Archive of March 2, 2013

College coach doesn’t long for the spotlight

Tampa, Fla., Mar 2, 2013 (CNA) - Chris Catanach has been the head volleyball coach at the University of Tampa for 29 seasons now.  And he’s okay with the fact that you probably don’t know of him.

Working at the same school that he graduated from, he is an example of the type of humility that Christians are called to, in exemplifying that it’s not about us, it’s about God.

Consider his response when asked about college coaches in sports like football and basketball being household names in a lot of cities and in the world of ESPN and social media, but volleyball coaches getting nowhere near that recognition level. 

“From my standpoint I’m totally okay with that. I wouldn’t trade my life to be a superstar. If you look at what’s happening with (South African runner) Oscar Pistorius, if he was Joe Schmo his life wouldn’t be in the papers. I get to live under the radar and do good things and do things right and not be in the newspaper. Those other (basketball and football coaches) are getting paid millions but have the scrutiny that comes with it.”

Ironically, despite being among the winningest active NCAA Division II coaches, and even though he’d “played volleyball extensively in high school,” Catanach never really planned to have a long career as the university’s top man in volleyball.

“I got my undergrad in Phys. Ed. and really wanted to be a teacher,” he explains, “but when I graduated I applied for a P.E. job at St. Paul’s School in Clearwater and an admissions job with UT. So I took the UT job and (after having volunteered when he first got there) continued to work with the volleyball team. Midway through that first year the coach resigned, so I came back and convinced them to give me a shot, which was rare because I wasn’t qualified. At first I thought I’d only do this for a few years and thought I’d go do something else. But around the four-year mark I thought I’d keep going for maybe four more. I’ll probably put in 40 years before I can think of finally retiring.

"The first ten years I just said I worked at UT because I was a little embarrassed (about saying he was the volleyball coach), but the last 19 years I’ve been really proud and work with tremendous players and the university is a great place to work. You can’t walk away from a job like that.”

Certainly the Lord called this devout Catholic to the job because it has enabled him to help shape student-athletes into young women, not just to coach volleyball players.

“I don’t cut corners to win,” Catanach states, “because my longevity will be from the successes of the kids. If I have good academics who are good athletes, I’m going to win. If they don’t leave here without a degree, that’s a major failure in my opinion.  It doesn’t matter how many championships you win then.  That degree is what it’s all about. If it’s winning at all costs, you’ll cut corners and not be the role model that these kids need.”

The players are just as hands-on as their leader, though.

“This year we’ve got a project going with St. Peter Claver School in Ybor City,” Catanach explains. “The School is 119 years old and was for African American kids that want a Catholic education. It’s more mixed now with Latinos too. These are inner city, elementary age kids, mostly fifth grade and below, from low-income families. A large number of kids there, the only meal they get is the one at school.

“At Mass, at Christ the King, the pastor from St. Peter Claver spoke and said he can only go speak to two parishes a year and ask for assistance. So I left Mass and decided I had a group of kids that would love to help. So, every Tuesday and Thursday this spring after practice they go do tutoring and mentoring.”

Clearly this native of the U.S. Virgin Islands had a Catholic foundation to build from to lead his players to such a selfless initiative.

The third of six children explains, “My dad is a Knights of Columbus member and was a grand knight at one point.  He was very devout. For us it was church every Sunday, and attending Catholic school. The Catholic high school on the island kind of went down academically so I went to a different private school my junior year.”

It’s little wonder that Catanach chooses to end the conversation by adding that, “My belief has always been ‘do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.’ You can’t go wrong. You just have to live your life that way and you’ll make a difference.”

Posted with permission from the Catholic Sports Association, an organization dedicated to highlighting Catholic sports professionals and enriching junior high and high school student-athletes with Catholic sports articles, conferences, a Web series, and other programs.


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Congressional hearing highlights growing threat of anti-Semitism

Washington D.C., Mar 2, 2013 (CNA) - Witnesses at a recent hearing in Washington, D.C., warned that a resurrected anti-Semitism is sweeping the globe and could lead to dire consequences for democratic societies and members of all religions.
“When we fight anti-Semitism it is not only a matter of justice for Jewish fellow-citizens, but also of standing up for Christianity, and for Islam, and for the possibility of decent living itself,” said U.S. Representative Chris Smith (R-N.J.), who hosted the Feb. 27 hearing.

Smith, who has co-chaired the House Bi-Partisan Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism for years, has previously authored legislation to create a State Department office to fight anti-Semitism.

Witnesses at the hearing included rabbis, scholars and human rights experts from across the world.

Multiple speakers detailed examples of anti-Semitism in Eastern and Western Europe as well as the Middle East, including efforts to ban kosher slaughter and circumcision. State authorities have often been slow to respond to anti-Semitic attacks, they explained.

“Unfortunately,” said Katrina Lantos Swett, chairwoman of U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, “anti-Semitism remains a phenomenon that knows no national boundaries.”

In addition, many countries have masked animosity towards Jews under animosity towards Israel, she remarked.

Dr. M. Zuhudi Jasser, president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, explained that the radical nature of militant Islamist extremism has fueled an exodus of not only Jews but also Christians and moderate Muslims from many areas of the Middle East, creating a “vacuum of religious diversity” and a stifling of intellectual freedom.

Rabbi David Myer, professor of rabbinic literature at the Gregorian Pontifical University in Rome, described the character of legal anti-Semitism in Europe. Attacks on religious practices will lead to attacks on all religious expression, he warned, and this “inevitably ends with attacks against Jews.”

John Garvey, president of Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., asserted that a “society that tolerates anti-Semitism cannot maintain a healthy democracy.”

Threats to religious freedom endanger democracy by undermining equality and liberty, he explained.

Since “the western commitment to political liberty grew out of our acceptance of religious toleration,” he said, allowing religious persecution risks “running our constitutional evolution in reverse.”

This issue is also of particular interest to Catholics, continued Garvey, because “we are one family in the Abrahamic tradition,” and so anti-Semitism “is an attack on our family.”

In addition, he noted, there is a “similar pattern in the arguments” used to suppress certain Jewish religious practices and those that have been used recently in the United States. 

In Germany, circumcision has been called “a violation of individual rights and an outmoded and harmful religious practice,” he said, observing a connection between this reasoning and the arguments used in the U.S. “for requiring Catholic institutions to cover prescription contraceptives, early stage abortifacients, and sterilizations.”

In both cases, Garvey explained, objections to the governmental regulation have been called discriminatory and mocked for resting “on old-fashioned notions of sexual orthodoxy.”
Evangelical scholar Eric Metaxas pointed to the efforts of Christians who worked to save Jews during World War II to illustrate the American belief and Christian commandment to “stand up for those being treated unjustly or persecuted in anyway.”

“Everyone who has the privilege to call himself a Christian or an American must stand against these things and not just stand against them but take action against them,” Metaxas stressed. “This is the right thing and the Christian thing to do. God commands it.”

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Denver archbishop says faith requires trust, intimacy with God

Denver, Colo., Mar 2, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Trust in God is the key foundation of faith which allows one to develop an intimate and personal relationship with the Father, according to Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila.

“The way we develop trust is first of all coming to recognize that God really does have our best interest at heart – he truly is the God of love,” the head Denver's archdiocese told CNA after his keynote address March 1 at the local Living the Catholic Faith Conference.

Archbishop Aquila's talk, “Standing Firm in Faith,” highlighted the importance of relationship with both Christ and the Church.

The archbishop began his remarks to the hundreds of conference attendees by touching on the “aggressively secular world” faced by Christians today.

“From all corners, the dignity of the human person is under attack, God is being removed from everything, the Church is being marginalized, morality is being compromised or said to be non-existent, and believers are being ridiculed for their beliefs,” he said.

The archbishop reflected that without truth or God, democracy becomes a “social tyranny.” He added that “in a democracy devoid of virtue, devoid of God, rooted in relativism, justice cannot flourish.”

“Our founding fathers assured us that without religious practice, our democracy would become a place for the powerful to exercise their will over the weak.”

The secular world challenges Christians to a type of witness, of martyrdom, of living our faith in the public square. 'Troublesome times are here and may only grow,” he said.

“Being faithfully Catholic men and women, mothers and fathers, business owners, and Americans will be a challenge. If we want to be ready to stand firm in faith, we need to be disciples of Jesus Christ.”

To be Christian disciples, he said first the nature of faith must be considered. He called faith a decision to trust in God. This act of trust is reasonable, he said, because God has revealed himself to us in scripture and in the person of Jesus Christ.

“Only the divine person of God, incarnate in Jesus Christ, makes the proposal of faith reasonable...the only way for us to have a living, vibrant, witnessing faith is to pursue a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”

He said the need for the ministers of the Church to be themselves trustworthy: “Many people say today that to trust in the Church is harder than it once was. The scandals of the past ten years have made the Church seem less reliable and made faith more difficult. If this is true, we need to acknowledge it, and we need to ensure that the ministers of the Gospel are people of true integrity.”

In his comments to CNA/EWTN News, he reflected that “too often we...have listened more to the ways of the world than to the voice of Christ.”

This is particularly important regarding how Christ can heal us and restore order to us, he said, “the way we can, in our relationship with him, truly experience his healing love for us.”

During his keynote address, the archbishop's second point was that to be a person of faith, one must be in relationship not only with Christ, but also with his Church.

“If we want to have an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, we will pursue an intimate relationship with the Church.”

To think of the Church “as an institution,” he said, to to “miss the point.” Rather, the Church is the living body of Christ her head.

Archbishop Aquila said, “If our expectations, experience, or commitment to the Church is less than our commitment to Jesus Christ, we cannot know Christ. We know him in the context of the Church.”

Practical measures Archbishop Aquila suggested to help people come to know Christ and to live their faith in the Church included first of all entering into personal relationship with each person of the Blessed Trinity. He suggested that everyone strive to spend an hour a week in Eucharistic adoration: “it does lead us into a deeper intimacy with Jesus Christ, who makes himself present for us,” he said.

“They know you better than you know yourself, and they desire only the good, the true and the beautiful for you. They desire for you to be happy. You must cooperate with this love by receptive and docile to it.”

He went on to suggest prayerful reading of scripture, studying the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and participating in the sacraments, especially Sunday Mass and Confession.

“We must give witness to our faith in the public square and propose our faith to others,” he said.

“Every Catholic is called to evangelize others by their lives, in what they say and do.  No Catholic is exempt from going out and proclaiming and inviting others to come to know Jesus Christ.”

The failure to live the faith in the public square is, he said, the biggest failure of Catholics in the past 50 years.

Here and now, Archbishop Aquila said, we are called to “propose to the world the truth of Jesus, and that “the call of the new evangelization is to transform the world through our love.”

“Let us stand firm in faith by standing firm, together, in love giving witness to the world in all we say and do,” he concluded.

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Future Popes will mirror Benedict XVI, says cardinal

Vatican City, Mar 2, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
An Australian cardinal said that future popes are likely to follow in the footsteps of Benedict XVI.  

“I think his pontificate will be typical of pontificates of the future,” said Cardinal George Pell of Sydney, Australia.

“I admire him for the decision that he took, but it does change the situation a little bit,” said Cardinal Pell in an EWTN interview in Rome on Feb. 28.

Benedict XVI resigned as Pope that morning. The cardinals of the Catholic Church have been flocking to Rome to meet next week in preparation for the conclave.

Cardinal Pell reflected on the last Pope’s pontificate and the challenges facing the Church.

“The world of the press is very powerful, coming often with quite a different and hostile agenda, but I think the Holy Father answered that challenge and I think he answered it well,” he said.

The cardinal, who travels to Rome frequently, said he knows “just how important it is for us to discern what the Spirit wants us to do and to get it right.”

“When I go into the conclave I’ll be thanking God that I’m not alone in making this decision,” he said. “I will be with 114 of us, all wise cardinals, with an enormous range of experience.”

“Many of them would have been through much tougher times than I ever have,” Cardinal Pell added.

This will be the second conclave for the Australian, whom Pope John Paul II made a cardinal in 2003. He recalled his memories of the 2005 conclave, which elected Benedict XVI to the papacy.

“It’s a very edifying time in the Sistine Chapel and what struck me forcibly was the manifest faith and devotion of the other cardinals,” said the cardinal. “I found that fortifying and consoling and I’m sure it will be the same this time.”

Benedict XVI met with the cardinals, including Cardinal Pell, before stepping down

Cardinal Pell described Benedict XVI as “very much the German gentleman,” “a gentle, faithful and prayerful priest,” and “a very kind and wonderful man.”

The cardinal, who worked closely with Pope Benedict, said the resigned pontiff had displayed “brilliant” teaching and had worked hard during these last eight years.

“I remember him very fondly and with gratitude and I felt a real moment of sadness this morning,” said Cardinal Pell.

“I felt for him, as he had to decide whether it was time to go, whether it was beyond him,” he added.

The cardinal believes liturgical reform is one of the most important contributions of Benedict XVI.
Two of his most beautiful memories of Benedict were at the vigil in Sydney at the World Youth Day.

“It was just so silent and there were 400,000 youth up on Sunday morning for Mass,” said Cardinal Pell.

“After communion, there was perfect silence and I could hear the birds singing,” he said.

“They were beautiful moments and I hope we don’t lose the momentum that we’ve gained towards the restoration of a proper sense of worship in the liturgy.”


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