The Field Hospital: Covering parish life throughout America

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by Dan Morris-Young

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Editor's note: "The Field Hospital" is NCRonline's newest blog series, covering life in Catholic parishes across the United States and Canada. The title comes from the words of Pope Francis: "I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds. ... And you have to start from the ground up."

"The Field Hospital" blog will run twice weekly on along with feature stories and news reports about parish life in the U.S. If you have a story suggestion, send it to Dan Morris Young ( or Peter Feuerherd ( Please note that we welcome story suggestions from Canada as well.

 Apparently the only parish in the U.S. named after human rights icon Blessed Oscar Romero celebrated its first Mass in late November at Jurupa Valley High School in Eastvale, Calif. Masses will continue to be held at the high school until the new parish can raise funds for a worship space. Celebrants of the inaugural Mass were Fr. Patrick Kirsch, pastor, and Fr. Rafael Partida, episcopal vicar for the Riverside Pastoral Region of the San Bernardino Diocese.

Students of Marin Catholic High School in Kentfield, Calif., have become involved advocates of fair trade economics as they worked to make their campus one of two Catholic high schools in California and only the 18th Catholic high school in the nation to earn a full fair trade designation from Fair Trade Campaigns, a nonprofit that helps towns, churches, schools and other organizations "go fair trade," reports the Jan. 26 Catholic San Francisco newspaper.

The paper reported: "'As a Catholic school, it's an idea that syncs with student and staff values,' said social studies teacher and student activities director Lynn Maloney, the impetus behind Marin Catholic's fair trade movement." Fair trade principles emphasize that human beings behind goods produced should be offered a living wage and are treated ethically. The school's food-service vendor, the Epicurean Group, has become an "enthusiastic supporter" of the campaign, according to the news story. Catholic Relief Services has a website dedicated to fair trade.

Many parishes across the U.S. and Canada sponsor food pantries. The San Bernardino Diocese is one of the few arch/dioceses that actually provides links on its webpage to those pantries in its seven geographic vicariates.

One of those parish food banks, St. Martha's Community Food Pantry in Murrieta, was recently honored as the 2015 Agency of the Year by the organization Feeding America Riverside-San Bernardino. Operated by about 150 volunteers, nearly all from St. Martha Parish, the ministry also operates a thrift store. The pantry serves more than 4,000 persons monthly. "We were chosen from among 600 pantries so this is quite an honor," Maria Bhanukitsiri, manager of the pantry, told the Inland Catholic Byte, the diocese's online news feed.

From Catholic News Service, the congregation at St. Dominic Church in Brookfield experienced "a baptism, a Mass and a foiled robbery" after a would-be thief tried to steal a woman's purse when wasn't looking.

In case you missed it, Peter Feuerherd reported on retired postal security specialist Michael W. Ryan's quest to get parishes to be smarter, more systematic, about the way they handle collections.

[Dan Morris-Young is NCR's West Coast correspondent. His email is]

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