Denver, Colo., Nov 26, 2011 (CNA) - While deftly flipping through the 120-page manuscript he authored, Father Blaine Burkey, O.F.M. Cap., pointed to the 20th-century photos and explained the virtues and life stories of the widely-considered saintly woman Julia Greeley.
By all appearances she was an ordinary woman who did extraordinary things during her life as an ex-slave and Catholic convert who roamed the streets of Denver, Colo.
“She earned her living by scrubbing floors,” Father Burkey, 75, said about Greeley, an African American. “She turned around what little she had left over to help people.”
What she couldn’t pay for, the Capuchin priest added, she “went around and begged for help for other people.”
Since April, Father Burkey has dug through library archives, state records, historical society files and Denver Archdiocese records to compile information about this woman called “the colored angel of charity.”
His keen interest in her life is shared with a group of other Greeley advocates who formed a Julia Greeley Guild in August.
“We decided the guild would be a good way to inform the public about Julia Greeley,” said Mary Leisring, president of the guild and director of the Office of Black Catholic Ministry. “It was our way of informing the public that a person of her character walked the streets of Colorado.”
Other initiatives named after Greeley include a college scholarship given by the ladies auxiliary of the Knights of Peter Claver, Leisring said, and an award presented by the Catholic organization Endow (Educating on the Nature and Dignity of Women), which is given to someone who exemplifies true feminism.
Behind the guild and Father Burkey’s manuscript—which in need of funding to be published—is the hope that this woman will one day be officially recognized by the Church.
“Hopefully, we’ll have some influence on persuading the future bishop to open a cause for sainthood,” Father Burkey said. “At that point, we’ll leave it in God’s hands.”
Father Burkey, who resides at St. Francis of Assisi Friary in Denver, believes something should be done to recognize this woman, “but nothing will happen until we get all the information in one place.”
His scavenger hunt for information began several years ago because of Greeley’s connection to his religious order the Franciscans, of which she was a third order secular.
Little personal information is known of her and no personal writings exist as she was illiterate. However, scores of articles penned by journalists have surfaced, including about 100 articles from the Denver Catholic Register archives that reference her name, Father Burkey said.
The first articles appeared in the Register, the Rocky Mountain News and The Denver Post in 1918, after Greeley died at the approximate age of 85—Greeley herself said she didn’t know how old she was—on the feast of the Sacred Heart on June 7.
The articles describe a flow of people—poor and rich alike—who came to view her body that lay in a coffin for five hours at Loyola Chapel, now the Evangelist Temple Church of God in Christ, at 2536 Ogden St.
The Register article published two days after her funeral reads, “Highest Honor Ever Paid to Dead Laic Here Goes to Negress.”
Greeley’s funeral was held at Sacred Heart Church, 2760 Larimer St., where she sat in the front left pew daily. She was buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Wheat Ridge.
Father Burkey said he began a more earnest search for facts about her life in April and discovered records of a court case when Greeley’s character was put into question. She was stuck in a divorce case that arose between her former employer Julie Gilpin, whom Greeley testified for, who was the wife of Colorado’s first territorial governor, William Gilpin.
William Gilpin accused Greeley of being “a lewd and unprincipled woman that badly influenced his children,” which was one reason why he said he needed a divorce from Julie Gilpin. Greeley took the stand to defend her character and about six people testified in her favor, Father Burkey said.
“Moreover, when grilled by Mrs. Gilpin’s defense attorneys, Col. Gilpin was unable to justify his charge against Greeley,” Father Burkey said.
“This case isn’t spiritually revealing except these six to seven witnesses said she was totally reliable,” he continued. “That’s something in her favor that she remained such a magnanimous women herself and was helping other people despite the way she had been treated.”
William Gilpin’s testimony contradicts records and articles written about Greeley that spoke of her charity to the poorest of poor. She was often seen carrying firewood, clothes or food down alleyways to someone in need. She begged for dresses from wealthy women and restored them for working class girls so they would be able to attend church or go to a social gathering. She also passed out Catholic literature to firemen, especially leaflets about the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which she became an apostle for after entering the Church in 1880, the same year she appeared on the U.S. Census for Denver.
Her charity and devotion extended to the point when she reportedly gave her own burial plot to a destitute man and participated in 40 hours of devotion, kneeling motionless and absorbed in adoration of the Eucharist.
Overall, Greeley stands as an example of how ordinary people can become saints, Leisring said.
“When looking at her, (we see) she was an ordinary person who did extraordinary things,” Leisring said. “All of us have that same opportunity.”
Printed with permission from the Denver Catholic Register.
Philadelphia, Pa., Nov 26, 2011 (CNA) - Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput spoke highly of seven new members of the archdiocesan review board that makes recommendations in suspected abuse cases.
“These individuals, Catholic and non-Catholic, possess a broad range of professional competencies that are essential to conducting a review process that is equally thorough and just to all who may be involved,” Archbishop Chaput said in a Nov. 22 statement announcing the appointments.
“Non-clerical external advisers such as these are crucial to the process,” he noted, “as they provide a high level of expertise coupled with objective advice.”
“I am grateful to all of them for their willingness to serve on the Archdiocesan Review Board and look forward to the unique perspective that each will bring to the table.”
New board members include retired Philadelphia Police Department Lieutenant Michael Boyle, formerly of the department's Child Abuse Unit; Judge-elect Charles Ehrlich, previously of the city district attorney's Family Violence and Sexual Assault Unit; and veteran prosecutor Arnold Gordon.
The other additions are Janet Shaw Lemoine, an experienced victims' advocate; Richmond Parsons, a law enforcement veteran now handling probation and parole; Laura Rogers, a former prosecutor with experience at the Navy and Justice Department; and Robert Spinelli, specialist in tort litigation.
Anne Shenberger, a social worker who will continue serving on the 11-member board, told CNA/EWTN News that the panel was “made up of people with both knowledge and integrity,” who would continue to be “open in our process” of handling allegations.
“What's important is to have a range of skills on the review board,” Shenberger said, “so that all the different disciplines that touch on sexual abuse are represented, and the board can have the best possible range of expertise when it's deliberating on cases.”
She said the new appointments reflected “a normal ebb and flow of people deciding they wanted to move on” from serving on the committee. In keeping with the U.S. bishops' charter, the board reports to the archbishop on whether allegations can be substantiated, and whether clergy are fit for ministry.
“We've had a number of people resign, and I think it was time to replenish the review board,” Shenberger observed.
In February 2011, six months before Archbishop Chaput's appointment to the Philadelphia archdiocese, a grand jury report charged that 37 local priests had credible allegations of abuse against them but were still in roles that brought them into contact with children.
Cardinal Justin Rigali, Philadelphia's Archbishop at the time of the report, placed 21 priests on administrative leave in response. In July 2011, Pope Benedict XVI accepted the resignation the cardinal had submitted the year before upon reaching the age limit of 75.
Vatican City, Nov 26, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - The man responsible for leading Pope Benedict's mission to re-evangelize traditionally Christian countries is predicting that October 2012 will be the most important month to date for the Church’s New Evangelization.
In October of next year, bishops around the world will convene in Rome to discuss the New Evangelization at a synod—just as Pope Benedict launches his “Year of Faith.”
“I think next year’s launch of the Year of Faith will be a really great event for the promotion of new evangelization,” Archbishop Salvatore (Rino) Fisichella told CNA on Nov. 22.
“One whole year reflecting on faith, reflecting on our engagement in faith, of our choice of faith and also, I’d say, in our knowledge of the content of our faith.”
Archbishop Fisichella is the head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, a Vatican department created only last year by Pope Benedict.
“The mission of the new evangelization,” Archbishop Fisichella said, “is to announce that Jesus Christ is the true answer to all the questions that men and woman have today trying to make sense of our lives.”
Over the past year, Archbishop Fisichella has firmly established the new department within the Roman curia while reaching out to dioceses around the world. He says it’s also been a year of discerning what the “beautiful expression” of the term “new evangelization” actually means.
Last month, the pontifical council brought 8000 people involved in various forms of evangelization to Rome to discuss the topic during a two-day conference.
“That was our most important meeting of the year when we introduced the Holy Father to all the people representing the New Evangelization,” the archbishop said, “it was very deep and also very enthusiastic.”
One of the next significant events for the council is their 2012 Lenten “Metropolitan Mission” where they will use 12 European cathedrals as a base to re-evangelize each city. The initiative will “show the man of today,” Archbishop Fisichella said, “that there is a resurgence of God underway.”
Some of the pontifical council’s tasks for 2012-13 are already set out in the Pope’s Apostolic Letter titled “Porta Fidei,” which was issued in October and announced the Year of Faith.
“It is written in Porta Fidei that each bishop along with priests and laity should find a special solemn moment in which to profess in public their faith,” the archbishop explained, “but we hope in Rome, here at the tombs of St. Peter and St. Paul, that we can organize several events to also publically profess that our faith is a sign for the world of today—a sign of hope and faith and love.”
Meanwhile the Synod of Bishops, which will chart much of the future course for the pontifical council, will meet next Oct. 7-28 under the title, “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith.”
Vatican City, Nov 26, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI has told bishops of the United States not to be silenced by those who seek to muzzle Catholicism in public life.
“Despite attempts to still the Church’s voice in the public square, many people of good will continue to look to her for wisdom, insight and sound guidance,” Pope Benedict said in his address to 20 bishops of New York gathered in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace on Nov. 26.
The Pope called upon them to “exercise the prophetic dimension of your episcopal ministry by speaking out, humbly yet insistently, in defense of moral truth, and offering a word of hope, capable of opening hearts and minds to the truth that sets us free.”
New York's bishops are in Rome for their regular “ad limina” visit to update the Pope and the Vatican on the health of the Church in their state. Their delegation is the second of 15 U.S. groups that will make their way to Rome in the coming months.
The dioceses represented this morning were New York, Albany, Brooklyn, Buffalo, Ogdensburg, Rochester, Rockville Centre and Syracuse.
At the Apostolic Palace, they heard from Pope Benedict about the need for a “new evangelization” of the United States, where people of many religious and political persuasions have shown an “increased sense of concern … for the future of our democratic societies.”
Their concern stems from “a troubling breakdown in the intellectual, cultural and moral foundations of social life,” accompanied by “a growing sense of dislocation and insecurity, especially among the young, in the face of wide-ranging societal changes.”
A new evangelization of this society, the Pope said, would require spiritual and intellectual renewal within the Church.
“We ourselves are the first to need re-evangelization,” he said, adding that “only through such interior renewal will we be able to discern and meet the spiritual needs of our age with the ageless truth of the Gospel.”
Catholic universities, he noted, should play a leading role in bringing the Gospel to society. Pope Benedict praised those schools that had found “a renewed sense of their ecclesial mission” and shown faithfulness to their Catholic identity.
“Young people have a right to hear clearly the Church’s teaching and, most importantly, to be inspired by the coherence and beauty of the Christian message,” the Pope stated, “so that they in turn can instill in their peers a deep love of Christ and his Church.”
He praised the bishops for tackling clerical abuse, saying the Church's “conscientious efforts to confront this reality” could “help the broader community to recognize the causes, true extent and devastating consequences of sexual abuse, and to respond effectively to this scourge which affects every level of society.”
Pope Benedict added that the Church is “rightly held to exacting standards in this regard,” and said “all other institutions, without exception, should be held to the same standards.”
The Pope also welcomed the new English translation of the Mass, which parishes across the nation will begin using this weekend.
He said the new translation should inspire an “ongoing catechesis,” helping the faithful grasp “the true nature of the liturgy” as a participation in “Christ’s saving sacrifice for the redemption of the world.”
The Pope indicated that a right understanding of worship was essential for the Church's mission in society.
“A weakened sense of the meaning and importance of Christian worship,” he observed, “can only lead to a weakened sense of the specific and essential vocation of the laity to imbue the temporal order with the spirit of the Gospel.”
In the afternoon the visiting bishops celebrated Mass together at the basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls, where the apostle St. Paul is buried.
The “ad limina” visit takes its name from the Latin phrase “ad limina apostolorum,” meaning “to the threshold of the apostles” Sts. Peter and Paul. The visiting bishops offered Mass at St. Peter's tomb yesterday.
Rome, Italy, Nov 26, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - As English-speaking Catholic parishes begin using the new translation of the Mass on the first Sunday of Advent, leading members of the hierarchy are predicting great gains for the Church.
“I have a feeling that this will be a great moment for deepening people’s liturgical piety and liturgical spirituality,” said Cardinal Raymond Burke, a member of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship, in comments to CNA.
“The prayers are much more beautiful and they carry with them a staying power,” observed Cardinal Burke.
He predicted that the newly-introduced prayers would “get people thinking about what they prayed, and taking consolation from it, and also inspiration.”
The Rome-based cardinal has been waiting until this weekend to start using the new English missal, in line with the Church in the U.S. But he offered Mass with the new texts on a recent visit to England, where many dioceses have already switched over.
“I have to say the texts are really much, much richer and much more beautiful,” concluded the cardinal, who described the previous translation as “often very bland and stripped of any richness.”
With his promulgation of a new edition of the Roman Missal in 2000, Blessed John Paul II gave the Church the opportunity to make a more faithful English translation of the Mass. The previous version had drawn criticism for its looser adaptation of the original Latin.
New York Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, currently in Rome for his “ad limina” visit, recently used the new translation for the first time. Earlier this week he offered the freshly-translated prayers while prerecording his televised Mass for the first Sunday of Advent.
“Awesome, poetic, reverent language,” he said, summing up his impressions to CNA.
Archbishop Dolan also pointed out that the new texts spoken by the laity have changed less than those prayed by the priest.
“I found myself, personally, having to understandably go more slowly at Mass because I was having to look more closely at the text,” he recalled, “and that’s no bad thing.”
New York's archbishop said he was “praying with more reverence and intention and awe” as a result.
Changes for the laity include the reply “and with your spirit” spoken to the priest, rather than the response “and also with you.” Elsewhere, the threefold “mea culpa” (my fault) returns to the Penitential Rite, and the profession of the Creed begins with “I believe” instead of “we believe.”
Australian Roman Catholics made these changes several months ago with their shift to the new English version. “We've had no mutiny or revolution in Australia yet,” said Canberra's Archbishop Mark B. Coleridge, chairman of the committee that prepared the new English lectionary.
“Predictions of chaos, and upheaval and revolution just haven’t come to pass,” he told CNA.
The archbishop added that after a “messy transition” in some places, priests and laypeople are starting to see the new language as “richer and stronger than what we have grown up with.”
He sees almost no hostility to the changes from lay Catholics, who he says are “just getting on with it.”
Among the clergy, Archbishop Coleridge has stressed the need for advance work. While the priesthood is “more than a profession,” he said, priests still have to do their “professional preparation” before Mass – because the new texts are “a different idiom.”
Priests, he cautioned, “can’t just open the book and go for it,” without the appropriate study and practice.