Tuesday, January 14

Quote of the Day:

"Although Scripture is an important aspect to religion, we feel it is inappropriate for our newspaper's church column."

For more, go to Christianity Today's weblog and scroll down a bit.

Sounds like the beginning of a contest to me..."Although [fill in the blank] is an important aspect to [fill in the blank], we feel it is inappropriate for our newspaper's [blank} column...

Also.."aspect to religion???

Although grammar is an important aspect to writing, we feel it is inappropriate....

Has anyone run across any stories about the LeBron James windfall and its impact on the Catholic high school he plays for? Of course, the discussion today is all about his new set of wheels, but I'm wondering - the school has benefitted financially, as well...how is it using the money and the goods? Anyone know?

Reader Jonathon sends along this piece about contemporary worship trends in Protestant churches

You know the drill - praise bands, casual dress, coffee, song lyrics on the wall, etc.

But it's this quote that got me thinking:

Whatever form the contemporary-worship experience takes, it seems to fill a distinct need for worshipers."The focus of the praise is vertical," Turner said. "The focus is straight up - people singing to God. There's an intimacy in the lyrics and the approach to praise that really appeals to people who have grown up in today's culture."

We're so accustomed to critiques of this style of worship focusing on its supposed sell-out to culture, and ascribing its appeal to that, but is this Turner person on to something? I don't know, having not experienced this stuff myself, but it got me wondering...


From the NYTimes (LRR), a former hairdresser finds a new vocation and revitalized faith in restoring historic Texas churches

Mr. Esparza started his business restoring the art in these unusual churches in 1994 after a 20-year career as a hairdresser in Austin. Known back then as Fast Eddie, he had clients like the golfer Lee Trevino; Bob Denver, who played Gilligan on the television series "Gilligan's Island"; and John Connally, the former Texas governor. Now 53, Mr. Esparza said he sold his chain of three hair salons because he was not happy. "I was living a little too fast, you know what I mean?" he said. "And it was all make-believe stuff — your hair, how you look."

In an effort to change, he turned to church restoration. Even when he was a wayward hairdresser, Mr. Esparza painted religious art. His salons were decorated with the mystical images of Mary and Jesus that he started painting while attending Catholic grade school. Religious publishers printed some of his works on prayer cards and sold them in Catholic bookstores.

Mr. Esparza has also helped his older brother, Genaro, do metal work for churches, like restoring tabernacles and chalices. During those jobs, Mr. Esparza would sometimes offer to touch up the church's crucifix or maybe replace the gold leaf that had worn off Mary's halo.

"That's how the whole thing got started," Mr. Esparza said of Sacrada Familia, his Austin-based ecclesiastical restoration and design business. His commissions come mainly by word of mouth, and he has specifically sought jobs restoring the richly painted churches in the south and central parts of Texas. "Those churches are forgotten treasures," he said. "I want to be a link with the past, to restore them and to do something that is everlasting."



Immigration puts pressure on another small town - Beardstown, IL, with a populartion of under 6,000

Beardstown's school system and community agencies have scrambled to adjust to the wrenching changes that the town is undergoing. Even the local Roman Catholic church has been taken aback. "Communication is a problem, I admit," says the Rev. Eugene Weitzel, the 76-year-old priest whose formerly shrinking St. Alexius church is now bulging with new parishioners.

Weitzel, a prominent advocate for the Hispanic community, has introduced two Spanish-language masses, brought in Spanish-speaking outreach workers and arranged for the opening of a Catholic Charities medical clinic featuring Spanish-speaking staffers......

.....Change would come. In the late 1980s, Cargill Inc.'s Excel Corp. unit bought the shut-down Oscar Mayer plant on the edge of town and reopened it. The plant now slaughters 16,000 hogs a day, and employs about 2,000 workers - a third of them Hispanic.

The work is brutally hard, employee turnover is high, and the just-over-$10 hourly starting wage doesn't attract enough local workers. By the middle of the 1990s, the plant's seemingly bottomless need for new hires began drawing job-hungry Hispanic workers from the Midwest, California, Texas and Mexico.

The initial wave "was mostly all men," recalls Weitzel, the local priest. "Only after they settled in did they begin bringing in members of their family." St. Alexius offers newcomers donated bedding, clothing, dishes and the like, but notes that "once they get on their feet, they're very independent. Now they're buying homes."

The Hispanics who now comprise about 30 percent of Beardstown's population "are going through the exact same process" of settling in as "every nationality that's come before, like Germans, Polish and Italians."

Thank God for this refreshing attitude - open, welcoming, not fearful and realistic. The local paper has even started publishing a free, Spanish-language edition.


Abusive priest who's spilling his guts to a grand jury about other priests and diocesan procedures finds his deal with prosecutors on the line as he's being investigated for downloading child pornography while in residence at a convent.

Manchester diocese priest admits Christmas Eve theft

More than 1,000 people attended the 5:30 p.m. Mass on Christmas Eve, which usually brings in the largest collection of the year. Shortly afterward, someone stole most of the cash, personal checks and donation envelopes from a locked cabinet in a locked room, according to church officials. There were no signs of forced entry. Kucharski did not report the theft to police until a week later.


Info related to accusations against former Bishop Ryan of Springfield, IL have been forwarded to the Vatican

Results of an investigation into allegations that former Bishop Daniel Ryan of the Springfield Catholic Diocese solicited sex from a 15-year-old boy in 1984 recently were forwarded to the papal nuncio in Washington, D.C.

A board of laypeople from another diocese passed its information on to the nuncio, Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, who acts _as an ambassador from the Vatican to the United States.

"All of the information has been sent to the nuncio," Kathy Sass, spokeswoman for the diocese, said Friday. "It will in turn be sent to the Vatican."

Details of the investigation will remain confidential, Sass said......

The Springfield Diocese has its own board of laypeople, created in 1994, to investigate allegations of sexual abuse against minors. However, many of its members were appointed while Ryan was still bishop. Sass said the investigation was turned over to the other diocese to avoid any conflict of interest.



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