Archive of March 12, 2011

Catholic speed dating event draws 51 people, results in some 34 dates

Denver, Colo., Mar 12, 2011 (CNA) - Denver’s downtown Thai Basil restaurant was abuzz the night before St. Valentine’s Day as a venue for a speed dating event where 51 Catholics said they didn’t just seek love, but dating opportunities in which faith is priority.

Valentine Catholic Speed Dating, the largest Catholic speed dating event said to have been hosted in Denver, was organized Feb. 13 by the Last Supper Club.

The organization is an after church dinner club started and run by volunteers who attend Mass regularly at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.

The event, which took place at Thai Basil’s 1422 E. 18th Ave. location, initiated at least 34 coffee, dinner, dancing and also Estes Park day-trip dates since. It was the first Catholic Speed Dating event to take place in Denver since June 2006.

“I was pleasantly surprised by the number of people that showed and how many people truly put themselves out there,” said Nathan Webb, 36, a Denver marketing professional. “I’m looking forward to a coffee date this Wednesday night.”

Webb said he kept the conversation light and easy with each new “date” and just allowed it to go where it would.“I know many happily married couples who were not thunderstruck with each other upon sight, but over time it happened,” he said. “Thus it’s important to keep an open mind.”

Asked if he would do it again, Webb affirmed he would.

“But,” he added, “I’m hoping to be in a relationship by the next one.”

At least 20 prospective speed daters were at the restaurant an hour before the event.

Much like musical chairs, at the ring of a dinner bell participants changed “dates” every four minutes. Men were asked to move one seat over to ask questions (suggested ones were provided from which they could choose) to get to know the next woman seated across from them. Father Michael O’Loughlin of Holy Protection of the Mother of God Byzantine Church in Denver helped by recommending a method in which to ask faith questions in a short time period as one of the questionnaire options.

After each “date,” with “scorecards” in hand, participants marked next to categories like “consider date,” “maybe date” and “friends” and were asked to write stars next to their choices. Speed daters met between 12 and 17 prospective “dates.”

Jenn Voelker, 33, a technical writer who lives in Brighton, said that as a result of the event, she has had one coffee date and has others planned.

“I had a wonderful time and it was so nice to be able to talk about my faith,” Voelker said. “It was normal to talk about faith. I’ve rarely had that experience in my dating life. My dating priorities changed to Catholic and conservative values after my last serious relationship. Now I know I’m on the right path.

“I’ve learned over the years that a shared, active, real Catholic faith is the most important factor in my search for a husband,” she said. “I’ve dated many men who claimed to be Catholic or Christian. But as soon as I brought up attending Mass on a regular basis together, living a pure, chaste courtship, or raising a Catholic family, their tunes changed abruptly. I found it refreshing to meet men committed to their faith. A man of faith has a beautiful soul.”

After the event, organizers e-mailed participants their matches and results showing others’ interest in them as well as e-mail addresses of those who named them. On St. Valentine’s Day, everyone who participated received Catholic Singles speaker Dave Sloan’s “License to Date” test and answer key from the website Several speed daters said it was a good resource for immediate questions to Catholic dating.

Most of the speed daters were in their 20s or 30s, several were in their 40s and some were in their 50s.

“I enjoyed having the chance to meet some of the ladies I have seen at the Catholic young adult events, yet have never talked with,” said Kelly Eurek, 24, an engineer who resides in Golden. “Sometimes we get comfortable in our circle of friends and do not want to meet new ones.  I was surprised how excited everyone was to meet new people.”

Several of the Catholic speed daters were new to the type of event, including Michelle Zapapas, 26, a pharmacist from Centennial.

“I was surprised at how relaxed I felt through the entire process,” Zapapas said. “That may have been the result of frantic prayer beforehand because I don’t consider myself to be outgoing, and I don’t consider myself to excel at first impressions. But I think going into the process with no expectations other than to stretch my comfort zone and support a friend who was also nervous about participating definitely helped keep the stress level low.  I liked that at the end of the night, I could walk away with nothing and still feel like I succeeded in trying something new. The fact that I ended up meeting some great guys that I wouldn’t ordinarily have encountered was a bonus.”

Printed with permission from the Denver Catholic Register.

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English and Welsh ordinariate launches website as excitement builds

London, England, Mar 12, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - The English and Welsh Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham has launched a website to inform others about the new church structure for Anglicans who want to join the Catholic Church. Its head noted the “real excitement” at being involved in the new endeavor.

The website,, bears a welcome message from Fr. Keith Newton, the head of the ordinariate.

Fr. Newton, who is the former Anglican Bishop of Richborough, invited readers to learn more about the ordinariate’s structure and purpose.

“I am very happy to have this opportunity to present to you a true picture of the ordinariate as it grows and develops,” he commented.

Those who are considering joining the ordinariate should explore the site but “above all else” should make contact with local groups to help them discern their future, the priest said.

The site provides contact information for 39 groups in England and Wales. Other sections cover news, a calendar and a frequently asked questions guide.

Pope Benedict XVI established a framework for the new church jurisdiction in his November 2009 apostolic constitution “Anglicanorum Coetibus.”

Fr. Newton characterized the document as “a most generous response” to Anglican groups’ requests. The ordinariate allows Anglicans to enter the Catholic Church while retaining “a love and gratitude for the Anglican forms of faith and worship.”

The ordinariate website explains that an interim governing council is meeting regularly to oversee the development of the organization. An official governing council will be formed after Easter 2011.

The governing council will have at least six priests, presided over by the ordinary. Half of the membership is elected by the priests of the ordinariate. It will have a pastoral council for consultation with the laity and a finance council.

The council will have the same rights and responsibilities in canon law that the college of consultors and the council of priests have in the governance of a diocese. Out of respect for the synodal tradition of Anglicanism, the ordinary will need the consent of the governing council to admit a candidate to Holy Orders and to erect or suppress a personal parish or a house of formation.

The council will also have a vote in choosing a list of names of a new ordinary to submit to the Holy See.

Besides Fr. Newton, the other members of the interim council are Fr. Andrew Burnham, former Bishop of Ebbsfleet, and Fr. John Broadhurst, former Bishop of Fulham. All three were ordained to the Catholic priesthood in January.

“For those of us joining the ordinariate there are feelings of trepidation and excitement,” said Fr. Newton. “It will, we believe, bring us a step closer to the vision of Unity and Truth that we have worked towards for many years.”

His message concluded with a prayer that the ordinariate’s patron Bl. John Henry Newman and Our Lady of Walsingham will bless readers in their journey.

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New book connects the Eucharist with its Jewish roots

New Orleans, La., Mar 12, 2011 (CNA) - Dr. Brant Pitre hopes his new book on the Jewish roots of the Eucharist will help Catholics understand the “great gift” of the sacrament, as well as their privileged role in the “divine drama” of salvation history. 

In a recent interview with CNA, Dr. Pitre – a professor of Sacred Scripture at Louisiana's Notre Dame Seminary  – discussed his latest book, “Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist: Unlocking the Secrets of the Last Supper,” which was released by Doubleday on Feb. 15.

Dr. Pitre said that “excitement” is beginning to hum over the book as people are realizing that “not only is the Eucharist something that's important in their personal lives,” but that all of salvation history held “signs and shadows of what God was ultimately planning to give us in the Eucharist.”

“It makes us realize that we are a part of something much bigger than ourselves,” he said. “We're part of a divine drama that has been in place since the beginning of creation.”

The scholar explained that he was asked several years ago to give a talk on the biblical and historical underpinnings of the Eucharist. What he found during his research for the address, however, was “dynamite – it was explosive,” he said.

“What I began to discover,” he said, “is that there were Jewish expectations surrounding the Messiah” that foreshadowed the Eucharist.

Dr. Pitre recalled that as he studied the historical account of Jewish hopes for the Messiah, three specific aspects of Jewish history and liturgy “really stood out” to him.

The first, he said, was the belief among the Jewish people at the time that the Messiah would institute “a new Passover.” Citing the words of Christ in the Gospel of John, Chapter 6 – often called the Bread of Life discourse  – Dr. Pitre said that by telling his disciples to eat his flesh and drink his blood, “Christ is revealing himself as the new Passover lamb.”

“What does that mean about the way we receive salvation?” he asked. It means “we receive salvation not only through faith in him as the Messiah but also by obedience to his command that we would eat the flesh of the lamb.”

“I think it's an important point for Catholics to understand that the Passover paves the road to our understanding of the Eucharist as really being the flesh of the Lamb of God.”

A second aspect of Jewish expectation of the Messiah that stood out to Dr. Pitre was the “belief that when the Messiah would come, one of the ways you'd know who he was, was that he would bring new manna from heaven.”

As described in Exodus 16, Moses gave the Israelites manna – bread from heaven – in the desert to feed them.

When Christ says in the Gospel of John “that the Eucharist is the new manna,” this “tells us that the Eucharist is not just ordinary bread – it's miraculous,” Dr. Pitre said. 

“If the old manna from heaven was miraculous bread from heaven, then the new manna in the Eucharist can not simply be a symbol.”

“The manna helps us see that every single Mass, no matter how simple or grand, is a miracle – the miracle of Christ pouring out his body from the heavenly altar on to every altar in the world.”

The third Jewish expectation of the Messiah that Dr. Pitre found was that he “was going to build a new temple.”

The author explained that one of the most important temple sacrifices for the Israelites was the “unbloody sacrifice known as the bread of the presence.”

“The bread of the presence was this mysterious bread and wine that was kept in the tabernacle,” which the rabbi's called the “bread of the face of God,” he said.

“In the temple in Jesus' day they would actually take the bread out of the temple when pilgrims would come for feasts – and they would lift it so all the pilgrims could see – and they would say 'behold, God's love for you,'” Dr. Pitre said, noting the similarities in the exposition during the Mass.

“This bread of the presence really seemed to me to be a crystal clear foreshadowing of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist,” he noted.

Another echo of Jewish liturgy found in the Mass today, was standard blessing of the bread and the wine said during a Seder, or a traditional Passover meal.

Dr. Pitre recited the ancient prayers over the bread and wine verbatim, saying “Blessed are you, O Lord God, king of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine. Blessed are you, O Lord God, who brings forth the bread from the earth.”

“Do those sound familiar?” he asked, referencing the beginning of the offertory during the Mass.

“As a Catholic when you see these things, it resonates with you – it's all very close to your heart.”

He underscored that the Jewish people “saw the bread as a sign of the everlasting covenant between God and his people.”

“That's the same thing today with the Eucharist  – it is a sign that God is with us, he's not abandoned us.”

Dr. Pitre said that understanding the Jewish roots of the Eucharist helps show how “God has had in store for us, since the dawn of time, the great gift that he gives us in the Eucharist.”

“It helps us to realize the great privilege we have to receive this gift – it's very humbling and powerful.”

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Japanese quake's epicenter located near Marian apparition site

Niigata, Japan, Mar 12, 2011 (CNA) - The epicenter of the earthquake that caused a deadly March 11 tsunami is located near the site of an apparition in which Mary warned about a worldwide disaster that could afflict humanity.

Japanese church officials have confirmed that the Diocese of Sendai, in the north of the country, was hit hardest by the 8.8 magnitude earthquake – the worst in Japanese history – and the resulting 23-foot waves.

Hundreds of people have already been confirmed dead in the city of Sendai, located less than 90 miles away from the apparition site of Our Lady of Akita in the town of Yuzawa.

The city of Akita, which experienced fire damage and flooding along with many parts of northern Japan, is a place of veneration for Catholics.

In 1973, the Virgin Mary was said to have predicted a number of future events – including natural disasters even more serious than Friday's earthquake and tsunami – during three appearances to a Japanese religious sister, Sr. Agnes Sasagawa.

The purported appearances of the Virgin Mary in Japan were reviewed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in 1988. During his time as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith prior to his election as Pope Benedict XVI, he let stand the local bishop’s judgment that the apparitions and the messages were acceptable for the faithful.

The messages warned of chaos within the Church, and disasters which could afflict the world.

“If men do not repent and better themselves, God the Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all humanity,” Mary reportedly told Sr. Agnes. “It will be a punishment greater than the (biblical) flood, such as never seen before.”

“Fire will fall from the sky and will wipe out a great part of humanity, the good as well as the bad, sparing neither priests nor faithful,” she said. “The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church, in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against bishops.”

“Churches and altars will be sacked. The Church will be full of those who accept compromises, and the demon will press many priests and consecrated souls to leave the service of the Lord.”

“Each day, recite the prayers of the Rosary,” she told Sr. Agnes. “With the Rosary, pray for the Pope, the bishops and priests.”

Two years after the last message, the statue of the Virgin Mary in the chapel where the apparitions had occurred began to emit tears and drops of blood. The occurrence continued for more than six years.

Reports from Akita following Friday's earthquake indicate that the city received significantly less damage than other parts of northern Japan, despite its proximity to the epicenter. However, residents did report power outages, burst pipes, and fires.

Bishop Tarcisio Isao Kikuchi of Niigata, whose territory includes the Akita apparition site, is also the president of Caritas Japan, which will be working to assist victims of the earthquake and tsunami. The relief organization is accepting contributions to its emergency fund at

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Japanese Church mobilizing tsunami response, Pope 'deeply saddened' by disaster

Vatican City, Mar 12, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI expressed his solidarity with the dead and their families in Japan, as the Japanese Church makes quick plans for relief efforts following a deadly earthquake and tsunami.

On March 11, an 8.9-magnitude earthquake off the coast of Japan and a lengthy series of aftershocks sent enormous waves up to two miles inland in some low-lying areas, uprooting houses and obliterating entire towns.

Experts are comparing the power of these tidal waves to those that struck south-east Asia in 2004 and took more than 200,000 lives.

According to a report from CNN, Italy's National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology calculated that the Japanese earthquake was so strong the planet shifted on its axis by nearly four inches.

Initial estimates put the number of dead after the disaster at around 1,000. The final number is expected to rise as the water recedes.

The government is seeking to avert additional disaster in the city of Fukushima, where they are working to cool a nuclear reactor damaged by the waves. Every effort is being made to contain radioactive material and prevent contamination of the surrounding area. People within a 13-mile radius are being evacuated.

Fr. Daisuke Narui, executive director of Caritas Japan, told the Vatican's Fides news agency on March 12 that the Church's focus for the moment is on the most vulnerable.

"Currently," he said, "we are called to give a testimony to unity and closeness to all human suffering."

Caritas and the local Church are collecting information on affected areas to plan their response efforts, he said. He was particularly concerned about the city of Sendai, hit hard by a wall of sea water, because he had not yet been in contact with the Caritas director there.

On a national level, the charitable association will kickstart a solidarity campaign in all Japanese churches on March 13, with Masses being dedicated to the memory of the victims .

Bishop Marcellinus Daiji Tani of Saitama, one of the areas struck by the tsunamis, told Fides that Catholics "will respond to the tragedy of the earthquake and tsunami that struck northern Japan, with prayer and solidarity.”

He said they "must take courage, with the help of the Holy Spirit."

Bishop Tani added that the catastrophe is a reminder "that life is in the hands of God, and that life is a gift from God."

Holy See secretary of state Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone transmitted the Pope's condolences and prayers for the Japanese people in a March 11 telegram to the president of Japan's Catholic bishops, Archbishop Leo Ikenaga of Osaka.

"Deeply saddened by the sudden and tragic effects of the major earthquake and consequent tsunamis which have struck Japan's north-eastern coastal regions, his holiness Pope Benedict XVI assures all who have been afflicted of his closeness at this difficult time."

"He prays for those who have died, and upon their grieving families and friends he invokes divine blessings of strength and consolation," wrote Cardinal Bertone.

"The Holy Father also expresses his prayerful solidarity with all those providing rescue, relief and support to the victims of this disaster."

For his part, Fr. Narui of Caritas told Fides that the "painful event" could also be an opportunity to share the Gospel values of fraternity, building common good and recognizing human dignity.

"If, with our work and our witness," he concluded, "we can communicate that, then from this evil will come good.”

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