NCR Today

Maryknoll Centennial Symposium: Surprising lessons from Communist countries

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Communist or socialist countries that restrict missionary activity and religious expression pose particular challenges to the practice of mission today, but countries such as China and Vietnam also have surprising lessons for the Catholic Church, Father Peter C. Phan told the Maryknoll Centennial Symposium this weekend.

China—where Maryknoll’s first missionaries had arrived in 1918—expelled all foreign missionaries in 1949. “But lo and behold, when Christians came back in the 1980s, we found a more vibrant Christianity in China than it was before,” said Phan, professor of theology at Georgetown University. “What we thought would be the end of mission turned out to be the flourishing of mission.”

“What we learned in those 30 to 40 years is that bishops and priests were dispensable,” Phan said with a laugh. “This is also the lesson we learned here during Vatican II. While the bishops were in Rome, the local churches prospered.”

Phan suggested that the distinction between the official and underground churches in China may be a Western lens that is “too limiting, too confining to understanding what is really happening on the ground.”

Maryknoll Centennial Symposium: Mission as friendship

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When liberation theologian Father Gustavo Gutiérrez was asked to say a few impromptu words at the Maryknoll Centennial Symposium, he expressed gratitude for the work of Maryknoll priests and nuns in his native country of Peru, in particular for their mission of friendship.

“We do not have a true commitment to the poor without friendship,” said Gutiérrez, citing Jesus’ words, “I no longer call you servants… but friends” (John 15:15). “Friends are different but equal…. When we speak about the preferential option for the poor, we have to be close to them. Many people understand the witness of Maryknoll as being friends of the people.”

Plenary speaker Dr. Dana Robert picked up the theme of friendship in her talk Friday afternoon. “Mission as relationship: this is where we have to go now,” said Robert, director of the Center for Global Christianity and Mission at the Boston University School of Theology. Robert, a United Methodist, had just returned from the interreligious Global Christian Forum in Indonesia.

Tom Roberts' Emerging Church book now available

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This is how I remember it. In late 2008 or early 2009, Tom Roberts broached the idea of setting out on a trek across the United States to find Catholic communities that are alive and life giving, that aren't bogged down in the mire of church politics and scandal.

From that idea came first a series of stories for our newspaper and website. You can still read those stories here: In Search of the Emerging Church.

Next came a book for Orbis, The Emerging Catholic Church: A Community's Search for Itself, which has just been released.

Tom was guest on Interfaith Voices, a public radio show hosted by Sr. Maureen Feilder, who also blogs for NCR Today. Here's a link to Tom and Maureen's conversation, which is titled The Changing Face of the Catholic Church.

Morning Briefing

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Scalia's Goof on the Free Exercise Clause

Nobel Peace Prize Awarded to Three Activist Women. The winners were Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf — Africa’s first elected female president — her compatriot, peace activist Leymah Gbowee and Tawakul Karman of Yemen, a civil society campaigner.

Dear Occupy Wall Street: Will You Stand with Me?

Catholic Charities of Peoria ending state foster care contracts

Why Catholic Bishops are Targeting Obama on Religious Freedom

Wall Street protests

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Rumor has it that the Wall Street Occupiers are coming to D.C. today. And they are spreading to other cities nationwide. It's about time. For many people, these protests are a welcome sign that the predatory attitudes and practices of Wall Street are seeping into the consciousness of ordinary citizens. Best of all, many of the young are beginning to act.

Prison hunger strike

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This past week 4,100 California prisoners confined in maximum security sites have refused at least nine consecutive meals, meeting the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) standard for reporting a hunger strike. About 12,000 prisoners are reported by the Federal Receiver's office to have refused some meals this week.

On this day: Blessed Marie-Rose Durocher

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On this day, 200 years ago, Eulalie Durocher was born in this house in Saint-Antoine-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, Canada.

In 1831, after her mother died, Eulalie and her father went to live with Eulalie's brother, Theophile, a priest at Beloeil. Eulalie managed the "household and the parish rectory. For the next thirteen years she learned a great deal about the spiritual and social needs of a parish, especially the need for schools. In 1843 the new bishop suggested that Eulalie form a religious congregation dedicated to education. Her brother strongly objected to losing his trusted right hand, but Eulalie overcame his resistance and with two companions founded the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary."

--The Big Book of Women Saints, by Sarah Gallick, HarperOne, 2007, page 315.

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February 24-March 9, 2017

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