Marquette, Mich., Jun 14, 2009 (CNA) - One morning, while Mae Groleau was dutifully waiting for the parish catechism class to end so she could bring her children home, Father Edward Malloy approached her and said, “Mae, I see you bring your kids to CCD every week and wait here for them. You should be one of the teachers.”
Mae agreed and after several training sessions with the Victory Noll Sisters, she started teaching catechism at St. Joseph Parish in Perkins.
That was in 1959.
“When I started teaching, we used the St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism. I liked that one,” she said.
Over the years, especially following the Second Vatican Council, there were often changes in the lesson plans, and how the teaching of the faith was presented.
“It was difficult but I just had to keep learning and studying the teachers’ guides. You learn, and that’s what I did,” she said.
She has spent most of her catechist years working with second graders. “I really enjoy teaching the little ones,” she said.
Early in her career as a parish catechist the class sizes were often around 20 or more students, but over the years the numbers have dwindled.
“I’m helping prepare four children for their First Communion in May,” she said.
And that will be her last group of students. Health issues and time are beginning to catch up to Mae. Those young people made their First Holy Communion earlier this month.
At 94, the parish’s eldest member is pleased to have been able to serve as long as she has.
In addition to serving as catechist, Mae Groleau was a member of the first parish council at St. Joseph’s. She has been an active member of the Altar Society and was very active in efforts such as fish fries and parish picnics.
“It makes me smile to think about, but I am ready to step back now. I feel like I’ve done a lot,” she said.
Father Emmett Norden, a senior priest of the diocese who was raised in Perkins and served a stint as pastor at St. Joseph’s, remembers Mae teaching at the parish even before he was a priest.
“She was always such a lovely lady, so positive. I think she has had a real wholesome, good spiritual impact on the parish,” he said.
“I don’t know of anyone who has given 50 years of their life volunteering in such a beautiful and profound way.”
Printed with permission from The U.P. Catholic, newspaper of the Diocese of Marquette.
CNA STAFF, Jun 14, 2009 (CNA) - The Church is preparing to celebrate the feast day of St. Albert Chmielowski this Wednesday. Founder of the Albertine Brothers and Sisters, St. Albert is credited with being one of the saints who inspired the vocation of the young Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope John Paul II.
Saint Albert was born on August 20, 1845 in Igolomia, Poland (near Kraków) as Adam Hilary Bernard Chmielowski. Born into a wealthy and aristocratic family, Adam was the oldest of four children.
Actively involved in politics from his youth, Adam lost a leg fighting in an insurrection against Czar Alexander III at age 18. In Krakow, he became a popular artist and his talent in the subject led him to study in Warsaw, Munich, and Paris.
A kind and compassionate person, Adam was always deeply aware of human suffering, and felt called to help those in need. Realizing that God was calling Him to a life of service, he returned to Krakow in 1874, determined to dedicate his talents to the glory of God. Instead of continuing his work as an artist, he decided to care for the poor and became a Secular Franciscan, taking the name Albert.
In 1887, Albert founded the Brothers of the Third Order of Saint Francis, Servants of the Poor, known as the Albertines or the Gray Brothers. Then, in 1891, he founded a community of Albertine sisters, known as the Gray Sisters.
The Albertines organized food and shelter for the poor and homeless of any age or religion. Albert preached on the great crisis that results from a refusal to see and aid the suffering individuals in society.
In 1949, Pope John Paul II, who was at the time Father Karol Wojtyla, wrote a well-received play about Albert called Our God’s Brother. John Paul II later said that he found great spiritual support for his own vocation in the life of St. Albert, whom he saw as an example of leaving behind a world of art, literature, and theater to make a radical choice for the priesthood.
Brother Albert died on Christmas Day, 1916. He was canonized on November 12, 1989 by Pope John Paul II.
London, England, Jun 14, 2009 (CNA) - Catholic bishops in Britain have voiced “significant concerns” about a proposed Equality Bill, saying it treats the rights of religious believers as secondary and could force Catholic schools and care homes to remove crucifixes and holy pictures if someone finds them “offensive.”
It has also been suggested the bill could force churches to hire youth ministers who do not support Christian ethics.
The bill, supported by Equality Minister Harriet Harman, penalizes “harassment.” The newspaper The Catholic Herald says this is defined as “unwanted conduct ... with the purpose or effect of violating a person's dignity, or of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading or offensive environment.”
However, the way this plays out in the legal system is more sinister.
The bishops of England, Wales and Scotland said that the bill’s burden of proof is reversed and would excessively burden Catholics if people complained about any manifestation of religious belief, even on church property.
Msgr. Andrew Summersgill, general secretary of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, presented the bishops’ statement to the House of Commons’ scrutiny committee. He said that if a cleaner who is an atheist or of “very different” religious beliefs found crucifixes to be offensive there would be “no defense in law” against a charge of harassment.
The bishops have argued that a test of “reasonableness” be included in the bill. They also objected to a proposal restricting religious exceptions only to cases of employment which principally concern “formal worship activities” or the promotion or explanation of doctrine.
“If this Bill is serious about equality, everything possible must be done to avoid it having a chilling effect on religious expression and practice,” Msgr. Summersgill said.
The bishops’ statement also said that the bill would privilege some rights over others. They expressed concern that some rights, like those of homosexual people, will always trump the rights of religious freedom.
“There have been suggestions that in some way religion or belief should have a lower status than other protected characteristics covered by the public sector equality duty,” their statement read.
"Exempting Catholic staff from a gay pride recruitment event could be seen as failing to tackle prejudice against homosexuality - but obliging them to participate could be seen as failing to tackle prejudice against religious belief, to say nothing of harassment," Msgr. Summersgill explained.
The Equality Bill is reportedly designed to collect into one package the different aspects of discrimination laws created in recent decades. According to the Catholic Herald, employers’ equality and diversity guidelines have already been used against Christians who have expressed their faith at work.
The government has also said that certain provisions in the Equality Bill are intended to ensure churches can no longer insist that employees live in agreement with churches’ sexual ethics.
Speaking to the Catholic Herald, lawyer Neil Addison argued that British law already covers harassment and warned the proposal is “tailor-made for people to come up with silly objections and be petty-minded because it puts the emphasis on the person being offended rather than on an objective test of what ought to be considered reasonable.”
Equality Minister Harman reportedly did not mention equality for religious groups in announcing the proposals to the House of Commons. She also recently refused to allow a debate on the increasing numbers of Christians complaining about discrimination against them in the public sector.
“Publicly funded Church schools, adoption agencies and even hospital chaplains have all come under attack while the Government has given taxpayers' money to groups that promote atheism,” the Catholic Herald charges.
Fr. Tim Finigan, a south-east London priest who writes on his blog the Hermeneutic of Continuity, said the demands of transsexual activists who support the bill could mean that if a Catholic school teacher decides to cross-dress, action against his or her behavior will be considered “harassment.”
“Remember - it's what you do, not what they do that creates the discrimination," he said.
Fr. Finigan said it was “stupid beyond belief” for the government to promote an “extreme form” of the equality agenda at a time when the political system is suffering “unparalleled contempt.”
Albany, N.Y., Jun 14, 2009 (CNA) - New York’s Empire State Stem Cell Board (ESSCB) decided on Thursday to commit funds to pay women to have their eggs harvested for embryo research. A member of the panel’s ethics board charged that the move was a “gross exploitation” of poor women and did not take into account the procedure’s health risks.
There was reportedly no period of public comment for the board’s decision.
Fr. Thomas Berg, a member of the ESSCB’s Ethics Committee and Executive Director of the Westchester Institute, criticized the board.
“Without any involvement from the public, who might like to know that state cash will be used as an inducement for underprivileged and cash-strapped women to undergo a risky and potentially dangerous procedure, this Board has set in place a plan to allow payments to women who undergo ovarian stimulation,” he said.
Noting that the board members are unelected, he charged that their action was “unconscionable” because they had full knowledge that the long-term effects of ovarian stimulation are unknown. Fr. Berg warned that some data has suggested the procedure is linked with some forms of cancer.
He said the board’s plan would put women at risk and lets the state “pay them off with lots of money.”
“This plan is a gross exploitation of women for speculative research,” Fr. Berg charged.
Vatican City, Jun 14, 2009 (CNA) - On Saturday Pope Benedict XVI explained that his upcoming encyclical will not be a massive criticism deeming the market economy to be responsible for the current global financial crisis. Rather, it will be a presentation of the values that have to be “promoted and defended tirelessly” to achieve “human coexistence in freedom and solidarity.”
Pope Benedict made his comments while receiving participants in the international congress “Values and news for a new model of development,” organized by the Vatican Foundation “Centesimus Annus.”
The foundation was named after the last social encyclical of Pope John Paul II.
In his brief message, Pope Benedict revealed that his upcoming encyclical “Veritas in Caritate,” expected for June 29, will be dedicated to “the extensive issue of the economy and labor.”
“The financial crisis that has hit the most developed countries and the emerging economies as well as the underdeveloped countries shows in a very evident manner how much it is needed to rethink some of the economic-financial paradigms that have been predominant in the last years,” the Pope said.
In his message the Holy Father stressed how important it is to find and identify “values and rules under which the financial world should move to a new development model, more aware of the demands of solidarity and respectful to human dignity.”
The Pope also said that the present time requires a “deeper reflection regarding the interdependence among institutions, society and the market.”
Specifically regarding the role of market economy, Pope Benedict said he would follow the core ideas laid down by Pope John Paul II in Centesimus Annus. There, John Paul discussed the goodness of the market economy when it is understood as “an economic system which recognizes the fundamental and positive role of business, the market, private property and the resulting responsibility for the means of production, as well as free human creativity in the economic sector.”
Pope Benedict noted that John Paul II said the market economy can only be recognized as a way for economic and social progress if it is “oriented toward the common good.”
Vatican City, Jun 14, 2009 (CNA) - In his Sunday Angelus address to 15,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Benedict XVI spoke about Corpus Christi, the Body of Christ, as a manifestation of God and proof that God is love.
Benedict XVI began by explaining the “cosmic dimension” of the Solemnity of Corpus Christi.
“It evokes firstly, at least in our hemisphere, this beautiful and fragrant season in which spring gives way to summer, the sun is strong in the sky and in the fields the crops mature,” he said. “The feast days of the Church, as in the Hebrew tradition, are intertwined with the rhythm of the solar year, of sowing and reaping.”
“This is particularly true of today’s solemnity, at the center of which is the bread, fruit of the earth and the heavens. This is why the Eucharistic bread is a visible sign of Him in whom heaven and earth, and God and man, have become one.”
“And this shows that the bond between the seasons and the liturgical year in not merely exterior.”
“Corpus Domini is a manifestation of God, proof that God is love,” the Holy Father explained, using the Latin for “Body of the Lord.”
“In a unique and peculiar way, this feast speaks to us of divine love, what it is and what it does.”
“It tells us for example that it is regenerated in the giving of oneself to another, that in giving we receive, it is never lacking, it never runs out. As the hymn of St Thomas Aquinas intones: ‘nec sumptus consumitur.’”
Pope Benedict was alluding to the Angelic Doctor’s hymn “Lauda Sion.” The line he quoted roughly translates to “Not even being consumed is it used up.”
“Love,” the Holy Father continued, “transforms all things, and therefore it is understood that at the very heart of today’s feast of Corpus Domini there is the mystery of transubstantiation, the sign of Christ --Caritas that transforms the world. Looking at Him and adoring Him we say: yes love exists, and because it exists things can change for the better and we can hope.”
“It is the hope that comes from the Christ’s love that gives us the strength to live and to face difficulties. This is why we sing as we carry the Blessed Sacrament in procession, we sing and we praise God who revealed himself to us by hiding himself in the symbol of broken bread.”
The Pontiff concluded, “We all need this bread, because the path to freedom, justice and peace is long and tiring.”
After the Marian prayer, Pope Benedict recalled that from June 24-26 a United Nations conference on the global economic crisis will be held in New York. He invoked the spirit of wisdom and of human solidarity upon the conference participants so that the crisis may become an opportunity “capable of favoring greater attention to the dignity of every human being and the promotion of an equal distribution of decisional power and resources, with particular attention to the unfortunately ever growing number of poor.”
Benedict XVI also recalled the beginning of the Year for Priests, on June 19, with the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The year, called by the Pope to support vocations to the priesthood, takes place on the 150th anniversary of the death of St. John Mary Vianney, known as the Curé d’Ars.
“I entrust to your prayers,” the Pope explained, “this new spiritual initiative, which follows the Pauline Year that is near to its conclusion. May this new jubilee year be a propitious occasion for deepening the value and the importance of the priestly mission and for asking the Lord to gift his Church with numerous and holy priests.”