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Archive of January 12, 2008

St. Gregory’s University in Oklahoma adds third campus

Shawnee, Okla., Jan 12, 2008 (CNA) - St. Gregory’s University announced this week that its rapidly expanding College for Working Adults (CWA) will open a third campus. Business degree classes at the associate level will kick off Tuesday at Oklahoma City’s Mercy Hospital.

Classes will meet in Mercy’s conference center, located in the McAuley Building just off Memorial Road. SGU has plans to begin bachelor’s degree classes sometime this spring in Oklahoma City.

“Just four years ago, we began with an initial enrollment of 15 in our bachelor’s program,” said Jean Thornbrugh, Ph.D., dean of SGU’s College for Working Adults. “We now have more than 350 students and offer degrees at the associate, bachelor and graduate levels. We anticipate the same growth pattern in Oklahoma City. We’re excited about what’s ahead.”

St. Gregory’s, the state’s oldest institution of higher learning, initiated its College for Working Adults in 2003 in Tulsa and expanded to the school’s traditional campus in Shawnee in 2006.

SGU’s CWA is designed for working professionals, providing accelerated evening classes – one night a week – for busy adults who need a practical option for their education. Because of its unique, non-traditional format, CWA students are considered “full time,” making them eligible for full-time state and federal financial aid.

For more information on St. Gregory’s CWA, call 405-878-5200, 405-880-2048 or visit http://www.stgregoryscwa.org/.

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Catholic Charities marks first anniversary of the launch of campaign to reduce poverty in America

Alexandria, Va., Jan 12, 2008 (CNA) - Catholic Charities USA today marked the first anniversary of the launch of its ambitious effort to cut the U.S. poverty rate in half by 2020, noting a strong national response to the call for action, several legislative successes, and a growing recognition of the critical need to help the poor by government leaders in Washington.

The Campaign to Reduce Poverty in America was announced a year ago at a packed event in Washington, DC, with Catholic Charities outlining a bold legislative and grassroots agenda to cut the poverty rate in half and a pledge to hold lawmakers accountable to protect the social safety net in the country.

Rev. Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA, said that the response of the Catholic Charities network to the campaign has been tremendous, as more than 4,500 people and more than 380 organizations have endorsed the campaign, with more than 27,000 letters sent to members of Congress urging them to support legislation to help those living in poverty.

The four main areas of focus for the Campaign are improving food and nutrition programs, increasing access to health care, enabling more people to get affordable housing, and promoting greater economic security for the poor and vulnerable through programs that support work and strengthen families.

Legislation to help those living in poverty that was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bush in the past year included a raise in the Minimum Wage; reforms to the student loan program; and additional resources to help low-income families afford heat this winter.

The efforts of Catholic Charities through the Campaign to Reduce Poverty in America were recognized by government leaders. Father Snyder was invited to testify before the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support on proposals for reducing poverty, and congressional anti-hunger leaders praised the work of Catholic Charities in fighting for more funding for food stamp programs. In addition, Catholic Charities was invited to be one of the panelists questioning presidential candidates on the needs of the poor in a CNN forum last June.

Nationally, 36.5 million Americans live in poverty, and Catholic Charities agencies serve more than 7.8 million people each year. More than half of the people served by local Catholic Charities, 4.1 million, were living below the federal poverty line, according to Poverty in America: Beyond the Numbers, a report released by CCUSA in November.

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Latino leaders association to hold first national gathering in San Antonio

San Antonio, Texas, Jan 12, 2008 (CNA) - A newly formed group of Catholic Latinos leaders has announced that they will hold their first national gathering on January 16 in San Antonio, Texas. 

The Catholic Association of Latino Leaders (CALL) plans to hold its first national event and identity unveiling at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, January 16, 2008, at Club Giraud in San Antonio, Texas. Cardinals, bishops, and clergy from the U.S. and the Vatican have been invited to attend this premier event. In addition, Latino business leaders and prominent businessmen from across the country will attend and are lending their name and talent to ensure the success of this unique organization.

In comments to CNA last September, CALL described its origins as “a response to some of the bishops asking for a dialogue with Catholic laity who are in the business and professional sectors.” When asked what motivated them to found CALL they said that they were driven by their “love for the Church and her mission” and that they want to live out that love “within the context of our culture, and in communion with the bishops”.

"CALL is an opportunity for Hispanic Catholic leaders to step forward and become a voice for the community on social and faith issues important to both the Catholic Church and Latinos. It is only by working together with our church and in our communities that we can make a difference," said CALL President Mario J. Paredes.

The Latino leaders plan to actively embrace the issues of preserving and promoting Catholic values such as the sanctity and dignity of life, of marriage and family life, Catholic faith formation and education, vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life, promoting the dignity of every person, and promoting the evangelization of culture and the common good, all in collaboration with our bishops.

Two well-known churchmen serve as advisors to CALL, Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of San Antonio and Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. of Denver.

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50,000 Mexican youth to participate in pilgrimage to Mt. Christ the King

Guanajuato, Mexico, Jan 12, 2008 (CNA) - More than fifty thousand young people in Mexico will participate in a pilgrimage organized by the Witness and Hope Movement to the Mountain of Christ the King located in Guanajuato in central Mexico. 

The pilgrimage, in its 25th year, is intended to encourage young people to be witnesses of the love of God, by defending life, the family and peace.

Organizers said they hope the pilgrimage will awaken in young people the desire to bear witness to their faith in every area of their lives. 

The theme for the pilgrimage takes its inspiration from the theme for World Youth Day 2008: ‘You will be receive the power of the Holy Spirit, who will come upon you and you will be my witnesses.”

The pilgrimage will culminate with a Mass celebrated by Archbishop Jose Guadalupe Martin Rabago of Leon.

This year participants will also commemorate 30th anniversary of the killing of two young people by anti-clerical masons who wanted to stop the pilgrimage. Organizers recalled that the two young people knew how to live and how to die for Christ the king, they died with his name on their lips and today they invite us to live for him, and if necessary, to die in witness to him.

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College students prepare to “Go, and set the world on fire!”

Grapevine, Texas, Jan 12, 2008 (CNA) - Three thousand college students gathered in Texas as the New Year began, but they weren’t there to party. Instead they were learning to "Go, and set the world on fire!" at the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) 2008 National Student Leadership Conference.

The energy at the conference reverberated through the room as FOCUS celebrated its 10th anniversary and the largest national conference it has ever held.

FOCUS is an interesting phenomenon in the world of youth ministry since it is the only college-level Catholic campus ministry organization operating nationally. It has experienced unprecedented growth, beginning with just a two missionaries in 1998 to over 150 this year.

The fruit of FOCUS' growth was a crowd of students from around 200 college campuses. The enthusiatic attendees were treated to a line up of famous Catholic speakers from Jan 2-6. Some of the most notable talks came from Deacon Alex Jones, Mother Assumpta Long and Fr. Benedict Groeschel.

Deacon Alex Jones, a former Pentecostal minister who is now a Catholic, challenged the audience to respond to the call to share their faith without holding back.

"Evangelization is a call to the Gospel. You must be committed to the work of the Lord with everything you have -- not piecemeal, not halfway, not half-hearted, not mediocre, but with your whole heart, with your whole being, you're committed to the work of Jesus Christ. That's what the Holy Spirit is calling for from the faithful," he told the students.

Mother Assumpta Long, one of the founders of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, encouraged the youth to remain faithful in a society where they are under attack.

"We are encountering the enemies of truth and goodness," she told the crowd of thousands. Following a standing ovation, Mother Assumpta came back onto stage to say "Let me tell you something, and this is the truth, you are the hope of our Church, you are the future. We need you desperately!"

On Saturday evening, Father Benedict Groeschel, a founder of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, related how from a psychological standpoint the fact that so many young Catholics are faithful. He said that "You've been exposed to the apostasy, the betrayal of many Catholic colleges. And the media is out to get the Catholic Church." You are part of the JP II generation, a generation of young people that really shouldn’t exist, Fr. Groeschel said.

He also offered the captivated youth his thoughts on the future. From his point of view the U.S. will either undergo a religious revival or a religious persecution.

The impact of the five day gathering was deep for many of the attendees. Lamar Bowers, a senior from Troy University in Alabama, said that the conference was “a recharge” since “it’s easy to plateau when you aren’t being spiritually fed”.

Besides the 33 U.S. campuses that FOCUS has a team of missionaries on, students came from approximately 170 other schools including Canada, Australia and even Israel. Interestingly, the group from Israel was Jewish and had seen the website for the Conference. During a tour of the U.S., they decided to stop and see what the gathering was all about.

The event was also attended by close to 100 priests and several bishops, including Bishop Samuel Aquila, Bishop Kevin Vann and Archbishop Charles Chaput.

Students could take part in Eucharistic adoration, receive the sacrament of reconciliation and attend daily Mass as well as participate in numerous faith-building break-out sessions.

As the college students prepared to return to their campuses FOCUS president and founder Curtis Martin told them: "You are an anointed generation. You were made for a very specific purpose. You were made for greatness."

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