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Archive of September 21, 2008

Parishes get creative with efforts to go 'green'

Baltimore, Md., Sep 21, 2008 (CNA) - They call him Recycle Sam, although his name is Ross. The pastor of St. Casimir, Canton, earned the nickname for encouraging his parishioners to recycle.

“While at times it is an inconvenience,” said Father Ross M. Syracuse, O.F.M. Conv., “it is amazing to see how much recyclable material we actually use.”

The parish put recycle containers in place, holds daily Mass in the chapel instead of the church to save energy, installed programmable thermostats, replaced school windows with energy efficient ones, and replaced light bulbs with a more energy efficient type.

“This is another ‘no-brainer’ way to turn green,” Father Syracuse said.

The thermostats have been one of the parish’s biggest energy savers, said the pastor – it’s convenient to have boilers or air-conditioning units automatically turn on and shut off.

“Too often,” he said, “it’s easy to forget to turn something on or off.”

Over 11 years, the St. Casimir faith community has tried to do its part to protect and preserve what has been entrusted to us from God.

“As Franciscans,” said Father Syracuse, “we are called in a special way to care for creation and the environment in the spirit and example of St. Francis of Assisi.”

In Howard County, the green path follows to St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, Woodstock, where paper recycling efforts utilize the now recognized yellow and green Abitibi “paper retrievers.” They fetch newspapers better than a dog.

The Abitibi’s paper recycling program is designed for schools, large organizations and civic groups to receive money for recycling.

“The Abitibi Paper Retriever is well-used,” said Valerie Herrington, coordinator of youth and young adult ministry. “Our bin is picked up every two weeks.”

The parish also recycles cans and plastic bottles, and through its social justice committee, offers informal programs to educate various age groups to care for the earth and stay aware of environmental impact issues, said Ms. Herrington. Information is filtered through homilies and youth ministry and religious education lessons.

Abitibi bins are peppered throughout the archdiocese in 22 locations, the company reported. Organizations earn a small sum per ton of paper from Abitibi.

Other parishes are on the green bandwagon, too, including those holding bicycle drives – another solution to keeping piles of material out of landfills.

A Knights of Columbus arm of the Catholic Community of St. Francis Xavier, Hunt Valley, held a used bicycle drive after Masses during the weekend of Aug. 16-17. The bikes were refurbished and donated to inner-city parishes, including St. Francis Xavier’s sister parish, St. Gregory the Great. The parish also began paper recycling recently, also with Abitibi.

St. Lawrence Martyr, Jessup, has two recycle bins for newspapers, which are doing very well.

“Parishioners,” said Kathy Glass, secretary, “are just so great about bringing their newspapers.”

The parish has earned more than $700 in one year from Abitibi, and was also awarded $200 for winning an Abitibi contest.

Like St. Casimir, the parish has replaced light bulbs with energy efficient ones, insulated the parish center and installed programmable thermostats.

As a whole, the archdiocese has plans to turn greener and stay on a path of conservation. The facilities and real estate division is in the process of forming a green council, already supported by Bishops Mitchell T. Rozanski, eastern vicar, and Denis J. Madden, urban vicar, who will serve on it, along with priest representatives from various parishes.

Nolan McCoy, the division’s director, wants to be the first green archdiocese in the United States.

“It is each parish and school’s responsibility to take care of the earth we have been entrusted with,” he said. “We should all have a goal to reduce the amount of resources we consume while fulfilling our ministries. That includes energy, water and materials we put out to landfills. Anything we can do to save a single kilowatt will be for the benefit of the archdiocese.”

The first step is to establish a baseline of the archdiocese’s performance in its 16 million square feet of space and several thousand buildings.

“To know if you’re getting better,” said Mr. McCoy, “you have to know how you’re performing.”

Parishes and schools will be visited so as to identify kilowatt consumption used per square foot – who has the best practices and who is using the most energy.

“We can help them put technologies into place,” said Mr. McCoy. “It’s our moral obligation, our responsibility, to protect the earth for future generations.”

Printed with permission of The Catholic Review, newspaper for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Maryland. 

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Blood of Saint Januarius liquifies again in Naples cathedral

Naples, Fla., Sep 21, 2008 (CNA) - The blood of Saint Januarius, patron saint of Naples, has reportedly liquefied again in a continuation of the centuries-long miracle.

In Naples’ Cathedral on Wednesday, Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, the Archbishop of Naples, held up a vial containing the blood of the third-century saint while a traditional white handkerchief was waved, ANSA reports. The thousands packing the cathedral and the square outside cheered and set off fireworks.

The cardinal said that the blood had apparently liquefied before it was removed from the strongbox in which it is stored.

The dried blood of Saint Januarius, a bishop who was beheaded during a persecution by the Roman Emperor Diocletian in September of 305, traditionally liquefies on the anniversary of his martyrdom. Additionally, it annually liquefies on the Saturday before the first Sunday in May and on the December 16 anniversary of a 1631 eruption of the volcano Mt. Vesuvius, an eruption believed to have been stopped by San Januarius’ intercession.

The liquefaction of the blood can take hours and even days. Some consider its failure to liquefy an omen of looming disaster. After one such failure in 1527, tens of thousands died from the plague. In 1980, 3,000 died in an earthquake which devastated parts of southern Italy.

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Parable of Workers in the Vineyard is about being called by God, Pope says

Vatican City, Sep 21, 2008 (CNA) - After returning from the dedication of the altar at the cathedral in Albano, Italy, Sunday morning, Pope Benedict spoke about Sunday’s Gospel, the parable of the workers in the vineyard. The Holy Father encouraged his audience with the examples of Sts. Matthew and Paul, who are respectively the narrator of Sunday’s Gospel and the focus of this jubilee year.

Speaking to thousands of the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square, the Pope recalled the day of his election and his spontaneous presentation to the crowd in St. Peter’s Square as a humble worker in God’s vineyard.

In Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus recounts the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard, in which workers are called by the vineyard owner to work in his vineyard at different hours of the day but are all given the same pay.

According to the Holy Father, the equal reward represents “eternal life, a gift that God reserves for all.” Further, the parable is about being called, “being able to work in God’s vineyard, putting oneself at his service, collaborating with his work.” Being called by God is itself a form of compensation. But those who work only for payment, Pope Benedict said, “will never realize the value of this inestimable treasure."

Pope Benedict reflected upon the narrator of the parable, St. Matthew, apostle and evangelist, whose Feast the Church celebrates today. Before Jesus called Matthew, “he was a tax collector, and for this reason he was considered a public sinner, excluded from God’s vineyard. But everything changed when Jesus, passing nearby his post, saw him and told him: 'Follow me'. Matthew got up and followed him. He immediately changed from being a tax collector to being a disciple of Christ. Instead of being 'last', he found himself 'first', thanks to the logic of God, which - fortunately for us! - is different from that of the world.”

The Holy Father then spoke of St. Paul, who “also experienced the joy of hearing himself called by the Lord to work in his vineyard. And what work he did! But, as he himself confesses, it was the grace of God working in him, the grace that transformed him from being a persecutor of the Church to being an apostle of the Gentiles.” Paul understood well that working for the Lord is already a reward on this earth.

The Pope concluded by citing the example of the Virgin Mary, whom he venerated a week ago in Lourdes, France: “From her has sprouted the blessed fruit of Divine Love: Jesus, Our Savior.” He stated that in the Virgin Mary, the faithful would find help “to respond always and with love to the cry of the Lord.”

Following the Angelus, Pope Benedict assured victims of hurricanes Faye, Gustav, Hanna, and Ike in Haiti, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Texas of his special prayers for them. He expressed his hope that aid quickly reaches the most heavily damaged areas.

The Holy Father also addressed world leaders ahead of the 63rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, which is to begin September 25 in New York City. The meeting will assess the progress made on the objectives established in the Millennium Declaration, September 8, 2000.

Pope Benedict asked them to work against “extreme poverty, hunger, ignorance, and the scourge of diseases, which especially strike the most vulnerable.” Noting that the task requires special sacrifices at a time of worldwide economic difficulties, he concluded, such aid “will not fail to produce important benefits both for the development of nations in need of foreign aid and for the peace and well-being of the entire planet."

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