NCR Today

Woo takes helm at CRS

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I've long been a fan of Catholic Relief Services, having witnessed their work firsthand in India and Ethiopia as part of trips won through CRS's Eileen Egan Award for Journalistic Excellence program. I've also been a fan of Ken Hackett, who led CRS for the almost 20 years I have been covering the organization and who retired last month.

Luckily, I'm also a fan of the new president, Dr. Carolyn Woo, former dean of the Mendoza School of Business at the University of Notre Dame, my alma mater. While I don't know Woo personally, a close friend who worked with her at ND speaks very highly of her as a colleague and a Catholic.

Although it seems like we shouldn't have to be noting this in the year 2012, Woo is the first woman to head one of the world’s largest international humanitarian relief organizations.

The story of a near-death experience and three plastic saints

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This is one of those odd-but-true stories people tell around the holidays. It involves me, my near-death and three plastic 3-inch figures.

Bear with me.

Seven years ago this Christmas season, my insides exploded. I thought I had severe stomach flu -- and everyone around me readily agreed. ("Oh, for sure. There's a bad strain of it sweeping through this year; my sister-in-law's cousin from Philly ... ") Despite the insane pain, I got on a jet and flew from Los Angeles to visit my parents in Florida.

A few hours after I walked in their door, I fell on my mother's kitchen floor in unbearable agony. My father raced me to the hospital -- where the doctors discovered my large intestine had blown open and was spilling bile all over my internal organs. The last thing I remember as they wheeled me into the operating room: The surgeon turned to a nurse and said, "There isn't much time."

I woke up the next day in intensive care, with a 15-inch scar up and down my mid-section. I stayed with my parents for five weeks before I was well enough to head home to L.A. During that time, something miraculous happened: I got to know my mother and father again.

Kansas health center offers staff time off for mission work

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Ashland Health Center, a public 24-bed hospital in rural Kansas, was facing staffing shortages common in many rural areas until it changed its approach and began recruiting health workers interested in doing mission work, according to the Associated Press.

As a benefit, it now offers employees 8 paid weeks off each year -- which can be used for mission work or any other purpose.

"The idea: people willing to care for the sick and suffering in developing nations might be content to do the same in a town of 855 people, more than two hours away from the nearest Starbucks," reports the Associated Press.

Letter to Pax Christi members following bishop's resignation

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In a statement this morning, the leadership of Pax Christi USA reacts to the news yesterday that their bishop-president, Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Gabino Zavala, has resigned from ministry after acknowledging he is the father of two teenage children:

Dear Pax Christi USA members, partners and friends,

It is with great sadness that we write to you today about the resignation of Bishop Gabino Zavala. Pax Christi USA learned of Bishop Zavala's resignation yesterday. In a letter addressed to Catholics in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles (where Bishop Zavala was an auxiliary bishop), Archbishop Jose Gomez stated that Bishop Zavala's letter of resignation was accepted by the Vatican after he had disclosed that he is "the father of two minor teenage children who live with their mother in another state."

Morning Briefing

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17 more Haitian boys sue Perlitz, claiming abuse, The suits bring to 21 the number of plaintiffs who claim they were abused by Perlitz in his Project Pierre Toussaint program between 1998 and 2008.

Kansas City, Mo. -- SNAP says it will keep working with victims

Ottawa, Canada -- Courtroom fury as Catholic bishop walks free just hours after child porn sentencing

Philly archdiocese expected to announce major round of school closings Friday. Opinion: Catholic school crisis hurts all, by Robert H. Palestini

The Catholic case against Rick Santorum

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I had great fun last night watching Iowa caucus returns in realtime on The New York Times election 2012 dashboard on my iPad. It was fun watching first Ron Paul, Rick Santorum and Mitt Mitt Romney, and then Santorum and Romney trading places on the winners board.

If CNN's analysis is correct, and "Mojo trumps money" than the the "Santorum surge" we're seeing may mean something. And with pundits like David Brooks giving Santorum a double thumbs up for his potential appeal to Catholic and white working class voters (see: Workers of the World, Unite!, you've got to wonder what a pew sitting Catholic is supposed to think.

Should the church take in Episcopalians who believe in injustice?

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The Vatican has created a new "Ordinariate" for disaffected Episcopalians who come over to the Catholic church. Most of the disaffected Episcopalians are unhappy with the ordination of women as priests and bishops, the welcoming of openly gay/lesbian clergy and the blessing of same-sex unions. Many of them believe that such practices violate the basic teachings of Christianity.

As I read such stories, I understand all the ecclesial reasons for this move, and I'm happy that former Episcopal priests can remain married as they make the move. I just wish we'd extend the same right to our own Catholic priests.

And I have nothing against Episcopalians (or anyone) choosing to join the Catholic church. I think we need an open door.

When Missouri had caucuses

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My initiation to political activism came in April 1968 at a Kansas City, Mo., Democratic caucus for president. About eight Eugene McCarthy supporters, myself included, showed up at the home of the Democratic ward committeeman. We knocked on the front porch door. No answer. We knocked again, harder. There were people in the living room. Through the window it looked like they had started the meeting 15 minutes early. We knocked again. A woman came to the door and said apologetically that she could not let us in. The party regulars, Hubert Humphrey supporters, were stealing our votes.

At about 7:35 people came out. One of our men in our group blocked the path. Somebody shoved and two men threw a few punches. It's the only adult fistfight I've ever witnessed.

Service dog helps at church

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From the Asbury Park Press:

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — The Rev. Joel Marable stood at the altar at St. Matthew’s Anglican Catholic Church on Christmas morning and officiated at Mass, just as he has done many times before.

But this time was different.

This time his friend Donovan sat nearby, meticulously monitoring the priest’s blood pressure. Marable, the 67-year-old curate at the Newport News church, has survived a dozen strokes, and if Donovan detects any significant drop in blood pressure, he signals for the priest to sit down before he loses his balance and falls.

Donovan is a 5-year-old, 55-pound standard poodle.

Read more here at the Asbury Park Press.

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April 21-May 4, 2017

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