Archive of September 22, 2012

Door-to-door evangelization reaps rewards

Pawtucket, R.I., Sep 22, 2012 (CNA) - When Father Robert Perron, pastor of Holy Family Parish in Pawtucket, R.I., expressed an interest in reaching out to people living in the neighborhoods around his parish to let them know that the Catholic Church indeed cares for and welcomes them with open arms, he was guided in his task by a tested blueprint created a year ago as a road map for successful outreach.

For the eighth time since June, 2010, when the first Day of Evangelization was held at St. Timothy Church in Warwick, R.I. a group of more than 100 pilgrims took to the streets, this time around Our Lady of Consolation Church in Pawtucket, R.I. They knocked on doors, handed out rosaries, and even taught some people how to pray, inviting all to become active in their neighborhood church.

Holy Family Parish was established in 2009 with the unification of Our Lady of Consolation, Sacred Heart and St. Joseph churches.

“The Lord called us to go out and evangelize the nations, so we went out to evangelize our little part of the world,” said Father Perron. He added that by participating in a Day of Evangelization, the volunteers’ own faith is strengthened, and it challenges the rest of the parish to also put their faith into action.

According to Edward Gallagher, a member of St. Timothy Parish in Warwick, R.I., who helps coordinate the Days of Evangelization with Kathleen Kerrin, a member of Our Lady of Mercy Parish, East Greenwich, the events grew from the outreach conducted by the Legion of Mary, an international lay organization.

Gallagher said that since 1921, the Legion of Mary has been instrumental in conducting door-to-door evangelization efforts throughout the world.

“With the support of Bishop Tobin and courageous priests, we are seeing a renewal and growth of the Legion of Mary in the diocese,” Gallagher observed, adding the organization’s members from many diocesan parishes, and other parts of the country, have been vital to the success of past Days of Evangelization held in the diocese.

St. Timothy pastor Father Barry Meehan, hosted the first Door-to-Door event in celebration of the diocesan “Year of Evangelization,” in 2010.

He decided that the parish should dedicate a day to sharing the Catholic faith with area families.

So far, the evangelization program has been conducted at eight parishes in the diocese: St. Timothy; Holy Name of Jesus, Providence; St. Ann, Cranston; St. Luke, Barrington; St. Joseph, Woonsocket; SS. Rose and Clement, Warwick; and Holy Ghost, Tiverton, in addition to Our Lady of Consolation.

Gallagher added that four more events are scheduled for  next spring.

The events can leave an indelible imprint, not only on those who are being evangelized, but also on the pilgrims going door-to-door.

At the Our Lady of Consolation event Saturday, Linda Vaillant and Maria Lee had no idea what sort of a response they would receive as they headed north from the church following a Mass and briefing to prepare them for their task.

Although for each it was their third experience with parish outreach in a door-to-door evangelization, nothing can truly prepare a pilgrim for what they will encounter.

Despite ringing the bells of several homes along the way, they were finding that people were either not at home, or reluctant to engage in conversation with someone they didn’t already know.

It was then that their spirits were lifted. At one home, a mother who had practiced the faith early on in her childhood in Puerto Rico, and her four children welcomed the pair into their modest apartment to receive the packets of rosaries and religious literature the women were bearing.

Although their mother spoke little English, her children did, and they eagerly followed along as Vaillant and Lee led them in praying an entire rosary together.

“I don’t know how to pray at all,” Paola Ginel, 15, said in an interview with Rhode Island Catholic, said after she and her three brothers, joined by their mother, recited the prayers that were written in booklets provided by their surprise guests.

Her brother, Josue, 13, said he would proudly wear his rosary to school, knowing now the mysteries the beads represent. He has seen other students wear rosaries to school, but thought they did so as more of a fashion statement than for their religious symbolism.

The children, who range in age from 9-15, said the visit has served to heighten their desire to experience the Mass.

“I’ve passed the church many times,” Josue said of Our Lady of Consolation, one of the churches now merged together as Holy Family Parish. “I’ve just wanted to experience (the Mass) to see what it is like.”

For Vaillant, a parishioner at St. Charles Borromeo Parish, Providence, and Lee, a parishioner at Our Lady of Mercy, East Greenwich, the visit was a powerful one for the pair, who are members of the Legion of Mary as well.

“The family was wonderful,” Lee said as she resumed her evangelization, proceeding to the home next door.

Posted with permission from The Rhode Island Catholic, official newspaper for the Diocese of Providence.

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Chick-fil-A's stance on marriage remains unchanged

Atlanta, Ga., Sep 22, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Despite claims that Chick-fil-A has ceased funding groups that support traditional marriage in hopes of expanding locations in Chicago, the restaurant has not released any definitive statement about who will or will not receive money.

Gay advocacy group, The Civil Rights Agenda, said in a Sept. 18 press release that after a meeting with Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno, the restaurant and its nonprofit arm, The WinShape Foundation, would no longer donate to “anti-LGBT” groups.

However, in a Sept. 20 press release following the meeting, Chick-fil-A made no mention of its intention to cease funding, but rather attempted to clarify how its corporate giving had been “mischaracterized” in recent months.

Rather than saying it would remove support for groups that promote traditional marriage, the Atlanta-based restaurant chain reiterated its “commitment is to be responsible stewards of all that God has entrusted to us.”

“Because of this commitment, Chick-fil-A's giving heritage is focused on programs that educate youth, strengthen families and enrich marriages, and support communities,” the statement said.

While the company will “continue to focus our giving in those areas,” their intention is “not to support political or social agendas.”

“The Chick-fil-A culture and 66-year service tradition,” the statement added, “… is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect – regardless of their beliefs, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender.”

However, Tiffany Hsu of the Los Angeles Times reported in a Sept. 20 article that meetings between Chick-fil-A exectuives and Alderman Moreno went further. They agreed to stop funding groups opposed to same-sex unions, including Focus on the Family and National Organization for Marriage.”

Focus on the Family said that  they would “be offering no further comment” regarding the issue other than president Jim Daly's Sept. 20 statement which made no mention of funding cuts.

President of National Organization for Marriage, Brian Brown, clarified that his organization has never received money from either Chick-fil-A or its charity branch, The WinShape Foundation.

“Despite recent news articles claiming Chick-fil-A's WinShape Foundation donated money to our organization—this is false,” Brown said in a Sept. 20 press release.

Thomas Peters, Cultural Director of the National Organization for Marriage, told CNA Sept. 21 that reports about Chick-fil-A changing its support for traditional marriage in order to expand its locations, were  “intentionally meant to be confusing.”

“There's several layers of false narratives that are out there at this point,” he said.

The fast food chain found itself embroiled in controversy this summer when president Dan Cathy said in a July 2012 interview that he supported “the biblical definition of the family unit.”

Following Cathy's statement, Chicago Alderman Moreno, along with several other mayors in major American cities, said the restaurant was not welcome in their respective cities.

The restaurant saw a wave or support following Cathy's remarks as former Arkansas governor and radio host Mike Huckabee called for a “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” Aug. 1, resulting in crowds of customers and record-breaking sales.

That same week, supporters of “gay marriage” organized a “National Same-Sex Kiss Day at Chick-fil-A” on Aug. 3.

The company's executive vice president for marketing, Steve Robinson, alluded to the planned same-sex kissing event, in an Aug. 2 statement following the day of appreciation.

“We understand from news reports that Friday may present yet another opportunity for us to serve with genuine hospitality, superior service and great food,” Robinson said.

Alderman Moreno did not respond to CNA's request for comments by press time.

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International conference examines meaning of marital union

Rome, Italy, Sep 22, 2012 (CNA) - Scholars at a two-day conference in Rome explored the beauty of God’s plan for the marital union and the importance of this union for individuals and society as a whole.

“The goal of the conference is to examine, to analyze what the conjugal union really is,” said Father Jose Granados, of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, which organized the conference at the request of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Held September 20-21, the international colloquium focused on “The Language of the Body and the Conjugal Union.”

It featured experts in the fields of psychology, sociology, philosophy, theology and scripture, and examined different aspects of the conjugal union and its profound importance.

Fr. Granados explained that the culture does not see the marital union as something that is “valuable” and has “definite form,” but rather as something that can be defined as one chooses.

The conference was designed to analyze “the richness of this union,” which is properly understood “in light of the Creator” because it is possible only through the human body’s complementary nature, he said.

The conjugal union is profound because it is open to life, enriches society and allows for mutual self-giving “for the other,” he observed.

Fr. Granados said that the colloquium was “very fruitful” in presenting these truths to attendees.

To spread the message about the unique and important role of marriage, Catholics must first “understand the beauty of God’s plan,” he explained.

Attracted by the “call to love,” the faithful can be drawn into “the proposal of something beautiful and great,” which leads to a fruitful life, he said.

God’s plan for marriage views the family “not as a problem,” he continued, but as a means of building up the Church. And the family is also crucial for a New Evangelization, he added.

Unfortunately, he observed, our modern, post-Christian society “regards Christ as something from the past.”

“The family can make us aware again of this original experience of love that allows us to receive Christ in a new way, as something that opens up a future, not only something from the past,” he said.

Fr. Granados also noted that there is a connection between attacks on marriage and struggles with religious vocations, which are both manifestations of the universal “vocation to love.”

“The two problems are related,” he explained, “because the first place in which a vocation grows is the family.”

“When the Church focuses on one of them, it is also cultivating the other,” he said, adding that both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have worked to strengthen families so that they can play the foundational role they are designed to play.

Damon Owens, executive director of the Theology of the Body Institute in Philadelphia, said that the conference did a “beautiful” job of presenting “a number of different perspectives” on both the human and transcendent sense of the conjugal act.

With this foundation established, he said, the next step is to effectively communicate the truth about the sexual union to people living out marriages.

“There really needs to be a new dialogue and understanding what marriage is,” Owens said, so that both the human and transcendent senses “can come together in a way that’s understandable by those who are living it, but also connected more deeply to the truth of what marriage and marital relation is.”

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