Archive of June 20, 2009

Parish garden feeds hungry, teaches children about stewardship

Rockford, Ill., Jun 20, 2009 (CNA) - Grub-hunting captivated most of the kids at first.


Soon, the kids made plastic bags with leaves and twigs was home to several grubs. The hunt occupied the youngsters while five University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners and a few older children measured out paths through the newly-dug garden behind St. Bridget School on May 19. The logic behind the stake-and-twine-marked paths was to show gardeners where they could step without packing down the dirt around the vegetable plants, says Susan Richards, a parishioner and three-year master gardener.


Pretty soon Richards managed to prevail on some of the grub hunters to help plant some plants, a complicated task for the younger ones.


Teaching the youngsters how food is produced and how the food that they grow can help feed others is one goal of this new project at the parish, says Ed Lynch, a long-time parishioner and new master gardener. For about five years, Lynch had pondered the idea for a parish garden inspired by the national program for individual gardeners called “Plant a Row for the Hungry,” he says.


When he proposed the parish garden this year, “Father Burt (Absalon, pastor) said ‘most definitely’” it was a good idea, Lynch says.


“It all came together quickly in April,” says Constance McCarthy, another of the five parishioner volunteers with master gardener status. “This is a whole garden where all the produce will go to feed the hungry, in the parish as well as area food pantries. Everything in the garden is going to go (to others).”


An earlier meeting with about 25 students and some parents provided basics on tool safety, she says. During the rest of the school year, students can work in the garden with the volunteers one day a week, and in summer, Tuesdays from 3:30-5:30 p.m. is set as a regular time for gardening.


“We hope this summer to have a nice mix of families,” McCarthy says, adding that notes in the parish bulletins have asked for helpers.


Shari Armato, mother of two St. Bridget students, came to the May 19 planting session with them and their younger siblings. “I think it (will teach) the how-to’s of starting and nourishing (gardens), and the hard work involved to produce the fruits,” she says. Her own childhood work on her father’s farm brought “a sense of community to our family,” she adds, mentioning also her development of a work ethic from that long-ago gardening.


This garden will be organic, making it more safe for the kids, McCarthy says, adding that information about stewardship and taking good care of the environment will be part of the ongoing project.


McCarthy was delighted with the generosity of Cherry Valley Garden Center and Tomato World for their donation of a large variety and number of vegetable plants. Others have provided seeds, so there will be plenty of vegetables coming along to help fill a local need.


Several adults remarked that at the earlier meeting one of the children asked if once they fed all the hungry in town, then could they go ahead and feed everyone in Africa?


One 25 x 45-foot parish garden can’t meet the goal of that huge wish. But maybe this will be the beginning of bigger things.


Printed with permission from The Observer, newspaper of the Diocese of Rockford.

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Brazilian ministry offers powerful answer to secularism

Sao Paulo, Brazil, Jun 20, 2009 (CNA) - Moysés Louro de Azevedo Filho, the founder of Shalom, is working to share the Gospel with the world by creatively and boldly giving  a “powerful response to secularism.”

The movement, begun in 1982 in Brazil, is based on the apostles’ encounter with the risen Christ in the Gospel of St. John, and the Lord’s greeting to them, “Peace be with you,” in Aramaic, “Shalom.”  Through this experience, the apostles were able to live out the peace and love of the Trinity, and the first to experience this was Thomas, who doubted, and eventually spreading the Gospel to the ends of the earth. 

Today, the ministry of Shalom is carried out through a Catholic evangelization center that focuses on contemplation, unity and evangelization.

Similarly, the brothers of Shalom have encountered the Holy Spirit and go out to proclaim the truth to those who are spiritually lost, Moysés explained in an interview with Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

To do this, Shalom reaches out through modern streams of art, music and sports, connecting especially with young people to offer spiritual guidance and support. 

“The most important thing is creativity and boldness; they are the keys to evangelizing with courage and attracting those who do not know or don’t want to know about Jesus. It is the most powerful response to secularization,” Moysés told ACN.

In carrying out its mission, Shalom must work to fight the forces of moral relativism, indifference and the search for immediate gratification, all things that lead young people away from God and towards the false happiness found in drugs, alcohol and promiscuity. 

“People are looking for God, and the biggest problem is our lack of courage in proclaiming Him,” Moysés said.  He went on to relate that he sees this longing for the infinite within young people as an opportunity to reach out, following the words of Pope John Paul II, “Young people are the future of the Church and of the world,” a phrase which Shalom has adopted from the former Pope.

After obtaining approval from the Holy See in 2000 and receiving a welcoming response from young people, the Shalom movement is growing across the globe.  Currently present in 15 different countries, the movement continues to expand and is exploring the possibility of creating centers in 12 additional countries. 

With the continued support of ACN, Shalom has been able to begin the construction of the general diaconate and complete offices for administrative purposes.  Still needed is a building to house priests, consecrated members and the families of the community.

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Year for Priests website launched by Congregation for Clergy

Vatican City, Jun 20, 2009 (CNA) - As the Year for Priests gets underway, the Congregation for the Clergy has launched a website dedicated to providing clerics with resources about the Year.

The website,, was designed to assist priests by providing them with notes, news and documents regarding the Year for Priests. Cardinal Claudio Hummes, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, explained that the site is intended to help priests by facilitating their walk with Christ, especially during this Year.

The website includes the biography and message of the Holy Curé of Ars (St. Jean Vianney), lives of holy priests, a section of prayers for priests and teachings of the Fathers of the Church and the Magisterium on various theological topics.

In addition, the website allows priests to receive a newsletter with articles of interest and information for personal formation.

The Holy Father officially inaugurated the Year for Priests during Vespers at St. Peter’s Basilica on Friday evening, the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  He had announced his intention to declare a Year for Priests last March. 

In an email to priests around the world, Cardinal Hummes noted that the last three months have been a time of “intense preparation for explaining the reasons for this special year but also, and above all, to raise enthusiasm in you and in your faithful so that this ‘time of grace’ may bear the best apostolic fruit of fidelity and intense renewal in your commitment to ministry.”

Now that the Year has begun, Hummes is calling on priests to participate with enthusiasm.  “The Year for Priests has been very warmly received throughout the whole world,” he said in his email.  “It is having positive repercussions. Let us get involved with commitment and creativity.” 

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Kansas pro-life groups receiving death threats after Tiller's murder

Wichita, Kan., Jun 20, 2009 (CNA) - Several pro-life groups in Wichita have received death threats after last month’s killing of abortionist George Tiller.

Operation Rescue says they have received various threats over the years, but that number has increased drastically since Tiller’s shooting. 

Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, told The Wichita Eagle that some of the threats have mentioned the pro-life prayer vigil and memorial scheduled for this each day this weekend.  Off-duty officers have been hired to help with security at the weekend’s events.

Of the messages received, some have threatened “vengeance” against the pro-life movement, while others specifically targeted Newman and his family.

Although leaders of the pro-life movement have spoken out against the shooting, some abortion supporters have accused the pro-life movement of encouraging the attack on Tiller, one of the few doctors in the country who provided late-term abortions.

Scott Roeder, 51, has been charged with first-degree murder in Tiller's death and was found to have ties to anti-government groups.

The Kansas Coalition for Life has also received a number of threats since the shooting, one of which was in the form of a text message saying, "One of you is going to die for what you did to Tiller."

Another group, Kansans for Life, told The Wichita Eagle that it has also received threats. Mary Wilkinson explained that she answered the phone, only to hear a loud, angry caller saying, “You’ve killed him. Now I hope somebody comes and kills you all.”

The call led the group’s state development director, David Gittrich, to report the threat to the police.

However, Wilkinson says she feels optimistic now.

"I think things are settling down now," she told The Wichita Eagle. "I just think the community needs some healing time."

CNA attempted to contact several Wichita-area pro-life groups but didn't receive responses.

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Protest by NOW prompts Wichita pro-lifers to move memorial service

Wichita, Kan., Jun 20, 2009 (CNA) - Pro-lifers in Wichita, Kansas were planning to hold a memorial and prayer service today at the clinic where George Tiller performed 70,000 abortions. Facing the prospect of a counter demonstration by the National Organization for Women (NOW), the service was moved to maintain a respectful atmosphere.

While the two of the main sponsors of the memorial service both condemned the murder of Dr. Tiller, Operation Rescue and the Christian Defense Coaltion were seeking to highlight another offense against life—the death of 70,000 children at the now-shuttered clinic.

Upon learning of the memorial service, NOW's leaders decided to organize a protest to disrupt the service. Seeking to avoid the jeers of the pro-abortion protesters, the pro-life organizers moved their service to a location near the Operation Rescue offices.

Participants plan to leave 1,500 flowers to honor the 70,000 children that died at Dr. Tiller's clinic and then proceed to Wesley Hospital, where they will leave 1,500 flowers to “celebrate new life, justice and human rights in Wichita,” organizers said.

The pro-abortion protesters see Dr. Tiller as a “religious” martyr, “who joins the list of martyrs for ethical decency and human rights, killed for healing with compassion,” according to comments made by Rabbi Arthur Waskov and posted on the Wichita chapter of NOW's website. The site also states that Tiller “literally gave his life for women” and that “he saved lives.”

However, pro-lifers, while condemning the slaying of George Tiller and disavowing all forms of violence, also see a greater tragedy.

Organizers of the prayer service explained that their goal was “simply to conduct a prayer vigil and memorial to remember and honor the 70,000 innocent lives that were lost at Dr. Tiller's clinic and work for social justice and pray for an end to violence in Wichita.”

The pro-life memorial and prayer service is being led by Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition, who stated that it is “shameful that the National Organization for Women would disrupt a prayer vigil and memorial service for women and children with a counter demonstration.

“It seems they are taking a page out of the playbook of hatemonger Fred Phelps with their disturbing actions,” he said.

"Sadly, NOW decided to show utter contempt for a religious and solemn service and decided to disrupt it. We are thankful that the pro-life community showed respect for Dr. Tiller and his family and chose not to disrupt or demonstrate at his memorial service," Rev. Mahoney added.

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