Smyrna, Ga., Oct 15, 2011 (CNA) - Out of her own heartbreak, Nicole Hartman is reaching out to other couples that share the grief of losing a child still in the womb.
“It is this awful cross,” she said.
The 39-year-old is leading the effort to form a ministry in the Atlanta Archdiocese called Embrace to aid other couples with support and compassion. The archdiocese appears to be one of the few to have a ministry for the death of an unborn child.
It’ll be five years this fall since Nicole and Peter married. In their mid-30s and successful, the plan all along was to start a family. “A dozen children” was what she imagined, said Nicole. Yet, she could not conceive.
Four years ago, they moved to Canton, in Cherokee County. Nicole as the youth minister at St. Marguerite d’Youville Church, Lawrenceville, led students this summer to Chicago to serve in poor neighborhoods. She also runs her own event planning business. Peter works in the financial industry.
Through the years, she could not conceive. The couple turned to medical help, and Nicole got pregnant. But at eight weeks, the baby in the womb died. The couple named the child Caine.
Later, she again became pregnant. This time, Nicole carried twins. Around nine weeks of gestation, Lea died in the womb. But the girl they named Cara survived. And then at 16 weeks, the same heartbreak.
The death of an unborn is not uncommon. Public health experts track fetal mortality. In 2004 an estimated 6.4 million pregnancies resulted in 4.11 million live births, 1.22 million induced abortions, and 1.06 million fetal losses, according to a 2009 National Vital Statistics Reports.
During their hardship, the Hartmans found little support from the church. Good-hearted people stumbled over what to say, at times causing more hurt.
“People want you to move on quickly. It’s one of those unspeakables. We just don’t have the tools to know how to handle it,” she said.
Nicole and her husband found shoulders to lean on at great community organizations, but little help from the faith community that the Michigan native joined at the age of 22.
“You can Google Catholic support for miscarriage and you’ll find very little,” she said.
But she knows Catholics wrestle with this issue. She finds blogs where anxious parents ask if their stillborn child is in heaven.
“For a Catholic, that’s something big in your head,” she said. “I just don’t want another couple to go through what Peter and I did without support,” she said.
The idea of Embrace began. Nicole presented the concept to Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory and his Pastoral Council. It was immediately endorsed.
Assisting Nicole is Deacon Dennis Dorner, the chancellor of the archdiocese and the director of the permanent diaconate.
Deacon Dorner said deacons, in particular, are being asked to aid couples dealing with the grief.
“Most of our deacons are married, and many have been touched by the loss of a child of our own or a close family member. So there is an empathy there,” he said in an email.
Nicole’s situation shows clergy need to be trained in how to respond to this kind of loss, so the goal is to start with the deacons and their wives to get the word out on this issue, Deacon Dorner said.
The Embrace ministry will offer support, education and a way to memorialize the loss.
For priests and deacons, better education is greatly needed, Nicole said, having heard artless phrases.
Clichés like “God has a plan” or “You can have another child” do not help people grieve and make people angry enough to leave the church, she said.
“I want advice from the church, but in a loving way,” she said.
Deacon Dorner said Archbishop Gregory wanted to be clear this differs from pro-life ministry. Both are needed, but the focus of Embrace is on “the healing that is needed when a wanted life is lost,” said Deacon Dorner.
For support, monthly meetings at the Archdiocese of Atlanta Chancery in Smyrna have been organized. The meeting will be open to men and women. In the works are educational forums so couples can learn more about the medical conditions that can lead to premature deaths.
For the memory of the babies, Nicole would like to see the ministry develop ways to memorialize the deaths. Two events are scheduled: On Oct. 15, there will be a remembrance walk, prayer service and butterfly release at the main administrative offices of the archdiocese. And in May 2012, the ministry is organizing a memorial Mass to be celebrated by the archbishop.
An artist is working with the ministry to design a “Life Certificate” to remember the children. A memorial book would also be created that would be preserved.
“I don’t want my child to ever be forgotten,” she said.
The dream for a family with children isn’t forgotten either. She and her husband put together a photo album they hope will encourage a birth mother to select them to parent her child.
“We’re not ready to give up having a child,” she said as the couple turns to adoption.
Printed with permission from the Georgia Bulletin, newspaper for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Ga.
Jersey City, N.J., Oct 15, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - A nearly 400-year-old copy of the Shroud of Turin is now on display for public veneration at a New Jersey monastery in hopes of inspiring more reflection on Jesus Christ’s Crucifixion.
The copy of the reputed burial shroud of Jesus Christ, known as the True Copy, is in the possession of the Dominican nuns of the Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary in Summit, N.J.
Sr. Mary Catharine Perry, O.P., the monastery’s novice mistress, said the nuns hope that the replica will lead people to “a greater devotion to the Passion and Death of Jesus” so that they will have a greater love and reverence for the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, who is exposed in the monstrance everyday in the monastery chapel.
“When people hear that we have a copy of the Shroud in our possession and its history their response is really amazing and they want to see it. We would invite individuals and small groups to see it and their response was always one of prayerful wonder,” she told CNA on Oct. 14.
Sr. Perry said that when her parents visited, her father would always request some time to sit before the relic and meditate and reflect on the Passion.
The True Copy shows a faded image of a man with a wound in his side. It is displayed within an ornate mahogany and brass frame seven feet by three feet in dimensions.
The replica was commissioned in April 1624 by Maria Maddalena of Austria, the Grand Duchess of Tuscany and the wife of Cosimo de Medici.
The replica is treasured and venerated because of a mysterious occurrence when it came into contact with the original shroud, especially the wound on Christ’s side.
When the replica was removed from the shroud, the wound had become damp as though with blood. This effusion stained the copy.
In 1987, scientists from the Association of Scientists and Scholars International for the Shroud of Turin affirmed that the stain was from human blood of the same blood type as that on the shroud.
Duchess Maria Magdalena gave the shroud copy to the nuns of St. Catherine’s Monastery in Rome. They venerated the replica for nearly 300 years. The Rome nuns gave it to the New Jersey nuns on April 6, 1924 in gratitude for their generous help after World War I.
Sr. Perry said the nuns often spoke of their desire to place the True Copy in their public chapel, but it did not seem to fit.
They then realized that by moving some pews they could place it where it wouldn’t block a view of the sanctuary and the exposed Blessed Sacrament.
Until 1987, the True Copy was kept in a special custom-made case in the monastery’s chapter hall. Its fabric was stored on two rollers and only a small part could be displayed at a time.
But then the nuns learned from scientists said that because of its age the replica should be kept flat and not rolled.
Sr. Perry praised the workmen who helped with the change.
“The spot we picked was perfect! It just seems that means the decision to move the True Copy to our chapel is in God's time, too!” she said.
The website of the Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary is at http://www.monialesop.org.
Chicago, Ill., Oct 15, 2011 (CNA) - Amid fears of a European financial crisis and continuing anti-corporate protests in the U.S., the Knights of Columbus sponsored a Oct. 13 summit in Chicago to discuss ethical and sustainable business growth.
“We understand fully that to be sustainable an investment must be sustainable in both senses of the word: sustainable in terms of its business model, and in terms of ethical outlook,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, head of the Catholic fraternal and charitable group which is also a top-rated life insurance company.
Just as the ethics of investors matter, Anderson explained, “so does the guiding philosophy and ethical standards of those people leading the company being invested in. How are the people who work for that company treated? Is that company a good neighbor in its community?”
“These and the questions like them – which could be considered extra-financial criteria – are critical to sustainable investing,” he said.
Supreme Knight Anderson shared his thoughts on business ethics alongside several investing experts at the event, including Joel Shapiro of Timbervest, Luther Ragin of the FB Huron Foundation, Noel Friedman of MSCI, Mary Jane McQuillen of Clearbridge Advisors, and Brian Corbett of Carlyle Partners.
Chicago's Cardinal Archbishop Francis E. George also delivered a short address to the crowd, on the importance of ethics for sustainable economic growth.
Anderson, CEO of an organization that manages $17 billion in assets, told conference attendees that faithful businesspeople have the opportunity “to pioneer what I would call a 'personalist capitalism,' one that puts as central the value of the individual and the effects of a decision on people.”
“We cannot have two consciences, one for home or church and one for the office,” he stated.
He explained that the Church's view of each person “as an end rather than (as a) means is something that all of us can take to heart,” and apply consistently in every area of life.
Anderson noted that the Knights of Columbus' own investments follow a set of guidelines derived from the Church's social doctrine.
“Our securities investments are screened to prevent investing in any companies that deal in abortion, contraception, pornography, for-profit healthcare, embryonic stem cell research, human cloning, alcohol and tobacco products.”
“Each of these areas damages the human ecology by violating some aspect of the dignity an individual is owed.”
This investment strategy, he explained, takes into account the long-term effects of business decisions not only on the natural world, but also on individuals, families, communities, and society's shared interests.
“In other words,” he said, “sustainable investing requires respect for both the environment and the human ecology.”
Anderson warned against “models that seek to maximize profits at the expense of everything else,” indicating that such strategies are not only wrong, but also bound to fail because of the damage done to the personal qualities and connections known to economists as “human capital.”
Conversely, he pointed out, a company that has strong “core values … can be effective and achieve superior returns” in the long run.
Vatican City, Oct 15, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Today Pope Benedict XVI told over 8,000 Catholics involved in the “new evangelization” that he has every confidence they can return their respective nations to Jesus Christ.
“Seeing all of you and knowing the hard work that everyone of you places at the service of the mission, I am convinced that the new evangelists will multiply more and more to create the true transformation which the world of today needs,” the Pope said Oct. 15. in the Vatican’s Paul VI Audience Hall.
The Pope was addressing a conference entitled “New Evangelizers for the New Evangelization - The Word of God grows and spreads,” organized by the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization.
Noting that the title of the conference was drawn from a phrase often used in the Acts of the Apostles, the biblical account of the early Catholic Church, the Pope suggested that modern society still yearns for God, just as it did 2,000 years ago.
“Modern man is often confused and cannot find answers to the many questions which trouble his mind in reference to the meaning of life,” said the Pope.
And yet, he observed, man “cannot avoid these questions which touch on the very meaning of self and of reality.” Consequently, modern man often despairs and simply withdraws from “the search for the essential meaning of life,” settling instead for “things which give him fleeting happiness, a moment’s satisfaction, but which soon leave him unhappy and unsatisfied.”
It was with such people in mind, that Pope Benedict said he created the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization last year. The council is charged with spearheading the re-evangelization of traditionally Christian countries that have been particularly affected by secularization in recent decades.
As he spoke to the thousands of evangelists from around the world, the Pope gave them three reasons for hope in their mission.
He first reminded them that “the power of the Word does not depend primarily on our action” but on God. Secondly, he said that even in the modern world “there continues to be the good soil” into which the word of God will fall and produce “good fruit.” And lastly, he counseled the missionaries that despite “indifference, misunderstanding,” and “persecution,” there are still many people willing to “courageously open their hearts and minds to accept the invitation of Christ,” and become missionaries themselves.
Those gathered in the audience hall heard testimony from those involved in various new movements, schools of catechesis and evangelizing projects.
“I felt it very important to be here today as a witness for our young people working in the new evangelization,” said 29-year-old Patrick Muldoon from Dublin, Ireland. He was at the Vatican gathering with 19 others from the Emmanuel School of Mission, a Rome-based project that prepares young people to be Catholic missionaries.
“We’ve all left jobs and studies to come to Rome for one year to spend that year for God and we really feel that in our own lives we can be great witnesses to other young people,” said Patrick.
Standing next to him was 22-year-old Haydi Koussa from Cairo, Egypt. She felt the meeting was “a great opportunity to learn new ways of carrying out evangelization, particularly in my home country.”
“The new evangelization is there,” Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham, England remarked to CNA. He is also a member of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization.
“It’s there in groups of young people who are already gathering together to witness to the faith with a new strength and a new courage,” the archbishop said, adding that this is particularly important “in those places where our young people can be influential – such as their places of work and study.”
Before imparting his blessing on the crowd, Pope Benedict asked them to continue to “be signs of hope, able to look to the future with the certainty that comes from the Lord Jesus, who has conquered death and gave us eternal life.” He entrusted them to the protection of the Virgin Mary, “star of the new evangelization.”