NCR Today

A new 'road map' in Hawaii


Last June, I wrote a story about how the Diocese of Hawaii undertook a substantial strategic plan under the direction of its new bishop Larry Silva. Then vicar general, Father Marc Alexander, spearheaded the undertaking.

Over the course a number of telephone conversations, I got to know Marc Alexander. He is an impressive guy. His biography can be found here: Marc R. Alexander

News today that Marc Alexander has decided to leave the priesthood after 25 years and accept an appointment by Hawaii's governor to head-up homelessness issues comes as a shock to his bishop, and no doubt, to many Catholics.

At the same time, Marc Alexander is quoted as saying that it is "time to answer a call in a different direction."

It is heartening to know that someone of Marc Alexander's compassion and capability is now in a position to affect the lives of the homeless in a way he couldn't as a priest.

Meeting Sargent Shriver, seeing the church of love


Sargent Shriver, Trappist Monks, and Pope Benedict XVI’s election are three things I’ve been thinking about recently. Let me explain.

It all stems from April 19, 2005, which, for me, is one of those days that stand far out above all others, shining in memory.

That spring I was a young college student in Washington taking a peace studies course with Colman McCarthy: journalist, peace activist, former monastic, vegan, and decamped Catholic.

The class organized a Saturday field trip to Holy Cross Abbey, a Trappist monastery in Virginia. We met in the parking lot and piled into vans for the drive. Before we could leave campus, bells began to ring -- at first from only one direction, loud and clear -- and then from many directions.

Rolling down the window someone shouted a query to a friar.

Habemus Papam” his voice sang in response, “We have a pope.”

As we began the drive, we turned on the radio -- hoping for news of who was chosen. Ears glued to the talk radio station, waiting nervously: this choice, after all, affects every Catholic’s life.

This was the first new pope of our lives and it seemed everything might change.

Western Wall highlights women's struggle for religious equality


These days, interfaith solidarity is important in struggles for justice. And so it is with the quest for women’s equality in faith traditions across the board.

This week on Interfaith Voices I spoke with Sue Morningstar, a rabbi of the Jewish Renewal Movement who is an international vice-chair of a group called “Rabbis for Women of the Wall.”

This group seeks gender equality in the way Jews pray at the Western Wall (or “Wailing Wall”), in Jerusalem. It’s the holiest sight in Judaism, and the rules about praying there are enforced by fundamentalist Orthodox rabbis in Israel.

There is even a physical partition that separates men from women. Some women have even been threatened with serious jail time (years, in fact) for “offenses” like wearing a prayer shawl or reading aloud from the Torah at the Wall.

The latter threats make me glad that the Vatican doesn’t have a way to jail Catholic women who call for women’s ordination as deacons and priests! But the overlap in our struggles was most apparent when I asked Rabbi Morningstar what the Jewish Renewal Movement was about.

Happy anniversary to the American Dream


This year the American Dream turns eighty years old.

It's actually hard to imagine that the words "American Deam" have a birthdate, a creator, an inventor. But they do. Over the years, these words have become very elastic -- meaning whatever the speaker wants them to: a new home, a new car, a new life, a chicken in every pot.

But "American Dream" first was coined in 1931, by historian James Truslow Adams, in his book, "Epic of America." He was writing as the Great Depression gathered full steam, here at home and around the developed world. This is how he put it, in excerpts you can find at Wikipedia, as honestly, directly, and succintly as only an inventor can:

On this day: Regicide


On this day in 1793, in the place de la Révolution, today's place de la Concorde, the National Convention of France guillotined King Louis XVI.

Henry Essex Edgeworth de Firmont, the priest who said Mass for the king on the morning of his execution, heard his confession, gave him a last blessing, and accompanied him to the scaffold, described the event in Memoirs of the Abbé Edgeworth; Containing His Narrative of the Last Hours of Louis XVI, edited by C. S. Edgeworth. (Start on page 54.)

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July 14-27, 2017