Saturday, May 17

This summer's travels are shaping up...

Chicago twice, once in May and once in June, both for book tradeshows, and with maybe a jaunt to Milwaukee attached to the latter trip. Sometime in June, we will spend a couple of days at St. Meinrad's in S. Indiana - not to consecrate Joseph to the Benedictines, but for me to research my next Loyola book in their library. July will be 10+ days traveling to, being in and traveling from Orlando for the Christian Bookseller's Association show, with stops at various family members on the way up and back and visits with old friends while we're there. As of this moment,we're planning a Canadian trip for August, with the emphasis on Quebec City and environs, but haven't pinned anything down on that yet...

I'm already tired...

Vatican confirms Pope has Parkinson's

Pope John Paul II has used prayer to cope with his advancing age and Parkinson's disease, a top Vatican official said in published remarks Saturday the first time a senior official has publicly acknowledged the pontiff suffers from the degenerative disease.Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, head of the Congregation of Bishops, made the comments in an interview with the Milan daily newspaper Corriere della Sera on the eve of the pope's 83rd birthday."If we want to look for the secret weapon that has allowed him to beat the years and Parkinson's, we must look to prayer: He puts himself in the hands of God and feels God and the Madonna by his side in the path of life," he was quoted as saying.

It's reassignment time, including in Virginia , where..

A Norfolk priest who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor sex offense last year is among the Roman Catholic clergy in the Diocese of Richmond who have been reassigned, effective June 2. The Rev. Wayne L. Ball, 42, who formerly served at St. Gerard parish in Roanoke, will move from Holy Trinity church in Norfolk to St. John Catholic Church in Highland Springs. Ball pleaded guilty to a charge of frequenting a bawdy place in Norfolk General District Court in December. He and a 41-year-old man were both charged after police found them in a parked car in a Norfolk park. Ball was sentenced to 80 hours of community service, to be completed by June 3. The case was continued until July 8, at which time the charge will be dismissed if Ball has no other criminal charges filed against him.

It struck me as I read this that in decades past, the end result of this would be exactly the same - the priest would be given his pastorate. The intervening events, though, would have been quite different. The police would have dropped charges and destroyed files. The newspapers would not have reported it, and no one would have known, and the next parish would get its new pastor.What's changed? Everyone knows about the sin (and particular weakness) of their new's kind of strange, and I'm trying to figure out a way that strikes a more appropriate middle ground, one that encompasses justice and compassion, but at the same time doesn't seem to minimize the situation, as this solution does, by rewarding the offender with a new pastorate a mere five months after the offense...

NYTimes review of The Life You Save May Be Your Own

As for me, I'm spending part of the weekend reading the #1 bestselling, exciting suspense thriller, The DaVinci Code for review. Because it's got Catholic stuff in it and everything - like the Opus Dei albino guy who just killed a Louvre curator and then went back to his room to discipline himself. Yup. Anyone else read it? Share your thoughts here...

A long, interesting profile of soon-to-be auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Orange, Dominic Luong (LATimes,LRR)

Luong, 62, is to be ordained June 11 as an auxiliary bishop in the Diocese of Orange, which includes all of Orange County. The appointment by Pope John Paul II makes Luong the first Vietnamese American bishop in the United States.

"There is no unifying leader in our community, so we are expecting that he will be the one to promote unity," said Thong Tinh Le, a high school teacher from Santa Ana who met Luong in 1989 when the two formed the Apostolate Office for the Vietnamese Catholics in the United States. "What he has done in New Orleans -- we don't expect less here."

In Orange County, the Vietnamese American community -- much larger and more diverse than the one in New Orleans -- has been beset with power strugglesIn 1976, Luong followed a wave of Vietnamese immigrants to New Orleans, where Catholic Church officials realized his head start in the United States made him an ideal candidate to pastor the developing refugee community. A year later, he became an American citizen.

His handiwork can be found everywhere in East New Orleans. Among the most impressive achievements: a drained swamp where Vietnamese entrepreneurs built about 1,000 apartments and homes, a church and day-care center on 35 acres.

For a while, their church was a mobile home, with the electricity supplied through eight extension cords running from nearby apartments occupied by Vietnamese immigrants. The parish -- Mary, Queen of Vietnam -- now has 6,000 members and $1.3 million in the bank, money saved bit by bit over the years.

"We think about the future of our church and don't spend too much," Luong said, before quickly adding, "but we're not too frugal either."

More than 500 people attend one of two daily Masses. On the drawing board is a new $10-million church, and four smaller missions have been set up within a 25-mile radius. The community has named a street after its pastor, Dominic Mai Avenue.


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