Clear Lake, Iowa, Jun 6, 2009 (CNA) - When Deanna Lingenfelter was born in January of 1952, doctors told her parents she would not survive. Fifty-seven years later, Deanna has authored three books and attributes all her accomplishments to God and her strong Catholic parents.
"My parents made sure I went where they went," said Deanna. "We lived in the country and were very family oriented. When the kids played outside, I was outside. My sister and I helped Mom with laundry. I could sit and fold. I rode horses with my dad."
When she was one-year-old, Deanna was diagnosed with Cerebral palsy, a disability resulting from damage to the brain before, during, or shortly after birth. It affects a person’s muscle movements and coordination, as well as speech. In many cases, like Deanna’s, a person is in a wheelchair.
Many will argue if Deanna’s childhood doctors could see her now, they would see how everyone has a purpose. They would see how love and encouragement can make miracles happen.
"We had to learn she was a gift from God," said Helen Lingenfelter, Deanna’s mother, quoted in one of her books. "(Deanna) didn’t just take from our whole family, but gave back incredible strength to us all."
After graduating from a special course for people with disabilities in Iowa City, Deanna moved to Opportunity Village in Clear Lake in 1973. Opportunity Village allows people with certain disabilities to live in a group home setting. Residents are involved in programs that help them work and live with purpose and dignity.
One program at Opportunity Village has allowed Deanna to author three books. "In the middle of the night, God woke me up," said Deanna. "He said I want you to write books for children on disabilities. If anybody can do it, you can because you are my child and I know you can do this."
In 2002, "The Magic Toy Box" was published. It’s about a boy and girl who come upon a toy box filled with "broken" toys. Among them, a doll that can’t stand and a teddy bear that can’t see. Each of the toys talks to the children and explains that even though some of their parts don’t work, they still have feelings and want to play.
Her second book, "More Magic," is geared toward school-aged children. A third book, "God Set Me Free," an autobiography, is her most recent publication. "The books teach children to relate to us," said Deanna.
Today, she is a regular member of St. Patrick’s Catholic Parish in Clear Lake, Iowa. A bus transports Deanna and eight other residents from Opportunity Village each week.
"People can be bitter about a disability or they can make the best of it," she said. "I am doing my best because I promised my family I would. Without my family and God I wouldn’t be the lady I am today."
Printed with permission from The Witness, newspaper for the Diocese of Dubuque, Iowa.
Sydney, Australia, Jun 6, 2009 (CNA) - The Archdiocese of Sydney will celebrate the its Congress for the New Evangelization July 18-26 as part of the first anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Australia for World Youth Day last July.
According to Fides, the event will take place at the Cathedral of St. Mary and will help the faithful “to experience anew the call of the Gospel and to show to all the abundance of the gifts that Christ has given to the Church.”
During the week, there will also be a special “Christ in the City” mission, especially designed for youth to get involved in evangelizing in the area.
The archdiocese described the congress in a statement as “a coming together of people from all parts of the Catholic Church in order to focus upon the great movement which is happening in the Church in our era - that which John Paul II and Benedict XVI have called 'the New Evangelization' - a movement in which the Church is being renewed upon the basis of the great Commission which she received from her Lord ... .”
The idea for the Congress came from the words of Pope Benedict XVI in Sydney last year: “Empowered by the Spirit, and drawing upon faith's rich vision, a new generation of Christians is being called to help build a world in which God's gift of life is welcomed, respected and cherished - not rejected, feared as a threat and destroyed...the Lord is asking you to be prophets of this new age, messengers of his love, drawing people to the Father and building a future of hope for all humanity.”
El Cajon, Calif., Jun 6, 2009 (CNA) - The apologetics organization Catholic Answers has filed suit against the Internal Revenue Service claiming the federal tax collection agency has “intimidated” churches and non-profit groups into silence on politically controversial moral issues.
In an announcement posted at the organization’s web site, Catholic Answers president Karl Keating explained that the IRS fined the group for a 2004 e-letter it wrote saying that Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry should not be allowed to receive Holy Communion.
Keating charged that Francis Kissling, then-leader of the pro-abortion front group “Catholics for a Free Choice,” had instigated the IRS action with a complaint.
He said Kissling “hated” Catholic Answers’ “Voter’s Guide for Serious Catholics,” which aimed to educate Catholics on issues such as abortion. However, the guide did not mention any candidates or political parties and was cleared of any violations by the IRS.
According to Keating, the IRS did rule that the e-letter’s remark about Sen. Kerry was “intervening” in the election, a charge Keating called “preposterous.”
He said the IRS has been using “very vague criteria” to “intimidate” churches, non-profits and ministries into “silence” on controversial moral issues.
“The intimidation has become so bad that nowadays, most churches and non-profits in America are scared to death even to talk about moral issues that are deemed ‘political' (such as abortion).”
“If you’re wondering why you don’t hear more about abortion in your parish, especially during election time, this is why. It’s IRS intimidation,” Keating wrote.
“All of this tail-between-the-legs cowering comes from the IRS’ ability to intimidate churches and non-profits into silence on political issues.
“And it’s simply wrong.
“For the IRS to claim that a non-profit organization cannot even so much as talk about a political candidate or ballot issue is something that must be strenuously opposed.”
Keating announced that Catholic Answers officially began its legal action against the IRS on April 3. Its lawsuit alleges that the IRS violates First Amendment Rights and intimidates non-profit organizations into silence.
The suit, he said, would serve not just Catholic Answers but the Catholic Church as a whole and all religious organizations. He said a victorious lawsuit would set a legal precedent holding that the IRS cannot prohibit speech on religious or moral issues.
CNA contacted Catholic Answers for further comment but did not receive a response by publication time.
San Diego, Calif., Jun 6, 2009 (CNA) - San Diego County officials have agreed to rescind a cease-and-desist order issued to a pastor who held a small Bible study in his home, apologizing for intrusive questions about the meetings.
Pastor David Jones had held a Bible study in his Bonita, California house for the past five years for about fifteen people. After a visiting friend of a neighbor filed a complaint about parking overflow, county officials questioned the pastor’s wife about the nature of the meetings, asking whether participants said “Amen” or “Praise the Lord.”
The pastor and other critics thought the questions were intrusive and inappropriate, while county officials justified the inquiries on the grounds the county needed to determine whether the meetings violated zoning ordinances.
On Wednesday the county’s chief administrative officer wrote a letter to Pastor Jones apologizing for the incident, saying that a cease-and-desist order was wrongfully issued. The letter also said that the county would conduct a thorough review of its assembly ordinances and code enforcement officer training.
Dean Broyles, president of the Western Center for Law & Policy, said that Christians should not be punished “simply for holding a Bible in their home.” He added, “we are very encouraged by the county’s response and their commitment to immediate corrective action.”
“We are confident that, as a result of the county’s statements, Bible studies and prayer meetings held in homes throughout San Diego County will be free from government regulation, as is guaranteed by the First Amendment,” Broyles stated.
South Bend, Ind., Jun 6, 2009 (CNA) - "I just don’t think I am guilty for witnessing about abortion on the campus of a Catholic university," explained Dr. Monica Miller, one of the 40 individuals arrested for trespassing while protesting at Notre Dame’s graduation on the weekend of May 17. Miller and members of a pro-life organization pleaded "not guilty" in court on June 3.
The protestors objected to pro-abortion President Obama being honored as commencement speaker and awarded an honorary doctorate in law during Notre Dame’s commencement exercises.
Miller, who is a professor of Sacred Theology at Madonna University in Livonia, Mich. believed that she and other supporters from Citizens for a Pro-Life Society (CPLS) "needed to be on campus to make a witness." Sixteen of the group members were arrested. On June 3, all but one of those arrested pleaded "not guilty."
"Were we to pretend that there was no problem? Stay off campus?" Miller asked. "Our plan was to show the photos of abortion victims to the very graduates filing in just before they were to hear Barack Obama be applauded and honored. We did not want to allow the moment to pass without showing the truth about abortion."
Speaking about Notre Dame, she continued: "When they bring in the most powerful, most prominent pro-abortion president - that creates a situation where there should be a demonstration," continued Miller. "These were extraordinary circumstances. Inviting Obama to a Catholic university was a moral outrage."
In addition to holding demonstrations, CPLS joined with the Pro-Life Action League to pay for two billboards on the Indiana toll road near Notre Dame to decry the invitation. CPLS also took out full page ads in the South Bend Tribune and the Washington Times. The official Notre Dame student newspaper, the Observer, refused to print a picture Miller described as "non-gory" of the arm and leg of an abortion victim. Miller’s intention was to demonstrate the humanity of the child.
Prior to the June 3 hearing, Sister Lois Marie Mitoraj, another demonstrator stated that she was going to plead "not guilty."
"I opposed the invitation Notre Dame gave to Obama, the platform space. We are witnesses for Jesus, witnesses for the babies, voices for the babies. Legal abortion is barbaric in a civilized society."
"I encourage people of good will to pray at the abortion clinics and to sidewalk counsel," she continued. "Pope John Paul II in "The Gospel of Life" tells us that we must be defenders of life. Just as slavery was abolished I hope that abortion will be abolished in America. We abide by God's law, 'Thou shalt not kill,' not man's law, Roe vs. Wade."
The defendants are being represented by Osceola, IN, attorney Thomas Dixon, who is co-counsel on the case with the American Center for Law and Justice. Dixon plans a variety of defenses to contend that the protesters’ constitutional rights were violated by their being arrested.
Trial dates of September 9 and 10 have been set, although they could change. "God willing-- I plan to see this all through to the end - even should it mean a jail sentence. Pro-lifers can do a lot of good in jail - it's like a mission field," Miller said.
Father Norman Weslin and Norma McCorvey, the woman who was "Roe" in Roe v. Wade, were also among those arrested and will be arraigned on Monday.