Thursday, July 20, 2017

New Catholic School Chief in New Orleans on school choice

Is school choice helping or hurting Catholic schools in New Orleans?

Fresh on the job, the city’s first black Catholic schools chief remains optimistic in face of flagging enrollment, new competition
The following article is a re-print of Janene Tate’s article, Is school choice helping or hurting Catholic schools in New Orleans? This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
RaeNell Houston heard the calling to be an educator years ago. A former teacher, she has served as associate superintendent of Catholic schools for the Archdiocese of New Orleans since 2012. She takes her seat as the head of the school system — an appointment by New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond —  in July.  Houston, who holds a Ph.D. from the University of New Orleans and a master’s degree from Louisiana State University, is the first black person in the history of the Archdiocese to fill this role.
In a news release announcing Houston’s assignment to lead schools in eight parishes and more than 3,500 students, Aymond said: “She (Houston) brings with her the professional experience and expertise necessary to lead our schools…She is a woman of strong faith and family, and is well prepared to lead our school family.”
As a longtime member of this family, Houston knows firsthand that she has her share of challenges ahead. Among them are declining enrollment in Catholic schools and growing public scrutiny over private school vouchers. However, she is equipped and enthusiastic to continue on the path of promoting Catholic education.
Question: Do you feel that you’re in competition with charter or secular private schools?
Answer: I think today, in New Orleans in particular, that parents are empowered with school choice. You’re not assigned to a particular school based your address. Parents are empowered with finding the school that is the best fit for their children. The competition has always existed with other private schools as well as public schools, but I think that’s a positive thing.
I am seeing a lot more targeted marketing by schools on TV, radio and billboards marketing schools to particular groups of parents. This is a discussion we’ve been having… (how to) develop a strategic and robust marketing campaign for Catholic education in general, and of course, assisting our schools with their more targeted marketing.
Q: How have your admissions and retention trends been over the past two years?
A: We have fluctuation in numbers, of course. There’s no big trend of students leaving Catholic schools for other private school or public schools here. Usually, a student will transfer from one Catholic school to another Catholic school, if needed. Most of the parents that come in looking for an alternative (to their current school) are those that have moved to a different neighborhood, or have some other personal or household issue. If there is a financial issue, we always try to assist as much as we can so that the student can remain in our system and matriculate.
All of our schools have some amount of financial assistance set aside for families in need of financial assistance. We have the annual Champions of Catholic Education collection in February. Every church in the archdiocese has a second collection. Those funds are distributed to families who are in need of financial assistance.
More than 3,000 students in New Orleans use vouchers to attend Catholic schools.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The would be Apostle; but he lost out to Matthias

St. Joseph of Barsabas


Feastday: July 20
Death: 1st century

A follower of Christ also called Joseph Barsassas and sur named "the Just." He is the person listed in the Acts of the Apostles as a competitor of St. Matthias for the vacant place among the Apostles, caused by the treachery of Judas Iscariot.

Miracles of difficult pregnancies attributed to Blessed Pope VI

Pope known for teaching on birth control obtaining miracles for unborn babies


Paul VI draws closer to canonization

During his recent visit to Bozzolo, Italy, Pope Francis declared his desire to be able to canonize Paul VI, who was pope from 1963-1978.
According to a report today in the blog Il Sismographo, a miracle is being studied by the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, which if recognizes, will pave the way for the former pope’s canonization.
The miracle is related to the healing of a child on December 25, 2014, after a complicated pregnancy and a premature birth. The mother went to the Sanctuary of Graces in Brescia and prayed for Blessed Paul VI’s intercession for her tiny daughter’s survival.
“During his recent visit to Bozzolo, Pope Francis repeated his desire to canonize Paul VI,” noted Don Adriano Bianchi, director of the news service of Paul VI’s home diocese, Brescia, in a report on the subject in the journal Brescia oggi, on July 18.
The miracle approved for the beatification of Pope Paul VI (Giovanni Battista Montini) was also related to a difficult pregnancy.
A woman was encouraged to abort her child because the baby was disabled. She refused the abortion and entrusted the baby to Paul VI’s intercession, because of his encyclical Humanae Vitae (1968). The infant survived, without any health concerns whatsoever. Paul VI was beatified on October 19, 2014, at the conclusion of the first Synod on the Family.

Prayers ascending for Sen. John McCain

John McCain, Republican senator from Arizona, diagnosed with brain tumor
The Washington Post

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has been diagnosed with a brain tumor, his office said Wednesday, throwing into doubt when and if he will return to Washington to resume his duties in the Senate.
The Mayo Clinic in Phoenix said doctors discovered a tumor called a glioblastoma following surgery to remove a blood clot above McCain’s left eye last week. The senator and his family are considering a variety of treatment options, including a combination of chemotherapy and radiation, according to the hospital.

McCain, 80 has been away from the Senate this week, recovering from the surgery and undergoing tests. His office issued a statement describing him “in good spirits” and noting that his underlying health is excellent — but not indicating when he will return to the Senate.
Glioblastoma is an aggressive type of brain cancer, and the prognosis for this kind of cancer is generally poor. The late senator Edward Kennedy survived less than nine months after his was found.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Wednesday Saint of the Day

. St. Macrina the Younger

Image of St. Macrina the Younger


Feastday: July 19
Birth: 330
Death: 379

Macrina the Younger was the granddaughter of Macrina the Elder and sister of St. Basil, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and St. Peter of Sebastea. She was well educated, especially in scripture. She was engaged to be married when she was twelve, but when her fiance died, she decided to dedicate her life to God. On the death of her father, she and her mother retired to the family estate in Pontus and lived a life of prayer and contemplation in a community they formed there. Macrina became head of the group when her mother died and lived in Pontus until her death. Her feast day isJuly 19th.

Pope is popular on Twitter

Pope’s Twitter Account: More Than 35M Subscribers
Francis’ Instagram Has Exceeded 4M Followers

Pope Francis’ Twitter account in nine languages, ​​now has more than 35 million subscribers, reports Vatican Radio. It has seen a sharp rise in the last month, especially in English (with more than 11 million subscribers).
The @Pontifex account, opened by Pope Benedict XVI on Dec. 3, 2012, is among the most followed in the world and the one that records the most retweets. Since March 19, 2015, Pope Francis is also present on Instagram with the account @Franciscus which has recently exceeded 4 million subscribers.
“The Pope’s ability to fuel public debate on complex issues is of great interest,” says Professor Paolo Peverini, lecturer in semiotics at the LUISS Guido Carli University and consultant to the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communication.
“In my opinion,” says the professor, “we should especially emphasize the growth that characterizes the Instagram account, @Franciscus, which involves young users. This is the “capacity of Pope Francis,” the Italian professor underscored, to be “heard” by users who a few years ago, may have been a bit distant from the Church.

Monday, July 17, 2017

A life dedicated to the sick

St. Camillus de Lellis

Image of St. Camillus de Lellis


Feastday: July 18
Patron of doctors

St. Camillus de Lellis was born at Bocchianico, Italy. He fought for the Venetians against the Turks, was addicted to gambling, and by 1574 was penniless in Naples. He became a Capuchin novice, but was unable to be professed because of a diseased leg he contracted while fighting the Turks. He devoted himself to caring for the sick, and became director of St. Giacomo Hospital in Rome. He received permission from his confessor (St. Philip Neri) to be ordained and decided, with two companions, to found his own congregation, the Ministers of the Sick (the Camellians), dedicated to the care of the sick. They ministered to the sick of Holy Ghost Hospital in Rome, enlarged their facilities in 1585, founded a new house in Naples in 1588, and attended the plague-stricken aboard ships in Rome's harbor and in Rome. In 1591, the Congregation was made into an order to serve the sick by Pope Gregory XIV, and in 1591 and 1605, Camillus sent members of his order to minister to wounded troops in Hungary and Croatia, the first field medical unit. Gravely ill for many years, he resigned as superior of the Order in 1607 and died in Rome on July 14, the year after he attended a General Chapter there. He was canonized in 1746, was declared patron of the sick, with St. John of God, by Pope Leo XIII, and patron of nurses and nursing groups by Pope Pius XI. His feast day is July

A Papal greeting/recognition of Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Our Lady of Mount Carmel: The Way of Contemplation
Pope’s Greeting to the Carmelites
Our Lady of Mount Carmel © Wikimedia Commons / Pietro Novelli

On July 16, 2017, feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Pope Francis encouraged men and women Carmelites to continue on the way of contemplation.
Greeting the religious of the order at the end of the Angelus, held in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope expressed his hope that “they will be able to continue with determination on the way of contemplation.”
He also published a Tweet later that afternoon: “Let us allow ourselves to be guided by the Virgin Mary on the path that leads to the holy mountain, which is Jesus, where God and man encounter one another.”
Our Lady of Mount Carmel is one of the eight feasts of the Virgin Mary that punctuate the Liturgical Year. Devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel spread in the West with the “scapular,” which the Superior of the Carmelite Order, Simon Stock, created inspired in a vision of the Virgin on July 16, 1251.

From the Catholic Thing: Church moving into very rough waters; a compelling read

When Waves Break Over the Barque of Peter

Those who love the Church and have followed the papacies of Paul VI, St. John Paul II, and Benedict XVI with dedication and enthusiasm, are in a state of alarm. Suddenly, amid much sweet-talk, the clarity of Catholic teaching seems to be being disassembled. What is happening? And why must we hold on tight, without fear?
The lucidity and truth that graced the second half of the 20th Century through the teachings of these great Pontiffs, touching untold millions of Catholics and non-Catholics alike, awakened a love and respect for the Roman Catholic Church which had been largely dormant after World War II and had then been severely questioned in the 1960s and 1970s.
A great revolt engulfed Western culture. Doctrine was thrown out; family was subverted; tradition was turned upside down: rather than representing the slowly accumulated wisdom of centuries, it was made to seem ridiculous; morality became “intolerance,” “fanaticism,” pointless self-limitation.

As a result, the 1980s witnessed the beginning of societal and legal changes that were confusing and distressing to believers of all faiths. In the Catholic Church, the hierarchy – educated in an earlier time – kept up appearances of orthodoxy, but dissent was tolerated, and (for those of us who were young at the time) it was clear there were two kinds of priests.
Faithful priests and bishops accepted Paul VI’s prophetic 1968 encyclical, Humanae vitae, even if they didn’t fully understand it at the time. By contrast, those formed in 1960s permissiveness and relativism, contemptuously disregarded it. Pope Paul VI rightly remarked that “the smoke of Satan has infiltrated the Church.” It was a very tough time for young couples, and for parents who increasingly saw their young adopting a contraceptive sexual morality.
Soft teaching in the seminaries led many future priests to believe that “authority” has no right to impose standards or morality; and it also produced the homosexual priests who committed dreadful acts of pederasty. Efforts made to hide this shameful reality as an “illness” (pedophilia) were belied by the fact that the vast majority of cases involved adolescent boys. Some bishops, cowardly or worse, protected those priests, as we know.
Why was this tolerated?
It was tolerated because the generation of the 1960s and 1970s, by then in positions of authority, was averse to the “imposition” of morals or discipline. It was permissive by conviction.
The surprising and captivating arrival on the scene of Karol Wojtyla, St. John Paul II, with his riveting presentation of the time-honored truths of the Gospel and his true aggiornamento was destabilizing for the 1960s. But it impassioned and stimulated the following generation, and faithful priests, religious, and laity everywhere.

He came with experience of war, Nazism, Communism, and wickedness of every kind and knew the logic of the Gospel, and the Good News about the human person and salvation. Further, his knowledge had been honed among young people and couples, among those who suffered, heroes and ordinary lay people. He electrified the world with inspiring explanations of how we should live. He did not bring easy solutions, but happy ones. He gave us comprehensible explanations of who we are and how we are to live the Gospel message in our day.
When Benedict XVI succeeded John Paul, he turned his attention to the vice that had infiltrated the higher echelons of the Church. He disciplined and exiled Father Marcial Maciel and initiated an investigation into the widespread rumors of homosexuality and financial improprieties within the Curia. We do not know the contents of the report that was produced; but we do know that it caused great alarm within some high circles in Rome.
The three decades of brilliant worldwide evangelization by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI was enormously successful among the laity and a whole new generation of priests, willing and able to teach true Catholic faith and morals.
But many among those of the generation before were not happy to see conviction and firmness in the faith blossoming again. A number of bishops and cardinals in the developed world felt quite uncomfortable as their easy-going, permissive ways clashed with this new vigor. Some of these by now very powerful old prelates, we now know, decided to “save” the Church from what they evidently considered old-fashioned and ‘rigid’ teachings.

We are told they founded the “St. Gallen Club” or “mafia” in order to lay plans to wrench the Barque of Peter around to a different course. Taking advantage of the tolerance of the former popes, who never humiliated them for their doctrinal laxity, this St. Gallen club was successful in promoting a candidate for pope. Jorge Bergoglio was elected.
The generation of the 1970s is now in power in the Church. In business and politics, that generation is mainly retired. Many were broken by the tragedies of drugs and sex that destroyed their own children. But in the Church, many are still there – and are now powerful.
The outrageous homoerotic mural commissioned by Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia for his cathedral in Terni did not prevent his being put in charge of, and radically changing, the sections of the Vatican pertaining to Life and Family: the Pontifical Council for Family, the Pontifical Academy for Life and the John Paul II Institutes for Family Studies.
Archbishop Paglia (surely soon to be a Cardinal) also commissioned a “Sex Education” program, in five languages, which contradicts important principles of Church teaching on sexual education.
And so we see a great divide today in the Church. The rank and file of practicing Catholics are more motivated than ever to live and teach real Catholic social and moral doctrine. But they see that prelates formed in permissiveness and relativity being promoted. Even scandals involving drugs and sex within the Vatican do not seem to slow the repeal and replacement of the traditional categories of morality and gender, so beautifully confirmed by our recent great popes.
We are headed for very rough waters and we must not lose heart. Our Lord is alive and we must be faithful to Him and His teaching during this time of trial. Young priests and laity, and the many faithful movements, must hold firmly to the Truth, united in prayer and action until this storm is calmed. Jesus, I trust in You