Philadelphia Catholics, in bad times, face hard choices

For the family of Kraig Null, a financial planner who owns his own business, the downturn in the economy means cutting back and living simpler, but one item he doesn’t intend to cut is the family’s donation to their parish, St. Thomas of Villanova, located in a wealthy suburb of Philadelphia.

Those donations, part of the weekly collection, are essential to funding many organizations within the Catholic community in this region, and one that is especially dependent on help from the outside is St. Thomas’s sister parish, Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament located in West Philadelphia, a poor area of the city.

A new generation in Northern Ireland for peace

Two twentysomethings from Northern Ireland, Paul Lilly, a Catholic, and Kelly McKee, a Protestant, have little in common when it comes to government rule in their province, but completely agree that violence is not the answer.

Referring to the killing of two British soldiers and a police officer within a 48-hour time period in early March by republican dissidents, McKee remarked, "The recent killings have certainly created a tension in the province, which I had hoped not to feel again."

Strangers welcomed at Camden Thanksgiving

Camden, N.J. -- Thanksgiving at Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Camden, N.J., means more than celebrating a holiday with family. The organization recalled the tradition of "welcoming the strangers," on which the American holiday is based, by inviting recent refugees and immigrants from trouble-filled regions around the world who have arrived in the last year to come and share a meal with the community.

"Thanksgiving is a holiday about strangers coming to America -- Catholic Charities is reenacting this idea all year long," Kevin Hickey, executive director of Catholic Charities in Camden, N.J., said. "Our Thanksgiving celebration shows new arrivals that they are part of America now and welcome."

More than 60 people came together Nov. 25 in the training room of Catholic Charities here to share food from around the world and to celebrate their cultures as well as their new lives in America.