Boston, Mass., Aug 11, 2012 (CNA) -
There are many organizations that provide people with opportunities to use their lifetime of experience to give back to others, but the Ignatian Volunteer Corps provides something many others do not -- the opportunity for spiritual growth.
Jesuit Fathers Jim Conroy and Charles Costello created the IVC in 1995 to allow retired or mature men and women the chance to use their experience in ministry.
The priests combined the principle of direct service to the poor with a process of faith-based reflection rooted in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.
Before joining the IVC, Cristina Nelson used her doctorate in history to teach as an adjunct professor for more than 12 years.
She said she began to feel "burnt out" with that line of work and took time off to make a transition away from the frontlines of education.
"I needed a break. The Ignatian Volunteer Corps was suggested to me as a way to do good work and also as a spiritual practice, which is important to me," she said.
Nelson interviewed with five different organizations before she found a place to serve with New England IVC.
"I interviewed at each one of them, and they interviewed me," she said.
She found a fit with a Boston organization called Hearth, which provides housing for the elderly homeless.
"Hearth stood out to me because of its mission to help the most vulnerable population. All of the other sites did also help vulnerable populations, but this really resonated with me," she said.
She said that created two-way sense of familiarity between her and the organization.
Nelson soon took up her work fundraising for Hearth's Adopt-a-Room campaign for their new Olmstead Green residence in Dorchester.
In her role with Hearth, Nelson coordinates with donors to furnish each of the rooms at the facility with furniture, decorations, and some basic necessities.
Nelson said the goal is to create individual living spaces that can become a home for residents.
When three weeks ago Nelson was showing potential donors from St. Ignatius of Loyola in Chestnut Hill the rooms, one of Hearth's clients joined the group.
"He had just signed his lease and wanted to take a look at the building," she said.
Nelson welcomed him to the tour, but while they were looking at one of the rooms furnished by the Hearth board of directors, the man began crying.
"I asked him if he was OK," she said.
The man described a list of losses in his life that brought him to homelessness. An immigrant, with no job and no family, he had nowhere to go when his health failed him.
The sight of the furnishings and the care extended to him had moved him to tears.
"The last thing he said to me was 'God bless America,'" she said.
Nelson will complete her time with the IVC in June, but said the experience has enriched her life.
"I have enjoyed the Adopt-a-Room program immensely. I will be real sad to leave, to tell you the truth," she said.
Nelson plans to pursue an administrative position in higher education, as she returns to the working world.
The New England IVC helps the poor while providing a meaningful spiritual experience for volunteers, as part of its core mission.
"The mission is basically to get men and women with gifts, talents, skills and life experience to put those at the service of people who are materially poor or marginalized in society," regional director Dave Hinchen said.
Hinchen said the growth in Catholic values and reflection on their service are an important part of the volunteer experience.
"The needs of the poor bring them back to reflection on their own faith. They do that together in a community kind of way so that there is also a building of faith community going on at the same time," Hinchen said.
IVC collaborates with other organizations in pursuit of opportunities for retired and mature volunteers to serve, so the regional director works on a person-to-person basis to find the right fit for each volunteer.
Sometimes this means volunteers interview at multiple locations before starting their work. After making sure that the organizations they work with share the values of the IVC, Hinchen sets up meeting and interviews for the IVC volunteers with potential work sites.
"We do not just assign somebody to a place without them meeting one another ahead of time. They have to interview. The agency has to say, 'This person would be good here.'
The person who is going to be the volunteer wants to make sure that this is someplace that she or he is going feel comfortable in and be able to give," Hinchen said.
Once the individual finds a site, they undertake their volunteer work in the spirit of IVC ministry.
The IVC ministry has its roots in the teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola, a Spanish knight who underwent a conversion after being wounded in battle in 1521, swore off military life to devote his life to God, and started the Society of Jesus -- the Jesuits -- as approved by Pope Paul III in 1540.
The ten-month, two-day-a-week commitment includes keeping a journal and a regular schedule of spiritual reflection with a peer called a "reflector." The commitment also includes an overnight retreat, and monthly meetings with groups of volunteers.
Hinchen said with that level of commitment put forth by volunteers, the IVC makes an effort to make sure volunteers end up working in a place which nurtures the spirit of community, even allowing volunteers to suggest new places to place volunteers.
"For the most part, we have those lined up before the applicants come in, but we are always looking for new places to put volunteers," Hinchen said.
According to the organization's website, most IVC volunteers are over age 50. The New England branch is in its third year, and has 15 volunteers currently serving.
Hinchen stressed the importance of the idea that service with the IVC requires serious commitment.
"Sometimes people call me up and they are hoping they can work an hour or two in their neighborhood or something, and with the Ignatian Volunteer Corps it is not that simple. It is a substantial commitment of time and self," he said.
More information on the program is available at www.ivcusa.org/ivc-offices/welcome-to-ivc-new-england.
Posted wither permission from the Pilot Catholic News. Official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Boston.
Irvine, Calif., Aug 11, 2012 (CNA) -
A new film by philosopher, priest and producer Father Robert Spitzer aims to integrate faith and reason by making the claim that God's existence can be proved through scientific evidence.
“We thought the whole story wasn’t being told in the media about the evidence for God from physics,” the Jesuit priest told CNA.
“We’re utterly convinced that the evidence from physics shows the existence of God and certainly does not take away from it.”
The 49-minute documentary, titled “Cosmic Origins,” features eight physicists who discuss the big bang theory, theories of modern physics, and eventually discuss the need for a creator.
Along with Fr. Spitzer, a former Gonzaga University President and founder of the Magis Center for Faith and Reason, the film features Michael Heller of the Vatican Observatory, Nobel Laureate Arno Penzias, and a slew of professors from Harvard and Cambridge.
In choosing the physicists for the film, Fr. Spitzer made sure that every scientist was “absolutely top in their field, world class, they had to be a Nobel prize winner, a Templeton prize winner, or come from Harvard or Cambridge or from the top ranks of NASA.”
The scientists “come pretty much out of the closet,” and affirm that it is impossible for the universe to be random and without purpose, he said.
In the film, after discussing the Big Bang theory and affirming it scientifically, the physicists say there still must be a beginning or cause of the universe, even with theories of modern physics.
“When the universe was nothing, it could not have moved itself from nothing, something else had to do it, and that something else was a transcendent creator,” Fr. Spitzer said.
He claims that this creator would have to exist outside space and time because before the Big Bang, nothing existed, including space and time.
The film is available in two versions, the original documentary, and a Catholic version with additional features that help foster a deeper Catholic and philosophical understanding, the producer and Jesuit priest pointed out.
When asked if Catholics really need proof of God's existence, Fr. Spitzer discussed three different ways people process information.
“You have the analytical, the people who are high feelers, and the people who are high decision makers,” he said. “The high feelers do not really need this.”
He gave the example of people who are feelings-focused being able to see beauty in nature and know God exists without proof. Fr. Spitzer is not one of those people, he said, and along with other scientists,
philosophers and lawyers, he needs more explanation.
“It doesn’t mean you necessarily need proof, what it means is that you need evidence so that you can have some kind of independent extrinsic verification of God because, of course, you’re intuition is not going to push you over the line. This is about 35 percent of our population.”
His film aims to reach this group who do not consider the possibility of God's existence without scientific explanation.
“Cosmic Origins” is currently available on the Magis Center website and the Ignatius press website, and will be available on Amazon in mid-August. A parish screening program is also available for purchase on the “Cosmic Origins” website, www.cosmicoriginsfilm.com.
Buffalo, N.Y., Aug 11, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
As Bishop Richard J. Malone became the fourteenth Bishop of Buffalo, N.Y. on Aug. 10, he outlined the need for martyrs who will witness to Jesus Christ through “a daily dying to self.”
Bishop Malone, the former bishop of Portland, Maine, noted that his installation on the Feast of St. Lawrence – who was martyred by fire – and the day after the Feast of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, the Jewish convert and philosopher Edith Stein who was murdered by the Nazis.
The bishop said in his homily that a martyr is a witness whose discipleship is “so authentic, so deep, so uncompromising, so credible, that he or she is willing, with God’s grace, to give all, to surrender all to Christ, and the truth Christ is revealed.”
The martyr is willing to do this “in the face of fear, loss, scorn, misunderstanding, rejection, suffering, even death” in response to “Christ’s love poured out for us on the Cross.”
Many prominent bishops attended Bishop Malone’s installation Mass at Buffalo’s St. Joseph Cathedral.
Cardinal Timothy J. Dolan of New York, Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley of Boston and Cardinal Edward M. Egan presided at the Mass. Over 24 U.S. and Canadian bishops were among those who concelebrated.
Papal nuncio Archbishop Carlo M. Viganò was to have read the letter from Pope Benedict XVI that named Bishop Malone as the new head of the diocese, but his attendance was delayed.
In his homily, Bishop Malone said that some martyrs’ lives “rise to a dramatic climax,” but most Christians witness through their “persevering commitment to Christ and to the Gospel. “
However, this can be attempted only with “profound hope and even, paradoxically, real joy,” the bishop continued.
He cited the Mass reading from the Gospel of John in which Jesus said a seed must die to live. “Not to die is to remain fruitless, unproductive, truly dead,” Bishop Malone said.
He stressed the need to reach out to inactive Catholics and to evangelize to transform individuals in Christ. Evangelization, he said, also aims to transform “our increasingly secular culture into a civilization of love and a culture of life.”
He noted the need to respect human life, to respect marriage as a union of one man and one woman “open to new life,” to respect religious liberty, and to show compassion to the poor and to immigrants.
“We need the martyrs’ conviction and courage, tenacity and selflessness, and, yes, hope, to stand up in our increasingly relativistic society in defense of these truths and values so threatened in our time,” the bishop exhorted.
Bishop Malone succeeds Bishop Edward U. Kmiec, whose retirement took effect Friday.
On Aug. 9, the incoming Bishop of Buffalo presided over Evening Prayer at downtown Buffalo’s St. Lois Church with over 200 diocesan and religious priests from Buffalo, Maine and Boston.
Norfolk, Va., Aug 11, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has announced that the outspoken pro-life Catholic Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin will be his running mate for the 2012 election.
The two men appeared together the morning of Aug. 11 in Norfolk, Va. at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard at the base of the USS Wisconsin, a retired battleship.
“Paul Ryan is a leader,” Romney said. “His leadership begins with character and values.”
The former Massachusetts governor praised the seven-term congressman as “a faithful Catholic” who “believes in the worth and dignity of every human life.”
“I am deeply honored and excited to join you as your running mate,” Rep. Ryan told Romney, saying that the two “will restore the dreams and greatness of this country.”
Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute, and Cathy Ruse, a senior fellow at the Family Research Council, praised the decision.
“Governor Romney could not have chosen a better person to run with than Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. Ryan is not only 100 percent pro-life, he is a full spectrum conservative and thoroughly unafraid in expressing conservative and pro-life views,” they told CNA Aug. 11.
“We cannot wait to see him debate Vice-President Biden.”
The Ruses lauded Rep. Ryan as “a Catholic who takes his faith seriously,” and said he is “perfectly situated” to defend religious freedom “in this season of easy anti-Catholicism.”
Wisconsin Right to Life said Rep. Ryan has been a featured speaker at its events and is “a wonderful friend.”
Rep. Ryan, 44, lives in Janesville, Wis. with his wife, Janna, his daughter Liza and his two sons Charlie and Sam. He is a member of St. John Vianney Catholic Church.
If the congressman's nomination is ratified at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. this September, he will become the second Catholic vice presidential nominee ever to run on the Republican ticket.
Catholic deacon Keith Fournier, writing at Catholic Online, said the crowd at the Norfolk announcement event was “massive, enthusiastic and hopeful.”
He called Rep. Ryan “a talented public servant, a truly good family man, a faithful, genuinely pro-life Catholic” and “a great communicator.”
Elected to Congress in 1998, the representative explained his pro-life position in a Feb. 2010 issue of the Heritage Foundation publication “Indivisible.”
“I cannot believe any official or citizen can still defend the notion that an unborn human being has no rights that an older person is bound to respect,” he said.
“ I do know that we cannot go on forever feigning agnosticism about who is human. As Thomas Jefferson wrote, 'The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time.'”
Ryan has become known for his advocacy of budget cuts, sometimes prompting concern from leading Catholic bishops who say that the cuts will adversely affect the most vulnerable.
The congressman has contended that the poor are hurt more by extreme levels of government debt than by budget reductions. He defended his fiscal positions against critics in an April 2012 lecture at Georgetown University that cited Catholic social teaching principles of subsidiarity and solidarity. He charged that “government-centered” approaches to poverty have failed.
In 2002, he voted in favor of authorizing military force against Iraq. The military action removed Saddam Hussein from power at the cost of tens of thousands dead, including over 4,400 American troops. The aftermath of the Iraq war has caused major disruptions in the country as hundreds of thousands of people, especially Iraqi Christians, have fled their homes for fear of violence.
Rep. Ryan has signed the National Organization of Marriage’s pledge to defend marriage as a union of a man and a woman and to seek the appointment of judges who will defend marriage.
He has generally voted against legislation favored by gay advocacy groups. However, in 2007 he voted in favor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would have treated discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity the same as racial discrimination under federal law.
In 2010, the U.S. bishops voiced “serious concerns” that the proposal would give special protections to sexual conduct outside of marriage, threaten religious freedom and punish Catholic teachings as discriminatory.
Rep. Ryan has been a vocal opponent of the Department of Health and Human Services mandate requiring most employers, including many Catholic institutions, to provide insurance coverage for sterilization and contraception, including some abortion-causing drugs.
In a Feb. 9 appearance on The Laura Ingraham Show, he characterized the mandate as a conflict between constitutional rights and “government-granted rights.”
“This is a teachable moment for Americans who see that their constitutional rights could be next,” he said.