Archive of June 7, 2009

R.I. director captures humanity and beauty of life in films

Providence, R.I., Jun 7, 2009 (CNA) - Part of an incredible team of filmmakers, Charles Kinnane helps give people a glimpse into a world they may have never experienced. Through dramatic filming and powerful images, Kinnane and the “Christ-centered” team lets the dignity of the human person shine through the lepers in Africa, the homeless in New York City, and abused and disabled children in Peru.

Even in his childhood, Kinnane, a native of Little Compton and oldest of 10 children, grew up making home movies with his siblings.

“I’ve always wanted to make films,” said Kinnane. “As kids growing up, that is what we did. We made films for fun. I had a great upbringing and we knew great priests growing up. My grandparents, Maureen and Lou Pieri, who were very active in the Rhode Island pro-life movement, have had a great influence on me.”

Kinnane explained that when it came time for him to work and learn more about film, a priest friend of his gave him some important advice.

“He said, if you feel that passionate about it, you should put your faith into something good,” said Kinnane. “He planted that in me.”

Founded in 2001, Grassroots Films, based in Brooklyn, N.Y., has a devoted team including Kinnane (director and editor), Joseph Campo (executive producer), Clifford Azize (associate producer and editor), Jeffrey Azize (production management assistant) and Michael Campo (associate producer and Writer).

“I work with an unbelievable creative team and the faith is very real in this environment,” Kinnane said. “Nobody here is looking to go to Hollywood and make a bunch of money. Everyone just wants to get a good message out. We don’t want to preach to the choir. We are looking to reach everyone across the board. We are people who are working on things that are authentic and hit home for a lot of people.”

Kinnane does not have a film degree nor did he formally study film, but that does not hold him back in the profoundly creative and professional work he has done at Grassroots.

“Nobody at Grassroots has a degree but everyone has a desire to do creative stuff,” said Kinnane. “Each project is like another class for us.”

Without mentioning the words “pro-life,” Grassroots Films biggest project to date “The Human Experience,” uses other ways to send the message of the value of a human life.

“‘The Human Experience’ is presented in a way that we are not going to tell you our thoughts on God,” Kinnane explained. “Let a woman dying of AIDS in Africa tell you her thoughts on God. Lets hear it from the homeless man who is trying to find his next meal or keep warm on the streets of New York City. You get a unique perspective. We are just trying to show life as it is.”

As expressed on, “The Human Experience,” follows “a band of brothers who travel the world in search of the answers to the burning questions: Who am I? Who is Man? Why do we search for meaning? Their journey brings them into the middle of the lives of the homeless on the streets of New York City, the orphans and disabled children of Peru, and the abandoned lepers in the forests of Ghana, Africa. What the young men discover changes them forever. Through one on one interviews and real life encounters, the brothers are awakened to the beauty of the human person and the resilience of the human spirit.”

Screened in more than 50 different cities in the United States and now in Europe, “The Human Experience” is basic Catholic teaching, but does not come out and say that, Kinnane noted. He is excited to continue to work on projects with meaning and reach people.

“It’s pretty interesting when you work on things that are true and beautiful,” said Kinnane. “It doesn’t matter where people are coming from, people will respond to it if there is truth to it.”


Printed with permission from The Rhode Island Catholic, newspaper for the Diocese of Providence

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The life of St. Barnabas

CNA STAFF, Jun 7, 2009 (CNA) - On Thursday, June 11 the Church will celebrate the feast day of St. Barnabas, one of the original 72 disciples who worked to convert the Gentiles.

St. Barnabas was a Levite Jew from the island of Cyprus. Although his original name was Joseph, the Apostles gave him the name Barnabas, meaning "son of exhortation," after his conversion.

Barnabas is traditionally believed to have been one of Christ’s 72 disciples, and lived among the Apostles as a successful preacher in the early Church. Luke describes him in the Acts of the Apostles as "a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith" (Acts 11:24).

Barnabas acted as mediator between St. Paul and the Apostles after Paul’s conversion, helping the early Church to see the authenticity of his conversion and accept him despite his past as a persecutor of Christians.

Later, Barnabas was sent to Antioch to investigate the conversions of the Gentiles there. He and Paul spent a year instructing the Church in Antioch. After this, he travelled with Paul to preach the Gospel in many cities including Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe. Although faced with opposition and even persecution, they succeeded in converting many more on this journey, and organized churches in these areas.

At the Council of Jerusalem, Barnabas and Paul testified on their work of converting Gentiles and the experience of the new converts, as the early Church debated whether it was necessary for Gentile converts to first become Jewish and be circumcised before being accepted as Christians. The Council ultimately agreed that such measures were not imperative.

When Paul and Barnabas decided to revisit their missions, they strongly disagreed on whether John Mark, another disciple and previous deserter, should be allowed to accompany them. As a result of their disagreement, Paul and Barnabas separated. Barnabas travelled with John Mark to preach in Cyprus.

Little is known about the later life of Barnabas. He is believed to have been stoned to death in Salamis in the year 61.

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Nashville Dominicans preparing for large postulant class

Denver, Colo., Jun 7, 2009 (CNA) - “No matter how much I gave away, it was never enough.”  With these words, Kelsey Wicks, 26, described her calling to religious life.  Although she had been studying at the Augustine Institute in Denver, Colorado and working as a campus minister, she always felt called to something more. 

Now, Wicks is preparing to enter the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia on August 10, pursuing a vocation that she describes as “a beautiful challenge.”

The idea of a vocational crisis has been a concern within the Church for years.  Both Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI have spoken of this crisis, highlighting the importance of prayer and fostering the conditions favorable to vocational development.

But while other religious orders are struggling to stay alive, the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia, better known as the Nashville Dominicans, are thriving.  With 230 sisters serving in 34 schools in the United States, as well as starting a ministry in Australia, the order is truly alive and flourishing.

Founded in 1860, the Nashville Dominicans are preparing to celebrate 150 years of service to the Church.  Marked by their full black-and-white habit, their teaching apostolate, and their charisms of joy and fidelity, they are an order that continues to see abundant new vocations in modern times.

One of these new vocations is Wyoming native Kelsey Wicks.

Wicks said that she had thought about the possibility of a religious vocation as a young girl.  Those ideas continued to develop over time, in a discernment process that Wicks says is still continuing to this day, even as she prepares to enter the convent.  “I wish more girls understood that you can go to a convent, and you continue your discernment there.  It’s less scary that way,” she explained to CNA.

According to Wicks, immersion in the Sacraments, the assistance of a spiritual director, and a strong prayer life were crucial components in the discernment process.  “You really need to spend time talking to God and getting to know Him,” she said.  “And then falling in love with Him.  It’s an amazing experience!”

In addition to these elements, her advice to girls who are discerning their vocation is to spend time in silence.  “It’s so easy to miss the small whispering of God if your life is clouded by the noise of the world,” she said.

Wicks said she was particularly attracted to the Nashville Dominicans by their profound charism of joy, as well as their deep prayer life and spirituality.  “It was such a beautiful thing to watch 100 nuns doing their daily prayers,” she said.  “There is this twinkle in their eyes.  You can just see that they really know the Lord.”

The Dominicans currently have 45 sisters in their initial formation program and are preparing for a large class of postulants to enter the community in August. 

Sister Mary Emily, Vocations Director for the Nashville Dominicans, told CNA that she has seen “a steady increase in the interest in religious life and a great openness to considering it.”

“Many young women are attracted to this life that includes a strong prayer life, a strong community life, a single apostolate of teaching and the witness of a religious habit,” Sr. Mary Emily explained.

Wicks agreed, saying that the witness of the Dominicans is deeply attractive because they are truly alive in the Lord. 

“If young people are going to give up their life, they want to give it up for something that is both challenging and beautiful,” qualities that she sees being lived out by the sisters. “They are faithful to Christ.  They are fully habited.  They are truly visible, living witnesses.  And that witness speaks to the heart.”

Describing the beauty of watching the young women entering the community, Sister Mary Emily added, “They could have successful careers and if called, would make beautiful wives and mothers. These women are healthy, wholesome, bright and idealistic. Yet they have heard the call to follow Christ and they are answering it…These young women are women in-love.”

This is certainly true of Wicks, who expressed her excitement to enter a life of total dedication to the Lord, saying, “Before, I would be leaving prayer to go to work.  Now, I’ll be leaving work to go to prayer.  When those bells ring, you drop everything and go to the Chapel.”

Upon entering the community, Wicks and the other women joining her will spend one year known as the “postulant year,” during which they will be immersed into religious life, learning the daily life of the community and participating in all community prayers, duties and activities.   They will also learn about the Dominican spirituality, history and charism, as well as receive spiritual guidance.  In addition, they will take classes in philosophy, theology and secular subjects in preparation for their teaching apostolate.

“It’s so special to be able to be set aside for the Lord in such a complete way,” said Wicks.  “And to have a schedule and lifestyle that fully revolve around Him.”

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Apologetics conference to answer ‘culture of doubt’

Charlotte, N.C., Jun 7, 2009 (CNA) - The Envoy Institute of Belmont Abbey College will host a three-day apologetics conference this July to address atheism and the “culture of doubt.”

The conference, titled “Answering Atheism and the Culture of Doubt,” will be held from Friday, July 10 through Sunday, July 12 on the campus of Belmont Abbey College. The campus is about 15 minutes from downtown Charlotte, North Carolina.

Speakers include Catholic apologist Patrick Madrid, chastity speaker Dawn Eden, Catholic evangelist Héctor Antonio Molina, Jr., and Msgr. Stuart W.Swetland, a Catholic convert who is now a professor at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary.

Prof. Edward Feser, author of “The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism,” will also speak.

Further information is available at

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‘We live to love and be loved,’ teaches Pope while reflecting on Trinity

Vatican City, Jun 7, 2009 (CNA) - Twenty thousand people gathered in St Peter’s Square for the Angelus prayer on Sunday despite poor weather.  Prior to the Marian prayer, Pope Benedict told those present that “the ‘name’ of the Holy Trinity is impressed on everything that exists, because everything comes from love, reaches out for love and is moved by the spirit of love.”


Benedict XVI began by explaining that following the Easter Season, which concluded with the Pentecost, the liturgy is marked by three solemnities of Our Lord: the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity; next Thursday, that of Corpus Domini and finally; the following Friday, the Church will celebrate the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.


The Pope explained that each of these days are all part of the mystery of salvation, “from the Incarnation to the Resurrection and the Ascension and the gift of the Holy Spirit.”


“Today,” the Pope continued, “we contemplate the Holy Trinity as it was made known to us by Christ. He revealed to us that God is love 'not in the unity of a single person but in the Trinity of one substance.'”


“He is Creator and merciful Father; he is the only Son, eternal wisdom made flesh, who died and rose again for us; he is the Holy Spirit who moves everything, cosmos and history, towards the full and final recapitulation,” he added. “Three Persons who are one God alone because the Father is love, the Son is love and the Holy Spirit is love.”


He elaborated that God’s love is “pure, infinite and eternal.”  God “does not live in splendid solitude, rather he is an inexhaustible source of life that ceaselessly gifts itself and communicates. We can, to some extent, perceive this by observing both the macro-universe, our earth, the planets, stars, galaxies, and by observing the micro-universe, cells, atoms and elementary particles.”


“The ‘name’ of the Sacred Trinity is impressed on everything that exists, because everything comes from love, reaches out for love and is moved by the spirit of love, naturally with differing degrees of awareness and freedom,” the Holy Father exclaimed.


“The greatest proof that we are all made in the image of the Trinity is that only love makes us happy, because we live to love and to be loved,” the Pontiff declared. “Borrowing an analogy from biology, we could say that the human 'genome' is profoundly imprinted with the Trinity of God who is Love.”


The Holy Father concluded by calling on Mary because “she welcomed the will of the Father and conceived the Son by the power of the Holy Sprit. The Omnipotent built a temple worthy of Him within her, and made her the model and image of the Church, mystery and home of communion for all mankind. Help us Mary, mirror of the Holy Trinity, to grow in faith in the Trinitarian mystery.”

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