Parish roundup: Knights of Columbus and Special Olympics; healing communities

Emma Joyce, a junior at Maur Hill-Mount Academy in Atchison, Kansas, and a parishioner of St. Benedict Church in Bendena, Kansas, helps repair a fence line March 22 at a fire-damaged ranch near Ashland, Kansas. (CNS photo/courtesy Amy Joyce)
This article appears in the The Field Hospital feature series. View the full series.

Editor's note: "The Field Hospital" blog shares parish and other grass-roots efforts across the U.S. and Canada to accompany those on the margins and in need. Pope Francis said he sees the church as a "field hospital" that labors "from the ground up" to "heal the wounds."

A food truck, fast-food restaurants, laundromats, pubs and a cell phone app are all elements of a sacramental "church without walls" in Houston, Texas, founded by an Episcopalian priest, Rev. Sean Steele, just over a year ago. The fledgling St. Isidore Episcopal church focuses on "missional communities and neighborhood service," Steele told NCR. "Offensively generous" is the congregation's motto.

Maryknoll Magazine checks in on "the nones," making note of the "tectonic shift happening in American religious practice."

Historic St. André Bessette Parish in the heart of Portland, Oregon's Old Town welcomes about 120 people daily and nearly 200 on Saturdays for hospitality — warm coffee, hearty food, a friendly ear, sleeping bags, clothing, haircuts, soap, even toenail trimming. Area parishes such as St. Juan Diego lend strong support to St. André Bessette, long nicknamed the "Downtown Chapel."

Faith and faith communities play a fundamental role in diffusing tensions and healing traumatized communities. That was the message shared May 3 from differing perspectives during a panel discussion including Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis, Baltimore Archbishop William Lori and Rev. S. Yodd Yeary, senior pastor of Baltimore's Douglas Memorial Community Church. Lori recalled as emblematic his memory of a priest sweeping the streets of a Baltimore neighborhood following the violence born of the 2015 death of Freddie Gray while in police custody.

"The scandal is not over" was part of the implicit and explicit message at the Brooklyn Diocese's third annual Mass of Hope and Healing for victims of clerical sex abuse. Some three dozen priests were on the altar, including Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio and Auxiliary Bishops Raymond Chappetto, James Massa, Paul Sanchez and Neil Tiedemann. In the past, DiMarzio faced criticism for opposing state legislation that would extend the statute of limitations for claims of child sexual abuse.

Sixth-generation farmers, the six-member Joyce family of St. Benedict Parish in Bendena, Kansas, placed their skills, assets, leadership and compassion at the service of others in the wake of the largest prairie wildfire in the history of Kansas.

Kentucky's Christian County Special Olympics basketball team will field new uniforms, thanks to Knights of Columbus Council 7847, long closely associated with Saints Peter and Paul Parish in Hopkinsville, Kent.

Similarly, the Knights of Columbus North Port Council 7997 in Florida helps backbone efforts on behalf of persons with intellectual disabilities, recently distributing $7,200 to varied programs on their behalf.

In Minnesota, the Knights of Columbus has a state-wide fund and outreach to persons with disabilities.

Nationally, the Knights have been supporters of Special Olympics since the program's founding and is now helping Special Olympics expand into under-served countries. The Knights have donated more than $600 million to programs befitting persons with physical and intellectual challenges.

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

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