Parish roundup: Senior housing, confirmation joy, fighting depression and holy exercise

Mourners embrace during an April 8 vigil at Elgar Petersen Arena in Humboldt, Saskatchewan, to honor members of the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team who were killed in a fatal bus accident. (CNS/Reuters/Jonathan Hayward)

by Dan Morris-Young

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Nothing could have prepared Fr. Joseph Salihu or other faith leaders who responded to the tragic April 6 bus crash in which 15 people associated with the Humboldt, Saskatchewan, Canada, junior hockey team died, including 10 of team's players ages 16 to 21. Pastor of St. Augustine parish in Humboldt, Salihu told the Catholic Register newspaper he has seen deadly terrorist attacks in northern Nigeria, but the Humboldt experience was far worse.  The Rev. Sean Brandow, team chaplain and leader of Humboldt Bible Church, told Catholic News Service it was a "scene I never want to see again."

Small cardboard "rice bowls" used for Catholic Relief Services' Lenten Rice Bowl program are displayed in a collection basket. Some 75 percent of the funds raised support CRS programs around the world, and 25 percent benefits communities where the money is raised. (CNS/Octavio Duran)

While roughly 14,000 U.S. parishes and schools take part in Catholic Relief Services' annual Lenten Operation Rice Bowl program, the 40-year-old effort is often felt by one person, one family and one event at a time.  The Ogeltree family of Greenbelt, Maryland, shares how much the Rice Bowl-backed food pantry of St. Hugh of Grenoble Parish there has meant to them.

A model for North American parishes? Cristo Salvador Parish in San Salvador, El Salvador, calls them "pastoral agents." It is a community of nearly four dozen parishioners who wear simple "uniforms" of white shirts and black skirts or trousers who visit the ill, disabled, elderly and others in need around the capital city of that country. "It entails love, humility, patience and obedience, but I feel the Lord will reward us," Juan Manuel Galvez, one of a few men who along with 40 women make up the ministry group, told Maryknoll Magazine.

Brenda Sigmund and Jordan Friske of San Diego are personal trainers at Catholic Fitness Training, a ministry that offers workouts infused with Catholic spirituality. (CNS/The Southern Cross/Denis Grasska)

"When we diet or exercise with a secular standpoint, we can often make our own bodies an idol," fitness trainer Jordan Friske told The Southern Cross, newspaper of the San Diego diocese. The 29-year-old member of St. Margaret Parish in Oceanside, California sees his work as ministry as much as a work career, often directing fitness "boot camps" at local parishes. So does Brenda Sigmund, 29, also a personal trainer with Catholic Fitness Training.  A member of San Diego's St. Brigid Parish, Sigmund is convinced that faith and fitness "go hand in hand."

Depression "is not like having a broken ankle," emphasizes Jessie Bazan in a US Catholic magazine feature that provides suggestions on what parishes can do to address the disease. Bazan is outreach coordinator for St. John's Abbey Vocations and youth formation minister at Pax Christi Catholic Community in Minnesota.

Charles Guynn, a 70-year-old member of St. Rita Parish in Indianapolis, knew the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. personally. Twenty years old at the time, Guynn and his fiancée, Mary, were at a skating rink April 4, 1968, in Indianapolis when they heard King had been assassinated. (CNS/courtesy The Criterion)

Charles Guynn, a 70-year-old member of St. Rita Parish in Indianapolis, Indiana, clearly recalls the impact on his life made by the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Guynn met King, worked with him, and later oversaw the Indianapolis branch of Operation Breadbasket, an inner-city youth outreach founded by the slain civil rights leader. 

Affordable housing for seniors?  There are good things going on in the Honolulu diocese. And in San Antonio, Texas, religious leaders are banding together as well to address the issue.

Family, parish and catechists joined in creating a tender, caring and joyous team to prepare 16-year-old Griffin, who has Down syndrome, for his recent confirmation at Holy Family Parish in Orlando, Florida. His sister, Lilyanna, even delayed her confirmation for a year to accompany Griffin.

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

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