New Orleans, La., Aug 18, 2012 (CNA) - It was a mission of service, but at its core, it was a mission of faith.
More than 200 teens and young adults from across the United States traveled to New Orleans in June with a mission to serve as part of the Catholic Heart Workcamp program.
Founded in 1993 by Steve and Lisa Walker of Orlando, Fla., Catholic Heart Workcamp (CHWC) is celebrating its 20th anniversary. What began as one camp with about 100 participants has evolved into 47 camps with more than 11,000 teen participants committing themselves to service.
This year’s local camp was stationed at St. Clement of Rome in Metairie, La. where the teens slept in classrooms and showered outside in makeshift stations constructed of tarps, PVC pipes and hoses. This youth-friendly camp is intended to empower teenagers to share and experience God’s love while helping those in need.
Faiths leads to service
Janeen Rodrigue has been the manager of the camp in the Archdiocese of New Orleans for the last 17 years, and she described Catholic Heart Workcamp as a way for teens “to live out their baptismal call to serve.”
Rodrigue coordinated all of the work sites for the week. This year, the campers served with Habitat for Humanity, Boys Hope Girls Hope, Ozanam Inn and several other organizations. Many teens also worked at the homes of individuals or families.
“Service can be seen anywhere,” said Katie Endelicato, team captain in New Orleans. “We work in any community that is in need,” One group of teenagers assisted Violet, a single mother with six children, two of whom are autistic.
“She was struggling to do work around her house,” adult group leader Mickie Mason said. “We painted her kitchen cupboards and walls. We washed her windows and scrubbed floors. … We just kept asking what else we could do.”
Because most of Violet’s time is spent taking care of her autistic children, the group also spent time playing games and interacting with the other children.
During the group testimonies, Violet said, “You are all angels. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being a witness to my children and for making my house into a beautiful home. You’ve brought the kingdom of God here without even saying a word.”
Similar words of humble gratitude were expressed as more testimonies were shared. Endelicato said, “When you hear the residents talking about their experiences of this week, it really clarifies what Catholic Heart Workcamp is.”
The mission of the camp is two-fold: to share the love of Jesus through serving others and to foster the spiritual growth of each participant through the sacraments, Catholic faith-sharing, and prayer.
“Prayer and the sacraments are at the heart of the camp,” Rodrigue said.
While many other Christian camps dedicated to service can be found throughout the country, this camp features elements that are uniquely Catholic. Every morning begins with Mass, and there are also designated times throughout the week for the rosary, reconciliation and eucharistic adoration.
“This is a service-based camp, but it is first and foremost a Christ-centered camp,” Father Norman Fischer, camp chaplain, said.
The director of this year’s camp, Lauren Kowalik, said, “We hope the campers make that connection between their service and our faith. We hope they understand why it’s so important.”
Ty Taylor, a 19 year-old veteran camper, acknowledged that this camp had been spiritually beneficial.
“Workcamp is an awesome, faith-filled, fun experience,” he said. “Here you can understand why you need to serve. You get thrown right into a situation where you really need to be the hands and feet of Christ and give everything you have to help other people. We don’t always get to see that in everyday life.”
Catholic Heart Workcamp is designed to build servant hearts in its participants for more than just a week; it operates in hopes of giving teens the encouragement and support necessary to serve for a lifetime.
“After camp ends, you’re still living to give,” Endelicato said.
Collectively, the campers, adults and staff of this year’s work camp have been more than happy to give back to the city of New Orleans.
“The people here are so appreciative,” Mason said. “There is such a welcoming spirit in this city.”
At the end of Thursday night’s program, Rodrigue thanked the workers and quoted Blessed Mother Teresa: “We cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.”
Posted with permission from Clarion Herald, official newspaper of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.
Washington D.C., Aug 18, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Board members of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund, Patrick Kelly and Jeanne Monahan, have been selected to serve as the new leaders following the death of president Nellie Gray.
“Patrick and Jeanne are fantastic and intelligent leaders in the pro-life movement who will continue the great legacy set forth by Nellie Gray,” said Terrence Scanlon, who has served as Vice President of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund for over 20 years.
The organization, which runs and plans the march in Washington, D.C. to observe the legalization of abortion each January, elected the new leaders as part of a “transition plan” to carry on the “legacy and vision” of Gray who passed away at the age of 86 on Aug. 13.
Kelly, who serves as Vice President for Public Policy for the Knights of Columbus and has experience in the U.S. military as a Captain in the U.S. Navy JAG Corps Reserve and government service from working in the House of Representatives and Justice Department, will serve as the Chairman of the Board.
As a regular contributor to the media on matters of human life and having worked in the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, Monahan is revered by the board as a “life-long advocate for life.”
Monahan has served as Director of the Center for Human Dignity at the Family Research Center, the organization that has made recent news due to the shooting of a security guard on the premise Aug. 16.
Both Kelly and Monhan hold a Master of Theology from the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at the Catholic University of America an.
Monahan earned her undergraduate degree from James Madison University, while Kelly received his from Marquette University.
The board’s vote came Aug. 14, just following the news of Gray’s passing.
Commemorating 40 years since the Roe v. Wade decision, the next March for Life will be held in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 25, 2013.
Concord, Calif., Aug 18, 2012 (CNA) - The uncle who took the place of his nephew Andrew Kentigern Moore, a pro-life advocate who was killed on a cross-country outreach walk, remembers him as a “gentle soul” who was motivated to work against abortion from an early age.
“Once he understood that babies were being killed and women and families were being hurt in this way, he felt compelled to do something,” Paul Brilliant told CNA Aug 17.
Moore began to pray in front of to the local abortion clinic in his hometown of Concord, Calif. when he was about 13.
“This wasn’t a particularly comfortable thing for him, or something that he did easily,” said Brilliant, who is Moore’s uncle.
Moore’s pro-life advocacy continued until his death on the early morning of July 20, when the 20-year-old Thomas Aquinas College student was hit and killed by a car on a highway outside of Indianapolis.
He had been praying a Rosary alongside the road as part of the Crossroads pro-life walk from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. Investigators believe he might have accidentally stepped into the path of the fast-moving car.
Brilliant said he reacted to his nephew’s death with “surprise and disbelief.”
“I was coming from the perspective that, knowing his intentions were good and his motivations were good, and knowing that he was a good young man, you feel in those situations that he’ll be protected, he’ll be looked after, he’ll be looked over.”
Moore’s family still thinks he was being watched over, “but it wasn’t exactly as we thought or expected.”
“It was as God saw fit. That’s how our family has taken it,” Brilliant said.
Brilliant is a 40-year-old married father of six. He is a California native who now lives in London.
He remembered his nephew as “very bright” young man who had written poetry of “depth and intelligence” despite his youth. Moore, who was considering joining the priesthood, also had a “very strong spiritual life.” He would attend Mass almost daily and pray regularly.
The weekend after Moore’s death, his grieving uncle had the idea that he should finish the cross-country trek in his nephew’s place.
“I was thinking about what we could do as a family to support him, to reaffirm what he had be doing,” he explained. He decided to join the walk to commend his nephew and to support his mother and family.
Brilliant also joined out of concern for Moore’s companions.
“Obviously this would be a very traumatic experience for them,” he said. “I thought that it was important that they know that they were supported and that what they are doing is critically important for our country.”
It is “critical,” Brilliant said, that young pro-life advocates are trying “build a better culture.” Their work “has reverberations around the world.”
He cited his own experience of the United Kingdom. While the U.K. has a more secular culture and a less developed pro-life movement, he said, “already there are murmurings there based on what is happening in the U.S.”
Brilliant joined Moore’s group in Steubenville, Ohio two weeks before they finished. They continued to speak at various parishes, host pro-life events and pray at abortion clinics along their route, before joining three other groups of cross-country walkers for a closing rally in D.C. on Aug. 11.
He found the young people to be “really impressive” and “inspiring” for their seriousness about their faith and pro-life issues at their young age.
Brilliant thought of the walk as a chance for him to “sacrifice” and “to think of putting others before yourself.”
“I thought it was a good opportunity to reaffirm the need for me to put my wife first. To lay down my life for my wife, for my family, as St. Paul says in Ephesians,” he recalled.
He also found himself able to identify with those dealing with unexpected pregnancies after his experience on the road. Brilliant’s future wife became pregnant with his eldest daughter when they weren’t in a committed relationship.
“What was true for us, and I think in every case, is that the solution is not to kill your child,” he said. “We felt that temptation.”
However, after their daughter’s birth and four more years of discernment, they “finally got married” and had come to recognize “the incredible wisdom of the Church and its teachings about human sexuality.”
“From that point, we’ve gone on to have a really beautiful family,” he said. “If we had not had our first child, none of that would have followed.”
Brilliant also had advice for those who are reacting to an unexpected pregnancy.
“It takes an incredible amount of courage in these situations, but in the end, by taking the slightly more difficult route initially, the fruits and the rewards are much, much greater.”
Chicago, Ill., Aug 18, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The Archdiocese of Chicago has reported that Cardinal Francis George underwent surgery earlier this week to remove cancerous cells in his kidney, as well as a nodule in his liver.
According to a brief statement Friday, doctors “will work with the Cardinal to plan a course of treatment,” after the Aug. 15 procedure which took place at Chicago's Loyola University Medical Center.
The archdiocese said the 75-year-old cardinal will rest at home this weekend, will be on retreat next week and that it “has no further information at this time.”
As leader of the archdiocese's 2.3 million Catholics since 1997, Cardinal George has also served as president of the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops and is known for his strong pro-life views.
He submitted his letter of resignation to Pope Benedict XVI in January, as is customary for Church leaders upon reaching the age of 75. A Chicago native, he was ordained a priest in 1968.
Reuters reports that Cardinal George underwent surgery six years ago for bladder cancer.