Archive of January 28, 2012

Catholic faith set the foundation for 'Extreme Makeover' homebuilder

Charlotte, N.C., Jan 28, 2012 (CNA) - Frank Hereda has moved around a bit during his 35 years, but he keeps the values he learned growing up in a Catholic family and as a Catholic student close to his heart wherever he goes.

Hereda, who lived in Ohio, Indiana and Washington, D.C. before moving to Charlotte, N.C. five years ago, is co-founder of Bellamy Homes in Cornelius, N.C., the builders of the latest “Extreme Makeover” home in Lincolnton, N.C., that was completed Dec. 17, 2011. The home will house foster parents Devonda and James Friday of Lincolnton and their children, five of whom they recently adopted.

Hereda credits his family and his childhood with his desire to help others in need.

"I was born and raised Catholic. I went to St. Paul's Catholic School in Indiana. It's played a large role in my life in the fact that it instilled values from the start and that has shaped my life in an important way."

Hereda and his Bellamy Homes partner, Wade Miller, were friends at Purdue University, and have teamed up to build a company that reflects the Catholic values Hereda learned in his youth.

Their company took a huge leap of faith and trust in reaching out to help the Lincolnton family, whose story appeared this past Christmas on a special two-hour episode of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" on ABC.

"We wanted a solid foundation (for the company)" Hereda said. "The first thing that came to mind was trust. It's the most important thing."

Building a 4,000-square-foot home in basically four days is going to require a great deal of trust and faith, Hereda admits.

"My faith is important to me. I have always focused on doing the right things... I think that if you just focus on doing the right things – in this case we are focusing on helping this family – we'll be fine. It will work out how it's supposed to work out."

Bellamy Homes and its partners, suppliers and contractors are all donated their time and resources to build the home on Moore Street in Lincolnton, N.C., which is valued at more than $200,000. An army of more than 3,000 volunteers, including students and faculty from Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, N.C., also helped to build this dream home.

Hereda's parents and family from Cleveland, Ohio came to help during the build as well.

"We're focused on building this home for the family, raising as much money as we can for them and making sure the home is built well," Hereda said. "Community is instrumental and we are very fortunate at how many people have stepped up and decided to help out."

The Fridays returned from an all-expenses-paid dream vacation to Jamaica on Dec. 17, 2011.

Hereda and Miller, along with host Ty Pennington and the design team of “Extreme Makeover,” and the army of volunteers waited for them to reveal their new home – just in time to celebrate Christmas together as a family.

Posted with permission from the Catholic News Herald, newspaper for the Diocese of Charlotte, N.C.

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Archbishop Chaput: Catholic school crisis shows need for vouchers

Philadelphia, Pa., Jan 28, 2012 (CNA) - The “unique value” of Catholic education in Philadelphia is being threatened by a shortage of resources, and Pennsylvania Catholics should encourage their legislators to create vouchers to sustain them, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput says.

“We can honor Catholic Schools Week this year by actually doing something about the fiscal problems hurting our schools. We need to press our lawmakers, respectfully but vigorously, to pass school choice,” the archbishop wrote in his Jan. 26 Catholic Standard & Times column.

“If nothing else, the crisis of Philadelphia's Catholic schools is an unpleasant but finally very healthy wake up call. The bill for our failure to pass school choice over the past decade has come due. Now we're paying for it,” the archbishop said.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has announced the closure of four of its 17 Catholic high schools and 44 of its 156 regional or elementary schools. The action will displace as many as 24,000 students.

The archbishop praised the “long record of dedicated service” compiled by Catholic school teachers and administrators.

“Today, scores of our pastors make extraordinary commitments of parish funds to keep our schools open and excellent,” he continued.

But schools run on resources, he said, “not simply good will and heroic service.”

“The resources simply don't exist. Many of our parishes are financially strained. The archdiocese itself faces serious financial and organizational challenges that have been developing for many years and cannot be ignored.”

Vouchers, he said, give parents the power to choose the schools for their children. They make all schools more accountable, and would assist “many more families” than only the poor.

If approved, vouchers will free up Educational Improvement Tax Credit funds and other grant and scholarship monies for “many thousands of other school families.” They could provide “millions of dollars” of additional resources for many families, including Catholic school families.

Archbishop Chaput lamented the failure of vouchers in the Pennsylvania legislature in 2011, which he attributed to “too few people in the pews” listening.

“Very few Catholics called or wrote their state senators and representatives. Even fewer visited their offices to lobby as citizens,” the archbishop reported.

Though the legislation passed in the state Senate, it failed in the House.

“If we Philadelphia Catholics love our Catholic schools, and we obviously do, then the time to get active and focused is now,” Archbishop Chaput said.

He announced that he will be writing every state senator and representative in his archdiocese’s territory to ask them to support school vouchers.

“And I’ll continue doing it until vouchers pass.”

The archbishop encouraged Catholics, including his fellow bishops and pastors, to do the same.

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Military archbishop: US invasion led to fewer Iraqi Christians

Rome, Italy, Jan 28, 2012 (CNA) - U.S. Military Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio says the collapse of Iraq’s Christian population is among the legacies of America's invasion in 2003.

“Yes, you can say in a certain sense that the invasion of Iraq did provoke this tremendous diminution of the Christian population in that country. And what the future holds, that still remains to be seen,” the archbishop for the armed forces told CNA during his visit to Rome on Jan. 16.

His comments come only a month after the final pull-out of U.S. troops from Iraq, where they remained following the invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein. Aid agencies estimate that over the course of eight years, the Catholic population of Iraq fell from over 800,000, to less than 150,000 now

Archbishop Broglio believes Catholicism suffered after the invasion because of a perceived closeness to its previous ruler. He said Saddam Hussein tended “to trust Catholics, and gave them positions of responsibility.” One prominent Iraqi Catholic was Hussein’s Foreign Minister Tarik Aziz.

And even if Catholics “weren’t particularly part of the regime, they became identified with the regime,” Archbishop Broglio said.

“Before, they were a minority that was protected, but now they are a minority that is not protected.”

As President Barack Obama withdrew the last U.S. troops from Iraq on Dec. 15, he said they were leaving behind a “sovereign, stable and self-reliant,” country.

But there are signs that Iraqi Christians' plight has worsened since then.

“At a time of increased political instability, we continue to receive disturbing reports,” said John Pontifex of Aid to the Church in Need on Jan. 20.

He said an attack took place earlier in the month against security personnel outside the residence of Kirkuk's Archbishop Louis Sako.

Archbishop Sako, who was indoors at the time, told Aid to the Church in Need that the situation is less stable now that U.S. troops are gone, with much of the turmoil stemming from the power struggle between Sunni and Shiite Muslims.

Pontifex says there is a “ticking bomb regarding Christianity in Iraq.”

“Few Christians, no matter how deep their roots are in the local society, feel able to withstand the pressure to leave.”

Fear of an attack forced Archbishop Sako to cancel the Chaldean Catholics' midnight Christmas celebration last month. Services were moved to the daytime, and Christians were warned not to display decorations outside their homes.

Nevertheless, it appears that many of the Catholics who fled Iraq would return if safety improved.

Monsignor John Kozar, president of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, recently spoke of the “strong determination” some Iraqi Catholics have to go back home. He recently visited Jordan, where many Christians from Iraq now reside.

“I think they have a yearning to return to the homeland, and that homeland for them means practicing their Chaldean-rite Christianity,” the monsignor said. “That has become very, very important to them.”

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