NCR Today

Sr. Mary Roch Rocklage


Sr. Mary Roch Rocklage, a Sister of Mercy, was named to the Modern Healthcare's HealthCare Hall of Fame last March. Read more here.

I missed that announcement, but it is never too late to sing someone's praises.

Back in 1977 I was one of seven women who opened a Catholic Worker house for women and children. We had an old convent with a dozen or so bedrooms for guests and an attic where we built walls for community bedrooms. We had to clean and paint everything, beg a kitchen stove and beds, plan house management, raise money, etc. We were up to our ears in work.

The phone rang and I answered it. It was Sr. Mary Roch. "What can I do to help?" she asked.

U.S. priest to attend Irish meeting


A representative of the newly created Association of U.S. Catholic Priests will attend the general meeting of the Association of Catholic Priests (the Irish organization) Oct. 4-5 in Dublin.

Fr. Bernard Survil, who was instrumental in the formation of the U.S. association, said he hopes only to establish personal contact with officers and members of the Irish group.

"We are two independent organizations," he said, "and we don't see that the goals of the Irish association are replicable in the United States."

Vatican II eye-witness speaks out


Earlier this month, theologian Giovanni Franzoni, a former Benedictine abbott and one of the youngest participants at Vatican II, and now one of the few remaining eyewitnesses, delivered his reflections on the council during the 31st Congress of the Asociacion de Teologas Juan XXIII in Madrid.

Fellow NCR Today blogger Bob McClory wrote about this yesterday (See Former Abbott: Paul VI undermined Vatican II), but it bears more attention.

Ireland: Priests meeting


In Ireland, the actuality of the Oct. 4-5 annual meeting of the independent Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) may be of more consequence than the agenda -- important though that is.

The Irish priests will be joined by Msgr. Helmut Schüller from Austria and Fr. Bernard Survil from the United States. Minor though such international representation is at present, this initial show of transnational solidarity among priests could have major consequences.

Nostalgia takes wing


Each new TV season is a bit like a national Rorschach test: the shows that audiences choose to check out often reveal or confirm something deeper about who we are and where we are. So far, this season has brought us mass psychology delivered in a package stamped "Pan Am."

The ABC series is set in 1963 and focuses on the glamorous lives of four jet-setting stewardesses who fly the international skies of the now-defunct, then-supreme Pan American Airways. The show draws inspiration from the cable hit "Mad Men," set on Madison Avenue in the same era -- but with crucial differences that provide some interesting insights.

"Mad Men" takes a skeptical and skewed look at the early '60s: drinking, smoking, and racial and gender attitudes are all played with a "can you believe people acted this way?" attitude that seeks to show us how far we've come, even if the suits and haircuts then looked much hipper.

But there's nothing like that raised-eyebrow in "Pan Am."

On this day: Pope John Paul I


On this day in 1978, Pope John Paul I died in his bed at the Vatican. He had reigned only 33 days. His body was discovered the next morning by Sister Vinceza Tafferel, one of the four nuns who served him.

Odd behavior and inconsistent statements by Vatican officials raised questions about what had caused the new Pope's sudden and unprovided death.

"I am completely convinced that Pope John Paul I, Albino Luciani, was murdered."

--In God's Name: An Investigation Into the Murder of Pope John Paul I, by David Yallop, Carroll & Graf, 2007 edition, page 228.

Death is a mystery


In the past three months a dear friend died and a dear friend of my mother's died. Neither one was a member of organized religion and I was asked to lead the memorial services.

It has put me in mind of death as a mystery. Another friend, a priest who has also died, Jim Krings, said to me once, don't try to explain death. Don't let yourself or anyone else think they can understand it.

That was my first point in my brief opening homilette: Death is a mystery.

Secondly, I am so aware for myself that I bring to every funeral all my own past losses. Brothers, friends, my father -- they are in the background of my mind. That word loss is so short and simple but it stands for holes in our lives, missing persons, unfinished conversations.

And in the moment of feeling loss so acutely, we also feel alive. Life is at least as much a mystery as death. How did we come to be and what is our meaning? And so we are grateful. We mourn the loss and we celebrate the life.

Celebrating 100 years and 135 years in Catholic health care


September marks at least two anniversaries in Catholic health care, both in California. For a look at "then" and "now," read this story about St. John's Regional Medical Center, founded 100 years ago in Oxnard by the Sisters of Mercy, or this one, about the arrival of the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael in Stockton 135 years ago.


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In This Issue

December 2-15, 2016