San Antonio, Texas, May 9, 2010 (CNA) - Almost two years after a four-alarm fire destroyed a historic, architectural feature of Our Lady of the Lake University’s Main Building, a rebuilt spire weighing 5,000 pounds was raised and set atop of the north tower on April 21. A celebration featuring food, drinks and music preceded the raising of the spire.
The original spire — part of the campus building that opened in 1896 — toppled in flames from Main on May 6, 2008. A local company, Progressive Solutions, reconstructed the spire using modern and traditional methods to ensure it matches the surviving south spire. On March 31, a flatbed trailer delivered the rebuilt spire from Progressive Solutions — located on Broadway — to the campus.
The oversized load required special permits, escorts and a route specified by the Texas Department of Transportation. A crane lifted the two-and-a-half ton structure and placed it in front of Main and cheers rose from assembled faculty and staff on 24th Street.
Bartlett Cocke, the general contractor for Main Building, prepared the site for the spire. Bricks that were damaged or destroyed during the fire were replaced and the structure secured. In addition, installation of shingles on the surrounding rooftop was completed for the spire raising.
When the spire was raised, a crested railing was added to the roof on both sides of the statue of Mary. The crested railing is an original architectural feature that was removed at some point in the history of the building.
To recreate the railing, artisan Roman Peña studied old photos of Main building and created a drawing of the railing. He then carved a form out of wood. The form was used to make a mold and that was used to create a cast aluminum railing. He used a similar process to recreate two weather vanes that used to sit atop the two spires.
Recreating these architectural features will assist OLLU with seeking National Register historic designation for Main when it is complete.
Sister Jane Ann Slater, superior general of the Congregation of the Divine Providence, offered a prayer and a special blessing. Carlos Gonzalez, OLLU Student Government Association president, also spoke, and OLLU music major Mallorie Gonzales sang “On Eagles Wings” as the spire was raised.
OLLU President Dr. Tessa Martinez Pollack delivered remarks on the historical significance of the day.
“I have a little bit of déjà vu being here, but it has a different tenor today, as there is hope and optimism,” said Martinez Pollack. “This is another transformation an institution and family undergoes when it experiences an event not of its choosing. This represents our ascent.”
The OLLU president said the return of the spire was not just about replacing a piece of missing architecture, but a renewal of the spirit made possible by the tireless work of university faculty and staff, who have been working in cramped temporary quarters following the loss of the building.
Prior to the spire raising, OLLU announced InSpire, a new year-long program that will cover all tuition and fees for qualifying freshman students that will begin with the entering fall class of 2010.
In addition to covering tuition and fees, the program will offer enhanced mentoring and experiential learning opportunities focused on meeting their high aspirations for a college education.
Through InSpire, OLLU is going beyond its financial support for students in order to add value to their educations, to increase their persistence toward graduation and to ultimately receive their degrees. The initiative is one part of the university’s goal to provide 100 percent of students with an internship prior to graduation. At present, over 50 percent of OLLU students complete an internship as undergraduates.
Printed with permission from Today's Catholic, newspaper for the Diocese of San Antonio.
Rome, Italy, May 9, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome announced an upcoming conference to help journalists around the globe improve their coverage of hot-button issues in the Church today, such as bioethics, ecumenism, Pope Pius XII and the recent controversy surrounding clerical sex abuse.
“The Church Up Close: Covering Catholicism in the Age of Benedict XVI,” will take place in Rome from September 6 to September 12. The seminar will be held in English and is open to all working journalists, though space is limited.
Listing the topics that will be addressed at the seminar, the university said that in addition to discussing the most pressing issues of today, conference leaders will also educate participants on the nature of the Church and how the Vatican functions. The seminar will also touch on the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI, now in his fifth year as the Holy Father, and will give insight into his thinking and leadership approach.
In addition to classroom sessions, the seminar will also provide on site visits and personal meetings with curial officials and veteran Vatican correspondents. Conference speakers include Vatican officials Cardinal Francis Stafford, Fr. Federico Lombardi, Cardinal Peter K.A. Turkson, Msgr. Charles Brown, and Msgr. Patrick Burke, among others.
“Covering an institution as old and as large as the Catholic Church has always been a huge challenge, and in today’s shrinking world, it’s becoming ever more necessary to tell even local stories about the Church from a global perspective,” Rev. Prof. John Wauck, president of the organizing committee, said in a May 7 press release.
“The seminar should help reporters do that,” he added.“What’s more, Rome is an ideal setting for reflecting on religion and the media with journalists from around the world.”
Huntington, Ind., May 9, 2010 (CNA) - Saying that immigration reform is not amnesty, Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City has claimed the “broken” immigration system helps exploit migrant workers and causes some to die in the desert. He urged that lawfulness be restored to the U.S. immigration system while also accommodating the great need for unskilled labor.
Speaking in an interview with Our Sunday Visitor, he responded to claims that the bishops disrespect the rule of law.
The bishops have “consistently” respected the right of a country to control its borders, but the Church “has the right to work to change laws which are believed to violate basic human dignity, dignity imbued by the Creator,” Bishop Wester explained to Our Sunday Visitor's readers.
The prelate said the U.S. bishops support “comprehensive” immigration reform to create a system based on “legal presence and legal entry.” He claimed this would restore the rule of law to “a chaotic system” while protecting the dignity of immigrants.
The reform would require those who have broken the law to pay a fine, pay owed back taxes and learn English. He said these requirements rebut claims that immigration reform is a kind of amnesty, since amnesty is a benefit granted “without anything in return.”
The “broken” U.S. immigration system adds to the exploitation of migrant workers and increases both their abuse by “ruthless” smugglers and their deaths in the desert, the bishop charged. “They come illegally because there are insufficient visas under the current system to come legally,” he said.
According to the Salt Lake City bishop, the immigration system provides 5,000 permanent visas for unskilled laborers to come to the U.S., but the demand is much higher. As many as 300,000 new unskilled laborers are needed each year.
“Despite assertions to the contrary, the U.S. bishops do not support ‘open borders’,” he told Our Sunday Visitor. He professed support for “reasonable” immigration policies that serve the common good.
Discussing the strain of illegal immigration on social services, the bishop criticized several “myths.”
He said that over an immigrant’s lifetime he or she is a net contributor to the economy through the taxes they pay, and through their labor and consumption.
Legal immigrants do not qualify for welfare or health care during the first five years they reside in the country and undocumented immigrants never qualify, he stated.
According to Bishop Wester, undocumented immigrants pay “billions” in income taxes each year and at least $7 billion in Social Security taxes at a time when it will soon need to support the baby boomer generation. Giving legal status to the undocumented would generate even more government revenue.
He also advised that reforms should try to address “push factors” that compel immigrants to leave home.
Immigration reform should help bring the 11 million undocumented immigrants “out of the shadows,” the bishop told Our Sunday Visitor. Regularizing immigration would ease pressure on the border by freeing up law enforcement to focus upon drug smugglers, human traffickers and would-be terrorists and not “those simply looking for a job.”
Vatican City, May 9, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - After noting the arrival of spring, the Holy Father remarked before Sunday's Regina Coeli that May is the Month of Mary. He spoke of her as the Mother and model of the Church, "the perfect disciple of Jesus."
The Pope was joined by thousands in St. Peter's Square for the recitation of the Marian prayer on a sunny and clear spring day.
Explaining that for the Liturgy, May always falls within the Easter season, he said, it is "the time of 'alleluia,' of the waking of the mystery of Christ in the light of the Resurrection and of the Paschal faith. It is the time of waiting for the Holy Spirit, that came down powerfully on the nascent Church at Pentecost."
Thus, continued the Pope, the natural and liturgical contexts go together well with the Church's tradition of dedicating the month of May to Mary, the "most beautiful flower" of creation, a "rose" through whom God, in sending his Son, donated "a new spring" to the world.
"And at the same time," he added, "she is the humble and discreet protagonist of the first steps of the Christian community. Mary is its spiritual core, because her very presence in the midst of the disciples is the living memory of the Lord Jesus and a guarantee of the gift of his Spirit."
Mary, said Pope Benedict XVI, was the "perfect disciple of Jesus" and loved her Son as a mother, but also as a "humble and obedient servant."
Referring to Jesus' words described by St. John in Sunday's Gospel that the disciples would be assisted in remembering and understanding his teachings profoundly, the Pope asked, "how could we not think that Mary, that in her heart, a temple of the Spirit, meditated and interpreted faithfully everything that her Son did and said?
"In this way, already before and especially after Easter, the Mother of Jesus became also Mother and model of the Church."
Pope Benedict closed by expressing joy for his upcoming visit to Portugal which falls in "the heart of this Marian month" and invited participation from the faithful through prayer.
Vatican City, May 9, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Before leading the recitation of the Regina Coeli at the Vatican on Sunday, the Holy Father asked for prayers for his May 11-14 trip to Portugal.
Reviewing briefly his itinerary which will include stops in Lisbon and Portugal's "second city" of Porto, the Holy Father said that the main destination of his trip is Fatima, for the 10th anniversary of the beatification of the shepherd children Jacinta and Francesco.
He noted that it will be his first visit to this Marian sanctuary as Pope and invited all people to accompany him for the pilgrimage, "participating actively with prayer."
The Holy Father said that "with a single heart and a single soul we invoke the intercession of the Virgin Mary for the Church, in particular for priests and for peace in the world."
Vatican City, May 9, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) -
After the Regina Coeli, the Holy Father addressed the people of Brazil, who will be celebrating their Eucharistic Congress next week. He asked that all people, priests and faithful, "rediscover that the heart of Brazil is in the Eucharist."
The 16th National Eucharistic Congress will be held in the capital city of Brasilia May 13-16.
Sending a special greeting to the people of Brazil after the recitation of the Regina Coeli in St. Peter's Square on Sunday, the Holy Father prayed that they rediscover that the heart of Brazil is in the Eucharist.
"It is rightly in the Mostly Holy Sacrament of the Altar that Jesus shows his will to be with us, live in us and give himself to us," he said in Portuguese.
Through adoration, the Pope continued, we are led to recognize the primacy of God, who is unique in being able to transform the hearts of men, bringing them to union with Christ through his Body.
"Receiving the Body of the risen Lord, we experience a communion with a Love that we cannot keep for ourselves," Benedict XVI taught. "It demands to be communicated to others so as to build a more just society."
He closed the greeting by asking priests to cultivate a "profoundly Eucharistic spirituality" in the example of St. Jean Vianney and invoked the intercession of the patroness of Brazil, Our Lady of Aparecida, that they become "true Missionary disciples."