans who professed no religion nearly doubled between 1990 and 2008 – jumping from 8.2 percent of the population to 15 percent. Some researchers estimate that “former Catholics” make up roughly 10 percent of the U.S. population.

These people — which include older teens and young adults — simply don’t see the relevance of religion for their day-to-day lives. Raised in an American culture that preaches materialism, moral relativism and pleasure above nearly all else, they often have a false perception of religion in general, and Catholicism in particular, as being too stodgy, too judgmental, too scandal-ridden and not at all fun.

They likely wouldn’t accept an invitation to attend a class about the catechism or hear a talk by a prominent Catholic speaker. But they might be enticed to attend an event like Crashed Ice — and here there is an opportunity to extend a further invitation.

The Cathedral of St. Paul isn’t a sponsor of the competition, but it’s allowing race organizers to use some of its property in the interest of being a good neighbor. The event also presents an opportunity to ratchet up hospitality efforts for any of the thousands of spectators who might want a closer look at this magnificent church that frames the race’s backdrop.

You might call it a “soft-sell” approach to evangelization, but it can be an effective way to make a connection with people who rarely, if ever, set foot inside a church door.

It’s not that much different than the community spirit and good image that’s cultivated by parish festivals, church-sponsored art exhibitions and concerts, and lavish feast day celebrations — like the Dec. 12 feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which, at many parishes, in addition to prayer, features festive songs, mariachi bands, dancers and delicious food.

These are places where churches could extend a further invitation to new faces in the crowd — perhaps to attend parish faith-sharing groups, book or movie discussion clubs, or question-and-answer sessions that help explain what Catholicism really means and that invite participants to enter more deeply into the faith and learn the beauty of what the church teaches.

All of these efforts can help dispel false notions that the church has nothing relevant to offer for living a fuller, better life and they would go a long way toward clearing up misperceptions of the church as stodgy and not at all fun.

Catholics like to have a good time and share the joy with others. Here’s how veteran Catholic reporter John Allen described it in a recent interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

“I don’t think the Catholic Church gets enough credit for being … a lot of fun. There’s great warmth and laughter in most Catholic circles, a rich intellectual tradition, a vast body of lore, an incredible range of characters, a deep desire to do good, an abiding faith against all odds, an ability to go anywhere and feel instantly at home, and even a deep love of good food, good drink and good company. All that is part of the tapestry of Catholic life, but it rarely sees the light of day in commentary and reporting that focuses exclusively on crisis, scandal, and heartache.”

We need to invite more people — including fallen-away Catholics and inactive Catholics as well as teens and young adults absent from our churches — to experience the beauty and joy at the heart of our faith life. We need to show how our churches and other Catholic groups continue to enrich the local community. And, we need — when they are ready — to teach them again about the value in living a Catholic Christian life.

Those goals require creating more opportunities for evangelization and outreach as well as taking advantage of more unique opportunities — like Crashed Ice — that occasionally come racing into our neighborhoods.

This editorial appeared in the Dec. 8 edition of the Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. It was written by editor Joe Towalski. 


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